There are few certainties in this world, but one that I feel pretty safe predicting is that I will be called anti-American, a terrorist supporter or worse for what I intend to write in this entry.
It isn’t that my logic is flawed, or that I am showing a bias in my analytics. If such exists, I invite the reader to make it known. No…. it is because I refuse to suspend reason and subscribe to the orthodox groupthink demanded in political discussion today.
My contention that the terrorists are winning in no way denotes support of their cause, their ideology or methodology on my part. It comes from a dispassionate analysis of the available evidence, and I am in fact decidedly opposed to their cause.
To determine whether my hypothesis is true, we must define ‘winning’ in this context. Terrorists are not standard combatants, and do not try to capture or hold strategic geography. They do not act as normal combatants, and their goals are atypical as well. Terrorism in the middle eastern context might be better defined as clandestine guerrilla warfare. Winning for these ‘terrorists’ is for the invaders to pack up and go home. There are no territorial gains to be realized, outside of regaining sovereignty over lands occupied by the invading force.
Given our commitment to staying in the region for generations, the forces assembled in opposition to us must necessarily take the long view in their war. They face a prohibitive deficit in relative armaments, and cannot drive out the occupying troops with force. That would be a suicide mission, so they employ the only avenue available to an inferior force – guerrilla warfare.
Outside of the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and the subsequent events on 9-11, there has been very little that can be objectively described as terrorism aimed at America. While the bombing of the military barracks in Lebanon, the USS Cole bombing and similar actions may be tragic, they are valid strikes against a military target. I am not advocating or supporting the strikes in any manner, mind you, but recognize that in a war, there will be deaths. Every wartime death doesn’t equate to terrorism.
If you accept my premise as laid out here, then we are left with two substantial actions that on their face appear to meet the criterion necessary to be ‘terroristic’ in nature. For purposes of discussion, here is the operative definition:
the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear
It is interesting that both instances occurred in the same place, to a location that can objectively be called the center of the American economic system. It is this financial system that affords the United States the capital to wage it’s wars and occupy most of the world. A compelling case can be made that these acts are not in fact terrorist in nature, as they were attacks on legitimate targets for an entity at war with America. That doesn’t address the morality (or lack thereof) of their battle, so please spare me the knee jerk accusations of being a ‘Islamo-fascist sympathizer’. There will be plenty of time for that.
You don’t agree? Was the United States’ bombing of industrial centers in Berlin and Dresden during World War II terrorism? What about the “weapons of mass destruction” used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? I trust that once you get past any ridiculous notion of American exceptionalism, you’ll agree that the ‘twin towers’ were in fact legitimate military targets. If not, you’re better at rationalizing away logical arguments than I am. When Osama Bin Laden was fighting the Soviets in the late 70’s and early 80’s, he was a freedom-fighter worthy of our support. What has changed that makes him no longer a freedom fighter, except the entity that he now fights?
I’ve veered down this intellectual side road to make the case that the ‘War on Terror’ can be better understood as a guerrilla war being fought by indigenous peoples in the middle east, who thus far have actually killed far fewer civilians world-wide than we have in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Understanding the reality of the situation is critical if we ever hope to end the war that is ongoing. It is this unwillingness to take an unfiltered view of the entire situation that has caused America to lose face in the world. We are seen as hypocritical, supporting the freedom fighters when the occupiers are Soviet, but feigning righteousness when our own occupying forces are targeted.
Now, some bright reader will surely note that there are car bombings in civilian centers in Baghdad and Kabul, and they would be correct. This wouldn’t provide a justification of our military presence there, unless you can explain why American Marines don’t patrol the streets of Jakarta and Manilla as well. But most of what I’ve said to this point is not germane to the conclusion which I am attempting to support: namely, that the ‘terrorists’ are winning.
But – you may take note – I’ve basically said that they aren’t terrorists. They are guerrilla warriors, right?
Here is another variation on the definition of terrorism:
The use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes; The state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.
There is certainly terrorism afoot in the United States, but not the kind that can be measured with a friendly color-coded scale. It is not about bombing civilian targets, and it is not being waged upon us by Osama Bin Laden. The chief ‘terrorist’ occupies the highest elected office in our land, and his ‘lieutenants’ fill the halls of many a big, stately building in Washington DC. (Now would be the time for cat-calls and ad hominems.)
Who can argue that our government doesn’t use intimidation or coercion for political purposes, with violence the ultimate ends for non-compliance? It is not just in our heavy-handed foreign policy, but in domestic policy as well. We are inundated with warnings that there lurks around every corner a bad man who wishes to do us harm; we are encouraged to acquiesce to demands from the government for greater unchecked access to our personal communications and general invasions of our civil liberties, and dissenters face penalties ranging from ridicule to imprisonment. There are few more effective acts of coercion than imprisonment, and the result of these activities is undeniably a state of fear among the general populace.
The people who are presented to us as terrorists can never hope to defeat us militarily. We have the most advanced weapons on the face of the planet, and they are using pipe bombs. If we are of a mind to deny them to ever strike out at us, we have the means at our disposal. But they are critical props in the real terrorism that is ongoing; the terroristic campaign to forever alter the understanding of what rights are fundamental and beyond the scope of government to infringe is raging. At this moment, the terrorists in Washington are winning.