War on terror

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What these neoconservatives seek is to conscript American blood to make the world safe for Israel. They want the peace of the sword imposed on Islam and American soldiers to die if necessary to impose it. ~ Pat Buchanan

The war on terror, officially the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), is a global counterterrorism military campaign initiated by the United States following the September 11 attacks and is also the most recent global conflict spanning multiple wars. The main targets of the campaign were militant Islamist and Salafi jihadist armed organisations such as al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and their international affiliates, which were waging military insurgencies to overthrow governments of various Muslim-majority countries. Other major targets included the Ba'athist regime in Iraq, which was deposed during an invasion in 2003, and various militant factions that fought during the ensuing insurgency.


  • The so called war against terrorism is in fact a war between two fanaticisms. One is theocratic, the other positivist and secular. One is the fervent belief of a defensive minority, the other the unquestioned assumption of an amorphous, confident elite. One sets out to kill, the other plunders, leaves and lets die. One is strict and the other lax. One brooks no argument, the other 'communicates and tries to spin into every corner of the world. One claims the right to spill innocent blood, the other to sell the earth's entire water.
Outrageous to compare them.
  • John Berger, 'Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches on Survival and Resistance', Verso.
  • For whose benefit these endless wars in a region that holds nothing vital to America, - save oil, which the Arabs must sell us to survive - ? Who would benefit from a war of civilizations between the West and Islam? Answer: one nation, one leader, one party. Israel, Sharon, Likud. What these neoconservatives seek is to conscript American blood to make the world safe for Israel. They want the peace of the sword imposed on Islam and American soldiers to die if necessary to impose it.
    • Pat Buchanan, "Whose War? The Loudest Clique Behind the President's Policy" The American Conservative, (March 24, 2003)
  • We charge that a cabal of polemicists and public officials seek to ensnare our country in a series of wars that are not in America's interests. We charge them with colluding with Israel to ignite those wars and destroy the Oslo Accords. We charge them with deliberately damaging U.S. relations with every state in the Arab world that defies Israel or supports the Palestinian people's right to a homeland of their own. We charge that they have alienated friends and allies all over the Islamic and Western world through their arrogance, hubris, and bellicosity.
    • Pat Buchanan, "Whose War? The Loudest Clique Behind the President's Policy" The American Conservative, (March 24, 2003)
  • What we have found in Afghanistan confirms that, far from ending there, our war against terror is only beginning... tens of thousands of trained terrorists are still at large. These enemies view the entire world as a battlefield, and we must pursue them wherever they are. So long as training camps operate, so long as nations harbor terrorists, freedom is at risk. And America and our allies must not, and will not, allow it....Our military has put the terror training camps of Afghanistan out of business, yet camps still exist in at least a dozen countries. A terrorist underworld — including groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Jaish-i-Mohammed — operates in remote jungles and deserts, and hides in the centers of large cities....But some governments will be timid in the face of terror. And make no mistake about it: If they do not act, America will.
  • The recent arrests that our fellow citizens are now learning about are a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to — to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation.... The — this country is safer than it was prior to 9/11. We've taken a lot of measures to protect the American people. But obviously we're still not completely safe, because there are people that still plot and people who want to harm us for what we believe in. It is a mistake to believe there is no threat to the United States of America.
