War on Terror

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  • by Anup Shah
  • This page last updated

It was with disbelief and shock that people around the world saw footage of the terrorist attacks in the US on on September 11, 2001 when the planes-turned-missiles slammed into the World Trade Center towers and damaged the Pentagon.

This ultimately resulted in the US declaring and waging a war on terror. Osama Bin Laden was eventually tracked down and killed some 10 years later. But the way the war on terror has been conducted has led to many voicing concerns about the impact on civil liberties, the cost of the additional security focused changes, the implications of the invasions and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more.

On this page:

  1. 10 Years Since the 9-11 Terrorist Attacks
  2. Reaction to the September 11, 2001 events
  3. Resulting War on Terror
  4. Mainstream Media
  5. Will violence lead to more violence?
  6. Using Fear
  7. President Bush losing the war on terror
  8. Additional articles and links

10 Years Since the 9-11 Terrorist Attacks

It is now over a decade since the terrorist attacks in the US, simply dubbed 9-11 shocked the world, and ushered in a global war on terror.

And looking back, what has the US to show for its decade of effort? Has it been winning the war on terror? It depends how it is measured. The killing of Osama Bin Laden was of course a major success. But the cost of vengeance (instead of justice) has also been high:

  • A further turn towards hatred and a rise in those who think most Muslims are terrorists, that Islam is a threat to the world, etc.
  • Wars that have seen far more than the 3,500 deaths that the US saw, and a self-fulfilling prophecy; creating more anger and resentment against the US, more potential terrorists, and the complete opposite of what the neo-cons wanted; global downturn and US decline instead consolidating their power and position in the world.
  • Over 6,000 US soldiers killed in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Possibly 100 times that number of civilians in those countries (in Iraq, at an early point, there was an estimated range of 400,000 to 900,000 civilian deaths, which of course Bush had to reject, claiming it used flawed techniques, even though it used estimation techniques his own government agencies taught others to use).

And also worryingly, as Inter Press Service (IPS) correspondent Jim Lobe notes, Al Qaeda’s project for ending the American Century appears to have largely succeeded:

Al Qaeda appears to have largely succeeded in its hopes of accelerating the decline of U.S. global power, if not bringing it to the brink of collapse.

That appears to be the strong consensus of the foreign-policy elite which, with only a few exceptions, believes that the administration of President George W. Bush badly over-reacted to the attacks and that that over-reaction continues to this day.

Jim Lobe, Al Qaeda’s Project for Ending the American Century Largely Succeeded, Inter Press Service, September 8, 2011

The rest of Jim Lobe’s article provides a useful summary of why Bush’s focus on Iraq (under the clearly false and fear-mongering excuses of weapons of mass destruction and links to terrorism), instead of tackling terrorism, was perhaps the single-most disastrous foreign policy decision by a U.S. president in the past decade, if not the past century. This is because it allowed the Taliban to regroup in Afghanistan leading to more expensive military operations and strengthening Al Qaeda’s resolve further. Meanwhile, various US actions in Iraq and elsewhere damaged its reputation around the world.

The above summary also matches concerns raised further below (in the section on Bush Losing the War on Terror) which was written quite some time ago, so it did not have to take a decade to look back and see a change in course should have been possible. But maybe the impact of the enormous cost this would have (US tax payers have had to fork out trillions of dollars) was somewhat unimaginable?

The costs have been staggering in almost every respect. The estimated three to 4.4 trillion dollars Washington has incurred either directly or indirectly in conducting the global war on terror account for a substantial portion of the fiscal crisis that transformed the country’s politics and brought it to the edge of bankruptcy last month.

And while the U.S. military remains by far the strongest in the world, its veil of invincibility has been irreparably pierced by the success with which rag-tag groups of guerrillas have defied and frustrated it.

Jim Lobe, Al Qaeda’s Project for Ending the American Century Largely Succeeded, Inter Press Service, September 8, 2011

For many years even before 9-11, neoconservatives had called for the US to consolidate its position in the world as the sole superpower and dominate further. 9-11 appeared to give them an excuse to push these ideas further and their ideology permeated throughout top-level thinking of the Bush Administration. It is therefore quite ironic, as Jim Lobe also notes, that leading the charge [for such an aggressive foreign policy approach] were precisely those hawks whose fondest wish was to extend, rather than cut short, Washington’s global hegemony.

