Three years and half a trillion dollars later
America is losing the war on terrorism. The 9/11 Commission has warned that
more and worse acts of terrorism are to be expected. Bin Laden's planning always
assumed that we, in
reacting to him, would help him carry out his objectives. Well, we did.
In his dreams he could not have imagined the damage done to America. So how
are we losing the war?
Of course, turning most of the world against us is bin Laden's greatest achievement.
From Africa to Latin America, from Europe to Asia, the swift collapse of confidence
in America's moral leadership, and hatred for our government, is unparalleled
in history. According to the July 26 issue of Time, "Bush and America
are so unpopular overseas, polls show, that many foreign leaders can't agree
to anything the president asks for without taking a hit in their own ratings."
See also America Alone
by Jonathan Clarke and Stefan Halper.
2) Al-Qaeda has now metastasized into new semi-autonomous groups in many nations,
all motivated by hate for the U.S. and any nation or government that helps it.
America's relations with the Muslim world, nearly a quarter of the planet's
population, are subject to new hatred and fear as never before.
3) A threatening breakdown in globalization is occurring. The State Department
has urged American civilians to flee from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and even the
Philippines, nations where Americans have lived for generations. The long-term
consequences mean loss of business contacts and investments with a chain reaction
all over the world. As Fortune Magazine warned in 2001, "A
Fortress America mentality in security matters could spill into economic ones
... a short hop from nationalism to protectionism ... all sorts of parochial
interests in the U.S. are much more likely to get the upper hand. The effect
on the economy will result in real declines in American living standards." There
are growing threats
to American interests in any nation with substantial Muslim populations,
even now in the Far East.
4) America's government is slowly being bankrupted – President Bush's cave-in
on domestic spending to gain support for foreign wars follows his father's
footsteps. Bush Sr. also caved in to Democratic demands for taxes and spending
in return for their support for war against Iraq in 1990. Niall Ferguson, author
argued in Newsweek that the American Empire was rare in being so dependent
upon foreigners lending it money, and that the coming Social Security/Medicare
financial crisis alone would eventually force America to pull back from most
of its foreign ventures.
5) Al-Qaeda's strength is growing in oil vital Saudi Arabia. Even Turkey, since
1945 America's great ally and a secular nation, has cooled
its relations with America. Pro-American Muslim regimes in Saudi Arabia,
Egypt, and Pakistan are
more at risk of being overthrown.
6) America's power is declining
in Asia because of its preoccupation with the Muslim world and deficits,
making the U.S. less competitive. Washington, focused on war, is unable to reform
health care expenses, strengthen basic education or deal with other structural
7) Washington's broad brush in declaring all terrorist organizations as enemies
(except for Irish terrorists), even if they never targeted America, is causing
them all to become real enemies. The Washington Post has reported that
Hezbollah and al-Qaeda are now training together for the first time. As Zbigniew
Brzezinski wrote in The American Prospect in August, America simply does
not have the resources to "become a protagonist in every part of the world in
which terrorism is directed against others." As he put it, Cheney is "senseless
to claim that terrorists hate all nations and all peoples."
8) Eliminating Saddam was a victory for bin Laden, who considered Ba'athist
secularism as a competitor. He hated the social permissiveness of Iraq, its
modernity, its general equality for women, allowing music, etc.
9) The Iraq war caused Washington
to neglect efforts to isolate, protect and destroy fissionable materials to
keep them away from terrorists.
10) Plans for "usable"
nukes, approved because of 9/11, undermine non-proliferation agreements,
curtail collaboration with Russia, and make nuclear war permissible, plausible,
and more possible. Proliferation makes more nuke material available for possible
theft by terrorists. Russian and U.S. nukes are still close to hair trigger
alert and subject to "mistakes." Bin Laden would gladly try to cause
war between Russia and the U.S. or trade Arab cities for blowing up New York
or Washington. He doesn't like cities anyway.
11) America faces a growing risk of non-Arab Muslims taking up suicidal terrorism
against American interests here and overseas. The English "sneaker bomber" was
not an Arab, so ethnic profiling didn't help catch him.
prisons are full of bitter young converts. The alleged "Dirty Bomber" Jose
Padilla, a Hispanic-American, was such a prison convert.
13) Afghanistan is a becoming a quagmire.
Our "victory" is looking ever more tenuous. Al-Qaeda is regrouping, Pakistan
is becoming less secure, 20,000 U.S. soldiers are there and war looks interminable.
14) The American military is stretched thin. It is designed for conquest, not
occupation. It is designed to fight nations, not guerrillas and terrorists.
15) Bin Laden is winning
the propaganda war in the world. Washington can spend billions on weapons
that are irrelevant to the war on terrorism, but has little constituency for
explaining America to the outside world. The 9/11 Commission also urged Washington
to reexamine its Middle East policies (see page 376), but there is no sign of either party
15) America is being equated with Israel. Nothing inflames Muslims even more
against America than news reports that Israelis
have been training American soldiers in suppression and torture techniques.
