Retribution is coming, and it will be horrific
YES, we could well have a retaliatory war. President Bush has warned that those governments which host terrorists will be held as responsible as the terrorists themselves. And Nato has invoked the mutual defence response of its treaty for the first time in its history by determining that the terrorist attacks on the United States constitute an attack on all of its member states.
Retribution is coming and when it does it will be inflicted by a united alliance and it will be horrific. And it will be sustained.
No, this isn't about a failure of American foreign policy. This is about hate-mongering. President McAleese, in her truly affecting unscripted response on television to the tragedy, nailed the cause of the atrocities beyond cavil by anyone rational it was "crazed hatred unchecked". Now is not the time for vacuous moralising about dialogue rather than retaliation. It is the time for all of us to exhibit the resolve to check the evil of terrorism by holding those who preach and practise hatred to account.
By all means, talk first. And then, if the terrorists are not surrendered, war.
It's not that there isn't still hope that war can be averted. But doing so requires the unyielding support of America's friends, as well as its allies support for actions which could well involve the use of terrible force, not against conventional armies but against already impoverished countries. It will be harsh. It could be horrifying. But this time there will be no space for public Ireland to play its usual role of self-righteous posturing and condemnatory moralising, for what took place in America on Tuesday was truly an attack on us all, on civilised society itself.
Fortunately, judging by the response of Irish political leaders which has been magnificent and by the heartfelt reactions of the Irish people, there is no fear of this. Ireland is standing "shoulder to shoulder" with the US. Let us be clear about this. The Irish media, in general, bear their share of the responsibility for what happened in the United States. For far too long in this country there has been a prevailing view which denigrates and condemns and even vilifies American foreign policy. Many of these venomous falsehoods such as claims that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians were killed in the Gulf War have continued to spill out over Irish airwaves this past week. The hatred of America which drove the terrorists doesn't flourish in a global vacuum. Any society which glorifies suicide as a heroic act is a sick society.