War on Terror - winnable?

Sorry if this is redundant of other active threads. But these thoughts came to me this a.m. when reading the most recent headlines of bombings and threats of retribution in places far from my home.

Personally, I have always had problems with the term “War on Terror.” In my opinion, it sets us up for failure as it has an unidentified enemy, and no means for telling when we are victorious. Instead, I place it in the same category as the “War on Drugs.” I consider it near-meaningless hyperbole to justify a political position desiring certain posture in international relations, a certain allocation of domestic spending, and a certain domestic agenda with respect to individual rights and law enforcement.

What do you think? What does it mean to say we are at war against terrorism? Is it a good or a bad thing to proclaim ourselves “at war”? What are the benefits and what are the costs? Can we win this war? Should we be fighting it?

Note, my last question does not suggest that we not oppose terrorism. But I am not sure that doing so is most effectively done through “war.”

Equivalent to the “war on poverty,” the “war on homelessness,” and “the war on tooth decay.” Unwinnable. Does make for a catchy slogan, though, and is easy to work into campaign literature.

Fareed Zakaria points a possibility in his World View Column in Newsweek:


The basic theme is the obvious… stop the source of discord and injustice. Just killing individuals wont do it.

I highly recommend other articles by Zakaria… if you really want to understand the World’s reaction to US aggressivness read this longish but great article:


If nothing else, labelling it a “war” underscores the seriousness of the struggle, both at home and to our potential adversaries. Cynics would call it a “PR stunt” by the current administration, but openly referring to our anti-terrorism efforts as a war girds the American people for what lies ahead more accurately and honestly than some watered-down description like the ones we heard in the 1980’s; our reacting to terror attacks by “condemning them in the harshest terms possible” didn’t exactly cow our enemies.

To a degree, I think it also serves notice abroad that we aren’t fooling around any more. Saying we’re at war, especially with the “enemy” being as vaguely defined and ambiguous as it is, makes it a little harder for the international community to cry “no fair” if our response to state-sponsored terrorism seems excessive in their eyes. Oh, they can certainly cry it-- witness the French and German hand-wringing in the leadup to the Iraq invasion – but in the end, we are at war if WE say we are at war, and with whom.

And I think that was pretty well defined on September 11, 2001.

Matbe it’s time for a war on war

I suppose you are now going to provide the link between Iraq and Al Q ammo52, or a cite showing the US declare a state of war.

This war on terror is pointless, theres always some nuts with a grudge, and they love forming their little groups. It gives their boring lives purpose, they thrive on it. From religious freaks to evironmental geeks they’ll always be whining, plotting, blaming everyone else and if you are unlucky you’ll get caught between them and their target. Voilence and hate is part of human nature, nothing less than the total annihilation of human race will stop us killing each other.

Of course there is no “cite” supporting a formal U.S. “declaration of war”, as you well know.

…And you should be damned glad there hasn’t been one.

A formal declaration of war, ratified by Congress, consolidates much more power, and much less imposed restraint , on the President. He is much freer to move as he sees fit under a formally declared war – which is precisely why no American president has invoked this clause since Roosevelt did it in World War Two. Administrations Democratic and Republican have carefully avoided this situation and have preferred to submit to the “checks and balances” of the limitations imposed by Congress as they prosecuted their various “police actions”, “low-intensity conflicts”, and “surgical strikes” around the globe.

I offered what I saw as some side effects of the process of openly describing the conflict(s) we currently face as a “war.” It’s a far cry from formally declaring it and thus invoking the War Powers Act.

It means that we are fighting to eradicate or at least defang a strain of militant Islamicism.

These militants proclaimed themselves to be at war with us some years ago. So, it’s appropriate that we do the same.

The goal of the militant Islamicists is the destruction of western civilization. The benefit of winning would be that our civilization isn’t destroyed. The costs may be very large. This militant movement is well-entrenched in many areas. Winning this war will require the active cooperation of many countires for many years.

I’d answer, “Yes,” if victory is defined as preventing this group from overthrowing all of Western civilization. I’d answer “Maybe”, if victory is defined as completely ending the risk of militant Islamic terrorism anywhere in the world.

