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The Logic of War

by Francisco Frias Monday, Mar. 31, 2003 at 8:42 AM

This is an essay which discusses the goal of reducing terrorism in the context of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Amidst the fog of war, we seem to have forgotten why we are fighting. Or why we should be fighting. That we’re fighting for the freedom of the Iraqi people sounds...strange. Our actions as a country have contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis through the economic sanctions. We have never expressed a desire to liberate the Turkish Kurds, but it concerns us how Saddam treats the Iraqi Kurds. As a country we veto resolutions in the U.N. that denounce Israeli aggression against Palestinians. Apart from this, nobody in their right mind would suggest that we invade a country 10,000 miles away because they have a tyrant for a ruler, and do this against international law and the will of the world.



The crux of the issue is terrorism. This is the common ground between those who are pro-war and those who are anti-war. Efforts that would reduce terrorism aimed at America would have the broad support of virtually all Americans.

The reason why we should be fighting a war is because we believe that it would reduce or eliminate terrorism aimed at America. Interestingly, the government is not selling this war on these grounds. It constantly brings up the humanitarian angle. The operation is named Iraqi Freedom. Saddam is a tyrant. He has gassed his own people. It is the most oppressive regime on the planet. We are liberating the Iraqi people.

What this suggests is that Americans don’t believe this war is actually going to reduce terrorism aimed at America. Or perhaps they have not thought about it, much. This is the ostensible reason for the war. Saddam has weapons of mass destruction and he might pass them off to terrorists. In the absence of evidence to substantiate belief, the humanitarian angle seems to provide the justification needed for the war.

I am not saying that humanitarian goals are not legitimate, but I am saying that there are much more effective ways to achieve humanitarian goals, than war.



There is an essential weakness in the logic of starting a war whose object is regime change, due to possession of chemical weapons, in order to reduce terrorism.

Terrorists don’t need Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons to wreak terror and havoc upon populations. Al-Qaeda terrorists flew a plane into the World Trade Center. Timothy McVeigh parked a van next to a building and blew it up. Recently, a disturbed man started a fire in a South Korean subway train that killed 97 people. As has been recently demonstrated, the suicide car bomber is an expeditious option as well. A few years ago, a religious cult unleashed a chemical attack in a Tokyo subway that resulted in several deaths. They didn’t get their chemical weapons from Saddam. The knowledge of how to make them has been around since the World Wars. It’s possible for a terrorist to get the chemicals from the U.S. itself. Which is where Saddam got his from. If people are motivated and inspired enough, they will find ways to express themselves through terrorism.

We can approach the fight against terrorism from a couple of different angles. One is to address the causes of terrorism. The other is to pursue the terrorists, capture them, and eliminate them. We have failed to address the causes. In fact, right now we are in the midst of a cause of terrorism which, ironically, we are ostensibly carrying out with the purpose of reducing terrorism. The flaw of only pursuing the perpetrators and not addressing the causes is that in order to be successful, we would have to wipe out the entire Arab race. After that, there would still be other people committing acts of terrorism.

The U.S. needs the cooperation of other countries to be successful in the fight against terrorism. If anti-American sentiment is widespread, people who may commit acts of terrorism will be able to camouflage themselves more effectively. Furthermore, if literally billions of people do not accept a war as legitimate, the violent repercussions which may result will haunt us. Judging from the Iraqi resistance and the anger of the Arab street, after the U.S. wins the war, it’s probable that they'll attack the ships that carry the oil destined for our shores. I believe this terrorism will infiltrate our society. However, our actions as expressed through our country, can determine whether we dive headlong into a downward spiral of violence, terrorism, revenge, hatred, pain, and misery; or we solve this problem in a rational, logical, life-sustaining, life-enhancing manner.

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