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America must promise Boston justice will come

Not so long ago, terrorism evoked not only distress and confusion but also hand-wringing. What is to be done? In an age where one person or one group can wreak such havoc, is there any useful way to respond?

Today, the confusion is still there, at least for the first few days. And as the sheer brutality of the murders and maimings in the Boston Marathon Massacre becomes clear, the heartbreak and national distress will be there as well.

But nobody's wringing their hands any more.

The United States has learned a few lessons the hard way, and one of them is that there absolutely is a way for society to respond.

It is to hunt the perpetrators down -- whatever their background, whatever their cause.

That's the way we responded to the mass murders of Sept. 11, 2001. As a result, Osama bin Laden is dead, and so are many of the event's other planners. Most of the remainder are in jail.

Count on it: The same fate is sure to befall whoever's behind the bombings in Boston. The machinery already is rolling into place, bringing with it all of the mass and deadly purpose of a battalion of tanks.

It'll soon set off on its quest. And then, it will grind on until the job is complete, pushing forward 24/7 over whatever terrain awaits.

Can any lawless group hold out against the focused power of the U.S. government?

Well, they can try.

But they won't succeed, because the group's very lawlessness unites our diverse society rather than divides.

That's why terrorism rattles democratic governments and societies but doesn't topple them. That's why the Red Army Faction (aka the Baader-Meinhof Gang) has disbanded while Germany still stands, why Aum Shinriko collapsed after its 1995 Sarin gas attack on a Tokyo subway, why Shining Path, the Weathermen and countless other terror groups never came close to achieving their revolutionary goals.

Speaking of Aum Shinriko, here's a note from Wikipedia: "The last remaining fugitive, Katsuya Takahashi, was captured on June 15, 2012, after surveillance video of him was released. He is said to have been the driver in the Tokyo gas attack and was caught in Tokyo near a comic book coffee shop."

Takahashi had been on the run for 17 years, the entry notes.

The world's free people don't forget. That's the assurance the rest of America can offer to Boston today: The promise that, along with offering our prayers and aid, our nation won't stop until it sees justice done.

Dennis is the opinion editor of the Grand Forks Herald, which is a part of Forum News Service. Email him at