5 ways to end the War on Terror

I’ve had the unfortunate experience, like over 1 billion other people, to live in a nation involved in the War on Terror. I’ve had a lot of time to think, the war started while I was still in high school, and now more than six years later it rages on. More than anything, I’ve had time to think about war, about killing, and about my country. I did this at first simply out of curiosity, but as the very real threat of a draft became plausible, I began to become concerned that nothing was being done to avoid that end.

I’ve often wondered, as with no doubt many have, about what the future may bring, how this period will end, and what the world after might look like. We live in a time where an inevitability stares us in the face, and yet we do not meet its gaze. The inevitability is a question: How will the War on Terror end, and how might we guide its end to peace and relative victory?

It will end, but how? I’ve thought about this for the better part of a decade. When the attacks on 9/11 occurred, I wondered what action the US should take in response to the aggressors. When the enemy had a name, al Qaeada, I wondered what their terms of treaty might be. When we realized the Taliban may have been in bed with our enemies, I wondered how we might force them to control their bedfellows. In other words, whereas many of my compatriots thought only of how to correct the horrors that had been done to us, I thought only of how to end the conflict to come. Even before it had a name, the War on Terror, I began study on how to end it.

It appears, that in great part, I was alone. When we knew who our aggressors were, we didn’t think about how we should react, we simply killed them. When we had a name and face to the enemy, we didn’t attempt to communicate with them as people, we simply killed them. When we knew that the Taliban government was aiding them, we didn’t try to leverage the tremendous international support we had into forcing the Taliban to respect us and control their own borders, we simply killed them.

In those six years I kept quiet because I didn’t yet have the words to express what I believed. But think, enough time has now gone by that there are children attending school who have lived their entire lives under the shadow of the War on Terror. It is for them, who have little to no hope of understanding what life was like before 9/11, that I write these 5 ways to end the War on Terror:

  • Ideological Conversion

Terrorist organizations are by definition retaliatory, they have no self-sustaining agenda of their own. Their only ideology is retaliating against offenses made against their arbitrary rules. Terrorist leaders alter the rules at a whim in order to allow the continuation of offenses so that their soldiers can be goaded into constant combat. We can clandestinely convert a terrorist leader to scale back the rules and claims to his followers that offenses have been made. This requires the consolidation of all terrorist resources under that one leader. The US would be involved in strengthening one terrorist organization (an illegal act if done knowingly) and weakening all other terrorist organizations.

Why this might not work: The US would have to give an inordinate amount of power to two independent entities. The first entity is the terrorist leader himself, who must be converted and controlled from afar. The second entity is those who will execute this mission, in all likelihood a private paramilitary group such as Blackwater (US government personnel would be barred from doing this type of mission). There is a great likelihood that these two entities, realizing the great power that the US is reluctantly allowing them, will act in concert to subvert the position of the US and not follow the mission to its peaceful conclusion. The easiest way to remedy this is to alter the government’s attitude towards the accountability of corporate forces engaged in security and paramilitary action in areas of US foreign affairs, and the evolution of the State Department as a powerful regulatory force with strict guidelines for US entities functioning outside of the US. Hopefully, the CIA and State Department could then together oversee the different facets of the infiltration of a terrorist organization, creating accountability through a three-pronged effort of civilian, intelligence, and private efforts. In no doubt, this type of action is already being attempted by covert US forces, and in doubt it is being done without legal regulation.

  • Treaty

A terrorist organization has leaders that have self-interested motives that can be leveraged and fulfilled to satisfaction. Given the proper expression of goodwill, we would be able to sit down and negotiate terms of treaty at which all ludicrous ideas (such as the death of all infidels) will be quickly thrown aside and diplomacy can move onto the discussion of realistic lucrative gains for the terrorist leaders and their followers. In all likelihood this would involve the US and its allies creating a hegemony of power for the terrorist leaders where they might create nations according to their goals and vision. While it’s possible that a fundamentalist Ayatollah-ruled Iran-type government might evolve from this in Iraq/Afghanistan, it’s just as likely that we can guide them towards a type of stable bureaucratic-mired oligarchy or even a democracy. If you feel this a romantic vision of the world, I ask you simply to wonder what’s more likely to create a democracy: the creation of a puppet regime that does not have open communication with the warlords who rule the land and people, or an open dialogue and creation of treaty with all elements regardless of whether they’re seen as terrorists.

