It seems some folks took offense at my post yesterday. I meant no offense. Now. Consider this - Wars are won by a couple of distinct ways.
First, you destroy the opposition military and its capability to make war - the non-jargon translation is, "Kill the enemy army." Americans - see the state of the Confederate Army by April, 1865.
Another option is to destroy the opposition "will to combat", their eagerness to fight. Damaging this is not enough, it leaves the chance that it will be revived. The Yanks did this to Japan at the end of WWII, AFTER seriously weakening the military. The shock value on the population and the rank-and-file military (and the emperor) of two cities destroyed by two bombs undercut the jingoism of the military high command. The concept of bushido simply does not stand to an opponent you can not touch.
A variant of this was what happened to Germany and Russia in WWI - neither could continue because of social breakdow directly related to the war.
This is also precisely how irregular forces defeat conventional military forces - resisting and avoiding pitched battles unless victory is certain, hit and run tactics - as were seen in Ireland 1920-21, Indo-China in the '50's, Viet Nam with the Yanks and, more recently, Sudan. When political concerns limit the ability of the military to conduct operations, the military will lose. Period.
To defeat irregular forces, which is the way that most "terrorists" see themselves, conventional forces must know what the rules are. Since the government of the conventional forces usually set the rules, and are influenced by the public opinion at home and abroad, most irregulars simply use the same rules against them.
The most common way is to hide in a sympathetic nation-state, whose national sovereignty prevents another nation-state from invading. They will use civillians as shields and protest bombings as murdering civillians. (Consider that schools and hospitals were flattened according to Japanese and German news reports from 1939-45, but military installations were undamaged.)
Mr. Bush's speech last night set out in very strong diplomatic language that there would be counter-strikes. These strikes are not limited to the issues of nation-states (which would mean war) but also to the group immediately responsible for the actions and any group or nation-state that supports, protects or shelters them. Thus, if a nation-state initiated this, we will make war on that state. If a nation-state shelters those who did this, we will make war on them as well.
Now, this is not new. It has long been the view of most nations that weapons respond to weapons. Attacks are responded to by like attacks.
The attack yesterday was on the US Military infrastructure, and the US and international financial systems. Thus, while the attack was directed at the US and involved Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and any other nation which had corporations with offices in the WTC. This attack was intended to strike both a symbol, and the actual fact, of international trade and the world economy.
To let this stand unanswered is to let the concept of democratic government be abandoned and let the war-lords have their way. THIS is why you'll see much diplomatic activity in the near future.
Finally, Islam is based on love. The Pillars of Islam include charity and compassion. It is not Muslims in general who made this attack, but people of the same ilk who kill people of one Christian sect because they belong to another sect. Jihad is meant to spread the faith, not slaughter non-combatants, no matter what fanatics say. When Hammas condemns the attack as cowardly, that carries far more weight than George Bush in some circles.
When retribution comes (not if) it will be swift and terrible.
I wish it could be different, that talking would fix everything. The fact is, some folks simply will not talk.