Is the ‘war on terror’ winnable?
The war on terrorism that started after 9/11 is still ongoing. It goes through name changes but the core of the conflict remains the same; we are involved in a conflict against a nebulous group of terrorists. This is neither a war in the conventional sense, nor is it winnable in the conventional sense. We win when there are no more terrorist attacks, even capturing Osama bin Laden no longer makes more than a symbolic difference. Previous conflicts have shown that terrorism can be won. For example, the IRA gave up its guns and stopped bombing. However, such examples were localised, and it is debatable as to whether a deal can be reached with al Qaeda globally to make peace. Overall, can the war on terror be won, or even end?
You can also add to the debate by leaving a comment at the end of the page.
We should hope so, given all the hype around it.
The war may be 'global' in terms of support but it is really/essentially just 'concentrated' in the Pak-Afghan border where all the 'main' bad guys/al-queda-operatives/etc, rest/reside. Slam/waste/catch the leaders of the cause and the cause is as good as dead; and the rest is history.
Obama has increased the number of troops sent to the region, keeping/maintaining the odds of 'winning' in western favor/favour.
To paraphrase Obama: It isn't important that God/Allah/Yah-weh/Baghwan is on our side but that 'WE' are on the side of God.
What sympathizers in the government? We don't see these 'sympathisers' on the Pakistani media.
Of course people who have friends and relatives dying in the name of 'collateral' damage, would not be 'happy' with the coalition military (inclusive of the Pakistani military).
The clause in your argument is in seeing this as a battle between the west and the east, much like Bush's description:'the crusades'.
BUT The war against terror is not the war against Islam or the war against eastern values.It is the war against terrorism of any kind.
As far as corruption in Afghanistan is concerned: they take bribes 'given' by the west.
"while the government is adopting an aggressive approach to the tribal areas, the nation itself is still an extremely volitile place. One spark and the whole operation could come to a standstill. Additionally the western powers, while willing to put pressure on Pakistan, they won't order them in what they should do, perhaps due to the fact they have nuclear missiles." you're hypothesizing:
Pakistan has caught many Al-queda operatives as well as nabbed 'innocent' people(alleged terrorists) and sold them to the C.I.A, which is why the U.N and a bunch of humanitarian organizations are cracking down on Musharraf. [[http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/12-un%20team%20wants%20to%20quiz%20musharraf--bi-06]]
There are sympathizers of 'justice'/philanthropy/'human rights':
There are no sympathizers for people who kill Pakistani residents/civilians by blowing themselves up in public arenas or the people who recruit/train these suicide bombers. Would you (genuinely)support a cause that is bent on killing you, your friends and/or your family? People might say that they support them to avert being the next victim but obviously people don't really sympathize.
Fallacy:'An enemy not afraid of death':
The leaders/masterminds/heads/big-dogs 'ARE' afraid of death, that is precisely why most suicide bombers are children/young-men/juvenile-delinquents. They are 'recruits' with young impressionable minds not the big fat evil bad guys.
The big dogs, train/recruit/brainwash/[sometimes even blackmail(if you don't blow yourself up, your family's dead) or bribe(If you do this you will be honoured for your 'shahadat'(martyrdom) and your family will be paid off)] young males, mostly from poverty stricken areas.
Get your facts straight
In this respect Pakistani residents are much like Israeli residents: Generally Israeli/Pakistani citizens do not advocate the wrongs done to recruits/potential-suicide-bombers(Palestinians/Northern-Pakistanis) and oppose their own governments for unlawful torture/kidnappings/maltreatment/crimes-against-humanity etc
But that does not in any way mean the residents 'sympathize' with people who come into their public places(restaurants/mosques/synagogues) and blow themselves(and a number of 'innocent-civilians': the same 'residents') up. Why would anyone support being murdered?
No the war on terror cannot be won. How can you fight an enemy that doesn't fear death?
They believe that what they are fighting for what is right and God's work.
