Criticism of the War on Terrorism
Criticism of the War on Terrorism (also
named the War on Terror) addresses the is-
sues, morals, ethics, efficiency, economics,
and other questions surrounding the War on
Terrorism. Arguments are also made against
the phrase itself, calling it a misnomer.
The notion of a "war" against "terrorism"
has proven highly contentious, with critics
charging that it has been exploited by parti-
cipating governments to pursue long-stand-
ing policy objectives, reduce civil liberties,
and infringe upon human rights. Some argue
that the term war is not appropriate in this
context (as in War on Drugs), since they be-
lieve there is no tangible enemy, and that it is
terrorism can be
brought to an end by means of war. Other
critics, such as Francis Fukuyama, note that
"terrorism" is not an enemy, but a tactic; call-
ing it a "war on terror," obscures differences
between conflicts. For example, anti-occupa-
tion insurgents and international jihadists.
The billionaire activist investor George Soros
has called "War on Terror" a "false meta-
phor." Linguist George Lakoff of the Rock-
ridge Institute has argued that there cannot
literally be a war on terror, since terror is an
abstract noun. "Terror cannot be destroyed
by weapons or signing a peace treaty. A war
on terror has no end."
Jason Burke, a journalist who writes about
radical Islamic activity, has this to say on the
There are multiple ways of defining
terrorism, and all are subjective.
Most define terrorism as ’the use or
threat of serious violence’ to ad-
vance some kind of ’cause’. Some
state clearly the kinds of group
(’sub-national’, ’non-state’) or cause
ideological, religious) to
which they refer. Others merely rely
on the instinct of most people when
confronted with an act that involves
innocent civilians being killed or
maimed by men armed with explos-
firearms or other weapons.
None is satisfactory, and grave prob-