Violence, War, and Terrorism
By: Robert Gangewer, Ashley Hubert, Tatiana McGuire, Robert Selner
My Experience - Tatiana McGuire
Currently, we are involved in a war against terrorism. ISIS is the most recent terrorist group that has targeted the United States. A threat has been focused especially on military and law enforcement personnel, which has affected my life personally because some family members of these personnel are also under threat. A few months back, notice was put out that members of ISIS were trolling the internet, specifically social websites such as Facebook, looking for anyone affiliated with the military and law enforcement. This is an example of how terrorist groups have exploited modern communications technologies to communicate with followers or “lone wolfs” that are already in the U.S., to bring violence. We were warned by the U.S. intelligence department to look into the internet privacy settings we use and to limit photos of ourselves and personal information we reveal online, so many people that I know, myself and some of my family members included, deleted certain social websites we were on and limited our use of the internet for a while. Even though we are still on Facebook and use some photo-sharing sights, we limit how much information we reveal about where we live and who all is in our family, and we don't post any photos that would tie us to the military.
In a few months we will be moving because my husband is being assigned to a ship, where he will be deploying often over the next three years. This scares me, knowing the threats to our country and the types of situations that he can be put in because of them. But like many others, my husband chose to join the military to defend his country. Despite anyone's beliefs in whether or not we should be involved in the conflicts that we are a part of, the military is a job, and they have to do what they are told. Without this sacrifice, the U.S. would be even worse-off. But knowing this country's high involvement in conflicts around the world, as well as a history of global preeminence and unilateralism, I am angry at the situations we, as a country, and our military are put in because of this strive to be the one world superpower, controlling all arms and forcing other countries into treaties that the U.S. government doesn't even feel they should have to abide by, should it not serve the U.S. interests at some point.
Considering the wide array of conspiracy theories about the U.S. government and its involvement with conflict and terrorism, I decided to include two videos that I found interesting, as well as a link to some recent polls on American opinions surrounding terrorism.
Terrorism - Are We More At Risk From Others or Ourselves?
The media plays a huge role in shaping people's perceptions on war and terrorism, and politicians, military leaders, and terrorists exploit the media and the Internet in pursuit of their goals.(Sullivan 419) The U.S. government is building the country with the idea of unilateralism, ethnocentrism, and global preeminence, meaning that they believe the U.S. to be the world superpower, with the government able to act and make decisions however it seems fit for it's own goal, regardless of the agreement or disagreement of other countries. In order to obtain some of these goals, such as preemptive war, which is fought against a nation that is believed about to attack but has not yet done so, and preventive war, one fought against a nation not about to attack but that is believed might pose a threat in the future, the government has to gain public support.(Sullivan 424) Society is influenced by the media, using it as a tool to learn about what's going on in the world and who or what is in danger. The media has used this role to instill an idea of terrorism that includes dangerous groups from other countries, who infiltrate our country and try to lure American's to join in their fight. This idea has helped fuel the racism building in our country against certain ethnicity, because they share a commonality with the origins of the terrorist group. Yet when American citizens create these terrorist-like groups or act out violently and dangerously, killing many people for many similar frustrations that other terrorist groups hold, society is led to believe that they are just dangerous murderers and that we need stricter gun control to help end the violence.
Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the U.S. has been involved in conflict with multiple countries, which has only led to further frustrations and preconditions of war, such as conflicts over beliefs and ideologies, protection against attack or invasion, and protection of national pride.(Sullivan 414) But what the media seems to be failing to emphasize is the seriousness of domestic terrorist attacks taking place, right here on U.S. soil. “Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics, and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims.”(Shane) A ranking was done, based off of the answers of 382 police and sheriff's departments nationwide, to discover the three biggest threats from violence extremism, whose results showed that 74% listed antigovernment violence and only 39% listed “Al Qaeda-inspired” violence.(Shane) We have a war raging in our own country, but society is blind to its seriousness because it is too influenced by the media, who has been bought by the U.S. government's agenda. I feel it is important that everyone in society comes together to stop the war and terrorism in our own country, before we continue embedding ourselves so deeply into the conflict of others that the whole world turns again us as we turn on ourselves.
“History.” Oklahoma City Bombing. A&E Television Networks, LLC. 2015. Web.
