How to win the war on terror

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The answer is simpler than you might think

In light of the recent attacks by terrorists in Paris, you might ask yourself what you can do to prevent yourself from being the victim of such an attack? The unsettling answer to that question is: nothing.

In a free society like ours, there is essentially no protection for an individual against a random assault like the one Paris suffered or America suffered on 9/11. That is the definition and purpose of terrorism. The terrorist's goal is to make you feel afraid and helpless. Whether or not they succeed in that is entirely up to you.

What you can do is reduce your risk in dangerous situations that are statistically more likely to happen to the average person. Stop smoking. Take a walk every day. Use less salt. Wear seatbelts. Don't use your cellphone when you drive. Pay attention to your surroundings any time you are away from home. Lock your doors at home. Notice where the exits are in any building or mode of transportation you enter. Not exciting advice? Maybe not. But it is advice more likely to lower the risks you face every day that are odds on more likely to do you harm than getting blown up by a terrorist.

If you are seriously determined to wage your own personal war against the terrorists of this world, you can do the one thing they most don't want you to do. Keep an open mind when it comes to people who are not like you. Do what you can to protect their freedoms with as much enthusiasm as you would exert to protect your own. Does that put you outside your own comfort zone? Now you're getting it.

Absolutely, positively, do not, under any circumstances, let the fear of terrorism restrict the choices you make about what you do. If you want to and have the resources to travel anywhere on the planet, go. Like the things to do listed earlier, it is only common sense to check the state department's list of unadviseable locations at any point in time. But unless specific dangers are afoot in your destination, go - like the airline says - there's nothing stopping you.

On a local basis, when you see a woman with her head covered or even draped from head to toe in black, or a man in a Paki outfit (a long shirt down to the knee and pants possibly gathered at the ankle) smile at them. The hijackers of 9/11 were dressed like typical Americans. How a person dresses is not what makes them a threat. How they think is what makes them a threat, and you can't discern that by looking.

We won the Cold War without ever being in a declared war against the Soviet Union. We won it by making it too expensive for them to continue pursuing the fight. The Soviet Union collapsed without a single shot being fired specifically between the U.S. and the USSR. We will win the war on terror the same way. In the end, it won't so much be about the battles we won in Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan (with total gratitude to those who have fought in those places for us.) It will be about whether or not the terrorists suceeded in changing the way free people live our lives. Did they accomplish getting us to cower in our homes? Or did we continue to take charge of our lives without fear?

Taking charge - it is an American trait, unique in the world for the most part. We are the ones who stepped foot on the moon and invented bubble gum. Show us a thing somebody says we can't do, then stand back and watch us do it. Even with the horrors renewed as we grieve with the people of France, let the world watch us, not just live - but thrive.



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On Amazon by Kathleen Cochran

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Comments 17 comments

Hxprof 5 years ago from Clearwater, Florida

I like the optimism you've expressed in this piece. And indeed we won the Cold War without firing a shot in a declared war, though many shots were fired in the clandestine black-ops type operations.

This war is different as you say: Terrorists wage war in a far different manner than anyone has before; prime among their tools is the fear factor. We don't know when or where terrorists will succeed in striking again. Israel lives constantly with this tension.

There is one thing Americans need to do differently-we need to stop insisting that our borders (land and maritime) be secured and start demanding it. Unless Americans do this, it's a guarrantee that terrorists WILL strike again, and almost certainly in big fashion.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

What a powerful and persuasive statement about what it means to be American and how we can represent the best of what America is, and at the same time oppose the goals of all terrorists. The goals of terrorism are fear, confusion, hatred, and helplessness.

Without ever carrying a gun, we can oppose the goals of terrorists and build a stronger, fairer, more generous America. This is a clarion call to all of us. Are we listening?


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thanks for the read. It's been a while for this hub but glad the message still rings true.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

"Without ever carrying a gun, we can oppose the goals of terrorists and build a stronger, fairer, more generous America. This is a clarion call to all of us. Are we listening?" Well said, by one who surely knows.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

In the year since I first wrote this hub I've made several good friends from the UK here on Hub Pages. I just want to tell them, on this anniversary, that my most poignant memory of that day is sitting on my couch in the evening watching the news, and saw the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. At one point they stopped and the band played the American national anthem. More than anything else that day - it made me cry.


Josepher profile image

Josepher 4 years ago from Texas

I love this hub! Too often people jump to the conclusion that someone must be a terrorist based on their appearance, so it's refreshing to hear a perspective from the opposite side of the spectrum. If we remain fearful, then as far as I'm concerned the terrorists won. So it's important to remain brave even in the face of threats, and not give up our own freedoms because of our fear.

Great hub, thanks for the awesome read!


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Joespher: So, you're a night owl? Glad you got something from this hub. I appreciate the read and the comments. I agree with your sentiments wholeheartedly.


Freeway Flyer profile image

Freeway Flyer 3 years ago

One of the goals of terrorists, as you say, is to get us fixated on them. We will then be distracted from the various problems that pose a greater threat to us than terrorists. Imagine if we had spent some of those billions on the "war on terror" on education, infrastructure improvements, alternative energy research, or a bunch of other things.

I've always found it strange that we use the word "war" in this fight against terrorism. The word "war" implies that there are two clear adversaries, and that there is some criteria by which we can define victory. Terrorists are criminals, and the techniques used to fight crime are generally more applicable to this situation than military tactics. And like crime, terrorism can never be completely defeated. All we can do is develop comprehensive policies that might reduce the risk.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Freeway Flier: You are right on the mark about the word War. I actually wrote this hub a couple of years ago when I was a new hubber. In light of the recent incident in Boston, I think you are right on the mark.


carter06 profile image

carter06 2 years ago from Cronulla NSW

Great hub Kathleen..you are right on so many points especially not letting the fear of terrorism control our lives..we were in Heathrow on the first anniversary of 9/11 & it was on red level security alert..you could have cut the fear with a knife so to speak it was so thick around us..it's so a battle of the mind for sure..great points,great hub no matter when you wrote it..will share.. Cheers


cfin profile image

cfin 2 years ago from The World we live in

It's difficult to fight a war against a "group" with no boundaries, no borders, no country of origin and no moral code. A group that belong nowhere, cling to ideologies that are not theirs and have no face. They are the barbarians of the modern day and all the bombing in the world won't get rid of them. It really is a war of hate and ignorance.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Carter06: Thanks for the share. I'm recycling some of my hubs that are unfeatured do to lack of traffic. I always get some response out of even the old ones. I guess that's what they mean by evergreen. All I know is many of my new followers didn't get a chance to read my early work - it's been three years now. A lot of hubs need recycling!

cfin: You described "terrorist" to a T. I wish some folks had realized that before we lost 4,000 of our best young people. I realize though that you can only do what you can do and sometimes you must do something. Wish there was more wisdom on this subject.


firstday profile image

firstday 2 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

Kathleen Cochran,

Thank-you for this hub, today is a day that brings memories for us all. The 9/11 will always be with our generation.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

firstday: Welcome to my hubs. This is one of those days - like Kennedy getting shot. Thanks for your comment.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 12 months ago from California

Interesting that this article is three years old--and still so relevant--amen!


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 12 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Unfortunately - we still have terrorists with us. Their aim remains, and so does our resolve.


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 12 months ago from US

I say don't take for granted the thousands of female and child refugees Obama wants to let in are not terrorist. We know better and it is time to stop being lied to an believing everything we are hearing. It is time to take care of business the way America always has, once we get America back that is!

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