The Instigator
Con (against)
0 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
7 Points

Terrorism in general will be best defeated by military means (war).

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/25/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,701 times Debate No: 5527
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (6)
Votes (1)




Since I am Con I will allow my oppenent to provide his/her case for why terrorism will be best defeated by war, and then rebutt. They must prove that war is the best solution, and that other options are not sufficient in order to win this debate. No semantics please.

Academic Consensus Definition: "Terrorism is an anxiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action, employed by (semi-) clandestine individual, group or state actors, for idiosyncratic, criminal or political reasons, whereby - in contrast to assassination - the direct targets of violence are not the main targets. The immediate human victims of violence are generally chosen randomly (targets of opportunity) or selectively (representative or symbolic targets) from a target population, and serve as message generators. Threat- and violence-based communication processes between terrorist (organization), (imperilled) victims, and main targets are used to manipulate the main target (audience(s)), turning it into a target of terror, a target of demands, or a target of attention, depending on whether intimidation, coercion, or propaganda is primarily sought" (Schmid, 1988).


"I support your war of terror!" (Borat)

Proposition (as revised by both parties in the Comments section):
"War is the best way to fight international terrorism"

War is to be defined (also by agreement in Comments) to mean international or domestic military action sponsored by the government and targeted against any state, group or individual.

We should also be aware that "military" is not limited to the "typical" armed forces (in the USA: Army, USAF, Navy) but can include mercenaries, intelligence services and law enforcement services.

At the outset, this is not going to be an easy argument for Pro. The reason is, I am asked to exclude all other methods of combating international terrorism to show that military intervention is the best option. My opponent is likely in his second post to bring up a method I have not excluded (simply said, "missed). Fortunately I will get a chance to rebutt that in the next, penultimate, round.

The targets of terrorism, by definition, are usually "innocent" people, that is people who are not the terrrorist's "main targets". In many if not most situations, terrorists do not discriminate on the basis of age or gender. They will target whoever they need to to inspire anxiety and increase the chances of reaching their goal. The victims are usually non-combatants, including children. They are people who basically found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Buses, planes, crowded places and high-rise buildings are some of the examples of terrorist targets.

Given the above, terrorists tend to have a value set different to most of us. They have a low respect for human life. They are usually prepared to die for their cause (no doubt my opponent will try to use that in his favour). To some terrorists death is just a possibility (plane hi-jacking, planting a subway bomb), whereas others are on a suicide mission (suicide bombings, 9/11).
It is arguable that people who are prepared to die for their cause have the ULTIMATE COMMITMENT to that cause. Their motives may vary. The vast majority of terrorists, however, are driven by religious or political motives (will provide sources if challenged to).

1. Education
2. Economic aid
3. Negotiation
4. "due process" (arrest, trial, imprisonment)
5. Eradication

1. Education
One might argue that by promoting education, we may be able to reduce terrorism. For example, we might be able to re-educate ultra-fundamental-islamists to understand that the West is not attempting to eradicate their religion, that the Western culture is tolerant, that we have no imperialistic ambitions.
How will this work? How do we propose to infiltrate their training bases and Mosques in third-world countries with a taskforce of teachers? Anyone who has ever argued with a fanatic (not limiting to Muslem fanatics...some examples of such arguments can be seen on this website) will know that no logic can be applied to overcome a set of deeply seeded dogmas and beliefs. The Tooth Fairy created the wolrd, told me to destroy all those who don't believe in the Tooth Fairy. That's all I know, all I accept. Anyone who tries to convince me otherwise is my enemy and must be killed.
People will not be educated unless they are prepared to listen.
Education would also in many cases involve re-educating large parts of entire nations (in countries where governments support terrorism). In those situations, without the cooperation of their governments, the only way to achieve this would be through a regime change and that in turn could only be achieved through war (on a much larger scale than that proposed by myself).

2. Economic aid
Terrorism is not driven by poverty. It is driven by unfaltering loyalty to a cause, whether political, religious or otherwise.
Secondly, by providing economic aid to "terror-breeding" countries/regions, we would be sending out a message. The message is "we will buy you off". There is no deterrent in this. This is in fact encouragement.
Thirdly, this option would be so vastly expensive that it simply would not be attainable.

