War on Terror: Wikipedia Definition

The War on Terrorism or "War on Terror" (in U.S. foreign policy circles, Global War on Terrorism or GWOT1; recently also Long War) is a controversial campaign by the United States government and some of its allies with the stated goal of ending international terrorism by stopping terrorist groups and ending state sponsorship of terrorism.

The "war on terrorism" was launched, ostensibly in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington D.C. attributed to Al-Qaeda and has become a central part of U.S. President George W. Bush's foreign and domestic policy. Unlike earlier concepts and definitions of war — with defined nations, boundaries, and standing armies and navies — the "War on Terrorism" has largely been dominated by the use of special forces, intelligence, police work, diplomacy and propaganda.

The United States' current "War on Terrorism" started after the September 11, 2001 attacks, with the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001. The George W. Bush administration also considers the Iraq War part of the War on Terrorism, even though several reasons the US originally presented for invading Iraq have since been discredited. The administration claimed that Saddam Hussein had partnered with Islamist terrorist groups, identifying al-Qaeda as one possible partner but not the only one. Several subsequent investigations by US government agencies, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and the 9/11 Commission found no evidence of substantial recent cooperation between Iraq and al-Qaeda.

Other incidents that have been cited as contributing to the focus on terrorism include the World Trade Center bombing of 1993, the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings, the USS Cole bombing of 2000, suicide bombings in Israel, and the Lockerbie bombing.

Major terrorist incidents which occurred after the September 11 attacks include the Bali nightclub bombing, the Madrid train bombings, and the London Underground bombings. The country most affected by terrorism is Iraq. Since the US invasion, more than 200,000 Iraqis have been victims of bombings, kidnappings and assassinations. Suicide bombings with dozens, even hundreds of victims, are a regular occurrence.

The very phrase "War on Terrorism" is the subject of some debate and disagreement. First, there has always been considerable debate as to what constitutes terrorism. Under some definitions, all military action is terrorism, and thus some contend that it is impossible to wage a "War on Terror". In addition, the notion of declaring war on an abstract concept is troubling to some (in the same vein as the war to end all wars, war on drugs, war on poverty, and the war on crime). The "War on Terrorism", like the war on drugs, involves a mix of military and non-military forces. There is also debate about whether or not the term "War on Terror" should be capitalized. Using the capitalized "War on Terror" version gives a greater appearance of legitimacy to the effort. A lower-case "war on terrorism" is more in line with other "wars" on abstract concepts (such as the war on drugs or the war on poverty).

The "War on Terrorism" differs from WWI and WWII in that it does not appear to be a war between nation states, but is to all visible appearances, something akin to a world-wide civil war with non-nation actors simultaneously waging war on their own governments and on foreign governments as well. Another difference is that the people being held prisoners as part of this "war" are also not given legal status as "prisoners of war" (see Guantanamo Bay detainment camp).

There are difficulties inherent in labelling armed participants as "freedom-fighters," "terrorists," "insurgents," etc., due to the relative criteria required to meet such labels.

Even when the boundaries of an organization are clearly defined, there might not be a way to distinguish some organizations as terrorist or otherwise. For example, the militant Islamist group Hamas; although directly responsible for the killing of many Israeli civilians, Hamas is also responsible for many of the charities and other social welfare programs for Muslims in Palestine and is seen by some as a legitimate group that resists foreign rule over the Palestinian people. Israel, the US and the EU consider Hamas a terrorist group due to its targeting of innocent civilians and its stated goal of destroying the Jewish state.

Among those who accept the term "War on Terrorism" there are disagreements as to which actions, by which states, should be considered as part of the "war." For example, the Bush administration, despite considerable international and domestic disagreement, contends that the pre-emptive 2003 invasion of Iraq and the subsequent occupation is a crucial part of the "War on Terrorism". Likewise, Russia has recently asserted that its ongoing struggles with Chechen rebels should be part of the international effort.

