The War on Terror is a Farce
By Steve Gillman
There are plenty of people who don't want to hear the following:
The "War On Terror" is a farce, and is meant only as
a pretense for more government power. To understand why, let's
start with a definition of war from the Merriam Webster dictionary:
"A state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict
between states or nations."
Of course there are other definitions that are meant metaphorically,
such as: "A struggle or competition between opposing forces
or for a particular end (a class war)." In a typical class
war, the rich are not shooting the poor or vice-versa. These
kinds of meanings are clearly meant as metaphor.
Another way to understand this is to realize that in all definitions
of war there is an enemy, meaning people. Terrorism is not a
person or group, of course, but a tactic - one which the United
States has used at times (consider the fire-bombing of the civilian
population of Dresden, Germany, for example). You cannot wage
war on a tactic, and to the extent that you do, you have chosen
an endless and unwinnable war. But that is the point, isn't it?
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You see, by choosing to engage in an endless and unwinnable
war a government gets to forever justify violations of rights
and excessive taxation of the people at a level that would never
otherwise be tolerated. In this respect, the war on terror the
U.S. government is currently engaged in is very much like the
endless wars in the fictional novel "1984" by George
Orwell. The government gets special powers that never have to
end as long as the farce is maintained.
Now, you may think to yourself, "Farce? What do you mean?
Terrorism is real!" That much is true, of course. Common
murder is real as well, and in the last ten years has resulted
in 60 times as many deaths in this country as terrorism. It seems
fair to ask how many lives might have been saved if a fraction
of the money spent on "the war on terror" was spent
instead on better law enforcement in our cities.
The point here is not just that there are larger dangers,
but that terrorism is a crime, and should be treated as such.
We should seek to take reasonable measures to catch the criminals
and reduce the rate of such crimes. But just as a "war on
murder" or a "war on stealing" will not end these
crimes, no "war" can end the tactic of terrorism. In
reality, such a war is as silly as declaring a "war on financial
fraud" with the intent to actually end it.
It is also worth noting that despite the tragic loss of life
that occurs with terrorism - tragic even though it is far far
less than deaths from murder or even traffic accidents - the
biggest economic damage has been not from the towers coming down,
but from the trillion or more dollars spent since then in over-reactions
ranging from banning nail clippers on planes to fighting a useless
war in Iraq. If I were a terrorist, I could not do more to hurt
this country than the country itself has done from fear.
That is how terrorism works, by the way. The point is to create
a fear that weakens the resolve of the enemy and causes poor
decisions based on that fear. No terrorist dreams of actually
taking over a county like ours on the basis of their very limited
But what an opportunity the war on terror provides for a government
that seeks more power. A frightened populace is one that will
hand over their rights and money.