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The Michigan Daily - Monday, July 18, 2005 - 5
Someone else's war story
BY STUART WAGNER
Recognizing the rash of terrorist
attacks in the world since Presi-
dent Bush declared an end to
major combat operations in Iraq in May
2003, it should prove unsurprising that
Europe's public opinion toward the occu-
pation of Iraq has finally reached U.S.
shores. Americans are failing to see the
connection between Iraq and the inter-
national "War on Terror". With questions
surrounding the outing of former CIA
agent Valerie Plame, the recent London
bombings, the instability in Afghanistan
and Iraq and our failure to capture the two
mostwantedterrorists - OsamabinLaden
and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - American
philosophy on the "War on Terror" clearly
has changed since 19 hijackers murdered
over 3,000 American civilians.
Even former President Bill Clinton's
former CIA director, John Deutch, wrote
last Friday in aNew York Times op-ed that
the United States should begin withdraw-
ing troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Indeed, if there is not an improvement in
self-governance and security in Iraq and
Afghanistan in the next year, the United
States could be reliving another quagmire.
Thus, presently, our "War on Terror"
verges on failure - or does it?
To objectively discuss any military con-
flict, success and failure must be defined.
Success is conventionally defined in terms
of the number of terrorist attacks prevented,
the number of lives saved and the number
of terrorists killed. Consequently, failure
is conventionally measured in terms of the
number of successful terrorist attacks car-
ried out and the resulting dead from them.
Although these definitions have held true
for prior U.S. military campaigns, the goal
of the "War on Terror" differs significantly
from goals of conventional war.
More than a protracted battle with a
clear enemy, the "War on Terror" is an
ideological war waged against a method
utilized by non-state actors. The "War on
Terror" does not succeed when attacks are
foiled, plots are discovered, and countries
are conquered. Success, rather, constitutes
total elimination of the use of terrorism as
an acceptable method for political negotia-
tion. The aim of the war is to acculturate
the terrorists to proper, reasonable forms
of negotiation and to discredit improper
forms of negotiation. Success occurs only
when the use of terrorism - without
exception - fails to change public policy.
Failure, therefore, is characterized by the
perception, whether true or not, that terror-
ist attacks can change a country's policies.
Based upon this understanding, the
world has not won the "War on Terror,"
but it has certainly not lost. While not yet
full democracies, Iraq and Afghanistan
are controlled by coalition troops, which
is the primary policy most terrorists
want to change. Britain's policies remain
unchanged following the London attacks,
sharply contrasting with the Spanish with-
drawal from Iraq following the Madrid
bombing one year ago. And the G8 sum-
mit committed a significant aid package
to the Palestinian Authority in an attempt
to legitimize a government that denounc-
es terrorism and takes actions against it.
According to a Pew Research Center sur-
vey across the Arab world conducted last
week, support for Osama bin Laden and
suicide bombings has dropped in nearly
every Arab country surveyed.
Concurrently, we have seen a rise in
the number of terrorist attacks. The num-
ber of significant attacks in 2004 more
than tripled those in 2003, prompting the
embarrassed State Department initially
to refuse releasing the number of attacks
in its annual Global Patterns of Terror-
Because ofthe slow progress of the war,
some are beginning to argue for negotiat-
ing with "moderate terrorists." Yet this
argument fails, because even if a terrorist
has legitimate goals, negotiating with him
legitimates his means for other "non-mod-
erate terrorists" to follow.
Unfortunately, the road to success is
long, and we have many past mistakes
to erase from the world's memory. Past
concessions to terrorists include the U.N.
withdrawal from Somalia, the USSR
withdrawal from Afghanistan and the
failure to militarily respond to the dual
bombings in 1983 of the French Embassy
in Beirut, killing 57, and the U.S. Marines
complex in Beirut, killing 241 Marines.
