Time for the New War on Terror

Monday, July 18, 2005


Written by Kyle Lambert

The recent terrorist attacks on the innocent commuters of London, England have elicited many opinions from across the political spectrum, ranging from cries for blood to demands for greater efforts to eradicate global poverty. One response that seems to be coming from a number of opinionated ladies and gentlemen in Canada is that suddenly the War on Terror is justified. My response: Rubbish!

I must first qualify what is meant by the current War on Terror. It is the war against a form of warfare and the ideologies that utilize it being fought by the United States of America, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and many other countries around the world. The War on Terror stems directly from September 11, 2001, when the Western world finally woke up to the fact that many around the world aren’t as impressed with our liberal democratic capitalist materialism as we feel they should be. The War on Terror, while perhaps achieving some decent results, is destined to fail because of the true logic behind it and the foolish actors running the proverbial show.

The War on Terror, while first fought in Afghanistan, is now focused particularly on Iraq, where the vast majority of overseas American and British forces are situated. I don’t need to tell whoever may be reading this that the terrorist base in Iraq exists almost entirely thanks to the brilliant decision to invade it. As for Afghanistan, there were at least a number of legitimate reasons to invade Afghanistan shortly after September 11, 2001. Whether or not those were the real reasons for the invasion will likely never be known, though Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky will continue to speculate for very large speaking fees.

Why am I writing all of this, much it of it you likely already know? Well, the War on Terror, the one which many pundits now seem to think is justified, is precisely the “War” that failed to stop the London attacks, like the massacres in Madrid, Beslan and Bali before it. It is time for a newly defined fight against those who would utilize “terror” to achieve their ends.

A new war on terror (not capitalized or bolded for the purposes of CNN and FoxNews) must include a two-pronged strategy that reaches far beyond its overly simplistic and unsuccessful predecessor. We (the liberal democratic world) must work with states and people around the globe to address the factors that contribute to the breeding of the terrorist element. We must target foreign policy (a favourite bashing object for Western left), poverty (if even to please Mr. Geldof), alienation, and many other root causes of terror that are of a more structural nature.

However, the solutions pointed out by many on the left in Canada, Britain and the United States are not sufficient. As a favourite columnist of mine, Christopher Hitchens, accurately pointed out in the London Mirror the day after the bombings, some of the grievances of terror groups cannot be lessened with the eradication of poverty or even a large-scale change in foreign policy. We cannot be so naïve as to forget that radical Islamic terrorists, while representing likely the same proportion of Muslims as the KKK does Christians, despise many of the freedoms that most hold dearly.

I’m not trying to sound like George W. Bush or Tony Blair here, but radical Islamic terror groups have spoken out against, among other things: homosexuality, the role of women in the West, and the need for fundamentalist Shariah Law for all Muslim people no matter where they live. Perhaps Al Qaeda is right to criticize the American influence in Israel-Palestine, but it is not just to criticize the right to existence of the Jewish people as a whole. We are not simply dealing with a weary band of freedom fighters.

Thus, my best effort at a solution is to combine certain small-scale military elements with a wide-ranging effort to promote real freedom (beyond just the freedom to do business with the United States) all over the world. Freedom must entail a right to live beyond poverty and to determine one’s own state’s destiny, beyond the influences of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and, yes, Canada. However, such a solution takes years to impose and complete transformation of politics in the West. We cannot sit around and wait for the next bombing while the structural changes in the real war on terror take shape. But, we must not lose sight of the eventual goal, which is to rid terrorist groups of their sources.

Unlike what Walt Disney says, it is not a small world. The world includes many different people with many different beliefs and so long as it does, there will be conflict – often deadly conflict. However, if the West is to avoid a continuous string of bombings, shootings and other awful terror attacks, we must immediately refocus the War on Terror and decide what really needs to be accomplished.

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