How’s the global war on terror (GWOT) going for the U.S.? That’s easy. The U.S. is losing.
One sign is that the GWOT is 12 years old. The U.S. hasn’t licked terror yet.
Iraq is a total fiasco for the U.S. and a disaster for Iraqis. The U.S. invasion produced a civil war, then a weak government, new insurgencies and a base for al Qaeda operations. Today and every day, dozens and dozens of Iraqis are still being killed and wounded
The U.S. still hasn’t “won” in Afghanistan, no matter how you define winning. Another weak and corrupt government was put in. The Taliban is alive and kicking. So is al Qaeda.
Al Qaeda affiliates have appeared. Affiliates are new recruits in a network of sub-organizations.
Jihadist insurgents moved into Pakistan, destabilizing that country.
Al Qaeda remains in Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Spain, Germany, China, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Al Qaeda has grown in Yemen where the U.S. now has operations.
The U.S. and NATO attacked Libya and removed Gaddafi. Libya became unstable. Militias proliferated and al Qaeda’s presence multiplied.
Al Qaeda (affiliates included) is pushing into new areas in North and West Africa. They operate from Somalia, Kenya, Libya and Algeria. Al Qaeda has affiliates in Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.
The U.S. and its allies decided to remove Syria’s president and support rebels against him. They stoked a war that is ongoing. Al Qaeda and affiliates have benefited. They have infiltrated Palestinian refugee camps in Syria, as they have in Lebanon.
The Syrian war has destabilized the neighboring countries of Lebanon and Iraq, and also affected Turkey and Jordan.
Fearful of attacks by al Qaeda, the U.S. recently closed 21 embassies and consulates for a period. They are in some countries already mentioned (Mauritania, Algeria, Libya, Jordan, Iraq, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan.) In addition, they include Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, U.A.E., Bahrain, Oman, Djibouti and Bangladesh.
The U.S. attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan helped al Qaeda operations and recruiting, more than offsetting the killing of al Qaeda members. U.S. operations and policies in Pakistan, Yemen, Libya and Syria have done the same.
The U.S. military and the CIA are good at deposing dictators and wrecking countries. They are bad at defeating an operation like al Qaeda. Their incompetence is matched only by that of the government that has set the war policies and determined grand strategy.
How’s the GWOT going in America? Americans are the losers. The cost of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan is anywhere from $2.4 trillion to $4 trillion.
Civil liberties have been curtailed. Police have been militarized. Privacy has deteriorated. A police state apparatus has been installed. Economic progress has vanished.
Meanwhile the government continues to look for new fields of conquest, such as Iran.
Obama has said “…we know a price must be paid for freedom.” Americans have paid the price for the GWOT and gotten less freedom. If there is a positive connection between the GWOT and freedom of Americans, it remains to be demonstrated. The connection appears to be inverse or perverse, if you will.
Obama said “Beyond Afghanistan, we must define our effort not as a boundless ‘global war on terror,’ but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America.”
Obama has retired the phrase “global war on terror” (GWOT). He has replaced it with a “series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists”.
The GWOT goes on. The methods are changing. Obama is moving away from conventional war. He favors surgical drone strikes, only they are not so surgical.
The global aspect is not changing. Just the opposite. The U.S. is involved with counterterrorism in more countries than ever.
The two main reasons why al Qaeda formed are (1) the U.S. support of Israel and Israel’s anti-Palestinian policies, and (2) the introduction of U.S. military forces in Islamic countries.
The U.S. has confirmed and strengthened those reasons during the GWOT, under both Bush and Obama. The GWOT itself has helped al Qaeda affiliates form and spread.
America’s terrorism problem will remain chronic unless these two basic issues are addressed.