Wednesday, 16 November 2011

War on Terror

It was with disbelief and shock that people around the world saw footage of the terrorist attacks in the US on on September 11, 2001 when the planes-turned-missiles slammed into the World Trade Center towers and damaged the Pentagon.
This ultimately resulted in the US declaring and waging a war on terror. Osama Bin Laden was eventually tracked down and killed some 10 years later. But the way the war on terror has been conducted has led to many voicing concerns about the impact on civil liberties, the cost of the additional security focused changes, the implications of the invasions and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more.
It is now over a decade since the terrorist attacks in the US, simply dubbed “9-11” shocked the world, and ushered in a global “war on terror”.
And looking back, what has the US to show for its decade of effort? Has it been winning the war on terror? It depends how it is measured. The killing of Osama Bin Laden was of course a major success. But the cost of vengeance (instead of justice) has also been high:
A further turn towards hatred and a rise in those who think most Muslims are terrorists, that Islam is a threat to the world, etc.
Wars that have seen far more than the 3,500 deaths that the US saw, and a self-fulfilling prophecy; creating more anger and resentment against the US, more potential terrorists, and the complete opposite of what the neo-cons wanted; global downturn and US decline instead consolidating their power and position in the world.
Over 6,000 US soldiers killed in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Possibly 100 times that number of civilians in those countries (in Iraq, at an early point, there was an estimated range of 400,000 to 900,000 civilian deaths, which of course Bush had to reject, claiming it used flawed techniques, even though it used estimation techniques his own government agencies taught others to use).
And also worryingly, as Inter Press Service (IPS) correspondent Jim Lobe notes, Al Qaeda’s project for ending the “American Century” appears to have largely succeeded:
The rest of Jim Lobe’s article provides a useful summary of why Bush’s focus on Iraq (under the clearly false and fear-mongering excuses of weapons of mass destruction and links to terrorism), instead of tackling terrorism, was “perhaps the single-most disastrous foreign policy decision by a U.S. president in the past decade, if not the past century.” This is because it allowed the Taliban to regroup in Afghanistan leading to more expensive military operations and strengthening Al Qaeda’s resolve further. Meanwhile, various US actions in Iraq and elsewhere damaged its reputation around the world.
The above summary also matches concerns raised further below (in the section on Bush Losing the War on Terror) which was written quite some time ago, so it did not have to take a decade to look back and see a change in course should have been possible. But maybe the impact of the enormous cost this would have (US tax payers have had to fork out trillions of dollars) was somewhat unimaginable?
For many years even before 9-11, neoconservatives had called for the US to consolidate its position in the world as the sole superpower and dominate further. 9-11 appeared to give them an excuse to push these ideas further and their ideology permeated throughout top-level thinking of the Bush Administration. It is therefore quite ironic, as Jim Lobe also notes, that “leading the charge [for such an aggressive foreign policy approach] were precisely those hawks whose fondest wish was to extend, rather than cut short, Washington’s global hegemony.”
By framing this as a war on “terror” (which, as a concept can almost never end), an excuse is now afforded to all governments to put in place tough security measured on any potentially flimsy basis. And the predicted “war” on civil liberties and human rights has unfortunately proven true as human rights organizations around the world feared from the start of the war on terror (as discussed further below).
If the US public mood at the time was understandably full of anger and vengeance as well as shock and disbelief, it also reflects badly on US society that voices for more measured and appropriately calculated responses could be drowned out; an individual acting in a regrettable way due to a moment of anger is very different than an entire state apparatus (that should have time to think things through more thoroughly) doing that.
Maybe it could be argued that with hindsight it is easy to make these criticisms. Unfortunately, however, these concerns were there from the start, and re-iterated many times by many people and organizations during the past decade.
But not all have wanted vengeance. Many families of the victims of the 9-11 atrocity have campaigned for a more peaceful approach to combating terrorism, for example.
Accompanying this has been media propaganda, media manipulation, sensationalism, sound-bite journalism and all the various other problems that have minimized coverage of deeper issues and understanding while allowing various claims to go almost unchallenged. (Some examples and links are presented further below.)
The rest of the article below started shortly after the 9-11 attacks in 2001 and was updated a few times up to 2007. It barely covered any details but still showed these numerous concerns from so many people and organizations were already there and are still relevant.


Post a Comment

flag counter

free counters