News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Analysis of "War Against Terror"

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Analysis of "War Against Terror"

Majikthise presents a decent analysis of why the US is not at war with "terrorism."

The brunt of her argument is found when she states:

The fact is that we're not at war on terrorism, let alone against terror. Terrorism is a strategy. Actually, it's a normative assessment of a family of tactics. In the current climate "terrorism" refers to any political violence the speaker doesn't like.

We aren't at war with terrorism and we never have been. We were at war with Iraq, and now we're fighting the Iraqi insurgency.

We are engaged in a global struggle against terrorism by Islamic extremists. But we can't even declare war on Al Qaeda, though the use of force against them has been authorized. We can't declare war against Al Qaeda for the same reason that we can't declare war against Columbia drug cartel or the mafia. These groups, however nefarious, aren't states. If we were to destroy these organizations, new groups with the same mission would take their place.
I agree with her Wittgensteinian analysis here. I'd only ask: if we aren't at war then what is the ethical status of this action? To carry on the analysis would seem to entail asking this question.

If politics is simply a mode of guaranteeing the proper use of fear by a state, as Bernard Williams (following Judith Shklar) states, then would it be correct to further characterize the operations currently underway under the umbrella term of "war against terror" as in fact a reign of terror? If so, then, following Williams' lead, the current actions by the US are unjust and therefore must be condemned as such.

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