The Global War on Terror was officially declared on September 11, 2001 after the horrific attacks on our great nation, for many terrorist organizations the war had begun years before. Now in hindsight we see that al-Qaeda was actively attacking our interests abroad, such as the bombings of our embassies in Africa, the Kovar Towers and the USS Cole. The biggest warning that was not taken seriously was the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center; unfortunately the world was just not paying attention even though this was a direct assault on our homeland. Terrorists in the past have been treated as common criminals but now with the extraordinarily organized movement of Islamic extremists, we are a country that must fight proactively and be on offense constantly. We may have to sacrifice our civil liberties, remind ourselves we are the greatest nation and find courage and strength even in times of great bloodshed to defeat this new enemy. Unlike many terrorists, these Islamic radicals are not afraid to die and we must not be afraid to fight to win. The world will never defeat terror but we will win the fight against the Islamic extremists that have declared a war against the world.
The Global War on Terror is now in its sixth year, the United States and its allies are determined to eradicate terror with its focus on Islamo-facism and its spread throughout the world. This is the hardest war we have ever waged because we face an enemy without a recognizable army and no certain nation to engage. Michael Vickers (2006) asserts, “The principal challenge the U.S. will face over the long term is how to take the fight to Islamic terrorist networks in countries with which the U.S. is not at war. This will require an indirect and clandestine approach that makes heavy use of local allies, U.S. Special Operations Forces and intelligence” (p. D 10). We have already faced criticism because of what some call an “unjust” war in Iraq. Our government did a poor job in justifying the cause to go to war there and the media has done even a poorer job in investigating and informing the public on Saddam Hussein’s avid support of terror, concentrating on the administration’s lack of evidence of weapons of mass destruction. In addition, the war on terror goes much deeper with involvement of the nation of Iraq. The city of Baghdad is the most important front we are fighting for because many Muslims believe it should be the capital of Islamic World, the caliphate, thus it is the center of hostility. The radical Islamists are not just fighting a war, they are fighting a holy war and believe Muslims and non-Muslims must conform to their interpretation of Islam or die by the sword.
For this reason the world must be steadfast and show no weakness to this religious animosity. Unfortunately, many countries including our own have turned a blind eye to things that could improve our security and ensure our safety. Griset and Mahan (2003) point out that the openness of our country such as unprotected borders, the vast amount of visas issued to foreigners and the spread of our culture and military presence in other countries has given the terrorists the opportunity and the motivation to infiltrate our society (p. 278). Border enforcement is extremely important not just in the U.S. but also in the countries that we are fighting in. Also, the U.S. has to be diligent in promoting democracy, but not looking like oppressors in doing so. I think we have achieved this in Iraq and Afghanistan but we are always on defense against militant groups and the media who think otherwise. On every road to democracy there has been instigators trying to renounce this type of government, but in Japan, Germany and even in early America democracy has been successful and prevailed. Representative Bob Goodlatte (2006) insists, “We have stood for the spread of democracy around the world including in Afghanistan, Iraq and the broader Middle East. With our leadership, the ideals that have inspired our history – freedom, democracy, and human dignity – are increasingly inspiring individuals and nations throughout the world. Because free nations tend toward peace, the advance of liberty will make America more secure” (para. 3, 4). His statement is not only brilliant and true but detrimental to the survival of the world against radical Islam.
As a result of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 we have seen many of our civil liberties taken away, but this is necessary in achieving a safer place to live and fundamental in fighting the enemy. Throughout United States’ history we have seen our freedoms breached by the government during times of war and every time it has been protested but crucial to victory. Shun-jie Ji (n.d.) discusses the history of the suppression of personal freedoms during every war, most notably President Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus without Congress’s authorization. In addition, President Woodrow Wilson forbade the German language to be spoken or taught during WWI and President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order during WWII that created Japanese internment camps imprisoning over 120,000 Japanese Americans (p. 139-141). Granted what the Bush Administration has incorporated into the Patriot Act has not been as severe as past administrations actions and most Americans are completely unaffected by the legislation.
Admittedly there are groups that believe the Patriot Act has been damaging, Griset and Mahan (2003) asserts, “On the day of the terrorist attacks, federal law enforcement agents began what may end up as the most extensive criminal investigations in U.S. history. Focusing on non-U.S. citizens, particularly immigrants and visitors from Arab and Muslim nations, federal investigators ultimately detained more than 1000 foreigners” (p.285). Since the enactment of the Patriot Act the government and law enforcement have been accused of racial profiling and are constantly berated and sued by groups such as the ACLU and Council on American-Islamic Relations. Regrettably, the actions by these groups have made people fear the repercussions of racially profiling, causing airline security screeners to search all passengers randomly instead of using their gut or intelligence in their assessments.
