The War on Terror: Was It Counterproductive?

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"One by one we're going to find them and piece by piece we'll tear their terrorist network apart." These words by George W Bush were the prelude to the US led invasion of Afghanistan, an invasion that would start arguably the most controversial war of our time and divide public opinion for years to come. The war on terror is used to describe this international military campaign that started as a reaction the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. The term “war on terror” was initially used to describe the post 9/11 war in Afghanistan against Al Qaeda and the Taliban but was however expanded in 2003 to include the Iraq war. But this inclusion of the war in Iraq which had no links to the Taliban or Al Qaeda makes the term much more stretched and contentious. The war in Iraq has often been criticised on the argument that the war in Iraq has in fact fostered global terrorism rather than preventing it. An important consequence of the war on terror that is often overlooked is the impact it has had on the policies of the United States. This is shown by the much more restrained approach of recent by the Obama administration in the wars in Libya and Syria. It is important to realise from the outset that the war on terror is focused on combating terrorism almost solely through the use of hard power. Technologically superior armies have been used to fight insurgents that while not necessarily originating from the country of fighting are living in and amongst the population resulting in a situation of asymmetric warfare. There have been substantial military victories in both Iraq and Afghanistan which despite their success have not resulted in politically stable and successful states that are opposed to the religious extremism that creates terrorism. The actual response to these military actions was the creation of local terrorist resistance to the observed “occupation” causing many to rally around religious extremism. This “new war” style of fighting is why a...
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