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Americans, Brave Co-Combatants But One
January 1, 2004

The recent Orange Alert was serious. It required preventive and pre-emptive actions by local and state police. Overseas terrorists groups may have used intelligence agency-monitored communications to feign an attack. Raising fear is of course the goal of terrorists. It was taken as a serious threat.

Americans were instead defiant. They attended mass outdoor events; the New Year's Eve in Times Square and the Rose Ball Parade. That took courage. It was a gutsy self-assurance. That's how the war against terrorism is being won.

There was also a cowardly sidebar to this threat cycle. A Republican Congressman, who sits on the House Select Committee on Homeland Security and chairs a terrorism subcommittee, warned New Yorkers to avoid the traditional Times Square event. This is the same representative Rep. Christopher Shays, a Connecticut Republican, who warned that the U.S. is vulnerable to nuclear attack by terrorists who may have access to as many as 60 briefcase-sized tactical nuclear weapons now missing from the former Soviet Union. Informed cowardliness.

War creates heroes and cowards. This war, against terrorists is without boundaries. It makes co-combatants out of all of us. Stateside, resistance and resilience are our prime weapons. American citizens were the preferred targets of radical Islamic terrorists, before the military counter attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq. At present, our military suffers the daily casualties. They are the daily heroes of the war against terrorists. Our military has attacked the support structure of radical Islamics. For now, they're the battle arenas, with boundaries, in the war against terrorists.

However, American citizens remain most vulnerable to the next spectacular event by Al Qaida. Bin Laden presumably still approves Al Qaida's targets -- Turkey the most recently. There he advised against creating massive citizen casualties. That mission was botched. Civilians were killed and injured.

Bin Laden will insist on massive civilian casualties in the next attack in America.

There were clear signals that the huge Time's Square New Year's Eve event might be a desirable target.

Nearly a million Americans gathered in a few small blocks in one of the two main target cities of Al Qaida. New York, the scene of the terrorists' most ghastly triumph. For Bin Laden, New York is the center of America's evil materialistic culture.

And the response by New Yorkers? Clear and unmistakable. 750,000 New Yorkers and non-New Americans said "bring it on." Each of those attendees thought about it. Many knew about the infamous suitcase bombs, which the timid Congressman Shays had highlighted in his warning. In previous years, the greatest concern when attending the Times Square event was parking or drunken revelers.

Three quarter of million Americans defied Al Qaida terrorists around the world on New Year's Eve. Life did go on as usual. Americans would not be intimidated. Though, one congressman buckled to the threat and fearfully stayed away from the event.

Congressman Shays is a moral casualty in this war against violent terrorists . Average Americans walked bravely into a dangerous situation; while an elected leader hid at home afraid to venture out on New Year's Eve. The lines have blurred blurred. In this war, citizens and their military are co-combatants with unlikely heroes and cowards.

Write to Arthur at bruzzone@rightturns.com


Arthur Bruzzone has written over 250 political articles for national and regional media, and has commented on political and urban issues for American and European television and radio networks.  He is an award-winning public affairs television producer/host.His articles and columns have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, Campaign & Elections Magazine, among other publications. Mr. Bruzzone holds a Masters Degree in Philosophy from C.U.A in Washington , D.C., and a M.B.A. in real estate. He is a returned Peace Corps volunteer serving two years in the Kingdom of Tonga, and the former chair of the San Francisco Republican Party. He served as a California state commissioner on a major environmental regulatory agency. He presently is president of a real estate investment company headquartered in San Francisco, CA.

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