FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

War on Terror or War of Terror?

by ANTHONY DiMAGGIO

Critical evidence from the British government and other sources suggest that the “War on Terror” has actually destabilized the Middle East and increased the terror threat throughout the globe.  The former head of Britain’s MI5 – Baroness Manningham-Buller – finds that the Iraq war has dramatically contributed to the growing terror danger as directed against the United Kingdom and its citizens.  Britain has been forced to double the budget devoted to investigating terrorist plots following the 2003 invasion.  An official British inquiry into the proposed invasion warned of just such an increase in the terror threat.  This means that the destabilizing affects of Western attacks were predicted in advance of attacks that were seen as illegal under international law (as British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg recently conceded) .

Buller’s confession is an admission that the war in Iraq has further inflamed anti-U.S. and anti-U.K. sentiment.  When considering it along other critical studies, it looks as if the war has contributed to a greater hostility toward British foreign policy more generally among the majority of Middle Easterners, and among British nationals more specifically (Buller is most concerned with the latter group).  She concludes that “a whole generation of young people” have been “radicalized’ by what is perceived as an attack on Islam.  The Blair administration, Buller states, conceded that the war increased the terror threat at home: the budget increases for anti-terror operations were “unheard of, certainly unheard of today, but he (Blair) and the Treasury and the chancellor accepted that because I was able to demonstrate the scale of the problem that we were confronted by.”  The growing threat to Britain seems all the more plausible in light of the 7/7 2005 terrorist bombings in London, which killed more than 50 civilians and were motivated by anger at the British invasion of Iraq.

Buller concedes what should be known by most in the U.S. and U.K. today – the terror threat has grown in the wake of the Iraq invasion, despite the fact that Iraq posed no real national security threat to the West.  Buller admits that MI5 had refused to contribute to the intelligence comprising the British government’s dossier against Iraq’s “WMD threat” in 2002.  The reason is clear enough: there was “no credible evidence” that Iraq was linked to the 9/11 attacks, and Saddam Hussein was “unlikely” to support any attacks against the U.S. or U.K. unless his regime’s survival was threatened.  These conclusions were shared with the Bush administration at the time, and promptly ignored by a U.S. administration whose members had been set on going to war for more than 10 years.

Buller also discusses a point well known among critics of U.S. foreign policy on the left: the invasion of Iraq has actually served as one of the best recruiters for Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, and loosely affiliated Islamist terror groups.  As Buller describes with regards to U.S.-U.K. actions in Iraq: “Arguably, we gave Osama bin Laden his Iraqi jihad.”  In short, those throughout the Muslim world see the U.S.-allied occupation as motivated by imperial ambitions for oil; they see the torture and abuses in which American and British troops are responsible, and they are reacting critically.  Targeting of U.S. and allied forces has become far more common now than it was prior to 9/11.

Buller’s MI5 based conclusions are not the first time it’s been conceded that the “War on Terror” actually increases the global terror threat.  Terrorism experts Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank found through their own statistical analysis that the 2003 invasion was accompanied by an “Iraq Effect” in which terrorist attacks escalated dramatically from 2003 to 2006 (the time period when the study was conducted).  More specifically, their report finds that: “the rate of terrorist attacks around the world by jihadist groups and the rate of fatalities in those attacks increased dramatically after the invasion of Iraq. Globally there was a 607 percent rise in the average yearly incidence of attacks (28.3 attacks per year before and 199.8 after) and a 237 percent rise in the average fatality rate (from 501 to 1,689 deaths per year). A large part of this rise occurred in Iraq, which accounts for fully half of the global total of jihadist terrorist attacks in the post-Iraq War period. But even excluding Iraq, the average yearly number of jihadist terrorist attacks and resulting fatalities still rose sharply around the world by 265 percent and 58 percent respectively.”  Subsequent empirical studies of the decline of violence in Iraq after 2007 demonstrated that the reduction came about, not because of the success of the “surge” in promoting humanitarianism, but because the ethnic cleansing in cities like Baghdad had essentially succeeded (with the help of U.S. troops disarming Sunni communities in the name of “counter-insurgency”), and with the Shia militias winning the civil war against Iraq’s Sunnis (for more, see: http://www.juancole.com/2008/07/social-history-of-surge.html and dimaggio02272009.html).  In short, violence declined because there were fewer people to kill following the successful ethnic cleansing.

