Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Definition of War

Merriam-Webster defines war as:

1 a (1) : a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations (2) : a period of such armed conflict (3) : STATE OF WAR b : the art or science of warfare c (1) obsolete : weapons and equipment for war (2) archaic : soldiers armed and equipped for war; 2 a : a state of hostility, conflict, or antagonism b : a struggle or competition between opposing forces or for a particular end.

I have heard various people, politicians, and talk-show hosts maintain that the United States is not in a state of war, whether it was against Saddam's Iraq or the threat of al-Quada. According to the definition above, they are technically correct. However, I don't think that the people affected by September 11, 2001 would agree with that kind of logic.

The fact is that a terrorist organization hijacked 4 planes, crashing them into buildings occupied by ordinary citizens, our military headquarters, and possibly the seat of our government. Their aim was to cause as many casualties as possible, and create chaos within our government and financial institutions. Another intent of their actions was to inconvenience every citizen that they did not kill by interupting the airlines, and increasing the security measures that were implemented after these attacks.

There is no doubt in my mind that the United States and/or the Western world is in a state of war with a movement that has no country in which to call home (although there are countries that support them). The definition that Merriam-Webster uses does not adequately describe the state of conflict that the modern world finds itself in. War is traditionally fought between two or more nations - today's war is now being fought between nations and groups of terrorists who are nothing more than thugs and hate groups.

These terrorists range from disgruntled political groups to religious zealots (and I think some of them are a little of both). Hezbollah and Hamas have the mission statement to distroy Israel. I understand that al-Qaeda was originally started by bin Laden to protest the Saudi kingdom's close ties with the United States, and now supposedly has added a "religious" angle to strike against the American infidels. Radical Islamic countries (like Iran) & clerics stir up their people into religious fervors to reclaim Islamic lands and to turn the world into one of where Islamic law prevails.

There is more to the struggle against these groups than just 9/11. The United States has been attacked before by these groups. The attack on the Marine barracks and US Embassy in Beruit in 1983 has been linked to Hezbollah. The bombings of the USS Cole and other embassies, nightclubs of where US servicemen and civilians gather, and other various acts of terror not reported (because they are not spectacular enough for the evening news) are just scratching the surface of the danger and horror these groups represent.

No, this isn't a war by the dictionary definition - this is a battle, a fight to the finish, one of where it's either going to be us or them that will prevail. If they win, think of the consequences of losing all the freedoms that we enjoy in this country - freedom of speech, of religion, of dress (within reason), of trial by a jury of our peers, and other rights guaranteed by the Constitution and Bill of Rights. If we win, we keep those freedoms.

Because of this struggle to keep our way of life guaranteed by the principles that this country is founded upon, I believe that the definition of war should include the conflicts between nations (governments) and terrorist groups. This is a battle for survival, is it not? That's usually what wars are ultimately fought for - the loser loses their country and/or way of life.

And now something to ponder...

The fifth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is less than two weeks away. Is the world a safer place? In some respects I think so. Plots have been foiled, but attacks have also been carried out against other countries. Thankfully, no other attacks have occurred here in the United States, and I pray that our law enforcement & intelligence agencies keep up their excellent work. But that is no consolation to the thousands of victims of these groups.

Take time to pause & reflect during the time leading up to 9/11, and count your blessings that we live in the greatest country on Earth, despite it's faults. We enjoy rights and freedoms that no other country even dares to grant its citizens. We enjoy standards of living that even most of our poor would be the wealthy in other countries. We have the opportunities, if we take the risks, to be able to succeed (or fail) through hard work, perseverance, and sometimes, luck. For the most part, our medical system can't be beat. So the next time you want to grouse & bitch about this country as a whole, remember the previous statements, and thank God that you live here instead of there. Because if you lived there, you wouldn't be reading this, and that's why we must win the battle (or the war) against terrorism.

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