Only two months after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Noam Chomsky argued that the United States is a leading terrorist state [1]. Specifically, Chomsky cited the Clinton administration for its role in what he called terrorism. Chomsky has long argued that some commonly accepted definitions of "terrorism" also apply to many of the actions undertaken by the U.S.[2]

Cognitive linguistics professor George Lakoff, founder of the progressive think tank the Rockridge Institute, has argued, with respect to the phrase "War on Terror", "Terror is a general state, and it's internal to a person. Terror is not the person we're fighting, the 'terrorist.' The word terror activates your fear, and fear activates the strict father model, which is what conservatives want. The 'war on terror' is not about stopping you from being afraid, it's about making you afraid." He adds "...terrorists are actual people, and relatively small numbers of individuals, considering the size of our country and other countries. It's not a nation-state problem. War is a nation-state problem." Lakoff believes that the frame invoked by the phrase plays a key role in the political changes enacted by President Bush through the implication of the frame. [3]

In July 2005, the US administration changed the name of its campaign briefly from GWOT to GSAVE (Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism), which addressed concerns regarding the word "terrorism". Since early August of the same year, GWOT is again the name used.

Legal land warfare is characterized by uniformed combatants, deliberate avoidance of damage to noncombatants, and care for prisoners and enemy wounded. Combatants who do not abide by the rules of land warfare are illegal combatants. Actions which deliberately target noncombatants, with the intent to inspire widespread fear, are terrorist by definition.

The phrase "War on Terrorism" was first widely used by the Western press to refer to the attempts by Russian and European governments, and eventually the U.S. government, to stop attacks by anarchists against international political leaders. (See, for example, New York Times, April 2, 1881). Many of the anarchists described themselves as "terrorists," and the term had a positive valence for them at the time. When Russian anarchist Vera Zasulich shot and wounded a Russian police commander who was known to torture suspects on 24 January 1878, for example, she threw down her weapon without killing him, announcing, "I am a terrorist, not a killer."[4]

The next time the phrase gained currency was its use to describe the efforts by the British colonial government to end a spate of Jewish terrorist attacks in the British Mandate of Palestine in the late 1940s. The British proclaimed a "War on Terrorism" and attempted to crack down on Irgun, Lehi, and anyone perceived to be cooperating with them. The Jewish attacks, Arab reprisals (while Jews considered their attacks themselves reprisals for what they saw as British complacency to Arab violence against Jews and denial of Jewish rights), and the subsequent British crackdown hastened the British evacuation from Palestine.

A representative article from the period in (New York Times, August 5th, 1947, p. 16) reads:

"The Palestine Government today arrested the mayors of several Jewish cities and townships along Palestine's coast, including Tel Aviv, Nathanya, and Ramat Gan. No reason for the arrests was immediately given, but it was believed that they indicated a new attack in the British war on terrorism. The bodies of the two British sergeants executed by the Irgun Zvai Leumi last week were found hanged near Nathanya."
After the withdrawal of the British, the newly formed Israeli government began using the term "War on Terrorism" to refer to its efforts to crack down on Palestinian and Lebanese groups, both terrorist and otherwise, operating in Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East.

The phrase "War on Terrorism" was used frequently by U.S. President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. In his 1986 speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Reagan said:

"…the United States believes that the understandings reached by the seven industrial democracies at the Tokyo summit last May made a good start toward international accord in the war on terrorism."

The current "War on Terrorism" has been primarily an initiative of the United States. Daniel J. Gallington wrote:

Despite the antiterrorism rhetoric of the U.N. and the major world powers, and with the very significant exception of Great Britain and a few others, we are in a world war against radical Islam by ourselves. [5]

Soon after and in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks, President George W. Bush announced his intention to begin a "War on Terrorism" a protracted struggle against terrorists and the states that aid them.

On September 18, 2001, the U.S. Congress authorized the president to

"use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons." [6]

On September 20, 2001, the U.S. President George W. Bush presented his position in an address to a joint session of Congress and the American people:

"Our war on terror begins with al-Qaida, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated." [7]

On October 10, 2001, the U.S. President presented a list of 22 most-wanted terrorists. Then in the first such act since World War II, President Bush signed an executive order [8] on November 13, 2001 allowing military tribunals against any foreigners suspected of having connections to current or planned terrorist acts on the United States. U.S.-led military forces later invaded both Afghanistan (see U.S. invasion of Afghanistan) and, more controversially, Iraq (see 2003 Iraq War) under the pretext of the "War on Terrorism".

The US actions were influenced by a fear that subsequent attacks could involve nuclear or biological weapons. The 2001 anthrax attacks contributed to the level of anxiety, although the source of those attacks remains a mystery.

Several governments have provided aid in some aspect of the conflict; for example by making arrests of suspected terrorists and freezing bank accounts.