3. Negotiation
Negotiating with terrorists is the worst option of all. It shows terrorists worldwide that their activities attract the right kind of attention, that whenever they want to be listened to, their wishes considered, their cause given the time of the day, all they have to do is just bomb another bus. Again, this is encouragement.

4. Due process
Of all the alternatives to war, this one appears the most compelling. In fact, it is a concept we are very comfortable with in our culture.
Arrest, trial, punishment.
However, in order to fight terrorism, punishment would have to have some deterrent value. It would have to have the effect of scaring other potential offenders against the conduct in issue. Will this work with terrorists? I contend it would not, for the following reasons:
a) Terrorists are people with no value for life. This usually (though not always) includes their own life. They are often prepared to die for their cause. They are not scared of going to prison. Due process involves a lengthy pre-trial process, followed by trial. There is even a prospect of aquittal.
b) If history is to teach us any lessons, there have been many cases of terrorists hijacking planes or kidnapping civilians only to demand the release of other imprisoned terrorists in exchange for the freedom of their victims.
c) To arrest an international terrorist, one must first find him/her. This will often involve penetrating the borders of a foreign state (which often supports terrorism at least covertly), kidnapping the target and extracting him/her. If resistance is met (and I dare say more often than not it WILL be met) this is WAR (as per definition).

5. Military action
My opponent will no doubt point out that killing terrorists through military action has no deterrent value because (as per my own argument) terrorists are usually prepared to die for their cause in the first place. Their death creates "heros/martyrs". That may be true, to an extent. However, military action doesn't just affect the terrorist. It also affects his community. It does have a deterrent effect. It can also have a pre-emptive effect. With skillful intelligence, one can attack terrorist cells and camps before they carry out their planned acts of terror. Furthermore, war does not necessarily involve killing. One can target terrorist assets.
By bringing war to the international terrorist we bring the fight to his backyard. It enables us to carefully watch the area, to infilrtrate the terrorists' ranks, to ally ourselves with local groups, to in effect prevent or minimise future acts by the particular group.
Is this fighting terror with terror? To an extent. Except we are not attacking innocents on a bus. We target the terrorist.

I have no dobut my opponent will provide other alternatives and I look forward to the opportunity of discussing them.
Debate Round No. 1


First of all, thank you for excepting this debate. Rest assured that you will not be condemned for "missing" a potential strategy or option for combating terrorism. The one's you did provide were all the options that I could think of, with one exception. I will get to that exception later on in the round.

1. Education
Part 1 - Our Education
Contrary to popular belief, I would like to argue that it is not the education of the terrorists, or potential terrorists, that needs improved, but of those trying to thwart their plots. "We in this country... don't understand the Muslim fundamentalists today.... In any event, the fact is that at the senior levels of Government we did not have a deep understanding of the people we were involved with [during the Vietnam war]; we didn't know their history, their culture, their politics, their personalities." That was a quote from former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, and I think is dead on with regard to our present conflict. The reality is that we don't understand the people that we are dealing with, nor their reasons for hating the U.S. The "they hate us for our freedom's" line is an utter fabrication.

Part 2 - Education of a Terrorist
Most people view terrorists as poor, radical, and uneducated, but the opposite is true. Both a high school degree, and at least some college education are positive indicators for terrorist involvement. A study by Claude Berrebi compared those involved with Hamas and PIJ with the Palestinian population where a majority of them come from. First, 31 percent of the Palestinians, compared to only 16 percent of the terrorists, were characterized as poor. Second, out of 208 observations in which information about the terrorist's education was available, 96 percent have at least a high school education (that's higher than the percentage of US citizens with a high school degree) and 65 percent have some kind of higher education, compared to 51 percent and 15 percent, respectively, in the Palestinian population of same age, sex and religion. [Source is "Evidence about the link between education, poverty, and terrorism among Palestinians"] These people don't need more education.

2. Economic Aid
I don't believe that economic aid is the right answer either. They don't need social welfare, nor opportunity (Many are well educated as stated before) but a chance to express themselves.

3. Negotiation
I believe we may actually have something here. Now while you can't sit down with someone from a terrorist cell and attempt to talk them out of their position, you can negotiate resolutions with governments. Take for example the Israeli/Palestinian conflict that has be going on since 1948, and even before. If a workable solution could be negotiated then I believe that both sides would enjoy increased security. More on this later.

