EDITORIAL: A long haul ahead?

The numbness of Sept. 11 slowly subsides and Americans are beginning to think about the immediate future with a mix of determination and confusion. In the days following the terrible terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., many cried for a strong and bold military response from our government. President Bush declared that such a terrible evil would be punished.

That sentiment still reigns across the country, but reports indicate that Americans are beginning to realize that an appropriate response-if it is to be something more than a tit-for-tat slaughter of innocents elsewhere-will be a demanding challenge for those who who plot it.

In those first hours, the attack on New York and Washington often was compared to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Beyond the surprise and shock of witnessing a brutal attack on American soil, the comparison is hardly accurate. Sixty years ago, the enemy was clearly defined and a notion of victory easy to conceive. In a war against terrorism, though, we desperately want both…but strain to see either.

It remains to be seen whether Americans will maintain their bedrock support for our government leaders if the promised campaign takes longer to plan and prosecute and if the results are less than clearly measurable.

Our culture has come to expect instant gratification and guaranteed results. If that is what we Americans want in this instance, we are likely to be disappointed on both counts.

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