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War Without End

7.20.2005

I am struck by the coherency of John Gray's contribution to the newStatesman this week on the topic of the London Bombings and the global war on terror. His calm and assured views chime with my own take on recent events, that a post-modern disconnect exists whereby appearance is simply taken as reality. Thus the whole war by media in Afghanistan, Iraq and more opaquely the GWOT.
His broad point is that by entertaining such perception as reality we seek to have (or offer in the case of politicians) a secure and stable society and state. This situation is practically impossible and in the rush to assuage the human desire for certainty and security, not least in the U.S., we have entered into an unwinnable war in the traditional sense.
As I have argued over the past few days (here and here), there is something surreal about taking society to war with terror. It ends up rotting all we believe in until we are unsure where to turn. As Gray argues;

"We seem to have lost the art of living in an intractable world, so we contrive an alternative reality in which insoluble problems are conjured away by displays of goodwill."

It is from this trend that emerges the US/UK response to terror with overt force and attempts to 'stamp out' terror wherever it may be. While such attempts may be justified, the broader strategic policy of removing from the world in so far as possible the threat of global terrorism lies unattended.
I think it is fair for all on the left to support calls for a strategic review of the war on terror. I don't think it will get anywhere but it will help us all to face up to the fact that we cannot simply remove terror as one would a boil. Terror is more like a burgeoning young sapling stretching its roots deep into the ground. We need to fight in a coherent and clearsighted manner against those who harbour support for extremism and encourage liberty for all in the pursuit of critiques of terror ideologies. The fact is no solution will work 100% some will work well, others will work badly.
Humans naturally desire to feel secure, however this war/struggle should be waged in the full knowledge that its success is likely to be localised and protracted. We may never feel safe nor secure again, nor may moderate Muslims among us. The power of unattainable expectations is that it can exacerbate an already bad disconnect between appearance and reality until the only route to what we desire is simply being lied to. A war on terror can be argues for, a war on reality is not as easy to defend. We should not be afraid to speak out against double standards or moral equivalence nor condemn terror, we should be aware of how difficult and unlikely a total solution is to attain.
RR

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  1. Anonymous Anonymous | 12:46 a.m. |  

    America is an infant (emerging) democracy ... just like post-Catholic/Celtic-Tiger Ireland; it has a lot of growing-up to do.... and this maturing is very difficult, and painful, when the child is a "Motherless Child", as opposed to loved and cherished from birth. The journey from childhood to adulthood is fraught with danger for Motherless Children, because they are disconnected from their roots and therefore, ultimately, from Mother Nature herself - which is what hyper-materialism is all about.

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