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Quit the War on Terror? Oh No, Broaden it Wisely!

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I read an interesting piece by Nathan Gardels today in which he lays out his argument for why President Obama should quit the war on terror and shift focus to talking with those groups who view violence and killing as legitimate means for advancing their agendas.

To be fair, Gardels delves into the nuances of recognizing various groups as nationalist parties rather than terrorist organizations based on fairly reasonable criteria. I might even have agreed with the sentiments for the most part had he not included the Taliban in its modern form as a legitimate political force. That just stretches beyond my ability to reason.

Now, like so many others I am inspired to feel hopeful for the future in these early days of this new administration. I also feel America needs to return to diplomacy in many areas of the world to re-establish ourselves as the driving force for liberty, freedom and humanitarian causes.

However, for those who believe their deaths, combined with the deaths of countless other innocents and in the name of any deity, is a legitimate act there can be only one response; they must be incarcerated or destroyed.

Yes, these efforts should be parallel to diplomatic and economic efforts aimed at changing the landscape from which such thinking and misguided beliefs stem–but we can’t ignore the dangerous nature of those who currently wish to do harm to us and others right now.

And for all the rhetoric over the past few years of how Bush expanded Presidential powers and “loosely” defined terrorism, the fact is we’ve kept a very narrow view of what terrorism is and who terrorists are.

A terrorist is someone who uses violence or the threat of violence to gain cultural control and further his or her organization’s ideology. In fact, one definition that I feel really brings it down to the core is this one: a person who inspires fear or dread; “he was the terror of the neighborhood”

When I read those words it strikes me that we’ve been blind to hundreds, perhaps thousands of home-grown terrorists for years here in America.

My belief is that we should expand our anti-terrorism laws and efforts to include those who traffic illegal narcotics to our youth here at home, as well as those who participate in violent gangs and engage in the lethal turf battles on our nation’s streets.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for legalizing–and regulating–most recreational drugs. Still, until that happens we should enforce the laws upon those who break them; and in this case the laws which should apply are those we consider to be anti-terror in their design.

Don’t drugs lead to the stunting and even destruction of young lives without regulation? In my opinion the destruction of lives for personal gain (money) clearly falls under the definition of terror above.

Don’t gang activities and turf wars cause fear and cultural control within our neighborhoods? That certainly seems to fit the definition above.

If President Obama is truly on a mission to create a better future and path for America, then I would see this as a critical first step for him to take.

What’s the point of promoting peace in the Middle East if we can’t feel safe and walk without terror on the streets of Pittsburgh, Cleveland or Denver?

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Technorati Tags: Diplomacy, Middle-East, Terrorism, War on Terrorism

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