By framing this as a war on terror (which, as a concept can almost never end), an excuse is now afforded to all governments to put in place tough security measured on any potentially flimsy basis. And the predicted war on civil liberties and human rights has unfortunately proven true as human rights organizations around the world feared from the start of the war on terror (as discussed further below).

If the US public mood at the time was understandably full of anger and vengeance as well as shock and disbelief, it also reflects badly on US society that voices for more measured and appropriately calculated responses could be drowned out; an individual acting in a regrettable way due to a moment of anger is very different than an entire state apparatus (that should have time to think things through more thoroughly) doing that.

Maybe it could be argued that with hindsight it is easy to make these criticisms. Unfortunately, however, these concerns were there from the start, and re-iterated many times by many people and organizations during the past decade.

But not all have wanted vengeance. Many families of the victims of the 9-11 atrocity have campaigned for a more peaceful approach to combating terrorism, for example.

Accompanying this has been media propaganda, media manipulation, sensationalism, sound-bite journalism and all the various other problems that have minimized coverage of deeper issues and understanding while allowing various claims to go almost unchallenged. (Some examples and links are presented further below.)

The rest of the article below started shortly after the 9-11 attacks in 2001 and was updated a few times up to 2007. It barely covered any details but still showed these numerous concerns from so many people and organizations were already there and are still relevant.

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Reaction to the September 11, 2001 events

With disbelief and shock around the world people saw the news footage of the events on September 11, 2001 when the planes-turned-missiles slammed into the World Trade Center towers and into the Pentagon. What is probably the worst terrorist attack on the United States, was totally inexcusable and roundly condemned.

Some 3000 were killed. Initial fears were that it was over 6000 A number of factors for this revised number, were said to include initial overestimates; more than one person reporting the same missing person; heroic rescue operations, etc. This lower number doesn’t in any way reduce the impact though.)

The subsequent bombing of Afghanistan to attack Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda terrorist network and the Taliban for harboring them has also led to some 3,500 civilian deaths, according to an independent study released at the beginning of December 2001.

The ghastly terrorist attacks led to a mixture of political, social and economic reaction around the world.

Hatred and anti-Islam sentiment, (without distinguishing the despotic militants from ordinary Muslims) increased, even though most of the Muslim communities around the world condemned this act.

While visible efforts were seen by politicians to try to separate terrorists from Muslims in general, it has not been easy. On the one hand, after years of economic and geopolitical history, there are some aspects of distrust, while on the other hand, extremists in the Muslim and Christian communities are adding to the antagonisms. For example, during the height of the shock and anger to the September 11 attacks, extremist tendencies in the West resulted in beatings and even killings of Muslims. Even non-Muslims that just happened to have long beards or in some way resembled Taliban/Al Qaeda members were targeted. Others saw this as proof that Islam is inherently violent or that it is the primary threat to the rest of the world, etc. On the Muslim side, there have also been equally extreme reactions, from support of these terrorist acts to even being convinced that this was some sort of Zionist conspiracy to blame Muslims! In both cases these seem to be a minority of people with such extreme views but of course the concern is always that it will increase over time.

There was no question that there was going to be some sort of retaliation and response from the United States. One could not have expected them seriously to refrain from wanting to take revenge. Yet the fear was in what form this revenge would be and how it would be carried out as well as what the impact on ordinary Afghans would be, who have already suffered at the hands of the Taliban and outside forces for years.

In addition, some eight months after the attacks it was revealed in the mainstream press around the world that the CIA had warned George Bush of the threats weeks before September 11. This caused an uproar in many places, including the United States Congress, where members demanded more information to understand if all those deaths could have been prevented.

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Resulting War on Terror

The terrible events of September 11 saw the considerable quieting of what was until then growing domestic and international criticism of the Bush Administration. The September 11 events resulted in a war on terror which saw support for Bush and his popularity soar at the time.

