The war on terror fails innocents everywhere


It’s been a deadly month in Manchester, and Mosul. The war on terror has failed again, with more terror and less security around the world and innocents dead in Britain and in Syria and Iraq. Western air strikes caused another ‘deadliest month for civilians’ in Syria (225 dead, including 36 women and 44 children) and more than 105 civilians killed in Iraq in recent tallies, joined by children victims among the 22 dead in Manchester.

Various studies quantify the failure of the war on terror, and provide evidence of a direct link between the war against terror and terror itself. Research suggests that the more money is spent, and the more troops deployed, the more terror attacks occur. The west is in a perpetual war, fighting an elusive and amorphous enemy which it helps to create. The results are dead civilian men, women and children on all sides.

In ‘Measuring the Effectiveness of America’s War on Terror’, Eric Goepner reported that 80% of the variation in terror attacks between 2001-13 was attributable to US military spending and troop numbers. For every $US billion spent, and 1000 troops deployed, the number of terror attacks worldwide multiplied by 19 times. Countries invaded by the US subsequently had 143x more terrorism attacks than those not invaded by the US. Countries the subject of US drone strikes had around 395x more terror attacks than those who weren’t. There have been more Islamic inspired terrorism attacks, more Americans killed in terrorism both at home and abroad, and more terrorism attacks worldwide since the war on terror began, than before.

The war on terror has been going almost 16 years, cost America alone up to $US4 trillion, 7000 US military lives, and has seen up to two million service people deployed far from home. US / Coalition forces are currently engaged in occupation, war and / or armed conflict in at least eight Muslim states. There they are often seen as foreign occupying forces, their presence and tactics spread fear, political instability, trauma, grievance and destruction at the barrel of Apache helicopters. Their actions provide fertile ground for alienation, resentment, anger, and recruitment of new terrorists with nothing to lose. The war on terror provides excuses to murder.

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The perpetrator of the appalling recent attack in Manchester that killed 22 concert goers including children and teenagers was an English resident. But according to his sister he was motivated by revenge. She said Salmen Abedi “…saw children, Muslim children, dying everywhere”. “He saw the explosives America drops on children in Syria, and wanted revenge for injustices inflicted against Muslims”.

Indeed, research shows terror acts are often motivated by revenge and to correct grievance or injustice. But just as the victims of the war on terror are often innocent bystanders, so are the victims of terror itself; civilian casualties of armies, and of terrorists / insurgents; common targets and collateral damage.

Campaigning in the British election has resumed after a brief hiatus to mark the Manchester bombing. Jeremy Corbyn is using the opportunity to observe the failure of the war on terror to prevent terror attacks. He noted the links between British wars abroad and terrorism at home. The Government Security Minister Ben Wallace predictably said Corbyn’s comments were inappropriate and crassly timed. It’s expected that incumbent Prime Minister Theresa May will benefit in the polls for her ‘pitch perfect’, ‘stable and strong’ response to the recent attack.

Anne Applebaum writing in the Washington Post points out that hard line government responses to terrorism just lead to more radicalisation and violence, not less. She gives the response to the IRA as an example for the UK. Manchester is no stranger to the effects of that. Applebaum says rather than reactionary, divisive sloganeering in response to extremist violence, long term solutions that rebuild international co-operation, community values, solidarity and support are what’s required. At the conclusion of his pessimistic assessment of the war on terror, Goepner suggests a complete rethink of the war on terror approach.

This week’s New Zealand Herald had an article about a British SAS sniper killing an ISIS sniper from 2.4 km away by shooting him in the throat. It was portrayed as a victory of man and machine, a real man with a real weapon, fighting a righteous cause, almost doing “God’s work”. It was reported as one of the most difficult kills in the regiment’s history using the world’s most powerful rifle. On the one hand, the media carries uncritical reports of murderous violence in foreign countries on the part of coalition forces. On the other hand, it makes mileage out of senseless murder in Manchester.

The war on terror has desensitised the western world to senseless waste of life and acts of arbitrary justice in the Middle East, and hypersensitised us to terrorism risks at home.