4. Due process
I believe that due process should be given to any person(s) detained by the United States. It is part of the moral fabric of this country, and if we have lost that then we have lost a part of what made the US great. We have lost our good standing in the world, and by denying people their rights we only assist in our own demise. Though due process is important for those who are captured, it is not a means of defeating terrorism.

Now up until this point we have agreed (education, poverty), and disagreed (negotiations, due process) on course of action a bit. Now it's time to get into the real meat of the argument, military action, and most importantly its consequences.

Military Action
Let us first discuss the notion that military actions create heroes and martyrs. To that I say that you are absolutely correct, and if you would have stopped there you would have had a sound argument. Unfortunately you went on to suggest a corollary to that, which was that it also has a deterrent effect on the community at large. This I'm afraid is illogical, and non-factual. Take for instance the level of terrorism in the country of Iraq pre-war, and post-war. In October of 2003 alone Iraq suffered from more suicide attacks than it had in its entire history as a country. Since the U.S. and our ever dwindling allies have waged our war on terrorism the number of terrorist attacks has increased every year. I find it hard to believe that force can effectively be used as a deterrent to terrorists, or potential ones.

The U.S. has succeeded in destroying the number of camps from which Al Qaeda (AQ from now on) operates, and killed many of its core leadership, but the threat that it poses to the world has increased dramatically. Between 2000-03 AQ carried out more than 100 operations killing thousands. The only thing that our military has succeeded in doing is making their network more decentralized and fluid, and thus harder to track and infiltrate. AQ has become less dependent on Bin Laden, and is now more capable then ever to go on without him. One of the main problems now is trying to infiltrate these cells since they are mainly friends and acquaintances who form the cells. A common misconception is that AQ goes out recruiting people, and offering money to those who will join there Jihad. In fact, one must actually pay AQ for the training received, and equipment used. Young Muslims are not being indoctrinated in their madrassas and mosques, but turned towards Jihad because of the perceived injustice of foreign troops in their land. With no political voice they turn to terrorism as a way to get what a more civilized nation allows for, a political voice. A June 2003 PEW research poll showed that America is not on the correct track with 7% of Saudis viewing the U.S. favorably, 20% of Pakistanis and Turks, 2% of Palestinians, and 1% of Lebanese. Many of our former European allies do not think we are on the right track either, and to combat the growing number of radical Muslims we need as many allies as we can get.
Now that I have refuted your position, allow me to present my own. I think a good place to start would be examining why there is such hatred for the US globally. Many feel that the terrorists hate us because of our freedoms, and have a desire to spread Islam throughout the world. Prominent neoconservatives David Frum and Richard Perle put this view bluntly in their 2003 book An End to Evil. "The terrorists espouse an ideology of conquest, just as the Nazis and Soviets did... "A radical strain within Islam has declared war on us. This strain seeks to overthrow our civilization and remake the nations of the West into Islamic societies, imposing on the whole world its religion and its law. . . . In militant Islam, we face an aggressive ideology of world domination." If one was to examine what Osama actually said you would get a very different picture though. James Payne looked through 24 documents from 1994-2004 and found that Osama and AQ have been completely misunderstood. He found that in Osama's messages 72% was spent criticizing the US and Israel, 21% criticizing Saudi leadership (mostly for allowing US troops in the country), 5% praising martyrdom, and 1% on his personal life, western culture, and an invitation to Islam. A measly one percent of his doctrine is based on an *invitation* to Islam.
Just by removing our troops from other countries we could drastically reduce the number of suicide attacks in the world. In place of our troops we can support democracy in the region, and moderate groups. It is important that governments reflect the views of their own people so they don't appear to be US proxies as the Iraqi government looks to its people. Regime change doesn't need to be done militarily as you suggested above, but instead must be done gradually and politically. A regime change done by force lacks the legitimacy that a government needs to succeed, and that is what you see in Iraq rights now.
There is much more to be said, and some thoughts I need to finish from this round, but I have run out of space. To be continued


I thank my opponent for his response.

I will now turn to his points one by one.

1. Education of ourselves
I agree that knowing one's enemy is very important in any conflict.

2. Economic aid - this is settled and not in issue.

3. Negotiation.
My opponent is here suggesting that resolutions should be negotiated with governments. Let me give an example of what he appears to be saying. Let us say that a large number of Germans decide that the entire western part of the country known as Poland should really be part of Germany. Most Germans voice this in discussions and protests. However, a small German faction infiltrates Poland and the Czech republic and begins bombing school buses. What my opponent is suggesting is that members of that faction (who are waging war against innocent civilians) should not be attacked with force. Rather, the world should now turn their mind to the issues and commence negotiations between the German and Polish governments in order to reach compromise. What he is suggesting is that we should send out the message to terrorists that their murderous acitivities will attract the exact kind of attention that they want. With respect, I disagree.

