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What America Must Give Up To Win A War On Terrorism

By Roy D. Follendore III

Copyright (c) 2004 by RDFollendoreIII

November 28, 2008

Since 911, the Bush administration has made it perfectly clear that to defeat terrorism a constant and open ended state of war is necessary. The problem with this is that it is a self defeating policy.  A war on terror is an awful idea because war is composed of acts of terror. A war on terror is a recursive and chronic concept. It is a self defeating concept.  The idea of winning a war on terror through warfare is impossible because warfare becomes the causation of social friction, mistrust and retaliation. 

Contrary to what some would have others believe, 911 did not change everything. In fact it did not change anything.  It certainly has not changed the nature of war.  War is about the social justifications for wielding unlimited power over another society for a stated goal.  When institutionalized and codified murder is justified and officially authorized by a society to obtain a stated goal then war exists.  Anarchy exists when violence is simply allowed though not necessarily authorized or sanctioned, particularly when there are no means to the end of war. Anarchy occurs when the goals of war are unobtainable and at the point when discipline is lost, the objective of the rule of law are abandoned and usually at the point when one society has been defeated. Anarchy is a weapon of war because the victor of a war can choose not to exercise occupying military control and allow the defeated country to further destroy itself. 

What the mentality of 911 has done has been to require the world to reexamine mans fundamental perspective of peace.  We have since ignored the realities and principles of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) because we were no longer dealing with coherent nations having anything to risk. Without a true and valid concept of peace, there can be no concept of war.  Human beings, in context with their society, have the option to choose what those standards are. Moreover, when war becomes routine and its original purpose forgotten then war becomes the standard baseline for peace. Is the future of the majority on our planet really coming down to the relationship of the family and its ability to reproduce low intensity urban warfighters?  

The definition of war can not be open ended because to do so would sacrifice of everything we humans desire to be.  I suspect that the idea that war is an uninterrupted continuous stream of conflict is predicated by the idea that weapons systems outlive human beings. Ultimately it represents the radical historical revisionist perspective where the weapon systems transcends the justification for human existence. The idea that war is open ended is the same thing as saying that there is no such thing as peace; It is the same as saying that peace is ideal that can never really be achieved.  This is equivalent to saying that peace is nothing more than a different degree of war. This is the kind of awful predicament that comes about through badly contorted thinking.  It is driven to a large extent by the economic consequences and influences of the themes that have been deliberately projected by weapons contractors on our administrators and our media.   The sales pitch is simple: "Weapons systems solve problems." 

If America has chosen to accept and buy into the idea that war is open ended then our leaders are attempting to manage a nation whose economy is predicated on reactionary ideals associated with instruments of violence.  This is the same ancient polarization of society seen many times before.  Americans will have fully embraced the fundamental Greek ideals of Sparta rather than those of Athens. This is a dear price to be paid for this transition in thinking.  The price ultimately has to do with governing our national value systems.

What does this open ended concept of war mean mean for our nation? If this kind of war is necessary for defeating terrorism, then what exactly is the costs to America? The answer is not simple. There is far more at stake than a wrecked national economy whose welfare model is now based on ourl military industrial complex.  For one thing, it means that the supreme law of the United States, our Constitution has been violated and will eventually be made obsolete through the underlying notion that the Office of the President assumes open ended war powers with far fewer checks and balances by the Judicial and Legislative branches of our Federal Government. The talk in Washington has been about this and many people, even those who have been considered 'right-wing hawks' with respect to war are fearful of what that means.

Moreover, through acts of responsible journalism, we have recently been seeing this idea being asserted within leaked Presidential memos.  These memos clearly attempt to argue that that our President has been advised that in times of war, the decisions of the White House are above the national and international laws. The President of the United States has been advised by attorneys and by high level Pentagon officials that George W. Bush has been given the open ended authority to unilaterally choose to imprison without address and to interrogate by the use of torture by Executive order. The documented evidence indicates that the President has elected to believed and has made decisions that shows that he as acted on this advice.

It has become obvious that something has gone awfully wrong with American moral and creative leadership. The only option that has been offered to the American people for winning a vaguely defined war requires perpetual self defeat and loss of our self identity and the high ground of moral dignity.  The cornerstone of the United States of America is our Constitution that defines the proper relationship of governing authority but the spirit behind its words is that our nation shall not be ruled by a King.  No person is or should be above the Constitutional laws of our nation.  From our elected President to a Presidentially designated terrorist enemy from another country, justice should be blind.  Those individuals who would deliberately violate the laws of our society should be given the opportunity to be fairly judged in a public court of law, not from behind secret walls and not from some pearl or from gold encrusted royal or religious thrones.

