Opposing the War on Terror

Katrina vanden Heuvel writes an important piece about the need to end not just The War in Iraq, but also the War on Terror.

We would do better --both in addressing the danger of a wider sectarian war with failing regimes in the Middle East, and in combating terrorism-- to reduce the heavy US military and geopolitical footprint in the region. That means withdrawing US forces from Iraq and organizing regional diplomacy, including with Iran and Syria, to contain the civil war from spreading to other countries in the region. It would mean addressing the legitimate grievances that arouse the passions of many in the Islamic world, especially Israel's occupation of the West Bank. And it would mean changing the conversation with the people of the Arab and Islamic worlds from the danger of extremism to the promise of more economic opportunity.

I am in total lockstep with her on this one, and in fact, last fall I wrote a piece called In Opposition to the War on Terror, which essentially argued the exact same thing.

But the war on terror as a concept is largely safe from critical dialogue from American’s politicians on both parties. In fact, Democrats who challenge the legitimacy or effectiveness of the Iraq War, argue that it is merely a “distraction” from the war on terror and will limit our options to invade other countries, such as Iran. In other words, pre-emptive wars of aggression are fine, a constant state of warfare is fine, but Iraq was executed ineptly.


This debate ought to be expanded past Iraq, and discussed more broadly. The reason for this is simple: It is President Bush’s global war on terror, not Iraq, which has been used to justify all the administration’s war policies, including the invasion of Iraq.


Such ambiguities enable the US government to simply decide what terrorism is on a case-by-case basis. The mere existence of the war on terror already serves as a justification for future wars, further torture and more assaults on our privacy and personal liberties.


Accordingly, we should oppose all continuous wars, including Bush’s war on terror. If we fail to do this, we will settle for the only alternative: a state of perpetual warfare.