A military solution to a war on terrorism is doomed

By Deepak Chopra, Ken Robinson

 It’s a sore temptation to hunt down Osama bin Laden – one of the most consistent campaign promises made by President Obama – and yet there are strong arguments against it. U.S. forces would have to penetrate deep into provincial Pakistan and perhaps even conduct house-to-house searches. Such incursions would destabilize Pakistan’s already shaky regime and inflame the extremist element. More troops would have to be committed to the Afghanistan war zone, with no positive outcome in sight. And making a martyr of bin Laden would probably incite a crop of new terrorists as deadly as he and his cohorts.
 
But the most compelling reason is that any solely military solution to terrorism is doomed to fail. Right now, U.S. intelligence knows that the jihadist movement is endemic in the extremist sects of Islam. It exists from neighborhood to neighborhood, dinner table to dinner table, across a vast swath of the globe. Although terrorism is a tactic, what lies behind it is an idea, and once an idea seeps into people’s brains, bombs and mortar attacks won’t defeat it. That’s why Israel’s overwhelming military superiority to Hezbollah and Hamas hasn’t defeated those movements and never will – this is an enemy for whom death is a victory of the spirit.
 
Our only hope against Islamic terrorism is to police it in the short run, and offer a more enticing idea in the long run. Peace and social reform are both enticing ideas. Changing our strategic relationship with corrupt regimes that receive significant foreign assistance from the United States is a second important step. The United States must shift its anti-terrorism policy in those directions. Because the United States kept pursuing a military solution, the 2004 presidential election was a poisoned chalice. Whoever won it would be plunged into the quagmires of Afghanistan and Iraq. The 2008 election was better. Both candidates pledged to leave Iraq, Republican Sen. John McCain under the face-saving banner of "victory;" Democratic Sen. Obama under the more realistic banner of ending an unjust war that should never have been started.
 
There is a military difference between "deploying" more soldiers to Afghanistan and "employing" them within the country – in an effective way. If President Obama insists on troop buildups in Afghanistan and a promise to hunt down bin Laden, we must all recognize that a country should not pursue two contradictory ideas at the same time: one, that terrorism is stateless, and two, that military forays into foreign states are productive. The chief reason to remain in Iraq and Afghanistan, once we entered and found chaos, is humanitarian, as it has been for at least five years. Both are failed states; both are rife with violent extremists. Age-old hatreds won’t die easily in either region, and yet the United States can’t stand by and let those hatreds turn into genocide and endless combat.
 
The United Nations and NATO must rally to carry out the humanitarian goals that need to be pursued. But that’s not the same as deluding ourselves into believing that we are defeating terrorism. Bush’s war on terror was a horrendous mistake, an ideological delusion and a failed tactic. It alienated most of the world and created as many extremists as it defeated. Obama knows all this. Now it’s time for him to lead us out of a self-created quagmire. The United States can’t have it both ways, talking peace but maintaining a hostile military presence in the region, neither Pakistan, nor Afghanistan has a government seen as legitimate by its population. Neither has the ability, or the national will to police its borders, or seriously confront extremism, or foreign fighters. History has already taught us how these endeavors end, and they do not end well. No matter how just our cause, we are seen as aggressors, and may just as likely suffer the death of a thousand cuts, just like Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, the British Empire and the Soviet Union. Without establishing a foundation of legitimacy, and hope, or any semblance of the rule of law, a purely military strategy will likely be defeated in the end.
 
 

 

Deepak Chopra is the president of the  Alliance for a New Humanity, Ken Robinson is a former U.S. Ranger and Special Forces officer.

 

Comments

  1. I think we need to develop, and quickly, a realistic energy source other than oil. Once we're not pouring billions into corrupt regimes, where one percent of the population benefits and the other 99 percent is living in poverty, we will not be seen as the cause of the misery.

    I have a son in Special Forces. I don't want to see him deployed, but he will be soon. But because of the events of 9/11, I don't see us possibly resting until Osama Bin Laden is dead. Most of the voting population desires his demise. President Obama is all too aware of this fact.

  2. Dr Chopra,

    In my opinion, The only real solution to terrorism is to attack (in a manner of speaking) the root cause that entices those people to follow bin Laden and his ilk in the first place, powerlessness over their own lives. We as Americans need to give them a reason to look at another path. Osama bin Laden is a millionaire, whose initial source of wealth was his family's construction business, itself financed by oil sales. I believe that any reduction in our use of foreign oil will make only the smallest dent in Saudi Arabia's oil profits, and not change the situation in Southwest Asia. My suggestion would be to use some (Even better, all) of the billions saved by pulling troops out of Iraq and funnel them into humanitarian efforts in Iraq, Pakistan, & Afghanistan to show their citizens that we do mean to change the world, and not necessarily in our financial favor. True compassion shown toward those people would change many lives, and also change many hearts.

  3. Do you have to be an insider to get your post to stay on top of the heap for as long as you like, or can we ordinary posters also do it. It is a very good way to get one's post recognized. I noticed a few other people did the same thing a few other times, some by predating the post. Pretty neat function. How is that done?

    Just curious.

    In love and peace,

    Razz

  4. Bankrupt ideologies will die. Lives may be lost in the process, but it will happen. They key is to make sure if you want to survive and be strong, to have an ideology that is not bankrupt both morally and spiritually. Unfortunately, the world is full of bankrupt ideologies and it's not just on one side.

  5. Deepak & Ken,

    With reference to your comments along with peace and social reform being the enticing ideas; these need to be accompanied along with:-

    – Economic Development & Long term Sustainable Programs

    (With added emphasis; since this has to be extensive and long term basis thereby preventing any resurgence of any forces that might be seeking to delude the people in the wrong directions)

    – It has been seen that when one has a purpose to live, a meaningful vocation where they can support their Families, and without the fear and instability factors – they would love to pursue such a life

    – Education – Literacy must be focused upon extensively

    – Mutual Respect

    God Bless,

    Vashi

    http://thesoulspeaks.wordpress.com/

  6. GOOD EVENING and THANK-YOU!!!

    I am reminded that history seems to have confirmed that the only thing necessary for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing? It seems to me that the choices are clear, we can continue to confront evil, in this instance as manifested in terrorism intent on destruction, continue to ignore it or feed it? It seems to me that to ignore it or feed it will simply enable it to grow stronger and repeat past mistakes? Is it long past time for all of us to stand up against evil and those that would destroy our humanity and freedoms if given the time, space, opportunity and resources? I think to compare the United States to the Soviet Union, etc. are very unfair and unjust comparisons. Let's see what the free elections offer the world in Iraq? Let's see what happens in Afghanistan with a surge? How much of the world will we ineffectively stand by and watch being ceded to terrorism before it is seriously confronted? Once can only hope the United Nations begins to step up to its' promise, but until it does: if not now, then when? if not me, then who?

    So many questions, so few answers? I believe is that it long past time for good people to stand up and defeat what is as close to pure evil as I have seen in my life time.

    BLESSINGS, LOVE and PEACE!!!

  7. By electing a guy named Barack Hussein Obama, we've gotten ourselves three fourths of the way to defeating terrorism. By simply making it more and more irrelevent.

    Evil is boring, to quote Ron Brezny, a renown expert on international counter-terrorism measures.

    Evil is boring. Pass it on.

  8. Will not evil prevail if met with evil? I go the way of Gandhi and Jesus on this; non-violent resistance or death, else the horror cycles on: Confront evil yes, but with peace! If evil destroys all the "good" people of the world, then those left behind will inherit a world none of us would wish to live in.

    Free elections? So they too can choose between a democrat or republican, whoo-hoo, "freedom", I am not impressed.

    Nobody can destroy my humanity, only I can do that.

    pax vobiscum

  9. Terrorism is child's play. Part of the issue is the ego-maniacal leaders, or in some cases, defacto leaders of these regions. They rise to power by opression, deny a standard of living, then seize on blaming the region's woes on outside forces. It's easy to recognize or identify with the aim of terrorism because of its pervasiveness.

