war on terror

“War on terror” is a phrase the U.S. government has used to describe some of its military actions and policy changes since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

When you declare war on a country, you go to that place and fight. You depose leaders. You tear down buildings and steal whatever’s inside.

The “terror” in “war on terror” is supposed to remind you of terrorism. Terrorism is very scary, but it doesn’t leave buildings or government officials lying around, vulnerable to attack. It can spring up wherever there are people and vanish into a crowd at a moment’s notice.

So maybe war is not the best way to stop terrorism. But the expression isn’t “war on terrorism” — it’s “war on terror.”

Terror, being a human emotion like sadness or anger or jealousy, is not the kind of thing you can destroy with a tank.

The people who named the “war on terror” wanted you to think bombing Middle Eastern countries, spying on Americans, and making everyone take off their shoes at the airport are the only things keeping you safe from the darkest corners of your mind.