War on Semanticsby Robert
The fact is that we're not at war on terrorism, let alone against terror. Terrorism is a strategy. Actually, it's a normative assessment of a family of tactics. In the current climate “terrorism” refers to any political violence the speaker
Fair enough, but are we not at war with terrorists? Bin Ladin et al certainly thinks so.
War is a metaphor for any all-out struggle against a serious problem: poverty, cancer, drugs, terrorism… Sometimes we use military hardware and tactics to further that struggle. Sometimes we even fight real wars as part of our strategy.
While a criticism of declaring war on “everything but the kitchen sink” is justified, terrorists are not inanimate, as are poverty and drugs; they are severely deluded and violently doctrinaire thugs who see our death as their sacred responsibility. So no, we’re not dealing with a metaphorical threat.
The idea that the so-called war on terror justifies dramatic expansion of presidential power is extremely dangerous. Terrorism is never going to go away. If we accept that we are literally at war with terror, we are signing on to perpetual war for perpetual peace.
I too am apprehensive about expanded presidential power. This is mainly because I think the government already exercises more power than the constitution allows. Nevertheless, we can’t very well accept terrorism, by offering no defense at all. Just think of what could have transpired, had the US and its allies (and liberty-minded individuals) simply assumed—as some did— that communism was a permanent fixture on the world stage.