What’s winning with terrorism?
What does it mean to win the war on terror?Does it mean all of the bad guys are dead? Does it mean they have been forced to accept us and our ideologies because our military was so overwhelming? Does President Bush claiming a “functioning democracy” in Iraq (along with a permanent U.S. military base within its borders) meet the criteria for a winning scenario?How about the severed head of Osama, or perhaps the surprise assassination of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kim Jung Il, Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro all before next Monday’s morning coffee?Would any of the above criteria qualify for the United States to officially win the war on terror?The future of this war, and perhaps our nation, is dependent upon the answers. And not some convoluted mess of answers reminiscent of Clinton confessionals either, just a simple yes or no is all that’s needed.However, before such fleeting answers can be shared, the nuances of each should be kicked around and dissected.All of the bad guys on the planet, in this case Islamic extremists, will never completely go away. Ever. Not in our lifetime, or our children’s, or our children’s children.To actually believe so is just one of the many unfortunate byproducts of religion and its multiple affiliated delusions. At best, the enemy crawls off to caves and slums around the world, where they slowly but methodically rebuild for future attacks upon their original enemy. Until we have an entire generation of the planet’s population raised in a world of reality as opposed to mythological beings, the worldwide epiphany will sadly never occur.Pressuring the enemy with military might to accept our ideologies will never work for similar reasons. Refusal to accept rational thought as a worldview condemns their kind as much as it does ours (Pat Robertson, for example), and we can never forget that their magical being tells them it is perfectly acceptable to murder anyone – man, woman or child – who dares to disagree with their ideology.A “functioning democracy” in Iraq is as subjective a term to worldwide leaders as marketing 3,000 pinwheels with tax dollars is to local town councils.At what possible point in time would the world’s audience sit back and say, “Yep, that there’s a functioning democracy in Iraq.” The only thing for sure is that my timing would be different from yours. It all depends upon who’s making the judgment call.The act of killing enemy leaders like Osama only worked in ancient wars, and is completely irrelevant today. Yes, it would make us all feel better for a little while, but within days there would be hundreds vying for the title of “America’s Most Wanted.”That’s not to say I don’t wish to see the man’s crown jewels hanging from a smiling Marine’s bayonet, but the act would end up as little more than a symbolic gesture for hundreds of thousands of others to use as more jet fuel for hating America.It would certainly have no bearing on whether or not Islamic terrorists still wished to kill us all right where we stand.So whether you call it “victory,” “getting the job done,” “completing the mission” or “winning the war,” it all means the same thing: a refusal to accept reality. That reality has an unfortunate foundation of mankind’s hatred for one another based solely upon thousands of competing belief systems in magical beings. It is a reality we can never escape, but unfortunately will never stop fighting against.So will another 22,000 American targets in Iraq prevent a nuclear bomb from ever detonating on U.S. soil? Will more dead American servicemen and women provide a bigger security blanket for the rest of us to sleep at night?No, to both, but I take no perverse pleasure in seeing my president humbled on center stage, as he has since last Wednesday night. I am convinced, however, that digging a hole with more shovels will only serve to make the hole deeper.The definition of winning a war is based upon the satisfaction of one of only two simple conditions: The enemy must surrender or be totally annihilated. So the war on terror can never actually be won in any general description of the word. It must become an accepted part of America’s recent past, present and long-term future. So what do we do now? Religious wars, and specifically the conflicts involving Christians, Jews and Muslims, have been ongoing, in one form or another, for over 1,500 years. America has just officially joined the fight, but now needs to sit back and work on plans for handling the next few decades for our children and theirs. It certainly will not be won before the next election cycle.Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com
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