Chris B. Michigan

The War on Terror and the Struggle for Peace

Imagine all the People living in Peace... -John Lennon

Dear Future President,

What do you think of when you picture the United States? Do you imagine halcyon skies and amber waves of grain? What about all of our citizens living in peace, holding hands and singing Kumbaya? Or are those things the misconceptions you wish to pour out upon this Nation, whilst simultaneously sweeping the important issues and controversies under the hypothetical rug. This country needs a strong, level-headed leader and realist who can address these problems head on; someone who can face the music.

The United States is feared and awed globally. We present ourselves as the world’s largest, most free powerhouse, that will stop at nothing in order to uphold justice and freedom. Yet, in reality, we give off the impression that we are a nation with a strong blood-lust. The source of said blood-lust stems from the United States’ involvement and protocol dealing with Terrorism and Islamic Radicals. As a nation, we uphold the standard that we do not negotiate with terrorists, and we go about dealing with them in a, “shoot first, ask questions later” mindset. Yet as a country one would think that we would have learned by now that this tactic, these strategies, do not work any longer. The world has been thrown into the age of Terror, and we as a Nation do not know how to handle it, besides filling it with lead and waterboarding it into submission. Simply look at the horrendous torture methods employed in the Guantanamo Bay and Abu-Ghraib prison camps. Men and Women were treated horrendously and in nefarious ways; they were made to be less than human. As The Justice Campaign states, “The methods authorised included: stress positions, mock executions, solitary confinement, hooding and other forms of sensory deprivation, removal of ‘comfort items’, forced nudity, forced grooming, taking advantage of the detainees fears (dogs), exposure to cold weather or water and allowing an interrogator to use ‘a wet towel and dripping water to induce the misperception of suffocation,” (The Justice Campaign). And even though all of these methods were legalized for interrogations, The United States is the one who chose to use these tactics over simple questioning and interrogation. As one of the world’s most powerful countries, we should set the example for the rest of the world, and this example, is peace.

The world does not need more violence, and as Gandhi says, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”. The answer to Terrorism is not dropping a myriad of bombs on the Middle East, but negotiations and diplomatic action. History has proven that no matter how much fire we sling at radicals, they come back fighting twice as strong. We must stop cutting off the heads of the hydra one at a time, but strike the beast at its heart. The ideas that are prominent in Radical Islam and Terrorism will not be silenced by killing them off. As Medgar Evers quotes, “You can kill a man, but you can’t kill an idea”. If we continuously respond to Terrorism with violent military act after violent military act, the world shall most certainly succumb to the chaotic grip of Terrorism, as we are simply pouring gasoline onto the fire of Terror. We must organize peaceful negotiations with these Radicals, and call for a ceasefire on both sides, in order to preserve life. Blood does not need to be shed to resolve this issue. Radicals have decided that this is the answer to their problems, and if we respond in the same fashion, we are no better than the suicide bomber or the militia member. Overall, the answer to Terrorism is negotiating with terrorists, and trying to understand them, rather than slaughter them in cold blood. The war no longer belongs to the battlefield, or the urban city sprawl, but to the neutral, demilitarized zones and the diplomatic conference rooms.

Now, I am not suggesting that we all travel overseas and lay our lives on the line to try and communicate with these terrorists, but rather send skilled negotiators and diplomats to a designated, neutral meeting place where discussions can be held. For example, after the horrendous 9/11 attacks that shocked our country, the immediate response was to send military forces over to the Middle East to eradicate those responsible. This situation, if taken differently, could have spared thousands of innocent lives. Instead of attacking the Radicals, and in the process slaughtering mass amounts of innocent Muslim civilians, we could have set up negotiations with them, and try and reason something out that would be favorable for both our country and their group. Yet, with our strict, “We do not negotiate with Terrorists” policy, this cannot happen. As a nation, we have continued to respond to terrorist activity in a violent manner that does nothing to resolve the issue. The bombings of countless Middle Eastern cities have left the region a ravaged wasteland that has left millions homeless or dead, and the issue at hand unresolved. As Jay Syrmopoulos states in his article for The Free Thought Project, “A senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Micah Zenko, noted that the United States has dropped an estimated 23,144 bombs in the Muslim-majority countries of Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015,” This number is a true tragedy. Think of how many innocent lives were ended by these bombs; how many children playing games outside, how many mothers singing their children lullabies, how many families shattered, how many lives tragically ended prematurely by these devices of war. And for what? A chance at maybe hitting a terrorist that may or may not have anything to do with the recent attacks. Do the ends truly justify the means? It was my belief that we have moved past or primitive ways and away from Machiavellian philosophies. This is the 21st century; no longer are the days of harming your enemies into submission. We as the one and only human race should, and can move past this horrendous mindset that if someone wrongs us, we must do wrong by them twice as hard.

Let us do what we can to end the violence and terror across the globe. Let us exhaust all possible non-violent courses of action, and try and establish peace among the nations. Let us try to understand, and negotiate with these radicals, rather than executing a pseudo-genocide against them. And finally, future President of the United States of America, if we truly claim to be, “One Nation Under God,” then let God be the one to castigate those who have committed these terrorist acts, not the rash, malicious hands of humanity.

Works cited

Syrmopoulos, Jay. "In 2015, the US Dropped 23,144 Bombs on Muslim Countries, Nearly 1 Bomb For Every Terrorist." The Free Thought Project. N.p., 19 Jan. 2016. Web. 03 Nov. 2016.

"Torture Techniques Used in Guantanamo." The Justice Campaign Supporting Human Rights Transparency and Fairness for Guantanamo Prisoners. The Justice Campaign, n.d. Web. 07 Nov. 2016.

Allen Park High School

APHS Advanced Placement Language and Composition

Allen Park High School is located in Southeastern Michigan. AP Lang studies rhetoric. Additionally, students produce text to narrate, persuade, and inform.

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