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How Will Bush Respond?

How Will Bush Respond?The President and other government leaders continue to indicate that the U.S. will strike back. But what can we expect?

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [09.13.01] On Tuesday, President George W. Bush called for Americans to come together, following one of the biggest tragedies in the country's history. Twenty-four hours later, he assured them that the government would strike back. Clues about the type and timing of a U.S. response were vague, however. So what can we expect?

"The American public will be looking for a forceful, proportionate response to this," Tufts' Michele Malvesti told the Boston Herald. According to Malvesti -- a student at Tufts' Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and former terrorism analyst for the Pentagon -- the U.S. will likely break from its traditional methods of response.

"Malvesti said the past pattern of 'bombing empty buildings' with cruise missiles will be unacceptable," reported the Herald.

Experts agree that Bush should focus on a "proportionate" response.

"If we do determine that it was a foreign government or it was a terrorist group linked to a foreign government, I agree that our response -- whether it be military, diplomatic or economic -- needs to be proportionate," Tufts' Jeffrey Taliaferro told National Public Radio's The Connection on Tuesday.

But the political science professor added: "I'm not sure it will be."

Despite pressure from the public, Taliaferro told the audience of the nationally syndicated radio program that Bush must be careful not to act out of anger.

"I think this is the real test of leadership: to the extent that President Bush and members of his administration, and also members of Congress, can resist calls for a harsh and reactionary response to this incident," Taliaferro told NPR.

The widespread destruction and loss of life has changed the way many Americans think about anti-terrorism campaigns," says Tufts' international relations expert Robert Shultz.

Suddenly, "war" has become a common word in the descriptions of Tuesday's events.

"We've been at war for a long time with terrorism, but we don't like to think about it as such," the Tufts Fletcher School professor told The Boston Globe.

Despite public expectations that Bush's response will use missiles and bombs, the U.S. may not be limited to just an immediate military counterattack.

Shultz -- Tufts' director of international security studies -- told NPR that the U.S. may reexamine the antiterrorist assets it already has in place.

"We have a whole special operation capability whose mission it is, in part, to be able to deal with threats proactively without having to [indiscriminately bomb] people's territory," Shultz told the program's audience. "Those capabilities frequently have not been used, and there's going to be a question why."

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