The Instigator
MidnightRambler
Pro (for)
Losing
38 Points
The Contender
RoyLatham
Con (against)
Winning
40 Points

America will never win the 'War on Terror'

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/11/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 4,647 times Debate No: 7789
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (27)
Votes (13)

 

MidnightRambler

Pro

I propose that America can never win 'The War On Terror'.

September 11th 2001 undoubtedly changed American foreign policy forever, As a nation you were angry, upset, bloodied but also embarrassed that such an attack could happen to the worlds most powerful nation. Americas omnipresent belief in its own invincibility was destroyed and tainted in the rubble of the twin towers.

Like any nation attacked you wanted to find and destroy those who were responsible...however in doing so you waged a war you could never win. My argument has three main points to back this up. The first is as follows....you cant wage war on an idea or 'ideology'.

The phrase 'war on terror' was always far to ambiguous....its waging war on an idea or theme not a clear target. It would be like me saying 'I am going to fight bullying in schools'....the idea is far to open and unclear...what defines bullying?...the same example can be applied to the war on terror....just exactly is 'terror' and how are you going to wage a war on this idea?.....All the famous philosophers and theorists on war always say that clear identifiable aims are vital if victory is to be achieved...Clausewitz and Sun Tzu were clear advocates of this....Clausewitz states in his Book 'On War' that without clear achievable aims one will find themselves in a difficult situation.....Obviously using the example of an 19th century theorist might seem daft....and it is true some of his ideas are dated but I feel some of Clauewitz's ideas are everlasting....and his ideas on clear objectives is one of them.

I believe that America can never win a war with such a unclear objective.....I feel that America are chasing shadows by basing there whole strategy on a objective that is failed in its very definition.

My second point to back up my argument is that with Americas continuing presence in the middle east and most notably Afghanistan and Iraq they will continue to increase hatred and suspicion amongst the people in the region.....no matter how you look at it America cannot shrug of the tag that they are 'occupiers' on foreign land rather than peace keeping troops....peace keepers by definition are there to keep the peace not fight a full blown war which is what currently is happening in both Iraq and Afghanistan....I feel America has totally forgotten the main reason why Al queda and other terrorist organisations waged a 'jihad' on them in the first place...it was all down to the fact that American based itself in Saudi Arabia before the first gulf war which many felt was an insult to Islam....I feel that America can never win if they remain a aggressive force inside these countries......

Finally I feel that America's idea of installing democracy in a country which for the past 2,000 has been led by a Islamic constitution with Islamic beliefs and traditions is wrong.....Americas brand of democracy is not always what people want....the same pair of shoes wont always fit on the same pair of feet.....Vietnam is the obvious example to back up this point.

In conclusion I believe that America will never win the 'War On terror' due to its luke warm objectives, its lack of understanding of the culture and institutions of Islamic countries and its aggressive actions in the middle east.
RoyLatham

Con

1. Pro claims "...you [can't] wage war on an idea or 'ideology'. ... The phrase 'war on terror' was always far [too] ambiguous....its waging war on an idea or theme not a clear target. ... Clausewitz states in his Book 'On War' that without clear achievable aims one will find themselves in a difficult situation"

1.1 If Pro does not understand what "war on terror" means, then he has proposed a meaningless resolution and ought to immediately concede the debate. One cannot logically affirm a nonsense resolution. I suspect that instead he will find adequate meaning.

1.2 The conventional definition of war applies for defining the war on terror http://dictionary.reference.com... :
1. a conflict carried on by force of arms, ...
2. a state or period of armed hostility or active military operations: The two nations were at war with each other.
3. a contest carried on by force of arms, as in a series of battles or campaigns: the War of 1812.
4. active hostility or contention; conflict; contest: a war of words.
5. aggressive business conflict, ...
6. a struggle: a war for men's minds; a war against poverty.

Clearly, the war on terror includes both active military operations (1, 2, 3) and ideological struggle (6).

1.3 The Cold War was a war against the Communist ideology. It included broad strategist goals like preventing the expansion of the Soviet empire in Europe and elsewhere in the world, but ultimate goal was to remove Communist ideology as a motivating force behind threats to the free world. that is precisely one of those ambiguous goals that Pro pronounces meaningless an unwinnable. In fact, Pro's arguments were made at the time to "prove" that the Cold War could not be won. The arguments were proved false; the Cold War was won by the West. The counter-argument could be made that there are still Communists in the world, and that they might make a comeback, so it is premature to declare a victory. However, it nonetheless remains proved that there is nothing impossible about defeating an ideology, and that accomplishing it does not require armies battling in the style of traditional warfare. Pro's claim therefore fails.