The cost of accepting things as they currently exist is represented by the fact that victory over terrorism can not be achieved through prisoner humiliation and terror. When we codify torture of prisoners, we are corrupting the foundations upon which we build our rational for abolishing terror.  The acceptance of torture as a means of interrogation supports and justifies the notion of terrorism. If the whole point of military command and control is to command and control, then the intervention by civilian administrators to allow the adoption of torture is not only a circumvention of their moral obligations, it is a violation of professional ethics. By treating prisoners differently from the way that we would want our prisoners treated, we are justifying the worst actions of our enemies.  

War is perpetrated with the idea that the cause of conflict are people who must be destroyed for the greater good. The final solution assumes that when we eliminate people, problems are eliminated. The underlying causes of terror are ignorance, complacency, and hopelessness. These conditions fuel fanaticism and they can be communicated. It is these factors that create new recruits wanting to radically change western societies. For a civilization to choose to meet in true combat against terrorism is ultimately a decision to entrust others with opportunities, to rebuild faith their own future for their families and to enlighten minds through education. America must have as much trust in freedom as much say we say we do if we are free others from their yoke and shackles of terrorism.     

It is simply not true that personal freedom and individual rights have to be traded for national security. We need more and better thinking by our citizens, not less. We need to think and communicate the unthinkable in ways that are beneficial. We need to resolve these issues through informal consensus that can only be obtained through technology. National security is not just the domain of the civil servant. This means that civil privacy as well as open forms of communication must be tolerated by our government.   Unless innovative thinking intended to increase personal and individual freedom of privacy is openly encouraged within our society, there will always be greater risks that politicians, law enforcement and military officials will get their way when they claim that the loss of personal freedoms and human rights should be overlooked for the greater good.  There will continue to be increasingly greater risks to national welfare as long as society depends on incremental development in technologies that inhibit personal freedom, while simultaneously ignoring parallel requirements for fundamental innovations within policies and legislation that promote personal freedom. Society needs better ways to deal with our dilemmas and this can only take place if we do not close the door on those who may enlighten us.

But to fight a war against global terror, our society also needs better ways to deal with the gaps that take place with respect to shifting roles of individuals, particularly with respect to a universal concept of global freedom and its constitutional guarantee by our government. The United States needs to better communicate a new concept of solutions through universal freedoms.  To do that will require a massive changes in our thinking about who and what we are as a global nation as well as how we should go about acting on 'others' problems.  To lead this kind of change will require the knowledge that the messages of the media make people feel more personal and more responsible, while at the same time making people feel frustrated, hopeless and helpless.  

Much has been said over the past two years about the concept of asymmetric warfare. The idea that a shortcut in thinking can economically defeat a costly national strategic system is certainly not new.  Innovation has always changed the nature of conflict, just as it is innovative thinking that changes who and what we are. The consensus three years ago meant that it was unthinkable that an unremarkable group of fanatics with box cutters might take over a cockpit and deliberately crash an airliner into a landmark building. In retrospect, simple change in the design of aircraft could have easily changed things. Since its first commercial inception, airliners have been operated with the model of the sea liner. The reason why passengers sit where they do with respect to the cabin is because the pilot was seen to be like a ships captain. There was really never any real technical reason for the cockpit and the passenger cabin to be connected. The fact is that the resolution of these kinds of security problems do not require the kinds of intrusive overkill that we have been seeing since 911. We just need adjustments to our way of thinking about our systems. 

To truly fight global terrorism America has to give up phony Hollywood ideas that world power arrives from the barrel of a gun.  We have to give up our macho notions of heroics and arrive at the less theatrical idea that fair public justice is the true enemy of terror, not war.  To fight terrorism we have to unwrap ourselves from our flag and reflect on our mistakes. That means that we must publicly come to the understanding that to have put our nation on a war footing in the name of fighting terrorism was to have elevated the terrorist to international prestige. To reduce the power of terrorists America must publicly treat terrorists as the Pirates that they are within courts of law. We must acknowledge that there are a specific and limited roles for our military and publicly acknowledge that its mission is combat; i.e. to absolutely destroy the will of centralized enemies using overwhelming force, not to implement justice or enforce civil reform. That is the responsibility of a separate police system that must be held accountable by local civil authorities. We must give up our our illusions of an international policy of domination through unilateralism. To accomplish this we will have to sacrifice the precious powers of our military cold war mentality because we understand that the price of fighting a true war on terrorism is change through peaceful civil empowerment. Humanity needs to be empowered through more freedom to halt acts of terrorism, not pidgin holed, cowered or controlled. In the midst of all of the confusion we must keep in mind that while it is impossible to plug every security hole, not every security hole should be plugged; America must pay the price to fight terror because we can not afford to give up an iota of our Constitutionally mandated morality and freedom in the name of terror. 

These things that America must give up to win a war on terrorism is fraught with difficulties. The dimensions of these difficulties are scalable if as a nation we step up to the plate admit our mistakes and set a course to always confront the political issues of terrorism head on.



Copyright (c) 2001-2007 RDFollendoreIII All Rights Reserved