This month’s civilian deaths in the west and the Middle East show the capacity for human evil. But the compassion and solidarity in Manchester also show the flip side human capacity for compassion and kindness. Support, love, a shared sense of sadness and grief were manifest in the aftermath of the bomb attack. At the end of a minute’s silence in a Manchester town square to mark the lives of the bombing victims, the crowd spontaneously supported a rendition of the Oasis song ‘Don’t look back in anger’. The woman who led the sing along said “we can’t be looking backward to what happened. We have to look forward to the future”. It’s that spirit, that courage, that compassion that will see an end to alienation, terror and radicalism, not the resort to violence that kills innocents everywhere.


  1. Good stuff
    What are our political parties’ positions on the war on terror ?
    Why is this issue not part of political debate here ?
    It seems like Jeremy’s position , consistent with this , is going down just fine in UK. The event in Manchester hasn’t rallied support for May at all. So many people must be coming round to the realisation that the instinct for revenge against perpetrators ,that accompanies compassion for and solidarity with victims , occurs in middle eastern peoples just like in europeans.
    Why don’t we have a Jeremy Corbyn ? Far from lacking leadership qualities, his are just in a different mode. If he gets there he will go down in history as a leader akin to Gandhi or Mandela.

  2. Well done Christine I love your angle here.

    I think they are doing the desensitised thing as a tool for preparing us all for war again.

    They are waging war against humanity everywhere in the name of armaments profits for those spurning on yet another wasteful war.

  3. Shooting an ISIS snipper is not bad ass. Hypnotising him so he goes back to labouring work while his community plays soccer is bad ass

  4. If you throw a brick through your neighbours window ,why should they not throw it back?Are they terrorists because they throw it back? Oh, but they use methods like suicide attacks you say.They don’t do decent civilized extermination like the West does! They dont have the artillery and the hellfire missiles and the attack helicopters and the drones.So they use methods of a lesser technology. Stones and home made rockets in Gaza and the West Bank. Exploding vests in the homelands of the initial attackers who perpertrated the first attacks.

    There were no “terrorist” attacks in the West of any consequence before the “War On Terror”! Now , after the U.S. Empire and Nato attacks on Afghanistan, Iraq,Libya, Syria and Yemen they are more and more frequent.But they are attacking innocents you say ! .Are not the inhabitants of the villages , the wedding parties, the drone victims travelling with the “suspects’ innocents?Up to a million Iraqis dead because of our insane military responses to Western Paranoia and lust to control the oil reserves. Libya ,the most prosperous African country completely devastated ! Syria, the cradle of civilization awash with refugees. All caused by Us! Go and look in the mirror and see the Westerner face peering back at you who is responsible. We are all responsible!!! So, what can we do to make up for this our collective guilt, and heinous acts, and war crimes?

    Mahatma Ghandi was asked by a British journalist what he thought of Western Civilization? He said that it would be a good idea!!

    • There were no “terrorist” attacks in the West of any consequence before the “War On Terror”!

      I would have thought a historian would be familiar with the events of September 11, 2001, and also be aware that that was the second attempt to attack those buildings.

      Now , after the U.S. Empire and Nato attacks on Afghanistan, Iraq,Libya, Syria and Yemen…

      Also a history fail. The US and NATO aren’t involved in Yemen, and reluctantly getting drawn in to providing air support for rebels in a civil war isn’t “attacking Libya and Syria.” You did manage to get Afghanistan and Iraq right, though.

      • The US and NATO are very much ‘involved’ with Yemen. Who do you think sells Saudi Arabia its weapons?
        Thump has just arranged the biggest weapons sale ever..but it’s not just Trump. Obama boasted about the weapons’ deal he made. Britain sold weapons to Saudi and arranged for Saudi to be on the UN Human Rights Council in 2013. In 2015, the Saudi ambassador to the UN in Geneva was elected chair of the UN Human Rights Council panel that appoints independent experts. (source: Kingdom of the Unjust by Medea Benjamin).
        Never underestimate the political power and ruthlessness of military corporations.

        • By that standard, shops that sell computers were “involved” in the recent ransomware attack, since the attackers must have bought their computers somewhere. That’s a definition of “involved” that’s so broad as to be useless.