  • In order to win this war, we need to understand that the terrorists and extremists are opportunists. They will grab onto any cause to incite hatred and to justify the killing of innocent men, women and children. If we weren't in Iraq, they would be using our relationship and friendship with Israel as a reason to recruit, or the Crusades, or cartoons as a reason to commit murder. They recruit based upon lies and excuses. And they murder because of their raw desire for power. They hope to impose their dominion over the broader Middle East and establish a radical Islamic empire where millions are ruled according to their hateful ideology. We know this because al-Qaeda has told us. The terrorist Zawahiri, number two man in the al-Qaeda team, al-Qaeda network, he said, we'll proceed with several incremental goals. The first stage is to expel the Americans from Iraq; the second stage is to establish an Islamic authority, then develop it and support it until it achieves the level of caliphate; the third stage, extend the jihad wave to secular countries neighboring Iraq; and the fourth stage, the clash with Israel. This is the words of the enemy. The President of the United States and the Congress must listen carefully to what the enemy says in order to be able to protect you. It makes sense for us to take their words seriously if our most important job is the security of the United States. Mister Zawahiri has laid out their plan. That's why they attacked us on September the 11th. That's why they fight us in Iraq today. And that is why they must be defeated.
  • There are some Arabs who think that the Germans did the right thing by the Jews. This makes it easy to recruit Arab terrorist.
  • There is a big difference between fighting the cold war and fighting radical Islam. The rules have changed and we haven't.
  • We were not faced (in the cold war) in a conflict with people who are prepared to die for their cause. We weren't in conflict with people whose idea is to kill as many as they could.
  • In the war on terror we did everything wrong that we could have done.
  • You can't make war against terror. Terror is a technique of battle. It's a tactic that has been employed since time immemorial. You can conduct clandestine action against terrorists, and that must be done.
  • To operate an intelligence network against the Islamist terror is terribly difficult because they don't have a central command and control center such as we would understand. Therefore you cannot penetrate at the top and find out what will happen on the ground.
  • Because we are so unfamiliar with the motivation of the people we are dealing with, we are more afraid of them than we need to be.
  • On one hand we go like hell for every terror cell we can find, we penetrate it, we destroy it. On the other hand, there is a much bigger need for a political solution.
  • Wanton killing of innocent civilians is terrorism, not a war against terrorism.
  • We must abandon the unworkable notion that it is morally reprehensible for some countries to pursue weapons of mass destruction yet morally acceptable for others to rely on them for security — and indeed to continue to refine their capacities and postulate plans for their use.
    Similarly, we must abandon the traditional approach of defining security in terms of boundaries — city walls, border patrols, racial and religious groupings. The global community has become irreversibly interdependent, with the constant movement of people, ideas, goods and resources. In such a world, we must combat terrorism with an infectious security culture that crosses borders — an inclusive approach to security based on solidarity and the value of human life. In such a world, weapons of mass destruction have no place.
  • During the 1990s, the Middle East had witnessed a decade of relative calm, in part thanks to the détente between Iran and Saudi Arabia but also as a result of Pax Americana—post–Cold War, the United States was the unchallenged hegemon. The Saudi-Iran rapprochement had yielded more than anyone expected, including a security agreement. When Saudi Arabia’s defense minister visited Tehran in May 1999, his Iranian counterpart declared: “The sky’s the limit for Iranian–Saudi Arabian relations and cooperation as the whole of Islamic Iran’s military might is in the service of our Saudi Muslim brothers.” President Bill Clinton was basking in the glory of a unipolar world and America was prospering as the indispensable nation. Throughout his presidency and until his very last months in power, Clinton was working on peace between Arabs and Israelis—succeeding only with the Jordanians. Even though people like Nasr in Egypt had their lives upended, Iraq was under UN embargo, and bombs had gone off in the Saudi kingdom, the decade carried some promise. It all came to an end on 9/11. President George W. Bush went to war against the Taliban, who were sheltering Osama bin Laden. After liberating Afghanistan, America declared a global war on terror, a frenzy of liberation. Bush decided to finish what his father had begun—he went after Saddam.
    • Kim Ghattas, Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East (2020)
  • Ludicrous concepts…like the whole idea of a "war on terrorism". You can wage war against another country, or on a national group within your own country, but you can't wage war on an abstract noun. How do you know when you've won? When you've got it removed from the Oxford English Dictionary?
  • You know, terror is an idea. You don’t fight an idea with a conventional Army. To win a war on terror you have to win the hearts and minds of people from whom, from where the terrorists are operating from. If you win their hearts and mind and get them on your side, you’ll win the war. If those people start regarding the terrorists as freedom fighters, history has told us that you can’t win the war.