Up to September 11, 2001, the Bush administration was being criticized around the world for its stances on various issues domestically and internationally. Even European and other allies were very critical of positions on numerous global issues.

But even before the Bush Administration, throughout the world, many nations and groups of people had expressed their frustrations at how U.S. foreign policies had affected them on all sorts of issues, ranging from economic/globalization issues that have deepened poverty and/or inequality for most people around the world; geopolitics/arms/missile defense; environmental issues and so on. Protests either directly, or indirectly at U.S. policies have occurred all around the world—especially on globalization issues—as mentioned on this web site. (See the section on global protests for more on that, for example).

Yet that cannot be an excuse for the atrocity of September 11 as it killed many innocent people. At the same time, people have correctly pointed out that when other regions around the world have faced similar terrorist attacks, the outpouring of concern and condemnation has not been as much. The Washington Post (September 12, 2001) even dared to admit this at such a sensitive time shortly after the attacks. (Their article is no longer online.)

However, behind the unity of the American people in the shock of September 11, a heightened sense of security resulted with concerns reverberating throughout the world. Many were concerned about the resulting crackdown of freedoms and civil liberties in various nations. Many worried that various countries around the world would also use this war on terror as an excuse to pursue more aggressive options on their own citizens.

For example, consider the concerns Amnesty International raised in October 2001, shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks: In the name of fighting international terrorism, governments have rushed to introduce draconian new measures that threaten the human rights of their own citizens, immigrants and refugees…. Governments have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their citizens, but measures taken must not undermine fundamental human rights standards. It appears that some of the initiatives currently being discussed or implemented may be used to curb basic human rights and to suppress internal opposition. Some of the definitions of terrorism under discussion are so broad that they could be used to criminalize anyone out of favor with those in power and criminalize legitimate peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression and association. They could also put at risk the right to privacy and threaten the rights of minorities and asylum-seekers.

In May 2003, Amnesty International charged, The war on terror, far from making the world a safer place, has made it more dangerous by curtailing human rights, undermining the rule of international law and shielding governments from scrutiny. It has deepened divisions among people of different faiths and origins, sowing the seeds for more conflict. The overwhelming impact of all this is genuine fear—among the affluent as well as the poor.

In January 2004, one of the essays comprising the World Report 2004 from Human Rights Watch raised concerns about human rights in the U.S.:

Justice cannot exist without respect for human rights. As stated in the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. The Bush administration’s rhetoric acknowledges human rights and insists that the fight against terrorism is a fight to preserve the non-negotiable demands of human dignity, the rule of law, limits on the power of the state—and equal justice, as President Bush told the graduating class of the West Point military academy in June 2002. But the Bush administration’s actions contradict such fine words. Taken together, the Bush administration’s anti-terrorism practices represent a stunning assault on basic principles of justice, government accountability, and the role of the courts.

… Confronted with a difficult and complex battle against international terrorism, the United States must not relinquish its traditions of justice and public accountability. The United States has long held itself up as the embodiment of good government. But it is precisely good governance—and its protection of human rights—that the Bush administration is currently jeopardizing with its post-September 11 anti-terrorist policies.

Alison Parker and Jamie Fellner, Above the Law: Executive Power after September 11 in the United States, World Report 2004, Human Rights Watch, January 2004 [Emphasis Added]

Even in the U.S. some of the resulting policies on how suspects will be treated, on how access to personal information will be made available for security concerns and so on, led to debates at all levels on what is considered an attack on civil liberties, and what is reasonable for security. On the foreign policy arena, there was increasing concern that the U.S. would be able to use the war on terror to pursue aggressive policies that were previously criticized by many other people. This can range from economic, to political and even military policies. The Iraq war was one such example, where among other things, the concern of terrorism was used to justify a war against Iraq, even though the terrorism links were not real.

Also of importance, with its loose definition of terror, there is concern that the war on terror , will also affect all those working honestly for peace and social justice for all, as even they will come under scrutiny for perhaps appropriately criticizing policies of any number of nations and organizations around the world, including those from the West.

