War on terrorism
Introduction – The 11th century of the western history indicates the start of the Crusades – an act of fulfilling a vow made by aristocratic, young white male Roman Catholics against the Moors who have captured the Holy Land. As the battle rages on, support for the war was generated through the information campaign towards those left behind, they who, based on the tales of a select few, came to hate and despise the Moors and have considered them collectively as the enemy.
It did not helped that they are from a different religion and bearing different physical appearances – skin color, built etc – what most individuals came to know was that this is the picture of the enemy, and that the Crusades is a necessary battle to reclaim the Holy Land and defeat the Moors. Fast-forward to 1942 – at the height of World War II, Germany Fuhrer Adolf Hitler ordered the segregation and eventual execution of Jews as well as other forms of minorities found in the countries that he have conquered.
This includes Poles and Gypsies and other minorities. It was a war that Hitler is fighting to exterminate a particular kind of people and eradicate their culture so that Hitler and the race which he believes to be the only one who has the right to enjoy the benefits of the earth can enjoy this privileges. These points in history are perhaps the beginning of the practice of two things – the justification of war and the stereotyping of the enemy of the Western world.
The idea of the war on terrorism may not admit that this particular attitude is reflective of the attitude during the Crusades as well as the attitude of Hitler, but the truth is the world has not matured nor evolved as much as necessary when it comes to the consideration of the childishness and stupidity of war and the arrogance of ethnocentricity and the disregard for the taking of human lives. And today, many people around the world are paying for the type of war that they do not fully understand, fighting an opponent that they do not have a clear idea of.
The crusades and Hitler’s extermination campaign were versions of the clash of civilizations that is synonymous in what is happening now; today, history is remembers as being filled with wars fought between civilizations, participated by countries, tribes and groups that does has an overt and simplistic reason – territorial occupation, revenge, subjugation, extermination – but never a war hinged on the exploitation on the collective fear of the people living in a modern world that is supposed to be under the rule of civilized people in civilized times.
There are those who believe that the war on terrorism is the latest manifestation of the clash of civilization, and at some extent that maybe the case: on paper, this particular war that US and its allied countries are waging looks like the proverbial clash of the civilizations – the modern world and the world of the terrorists seemed to be millennia apart, and the goals of either civilizations does not harmonize with the other, resulting to the expected friction.
Muslims does not want western countries interfering with their own affairs, and the US-led countries seemed to have the penchant for dipping their finger in every conflict – from Asia to Europe and back. The Muslim terrorists have their own brand of warfare, and so do the Americans and the rest of the countries who pledged to join the fight to combat terrorism.
In the television feeds and the Internet video, non Muslim individuals are being educated about the lives of these terrorists; they show the people where they live, where they are educated – the vast desert, the crumbling stone edifices, a country in political turmoil and a society in the brink of utter lawlessness. People in the US and in other non Muslim countries look at the profile and lifestyle of these terrorists and create a barrier separating them particularly because of their differences that is consistently highlighted by the media.
It is not difficult to put the people in a mindset wherein they see these people as someone different from them, and in effect make it easier for them to hate these people once the blame on the recent spate of terrorism is put on them. Putting this all together, yes, it can be easily deduced that the current political fad – the war on terrorism – is the typical clash of civilizations: two worlds hitting each other head on – the western world on one side, and the Muslim civilization in the other side, the same dividing line that separate the conflicting parties involved during the Crusades.
And still there are those who challenge this reality by asking if the war on terrorism is as simple as seeing two different sides – the good guys and the bad guys. If that is the case, who are the good guys and who are the bad guys, and what are the real intentions behind all of this? In the effort to explore that realm allows for the opening of a new thought – is there a real war going on, or is this all just for show?
People won’t buy that idea because they think that the American government cannot afford to put a show in the expense of American lives – or can they? Devenny (2005), while explaining how Palestinian terrorist Jihad Jaara managed to get training from US agents and how he orchestrated assassinations and attacks, pointed out that these operations – the providing of training and other important capabilities that make a terrorist – is an activity that existed ‘wholly outside of the public’s view’.
