War on Terror still goes on

By Dan Streib

In Somalia, another top al-Qaida operative is dead. In Syria, a nuclear reactor is destroyed. The former event was caused by an effective U.S. airstrike. The latter was carried out by Israeli bombing. Two nations, two separate events. Or so it would seem.

In reality, events such as these are closely linked. And yes, this connection goes far beyond the close alliance America and Israel enjoy. The association that both of these occurrences share is that they are both a part of a broader conflict. The United States formally recognized this battle six and a half years ago as the War on Terror.

In order to understand how these seemingly disparate incidents are a part of a larger whole, one has to understand what the War on Terrorism actually is.

This statement of “war” is merely a formal recognition of a longer ideological struggle that extreme fringe groups of Muslim extremists have been waging against us and others for some time now. These groups view Western strength and power as a huge threat. Some of these groups have finally determined to bring the West to its knees.

The classic example is al-Qaida itself: In 1997, Osama bin Laden declared war against America and stated his desire to destroy it using whatever means possible. He even explicitly mentioned using weapons of mass destruction against us.

So, in wanting to combat all groups like this after 9/11, we decided to fight back. To not offend the millions of peaceful Muslims, we declined to mention Islamic extremism in the name of our struggle. Because terrorism was the main tool the extremists used against us, we called our fight, “The War on Terrorism.”

So we’re reacting against a threat, but how much of a threat are these terrorists? How do acts of terrorism help their goal to bring down the West? Well, such acts obviously show strength to the Muslim world.

If they can attack us without facing retaliation, they will be called heroes and viewed as strong and mighty. They then might be able to negotiate for the WMD they so desperately desire. Or a Muslim government might aid them to increase its domestic popularity. Another scary prospect is that terrorists could take over home governments and employ national resources to get what they need.

Think that last point sounds farfetched? Then you’d be in the same boat as all of those who thought it farfetched that groups of misguided Marxist terrorists would one day take power in many countries. These communists spoke of worldwide revolution, and once they had a power base, they tried to follow through on their goals.

The big difference is that the current crop of extremists are less hesitant to destroy civilization as we know it than the communists. They scored their biggest hit on Sept. 11, 2001. So instead of mistakenly thinking peace was the answer once again (after watching Kenya and the U.S.S. Cole), we retaliated in Afghanistan.

In continuing to fight the war, we have made mistakes. But what is really important for the future of our nation is the current status of the fight. Well, let’s take a look at what’s currently happening in the world, shall we?

We don’t want there to be unstable regimes in the Middle East where terrorist groups can take root. Thus, we continue to fight for stability in Iraq.

We don’t want instability in regions where troops loyal to terrorist-supporting regimes still fight. Thus, we keep battling in Afghanistan.

We don’t want the extremist groups to get WMD. Logically, we don’t want anti-Western rogue nations with grudges to settle to get them either – if any nation would share weapons with terrorists, those types would. Israel helped us in that regard by destroying a Syrian nuclear reactor that was built by the North Koreans.

Lastly, we want to hunt down every last al-Qaida operative (current and former) and annihilate them. That’s not just revenge. That’s called safeguarding the future. We did this in Somalia.

One can see that these events are not only part of the War on Terror, but rather, they are its crucial parts.

In an election year, it’s terribly important we remember to place events such as these in the proper context. Otherwise, our foreign policy and our safety will once again be in jeopardy.

Dan is a sophomore in political science. James Kenneth.