Who's bloodthirsty?

Debra J. Saunders

10/1/2001 12:00:00 AM - Debra J. Saunders
The day after the carnage, California Peace Action warned, "To act with disregard for the lives of those who are not directly responsible for the attacks on the United States lowers us to the same level as those who perpetrated the barbarity of Tuesday's attacks." Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., explained that she voted against a resolution authorizing military force because she didn't want the U.S. response to "spiral out of control." Peace signs blame President Bush for starting "World War III." The conceit of the peace crowd has been breathtaking. They denigrate Americans who support military action as bloodthirsty rubes and talk as if Bush already has aimed his six-shooter at Afghan orphanages, while only they care about innocent civilians. They are so taken with their own alleged wisdom that they seem not to have noticed one salient fact: The United States still hasn't (as of this writing) dropped any bombs. Not for two whole weeks after terrorists wantonly murdered more than 6,000 civilians. There has been no rush to retaliate. Even at the Pentagon, the rhetoric is cool. Spokeswoman Victoria Clarke noted that there is no public pressure to bomb quickly. Instead, the American people see the need to respond "in the appropriate fashion" and understand that, "You could put Osama bin Laden's head on a pike and that's not going to protect America." "We could have moved in very quickly in the intervening hours with air strikes throughout Afghanistan," noted Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif. Instead, she said Tuesday, "we've proven over the past 13 days that we're not a bunch of gunslingers in the Wild Wild West and we're not unmindful of human life and how precious it is, and the need to minimize collateral damage." Note that Tauscher rightly says "minimize," not "eliminate" -- since you can't eliminate civilian casualties, especially when you're fighting men who hide behind women and children. America's desire to minimize civilian deaths -- while admittedly meaningless to those who die -- highlights the big difference between the terrorists and the United States that the peace purists miss: For all of America's faults, the Bush administration is working to limit civilian casualties, while al Qaeda has spent years planning to kill American citizens. If al Qaeda had the military might of the United States, don't think that Osama bin Laden would be holding back. Consider that in 1999 bin Laden told the London Daily Telegraph that acquiring chemical and nuclear weapons is a "religious duty" for Muslims. And that "Allah has ordered us to make holy wars. " Last week, Flight 93 victim Deora Bodley's mother Deborah Borza came out against U.S. retaliation. She said, "Let this passing be the start of a new conversation that is all-inclusive, tolerant of all people's beliefs, that includes everyone's God, that includes everyone of color, that provides a future for all mankind to live in harmony and respect." Bin Laden wants to kill Westerners -- mothers, dads, kids -- by any means necessary. The United States is working hard, not just to bury terrorist organizations, but to limit casualties. And there are peaceniks who say that puts us at the same level as the terrorists. And Barbara Lee is afraid we're going to spin out of control.