War on Terrorism and Its Impact on the Civilian Population

After the September 11 attacks on the US, President Bush declared what he called the “War on Terrorism”. A war which was fought not only in the so-called “enemy territory” of Iraq and Afghanistan but also right here within the United States territories. A war which threatened to change our life in a way we could have never envisioned. Cities after cities in those distant countries may have been bombed out of existence, but it is the US which is losing this war on terror. It is time to reconsider this war since even after spending billions of dollars and losing thousands of life, the US has not succeeded in de-establishing even one terrorist outfit, yet the US citizens have lost their freedom, sense of security, dignity and privacy.

The war on terrorism began with one of the worst tragedies in living memory. On September 11, 2001, terrorist made coordinated suicide attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon killing almost 3000 people. Within hours, it was determined that these attacks were carried out by a terrorist outfit operating out of Afghanistan, which called itself “Al Qaeda” and was led by an Arab named Osama-bin-Laden. The Al Qaeda was getting support from the illegitimate government of Afghanistan, the Taliban. On September 12, President Bush declared war on terror claiming the terrorist attack to be an “act of war against all freedom loving people” (BBC). He vowed to avenge the attacks using all his resources, and he did. But has he made the American citizens feel safer in their homes? Has the war on terror managed to get a rid of even one terrorist outfit? Has his actions made the world a safer place in 2009 than it was in 2001? The answer is no. If anything, the world today is much more dangerous than it was eight years ago. And an American just needs to switch on the television to realize how unsafe he is.

The war on terror officially began on 8 October 2001, when the US launched air strikes on Afghanistan. Within weeks the Taleban was supposedly overthrown. However, we know that Taleban is still alive and kicking, spreading its oppressive tentacles from Afghanistan to Pakistan. The war on terror was supposed to bring democracy to Afghanistan, making it a safe place for its citizens. Even after eight years, Afghanistan is anything but safe and the terror network has spread. And the US may have not had any more terrorist attacks on its soil, but the number of terrorist attacks worldwide has only increased. In the last eight years there have been terrorist attacks on Philippines, Morocco, Indonesia, Italy, London, India to name just a few. And as many critics have pointed, if there aren’t anymore attacks on the US soil, it is because the terrorist now do not have to enter the US to kill the American citizens. And as far as the Al Qaeda is concerned, the terrorist organization still exists and its network has only spread. And Osama-bin-Laden has still not been caught, even eight years after President Bush promised to catch him “dead or alive”.

While the war on terror has not managed even a single victory in all these years, it has exposed US citizens to unnecessary harm and made them feel unsafe even in their homes. In 2003, US attacked Iraq and one of the reasons for this attack was that Iraq was supporting terrorism. We now know that none of the reasons given for attacking Iraq were valid, but President Bush successfully used fear of terrorism to gain support for the attack. This illegal war has resulted in deaths of over 4000 American soldiers and wounded another 31,000 (www.antiwar.com). And there is still no end in sight. American causalities in Afghanistan have crossed 500 and the US is yet to see a major victory. In view of all of the above mentioned facts, there is no way that the US, or any other nation, can justify the war on terror.

If the war on terror has met with little success on the foreign soils, its affects on Americans living in America is even worse. The war which was supposed to make us feel safe has made us even more fearsome and suspicious of each other. The US Department of Homeland Security, which came into existence after the 9/11 attacks, has setup a security advisory system for US citizens. In the last eight years, the threat level to the country has never gone below “elevated”, remaining at “high” for long periods of time. This colour coded system is widely reported in the news media and instils a sense of fear in the citizens.

If the wide publicity of the threat to the US has resulted in the citizens being terrified, even in the security of their homes, other actions taken by the government has made us lose our privacy and dignity. The Patriot Act, which came in to force in October 2001, allows law enforcement agencies to search telephone, e-mails, medical, financial and other records, thus grossly violating our privacy. And if anyone has flown on a an aeroplane in the last eight years, they have had to suffer the indignity of having their bags checked, their shoes removed and, if they were unlucky, even strip searched. Is this war on terror worth us losing our basic rights to freedom, privacy and dignity?

It may be argued that as a result of these strict laws, there have been no other terrorist attacks on the US soil since 9/11. But as already pointed, that’s because the terrorist can now kill US citizens on foreign soils without bothering to carry out elaborate plans within the country. Others have supported the War on Terror on the grounds that terrorism is the biggest enemy of human rights and it must be ended by whatever means it takes to restore basic rights safety, dignity and freedom to everyone around the globe. This argument is quite ironic since in order to restore these basic rights to the people around the world, the war on terrorism has taken away these very rights from the US citizens.

There is rarely any justification for a war. And when a war hurts the civilians as much as it hurts the army men, it becomes even more unjustified. But the war on terror has ensured that the US citizens live under constant fear, even when there are no terrorist attacks. Thus in a way, the terrorist are actually winning the war, because their aim is to terrorize and they have succeeded in terrorizing an entire nation to submit to oppressive laws such as the Patriot Act. The US has still not won the war on terror, nor is it anyway near winning it. But the terrorists have succeeded in terrorizing us to such an extent, that they are actually winning this war by proxy. It is high time to end this costly war, which has already cost the nation $900 billion (Belasco), and restore the basic rights of freedom, privacy and dignity to all US citizens.

Works Cited

“2001: US Declares War on Terror.” www.bbc.co.uk. 2009. Web.

Belasco, Amy. “The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11”. CRS Report to Congress. 2008. Web.

Griffs, Margaret. (ed.). “Casualities in Iraq.” 2009. Web.

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