Assessing the Success of the War on Terror Part II: Return on Investment and Perpetual War

Part II of our series continues to evaluate the success of the War on Terror.  It is our thesis that not only has American policy and strategy failed to defeat terrorist threats to the United States from radical Islam, but it has in fact exasperated them.  Today, Al Qaeda and terrorism have become the new boogie men, replacing the Communist menace of the Cold War.  This manufactured threat has now taken on a persona of its own and has been used to justify endless war across the world.  Ultimately, it will be America’s downfall as the evidence is clear the US is losing the strategic war.

To illustrate this slide, consider the following.  On September 10, 2001, few Americans had ever heard the name Osama bin Laden (UBL) or were aware of the organization that came to be known as Al Qaeda (AQ).  Today, UBL and AQ are household names.  At the turn of the century, AQ consisted of perhaps a couple hundred fighters at most and was not broadly operational.  Today, AQ has branched into a franchise like organization recruiting operatives from Detroit, Michigan to Jakarta, Indonesia and numbering in the thousands.  In 2003, Al Qaeda didn’t exist in Iraq, but today it operates with near impunity in cities such as Mosul where it has established facilities for training and arming terrorists ready to conduct jihad in Syria and the greater Middle East.  In Afghanistan, the Taliban, which was once at least partially hostile to AQ, has fully integrated its operations with AQ extremists.  Further, the Taliban has spread beyond its original Kandahar region all throughout Afghanistan.  This includes regions previously controlled by the “Northern Alliance” and considered “immune” from the Taliban according to snake oil hacks like David Kilcullen and has now even spread over the borders into Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.  Other areas to include the Philippines, Indonesia, the Balkans, the Caucuses, and Western Europe have all seen steady growth of Islamic extremism.  Considering the above, one need not dig deeper than the blatantly obvious to realize that the War on Terror has not been won and in fact, has gone horribly wrong for the US.

Operationally, AQ has shown that it is not only resilient, but growing.  The fact that AQ is still operationally capable of killing an American Ambassador over a decade into this war is not only massively embarrassing for the US, but it proves US  senior leadership and strategy have been a failure.  Simply tracking the number and location of drone strikes one can quickly conclude that not only has the theater of AQ’s operations expanded from Afghanistan to one of global influence, but that AQ’s numbers are growing faster than the United States can target and kill its leaders.  Just as discussed in Part I of this series, limited targeted assassinations and strikes have been tried over and over throughout military history and have never yielded decisive gains.  Worse, the US appears to be living in ignorance of reality.  The progressive agenda during the most recent presidential campaign wanted to proclaim Obama defeated AQ and led US leaders to a naïve sense of security as a result of whitewashing the actual threat respective of the spread of AQ.  These ideological blinders led to the death of four Americans including an ambassador in Libya at the hands of AQ affiliated fighters on no less than September 11th when America should have been at its maximum state of readiness.  Associated with this fallout is the spread of Islamic extremism, terrorism, and insurgency now throughout the northern half of Africa.  This event was accurately predicted by our analysts and has now come to fruition as the weapons looted from Gadhafi’s arsenals have fallen squarely in the hands of extremists and AQ affiliated groups.  This includes more than 20,000 advanced man portable surface-to-air missiles, which we continue to predict will soon be used against a commercial airliner.

If Libya wasn’t a big enough disaster, the US has now begun to dig itself into an even broader war in Mali and other African countries from Nigeria to Somalia.  This has already cost innocent American lives in Algeria after Islamic terrorists attacked an oil facility in retaliation for America’s support to the French in Mali.  Nonetheless, the press does not hold President Obama, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, or any other senior policy maker accountable for the blood on their hands.  If American policy makers think Algeria was an isolated incident, they are ignorant and in denial of reality.  Americans appear quick to forget how well our operations in Somalia turned out and are again conducting the same type of operations clandestinely over a region thousands of times larger.  There simply is no need to involve the US in these local fights.  The blowback will be severe and certainly far outweigh any benefit except for the very few elites getting oil and mineral rights to the newly acquired lands wrought from disturbingly imperialistic motives.

Looking at AQ’s spread is not sufficient to capture the bigger strategic picture.  Not only has AQ, with the help of the US (most recently in Libya and Syria), globally expanded, but it has accomplished what even Pan-Arabism and Nasserism could not.  The “Arab Spring,” has taken down one former pro-American regime after another.  The dictators like Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak that have acted as America’s brutal puppets for decades are being toppled by Islamic extremists now routinely.  In the vacuum, the Muslim Brotherhood is consolidating power and moving the Middle East and North Africa firmly toward a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam and obliterating any vestige of a secular government.  This cataclysmic reordering of the geopolitical balance of the Middle East and North Africa is far from over as history is being made before our eyes.  We predict that with covert support from the US, Qatar, Turkey, and other nations, Syria will be the next regime to fall.  This is being done for the shortsighted goals of checking Iran’s regional dominance, but will lead to one of America’s greatest policy disasters in the region.  In effect, this will allow extremists to encircle the relatively friendly nation of Jordan and the US ally of Israel.  The monarchy in Jordan will then be threatened and could be toppled and reset the Middle Eastern stage to 1973 on the eve of Yom Kippur.  If Jordan falls, a final sweep of the region for extremists will be within reach.  In fact, it is then entirely likely UBL’s originally long term goal of toppling the Saudi regime will be realized.  This would allow Sunni extremists to form an unprecedented block of power throughout the Middle East and all but eliminate US influence in the region.

In conclusion of Part II of this series, we looked at how AQ has spread from a little known entity of a few individuals to a worldwide franchise.  Only through America’s disastrous self-defeating policies has this been possible.  Now, more than a decade into a war being fought against rebels that at best are third rate, the purportedly most powerful military in the world has been checked and strategically defeated.  The US is broke just as UBL intended and Washington is being forced to make painful cuts to domestic programs that may very well lead to massive social unrest.  In the end, the Islamists hold the ground from Asia to Africa as the US is forced to pull its forces back as the debts of tax dollars vainly wasted over the last decade come due.  As such, AQ still holds the battlefield as America retreats.  Based on this and using one of the oldest measures of victory in warfare, the Islamists have won and the US has been defeated thus far in the war of East versus West.

Part III will conclude this series and discuss the return on the investment of trillions of dollars in defense and security spending.  Most disturbingly, it will look at how the “terrorist” threat is now being used to declare American soil a battleground, justify the creation of a police state, and declare citizens threats and order their assassinations in secret all while bankrupting our nation.


By: Guiles Hendrik

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