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Monday, September 25, 2023

News analysis: Experts elaborate on attacks’ implications

Many U.S. citizens awoke across the country Tuesday to startling images on the television. 




The World Trade Center destroyed; the Pentagon in flames; four commercial airplanes hijacked and used as weapons against America. 




America is not new to acts of terrorism, either domestic or foreign: The Oklahoma City bombing was only seven years ago, and the perpetrators of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center were supposed to be sentenced today. 




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The difference between Tuesday's attacks and the acts of the past is the sheer magnitude of the actions that exposed the vulnerability of American cities, according to Stan Schultz, a professor of history at UW-Madison. 




'Once upon a time you had to have a club to kill someone. ... Now we're so technologically advanced there's so many ways to attack,' he said. 




According to Schultz, the United States has become overly dependent on its own advancements, opening itself up to many different forms of attack. 




'You can get to a city through the air, water, sewage systems'those all provide channels of attack for terrorists,' he said. 'The very things that we believe enhance our lives can be turned against us to harm our lives.' 




In contrast to Schultz's emphasis on technology, Professor Yehuda Lukacs of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., argues that the risk of terrorist attacks is inherent in the American political and social system. 




'I think that any country that is free and democratic is vulnerable to such a magnitude of attacks,' he said. 




Audrey Kurth Cronin, a research fellow in the Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University and Lukacs both professed worries over the current national and international opinion of the United States. 




'What this forces us to realize is that maybe we're not liked in some parts of the world and there's nothing we can do about that,' Cronin said. 'We need a lot of calming work and statements.' 




Lukacs said embarrassment, along with anger and hurt, will be on the mind of Americans. 




'If this was a day of pain and loss, it was also a day of humiliation,' Lukacs said. 




Despite the fear and mistrust caused by the disaster, Don Kettl, a professor of political science at UW-Madison, said that people will come together with a strong national sense of unity. 




'Americans tend to rally around the flag in times of crisis,' he said. 




Kettl went on to say that President Bush will be the focal point for the American people in the upcoming days. 




'The president's ability to lead is one of the most important impacts at this time,' he said. 




Lukacs harshly criticized Bush's unwillingness to return to the Oval Office and calm the masses. After the terrorist attack, Bush remained in flight aboard Air Force One for several hours, landing only briefly in Louisiana to make a short statement before returning to the air. He eventually arrived at the White House just before 6 p.m. EDT after a stop in Omaha, Neb.  




'We saw a lack of leadership today,' Lukacs said. 'George Bush is certainly no Winston Churchill.' 




The president said Tuesday that the United States 'will hunt down and punish' those responsible for the actions against America. He also stated that steps will be taken to curtail future terroristic actions. 




'We'll probably allocate more money to [stopping terrorism] ... and Americans will breathe a sigh of relief. But I don't think it will ultimately help,' Schultz said. 'If somebody wants to kill somebody else, you can kill him.' 




Both Lukacs and Cronin commented on the ineffectiveness of Bush's proposal for a national missile defense system in situations similar to Tuesday's. 




'A ballistic missile shield will not defend us against our own airlines,' Cronin said. 




In the end, America's civil liberties, the cornerstone of its social system, may soon come under attack as concerned parties will demand greater protection from such threats. 




'There will be a pile of demands to improve the [American security] system,' Kettl said. 'There'll be some questions about what liberties we are willing to give up.' 




Lukacs said Americans should be unwilling to give up their rights. 




'If civil liberties are curtailed, that is the day terrorism has won,' he said.

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