War a period of hostile relations between countries, states, or factions that leads to fighting between armed forces, especially in land, air, or sea battles.
War, in international law, armed conflict between two or more governments or states.
When such conflicts assume global proportions, they are known as world wars. War between different parts or factions of the same nation is called civil war.
A rebellion is not legally considered a war; to entitle the armed forces of the rebels to the rights and privileges of belligerents, the government they serve must be organized so as to be in a position to meet the duties resting on belligerents, that is, they must have the power to maintain law and order within the regions occupied by them and to carry on war on a large scale by land, sea, or air.
International hostilities sometimes continue for long periods of time without being acknowledged as wars. The Korean War was regarded by the U.S. government as a police action. Conflicts or wars in which major powers purposely refrain from employing all their armed strength are often known as limited wars. Short of peace, such limited wars are now recognized as a preferable alternative to the specter of nuclear war. International wars are generally terminated by treaty and civil wars by a peace proclamation. The usages, customs, and treaties of nations have formed a system of laws of War.
Acts of international terrorism do not fit the above definitions of war for the following reasons:
a. They cross international borders.
b. The acts are not armed conflict between nations.
c. Terrorists do not abide by “laws of war” today defined by the Geneva Convention.
d. They are neither a civil war nor a rebellion.
e. They do not respect any international law.
f. They murders civilians indiscriminately seemingly purposefully to cause freight amongst a populace.
Thus, we are not engaged in a war, instead we are engaged in an international action to suppress or eliminate terrorist actions conducted by international thugs who, to obtain their desired goals spread fear to weakening national and international resolve - in today’s parlance, Al Qaida and Muslim terrorists.
Why is this definition important? Why shouldn’t we call it a war? Because by employing the term war both our national leaders and we the people view our action is Iraq as being, and should be, fought by our military supported by other government agencies. We were at war when we defeated Saddam Hussein in Iraq and in entering Afghanistan. Since defeating Saddam we have acted more as an international police force attempting to stabilize both countries. Our military is good at engaging in war. Saddam was defeated with little lose of life on either side. Since then we have tried to use our military along with the military from other nations as an international police force, something for which they are not trained. The results have not been effective. Further we have earned the enmity of other nations.
An article in the Orlando Sentinel, “Best, brightest shrug shoulders about Iraq” discusses the indifference of the young adults toward our actions in Iraq. They know few if anyone who is military. It has no effect on their lives. They also refuse to take any responsibility for Iraq or to take part in the debate. In other words they are indifferent to our fight on terrorism. This attitude might be extended to our entire populace. A common expression is “we support our troops in Iraq”. By implication we say that we support the men and women in our military but not necessarily their deployment in foreign nations.
The police, the FBI etc. are trained to handle civil disturbance. They know how to act when trying to apprehend suspects in a civilian environ. The military, on the other hand is trained to apply overwhelming force to conquer an enemy’s military force. Loss of life and ancillary damage are acceptable, (of course with reasonable constraint). We have supplemented the rules of war, the Geneva Convention, with rules of engagement for our troops in Iraq, these rules tie the hands of the military and can cause confusion and possibly inappropriate action when engaged with suicide bombers, roadside bombs etc amongst crowded city streets.
If we find it necessary to employ forces in foreign countries with the mission of restraining terrorism we need to train those forces to operate in a civilian environment, within Bagdad for example. An environment not suited to the military. As an alternative we could create a separate department of the military trained to engage in the type of action we are engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our military police may be properly trained for this type of action and could be used as the basis for forming such a department.
Today we have two separate organizations engaged in the fight against terrorism, Homeland Security here in the states and the military overseas. Homeland Security is doing an effective job, our military, on the other hand, has not proven effective – not because of the quality of our military men and women but because of the mission that they have been handed. Possibly the two could be combined by recruiting a police force trained to conduct counter terrorism duties in foreign countries under Homeland Security to replace the military’s occupational duties, the military would then be employed as it is trained for in actual war situations.