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The war on terrorism - in a nutshell

By maxwell edison ·
For the past thirty years, every nation on the face of the Earth, including the United States -- and including the impotent and corrupt United Nations -- has been either facilitating, tolerating, or simply turning a blind eye to the modern threat of world-wide terrorism which has been perpetrated, for the most part, by militant Islamic extremists. The numerous bombings in cafes, discotheques and airports throughout Europe, Asia and Africa; the hijacking of commercial airliners and the murder of the flight crews and passengers; the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland; the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 (which was actually intended to topple the twin towers amid a cloud of cyanide gas intending to kill tens of thousands of innocent civilians); the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Tower apartment buildings in Saudi Arabia; the coordinated attack on two US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998; and the attack on the USS Cole in 2000 are all but a few of the heinous acts perpetrated by the evil-does we call terrorists.

On September 11, 2001, the United States of America became the new "ground-zero" for defining the destructive and murderous intentions of these militant Islamic extremists. The time to turn a blind-eye suddenly became the time to see the dangerous extent of the real threat; the time to tolerate terrorism as a nuisance has given way to the necessity, for the first time, to go on the offensive against terrorism -- wherever it may reside, and wherever it may breed; and the time to ignore the nations facilitating the existence and growth of terrorism became a status quo that could no longer be tolerated. The world suddenly changed on that date -- a date that would become synonymous with terror, 9-11. And the United States of America, rightly or wrongly, and for better or for worse, suddenly became the leader in combating it.

Combating terrorism is, perhaps, the most difficult and challenging task ever attempted by the United States. Terrorism knows no borders, as it's spread throughout the world into many nations -- including our own. It doesn't require a huge standing army, one that could be easily identified and defeated, to inflict its murderous intentions. And it nips at the heels of the very thing Americans hold most precious, our liberty and freedom. You might suggest that since they are relatively small in number and resources, that these terrorists don't have the capacity to take away our liberty and freedom. But indeed they do -- and indeed they have. We've already given up some of those freedoms by implementing various steps to stop them from killing again; and even that may not be enough. But how much is enough, and how much is too much? We've actually come to question where our freedoms must stop in order to ensure our security. So make no mistake about it, their threat is very real; and their advance must not only be stopped, but also be put into retreat.

In the days immediately following 9-11, the most obvious place to start the long quest in the battle against world-wide terrorism was in Afghanistan. And although the United States certainly had some culpability in creating the environment that existed in that nation, we could no longer allow it to continue to thrive. Afghanistan became a sanctuary, a place for the terrorists to seek a safe-haven, so that effort became priority number one; it became step one. Yes, Osama bin Laden was the leader of this particular pack of thugs, but to overlook the breadth of the problem for the sole purpose of focusing on a sole individual would have been irresponsible. The problem of world-wide terrorism was, and still is, bigger than just Afghanistan; and it's certainly bigger than just Osama bin Laden.

Fighting the political war against terrorism has, perhaps, proven to be the most difficult aspect of it. Terrorism has incubated under the regimes of oppressive dictators, and it's done so in a region of the world that's vital to maintaining a strong and viable world-wide economy. Tracking down the terrorists themselves was only one aspect of the battle, as tracking down the source of their support and funding was of paramount importance as well. I read a report recently that suggested much of the funding for terrorism flowed through Syria and Saudi Arabia, and that in the weeks after 9-11 the Syrians and the Saudis were unwilling to cooperate in cutting it off. Assuming that the report is true, at least to some degree, should we have therefore invaded Saudi Arabia and/or Syria as well? Should we have cut off relations with the Saudi sheiks? And what about Iran, and Libya -- and Iraq? If we work from the premise that terrorism has been bred and nurtured under the regimes of oppressive dictators, whether those dictators be secular or religious, and such as in the nations I mentioned, then we can see the scale of the problem -- and, perhaps, what's necessary to combat it. If terrorism does not breed in lands that enjoy the freedom of liberty and democracy, then transforming such oppressive nations becomes the obvious, albeit very difficult, solution.

