September 10, 2013

Counterview: Terrorism Persists, But America’s War On Terror Must End

Remember how the Obama administration stopped using the phrase “War on Terror”? And remember when President Obama gave that speech back in May where he called for an official end to the War on Terror and repeal of the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF)? “I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate,” said Obama. “And I will not sign laws designed to expand this mandate further. Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue. But this war, like all wars, must end. That’s what history advises. That’s what our democracy demands.”

Paul Waldman: The War on Terror Is Still Everywhere (The American Prospect)– “In May of this year, Barack Obama gave a speech effectively declaring the end of the ‘War on Terror.’ Like many people, I was pleased. The War on Terror, which embodies the idea that terrorism is such an existential threat that all other threats the United States has faced pale before it and therefore we had permission [to] abandon every moral standard we ever held to and wage a global military campaign that never ends, has been a poison coursing through our national bloodstream. Its effects can be seen in things that don’t on their surface seem to have almost anything to do with terrorism. And despite Obama’s speech, it doesn’t seem like much has changed.”

In 2013, terrorism is alive and well, and even if America remains on a war footing indefinitely, terrorism will continue to persist. You cannot declare a war on a tactic. You cannot eradicate a reaction. Some people will commit horrible acts, and others will respond with terror and fear. That is terrorism. And because a human tactic cannot be eliminated, we should not, no, we MUST not continue an open-ended war designed to defeat the undefeatable. We have to accept there will always be evil in the world, and we must use intelligence gathering, police work, and the rule of law to maintain a civil society. A free country cannot remain in a permanent state of war.

And as Paul Waldman wrote in his piece on The American Prospect, our non-calibrated collective hysteria to 9/11 means “the most extreme overreactions become the ordinary way of doing business.” We can’t see past our fear of what happened that day to have a rational discussion designed to properly calibrate our approach to terrorism.

1984 war is peace

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