Has the U.S. "War on Terror" been a big, pathetic waste of time/resources?

The Taliban today is more powerful than they’ve been since 2001, and they control more territory in Afghanistan since that time too. Alqaeda has also made a resurgence. In Syria, an Al-Qaeda affiliated group has managed to embed itself in the mainstream opposition. In fact, this group is the most well-organized, militarily powerful, and politically savvy Al-Qaeda movement to have ever existed. Then of course, there’s the smashing success of Isis, who controls a U.K. size swath of territory in northern Iraq and western Syria. A terrorist movement so brutal and barbaric that even Al-Qaeda and the Taliban have denounced them for their brutality and barbarism.

It seems to me that even with all the time and resources the U.S. has spent fighting “terrorism,” we have achieved almost nothing of lasting significance. Has the WOT been a big, pathetic waste of time/resources?

Mostly, yes.

Well, at least we have the “War on Drugs” to fall back on!!

An example I came up with recently is this:

Imagine that, during the Catholic-Protestant wars, the Arab nations sent over an army to Austria, kicked it around a bit, sets up a puppet state, leaves, and the puppet state proves unstable. As they leave, the Arabs leave a message saying, “You guys should really do a better job at loving and caring for the shit out of each other.”

How big of an impact would you expect this to have? Do you think that it would cause the Catholics and Protestants to come together and find peace and shared interests? Or do you think it would basically be nothing more than a rather awkward, unrelated, and slightly amusing misadventure on the part of the Arabs?

You make it sound like a bar fight in a comedy movie, where someone punches the wrong guy for spilling a beer on him and the scene erupts into hilarious chaos. Which I guess it was, now that I think about it.

The thing about terrah!! is it keeps giving; vested interests in the USA - finally - managed to create perpetual war. Everyone wants some tax dollar action and these guys have bagged it from now until doomsday.

And it’s going pretty well; from Afghanistan across to Iraq and Syria, right down to Yemen the MENA is awash in war - hell, they even managed to stoke the fire this week with 200 dead civilians, inc. lots of great images of dead children and pregnant women.

The ‘disputed area’ is rightfully ours! You’re loyalty to Oceania is in question. Present yourself to the Ministry of Love for re-education immediately.

No one ever bothered to look into why they became terrorists to begin with. I guess it must just be because they are bad people.

That depends on what you think the objective of the War on Terror was.

If you think the object was to put an end to terrorism,or to put an end to terrrorism as a tactic deployed against the US then, yes, it has been a big pathetic waste of time and resources.

But since it was so obviouly never going to achieve that outcome, not many people will every have thought that that was the objective, can they?

A huge waste in my opinion I agree strongly with the op sentiment. Trying to make war on a thing that is not a state has never been efficient or overly worthwhile and so long as you can keep the huns outside the gates trivially who cares what they are doing over in bumfluffistan unless its building vast armies against you somehow? Face it; either 911 fried the logic centres in a big way or its money keeping this whole thing going at this point.

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Didn’t GWB explain it well enough; they hate freedom.

Lets see. The answer to your rather immature title question is a flat “no.” But then, when anyone asks an obviously biased, purely rhetorical question like that, the honest and accurate answer is always going to be no, regardless of the subject.

As for the body of the text, the facts are wrong, almost entirely.

But if you want to have a serious discussion of the subject area WITHOUT playing silly games with reality for the sake of teenage-angst style sarcasm, then a case can certainly be made for the statement that a LOT of what has been tried, has been ill-conceived and wasteful, if not directly responsible for some increases in hostility from the other side.

But pretending that the fact that Al Qaeda is now a back-burner consideration is “nothing,” requires purposeful ignorance. ISIS/ ISIL has gone from threatening to overrun Iraq, Syria and possibly other nations, to struggling to hold on ANYWHERE, isn’t “nothing.”

On the other hand, some of the larger efforts, especially early on, to try to deal with terrorist groups and “rogue states” run by them as though they were standard twentieth century “bad guys” like Germany Italy and Japan, were extremely counterproductive and wasteful, especially of lives. But then, if you were to ACTUALLY look in to what has happened on this planet for the last thousand centuries or so, you will find that EVERY new challenge has initially been badly handled, simply because it is in the nature of humans, especially in leadership positions, to try what worked in the distant past, before actually sitting down to think about and observe what the present concern is really about.