4. Due process - not an issue - settled

5. The remainder of my opponent's argument will require more thorough consideration.

Firstly, he contends that between 2000-2003 AQ carried out more than 100 operations and killed thousands. I would like him to present some evidence of this, as my reasearch returned something in the vicinity of 10-15 attacks.

Secondly, my opponent is suggesting that the "hatred" towards the USA amongst some Muslims arises from the fact that the US has troops stationed in foreign nations. That may well be true. It may well be true that the invasion of Afghanistan and of Iraq has prompted a rise in terrorism.

However, we must remember that G.W. Bush and his allies attacked Iraq on the pretense of a presence there of weapons of mass destruction. The country was invaded (against international law and without the UN's approval and irrespective of the pleas of wmd inspectors) and a regime change was forced upon it. The attack on Iraq was an attack on a sovereign country (whether Saddam was a cruel authocrat or not). I concede that it made the USA unpopular. I further say it is not just the Muslim world that has formed some negative views of the USA as a result of the Gulf War. Attacks on Americans present in Iraq (while could be classed as terrorist) are attacks against an invading force (and their civilian aids). They are often not attacks on targets 'other than the real target'. To an extent (and without legitimising them!) they may constitute guerilla warfare.

Bush's attack on Afghanistan and his removal of the Taliban regime may also have been a rash decision. Arguably it WAS claimed to be part of the War on Terror. However, again, it involved an attack on a sovereign country and an attempt to change its regime. Coalition troops are still stationed in Afghanistan and having a fairly hard time.

My contention NEVER was that military reaction should involve mass invasions of countries and forced regime changes.

The fact that one president of one country has made a bad decision as to how to conduct military conflict (albeit he did have allies), does not mean that military conflict should not be applied against terrorism generally.

I would like to point out that AQ is not a very helpful example in this debate. It is confined to one country (the USA) and its current low standing in some parts of the world due to its perceived "expansionist and imperialistic" policy.

Even within the limited discussion about AQ, however, it should be pointed out that AQ has conducted terrorist activities on many occasions prior to 9/11 and it has done so on 3 continents. I will not argue with the assertion that Osama Bin Laden has a particular dislike of the USA. Let us keep in mind however that Islamic terrorism predates the USA by many many years, with its beginnings as far back as the 11th century (the Hashashins).

My opponent and I are in agreement as to the above statement. That is clear from his argument. Terrorism is a method that some people employ to achieve their cause, to attract attention. Currently there are over 50 terrorist groups worldwide listed by US authorities (
Their goals vary. Their interests vary. Their nationalities vary. Many of them have their respective political "fronts" (I take it my opponent will accept this as common knowledge but if challenged I will provide references).
Yes, of course the fact that someone conducts terrorist warfare is an indication that they're not happy about the status quo. I point out that there will ALWAYS be people unhappy about the status quo. We live in a world of limited resources, with groups disagreeing over territory, ethnicity, religion, money, natural resources. Of course it would be nice to have all these problems eliminated, to live in a world where everyone gets along. We should work towards it. We can make the world a better place. But it will never be perfect and without conflict. That is Utopia.

Whether or not the end objectives of groups whose interests are represented by terrorists are legitimate is irrelevant. Whether it is feasable to reach agreement with those groups is also irrelevant. The end objectives of the groups should be addressed if raised by them in a proper forum (yes, those DO exist!). However, they must not be allowed to think that by bombing a bus or kidnapping a civilian they are given attention. That would only legitimise their methods. They (and others) would only think that if they have a grievance and are not listened to all they have to do is bomb another bus. No, to the contrary. They must be shown that those activities fall upon deaf ears. "Engage in terrorism and we will NOT hear you. But we will find you. We will destroy you and your facilities. You want war, you get war".

With all due respect, the course my opponent is suggesting would only result in legimisation of terrorism as a means of attracting attention, of coming to the negotiating table. It would result in a global proliferation of terrorism. In my submission that is simply unacceptable. In fact it is exactly what the terrorist is hoping to achieve!