On the contrary, the public in nations such as the United Kingdom and the USA are divided on the topic.
To win the war, nations such as Afghanistan need to become westernised but an increasing army presence doesn't make this so. In fact, it can have the opposite effect making civilians angry seeing their country run by 'outsiders'. Western reconstruction shortcoming and the innocent civilian deaths termed 'collateral damage' only add to these grievances.
The main problem is that the West does not know who they are fighting in these countries. If the war is to be won, then the West need to intervene in Somalia, known for Al-Qaeda links.
However, UN nations will be very wary against taking any more military action. An example of the lack of will for military action amongst Western nations is Spain. Following the Madrid bombings an opposition party came to power on the back of their policy for getting their troops out.
Finally, Pakistan is considered by many leading experts to have numerous Al-Qaeda sympathisers. While the government is adopting an aggressive approach to the tribal areas, the nation itself is still an extremely volatile place. One spark and the whole operation could come to a standstill. Additionally the western powers, while willing to put pressure on Pakistan, they won't order them in what they should do, perhaps due to the fact they have nuclear missiles.
Just a few points as to why the 'war on terror' is un-winnable.
Divide and rule:
Divide and rule:
Everything is going according to plan: millions of innocents and operatives are dying and support for militants is evaporating in the Muslim world and is resting in Obama’s America’s favor. [[http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jul/19/alqaida.terrorism]]
The fundamentalist movement is fragmented/disunited ‘divide and rule’ works and has withstood the test of time. Genghis Khan would have appreciated this military tactic and shook his head with disappointment at the Islamic insurgency which continues to shatter to shards.
Blind Optimism is the result of viewing everything with a myopic rose-colored lens. As previously prodded by the proposition, Al-Quaida is multifaceted/multidimensional/ fragmented.
Hardcore/bad-a#$ extremists are only one dimension; can all of Al-Quaida be suppressed? Is only suppressing a movement so it may reincarnate later on, the answer?
If peace-loving elements of the vast org (organization) are ostracized then there could/should be and are possible backlashes on the basis of western moral/legal- values/systems/constructs/panacea/ideals.
Should all of it (pacific/placid/conciliatory units included) be attacked?
Specifically labeling units as hardcore and innocuous is the next necessary step.
However, as long as these ideals are held, even peacefully; they can potentially emerge into a threat.
And since nobody bothered to sub-categorize Al-Qaeda (into the spectrum of: peaceful, blood thirsty & violent to an extreme degree, intelligently destructive and mind-bogglingly mad).[[http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jul/19/alqaida.terrorism]]
The scenario of resentful innocent victims and 'their' sympathisers/sympathizers pleading to their heroic saviors to avenge their tormentors, by charging against the American military (and forces of coalition: including Pakistan-Afghanistan-Britain etc soldiers), is unlikely to be averted/thwarted.
Bush and his self contradictory gibberish, are out of the picture
Now, we don't have Bush, aggravating/angering people with the use of the word 'crusades'. Alternatively saying things like (I,paraphrase) terrorists are not criminals and should not be treated as such but we should hunt them like criminals (he asked to renew the patriot act).
But that was 2004. Now, we have Obama, who will have troops out of Iraq by 2011, he would never make the mistake of calling the 'war on terror', 'the crusades'. He doesn't mispronounce people/places/country's names(Saddam is not soddom(from sodomy), nuclear(nu-clee-er) is not 'new killer' and yes, the world is as it should be)
Obama has intensified the action in the Pak-Afghan border where all the big-bosses of Islamic fundamentalist organizations reside(according to an increasing variety of sources over the years, even during the Bush-era).
This president, despite how much opposition he faces in the U.S(by Michael Moore and the like) for sending more troops, understands that more troops means less time/effort to defeat the enemy.
More troops means more people looking for Al-Queda operatives and a greater chance of catching them.