1.4 The well-defined goal of the war on terror is to stop hostile action by terrorists against the United States. A well-defined subordinate goal is to remove safe havens wherein terrorists may devise attacks without fear of preemption. For example, Bush said with respect Iraq that victory will come, he said, "when Iraq is no longer a safe haven for the terrorists [and] when the Iraqis are able to defend their democracy." http://www.globalsecurity.org...

1.5 Britain fought and won a similarly ambiguous war against IRA terrorism.

2. Pro claims, "Americas continuing presence in the middle east and most notably Afghanistan and Iraq they will continue to increase hatred and suspicion amongst the people in the region."

2.1 The strategy of the terrorists in the Middle East and notably in Afghanistan has been to kill innocent civilians, destroy schools, hospitals and infrastructure; assassinate local leaders; diminish local security; and foil all attempts at democracy. American policy has been in every aspect the opposite. Pro believes that as a consequence the U.S. is hated and terrorists are beloved. Pro is wrong. A fundamental factor that turned the tide in Iraq was that the local population realized how detrimental the terrorist tactics were. The locals are able to figure this out, even though Western liberals cannot.

2.2 Americans do not want to be in the Middle East or Afghanistan and are eager to leave as soon as possible. Hence whatever resentment is caused by being there will be ameliorated by leaving. The successful strategy is therefore to train local forces to take over responsibility for maintaining local order, and to point out the progress achieved towards withdrawal of forces. the success of the surge in Iraq was providing security in the short run, which the local people care more about than U.S. forces being there, and to train the local forces to take over in the long run. Contrary to Pro's assertion that it could not work, it has worked. That general approach can be successful in Afghanistan.

2.3 Pro asserts, "I feel America has totally forgotten the main reason why Al queda and other terrorist organisations waged a 'jihad' on them in the first place...it was all down to the fact that American based itself in Saudi Arabia before the first gulf war which many felt was an insult to Islam" This is nonsense, along the lines of Hitler's excuse for invading Poland. The Al Queda types are nutcases who have no trouble feigning insults to rationalize their attacks. U.S presence on the Arabian Peninsula was done via legal agreements with the governments of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Pro justifies the notion that the U.S. should ignore the legal and internationally recognized governments in favor of complying with terrorist demands. Note that the terrorist do not negotiate of even present themselves for negotiation, they only make demands.

Bin Laden stated clearly in a face-to-face interview with a British journalist that he wants the death of every man, woman, and child in the United States. Does Pro believe that was brought on by having a minor US presence on the Arabian Peninsula? Does Pro believe that if the US had withdrawn that all terrorist acts would cease? Is there anything the terrorist have said that supports the idea that would satisfy the terrorists?

3. Pro claims, "I feel that America's idea of installing democracy in a country which for the past 2,000 has been led by a Islamic constitution with Islamic beliefs and traditions is wrong.....Americas brand of democracy is not always what people want .." The claim is based upon the false notion that 2000 years of a culture somehow alters the gene pool or poisons the water or pollutes the air in some mysterious way that necessarily will require something like 2000 years to be undone.

In fact, all that matters is the culture under which the living population has grown up. The population of Iraq is young, so the vast majority have never experienced anything but Saddam and the brief post-Saddam era. That certainly maintained many Islamic traditions, but significant departures as well. How fast the culture makes further changes will depend upon future influences. For example, at the time of World War II most of the population of Japan had matured under the dominant influence of Japanese militarism, albeit with enduring cultural influences from centuries of tradition. The militaristic aspect of culture was effectively abolished within a decade or so of the end of the war. In the Middle East, no one wants or expects Islamic culture to be abolished. The goal is to reduce the minority jihadist element in Islam to the point of ineffectiveness.

=====================

4. I ask Pro what the alternative is to winning the war on terror. Quite obviously we are not going to agree to all be killed or to graciously submit to being slaves of Islamic terrorists. The present strategy is one of limited engagement by which safe havens are eliminated through the establishment of strong local governments. If that fails, the alternative is not losing and allowing bin Laden and his cohorts to win. If necessary, the war could be escalated to World War II levels, which today's world would mean fielding about 15 million American soldiers and mobilizing the entire economy for war. I don't believe for a minute that will happen, because it is clear that an effort of much smaller scope will be successful. However, for Pro to sustain the resolution that America will "never win" it means that American will either (a) give up and submit or (b) will fail despite the most massive conceivable effort to win. Neither (a) nor (b) is a defensible, so the resolution must therefore fail.
Debate Round No. 1
MidnightRambler

