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Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, “The War on Terror” has become a household name, found in the headlines of every newspaper and on the lips of every news commentator in the US and abroad.  But what is the “War on Terror,” and whom is it really being waged against?

“Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword; it both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind.”  -William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar-

This phrase, written nearly five centuries ago, remains hauntingly true in this age of the corrupt initiatives of super-powers and capitalist business tycoons.  And nothing embodies this poetic phrase better than the so-called “War on Terror.”

The language of “The War on Terror” was craftily designed in order to simultaneously inspire fear and a false sense of courage into the hearts and minds of US citizens.  The word “terror” does just that: inspires fear.  The phrase “The War On” connotes a false sense of courage; anyone who doesn’t support “The War on Terror” is viewed as unpatriotic.  Since the days of Ronald Reagan, “the war on” has become a popular catch-phrase utilized to rally people toward a cause.  “The War on Guns,” “The War on Waste,” “The War on Poverty,” “The War on Illiteracy,” “The War on Drugs,” the list goes on.  Regardless of the level of sincerity behind the so-called “war,” the language and its purpose remain the same: to rally people against something.  The phrase “War on Terror” was announced at a crucial time in US history: in the immediate aftermath of a brutal attack which shocked and frightened the nation.  Before the smog over New York City had even cleared, the war was on; and who would think to question such an initiative with debris from the World Trade Center still floating through the Manhattan skyline?  It was therefore no surprise that the Bush Administration was able to launch its illegal attack on Afghanistan with an overwhelming amount of support from the American people.

Indeed, “The War On Terror” has been wielded like a weapon, employed by the Administration in order to justify a multitude of international crime, including illegal invasions, preemptive and perpetual war, blatant defiance of the United Nations, unparalleled violations of The Geneva Convention and international law, and countless human rights abuses. 

Five years on and the War in Iraq drones on with little regard to the massive amounts of civilian deaths, destruction of the country, the sufferings of the Iraqi people, and the displaced persons all over the Middle East.  As millions of Americans are sent off to war, and the families continue to demand our troops brought home, it is blatantly evident that the jig is up.  The overwhelming majority of world citizens know that Iraq was not responsible for the attacks of 9/11.  And the justification has shifted so many times that even the least politically-aware citizens can see through the manipulation.  “Catching the terrorists” shifted to “locating Weapons of Mass Destruction.”  When the search for WMD turned up nothing, a new justification was born: the Iraqi people’s crying need for “Regime Change.”  But even this seemingly flawless justification has quickly revealed itself as a farce as the global community is awakened to the fact that the Iraqi people had it better under Saddam than they do under the brutal inconsistencies of the US occupation.

And Iraq is just the beginning!  “The War on Terror” was purported to “curb the spread of terrorism,” but has instead served as the manipulative justification for the highest level of state-sanctioned terrorism in world history.  From the illegal imprisonments in Guantanamo to the human rights abuses in Abu Ghraib to the US’s support of Israel’s reign of terror over Palestine, the abuses are extreme and one-sided.  Meanwhile, 400,000 Sudanese have died in massive attacks of state-sanctioned terrorism and the US’s plans for intervention are solely driven by their corporate interests.

And let’s not forget that “The War on Terror” has been a source of terrorism to the US’s very own citizens.  The fascist Patriot Act has resulted in countless violations of the Fourth Amendment and has been used to justify unconstitutional encroachments of civil liberties across the country.  America has woken up and realized that the Total Information Act is not about finding out what library books you’ve checked out (although the anger that generates does provide a convenient distraction).  In 2005, Bush claimed that the Patriot Act had brought charges to more than 400 people, many of whom had been convicted.  That same year, more than 7,000 US citizens had issued complaints of abuse at the hands of the Patriot Act. 

The international community has not been so easily duped into the façade of “The War on Terror.”  Thankfully, there still remain the voices of sanity.  Across the globe, nations who have suffered at the hands of this false war have cried out against it.  In Pakistan, Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Palestine, and more, victims have spoken out against the obviously initiative-driven injustices masquerading under the façade of altruism and international justice.  Even the US’s allies in the UK have begun to express doubts.  After the 7 July 2005 bombings in London, Ken McDonald, the Director of Public Prosecutions and head of the Crown Prosecution Service in the UK, stated: “London is not a battlefield. Those innocents who were murdered...were not victims of war. And the men who killed them were not, as in their vanity they claimed on their ludicrous videos, 'soldiers.' They were deluded, narcissistic inadequates. They were criminals. They were fantasists. We need to be very clear about this. On the streets of London there is no such thing as a war on terror. The fight against terrorism on the streets of Britain is not a war. It is the prevention of crime, the enforcement of our laws, and the winning of justice for those damaged by their infringement.”

So what is the “War on Terror” really about?  With the war profiteers raking in the cash, the Iraqi government bullied into “enhancing” its relationship with OPEC, and oil costs at an all-time high of $65 a barrel, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out.  And with the current Administration’s eyes now firmly set on Iran, the future looks grim.  Perhaps the globe’s only hope for release from these false atrocities is a US regime change – and now!  Otherwise, the world faces a future of greed, corruption, violence, and international crime.  With oil, land, material wealth, and political interests taking precedence over human life, the picture looks bleak.  As Michael Moore states in his 2003 book Dude, Where’s My Country?: “The fact is, the number of people willing to blow themselves up to kill you is infinitely small.  Yes, anyone prepared to die for their cause may eventually be able to pull it off, but those people exist everywhere – and they always have.  The ‘War on Terror’ should not be a war on Afghanistan or Iraq or North Korea, or Syria or whatever place we’ll end up invading.  It should be a war on our own dark impulses.”

1st April 2008

The Phony War on Terror
By Jill A. Bolstridge