Posted by: Tony Carson | 10 September, 2007

Terrorism means one thing to the US, to the rest of the world, another.

Terrorism is still so new as a global threat that questions of traditional military deployment in foreign lands have yet to be answered in democracies.

That is the Christian Science Monitor’s answer to why NATO countries are either not involved in Afghanistan or are considering pulling out, Cold feet in a hot spot.

But the problem with NATO is the word ‘terrorism.’ To the US it means one thing, to the rest of the world, another.

To most of the NATO countries in Afghanistan, the real raison d’ete in the fight there is to bring peace to the land through reconstruction. To the Americans, it is to ferret out the Taliban terrorists who were responsible for harbouring al qaeda and who are perceived as the front ranks of world terrorism.

The convenient and simplistic short-hand of declaring a ‘War on Terror’ has always been a problem: it militarizes an intelligence-gathering exercise and in so doing inspires the entirely wrong tactics to deal with an admitted menace.

In Afghanistan, for instance, the US fight against terrorism is to put bombers in the air that create carnage on the ground while other NATO countries try to gain territory by sending soldiers out with a gun in one hand and candy in the other.

Tactically, Afghanistan is a mess because there is no coherence to the ‘war’ and no apparent agreed upon objective. And how could there be when there are so many differing strategies and tactics to deal with something so fuzzy as a ‘war on terror?’

If the mission in Afghanistan was clearly seen and funded by all as reconstruction (after 30 years of rampant destruction), there would be no bombers in the air. But the US has made this a war, the medieval answer to diplomacy and NATO doesn’t want to fight any more, it wants to plan and build.

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