Pro

Firstly i would like to thank Con for his argument, i have been waiting eagerly for his reply and have found his arguments interesting. I would like to say that in some regard i have been playing devils advocate with some of my original points...but i do believe that America are fighting in many regards an unwinnable war in the middle east.
Ok...so Con took great issue with my definition with the concept of what the ‘war of terror' actually is. I do not believe for a moment that the debate is rendered ‘meaningless' as Con suggested due to my lack of definition of what the ‘war on terror' is....unless anyone reading this debate has been living in a box for the last 10 years then i can safely assume that we all know that the ‘war on terror' is the battle against Muslim extremism.
Con definition of the war on Terror was as follows.
‘The well-defined goal of the war on terror is to stop hostile action by terrorists against the United States. A well-defined subordinate goal is to remove safe havens wherein terrorists may devise attacks without fear of preemption.'
I have to say that i do not believe that this definition is rounded at all. If one looks at Cons definition it is still extremely transparent....Yes its true that we are fighting a war against terrorist...the whole of the free world is fighting the same war....Yes its true that we are trying to find their safe havens to prevent future attack.....but what i implore the readers to consider when reading Cons definition of the ‘war on terror' is its vagueness....we don't no who these terrorists are....we don't no where they come from...how they are armed and so on.....so i feel Cons definition barely scrapes the surface of a deep and complex issue.
As recently as January 2009 the British foreign secretary himself claimed that the idea of a ‘war on terror' was deeply unhelpful and does more harm than good....his exact words were as follows.....
‘Ultimately, the notion is misleading and mistaken" and later said "Historians will judge whether [the notion] has done more harm than good".
Con then went on to bizarrely compare the ‘war on terror' with the Cold War...i understand to an extent why he did this....Yes the west defeated the East...and yes to an extent the west was fighting Communist ideology...but let's not get bogged down in idealism which is what i feel Con is trying to do...look beyond your patriotic zeal and you will see that the Cold War was won due to economics not ideology....American spending power could not be matched by the Russia and its proxy states....so it folded....the fact that the Communist party is still the second largest in Russia today shows out right that it was not the lure of democracy that encouraged Russia to end the Cold War.....therefore showing you can't defeat an idea.
It is also wrong to compare ‘ war on terror' to the Cold War from a geopolitical stand point....the fact is....that during the Cold War we knew exactly who we were fighting....we knew where the enemy was (primarily Russia and china and there proxy states)...we had an idea of how many weapons they had and what they wanted to achieve...but more importantly ...there was always room for negotiation...now compare this to the ambiguity of the war on terror....is there anyone here who can truly say they know where the ‘terrorists' are?....do we have exact knowledge of their strength and numbers?....do we know what they are planning to do next?....the answer is no....you cannot defeat an idea or a belief.
Con is ultimately playing a dangerous game by being so loose on his definitions..I believe that by simply calling people ‘terrorists' and being insular in your outlook one creates a dividing line.....we can already see it with American foreign policy...the catch phrase...'your either with us or against us'...is terribly dangerous...it effectively draws a line between America and the east and simplifies a tremendously complex issue. America needs to be clear what its goals are or it can never win its ‘war on terror.
Con asks me at the end of his article what i propose the alternatives are...do we just give up the struggle?.,...well i propose this question to him...how does he propose on fighting a failing war? Does he even know how groups like Al Queda are organized?....let me fill him in briefly...and it will shed light on what an impossible task we have confronting us....
Al queda has a central command structure like any organization ranging from financial departments, training committees even media relation committees....however Al queda is unique in that it has an outer periphery which even its leaders have no real control over...Clandestine cells exist all over the world and are organized in such a way that they work independently from Al quedas central hub....These members do not take orders from anyone...they work in Al quedas name and attack targets which they choose...how can you stop this?....what stopping me right now from setting up my own cell? The answer is nothing,,, Leonard Weinbergs book ‘Global Terrorism' sums it nicely..
‘Although the network of terrorist cells has an established leadership and command structure, direct approval from the top is not necessarily needed to commit an act of terrorism in al Qaeda's name. Militants operating within the al Qaeda structure are divided into small, independently operating cells. These cells may receive orders and financial support from top Qaeda lieutenants or they may raise funds and plan operations on their own'
Although i would like to expand on this point i am aware that i have a word limit....but the point here is clear...you can't monitor these terrorist groups...just look at the London Tube bombings...they acted on there own independently from any central Al queda Command....we are literally chasing shadows.
My final point is as follows....I made the case in my original argument that the longer America stays in Iraq and Afghanistan the longer and more protracted the war will be....I also said that the whole reason behind Al quedas original beef with America was centred on the idea that America had trodden on Muslim soil during the First Gulf war...Con dismissed this as ‘nonsense' and regrettably exposed his lack of knowledge of this conflict....again i don't want to drift on to a long and boring explanation of the origins of the conflict but i would say this....
The whole premise of Bin Ladens first attacks on America were due to its occupation of Saudi Soil...Saudi Arabia is home to Mecca and Medina the holiest sights in the Muslim world...the Vatican or the Jeruselem of the Christian world....The Saudi government rejected the offer of Bin Ladens Mujuhadin or ‘Holy Warrioirs' to protect them during the First Gulf War and instead chose the Americans without thinking of the idealogical consequences....again i defer to the words of Leonard Weinberg...
‘This decision infuriated Bin Laden. Not only was his offer to provide Holy Warriors rebuffed but, more galling still, the government decided to allow the Kingdom , with its Muslim holy sites at Mecca and Medina, to be used against the Infidel Americans.'
The American presence in Saudi Arabia and other middle eastern locations is the seed that grew to 9/11...for Con to say that its ‘nonsense' simply shows he does not understand the complexities of the conflict...The longer America stays in Iraq and Afghanistan the worse the conflict will become...i am in no way saying that there are not those who want America to stay...but for as long as America stays the voices of extremism will drown out the moderate voices in the Islamic world..remember it is one of Alquedas original goals to expel all American and western influence from the muslim world....
I am running out of room but very breifly...Con has not defined what the conflict is...his cold war comparison is wrong from a geopolitical perspective...America is chasing shadows...i beleive the motion stands.
RoyLatham

