“We’ve launched a global campaign to fight the terrorists, to dismantle their networks, to dry up their financing sources, find their leaders and bring them to justice.” This is a statement extracted from the speech of the then U.S. president, George W. Bush, in the aftermath of the attacks on the Twin Towers and on the Pentagon, on September 11, 2001. After the 9/11 attacks, the United States along side with its allies decided to hunt down those responsible for this aggression, and also destroy the bases and network of al-Qaeda and thus defeat terrorism in the world, installing democracy in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the weeks following the attacks, the Bush administration launched series of energetic intelligence operations and military interventions which firstly began with the invasion of Afghanistan, in a mission called “Enduring Freedom”, in October 2001 with the overthrow of the Taliban government and the start of the “War on Terror.” The sides of this war were the United States, Britain, NATO, Israel and the International Security Assistance Force against the ‘al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Hamas and the Islamic Courts Union.
In 2008, Nobel Prize winner, Joseph Stieglitz, in his book entitled “The Three Trillion Dollar War,” explains the economic costs of the “War on Terror” waged by the United States from 2001 to 2008, the year of the publication of the book. According to the calculations of the American economist based on the data collected from the US Government Accounting Office, the conflict had cost the US about three trillion dollars and additional costs for the medical care of the soldiers, compensation for the widows, economic funds for the reconstruction of both Iraq and Afghanistan and also other costs related to the debts since the war was mostly funded by government bonds.
In spite of all these expenditures and all the casualties lost in this war, it’s sad to say that there hasn’t been any meaningful change as the US expected before the war. Yes, the US was able to overthrow the Taliban government in Afghanistan and the Saddam regime in Iraq, both hostile to the US; they also eliminated some key players of international terrorism. Nevertheless the US hasn’t reached their goal of establishing peace and stability as predicted before the conflict. Instead the US has forced an extremely fragile democratic system in Iraq and in Afghanistan, which hasn’t yet been able to overcome the ethnic and tribal divisions. This incompatible democratization has become impracticable in both countries due to their internal religious and cultural barriers.
The war on terror has also justified the introduction of new and sophisticated security measures which restricts our personal freedom and violets our privacy. Also, before the war, the CIA had the authority to require information of financial transactions and records of communications of citizens of the US but only if suspected of irregularities. This release of information was done only with an authorized permission from the National Security. But ever since the conflict began, over tens of thousands of both US and European citizens have secretly had their personal information tracked by the CIA without any authorization. So we’ve become slaves of our pursue of freedom and liberty. Although the “War on Terror” has contributed in preventing some terrorist attacks from occurring and loosen the threat al-Qaeda pose as compared to a decade ago, many of its objectives and goals haven’t been reached even after more than a decade. Bush defined the war as a military campaign not only against the al-Qaeda but against every group of terrorist within global reach. It can never be possible to use military warfare to defeat terrorism because terrorists have always existed and will always exist therefore the US and his allies may be fighting a perpetual war against ideology.