In Afghanistan, the USA continues to receive extensive military help from NATO and other national governments. The invasion of Iraq, however, was not seen as related to the "War on Terrorism" in most of the world, and most support came from a handful of generally smaller governments, as well as the United Kingdom. In the United States, the "War on Terrorism" became the prism through which international relations were viewed, supplanting the Cold War and in some cases the war on drugs.

Many pre-existing disputes were re-cast in terms of the "War on Terrorism", including Plan Colombia and the Colombian narco-terrorist insurgency; the United States' diplomatic and military disputes with long-time rogue states Iraq, Iran, and North Korea; the conflict in Russia's breakaway province of Chechnya; and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The largest campaign undertaken as part of the "War on Terrorism" has been the one in Afghanistan.

Some say the 2003 invasion of Iraq is regarded as part of the "War on Terrorism", most notably but not exclusively because of Hussein's supposed WMD activities, and financial and logistical support for various Palestinian terrorist groups, including payments of approximately $25,000 (U.S.) to the families of successful suicide bombers.

In a January 3, 2005, editorial in the Toronto Star, Jonathan Stevenson, a senior fellow for counterterrorism at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (US) writes "the strategic objective of the global war on terror is to completely isolate Al Qaeda's maximalist leadership and disempower local jihadist affiliates." [9]

The United States has based its counter-terrorist strategy on several steps:

Denial of safe havens in which terrorists can train and equip members.
Restriction of funding of terrorist organizations.
Degradation of terrorist networks by capturing or killing intermediate leaders.
Detention of suspected and known terrorists. See the section below for further details
Getting information, through various techniques, such as interrogation, from captured terrorists of other members of their organization, training sites, methods, and funding.
Expanding and improving efficiency of intelligence capabilities and foreign and domestic policing.
This strategy is similar to successful counter-guerrilla operations, such as in Malaysia in the 1950s. There is a fine distinction between guerrilla operations and terrorist operations.

Many guerrilla organizations, such as the Zionist armed group known as the Irgun in British-Mandated Palestine, and the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN) during the Algerian War of Independence, and Vietnam's National Liberation Front (NLF), included urban terrorism as part of their overall strategy.

Denial of safe havens involves a fairly large military force; however, as in Afghanistan in 2002, once the major safe haven areas are overrun, the large-scale forces can be withdrawn and special forces, such as U.S. Special Operations Forces or the British Special Air Service (SAS), operate more effectively.

In addition, the U.S. Army is involved in increasingly large civil affairs programs in Afghanistan to provide employment for Afghans and to reduce sympathy in the civilian population for parties the United States has designated as terrorist.

The U.S. strategy faces several obstacles:

Terrorist groups can continue to operate, albeit at a less-sophisticated scale.
The strengths of U.S. intelligence gathering are signal intelligence and photo intelligence gathering. Organizations that avoid use of cellular phones and radios and rely on couriers have a lower profile. On the other hand, such organizations also have a slower planning and reaction time.
Saudi Arabia, one of the countries supporting terrorism both financially and by giving shelter to terrorists, is also a close ally of the U.S. and a large foreign source of oil, preventing the U.S. from taking actions against terrorism in Saudi Arabia.
The major reason for the Islamic population to support terrorism is the feeling of helplessness of protecting the Islamic way of life against western influence and the (felt) oppression of the Islamic world by the Christians. While the War On Terror tries to decrease the influence of Islamic extremism, it further interferes with the Islamic culture (by the means of U.S. military presence in those countries or even invasion) and thereby increases support for Islamic terror amongst extremist sections of Islamic society. The increasing number of terrorist attacks that target and kill Muslims (such as the recent 2005 Amman bombings) has provoked strong opposition to terrorism amongst moderate Islamic opinion, as exhibited by the large protests of the Islamic population of Jordan in response to the attacks.
Political opposition to U.S. policies inside countries in which terrorists operate, as in Pakistan, where Al-Qaida and the Taliban have supporters who share religious or ethnic affiliations.
Legal opposition to U.S. methods of detaining suspected terrorists.
The lack of a clear statement from the U.S. administration renouncing to use or support terrorism to shape policy.
A policy perceived by some as superficial, based in developing a simple military approach against terrorism, but not a political solution to the causes of terrorism.
On September 2, 2004, in response to the question of whether the "War on Terror" could be won, President Bush declared: "I don't think you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world." [10]

On September 12, 2001, less than 24 hours after the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, NATO invoked Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty and declared the attacks to be an attack against all 19 NATO member countries.

