The real issue in the current state of world affairs on the topic of war isn't primarily related to the use of violence against Iraq, it is the lingering questions about the use of violence as a first resort which have been raised by the 9/11 bombings. We are all suffering variously an aftermath of effects from acts which employed violence as a first resort. However, a failure to recognize that to promote acts of violence result in an "equal and opposite reaction'' of violence is to invite violence to oneself. Self-violence is prima facia evidence of a failure to maintain mental health; obvious even from psychology's DSM IV manual, used to diagnose mental disorders.
The policy questions that come under consideration regarding how to control violent groups which are demonstrating such mental illness are ethical in nature, and relate back to the pre-emptive use of violence. The lines between self-defense and perpetuation of violent mental illness become highly subjective, and incline one to take an offensive posture stilted towards one's own defense. The degree of bias towards subjective attitudes of appropriate or justifiable violent behavior are in direct proportion to one's immediate suffering due to unresolved acts of violence.
Groups of hurt people can become collectively galvanized and agitated; their pain can be resonated into a desire for violence and revenge. This is usually effectively conveyed through a common leader. A failure on the leader's part to promote violence and to voice retribution would be felt as a failure to represent the group's pain and anger. However, since the target sentiment here defines self-destructive mental illness, this makes the original hurt much more far reaching, insidious, and capable of a lasting cycle of devastation. It should be clear that anger and hurt feelings are themselves not qualified to lead any relationships, nor find adult resolutions to adult problems.
When anger is mutually embraced in a policy of violence between two or more parties, a social contract is forged. The implicit agreement is to relate dysfunctionally in a "partnership of destruction''. Any such interactions, to the sane onlooker, are clearly seen as infantile, childlike, and dangerous. This becomes obvious to all at such a point where each emotional response creates even worse countervailing responses- a serious line delineating sanity is being crossed. If reason, patience, and communication do not quickly prevail, ultimately time, energy, and life itself is lost irretrievably to all involved.
It would seem from the outside that the only universal threat from violent groups of "horrified'' individuals fighting their "counter-horror'' counterparts would be the net effect to the common good. One group or individual capable of engaging "universal'' violence to everyone would seem to be the only "universal'' threat sufficient to justify a policy of violence as a first resort. Individual acts of terrorism are, on the surface, local; particular, rather than universal. They are targeted from a particular hurting group to another in order to infict more hurt. The collateral damage this creates universally by its perpetuation could be seen as the "grass which is trampled'' in a "war between the elephants''. Such damage requires circumpsect consideration regarding appropriate, adult, responses in order to limit destructive potential and to effect resolution.
However, in this case the "grass'' being trampled, is freedom- freedom from fear, violence, disease, war, depression, and ignorance. Since 9/11 occurred, we have all had to process a lot of feelings. Largely, we have been pushed one way or another through anger and hurt, becoming influenced by the subtle impact of bias, prejudice, and hate. It is important that even slight subliminal choices regarding any wishes for revenge and violence be brought to the surface and recognized in a conscious fashion. The only way back to collective mental health is through a conscious choice to love individuals while hating their mental illnesses; to rise above the eyes of the hurt children inside and make the difficult choice to act to as adults. Today, 11/11, it is 14 months later, and only now do I feel I can I begin to make my way back. -sct
p.s. For any that would condemn fundamentalism as a root cause of these situations and others like them, may I say that to call someone a fundamentalist is to say that they know some fundamentals and that you, with greater wisdom and scope of learning, know higher truths than just their basics. You may see someone's blind faith, their trust in tradition, and their fervent sincerity but you understand that some things are not to be taken literally, that faith must speak intelligently, and that we cannot always see things as children and act thusly. However, to condemn and wish harm to fundamentalists and their cherished beliefs is to remove the marrow from one's own "higher'', "liberated", and "enlightened'' beliefs. The basis of the fundamentalist heart is a motivation to love despite its limitations or ignorance; to wish to destroy it is to embrace hate. There are no harmonics without a fundamental tone; no tone at all for that matter. This, too, is mental illness.