WAR ON TERROR – U.S. NO MORE A WIDELY LOVED NATION
by John Maszka
Joeph W. Foxell, Jr. (2004:485, 487-8) suggests that poor planning is at the heart of America’s plight. “For far too long, American counterterrorism planners, FBI agents, and CIA and DOD national security defense analysts have taken as their number one priority the task of refining their incident management techniques for combating today’s terrorism,” not tomorrow’s. By ignoring the “unlikely” scenarios, Foxell insists that policy makers are ignoring the very “security holes” that terrorists look for.
Foxell contends that the war on terror is not really a war on terror at all, it is a war against al-Qaeda, and it is a war against Iraq. “The ‘war on terror’ label is particularly inappropriate for the conflict in Iraq,” as the US is fighting “armies and paramilitaries, not terrorists, in Iraq.” According to Foxell, the terrorist threat “will evolve continually as opportunity permits.” Foxell insists that better intelligence, not more military spending, is what’s needed. Indeed, approving hundreds of billions of dollars in military appropriations to further secure America’s position at the top of an oppressive order only demonstrates that the Bush Administration does not have a clear perspective on the true problem.
The true problem is that America can only maintain its position at the top by maintaining control of the resources. America stands tall and strong, only as long as everyone else is bowing to its demands. America is not a widely-loved nation in today’s world. Nor is America only hated by terrorists and “evil-doers.” The unfortunate reality is that non-state actors are attempting to do through illegitimate means (the only means available to them) what state actors can not do through legitimate means: challenging American military hegemony.
While “illegitimate means” translates as criminal activities, Chris Dishman (2001) has taken an interesting look at the relationship between terrorist organizations and criminal organizations. Dishman concludes that while terrorists engage in illegal activities and may even collaborate with criminal organizations, their motives are different than those of ordinary criminals (terrorists are driven by a particular motive, not just the pursuit of profit). This leads back to the ultimate dilemma: What to do when the motives are right, but the means are wrong? The very first thing we should not do is treat terrorism and crime the same. For one thing, there is a huge difference between terrorism (that victimizes innocent people in pursuit of a moral or political objective), and ordinary crime (that victimizes innocent people in pursuit of a profit).
The main difference is that crime is most often caused by human greed, which is far more difficult to address than human need. The West, led by America, has the ability and the resources to eliminate human need if it chose to do so. But it is greed that prevents the West from doing so. (One could easily argue that this makes us the criminals). It is not surprising then, that fate has an ironic sense of humor. America, the leading nation in the West, suffers from astonishing levels of violence and crime: Violence and crime that we as a nation, have more-or-less come to accept. Practically the only time we hear politicians talking about crime is at election time, after which it is quickly forgotten.
Take for instance, former Mayor of New York, Rudolph W. Guiliani, the “hard-hearted prosecutor” who like all typical politicians, ran for office on an anti-crime platform (Purdum, 1993). Since 9/11, however, Guiliani is much more focused on terrorism than he is on crime. This of course, is because, even though crime is a much more serious problem, 9/11 made Guiliani a star. But we shouldn’t be too hard on old Rudy, this opportunism is fairly typical of your average self-serving politician. The truth is, while it may be good politics, it just doesn’t make sense, because the impact of crime in America is exponentially greater than the impact of terrorism in America.
Something that truly helps to put the 9/11 attacks in perspective with crime overall is that between 1965 and 2001, 64,246 Americans were murdered by other Americans in New York alone (Disaster Center, 2006). That constitutes an annual average of 2,471 Americans murdered every single year, by other Americans, in New York alone for the 26 years prior to and including 2001. When we compare this to the 2,752 people killed in the 9/11 attacks (Hirschkorn, 2003), it neither justifies nor minimizes the attacks; but it does put them in perspective. One conservative web site reports that “on average-there are close to 20,000 murders of innocent people in America each year” (Boycottliberalism.com, 2005). This may well be an accurate estimation. A more reliable source (U.S. Dept. Of Justice, 2006) reports that in 2005, there were 16,692 murders reported in America. This figure is up 3.4% from 2004. When one accounts for the unreported murders, the actual number may be close to 20,000 per year. The point to be made is that crime is an infinitely greater and more persistent challenge in America than terrorism.
Yet, on August 5, 2004, “President Bush signed a $417.5 billion defense appropriations bill for the fiscal year 2005,” with an additional $82 billion to supplement military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan (this is relevant because we are supposedly in Afghanistan and Iraq to fight terrorism). Charles Pena (2005) argues that not only is this vast military spending “unnecessary,” it’s money misspent:
The military’s role in the war on terrorism will mainly involve special operations forces in discrete missions against specific targets, not conventional warfare aimed at overthrowing entire regimes. The rest of the war aimed at dismantling and degrading the Al Qaeda terrorist network will require unprecedented international intelligence and law enforcement cooperation, not expensive new planes, helicopters, and warships.
When one compares the $499.5 billion that Bush applies toward fighting terrorism with the $3.3 billion annual budget of the struggling New York City Police Department (NYPD), one sees a serious imbalance (Weissenstein, 2003). As we’ve already addressed, fighting crime in this country is an infinitely greater and persistent challenge than fighting terrorism is. Yet President Bush’s strategy is to spend a tremendous amount more on terrorism. But, is President Bush’s $500 billion solution working?
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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