Thursday, January 28, 2016

How Did The US Go From A War On Terror To A War Of Terror?

On April 4, 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. gave a speech in which he discussed the violence he saw in the streets of the United States and the violence of the Vietnam War. He described meeting with “desperate, rejected, and angry young men,” encouraging them to seek non-violent change in their communities and the country at large.

“But they asked, and rightly so, ‘What about Vietnam?’ They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government.”

In his speech, Dr. King didn’t use the words “terror” or “terrorist.” Although liberally present in nearly every speech made by any politician running for office today, these words were not part of the U.S. political vocabulary in 1967. And it would be another 34 years before the “war on terror” was declared.

But if, as Dr. King said, the U.S. is the “greatest purveyor of violence [read: terror] in the world,” how could the U.S. declare a war against it? This question begs two additional ones: Is the U.S., in fact, the greatest purveyor of terror in the world? And, if so, what benefit does the U.S. derive from its war on terror?

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