noun \ˈter-ər, ˈte-rər\
: a very strong feeling of fear
: something that causes very strong feelings of fear
: something that is terrifying
: violence that is committed by a person, group, or government in order to frighten people and achieve a political goal
To understand the inescapable irony behind this overused misnomer, it hardly suffices to look to the definitions. It would, indeed, be an incredible feat to declare a war on "a very strong feeling of fear." Unfortunately, that would require the abolishment of the entire process of war, including its definition and the acts described in this definition. This is not what George W. Bush or his administration meant by declaring "war on terror."
On September 20, 2001, Bush thus spoke unto the world, saying, "...Our war on terror begins with al-Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated." You have to wonder if his definition of terror was directed by his own narrow and subjective moral perspective. And although Barack Obama has rarely used the term "war on terror" -- in March 2009 the Defense Department officially changed the name of operations from "Global War on Terror" to "Overseas Contingency Operation" (OCO) -- the strategies and tactics used have remained and become increasingly more brutal (and illegal).
And business is booming. An irrational growth has occurred from the privatization of war with revolving door and pork-barrel politics leaving bills plagued with earmarks and making the business of war a lucrative one. The planners and war capitalists are billionaires. Through targeted assassinations and countless drone strikes, the number of radical fundamentalists has presumably grown since 2001. Whether by accident or not, civilian deaths from drone strikes and targeted assassinations create more insurgency or "enemies." The true test of time has shown that arming death squads of "terrorists against terrorists" and propping up corrupt dictators only creates more corruption and spilled blood. All the while, the media keeps carefully editing the true face of death from war, which becomes a major component in the war itself. Because if we were ever to be shown the limitless numbers of grey corpses -- both limp and stiff -- of the men, women and children who fall victim to the carnage of modern warfare in hi-definition, we'd be hard pressed to find passion for gung-ho war support.
Before we get caught up in a debate about ethical war, we should all take a look back at the sordid history of American terrorism. It seems like it can only be considered terrorism when it's someone else pulling the trigger, when it serves the interests of "national security," and when it benefits the over-consumption of natural resources in the U.S. When the United States commits acts of terrorism, they call it or label it anything other than what it really is: terrorism.