    Terrorism exists everywhere, and is seen as a means of getting what one wants.

    We see terrorism in everyday life; in homes, in businesses, on the streets, in any town, anywhere. Someone doesn't like the way things are going and instead of looking inside to effect change or to accept the situation, blame is placed outside. When someone or something becomes our focus of attention for causing our grief, we seek retribution. Sometimes this retribution includes acts of terror. Scaring the shit out of someone is an act of terror. Threatening someone with malice is terrorism. It happens every day, right here at home. Kids learn it from their parents, when the parents yell at the kids or at each other. And the cycle continues. We are no strangers to terrorism. Don't pretend that only jihadists have an exclusive license to terrorism.

    The only 'war on terrorism' that can be 'won' is where compassion and understanding rule the day. Things can go wrong, but if we genuinely reach out to try to foster compassion and understanding, then that basically cancels out terrorism, just as darkness is banished by light. When we see that terrorism is part of the human condition, perhaps we can start spreading a little of that compassion and understanding.

    Peace and freedom

    Phillip

  10. Deepak, yes it is, dare I repeat myself, the conflict in the world is an economic issue, and the other issues it is blamed upon are simply to disguise that fact. Terrorism or any act of aggressive violence is normally a response to a passive violence and you can quote me on that. We don't even know if Bin laden is alive it could be a farce.

    The world needs to turn it's attention on the banking cartel they are the ones owning a disproportionate amount of the cause of the worlds problems domestic and international. The citizens of the world need to assume control of their monetary system which is in private hands and has caused horrendous suffering around the world. It is interesting to note that Islam forbids usury (charging interest) which is probably the real cause with the conflict with the Jews who more or less invented it. http://coinage.me has a compromise.

    The conflict is not as much about religion as both sides pretend and use as a ruse it is about money and power and control freaks suffering from inadequacy.

    Here where I am there are all the religions and there is no religious conflict because most have access essential economy.

    Unfortunately the great communicators fail to communicate this because they are informed by the status quo with a vested interest in the current system of things.

    Fortunately we will be pulling out not for the right reasons but a natural impetus is coming that will dwarf this issue, the Galactic Black Swan. In fact US soldiers may simply be abandoned there due to situations out of our control. Who knows I might even generate some turbulent impetus with the vehicles of light.

    This insight doesn

  11. I agree – we must develop and use alternate energy sources now. I pray that change comes quickly! We need our youth to help us come up with new solutions to old problems. And not by fighting a war that cannot be won. We must make the changes in thought and action that we expect others to make. We cannot fight hate with hate and expect peace.

  12. Heather, you just played a role in a bizarre thing. Last night I was doing my previous comment in this thread. At the end I put a link to jokers.me. After posting I checked to see that the link worked and the image of the Joker card flashed. It triggered a memory of the Joker in Batman played by Heath Ledger. Shortly after that I went to bed. When I was waking up this morning still between realms all these insights and connections started pouring in my mind. I got up and checked something and realized Heath Ledger was an infinite player and a key holder, and there had been communication and a missed one I feel bad about, I didn't realize it was him and wasn't aware of who he was as an actor till he died, I have trouble connecting celebrity names and faces and such and don

  13. There is also a product that induces delta brain waves and therefore sleep, in most, totally drug free, great for insomnia but I am not saying it is or is intended a treatment for such because other biological imbalance could be the cause and should be looked at. http://brain.web-us.com .

  14. So Deepak, what is the solution you offer? and we need a very concise solution.

    The world is "as it is" right?

    So perhaps all this terrorism is there for a reason?

    Perhaps it is all pushing us somewhere?

    Perhaps it is pushing us to unite and evolve spiritually.

    for this we need a method…

    Here is what I have found, perhaps you will also find this useful: http://www.kab.info
    This is a scientific, profound method that aims to unite humanity in love, to create a better future for humanity. If we are really seeking change, I think we owe it to ourselves to examine all the options out there. I think this option is pretty amazing.

