Does terror “exist”? What does it mean to exist? I read a fascinating blog post that pointed out the peculiar fact that 2 doesn’t exist in objective reality, but undeniably exists in the realm of math. The second part can be proven, while the first is a matter of semantics. 2 is a concept – you can give me 2 middle fingers, but they’re a representation of the idea 2. They aren’t 2 in and of themselves, just like Homer Simpson is more than only yellow.
Drugs and terrorism both exist as scattered collections of things, but not as a cohesive whole. You can have a joint, a line, a gram or kilo. You can have a “hit” (of LSD) or a “lid” (a unit of measure, meaning “a bunch” which somehow made sense to potheads until the mid 1970s). You can even have a stash of drugs, which, if used, will eventually run out, feeding the supply and demand cycle, causing somebody somewhere to grow more. Along the same lines, there are terrorists, and even groups of terrorists. But they don’t tend to work together, just like “the communists” included the USSR and China, who hated each other. Benazir Bhutto says Osama bin Laden was killed by a another terrorist competing for power within al Quaeda.
The War on Poverty turned into a police action against the poor. The War on Drugs is widely perceived to have failed. The War on Terror is bound to the same fate – terror is ill defined. Like the mythical beast, cutting off one head causes another to grow in revenge.