A Criticism of the War on Terror
an essay by Matthew Bissonnette
On the morning of September 11th, 2001; most of humanity witnessed images of an appalling act of barbarism where a small group of individuals perpetrated an attack which resulted in three thousand innocent men and women losing their lives. On that day humanity witnessed what is best and worst of the human condition, countless many gave their lives in an attempt to save others while a few other men gave their lives for a senseless act of destruction. All who witnessed this knew that it was a historic event which would have profound ramifications for the world's future. The United States of America would launch a global War on Terror, a war I'm sorry to say has cost the lives of far more innocent civilians they would perished in the tragic events of 911. It was a war to protect the ideals of freedom some Western leaders said, yet the consequences of this war both foreign and domestic seem to have little to do with the foundation which the free world was built upon. I apologize if this analogy is crude and inflammatory but blood in the water tends to bring all the sharks out of hiding.
One causality of this war on terror has been the credibility of our leaders to some. During the beginning months of the war in Afghanistan the U.S. Vice president was on a respected news network proclaiming that terrorists in Afghanistan had massive underground complexes which where highly advanced, after a costly bombing of Afghan mountains it was discovered that no more then small caves with munitions inside them existed; since such a member of the establishment had access to the world's best intelligence it is highly probably that his claims where misleading if not knowingly dishonest. The 2003 war on Iraq was justified to the United Nations when the U.S. Secretary of State made a case that Iraq was investing in a nuclear program and the capability to use it on the U.S., yet Iraq's military infrastructure had been methodically bombed since the end of the first Gulf War and the evidence used to support this claim upon closer examination was faulty; once again America has the most powerful intelligence apparatus on the planet and it is likely their leaders where aware that Iraq's ability to build this capability to attack them was unlikely. Is there a possibility that their leaders knowingly lied to the entire world?
This war was justified as an attempt to protect us from terrorism but in how this war was administered abroad has it possibly only angered others abroad? In Afghanistan, the coalition allied itself initially with the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, a group of warlords; reports where made that these war lords abducted women and children from bombed out Afghan villages for nefarious reasons. In Afghanistan, unexploded American munitions lay where it occasionally took the lives of Afghan civilians as well as accidents where American planes would drop explosives on homes. The initial American and coalition bombing of Iraq during the opening of the second Gulf War resulted in the death's of ten thousand Iraqi civilians and some claims where made that targets such as power plants and water treatment facilities where also destroyed. Why are any of these events no less tragic then the destruction and grief unleashed on September 11? And do such events only make the people of the Middle East fear and maybe even despise the West which could make them more susceptible to those in that region who call the West evil and say attacking us is justifiable and noble?
Domestically, it seems that the objectives of this war have little to do with the ideals of freedom. Terms like indefinite detention are used, locking an individual up without a trial before a jury of his peers. Freedom of assembly as also been attacked since in some nations evidence emerged that authorities infiltrated legal political groups and in some cases had their agents encourage these groups towards illegality such as anti globalization groups in Canada. Is freedom of speech also threatened, a cornerstone of the free world which ensures all citizens the right to say what they believe without fear of retaliation? And what about a free press, how often does the media in the West support the ruling position and how often do they report on the humanitarian causalities of the War on terror?
A innocent life is worth as much in Afghanistan and Iraq as it is in the West, yet this war has had a appealing cost in civilian lives in two nations in the Middle East. How can we proclaim our ideals to be noble when in the course of applying them have shown the same callous disregard for the sanctity of human life as those responsible for September 11. Terrorists will never possess the ability to destroy the free world, but they may have the capability to get our leaders to destroy every belief and ideal the free world was based on. Is there any possibility that some of our leaders exploited a great tragedy to achieve foreign and domestic policy goals which never could have been achieved otherwise, such as an indefinite foreign war and more power to domestic security agencies?
I will finish with that in a democracy the course of a nation is not set bit its leader, but a leader just leads according to a general consensus. As this war only resulted in two military quagmires with no end in sight and a darkening of the light which is our freedoms why should we support it. I believe that most in the West are moral and would like the nations in which they live to be as well. It is in our power to shape the future, yet it is a hard endeavor but sitting by and doing nothing will cost us much. There is no more important issue.