Obama is attacking the problem full throttle (just as he is attacking all other problems) and his country's present American sacrifices will bear more fruit for America than America ever had, in the future. This war will be won because it is being fought with full force, with more than enough resources(thousands of troops to catch less than a hundred Al-Queda big guns) and with the backing of millions.
Obama and his 'justice force' have not caught the less than hundred top Al-Queda operatives in the region.
Adding more troops translates to more collateral damage/killings, more psychological problems for troops away from home and more Major Nidals, perhaps.
"...Obama... will have troops out of Iraq by 2011..."
He said he would begin withdrawal in 2011. He did not promise to call back all of the troops now stationed there.
Think of Afghanistan, a senior Afghan official reportedly said that the American presence in Afghanistan will only be invisible from 2011.
It will never end.
On Somalia, terrorism is everywhere but we need to crack down on terrorist leaders: big potbellied men who do 'not' want to die ,who train/indocrinate impressionable minds the world over
Nip it in the bud.
Get to the root of the problem.
The recruits are not the 'real' threat, the 'charismatic' leaders are.
Which is why capturing these leaders/head-operatives/main-bad-guys is of the utmost importance.
There are millions of followers but only a handful of leaders, the leaders are the problem, 'SHEEP/recruits will listen to anything'; the recruits will not be a problem IF there is no one egging them on or telling them what to do/who to fight/where to blow themselves up.
Capturing the leaders HAS been one of the priorities in this war. Though it is smarter tactically than going after the recruits, it is kind of a vain effort when you capture or kill one and it is not long before another one springs up to take its place. This will inevitably occur as a consequence of the collateral damage Western forces are inflicting in Afghanistan. This is simply serving to attract more people to the very ideology we are supposed to be fighting. A political solution must underlie an lasting to any war. It is hard to argue that this is possible in a conflict not between states.
The failure of the strategy of targetting leaders has also been apparent in the Middle East. Repeated attacks by Israel on the Hamas leadership have not succeeded in breaking the movement. On the contrary, they are now the dominant political power in Gaza.
Address people’s grievances and you will win the war
The ‘war on terror’ is winnable if, broadly speaking, we take the phrase to refer to U.S. led efforts to prevent (or reduce significantly) acts of terrorism.
Rather than religious fanaticism, political grievances (often in conjunction with economic factors) are the dominant cause of a majority of terrorist acts. This has been confirmed by Professor Riaz Hassan of Flinders University, Adelaide: “Contrary to the popular image that suicide terrorism is an outcome of irrational religious fanaticism, suicide bombing attacks are resolutely a politically-motivated phenomenon” http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/what-motivates-suicide-bombers-0
The author goes onto to describe the political and economic factors which influence Palestinian suicide bombers. On an external level, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and the perceived imbalance in Western, particularly U.S., policy toward it, is consistently used as a recruiting tool by Islamic fundamentalists. If policymakers work toward addressing legitimate grievances, in this instance an illegal and brutal military occupation, then it is possible to make significant progress in reducing the numbers of people motivated into joining extremist organisations and committing acts of terrorism. As noted by Richard Clarke, former chair of the counterterrorism group for the Bush administration: “I understood, if we could achieve a Middle East peace much of the popular support for Al Qaeda and much of the hatred for America would disappear overnight” (Clarke :2004, p167).
C.I.A veteren Michael Scheuer, of 22 years begs to differ. He in his book `Ìmperial Hubris` says that the Bush administration has done so much damage on the issue that a war on terror is un-winnable.
First off, the public has been consistently misinformed & dis-informed about the issue.
secondly when your postulates/assumptions/ideas/notions /axioms are wrong how you act on them is wrong also.
If you`re addressing grievances that do not exist(based on the skewed perspective that the mass media has given you on reality) and ignoring ones that do; you can only go wrong.
It's history has not died
The war on terrorism began in 1948 when Israel was created. The newly formed UN decided that as Paelstine was under the British thumb, Britain could allow Jewish people to have a homeland there. BIG MISTAKE.