  • I’ll give you an example of (George Bush's) war on terror. He’s spent something like almost a trillion dollars. The estimates are that anything up to a million people have died and has he made the world a safer place? In my opinion he’s made the world a far more dangerous place. These are now nurseries for future terrorists.
  • Motivated by the near-complete lack of information on post-9/11 veterans, HunterSeven set out to uncover and make known as much data as possible, hoping to draw links between service and illness. Almost immediately, the foundation was flooded by veterans reaching out with their own stories of illness and the walls they had to breach in an effort to find care. Comprised of a small group of volunteers, all of whom work in the medical field, HunterSeven has undertaken extensive clinical research, using data to continue to draw lines between post-9/11 deployments and incidences of cancer and other deadly illnesses, as those connections are essential to ensure the government provides post-service care.
    One of the organization’s biggest research discoveries has highlighted the discrepancies in cancer rates between branches. Air Force veterans who served on active duty are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer when compared not only to their age-adjusted civilian population but also to every other branch of service. Meanwhile, Marines, despite having the highest exposures to combat, had the lowest risk ratio for cancer diagnosis. Simoni said that as much as this data likely has something to do with exposure to work on flight lines, with jet fuels and the like, it is more likely a corollary to the average career span of an Air Force member being 12 to 16 years longer than that of a Marine. The more time in the service, the more years spent exposed to potentially toxic materials.
  • Conflicts do not arise out of the blue. The occur as a result of causes and conditions, many of which are within the antagonists’ control. This is where leadership is important. Terrorism cannot be overcome by the use of force because it does not address the underlying problems. In fact the use of force may not only fail to solve the problems, it may exacerbate them, and frequently leaves destruction and suffering in its wake.
  • In 2002, as the United States moved towards war against Iraq, a final, huge war game tested American forces’ ability to defeat an unnamed Middle Eastern power. The American side had a clear advantage in advanced electronics, tanks, planes and warships. The general in command of the much weaker ‘enemy’ forces, however, rang rings around his opponents. He kept radio silence and used motorcycles to deliver messages and so made it difficult for his opponent’s electronic surveillance to follow his moves. He had fleets of suicide bombers in speedboats knock out, on paper, sixteen American warships. The Pentagon suspended the game part-way through and rewrote the rules. The warships were miraculously resurrected and the ‘enemy’ general was ordered to turn off his air defences and reveal the location of key units. He chose to quit in disgust. His demonstration of asymmetric war, where a weaker power can disrupt and challenge much stronger forces through unconventional means, was a warning of what was going to happen to coalition forces in both Afghanistan and Iraq, where they were battered by hit and run attacks by guerrillas who communicated through secure channels and who used cheap improvised explosive devices, often shells or other containers packed with explosives and pieces of metal such as ordinary nails which can be set off with cheap, readily available technology such as the remote controls for children’s toy cars or garage-door openers. Such devices have caused the majority of casualties for the occupying forces in both countries.
  • Moreover, the occupations lacked clear goals after the initial ones of toppling the Taliban or Saddam Hussein. The military found themselves taking on nation-building, something they were not trained for and for which they were not given clear directives. Before the invasion and occupation of Iraq in March 2003 there was only one meeting in Washington – that February, far too late to be helpful – when representatives from all the different departments involved, including State, Defense, Treasury and the CIA, came together to discuss the post-war situation. Although the State Department had spent a year preparing a massive study, the Defense Department and the White House made it clear that they had no interest in its findings and did not want leading US Iraq experts anywhere near the planning for what happened after victory. War, as the coalition was to discover in Iraq, takes on its own momentum and is often easier to start than to stop.