We have no choice. We didn’t start this war. We can’t end the war by just ignoring the other side’s commitment to make war on us.

Hmmm. I must have missed the clarification that it was limited to “militant Islamicist” (however defined) terrorists.

Yes, Dinsdale… to be fair, we should openly clarify that we’re also “at war” with the organized groups of, say, Catholic cross-dressing Belgian accountants, Finnish lesbian biker nuns, and Agnostic Sri Lankan taxi drivers who have carried out a string of atrocities against the US that rivals the attacks of September 11, the bombing of the Cole, the Khobar Towers bombing, the Beirut marine barracks bombing, the…

Don’t feign surprise, however, if we deal with the threat of militant Islam FIRST. Squeaky wheel gets the grease, and all that…

Whoa dramatic… Osama is aiming pretty high ! Western Civ being defined by the USA too.

It will ? So why is the US invading Iraq with only the British ? Pissing off allies ? Many countries being more than the handful of minor countries helping the US right now.

The US might have started it unintentionally... but it certainly shouldnt ignore where the "commitment to make war" came from.

At least you do admit to the “maybe” about terrorism… it wont go away… only get bigger or smaller depending on what is done to fuel it.

In the initial post, there was an excellent link to dealing with terrorism by removing the underlying causes, rather than killing the terrorists.
Did you read it?
Did it mean anything to you?
Do you know why Al-Quaeda is able to get funding and recruits?

Why it’s so easy! We just bomb them and occupy their capital!!
Err - you are sure this is a war?
It’s not like Britain and Northern Ireland, or Turkey and the Kurds, or Russia and Chechnya?

  1. Cite?
  2. Funny, how if terrorists attack a US warship, a US embassy and a US building, that this is seen by you as the aim of destroying all of Western Civilisation.
    The US, Canada and Europe will all be attacked because they all have military bases in Saudi Arabia. Err - are you sure?

If we put everyone who isn’t a Republican into imprisonment under ‘Guantanamo Bay’ conditions, that would eliminate the terrorists.
Much cheaper too.
I suppose there would be a downside…

Well Bush is your man then. Look at the way he smooth-talks the UN.

Yes, there was no alternative at any stage. Just like invading iraq to confiscate all those WMD’s. :rolleyes:
Sadly no other country can recognise that (well Blair tried, but the Hutton enquiry is already a millstone around his neck).

No, we need to use our military power until everyone gives in.
After all, that’s how Britain kept the US colonies! :rolleyes:

You forgot the part about killing their leaders and converting them to Christianity.

If you’re talking about Zakaria’s Newsweek article, yes. What do you think of it?

Regarding the funding:
– OBL is or was very rich
– Several other very rich people actively support al Qaeda
– Some so-called Islamic charities have funneled money to al Qaeda

Regarding the recruits:
– Some institutions preach this sort of hatred, e.g. the Madrassas schools and certain mosques promote religious extremism and possible terrorist strikes.

http://www.fas.org/irp/world/para/docs/980223-fatwa.htm]In 1998 Osama bin Laden announced the formation of his World Islamic Front for Jihad against the Crusaders and the Jews His statement “Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders”
included the following:

I think we should take OBL at his word, particularly since his actions have been consistent with his words.

Well, what would be a “win”? The end of all terrorism? Not gonna happen- as long as there are radical hating nutjobs who can make a cheap bomb in the kitchen sink. Thus, there will always be random bombings at easy to get at targets.

But we CAN end state supported terrorism, where a nation openly assists, trains & aids a terrorist organization. The kind of well organized, well planned & trained terrorism which caused the Sept 11th incidents. In fact, we have likely pretty well done so.

Rashak lists a couple of “op-ed” peices that blames the Bush admin for most of why the USA is hated- and the writer makes some good points. Of course, he also misses a few big ones- like when he points out that Turkey wasn’t our ally in the recent Iraq invasion, and then kinda leaves you with the impression that Turkey was anti-US Imperialism. Nothing could be further from thr truth- what Turkey wanted was TURKISH imperialism, ie the right to go in there and stomp some Kurdish “freedom fighters” and maybe even extend the southern border of Turkey to include all of Kurdistan. Since the Kurds were also our allies in this, we couldn’t let the Turks have the concessions they wanted in Kurdistan, thus the Turks didn’t help us. If we had given into what the Turks had wanted, I am sure Zakaria would be castigating Bush for backstabbing our Kurdish allies. Sometimes you just can’t win.

