“T.This is another type of war that we will wage aggressively and methodically to disrupt and destroy terrorist activity, ”said President George W. Bush announced just over two weeks after the 9/11 attacks. “Some victories are won outside the public eye, tragedies avoided and threats removed. Other victories will be apparent to everyone. ”
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the war on terror, including the undeclared American conflict in Afghanistan. After the original nickname of that war Operation Infinite JusticeThe Pentagon was renamed for violating Muslim sensibilities and renamed Operation Enduring Freedom. Despite neither a clear victory nor the slightest evidence that this country was ever given permanent freedom, fighting in Afghanistan ended ” according to the Ministry of Defense in 2014. In reality, this fight simply continued under a new name, Operation Freedom’s Sentineland still grinds today.
Like the 2003 invasion of Iraq known as Operation Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and Freedom’s Sentinel did not live up to their names. None of the monikers slotted into the American wars after September 11th ever caught the public imagination. The battlefields spread from Afghanistan and Iraq to Yemen, Somalia, the Phillipines, Libya, Syria, Niger, Burkina Faso, and beyond – at a price north of $ 6.4 trillion and a human output that at least includes 335,000 civilians killed and at least 37 million evicted from their homes. Meanwhile, those long-promised clear victories never came about, even as the number of terrorist groups increased around the world.
Last month, America’s chief general offered an accurate and bleak assessment of the Afghan war. “We believe that after two decades of consistent effort we have had a minimum of success,” said Mark Milley, chairman of the chiefs of staff. “I would also argue for at least the last five to seven years that we were in a strategic stalemate.” Milley’s Soundbites made appeals far more fitting than the ones the Pentagon had come up with over the years. If the Department of Defense had started the wars after 9/11 with names like Operation Modicum of Success or Operation Strategic Stalemate, the Americans would have had at least a realistic idea of what to expect in the following decades, as three presidents did not declared wars waged without winning anywhere in the Great Middle East or Africa.
What the future holds in terms of the many armed conflicts in this country is grimmer than ever as the Trump administration embarks on a series of efforts in the eleventh hour that are interpreted as last-minute attempts to end the pledges the “endless wars” of this country or simply to meet as sour grape shots on the insurrection, the undermining and sabotage of the “deep state” (especially the CIA) while handcuffed or Kneecap the future foreign policy of the new Biden government. As it happens, however, President Trump’s most striking final moves, while by no means ending America’s wars, offer the Biden administration a unique opportunity to record those conflicts in the history books in the event that the president-elect should take advantage of the accidental gift at his predecessor posed.
The third president should not end the war on terror
For the past four years the Trump administration has been waging war on multiple fronts, not just in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria and elsewhere in the world, but also with the Pentagon. Donald Trump entered the White House pledging to stop America’s relentless foreign intervention repeated teased this to end “endless wars. ” He did not do it. Instead, he and his administration continued to wage America’s many conflicts, surged troops to Afghanistan and Syriaand threatened nuclear strikes against enemies and allies alike.
When the president finally started stopping gestures to contain the country’s endless conflicts and tried to withdraw troops in various war zones, the Pentagon and State Department slowly walked, rolled, and weakened their commander-in-chief who, for example, deceived him when it came to something as basic as that actual number of US troops in Syria. Even after he signed a 2020 deal with the Taliban to end the Afghan war and ordered significant troop withdrawals from this and other countries when he became president of the Lame Duck, he could not take a single armed intervention he inherited to stop.
Far from ending endless wars, President Trump escalated the most endless: the conflicts in Afghanistan and Somalia, in which America was temporarily embroiled since the 1970s and 1990s, respectively. Air strikes in Somalia, for example, have skyrocketed under the Trump administration. From 2007 to 2017, the US military carried out 42 declared air strikes in the country. Under President Trump, 37 strikes were carried out in 2017, 48 in 2018 and 63 in 2019. Last year, the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) recognized 53 air strikes in Somalia, more than in the 16 years of George W. Bush’s administration and Barack Obama.
