The United States cannot win the War on Terror. Do I have your attention now?
As I sat and watched the three-hour-long Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing last month, a few interesting facts summoned my attention: the longevity of the Korean war was 37 months, 19 months for World War I, 42 months for World War II, 3 months for the Persian Gulf war and it took 48 months for the Civil War to come to an end. Approximately 40 months into the 2003 Iraq war and with one of the greatest armies known to mankind as the occupying power, a fragmented country is on the brink of civil war (as confirmed by top U.S. General John Abizaid), in an atmosphere where more Iraqi citizens die per day from sectarian violence under the current conditions than did under the brutal Hussein regime. And after 400 billion dollars and over 2,600 U.S. casualties, the violence is worsening.
So what led such a dominant world superpower to this Iraqi quagmire? It was after the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon that President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, former Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz and other right wing think-tanks set in motion their long sought after global strategy of imposing ?American principles abroad,? as clearly stated by their representative non-profit organization The Project for the New American Century. Rather than address all resources toward those responsible for the attacks, talks of overthrowing Hussein began just days after September 11th, and the wheels of a pre-emptive war against Iraq that had been turning for years finally caught ground and were set in motion, all in the name of revenge, defending our beloved freedoms and keeping Americans secure. After all, did you want to see another September 11th? Thus, a pandemic fear swelled our collective patriotic mind.
So, 400 billion dollars and thousands of lost lives later, are we safer now than we were before Sept. 11? Anti-American sentiment has skyrocketed, and because of our post 9/11 policies, now more than ever we are a target. The atrocities in New York, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon came about not because of Saddam?s oppressive regime, not because our government didn?t have domestic spying programs, and it certainly didn?t come about because ?they hate our freedom? or ?lifestyle.? Rather it was a combination of failed imperialistic Cold War policies in southwest Asia in conjunction with a systematic breakdown of communication between governmental agencies within the U.S., which allowed a long chain of devastating events to occur.
And we as a people were duped by this current administration. They took advantage of our fear and convinced the people of this nation that to continue to be free we must win this newly proclaimed War on Terror. This ?War on Terror? is about as realistic a concept as a ?War on Disease.? There will always be disease, just as there will always be terrorism; it is just a matter of to what extent it will exist. Terrorism is brought about by hatred, injustice and oppression, and to truly combat such concepts one must strive to eradicate these symptoms. This is not accomplished by military incursions or killing all of the terrorists (which is a ridiculous and impossible notion), but by assuring that you are respecting and not exploiting your global neighbors. My friends, when our president drapes himself in the American flag and promises that we will win this ?War on Terror,? I hope you see the true absurdity of this declaration.
What has happened in this never-ending crusade is that an administration has successfully hijacked and subsequently abused wartime policies and applied them to everything from domestic wire-tapping to censoring climate change reports (I?m not joking about the latter). A war that no ordinary citizen can argue against has been waged, and it is a war that cannot possibly be won. Thus it will continue on; and to win this war the president will continuously ask for more power, for more money and for more resources. Since 2003, we have, like sheep, surrendered freedom after freedom for the mere illusion of security, and this strategy has been both blanketed and marketed as being necessary to preserving the very freedoms we enjoy. But at what point will we realize the irony in our actions, such that time after time we sacrifice the very ideals that we fight to protect. Domestic wire-tapping without a permit, secret detainment of persons without due process of law (a violation of habeas corpus), exporting people for torture who are not even charged with a crime ? is this the American way?
It is not a particular social system in distant lands that must be tamed; it is our fears. When we stop being afraid of our strangely quiet next door neighbor, letters in our mailbox, or our city being the next potential terrorist target, and start living our lives the way we used to, we will see the administration?s most recent campaign for what it really is: a campaign with arrogant and unrealistic objectives that is bred by our own synthetically-manifested fears.