  • In tracking down and eliminating terrorists, we need to change our metaphor from a "war on terror"—exactly what, pray tell, is that?—to the mind-set of Interpol tracking down master criminals through intense global cooperation among nations, or the FBI stalking the Mafia, or local police determined to quell street gangs without leveling the entire neighborhood in the process.
    • Bill Moyers, "The Meaning of Freedom", Sol Feinstone Lecture at the United States Military Academy, 15 November 2006, Moyers on Democracy (2008), p. 78
  • As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not—and never will be—at war with Islam. I've made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al-Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.
  • We are bombarded with information about our alert status and we're told to report suspicious-looking characters. That primes people to be more paranoid.
  • During my conversations with American and European leaders, I always spoke of the need to fight terrorism together, as a challenge on a global scale. We cannot resign ourselves to and accept this threat, cannot cut it into separate pieces using double standards. Our partners expressed agreement, but a little time passed and we ended up back where we started. First there was the military operation in Iraq, then in Libya, which got pushed to the brink of falling apart. Why was Libya pushed into this situation? Today it is a country in danger of breaking apart and has become a training ground for terrorists. Only the current Egyptian leadership's determination and wisdom saved this key Arab country from chaos and having extremists run rampant. In Syria, as in the past, the United States and its allies started directly financing and arming rebels and allowing them to fill their ranks with mercenaries from various countries. Let me ask where do these rebels get their money, arms and military specialists? Where does all this come from? How did the notorious ISIL manage to become such a powerful group, essentially a real armed force?
  • The first blow was struck by the events of 9/11 and, more significantly, by the way the United States in particular responded to this. Long cherished civil liberties were struck down and multiculturalism began to fray. Public spaces were boarded up.  The backlash of the “war on terror” profoundly shaped developments in Europe, too, though some countries held out better than others.  Above all, these years began to pose the question of a failing international order, as it was conceived at the end of the Cold War.  Accustomed to projecting itself outward, the West was no subject to forces determined to break in.
    • Simon Reid-Henry, Empire of Democracy: The Remaking of the West Since the Cold War, 1971-2017 (2019), p. 7
  • We found that, contrary to what most Americans believe, the war on terror is not winding down—it has spread to more than 40 percent of the world’s countries. The war isn’t being waged by the military alone, which has spent $1.9 trillion fighting terrorism since 2001. The State Department has spent $127 billion in the last 17 years to train police, military and border patrol agents in many countries and to develop antiterrorism education programs, among other activities.
  • Since the start of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), the suicide rate for military personnel who have seen combat has increased to that of the general population (Kang & Bullman, 2008), and perhaps beyond. This alarming increase suggests that exposure to combat may be an important factor that may cause or at least contribute to later death by suicide. At the same time, military service appears to have some qualities that lower suicide risk in times of peace, with deaths by suicide during basic training being as low as 5 deaths for every 100,000 military recruits (Scoville, Gardner, & Potter, 2004). Thus, the relationship between military service and suicidal behavior appears to be quite complex, serving as a risk factor for some and a protective factor for others.
    Unfortunately, research on the mechanisms through which military service influences suicide risk one way or the other is sparse. Employing new theoretical approaches to suicide may shed light on the recent alarming elevation in suicide rate, and aid military health professionals in providing efficient, economical, and effective assessments and treatment for suicidality.
  • President Bush has consistently argued that Iraq is the central front in the War on Terror. Al Qaeda leaders describe it the same way, which is why they are trying to use murder and mayhem to provoke sectarian violence, foment chaos, and create a safe haven for terror. Defeating al Qaeda has been central to our new strategy in Iraq from day one and will continue to be.
  • All actions have consequences, and all nations, like individuals are ultimately held accountable for their actions. I felt that waging war in Iraq would have the consequence of harming America, not making it safer, both in the short and long term.
    • Ann Wright, Peace and Policy, vol. 9, Journal of Toda Institute, www.toda.org .

