Even before the attack of 9/11, Osama bin Laden explained his goal to the British journalist Robert Fisk: “I pray to God that he will permit us to turn the United States into a shadow of itself,” he said.
He hoped to provoke the U.S. into bombing or invading Muslim land which would radicalize moderate Muslims and unite the umma in a jihad against the “universal enemy.” This would bleed America and drain its military resources, making it too weak to oppress poor people.
The ill-conceived U.S invasion of Iraq played right into his hands. Does anyone think there are fewer terrorists in the world because of that invasion?
U.S. forces routed al Qaeda from Afghanistan in just weeks, but we are still there twelve years later, reprising Soviet mistakes from the past.
Those occupations have become a rallying cry for Islamic extremists in Asia, the Middle East and Africa who use the al Qaeda banner for fundraising purposes.
The invasion and so-called Global War on Terror accelerated the creation of an American national security state, which has seen the military budget double and at least 263 security organizations created or reorganized. We now spend more on national security than the rest of the world combined.
Our massive security apparatus routinely conducts drone attacks without a declaration of war; carries out kidnapping, rendition, torture and assassination overseas; and deploys extraordinary surveillance assets around the world.
The terror threat has been used to justify the indefinite detention of citizens, the pre-emptive arrest of would-be protesters and journalists, FISA courts that authorize secret searches, a Patriot Act which allows “national security letters” to demand, without probable cause, that organizations turn over information on citizens, and the federal prosecution of journalists and whistleblowers.
Simultaneously, we have militarized our police forces with federal anti-terror money to form SWAT teams everywhere, which, according to Radley Balko (Rise of the Warrior Cop), “violently smash into private homes more than one hundred times per day,” usually in the middle of the night, to break up poker games, confiscate marijuana, and apprehend non-violent drug offenders, which we imprison at a rate seven times Europe’s.