Gas Week

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“War on terror” is a phrase that helps elevate radicals’ stature, wins recruits; abandon it, urges academic

Posted by gasweek on 21 September, 2007

The million-dollar fencing erected in Sydney — cutting the city in two as security tightened for the world leaders at APEC — was the latest symbol of the way our world had changed in the six years since New York’s Twin Towers fell, wrote Stephen Alomes in The Age (4/9/2007, p. 11). Iraq war a honey pot attracting terrorists: Too often language generated results contrary to those intended, wrote Alomes. By giving privilege to a concept (terror) over humans (soldiers, insurgents, terrorists, civilians), the horrific reality of the impact of war on the ground was masked and the original aims of war were eroded. “Iraq has become a mess: a honey pot attracting terrorists as well as engulfing the country in a civil war between Sunnis and Shiites, insurgent opposition to the Western invaders and an outbreak of violent crime (far more Iraqis are kidnapped than Westerners). The war has killed up to 600,000 Iraqis, several thousand coalition troops and increased violence, munitions and aggressive talk in nearby states, including Iran and Lebanon,” Alomes wrote.

Counterproductive rhetoric: The “war on terror” had become even more counter­productive, argued Alomes. “In her article ‘A war that cannot be won’ in the Chatham House review The World Today, Dr Louise Richardson has argued that ‘for the US to declare war on a bunch of radical extremists elev­ates their stature in a way they could have only imagined. It encourages potential recruits which in turn wins them more followers. It hands them the renown they are trying to attain.’ She argues that when rede­fined by the US as ‘the global war on terror’, it becomes ‘a nebulous concept. Terror, like fear, is an emotion, so expecting to win a war on an emotion is ambitious indeed.’ The ‘point of any conflict is to deny the adversary the objectives he seeks’, but this error in language guarantees them their objectives. The ‘war on terror’ is a phrase, a concept, an exaggerated and hyped idea that needs to be abandoned,” wrote Alomes.

Reference: Associate Professor Stephen Alomes teaches Australian studies at Deakin University.

The Age, 4/9/2007, p. 11

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