... Because it Works
I should be asleep, but I can't sleep when the written word calls. Today, is 9/12/09. Eight years and a day past those attacks that will mark the beginning of the downfall of America. (Oh, stop gasping. History has shown that once the barbarians get past the gates the civilization falls. It make take decades or longer, but this will mark the end.) As we remember this day, we have to remember something else: terrorism is used because it works.
You can argue this, and some of you may. The American government understands that it works, which is why we use it, too. The US will never attempt to that, though. Just like the US stance on political prisoners amounts to: The United States does not hold prisoners due to their political beliefs, therefore we do not have political prisoners. The definition of terrorism actually varies, but let's use this one: The term "terrorism" means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant (1) targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.
This definition comes from Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656f(d). It's a fairly good definition even if it leaves out the acts of foreign governments acting openly. No matter, it doesn't take much to see that the United States, openly or not, has engaged in acts of terrorism. Whether it be overthrowing governments (hello, South America) or secretly funding acts of terrorism (hell, Israel) -- which is part of the further definition of terrorism.
These acts are done to instill fear and/or bring about political change ... and again, they work. You would think that with the United States using its own brand of terrorism that it would be better suited to win the war on it, but that's the problem. Terrorism is not a country or an enemy, it's a tactic.
Terrorism is not an ideology. It is not a "thing." It's not a concept. It's an effective tactic. How do you fight a tactic? It's like waging a war on kicks to the balls. "The United States will not stand for kicks to the balls. We will go into countries that support kicks to the balls, where kicks to the balls are hiding, and we will root them out. We will find kicks to the balls and stop them."
The United States, of course, has a history of declaring war on things that aren't really tangible enemies that can be fought. Poverty and drugs are two of those things. Yes, they are tangible, especially the drugs,but the problems they present can't be stopped by "war." It takes cultural shifts and decades of counter programming. The war on poverty never worked, and the war on drugs has flooded our justice system. (Maybe that was the plan after all.) What makes anyone think a war against a tactic can win?
When we start getting honest about these things is when we can start actually changing the minds of those who think terrorism is a good way to reach their end goals. Until that day comes, however, we are fighting a war against something we can never hope to win against. But, hey, if you still think you can win a war against kicks in the balls, you go right ahead. Me? I'm going to bed.