Sullivan, Thomas J. “Introduction to Social Problems.” Tenth Edition. Pearson Education Inc. 2016, 2012, 2009. Print.
Ashford, Ben. “The Daily Mail.” America's Enemies Within: How Nearly Seventy Have Been Arrested in America Over ISIS Plots in the Last 18 Months – Including Refugees Who Had Been Given Safe Haven But 'Turned to Terror'. Associated Newspapers Ltd. Web.
Shane, Scott. “The New York Times.” Homegrown Extremists Tied to Deadlier Toll Than Jihadists in U.S. Since 9/11. Web.
Retired and 90% Disabled at 24: Bobby Selner
After I reenlisted; the Army saw if fit to transfer me to Drill Sergeant School so I could use my multiple deployment experience to use and train new soldiers for the new conflict which plays by a different set of rules as compared to past wars. After a brief moment of maturity and the thrill of yelling at 18 year olds to do more pushups faded; I truly started to question the skills I was passing down to these young men who were barely younger than myself. I started to reflect on my own war experiences in order to create a new training plan for new soldiers in basic training; it was through this introspection I accepted the fact my diluted notion of war making me stronger, better, wiser, and tactically proficient was not true and I asked myself if the skills I learned and the one's I'm teaching are going to benefit my soldiers beyond war and into civilian life. My conclusion pursuing a military career through the 20 year mark ended with the realization that war turned me into a more tactically proficient soldier with the capability of turning it into a lucrative career with no hope for happiness or ever being able to say, "I love my job!".
One of the biological approaches to the explanation of collective violence and war is the territorial imperative which is the evolutionary imprint of defending one's territory so the means of reproduction are uninhibited. Countries which are proximal to a conflict zone are naturally able to understand the culture and language of a country's conflict more so than sending a bunch of "kids" halfway around the globe to deal with a conflict orchestrated by politicians in suits in the United States. I believe the U.S. has misinterpreted the territorial imperative through using fear on social media and news outlets in order to scare citizens into believing the conflict is closer to our backyard than it actually is. History has taught those that pay attention to history, through fear we tend to make irrational overzealous decisions regarding safety. These decisions have placed our troops in harms way in order to neutralize the threats, unfortunately rash decisions produce rash consequences for policy makers and voters alike. The Catch 22 dilemma occurs when asked whether to send more troops into harms way so those that have suffered and died were not in vain; or risk the lives of more soldiers to finish a costly war with no foreseeable end in sight.
"ROE" or "rules of engagement" are the achilles heel to winning a conflict with an enemy who follows no rules but rather prides itself in how it can truly break the rules such as the video posted by ISIS which reveals the beheading of Christian's on a beach near Damascus. Rules of engagement are created to prevent innocent casualties but these rules expose our soldiers to an increased risk because the enemy we're fighting cloaks themselves as civilians; therefore playing it safe can cause many American deaths. Innocent deaths caused by U.S. soldiers can throw off the trajectory of a conflict when our wars need to be supported by the general public, so rules of engagement are created to protect the soldier's, but mainly protect the public interpretation of the conflict. This is why in the 21st century with all the military and weaponry capabilities at our country's disposal, we are still engaged in our longest conflict in our nation's history.
In 2009 my battalion suffered the largest amount of casualties than any other battalion in our nation's longest war. Since my battalion returned; we've had more suicides than the record setting casualties we sustained previously. This is a clear indication of the mental tolls associated with attempting to fight a ruthless enemy with the equivalent of having both arms ties behind our backs. It terms of the territorial imperative, I'd say our overzealous conquest for war and violence is not defending our territory for reproduction; but instead drastically decreasing our means for reproduction with the number of soldier's lost in conflict in the 21st century.
"War forgets peace. Peace forgives war. War is the death of the life human. Peace is the birth of the Life Divine. Our vital passions want war. Our psychic emotions desire peace."
My A.A.R. (After Action Report)
The class reflection one the atrocious attacks which have been plagued our news broadcasts for the better part of a decade indicated the values our country was founded upon are alive and well. The class was unanimous in explaining how one religion is not the cause for terror and conflict we see today; and how the actions of few, despite how horrific will not change our attitudes towards fighting fire with fire. Perhaps the reasons for the under zealous response to the terror suffered by the U.S. in recent years may be attributed to the functionalist perspective in understanding "violence is a social problem because it threatens societal stability and increases social disorganization (Pg 417)" and "terrorism is most likely to resorted to by people who are desperate and fairly powerless. They see no other way to advance toward their goals (Pg 415)". In lieu of the sociological perspectives addressing the social problems we face today; we have an opportunity to understand the motivations behind the issues we face, therefore having the means to resolve them more accurately with offending as few as possible.
