83% – that’s the number of American’s who, in a recent survey said that the U.S., and by extension the western world, was losing the war against terrorism. First, who takes these surveys anyway??? Has ANYONE I know here been approached to take a survey like this??? Second, this doesn’t show that we are losing the war on Terrorism, all it really shows is that 83% of Americans want simply, canned, easily televised responses that create resolution in a single episode of their favorite TV show (Two, maybe three episodes at the most!).
This position, call it a perception, merely shows just how short-sighted the American public is and illustrates the fact that the vast majority of us do not know what we are really fighting. You see, we are not fighting the Takfirist criminals who call themselves Al Qaeda, or the Taliban, or even Daesh/ISIS/ISIL. No, we’re not. They just happen to be the current incarnations of what we are fighting. What we are fighting is an idea, a philosophy. It is a philosophy that espouses the concept that violence brings change. Those wreaking terror believe that they can force the change they desire on the world. We as a civilized society must never give in to that impulse, to change out of fear of harm. Sadly, I see Americans doing so every single day.
The United States doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, right? Wrong. It’s simply not true. Even at the very beginning of this nation, George Washington paid off the Barbary Pirates, again, and again, and again…it would take four administrations, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and finally Madison, and two wars, the First and Second Barbary Wars for the United States to end its practice of appeasement to the Ottoman Empire’s North African Regencies.
We not only negotiate with terrorists, we fund them. The Mujahedeen (and all their spawn)? The Shah of Iran? A long list of Central and South American “paramilitaries”? An illustrious list of despots and dictators? Along with many, many others, these monsters are all of our own creation.
While we did not create the agency of terrorism, we certainly have a great deal of responsibility in facilitating its growth in the world and the American public needs to educate itself as to just how extensive that facilitation has been, and the many various factors that inflame it.
One side of this government wants to use a Machiavellian “kill them all” methodology. Indiscriminate bombing, indiscriminate drone strikes, indiscriminate death do nothing to end the philosophy of terror and in fact, only create a desire for revenge amongst those who currently sit on the receiving end of our own violence against them.
The other side’s milquetoast response, sometimes described as Whack-a-Terrorist (for you youngsters, that’s a reference to the arcade game Whack-a-mole), to the terrorists encourages in that it seem to be permissive. As much as I always argue that we are not doing nothing, as some (usually demagogues seeking power) wrongly insist, we are still not doing enough. But we must still do enough of the right thing.
It is a fine balancing act. Too much force, you create monsters, too little force, you give permission for the monsters to grow.
Just today, April 8, 2016, a series of U.S. Drone strikes killed 17 people in Afghanistan. Were these people terrorists? No. The first strike hit a convoy of vehicles, killing 12. That convoy was shepherding an anti-Taliban tribal elder, Hajji Rozuddin, to mediate a land dispute. The second drone strike killed two more…people sent to recover the bodies of the victims of the first strike. A third strike killed three more, who came to see what happened to the first two. The reason for such a large entourage? The Taliban had been trying to kill Rozuddin for years now. We just did their job for them. We also opened the door, with this hamfisted assassination, to greater recruitment opportunities by the Taliban, Al Queda, and yes, Daesh, who have grown in Afghanistan from a reported 1,000 fighters at the beginning of 2016, to 3,000 in April. THIS must stop. Let me say that again… THIS MUST STOP.
It would be better to simply END the Drone program than to continue to provide what is essentially material support to the very people we’re fighting. If we can’t get our intel right, then end the damned program.
Of course, force is not our only tool; it is simply the most obvious. What may be more important is information and education, you know, propaganda.
The US’s Anti-Daesh propaganda program is described in one report as “ineffective” and in “disarray.” Meanwhile Daesh is effectively using propaganda to remotely radicalize people all over the world. Never mind the fact that the U.S. is producing about 200 videos a year, and Daesh is producing 17,000 a month (YES, that number is correct). It is a serious mistake to not take this seriously as this may be the most effective way to defeat Daesh, much more effective than bombs if used correctly. Propaganda (and I use that word in its truest form) is one of the most effective tools for demoralizing the enemy, educating the public, and supporting our own efforts here at home. In WWII, the US mobilized a massive propaganda machine in our fight against the Japanese and the Germans, and it was effective. Today, with a piddling $5 million budget, how could it be? We spend billions, even trillions on hardware, and less than the cost of four cruise missiles on what is probably our best weapon.
There are many other things we as Americans can be doing here in our own country. First, by not giving in to unfounded and irrational fear. I don’t know what to say about that other than that. DO NOT GIVE IN TO FEAR. To do so supports the primary mission of any terrorist. To espouse giving in to fear, in my mind, is tantamount to giving material support to the terrorists (are you listening GOP?). I will not live in fear. Moreover, I question the patriotism of those who are insisting that we should, and the patriotism of those who support them.
Additionally, we must dispel this myth that this violence stems from a single cultural population – that is simply, utterly, totally, and BRUTALLY false. Islam is NOT what the Takfirists, and the right-wing pundits and demagogues in this country want you to believe it is. Educate YOURSELF. We must also dispel the myth that this cultural population does not object vociferously to the violence of criminals who wrap themselves in their religion. We must do it given that dispelling that myth will make no money for those who wish to perpetrate it.
As to dangers… Daesh is Jr. Varsity as Barrack Obama claimed. Since its inception in 1999 Daesh is responsible for about 50,000 deaths in Iraq alone. But that pales in comparison to the 164,000-200,000+ murdered by the Cartels in Northern Mexico in the past seven years. Or the 264,000+ killed by Assad, for political reasons since 2011. Or the 800,000 murdered in the Rwandan Genocide. But of course, the nationalists, the nativists in this country seek to manipulate your fear and expect you to turn our backs on the millions fleeing the violence of the Middle East. Just as they turned away the people on the MS St. Louis in 1939, half of whom were murdered by the Nazis at Auschwitz and Sobibor.
That is NOT how I envision America, and I think it’s embarrassing that there are apparently so many who do.