The Obama administration to its credit has wanted from the start to dial back the ‘war’ in the War on Terror. It’s about time.
When terror became an issue and stopping Al Qaeda a priority waging war seemed appropriate; after all our soil had been attacked and more blood spilled than at Pearl Harbor. But even at the start their was and is a problem with this the war paradigm.
Wars normally happen over limited and demarcated dimension of time and space. They begin and end and thankfully for American have mostly been fought overseas for more than the last century and a half.
The War on Terror was different. While it had a clear starting date of September 11, 2001 (though in many ways it might have been earlier, the fall of shah of Iran maybe), what would signal it s end seemed much less clear.
This raised a lot of questions. We have wanted to treat the captured fighters as prisoners of War; but since this war may not end for a long time: would we ever release them? The front included not just remote lands but here at home to. This has raised questions of how to protect our civil liberties. We’ve tolerated a lot, and I would argue too much in this regard. I dislike flying because of the heavy handed security that you must tolerate to do so.
The administration in the article that follows appears to be ramping the war down.
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While this will be controversial, I think it is much better than an endless war. The longer the War on Terror goes on, the more it endanger our liberties at home. The longer we will hold detainee with no timely process to determine their culpability. Both undermine the devotion of this country to the Freedom we purport to treasure.
The war paradigm has been overused to say the least. We have a War on Drugs; and the War on Terror. There may be others. The War on Drugs has had costs in reduced freedom and increased power for the state as well. The invoking of war as a motive seems to motivate a lot of people, so the politicians like it.
Often time though, I’m reminded of 1984. Global power waging endless war against one another, and using those wars to justify and maintain totalitarian control at home. It’s an exaggeration to say that’s where we are now. Given time though and the continuation of our wars and cultivation of fondness for that state of mind might get us there. I’m glad to the extent we back away from war on at least one thing.