“Americans could owe $6.5 trillion for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — and that's just the interest” (August 18, 2021)[edit]

The ultimate cost of the nation's engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq, on top of the incalculable personal toll on combatants and civilians, reflects a shift in how war has typically been financed. From the American Civil War through the Korean War, the U.S. government has mostly paid for its conflicts through taxes and war bonds. But in the post-September 11 era, U.S. military spending has been financed almost entirely through debt.

Rachel Layne, “Americans could owe $6.5 trillion for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — and that's just the interest”, CBS News, (August 18, 2021)

  • The ultimate cost of the nation's engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq, on top of the incalculable personal toll on combatants and civilians, reflects a shift in how war has typically been financed. From the American Civil War through the Korean War, the U.S. government has mostly paid for its conflicts through taxes and war bonds. But in the post-September 11 era, U.S. military spending has been financed almost entirely through debt.
  • Since the September 11 attacks, the U.S. government has spent $2.2 trillion to finance the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to figures from Brown University's Costs of War Project. Yet that sum — which amounts to roughly 10% of the the country's total gross domestic product — only reflects upfront costs.
    Including the cost of interest on those wars will add an additional $2.1 trillion by 2030. And through 2050, the interest alone is forecast to top $6.5 trillion — even if war spending had theoretically stopped in 2019, according to research published last year from Heidi Peltier, director of the "20 Years of War" Project at Boston University's Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future.
    Such borrowing leads to larger total costs because interest must be paid as long as the debt is owed. That pushes the "true cost of war out to future generations," Peltier told CBS MoneyWatch.
    "What that does is shield the American public from the costs currently," she said. "So, Americans don't realize that they're paying for the cost, because their taxes are not increased. And they're not buying more [war] bonds, they're not in any way feeling the [financial] effects currently."
  • Previous wars were largely paid for by taxes. For example, President Harry Truman temporarily raised the top tax rate on the richest Americans to 92% to help pay for the Korean War. And President Lyndon Johnson temporarily raised the top rate to 77% to fund the Vietnam War.
    At the outset of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq under President George W. Bush, however, Congress cut taxes by roughly 8% for the wealthiest Americans. Since then, war costs haven't been included in the regular defense budget, experts have noted.
    "In every previous major war, the war budget was integrated into the regular defense budget after the initial period. This meant that Congress and the Pentagon had to make trade-offs within the defense budget," Linda Bilmes, a lecturer in public policy and finance at Harvard's Kennedy School said told Congress in 2017. "By contrast, the post-9/11 wars have been funded mostly by supplemental appropriations."
  • Another hidden cost: military personnel. The U.S. has committed to pay the health care, disability, burial and other costs for about 4 million Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans, which are projected to amount to more than $2 trillion. Those costs will peak after 2048, according to the Associated Press.

In fiction[edit]

  • Star Trek: Enterprise was the first Trek series to appear after 9/11, and reflected these new realities. The prequel series crew stumbled as they confronted all manner of unfamiliar civilizations, and did not even get along with the Vulcans very well. Then, in season three a 9/11-style attack on Earth forced Starfleet to launch an expedition to go after the shadowy Xindi, who had launched the strike. Making the Xindi potentially scary was the consortium nature of their alliance, including humanoid, arboreal, insectoid and aquatic species. Just as al Qaeda was an international terrorist consortium, the Xindi was more dangerous together than separately — a fact the Enterprise crew use to pry away some of the species from the organization.
  • Enterprise, fatally, was not a popular series, even though it lasted four seasons. Just as it was winding down came a much more robust SF response to the post-9/11 world in the form of the rebooted Battlestar Galactica. Shedding the disco era look of the original series, this was a much grittier, murky series.
    The Cylons were not relentless robots, but genetically engineered and emotional humanoids with their own religion (monotheists vs the terran polytheists). The series addressed myriad topics raised by the Global War on Terror and the Iraq War: torture of suspected terrorists, profiling of terrorist-prone groups, curbs on democratic freedoms, enhanced executive powers for national security imperatives, and discrimination based on security fears. The season arc containing the Cylon occupation of the terran New Caprica colony was a parable of the Iraq War, involving common elements of Bush’s conflict: insurgency, foreign occupation/suppression, collaboration with occupiers, and even suicide bombers.
  • Huey squeals to the Feds’ terrorism hotline -
Huey: Why do you keep hanging up on me? I’m telling you the truth!
The CIA trained Osama Bin Laden in using terrorism against the soviets during the Reagan-Bush administration they gave the Afghanistan rebels countless amounts of covert funding!
FBI: Don’t you have better things to be doing?
Huey: Better than fighting terrorism? Heck no! We’re at war!!
  • Huey helps the FBI wage war on terrorism
Huey: Wait, before you hang up. I have one more important tip!
G.W. Bush gave the Taliban government $4.3 million this May! This May!! How much of that money will be spent on weaponry that will be used against U.S. soldiers?
FBI: Wow – I didn’t know that …
Huey: He lives at 1600 Pennsylvania – hey, are you writing this down? And I suggest bringing really tight handcuffs.
  • Editor’s Note
    Despite the tremendous reader response to “The Adventures of Flagee and Ribbon,” we have decided to bring back “The Boondocks” on a probationary basis. However, should material be deemed inappropriate, we are prepared to bring back “Flagee and Ribbon” at a moment’s notice.
    United We Stand.
Huey: Mr. Petto, how come nobody is talking about the ways that Bush’s big-oil compadres will benefit from this “war on terrorism”?
Ribbon: Hey, flagee, can we sing “the star-spangled banner” again?
Flagee: Of course, Ribbon. It’s our national anthem!

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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