I will also point out that I am dissatisfied with my working conditions. I am underpaid. No one listens. Industrial action has not helped. Perhaps if someone out there did something drastic enough on my behalf, that would make some decision-makers notice me and my concerns. Perhpaps I would get a payrise.

No, no no. And again NO. We must not and we cannot afford to negotiate with terrorists. We must not let them think that killing non-combatants will draw attention to their cause (whatever it may be). I strongly oppose.
Debate Round No. 2


I will quote my opponent in this round. Let me apologize for summarizing, I hope I accurately do so. I would encourage all readers to read his entire argument/statement in the previous round so we all avoid confusion.

1. Negotiating
I don't think there's any need for hypothetical situations, considering there's a completely valid occurrence in our world. Now when I suggest negotiations, I am suggesting that Israel and the Palestinian government should work out an agreement. I don't think that the Pal aggression is any different than the Israeli aggression in Lebanese territory, and the terrible living conditions that Israel allows in the West Bank and Gaza strip. Israel has violated many UN Resolutions, and expanded past its territorial borders. Both parties are at fault here, and Israel is arguably an equal to the Palestinians when it comes to sponsoring terrorism.

2. "Firstly, he contends that between 2000-2003 AQ carried out more than 100 operations and killed thousands. I would like him to present some evidence of this, as my research returned something in the vicinity of 10-15 attacks."

On this point, I would refer you to Scott Atran's paper entitled "The Strategic Threat From Suicide Terror." You'll find it in the second paragraph of the paper.

3. "we must remember that G.W. Bush and his allies attacked Iraq on the pretense of a presence there of weapons of mass destruction." "Bush's attack on Afghanistan and his removal of the Taliban regime... Arguably it WAS claimed to be part of the War on Terror... it involved an attack on a sovereign country and an attempt to change its regime."

Yes, that may have been the main reason for attack, but I don't think anyone would deny that they also said that Saddam had links to AQ, and was a sponsor of terrorism himself. Secondly, the reason we are still there is because of AQ in Iraq. They may not have been there when we went, but they showed up and we continue to fight them now. On Afghanistan, the main reason we went there was the Taliban and AQ. This was the poster child for the War on Terrorism, and if this is not an example of using military force to defeat terrorism then I don't know what is.
Please forgive me if I have misrepresented your position, or not understood your point. As far as Iraq and Afghanistan go though, it is a terrible policy.

4.Terrorism as a means, not an end
The problem here is you fail to address why the terrorists do what they do. When the US and Israel and the West sit on their throne and say we will not deal with you so long as you act this way, it does nothing. This has been the Israeli policy, and it is the policy that the US has adopted. Now while I admit that negotiating with people, and governments who sponsor terror is not ideal, there is no other option. Israel wants to live in peace, and the Palestinians want there land back. Now obviously Israel should be allowed to live in peace, but they also should not be expanding out past their territorial borders. Again, both sides are at fault, and this needs to be addressed. Each side can say stop what you are doing or we won't negotiate, but this is completely circular and nothing will ever get done. The problem with your argument is that you have conceded that these people aren't crazy, they want something and that is why they do this. So I think it is logical that if both sides could come to an agreement, and Israel gave the Palestinians their land back, and allowed them to have a state that most of these problems would be resolved. Give the Palestinians a state, and a legitimate government. Give them a way to voice their opinions, and live in peace.
You have been given the opportunity to vote, and be a part of choosing who represents you. There are people in your government who have fought to give all Americans an opportunity to receive a decent wage. Most of these people don't have that going for them. I believe that if they perceived the Americans to be fighting with them, and for them, instead of against them that we'd be much better off.
The United States has killed more non-combatants than all terrorist organizations put together. We attacked a regime in Iraq that posed absolutely no threat to us, and it is questionable whether we knew that or not before we ever invaded. We have threatened to attack Iran if they continue with the nuclear program while providing Israel with billions of dollars in aid, and watching quietly as they have built their nuclear arsenal up. We supported Saddam in the 1980's in his war against Iran, and provided him with the technology to build his original chemical program. We overthrew a democratic government in Iran to install a terrible dictator, and have repeatedly put sanctions on them since they overthrew him. Now why might they hate us?
Let me clarify. Saddam was a terrible dictator, but he was no threat to the US, and war was not our best option. The Iranian theocracy is a terrible government, but threatening them only scares the people closer to their dictators which is counter productive. Again, the people of the middle east much see that we are for them, and not against them.

