We the People: Battling terrorism takes unity of purpose, calm courage

The families of passengers on Egypt Air 804 have been grieving since the passenger jet disappeared over the Mediterranean with 66 people on board early Thursday. Fifty-six passengers and 10 crew members died, including British geologist Richard Osman. The Airbus A320 was flying from Paris to Cairo when it vanished from radar without a signal which raised fears that this was like the ISIS bombing of a Russian jet in Egypt last October that killed 224 innocent people. Ships have recovered debris and passenger belongings believed to be from the missing flight. A terrorist attack seems more likely than a technical failure although no group has yet claimed responsibility.

This did not stop Donald Trump from tweeting, “Looks like another terrorist attack. Airplane departed from Paris … When will we get tough, strong and vigilant?” Does he know if this happened due to a failure of vigilance? There were three air marshals on the flight. A leader must resist the pressure to comment immediately without knowledge if he wants to lead responsibly. Trump’s tweet was irresponsible, but as a candidate he will speculate and look decisive if correct. But, if he were president, his shooting from the hip, without information, would cost credence at home and abroad with far-reaching consequences in international diplomacy.

The true tragedy here is the mourning of loved ones after a senseless loss of lives. Osman told his wife not to worry about a terrorist attack because, “It is never going to happen to me.” A brother told reporters, “He was … very kind … and loving” and a “workaholic” father of two children. He said, if this was an attack, these terrorist groups, “don’t think … these people have family members, or a past, or a history or hopes and dreams.”

It’s not that the thugs who carry out orders of death don’t think of the victims, it’s that they don’t care about victims. They don’t care about any victims or consequences. Mr. Osman displayed the spirit that will prevail. We must live and live well, and not be preoccupied with the evil plans of those who would do us harm.

In the Middle East, people are brutally killing each other, with civilians being killed indiscriminately every day. The “terrorist” today can be a motivated zealot or he can just be an antisocial outsider happy for an excuse to participate in indiscriminate murder. Many of the 9-11 hijackers were maladjusted underachievers from middle and upper class backgrounds who were happy to be coaxed into a plan to kill that would satisfy any lust to feel powerful. We don’t have to understand terrorists, but we must take effective steps to control them.

We are at war with terrorism, whether we like it or not. Who will lead the struggle and engender the spirit in the people at home to assure victory? Without the support and sacrifice of the people at home, individual courage on the battlefield will never win such a war. It is the resolve of the people who work, sacrifice and remain positive, no matter what deprivation they suffer, that wins wars.

The miscreants ready to inflict terror and horror on innocent individuals anywhere in the world must be stopped. That will only happen if we are led by someone who can sustain a unity of purpose and who can direct it with calm courage. FDR who led the men and woman of America to brave any danger and build an “arsenal of democracy” to defeat the true axis of evil in WWII. Similarly, the war on terrorism must be led by someone who can be passionate but purposeful and who can fight terrorists without losing his humanity in the struggle. The knee-jerk nature of Mr. Trump’s personality holds little promise of such leadership.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.