Additional journalistic investigation finds that the policy of torture and mistreatment at Guantanamo, in Iraq, and in Afghanistan (often directed against those whose terrorist ties were questionable to non-existent, but were nonetheless picked up in blanket raids in Afghanistan and Iraq) led to a further intensification of anti-U.S. sentiment in the Muslim world.  As McClatchy Newspapers concluded in an eight month investigation in 11 countries, U.S. detainees were often kept “on the basis of flimsy or fabricated evidence…McClatchy interviewed 66 released detainees, more than a dozen local officials in Afghanistan, and U.S. officials with intimate knowledge of the detention program…This unprecedented compilation shows that most of the 66 were low level Taliban grunts, innocent Afghan villagers, or ordinary criminals.  At least seven had been working for the U.S. backed Afghan government and had no ties to militants…many of the detainees posed no danger to the U.S. or its allies”.

Through its investigations, McClatchy found that “prisoner mistreatment became a regular feature in cellblocks and interrogation rooms at Bagram and Kandahar air bases, the two main way stations in Afghanistan en route to Guantanamo…the investigation found that top Bush administration officials knew within months of opening the Guantanamo detention center that many of the prisoners there weren’t ‘the worst of the worst,’” as “it was obvious [from military administrators] that at least a third of the population didn’t belong there.”

American soldiers were often gullible in that they accepted “false reports passed along by informants and officials looking to settle old grudges in Afghanistan, a nation that had experienced more than two decades of occupation and civil war before U.S. troops arrived”.  The lack of connections of many detainees to any terror operations looks especially tragic in hindsight, considering that the torture visited upon these individuals contributed to their radicalization against the United States.  As McClatchy reports, “U.S. detention policies fueled support for extremist Islamist groups.  For some detainees who went home far more militant than when they arrived, Guantanamo became a school for jihad.”

The above evidence strongly suggests that the U.S. and U.K. primarily play a destabilizing role throughout the world, rather than fighting terrorism and ensuring world order out of chaos.  Global public opinion polls have long found that most throughout the world view the U.S. as one of the primary threats to global security, rather than the protector of world order.  These revelations are likely to elude many Americans, as the evidence above is not widely disseminated in the U.S. press.  American journalists have long been content to uncritically repeat statements from liberal and conservative political officials (typically accompanied with no evidence) that the “War on Terror” must continue in order to keep America, its allies, and the Middle East “safe.”  In reality, though, the U.S. and U.K. are not fighting a War on Terror, but a War of Terror.

ANTHONY DiMAGGIO is the editor of media-ocracy (www.media-ocracy.com), a daily online magazine devoted to the study of media, public opinion, and current events.   He is the author of When Media Goes to War (2010) and Mass Media, Mass Propaganda (2008). He can be reached at: mediaocracy@gmail.com

WORDS THAT STICK

?

 

Anthony DiMaggio is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Lehigh University. He holds a PhD in political communication, and is the author of the newly released: Selling War, Selling Hope: Presidential Rhetoric, the News Media, and U.S. Foreign Policy After 9/11 (Paperback: 2015). He can be reached at: anthonydimaggio612@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Uri Avnery
Being There
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Randy Shields
The Devil’s Real Estate Dictionary
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones
La Realidad: the Realities of Anti-Mexicanism
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Susan Block
#GoBonobos in 2017: Happy Year of the Cock!
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
David Yearsley
Manchester-by-the-Sea and the Present Catastrophe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail