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Ben Jonjak
How to Fight the War on Terrorism

'Starvation is the number one cause of death in the world. The number one health problem in America is over consumption'.

Declaring a war on terrorism was the most bonehead of a long line of idiotic comments by our incompetent president. Just exactly what was the intent? To eliminate discontentment and hatred through force? How is it that nobody has recognized the logical impossibility of this enterprise? The only thing our President has managed to do is put terrorists under the microscope of the American media, the most powerful idea spreading machine in the world.

Since terrorism is essentially just an idea, it could be argued that Mr. Bush’s actions have done more to encourage terrorism than oppose it. He has made terrorism the sexy topic, and all those lunatics out there questing for their fifteen minutes of fame need to look no further than the "War on Terrorism" to find their entry point to the aforementioned American media juggernaught. I don’t think it is much of a reach to assume that this same logic crossed the DC sniper’s mind and it wouldn’t be a surprise to me to see more copy-cat terrorists jumping on the bandwagon and wasting more innocent lives just to glean their own fragment of that horrific Mark David Chapman sort of fame.

However, all of this is not to say that terrorism can’t be defeated. It can, and it will be, but not by force. You would think that because I am proposing a non-violent means to defeat terrorism I would feel both excited and enthusiastic for its acceptance. I am not. I think this whole idea is going to blow over unnoticed. The fact is that everybody knows what the answer is, they just don’t want to face it. It is the nature of humanity to shout and demand that other people do the right thing, but to fall silent when they themselves are called upon to feel the pinch of sacrifice for the greater good.

What is the root of terrorism? I say that it is want and deprivation. There was a time when George Washington and the Continental army were labeled as terrorists. We scoff at that idea now and still identify with Washington even though he was David and we have grown into Goliath. It all becomes a matter of semantics which of course doesn’t justify or condemn anything or anybody. The only fact that I can see is that there are a lot of people out there who work very hard, have very little, and can’t reasonably expect a long life filled with liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They are, nevertheless, created equal and thus, by our own doctrine, deserving of the same bounties we as American’s enjoy. They should be the responsibilities of millionaire dictators like Osama Bin Laden, but unfortunately the man is completely insane and we cannot rely on him to assist his people. He would much rather point his finger at us and they are quite willing to give their lives in suicide attacks because they are practical enough to understand that they aren’t going to be living very long anyway.

So how do you fight that? Simple, and this is the part that you aren’t going to like, you make sure they have something that keeps them from believing the suicide attack is worth the bother. An overwhelming percentage of the population is satisfied with just two vital items. One being food and drink, the other being shelter. Granted, the ones that actually were responsible for the 9-11 attacks were privileged and had been living and learning (how to fly airplanes among other things) in the United States. But the key is where they came from and the knowledge that they carry that their friends and family remain in the slums that they left behind with no way to ever get out. This is what puts the suicidal murderous rage in their eyes, and this is the heart of terrorism. You eliminate that, and you eliminate terrorism. It is the only way.

Many places in the world are like open wounds with the worst parts in the middle surrounded by areas of decreasing deprivation. There is no way yet that we could reach into the center part and give aid to where it is most greatly needed. The hot zones are too insane with pain and would regard any advancement as an intrusion. The trick is to come in from the edges in an ever tightening circle, improving the situation and letting the newfound wealth trickle into the center to eventually knit over and close the hole. You can’t send weapons or money, you send people who are fluent in some skill and willing to teach it. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

For example, I’m currently living in Lima, Peru where I volunteer my time teaching English. Although Peru is certainly not a hotspot for Anti-American terrorists, it is a place of limited economic prosperity. By teaching English to children here I can provide them with a link to the American Economy. Every one I work with is given a much greater chance at building their own success. It is good for Peru and it is good for America because it provides a kind of union and understanding. If America was actually serious about ending the war on terrorism we would at least discuss the idea of sending people off to help other nations in this manner. It doesn’t need to be a multi-year commitment, just what people can manage. It doesn’t need to be any kind of program (although I’m sure there is a wealth of programs available on the internet if people looked) they could just go on their own. A year outside the US boarders would do most Americans a lot of good. Additionally price is no excuse as a person can live in most of the countries that need help for less than several hundred dollars a month and just the influx of this money, chump change to most Americans, can greatly and positively effect foreign economies. I’m not talking about the peace-corps here, I’m talking about an effort on a massive scale. Everybody who has ever reflected mournfully on 9-11 or put out an American flag sticker in remembrance should jump at the opportunity to actually make the situation right rather than continue to dwell in depression.

The power, in this instance, is truly in the hands of the people. As I said before I am writing this from Lima, Peru, living a lifestyle that I believe actually does something to eliminate some small amount of suffering and thus takes a hit out of terrorism. I have said a lot of things on this issue both within America and outside it that have made people accuse me of being immoral or anti-American. However, I do not see how a few misconstrued words can match or overshadow an entire year of positive action. I am not pacifying my conscience by sending off twenty dollars to some corrupt charitable organization, I’m actually working to make the changes with my own two hands. But of course there is more work here than I can do myself. In the atmosphere that surrounded 9-11 there was a lot of grief and confusion and, above all, cries for blood. However, the thing that got lost in the mix was the undeniable truth that if we killed even one innocent person in retaliation for acts of terrorism against the US, we would become terrorists just as much as the people who came after us in the first place. It is all a matter of semantics, but it is most assuredly true that we have slaughtered innocents in retaliation. The thing that is disgusting, to me, is that we have done it with such an attitude of moral indignation.
The same number of people who died in the world trade center tragedy die every day. They die of starvation. Starvation is the number one cause of death in the world. The number one health problem in America is over consumption. We can’t even share to save ourselves. Is that not terrorism?

Letting innocents die through our inaction? If it is, we’ve committed it a million times over and accrued a total equal to the world trade center attack every day since we have lamented the event. The hypocrisy is overwhelming. To this day people all over the world have been conditioned by the American media to sigh at the mention of 9-11. Americans demand this sentiment. But if their feeling was genuine, wouldn’t they desire to do everything in their power to prevent it from happening again? Every man woman and child in America is aware that they could spend a small amount of their life in some less-fortunate area of the world and help it greatly. If we just tightened our belt and made a large-scale effort to go forth and spread a little bit of the bounty that the rest of the world resents us for having, don’t you think we could do much to change the negative attitude these countries hold against us? Don’t you think it would be more effective than trying to bomb them into submission? But it is easier to sit in the comfort of American homes and watch fancy weapons attack dirt shacks on TV.

It is easy to say that you regret the tragedy and then to forget it. It is easy to look the other way and do nothing and just hope that the next plane doesn’t crash into a building that you happen to occupy. I don’t condone murder in any form. But it is hard to be at all sympathetic with that attitude. The media and the American public could pick up this idea and run with it but they won’t. They prefer blood, but they have neglected to examine their own hands.
© Ben Jonjak Feb 2003

About the Author: Ben Jonjak holds a degree in literature from the University of Wisconsin. His writing has appeared in various print and electronic publications. He has written six novels; Glorious Failure, Thief, Small Time World, School Shooting, Freedom of the Mind, and Snapshots. You can learn more about his books and writing at the following URL: You can write Ben and tell him why he's wrong at:

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