In the following months, NATO took a wide range of measures to respond to the threat of terrorism. On November 22, 2002, the member states of the EAPC decided on a Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism which explicitly states that "EAPC States are committed to the protection and promotion of fundamental freedoms and human rights, as well as the rule of law, in combating terrorism" [11].

The invasion of Afghanistan is seen as the first action of this war, and initially involved forces from the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Afghani Northern Alliance. Since the initial invasion period, these forces have been augmented by troops from Germany, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. In 2005-2006, Canadian forces there will be increased to over 2000 troops. Canada also supported coalition efforts in Operation Archer, Operation Apollo, Operation Altair, and Operation Athena as part of the ongoing support for Operation Enduring Freedom. [12] The Canadian government however, does not recognize Iraq as part of the informal network of support for the attacks of 9/11 and as such, has declined to send Forces to that theatre of operations, although scores of them are on assignment to US Forces - mostly assisting in AWACS operations.

Support for the United States cooled when America made clear its determination to invade Iraq in late 2002. The United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, South Korea, Poland, and Australia joined the "coalition of the willing", unconditionally supporting U.S.-led military action. Other countries, including Canada, Germany, France, Pakistan, and New Zealand opposed military action and blocked American attempts to pass a UN resolution explicitly backing military action. Countries that did not participate in the invasion but who have made themselves parts of the reconstruction and peacekeeping efforts include Ukraine, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Romania. Many of the 'Coalition of the willing' countries also have sent troops to Afghanistan, particular neighbouring Pakistan which has disowned its earlier support for the Taliban and contributed tens of thousands of soldiers to the conflict.

The war provoked the largest ever documented worldwide protests, and opinion polls showed that the population of many countries opposed the war even while their governments supported it. Though the electorate of the United Kingdom and Australia have since re-elected Tony Blair and John Howard, respectively, both of whom aligned their governments with the United States' foreign policy, both suffered from greatly decreased majorities and support. Spain's pro-coalition government was voted out as a result of these attitudes combined with concerns that that the government had jeopardized Spain's security, partly due to the Madrid Train Bombings. Additionally, in countries with leaders who had objected to the invasion, opposition parties who had banked on pro-U.S. and reconciliatory attitudes among their populace to provide an additional boost to their support, such as the CDU led by Angela Merkel in Germany, did not gain enough support to succeed those leaders completely; although Merkel's party is the largest party in the Bundestag and governs as part of a coalition, her party suffered its second-worst performance in a national election.

International support fell further when the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison were revealed, and there are continuing questions about the treatment of prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay. A poll conducted in late 2005 seems to indicate that the US lacks significant support in the global public opinion for the war.[1]

The "War on Terrorism" is being pursued in the following theaters of operation:

South Asia (Afghanistan and Pakistan)
Middle East (Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen)
Former Soviet republics (Chechnya, Georgia and Uzbekistan)
Southeast Asia (Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia)
Africa (Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, and Tanzania)

A $40 billion emergency spending bill was quickly passed by the United States legislature, and an additional $20 billion bail-out of the airline industry was also passed.

Investigations have been started through many branches of many governments, pursuing tens of thousands of tips. Thousands of people have been detained, arrested, or questioned. Many of those targeted by the Bush administration have been secretly detained, and have been denied access to an attorney. Among those secretly detained are U.S. citizens.

The Justice Department launched a Special Registration procedure for certain male non-citizens in the U.S., requiring them to register in person at offices of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Several laws were passed to increase the investigative powers of law enforcement agencies in the United States, notably the USA Patriot Act. Many civil liberties groups have alleged that these laws remove important restrictions on governmental authority, and are a dangerous encroachment on civil liberties, possible unconstitutional violations of the Fourth Amendment. No official legal challenges have been started as of 2004, but governing bodies in a number of communities have passed symbolic resolutions against the act.

In a speech on June 9, 2005, Bush claimed that the "Patriot Act" had been used to bring charges against more than 400 suspects, more than half of whom had been convicted. Meanwhile the American Civil Liberties Union quoted Justice Department figures that show that 7,000 people have complained of abuse of the act. The ACLU also maintains that many others don't know they've been subjected to a search because the law requires that searches be kept secret. [13]

The Bush administration began an unprecedented and sweeping initiative in early 2002 with the creation of the Information Awareness Office, designed to collect, index, and consolidate all available information on everyone in a central repository for perusal by the United States government.

