Bartlet: What is the virtue of a proportional response? Why's it good? They hit an airplane, so we hit a transmitter, right? That's a proportional response. They hit a barracks, so we hit two transmitters.
Admiral Fitzwallace: Yes, that's roughly it, sir.
Bartlet: This is what we do. I mean, this is what we do.
Leo: Yes sir, it's what we do. It's what we've always done.
Bartlet: Well, if it's what we do, if it's what we've always done, don't they know we're going to do it? I ask again, what is the virtue of a Proportional Response?
Admiral Fitzwallace: It isn't virtuous, Mr. President. It's all there is, sir.
Bartlet: It is not all there is.
Admiral Fitzwallace: Just what else is there?
Bartlet: The disproportional response. Let the word ring forth, from this time and this place, gentlemen, you kill an American, any American, we don't come back with a proportional response. We come back with total disaster! [He bangs the table]
Bartlet: I am suggesting, General, that you, and Admiral Fitzwallace, and Secretary Hutchinson, and the rest of the National Security Team take the next sixty minutes and put together an American response scenario that doesn't make me think we're just docking somebody's damn allowance!
Bartlet: Did you know that two thousand years ago a Roman citizen could walk across the face of the known world free of the fear of molestation? He could walk across the Earth unharmed, cloaked only in the protection of the words civis Romanus-- I am a Roman citizen. So great was the retribution of Rome, universally certain, should any harm befall even one of its citizens. Where was Morris's protection, or anybody else on that airplane? Where was the retribution for the families, and where is the warning to the rest of the world that Americans shall walk this Earth unharmed, lest the clenched fist of the most mighty military force in the history of mankind comes crashing down on your house?! In other words, Leo, what the hell are we doing here?!
Leo: We are behaving the way a superpower ought to behave.
Bartlet: Well our behavior has produced some crappy results, in fact I'm not a hundred per cent sure it hasn't induced it.
Leo: And you think ratcheting up the body count's gonna act as a deterrent?
Bartlet: You're damn right I-
Leo: Oh, then you are just as stupid as these guys who think capital punishment is going to be a deterrent for drug kingpins. As if drug kingpins didn't live their day to day lives under the possibility of execution, and their executions are a lot less dainty than ours and tend to take place without the bother and expense of due process. So, my friend, if you want to start using American military strength as the arm of the Lord, you can do that. We're the only superpower left. You can conquer the world, like Charlemagne! But you better be prepared to kill everyone. And you better start with me, because I will raise up an army against you and I will beat you!
Bartlet: He had a ten day old baby at home.
Leo: I know.
Bartlet: We are doing nothing.
Leo: We are not doing nothing.
Bartlet: We're destroying-
Leo: Four high-rated military targets!
Bartlet: And this is good?
Leo: Of course it's not good. There is no good. It's what there is! It's how you behave if you're the most powerful nation in the world. It's proportional, it's reasonable, it's responsible, it's merciful! It's not nothing. Four high-rated military targets.
Bartlet: Which they'll rebuild again in six months.
Leo: Then we'll blow 'em up again in six months! We're getting really good at it... It's what our fathers taught us.
Bartlet: Why didn't you say so? Oh, Leo...when I think of all the work you put in to get me to run and all the work you did to get me elected...I could pummel your ass with a baseball bat.