One of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda’s goals was to destroy America economically by waging a “War of a thousand cuts.” The goal was to cause as much economic pain as was possible. No attack better exemplified this than the 9/11 attacks which struck right at the heart of New York City, the financial capital of the world. Not only was the attack symbolic, but the markets tanked, exacerbating the recession that plagued America. Additionally, the US began to engage in a global effort to fight terrorism, much like a bull in a China shop. Afghanistan, initially fought to find those responsible for the 9/11 attacks, slowly morphed into a nation building effort in a fruitless attempt to make the country hostile to al-Qaeda and a beacon of democracy. Iraq was invaded because terrorists, along with former US ally Saddam Hussein, were said to be the proud owners of Weapons of Mass Destruction that posed an existential threat to the American way of life (of course, the WMD’s never came to fruition). Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia also quickly became theaters in America’s never ending war on terrorism.
The American “anti-terrorism” apparatus became gargantuan with its tentacles extending to every state and country in the world. Dana Priest and William Arkin, in their much underreported Top Secret America report for the Washington Post, said of Uncle Sam’s KGB:
The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.
Who would’ve thought that in an age where everything is quantifiable and downloadable, not even the almighty federal government could keep track of this burgeoning monster. Perhaps more dizzying and enraging are the cold hard facts that they present:
* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.
* An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.
* In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings – about 17 million square feet of space.
* Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.
* Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year – a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.
America quickly turned into a police state with airports becoming the symbol of the horribly, anti-American War on Terror. Freedom was promptly traded away for security. Human dignity and privacy went to the wayside as TSA agents were free to touch and harass grandmothers, cancer patients, and 3 year old girls. The immense cost is probably incalculable, although some have tried. What cannot be denied is that Osama bin Laden’s strategy has worked. America traded its values for a false sense of security, and by doing so, sold their souls and economic futures away.
In a new development in the war in Iraq, the Islamic state in Iraq, is yet again trying to bleed America to death both physically and economically. As America will remain in Iraq well past the 2011 non-deadline, ISIQ is asking for former members to come back and reengage the Shi’ite government. The statement read,
“As for you, satanic Awakenings, we strive to guide you more than you strive to kill us. If you come to us in repentance, we will accept your repentance even if you killed a million people.”
“Do not stand in the way between us and the (Shi’ites) … We will not get bored or tired; rather, we will continue until the Day of Judgment, and we will kill from amongst you only those who we see will never return.”
It almost sounds as if ISIQ is desperate and in need of numbers, but their threats ought to be taken seriously. ISIQ has proven themselves to be more than capable of launching deadly assaults against Iraqi and American officials and government forces. Coupled with the threat, which may or may not be a bluff, from Moqtada al-Sadr to attack American “hard targets” if the United States does not withdraw by the end of 2011, a renewed assault on American targets is becoming a much more real possibility.
America remains vulnerable to being dragged into yet another quagmire in Iraq. If Obama does not have the resolve to say enough is enough, the blood and money will continue to flow, and al-Qaeda will continue to celebrate despite the death of its leader.