Various government bureaucracies which handled security and military functions were reorganized. Most notably, the Department of Homeland Security was created to coordinate "homeland security" efforts in the largest reorganization of the U.S. federal government since the consolidation of the armed forces into the Department of Defense. There was a proposal to create an Office of Strategic Influence for the purpose of coordinating propaganda efforts, but it was cancelled due to negative reactions. For the first time ever, the Bush administration implemented the Continuity of Operations Plan (or Continuity of Government) to create a shadow government to ensure the executive branch of the U.S. government would be able to continue in catastrophic circumstances.

A Washington Post investigation, published on December 26, 2002, quotes anonymous CIA and other government officials who claim that U.S. military and CIA personnel employ physical coercion during their interrogation of suspects and that U.S. officials believe these practices are necessary and unavoidable in light of the September 11 terrorist attacks. They state that CIA is using "stress and duress" techniques at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, a base leased from Britain at Diego Garcia Island in the Indian Ocean, and numerous other secret facilities worldwide. In May 2005, an official investigation report stated that U.S. soldiers tortured and murdered two Afghan civilians. The report concluded that there was probable cause to charge 27 officers and enlisted personnel with criminal offenses.

The CIA reportedly transfers suspects, along with a list of questions, to foreign intelligence services of countries routinely criticized by the U.S. Department of State for torturing suspects, where they are alleged to be severely tortured with the assent and encouragement of the United States. These countries include Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Syria. One official stated, "We don't kick the shit out of them. We send them to other countries so they can kick the shit out of them."

Anonymous sources quoted in the Washington Post article have stated that those held in the CIA detention center "are sometimes kept standing or kneeling for hours, in black hoods or spray-painted goggles," and are duct-taped to stretchers for transport. The Post continues that, according to Americans with direct knowledge and others who have witnessed the treatment, suspects are often beaten up and confined in tiny rooms and are also blindfolded and handcuffed following arrest. Later, suspects are sometimes "held in awkward, painful positions and deprived of sleep with a 24-hour bombardment of lights and loud noises". The Post article goes on to say that national security officials suggested that pain killers, on at least one occasion, were "used selectively" to treat a detainee that was shot in the groin during apprehension. Photographs from Guantánamo Bay appear to show prisioners wearing blackened goggles and acoustic earmuffs, both tools used in modern sensory deprivation.

The United States State Department has previously described such interrogation tactics as "abusive tactics". The 1999 State Department Human Rights Country Report on Israel and the Occupied Territories [14] stated:

"However, a landmark decision by the High Court of Justice in September prohibited the use of a variety of abusive practices, including violent shaking, painful shackling in contorted positions, sleep deprivation for extended periods of time, and prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures."

National security officials interviewed for the investigation defended the use of such techniques as necessary to prevent further terrorist attacks. As one official put it, "If you don't violate someone's human rights some of the time, you probably aren't doing your job."

The human rights organization Human Rights Watch called on the United States to respond to these reports by publicly denouncing the use of torture. In response to reports that some of the evidence that Colin Powell intended to present against Iraq to the United Nations was derived from torture, Human Rights Watch sent a letter to Powell, asking him to use that speech as an opportunity to condemn any use of torture to gather intelligence. [15]

The techniques reported to be used are similar to techniques that have been used by the Soviet Union on captured CIA operatives, according to accounts by retired CIA agents. In addition, similar techniques were used by French security services in the Algerian War of Independence and in the suppression of the Secret Army Organization in the 1960s. Ethically, such techniques are seen by human rights advocates as deplorable, but some interrogators see them as necessary when information must be gained from a reluctant subject.

Further, most interrogation experts [16] and the U.S. Army's own interrogation manual [17] maintain that torture can generate false responses because suspects give interrogators false information in order to stop the pain. Likewise there are concerns that torture on a suspect implies a permanent separation from the legal process, making the pursuit of justice through law unlikely. [18]

Detentions at Guantánamo Bay
See also: Camp Delta
Many people captured in the military conflict in Afghanistan (including a U.S. citizen, Yaser Esam Hamdi) have been detained at a facility known as Camp X-ray at the U.S. Naval Station at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and have been treated as "illegal combatants" rather than as prisoners of war.

Many persons state that the term "illegal combatant" has no meaning under international law and serves to justify denying these detainees rights granted to POWs under the Geneva Conventions. However, the U.S. position is that the detainees do not fall under any of the categories of combatants or noncombatants protected by the Geneva or Hague Conventions, as well as any applicable American laws regarding rights or torture, as the base is not technically "inside" that country. On June 28, 2004 the United States Supreme Court ruled that "illegal combatants" such as those held in Guantánamo can challenge detentions.