5. Solution
We must negotiate with governments when and where we can to resolve our disputes with them, and without preconditions. We must support democratic movements, not try to create them ourselves. I know this doesn't deal directly with the threat of terrorism, but that's the problem. It isn't a quick fix. We must work to improve the conditions that these people live in and work to integrate them into their government. War is not an option when it comes to winning hearts and minds.

6. My opponents arguments
While he has tried to show fault in my arguments, he has not provided statistics, information, or a strategy for his side. He says military action is the best way, but what does that include? Why is that better than what I suggest? Since he is PRO he will have to do more, in my opinion, to win this debate.


I will begin by addressing my opponent's last point.
The resolution stipulates that War (defined as government-sponsored armed action) is the best way to defeat terrorism. My opponent suggests that showing fault in his arguments would not be enough to win this debate.
The concept of "best" necessarily entails relativity. "Best" is "better than all others". I therefore contend (as I did in my first post) that to win this argument I need to eliminate all other reasonable alternatives as inferior to military conflict.
Do I need to cite statistics? I contend that I do not. Am I entitled to appeal to the readers' logical thinking alone? I contend that I am.

*Why military action is better than my opponent's suggestion*

With respect, my opponent has not suggested any strategy to fight terrorism. He suggested, in a nutshell, that if people could eliminate conflict then terrorism (as a means of dealing with conflict) would necessarily also be eliminated. That much is true. It is also impossible to achieve. As long as there are humans and limited resources and difference of opinion and competing interests there will be conflict. My opponent's long term solution is by all means a valid proposition. It's a solution to minimize war and conflict. It is NOT a solution to deal with terrorism as a means of achieving one's goals.

*My position regarding negotiations with terrorism*

I again repeat my firm contention that negotiating with terrorists is the absolutely worst way of dealing with terror as a method of fighting a war. Equally, showing terrorists that by their activities they will attract the attention they want, parties will come to a negotiating table, their demands will be considered, only amounts to legitimizing terrorism as a means of dealing with conflict. Let us remember, terrorists are people who attack "innocents". Do we want to show them that that strategy works? This is not a matter of statistics. This is a matter of common sense.

I will now turn to my opponent's arguments in his last post.


The Israel situation.
I agree with my opponent that both parties take part in atrocities. I do not contest his statement that Israel sponsors what also amounts to terrorism.
Yes, the governments should be encouraged to talk. And they have been. In January 2005 a truce was announced by PRC and FAMB. This notwithstanding, terror attacks against Israel remained high, motivation to engage in terror remained high and the number of Kassam rocket attacks in fact increased (
Even if there ever is an end to the Israel situation, it will not have any bearing on the use of terrorism as a method of dealing with conflict. Other dissatisfied groups and factions around the world will have no reasons not to engage in terrorism. In fact, the opposite will be true. They will know that waging terror wars gives them the attention they want. It will in fact encourage them.

2. AQ operations 2000-03
Whilst I could take issue with the statistics mentioned (eg, the writer referred to by my opponent quotes his source very vaguely in effect making it untraceable), I will not. It is obvious that an invasion of an entire country coupled with the toppling of its government will be met by resistance. I never once suggested that Bush's war on terror should be supported or considered as a proper way of fighting terrorism.
I do not and have not supported either his invasion of Afghanistan or that of Iraq (see my debate on Bush being USA's "best president").
Again, this does not mean that military action is not the best way to deal with terrorism. It just means that invasion and forced regime change are likely to lead to a longer conflict. Is that any surprise?
Having said the above, three points need to be made:
a)evidence exists that as at September 2008, AQ has been significantly weakened in Iraq, if not dismissed entirely. This is said to be largely due to the "Sunni Awakening Councils, former tribal leaders and insurgents who turned against al-Qaeda in Iraq as it became increasingly sectarian, and sided with the U.S" (
b)AQ's operations against American interests originated with Bin Laden's 1996 Fatwa ( This Fatwa pre-dates 9/11. It pre-dates Afghanistan. It pre-dates Iraq.
c)AQ itself has been said to concede that they are losing the ‘war on terror'.(

Many people around the world have voiced their opposition to Bush's attacks on Afghanistan (to a lesser extent) and Iraq. They have spoken, they have published, they have demonstrated. The USA has lost many friends. Does this justify terror as a method of voicing such opposition? Of course not.