Interestingly, the prevention of a renowned constitutional lawyer and former US Marine revealed that peace marchers and those who criticized George Bush could find themselves on the US government’s no-fly list. In early 2007, Walter Murphy, a constitutional law scholar and professor emeritus of politics at Princeton University (described as the most distinguished constitutional scholars of the 20th century) had criticized the Bush administration for abusing the US Constitution. Shortly after that as he tried to fly somewhere he was stopped by authorities because he was on the terrorist watch list as they had put it. He recounted a conversation with some authorities during this incident:

Have you been in any peace marches? And then, before I could answer, he says, We ban a lot of people from flying for that. And then I said, No, but I did give a speech attacking George Bush. And he said, Oh, that will do it.

Walter Murphy, Is Princeton Professor and Retired Marine on Government No-Fly List for Criticizing the White House?, Democracy Now!, April 12, 2007

That peace marchers would be on terrorist watch lists seems shocking. However, in some regards, this revelation is not as surprising as it may first seem. For years it has been suspected that this happens—around the world, not just in the US. In addition, towards the end of 2006, it was revealed that the Pentagon is keeping secret surveillance on peaceful protest activities. Furthermore, thousands have been mistakenly put on the no-fly list, and it is very hard to know why and get off it.

Amnesty International continued their criticism in their Report 2004, noting that both governments and armed groups have launched a war on global values, destroying the human rights of ordinary people:

Violence by armed groups and increasing violations by governments have combined to produce the most sustained attack on human rights and international humanitarian law in 50 years. This was leading to a world of growing mistrust, fear and division.

… Amnesty International strongly condemned armed groups responsible for atrocities such as the March 11 bombing in Madrid and the bomb attack on the United Nations building in Iraq on 19 August 2003…. Violent attacks on civilians and on institutions established to provide solutions to conflict and insecurity … represented a significant new threat to international justice.

Report 2004: War on global values, Amnesty International, May 26, 2004 (Link is to reposted version on this site)

But Amnesty also harshly criticized governments of powerful and influential nations, including the United States:

But it is also frightening that the principles of international law and the tools of multilateral action which could protect us from these attacks are being undermined, marginalized or destroyed by powerful governments, said Irene Khan [Secretary General of Amnesty International].

Governments are losing their moral compass, sacrificing the global values of human rights in a blind pursuit of security. This failure of leadership is a dangerous concession to armed groups.

The global security agenda promoted by the US Administration is bankrupt of vision and bereft of principle. Violating rights at home, turning a blind eye to abuses abroad and using pre-emptive military force where and when it chooses has damaged justice and freedom, and made the world a more dangerous place.

The war on terror and the war in Iraq has encouraged a new wave of human rights abuse and diverted attention from old ones … while many governments are openly pursuing repressive agendas.

While governments have been obsessed with the threat of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, they have allowed the real weapons of mass destruction—injustice and impunity, poverty, discrimination and racism, the uncontrolled trade in small arms, violence against women and abuse of children—to go unaddressed, said Irene Khan.

Report 2004: War on global values, Amnesty International, May 26, 2004 (Link is to reposted version on this site)

Many might feel they are willing to give up some of their rights for more security, but as Irene Khan notes Human rights matter because they offer a powerful and compelling vision of a better and fairer world, and a concrete plan of how to get there. These global values of justice are the most effective route to security and peace.

The war on terror has in some respects, led to what has been described as a war on freedom.

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Mainstream Media

While citizens everywhere, especially Americans, were rightly outraged at the attacks, the mainstream media has largely concentrated on the effects, the various aftermaths and impacts, and reporting what political leaders are doing, saying or not doing, or not saying, etc. They have also reported immense detail on some of the aspects of the actual bombing in Afghanistan, etc. As with most other conflicts in recent history though, while enormous in quantity, media reporting appears comparatively lacking in depth, historical context, and investigative analysis on the causes that fuel such outrageous militant extremism and terrorism.

