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The Chimera of "Winning" a War on Terrorism

Reader comment on item: America's Crash Course on Islam

Submitted by Marci (United States), Sep 11, 2007 at 15:10

Dr. Pipes' citing the small percentage of Americans who believe "we are winning the war on terrorism" (of which he includes himself in that percentage) suggests that he, along with others in government, believe that such a notion can actually happen. I suggest it is a meaningless statement and an even more meaningless goal.

The phrase struck home this morning as I watched a real-time replay of MSNBC's coverage of that fateful morning six years ago. Tom Brokaw, observing the collapse of the second tower, declared "terror has declared war on America." On its surface, the observation made visceral sense but, Wittgenstein notwithstanding, does it make logical sense? Of course not. Terror itself cannot declare war. So how can the opposite be true? I posit that what we have committed our time, money and lives to in "fighting" terror is the result of a visceral rather than logical policy. Sun Tzu would thus predict catastrophe, which is exactly what we are seeing unfold.

It is difficult to change our perception and our path, and for six years now we have embarked on a trail that leads to.....where? The President himself, along with all his generals, has said "there will be no military solution," no "signing of a surrender on the deck of a ship." So why do we continue to seek a military solution by remaining in Iraq, threatening Iran and Syria, and diddling in Afghanistan, all with forces too few to accomplish any tangible goal other than creating democracy in Iraq---a dubious goal considering that democracies elected Hitler and Hamas. But change we must, and the correct change is something 180 degrees from our current approach.

Terrorism against the United States will subside when the Islamic world no longer feels threatened by the United States. Will terrorism completely disappear? No. Terror is a tool of insurgency, from the assault on Fort Sumter to the Oklahoma Federal Building bombing, from the bombing of the King David Hotel to the Intifada. But, as we have in the past, we must bear the occasional scar of terror. How then do we return to the past, to the world of the occasional scar? We must return to the conditions of the past, when U.S. military forces had no presence in the Middle East. That was not so long ago, just prior to the first Gulf War. We must return to a logical foreign policy, one that does not suspect a suitcase nuclear bomb behind every curtain or a monolithic movement of a million Islamic radicals out to destroy the U.S. And thus the paradox of our current approach: our bases in the Middle East will generate terror as long as they remain there, and the longer they remain there, at some point, WILL bring a suitcase nuclear bomb into our cities.

We will not drive terror into submission, and at this point we are exacerbating it with the wild abandon of boys swatting at a hornets' nest. We can only dissipate terror, and right now the cause of 99.99% of all the terror we see and perceive is caused by our needless military presence in the Middle East. Osama Bin Laden cited our military bases in Saudi Arabia as the focus of his and his followers' anger, but he has extended an olive branch for their removal. Sounds like a logical deal, and I think he speaks logically for terror.


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