Terrorism is a behavior, not a thing. We can declare war on a country. We can defeat it, or be defeated by it, at which point the war is over. Terrorism is a disease, a scourge. It is not something that can be defeated or banished, the way you clear cockroaches from a house by tenting and fumigating it. It's a methodology, a means to an end.
Most importantly, it's a crime. Thus, it should be treated as such. Clues should be examined, the perpetrator discovered, tracked, tried and convicted, based on evidence. We should respond to these mindless acts of terror with rationality, relentlessness and vigor. Otherwise we just become terrorists ourselves.
Oops, that's already been done too. By declaring a 'War On Terror' the Bush administration has tried to frame everything it wants to do in the context of this war. It can launch wars, bomb civilians, coddle corporate sponsors, spy on American citizens, reshape our civil liberties and funnel tax breaks to the wealthy, all in the name of the War On Terror. This is all done under the guise of 'protecting us.'
But who will protect us from our protectors? Who will ensure our civil liberties are not eroded, one by one, until they are gone? Who will check the natural progression of power to the powerful and money to the wealthy in order to prevent unhealthy imbalance and ultimate collapse of our society? It may be there's a grain of truth in the conservative mantra of not relying on the government. We certainly can't rely on the government to protect us in these matters. Not this government, anyway.
Anyway, back to the 'war.' Much as I wish it were so, the War on Terrorism can't be won. No matter how peaceful our world becomes, no matter how stable, happy, healthy and wonderful everyone on the planet may be, it only takes one suicide bomber in a crowded marketplace to once again say WE LOSE. It's not that I support terrorism, far from it. (Although many right-wingers are quick to claim just that whenever anyone says this is an unwinnable war.) It's just like the War on Drugs, or the War on Poverty. We will always have terrorists; we will always have poverty. It's just part of the human condition. You may as well declare a War on Death; you'll never win it.
This effort has been cast as a 'war' in order to gain power, nothing more. It plays on peoples emotions. Sure, we were all pissed after 9/11, we all wanted to kick some ass. So why did we leave Afghanistan unfinished and charge headlong into Iraq? Why have we spent so much money on Saddam and Iraq and so little on the Osama, Mullah Omar, the Taliban and Afghanistan? I'll leave the reasons why for another time, but the redirection from one to the other is telling. This isn't about morality, or democracy. It's about money and power. Thus the "War on Terror," to keep us focused -- on the wrong things.