The War on Terror that began after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center was the impetus for two wars: the war on Afghanistan from 2001-2014 and the war in Iraq from 2003- 2011. The wars took place in those two states because the U.S. believed that those states had connections to al-Qaeda, the terrorist group behind the 9/11 attacks. President George W. Bush as well as President Barack Obama condoned these wars in the hope of stopping al-Qaeda and other terrorist cells and limiting or ending future terrorist attacks in the United States. However, some claim that these wars have fueled the fire of jihadists and have increased their desire to attack America. Yet, the United States’ invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan is not the sole reason behind jihadists’ targeting the U.S., because the root cause for terrorism is complex; additionally, the Afghanistan and Iraq war increased the national debt, but has not stopped the increase of terrorism worldwide.
Terrorism in the twenty- first century is a multilayered issue. One of the reasons terrorism is prevalent is because there are groups of Muslims who are susceptible to jihadist rhetoric because they are alienated in their community. The fact is, “American jihad ranges from the full spectrum from lone nuts with a general appetite for violence in the jihadist rhetoric to more sophisticated would-be terrorists who have actually trained abroad” (Katel 703). In fact, since 9/11 American Muslims are less drawn to jihadism. However, outside the U.S., especially in Europe, terrorism is more likely. Some of these terrorist attacks include a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia in 2002 that killed 202 people and jihadists destroying subway trains in London in 2005. That is because European Muslims “tended to be more alienated from the surrounding societies and hence more susceptible to jihadist ideology” (714). These alienated individuals are more likely to listen to Muslim extremists and their propaganda that debase the true religion of Islam. In the U.S., Muslims are not as alienated, which makes them less susceptible to Muslim extremism.
Another leading causes of terrorism are the oppression and poverty in various states, as well as the support terrorists groups find from various states. This increase is due to the instability within states. When a group people are not flourishing, they become angry and belligerent and look for a scapegoat to blame their predicament, which leads to terrorism. In this case, oppression and poverty in states means a population that is more susceptible to anti-Western propaganda. Terrorist groups are also supported by various states. States support terrorist groups because they want influence, want to counter U.S. strength in the international sphere, hope to advance a certain belief system or hope to topple regimes. Some states that have backed terrorist groups are Pakistan, who has supported groups who cause conflict in Kashmir, and also Iran, who supports Hezbollah because of their anti-Israeli stance (Byman). With support as well as funding, these states help the infrastructure of terrorist groups and also allow them to spread their message to those who are susceptible. The use of technology and globalization has resulted in the ability to spread their ideology further and to more people.
Finally, the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, as well as the plight of Muslims in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, have led to anger from Muslims around the world. There have been at least 122,000 Iraqi civilians that have died in the war, as well as 21,000 civilians that have died in the Afghanistan war. Muslim extremists justify terrorist attacks by using these statistics. The belief that the United States has trampled on the Holy Land of the Muslim people has also caused conflict. The Afghanistan and Iraq Wars have not only impacted those states detrimentally, the U.S. has also faced issues because of the conflicts. Both the Afghanistan and Iraq War, as result of 9/11, has also led to a greater national debt; however, the wars have not helped stop terrorism. The cost of both wars has exceeded expectations financially. There is no denying that the two wars have aided in the U.S. deficit. In fact, the U.S. has spent 1.28 trillion on “the war on terror.” Another 806 billion was spent for Iraq and Afghanistan. There is also 29 billion for security upgrades at military bases and finally 6 billion in allocated funds. However, in terms of economic stability in the U.S., “the war didn’t have much effect on the housing market or on the willingness or unwillingness of banks to provide credit” (Mandel 363). The recession that took place in the U.S. in 2008 was not due to the war, but other issues in the financial sector. Though the wars have helped the deficit to grow, the economic issues the U.S. has faced has other roots.
However, the two wars were did not deter terrorist hostilities. Statistics show that, “since 2006, worldwide terrorist attacks (excluding Iraq) have increased almost 15%, and the number of deaths as a result of these attacks has increased almost 36%. The trend is alarming in that terrorism as a method not only continues to rise, but that it is becoming increasingly more effective in the number of casualties each attack inflicts. In 2010 alone over 11,500 terrorist attacks occurred in 72 countries, resulting in approximately 50,000 victims, including 13,200 deaths” (Huerter). Though the war on terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq was meant to stop terrorism, terrorism has actually increased globally, the exact opposite of what was desired. Not only that, but a great deal of military men and women have died, about 4,400 U.S. military personnel, and nearly 32,000 injured.
The war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq occurred as a response to the tragic 9/11 jihadist attacks from the terrorist group al-Qaeda. The invasion of the two states, as well as numerous other reasons, have caused jihadists to terrorize the U.S.; the wars has also led to a great national debt; though it is important to note that the recession was not due to the Afghanistan and Iraq war. Yet, he wars have not proven fruitful. Though the reason behind the Afghanistan and Iraq wars was to hinder terrorist attacks, sadly, attacks have actually increased.
Byman, Daniel. Deadly Connections: States that Sponsor Terrorism. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press. 2005. Epub.
Huerter. Michail S. The War Against Al-Qa’ida: Post-Iraq and Afghanistan. United
States Army War College: 2012. Web.
Katel, Peter. “Homegrown Jihadists.” CO Press 20.30 (2010): 701-724. CQ
Researcher. Web. 31 Jan. 2015.
Mandel, Seth. “The Failed War on the War on Terror.” Commentary 136.4 (2013): 363.
Epub. 31 Jan. 2015