          • And yet, Lois makes a valid point, Milt. NATO may not be officially involved, but then again, the US never declared war on Iraq either (unless I missed it). They just marched in.

            NATO members are very much involved.

      • ” The US and NATO aren’t involved in Yemen, and reluctantly getting drawn in to providing air support for rebels in a civil war isn’t “attacking Libya and Syria.”


        ‘getting drawn in to’
        ‘providing air support’
        ‘for rebels’

        I’ve yet to see a sentence comprising so many euphemisms.

        Nay, not euphemisms, out right lies.

        • The US took a lot of persuading (mostly by European leaders and the media) to get involved in Libya, and only did eventually get involved with UN Security Council backing. Obama refused to get involved in Syria even after Assad called his bluff over use of chemical weapons, and even now the US is only involved due to Da’esh taking over significant parts of the country. That fits the description “reluctantly getting drawn into” for my money.

          The “providing air support for rebels” is uncontroversial in both cases. In Libya they took out regime anti-aircraft sites so NATO aircraft could provide rebel groups with close air support. The description is less apt for Syria, in that the US has been attacking Da’esh, which is itself a rebel group, but the attacks have effectively been in support of other, less-fascist rebel groups.

          Do you have any argument for the above being “outright lies?” Thus far I’m only seeing “Brigid says so,” which is possibly a compelling argument from Brigid’s perspective but not at all persuasive from mine.

    • “If you throw a brick through your neighbours window ,why should they not throw it back?”

      Through the same broken window, or another one?

      I think if I threw a brick through my neighbour’s window, they’d call the cops on me quick-smart.

      But I get the point I think you’re trying to make.

  5. The so-called war on terror has been going on for 16 years, just as you say.

    But terror attacks by Muslims have been an issue for decades before that.

    So your logic is flawed.

    • I don’t say, and neither does the evidence quoted, that there were no terror attacks before the ‘war on terror’, but that they have increased by multitudes since.

      • If you can feel swine cast pearls you’re probably standing too close to the swine.
        Otherwise, speak for yourself.

      • Sigh! Time to feed the pigs again! Wahabbism is a medieval strain of Islam that took hold around the region of Saudi Arabia.Osama Bin Laden was a disciple.In their eagerness to defeat Russia and establish hegomany over the world,the U.S armed Afghani and foreign Islamic elements who were prepared to fight the Russian backed Afghanistan regime.Many of these morphed into El Qaeda.EL Qaeda Wahabbism regarded various U.S. actions such as putting U.S. bases in Saudi Arabia as evil Blasphemy against the Holy Site of Mecca.They also resented the support for Israel against the Sunni Palestinians.There were U.S. bases in other Islamic countries that they hated.The Saudi regime had limited support in Saudi Arabia,and so they did a deal with the Wahabbis.Support us and we will make your sect pre -eminent in Saudi.And we will use our oil billions to spread Wahabbism throughout the Islamic Sunni World. And so a deal with the devil was made. And thats why we got September 11.The U.S and the U.K and France backed and armed and gave air cover to Wahabbi Jihadis in Libya to gain control over Libyan oil.And in Syria , Saudi and Qatar armed and financed Isis. Sunni Turkey allowed itself to be a conduit for Isis soldiers,arms, hospital treatment, and oil supplies going the other way.Isis grew under the U.S. war on ISIS and only started shrinking when the Russians entered the fray. And as far as Yemen is concerned,who has sold the arms that Saudi is using to bomb Yemen back to the stone-age? The usual suspects-The U.S, France and the U.K.And thats what really happened PIGGIES.Enjoy!!

    • @ ANDREW
      What do you think about the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the Zionist quest for a homeland. Anyone’s will do?

    • Please excuse Andrew as he is functionally illiterate and couldn’t string together a coherent sentence even if he tried.

      Most people date the fall of the soviet union at 1991, but I technically date the fall of the soviet union at 1989 two years earlier because essentially it was dead for all practical purposes. gorbachov in 1989 in the course of leaving the satellite countries in eastern Europe. I don’t think gorbachov committed to dissolving the stans ( Kazakhstan and so on) that was clearly writing on the wall. Through out 1989 things was getting softer and smother but then saddam raised his head in 1990. So it moved from being the soviet union and soviet sponsored states to being the egomaniacs who wanted to conquer regional territory like sadam hussain and others. So it was regional conflect for just a short while from 1990 and the first Iraqi war until the containment of Iraq and then it moved into terrorism in 1993 when the first attack on the World Trade Centre happened.

