Wednesday, September 3, 2008

War on Terror

We've heard the statement that "we will win the war on terror." What does that mean?

  • Do we mean "terror" (the emotion) or "terrorism" the method of conducting conflict?
  • How can "winning" be calculated -- incidences of violence, number of deaths, etc.
  • How are the War on Terror, the War in Iraq and the War in Afghanistan linked? Can they be separated; do they have different objectives.

What are your thoughts? Click on the comments link below and share your ideas.

1 comment:

Harvey Johnson said...

I suspect we generally mean a war against terrorism, however, if we could conquer our irrational fear, our terror, so to speak, it would go a long way toward a rational response. Because many have an irrational fear of terrorism, many also act irrationally. For example, most professionals in the intelligence community know that information gathered through torture is unreliable and they know that good intelligence can be gathered better through other legal means. Yet the irrational fear of terrorism is used to justify unconstitutional acts, criminal acts, by our government.

Secondly, winning can ultimately only be achieved by changing the environment that causes terrorism. If babies are falling in the river, it is a very good thing to extend every effort in pulling the babies out of the river. But at some point, it is necessary to address the root cause: somebody has to go up river and see why babies are falling in the river and prevent this from happening. In the case of terrorism, anarchy or total rejection of our culture, this may not be possible. I suggest this as a possibility not knowing whether reconciliation can be achieved. But reconciliation is the only way to win. Failing reconciliation, the best that can be achieved is stalemate, and only for brief periods of time.

Thirdly, more than 3000 people were killed on Sep 11th. That was horrific. But by invading a sovereign nation that did not present an immanent danger to us, we delivered thousands more of our young men and women to injury and 4000 + to death. Rather than making it more difficult to kill Americans, by invading Iraq, we made it easier to kill Americans. And for what? Our very actions in killing one terrorist or civil way fighter enable the recruitment of two. Unless we kill 1.2 billion Muslims we will never have victory and by the time we commit genocide a whole new generation would be born and we would have become a nation of murderers living under fascism.

By the way, McCain was right about the surge. But this is not genius. I had said 3 years earlier than McCain that Iraq was a mistake but since we are already there, we must have more troops and stabilize the region.

Stanley Hauerwas, a Methodist religion professor and pacifist said once that a Christian nation must be prepared to accept losses incurred in allowing an enemy nation to attack us first. That is the cost of discipleship, to paraphrase Bonhoeffer. You may remember Bonhoeffer; the Lutheran Pastor implicated in the plot to assassinate Hitler. Bonhoeffer was executed by the Nazis days before the prison was liberated by the Allied forces. Failure to accept this cost as Christians is defined as searching after cheap grace. Clearly, our actions demonstrate this nation is not a Christian nation.