The attack on America reveals how our interventionist policy poses a danger to the very people our government is charged to protect. More than 200 years ago, President George Washington warned of the dangers of foreign entanglements. His caution rings true today, for America has no enemies but those we create, despite our best intentions. The 21st century marks an opportunity to abandon our penchant for seeking a role in every foreign conflict, and to refocus our national priorities on securing the blessings of liberty - for Americans.
Chuck Regan Nashua, N.H.
I hope that instead of simply wrapping ourselves in flags and self-righteousness, we will consider not only what happened, but why, and force our representatives to reassess our international involvements. We owe it to our dead and grief-stricken, to those we would have as friends, and to those we need not make our enemies to look with clear eyes at the world and decide what is vital to us - and not allow the conflicts of distant people to influence our judgments, spill grudges onto our land, and blight our shores with murderous mayhem.
Igor Brobowsky Cedar Grove, N.J.
One reaction emerging in response to the events of Sept. 11 is a desire for isolationism. While we need to consider how to make the United States secure in the face of terrorism, closing our doors to the rest of the world is not a viable response. This is no time to isolate ourselves.We need friends around the world, and we must continue our programs of international exchange and education. It is ignorance and a lack of understanding that feed hatred and fanaticism.
Patti McGill Peterson Washington
Institute for International Education
I fear the trend of combining nationalism and religion in the wake of Sept. 11. Once we start aligning America with Christianity and Afghanistan with Islam, we are stepping into muddy water.
When President Bush proclaims that he will rid the world of "evil-doers," I wonder what exactly he considers "evil." Certainly, most people would agree that mass murder is evil, but beyond that, it becomes unclear. His rhetoric blurs a line between religion and state. We are not launching a holy war, but a war to preserve and protect American interests. Let us not say that we are gunning for all evil-doers in the world, but for all those who would harm US interests. Otherwise, we risk mistaking Americanism for Christianity - a standard that America has only rarely upheld.
Let's remind ourselves that "God Bless America" is a plea to God - not one of our inalienable rights.
Todd Heldt Chicago
We all understand that "everything changed" on Sept. 11. Yet few of us have recognized that it remains our decision as to what that change will be. Americans must not become a nation of vigilantes, seeking revenge on foreign-born neighbors or accepting a new level of "collateral damage" in military response. To do so is to become a mirror image of the terrorists, justifying the taking of innocent lives in the name of "our cause."
The temptation to attack nations harboring suspected terrorists must not destroy reasoned diplomacy. We must seize this moment to build an unprecedented international coalition for the purpose of preventing - not just punishing - terrorism.
In a global world where potential instruments of violence are widely dispersed, we are all soldiers and police. We share the burden and risk of guarding human decency.
Randy Kritkausky Middlebury, Vt.
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