It seems obvious to me that the USA is losing the war on terrorism because, as much as governments may like to think so, you can’t wage a winning war on ideas that spread like a disease. Conducting a shooting war on terrorism is about absurd as randomly chopping off limbs to cure a tooth ache or carpet bombing the north pole to kill Santa Claus. As an aside even more amusing is when people talk about a “War on Terror”. It makes me wonder what the bogeyman and Alfred Hitchcock ever did that was so bad.
Being serious now. Although many people will argue that the USA is fighting terrorism and has hamstrung the terrorist groups by destroying training camps and killing or arresting its members, the United States is not fighting terrorism or terrorists. The USA is just fighting the terrorist’s money supply. Every time the USA destroys a weapons cache or shuts down a fake charity they make it a little harder for terrorists to kill and destroy, but it does not remove the root causes of terrorism nor does it stop their ideas from spreading like smallpox. There is one very important thing to remember, it is far easier to buy bleach and fertilizer than it is to find someone who is willing to use it on civilians. The United States can imprison terrorists, force them into hiding, or kill them, but the ideas and injustices that spawn terrorism continues to spread. All killing them does is turn them into martyrs which just encourages others to hate the USA even more and creating cycles within cycles of violence. So while the USA is making it a little harder for terrorists to terrorize, it is not stopping the terrorists nor their ideas.
A real war on terrorism can not be fought with guns and bombs. It must be fought entirely in the marketplace of ideas. To borrow a well-worn slogan, the USA must win the hearts and minds of those whom terrorists rely on for support. If the USA can convince the poor and downtrodden, who make up the majority of terrorist fodder, that the USA is not the “great evil” and is not the master of their repression, then there will be no need for a War on Terrorism by any name.
However, this leads us back to the original question. Is the USA winning the War on Terrorism as the majority of people define it? Yes and No. If we neglect the difficulties in Iraq and Afghanistan as parts of other wars than it is a resounding Yes. Since the so called War on Terror was declared there have been no major terrorist attacks on an USA holding, the majority of the Al-Qa’ida leadership has been captured or killed, and many terrorist groups are losing support.
But this is only half the battle. While there have been many improvements the real causes of terrorism have never been scrutinized — let alone remedied. For example, many people don’t understand how Saudi Arabians can hate us when we pour so much oil money into their country; however, what they don’t realize is that the Saudi government is a totalitarian regime which brutally oppresses its people. So while the American government has for generations backed the oppressive and backward Saudi government, the hate the Saudi people have for the USA has continued to grow. The American habit of propping up governments that are friendly to the US has caused the USA more problems than anything else in the middle east.
So how would we win a real war on terrorism? Simple the USA needs to stop helping governments and groups paint us as a great evil, they need to stop propping up totalitarian regimes because they benefit the USA, and the USA needs to stop trying to be the world’s disciplinarian punishing the people in countries where the government opposes the USA and instead, if anything, be the world’s kindly Uncle who rewards people for the good they do rather than punishing them for the bad.