Written By: Md. Rakibul Mobin
With the recent withdrawal of its military from Afghanistan, the United States has finally put an end to a sanguinary war of 20 years. This war started as a U.S response to the infamous terrorist attacks of 9/11. It was just the beginning of a series of deadly wars. But has this achieved that goal of stopping terrorism worldwide? Or has the United States just spent trillions of taxpayers dollars futilely to murder hundreds of thousands of civilians in search of the orchestrator of 9/11?
September 11, 2001. Four commercial flights flying from the northeastern part of the United States to California got hijacked by 19 terrorists of Al-Qaeda after taking off. Two of those airplanes crashed into the north and south towers of the World Trade Center complex. Another one crashed into the west side of the US military headquarter Pentagon. The last one crashed into a field near Pennsylvania when the passengers of the aircraft attempted to gain control from the hijackers. These four incidents are combinedly known as the terrorist attacks of 9/11. It is considered as one of the biggest terrorist attacks in history and took nearly three thousand innocent lives and caused billions of dollars of property damage.
Shortly after the attacks of 9/11, U.S president George W. Bush declared the worldwide “war on terrorism”. The Bush administration planned a long-term war in Middle East countries for exterminating Islamist extremists. General Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of that time, described this war as “more diplomatic, more economic, more political than it is military”. But after 20 years of war on terror, having an estimated death toll of 897,000 to 929,000 doesn’t exactly seem like less of a military war.
The first strike after 9/11 fell upon the south Asian nation Afghanistan, which already was debilitated by the Soviet-Afghan war and the Afghan civil war. George W. Bush demanded the extradition of the Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, from the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan. As Al-Qaeda and the Taliban were allies, they refused the extradition proposal and it led to the U.S invasion of Afghanistan, which started a war that went on for the next 20 years. This war caused death to tens of thousands of Afghan civilians and ended in futility when the extremist Taliban regained their control over the region soon after the recent U.S military withdrawal.
The United States and its allies’ “war on terrorism” continued after the invasion of Afghanistan. After Afghanistan, it reached Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Pakistan. In these places along with several other countries across the globe, hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians lost their lives due to the direct result of war, nearly 37 million people became refugees and a recent report from the ‘Costs of War’ project at Brown University revealed that the war which is going on for two decades, cost an estimated amount of 8 trillion USD.
During the ‘war on terror’, the United States and its allied forces dropped bombs and operated airstrikes over many areas of sovereign countries, where civilians used to live. Airstrikes destroyed hospitals, schools, residences of civilians and drove them away from their own homes. Ruthless bombings took the lives of many children and haunted numerous others. Despite having these absolute horrifying effects on millions of innocent people’s lives, wars on terrorism continued. These wars did nothing except for feeding the far right-wing agenda and filling the pockets of the defence contractors. All this bloodshed and destruction happened because of the attacks of 9/11 and the unwise and belligerent decisions after the attacks from the Bush administration.
A study on post 9/11 terrorism in America shows that, in the last two decades, after the attacks of 9/11, more Americans were killed by the followers of the far right-wing ideology than they were killed by the jihadists. So whilst the US Administration was paranoid about Islamist extremists, the number of white supremacists and Christian extremists increased gradually. Moreover, all these invasions in Muslim countries and profiling of Muslims as terrorists resulted in a massive outbreak of ‘Islamophobia’. Former US President Donald Trump enacted a travel ban on some Muslim countries while he was in power. Though it has been revoked after President Joe Biden came to power, it is still an act of blatant racism and xenophobia. And the attacks of 9/11 are somewhat responsible for this.
The terrorist attacks of 9/11 were a shameful and abhorrent act of violence. Many people lost their loved ones and many others were injured. But what the United States did as a response to 9/11, was no better and had no impact whatsoever to stop terrorism worldwide. In search of extremist terrorists, the U.S military destroyed land after land and murdered innocent men, women, and children. It has been two decades since that deadly morning in northeastern America happened. But many parts of the middle east and Africa had to face a deadly morning throughout the past two decades or any particular period in the past two decades. Many childhoods have been destroyed, many adulthoods have evaporated in despair. Though the U.S military has withdrawn from Afghanistan recently, in many parts of the world, invasion in the name of ‘war on terror’ is still going on. No one knows when this will end and when exactly something so ridiculous as killing millions of innocents in the name of saving the world will be considered a war crime.
- September 11 attacks: What happened on 9/11? (2021, August 3). BBC. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-57698668
- U.S. Officials Retool Slogan for Terror War. (2005, July 26). The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/26/politics/us-officials-retool-slogan-for-terror-war.html
- Costs of the 20-year war on terror: $8 trillion and 900,000 deaths. (2021, September 1). Https://Www.Brown.Edu/. https://www.brown.edu/news/2021-09-01/costsofwar
- Creating Refugees: Displacement Caused by the United States’ Post-9/11 Wars. (2021, September). David Vine, Cala Coffman, Katalina Khoury, Madison Lovasz, Helen Bush, Rachael Leduc, and Jennifer Walkup. https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/files/cow/imce/papers/2020/Displacement_Vine%20et%20al_Costs%20of%20War%202020%2009%2008.pdf
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- Bergen, P. B., & Sterman, D. S. (2021, September). Terrorism in America After 9/11. New America. https://www.newamerica.org/international-security/reports/terrorism-in-america/what-is-the-threat-to-the-united-states-today
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