War on Terror Essay - Modern History Perspectives Assignment
The terrorist attacks of 11th September 2001 and the interventional events of the ‘War on Terror’ that followed are among the most controversial in U.S. political and moral history. An abyss of opinions involving the U.S. government, American public, responsible terrorists, historians, human rights activists and notable heads of intelligence agencies and the criminal justice system amalgamate to create a labyrinth of varied perspectives towards both the presumed causes of 9/11 and whether the U.S. government’s War on Terror intervention was justified.
Commonly referred to as 9/11, the events of 11th September 2001 consist of four organised terrorist attacks coordinated by al-Qaeda1 against the United States of America. Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four passenger airliners2, two of which were crashed into the World Trade Center complex3, the third was flown into the Pentagon4 and the fourth plane was targeted at the United States Capitol building, but crashed into a field after its passengers tried to overcome the hijackers.
Osama bin Laden’s 2004 announcement5 expressed (on behalf of al-Qaeda) the responsible terrorist group’s perspective towards the cause of the 9/11 attacks6, as well as the reasoning behind their motives. Bin Laden stated his people are free men who cannot merely allow the injustices7 they believe were placed upon them by the United States to continue, as well as the ‘violations’ to their security. Bruce Lawrence, a US professor of religion, believes that Bin Laden’s objective was to ‘isolate the Bush administration, and beyond it the American political establishment as a whole, from American popular feeling- as well as European opinion.’8 In other words, Bin Laden also saw 9/11 as an opportunity to turn US citizens (and citizens of other nations) against the US government in condemnation of its previous involvement with al-Qaeda causing the attacks on 11th September. Despite perhaps an element of ignorance and naiveté from Osama bin Laden (on behalf of al-Qaeda), their perspective towards the causes of 9/11 and the War on Terror place the US government in the wrong on account of their pre-9/11 tension, therefore believing the US’s War on Terror was not justifiable as they only had their selves to blame.
In hindsight, history has shown us that al-Qaeda’s intended effect of the attack was on the contrary. Instead, the public’s reaction9 was to unite in support of the US government towards the means of ceasing any future threat posed by al-Qaeda. Gallup10 polls11 from 14th to 16th December, 2001, found that 92% of Americans12 expressed satisfaction with the U.S. military’s progress in the war in Afghanistan- communicating the view of the majority of the American public12 as being one of support towards the War on Terror. Among Gallup’s additional findings of the American public’s majority view were a continued support and confidence of the military extending the war into Iraq, as well as 76% feeling positive the U.S. government’s ability to capture/kill Osama bin Laden is at least somewhat likely13. From a statistical standpoint, at the time of the event the mass of the American public was undoubtedly supportive of the War on Terror efforts.
Throughout the latter half of the 20th century (and of course during the 21st century) the United States government has maintained primarily antagonistic towards Iraq and Afghanistan; from al-Qaeda and the Taliban14 to Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein15. During 1998 U.S. President Clinton stated the government would ensure Iraq was not able to produce weapons of mass destruction.16 In 2002 Senator Kerry expressed his support for the President to use force to disarm Saddam Hussein because of a threat against U.S. security posed by weapons of mass destruction.16 George W. Bush and his wife Laura Bush both supported the retaliation17 in claims the intervention was for the rights and safety of women and children suffering from the al-Qaeda terrorist network,18 reflecting on the primary intention pitched by the Bush administration.
Considering the use of the word ‘war’ in the label ‘War on Terror,’ obviously violence and therefore the infringement of human rights comes into play. Aryeh Neier19 believes that although the efforts of the Bush administration20 were of ‘good faith’, the result of their implementation was often counterproductive. Neier holds the standpoint that the United States presents itself as hypocritical considering its ‘abuses of human rights are Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib’ prior to the terrorist attacks of 11th September, 2001, discrediting a fundamental aspect of the U.S. government’s rationale for the war- claiming to stand for human rights. He believes the grounds on which are required for a militant intervention such as in Iraq were not present and of a sufficient extent to support the United States’ War on Terror21. Kenneth Roth22 is in support of Aryeh Neier’s perspective towards the United States’ attempt at a humanitarian23 intervention24. Although both human rights activists25 offer some leniency to the government’s actions with reference to the ‘horrors of Saddam Hussein’s rule’26 and to Hussein being ‘a tyrant who deserved to be overthrown,’27 they also share the understanding that the grounds of a militant intervention must be based ‘only in the face of ongoing or imminent genocide, or comparable mass slaughter or loss of life,’28 and the belief that neither of these was taking place in Iraq- therefore arguing the absence of a justification for the War on Terror.
While Australia was somewhat obliged to aid in the war in consideration of the ANZUS treaty,29 two respected British notables share antagonistic views. Ken McDonald’s30 belief is that London is not a battlefield, and so in the same way as the 9/11 terrorists, the terrorists behind the 2005 London bombings are not “soldiers” of war, but merely criminals who should be dealt with by the criminal justice system. The 9/11 attacks were seen as a temptation for countries to abandon their values31 and ironically retaliate in a manner criticized by the classic theory of “two wrongs don’t make a right.” Similarly, Stella Rimington32 and David Miliband33 criticized the War on Terror as a “huge overreaction” and being the wrong approach to a solution.34 Nigel Lawson35 expresses the involvement of the war being counter-productive36; ultimately evaluating the retaliation as one of hypocrisy.
A defining statement for the tolerance of terrorism, the effect of 9/11 has caused a profound, extensive impact on not only the United States of America, but on nations of the Middle East, Britain and the rest of the world. To answer the question would be only to add another perspective to the inevitable progression of an array of conflicting perspectives regarding both the causes of 9/11 and whether the subsequent War on Terror was justified that has emerged as a result of this impact.
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Bellamy. A.J, Roland Bleiker, Sara E. Davies and Richard Devetak, 2007, Security and the War on Terror, Routledge: New York.
Bowman, Karlyn and Andrew Rugg, Attitudes Towards the War on Terror and the War in Afghanistan: A Ten-Year Review, published 25th August 2011, viewed 6th June 2013 http://www.aei.org/papers/politics-and-public-opinion/polls/attitudes-towards-the-war-on-terror-and-the-war-in-afghanistan-a-ten-year-review/ Brown, S. The Iraq War – A Christian Perspective, unknown publication date, viewed 16th June 2013 http://pastorsb.com/Iraqwar.htm Covarrubias. J, 2009, America’s War on Terror, Ashgate Publishing Ltd: Surrey.
Deady, C. Ambiguous Public Opinion of the War on Terror, published 1st May 2012, viewed 15th June 2013 http://www.mysanantonio.com/community/southside/news/article/Ambiguous-public-opinion-of-the-War-on-Terror-3524831.php Gallup, Latest Summary: American Public Opinion and the War on Terrorism, published 21st December 2001, viewed 15th June 2013 http://www.gallup.com/poll/5113/latest-summary-american-public-opinion-war-terrorism.aspx Griffin, David. Did 9/11 Justify the War in Afghanistan?, published 25th June 2010, viewed 15th June 2013 http://www.globalresearch.ca/did-9-11-justify-the-war-in-afghanistan/19891 History (A&E Television Networks), 9/11 Attacks, unknown publication date, viewed 6th June 2013 http://www.history.com/topics/9-11-attacks Holloway. D, 2008, 9/11 and the War on Terror, Edinburgh University Press: California.
Solomon, N. The World 's View of the US 'War on Terror ', published 9th September 2006, viewed on 18th June 2013 http://www.antiwar.com/solomon/?articleid=9673 Steuter. E and Deborah Wills, 2009, At War With Metaphor: Media, Propaganda, and Racism in the War on Terror, Lexington Books: Plymouth.
Unknown author, Criticism of the War on Terror, last updated 26th June 2013, viewed 15th June 2013 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_the_War_on_Terror Unknown author, Pre-War Quotes from Democrats, unknown publication date, viewed 22nd June 2013 http://www.reasons-for-war-with-iraq.info/ Wilson. R, 2005, Human Rights in the ‘War on Terror’, Cambridge University Press: New York.
World Public Opinion, US ‘War on Terror’ Has Not Weakened al-Qaeda, Says Global Poll, published 28th September 2008, viewed 15th June 2013 http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/articles/international_security_bt/547.php Image/Source References (URLS):
Figure 1: http://www.cleancutmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/911-Sept-11-2001-World-Trade-Center.gif
Figure 2: http://api.ning.com/files/t9wAgRSSfCRpWQpglO9*SQBUTfvavLoe24esKzYCeUIWSnN3vzBPkNrT3zIjjY9pS6uB74PzRm5nQXnnh-PFG0vZd0Vg8iba/National_Park_Service_911_Statue_of_Liberty_and_WTC_fire.jpg
Figure 3: http://www.republicanassemblies.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Osama_Bin_Laden.jpg
Figure 4: http://media.novinky.cz/692/196922-original1-1x6yb.jpg
Figure 5: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2011/09/11/article-0-0DD05CA600000578-284_964x560.jpg
References: (URLS): Figure 1: http://www.cleancutmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/911-Sept-11-2001-World-Trade-Center.gif Figure 2: http://api.ning.com/files/t9wAgRSSfCRpWQpglO9*SQBUTfvavLoe24esKzYCeUIWSnN3vzBPkNrT3zIjjY9pS6uB74PzRm5nQXnnh-PFG0vZd0Vg8iba/National_Park_Service_911_Statue_of_Liberty_and_WTC_fire.jpg Figure 3: http://www.republicanassemblies.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Osama_Bin_Laden.jpg Figure 4: http://media.novinky.cz/692/196922-original1-1x6yb.jpg Figure 5: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2011/09/11/article-0-0DD05CA600000578-284_964x560.jpg