Glee was asking what you think of it, as you must know. Well, what do you think of it, and why?

Simple answer to the op - yes. Unfortunately, the way we are attempting to fight this war is the wrong way to do it. We need to fight terrorism in a way that STOPS PEOPLE FROM WANTING TO KILL US. This is the biggest point that the Bush Cabal is ignoring. Fight terrorism by invading countries, killing countless civilians, and then occupying the land. This does not breed good will. Why do people hate America? They hate our freedom, Bush says. That makes me laugh until I hurt. They hate us because of our foreign policy - our meddling in the affairs of soverign countries, our disrespect for non-christians, our seemingly zelous funding of Israel, and our undying use of the concept ‘the enemy of our enemy is an ally.’

First, foreign policy. Al Queda expressidly despises the U.S. because we staged troops on Saudi soil during the Gulf War. Solution: stop disrespecting Muslim holy lands and traditions, and take Muslim opinions into foreign policy decisions. To help our image in the Muslim world, try not invading soverign countries. Let’s try forcing Israel to follow international law and the dozens of UN resolutions passed against them. Let’s try withholding our military support unless they comply. Maybe that would help.

Second, our reliance on ‘the enemy of our enemy is an ally’. This has screwed us in the ass SO many times it’s not funny. Lets start with Stalin. Well, he’s massacred thousands of people already, but we need him as an ally. We’ll let him build up, don’t mention the massacres, etc for fear of bad press. Nearly the exact same thing happened with Iraq. We supported Saddam when he searved our interests, when he was fighting Iran. We gave him as his biological weapons for use on the Iranians. He ended up using a bunch on his own people, so we’ll look the other way, until he starts inpacting out interests. Same deal in Afghanistan. We supported the Mujhadeen (Bin Laden) while they were fighting the Soviets. Armed then, built Tora Bora, etc. We subsequently abandonded them - and wonder why they’re armed and pissed. We put the Shah of Iran in power, and that worked out really well didn’t it?

There’s also another big problem with this argument. What is a terrorist? One man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter. Chechan rebels - terrorists to the soviets, freedom fighters to the Chechans wanting independance. George Washington, Jefferson, and everybody at the Boston Tea Party - terrorists to the English. If you win the conflict, you’re a hero. If you loose, you’re a terrorist. In this respect, terrorism will never go away. As long as their is someone in power that needs a neat, fear-mongering word to describe dissent, there will be terrorism.

always exist, - freedom fighter - defined

Well, you learn something every day. I really thought that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was a “muslim” country, and thus when the King and leaders of that nation expressly allowed US troops in THEIR nation, that would be “taking Muslim opinions into foriegn policy opinions”. :dubious: :rolleyes: Or maybe what you are saying that only the opinions of a small group of dissident terrorists get to decide what are “muslim holy lands & traditions”? :dubious:

Consent from the corrupt Saudi rulers doesn’t necessarily reflect the opinions of the Muslim world. While I acknowledge that this is a abstract concept, there is some common sense that comes into play. Saudi Arabia is to Muslims as Israel is to the Jews or Christians. Saudi Arabia contains Mecca within it’s boarders - Islam’s holiest place - and a all muslims must attempt to make a pilgrimage with thier lifetime. We couldn’t see that there could be some blowback from Judaeo-Christians basing in Muslims holiest land to attack their Muslim neighbor? (BTW - the reason behind the Saudis allowing us to base our attack from their soil was based on forged US satellite intelligence ‘showing’ Iraqi troops building on their border - later disproved by Russian satellite pics.)

Osama offered Saudi Arabia to rush into Kuwait with his muhjadeen troops; Saudi Arabia opted for Desert Storm, leaving Osama to stew in Afghanistan.