I believe the invasion of Iraq was step two in the overall war against world-wide terrorism; and I believe this for many reasons. First and foremost is, of course, the weapons of mass destruction assumption. While it's true that "stockpiles" of these weapons have yet to be found (at least not that's been made public), it has not been proven that they never existed. To the contrary, we do indeed know that they did exist at one time, and according to the United Nations resolutions following the cease-fire of the gulf war (following Iraq's removal from Kuwait), Iraq was responsible for proving the destruction of such weapons. Iraq could provide no such proof, and literally every nation in the world believed in their existence. Were we fooled or are those weapons yet to be found? Personally, I believe it may be a little of both. But regardless, the United States was certainly justified in calling off the cease-fire, so to speak, since Saddam Hussein failed to comply with the agreements of that cease-fire. And if it was a mistake to let Saddam Hussein remain in power in 19**, as is often asserted, then why was it a mistake to remove him from power after he continued to snub the United Nations and the stipulations of the cease-fire a full twelve years later? The answer is, it was not a mistake. Especially if every aspect of the issues are taken into consideration.

In the larger scheme of things, I don't think that's (the WMD issue) the only thing that matters. Transforming those oppressive nations into ones of freedom and democracy is crucial in our overall efforts to combat the growth of world-wide terrorism. And while the threat of those WMDs was a major "public" reason for the invasion of Iraq, I personally don't believe it was the only reason. What better way to get Syria and Saudi Arabia to capitulate to "the cause" than for them to see several U.S. armored divisions at their doorsteps? After all, Libya certainly recognized what was probably the inevitable, and they "surrendered" without a shot being fired. And I don't think it was a coincidence that Saudi Arabia started to "cooperate" in blocking funding to terrorist causes only after the U.S. led invasion of Iraq. Moreover, what better way to entice other nations to seek the economic freedoms that can be provided only by democratic societies, than to plant the seeds of democracy in their very own backyard? The theory that democracy will spread its fruits and benefits once it's allowed to grow and thrive certainly has a lot of merit. And if some semblance of democracy can take-hold in Iraq, it might become inevitable in Iran and in other neighboring nations. The area may not be transformed into the next Japan, but if whatever might take-hold in the region helps in putting an end to the environments that breed terrorism, then that just might be enough.

We've all heard the saying that Rome wasn't built in a day; and this effort is tantamount to building another "Rome". We've all heard that a journey of 10,000 miles begins with a single step; and this is only one such step in a very long journey. Recognizing that the threat has been growing and spreading over the past several decades, we must also realize that to successfully eradicate the problem it will take several decades to come. And we must realize that we can no longer wait for the terrorists to come to us, but we now must go on the offensive to track them down wherever they may be, whatever it might take, and regardless of how long it takes.

In the immortal words of President John F. Kennedy, we must....."Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.....and in the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility - I welcome it."

Those words were spoken by President Kennedy at a different time and about a different threat, to be sure, but they are, perhaps, more applicable today than ever before. And just as President Kennedy "welcomed" the challenge to defend freedom and liberty, President Bush -- and his supporters, including myself -- welcome it as well. We not only welcome it, but we embrace it. After all, the alternative is not an option.

This is just the opinion of one man.

- Maxwell Edison

Notes - in order of pertinence

1. "Modern" terrorism is as described, but to be differentiated from many other forms of "terrorism" over the ages.

2. Israel is the sole exception, as it had been, before 9-11, the only nation to have really taken the "offensive" against terrorism.

3. President Bush (or any American president, for that matter) would never call the United Nations "impotent and corrupt"; he's too much of a diplomat. Those are my personal observations.

4. My list of terrorist acts actually pales in comparison to a more detailed list:

5. For geopolitical reasons, the current American administration (or any American administration) may not be able to reveal ALL of their reasons and motives for such policy decisions. In my opinion, this is not only understandable, but is to be expected. In the exercise of voicing my observations and opinions, I'm not bound by such restraints. In other words, they may "think" something, but they can't really say it. The "real" story is, perhaps, more suitable for history books, not necessarily the newspapers.

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Well done

by Oz_Media In reply to The war on terrorism - in ...

I actually scanned most of it, maybe I wil dig deeper through it another time. But without commenting on your views, I must comment on your opening statement.