The Palestinians are Muslims, part of Islam's UMMAH, it's brotherhood. Muslims from all over will fight to get Palestine back to Palestinians, even if it means attacking countries who bankroll or support israel.
Terrorists did not hate US and UK because of their race or religion orginally. They hated what they had done to the Palestinian people.
The sinsiter terrorism witnessed on 9/11 or 7/7 was what grew out of the Palestinian fight.
If these terrorists admit that this is what their problem is, and Israel stop building settlements and the UN rehomes them properly this time, terrorism will evetually disappear. The USA nd UK also need to leave Afghanistan and Iraq.
This is a reply to the "It's (sic) history has not died" argument.
This argument relies on a belief that the Arab Israeli conflict can be solved. To state that it is necessary is for "the UN rehomes them properly this time" is simplistic and something that is unforeseeable. There is a fundamental clash between Israelis and Palestinians who both desire the same land. For Palestinians, the desire is the return of property seized during 1948. This would never be politically acceptable in Israel - no leader would secure the votes to implement such a policy.
For Israelis, that land is now seen as their possession. Beyond the biblical claims, there is also the fact that many Israelis are now no longer immigrants from Europe or the former USSR but instead born in Israel. It is their birthplace.
Overall, the idea that the UN can 'rehome' the Palestinian people in a settlement satisfactory both to extremist Muslim fundamentalists and to Israelis is farcical.
Success requires a comprehensive approach to counterinsurgency
Success within the ‘war on terror’ is dependent upon the ability of the international community to neutralise the array of threats posed to the west by advocates of Islamic extremism and the growing network of disenfranchised individual who are willing to pursue its political and symbolic objectives by utilising systematic acts of violence within western lands. As well as demanding a concerted effort to strengthen national security and resilience mechanisms, sustainable success requires that a central focus is similarly placed upon defeating and dismantling extremist groups like Al-Qaeda and continuing to deny their operatives safe havens within unstable regions such in Afghanistan and the federally administered tribal areas of Pakistan. Due to the pervasive nature of insurgent activity within the region, the stabilization of Afghanistan increasingly demands a concerted counterinsurgency (COIN) effort to secure key population centres and prevent extremist groups from gaining momentum in their attempts to expand their spheres of influence. For COIN to be successful within the current Afghanistan campaign, international efforts must employ a fully comprehensive strategy that encapsulates a coordinated and unified effort amongst all the actors involved. This must span an encompassing spectrum of political, military and economic capabilities.
A comprehensive approach has therefore not yet been fully adopted as there is a disproportionate emphasis upon the military aspect of the campaign and short fallings in, and militarisation of both civil capacity building and economic development efforts, as well as a lacking unity of effort and overall unity of command amongst the multiple dimensions of international contributions which intersect every level of the stabilisation effort in the region. For the comprehensive approach to be fully realised, greater balance between the pillars must be achieved if international efforts are to be successful in neutralising the insurgency, dismantling Al-Qaeda, preventing the return of Afghanistan to Taliban control, and ensuring that Afghanistan does not again become a sanctuary for radical Islamists and a training ground for further terrorist attacks against the west.
The emphasis must therefore be on the political effort as the continued asymmetric focus upon the military dimension will create further fragility, instability and insecurity. Furthermore, a politically unified front must be maintained where the military effort is but one of multiple efforts under an overall coordinated and unified command. Otherwise, shortcomings in the adoption of a comprehensive approach will continue to have significant repercussions which will further hinder regional stabilization. This will further impact upon the ability of the international community to address key grievances within Afghanistan and ensure that legitimate governance is maintained, as well as its ability to successfully train Afghan security forces and enable Afghanistan to provide security to its citizens and overcome the excessive levels of corruption that are deep rooted within every level of Afghanistan’s national infrastructure. This kind of approach must draw upon the lessons learnt from previous COIN campaigns both inside and outside of Afghanistan and should involve greater harmonisation between civil capacity building and economic development efforts as well as among different national military contributions, where the military effort should be refocused into a lighter, smaller force concentrated on the more narrowly defined task of counter terrorism.
