The Failed `War on Terror`

Category: Americas, World Affairs Topics: Conflicts And War, Foreign Policy Views: 3017
3017

U.S. government officials, both politicians and career bureaucrats, always imply that a tradeoff exists between security and liberty and that we cannot have both. This view, however, depends on buying into key erroneous assumptions made by those same officials.

The Bush administration's high-octane "war on terror" has undertaken an active and highly publicized agenda domestically and overseas to rid the world of "evildoers." Unfortunately, after the September 11 attacks, the American public would have been freer and safer, both at home and when traveling and doing business abroad, if the administration's security bureaucracies had taken a long vacation. In short, the administration's activism-whether it be for ulterior motives, as in the invasion of Iraq, or to win public relations points with voters-ensures that Americans will see both their security and liberty eroded.

The administration's strategy in the war on terror has been that the "best defense is a good offense." Both domestically and overseas, this strategy involves casting a wide net in the quest for enemies. Abroad, instead of focusing finite government resources and attention on neutralizing al Qaeda, the perpetrator of the September 11 attacks, the administration used 9/11 as an excuse to threaten the nations of a make-believe "axis of evil," invade one of them, and topple its leader, who had nothing to do with those attacks. In addition to the deaths of almost 2,000 U.S. forces and many more innocent Iraqis, the resulting quagmire in Iraq has acted both as a motivator and training ground for the swelling number of anti-U.S. militants worldwide, which hardly increases the security of Americans anywhere.

Had the administration really wanted to lessen anti-U.S. attacks, it should have realized that the only way to stop terrorism is to remove its underlying cause-U.S. foreign policy toward Arab and Islamic nations. Most Americans are unaware-or choose to ignore-their government's profligate meddling in the affairs of those countries after World War II.

Poll after poll in Islamic countries indicate that their people admire U.S. freedoms-both political and economic-wealth, technology, and even culture, but hate U.S. foreign policy toward Islamic nations. In particular, by their own statements and writings, militants, such as Osama bin Laden, hate the United States for its military presence on Islamic lands and for its support of corrupt Arab governments and Israel.

After 9/11, to avoid stirring up even more hatred in the Islamic world, the administration should have pursued al Qaeda more aggressively and quietly and avoided occupying Islamic soil (Afghanistan and Iraq)-a lightning rod to the militants. For the long-term, the Bush administration should have realized that the end of the Cold War would have allowed the United States to follow a "more humble" and less interventionist foreign policy, as President Bush had promised during his first campaign in 2000.

At home, the administration has also acted offensively, supporting the draconian Patriot Act-and now its renewal-that has increased police powers across the board, rather than being confined to terrorism cases. Also, a military command was created that has just developed war plans to use within the borders of the United States. The plans apparently include secret scenarios being kept from the American public that would likely further militarize law enforcement and would seem to involve the imposition of martial law.

It is questionable whether these measures will actually either stop or increase the government's ability to respond to a terrorist attack. What is less questionable is whether these constrictions of liberty-the foundation of our nation-would have been needed or enacted if the United States wasn't rampaging around the world tilting at imagined security threats and stirring the hornets' nest in the process.

Yet instead of toning down U.S. foreign policy and shrinking the bull's eye painted on back of the American public, the administration has tried to assuage the public's fears of losing their liberties by creating the toothless President's Board on Safeguarding Americans' Civil Liberties, a panel with few resources, no enforcement clout, and little presidential enthusiasm or backing. Even such window dressing to cover the needless loss of liberties would be unnecessary if the United States got rid of its outdated interventionist foreign policy, which is a relic of the Cold War.

Ivan Eland is the Director of the Center on Peace and Liberty at the Independent Institute in Oakland, California and author of the book, Putting "Defense" Back into U.S. Defense Policy: Rethinking U.S. Security in the Post-Cold War World.

New from Ivan Eland!
THE EMPIRE HAS NO CLOTHES: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed

Most Americans don't think of their government as an empire, but in fact the United States has been steadily expanding its control of overseas territories since the turn of the twentieth century. In The Empire Has No Clothes, Ivan Eland, a leading expert on U.S. defense policy and national security, examines American military interventions around the world from the Spanish-American War to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Buy It Today >>


  Category: Americas, World Affairs
  Topics: Conflicts And War, Foreign Policy
Views: 3017

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Older Comments:
NOREEN FROM USA said:
I think that bush dont know anything he just wanted to take over iraq...he doesn't care abt any people not here in USA and not even in IRAQ. he had this personal war wid saddam hussain so he did all this! and people who were muslim and were in US army and went there to kill there own people suck!!! sorry but u all do!! just coz u get all the money for eduacation and all the facilities from US army thats no reason to kill ur own ppl...suddam hussain was not a nice person i know but who are US to say that he control his the way he wanted to who is BUSH to decide that suddam's not doing a good job! ok if u all went there...and got him y USarmy still there?? COME BACK!!! and Y did they messed up his house and everything!! no point!! thats wht i think!!!
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VICTOR FROM USA said:
WE SHOULD HAVE NEVER WENT OVER THERE AND TRIED TO TAKE OVER ANOTHER COUNTRY THIS TIME GOD IS ON THER SIDE EVEN IF THEY LOST ALOT OF PEOPLE GOD WILL TURN THIS IN THE IRAQ WIN BECAUSE IRAQ WAS NOT AT FALT MY GOD FOR GIVE US THE U S A I LOVE MY COUNTRY.
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H.A. FROM YATHRIB said:
The World has failed to delclare WAR ON GREED since 1492...
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FRANK MORALES FROM USA said:
I joined up because I had no job no skills. I also joinedup because of bonus pay the recruiter promised and free school. I seen no damn pay bonus yet and man when the heck am I going to school when I am dead? It has been three years . I was in Afghanistan and now in Iraq. I tell you bro if the snipers or the mines don't get you the bugs will. I have never seen any thing like it. Damn spiders the size of damn baseballs and friggin sheep worms that will get into your body through your skin. In afghanistan and iraq besides the damn mines and bugs the hajis fight like maniacs man. I mean I thought the guys were on drugs or something they don't care for their life or nothing they have no fear. Ive seen them come at us with small arms, and we was sitting in a damn tank man with cannons pointed at them, but they like crazy people man, they just keep coming and keep dieing. Man they so crazy I was emptying my m16 on this group and what this dude do he drop his gun and went down? I thought I plugged him or he had enough so we approach in the tank. Man what is this guy doin? man he busy praying to alla. Man right in the thick of it too son. these guys i tell you is crazy like you will not believe. They miss no family no tears when they die all I hear them say alla akbar. too many of our guys are being snuffed by them each day. I came here with 11 of my homies from the Bronx and now there is just me and 2 other dudes. 5 are dead and 2 wish they were dead. they look like crap. One has no face. The other gus his arm and chest burn so badly man he just got cooked in a humve. They got to go home but they think it be better if they had just died here man. The other 2 buddies of mine one thinks about killin hisself. cause his wife been up to no good and he hasnt seen his kids in 2 years. the other guy man he just keeps prayin to jesus. He was a college kid. first in his family. HIs dad died while he was here. They would not let him even go back to bury his old man. Its bad man
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M SHONFELD FROM USA said:
Returning from Iraq after 18 bloody months, I just want to say this to all my fellow Gung ho GI Joes, flying on stars & stripes and with purple hearts in their eyes, know what Cannon Fodder is? Its you and me. I am not going back becaue I made my contribution to Bush's war - my two legs and an eye and a gut full of sharpnell. So guys think about it - snap out of that BS that TIs fed you. And to my Latino friends. your Green card is no good 6 feet under. You would be safer in Mexico or in your homes in S. America. You guys and the blacks are always the first to be pushed into the front. Its a racist war against not just the Arabs and Muslims but against blacks and hispanics also. Don't fight wimpy Bush's war. Go home to your families. Yuu are no good to them dead. Or half dead like me.
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NA FROM US said:
yes, the War on terror has failed. But the US nor it's allias can't admitted this. This is defeat on other side. At the cost of lives of it's citizens and innocent people who had to give up their lives for this War and other wars.
Perhaps the US should consider changing thier policy toward Foreign nations especially Islam Countires.
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