After the terrorist attacks, the United States was extremely unified and full of courage, however most of that has fizzled because of elections and a lack of terrorist threats here. Many politicians are now politicizing the Global War on Terror in order to win votes and power. These politicians and war critics say very damaging things that empower our enemies and are broadcasted worldwide. William Kristol (2004) quotes Ted Kennedy, “We now learn that Saddam’s torture chambers reopened under new management: U.S. management” (p. 9). I believe statements like these are treasonous and as a Senator, you should have a great faith and love for our country, no matter what political party may reside in the White House. These types of statements are made without realizing how the enemy and people from around the world will take them. They see us as a weak, divided nation and they may be right.
The American people are luckily have been completely unaffected by the jihad declared against us since 9/11, the war is being fought elsewhere and unlike past wars civilians have not had to sacrifice much. As a result, many are just tired of hearing about the war and probably will not care again until another major attack is waged within our borders. Philip Stephens (2006) describes a lecture given by former national security advisor to President Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski, in which he describes the constant uncertainty and fear of the Cold War brought, where we thought nuclear annihilation was inevitable. This enemy is not so certain; the enemy is everywhere and nowhere. The way to fight is uncertain as well because there are so many battle fronts, states that are sponsoring terror, terrorist cells hiding among us and even schools that promote this radical Islamist ideology throughout the world. Stephens goes on to say, “The simplicity of mutually assured destruction has been replaced by the unpredictability of religious fundamentalism and the proliferation of unconventional weapons. We knew how to counter communism. Deterrence, containment and mutual restraint were strategies honed over decades. But how do you deter a suicide bomber armed with a nuclear or chemical weapon” (p.17).
Certainly it is the case we are fighting a brand new unknown enemy, one that is actively recruiting all races of people including Americans to carry out attacks. It is frightening. I believe the most important thing to fighting extremism is empowering Muslims to step up and fight the maniacs that have hijacked their religion. There have been several conferences on reforming the Muslim religion, denouncing shari’a law and followers of the old harsh aspects of the faith. These people are heroes of the Muslim world, they will most likely be killed for speaking out against the radical Islamists and most have a fatwa issued for their death already. In addition to the Muslim world taking back there faith and reforming it, the powerful religious leaders must issue a fatwa against the terrorists especially leaders like al-Sadr and bin-Laden. Until this happens how is it possible for anyone in this faith to stand up and fight without fearing for their life and the lives of their families?
All in all, we have a long road ahead of us and most likely we will have even more horrendous attacks made on our soil. War is a terrible but fighting war is necessary for freedom and peace for all. America needs to get back to reality and stop living in a world of denial, we may never get the gumption back until thousands more innocents are murdered. We need to get the “good” Muslims to stand up and fight shoulder to shoulder with us and not to fear the “evil” Muslims. We need to get all governments to protect their borders from these extremists. The political correctness in Washington and in the media has got to stop. The groups claiming to be protecting civil rights need to wake up and realize they are creating an even bigger danger and are impeding the effectiveness of our military and law enforcement. Terrorism will always thrive in the world but Islamo-fascism; I hope will one day be a page in a history book.
Goodlatte, B. (2006, June 16). America is Winning The Global War On Terror. US Fed News Service, Including US State News. Retrieved March 20, 2007 from ProQuest database (1062359701).
Griset, P., & Mahan, S. (2003). Terrorism in Perspective. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications
Ji, S. (n.d). Civil Liberties vs. National Security: Lessons from September 11th Attacks on America. Tamkang Journal of International Affairs. 133-158. Retrieved March 24, 2007 from http://www2.tku.edu.tw/~ti/Journal/8-2/824.pdf
Kristol, W. (2004, June 14). Yes, Bush Will Win. The Weekly Standard, 9(38), 9. Retrieved March 20, 2007 from ProQuest database (649817321).
Stephens, P. (2006, June 23). The rhetoric of a war on terror obscures the real challenges. Financial Times, p.1. Retrieved March 20, 2007, from ProQuest database (1065252091).
Vickers, M. (2006, November 29). The Future of Force. Wall Street Journal. p. D 10. Retrieved March 20, 2007 from Pro Quest database (1169885721).