Con

If Pro really believes that America will never win the war on terror, then Europe and the rest of the world will lose as well. So should we surrender immediately and volunteer to be slaves of Muslim extremists, a possibility sometimes offered by the terrorists as an alternative to killing every man, woman, and child in the Western world? When asked squarely about the inevitably of loss, Pro won't respond. The fact that no one suggests surrendering or is even willing to discuss the consequences of losing means that no one really believes the war on terror cannot be won. There are many legitimate differences on tactics, but the notion that the war cannot be won is no more than a bogus talking point pressed in the hope of gaining political power.

1. Pro claimed that the war on terror cannot be won because "war on terror" is not defined. I pointed out that if it is not defined then Pro has posted a meaningless resolution. Pro responded, "[I] can safely assume that we all know that the ‘war on terror' is the battle against Muslim extremism." When it suits his purposes, Pro asserts that the war on terror is perfectly well defined and well understood by everyone. However, other times he simply repeats the unsupported assertion that the whole effort is ill-defined.

Pro says my definition is "extremely transparent" and "not rounded at all." What does that mean? He says we don't know who the terrorists are or where they are. Knowing who they are and where they are has nothing to do with the definition of the war. That has to do with the difficulty of winning the war, and it clearly is not an insurmountable difficulty. I pointed out Britain's war against IRA terrorism. Those terrorists posed the same problems, and that conflict was nonetheless won by Britain. Pro ignored the example.

Pro quotes the British Foreign Secretary that the notion of a war on terror is "misleading and mistaken." What the Secretary is espousing is that the rules of engagement in the fight against terrorism should be police rules with search warrants, lawyers, and forensic evidence gather on battlefields and presented in trials. The idea is that we must first and foremost impress terrorists with our love for proper procedures rather than rudely shooting back when they try to kill us. That viewpoint is an opinion about methodology for winning that features wimpy terminology as a strategy. It is strategy for winning, however, and does not support the resolution of this debate that the war cannot be won. Nor does it suppose that the Secretary has no idea what the war is.

Lurking behind Pro's arguments is the false notion that "you cannot defeat an ideology." He says, "the fact that the Communist party is still the second largest in Russia today shows out right that it was not the lure of democracy that encouraged Russia to end the Cold War.....therefore showing you can't defeat an idea." There are also Nazis in the world, but the Allies won World War II. The objective in not to make the ideology disappear, the objective is to remove it as a significant threat. The Soviet example shows that is achievable. Communists being the second largest largest party in Russia is certainly much better than their being in charge and striving to destroy the West. If Muslim extremists are reduced to ruling some isolated enclaves in Asia, that is tolerable so long as they are not attacking the US.

Pro claims the Soviet example doesn't count because the Soviets were defeated economically, not militarily. Defeating them economically still counts as winning. Al Qaeda is likely to be defeated in part by cutting off their economic support, and that is certainly part of the strategy.

I'm not sure from where the notion derived that wars must be neatly defined. Throughout history, there are many times when proper lists of names and locations of the enemy were unknown. Vikings, Visigoths, Mongols, Native Americans, and IRA terrorists were all notable for their failure to provide their names and addresses. The American Revolutionaries had some of that element. It's true that such wars have a different character than the opposing-armies-standing-in-the-field style, but some of the non-stereotyped wars are won and some are lost. There is nothing that makes them inherently unwinnable.

In the case of the present war on terrorism, we know that the key organizers are in northern Pakistan, and a good deal of the organizational structure under bin Laden has been identified and published. It's true that there are cells around the world capable of operating independently of the central al Qaeda structure. Cutting off the central structure makes it more difficult to coordinate and fund major attacks. A fragmented structure is more difficult to stamp out entirely, but they pose less of a threat and there is no chance that independent terrorist cells are going to precipitate the surrender of a country. They cannot win.