YOu showed just a LITTLE too much personal bias I think that detracts from the validity of the rest.

Comments such as "...and including the impotent and corrupt United Nations" are not good in creating an unbiased personal view.

And "suddenly became the leader in combating it."
That is just outrageous,

I know it is supposed to be your views and YOUR opinion but it would have been far more credible without it.

Leader on combatting it? Many countries think you are NOT combatting it at all and are seeking personal agenda. These countries ALSO are making extensive changes to ensure they are countering terrorism in ways that THEY deem more effective. It is much like the opinions of wars gone by. The US angle always seems to be a personal success and one that reduces everyone else's efforts. THIS is where I disagree, the US is NOT the leader
nor the sole victim of such crimes, they have just been awakened like a sleeping, grumbly drunk who jumps up and starts throwing punches.

The rest of the world may not have been effective in stopping terrorism, well so far neither has the USA's resolution and I seriously and quite honestly don't think it ever will.

A little too much flag waving perhaps in your post, it just didn't feel right.

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You should have waited

by maxwell edison In reply to Well done

You are, as usual, too quick to jump to a conclusion. My essay was not intended to be "scanned", but rather carefully read in an attempt to understand. "Scanning" takes things out of the full and proper context, especially the written word. "Scanning" doesn't allow the absorption of the writer's intent. "Scanning" is looking at the label of a fine bottle of wine instead of slowly savoring everything about it. So if you don't want to take the time to "savor" my essay, you should really refrain from commenting on it.

(But thank you for the "well done", nonetheless.)

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Maybe it's the salesman in me

by Oz_Media In reply to You should have waited

One of the things I really do well at is writing catchy sales copy. Copy needs to be "keyworded" carefully, and many words commonly used in English conversation are an absolute no no, such as 'could', 'would', etc.

The first thing I notice are comments that stand apart from the paragraph, these are usually very descriptive terms that are carefully buried into a sentence so they can be taken in two ways, just in case the writer has to defend it. (Also very handy in a court room).

So perhaps it is my fault but only because I've seen those tricks too many times before (I am not just referring to yourself of course but ALL copy).

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by house In reply to Well done

Judging by your reply, it appears that you might be a Liberal in the Tory ridden west. Not that I care one way or another, but Tory supporters here in Ontario tend to blindly agree in Bush's defense without a thought of their own. If you are a Tory supporter, then you are a "diamond in the rough". Sorry, but the Conservative who ran for MP here in town, is a real cut-throat, ripped off the Neutrino Observatory, and is "full of crap"...more so than any other I've seen.

I agree though, that the UN is a corrupt and impotent organization. It is an organization made up of so many different sides of the spectrum that they can't go left or right without spawning an argument within. Plus, there are a lot of cultures who aren't represented because of a politician's disregard for the organization. This causes the almighty dollar to direct and influence their decisions, and creates a distinct line between the UN and those who are not involved.

Not a very effect group of international mediators.

I don't fully agree with the Bush administration, but I am far from anti-American. I hate being flagged as such, when I express my views on the current events in the world.

Impressive essay. Slightly opinionated though.

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Painting all Tories.....

by JamesRL In reply to Liberal?

As someone who has worked in the House of Commons and attended more nomination meetings than I can count....

In a place like Sudbury that most Tories would write off, you won't attract the highest calibre of candidate.

I've been a Tory since, well 1977. And I don't support the Bush admin in the Iraq war. I'm not the only one either.


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Good to hear

by house In reply to Painting all Tories.....

...but you're more involved than other people.
That's good to hear.
I didn't want to generalize anything by the comment, but I guess you can understand my point of view when you see "Sudbury".
I was actually very moved by the Tory ideas on the last campain here in town. Not a great candidate though. I'm still a little upset...even with our Liberal MP's.

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Thank you - And of course it's "opinionated"

by maxwell edison In reply to Liberal?

Thanks for your comments, but I must admit that I don't understand the intent of the comments suggesting that my piece is "opinionated" or "biased" (as Oz_Media suggested). I would counter-suggest that such comments fall into the "DUH!" category. It's an editorial. It's an opinion piece. I even stated as much. So of course it's "opinionated". I don't understand why so many people automatically consider that a bad thing.

