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War on Terror

 
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brian-hansen
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Location: Oregon

PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2008 1:08 pm    Post subject: War on Terror Reply with quote

Forget, for a moment, how foolish and ignorant this
particular rallying call is. Terror being an emotion,
describing a heightened, subjective, sense of fear,
a "War on Terror" is a war against fear. For all the
sense that that makes, we might as well declare war
against sadness, ennui, and boredom while waiting
in line.

The vacuousness of the notion of a "war on terror"
inadvertently reveals the metaphorical nature of
this "war". This is a war in something like the sense
that wars against drugs and poverty are "wars".*

Those who try to be a bit more precise use a different
formulation: War on Terrorism. This has several advantages.
First, we're used to the idea of fighting against "ism"s.
And, as "ism"s go, terrorism, as an ideology, is as
contemptible as they come. I suppose there are better
definitions, but I think I'm pretty close when I claim that
the central element of terrorism is the targeting of
innocent civilians with the actual or the threat of armed
attack.

The problem remains, though. Unless it is a war against
a particular nation, the notion of a "war", against terrorism
or any other entity, is still metaphorical. The "war on
Terrorism" is a "metaphorical" war, and the question arises
as to how far this particular metaphor can be stretched
without being overextended.

"War" means bombers and troops and tanks, right?
Not for the "war" on poverty. Not for the "war" on drugs.

We all naturally want revenge against those who plotted
to kill innocent civilians and destroy national icons in
September 2001. It was easy to support military action
against the regime that harbored the plotters, and some
action was taken, but the situation remains unresolved.
To extend the notion of a war against terrorism to other
targets limits our thinking too much. It is a truism that
if the only tool you have is a hammer, then everything
looks like a nail.







=================================


* I find another thing to like, in this regard, about
Jimmy Carter: he had the good sense, when advancing
his energy policy to call it "the moral equivalent" of
a war.
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jabailo



Joined: 20 Mar 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 3:26 pm    Post subject: Terror War Reply with quote

I think the phrasing might be an outgrowth of a concept war like "Nuclear War". No, it's not a war between the nuclei of our cells, it's war fought with nuclear weapons. In a "Terror War" the weapon is terror. Terror is leveraged war. A small group finds the weak points in society and exploits them to inspire fear. In this case, a box cutter used to take over an airplane which is used as a flying torpedo becomes a weapon of mass destruction.
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brian-hansen
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 7:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think you've gotten this quite right, though I do find
what you write to be interesting and original.

I don't recall ever hearing the term "terror war", but if
it were used, it would have to be describing the war from the
perspective of the terrorist, not the victim. I guess we could
use that term if we believed and were willing to acknowledge
that we were also using terror as a weapon.

Meanwhile, the usual phrase uses the word "on" in the sense
of being "against". In the "war on drugs" do we use drugs
against our enemies? It just doesn't work, your formulation.
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jabailo



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Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 12:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The most accurate phrasing might be "The War Against Terrorists" and then leave it to the follow up to define terrorists as those who employ tactics of Terror (as I mentioned above, a leveraged use of focal arts).

In fact, this was the breakthrough in the war, whereas before there was no direct way of fighting terror, this was an attempt to bring the battle to their own backyard and redefine how the fight would waged. It's unusual in that classically (American Revolution, Vietnam) it's the orderly, regimented army versus the mobile distributed troops where the latter can win the war. In this case, it was the other way around!
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brian-hansen
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 1:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, "War against Terrorists" is the best formulation along these lines.

But why a war?

Do we have wars against dishonest businessmen?
Do we have wars against rapists?
Do we have wars against drunk drivers?

The "war on terrorism" seems sensical at first, but it
is revealed to be metaphorical. It is unclear that this
is the best paradigm to think of how to deal with
people who want to achieve political aims by harming
civilians.
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jabailo



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Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 1:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think you're appreciating the brilliance of the phrase "War on Terror"...in fact, this dialog has made me appreciate it more.

As I said before, traditionally one would not think of having a "war" against a concept as you say. But that's the brilliance of Bush's strategy. He brought the terrorists down to earth. He made them fight in their own backyards. It was ok for them to fly around to other countries and plant bombs surreptitiously, but by creating a "War" in the open battlefield with real guns and tanks and airplanes, suddenly it was a War that could be fought...and won!

Genius...sheer genius on the part of Rumsfeld. And today, all Americans and free peoples everywhere taste the fruits of that success...
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brian-hansen
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 2:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There will always be rewards for someone who finds a new place
for cheese on a pizza, and there'll always be rewards for someone
who comes up with another plausible reason for people to kill each
other.
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jabailo



Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1273
Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 11:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just finished reading Inside The Crips by Colton Simpson. The most fascinating parts are his telling about Crips ideology. He also describes the gangbanging years in the 80s and early 90s as "warfare".

One of the books in the CRIPS bibliography of books that should be read (along with "Soul On Ice" and other black power classics) is Sun Tsu's The Art of War. This is because gang life is total war. Any alliance can be formed, anyone can be killed for any reason. Gangsters know and accept it.

He starts of Chapter Ten with a quote from Shakespeare's Coriolanus which argues for war because during peace men less need one another.
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