Main article: Criticisms of the War on Terrorism
Critics argue that terrorism is being exploited for other purposes; that it has resulted in human rights abuses; that it has decreased the personal freedom of US citizens; and that it has served as a pretext for restricting access to government information.

The notion of a war against terrorism has proven highly contentious, with critics charging that it has been exploited by the participating governments to pursue longstanding policy objectives, reduce civil liberties, and infringe on human rights. Some argue that the term war is not appropriate in this context (as in war on drugs), since they believe there is no tangible enemy, and that it is unlikely that international terrorism can be brought to an end by means of war. [20] Others note that "terrorism" is not an enemy, but rather a tactic; calling it a "War on Terror," they say, obscures the differences between, for example, anti-occupation insurgents and international jihadists. The term "Terrorist" is highly subjective, as well. CIA agent Luis Posada Carriles is wanted for a 1976 bombing of a civilian airliner that killed 76 people. Requests by two different countries (Cuba and Venezuela) for his extradition from the United States have been denied by the Bush Administration.[21][22]

Its supporters argue that a reduction in civil liberties is a necessary price to pay for greater protection against what they perceive as a heightened risk of terrorism. They also contend that some previous wars waged by America and its allies lasted many years but were ultimately successful. A common argument against the Patriot Act, for example, is that the government can see what books you've checked out at your local library (to see if you checked out information potentially leading to making a bomb, for example) but critics of that argument maintain that if you're not a terrorist trying to make a bomb, you've nothing to worry about.

Other criticisms include:

One set of critics is against the war on terror in its entirety. They believe there is a distinction between criticizing the way the war on terror is conducted and criticizing the war on terror itself. The reason they think it is important to be against the war on terror as a whole is because it sacrifices liberty to security. As a consequence, these critics are often unhappy not just with the current administration but much of the opposition as well.
Some cite the high civilian casualty rate in Afghanistan (see U.S. invasion of Afghanistan: War Casualties). Some 3,000+ Afghan civilians died in the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan.
Amnesty International has described the secret worldwide network of detention facilities as the "gulag of our times". The organization claims that ghost detainees are held indefinitely without charge and without access to lawyers, effectively being extrajudicial prisoners of the United States, and that they have been tortured and even killed, sometimes after extraordinary rendition process.
The term "War on Terrorism" creates a permanent state of exception, according to Giorgio Agamben, which is similar to Carl Schmitt's nazi theories and leads to an invalidation of law. The concept of the "unitary executive," introduced in the public debate by the Bush administration, is to some similar to his writings.
Over 200 U.S soldiers died and more than 500 have been wounded in Afghanistan since the "War on Terrorism" began. In Afghanistan, aid workers, personnel of the new national army, and international observers have also died in the conflict.
The U.S budget surplus has turned into a huge deficit, leaving less for health insurance improvements and other domestic initiatives. Others argue that war is not a cost-effective way of ensuring security against stateless terrorists, and that intelligence and police efforts can also be effective.
Many argue that U.S. oil money indirectly benefits terrorists via states such as Saudi Arabia, and that the U.S.'s unwillingness to break its relationship with such states reflects ulterior motives in the war.
As in the Persian Gulf War, many have argued that the invasion of Afghanistan was intended primarily to stabilize and better control a region crucial to U.S. oil supplies. It is also argued that although the war on Iraq should not be considered part of the war on terror, the supporters of the war on Iraq presented terrorism as the main reason to invade that country. However, many have argued that the real reason for the invasion of Iraq was its oil reserves [23] since Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world[24].
Many argue, from pacifist, antimilitarist or other standpoints, that the violence of bombings and invasions will only provoke further hatred from the Muslim world, and that the poverty and desperation associated with war will furnish terrorist organizations with ample recruits. Pacifists also criticise suicide bombers, jihadists, and anyone else who attacks innocent civilians.
The ongoing "War on Terrorism" with clearly visible casualties but without any major victories on the side of the U.S. may further increase the support for terrorism.
While there have not yet been any permanent positive results from the War on Terror, it has been the reason on many occasions for permanently limiting personal freedom and civil rights.
With the "War on Terrorism" being the main aspect of the U.S. government's policy, many fear that it prevents acting on other important issues as health care, education, prevention of poverty and environmental protection.
Some argue that part of the Administration's plan is to use this to run the country into debt as an excuse to cut funding to programs it does not like such as welfare and medicade, often referred to as "drowning the beast".
In July 2005, the Italian media revealed the existence of the Department of Anti-terrorism Strategic Studies (DSSA), a "parallel police" network composed of two former members of Gladio, NATO's secret "stay-behind" paramilitary organizations. Investigations were opened against approximatively 20 members of the DSSA. The DSSA leaders, who had profited from the 11 March 2004 Madrid train bombings to try to set up their paramilitary network, were put under house arrests.
Human rights abuses like the Abu Ghraib prison abuse, at Guantánamo or the video showing British troops beating up Iraqi protesters have severely damaged the reputation of the Western culture.

