Archive for the ‘9-11’ tag
What is the war on terror?
What defines it and at what point might we be able to declare “victory?”
One could suggest these questions might have been more relevant six or seven years ago when this debacle began after 9/11, but as we are still in a two-front war, still being affected globally by terrorism (See: Mumbai) and still hobbled under George W. Bush’s all-encompassing declaration of war on enemies both seen (mostly unseen), it’s still relevant today.
Frankly, I still don’t know what the war on terror means. I understand it’s an active roundup of people who seek to do harm on an international scale to innocents (For the record, the “Allied” forces have killed an estimated 90,000-97,000 civilian Iraqis since 2003.) and to catch those regimes who seek to intimidate and bully governments with which they don’t agree, but terrorism has existed since the Earth cooled (Possibly, but only possibly, is this an overstatement).
A few of many examples include:
- The Crusades
- The slaughter/scattering of the Native Americans
- John Brown, the Sons of Liberty, the Ku Klux Klan, the Irish Republican Army and numerous examples from the Cold War
Thus, terrorism is not a new thing. It wasn’t created on 9/11. And most importantly, it’s not a thing we can wrap our minds, our hands or our guns around. It’s a ubiquitous thing. Like the war on drugs, it’s so ubiquitous that we can’t even imagine it’s eventual victory. Acts of terror have pervaded for centuries. The fact that we are just now in the 21st century declaring a “war” on it precludes nothing from its history.
What does “victory” look like? What would that mean?
One supposes that it means eradicating those in the world who seek to do us (Us, meaning not only Americans, but innocents around the world) harm. But how does one carry this out to its end? To declare war presupposes that said war predicates an enemy and the possibility of victory over that enemy.
But we don’t have a clearly defined enemy. We have a group of erratic, ever-shifting, ever-evolving group of networks. They have no defined “nation” and no defined “allegiance.” Unless that allegiance is said to be to Allah. And if that’s the case, we are waging a war, ultimately, against a mythical god. One can see, then, how the war on terror, taken to its extreme, can appear wholly absurd, and not only ubiquitous, but otherworldly. For, if the god supposedly served by radical Islamic terrorists orders its subjects to kill infidels (or to kill anyone) in its holy text is not worthy to be served, praised or even acknowledged.
Moreover, the War on Terror is like a giant, never-ending escape clause, excusing us from the guilt of all kinds of atrocities that otherwise would not be put up with. When will this mythical war end? What defines its victory? What does victory even mean? It’s not a war against Iraq or a war against Afghanistan. It’s a war against an ideal, an intangible. At this point, we can not predict its end. And if we somehow knew what victory would mean, we shudder at its far-reaching, centuries-long consequences.