    Check it out…

    Love and unity

  15. Dear Bob

    You were so right !

    Now as Mission is accomplished !

    So, Jai Ho! OBAMA!

    Congrats!

    @run

A military solution to a war on terrorism is doomed

San Francisco Chronicle: A military solution to a war on terrorism is doomed

February 3, 2009

 

By Deepak Chopra and Ken Robinson

It’s a sore temptation to hunt down Osama bin Laden – one of the most consistent campaign promises made by President Obama – and yet there are strong arguments against it. U.S. forces would have to penetrate deep into provincial Pakistan and perhaps even conduct house-to-house searches. Such incursions would destabilize Pakistan’s already shaky regime and inflame the extremist element. More troops would have to be committed to the Afghanistan war zone, with no positive outcome in sight. And making a martyr of bin Laden would probably incite a crop of new terrorists as deadly as he and his cohorts.

But the most compelling reason is that any solely military solution to terrorism is doomed to fail. Right now, U.S. intelligence knows that the jihadist movement is endemic in the extremist sects of Islam. It exists from neighborhood to neighborhood, dinner table to dinner table, across a vast swath of the globe. Although terrorism is a tactic, what lies behind it is an idea, and once an idea seeps into people’s brains, bombs and mortar attacks won’t defeat it. That’s why Israel’s overwhelming military superiority to Hezbollah and Hamas hasn’t defeated those movements and never will – this is an enemy for whom death is a victory of the spirit.

Our only hope against Islamic terrorism is to police it in the short run, and offer a more enticing idea in the long run. Peace and social reform are both enticing ideas. Changing our strategic relationship with corrupt regimes that receive significant foreign assistance from the United States is a second important step. The United States must shift its anti-terrorism policy in those directions. Because the United States kept pursuing a military solution, the 2004 presidential election was a poisoned chalice. Whoever won it would be plunged into the quagmires of Afghanistan and Iraq. The 2008 election was better. Both candidates pledged to leave Iraq, Republican Sen. John McCain under the face-saving banner of “victory;” Democratic Sen. Obama under the more realistic banner of ending an unjust war that should never have been started.

There is a military difference between “deploying” more soldiers to Afghanistan and “employing” them within the country – in an effective way. If President Obama insists on troop buildups in Afghanistan and a promise to hunt down bin Laden, we must all recognize that a country should not pursue two contradictory ideas at the same time: one, that terrorism is stateless, and two, that military forays into foreign states are productive. The chief reason to remain in Iraq and Afghanistan, once we entered and found chaos, is humanitarian, as it has been for at least five years. Both are failed states; both are rife with violent extremists. Age-old hatreds won’t die easily in either region, and yet the United States can’t stand by and let those hatreds turn into genocide and endless combat.

The United Nations and NATO must rally to carry out the humanitarian goals that need to be pursued. But that’s not the same as deluding ourselves into believing that we are defeating terrorism. Bush’s war on terror was a horrendous mistake, an ideological delusion and a failed tactic. It alienated most of the world and created as many extremists as it defeated. Obama knows all this. Now it’s time for him to lead us out of a self-created quagmire. The United States can’t have it both ways, talking peace but maintaining a hostile military presence in the region, neither Pakistan, nor Afghanistan has a government seen as legitimate by its population. Neither has the ability, or the national will to police its borders, or seriously confront extremism, or foreign fighters. History has already taught us how these endeavors end, and they do not end well. No matter how just our cause, we are seen as aggressors, and may just as likely suffer the death of a thousand cuts, just like Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, the British Empire and the Soviet Union. Without establishing a foundation of legitimacy, and hope, or any semblance of the rule of law, a purely military strategy will likely be defeated in the end.

Deepak Chopra is the president of the Alliance for a New Humanity, www.anhglobal.org. Ken Robinson is a former U.S. Ranger and Special Forces officer.

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