4. My opponent suggests we look at why terrorists do what they do
The answer is: to achieve what they want. AQ wants to rid the world of USA's influence. IRA wants a Republic. PLO wants a Palestinian state. Again, there are over 50 FBI-listed terror organizations around the world.
And again, by suggesting that we listen to their concerns once they have stepped on the terrorist path, we are legitimizing their methods. Terror is a means. It is not an end.

I agree that the USA has killed huge numbers of non-combatants. I agree that invading Iran would be a horrible mistake. I would go on to suggest that Clinton's ultimatum on Serbia was in itself state terrorism. Does that diminish my argument? Of course not.

5. My opponent's solution
Supporting democracy is a great idea to make the world a better place. That is, if one believes that democracy is indeed the best system. There are, however, those who suggest that there is no evidence that democracy leads to less terrorism (
The UK is a democracy and yet just consider IRA. Israel is a democracy. Russia (presumably) was a democracy. And yet consider Chechnya.
You will not win everyone's heart. It is impossible to satisfy everyone. As long as there are humans, there will be conflict. Those choosing terrorism to deal with it must be shown that their methods do not work.

6. My "strategy"
What I advocate is not a new concept. It essentially entails tactical counter-terrorism. Relying on intelligence to find terror cells and destroying them quickly and where possible covertly. Most countries have their tactical counter-terrorist forces. This is the war I'm advocating. Not one where entire countries are invaded. What we need is better intelligence and more information sharing between allied governments.

At the end I will point out that I have never in my life voted for a representative in the US Congress (or any US state legislative body). When I did live in the USA, I was not its citizen and was too young to vote in any event. It appears that my opponent is making an assumption. In fact, most of his argument appears US-centred. I do not blame him for it. However, I will make the general point that this results in grossly limiting the scope of a very very broad global issue.
Debate Round No. 3


bfitz1307 forfeited this round.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have come to the final round of this debate. I will now briefly summarise the arguments.

I have opened by asserting that in order to prove the resolution all I need to do is demonstrate that "war" is a better means of defeating terrorism than any reasonable alternative. My opponent and I appear to have agreed as to what alternatives are available. I have raised some alternatives, he has raised others.

With respect, through the entire debate, my opponent has not addressed the issue of fighting terrorism. Rather, he has proposed (broadly speaking) that if the world were a better place there would be no terror. He is technically correct. In a perfect world there would be no conflict and therefore no terror. But perfect worlds are not easy to come by. I have rebutted my opponent's point by saying that as long as there are humans and limited resources and differences of opinion, there will be conflict. I further contended (and still do) that terror must be fought as a means and not an end. My opponent has suggested that we look at why terrorists do what they do. I negate that. I have firmly contended throughout this debate that terrorists are not to be given the attention they are trying to get. They are not to be shown that their methdos are working. To send them that message would mean to invite more conflicted groups and individuals to turn to terror.

nb. If there were no humans, there would be no terror. By extension, the best and fool-proof way of fighting terrorism is to nuke the entire earth. And that really means war. (this is of course not to be taken seriously!)

Much has been made of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars in this debate. I never said I agreed with those wars. However, I have showed some evidence (see round 3) that the Iraq situation has in fact been somewhat successful in fighting AQ. Whether that is believed or not is irrelevant. The Iraq and Afghan conflicts are not good examples for this debate. They are extreme examples of war. They are invasions of sovereign countries coupled with a toppling of their regimes, all on dubious legal and moral grounds.

The war I have suggested is on a much smaller scale. It still meets the definition of war. ("international or domestic military action sponsored by the government and targeted against any state, group or individual" - as agreed by the parties in Comments). I have contended that terrorism should be attacked by the use of elite counter-terrorist troops, preferably covert. In other words, they won't know what has hit them. They won't know against whom to retaliate. But they will know that someone is onto them. This will instill fear in other potential terrorists. It is not a new concept and it has been done for many many years by various governments of the world.

My opponent has not responded to my last round and chose instead to forfeit.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have showed that my opponent's suggested alternatives would not work. It does not take statistics and science to work that out. All you need to do is use common sense. Sending a message to terrorists that their tactics achieve their purpose, that it gives them the attention they need, is effectively legitimising terrorism as a means of fighting a conflict. This includes negotiations.

