Just how absurd is the war on terror?

Geoffrey Ingersoll has a piece at Business Insider discussing the “absurdity” of the War on Terror. Ingersoll opines

Indeed, the Global War on Terror (GWOT), if it wasn’t at the start, has become a game of Global Whack-A-Mole — with SEALs, drones, and now French Legionnaires as hammers.

And let’s hope the West’s arm doesn’t get tired. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Al Shabaab, and North Africa’s Al Qaeda in the Islamic Meghrib didn’t even exist until the insurgency in Iraq was at its most pitched — in 2006. Not to suggest causality, but the correlation is undeniable.

Now they seem to get stronger by the day.

But in fact, causality is easily identifiable, and altogether impossible to deny. In 2004, a Pentagon Task Force commissioned to investigate the effect of US policies on terrorism unambiguously noted the causal relationship between the two. As Glenn Greenwald reported:

The Task Force began by noting what are the “underlying sources of threats to America’s national security“:  namely, the “negative attitudes” towards the U.S. in the Muslim world and “the conditions that create them”

And what most exacerbates anti-American sentiment, and therefore the threat of Terrorism?  “American direct intervention in the Muslim world” — through our “one sided support in favor of Israel”; support for Islamic tyrannies in places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia; and, most of all, “the American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan“:


Let’s just repeat that:  ”Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom,’ but rather, they hate our policies.”  And nothing fuels — meaning: helps — the Islamic radicals’ case against the U.S. more than ongoing American occupation of Muslim countries:

Such a truism was self-evident even 46 years prior to this report, when the question of “Why do they hate us” was first asked by then-President Eisenhower. As Noam Chomsky has repeatedly reported:

[Eisenhower’s National Security Council] pointed out that there’s a perception in the Arab world that the United States supports status quo regimes which, of course, are brutal and oppressive, and does so in order to secure its own interests in obtaining oil, and then they said, well, it’s hard to counter this perception because it’s correct. They said it’s natural for the United States to link itself up with the status quo regimes and try to sustain them and to pursue its interest in obtaining oil. So the end result is that there’s a campaign of hatred against us among the people who we’re basically robbing and on whom we’re imposing harsh, brutal, repressive and corrupt regimes, and it’s pretty difficult to counter that campaign.

Fast forward five-and-a-half decades and we find ourselves at the exact same point with regards to US state policies vis-a-vis Arabs and Muslims abroad. The US continues to oppress and terrorize Muslim populations through the use of state-violence, as it has been doing in Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere. Not surprisingly, a Gallup poll released earlier this week revealed that Pakistani public attitudes towards US leadership has soared to a dizzying 92% disapproval rating, with a majority of that country’s population of the opinion that “greater interactions between Muslim and Western societies” would do more harm than good.

Consider the many historical precedents that might inform Pakistani views on this issue. US/Western intervention in the region has invariably been self-serving, and often comes at the expense of the local populations. A recent and poignant illustration of this imperialist mentality was US support for the Saudi and Bahraini regimes in their violent suppressions of popular uprisings throughout the Arab Spring. The revelation of a $53M USD arms deal being prepared by the US for Bahrain in the midst of the uprisings rightly incensed many, who found the US’s rhetorically tepid and unquestionably supportive response to the Bahraini uprisings irreconcilable with the former’s purported advocacy of democracy and people’s rights.

And even in Egypt, where the uprising was a nominal success and at the very least led to the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, an overwhelming 83% of the population believed that “the U.S. will not allow people in [the Middle East] to fashion their own political future as they see fit.” Moreover, 82% expressed opposition to continued US aid to Egypt. But again, such statistics should not surprise readers in light of the history of US support for despots in the region. Mubarak was a close ally of the US’s and a participant in its GWOT, even allowing the US to use facilities in his country as CIA “black-sites” for torture. And the US returned the favour by backing Mubarak until the very end, when it was obvious that there was no way to quell public animosity towards the ruler without his deposition.

But the root of the issue should not be difficult to comprehend for any individual who hasn’t had their capacities to think critically and empathize with others brutally suppressed by a pernicious cultural hegemony. How would Americans feel if either Russia or China invaded the US, killed millions of innocent civilians, and exploited despotic regimes and social instability/inequality to export the natural resources of this country elsewhere?


5 thoughts on “Just how absurd is the war on terror?

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