Political vs. Military Solutions to Terrorism [1 of 4]

US Soldiers Paying the Price of War on Terror

US Soldiers Paying the Price of War on Terror




by John Maszka


J.M.’s latest book.

The war against international terrorism and its sponsors is a war unlike any we have ever known. There is no battlefield, no clash of armies. It is a war fought in the shadows and recesses of the world. Terrorism breeds among the hopeless and the alienated, in societies where democracy and economic opportunity are out of reach for most people.

Military power alone will not end this scourge of mankind. Victory will require extensive international cooperation in the intelligence, economic, diplomatic, law enforcement and humanitarian fields. It will require a seamless network of cooperation between America and her allies (Hagel, 2003).

In this section we will discuss how terrorist organizations have successfully employed a number of political strategies to gain popular support, and compare these efforts to the largely non-political strategies employed by the Bush administration in its attempts to counter terrorism. We will also look at the overall threat of terrorism as compared to crime, and weigh the respective resources applied to each.

From September 14 to 17, 2001, Gallup surveyed individuals in 14 foreign countries on whether they thought that the United States should attack the country (or countries) serving as a base for the 9/11 terrorists… of those surveyed “only Israel and India supported a military attack” (Downing, 2006:441). This poll reflected both the unpopularity of the military approach to terrorism, as well as the prevailing conventional wisdom against it.

President Bush’s (2001 c) argument that al-Qaeda hates “freedom…life…education…health care” is seen for the oversimplification that it is: It is nonsense to claim that Al Qaeda and its sympathizers have no morality and simply want to annihilate Western civilization…Even bin Laden has never preached destruction of Western culture or else, as he has taunted, “Why didn’t we attack Sweden?” At every turn, bin Laden has sought moral justification for Al Qaeda’s actions and demands (Atran, 2006:136).

“There are two interpretations currently on offer in Iraq, that of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi(who argued that Islam mandates terror), and that of Grand Aytollah Ali al-Sistani (who says Islam does no such thing and is compatible with democracy)” (Lowry, 2006:25). If we are to believe President Bush (2002 b), then the “terrorist parasites who threaten their countries and our own” are obviously of the first variety. And this is truly all we need to concern ourselves with. After all, what does one do with parasites? One exterminates them.

Parasites have no political cause for their circumstances, no justification for their actions, and no place among decent human beings. One does not need the consent or cooperation of the international community to do away with parasites, for they are worthless and meaningless. It’s not important to understand why they are terrorists, or what oppression or desperation has brought them to these particular crossroads, it’s sufficient that we simply blow them out of existence, along with any number of innocent civilians who happen to be in the vicinity (one is reminded of Elmer Fudd leaving mass destruction in his wake as he unsuccessfully attempts to blast Buggs Bunny).

And Vice Admiral John Scott Redd, USN [retired] is very optimistic about the progress we’ve made, and the prospects for continued military success. Redd believes that the US is “better prepared today to fight the war on terror than at any time in our Nation’s history, and we are getting better everyday” (Committee on Foreign Relations, 2006:7).

On the other hand, Martha Crenshaw (2006:64) writes “that even the most extreme and unusual forms of political behavior can follow an internal, strategic logic…Terrorism can be considered a reasonable way of pursuing extreme interests in the political arena.” But the Bush administration refuses to consider this possibility, for this would afford those who employ terrorism as a political tactic a voice, a face, an identity beyond that of “terrorist.” Rather than consider that groups employing terrorism may have a legitimate grievance, the Bush administration has instead chosen to flatly and unconditionally denounce the “terrorists” and vow retaliation:

…we’re going to get them, no matter what it takes. This act will not stand; we will find those who did it; we will smoke them out of their holes; we will get them running and we’ll bring them to justice. We will not only deal with those who dare attack America, we will deal with those who harbor them and feed them and house them (Bush, 2001e). Contd….


  • Who is Scott Atran? What does he say about war on terror?
  • In what way does war on terror exacerbate terrorism?
  • What does the lady who wrote biography of al-Qaeda’s top ideologue and strategist (Aiman al-Zwahiri) mean when she terms war on terror as a war between “crusader” alliance and the “fundamentalist” coalition?
John Maszka is an International Relations scholar. His most recent book Terrorism And The Bush Doctrine ISBN-13: 9781606100103 is being sold in almost every book shop in the US.  John’s special field of interest is American foreign policy and its impact on global terrorism.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ‘Wonders of Pakistan’. The contents of this article too are the sole responsibility of the author (s). WoP will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statement / s contained in this post.



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