The reasons for this increase remain secret. In March 2017, however, President Trump is said to have designated parts of Somalia as “Areas of active hostilities, “While the Obama era is being removed regulate It has to be almost certain that air strikes will not injure or kill non-combatants. Although the White House refuses to specifically confirm or deny this, retired Brigadier General Donald Bolduc, who at the time headed Special Operations Command Africa, he said Intercept that the “burden of proving who could be attacked for what reason has changed dramatically”. This change prompted AFRICOM to launch strikes that would not have previously been held.
The rise in air strikes has been disastrous for the civilian population. During Africa Command recently confirmed An investigation by Amnesty International found that only nine of them had five non-combatant deaths in Somalia from all of these air strikes. 21 civilians were killed and 11 others injured. According to UK-based surveillance group Airwars, the evidence suggests that as many as 13 Somali civilians were killed in US strikes in 2020 alone, and Trump’s recent decision to withdraw US forces from there will not end those airstrikes, let alone America’s war, according to the Pentagon. “While the attitude of the armed forces is changing, this action is not a change in US policy,” said a Defense Department statement following Trump’s withdrawal order. “The US will continue to be able to carry out targeted counter-terrorism operations in Somalia and collect early warnings and indicators of threats to the homeland.”
The war in Afghanistan was similar under President Trump. Far from de-escalating the conflict when it negotiated a peace agreement with the Taliban and pursued troop withdrawals, the government stepped up the war on several fronts, initially deploying more troops and increasing the use of US air power. As in Somalia, civilians suffered according to a current report by Neta Crawford of Brown University’s Costs of War project.
During her first year in office, the Trump administration relaxed the rules of engagement and escalated the aerial warfare to leverage the negotiating table. “From 2017 to 2019, civilian deaths from US and Allied air strikes in Afghanistan increased dramatically,” Crawford wrote. “In 2019, 700 civilians were killed in air strikes – more civilians than any other year since the war began in 2001 and 2002.” However, after the United States and the Taliban reached an interim peace deal last February, US air strikes declined never stopped completely. The US is expected to do so last month led a in Afghanistan this resulted in civilian casualties.
As civilian deaths from the Air Force increased, an elite Afghan paramilitary unit called 01, trained by the CIA, was involved in what Andrew Quilty was doing in collaboration with U.S. special forces Intercept, called “a campaign of terror against civilians“A series of massacres, executions, mutilations, enforced disappearances, attacks on medical facilities and air strikes on structures known to be harboring civilians.” In total, the unit killed at least 51 civilians in Afghanistan’s Wardak province between December 2018 and December 2019. As Akhtar Mohammad Tahiri, head of Wardak Provincial Council, told Quilty, “Americans are opposing all the rules of war, human rights, all the things they said would bring them to Afghanistan. “They are acting as terrorists. They display terror and violence and think that this is how they will take control. ”
Election of President Biden
“We are not a people of eternal war – it is the opposite of everything we stand for and what our ancestors fought for,” wrote incumbent Defense Secretary Christopher Miller in a two-page memo to Defense Department officials last November. Add“All wars must end.” His predecessor Mark Esper was reportedly at least partially sacked for resisting President Trump’s efforts to remove troops from Afghanistan. But neither Miller nor Trump have made any commitments to actually end America’s wars.
After losing his offer for re-election in November, the president issued a series of orders from which some troops were withdrawn Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Almost all of the military personnel are to be withdrawn from Somalia. There, however according to At the Pentagon, some or all of these forces are simply being “relocated from Somalia to neighboring countries for cross-border operations”, not to mention continued “targeted counter-terrorism operations” in that country. This suggests that the longstanding US air war will continue uninterrupted.
The same applies to the other war zones, where American troops are to remain and no cessation of air strikes has been announced. “You will still have the opportunity to complete the missions we conducted,” a senior Pentagon official said last month on Afghanistan. Miller repeated this during a recent trip to this country when he said, “I especially want to see and hear the plan for our future role as air supporters.” Ironically, Miller’s All Wars Must-End November memo advocated a mindset forever by insisting on the need to “end the war that al-Qaeda brought to our shores in 2001”.
