12 years on from 9/11, is America any closer to winning the 'War on Terror'?
Following the attack on September 11th, the United States of America initiated a global fight against terror. A large part of its resources were, and are, occupied with monitoring organizations that resort to terror and taking precautions against their activities. But has this struggle really been effective? Or has enmity toward America spread over a wider base? How much longer will the campaign go on? Can talk and measures that turn America into a fearful society provide a solution to terror? And can problems really be resolved in direct proportion to the amount of force used? These are just a few of the questions the U.S. government needs to ask itself.
It is of course obvious that all those who perpetrate and support acts of terror must be punished within the bounds of international law and justice. What is even more important is the adoption of a policy that will totally resolve this problem. The U.S. has thus far largely relied on military and security measures in this struggle against terror and all those elements that support terror. However, we have now reached a point where it is clear that this campaign cannot produce a definitive solution.
One of the main reasons for this is that the U.S. war on terror has – largely – been shaped in the framework of military measures and the requisite supplementary measures to support that campaign in the educational and cultural spheres have not been undertaken. It is wrong to seek to solve terror, a socio-psychological and ideological problem, through military means alone. This both leads to the loss of innocent lives and further nourishes radicalism, and by extension, terrorism. Terrorism can only be completely eliminated through an intellectual campaign that neutralizes the propaganda of terrorist groups, and the military campaign can only be of limited use.
Of course the Western world, and in particular the U.S., must take deterrent precautions against terrorism, and is justified in doing so. However, it must make it clear that these are not aimed at any faith and its members, perhaps particularly - in this case - Islam and Muslims. Rather, these measures must lie in the interests of the Islamic world.
Some ideologues and strategists who make the mistake of regarding Islam as a faith and civilization that is completely "hostile" and who literally encourage a bloody war between the Western and Islamic worlds are in fact simply creating more enemies of the U.S. government. The U.S. government needs to issue rational statements rejecting the scenarios of war between the "West and Islam" in such a way that these are made clear to world public opinion, against those circles who insist on portraying the war on terror as a fight against Islam.
In addition, it is utterly essential that the fight against terrorism be waged within the rules and norms of international law and using as peaceful means as possible. It must not be forgotten that all actions that ignore the law and basic human rights and lead to the loss of civilian lives cast a shadow over this campaign that was initiated on legitimate grounds.
On the other hand, making sure that the moral values of Islam are properly understood and that those who misunderstand Islam and implement it wrongly are forbidden from doing so is actually something that can and must be done by Muslims. The policy that the U.S. needs to adopt on that issue is to support and facilitate a solution that emerges from inside the Islamic world.
The development of a "True Islam", a religion of love, friendship, peace and brotherhood, and the proper understanding of Islamic societies need to be supported. The solution to be applied against radical groups in Islamic countries is not "enforced secularization." On the contrary, such a policy will just cause greater mass reactions. The solution is for the true meaning of Islam to be properly understood. In other words, the spreading of a Muslim model that adopts concepts required by the Qur'an's moral values, such as human rights, democracy, liberty, moral virtue, art, science and beauty, and that offers happiness and the joy of living to all mankind.
The origin of terror to a large extent lies in ignorance and fanaticism, and the solution to it is education. Those who feel sympathy for terrorism need to be told that this is a complete violation of Islam and that, on the contrary, they are actually harming Islam, Muslims and all mankind in this way, and these people need to be educated so as to rid them of their barbarism. U.S. support for such a policy of education will lead to highly positive outcomes.
Long-term cultural solutions must also be developed against the terror that stems from communist, fascist, racist and other ideologies. Materialist and Darwinist thinking today constitute the basis of education in countries all over the world. A mindset that regards Man as an animal in a constant state of conflict and believes he can only progress through conflict and war, represents the basis of all forms of terrorism.
In addition to judicial and police measures to be adopted in the fight against terror, a major educational mobilization needs to be commenced across the world as a whole. One hopes that such measures will help liberating the world from terror and other harsh, savage and bigoted activities because America, with the Judeo-Christian culture it represents, is really the friend of the Muslim world.
When education is separated from religion, and when religion is considered a foible of uneducated people, superstitions and radical ideas can easily flourish. Consequently, people who come up with dubious religious notions which often stand in stark contrast to the religions they claim to represent, can be held in the highest esteem. Education based on an intellectual campaign against those ideologies that justify bloodshed will help rid the world of terrorism and other radical, cruel and violent ideologies.
We must find new ways of dealing with old problems, and we must move into the era of defeating bloodshed and radicalism with science, culture and love. Much as salt dissolves in water, the terrorist mindset melts in the face of scientific discipline. Terrorism and radicalism cannot be defeated by the force of arms, no matter how technologically sophisticated or overwhelming it may be. Terrorism and the spirit which animates it can only be defeated with a thorough intellectual struggle.