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euclid,

The 'easy' objective you suggest is absolutely not the goal; in fact, I was stating that my suggested course would not be easy. Let me clarify a few points.

First, I am not advocating 'total, unilateral war'. To the extent we can secure multilateral support in a reasonable time frame, we should do so. We should also release information to support our case to the extent we can, noting that we have field operatives around the world whose lives depend on certain secret information remaining so.

I am also not advocating a particular level of national resources to be committed to the effort of combatting terror. There are a lot of factors that go into that decision, but obviously, we need to devote more resources to this than we were a year ago.

Also, to the extent that we can achieve our objectives without war, we should do so. Diplomacy should be given a chance when possible. HOWEVER, the key points of my earlier message are as follows:

1) Sometimes diplomacy is not an option. Sometimes we have to kill our enemy. Sometimes we cannot wait until the international community agrees with us, especially when our enemy is developing weapons of mass destruction.

2) We should always think through the long-term consequences of our action, or inaction. My belief that terrorists and their leaders must be wiped out completely is not inconsistent with the objective of making sure that there is not a 'power vacuum' left in the wake. Afghanistan showed us that.

3) I never said that we should destroy whole societies. To the extent that we can secure the necessary transfer of power from terrorist leaders to moderates, we should absolutely do so. If diplomacy and/or threats work, that's great. All innocent lives that can be spared should be. An innocent life is an innocent life, regardless of religion, nationality, or color.

4) That said, sometimes innocent lives will be sacrificed. We aren't perfect, and sometimes, weapons don't work properly, and sometimes we make mistakes. However, many times, innocents are used as human shields. We can't be deterred from acting simply because innocent lives may be lost. Yes, the potential for innocent loss of life must be considered, but it is only one factor. Also, realize that sometimes, more innocent lives can be lost if action isn't taken.

5) We must not abdicate responsibility for sponsoring freedom and punishing terrorists around the world, even when the rest of the world is afraid to, or wants to wash their hands of the issue. The rest of the world may have the luxury of sitting on the sidelines if they choose to -- we do not.

6) 'Pissing people off' is always going to happen. Many people hate America simply because we're powerful, and many Muslims hate us because we support Israel. We can't ignore the opinions of others, but we must realize that sometimes, leading according to public and international opinion is a recipe for disaster. It's tough to know when to buck the polls, but true leaders have to step forward and make the tough decisions, based on the right principles, and the information available at the time. Some of these decisions may be great, others may be disastrous, but the best a leader can do is start with the right principles, get as much information as they can, and do what they think is right under the circumstances, especially when the decision isn't 'easy'.

Dean
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