How to lose the war on terrorism

As the UK government unveils its latest traunch of terrorist legislation a few hints from across the pond on how best to ensure failure in the ‘war on terror’.

By Andrew Freeman writing in The Daily Collegian

After Sept. 11, 2001 the American public had one question in mind: how do we lose this war that has been brought upon us? Our leaders pondered this long and hard, and their actions have brilliantly illustrated the best way to lose the war on terrorism. Taken together, these actions give a clear sense of how to lose a global war.

Create enemies abroad.

The key to any unsuccessful war is to make more enemies than you kill. When your enemies grow stronger with each assault, your defeat is assured. In the Vietnam War, American soldiers destroyed villages and slaughtered civilians in such numbers that the survivors were almost invariably turned against the Americans. In the current war on terrorism, state-sanctioned policies of torture, including the abuse at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere in Iraq, help to rally people against our cause. The practice of “extraordinary rendition,” by which suspected terrorists were flown to nations like Egypt or Syria to be tortured, is another example. Torture is just one of the heavy-handed tactics that can be employed to create enemies abroad, however. A far more effective one is war.

Start an unnecessary conflict.

By invading Iraq, a country where Islamic fundamentalist organizations like Al Qaeda were not present, let alone supported, we opened up a new front in the war on terror. Iraqi insurgents are now engaging in acts of terrorism against American troops, as well as against their countrymen. In his Oct. 6 speech, President Bush called Iraq “the central front in our war on terror.” This is only true because of our presence there – Iraq played no role in the Sept. 11 attacks, and its leader, Saddam Hussein, had successfully suppressed fundamentalism there. Because we removed Saddam and began to occupy the country, depriving the Sunni Arab elite of political power, they responded by launching an anti-American insurgency.

Fail to secure and protect the homeland.

When the Department of Homeland Security was first proposed by Democrats, the Bush administration was opposed to its formation. However, they soon realized that the idea was an excellent way to score a political victory: they called for a department where the president had expansive powers to hire and fire employees, knowing Democrats would oppose it. Then, before 2002 midterm elections, the administration claimed that Democrats were opposed to national security, leading to Republican gains in Congress.

Having used national security as a crass political weapon, the

Republicans promptly began to waste homeland security funds. In North Pole, Alaska, $500,000 was allotted to protect against terrorism, according to the National Review, and throughout the country states at no risk of terrorism were inundated with homeland security funds. In 2003, $5.47 per person was apportioned to New York, compared with $38.31 for Wyoming, according to the New York Daily News.

Damage the armed forces.

Nothing is more effective in losing a war than in squandering the contributions of those who fight for you. The Department of Veterans Affairs, which provides medical services to veterans, announced in June that it faced a probable $2.6 billion shortfall, according to the Washington Post. This resulted from incompetence: the agency underestimated the number of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who would seek medical treatment by over 70,000. Prior to this announcement, Republican congressmen had successfully defeated attempts by Democrats to raise funding for the VA.

On the field, soldiers are not provided with sufficient armor for their protection, and many have had to purchase it themselves, without reimbursement. This continues despite a 2004 law that required the Pentagon to reimburse soldiers and their families for such expenditures, a law that has not been enforced. Unsurprisingly, military recruitment has declined heavily this year, with army recruiters missing their goals by 7,000 recruits according to the Associated Press. The Bush administration has been doubly successful in damaging the military, weakening protection for soldiers, on and off the battlefield, while discouraging young people from joining it.

In the end, however, there is only so much that can be done by our leaders to lose the war on terrorism. We all have to do our part as well, whether it be by blindly supporting an inept leadership or being hateful towards foreigners. The consequences of not losing a global war are astonishing. The United States didn’t lose the Cold War, and look where we are now – the richest, most powerful nation in the world. Unless you want that to continue, it is your patriotic duty to stand behind the president and help lose the global war on terrorism.