We’ve all heard the phrase “the war on terror” so long now that we just accept it. “Let’s stop them over there before they come over here” is the other slogan that gets bandied about. Even I was among the gang that said Afghanistan was the “right war” and Iraq was the wrong one.
I am now rethinking that evaluation. First, let’s examine the phrase “over there”. Where is that exactly? None of the 9/11 hijackers were Afghan nationals and they received the critical training they needed right here in the United States. There are terrorist cells all over the world. How many countries are we going to occupy in the effort to stop them “over there”?
More importantly, why do we need “war” to stop terrorism? The latest slew of Jihadist wanna-be’s were all stopped using good old fashioned intelligence, local law enforcement and the FBI. No soldiers had to die. No witnesses had to be tortured. Terrorist organizations are not strictly hierarchical so the notion that killing “the leaders” in their native countries will stop the lower level operatives is naive at best. No matter how many bad guys we kill in Afghanistan and Pakistan, we will remain vulnerable here at home without solid law enforcement.
As we try to “stop them over there”, we find ourselves with mission creep. We’ve installed a shaky democracy in Iraq and supported a downright corrupt government in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan we have a country essentially left behind by history. The running joke is you can’t “bomb them back into the stone age” … they are already there. We have a tribal society there in no way prepared for democracy. Yet we seem lately to be pursuing a mission of remaking every perceived hostile country over in our own image.
The fact is Afghanistan is not going to fly military jets over the Atlantic ocean to bomb us. We have absolutely no business being at war with them. Terrorism is a crime, it is not an act of war. The way to fight terrorism here at home is with solid cooperative efforts from the FBI and local law enforcement. Recent events bear this out.
We have enough problems with our nation. We don’t need to be building any others.