In the classic “the USA finallyturned the corner“Vogue,” Miller contended, that America “is on the verge of defeating al-Qaeda and its staff” and “must avoid our earlier strategic mistake of failing to see the fight through to the end.” To anyone who might have thought he was signaling that the war on terror was ending, Miller offered a message that couldn’t be more succinct: “This war is not over yet.”
At the same time, Miller and several other post-election Trump political figures, including his chief of staff Kash Patel and acting Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Ezra Cohen-Watnick, have been trying to get significant last-minute results Policy changes Pentagon members of the National Security Institute. Last month, for example, Trump administration officials addressed joint chiefs of staff a suggestion to decouple the leadership of the National Security Agency and the US Cyber Command. Miller also sent a letter to CIA director Gina Haspel Informing them that a long-term agreement in which the Pentagon offered assistance to the agency is in jeopardy.
News reported that the Department of Defense is reviewing its support for the CIA. The reason, said former and current administrative and military officials Defense oneshould determine whether the special forces should be diverted from the agency’s counter-terrorism operations to missions “related to competition with Russia and China”. The New York Times recommendedThe real purpose, however, may be to “make it difficult for the CIA to conduct operations in Afghanistan”.
The troop withdrawals and policy changes in the eleventh hour were considered by experts and boosters of the National Security Institute malicious Final Act of a Lame Duck President. Whatever they are, they also represent a real opportunity for an elected president who has advocated a change in national security policy. “Biden will End the eternal wars in Afghanistan and the Middle Eastthat cost us immeasurable blood and treasure, ”reads the plan for“ Leading the Democratic World ”on JoeBiden.com. There, too, there are a number of Milleresque loopholes lurking in the small print, as the italic words in this sentence suggest: “Biden will bring The overwhelming majority our troops from Afghanistan home and Focus our mission closely on Al Qaeda and ISIS. ”
Under an agreement the Trump administration made with Taliban negotiators last year, the United States promised to remove all remaining troops from Afghanistan by May 1, 2021, if that group honors its commitments. If the Biden team were to use both the Trump administration’s pact of withdrawal and recent efforts to handcuff the CIA, a significant part of the American war there would simply expire later this spring. This would undoubtedly elicit tormented howling Of the supporters of this failed war, President Biden could postpone the constitutionally assigned military powers of Congress and leave it to the legislature, after all these years, either to declare war in this country or simply to allow the conflict to end.
He could also use the presidency bullying pulpit to call for sunset over the 2001 AUMF Permit 60 word resolution Passed by Congress three days after the 9/11 attacks that justified 20 years of war against groups like the Islamic State that did not even exist on 9/11. It could do the same with the 2002 Iraq authorization to use military force, Which authorized the war Against Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, but was defeated in the Trump administration’s rationale for the Drone murder of the Iranian Major General Qasem Suleimani.
Almost two decades after President George W. Bush started “another kind of war”; more than a decade after President Barack Obama entered the White House promising to avoid “stupid wars” (while promising to win the “real war” in Afghanistan); six months after President Trump committed to “End of the era of endless wars“President-elect Biden enters the White House with the opportunity to fulfill his own promise to” end the eternal wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East. ”
As President Bush put it in 2001, “Some victories are won outside of the public eye, avoided in tragedy, and threats removed.” America’s wars in the 21st century have instead been tragedies for millions and increased threats that profoundly damaged the United States. President-elect Biden recognized this and stated that “being anchored in non-winnable conflicts only affects our ability to lead on other issues that require our attention and prevents us from rebuilding the other instruments of American power.”
However, forever failed wars are also a legacy of Biden. As a Senator, he voted for the 2001 AUMF, the 2002 AUMF, and then dispatched a president to expand America’s interventions overseas – and nothing in his personal history suggests he will take the bold steps to end it America’s reach conflicts overseas. “It has been a long time since we ended the eternal wars,” he announced in 2019. Upon entering the Oval Office, he will be faced with a monumental decision: either to be the first U.S. president of this century to not double doomed conflicts overseas, or the fourth to fail in wars that can never be won .