The Error on War
March 21, 2008
Some believe that warfighting is a tool that can be used against terrorism. Yet suicide attacks happen as a response to foreign occupation, and civilian casualties - unavoidable in war - create new terrorists. If there are effective solutions to terrorism, they are more likely to be found in civil counter-terrorist operations and tangential diplomacy. Inequalities drive terrorism: to defeat terrorism, eliminate inequalities.
Another mistake would be to blame the reckless invasion of Iraq solely upon the Bush administration. Certainly, they are culpable, but it's important to remember that the news services in the United States sold the story to the people. We all expect politicians to push their own agendas, but shouldn't we expect the media to provide a counterbalance to this? Journalists had choices in how to present the story, and they chose to focus on the terrible situation in Iraq, which evoked the sympathy of the people, making invasion seem morally acceptable. I contend the media had a duty to explore the question of whether or not invasion was justified - to consider the ethics of war - a duty that most prominent journalists abjectly failed.
A "War on Terror" is easy to win - simply stop being afraid. As a native of the British Isles, I grew up with terrorism in the background of my life, mostly from the IRA, and this perhaps has made it seem less frightening to me: yes, I might be killed by a terror attack, but I am more likely to be killed in a car accident, die from a fatal disease, or (for that matter) to be suddenly vapourised in a meteor impact. If you are afraid of being killed by terrorists, you are losing the "War on Terror".
Eleanor Roosevelt once said:
You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.
Her husband, the 32nd President of the United States, stated in his first inaugural address:
...the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.
How far from this noble spirit have we fallen!
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