      Interestingly the war on terror wasn’t a thing until 1996 because before then no one felt like a terrorist attack on US soil was possible, before then terrorism happened else where. There where failed attempts but nothing overwhelming. So terrorism is a new epic and we are probably entering a new epic of economic warfare and the combination of not wanting to embrace globalism and instead embrace nationalism and that has spread through New Zealand and Australia and philippines and yo can go down the list where right wing authoritarian regimes are beginning to be embraced and are springing up.

    • And Israeli terror attacks for even longer. of course, now that they’re an ‘official’ government their terror attacks are called ‘self-defence’ despite them being the invaders.

  6. Unfortunately the USA and their allies don’t realize that bombing the shit out of innocent people actually pisses them off and creates another whole group of terrorists. How would you like your family to be blown to bits by a B52 Bomber?

  7. But according to his sister he was motivated by revenge. She said Salmen Abedi “…saw children, Muslim children, dying everywhere”. “He saw the explosives America drops on children in Syria, and wanted revenge for injustices inflicted against Muslims”.

    Well, sure, violent criminals always have some self-serving bullshit they tell themselves justifies their crime. This one’s particularly stinky bullshit in that US involvement in Syria is minimal and confined to attacking Da’esh, a religious fascist organisation engaging in rape, torture, slavery and mass murder. I get that Abedi was angry about the US attacking Da’esh because he was a religious fascist himself, but who cares what fascists are angry about or what lies they tell themselves to justify it?

    The people carrying out these attacks are guilty of stereotyping, othering and bigotry that makes the KKK look like amateurs. Mr Abedi was angry at the US government so took revenge against it by killing a bunch of children and their parents in England – presumably White people all looked the same to him so any of them would do.

    The war on terror was a bad idea? Well duh, lots of us protested against it at the time. But Islamic religious fascism was prompting terrorist attacks against westerners before then, would have continued regardless even if Bush hadn’t declared a war on terror, and will continue even if the war on terror were declared a defeat and ended tomorrow. Feel free to point to the stupidity of Bush’s war on terror and its influence Islamic religious fascism, but don’t pretend it explains anything.

  8. Depending on where one comes from this last couple of weeks has been extremely profitable.

    Over $100 billion US, in arms sales to the Saudi’s and we can best believe that will give them a licence to do whatever they want, unquestioned.

    Christians killed in Egypt and now the Egyptions attack the near stateless Lybians, near stateless because the US and UK thought it a good idea they end up that way.

    And Afghanistan slowly heading into anarchy.

    Taxation to thecwealthy continues to fall.

    And thats just a summary.

    The worlds leaders are failing us.

  9. It’s not a war ON terror; it’s a war OF terror, perpetrated by the banks and corporations on innocent, powerless people all around the world, and particularly in places where there are resources to be looted or plans for oil/gas pipelines to be constructed.

    As the world becomes increasingly overpopulated and the resources required to maintain present economic arrangements become increasingly scarce, we must expect the lies told by politicians in the western world to become ever bigger……until the system collapses.

      This is the Elite cabal carrying out there games to squeeze more profits and acquisitions out of the weak countries over the globe.

    • Exactly and I agree with you, as always. Thanks for continuing to contribute your wisdom and intelligence. It is much appreciated.
      The system is planned for and intended to collapse.
      We need to further expose and label those families and banks and corporations who lie and perpetual greed based wars and control most governments and actually dictate their budgets and who is in positions of power.
      They create the problems intentionally and then, at the right time, they sweep in with their solutions. New World Order solutions with the U.N. at the helm.
      We need to continue to expose the criminals behind the scenes who are in control of much more than we think.

  10. More unfortunately, Jack, they do realize it. In a peaceful world, who is going to pay big money to buy a weapon?

  11. …research shows terror acts are often motivated by revenge and to correct grievance or injustice.

