Fighting What Good Fight?

This columnist points to the problems inherent in fighting terrorists who cross national boundaries and lack a central geographical base.

I think that his ideas add more
fuel to the call for the West to reevaluate our dependence on Middle East oil. Thus, I've reproduced the column in full.

So, like, enjoy. {-;

Friday, August 11, 2006

U.S. wages war on a concept


On Sept. 11, 2001, religious fanatics hijacked four commercial jets and crashed them in the most egregious acts of war against the United States' mainland since the British burned Washington, D.C., in 1814. No perpetrator was an Iraqi, but the White House had decided Iraq was a locus of anti-American terrorism. While journalists dutifully presented each administration justification against Saddam Hussein, the lynchpin of condemnation became the effervescent weapons of mass destruction.

The administration has drawn lines between nations that are "with us, or with the terrorists." An Axis of Evil was defined, in which one nation was invaded and cast into a civil war, while two others hastened to develop nuclear weapons capabilities. Afghanistan was occupied, Iran joined the Axis and all hell broke out in the Middle East as Israel slammed at Hezbollah. And still there are claims that all is still hopeful on the roadmap to peace.

How can there be any progress in a war in which there are no contiguous elements? The U.S. is not waging war against Iraq, or Baathists, or even Muslims. It is not fighting a place or entity but a concept -- "terrorism." What enemy can be more of a phantom, impossible to kill or contain, than an idea? That is why dictators so enjoy a good book burning -- books contain ideas.

The government, when queried about when troops will come home and the war will end, repetitively answers "we will stay the course until we defeat terrorists." Yet the methods employed to attack terrorists provides precisely the feeding ground to produce their replacements. Worse, the largely artificial lines of nationhood drawn in the sands of the Middle East quickly blow away in the hot winds of fanatical Islam. Terrorists do not wear a national uniform, but come dressed as civilians.

Wars against ideas never achieve victory. China may have overthrown its 2,200-year tradition of emperors, but it is still an empire led by a hereditary aristocracy; the United States failed miserably in its wars against drugs, poverty and alcohol, but admitted defeat only when it repealed Prohibition. And although the Third Reich is a memory, Nazism is still among us. Were the goal of World War II to destroy the Nazis, it would still be fought today.

So I ask the president: How will we know when we have defeated terrorism? If it is outlawed by all the Middle Eastern nations, it will still exist, as do slavery and drug dealers. What will it take to recall U.S. troops, admit that this is a foe that armies are not meant to fight, and that the idea of fighting "terrorism" is as poor an idea as any that led to the debacle ongoing in the Middle East?

Regarding troops, Tennyson eloquently wrote: "Theirs not to make reply, theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do & die." Those of us at home must hold government accountable and demand to know why. It may not be the most important way to support the troops, but after three years of war it certainly seems we should get answers. Question one is "How do you defeat a phantom menace?

Robert Sprackland lives in Seattle.


  1. As the comedian David Cross said some time after 9/11, when "the War on Terrorism" began: Why not declare a War on Jealousy?

  2. well- i guess it's ok that i have declared war on stupid fundamentalist christians in america then isn't it?

  3. RAmen to both o' those suggestions!

    Though I've found the idea in this quote may yet prove to be the ultimate resolution to war of all kinds.

  4. the entire war is like one of those freaky nightmares people get that just throw things together.

    Like the ones where the "bad guy" is just a shadow that follows you.

    And the people in charge have no idea what they're doing.

  5. That was a well intentioned and well written OpEd, but in my opinion...meaningless. I don't for second believe that the purpose of the War on Terror's purpose is to defeat terrorists, so what does it matter that the tactics and assumptions are flawed with respect to defeating terrorism?

    I I talking outa my ass here? Do any of us believe that Bu$hCo's aim is to defeat terrorism, to kill terrorists? Come on.

  6. Why does the author hate America?

  7. I think they think they know what they'r doing, Ms. Nilla. They're just insane in their beliefs about what their rights are. They really are.

    Thus, Kvatch is on the money.

    And Stockton ... {grooooan} LOL!


  8. I agree with Kvatch completely.

  9. I don't know what the hell they are doing but I see no benefit for our country as a result. They have totally screwed up everything they have come in contact with and if anyone appears to hate America, I would say it's this administration. Why else would they do so much harm?

    They hide everything under the "war on terror" and it gives them an excuse to do whatever the hell they want to. First thing a new President should do is declare the war on terror not a war but a vigilance against terrorist.

  10. And damned if I can figure out what, "...purpose of the War on Terror's purpose," is. What would that be? A meta-purpose?

    Time to evolve into something with a few more brain cells I think.

  11. Post, comments, spot on. And on a metaphysical level [I know, groan . . .] when we negatively focus on and are "at war" with anything, the object of our focus only grows. That's why Mother Teresa always refused to attend anti-war rallies (well-intentioned people at war with war . . .) but said she'd be happy to attend any pro-Peace rallies.

    Next election, let's not focus so much on why and how we hate the other guy, but maybe, why our guy (or gal) will bring us into peace and prosperity? As an experiment, even?

  12. lol for your "metaphysical" {groan}, Jayne. You've no worries 'bout that on here. I know what you mean and agree with what you said.

    "Mind over matter" does NOT mean we can fly or walk on water. It means a demonstrable truth: that what we make our focus is what we will follow, even in otherwise seemingly unrelated areas of our experiences.

    I hear ya Kvatch, and go back to the quote I linked above; making war IS the problem; regardless of on What we declare it.

    LIFE isn't trying to kill us. Other living things - especially humans - will if we threaten them though. No matter how great our intentions, nor how Noble (like a gas?) our goals, if those threaten another's existence, then we're the ones in the wrong. And it DOESN'T MATTER if we DON'T THINK WE'RE THREATENING THEM. THAT is not Our call. If it's on their territory, it's their call.


    It's up to US to find another way to achieve our potential, even the others are ass-backwards and bigoted psychotics by our estimation of such things.

    When We choose violence, We are wrong.

  13. A never ending war in which the leaders get a free pass from a terrified electorate.......

    What else can you say?

    Sounds like a BF Skinner experiment.

  14. i could kiss robert sprackland right now.

    he's said what i've been saying, but in the n00z.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts