The war on terror is futile
Western students live pretty
sheltered lives. Really, all we need to worry about is missing
the bus or handing in the odd essay late. And then some terrorists
blow something up.
After Sept. 11, our blissful lives of champagne breakfasts
were rudely interrupted by the random cruelty of international
terrorism. The prospect of this happening to ourselves or loved
ones has awakened us from a dream and into a world where fear
and uncertainty reign.
Naturally, something had to be done, so the “War on
Terror” was declared. It had the admirable goal of wiping
terrorism off the face of the Earth — noble, but misguided.
The result of setting forth such a broad unreachable goal
is that we convince ourselves the end of terrorism is always
in sight. Therefore, when there is a lull in international
terrorist violence, we chalk one up for the Free World, pat
ourselves on the back for winning the war on terrorism and
pound back a cold one.
And then someone decides to set off a series of bombs on commuter
trains in Spain, killing approximately 200 people — this
is when we should realize the mistake we have made.
We suddenly realize nothing has changed much since Afghanistan
and Iraq were invaded, and it becomes clearer that terrorism
is a tougher foe than it first seemed.
History is filled with terrorists: the barbarians who sacked
Rome; the pirates who raided Spanish galleons carrying gold
across the Atlantic Ocean and the masses of people living under
British imperial rule who clamoured for freedom.
In each case, the opposition of each respective terrorist
organization underestimated them and lost. The Roman Empire
collapsed under the weight of a barbarian invasion and the
British Empire was eventually carved up and distributed among
Every one of them believed their foes could be eliminated
swiftly — and everyone fell victim to their threats because
of their hubris. None of them, along with us, realized there
will always be factions that wish to kill others in the name
of God, glory, revenge or the almighty dollar.
Until we realize that this is the way the world works, then — and
only then — will we be truly prepared to fight a war
against terrorism, and have a chance to win.