Why the War on Terror isn’t

The “War on Terror” is a farce. It’s a marketing ploy, designed to get people fired up and inspired. But when you really evaluate it, it means nothing.

Let me be clear. Terrorism is evil, and should not be tolerated. We shouldn’t negotiate with terrorists and we shouldn’t hesitate to hunt them down and bring them to justice.

That being said, we’re not fighting a “war on terror” any more than we’re fighting a war on drugs or a war on poverty. A war is something that can be won or lost, but we can never truly defeat terrorism. That’s sad, and hardly hopeful or inspiring, but the reality is that terrorism will always be a part of an information-driven society. The only way to stop terrorism is to abolish information technology, because terrorism is fueled by fear, and specifically the magnification of fear that mass media enables. We can work hard to make sure that terrorism isn’t tolerated and we can work on our intelligence efforts to make sure that we know about it and stop it before it happens. But we’ll never truly eradicate terrorism, just like we’ll never eradicate poverty or drug use.

The sad thing about this truth is that the lie that these efforts are “wars” will undermine the very progress that we make. We’ll pour trillions of dollars into them and while we will see results, because we’ve launched them under the pretense of fighting a war that can be won or lost, people will eventually lose heart and demand more progress. They don’t want to be mired in a “war” forever with no victory in sight. They want to see that the war is won.

But it can’t be.