How Washington lost its 20-year 'war on terror'

Can fascism take over the United States? This question was put to Huey P. Long, US senator, demagogue and governor of Louisiana, in the 1930s. "Sure it can!" he replied. "Only it'll be called anti-fascism."

A member of Taliban forces stands guard next to a plane that has arrived from Kandahar at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan September 5, 2021. [Photo / Agencies]

Can fascism take over the United States? This question was put to Huey P. Long, US senator, demagogue and governor of Louisiana, in the 1930s. "Sure it can!" he replied. "Only it'll be called anti-fascism."

Former US president George W. Bush responded to the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks by declaring a "global war on terror". To Bush, it didn't matter who was targeting whom in the "war...". In the name of spreading "democracy" and free speech, he smothered what remained of democracy and free speech in his own country. And after 20 years of US military operations in Afghanistan, the results are all too clear in that country too.

Bush's "global war on terror", or GWOT, pronounced "Gee-What?", has resulted in the victory for terrorism around the world-aided and fostered at every turn by the Bush administration and those that succeeded it. Only they all claimed it as a victory against terrorism.

Bush invaded and occupied the oil rich country of Iraq in defiance of all international laws. Not a single grain of evidence linking Saddam Hussein to al-Qaida had ever been found, or has been since.

Bush then used the rout of the Taliban as an excuse for permanent US occupation of the country and installed puppet leaders in power who didn't enjoy even the slightest support of the Afghan people. The expressed wishes of the Afghan people presented in early 2002 through one of their traditional national tribal assemblies was arrogantly rejected by Bush, and then US vice-president Dick Cheney and secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld-arguably the most disastrous figure ever to hold that position.

Twenty years on, the outcome of the expenditure of more than $3 trillion in Iraq and Afghanistan (the equally unsuccessful "Gee-What?" cost trillions of dollars more) is clear: The Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria has been kept out of power in Iraq by the exertions and direct influence of Iran, not the US.

Qasem Solemani, Iranian major general and the Quds Force commander who played the foremost role in rolling back the IS group and its genocidal forces from 2014 to 2019, paid for his cooperation with the US with his life when previous US president Donald Trump approved his assassination following the urging of then national security advisor John Bolton, another architect and cheerleader of the Afghanistan and Iraq occupations.

As Edward Lozansky pointed out in his article in The Washington Times on Aug 31, according to the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs of Brown University, more than 801,000 people have died in the direct "war on terror" violence and its wider effects, more than 335,000 civilians have been killed as a result of those fighting, and 38 million people have become war refugees and displaced persons.

Those wars, Lozansky said, also cost the lives of 11,000 Americans, more than three times the number of those who died in the 9/11 attacks-which many say took place because of the complacency, laziness and sheer incompetence of the Bush administration. More than 53,000 more Americans have become amputees, brain-damaged, or were doomed to a premature death because of their injuries, not to mention other post-traumatic disorders.

In addition, the US destroyed the previously stable states of Iraq, Syria and Libya, unleashing in those countries unprecedented levels of anarchy, chaos and violence.

Over the past 20 years, the prophecy of Huey Long has come true: The last remnants of national free speech, and honest, open debate in the US have been snuffed out in the name of defending democracy and free speech-and wars fanning terrorism around the world, especially across the Middle East and the heart of Asia, have been unleashed all in the name of fighting terrorism.

The "final, now-never-to-be reversed" US evacuation from Afghanistan ends a strategic absurdity that should never have been attempted in the first place. It also marks an end to the concept of GWOT-that global war on a will-o'-the-wisp abstraction so loved by Bush, Rumsfeld and their neocon Pentagon "geniuses".

The GWOT only caused terror to thrive wherever it was waged. It routinely killed dozens of innocent people in every air bombing, drone strike and land operation for every real terrorist it eliminated. It was a godsend for the biggest American and British weapons manufacturers-and for nobody else anywhere. It made a mockery of US claims to be the greatest democracy in the world, and lastingly shamed and discredited the cause of the very democracy it claimed to defend across the globe. It bankrupted the US economy and exhausted the US armed forces.

Bush's "global war on terror" was a total failure. The American people and the entire world are better off without it.



The author is a senior fellow at the American University in Moscow.

The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

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