    Yep. And if some White supremacist were to decide the Manchester attack required him to make a bomb and use it to kill as many Muslims as possible down at his nearest mosque, those would be the motivations for his terror act.

    The point being, motivation counts for shit. In the above case, I wouldn’t be writing any posts about how people in Muslim countries needed to ask themselves what Muslims did to bring this on themselves, I’d be writing one about how we need to deal to right-wing extremism and ignore their I’m-fighting-injustice bullshit. Analysis is all very well, but correctly identifying threats and dealing with them is more important.

  12. “The west is in a perpetual war, fighting an elusive and amorphous enemy which it helps to create. The results are dead civilian men, women and children on all sides.”

    You can create dissent and opposition, but can you actually blame “the west ” for encouraging head chopping?

    All Christine does is present us a dilemma. What do we do when terrorists act and strike innocent people? Do we go to them with a flower in our hand and preach peace, possibly making them laugh about us and chop our heads off?

    The problem is that terror leads to escalation of violence. People who go that far that they kill and injure others, even innocent citizens, as they believe so strongly in twisted logic or ideologies they follow, they are almost beyond being able to be reformed.

    We cannot let terror happen, so actions are needed to fight it, if possible in its early beginnings. That though will hardly be possible by purely non violent actions.

    With the war on terror US style, and with the use of drones, and so, there are often also civilian casualties. That practice needs to be reviewed, but it appears nothing much is changing.

    So shall we then with Christine’s logic leave Afghanistan to the Taleban or to ISIS?

  13. The liberal interpretation of the word “terrorist” is another worry, each nation seems to define the meaning of the word differently, that is the government, certain politicians and the media.

    One person’s “terrorist” may be another persons “freedom fighter”.

    But when it comes to using violence such as it happened in the Arena in Manchester, we can hardly call this an act of a “freedom fighter”, or one fighting for “justice”.

    • Spot on, Mikeinauckland.

      If I recall, the ANC in South Afruica and the Vietcong in South Vietnam fought their uprisings in their own respective countries but never attacked anyone in the West. the same can’t be said of the West. History will not be kind to us, I fear.

      • Most Jihadists in Europe were raised in Europe. If you read their profiles they have done everything local youth do, drank, taken drugs, slept around, played video games. At some point they all seem to get marginalised within their own society and from the local society. Somebody offers them an idealised future with a purpose and rewards. So they take it as did young anarchists and Marxists before them. And they blow up people as did anarchists and Marxists…only difference is they die in the act. They might be jihadists but they don’t appear to be on ” foreign” soil. This evil ideology has spread in a trans national way. It is not an export. The cure? A better idea that can readily be realised.

    • The recent Portland killings was done by a White supremacist terrorist. No Islamic terrorism involved, Jamie. LOLZ back at you.

  14. There’s a whole mass of mothers father’s sisters brothers family and friends who grieve. Grieve for their loss to suicide bombers, drone strikes, artillery, whatever. Dead children. Dead family. Dead friends. In Manchester London Paris Damascus Allepo Mosul Tripoli. They grieve and die in all these places. Doesn’t matter where they are the pain is the same.

    Meanwhile money gets spent in London, Saudi, New York and all over buying and selling arms to all and sundry. The same people find armies and terrorists. Lots of people claim justice only for their cause. Profits are made. Girls enslaved and raped. The feeding frenzy carries on. And mothers cry.

    To stop this we must vote out governments who allow this. We must ban the sales and profit. We must present a better future than jihadists. It’s actually over to us en mass

  15. The Jihadists will attack us anyway, regardless of the wars the USA wages on the Middle East.

    Jihadists hate the west and everything it stands for.

        • 2000 years ago Islam was prophesied to be the one world one government religion and it would sweep through the world with a vengeance.

        • “Because they regard it as morally decadent and not respectful of the one and only true, Allah”

          Wrong, Andy.

          Because the West has interfered in Middle East affairs for the last 100 years, propped up unpopular dictatorships, and allowed Israel to expand beyond its 1948 borders.

          Those are sufficient grievances to create bad will amongst many young men and women in the region.

          Falling back on the tired religious excuse indicates your superficial thinking on the issue.

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