Having rebutted my opponent's proposed methods of fighting terrorism and having presented a workable method of fighting a war against terrorists (not perfect, but workable), and having met no rebuttal to my last argument, I contend that I have proven the resolution. Although it may go against our natural instincts as human beings, although it may be sad, although it may be costly, war (in its small-scale, precise, intelligence-based version) is unfortunately the only viable option when it comes to fighting terrorism.

I now ask that you vote Pro.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 4
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by Lightkeeper 9 years ago
Thanks for replying so quickly :)
Well I don't know if I was wrong. It just depends on how you define "war".
Wiki (and some others) might say "War is an international relations dispute, characterized by organized violence between national military units." But if you take a broader meaning of "war" then you're simply saying "armed conflict sponsored by the government, domestically or otherwise". I'm happy with that but I hope you can see the reason why I wanted to post all that here so we don't end up arguing semantics in the rounds.
I'm happy to argue the proposition as stated by you here (international terrorism). Otherwise we get into all sorts of problems. For example, I don't think you ever expected me to try and argue that the US government should send in the FBI and shoot on-sight members of a domestic terror cell without first attempting to arrest, torture and interrogate them :D
Ok, so "War is the best way to fight international terrorism", where war is as per your definition below or mine above (same thing I suggest).
Thanks. Will post shortly.
Posted by bfitz1307 9 years ago
By the way, your first observation in your comment is wrong. "A state cannot use war to fight terrorism on its own soil." Afghanistan and Iraq are both countries that are fighting a war against terrorism that is raging within their borders. The tactics that they are using are clearly those of a country at war. The way I intend the word war to be understood, within the parameters of this debate, is any action of military agression against an individual, or group deemed to be involved in terrorism. Sorry for not being clear enough at first, but now let's get to the real debate. Thank you for accepting, and good luck!
Posted by bfitz1307 9 years ago
Would you agree to a debate with the resolution, "War is the best way to fight international terrorism?" I would debate that topic with you. I would of course remain Con, and you Pro. Sorry I wasn't clear enough for you Lightkeeper. Hopefully we can get this debate moving now.
Posted by Lightkeeper 9 years ago
Oh, is THAT what happens when you accidentally click on "post commments" twice in quick succession? :o LOL
Posted by Lightkeeper 9 years ago
Given that my opponent does not wish to have a semantic debate, I would like to clarify some things before beginning the debate proper.
I am firmly convinced that my opponent wants to argue the real issues as opposed to semantics. This leads me to believe that he is bona fide regarding this debate. In other words, he does not seek to simply entrap his opponent. Why do I say this?
Well, the term "war" (without the qualification "civil") applies to international armed conflicts. The term "terrorism" applies to both international and domestic terrorism.
The two concepts do not meet on the same platform.
Thus, there are two possible debates here:
1. Application of force is the best way to fight terrorism generally; or
2. War is the best way to fight international terrorism.

I say this because it's very clear that a state cannot use war to fight terrorism on its own soil.
I also understand that the debate should proceed on the broader scope of the definition of "war". In other words, a government sending troops into the territory of another state without that other state's consent to attack a terrorist cell (but not to attack the armed forces of that other country) would be within the definition of war.

Please clarify these so that I know with more precision what we are to argue.
Posted by Lightkeeper 9 years ago
Given that my opponent does not wish to have a semantic debate, I would like to clarify some things before beginning the debate proper.
I am firmly convinced that my opponent wants to argue the real issues as opposed to semantics. This leads me to believe that he is bona fide regarding this debate. In other words, he does not seek to simply entrap his opponent. Why do I say this?
Well, the term "war" (without the qualification "civil") applies to international armed conflicts. The term "terrorism" applies to both international and domestic terrorism.
The two concepts do not meet on the same platform.
Thus, there are two possible debates here:
1. Application of force is the best way to fight terrorism generally; or
2. War is the best way to fight international terrorism.

I say this because it's very clear that a state cannot use war to fight terrorism on its own soil.
I also understand that the debate should proceed on the broader scope of the definition of "war". In other words, a government sending troops into the territory of another state without that other state's consent to attack a terrorist cell (but not to attack the armed forces of that other country) would be within the definition of war.

Please clarify these so that I know with more precision what we are to argue.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by InquireTruth 9 years ago
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