The attack by Hezbollah on the Marines
complex still serves as the second most
deadly terrorist attack on Americans ever
and an inspiration for the Iranian-backed
I do not mean to defend the policies of
either party regarding terrorism, but to
argue that changing any policies in place
as a result of terrorism will only increase
terrorist attacks in the long term. Like a
slippery slope, one concession will imply
that others can be made as a result of ter-
rorism, which will undermine any formal
system of negotiation and any government
of the people (aka democracy). If acqui-
escing is attempted to curb terrorism, suc-
cess for our "War on Terror" lies infinitely
beyond the horizon.
Wagner is an LSA junior and co-chairof
the Michigan Student Assembly's Campus
that her parents have
a plan for her and her
brother if the mili-
tary reinstates the
"They have it all
figured out," she
said. "My brother and my mom would
move. They'd either move to Europe
or some kind of island; we have some
This surprised me. I know many peo-
ple our age joke about drinking vats of
vinegar or fleeing to Canada if the draft
notice were to come in the mail one day,
but I haven't heard of any definite plans.
I don't have the space to crunch the num-
bers or politics involved in the debate
over whether there will be another draft,
but I think the story of my friend's family
makes it clear that Americans are think-
ing about it.
What worries me is what they're think-
ing. At least in the blue states of Michigan
and Illinois, my home state, most say they
would dodge the draft.
When I brought up the issue at dinner
the other night, even my mother said, "No
way you'd go. Not over my dead body."
Many cite claims that we are fighting
an unjust war in Iraq, which many have
likened to Vietnam. I talked to a Viet-
nam-era draft-dodger last year, and he
remembered his three-year experience
"I tried to flunk my physical," he told
me. "The place was a circus, a meat pro-
cessing plant. Everyone was trying to
fail. People were feigning catatonic sei-
zures. When they tested our urine, people
passed around lethal liquids to pour into
the samples. Everyone passed anyway."
At the end of the ordeal, he had an
interview to determine whether he was a
conscientious objector. They asked him
if he would defend his sister if someone
were raping her.
"What if it was my sister who was
doing the raping?" he responded.
I definitely don't have the column
inches to debate the validity of these
wars. But ask yourself this: Should your
political beliefs really make a differ-
ence? Even though I support the war,
I tried to answer this question. And
the answer is no; it should not matter
whether you believe in our president's
oft-criticized foreign policy. I know that
if Henry David Thoreau were still sit-
ting beside Walden Pond preaching civil
disobedience, he wouldn't agree with my
argument, but if you don't go to war after
being drafted - surprise - someone
else will go for you.
If you think about it, that possibility is
enormously terrifying. Can you imagine
spending the next 10 years reading news-
paper accounts about soldiers who died
in Iraq and wondering if he was the one
who replaced you? Can you imagine wak-
ing up from repeated nightmares in which
you watch your replacement dying over
and over again, and feeling like it was your
fault? You would spend the rest of your
life imagining every part of him: his hair
color, his favorite food, where he grew up,
where he went to college, what his parents
felt on the day he went off to war. When
your grandkids asked you about that time
in your life, all you'd be able to do is tell
them someone else's war story.
The same argument does not apply to
volunteer troops. It's not that I don't sup-
port the troops who choose to enlist on
their own free will, but I don't feel the
same kind of personal responsibility for
them that I would for the person who went
instead of me, as horrible as that sounds.
If there is a draft, the government
is sending a very specific message to
Americans: We need more soldiers to
defend our freedom and security. Who
can say that shouldn't be you or me?
Who can look in their fellow citizens'
eyes and say they should fight instead?
That I'm too important to fight, that I
don't want to fight, that you should bear
the burden and I should reap the benefits
of your courage?
So I'm using these inches to declare
that if I find myself in that most horrify-
ing of tragic American scenes, standing
by the mailbox on a weekday morning
holding a letter asking me to report to
basic training, I will not refuse my duty.
If I did, who knows who would go in
my place. The next Mozart? The future
engineer of a cure for cancer? Someone
destined for the presidency?
Or maybe - just maybe - you.
