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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

The Cornered Beast

Cowardly is a word that has been repeatedly used to describe the terrorists that presently threaten American security.

Please don't misunderstand me - I do not support the actions of the terrorists - but I don't understand how anyone could perceive men born in an impoverished desert where women and children die of starvation and dehydration as cowardly. Our attackers are men who sleep in caves, carry rifles, and who are willing to sacrifice their lives to inhibit the progression of a culture that they view as a disease of moral corruption. These are hardly cowardly people.

This small network of religious extremists has amazingly succeeded in cornering the world superpower. They launched a devastating attack and essentially vanished into the dessert. In the absence of a geographic target, the United States is forced to choose between attacking the associates of the perpetrator, and doing next to nothing. Both options justify the terrorists' actions.

Clearly, it was necessary to respond with force. A passive reaction would have left America open to further attacks. But unfortunately, a military response also encourages further atrocities upon America.

Bombing does not address the causes of the attacks on America. Instead, it can be used to justify the extremist anti-American movement and to encourage further terrorism by demonstrating bin Laden's platform that America is evil.

Sadly, this is one of the similarities the War on Terrorism shares with the War on Drugs. In both cases the successful elimination of one leader provides incentive for another to rise. When we halt one drug dealer, the value of his wares increases, and this feeds the conditions that bred the criminals in the first place.

The same holds true for terrorism. Bin Laden is a powerful icon in the Middle East. His death by the hands of the "infidels" would empower his cause by proving him correct. He would be seen as a pure warrior who gave his life in opposition to evil and therefore moved on to paradise above. His successor would have a greater number of more devoted followers than bin Laden himself did.

Like the War on Drugs, the War on Terrorism also has no clear conclusion. How will we know we have won? Both wars are waged against targets so evasive that we are forced to associate them with nations, such as Columbia. In the terrorist war we have decided that, "we will treat those who harbor terrorists as the terrorists themselves." So we are bombing Afghanistan itself. But after we are done shelling the Taliban, will it be over? Unfortunately not.

Sadly, it would seem as though we are in checkmate. The fall of the Taliban will leave the United States with the burden of rebuilding an impoverished nation. The death of bin Laden will support his cause. The discontinuation of our military action will allow bin Laden to rebuild. And in all cases, terrorism will still exist.

A trapped animal will lash out violently. And if its enemy is out of reach, it is likely to injure itself gnawing and clawing at the bars that constrain it.

The safety of the American people will only be ensured by the death of the anti-American movement. But unfortunately, you can't drop bombs on hate.



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