The War on Terror and the Terror of War By BRENT BOWDEN
The world it is at war: an open ended 'War on terrorism'. Leaders across the world have repeated the declaration ad nauseam. We have been told just as many times that it is a 'war like no other'. The stakes are high. If Usama Bin Laden is to be believed it is the 'Third World War'; for George W. Bush the war is nothing less than a 'fight for civilization'. As to whether the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001 were in fact an act of war demanding a military response, or a criminal act demanding a legal and justice based response is open to question and debate. Secretary of State Colin Powell's initial response suggests that he regarded it more in terms of a crime than an act of war: 'you can be sure that America will deal with this tragedy in a way that brings those responsible to justice', he is reputed to have said. But President Bush had other ideas, later telling journalist Bob Woodward that his immediate reaction was: 'They had declared war on us, and I made up my mind at that moment that we were going to war'. And thus, we are at war.
The casting of the war on terrorism as a war fought on behalf of or for Civilization against some less-than-civilized Other--terrorists and their cohorts--is a significant point that cannot be allowed to pass unexamined. The image being generated and marketed here is one of a war between the civilized defenders of everything that Civilization represents and the barbarous terrorists who oppose it and want to tear it down. Right or wrong this image is not exactly new, and thus the war on terror is not exactly a war like no other. Rather, history and precedents have a lot to tell us about the present and the conducting of this war on terror.(Click here to read more)