Stampfl is a Dailyfall/winter admin-
istration beat reporter. He can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not another art fair
ALEXANDRA JONES Ci N'EST f
It's that time
of year again,
drum circles pop-
ping up on the
Diag than usual?
An influx of metro
ing at the hustle and
bustle of downtown
Ann Arbor as though they've never seen
upscale chain restaurants or head shops?
Unseasonably hot and muggy weather?
As of 9 a.m. Wednesday morning,
the four-day hassle disguised as "fun"
that's known as the 46th Annual Ann
Arbor Art Fair will be upon us. (Use-
less fact I discovered in my research
for this column: There are actually
four Art Fairs - Street Art Fair, Sum-
mer Art Fair, State St. Area Art Fair
and the South University Art Fair.) For
Ann Arborites who live, work or attend
classes downtown, this meansthe rerout-
ing of busses, even less parking space for
commuters and the warm, fuzzy feeling
one gets by inviting a half million people
to crowd your streets, gawk at folk art
and leave trash all over your backyard.
In theory, I like the Art Fair: It's a
change of pace from summer's usual
overheated ennui, perusing the booths on
the first day or two can be interesting, and
local shops (as well as the chain stores that
are gradually replacing them) receive an
influx of business during the slow sum-
mer months. My first Art Fair experience
occurred last summer when, as a respite
from living on North Campus - the Uni-
versity's answer to Siberia - the thought
of mingling downtown with thousands of
people, eating funnel cake and surrepti-
tiously getting drunk on the Diag at 3 p.m.
was downright exciting. But ultimately, I
was let down: I didn't see one piece of
"art" that was worth the price at which it
was offered. After two days of navigating
the massive traffic jam of hot, sweaty fair-
goers just to get to the public library, I was
pretty grossed out by the whole concept.
To explain my problem, I'm going to
borrow from one of Ann Arbor's many
stencil artists, who tagged downtown
sidewalks last year with the snappy slo-
gan "It's not art / It's not fair." Correct
me if I'm wrong, but the stated purpose
of Art Fair is a celebration of craftsman-
ship, right? But really, it all boils down
to money. The Art Fairs invite artisans
from all over to show their work - not
in exhibition, mind you, but to sell. Along
with the fairgoers come food and drink
vendors, political groups soliciting dona-
tions and, of course, sidewalk sales from
businesses like Urban Outfitters, whose
annual stockroom-emptying sale prob-
ably attracts more fervor in the commu-
nity than a whole street full of jewelry
makers or painters. "But Alex," you might
say, "The brilliance of your verbal skills
has persuaded me. But, pray tell, what's
wrong with making money?"
Perhaps this comparison with my home
state will clarify my point. We have the
North Carolina State Fair, a celebration
of carnival rides, extreme agriculture and
deep-fried candy bars. The State Fair also
includes crooked games, fake sideshows
and handicrafts (like airbrushed T-shirts
with slogans like "If you think I'm sexy,
you should see my grandma!") But here's
where Art Fair and the N.C. State Fair dif-
hippies): Everyone who goes to the latter
knows that they're going to be spending at
least $30 per family member on the fes-
tivities, and that price includes admission.
In order to have any real fun, you might as
well double that. Everyone knows they're
going to spend an assload of money, and
that's how it's always been.
In contrast, the Art Fair doesn't give
off the same commercial aura; indeed,
"docents" give "tours" of a few booths
three times a day in order to show patrons
what to look for in a piece of art. We're
reminded by the swanky, delicate
designs on Art Fair posters that this is
something special, something outside
the mainstream - but it's simply not
true. Fairgoers are there to spend money
on tchotchkes, not appreciate art; ven-
dors are there to make money, not exhibit
their work; and the city needs another
"funky" event to make up for the fact that
living in Ann Arbor is becoming more
expensive and less fun every year. As for
me, I'd rather know I'm getting ripped
off than participate in what's just another
overrated Ann Arbor tradition.
Jones is a Dailyfall/winter associate arts
editor. She can be reached at
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