This should compliment a bottom-up approach to responsible governance where stability is first established at a provincial level rather than nurturing attempts to facilitate stability from a top-down state level. Such efforts should be firmly rooted within the context of a wider regional emphasis upon stabilisation, particularly in relation to Pakistan, and should focus upon fostering an environment where the Afghans are in the lead and it becomes clear to the world that the international community is willing and prepared to commit to a long term involvement in resourcing and securing the stabilisation of the region. Momentum must therefore be maintained in preventing the insurgency from gaining increased support from the populace and in making its members realise that they must negotiate with the current Afghan leadership, with whom responsibility for the secure and peaceful future of Afghanistan must ultimately rest.
Scenario of escalating war continued from previous counter.
The other similar problem that plays a major role in the inevitable emergence of such a scenario: is that of extra-ordinary rendition and the ensuing unlawful torture (including the use of outdated but disgusting methods like water-boarding) of captives held without trial.
The demarcation between the good guys and the bad guys becomes hazy when both sides are playing dirty.
But ‘Terror’,need not be interpreted as ‘only’ Islamic fundamentalists and can be nomenclature-ed to mean Terror from both sides of the world.
IF in the end, philanthropic humanitarian organisations from both the Maghreb (east) and the Mashriq (west) will/should fight ALL evil doing terrorists (unlawful prisoner-tormentors and alleged terrorist trainers from clandestine intelligence agencies such as the C.I.A, I.S.I, R.A.W et cetera (and the rest) included, as well as bomb-scare/murderous/torturing/massacring/demented-artists of all races, religions, countries, shapes and sizes).
THEN, since the line between good and bad would be distinct and clear, there is a wonderful chance that the war on terror will be won.
THERE is no inherent distinction between good and bad. Long live the Rights of Man, the rights of the individual, not the rights of the state.
This is a battle/war of ideologies and should be 'fought' on a verbal debate platform or through subliminal brainwashing and not with guns,chemicals and bombs
the more people die, the more they(both sides) would want revenge and in the words of Gandhi 'An eye for an eye and the whole world will go blind'.
The Mujahideen(now Taliban) were in-docrinated to fight a jihad against the soviets before and can be in-docrinated again to fight themselves or change their ways.
The same can be said for Al-Quaeda: Subliminal messages, disinformation et al can be chucked through the largely western mass media to get these people who love Hollywood action movies and porn, to change their minds.
And the changing of minds is more important and effective than horrific compounding bloodshed.
This battle should be fought psychologically and verbally not with atrocious means of population control.
"War on Terror" itself is a slight misnomer. "War on Al-Quaeda" is what they should be calling it. Terrorism is nothing but a war tactic, that of attacking civilian populations in order to weaken morale and support for the opposing government. So it is like saying "War on Nuclear Warfare." War tactics do not die out, unless everyone can be convinced that the tactic itself is unethical and taboo, as has largely (but not completely) happened with the use of nuclear weapons. As long as religious fundamentalist ideologies in Muslim countries continue to convince people that targeting civilian populations puts a smile on the face of Allah, terrorism will continue to exist. Even on the off chance that Al-Quaeda is successfully wiped off the face of the earth, other groups will pop up with new ideologies, religious or not, to back up the use of terror.
Controlling the narrative, who's brainwashing who?
Terrorists are using the media to promote/victimize themselves, their cause and to brainwash/recruit young gullible and impressionable minds. They are wise to the ploy and use 'disinformation/subliminal messaging et cetera; to promote 'their' cause.
The war on 'terror' is war on fear, ie war on peace
The whole concept of a War on Terror is flawed. Stop digging up rabbit holes.