But again, overall, the most direct and accurate answer to this thread as posted, is “No.”

It seems to me that even with all the time and resources the U.S. has spent fighting “crime”, we have achieved almost nothing of lasting significance.

Not really. Basically all the data show a significant decrease in almost all types of violent crime since the U.S. got “tough on crime” back in the early 70s.

In 2001 the Taliban was the government for the vast majority of Afghanistan. Unless they are currently in charge of over 90% of Afghanistan (they aren’t) they don’t control more of Afghanistan now than they did in 2001.


It’s not just because of that, but I would say that the people who turn to terrorism are all bad people. It just so happens that the part of the world they live in is unstable and that instability has allowed them to do the evil things they were likely already inclined to do.

I would argue that the entire concept of waging war against “terrorism” is incredibly ill-conceived to begin with. Do you believe that more than a decade of time and hundreds of billions if not trillions of dollars worth of resources have been worth the results of the WOT?

Just because AQ is now a back burner consideration does not mean they are not alive and flourishing. AQ is currently the SECOND most powerful armed group in Syria, behind only ISIS.

While I’m not a supporter of the way we (the USA) has handled every aspect of the war on terror, I think something needed to be done. Yes, Europe still has the occasional attack by someone inspired by radical Islam, but I think the alternative of not doing anything would have been worse. Instead of the “lone wolf” style attacks that occur on occasion, my guess is that doing nothing would have led to more 9/11 style large scale attacks instead.

Hard to say, really. I guess it depends on what you think it’s actual objectives were.

Last time I checked the Taliban was not in control of Afghanistan, so that would negate your assertion that they are more powerful. As to controlling more territory, well…I have no idea if that’s true or not, but controlling more territory in Afghanistan doesn’t really mean what you are implying, as much of the territory is uninhabited mountains.

As for AQ in Afghanistan, they don’t have the same level of access they had in the pre-invasion Afghanistan, and they are a bit too busy (and fragmented) to be doing a lot of external terror type attacks. Also, their brand I suppose, has taken a pretty large hit since 9/11.

It has…and it’s gotten hammered doing it. ISIS has been pretty steadily losing ground since it’s high water mark in 2014.

I’ll grant it WAS the most militarily powerful, but politically savvy? They basically brought just about every major power into an open war with it and have been paying the consequences for their actions.

Again, controlling territory is meaningless unless the territory in question is strategic or tactically significant. Much of what ISIS controls today is less than significant…and is shrinking as they continue to lose control of most of the significant stuff they used to have.

And just about every hand in the region as well as many outside of the region are turned against. Which is why they have been steadily losing.

Not sure where you were going with this, but if you wanted to use some examples of how ‘big’ and ‘pathetic’ the US’s ‘War on Terror’ was or is these weren’t great examples. You should focus on Iraq (or maybe Libya) if your desire is to show a lot of wasted effort, resources and time.

While I’m sure Bush et al THOUGHT they would create something of lasting significance (with cheering crowds and chants of USAUSAUSA! or some such), I don’t think that was or could be the actual goal of the US in fighting terrorism. Terrorism is so ephemeral and dispersed that it’s hard to ‘defeat’ it in any meaningful way. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fight it, though. By fighting it in the Middle East it has, by and large, kept it away from the US. There hasn’t been another attack on the scale of 9/11 really anywhere…and largely because most of the terrorist organizations capable of pulling off something like that are a bit busy looking over their shoulder for the next armed drone or air strike. Most of the attacks we’ve seen in the West since 9/11 were either from radicalized lone wolf types (which we have plenty of home grown crazies doing shit like that anyway) or a few small direct strikes from the terror groups just to let people (mainly in Europe) know they are still around.

**XT: **

9/11 to me seems like both a lucky hit for the terrorists, and also lucky for America that a lot more people didn’t die. There’s been a lot of other sophisticated terrorist attacks with multiple groups with multiple bombs, but they kill a couple hundred people instead of thousands, even when they bomb trains or blow up in densely packed markets or stadiums. Or look at the OKC bombing, that blew a building in half and “only” 168 people died. I can imagine scenarios where they reach 9/11 casualty figures by attacking certain industrial targets, but I think they’d need something better than box cutters.