The war comes home

February 08, 1991

In terrorist attacks 5,000 miles apart yesterday, an American civilian who works at a military base in Turkey was killed by an assassin, and, in London, what can only be described as a disguised armored vehicle fired missiles that shook the windows of the very room where the British War Cabinet was meeting. That attack, which was first thought to be orchestrated by Iraq, was later attributed to the IRA. Even so, if a group not backed by any government can launch such a daring attack, just think what Iraq with its resources could do.

Make no mistake, these kinds of attacks will increase and, no doubt, eventually reach the United States. After all, that's war. If we can drop a bomb on top of the Iraqi military command headquarters, then we must expect the Iraqis -- if they can -- to plant a bomb in the basement of the Pentagon. If we can demolish a bridge in Baghdad with a bomb dropped from 16,000 feet, then we must expect the Iraqis -- if they can -- to put a bomb under the Key Bridge in Baltimore. If we can blow up a nerve gas storage depot in Basra, then we must expect the Iraqis to try to blow up a facility at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland.

There will, of course, be the usual condemnation of "terrorism" following these attacks, and indeed it is terrorism. But every act of war is terroristic to those who are on the receiving end of the firepower, and it is a distinction without a difference whether the bomb comes from a plane in the sky or a car in the streets.

Just as one aim of the bombing in Iraq is to demoralize, the purpose of terrorist attacks is to terrorize. Once the Persian Gulf war started, terrorist attacks like those which took place yesterday in Turkey and London were as inevitable as the daily bombing raids over Baghdad. To the extent that President Bush minimized this inevitability when he started the war, he seriously misled the American people. Now we must understand that this war will not be fought only in some desert 8,000 miles away; it will be fought on American soil as well.

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