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'Infinite Justice': We must demand nothing less

Posted on October 15, 2001

Dwight Owen Schweitzer
Publisher, Jewish Star Times

Over the past week, I have devoted considerable time coming to grips with the question of what America's ``new war'' is really about. It is, I think, about values.

The value of human life, the value of fairness, the value of what we like to call the American way of life. The value of justice that is the hallmark of our political and judicial system. The value that mandates that only the guilty should be punished, not the innocent, not the children, not the unsuspecting. The value that the punishment should fit the crime, that the doomed not be deprived of life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness without due process of law.

These are the age old values of the Jews. It is not simply that our bible is the foundation of the Judeo-Christian concept of people's obligations to one another, upon which all of Western civilization is based.

It is that, without those precepts, we have no foundation from which to draw the rules that will enable us to live together in peace no matter what our personal beliefs may be. It is not a value system shared by our enemies in this new war, and it is why we must win, no matter what the cost.

The value system that drove those planes into the heart of America is a value system upon which no world order can survive. It is the value system of subjugation, intolerance and mindless cruelty. It is the dark ages descending, where whim becomes orthodoxy and orthodoxy is the litmus test of survival.

Our response was initially named ``Infinite Justice.'' It was a name chosen, I believe, with great care. Infinite does not simply mean never-ending, it also means all-pervading. In the context of our mission, we must hope that it means what it says, that justice shall be wrought wherever the seeds that germinated into the more than 6,000 deaths of the citizens of some 80 countries were planted, nurtured and allowed to grow.

``No matter what the cost'' is a phrase frightening in its implications. We have seen the lengths that the forces of evil have chosen to employ as the gauntlet was tossed down. We must not forget that biological and chemical weapons have been created not only by the Dr. Strangeloves of our military, but those of many other countries, and it is reasonable to assume that the Geneva Convention died with our thousands in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

They are in great supply throughout the world, lurking like the higher organisms controlling them, in the bloodstream of world commerce and the globalization of travel. Our borders have been unable to contain the entry of tons of illegal drugs by amateurs. We would compound our naveté if we failed to contemplate and protect ourselves against the spores of anthrax and diseases yet unnamed which can visit our water supplies, our food supplies, the very air we breathe.

The test before us and, indeed, the entire free world, is to accept that this is a conflict from which there can be no turning back, no compromise, no armistice, no modus vivendi. We must have the will to win in order to have the capacity to win, because if we stop short, if we leave the spores of evil free on the wind of our lack of will or fear of consequence, it is we who will have sown the wind and it is surely we who will reap the whirlwind.

Where morality dies, people are soon to follow, as we have been so recently shown. Let no one presume that the forces who unleashed such a simple form of death are incapable of more sophisticated and pervasive destruction. We have slumbered secure in our power and technology. We have been awakened to a world where power and technology were made irrelevant and must be made relevant again.

``Infinite justice.'' Yes, was is a name well chosen, for it is not the act of reprisal or response that it describes. It is the goal to be achieved.

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