Identifying the enemy

Thank goodness for the fight against terrorism. The world would just seem confusing without it. For a while after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the average American citizen was left to question what other state would rise to challenge our total supremacy. Certainly there was a degree of comfort in knowing that we were the unchallenged champions of the world, but somehow the lack of a serious opponent made our position less satisfying. How were we to truly know we were the best if another powerful, ideology-driven collection of states did not actively challenge our hegemony?

Fortunately, the frightening specter of Islamic fundamentalism arose as an equally disturbing reincarnation of the Soviet menace. This new international antagonist is more troubling than the fundamentally European USSR simply because it is so very different from us.

Powerful as the USSR was, it was at least perversely familiar to America. Our public representatives physically resembled theirs for one thing, and huge amounts of its money went to the military. Though built on a strong ideological base, its public actions were usually marked more by the pragmatic pursuit of power than by the zealous attempt to spread their ideals with or without their institutions. It was also, crucially, a defined collective of states. We feared the Soviets because of the widely held belief that they would annihilate us all in their pursuit of ultimate power.

We fear the Islamic fundamentalists because of the widely held belief that they will destroy our way of life in their pursuit of power. Of course there is no real danger that they will kill all of us in that pursuit, but the threat they pose to our way of life requires us to respond with even greater force than the governments of yore did when confronted with threats from the USSR.

Simply look at who these opponents are to see what sort of a threat they pose. The Western conception of government – our conception of government – is one in which the only differences between states are how many people rule and how many follow. These “terrorists” believe that religion should play a part in the government; that what they consider the laws of God should be enough to rule man. Perhaps we could accept this if it was the God our orthodoxy says we believe in, but as it is not, those laws threaten not only our belief in democracy but also our belief in the correct religion.

So, technically, these “terrorists” are not contained within a state. What does it matter? Our government knows of states that have supported Islamic terror in the past. Those states must thus become our sworn enemy. But are we even close to being prepared? Not at all. The missile defense shield NATO recently agreed to should be seen only as a beginning. In today’s world, you are either with us or you are on your way to destruction.

Thank goodness for terrorism. It makes things so simple.

Andrew Hamner is a freshman majoring in journalism. He may be contacted at