October 10, 2007

If War Isn't The Answer, Perhaps You Misunderstood The Question

When the American embassy in Kenya was attacked, Muslim terrorists posed a question to our nation. When the U.S.S. Cole was bombed, Muslim terrorists posed a question to our nation. When Muslim terrorists destroyed the lives of thousands of Americans by flying passenger jets into the Word Trade Center towers, they posed the same question to our nation: can the "great Satan" of the West, America, be destroyed?

America has made its answer, and continues to answer by way of the "war on terrorism". Naturally, there are some who protest, saying war is not the answer. Such a sentiment is completely understandable. War truly is Hell, and only a pure psychotic would gleefully and joyfully wage war. I, for one, fervently wish that war would never be necessary. Sadly, however, there are circumstances when war must be fought. And I believe the threat of terrorism represents one such circumstance.

Since war is so distasteful, it obviously must be used as a last resort. But to say that war isn't the answer implicitly means that other options are not only available but also viable. Sadly, in the case of the war on terrorism, this is not the case. Consider the following alternatives:

Ignore the threat. This actually has been our approach in the past. It is the perfect reaction to threats in most cases, because often they are only that -- threats. When those threats turn to action, however, they can no longer be ignored. Terrorism against America has continued for years upon years. The attacks of 9/11 show that, if anything, terroristic action is escalating. Clearly, ignoring the threat will not make it go away. Ignoring terrorism is no longer a viable option.

Diplomacy. This is the alternative that everybody would prefer. In civil disagreements, merely sitting down and talking things over can usually resolve the conflict. Unfortunately, terroristic threats do not constitute a civil disagreement. In addition to requiring a degree of civil respect between parties, the success of diplomacy depends on the goals of the negotiating parties. Sadly, the stated goal of terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda is the destruction of America and the death of its people. Perhaps such statements are merely hyperbole, but their actions certainly seem to confirm their absolute commitment to the stated goal. Assuming that Americans value their lives (I know I do), diplomacy with terrorist groups is doomed to fail because the outcome is unacceptable. When one party wishes only for the destruction of the other party, no negotiation can succeed. Diplomacy, therefore, is not a viable option.

Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. This method is strictly defensive. Rather than fighting a war, we can focus our efforts on reducing the impact of future attacks and in noticing warning signs in the hope of preventing such attacks. I believe a sports analogy works well here. After all, you have two groups in opposition, each with goals they wish to accomplish and each hoping to emerge victorious. With that in mind, ask yourself if a team that plays only defense has any chance of winning? Defense is important, but it doesn't win the game. If our only approach to terrorism is to play defense, we will eventually be defeated. An effective defense only postpones that defeat. Defense is a vital component of the war on terrorism, but is not a viable response in and of itself.

Sadly, begrudgingly and resolutely wage war. The last option, and the only viable option under the circumstances, is to actively fight against the threat of terrorism. Make no mistake, it is an ugly choice. Lives will be lost. We have already lost fathers, brothers and sons in the war. We have already lost mothers, sisters and daughters in the war. But we know that their sacrifice has helped to protect the lives of the people they love. They know that their selflessness will offer better protection than ignoring terrorism will, better than negotiating with terrorists will and better than preparing for the next terrorist attack will.

Even as the most viable option, the war on terrorism has its problems. It would be naive to think otherwise. Like victory, for instance. Logically, the war against terrorism must continue as long as terrorists live. It's reasonable to expect that terrorists will always exist, so then victory is impossible, correct? Well, not so fast.

Our war is against the threat of terrorism. It is not a pollyannish quest to eliminate terrorists, but to inhibit their power to destroy. As the investigation of the 9/11 attacks shows, large-scale terrorism (the kind we are concerned about) is not easy. It takes enormous preparation and coordination. By actively fighting terrorists, they now must use their time protecting their own lives (which dramatically reduces the amount of time they can spend plotting the destruction of innocent lives elsewhere).

The war on terror is not a war of vengeance. We have left many, many terrorist attacks unanswered in the past. The attacks of 9/11 were not the reason for the war -- they were the last straw. It was the final event that showed to us, once and for all, that peace not only isn't the answer, it's not even an option. Terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda hate us not for what we've done, but for who we are. The war on terror, therefore, is a war to protect our countrymen both here and abroad from those who mean to do them harm.

The question has been posed. And, as distasteful as it may be, war is the only answer that responds, plainly and firmly, "NO!"

Also At Babblermouth:
Where Have All The Parents Gone?
Fun With Truisms
Financial Freedom Series 2 -- The Value of Values

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