Supporters assert that democracy in traditionally authoritarian countries has a transformative power that will add to peace and stability.
Supporters downplay civilian casualties by arguing that many who live near terrorist cells are likely to support them materially, although this would imply that western tax-payers should be considered legitimate targets by those opposing western military action.
Some argue that war could act as a deterrent against terrorists, demonstrating to potential recruits that they would face certain retribution. This argument may hold less water in reference to suicide terrorism, or when terrorists expect to become martyrs, but can be argued to deter such attacks by weakening the logistical base which provides martyrs with explosives and points them toward effective targets.
Some analysts argue that democracy in the Middle East will elevate Islamists, including radicals, who will use democratic institutions to gain power but then implement their autocratic agenda. Democracy can also lead to instabilty. In short, things may get worse before they get better, which may be bad news for the US. Many however believe that in the long run increased democratic governance or the break up of static autocracies will lead to a better outcome than the status quo even if the emerging governments initially oppose U.S. policies. Some furthermore argue that any type of somewhat democratic government would find more common ground with the U.S. than the existing ones even if rapproachment was gradual and difficult.
Supporters note that there have been no attacks since September 11th upon the United States.
Supporters point out that the casualty toll among coalition forces between the wars (less than 2,500) is meager compared to past foreign wars. The death toll in the "War on Terrorism" is almost 200x smaller than that of World War II, and about 50x smaller than Vietnam.
Supporters of the "War on Terrorism" say that just as Ronald Reagan was vehemently opposed by the peace movement and many foreign countries, his policies were arguably the policies that brought down the Soviet Union, and maintain that George W. Bush may make the Middle East free.
Supporters point out that there have been remarkable achievements outside of Afghanistan and Iraq - Libya gave up its nuclear weapons program, saying it was scared after seeing United States action in Iraq, Lebanese protestors drew out much of the Syrian occuption and is making strides toward Democracy, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have held (though questionable) limited elections, and Jordan has recently declared a "War on Terrorism".

Further reading
Richard Clarke, Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror, Free Press; 2004, ISBN 0743260244
American, Interrupted: 14 Months in Iraq by former Army corporal Dan Thompson. Book written by 1st Armored Division soldier while stationed in Iraq from Spring 2003 until July 2004.
Michelle Malkin, In Defense Of Internment: The Case for Racial Profiling in World War II and the War on terror, September, 2004, National Book Network, hardcover, 416 pages, ISBN 0895260514
Steven Emerson (2002), American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us, Free Press; 2003 paperback edition, ISBN 0743234359
the War on terror characterized as World War IV
Lyal S. Sunga, (2002) US Anti-Terrorism Policy and Asia’s Options, in Johannen, Smith and Gomez, (eds.) September 11 & Political Freedoms: Asian Perspectives (Select) 242-264, ISBN 9814022241
Marina Ottoway, et al., Democratic Mirage in the Middle East, Carnegie Endowment for Ethics and International Peace, Policy Brief 20, (October 20, 2002). Internet, available online at: www.ceip.org/files/publicatio...009536v01.html (external - login to view)
Marina Ottoway and Thomas Carothers, Think Again: Middle East Democracy,Foreign Policy (Nov./Dec. 2004). Internet, available online at: www.foreignpolicy.com/story/c...d=2705&print=1 (external - login to view)
Chris Zambelis, The Strategic Implications of Political Liberalization and Democratization in the Middle East, Parameters, (Autumn 2005). Internet, available online at: www.carlisle.army.mil/usawc/P...n/zambelis.htm (external - login to view)
Adnan M. Hayajneh, The U.S. Strategy: Democracy and Internal Stability in the Arab World,Alternatives (Volume 3, No. 2 & 3, Summer/Fall 2004). Internet, available online at: www.alternativesjournal.net/v...ber2/adnan.htm (external - login to view)
Gary Gambill, Jumpstarting Arab Reform: The Bush Administration's Greater Middle East Initiative, Middle East Intelligence Bulletin (Vol. 6, No. 6-7, June/July 2004). Internet, available online at: www.meib.org/articles/0407_me2.htm (external - login to view)
Remarks by the President at the 20th Anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy, United States Chamber of Commerce, Washington, D.C., President Bush Discusses Freedom in Iraq and Middle East, (November 6, 2003). Internet, available online at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/relea...0031106-2.html
Robert Blecher, Free People Will Set the Course of History: Intellectuals, Democracy and American Empire, Middle East Report (March 2003). Internet, available online at: www.merip.org/mero/interventi...er_interv.html (external - login to view)
Robert Fisk, What Does Democracy Really Mean In The Middle East? Whatever The West Decides, The London Independent (August 8, 2005). Internet, available online at: www.informationclearinghouse....rticle9888.htm (external - login to view)
Fawaz Gergez, Is Democracy in the Middle East a Pipedream?,Yale Global Online (April 25, 2005). Internet, available online at: yaleglobal.yale.edu/display.article?id=5622 (external - login to view)

