But as an organizing framework, the global war on terror has been a disaster for our country. We responded to terrorists by giving them exactly what they wanted. The war on terror has also been staggeringly wasteful. And even after this enormous expense, the world has more terrorists now, not fewer. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, there were nearly four times as many Sunni Islamic militants operating around the world in November as on September 11, That is no coincidence: the way the United States and its partners have prosecuted this war has caused widespread resentment and anger, which helps those terrorists recruit.
Competitors like China and Russia have exploited our forever wars to expand their economic and political influence around the world. In China, an inner circle led by President Xi Jinping has steadily consolidated power, clamping down on domestic political freedom while aggressively promoting its version of authoritarian capitalism abroad. But what he can do, what he is trying to do, is to destroy the alliance of liberal democracies in Europe and North America that stand in the way of Russian resurgence.
Endless wars help the powerful to draw attention away from economic corruption. Then they turn around and demand that their governments impose austerity agendas on working families. In industrialized countries, many have begun to question whether democracy can actually deliver for them. They work longer hours for lower wages than they used to. Too often, political leaders exploit these fears, stoking resentment and fanning ethnic and racial hatred among those who are struggling.
It’s Time for America to Reckon With the Staggering Death Toll of the Post-9/11 Wars
We see this very clearly in our own country, coming from the highest level of our government. When our elected leaders, pundits, and cable news personalities promote relentless fear-mongering about Muslim terrorists, they inevitably create a climate of fear and suspicion around Muslim American citizens—a climate in which demagogues like Trump can thrive. There is a straight line from the decision to reorient U.
All the while, truly severe looming threats like climate change have failed to capture much-needed attention and commitment. The scientific community is virtually unanimous in telling us that climate change is real, that it is caused by human activity, and that it is already doing devastating harm throughout the world. Climate change is a clear example of an issue on which American leadership can make a difference—and from which our endless entanglements in the Middle East have diverted crucial resources and attention.
Europe cannot address this problem alone. Nor can China. Nor can the United States.
This crisis calls out for strong international cooperation if we are to leave our children and grandchildren a planet that is healthy and habitable. American leadership—and the economic and scientific advantages that only America can offer—can and must facilitate this effort. Enough is enough. In March, we had a historic vote in both houses of Congress to end U. This vote demonstrated strong bipartisan concern over unconstitutional and unauthorized wars, and it served as an important reminder that Congress must reassert its constitutional authority over the use of military force.
I was one of those who opposed the Iraq war. Trump claims he opposed it too, but, in truth, he only did so after the fact. We can and we must pursue a different option. Neither do we want a foreign policy that is based on the logic that led to those wars and corroded our democracy: a logic that privileges military tools over diplomatic ones, aggressive unilateralism over multilateral engagement, and acquiescence to our undemocratic partners over the pursuit of core interests alongside democratic allies who truly share our values.
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We have to view the terrorism threat through the proper scope, rather than allowing it to dominate our view of the world. The time has come to envision a new form of American engagement: one in which the United States leads not in war-making but in bringing people together to find shared solutions to our shared concerns. American power should be measured not by our ability to blow things up, but by our ability to build on our common humanity, harnessing our technology and enormous wealth to create a better life for all people. Joseph R.
Some, however, would say that the desire to remain politically correct prevents even naming the enemy—Islamic radicalism, the fundamentalist ideology that fuels the violence. Some go further and assert that it is Islam itself that must be confronted. The changing political environment has brought in additional foes. According to some critics of current efforts, the United States should have employed military force to topple Bashar al-Assad in Syria and to bring down the nuclear-minded mullahs in Iran.
Doing so, they assert, would have denied Iran and Russia any capability or opportunity to get in the way of the United States' current efforts to destroy the Islamic State and other jihadist groups. News coverage inflates the threat. Pundits offer competing visions of imminent doom. Assessments are driven not by what terrorists have done, but rather by what people fear they might do. Americans tend to be obsessed with decline and doom. To some extent, it seems that fears of terrorism condense broader national anxieties. While to a certain extent, American apprehension about terrorism reflects the latest news headlines, terror operates in its own universe.
This percentage dropped over the years and remained low, often in single digits, until December , when it jumped back to 33 percent. The world does not stand still. In long wars, there are invariably events that, although external to the immediate conflict, can alter the contest and change strategic calculations. These have put us in a different place from where we started 15 years ago.
- Quale America? - Soglie e Culture di un Continente Vol. 1 (Soglie Americane 4) (Italian Edition).
- Welche Rolle besitzt die Hierarchie innerhalb von Organisationen (German Edition);
- Why America Can't Quit The Middle East.
In the current conflict, some of these, like the invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in , have been of America's own making. These actions led to a long, bloody insurgency that distracted attention and resources from efforts in Afghanistan and the campaign against al-Qa'ida while breathing new life into al-Qa'ida's propaganda line that aggressive infidels were bent upon conquering the Muslim world. The insurgency also created fertile ground for jihadist elements in Iraq who were never entirely suppressed and who later reemerged as the Islamic State.
Why America Can't Quit The Middle East | Hoover Institution
Some point also to the consequences of the United States' complete withdrawal from Iraq. They say that the absence of a U.
These critics assert that this rendered the Iraqi army a hollow force, which collapsed during the Islamic State offensive in Al-Qa'ida's supporters saw the global financial crisis as evidence that its efforts were about to bring down America, just as jihadist myth portrays the earlier campaign against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan as the cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union. The second superpower did not fall, but the crisis underscored fiscal constraints, renewed domestic debates about military expenditures, and imposed new priorities on Western governments.
The pursuit of al-Qa'ida and U. The most dramatic development was the Arab Spring. Al-Qa'ida's claim of responsibility for the wave of political protests that spread across the Arab world was easily dismissed, but the resulting turmoil distracted authorities and gave hard-pressed jihadist groups some breathing space in places like Egypt's Sinai. The protests also led to civil wars that completely changed the landscape of counterterrorist efforts. In Libya, the political ferment quickly escalated, prompting foreign military intervention and the end of the Qaddafi regime. The result was a chaotic situation that jihadist elements quickly exploited.
Faced with brutal government repression, the protests in Syria also turned violent, and by the end of , Syria was at war with itself as the Islamic State, originally an offshoot of al-Qa'ida, declared its independence and launched a major military offensive across Syria and Iraq. Events became even more complicated in September when Russia intervened militarily in Syria to assist the faltering Assad regime. Paralleling these developments, China began a significant buildup of its military presence in the South China Sea.