The core issue of my article is really very simple: Can a society with counterterrorism as a core political and cultural value widely practiced be democratic, given that counterterrorism necessarily leads toward undemocratic practices at home and abroad? Moreover, even if we accept counterterrorism as a necessary evil, has it been effective inn the last 15 years? Studies show that terrorism has been rising not declining, while the political and economic costs to society have been immense.
Is America a model democracy, the epitome of an pluralistic and open society, the example for the rest of the world to emulate, or is it a paranoid society in search of enemies that the US government must create in order to preserve the anachronistic political, social and economic status quo against the tide of history? If you lived in the US during the first fifteen years of the 21st century, you probably noticed that government at all levels, the mass media, businesses and churches are all concerned about terrorism to the degree that this has become an obsession and national hysteria deeply imbedded in the culture. In fact, the culture of counterterrorism is so deeply imbedded in America that one finds it throughout the educational system in courses taught from elementary school to graduate school; in Christian churches and Jewish synagogues that see Islam as the source of terrorism, as though there is a “terrorism gene” in the DNA of those espousing Islam as their faith.
The American Sniper motion picture that glorifies a soldier shooting Iraqis, including children, is a reflection of American values today molded by the counterterrorism culture. The real American sniper claimed to have killed 255 people. He bragged that he loved it because killing was fun, just another recreational activity no different than hunting deer. US Navy Seal Chris Kyle wrote “I hate the damn savages. I couldn’t give a flying fuck about the Iraqis.” When Obama recently tried to lessen the anti-Islam bias by noting Christians killed Muslims in the name of God during the Crusades, the conservatives and many media outlets insisted there is no moral equivalence, and the president has no right to insult Christians in such manner. The US media simply assumes that the Western Judeo-Christian culture is free of war crimes, when in fact during the last five centuries Christians have killed the overwhelming majority of people on this planet, beginning with the trans-Atlantic slave trade to the Jewish Holocaust.
The state mobilizes public support for itself and institutions it protects, while the majority of the population falls in line with the state that presents itself as 'protector' of public interest. It would be naive to deny that the state has every right to protect its people and its national sovereignty combating any threats from hostile forces. However, there is a huge difference between the state's right to self defense within its own borders, and unleashing a global "war on terror" that violates the national sovereignty and rights of innocent people, while at the same time promoting a culture of counterterrorism. Without engaging in lengthy analysis of 'the ethics of counterterrorism', analysis that can be approached from different ideological and political perspectives, the bottom line is that counterterrorism measures used as a pretext for police state methods benefits the political, economic, and social status quo. At the same time, counterterrorism precludes democratic preactices, societal progress to the benefit of all people, and social justice, while it maintains a "military-solution based foreign policy" that invariably results in disaster for all parties concerned.