Wednesday, November 26, 2014

One simple graph shows how the War on Terror has been a total failure

It's very telling, isn't it? 

Notice how terrorist attacks begin to spike only after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. This shouldn't be surprising - especially to the US government. Back in 2006, the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) - a comprehensive consensus of 16 US intelligence agencies - pointed to the US occupation of Iraq as the leading inspiration for new Islamic extremist networks, concluding that rather than contributing to eventual victory in the global counter-terrorism struggle, the situation in Iraq has worsened the US position. 

The above graph, compiled via statistics from the 2014 Global Terrorism Index (GTI), proves the 2006 NIE correct, illustrating how Iraq is the country most impacted by terrorism; in 2013, there were 2,492 terrorist attacks, killing 6,362 people. According to the GTI, among the five countries accounting for the highest spikes in terrorism, the US has conducted ground wars in two (Iraq and Afghanistan), a drone campaign in one (Pakistan), and airstrikes in a fourth (Syria). Libya - where the US intervened back in 2011 - also moved up nine places on the GTI scale and is now the 15th country in the world most plagued by terrorism. Time and time again, whenever the US goes somewhere to "fight terrorism", it only ends up producing more of it. 

"Muslims do not hate our freedom," a 2004 report issued by the Defense Science Board Task Force explains. Rather, "they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf states." 

 In 2010, Robert Pape of the University of Chicago's Project on Security and Terrorism wrote an op-ed in Foreign Policy magazine detailing how more than 95 percent of all suicide attacks have been in response to foreign occupations, with over 90 percent of those attacks directed at American interests.

When sixteen-year-old Pakistani women's rights activist Malala Yousafzai met with President Obama in 2013, she expressed her concerns about US-led drone strikes fueling terrorism, explaining that "innocent victims are killed in these acts" which leads to resentment. Indeed, when asked about his motives for trying to kill innocent people, Faisal Shahzad, the perpetrator of the failed 2010 Times Square car bomb attack, replied: "When the drones [in Pakistan] hit, they don't see children. I am part of the answer to the US killing the Muslim people." 

Still, as the GTI tells us, we here in America are 64 times more likely to be the victim of a homicide than a terror attack. But the graph is trending up - not down - so it's worth questioning how long we will be able to remain shielded from the consequences of our government's atrocious foreign policy. 

"Yes, these attacks are overseas and mostly focused on military and diplomatic targets," Pape explains in his essay. "So too, however, were the anti-American suicide attacks before 2001. It is important to remember that the 1995 and 1996 bombings of US troops in Saudi Arabia, the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen were the crucial dots that showed the threat was rising prior to 9/11. Today, such dots are occurring by the dozens every month. So why is nobody connecting them?"

The attacks of 9/11 were allegedly born from years of US meddling in Muslim countries, which is why the response to 9/11 - to interfere even more in those countries - is nothing short of a mindfuck. Does the US government not read its own intelligence assessments? Does it not listen to people from the Muslim world? Does it pay such little attention to the academic world? Is the government really so incompetent as to not realize that its policies are breeding the very thing it supposedly wants to stop, or could it be that the government knows - but simply doesn't care? 

Maybe they don't care because war is good for business. As reported by USA Today, in 2001, revenue for US-based defense contractors totaled $217 billion; by 2010, that number ballooned to $386 billion. If the bodies aren't dropping, someone isn't getting paid, and if someone isn't getting paid, someone isn't getting re-elected. Many of the biggest war-promoting politicians in the US receive extensive funding from the defense industry, a point perhaps made most evident by the fact that in 2013, US senators who voted to authorize a strike against Syria received, on average, 83 percent more campaign financing from defense companies than lawmakers who voted against it. 

Or maybe the US government doesn't care because maintaining control of Western and Central Asia has been an integral part of US foreign policy since at least the early 1990s. In 1992, a leaked version of the Defense Planning Guidance for the 1994-99 fiscal years flatly asserted: "In the Middle East and Southwest Asia, our overall objective is to remain the predominant outside power in the region and preserve US and Western access to the region's oil." Former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski's 1997 book, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, portrays the Eurasian landmass as the key to world power, and Central Asia's vast oil reserves as the secret to the domination of Eurasia. The Project for the New American Century, an influential neoconservative think tank, published a letter to President Clinton back in 1998 urging war against Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein, referring to him as a threat to "a significant portion of the world's supply of oil" (interestingly, 10 of the 18 signatories later joined the Bush administration). 

