First off: what I'm going to say, below, is not worded politically or politely. I am going to express my views on what happened during the morning of September 11, 2001. It may upset some people. If you don't want to hear any more about it, or can't handle what I might say, please stop reading now.
To those still reading: I first offer my condolences to those whose lives have been forever changed. Trite, perhaps, but also true. While I cannot give blood (failing the current requirements of the blood banks), our household is doing what we can, in other ways, to try to contribute. Yes, it would be wonderful if everyone contributed all the time - we would be, in many ways, a happier nation with fewer problems. But at least we band together in times like this - some places simply don't have that.
To those who will undoubtedly suffer prejudice after this action, for their religion or their appearance, even though they are as shocked and horrified by these acts as anyone condemning them - I also offer my sympathies. I truly hope that we learned the folly of such actions, during the last wars, but life from day to day in this country brings new reminders that many still find it easier to condemn a race or a religion than to understand them.
I believe that if the United States were truly to retaliate in kind, and scaled up to our capacity, that we would be launching strategic nuclear missiles at the capital of every "rogue state" - and two at Mecca. This would do an equal amount of damage to the military/political structure the terrorists use (IE, very little), and to the symbols of their cause. And to do such a thing would be an equally unconscionable and barbarous act, which the world would rightly condemn us for, even in response to what happened. But to those who were celebrating in the streets of Palestine and handing out candy - this is what "an eye for an eye" would entail. Think about that, while you cheer the deaths of those who will show more compassion, even in retaliation, by limiting it to military or terrorist targets.
And I have no doubt that we will retaliate. Our military is currently at it's highest state of readiness since World War 2. Our President has made it clear that we are being mobilized for war - not just in words, but in action. National Guard units across the country have been mobilized. This does not happen, unless they intend to send the active soldiery out to a major conflict. At best guess, planes with nuclear load-outs have been airborne since yesterday morning, as a precaution against being destroyed on the ground. Military aircraft have been overflying all major urban areas on defensive patrols for the past 24 hours, and show little sign of being called down. Ladies and gentlemen, if we are not officially at war yet, we soon will be.
To those who are now worrying about my sanity, or whether I have turned into a raving patriot with a gun in each hand - I do not want war. For pity sake, I can still be drafted. In a very personal and direct way, a war means that I could well end up being put in a situation which anyone would dread. But in an equally power point - as a citizen who has benefited from the peace and prosperity of this country, and someone who (often without basis) holds onto hope that someday we'll actually have politicians who are statesmen again, if we decide we value that anytime soon - I cannot deny the fact that I have just as much responsibility for the well-being and safety of this nation as any other citizen. With rights and privileges come duties - one of the first and foremost, to protect those same rights and privileges.
We believe in the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, and in general, the freedom to express damn near anything, no matter how unpopular. But as with all rights, there comes a point where your right to do anything must be curbed by the more fundamental rights - to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We cannot - we must not - allow ourselves to lose sight of these ideals, even in the sight of what they can cost us. Even today, I will say that someone standing on a street corner, decrying America for being a nation of evil, has every right to do so - because that same country is founded on the beliefs that you do not commit violence upon someone simply because they disagree with you. But when that same person issues a call to arms, to commit violence against a person or a nation, they have crossed a line which must always be drawn, from holding and expression an opinion, to presenting a threat. Our government exists to protect us, the citizens, from exactly these sort of threats - whether they come from within, or abroad.
In parting, I will also offer the following link. It goes to an essay by the author Orson Scott Card. While I do not agree with everything he expresses, nor do I think that all he suggests would be appropriate courses of action, I think that he makes some very serious and thought-provoking points about what we are facing, and what we will have to do, if we want to "win" this war. The War on Drugs is, in many ways, more of a war than the War on Terror has ever been. As a result, it is a one-sided war - only the terrorists are truly at war, with us.