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Jason Crews

English 102 T TH 7:40


January 24, 2002
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Urgent News, two planes have crashed into the World Trade Towers another into the

Pentagon, and yet a third unaccounted. “All of this was brought upon us in a single day -- and

night fell on a different world, a world where freedom itself is under attack.”1. Soon after this

was broadcasted on every channel, every television and nearly every radio around the world;

those who heard it opened their eyes to a new world, a world where people would never be the

same. A world where the last great super power’s people were crying for war. Millions of

desperate, enraged, and questioning American eyes turned to the President to show them the path

their country would take. That path was war. Once we found our selves in his new world, in a

nation at war, we were presented with new challenges, challenges that tested our perception of

war. Were we at war with something with no boundaries, no face, and an enemy who has proven

they can hide amongst us for years? Was this a war?

The Encyclopedia Britannica defines war as “a state of usually open and declared armed

hostile conflict between political units, such as states or nations or between rival political

factions of the same state or nation. War is characterized by intentional violence on the part of

large bodies of individuals who are expressly organized and trained to participate in such

violence. Wars between nation-states may be fought to gain reparation for a particular injury; to

acquire a particular territory or advantage; to gain recognition of a particular claim; or to achieve

the extermination or unconditional surrender of the enemy.”2 To determine if the United States’

war in Afghanistan is a war, we must determine if it falls under this definition, but what exactly
1
Bush, George W, President. Transcript of President Bush's address to a joint session of Congress on Thursday
night, September 20, 2001. < http://www.cnn.com/2001/US/09/20/gen.bush.transcript/> [Accessed 18 February
2002]
2
"war" Encyclopedia Britannica Online. <http://search.eb.com/bol/topic?eu=78078&sctn=1> [Accessed 18
February 2002].
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is conflict and reparation, and how does it apply to terrorism? According to Merriam-Webster's

Collegiate Dictionary a conflict is “a competitive or opposing action of incompatibles (as of

divergent ideas, interests, or persons), and a reparation is something done or given as amends or

satisfaction”3, and terrorism is Terrorism is “the systematic use of terror or unpredictable

violence against governments, publics, or individuals to attain a political objective.”4

The first part of the definition says “a state of usually open and declared armed hostile

conflict between political units, such as states or nations or between rival political factions of the

same state or nation.”5 Dose the United States’ actions in Afghanistan follow this definition?

After the post-September 11th investigations the United States declared war on Terrorism with the

first target set to be the al Qaeda, the parties responsible for the terrorist attacks on the United

States. The first and largest offensive in our war on terrorism has been in Afghanistan against the

Taliban who were harboring the al Qaeda. The definition of war suggest a nation must declare

war on a person or group of people, but terrorism is an act, not a person, so the United State’s

refined its declaration by qualifying the war to any person or group of people who uses terrorism.

Then President Bush’s went a step further in his address from the Oval Office on September 11th

to expanded our efforts by saying “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who

committed these acts and those who harbor them.”6 Once the evidence of al Qaeda’s

involvement began to mount, President Bush issued a set of demands to the Taliban, --whose

country in which the al Qaeda operated -- to meet or the United States would take action, and go

to war. When the demands were not met the United States ceased to distinguish between al

3
"conflict" Merriam-Webster Online. <http://search.eb.com/cgi-bin/dictionary> [Accessed 18 February 2002].
4
"terrorism" Merriam-Webster Online. <http://search.eb.com/cgi-bin/dictionary> [Accessed 18 February 2002].
5
"war" Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
6
Bush, George W. President. Statement by the President in His Address to the Nation on September 11, 2001.
< http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010911-16.html> [Accessed 18 February 2002]
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Qaeda and the Taliban and the two political units became involved in a open and hostile conflict .

. . war.

Next the definition says, “War is characterized by intentional violence on the part of large

bodies of individuals who are expressly organized and trained to participate in such violence.” 7

Some could argue that the Taliban were not well trained or expressly organized, or that the al

Qaeda wasn’t an actual army. First, the Taliban was not the initial target of any operations in

the war on terrorism. They only became involved after they refused to yield to the demands of

the United States and by harboring the terrorist organization al Qaeda. “The leadership of al

Qaeda has great influence in Afghanistan and supports the Taliban regime in controlling most of

that country. “ 8 Secondly, a nation-state, whether third world or super-power, you become a

player in a dangerous game, one that has great risks. They imply to the rest of the world that

they are willing and able to defend their interest in their country. Any organization or training,

however poor or inadequate, made the Taliban a player. Just because you can’t play with the big

boys doesn’t mean that you are exempt from the injuries. Finally, intelligence has shown that al

Qaeda have had and still may have several terrorist training camps inside and outside the

boarders of Afghanistan. Training camps that taught their members how to engage in acts of

terrorism and acts of war.

Consider next the part of the definition that says, “Wars between nation-states may be

fought to gain reparation for a particular injury.”9 Everyone has heard of the devastation and

carnage caused by the attacks on World Trade Centers and the Pentagon; carnage so great that

five months later United States’ workers are still cleaning up its wreckage. This deliberate attack

was orchestrated and carried out by an organization bent on striking fear into the hearts of every

7
"war" Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
8
Ibid.
9
Ibid.
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citizen in the United States. The United State’s ensuing actions were partially meant gain

retribution for those who have felt a loss by those events on the individuals. As President Bush

said, “Our grief has turned to anger, and anger to resolution. Whether we bring our enemies to

justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done”10 but President Bush made the

United State’s actions more than about retribution when he said, “Our response involves far more

than instant retaliation and isolated strikes.”11 He set the focus on the next part of the definition

that says “or to achieve the extermination or unconditional surrender of the enemy.”12 Bush

made this objective clear when he said, “We will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to

terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or

you are with the terrorists.”13 In the end our ultimate goal has always been to exterminate

terrorism from the face of the earth.

Just, unjust, moral, or immoral the United States is at war. They were involved in a

conflict that took the form of intentional violence between two groups of people. As a result of

that violence the United States sought retribution in the form of extermination of their enemy.

Perhaps the headlines of tomorrow will say “Terrorism Eradicated From the Face of the Planet!”

10
Bush, George W. President. Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People on September 20,
2001. < http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010920-8.html> [Accessed 18 February 2002]
11
Ibid.
12
"war" Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
13
Bush, George W. President. Statement by the President in His Address to the Nation on September 11, 2001.
< http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010911-16.html> [Accessed 18 February 2002]