The so-called range of discourse then, is quite narrow, but within it, coverage is quite detailed. The reporting of some aspects is indeed very moving and very good. There is, however, appropriate criticism of some extremism creeping into some aspects of the mainstream media as well, in certain circumstances. Importantly though, our range of perspectives is also affected by the range of discourse. This is especially relevant now, as citizens seek answers on how and why such a terrible atrocity could be committed. (For more on the coverage of the media, with analysis and critique of the mainstream media itself, see this web site’s section: War on Terror Mainstream Media and Propaganda)

As the 10 year anniversary of the 9-11 attacks approached, having managed to kill Osama Bin Laden, the US officials as well as the public felt quite relieved and victorious.

Bush and his conservative supporters tried to take false credit for Bin Laden’s killing, when it was Bush that in 2002 claimed he wasn’t concerned much with finding Bin Laden (instead more interested in Iraq). In 2005 He had also shut down the CIA unit responsible for hunting him down, and in 2009 it was revealed that Bush’s top officials missed a chance to nab Bin Laden in 2001 when US forces were closing in on him; top Bush national security officials had rejected repeated pleas for reinforcements from commanders and intelligence officials, despite available resources. (Has Bush taken any credit for the enormous financial mess the US is now in?)

There was also much reflection on attitudes and opinions of the past decade.

A major investigative report by the Center for American Progress found that a small group of inter-linked foundations, think tanks, pundits, and bloggers is behind the 10-year-old campaign to promote fear of Islam and Muslims in the U.S.

Despite coming from a small group, their influence has permeated through the right-wing in the US, as another report finds that this these kind of views are typically reflected along partisan lines (Republicans typically being anti-Islam, Democrats being typically more liberal), it is important to note how such a vast swathe of people’s views can be manipulated by a minority (that has been quite influential). Groups like the Tea Party and News outlets such as Fox end up entertaining what would otherwise be considered extreme views in most societies to become quite a mainstream view in the US.

All that being said, the media is still important. There are signals in global media reporting that could have been used to help discover Bin Laden’s location much sooner, for example, according to the BBC.

(For additional insights, see also this site’s sections on propaganda during the war on terror, and an example of how Britain’s Tony Blair used fear and spin to fight a war on terror.)

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Will violence lead to more violence?

With all the vivid imagery, we can only now begin to imagine how other people and societies around the world have suffered in other situations. With often worse results, albeit not so sudden and shocking, entire cities/regions have been leveled and/or enormous amount of life has been lost in places like Kosovo, Iraq, Democratic Republic of Congo, East Timor, Hiroshima/Nagasaki, all over Europe during the World Wars, and too many other places to be able to list here.

With the US-led bombing campaign on Afghanistan, there has always been more and more concern about civilians being caught in the middle. Indeed, by early December 2001, some 3,500 Afghan civilians were believed to have been killed by U.S. bombing. Furthermore, many aid agencies criticized the food drops for not delivering much actual aid and being a token gesture, rather than an effective one.

Perhaps one of the biggest fears, voiced before the retaliation started, is that retaliated violence could result in more retaliated violence and we risk tit-for-tat violence that looks hard to get out of. In all this, civilians on all sides will always be affected. We only need remind ourselves of that shuddering speech by Osama Bin Laden on his threats of retaliation against civilians and of various hawkish politicians in the West asking for the equivalent of no mercy. Martin Luther King is worth quoting:

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it… Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate…. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; Only love can do that.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Yet, how does one get out of this vicious circle? Of course it is not easy, and even a lot of the peace movement struggle on this answer, but perhaps if more voice was given in the media to these broader views, then alternative thoughts could be considered. True, more on peace-related alternatives are discussed in TV forums and debates, but when it comes to the actual reporting and one-on-one discussion and analysis, the context is limited to the current actions and options. The discussions are therefore within those confines, mostly.

On the foreign policy front, even recent history of the last 50 years or so has been questionable by both Western leaders and Middle Eastern leaders. For example, the support by the west of brutal leaders in the middle east has contributed to an extremist backlash. In their fight to get the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan, Osama Bin Laden himself, as well as other jihadists, were supported by the US, encouraging the training of jihadists and the rise of miltantism to galvanize opposition to the communists. As the article in the previous link implies, while it seems that the lesser of two evils was supported, perhaps the long term consequences were not fully explored and it does seem that violence and fear breeds more violence and fear.