The concept of war on terror is flawed. It cannot be won because ideological values and beliefs cannot be destroyed by force. The war on terror will always continue and exist, mainly because the viewpoints of Islamic extremists are so powerfiul and influential that they have carved up the minds of the population of their countrys and ultimately brainwashed the people which has led to such hatred of the West that the Allies and the UN cannot posssilby prevent. This has also spread to other countrys and is further proof that terrof is force not to be reckoned with.
Ne'er the twain shall meet you say, but the proposition begs to differ.
Christian and Jew-relations have come a long way since the Nazi era. (Even with the existence of the K.K.K, Neo-Nazis and other extremist organisation/groups that were once predominant in the West. History is proof that widespread seemingly invincible Extremism can be defeated or at least shrunk to an almost invisible degree)
[[http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/history/spain_1.shtml#section_3]]- Muslims made the baby/first steps towards secularism; before any other religious/sacrilegious following.
All religious groups have (had) extremist iconoclastic divisions that were at times dominant but I iterate, dialog, awareness, sharing common-traits/beliefs/emotions/ideals(human beings are social animals : there are always some similarities between two people/groups even if they are in human nature alone) and open non-violent-discussion will in time give way to winning the war.
Insha Allah(By the grace of God)
Before I begin, I must say that I do not have a lot of knowledge on this subject matter, as I didn't agree with the war in the first place, so I choose not to read too much around this matter.
However, the reason why I believe the war or terror will never end is because America is basically TELLING people to change their beliefs. These terrors strongly believe in what they are doing (which is not to say that it is right, because I don't think anything they do is right). However, what I mean is that this war is almost unnatainable because it like saying "We're right, you're wrong, so either let us take over or we will have to do it by force".
God only knows what would happen if the same was done to America - if we said to them they were wrong and told them to change or else we would use force, there would be uproar. However, the reason why it is seen as justifyable in this case seems to be because of the track records of the countries involved. Which, must be said, isn't good, but is making vast assumptions and, as is usually the case, derived from a lack of listening and an excess of talking!
I am very annoyed that the UK was dragged into this and became involved. I understand that we have a good alliance with the US, but I feel, once again, there was not enough thinking.
I think it seems to be that the war broke out right for the right reasons, but used the wrong actions in trying to resolve it.
_________-In response to Yes point (left)_____
I understand and agree with most of what you have said. However, it begs the question that, as you state, if the war on terror is about "Against Islamic extremists who are trying to use fear/force/violence to control/convert people to their ideas", then is it not hypocritical to use similar force to stop these extremists. We should al be more like Hawaii and not have an army at all, and leave everyone else to get on with this squabbling. I know that is near impossible now what with the fear of a nuclear war etc, but it seems the fear or terror is worse than the actuality... (if that makes sense lol)
You're in error in stating(or at least implying) that the war is about 'converting people to Christianity'; it isn't: and it would be foolish if it were, given how the west claims to be secular: tolerant of all religions and excluding the dominance/dictate of any one belief in infrastructure/government/etcetera.
This kind of diversion/misconception is one the factors that charges people up against the coalition(other than 'collateral damage', 'torture', 'arrests without warrants etc'.)
Problem is, that both the coalition forces and the other side(Taliban/Al-Queda/etc) are looking to forcibly convert people to their point of view through the use of |Violent explosive force; literally.
We shouldn't forget that Islamic extremists are 'major-ly/mostly/by-and-large' attacking/appealing-to Muslims in Muslim countries. They are violent missionaries out to convert Muslims to their version of Islam.
Where as 'forced-conversions' such as those by Christians during the Spanish inquisition are not inherently a part of Islam. [[http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/history/spain_1.shtml#section_3]]
Historically non-Muslims in Muslim-ruled countries were second-class citizens(not forcibly converted), or in the case of India under Mughal(Akbar and din-e-elahi)rule; equals(The Hindu majority was preserved in the Mughal era).
