Do any of you remember that series? In BC it was largely shown on the public “Knowledge Network”. I always found it really fascinating to see the original footage. You can actually Buy it on DVD now.
I bring it up because the name reflects what I believe is our current situation. After the end of WWII we could say that there were wars going on in the world, even the Cold War, but it didn’t really affect us personally. This is because we were always seperated either politically, geographically, socially, or mentally from the strife going on. Very rarely did it affect the day-to-day lives of ordinary citizens in North America, Europe and other affluent nations.
As a new threat to the affluent, western world emerged in the form of Islamic extremism our reality of perpetual ignorance slowly changed. The first bombing of the World Trade center was a signal that no longer was simple tyranny and power a motivation to kill and strike terror, but rather, a deep jealousy perhaps, or disgust, or insecurity about the indominable position of power that the Western developed world has over the rest. No longer were thoughts of dominating people the motivating force behind an enemy. Instead it was our own affluence, and success, and excess as a society that was under attack.
The US was the brunt of the first wave of these attacks… first on the WTC, then on the Kobar towers and USS Cole. All were motivated for the same reason, perpetrated by the same people.
On 9/11 the war entered a new phase. No longer was simply the US, as the leader and role model of modern affluence, the target. Yes they again faced the brunt, but the attack was truly international in cause and effect. The modern world was suddenly jolted into the realization that *they* were the targets of these Islamic extremists as well. It was their lifestyle that was under attack. Thus when the US declared it would retaliate against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan the world united and supported that action to this day.
I bring all of this up because I was confronted today on my position on the war in Iraq. I was told “I can’t complain” because my country “didn’t participate” in the war in Iraq.
I believe this person to be taking this view because he is still accustomed to the past where wars were fought in other lands, across the sea, and only affected those directly involved. That is no longer the case. We now see that every action we take has a reaction. After 9.11 we had the bombings in Indonesia which killed 100s of Australians. Why? Because they were young, affluent, and each one symbols of the success of the western world.
The case was made for the Iraq war on the basis of an imminent military threat and a possible threat of our new enemies aquiring weapons from Saddams regime. Whether those assertions were true are now a moot point… what matters was that this was not the proper reaction to our new enemy. This was an old response to a very new, very different problem.
Again, this new World War is not based on power, or a desire to conquer others. Rather, it is based on ideologies and emotion. We have seen that pan out as attacks in Madrid before their election, continued attacks against western governments in SE Asia and Indonesia, continued kidnappings of westerners in Iraq, and most recently, uprising in Thailand.
These are all part of the same war and as such affect us all no matter what our position on a single issue.
The Awakening of the world public to the realities of this war after 9/11 meant they understood what needed to be done in order to rectify it. It was accepted that the gap between the have and have nots in the world must be narrowed. That nagging issues like the Palestinian conflict must be solved and that human rights and freedoms *must* be fought for and enforced equally, rather than simply based on political convenience and opportunity.
While there is a military component to this war that must be fought (ie. the capture of AQ leaders and destruction of other Islamic extremist infrastructure) the meat of the battle must be an emotional and ideological one. That is why the Iraq war in its’ current form, is actually having the opposite effect. It is strengthening our enemy not only because we are providing them, literally, with ammunition but also because emotionally we are turning people against us and dividing our own ranks. We are giving reason, motivation to our enemies and we are dividing ourselves into very distinct, very hostil camps.
As in the first two World Wars, the only way to win this war is to show a united front. But the mechanism is very different. We cannot win it militarily. We must win it emotionally. We must create an environment that will not alienate groups. We must prevent jealousy, distrust and anger.
That is why I feel I can complain about the situation in Iraq. Because it is part of this new war, a war that I must deal with and that we all must find a way to bring to a good conclusion.
As with any war, there is an ebb and flow. We’ve recently had set backs, but I believe there is an opportunity now to change the course.
More on that in another article.