Sullivan, Thomas J. “Introduction to Social Problems.” Tenth Edition. Pearson Education Inc. 2016, 2012, 2009. Print.
My family is a huge military family. My biological father served in the Army for 10 years as a ranger, and my step dad did the same. Both of them are veterans of Desert Storm. My adoptive father (my sisters dad, who raised me) retired from the Air Force 2 years ago, and is a veteran for the OIF and OEF wars. My grandfather retired from the Army and was a Vietnam veteran. All my uncles on my mother's side have served in the Army or the Marines. My older cousin is in the Canadian Air Force. I was the first female of my family to join. My younger brother who is 19 just joined the Army a year ago. With all these family members in the military, for my family it is almost a right of passage.
Now despite my history with the military, that does not mean I agree in all of the military's actions. Just as well that you can hold your own beliefs about our current and/or past war. But here, I want to focus my attention on the soldiers that return. The picture I posted means a lot to me. One soldier by suicide is too many. This hits home for me. A guy that I went to training with, who was the nicest, funniest, caring person you could think of committed suicide a couple years ago. He got me through some tough times. A big group of us would sit outside at night, play the guitar, have a couple beers and just chat about life. Vent a bit. Unfortunately, we lost touch. A year or so later I found out what had happened. I wish I would have known his struggle and could have helped him. My story is not unique. He is the third soldier I know who has committed suicide and the numbers grow everyday.
On the battlefield the military pledges to leave no soldier behind. As a nation, let it be our pledge that when they return home, we leave no veteran behind. - Dan Lipinski
Drugs and Addictions
This video relates to when out class learned about Drugs and Addictions. Dr. Aiken describes that some groups do not have the same resources and therefore can have difficulty with addictions and receiving help (5:00). For instance, with soldiers who only have access to the VA and not to other outside providers (which is quite common) they may not have the available resources to deal with an addiction. The video describes that some patients have to fight the VA to consider alternative forms of treatment for their pain that does not include narcotics.
This is an issue given that narcotics are very addictive both physically and physiologically (9:00). This is amplified by patients who may have PTSD and use them not just for pain but for an escape to cope. “In addition to reducing pain, they produce drowsiness, mood changes, euphoria, and reduced mental functioning with high doses. They also depress the CNS and heart activity” (Sullivan 306). This can cause soldiers and veterans to accidentally overdose and have fatal accidents, especially if they VA is handing out the medication in such large quantities. With this an epidemic has occurred and more people are dying from overdose then from car crashes as the number one accidental death (10:00).
Sullivan, Thomas J. Introductions to Social Problems. (10th ed). Pearson Ed Inc. Print.
Stereotypes of War Time
With the nation being at war for over a decade, there have been a lot of stereotypes that have affected the Arab American population. “Arab Americans have experienced significant prejudice and discrimination since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks” (Sullivan 196). Not only has discrimination occurred but also, what Dr. Dwaine Plaza describes as micro aggression (10:15). People create cognitive bias based on what they are exposed to. Like the video of the TED talks discuss, if people are constantly exposed to images of Arabs being terrorists or victims, they are more likely to associate those images with their daily interactions. “Access to and control over the media and the Internet have today become key determinants of a group’s ability to persuade or influence” (Sullivan 418). For example the images shown during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars affect how people interpret the cultures around them.
Questions for Discussion (Please try to address at least 3)
- What has shaped your view on the military as a whole, aka what is your experience with the military (world events, knowing a soldier, news reports)?
- How has the war on terror impacted your life as an individual as well as your families lives?
- Do you view the Global War on Terror as a priority? Why or why not?
- Besides loss of life and damage of property, what are other consequences of war? (Good and Bad if applicable)
- Do you view the U.S. military as the "World's Police" and do you believe a "World Police" is necessary?
- Which sociological perspective do you feel would be best to address the issues of violence, war, and terrorism in the U.S.?