Understanding the War on Terror 3rd Edition by Patrick Coaty
Terrorism is not a matter characterized by present times. The vice, which has no legal binding has been around since the past affecting every political system in the world. However, terrorism is not based on bombs and other explosive ammunition: it is also based on the rebellious activities individuals take to voice out their distress with the current governments. Such protests force governments to label them as terrorists hence creating conflict between the rebels and the government. Thus, it is important to analyze the validation for the war on terror by evaluating past incidences that characterize terrorism.
Terrorism has been accredited because of power imbalances. This is evidenced by the French Revolution, which saw the overthrow of the monarchy from power resulting into a democratic system. Moreover, the revolution sparked the need to overthrow monarchial rule in Europe. The Bolshevik Uprising was also deemed terrorist since it ousted aristocratic rule in Russia (Coaty, 84). However, both revolutions implied the murder of innocent civilians related to the royal families hence deeming the revolutions as terrorist. Moreover, the international community defines terrorism as violent acts carried out against innocent civilians hence surmising that the uprisings advocated for terrorism.
Terrorism is also associated with the First and the Second World War. This is characterized by the various injustices carried out in Europe. The Holocaust was one of the historical events that indicated the height of terrorism. Close to 800000 Jews were massacred by the Nazi under the leadership of the German, Adolf Hitler, because of the negative feelings delved towards the Treaty of Versailles, which accused Germany as the instigator of the war. The Vietnam War also characterized terrorism. At first, the Vietnamese sought independence from their French colonialists but led to more division among the locals on political terms thus leading to the Cold War. The war was an exploitative measure by the United States to control communism. However, in doing so, the country experienced massive violent attacks that led to the deaths of innocent civilians, which also affected neighboring nations (Coaty, 240).
The “War on Terror” is a term used to describe the military campaign instigated by the United States and supported by its allies such as the United Kingdom, France, and Germany among others. The term was used by the Bush administration to refer to the war on Iraq especially after the attacks on September 11 on the World Trade Center in New York. Ever since, the Bush administration engaged in an invasion of Iraq and bolstered the occupation of Afghanistan. These two countries were known supporters of the terrorist organization, al-Qaeda that had claimed responsibility for the various acts of terrorism around the world. The activities of the Bush administration raised questions over the legality of the war and the premise on which this war was based (Lansford, Watson and Covarrubias, 23).
From the end of the eighteenth century, monarchies across were overthrown in a spate of violent revolutions that sought to correct the imbalance of power. The French Revolution is such an example. The revolutionaries took over power from the royal family and descended on the French nobility, executing them in response to the oppression meted on them. This was the beginning of the abolition of monarchical rule in Europe (Lansford, Watson and Covarrubias, 101). These acts, although orchestrated by popular movements in the name of the public, were terrorist acts as the victims included the innocent women and children affiliated to the rulers of these two empires. Blanket application of death sentences to the innocent is one of the hallmarks of terrorist acts.
After the end of the First World War, Germany was unfairly accused of instigating the war and the burden of the war reparations fell on Germany. Germany was not part of the Treaty of Versailles that came to this conclusion. The negative feelings associated with this treaty, and the loss of territory, led to the affiliation of most Germans with the Nazis as Hitler was the first politician to speak out against the injustice of the treaties following the end of the war. This atmosphere created by the alienation of the international community from Germany set the stage for the formation of a polarized Weimar Republic that led to the human injustices characteristic of the Nazi reign. The initial loss of territory spurred Germany’s occupation of Poland that in turn led to the World War II. During the occupation, the Nazi carried out systematic executions of Jews in an event known as the holocaust. The chain of events that led the manifestation of this hatred stem from the perceived injustices committed in the aftermath of the first war (Lansford, Watson and Covarrubias, 135).
The end of World War II brought political divisions among some groups around the world. The world was thus divided into socialists/communists and capitalists. Korea pitted itself into this war based on political and ideological differences. The division arose as an outcome of the polarized war that pitted the US and its allies on one side with the Soviet Union representing the socialists. Korea was thus divided with the north as communists and the south supporting democracy and capitalism. The wars instigated for the purposes of political subjugation of one faction by another are a classic example of the different manner acts of terrorism are manifested (Lansford, Watson and Covarrubias, 169).
The war in Vietnam was a liberative effort on the part of the Vietnamese, from colonial subjugation by western powers like France. Further division among the Vietnamese on political lines saw the escalation of the Cold War with the north receiving support from communist allies and the south from the US and other non-communist countries. The US was heavily involved in the Vietnam War considering the large number of resources and soldiers deployed in the war-torn country. Both sides of the Cold War were involved to ensure that neither profited from the political division of the country to sway it to their side. The US was particularly concerned about the spread of communism to the south, thus the war served to contain the spread. The war finally ended when a treaty was signed twenty years after its commencement (Lansford, Watson and Covarrubias, 207).
Al-Qaeda is the single largest terrorist group with a worldwide reach. The inception of this group is attributable to the association of Osama bin Laden and other Islamist groups around 1988. The global organization calls for Jihad against the west and Israel sympathizers. It was formed because of the western interference in matters involving the Middle East. The government established by Taliban had ties to the Afghan fighters in the war against the Russian invasion. These fighters were loyal to the Taliban, and they influenced the conscription of more youth into al-Qaeda. The organization was funded by wealthy Arabs and bin Laden’s personal fortune (Lansford, Watson and Covarrubias, 67).
Throughout history, the wars fought were based on a difference in ideologies and the perceived enemies were targeted for elimination as a form of cleansing to ensure prosperity. From the French Revolution that eliminated the nobility as the scourge of the working class to Hitler’s Auschwitz that targeted the “eternal Jew”, these acts of terrorism seek to find solutions to problems that are usually heaped on others. The perpetrators of acts of terrorism see no part played by them on the events that led to that undesirable situation. The US has a policy of helping others in wartime. This benevolence has turned out to be blight as the aid given to the Afghanis provided them with the means to rise up against the west, specifically the US. Al-Qaeda turned its frustration with the political state of the Arab region and blamed the US for its state of affairs (Lansford, Watson and Covarrubias, 97).
Acts of terrorism are committed to innocent civilians. There are no terms of war since the attacks are directed towards unsuspecting and unarmed people not part to the disagreements that might have led to the war. The common unifying factor is the presumption of common good that is served by the wanton waste of human life. The wars instigated may have led to better living conditions of the generations that came like in the French Revolution. Some have been driven by the extinction of a certain race as happened during the holocaust. Liberation has been cited in history as the most common cause for these wars, but to no known price. The human life lost in the process fails to justify the war. The preventative war raged against al-Qaeda, and the Gulf region has failed to provide sufficient validation for the deaths of innocent civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq. History has proved that as long as ideologies differ, intolerance reigns supreme and the innocent by-standers lose out. Therefore, the implications of the war on terror could end up heightening tensions between the United States and the Middle Eastern countries. Fear and crisis are the main products that will lead to an increase of mass terrorist activities that could possibly see the rise of another world war.
Coaty, Patrick C. Understanding the War on Terror. Dubuque: Kendall Hunt Pub. Co, 2012. Print.
Lansford, Tom, Robert P. Watson, and Jack Covarrubias. America‘s War on Terror. Farnham, England: Ashgate, 2009. Print.