FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Brussels: Just the Latest Failure of the ‘War on Terror’

Once again the West has been stirred to outrage. Two bombs were set off in a bustling airport and one in crowded subway car in Brussels. Now we #PrayForBelgium.

The callous West has long turned a blind eye to the violence it wages around the world, but this is different. Once again, ‘they’ are attacking ‘us’ here at home.

The attack is tragic, but it shouldn’t be a surprise. To say the West’s ‘War on Terror’ has been an extraordinary failure is inaccurate. In actuality, it is accelerating terrorism.

In fact, during the 14 years of the ‘War on Terror’, the West has failed to eliminate even one terror organization, yet organizations like ISIS have risen from the ashes of the West’s counterterror policy.

My analysis of US State Department data shows that terror attacks have increased by a staggering 65 times since 9/11. This massive escalation in terror really skyrocketed during the US War in Iraq. British Intelligence has dubbed this the ‘Iraq Effect’.

According the US State Department, in 2003 there were 208 terror attacks around the world, but that number had jumped to 11,000 attacks just 2 years later. In the years since, the number of attacks has generally been above 10,000.

It’s tragically fitting that the attack in Brussels occurred just 2 days after the 13th anniversary of the US War in Iraq. The Iraq War, the centerpiece of the US ‘War on Terror’, gave rise to ISIS, the very terror organization, which claimed responsibility for the attack in Brussels.

Many of the US’ counterterror failures have their roots in the colossal disaster that was the US war in Iraq. ISIS exploited the destruction and instability of war to attract foreign jihadists, gain local support, and create a deeply rooted organizational structure.

Anger over the US war is a common motivation cited for why individuals join ISIS, according to interviews with captured militants.

Most of ISIS’ leadership is Iraqi and the group’s rise reflects the political failures in Iraq and Syria. The discrimination and violent repression of the Sunni community by the Iraqi government and Assad regime created a situation where many Sunnis see ISIS as a preferable option to the state structures ISIS has replaced.

In response to the rise of ISIS, the West has taken its preferred form of action, violence.  The US-led coalition has launched almost 11,000 strikes, which have killed 10,000 ISIS fighters, on an ISIS military force, which the CIA officially estimates to be 30,000, though this is likely a large underestimate.

This use of force has predictably been largely unsuccessful. In fact, it actually fuels resentment by the local population by leaving communities caught between ISIS’s harsh rule and the West’s indiscriminate violence. Military destruction without a political solution has only deepened the crisis and aided ISIS recruitment.

The US-Russia/Iran rivalry is another serious problem. It only sows division in the effort to fight terrorism in Iraq and Syria. The effect is that the US is turning its back on some of the most effective partners in the fight against ISIS.

Anyone hoping for a change of course in the West’s reaction to terror was quickly disappointed this week.

The US Secretary of Defense quickly announced the Pentagon will increase funding for the US air strikes on ISIS, and Obama is even concerned a major terror attack in the US may force the US into a “large and costly war in the Middle East”.

But more violence abroad wasn’t the only response to Brussels the US offered. We also saw Donald Trump renewing his pledge to ban Muslims from entering the US, and Ted Cruz calling for police patrols in ‘Muslims neighborhoods’.

Not to be outdone by politicians, ordinary citizens exhibited some of that famous ‘Western civilization’ with the hateful hashtag #StopIslam, which was trending worldwide on Twitter.

Hillary Clinton also got in on the action. She called for censoring the Internet and for Muslims to rat on their friends and family if someone they know catches the ‘extremism’ bug.

Based on these responses, it seems the West will be unable to stem the tide of terror in the West, and worse yet, there doesn’t seem to even be an understanding of what drives individuals towards ‘jihadism’.

The two major aspects of the West’s ‘War on Terror’, an enormous amounts of violence, and the demonization of Muslims, are only recipes for increased terrorism.

Unless there is a major shift in the West’s counterterrorism policy, the attacks in Belgium are sure to be but a taste of what is to come in both Europe and the US.

More articles by:

Paul Gottinger is a journalist based in Madison, WI whose work focuses on the Middle East. He can be reached via Twitter @paulgottinger or email: paul.gottinger@gmail.com

September 25, 2018
Kenneth Surin
Fact-Finding Labour’s “Anti-Semitism” Crisis
Charles Pierson
Destroying Yemen as Humanely as Possible
James Rothenberg
Why Not Socialism?
Patrick Cockburn
How Putin Came Out on Top in Syria
John Grant
“Awesome Uncontrollable Male Passion” Meets Its Match
Guy Horton
Burma: Complicity With Evil?
Steve Stallone
Jujitsu Comms
William Blum
Bombing Libya: the Origins of Europe’s Immigration Crisis
John Feffer
There’s a New Crash Coming
Martha Pskowski
“The Emergency Isn’t Over”: the Homeless Commemorate a Year Since the Mexico City Earthquake
Fred Baumgarten
Ten Ways of Looking at Civility
Dean Baker
The Great Financial Crisis: Bernanke and the Bubble
Binoy Kampmark
Parasitic and Irrelevant: The University Vice Chancellor
September 24, 2018
Jonathan Cook
Hiding in Plain Sight: Why We Cannot See the System Destroying Us
Gary Leupp
All the Good News (Ignored by the Trump-Obsessed Media)
Robert Fisk
I Don’t See How a Palestinian State Can Ever Happen
Barry Brown
Pot as Political Speech
Lara Merling
Puerto Rico’s Colonial Legacy and Its Continuing Economic Troubles
Patrick Cockburn
Iraq’s Prime Ministers Come and Go, But the Stalemate Remains
William Blum
The New Iraq WMD: Russian Interference in US Elections
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Snoopers’ Charter Has Been Dealt a Serious Blow
Joseph Matten
Why Did Global Economic Performance Deteriorate in the 1970s?
Zhivko Illeieff
The Millennial Label: Distinguishing Facts from Fiction
Thomas Hon Wing Polin – Gerry Brown
Xinjiang : The New Great Game
Binoy Kampmark
Casting Kavanaugh: The Trump Supreme Court Drama
Max Wilbert
Blue Angels: the Naked Face of Empire
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will There Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail