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Effectiveness of the War on Terror

Here's how the war on terror is progressing in late November 2015:

"Even in Iraq and Afghanistan, where thousands of lives and billions of dollars have been spent trying to wrest those countries from chaos, extremist forces are flourishing. ... even with hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and continued international engagement... Mali is as troubled as ever, according to analysts."
- Dionne Searcey et al., Hotel Attack in Mali Reverses Gains in Fight Against Extremism, New York Times, Nov. 21, 2015


On one matter there can be no argument: The policies that sent these men and women abroad, with their emphasis on military action and their visions of reordering nations and cultures, have not succeeded. It is beyond honest dispute that the wars did not achieve what their organizers promised, no matter the party in power or the generals in command. Astonishingly expensive, strategically incoherent, sold by a shifting slate of senior officers and politicians and editorial-page hawks, the wars have continued in varied forms and under different rationales each and every year since passenger jets struck the World Trade Center in 2001. They continue today without an end in sight, reauthorized in Pentagon budgets almost as if distant war is a presumed government action.
- C. J. Chivers, War Without End, NYT, Aug. 8, 2018


All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaida, in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies.
- Osama bin Laden, Full transcript of bin Ladin's speech, Al Jazeera, 1 Nov 2004


Indeed, the West has largely failed to address the root causes of terrorism that perpetuate seemingly endless waves of fighters who are increasingly turning to armed drones, artificial intelligence and encrypted communications to foil the allies’ conventional military superiority, the report said.

“Perhaps the most important component of Western policy should be helping regimes that are facing terrorism improve governance and deal more effectively with economic, sectarian and other grievances,” the 71-page study concluded.

For example, the report said, the slow pace of reconstruction in Iraqi cities like Ramadi, Falluja and Mosul — once controlled by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS — has angered residents in those Sunni-majority areas and made them more susceptible to militant entreaties. ...
Last week, Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs released its annual report, the Costs of War study, in which it calculated that the United States will have spent $5.9 trillion on activities related to the global counterterrorism campaign by October 2019.
- Eric Schmitt, Two Decades After 9/11, Militants Have Only Multiplied, NYT, Nov. 20, 2018


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