The ‘War on Terror’ Has Been Lost

After 14 years, trillions of dollars spent and hundreds of thousands of people dead — with violence expanding, not abating — perhaps it’s finally time to admit that the Bush-Obama “War on Terror” has been lost and that a new strategy addressing root causes is required, as Nat Parry describes.

By Nat Parry

Last week’s attacks in Paris offered a painful and tragic reminder that despite the unprecedented counterterrorism measures implemented since the attacks on New York and Washington 14 years ago, citizens in the West remain as vulnerable as ever to the threat of extremist violence. This may come as a bit of a shock to those who may have expected that the massive investment in fighting terrorism would have resulted in more safety and security by now.

With trillions of dollars spent on overseas military adventures, unprecedented “homeland security” and mass surveillance, and countless lives lost in U.S. wars, it’s not unreasonable to have thought that perhaps more measurable progress would have been made in countering the terrorist threat against the United States.

President George W. Bush announcing the start of his invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003.

President George W. Bush announcing the start of his invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003.

But with transportation agencies, football stadiums and tourist destinations across the U.S. now bolstering security following the attacks in Paris — and with the Islamic State, or ISIS, promising more attacks to come in New York and Washington — it is clear how vulnerable Americans remain to the threat of jihadist terrorism, despite all these sacrifices over the past decade and a half.

Efforts to contain terrorism certainly had precedents before President George W. Bush declared a wide-ranging and open-ended “War on Terror” in an address to Congress on Sept. 20, 2001, but the groundwork that was set in the weeks and months after 9/11 has come to define the overall approach to this Twenty-first Century challenge — an approach that can now clearly be called an abject failure.

Despite some tactical differences between the Bush and Obama administrations in the way the war has been waged — with a preference now on drone assassinations, for example, rather than full-scale invasions — the…

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