Steven's Notebook

Look Ma - No Hands!


My wife and I, along with our sons and their girlfriends, went to see The Bourne Ultimatum tonight. It was a good flick, a fun story, a satisfying ending to the trilogy. The camerawork and editing were way too jumpy, though perhaps that was magnified by the fact that the only seats open for us were in the third row, way over on one side. Yea, the theatre was crowded to say the least. I’ll be happy to watch it again on DVD when it’s released, in the comfort of our home on a screen that’s in the “right” place.

Before the movie started there were of course some previews. A western that looked pretty interesting, and a stack of propaganda movies. Pro-war, anti-war, pro-government, anti-government… I couldn’t tell by the previews and I don’t really care. They all blended together and I couldn’t tell you which ones went with which titles.

One scene stuck in my memory though, that of some government official trying to convince a reporter to write for him. He’s berating her, and ends with this

Do you want to win the war on terror? Yes or no?

[louder, with emphasis on each word] Yes   or   no?

What a crock. Despite what some people in the current U.S. Government and/or media may want you to believe, there can be no “war on terror” and there certainly can’t be a “win.”

War is a conflict carried on by force of arms between nations or between parties within a nation.

War is a fight against a defined enemy, one that can be defeated or which can defeat you. War is a set of actions with a concrete end, a defined event or set of circumstances by which success or lack thereof can be evaluated.

A country can declare war against another country – Germany vs. Poland etc., United States vs. Japan.

A country can declare war against an organization or government, or an organization against a country – Colonial Revolutionaries vs. Britain, United States & other countries vs. al-Qaeda.

But nobody can declare war against an idea or an emotion. “War against terror” indeed — that’s a non-sequitur. What does victory in such a war look like? How do you know when you’re finished? You may as well say you’re going to have a fist-fight against unhappiness.

If you’re going to Declare War, and have a justifiable reason to do so, fine. But be honest and call it by it’s real name. Don’t hide behind a nonsensical policy term.

(btw, “war on drugs” is just as stupid a phrase.)

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