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_on_Terrorism (external - login to view)
So anyone?
Sorry about the long article.
Really interesting article, it kind of has both voices in it and is fair to America and fair to the other side.
Free Thinker
I'd get dinged if I used Wikipedia on a term paper. I'm not sure why, there's some good articles at that site.
I have to agree that it is sad that Wikipedia can't be used in research essays and such at school.

1. Because they are well put together and only a number of them have a bias to them

2. These biased pieces of articles are then often reviewed and accepted or rejected and a new article is put in its place.
I think not
Wikipedia shouldn't be a composition of opinion articles, that is not the point of an encyclopedia.
Dexter Sinister
No Party Affiliation
Quote: Originally Posted by Said1

I'd get dinged if I used Wikipedia on a term paper. I'm not sure why, there's some good articles at that site.

Doesn't make sense to me either, but fortunately I'm not at school anymore so it's not an issue for me. I suspect the real issue is some version of academic respectibility and political correctness. Wikipedia consists of freely contributed articles, every one I've seen has been unattributed, and they're not formally refereed, therefore academia doesn't consider them to be legitimate sources. The notion that some anonymous member of the Great Unwashed might have something useful and interesting (and correct!) to say about a particular subject doesn't sit well with the gatekeepers of the Groves of Academe. Their response is to deny Wikipedia's legitimacy.
Quote: Originally Posted by Jersay

I have to agree that it is sad that Wikipedia can't be used in research essays and such at school.

1. Because they are well put together and only a number of them have a bias to them

2. These biased pieces of articles are then often reviewed and accepted or rejected and a new article is put in its place.

It irritates me as well, especially since a premier British scientific journal( Either Science or Nature) recently published a study showing that Wikipedia was, on average, as unbiased and reliable as any conventional encyclopedia.

You aren't allowed to cite it iin school because your profs are computer illiterate, that's all.
Free Thinker
Quote: Originally Posted by Dexter Sinister

Quote: Originally Posted by Said1

I'd get dinged if I used Wikipedia on a term paper. I'm not sure why, there's some good articles at that site.

Doesn't make sense to me either, but fortunately I'm not at school anymore so it's not an issue for me. I suspect the real issue is some version of academic respectibility and political correctness. Wikipedia consists of freely contributed articles, every one I've seen has been unattributed, and they're not formally refereed, therefore academia doesn't consider them to be legitimate sources. The notion that some anonymous member of the Great Unwashed might have something useful and interesting (and correct!) to say about a particular subject doesn't sit well with the gatekeepers of the Groves of Academe. Their response is to deny Wikipedia's legitimacy.

Actually, the sources are checked and questionable articles need to be defended by their authors. Not that all articles are good, but the point is the sources are checked, stuff just isn't put out there.
Agreed Doryman.
Dexter Sinister
No Party Affiliation
Quote: Originally Posted by Said1

Actually, the sources are checked and questionable articles need to be defended ...

Oh certainly, agreed, and I hope nobody interpreted what I wrote to mean anything else. It's a new paradigm, that's all, and the reactionary forces don't understand or accept it. I didn't mean to suggest I agreed with them, I find it to be a good resource for all sorts of things.

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