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Using Fear

October 27, 2004, the BBC aired one of its documentaries in the Fear series. This episode was titled The Power of Nightmares.

In this program, the BBC detailed how before the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Bin Laden’s movement was a failing movement, that had not succeeded in arousing the masses in the Middle East against what it saw as corruption coming from the West. The only place they could go where masses had not turned away from their gruesome and violent means was Afghanistan. In 1996/1997 they announced a jihad on America itself which, they believed, was the source of this corruption.

At the same time, the BBC noted, the neo-conservatives in the U.S. were also failing to get their message through to the American people that their country had become corrupted by liberal politics. After failing to fully undermine Clinton in a few scandals, the Monica Lewinksy affair became a major opportunity. They gained power in 2000.

September 11, the BBC noted, became the opportunity for the neo-cons to create a new enemy to replace the now defunct Soviet Union. In effect then, they made out Bin Laden’s failing movement to be a serious revolutionary organization. Ironically, the BBC also pointed out, this was the same image Bin Laden seemed to dream of aspiring to.

Fear, used by Islamic extremists on Muslim people throughout the Middle East, could once again be used, as the BBC ended. This time it would be used by the neo-conservatives upon American citizens in order to gather support for what used to be considered an extremist ideology, even by many conservatives. All this would now fall under the banner of a war on terror.

Yet, a cycle of violence is what should also be feared. Fear may be used to rally support for more extreme measures both upon citizens of America, and upon people of other countries. Yet, using fear in such a way may fuel harsh reactions, leading to further harsh retaliations, and so on. Once again ordinary citizens may suffer the most.

For more on this aspect, see this site’s section on the middle east and in particular about support by the west of brutal leaders in the middle east where there is more context as to why some Islamic extremism arose, why support for it was failing, and the impact on ordinary citizens.

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President Bush losing the war on terror

Three years after the initial terrorist attacks, it was leaked that U.S. Defence Secretary himself, Donald Rumsfeld felt that it was not possible to know how the war on terror was progressing.

Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror, he wrote in a memo to his top staff 11 months ago. Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?

Inter Press Service added that If that is how success in the Bush administration’s war on terrorism is to be measured, then Rumsfeld would have to conclude that he is failing badly.

And some five years after the September 11, 2001 attacks, despite the Bush Administration’s insistence that the US is winning this difficult war on terror (especially in Iraq, which they consider to be the forefront of this battle), experts and considerable public opinion the world over think otherwise.

For example, the situation in Iraq, and recently Afghanistan has worsened.

In addition, as the New York Times revealed (September 24, 2006), the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Importantly, this assessment is not from the NY Times itself, but from the classified National Intelligence Estimate, an authoritative and comprehensive report based on the detailed analysis of all 16 of America’s intelligence agencies.

Furthermore, the BBC, picking up on that NY Times report, adds that even though the Bush Administration rightly points out that extremists were there before the September 11 attacks and the Iraq invasion, the Iraq war and war on terror has certainly created new terrorists, and moreover, much of it is America’s own making:

[The National Intelligence Estimate report] reportedly concludes that, while al-Qaeda may have been weakened since the 11 September 2001 attacks, the radical Islamic movement worldwide has strengthened with the formation of new groups and cells who are inspired by Osama Bin Laden, but not under his direct control.

The report will make uncomfortable reading at the White House, our correspondent says. In a series of recent speeches, President George W Bush has been portraying the war in Iraq as the central front in the war on terrorism.

This report implies while that may be true, that it is a front of America’s own making.

US report says Iraq fuels terror, BBC, September 24, 2006

Alternet reported (March 1, 2007) on another authoritative study that also found that the war on terror was the leading cause of terrorism. The study looked at terrorist attacks after the Iraq invasion in 2003 and found an increase in terrorism as a result.