Pro asks what stops anyone from setting up a terrorist cell. There are several things. One is that there is limited supply of nutcases to recruit, and as civilization intrudes into the feudal strongholds of the world the supply will be diminished. Second, it's not just building a cell, but being able to carry out significant attacks. We can reasonably assume that terrorists would like to have launched major attacks on the U.S. every week since 9/11. Roughly two hundred plots have been uncovered and foiled. If Pro's claim that attacks are unstoppable is true, how can he explain that they have been stopped?

Pro did respond to any of my arguments in (2) above. He restated his assertions.

Technological societies will always have some vulnerability to limited attacks. What we most worry about, however, are nuclear, biological, and chemical attacks that have the potential for killing tens or thousands of people. Those types of attacks require a fixed technological infrastructure to build the weapons. For example, Iran or North Korea might supply the nukes. Hence, a major objective in the war on terror is very well defined one of preventing that from happening. Freelance terrorists pose a limited threat.

Pro says, "Con asks me at the end of his article what [I] propose the alternatives are...do we just give up the struggle?.,...well [I] propose this question to him...how does he propose on fighting a failing war?" I answered Pro's question directly in (4) in the previous round. If there are parts he does not understand, he should specify what he needs to be clarified.

But what is Pro's excuse for not answering my question? He knows full well that any straightforward answer will lose the argument. He must claim that America either give up and surrender or will be defeated despite even the most massive efforts to win the war on terror. That's what "America will never win" implies. But such a claim would be absurd, so he must ignore the question and try to divert attention from it in the hope that it will be overlooked.

The resolution is negated.

(I urge Pro to use an extra carriage return after paragraphs so I can more easily sort out his arguments.)
Debate Round No. 2
MidnightRambler

Pro

Ok firstly Con pointed out that if America looses the war on terror then Europe does as well...i don't agree with this notion as France Germany, England in fact all of the European nations have their own strategy in fighting terrorism...notice how the French, Germans and most of Europe have not suffered from any domestic terrorism in the last ten years...in fact i can't think of any attack in France or Germany or Sweden, or Norway or Poland.....England and Spain are the only countries i can think who have had a major terrorist incident in the last 5-10 years. I also urge...no no I demand the reader to recognize that both Spain and England were (and still are) strong allies to America and were active in Iraq and Afghanistan......both were keen subscribers to American foreign policy yet both suffered domestic terrorist incidents...France and Germany are not in Iraq or Afghanistan and they have not suffered from this new terrorism.

Therefore i don't agree at all with Cons slightly blinded assumption that Europe is hanging on to Americas apron strings as con espouses ...I also feel Con has subscribed to the slightly simplistic imagery of ‘surrendering' to terrorists,... we are not going to wake up to a man in a turban with an ak-47 in our face as Con is eluding to..... i have never said once we should surrender....i feel we need a different approach...therefore i believe that the current war on terror cannot be won....we need a new effort....

Secondly...con seems to be slightly obsessed with me not answering his questions....i will be happy to...let's start with his ideas about Britain ‘winning' the war with the IRA.... agreed to an extant but again i think his knowledge is clouded somewhat.,....while the main core of the IRA have given up operations is he aware that only in the last 2-3 months there have been new terrorists incidents by spin of groups carrying on their struggle..Groups such as the ‘The Real IRA' are still active and many in Northern Ireland and Ireland have nothing but hatred for us Brits....so the IRA marches on....

The fact that i said in my last argument that the war on terror was a war against ‘Muslim extremism' does not mean i am playing games with the definition as Con is trying to convey.... i am simply pointing out what we already know....we no they are terrorists and we know they are largely if not all Muslim....and thats about it....i have not magically whisked up a definition.,...i am simply saying what we all ready know....

Con has totally missed the point concerning my last point about what the British Foreign Secretary said about the phrase ‘war on terror'....i will briefly remind readers that the foreign secretary said..
Ultimately, the notion is misleading and mistaken" and later said "Historians will judge whether [the notion] has done more harm than good".

The British foreign secretary talks about how the use of the phrase ‘war on terror' was wrong but more importantly says in the article that we cannot fight a war with this ‘tag line' because its far to vague and we draw dangerous ‘dividing lines' as to who is a terrorist and who isn't ....thats how we get incidents like Guantanamo Bay occurring and we mistreat innocent people and draw them away from being sympathetic to the west... i quote the foreign secretary further....

"The more we lump terrorist groups together and draw the battle lines as a simple binary struggle between moderates and extremists or good and evil, the more we play into the hands of those seeking to unify groups with little in common," Miliband argues, in a clear reference to the signature rhetoric of the Bush era. "We should expose their claim to a compelling and overarching explanation and narrative as the lie that it is."
Con tried to bizarrely rearrange the foreign secretaries argument to fit in to his ideas and beliefs concerning this debate... Cons words in full were...