And while the invasion of Iraq was sold to Americans as being about 9/11 and Weapons of Mass Destruction, high-ranking US officials have clearly stated the mission was about something much different. "Of course it's about oil, we can't really deny that," said retired General John Abizaid. "We've treated the Arab world as a collection of big gas stations. Our message to them is: Guys, keep your pumps open, prices low, be nice to the Israelis and you can do whatever you want out back. Osama and 9/11 is the distilled essence that represents everything going on out back." Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said that it is "politically inconvenient" to acknowledge it, but "the Iraq war is largely about oil." Even President Obama's former Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, pointed out that "of course" we're fighting for oil. "They talk about America's national interest. What the hell do you think they're talking about? We're not there for figs."

Whether the War on Terror is about war profiteering, global hegemony, or even a little bit of both, there should be no illusions as to the fact that 1) the invasion of Iraq wasn't a "mistake" and 2) there is no excuse for continuing this "war" when it is clearly having the exact opposite effect of its intended goal (preventing terrorism).  

Before the next terrorist attack hits the US homeland, we must educate ourselves about the root causes generating animosity towards our country. In the absence of such an education, we are only setting ourselves up to once again be manipulated by the ratings-hungry hounds in the corporate news media's fetid kennel and sold yet another conflict. More conflict, more blowback. More blowback, more conflict. Until we learn, the madness will never end.

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See also:

Why the War on Terror guarantees more terrorism and perpetual warfare - This self-perpetuating War on Terror -- War OF Terror -- may outlive all those reading these words today

Three of the US government's longest and most expensive wars are shameful failures - War on Poverty? More poverty. War on drugs? More drugs. War on terror? More terror. And yet these "wars" grind on

Want illegal wars and torture to end? Then stop celebrating blind obedience to authority - The path to prosecuting and punishing those who give immoral orders must first be paved by those refusing to take them

The idea that protests in the US are not allowed to disrupt the public is simply ludicrous - What exactly does the government have to do before it is considered acceptable for protesters to interrupt the lives of Americans?

US foreign policy is laying the groundwork for WWIII, and only Americans can stop the process - The odds are stacked against Americans seeking to free their country from asylum escapees, but the fight is worth it

Blaming the rise of ISIS on religion neglects the major role of US imperialism - When an American is beheaded, we blame it all on freedom-envious religious zealots instead of our blowback-inducing foreign policy

Eight bullshit misconceptions about the renewed US invasion of Iraq - The odds are high that you believe at least one of the lies mentioned here peddled as truth by US news networks

If the invasion of Iraq was just an innocent mistake, some questions need to be answered - And if it wasn't a mistake, then Americans ought to feel utterly betrayed by both parties and the government as a whole

Busting the myth that large conspiracies are quickly dismantled before they can do damage - According to one academic, large conspiracies are quickly exposed and rarely successful - but is this true?

In the push for war with Syria, who do US politicians actually represent? - Politicians, we are told, exist to represent us, not to sell us wars we don't want

Six reasons the West wants Assad to GTFO - Six reasons the United States and Israel want current Syrian President Bashar al-Assad out of power and dead

Six propagandistic terms used by the media that every American needs to know about - Our wars? "Humanitarian". Our enemies? "Militants" and "Terrorists". Our news? Sourced by anonymous "Officials". The American media is Orwell's worst nightmare

CNN: Government killing US citizens with drones a "conspiracy theory" - Maybe it's CNN that believes in conspiracy theories if they really think that US citizens being targeted by drones deserves to be written off

Dear CNN, FOX, and MSNBC: Why do you keep giving batshit neocons a platform? - News networks portraying themselves as serious journalists should be more respectful of their viewers and their search for accurate information

CNN's unhealthy addiction to ratings - CNN's interest in a topic only extends so far as the subject can be exploited to garner ratings for the network

FOX sucks, but what about MSNBC and CNN? - If deceitful people deserve no place in your life, why make room for deceptive "news" networks?

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  1. Gee.... that huge upturn in that graph has me worried. Remind me...who was President when that happened?

    1. This isn't a punchline to look back and say I told you so. It takes congress to go to war. You should be worried about both parties who have shown a propensity to get us involved in violence without a clear goal and also an exit strategy, and most of this decade without a war even declared at all.

      I am by no means anti-war, and on the contrary I believe that might makes right. If we need a resource or a location, we should ask for it. If diplomacy does not work there are scenarios where it is necessary to take it. The wars and pseudo-wars we have been involved with have no goal. In fact they seem to actually fuel further conflict and death. War should be swift and dramatically, profoundly, violent. To the point it is horrifying and nobody involved wishes to see it again in their lifetime. Once the conflict is settled, you move on to prosper. What we have now is Republican and Democrat behaving together as warmongers.

      The president at the time matters not. The executive office is stretching its role to the point congress is too scared to even consider war without the president acting first. Focus on the powers of the executive branch and think of how we can make a better system, and accept only legal exercise of power from our elected servants. President is not king, no matter who you put in office, they shouldn't have as much power as they do.

      In short: the war on terror is illegitimate, you cannot have a war against an action, idea, or thing -- just like the war on drugs is illegitimate.