Such reports contradict Bush and Blair’s predictable insistence otherwise. The Whitehouse refused to release the full National Intelligence Estimate report, stating national security fears and concerns about safety of agents, instead releasing only a four page summary, which has been used by both critics and supporters alike. Supporters of the Bush policy note that this report is proof that the US must stay the distance in Iraq, while critics decry the Bush Administration’s terrible planning and the string of disasters, such as torture abuses and worsening situation, made by the the US presence there.

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On numerous fronts there are many, many things going on which readers have asked me to write on. It is difficult to keep up with all the angles with the view to write on all of them. As a result, for now, until I am able to catch up, included below, under this section on the war on terrorism are articles reposted from other web sites and authors from around the world that offer a variety of deeper and wider perspectives and views. They are broadly categorized into the sections listed below, although many articles can easily fit other categories too.

Also, in the More Information page is a growing collection of links and sources to other web sites that offer deeper perspectives.

I do not necessarily agree with all of the views of all the links and sources provided, and by no means are they a comprehensive list, rather an example.

Some of the more mainstream sources concentrate much more on the effects and aftermaths, while some of the other sources also offer deeper analysis on causes as well as ramifications around the world. These sites have more links that you can follow to other web sites. More sites will be added as time goes on.

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13 articles on “War on Terror”:

War on Terror FAQs

Read “War on Terror FAQs” to learn more.

Sept 11 Reaction and in Context

Read “Sept 11 Reaction and in Context” to learn more.

War on Terror Mainstream Media and Propaganda

Read “War on Terror Mainstream Media and Propaganda” to learn more.

New War on Terror

Read “New War on Terror” to learn more.

War on Terror: Crackdown on Civil Rights; War on Freedom

Read “War on Terror: Crackdown on Civil Rights; War on Freedom” to learn more.

US Military Commissions Act 2006—Unchecked Powers?

Read “US Military Commissions Act 2006—Unchecked Powers?” to learn more.

9/11 Investigation

Read “9/11 Investigation” to learn more.

War on Terror Geopolitics

Read “War on Terror Geopolitics” to learn more.

War on Terror: Civilization and Ideology

Read “War on Terror: Civilization and Ideology” to learn more.


Read “Terrorism” to learn more.

Surveillance State: NSA Spying and more

At the start of June 2013, a large number of documents detailing surveillance by intelligence agencies such as the US’s NSA and UK’s GCHQ started to be revealed, based on information supplied by NSA whistle blower, Edward Snowden.

These leaks revealed a massive surveillance program that included interception of email and other Internet communications and phone call tapping. Some of it appears illegal, while other revelations show the US spying on friendly nations during various international summits.

Unsurprisingly, there has been a lot of furor. While some countries are no doubt using this to win some diplomatic points, there has been an increase in tension with the US and other regions around the world.

Much of the US surveillance programs came from the aftermath of the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the US in 2001. Concerns about a crackdown on civil rights in the wake of the so-called war on terror have been expressed for a long time, and these revelations seem to be confirming some of those fears.

Given the widespread collection of information, apparently from central servers of major Internet companies and from other core servers that form part of the Internet backbone, activities of millions (if not billions) of citizens have been caught up in a dragnet style surveillance problem called PRISM, even when the communication has nothing to do with terrorism.

What impacts would such secretive mass surveillance have on democracy?

Read “Surveillance State: NSA Spying and more” to learn more.

Full List of Articles in War On Terror section

The war on terror section on this web site includes many articles reposted from elsewhere around the web. View this page to see the full list of those articles.

Read “Full List of Articles in War On Terror section” to learn more.

War on Terror Links and Resources

Read “War on Terror Links and Resources” to learn more.

Author and Page Information

  • by Anup Shah
  • Created:
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Document revision history

Added some notes reflecting back on the decade of the war on terror
Note about critics of Bush Administration and peace marchers being common reasons for adding people to US government no-fly lists.
Added section on Bush losing war on terror
Added small section on use of fear
Rumsfeld reveals that measuring success of war on terror is proving difficult.
Amnesty International condemned both terrorist groups and governments for destroying the values of international law and human rights
Added information from Human Rights Watch regarding human rights in the U.S.

Alternatives for broken links

Sometimes links to other sites may break beyond my control. Where possible, alternative links are provided to backups or reposted versions here.