‘What the Secretary is espousing is that the rules of engagement in the fight against terrorism should be police rules with search warrants, lawyers, and forensic evidence gather on battlefields and presented in trials. ‘

If anybody would like to read the full article here is the link...as you will see it has nothing to do with what Con is talking about.,... http://www.guardian.co.uk...

The fact is readers is that if we fight this war in the name of ‘the war on terror' we are playing a dangerous game... The term is so loose.....as the article by the foreign secretary explains a state like America cannot ‘kill its way' out of trouble...what Con is suggesting is that America can simply blow away these invisible terrorists in a hail of bullets and bombs....does he realise that in the process America and its allies are killing innocent civilians who are misconceived as terrorists?..further alienating the world from Americas self imposed ‘crusade'........the more America continues to pursue an enemy is can neither find or destroy the more it will alienate the world from its cause and therefore will loose or find itself in a stalemate with its ‘war on terror'

Con once again wants to go back to this Cold War argument...he mentioned that the point was not ‘to remove an ideaology but to remove it as a significant threat'....well surely he cannot tell me that Russia is no longer a threat?....although Russia presents itself as a democracy or ‘democratic' it still has undertones of its communist past....Russia is rapidly rearming....the present regime is cutting down on press freedoms and it has recently invaded the small state of Georgia....Its Communists attributes are still there....this shows clearly that Americas economic victory was not enough to silence the Russian monster for long....an ideology grows the seeds of discontent which leads to rearming....and ideology leads to terrorism.... for Con to somehow say that an ideology is not important is nonsense....an ideology is the root that grows the problem in the first place....

Con talks about this new ‘war on terror' is also about stopping states producing and selling nuclear weapons to terrorist or using the weapons themselves against the west....i feel this is a half truth....i refuse to believe for a second that before 9/11 America was somehow not trying to stop nuclear weapons falling in to the hands of terrorists....its simply a continuation of a long American foreign policy...but unfortunately now comes under the meaningless banner of ‘the war on terror'....its not some new phenomenon.

Finally Con's ideas in regards to stopping small invisible clandestine terrorist's cells is not convincing....he claims the following....

‘ Pro asks what stops anyone from setting up a terrorist cell. There are several things. One is that there is limited supply of nutcases to recruit, and as civilization intrudes into the feudal strongholds of the world the supply will be diminished.'

Cons point is simplistic....is he telling me that the men who bombed the London underground came from ‘feudal strongholds'? No...they were born, educated, lived and worked in England....yet they carried out a devastating attack....the whole point why this type of terrorism is unique is that it draws men and women from all warps of life and from all over the world...it is not just from feudal strongholds with little bearded men waving a Koran which is what Con believes.....

Cons failure to understand the conflict is almost a metaphor of American foreign policy itself....America cannot defeat an ideology...America cannot chase an invisible enemy and invisible cells...Con offers no original argument to combat this.... I have shown this in all my arguments presented in both rounds...yet Con is trying to wean the debate to a more patriotic slant.

The motion stands.
RoyLatham

Con

The war on terror is a struggle against Muslim fanatics whose announced and reiterated goal is to kill or enslave everyone in the world who is opposed to their imposition of fanatical Muslim rule, with a priority on Americans. http://www.emergency.com... Their tactic is to inflict mass suffering on civilian populations in order intimidate governments into surrender. Winning the war on terror means reducing the terrorist threat to the point were it is insignificant compared to other problems faced by society. Primary tactics used against the terrorists are cutting off the money sources that fund them; removing the safe havens they use for training and planning; preventing the terrorists from getting nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons; defending civilian populations to minimize the intimidation; and contributing to the development of stable societies that do not foster terrorist extremism.

Pro argues that America cannot win the war on terror. He offers three contentions: (1) "you cannot wage war on an idea or 'ideology.' (2) "Americas continued presence in the [Middle East] ... will continue to increase hatred and suspicion among the people of the region," and (3) "America's idea of installing democracy in a country for the past 2,000 has been led by a Islamic constitution with Islamic beliefs and traditions is wrong."

1. Ideology

I gave numerous examples of ideologies being defeated, including Nazi fascism, Japanese militarism, Communism, and IRA terrorism. Pro countered that Communism and IRA terrorism were not defeated, because there were still believers who were causing trouble and hoped to rise again and a significant force. It's true that might happen, but right now they have been defeated -- they no longer constitute a threat that is significant compared to other more important threats to society. Pro ignored the examples of Nazi fascism and Japanese militarism. To argue the generality that no ideology can be defeated, there cannot be a single counterexample, which obviously there is.

