Fighting a war against ourselves

By Eric Ranz

One perhaps overlooked subject discussed on Thursday is another seventh anniversary — The War on Terrorism. What emerged following the attacks on September Eleventh was a national sense of victimhood, which was soon displaced by a desire to forcefully quash terrorism. This desire, however, was confounded by the lack of specific coordinates of the terrorist threat. Where are these terrorists? Who supports their means? What ideology do they espouse? The problem with these questions was not as it would seem–that there was a lack of answers–but rather that there were too many. They are at home, abroad, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, North Korea, and Europe. They are fundamentalists, religious newcomers, old, young, educated, and ignorant. They are propped up by foreign dictators, small political factions, American-backed regimes, oil money. It’s unfortunately clear now, as it should have been then, that we would be fighting a war that was as much about ourselves as it was to the rest of the world.

I ask, what are the results of this war?

On the foreign front, we have fought two conventional wars under the pretense of ending terrorism. One will turn eight in October, and the other turned 5 in March. The elder conflict has turned increasingly bloody in recent months, as the recent deaths have made the war in Afghanistan the bloodiest year yet. The five-year-old left the war on terrorism by transforming from a threat of chemical and biological devastation into a test case of democratic imposition.

The slogan for the domestic front is “freedom isn’t free,” which is no more than the belief that in order to secure our country, we must cut a notch off our civil liberties. Accordingly, we must open up our most personal information to the Homeland Security Complex, reveal our phone records, detain our neighbors, torture our suspected enemies, close our borders, and harass brown citizens, tourists, and friends.

We have allowed our executive to create a judicial category of enemy combatant that is subject neither to rights of US law, nor the Geneva convention. The executive has fought to dissolve the distinction between “interrogation” and torture by supporting the practices of weeks-long sleep deprivation, waterboarding, etc.. We have created secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe and Pakistan and detained and subjected innocent individuals, such as Maher Arar, to torture.

With the war entering its eighth smash-hit year, the only question that lingers is: will the war survive a regime change?