In the six weeks that have passed since the spectacular
terrorist attack on America, fear has gripped the citizens of
the world's only superpower. People go about their business
but they are cutting down on their discretionary activities.
They do a videoconference instead of flying over. They take
it easy around the home rather than flying off for a weekend.
They boast of leasing offices on floors that are below the
level at which an airplane can crash into the building. They
worry about going out of their homes to public places which
may be targets of a terrorist attack; they worry about the
mail that arrives in their home lest it be contaminated by
This state of fear and uncertainty is the goal of systematic
terror. It tries to upset its adversary, keeping him
constantly off guard and under pressure. The terrorist
creates tension in the mind of his enemy that may cause him
to fail to follow through his achievements, like the U.S. did
eleven years ago when it left Saddam Hussein in power because
it was worried about the consequences of getting rid of him.
Or worse, it can completely drive away U.S. forces like when
the U.S. abandoned its just peacekeeping efforts in Somalia
eight years ago after 18 U.S. soldiers were killed.
As thoroughly and as powerfully as American forces pursue
terrorist mastermind Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan, even if
they catch him there are bound to be further terrorist blows
to America itself. How will America stand up to that?
An important factor in combating the effects of terror on
people's psyche is the way it is countered: the way the
struggle is described by American leaders and the policies
that are pursued. America must have a readily understandable
goal and its actions must not contradict its words. To do
otherwise is to increase confusion and uncertainty in the
mind of America, which will in the long run help the
terrorists, not defeat them.
Unfortunately, this has not yet been in evidence. American
leaders refuse, it seems, to fully explain their position and
content themselves with abstract platitudes about fighting
evil and protecting the American way of life.
America should not be ashamed to say openly that it is
worried about its oil supply in addition to fighting evil.
More importantly, it must be thorough and consistent in word
For more than a year the Palestinian Authority has followed a
course of action in which terror plays a central role. Arafat
was supposed to have renounced terror eight years ago on the
White House lawn and in receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. The
Al Aqsa intifadah, in which all institutions of the
Palestinian Authority participate, is nothing less than a
declared terror campaign directed against the people and
institutions of the democratic State of Israel. Yet the
Palestinian Authority is courted as a "partner" in the war
Living and fighting under this contradiction in word and deed
may allow the United States to win the short-term battle
against Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan, but it will weaken
America in the long term war against the systematic terror of
Terror must be outlawed and consistently opposed as the
criminal behavior that it is. America will not defeat terror
by going shopping and spending money on material comforts,
but only by staking out and promoting a clear and consistent