Wednesday, November 21, 2007

JMO - When a war isn't a war

No one doubts the travesty that happened on September 11, 2001 when 19 hijackers crashed four airliners into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and rural Pennsylvania. It was one of the worst acts committed by terrorists in history and the worst in US history when roughly 3,000 people from about 80 countries died in the attacks and the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings. Let's not forget it was an act of international terrorism.

And no doubts it was planned and excuted by Al Qaeada, then with a base of operations in the Taliban controlled country of Afghanistan. It was one of about a thousand terrorist acts in 2001 and each subsequent year. Terrorism is as old as man, and especially modern history when nations attack, invade, and occupy other nations or oppress or kill people in their own nation. We forget it takes two sides for terrorism to spawn, flourish and act.

But the fight against terrorists is not a war. A war is described as a conflict between two nations, such as the World Wars and the Korean conflict, or groups within a nation, such as the former Yugoslavia, today's Iraq, and some African nations. The definition has not been extended to cover international terrorist organizations against one or more nations. Terrorism is the ever-present problem of many nations in recent history, but the fight is not a war.

Why make the distinction? Because I think it's been misused in the wake of 9/11 for political rhetoric and to manipulate the American people into being afraid and selling you the appearance of security, and wanting to hate other nations or ethnic groups as many in the US have expressed about Muslims or people from the Middle East. It's not right, fair or just. We are a better nation and people than that, and we should realize it.

No one doubts the fight agaist terrorists won't end soon. But they're not out to attack our country, our way of life or our values. They simply want their homeland and they want the US to stop meddling in the internal affairs of other nations when it's politically expedient for our own national, corporate or other interests. The attack on 9/11 was a statement about international economic and corporate control, and not an attack like Pearl Harbor.

Al Qaeada doesn't want to take over America. But more imporantly, we have forgotten they don't exist without a host nation. They are not a nation or even a group within a nation. The Taliban may be in some respects, but not Al Qaeada. They're simply a small terrorist groups with a lot of money and global connections. And they have generated a lot of smaller terrorist groups with unsubstantiated claims or identified affliations with Al Qaeada.

And no doubts it will take the best efforts of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies. But make no mistake, which we seem to be doing, is that Americans are not the terrorists! Almost all the laws, security measure and intelligence gathering efforts have been directed at American citizens, and not in the work to identify terrorists. Those agencies have us living in fear against ourselves.

When polled most Americans would rather have security over freedom. That, unfortunately, is the road away from democracy to a police state. Where do we draw the line or do we simply accept more and more "security", meaning fewer and fewer freedoms, rights and liberties to protect us from an imaginary enemy that isn't us. So why on us? And why are we accepting it? And when will we wake up to realize we've lost our nation of, for and by the people?

We need some perspective to see what this is, a long fight against terrorists. Our law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies had all the laws they needed on September 10, 2001. They failed us, so why are they blaming us for their failures? And why are they identifying all of us as suspects in the fight? It's time we started asking the questions and demanding the real answers, and not political rhetoric about an imaginary enemy.

It's not a war we're in, but a fight over our freedom. We should show the world we prize that over anything and everything else. Not fear of terrorists or our own government.

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