It's a crime, not a war.

I don't often [ab]use my position as the publisher of content on Today, I feel led to do so.

The people who did this and their associates have committed a crime, not an act of war. Friends should encourage people to think of it this way. Instead of giving in to the war fever, instead of listening to the media's cries of "WAR!", we should be looking for evidence and clues. And we should present those to a court, possibly the court of public opinion. The criminals should be given their chance in court, just like all criminals in a free society.

Perhaps the criminals are being sheltered by a rogue state. If that is the case, then maybe, just maybe a military action will be needed to extract the criminal from its protection. But again, it won't be a war, it will be an enforcement action.

It should be simple to position this act as a crime, not a war. When someone says "This means war!!! We must have REVENGE", just ask them "Against who?" Point out that individuals were behind this heinous act. In a free country, individuals are responsible for their actions, and those individuals can be brought to justice. Point out that maybe these people want us to overreact -- to go in swinging. Point out that maybe they have failed to arouse their people and are seeking to get us to do so.

Timothy McVeigh bombed the Alfred P Murrah Office Building. He was accused, tried, found guilty, sentenced, and a form of justice was attained. No war against his home state was contemplated.

Friends are anti-war, to be sure, but we are not now and have never been against justice. Indeed, war is its own form of injustice. War is killing people without due process.

And then, once there has been closure, we must reconsider our role as world policeman. We need to understand why people hate us so much that they are willing to give their lives to hurt us. Do we act in ways that would offend us if other countries were doing them to us? Is our foreign policy one which we would never allow one US state to hold against another US state? Are we operating under the rule of law? Are we carrying out the instructions of a court? Are we taking sides in conflicts that don't involve us? Or are we acting as judge, jury, and executioner?

It is in my mind that true evil is very rare in the world. Some people hurt other people, yes. But for the most part they are acting from a previous hurt (real or imaginary). They seek a justice which may only exist in their own minds. Justice is a social relationship. Unless we talk to the people we would war with, unless we understand the cause of their hurt, we may never have the justice we seek.

Please spread this idea around. Forward this URL (, talk about this idea, write letters to the editor, call your congress-critter and demand no war without a Congressional declaration of war. Demand that we not treat others as we would not wish to be treated ourselves.

I am not alone in my conclusion that this is a crime. Sir Michael Howard, the eminent British historian, says that it is a mistake to declare this a 'war'.

I have some thoughts on Israel.

Russell Nelson
Previously modified: Tue Oct 9 11:18:12 EDT 2001
Last modified: Wed Oct 31 11:03:29 EST 2001