Why this may never happen: This would take a very long time to even start, not because the terrorist leaders aren’t ready to listen, but because Americans are not ready to listen. The policy of “We don’t negotiate with terrorists.” is still very strong, but stems from an outdated model of foreign affairs where concentrations of power reside in the state and not in international organizations. Just as commerce has embraced globalism, so have paramilitary organizations. The days of being able to stamp out terrorist cells through military or legal action is done and gone. The terrorists have but to move into a nation that we cannot invade or leverage legal/economic power in (such as Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, India, China) and our old models of “Not negotiating with terrorists, but instead stamping them out.” becomes ineffective and dangerous (there is already talk of attacking Iran, which would most likely result in nuclear war or a decade-long stalemate in which the US is completely militarized with the draft reinstated and domestic martial law). In any case, we had better start talking and getting good at dealing diplomatically with the terrorists, because we’re going to be doing a lot of it in the future if we keep pissing people off.

  • Deflection

Terrorists must have a target, and the external manipulation of that target is possible. Right now the target is the US, but the hostility could be easily deflected onto another nation, organization, or individual. The easiest would be the ACTUAL offenders which have made unethical incursions into middle east affairs. One of these is the 1988-1992 Bush administration, who established military bases, against Islamic law, in the Holy Land of Saudi Arabia. The second is the current 2000-2008 Bush administration, who acted in concerted effort to destabilize the Muslim world. Why, as Americans, do we not simply throw these officials to the lions? Such a dramatic concession, exiling the offenders, might end Islamic terrorism almost instantly. Of course, no one can say for sure what might happen, so the argument will never win out. Or, we could simply ask the terrorist leaders “What if…” and see what they say.

Here you see why the CIA has such a tremendous amount of power. They’re the only group in the US capable of planning an exile of this sort. They’re the only ones that can ask the terrorist leaders, currently, what they would do if we did something like this. There’s no question in my mind that the CIA is involved in this type of effort, the CIA attracts those who understand the tremendous power that they would hold in the CIA, they’re king makers similar to the way the Praetorian Guard functioned in the Roman Empire. Unfortunately, having publicly declared that, I now have a slim chance of becoming an agent, or do I?

  • Remove Benefit of Marginality

Terrorism is powerful because it functions at the margins of legality. The claims made by its leaders do not need to be bolstered legally, and because the rules and tenets of terrorist agendas are created dogmatically, they’re difficult for external powers to manipulate. Law is an attempt to control fear and the disorder caused by fear. Sometimes it fails, and sometimes it succeeds in holding back the tide. There are two ways to remove the advantage that terrorist leaders function under at the margins of legality. The first is to reinstate and manipulate the laws under which they functioned under at one time: Islamic law. Of course it’s difficult to do so, because part of a dogmatic leader’s power is to position themselves as the only relevant lawgiver. The second way would be to trap the terrorist organization in a rule of law structure. This would involve setting a trap, baiting the terrorist organizations and leaders into a situation where they’re reliant on a system that functions under a rule of law, and then to simply spring the trap and have all the leaders restricted by and accountable to the rule of law.

This would be difficult but possible. Simply put, it would require someone with such an in depth understanding of the way in which dogmatic rule functions, how legal systems function, and how governments are created, so that they might plan and execute the creation of a system into which a religious fundamentalist will willingly become a bureaucrat. Nobody in the modern world may be able to function at that high level of intellectual adaptation. Perhaps if the American education system ratchets up the intensity of these wide-flung systems of thought, an individual or group may be able to someday create this type of trap. Simply put, international politics is a game. Terrorists refuse to play that game. Therefore, we must trick them into playing the game, allow them the hope that they may win, get them invested in the gameplay, and then restrict their movement through the rules of the game which are created by majority player consent

  • Conscious Ideological Compromise

By this I don’t mean slowly changing the terrorist’s ideology, I mean changing our ideology to fit more closely with theirs. Why is it that we don’t simply listen to the terrorists, find out what their grievances are, and change our policy to align with their wishes? The absolute only reason we don’t do this is because we’re afraid of what they might ask. A lot of people seem to be afraid of the terrorists, that they’re madmen and barbarians. Think objectively, if you can, on why you’re afraid of the terrorists. What’s the difference between a concerted terrorist attack against us and, for example, the concerted attack by Japan against US interests in the Pacific? The difference is that you actually have no idea what the terrorists want, do you? The “They hate us for our freedom” assessment is idiotic, but even if we were to believe it, what are we doing to change things? It is an ignorant assumption that the end of the war will come through the enemy alone changing to fit our views.

Why this may never happen: Osama Bin Laden stated in one of his recent videos that he believes America should convert to Islam in order to end the conflict. Bin Laden, I believe, is proposing a situation that is correct in its essence but faulty in its execution. We shouldn’t convert to Islam, but we should consciously learn from the Muslim world, understand what their ideals are, discover whatever beauty there is in their culture, and think about how we can compromise our beliefs with theirs to find common ground. This doesn’t take a genius to figure out, any diplomat can tell you the same thing. The problem with this method is that Americans are stubborn and close-minded. It’s hard to step outside of yourself and reflect on the similarities between you and your enemy. That’s why most Americans still can’t identify Iraq on a globe, or face the fact that we’re torturing Iraqi civilians in prisons that Saddam Hussein built. In order to face those facts, we’d have to also accept that in fact Muslims aren’t so different from Americans, and that the predominance of corrupt autocratic rule by fear in the middle east is being exported successfully to the US because we’ll accept it as much as people in the middle east have.

War is the medium by which we are becoming more and more like the worst of our enemies. That’s because war is historically known to make a country more like the worst, most corrupt, most ruthless of its enemies. Don’t believe me? Read a history book. Want an example from current affairs? Israel, a country based on a foundation of fascist persecution and pogrom has allowed those same tenets to rule its state. It doesn’t matter that the Jews of Israel were victims of Nazi fascism, it matters only that their enemies used such methods. You become like the worst of your enemy.

The United States, in the early 1940s commits to thwarting open imperialism and foreign meddling by the Axis. By the end of the war, the CIA is created. This powerful organization bent on fighting international meddling and infiltration instead evaluates the potency of such questionable methods and begins to use them successfully itself in second world nations throughout the globe. Dozens and dozens of fascist regimes are propped up by CIA-driven foreign policy, because they are easy to control. When it comes to imperialist agendas, fascist states function not similarly, but in exactly the same way that the US has since 1945.

What I mean to say is: We’re already becoming like the terrorists because we’re giving way to fear and hatred of them. Terrorists are fearful people, and they’ve projected their fear onto us and helped create a war machine that acts without wisdom, and a domestic policy that resembles more and more the fundamentalist regimes of Islamic police-states and terrorist hierarchies. Terrorist hierarchies function at the margin of legality through the use of dogmatic dictatorial rule. So in order to combat this, the US now functions at the margin of law, using dogmatic dictatorial rule. At any moment, holy Homeland Security warriors can sweep an innocent American away to a secret prison for 3 years. It is an element of American domestic policy that this will happen to innocent American civilians. The ultimate dictatorial dogmatic power of the President is in fact still questionable, but only after the innocent civilian has suffered 3 years of solitary confined imprisonment.

  • How NOT to win the War on Terror

The marriage of terrorism and fear is the same reason why we will never be able to kill the terrorists into submission. The more we kill, the more fear we create, and the more radical elements will be able to leverage fear into violence. The more we remove the rule of law in the middle east, the more terrorist elements have breathing room in the margins where they can function unimpeded. Terrorists don’t need a nation in order exist. They don’t need weapons in order to exist. What they need is an enemy that inspires fear, and the longer we as the US fit that role, the longer terrorism will exist.

Obviously, my opinions are not up for debate. But if you have a rational disagreement with anything I’ve stated here as a fact or inevitability, please leave a comment and I’ll address it to the best of my abilities. This goes for arguments from both sides of the fence, those who believe the administration is infallible, and those who believe the government is 100% ineffective. The reality lies in an unromantic middle, where we must hammer away at problems with new perspectives, and suffer uncomfortable compromises for the better good.

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2 Responses to “5 ways to end the War on Terror”

  1. programming info Says:

    Don’t you think it’d be better to consider carefully about this? That’s not to imply you are incorrect, but when you write things similar to this, it should upset some people. And I wonder if you’ve given thought to the other side of your argument.

  2. admin Says:

    In the years since this was written, most of these paths have been followed. The Suni Awakening in 2008 was a treaty and ideological conversion of forces opposed to the US using simply money. In Afghanistan, deflection was the weapon of choice, pushing marginalized forces into Pakistan and allowing them to take over that no-man’s-land unimpeded.

    Pakistan is now being used as a proxy of Conscious Ideological Compromise, posing uncomfortably as posterchild of westernized Islam. Increasingly, their unique role in the middle east will be that of frontman for western interests.

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