Life is a meaningless nightmare of suffering,
and it's all over too soon
The key point of terrorist activity is that their targets are soft and symbolic. That is why the craven activity of running down pedestrians with a van should not be surprising.
This clearly indicates that terrorism is NOT warfare because softness and symbolism does not designate legitimate military targets. When applying a military yardstick to terrorism we lull ourselves into a false sense of security, i.e., we will be protected by a powerful military that knows how to fight it.
Simple logic dispels that notion. Ask yourself: "How many al Qaeda No. 2's has the United States killed since starting its Non-War of Terror? Did any of those drone kills produce security here in the States?
If we think symbolic targets are not cricket for the use of terrorists, then why does the U.S. use them? Assassinating Osama bin Laden in his bedroom is a good example.
If OBL had been killed at the Battle of Tora Bora, that would have been legitimate as he would not have been a symbolic target, just another hostile on the battlefield. However, escaping death he moved on to sanctuary in Pakistan. (Good jihadists don't really get 72 virgins, but rather safe haven in Pakistan, the original "Sanctuary City" state.)
In his safe house, the aging OBL was no longer a military threat (if he ever was), but just a man in his jammies. He was a non-combatant symbolic target.
In fact, OBL was largely beyond symbolism at the point of his murder, and the action looked like a paltry act of vengeance. (However, the much-lauded operation sure provided Academy grist for a military film-makin' woman in EOE Hollywood.)
We seem to not know that vengeance is not military. It is Old Testament dogma which does not have any place in liberal humanistic thought.
This is why we will not defeat terrorism. First, it cannot be approached by classic military action. Every time a terrorist is killed, his replacement is close behind. In celebrating that which has failed, we have become emotional and betray the essential logic of war-fighting.
We choose for military myths over our legal codes and traditions.
A War on Terror will not be won by killing people in their bedrooms. If symbolic targets are not legitimate for terrorists, then how can they be legitimate for the U.S.?
Is this what warriors and war-fighting have become?
Terrorists strike soft targets, unsuspecting and in an inferior posture. When the U.S. military "takes out" soft targets like OBL -- a man well-past his "use-by" date -- it has joined in their project.
The huzzahs which followed his 2011 death were anticlimactic, the cheers sounding like a 45 record being played on 33 1/3. The "hunt" for OBL kept a war project going for a decade, but the resulting mayhem has so far surpassed the man that the outlay of accomplishing his demise has little justification.
Most cultures create a military mythos in the form of an iconography to buoy cultural spirits over an essentially death-dealing project. The new Instamatic or Super 8 is a Smartphone aided and abetted by Facebook or YouTube. It is easy, like taking holiday beach pictures -- anyone can do it.
For Hitler, Leni Reifenstahl filmed it. For Islamic State, the graphic du jour is 9th century beheadings in the desert on Instagram, victims in orange, executioner in black (orange is the new black?)
An eager, desperate, salacious and obedient press gloms on and feeds it back to us in a bright-shiny package. Just like Capt. Renault, we are all shocked.
For the U.S., it is plucky West Virginian Jessica Lynch who went down shooting (not), being sent back from the checkpoint to the hospital to allow for the filming of her heroic four-service rescue. Football hero Pat Tillman was to be interred as the casualty of enemy fire, until his family questioned the plot line.
In a time when we have lost our way, we must make meaning and justification by any means necessary.
Where are we now vis-à-vis Islamic terror?