An Argument for the Cessation of the War on Terror | Teen Ink

An Argument for the Cessation of the War on Terror

February 25, 2015
By Roseatta BRONZE, Merritt Island, Florida
Roseatta BRONZE, Merritt Island, Florida
4 articles 12 photos 15 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If you can't dazzle them with your brilliance, baffle them with your bullcrap"~ Russ

The war on terror: The American led, propaganda driven destruction of lives and the cultivation of nationwide prejudice and paranoia. This so-called war against terror condones acts of heinous violence and religious and racial discrimination, and will continue to propagate disastrous effects the longer it is allowed to occur. The war on terror’s  impact on the United States is noticeable with each passing day: the infringement of civil liberties, the unnecessary enforcement of wartime laws, and it’s affect on the relationship between the government and its people.. It is the culmination of these current issues that will create an undesirable future should the U.S continue with these actions.


When Bush announced the beginning of the war on terror, he effectively plunged the nation into a wartime state against an ambiguous enemy and uncertain grounds. Bush claimed in 2001 that “our war on terror will be much broader than the battlefields and beachheads of the past. The war will be fought wherever terrorists hide, or run, or plan,” which provided the government with an alarmingly vast enemy to engage against. This declaration of war has allowed since then for the government to waver in between wartime laws and peacetime law enforcement whenever convenient, violating the safety and protection of U.S citizens and creating a culture of fear. During wartime, law enforcement is flexible and harsh. People considered ‘enemy combatants’ may be shot without warning, if they are not incapacitated or trying to surrender. These same people can be taken into custody without trial until the end of the conflict.


Fortunately in the past these rules have been regulated in regard to the intensity of the violence instigated, but the war on terror does not fit the guidelines previously established yet wartime rules are applied. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) defines a time when wartime rules can be applied as having regular violent armed clashes, taking into consideration the degree to which the opposition is organized.


The war on terror does not necessarily fit these vague conditions, but the political connotations of Al-Qaeda's attack on the World Trade Center drove the Bush administration to take leave of the standard guidelines and declare a wartime state, thus allowing for the government to take advantage of the leeway allowed by wartime law. Since this occurrence, there has been no end to the civilian casualties and injustices protected by the militaristic law. In the case of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, who was arrested on charges of credit card fraud and should’ve been tried in federal court, the government classified him as an enemy combatant on the basis of his relation to another man convicted on terrorism charges and detained him in military custody for eight years without charges. Another instance, Jose Padilla, an American citizen, was arrested on suspicion of plotting a bomb attack, and was designated an enemy combatant. He was denied a trial in civilian court and detained in military custody for three and a half years. 


The government wields wartime laws to bypass injustices which would otherwise prevent them from detaining civilians and subjecting them to military confinement, using the war on terror to justify instances such as the cases of al-Marri and Padilla. Acts such as these have since then been supported and condoned by the passage of legislation created under the pretense of striking at terrorism. Among the legislation passed supporting the violation of civil liberties is the USA PATRIOT Act, first passed in October of 2001 as a direct response to Bush’s declaration. The Act is broken down into ten titles, each of which provide measures for the government to take in the prevention of acts of terror. The culmination of these titles creates legislation which lowers the government’s burden of proof when engaging in criminal investigations, allows for increased surveillance, and for warrantless searches to be conducted that cannot be rejected by a judge if possible terrorism is suspected. These allowances, far from providing the safety and security proponents of the war on terror claim they do, have instead put wrongly accused in military detainment to suffer horrendous treatment and dehumanization. One such victim was Mohammed Akhtiar, who became a suspect under the scant fabricated evidence supposedly leaked by an acquaintance who wished him ill. The provisions of the PATRIOT Act made it possible for Akhtiar’s innocence to be ignored, and for him to be held without appropriate proof or suspicion of wrongdoing, resulting in three years of imprisonment, beatings, and ruthless interrogation.


As well as the grossly over exuberant application of wartime laws, the U.S twists the provisions of the PATRIOT Act and the nation’s state of war to serve other purposes: namely the crack down on other criminal activity that would ordinarily fall under ordinary law enforcement. The only time that wartime laws should ever be evoked is during times of war against those whom we are at war with, therefore generic criminal activity and drug trafficking should never fall under the umbrella of wartime penalties. As they do not relate directly to terrorism and the battle against it thereof, nor should the provisions of the PATRIOT Act apply to criminal cases. The United States is taking advantage of the PATRIOT Act’s anti racketeering laws to crack down on related crimes in a blatant overuse of power that’s disguised under the noise of the war on terror.


The proponents of this fight condemn acts of militant terror while engaging in a version of it themselves. The U.S military, safely ensconced in  the protection of the PATRIOT Act and the Extraordinary Rendition Program detained- often violently- hundreds of Afghans without probable cause and justification, while denying them all but a few legal rights and subverting Uniform Code of Military Justice in allowance. These actions do not only impact those directly involved, nor the entire nation, but the entire world. U.S citizens grow accustomed to this constant war against terror- more specifically how it applies to the Middle East and the government’s perpetuation of stereotypes concerning terrorism. The U.S uses the war on terror as a propaganda tool to incite patriotism and demonize those who don’t fit the American ideal, normalizing the rampant violence committed against suspected terrorists in acts all sanctioned by the law. People trust what the government says, and the government tells us that utilizing militant law against all threats is a point of pride.


For the past fourteen years the United States has engaged in prolific military use, stretching and rewriting the confines of the law to sanction abominable acts against other human beings. War rhetoric guides legislation to the point where civil liberties are void in suspects of terrorism and citizens may be considered enemy combatants and treated as such. This has birthed such an age of violence and fear that it’s become imperative that the United States remove itself from the war on terror.

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