There is no terrorist nation 

The current election circus has brought to light some fundamental misunderstandings about terrorism. Not only do these misunderstandings result in debate and rhetoric based on faulty premises, they mislead the nation and the world into believing that a "war on terror" can be fought and won.

First of all, it seems that Al Quaeda has become synonymous with terrorism, which is hardly accurate. There are terrorist organizations throughout the world, including Hamas in Israel, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Ireland, the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) in the U.S.A. (which has connections to PETA, incidentally), the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, etc. (I recommend a Google search on any of these organizations with which you were not previously familiar.)

Second, there seems to be a belief that terrorists are members of some kind of terror nation. I don't mean that people believe that there is some Terroristan from which all terror stems, but there is this belief that if we can just kill all the terrorists then there will be no more terrorism. This is patently absurd. Terrorists are ordinary people who find themselves in an unacceptable position and use terror as a way to fight for a better life. Whether they are justified, or "right," or heroes, or positive in any way is partly a matter of perspective and partly a big maybe that depends very much on the specific circumstances.

There is a sort of spectrum of methods of fighting the prevailing system of government and authority, and where particular activities lie on that spectrum is largely a matter of its magnitude and level of success. On one end of the spectrum is the troublemaker, people like John Dillinger (who burned mortgage records when he robbed banks during the Depression, which freed many people from financial ruin). On the other end are successful revolutionaries, like the French or Russian revolutions. Somewhere in between lie terrorism, guerilla warfare, and the like.

Whether a particular group's actions are positive or negative has a lot to do with perspective. To the British, the Boston Tea Party was a terrorist act. To many people in Britain's American colonies, it was an act of revolution. It isn't so far-fetched to paint the Iraqi insurgents as revolutionaries fighting off imperial colonialism, yet they are called terrorists.

To be clear, I'm not saying that blowing things up and killing people is to be praised. I want to point out, however, that terrorism and guerilla warfare are tools for fighting government and authority that have been used throughout history. The U.S.A. has even funded "terrorists" when it seemed to suit our purposes, i.e. they were terrorizing our enemies. Particularly egregious is the United States' support for Osama Bin Laden when he was terrorizing the Soviets in Afghanistan.

The U.S. government does need to fight terrorism, but largely because it is the prevailing system of government and authority. Presumably, the citizens of the United States like that prevailing system (at least, they like it more than the alternatives), and are therefore in favor of fighting terrorism. Nonetheless, it is not a war and there is no front to which we can send troops. Each nation must protect itself. Each nation must be responsible for its homeland security. And nations must cooperate to defuse terrorist plans before they come to fruition. The reason we can't "win the war on terror" is because it is not a war. We need intelligence, law enforcement, and diplomacy to protect ourselves, not soldiers and weapons.

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