If the public is to know how the tax that they are paying were the same money that was used to recruit, train and arm terrorist that have killed thousands of Americans in the US and abroad, the war on terrorism in the US will shift towards the war against those who are helping in the making of terrorists.
Are the people too naive or too brainwashed by the government sponsored mass media indoctrination that unconsciously hampers the ability of the average individual to be critical and be not overly naive to the fact that the main motivating factor in these highly industrialized times is not the lives of the few individuals that will be added in the local cemetery, but the economic impact of every action taken by world leaders who knows that global economic power is still the most important power to wield. So how does economics and terrorism fit together? Simple.
The acts of terrorism results to different course of actions that are reactionary to the act of terrorism – and that includes the moral right of the country aggrieved to go to war and encourage other countries to do the same lest they be the next target of the terrorists. This will result to the increase in demand for war materials most of which are consumable like bullets and bombs that need constant replenishment. Those who are not as well equipped militarily will need the aid of those who are, and in exchange for the military support are favors that will yield favorable economic results to the country giving the military aid.
A few more will die – from the bombings of other establishments, from the attacks of terrorists on soldiers doing duty in foreign lands and from other different splinter cells, and this will further agitate the people until everyone becomes bloodthirsty and until the most profitable business in the world is the business of war. When that happens, it is easy to deduce who will end up as the economic power to which other people will be dependent to. And then again there are those who are overly naive who will believe that this is simply the battle between the bad guys (terrorists) and the good guys (American government).
If the terrorists are really bent on hurting the US government, then it can do so by crippling the government from the top, and not by hurting innocent individuals. Osama Bin Laden has not been captured, and he is still successful in many of the operations he designed – now, if he really is that good, and the government that inept to catch him or predict his next move, why is Osama Bin Laden shying away from killing notable members of the administration?
What is important to consider in this line of thinking is that the war on terrorism can also be a lot of other things other than what is publicized. There are those who say that the war on terrorism necessitated the drawing of the lines among countries who do not wish to be identified with one side alone, due to political and economic reasons, and are now forced to pick their sides after the latest political neologism is that you are either a terrorist or a terrorist fighter.
Because of this, terrorism has become so much as it is geographical as it is religious – for is it not true that popular media portrays the terrorists as extremist militants who consider the US the supreme infidel against whom lethal attacks were unleashed, in the name of religion? But if one would try to look at the war on terrorism as a mere smokescreen for more vile deeds and intentions, then even the publicized geographical and religious factors that creates the tension and animosity between the warring parties would be senseless and nothing.
There are those who believe that the alleged war on terrorism is not war, but a course of global economics. There are countries and entities that create, supply and distribute arms and other weapons used for war, as there are armies that continue to flex its muscle and show military power that is utilized by other more prosperous but less powerful (military-wise) countries as bodyguards, in exchange for economic favors.
Bill Clinton, US president in 1998, was described by Devenny (2005) as someone who is targeting the fashioning of his Middle East peacemaker role in the turbulent Asian region, and as expected, Clinton has other black bag operations in mind behind his obvious eagerness to mediate or interfere in the ongoing problem which should have been handled by Palestine and Israel by themselves. There are conspiracy theories about how some countries actually fund the training of local idealists and make them rebels, dissidents and urban guerillas in their own countries so that there is a constant need for war equipment supply.
There are greater conspiracy theories about how US went to the extent of having its own citizens be killed during terrorist attacks so that it can justify its leadership and participation in a global war that would continues to put in money on war-related equipment. As Clark explains in an interview, the United States needs a rallying point so that they will have a unifying factor to counter the unifying factor that religions such as Islam can provide, and that is the creation of clear and present danger and the need for patriotic and unified stand, ‘the U.
S. government (is) in need for an enemy, its search for new enemies is really a way of uniting the country, covering its real motives and appealing for patriotism’ (Dam, 2007). Putting all of this into consideration, it now becomes difficult to provide a black and white yes and no answer to whether the war on terrorism is indeed the manifestation of the clash of civilization, or is this brand new war something entirely different.
Sure, the differences in the leading groups found in each side are in stark contrast with each other – there are the Christian anti-terrorists on one side, and there are Muslim terrorists on the other side led by Osama Bin Laden. These differences are clear indications that the war on terrorism puts Western and American civilization against the culture and beliefs of some militant extremists of the Muslim world.
The most important question that should be answered is not whether or not the war on terrorism is a clash between civilizations – is it a war raging inside one particular civilization, the United States civilization in particular? People look at Muslims and see the image of terrorists that US and other righteous countries have painted and depicted, but is there anyone who bothered to ask if the United States itself not as much a terrorist as these bomb wielding suicidal devout individuals?
The ideas present in the concept of war on terrorism and the clash of civilization should be carefully threshed out first before making conclusions. First, the idea of terrorism – how real is the threat of terrorism, and what is the exact real role of the US in the long existence and history of global terrorism? Is it just being used so that the people are bound by necessity to depend on its country, so that countries are bound to depend upon other countries?
Yes, there are terrorists living amidst the people of the modern day world, but does not anyone wonder why these terrorists seem to be linked to the United States one way or another? Today’s most popular face of terrorism – Osama Bin Laden – is an act to further enhance the feeling of the masses that the terrorists are those found in the hinterlands of Middle East countries garbed in their traditional attire, in the effort to alienate more these terrorists from modern day urbanized Americans and help improve the idea that the US and the enemy terrorists belong in two different worlds, in two different civilization.
But the truth is Osama Bin Laden is not very different from Americans – he was very much Americanized that he was even trained and funded by the US’ very own Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Moran (1998) as well as a slew of other reporters were already privy of the information regarding the links of Bin Laden with the CIA. Moran reported how Bin Laden and the rest of his band of hired hands were actually supported -logistically and financially – and intensively trained by the US to fight off the Russians during the battle for the liberation of Afghanistan.
US was saying that it was an act that was deemed necessary for the greater good of the many, but is the responsibility or the right to be the one to identify what is right and what is wrong rests on the shoulders of US, especially in a conflict that does not concern them in the first place? In interfering with the conflict that does not concern them, the US becomes the terrorist, but they are clever and scheming enough to be able to create a long term plan to make the world identify the world ‘terrorist’ with bearded Muslim fighter.
This is not to say that some of the Muslims are not terrorist – they may or maybe too, but what this point is trying to hit is that the idea of the war on terrorism maybe null and void if there are no real enemies to fight, if the terrorists are the terrorists fighters themselves, who understand that the undertaking of this farce is a something they need to do to achieve whatever goals they are set to accomplish – economic, political, social etc.
The US – Islamic Terrorists ties does not start or end with Bin Laden. Jaara is another classic example of a CIA-trained terrorist operating around the world. Devenny (2005) wrote about how Jaara pointed to the training he received from the CIA about the use and manipulation of small arms which became the turning point of his life towards active terrorism and terrorist leadership. And Americans, including architect Avi Boaz, who was executed and dumped shortly after his kidnap and eventual death.
This is not a clash of civilization simply because the supposed warring parties are not targeting the end of the enemy’s civilization; for those who are reading the scenario too differently and away from the normal conventions of terrorism analysis, what the two conflicting groups is trying to achieve is the creation of the state of balance between those that do what the greater majority thinks is good and those which the greater majority thinks is responsible for reprehensible acts of terrorism.
The goal is to not allow a particular group to be dominant and in total control, because that will result to the decrease in demand for arms (if there is a superpower military hegemon that will oversee the safety of everyone in the planet, countries would just rely on this superpower and not desire radical improvements themselves, military-wise).
But for those who are seeing things as they are, the war on terrorism is the act that targets the stopping not of a particular civilization (especially not the Islamist civilization which has a very important and crucial role in the different levels of world affairs), but instead the stoppage of a particular culture – Islamists wants US to stop meddling especially with the affairs of Islam, while US wants Islamists rebels to stop their acts of terrorism.
Both goals are impossible since US wont stop meddling with Islamist affairs (as well as the affairs of other countries where they have vested interest in) and Islamist rebels would not stop bombing and shooting Americans and American targets, some because of ideological beliefs and some because the US is financing them to undertake such action to keep a relatively manageable level of global tension spewing sparks. As Lakoff (2006) pointed it out in his article, the war on terror has no end, either by semantic analysis of the phrase or by the use of political explanation.
Still, there is an overwhelming evidence about how the notion of clash of civilization is not entirely the best way to describe the war on terrorism. For one, there is are signs of support from the Muslim sector about the supposed drive to weed out extremist rebels and keep them from harming the normal flow of commerce and trade that exists between trading nations, regardless of existing religious belief or cultural practice.
Among the Muslim sector, there are those who are openly speaking against terrorism by Islamist Jihadists and calling for a stop in the killing spree and pledging cooperation to any agency that is undertaking the investigation and crackdown on these groups. Groups like the American Muslim Council (AMC) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) both expressed their support to the actions that US president George Bush plans to undertake, particularly after the September 11 attacks.
On the other side, not all of the supposed members of the alliance against anti-terrorism is not on the same page as the current US leadership. Some countries are already frowning upon the drastic and overly violent and aggressive action that the US is taking against the perceived terrorists, and with mounting deaths, losses and the trauma that this effort yielded so far, countries as well as groups are already showing how dismayed they are at how things turned for the worse for the US and their anti-terrorism efforts.
If this is the case, then this is not symbolic of a global scale war that divides people by their alliance towards geo politics and ethnicity. This points out that the war on terrorism is not necessarily a clash of civilization since Muslims and non-Muslims alike are continuing to live harmoniously. Dam (2007) writes about his interview with Ramsey Clark, and in the article, Clark provides very insightful opinion about US and the war on terrorism.
According to Clark, ‘the war on terrorism is really a war on Islam… the extermination of a certain proportion of’ (Dam, 2007). Bush is making more and more people a believer of the idea that Bush is just after the wealth found in the Middle East and the outcome that will result from the division that the war on terror will create among Muslims.
If this is the case, then Bush is no better than Hitler who resorted to the use of force to exterminate or subjugate a group of people because of their culture and belief and how this is a threat to him, as the war on terror is no different from the folly made by adventurous knights during the 11th century when most of them went to battle with the narrow minded thinking that they should kill the Moors because they are the enemy.
This war is not a clash of civilization after all – this is a clash of the selfish interests of countries towards other countries; this is a clash of those who are righteous and those who wanted to do what is right; this is the clash of those who abuse in the name of justice and those who are unjustly abused. If the proponents of the war on terror continue towards the path of selfish gain and interest, then this is the clash between the religious and the greedy.
Crusades [Intenet], New Advent.Available from: <http://www. newadvent. org/cathen/04543c. htm#X> [Accessed 31 March 2008]. Dam, Marcus. (December 17, 2007). Consumerism and materialism deadlier than armed occupation [Intenet], Opinion. The Hindu. Available from: <http://www. hindu. com/2007/12/17/stories/2007121754781100. htm> [Accessed 31 March 2008]. Devenny, Patrick. (October 19, 2005). Training Our Enemies [Intenet], Independent Media Review Analysis. Available from: <http://www. imra. org. il/story. php3? id=27222> [Accessed 31 March 2008].
Lakoff, George. (February 28, 2006). War on Terror, Rest In Peace [Intenet], Rockridge Institute. Available from: <http://www. rockridgeinstitute. org/research/lakoff/gwot_rip> [Accessed 31 March 2008]. Moran, Michael. (1998). Bin Laden comes home to roost [Intenet], MSNBC. http://www. msnbc. msn. com/id/3340101/ [Accessed 31 March 2008]. Vicki, Silverman. (10 October 2001). Muslim Americans Support Anti-Terrorism Campaign [Intenet], http://www. usembassy. it/file2001_10/alia/a1101119. htm [Accessed 31 March 2008].Sample Essay of PaperDon.com