2. Continuing Presence

Islamic terrorists are deeply upset by the existence of people who do not believe as they do. The Taliban destroyed the important historical Buddhist artefact's in Afghanistan. http://en.wikipedia.org... That was not due to a history of Buddhist occupation, because there was no such thing. It is a basic principle that all who do not support the terrorist ideals are infidels who must be destroyed. The death toll of people killed by Muslim terrorists is mainly Muslims.

Contrary to Pro's assertion, there is considerable terrorist activity in Germany http://nsecnetworks.net... http://www.nytimes.com... and France http://www.dinocrat.com.... In Germany attacks have been foiled in recent years, exactly as they have been in the United States. In France, attacks have been carried out.

I argued that killing fellow Muslims does not endear terrorists to the local population. That was a major factor in turning around the Iraq war. Pro ignored the argument, but it gives a strong reason why mere American presence does not make winning impossible. At this point, it's clear that winning in Iraq is possible. It hasn't happened yet, but it is clearly possible. Moreover, it's also clear that Americans do not want to stay in the Middle East. That's an important difference from, for example, previous era's of British, French, and Russian domination of various regions.

3. 2000 years of culture

Actually, Islam did not become established in the Middle East until about a thousand years ago. The relevance is that it is less socially evolved than other world regions. Under pressure of modern communications, we can expect the Muslim world to now evolve much more quickly, and that will damage the underpinnings of fanatical Islam. It is becoming apparent that there is more to life than jihad. Society is determined more strongly by how the current generation or two has been socialized, than by the previous millenia. Iraq, for example, had been dominated by Saddam, who wrought dramatic changes on the society. Japanese militarism was renounced in a generation, and Nazi fascism similarly renounced. Therefore, there is no grounds for supposing that it cannot happen in the Middle East.

I also argued that Islamic tradition should not be equated with fanatical jihadism. Defeating terrorism in no way implies a necessity to abolish Islamic society. Not one expects that to happen or believes it is part of the war on terror. The goal is solely to reduce terrorism to problem no worse than the other problems faced by societies.

Democracy

Pro ridicules the idea of installing democracy in a society that has been non-democratic for 2000 years. However, there were no democratic societies at all in the world until the late 17th century, so by Pro's argument there should be none now. In fact, there were very few democracies until the 20th century. After WWII, a democracy was installed in Japan in a decade, despite thousands of years of previous history. So it is clearly possible. However, installing democracies is not necessary to win the war on terror.

Bringing about democracy is one strategy, but it suffices that the society be inhospitable to terrorists for whatever reason. Reasons include economic dependence on the West and the desire of local rulers to stay in control. China is not a democracy, but nonetheless inhospitable to terrorists. the Chinese are willing to play games with terrorists internationally, but they have not and will not tolerate any terrorism within China.

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Throughout the debate, Pro has ignored counterexamples and counter arguments. That's the way he handled the example of the defeat of Nazi fascism as a counterexample to his contention that an ideology can never be defeated. By ignoring examples and arguments, he hopes they will go away.

However, when Pro is challenged with a question, he gets quite offended. I asked Pro whether a full scale WWII-style effort against terrorism, putting in 15 million troops with a total national commitment, would root out and destroy terrorism. For someone arguing that "America will never win the 'War on Terror'" that should be an easy question. I even hinted at possible answers: "That would win, but American will never do that." or "No, that won't win." But Pro never answered, instead hiding behind a flurry of indignation that he was asked. I think Pro realized where any answer would lead in the debate, and it wouldn't favor Pro's position.

The resolution is negated.
Debate Round No. 3
27 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by JeffTucker001 4 years ago
JeffTucker001
The tragedy in Boston is incomprehensible. However devastating, senseless and random terrorism on our soil may seem, terrorists striking America always lose.

The bombers in Boston lost, mere seconds after the bombs exploded. Instead of promulgating some thought or cause"be it politics or foreign policy"they lost. They"re losing today, and they will continue to lose for decades to come. We don't care to learn their names, their cause, or the state, city or country from which they hail. But they will feel justice.

While the cowards who triggered the bombs fled the scene, hundreds of "ordinary" Americans were unwittingly minted as heroes. But you see there is nothing ordinary about Americans. People of every religion, color, ethnic background and political party put aside their fears and sense of self preservation, and focused squarely on helping the injured. Our people have come to this country from every place in the world to be rich with what matters most"freedom, opportunity and religious rights. Our strength rests in these principles, and we steadfastly unite to protect them.

Our media"sometimes maligned from left, middle or right"provide the world with unparalleled and moving vignettes of heroism, sacrifice, tragedy and courage from responders and victims alike. We grieve and celebrate lives of those we lost, and embrace and give thanks for lives saved as one American family.

