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Within three hours of Tuesday morning's terrorist attacks, one Speedway merchant had changed his marquee to read "God Bless America." But there's nothing worse we can do right now than rally 'round the flag, spout patriotic blather and look for easy scapegoats.

Instead, we must realize that this tragedy happened not only through the efforts of well-organized fringe extremists, but through failed American policy.

Instead of hurling trash at innocent Middle Eastern students at the University of Arizona, we should recognize the folly of George W. Bush's grievously expensive continuation of the Star Wars program. Not only is it technologically unreliable, it is now obviously politically irrelevant. We're not so much threatened by hostile governments with nuclear missiles as we are easy targets for suicidal terrorists.

Dubya's support of Star Wars is only half the domestic problem. The other half is a decade of failed anti-terrorism policy. The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, for example, has proved worthless because of State Department and Justice Department meddling.

A top-level deal allowed Libya to evade responsibility for the destruction of Pan Am 103, the international airliner blown up over Scotland in 1988; all it had to do was turn over a couple of minor terrorists. And the Iranian government has never had to pay court-awarded penalties related to American deaths in terrorist bombings.

I'm afraid that what Dubya will do now is, first, further curtail our civil liberties in the name of security, and then invade Afghanistan to chase down master terrorist Osama bin Laden, who may or may not have instigated Tuesday's attacks and whatever has followed since press time. A little war did wonders for the senior Bush's limp ratings 10 years ago, and Dubya is enough of a cowboy opportunist to follow suit, and enough of a foreign-policy dunderhead to forget that Afghanistan was the Soviet Union's Vietnam in the 1980s.

The instigators of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks must be brought to justice, but we must also recognize how culpable our own government is in this week's deaths of tens of thousands of Americans.

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