Ending the War on Terror
Since September 11, 2001, the news in America has been dominated by 'The War on Terror'. Prior to the 2004 elections, our military occupation of Iraq had disintegrated to the point that we were managing the country just to stave off disaster until after the Bush administration could win the November election. The Bush administration has never revealed their plan on how this war will be finally won and concluded. Right after the election, the first action was to level the city of Fallujah. How can this war on terror be ended?
Before we can find a way to end this war on terror, we must first understand how this war got started. At the time of the 2004 Presidential elections, our War on Terror was based on far too many lies.
First, none of the reasons for the war with Iraq are true. There was no connection between the 9/11 plane attacks and Iraq (although the administration will sometimes still imply this lie is true). There were no weapons of mass destruction, though the administration later changed this danger to be programs of WMD. Saddam Hussein was a dictator that was known to have killed his own countrymen. However that is not a sufficient justification to invade his country, to kill thousands of his military and thousands of innocent civilians.
Second, this administration claims that the terrorists hate us for our freedom. This is such a ludicrous denial of responsibility that it borders on the insane.
I tried to think of an analogy with a local context. Consider that I have a well-to-do neighbor that builds a tall fence between our houses (this is just a story). He likes to throw large backyard parties, to which I am not invited. During these parties, garbage is tossed over the fence into my yard. Even when I complain, it continues or even gets worse. Finally I complain to the police that this disregard for my property is wrong. His reaction to the police is 'he just hates me because I am richer than he is.' The reaction is a complete denial of responsibility.
In the last century, our government has meddled in the affairs of many different countries, including a few in the Middle East. In 1938, production of oil began by the American and British oil companies, protected by expensive concessions to the Saudi kingdom. In 1953, we overthrew the popular government run by Prime Minister Mossadegh (who threatened to nationalize the Iranian oil resources). We replaced the government by one ruled by Shah Pahlavi, who used a vicious police force to put down opposition. This government was finally overthrown by a popular uprising in 1979 (marked by the taking of hostages at our embassy). For many years we have supported the government of Israel. At first it was help defending itself against Arab military aggression. Subsequently it came unconditional, with no repercussions even as the persecution of the Palestinians became a carefully crafted genocide.
In the late 1970s, the American government created a military group that would harass the Soviets in Afghanistan. The goal of this intervention was to give the Soviets their own 'Vietnam' while the fighters received their justification of getting rid of foreign invaders in the primarily Islamic country. It worked. With our training and support, these fighters were able to defeat the Soviets. In the process, we had also developed the foundation for Al Qaeda. American intervention in the Middle East created our own terrorist enemies!
To end this war on terror, we must first recognize that our actions got us into this mess. Intervention in other governments will often have unintended consequences. Our foreign policy cannot be based on changing foreign governments to meet our needs.
Our military action, in the context of the war in Iraq, must be ended as soon as possible (this was written in mid November 2004). Our atrocities multiply with each passing week. The quick initial military victory was marked by the looting and anarchy, expected by many due to the absence of any local police or governing body. The military's priority was the destruction of any opposing military forces and the securing of the Iraqi oil resources. These events were soon followed by the many stories of military abuse of civilians at checkpoints. Vehicles, probably driven by someone not understanding the directions, were blasted with bullets. Abu Graib and Guatanamo prison scandals revealed that our government and its military agents did not consider the Afghani and Iraqi prisoners to be worthy of humane treatment. Bush authorized the denial of humane treatment, normally expected in accordance with Geneva Conventions.
The military completed the destruction of Fallujah in November 2004. While some militants were no doubt killed during the bloody house-to-house fighting, innocent civilians (either unable or unwilling to leave their homes) were also killed and wounded in this operation. The military has shown no accounting for the civilian casualties of this operation. By ignoring the civilian losses, the military hopes to avoid being held accountable for such inhumane actions. The war in Iraq has now degraded to the cliche of the Vietnam war era - the city was destroyed to save it.
It is difficult to envision a peaceful resolution to this current global war on terror. However if the world stays on this course it is difficult to envision anything other than global devastation.
By the Bush administration frequently stating the justification 'they hate our freedom', this has become a cultural war. Since the Bush administration also frequently flaunts the religious justification for its actions, this has also become a religious Crusade. Our Christian soldiers are attacking the Islamic terrorists. Our inhumane actions in Iraq have given cause of revenge to a generation of Iraqis. This conflict has escalated from dealing with a small militant group who staged the attack on 9/11 to a quagmire in Iraq, with talk of dealing with problem regimes in Iran and Syria. Our actions are inciting the wrath of a large population who will defend the assault on Islam.
I worry that any terrorist act in the United States, even if a simple action by just a single individual on limited resources, will escalate the conflict as the administration seeks revenge for that act.
The resolution of this war of terror can begin only after our aggression ends, by the withdrawal from Iraq. The country has no national infrastructure, other than that enforced by our military. The cities are ruled by lawless armed militants, with widespread acts of murder and kidnapping. Our puppet government has no credibility with the Iraqi populace. While our withdrawal does not immediately solve the anarchy, it removes the justification for the continued internal violence that seeks to drive us out of the country. After our withdrawal, Iraqis will deal with their own problems. A democracy would be possible but is probably unlikely given the cultural and religious turmoil in the country.
There is certainly talk of how can we end this war and still save face. Perhaps we have to keep our military as long as it takes for the democratic government to achieve stability. I see that extended occupation as an unworkable plan. The only way now that stability can be achieved by our military is the destruction of the country. There is no military solution to the political problem of setting up a stable government. Our conduct has not been rational up to this point. Many actions could be considered war crimes (even recently, water and power were disabled prior to the Fallujah invasion; actions on civilians are not tolerated according to the international rules of war and this war has been marked by many). War crimes are typically prosecuted by the victors on the losers so perhaps that is a reason why the warring continues.
This administration has brought the contempt of the world on the United States. Only when the current foreign policies have been changed can the world see a penitent entity that is seeking a rational resolution to this cultural conflict.
original - Nov. 2004
last change - 11/21/2004
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