Under attack

  • 2001-09-20
Peace is over. Welcome to the unpredictable 21st century. The Baltics are part of the liberal Western civilization, which is now under attack. Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians are taking the tragedy of Sept. 11 personally, mainly because so many of them live in the U.S.A.

It is difficult to find another European nation so U.S.-oriented as Lithuania. Its president, Valdas Adamkus, and Jonas Kronkaitis, a U.S. Army Vietnam War veteran and current chief commander of the Lithuanian army, both spent most of their lives in the United States. One-third of all Lithuanians live in America.

The tragedy should not harm NATO expansion. America is currently trying to gather an international coalition. It will want Russian support too, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has so far been willing to lend a hand.

Washington is ready for a war campaign. If America and its allies do go to war, it will be for long and possibly without end. It could radicalize a mostly peaceful Muslim world.

But if America does not respond in this way, it could give terrorists the green light for more attacks. George W. Bush cannot ignore the pressure of many Americans who demand revenge.

But it is worth remembering that revenge is a dish best served cold. Bush should make it clear to all that Islam and Osama bin Laden are different things.

Is the world moving toward a conflict of civilizations? The Islamic world has different values. The individual human being is the highest value in our civilization, while religion, ideology and the interests of society prevail in the Muslim world. This helps to explain why Israel is the only democratic state in the Middle East.

Anti-Western fanatics are capable of a new style of war. They can bring chemical, biological or nuclear weapons in suitcases to Western towns. They will be happy to die for their goals. Is NATO prepared for such a war? Are we?

It's time to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict immediately. This 50-year-old clash is constantly provoking tension between two civilizations. America should rethink its foreign policy, which many ordinary Americans are already starting to question.

"Make Israel give up the entire Gaza strip and West Bank before another dime of support. This should have happened long ago. Then let the U.N. take over the borders," went one letter in the New York Times.

But there is no doubt - the war against terrorism is inevitable. The Balts are on America's side. Let's get the job done.