The war is officially/on-paper: Against Islamic extremists who are trying to use fear/force/violence to control/convert people to their ideas.
America is not saying 'Islam' is wrong(that would be politically incorrect, not a position a democrat/liberal government can afford to take), it is just saying stop killing people or trying to enslave/inveigle them to your cause by killing their peers, just because they do not agree with you.
The Coalition's intentions are great/honorable but how they're being practiced/implemented(callous massacres of innocent people, in the name of collateral damage, nabbing people from their homes with little evidence and then subjecting them to medieval methods of torture, blowing up red cross hospitals etc etc) is counterproductive(except to arms/ammunition producing companies(in the U.S and Netherlands)
There is no such thing as war on terror, it is a conspiracy
There is no such thing as war on terror, it is a huge conspiracy. What if in reality there was no al qaeda and the west made it up just to fight the muslims they might be against Islam. where are the so called 'weapons of mass destruction' that bush and tony blair concocted up. They cant help afghanistan or Iraq the british and american government are causing more problems for afghanistan and Iraq.
This is a counter to the argument 'There is no such thing as war on terror, it is a conspiracy '.
This point deploys no evidence and should be dismissed by all readers. Without evidence, this point should not be given the slightest consideration in this debate.
It is a new era of warfare, and one where the distinction between war and peace has been blurred
Clausewitz states that every age has its own kind of war. Globalisation and the current post-Cold War security environment have distorted the world that we live in so that we now live in an era of the ‘terror war’. Characteristic of this present era of warfare is the blurring of the geographical and chronological boundaries between war and peace. Although US strategy looks more promising than it has done in recent times, the Clausewitzian ‘fog of war’ still prevents us from determining the outcome of success. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that the war will be concluded even with success in places such as Afghanistan. Whilst stabilization of Afghanistan will minimise the number of training grounds and safe havens for insurgents who commit violent acts both in Afghanistan and abroad, like the rise in terrorism, the timeless, pervasive nature of contemporary warfare is an unavoidable product of ‘the dark side of globalisation’. By labelling terrorism as ‘an act of war’ following the September 11th bombings, rather than ‘an international crime against humanity’ this allows for military action at any time. Additionally, whilst some see the long war as limited to the ‘Arc of Instability’, spreading from the Horn of Africa through the Middle East, the axis of evil against which this war is fought spans the globe, and has even spread within the borders of the West. Thus military action can be enforced in any geographical location.
Similarly, this new era of warfare has transformed the ends for which we fight. Whereas industrial wars tended to entail clear-cut strategies, the majority of contemporary conflicts are now fought on ‘sub-strategic goals’. Victory, in the traditional sense of the term is not possible. Success is more likely to involve the creation of a stable environment whereby diplomacy and negotiations can take place. Also, terrorism is now portrayed as an enemy, rather than as an ideological concept not to be used politically, as was once the case – particularly when one person’s terrorist was often regarded as another person’s freedom fighter. In reality, terrorism is a tactic. War cannot be made on a tactic. Thus there is no real enemy to gain victory over. It is also impossible to tell when the last terrorist act will, or has, been committed.
Terror is a strategy, not a tangible enemy
Terrorism is a method of inciting a reaction in an enemy through particularly shocking violence. It has been utilized as a strategy since the 16th century; probably earlier. If the strategy (albeit a cowardly and despicable one) is an idea, or a means-to-an-end, for desperate people, can that war be won? That would be a war in which the enemy keeps changing but their strategy remains. It would be an endless war.
While it may seem like semantics, (OK, so can the 'war on terrorists' be won?), it is actually the definition of the enemy that it is about. The terms 'terrorist' and 'freedom fighter' are interchangeable, and based only on our relationship to the person (friend or foe). There is a serious disconnect in the debate about what the enemy is, and it is exemplified in the very phrasing 'the war on terror'.
What do you think?