They confirm accusations that the U.S. And Israel are in joint league against
the Muslim world – exactly what Bin Laden claims. Such reports are rife on Arab
TV, juxtaposing American soldiers bombing or raiding Iraqi homes with Israelis
doing the same to Palestinians. America simply can't get away with using Israeli
techniques; they further inflame the world against Washington.
16) American religious fundamentalists are now playing a key role in foreign
policy. Their support for Israeli settlers and other hardliners works to cut
off U.S. communication with Muslims – a main bin Laden objective. Many even
want chaos in the Middle East to help fulfill their version of biblical prophecy.
See The Armageddon
17) American intelligence is discredited for the foreseeable future. As Arnaud
de Borchgrave wrote, "The war on Iraq and ongoing occupation by coalition
forces has dealt body blows to the world's two most important intelligence services
– the CIA and MI6."
18) "The souring of America on intervention abroad has major strategic implications
for the United States and for the world. … Intelligence on weapons of mass destruction
and the intentions of dictators or terrorist gangs that seem to possess them
are unlikely to be sufficiently clear to meet the standards for action demanded
by the post-facto doubts and recriminations on Iraq. Intelligence analysis will
become even more cautious and ambiguously stated to policymakers. Vulnerability
to surprise attack could grow again," columnist Jim
19) The invasion and incompetent occupation of Iraq (including the humiliation
and torture of captives) has terribly discredited America far beyond
20) Al-Qaeda and Ariel Sharon are both trying to promote
civil war and chaos in Iraq for their own ends. Washington's threats against
Syria and Iran give both an incentive to help keep U.S. troops tied down in
extremism is sweeping Iraq and the Muslim world – even among traditionally
and Shi'ites are now cooperating against America; U.S. intelligence used
to think that mutual animosities would prevent them from working together.
24) The damage
to holy Shi'ite shrines well serves propaganda that America is sacrilegious
and anti-Muslim. Even if the actual damage is done by Muslim guerrillas themselves,
America gets the blame and more hatred.
25) Foreign students in American universities have
dropped by the hundreds of thousands, thus weakening future pro-American
influence abroad. Foreigners also pay full tuition and provide most of the students
for Ph.D. programs in the hard sciences. Many
have led American technological discoveries as inventors and entrepreneurs.
New registrations of foreign Muslim students have almost disappeared, thus further
separating America from the Muslim world.
26) Foreign tourism is way down because of difficulties
and delays in getting visas.
charities have stopped giving overseas because of new "anti-terror"
government regulations. Such "people to people" programs were among the strongest
pro-American building institutions in the Third World.
28) Disputes with Europe have fractured NATO. No longer will it do Washington's
29) Russian good will and trust toward America has dropped precipitously. Russians
are nervous about the new American air bases in Central Asia close to their
border. Mutual missile reduction is on ice. Russia is again becoming a major
exporter to the Third World. Discredited U.S. foreign policies help undermine
pro-American democracy forces inside Russia.
30) Russia and China have a tacit alliance in high-tech weaponry. China is
rushing to build more submarines, intercontinental missiles and air defenses
against U.S. air attack capabilities. They haven't forgotten that the neoconservatives
first threatened China before 9/11.
31) American war ships are able to visit fewer foreign ports, thus effecting
recruitment and retention of sailors. They now have "steel
beach parties" aboard ship for fear of danger to sailors if they go ashore.
32) Reflecting all these developments, the U.S. stock market is showing less
confidence in the future. Value Line, usually pretty accurate in long-term
forecasting, expects little price increase for the next four years. Columnist
Glassman has written that investors now see Asia replacing America for foreign
33) Scores of billions of Arab money have been withdrawn from American
fear that at any moment they could be accused of funding a group
that supported a group that supported "terrorism" (even if only against
Israeli settlers taking their land) and have all their funds confiscated. These
withdrawals are also thought to be a reason for the dollar's decline in value.
34) Washington is doing nothing to diffuse the threat by facing up to the real
reasons American was attacked. This
is helping bin Laden recruit new money and resources.
35) We have lost freedoms under the PATRIOT Act and endless time and money
from more and more security costs, e.g., government guards who will retire after
20 years with pensions and full medical care. With more terrorist attacks, we
may eventually look back on the Nineties as the "Golden Age" of American freedom
36) America's loss of "soft
power" is the most significant effect of these failed policies. Its costs
will be with us for a long time; indeed, America may never recover its image
in much of the world as the shining city on the hill. As Anatol Lieven of the
Carnegie Institute told a Cato Institute audience, "America, which benefits
most from the rule of law in the world, has gone about destroying it."