London and Terror
July 12, 2005
By Aden Nak
A friend of mine told me the other night that he was suprised
I haven't written anything about the London bombings. At first,
I was a bit suprised myself. Usually I don't keep my mouth closed
for anybody. And I do have a lot to say. But primarily, I didn't
say anything right away because I wanted to make sure I knew what
was going on, and I didn't want to freak anyone out that might have
friends or relatives in England. So I gave it a few days. But a
day is a lifetime now. And I have more than a little bit to say.
First of all, to any fellow countrymen that may not realize they
are acting like the stereotypes of "arrogant Americans" when they
seek to give London advice on how to deal with terrorism, you are
patiently invited to quiet yourselves. I know your hearts are in
the right places, but your memories are vacant and your hubris is
like a loud, vomit-laden gargle above anything you might have to
London endured bombings and terrorist spikes for years and years,
recent years, might I add, when the IRA was particularly active.
They have experienced a deeper and more frightening presence of
terror than we ever have, even though no one incident was on the
same scale as 9/11. I have many friends in England myself, from
every possible political spectrum, and the consensus from all of
them is that Americans telling Britons how to deal with domestic
terror attacks borders on insulting, and is at the very least the
height of self-centered arrogance.
Anyone who is about to reply with, "Why do you hate American so
much?" is, at this time, cordially invited to go drink a gallon
of diesel fuel. You lack the intelligence or maturity to breathe,
let alone engage me in a political debate.
Now, with that out of the way (and yes, I do feel better, thank
you very much), I'd like to talk a little bit about terror, terrorism,
and the way it is perceived by the various peoples of this world.
But most specifically by my own people, because I think that despite
talking about it the most, we have the least accurate or articulate
understanding of what terrorism is. That's likely got as much to
do with our language, our cultural dialogue, and the way we have
been force-fed ideas and verbiage, but again, I'll get to all that
in due time.
First of all, the thing about terrorism is that it's a practice.
That's what it is. It is not a particular political group or economic
system. It is not any given culture or tradition. It's worth noting
that one of the worst terrorist attacks to ever take place in America
was perpetrated by a very normal-looking American named Timothy
McVeigh. It's also worth noting, in the wake of the London bombings,
that the overwhelming number of terrorist attacks that England has
suffered have been at the hands of their unlikely fellow citizens
in the Irish Republican Army. Terrorism isn't something that is
unique to the Middle East, either in point of impact or point of
So terrorism isn't a government. It is not a country or a nation
state. It isn't an army. It isn't even a culture or a society. It's
not a religion. It's not even a philosophy or a string of ideas.
Terrorism is a practice. It's a tactic. It is despicable and barbarous
and awful; I could break out a theasaurus and do an entire page
on that if it'd make you feel better. But it's still just a tactic.
In some cases, it's a political tactic. In others, a military tactic.
But all terrorism really is is an ugly means to an end. It is rarely,
if ever, the end itself.
Terrorism is, really, an idea. It's an idea that exists simply
by having people remember it. You cannot destroy an idea by conventional
means. You cannot destroy an idea with conventional weapons, either.
Not even the most unrelenting propaganda can truly and fully destroy
an idea. You cannot treat terrorism as an entity, in thought or
in action, because you will invariably lose if you do so. You cannot
treat it like something tangible, and you cannot treat it like an
opponent to be defeated.
It is a quaint notion that if we were simply able to kill everyone
who is a terrorist, that terrorism would be defeated. It's comforting
despite it's very morbid implications, because it provides a clear
resolution to a problem. I am sure that some jackoff right now is
printing up bumper stickers and tee shirts that say "Dead Terrorists
Don't Bomb Buildings" and complimenting himself on his wit. And
that's true. A dead man cannot plant a bomb or take an innocent
life. And if there were just a finite number of terrorists in the
world, if we could simply kill them all, check their names off on
some Universal List Of Bad Guys and then go home to our normal lives,
I'd be perfectly content to do so.
But terrorism is an idea. It's a means to an end. The philosophy
of just killing anyone who is a terrorist will always, always fail,
because anyone can become a terrorist. It fails all the more
spectacularly when our military actions push people towards acts
You see, the fight against this ugly concept of terrorism absolutely
must be a war of mentality as well as of military. It must be a
war on the conditions that breed terrorist activities. The only
alternative is to literally kill anyone and everyone who might one
day decide they don't like America. That's a really, really huge
list. That is an impossible list. Any nation that attempted to perform
such a heinous action would be more guilty of inhumanity than its
attackers. So that methodolgy, to defeat terrorism through military
might alone, fails.
Once again, I must pause to close the yammering pieholes of whatever
half-brained simians are surely crafting poorly thought out, jingo-jackoff
responses to this rant even now. I believed after 9/11, and I still
believe today, that we needed some kind of military action in Afghanistan.
To be perfectly honest, the Taliban had earned my relatively permanent
ire several years before, and I was not especially suprised in the
wake of those attacks to discover that members of the Taliban were
involved. Had we properly secured Afghanistan, had we devoted the
proper resources to dismantling that sham of a government, had we
made more than a cursory attempt to find Osama bin Laden, we might
have made some real progress in snuffing out the application of
Instead we left Afghanistan undermanned and underdefended. We
turned it back over to the very people we were supposed to be overthrowing.
We did not accomplish any significant mission in Afghanistan save
to physically occupy the territory there. Although we dismantled
most of al Qaeda's operations there, we did not bring about any
significant change because terrorism is not a location you can occupy.
