War On Terrorism is needed
Previously published January 16, 2008
The war in Iraq has been raging on for half a decade now and, though it militarily has seen its ups and downs, the country remains politically disjointed with an amorphous mass of politicians unsteadily and reluctantly taking baby steps away from the nurturing support of the Bush administration; one way or another, we will see an end to major combat missions in the near future. On the other hand, there is the forgotten war effort in Afghanistan that has begun to falter and, in Pakistan, the sentinel state that minds Bid Laden and Al Qaeda for us while we battle the appendages of the terrorist network that attacked our nation elsewhere, we are watching a "democracy" degrade into a state of unrest with somewhere around 60 nuclear warheads at stake.
After the attacks on September 11, 2001, our nation declared war on terrorism, thus, the War on Terror began. I have never been a fan of George W. Bush nor have I been a fan of this War on Terror; however, I do see the need for a war on terrorism that must equally involve the participation of the entire world not only in military action but, primarily, in political, social, and humanitarian action. My fear is that with the inevitable end of the major American combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, our nation will no longer be in a war on terrorism. Furthermore, with our allies reluctant to support our goals, future actions against terrorism will be weak; thus, there will be no true answer to the threat of global terrorism whether it comes from stateless terrorist groups or governments that engage in state sponsored terrorism. I am certain there will continue to be wars in nations like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, but there will be no unified world campaign against terrorism.
After September 11th, America invaded Afghanistan because the Taliban were defiantly harboring Osama Bin Laden, along with suppressing their own people; however, in many respects, this was a spasm of revenge which happened to send a message to terrorists around the world that the US is willing to defend itself. Furthermore, it united the world around us. Because its leaders engaged in state sponsored terrorism and it could have been a quick win, the next stop in the War on Terror was Iraq; the Bush administration, of course, felt the need to supposedly justify this invasion with the claim that Saddam's threat of using weapons of mass destruction on American was a valid concern.
Frankly, in the wake of September 11th, we were not a clear headed nation that did act impulsively; however, we also created an opportunity to make the world a better place, to take on the noble case of ending terrorism around the world. What went wrong, I believe, is that we never fully questioned why we were against terrorism, and thus, we never truly committed to a war on terrorism; in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, our nation, and largely the world, zealously vowed to rid the world of terrorism but as the adrenaline faded and the failures of impulsive, underdeveloped adventures came to light, we discovered, many people had little substance to their pledges, aside from anger.
Furthermore, if we assume everyone is against terrorism simply because it is bad and it hurt us, all we manage to do is polarize those who sympathize with terrorist causes toward the terrorists and lead people who are against terrorist groups to over generalize and discriminate against those who are not terrorists but have similar beliefs or support the same causes in nonviolent ways. It is wise to remember that Britain would have claimed rebel American colonists were terrorists and though we consider Israel an ally, many groups view their government as engaging in state sponsored terrorism. Not understanding what you are fighting against only manages to polarize groups; thus, we spread ignorant misconceptions, further disenfranchise a group, drive people who sympathize with terrorists to become terrorists, and strengthen the conflict.
It is important to understand why you are against terrorism so we are able to define the term to the world. Many politicians, American or not, do not like defining terms like terrorist because they fear it limits their ability to engage possible threats against their nation; however, we work in a world context now and, as Iraq demonstrates, our nation needs allies. Frankly, even if we did not need ally support, only fools would exhaust and weaken military resources fighting a prolonged, expensive battle alone while the world grows stronger around us. If we want the world's support, we need to clearly define terrorism and produce an argument that allows an enduring, substantial campaign against worldwide terrorism, instead of an expensive, short burst of fervor that sizzles out with broken nations left to become the seed for the next generation of terrorists. Frankly, the world needs a war on terrorism but for one to be maintained, we need to know what we are fighting against.
For years we supported the Al Qaeda network against the Soviet Union; however, Russia later became a close ally and, as it turns out, our past partnerships of conveyance ended up being poor arrangements for all sides. In the short term, supporting terrorists against an enemy is useful, but overall, it can be quite detrimental. We live in a time when the world is learning that supporting the fickleness of the United States is an unwise strategy, and so, more and more, we must be far more committed to our struggles and far more convincing in our strategies, so that, the world will support us.
Why am I against terrorism? I am against terrorism because terrorists do not simply target government or social hierarchies that they perceive disenfranchise their group, they target society as a whole and enact change through the indiscriminate murder of relatively innocent civilians and they use that fear to drive change, or in the case of an established ruling body, they use fear to hold onto illegitimate rule of a people. I am against terrorism because it destabilizes society and hurts any chance of positive change, but my greatest fear is that because of the failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have lost a golden opportunity to unite and make the world a safer place for all of mankind.