Thursday, August 10, 2006

What exactly is the "War on Terror"?

I really wish progressive commentators would stop using the term "War on Terror." Let's call it what it is, a "War on the Poor."

What exactly is the "War on Terror," or its popular acronym, GWOT? Most sane people outside the Oval Office understand that "terror" is a tactic generally employed by groups too poor to acquire F-16 fighter jets, AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, or M1 Abrams battle tanks. As the cliché goes: "War is the terror of the rich, and terror is the war of the poor."

In other words, those who resort to "terror" are people so impecunious and immiserated and hopeless that they take up whatever weapons are available to challenge their perceived oppressors. (Kind of like colonial Americans fighting the British.) They're bitter and angry and ripe for rebellion. Often, sadly, the only leadership available to these wannabe anti-imperialists isn't a secular left-wing opposition, but a kooky reactionary religious opposition. Hizbollah isn't popular because of its fundamentalist ideology, but because it is a credible resistance movement.

Instead of scolding Bush for neglecting or mismanaging the "war on terror," it would be helpful if progressives would call for a "campaign against poverty." A vigorous global anti-poverty effort would do more to assure security and well-being than an endless assault on poor people around the world, especially those misfortunate enough to reside in nations with abundant energy resources and abundant religious extremists.

A serious campaign against poverty is long overdue, domestically (remember New Orleans, anyone?) and internationally. This is the biggest crime of the Bush regime. They have no strategy for fighting poverty, other than massive tax cuts for the most affluent, aggressive globalization, and a relentless military effort to control strategic resources. When pressed (rarely) on the poverty issue, Bush and company suggest their extensive efforts on behalf of the wealthiest will produce "jobs."

The so-called "War on Terror" is merely an intensification of the war on the poor. And, as we see in Iraq and Lebanon, the "War on Terror" is producing even greater poverty, guaranteeing future recruits for terrorist groups.

It's way past time for progressives to expose the War on Terror for what it really is: a war on poor people.


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