War on Terrorism

The implied assumption of a “war on terrorism” is that the war will destroy and annihilate terrorists not create more terrorist.  This old school thought ignores the lesson of history.  A nation can be fought and defeated in war but not an ideology.  To the degree that terrorism incorporates an ideology that forces a conflict between a person’s higher ideals and their daily life it cannot be fought with conventional methods of war.  War in a conventional sense will only intensify and perpetuate the proliferation of the ideology as we have seen.  To the credit of the Bush administration, they did come to see the need for nation building after they blundered into Iraq and Afghanistan (even though they denounced nation building in their election rhetoric).  Moreover, the current military strategy in Afghanistan is control and winning the hearts and minds of the Afghans – nation building. The conventional war failed but now the `war’ has taken some unconventional turns.  Most of all, England should understand the dark side of nation building – colonialism.

Being from the Deep South I certainly saw those that wanted to fight a `war’ against civil rights but the ideology at work in inequality and “all men are created equal” was not a battle that could be fought in conventional terms.  The real source of the conflict was a contradiction in our higher ideals and our daily life traditions (slavery and inequality).  While one can continually insist that a “square is a circle” and go to war against anyone that would suggest different, the inevitable conclusion is that a square is not a circle and when a genuine conflict between our higher ideals and our habits or traditions arise we may fight wars to defeat the dilemma but after much destruction we will find that the dilemma is still there but only worse. 

While I certainly agree that terrorists are criminal thugs.  It would be a fatal mistake to think that they are simply an isolated bunch of criminal thugs.  Whether we like it or not, terrorism has become an ideology of the oppressed, the holy war against the Great Satin.  It highlights Western exploitation and even the perceived cultural invasion of infidel behaviors and ideals.  In our country some would call this evil that promotes sinful behavior and ideas.  If we fail to see how terrorism has morphed from criminal behavior to an ideology that pits higher ideals against a real and perceived evil, we will make the mistake that history has made many times (England comes to mind).  The mistake of the Bush administration was in failing to see how international criminal behavior should be dealt with in a nation where there was no native, functioning justice system.  They drained the swamp to kill the alligator.  

In a nation with a functioning justice system, thugs can be dealt with on a much smaller level than war with laws and justice.  Laws and justice appeal to our higher ideals while criminal narcissism is anarchistic and ultimately self-destructive.  The forces of entropy at work in criminal behavior preclude the behavior from ever posing a collective threat to our higher ideals.  Thus criminal ideals (if there is such a thing) can never attract the masses in any such way as for example, the civil rights struggle did.  Criminal behavior destroys civil society and since humans are as much (if not more) a `they’ (i.e., language which manifest our historical being) as a `me’, we would have to deny ourselves to become complete narcissists and insist on our desires over and above anyone else’s desires (i.e., robbery, murder, rape…criminal behavior).      

On the international scene, if a country does not have a functioning government that can effectively enforce the “rule of law” the international terrorist poses a real problem.  This is where the Bush administration failed.  I am a strong advocate of the foreign aid, education, the United Nations, the international court and to some extent the IMF (International Monetary Fund).  These organizations offer the only real hope I can see to effectively deal with anarchistic nations that harbor criminal thugs (terrorists).  Ideally, they could be a surrogate nation of sorts until the country could support its own justice system.  However, practically the groups have failed (and we fail with them).  We also went to war with them as Bush so clearly demonstrated instead of demanding and providing resources to make these groups better.  War is knee jerk but most of the time not very smart.  In any case for future reference, the interim solution for rouge nations with terrorists should have been the CIA and perhaps Special Forces – small strategic strikes that would not effectively fan the flames of social discontent. 

Whenever and to the extent that we deny our own nations grander and higher ideas for justice and equality we force the tension up and thereby the recruitment of anti-American ideologies in the rest of the world.  When Bush proclaimed that we were going to avenge 911 by going after, killing, lynching, crusading against the terrorists, he may have just as well told the Islamic world that the terrorist were right – we are the Great Satin and join Al Qaeda to become human bombs.  What he should have stated in his rhetoric was that we were going to bring the international criminals to justice.  If we really believe in our justice system and think that it is a model for the world then I think we should bring them here and show the world.  If this is not possible then, as much as I detest it, I would favor covert operations. Instead, we have Dick Cheney declaring torture, illegal imprisonment, and denial of justice (i.e., in a fair and impartial justice system) as a model for the world to emulate.  Is this the great United States of America or just the Great Satin?  If we want to create more human bombs Bush and Cheney are doing a great job.  We need to live up to our higher ideals, demand the rest of the world live up to theirs and listen when we find that our higher ideals may not be the highest ideals.  While being belligerent and “killing all the terrorists” may make some feel good it only makes the problem worse and it is sheer madness to think a good outcome is possible with this strategy.

Some may write this off as mere liberal ridiculousness but I contend that at the heart of liberalism is a well thought and reasoned higher ideology that really has nothing to do with feel good morality or altruism but is just as rational for human social behavior as Darwin was for the natural world.  See http://mixermuse.com/blog/2010/01/19/the-criminal-and-the-human-a-rational-approach-to-liberalism/

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