By failing to kill, capture or incarcerate al Qaeda's organizing
leaders (and no, the guy who does the photocopying and gets the
coffee does not count as "Al Qaeda's Number Three Man"), we simply
allowed them to disperse. To diversify. And to bring their psychotic
crusade to other parts of the world where they could acquire new
Now then, concerning Iraq... listen to that hush fall over the
crowd, eh? Can anyone tell me why we are there? Anyone at all? Because
I can't think of one good god damned reason we are there instead
of Afghanistan. Not a one. We have not brought peace to the region.
We have not brought freedom to the region. We have not improved
the quality of life for Iraqi citizens. We have not decreased the
number of terrorists coming into or going out of Iraq. We have not
eliminated or captured one single person related to 9/11. We have
not found any weapons of mass destruction.
Oh, that's the real sore point, isn't it? The weapons of mass
destruction. You know, the weapons that the entire Bush Administration
insisted were there. It wasn't even a question of if they
were there, but how many and how powerful. It turns out that all
of that information was wrong. It was wrong, and no one was willing
to admit it in spite of the fact that well established, respected
analysts within the intelligence community spoke up and warned us
that it would be wrong. It was wrong in spite of the fact that with
the exception of the United Kingdom, every other credible intelligence
organization said we were insane for believing in it. To be blunt,
it was wrong, our government knew that it was wrong, and they all
acted as if they had no idea.
And I'm blaming Democrats and Republicans alike here. I blame
the Republicans within the neoconservative movement for concocting
this absurd set of arguments, I blame the rest of the Republicans
for abandoning their hallowed "Party of Lincoln" because the neoconservatives
had political clout, and I blame the Democrats for being the opposition
party that not only presented no opposition, but willingly went
along with the rhetoric. Some conservatives suggest that I can't
make the argument that we all knew it was wrong because many Democrats,
including John Kerry, agreed with the evidence and voted to give
the President authority to invade Iraq. Well yes they did. And they
were wrong to do so. But simply because both sides of the political
machine were either incorrect or lying does not excuse the original
I also will not put up with the "Saddam Is A Bad Man" argument.
Yes, yes he is. He gassed his own people. Back in the 80s, with
the weaponry the United States sold him. Now, does that make his
crime any less terrible? No, of course not. However, there is absolutely
no weight to the argument that his unjust regime was the reason
for the invasion. Am I to believe that the entire American population
suddenly became livid over a crime committed 20 years ago? So much
so that we were going to overthrow him, consequences be damned?
If we really wanted to topple Saddam for his regime, it could just
as easily have been done a few years later, once Afghanistan was
Besides which, the argument presented to the citizenry of both
the United States and Britain wasn't that Saddam was a bad guy,
but that he had weapons of mass destruction. Thousands of gallons
of nerve agent. Toxic gases. Unmanned aerial drones that could fly
to the United States and spray us with sarin gas and anthrax. Weapons
capable of producing a mushroom cloud in one of our cities. These
arguments were made in spite of having no evidence for them and
a mountain of evidence against them. It is inconceivable to me that
the men who planned this war believed that Saddam Hussein had these
sorts of weapons. And yet the timetable for invasion was set around
whether or not Saddam would turn these weapons over to the United
Nations. Which means that war was a foregone conclusion from the
moment that ultimatum was issued.
Now, why did I start talking about London, and then go on to a
brief overview of Afghanistan and Iraq? Because they are very closely
related, and because they show the shallow hypocrisy of the most
recent justifications for running the "War On Terror" as if it's
some sort of brute squad. Just last week, President Bush explained
to a sea of stony-faced servicemen that the reason we were fighting
in Iraq was so that we could be free of terrorist attacks at home.
That by baiting Iraq with our soldiers we were drawing terrorists
away from our civilian population. If London proved nothing else,
it proved that this sort of double-digit-IQ approach to dealing
with terrorism has absolutely no basis in truth or reality.
London was a wake-up call for those who have been trying so very,
very hard to believe that everything is going to be okay if we just
keep on doing what we're doing. London was a reminder that acts
of terrorism have tripled since 9/11. It was a reminder that al
Qaeda membership is at an all-time high, and literally has more
members than any time since its inception. And it was a warning
that what we are doing is not working. We are creating terrorists
with every innocent Iraqi that dies, whether they die because of
an American bullet or an insurgent bombing. We are causing these
ordinary citizens to turn to terrorism as a tool, as a methodology
and as an act of revenge.
It's as simple as this: if there are more terrorists, more acts
of terrorism, and terrorists in more locations now than when we
first declared this "War on Terror," then we are losing. We cannot
win a war through might alone when the application of that might
actually causes the number of our enemies to multiply.
Our leaders refuse to even discuss this. I personally believe they
are well aware of these realities, but have no vested interest in
keeping us safe.The other alternative is to believe that they are
so steeped in denial and stuborn, unintelligent thought that they
cannot see or accept that their strategy is a losing one. Believe
whichever you like. But the ugly truth is that the men who are charged
with protecting us have been given free reign to carry out their
plans, and the results are an utter disaster.
London will heal. It has suffered worse at the hands of its own
population, and far worse still at the hands of invading armies
hundreds of years ago. But that healing does not excuse the men
who carried out these attacks. Nor it does not excuse the men who
in the name of safeguarding our bretheren, knowingly or incompetently
made them vulnerable to attack.
Aden Nak is an easily-agitated computer technician and a woefully
underemployed freelance writer. More of his personal vitriol can
be found at adennak.com.