The survivors"both victims and family members will be surrounded by the love and support of friends, family and our citizenry. Many will have a long road to physical and emotional recovery. They will be lifted by our love, our hope and our admiration. Their recoveries and their stories that will be told in the months and years ahead will lift the spirit of our great nation. These attacks bring us together like no other event does.

As a nation, our prayers are with the injured and killed and their grieving families. As a nation, we are one family.
Posted by miketheman1200 4 years ago
miketheman1200
No the US cannot win the war on terror. It is silly to think that you could. All the resources and lives the US has exhausted and managed to take out al-queda bases that could always pop back up. SO WHAT? Well, we managed to piss of alot of people in the process, and kill a few thousand civilians.. That could never lead to retaliation by the people in these countries who are being killed. If they do we can call it terrorism and have something to fight. All the while keeping the middle east in a perpetual state of war to reduce the cost of oil for the rest of the world. A united Middle east would be very rich, very prosperous, and very modern...
Posted by RoyLatham 8 years ago
RoyLatham
MNR, I would never debate that America could not lose the war on terror. Of course we can lose. I also would not contest a resolution that America can go socialist and implode into a cheap imitation of Belgium. There's lots of evidence for that. But those are different topics ...
Posted by MidnightRambler 8 years ago
MidnightRambler
hmmmm....still its highly presumptious to say that iwasnt taking it seriously....after all its foolish write such thing on the internet when its hard to tell if someone is being serious or not.....i was taking it seriously...thats why i was a bit ittitated by your comment.

lol i always knew that starting a debate with the motion that america could actually loose at something was going to be an uphill struggle due to a large majority of the members of this site being american.... but i enjoyed the debate....made my evenings entertaining as i was scrabbling around with old university notes trying to find ideas. next time Mr latham your mine lol respect
Posted by alto2osu 8 years ago
alto2osu
I'm not absolutely sure why I was called a stupid person. I wasn't attacking you personally, but you seemed to feel the need to attack me?

I was simply put off by a comment that taking a debate seriously and posting well-articulated posts would be so apathetically treated by the opponent in the comments section. My interpretation of your comment was obviously not the same as yours. For confusion, I apologize, but your expectations don't seem to match the debate that occurred.
Posted by Jake4d 8 years ago
Jake4d
Bravo! Con. I am fairly new to this site, and debating in any formal way, and after reading the debate and all of the comments, I must say that I was impressed with your ability to remain on topic. I am afraid I would have wasted valuable time replying to "the only way to win is nuke'em all" comments.

Ideological and economic warfare is often more effective than pure military might.
Posted by RoyLatham 8 years ago
RoyLatham
M., I believe you did not think about the resolution carefully enough. I suspect you had in mind some resolution like, "The war on terror cannot be won strictly by military means." I would have agreed. However, the resolution exactly as stated is often repeated just as you phrased it, so I though it would be worthwhile to debate it as proposed. I don't think it was silly. The assertion reflects ideology trumping careful thinking. It happens a lot. It happens regularly by well-paid commentators.

I am honored to be compared to a teacher. You can call me "sensei." :)
Posted by MidnightRambler 8 years ago
MidnightRambler
I completely disagree...how can you claim or even know wheather if i was planning to have a 'silly debate'....in regards to my comments about Con i feel i was just saying what i felt thats all...i want to have a good debate but i feel cons style is a bit abrassive at times...there is nothing wrong with that, infact its an advantage.

How can you make such a comment that i wasnt planning to have a proper debate....go away you stupid person.
Posted by alto2osu 8 years ago
alto2osu
It's unfortunate to read comments in which debaters and spectators alike want to lower the standard of intelligent debate. If you want a silly debate, post a silly topic on a silly website. Why wouldn't you expect intelligent debate online?

As for my vote, I gave it mostly to con. Though the pro makes plenty of reasonable arguments, they aren't well extended or developed (at least not as well as con). This is probably because the pro was expecting something less than a proper debate, which is unfortunate.

For example, I completely agree that the war on terror cannot be defined via conventional definitions of war. The very nature of conflict in the Middle East is uncomparable to IRA conflicts or the Cold War (moreso the Cold War than the IRA, since the IRA represents a "terrorist" organization of sorts, although that is contestable, as well), and that the ways in which Middle Eastern terrorists operate cannot be extinguished by US armed forces.

However, the argument was presented entirely the wrong way.
Posted by MidnightRambler 8 years ago
MidnightRambler
LOL...i really enjoyed this debate however i found my opposition rather aggressive and a bit...well....i dunno to anal to say the least.....It was like debating against a teacher....o well.
13 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
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Reasons for voting decision: Go to hell, firewings.
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Vote Placed by miketheman1200 4 years ago
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Vote Placed by alto2osu 8 years ago
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