March 18, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 88  

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The war on terror is futile

Marshall Law
Marshall Bellamy

News Editor

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 its subjects.

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.



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