Being "biased" or "opinionated" is only bad when it's presented under the pretense of being otherwise. Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News, for example, is operating under the pretense of being either fair and balanced or that he's just "reporting" the news. So when he puts a slant on the news, as he obviously does (in my opinion), then that can be -- and should be -- criticized as being "biased" or "opinionated". Dan Rather is a "reporting" journalist, and he should just "report". On the other hand, people like George Will, Molly Ivans, William F. Buckley, Maureen Dowd, Rush Limbaugh, and Al Franken are "opinion" journalists, not news reporters. But they all present themselves as opinion journalists, at least they should, and anything they comment on should be taken through the filter of their bias.

Reporting the news and commenting on the news, there's a big difference. Too many people seem to confuse the two; and too many people don't understand or recognize the difference. Even those reporting journalists and opinion journalists themselves often times confuse the two, so it's no wonder the public at large can't tell the difference.

But in my case, it was "opinion" all the way. I even said as much in the conclusion of my piece.

This is just the opinion on one man.

- Maxwell Edison

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All media has a bias

by JamesRL In reply to Thank you - And of course ...

Though not necessarily to the left or the right.

When the Republicans are in power, it becomes most major news organizations to attack republicans or a republican president. Why? Because thats what attracts viewers/readers. And the number of viewers/readers determines how much money they can charge for their advertising, hence how profitable they can be. But the same can be said for Democratic regimes - do you think that the media hung on very word of Ken Starr because they were Republican? No - because by publishing those salalcious details, they increased their subscribership and could charge more for ads.

Even if the reports themsleves are "balanced" there is bias based on content - which stories get published, and which get dropped or given less time/space/coverage. In my poli sci course, we did a lot of "content analysis" statistical work, and its amazing how little "policy" is discussed, and how much "personality" is emphasized. And why? Because thats what the people are interested in.

Canada is very similar, though we have fewer of these op-ed type writers.

I wouldn't consider any one of the people in your list reporters. They are writers. They have no obligation to balance. They don't have to do a lot of fact checking.

In regards to Rather, there is a certain amount of chicken and egg. He doesn't write all of his comments, but he obviously doesn't disgaree with them either. He is working at CBS because he fits in with the CBS corporate culture. He perhaps has more influence than other individual employees, but at the same time he is one employee out of many. You can look at Fox the same way - Rupert Murdoch doesn't tell Bill O'Reilly what to think, but he got the job because for the most part, they think in similar ways.


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It wasn't bad Max

by Oz_Media In reply to Thank you - And of course ...

Don't get me wrong, of course personal bias is expected, but to lace your opening comments with the poison detracted from the rest, which incidentally I thought was quite well put forth even if what I think that the key issue was evasively included and not focused on as the root of people's argument.

Perhaps you don't quite get what I meant or took it personally, but in essence I agree with your post and thought it was a good rise to the challenge, but the comments were poorly placed. You could have hit the UN later when you referred to thier corruption in detail.

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Stereotyping journalists ....

by jardinier In reply to Thank you - And of course ...

I shouldn't have to remind you that bias in news reporting mostly comes down from the top.

So spare a thought for the poor journo who knows before he/she submits their stories they will most likely be "edited" to conform with the political agenda of management and ownership.

[In fact my decision to resign from the Sydney Morning Herald all those years ago occurred after two instances of having my story altered to an unacceptable degree -- in one case by a sub-editor, and in the other by the Managing Editor].

In the case of Fox news, the reporters are told beforehand what the content of their stories should be when given an assignment.

I am sure you will be pleased to learn that Paul McGeough -- the Sydney Morning Herald journalist who has reported from Iraq throughout the war, has just won the Walkley Award (prestigious award for members of the media in Australia) in the category: "All Media -- International Journalism."

So how about that, eh? THE top award in ALL media in Australia for international journalism.

Well I remember how much you hated those independent journalists in Iraq, yet in retrospect I have not seen anything that was reported by McGeough which did not turn out to be true.

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