declared by President George W. Bush
shortly after the destruction
of the two WTC
buildings on September the eleventh
2001, this declaration sparked much controversy
(see above writeups), and was backed by statements from Bush along the lines of saying "(this was an)attack not just on America but on all people who love democracy
This statement and statements like it, were a call to rally the American people around the flag of war, in the same way that every President, Prime Minister and Monarch has done before.
To date only the al-Qaeda and the Taleban have been targets. The Al-Qaeda network due to the alleged evidence against it for carrying out terrorist attacks including, possibly, the attack on 9/11. The Taleban has come under fire for harbouring a known terrorist by the name of Osama bin Laden (or Usama Ben Laden and many other variations).
Public opinion is split about the war. There are those that think attacking a country for harbouring a terrorist is ridiculous. And that nobody fired upon Britain when they harboured General Augusto Pinochet for a while, even though many countries wanted to bring him to trial. This opinion goes so far as to state that perhaps America's love of democracy only applies when it wants it to. And that the US Government (and by implication, the US people (since the government represents the people)) backed Pinochet in Chile, helping to depose the democratically elected president. The nay-sayers also point to Nicaragua, Angola, East Timor and El Salvador. Their point being that America has imposed its world views on other countries, and that now that those countries (or at least some of the citizens of those countries) wish to fight back a little.
The against people have pointed to Japan, where after the U.S imposed heavy sanctions upon them, Japan attacked Pearl Harbour. And in the resulting war, 250,000 innocent Japanese civilians were killed. The arguement basically being, if you push a country, they are liable to push back. The origins of this push contest spread back to before America existed.
The for people argue that whilst war is bad, it is necessary. The perpetrators of 9/11 must be brought to justice and made an example of, so that future terrorists will think twice. And since the Taleban regime are not assisting (indeed are being contrary) America, America should go in and get him. Just like a scaled up police incident. If you are harbouring a murderer in your house the police will ask for him to leave. If they don't leave then they come and get him. And if you try and stop them, then they do bad things to you.
They counter argue, that although America may have done bad things, and may have a terrible foreign policy, that doesn't change the facts as they are right now. And that regardless of foreign policy, Afghanistan trade with the rest of the world, and so should be prepared to live by simple global rules. Don't fuck with America, is probably on there somewhere.
As this node is written, the war on terrorism is centrally focused on the acquistion of Bin Laden and his associates for questioning. America has bombed Afghanistan, and is currently sending in ground troups. Also, reports of Anthrax being used as a biological weapon/deterrent are being heard throughout America.
No doubt this war will have many unexpected twists and turns and will be a long, unpleasant road.
Update December 2002:
al-Qaeda are still the prime target in the war. However, as was predicted shortly after its declaration, the cry "This action is all part of the war against terrorism" has been used by several governments to justify what could be defined as dubious acts.
Update February 2003:
Although no direct evidence has been forthcoming - Iraq is now in the firing line of the War against Terrorism. The second gulf war has a vein of the war against terrorism, although the links are tenuous. It seems that instead of pushing the idea of terrorism on this issue (the public aren't convinced), the governments in question (Britain and USA) are seeking new angles (perhaps a war against Weapons of Mass Destruction?).
Update July 2005:
Well the Iraq situation continues, and terrorism has struck London (7/7 and the failed attempt a couple of weeks later) and Egypt. The matter has been significantly confused by sister/cousin groups of al-Qaeda which seem to be claiming responsibility for various acts.