The War on Terror Ten Years After 9/11 How Far Have We Gone

This paper analyzes the Homeland Defense Policy of the United States as it has evolved since 9/11 and seeks to answer why the United States still remains vulnerable to terrorism despite the billions of dollars that it has funnelled into the War on Terror project. The War on Terror project, this paper analyzes, suffers from three fundamental problems: firstly, it has lost is credibility in light of the many human rights violations that have been associated with it. secondly, it has been too simplistic, in that it focused on one enemy – Islam – without realizing the variegated and complex enemies of democracy, including the drug problem. thirdly, it does not address the complex roots of the issue, including what gives rise to terrorism in the first place. There is no doubt that the War on Terror and Homeland Defense has been beset with problems. To quote Ian Lustick:
The War on Terror’s record of failure, with its inevitable and spectacular instances of venality and waste, will humiliate thousands of public servants and elected officials, demoralize citizens, and enrage taxpayers. The effort to master the unlimited catastrophes we can imagine by mobilizing the scarce resources we actually have will drain our economy, divert and distort military, intelligence, and law enforcement resources, undermine faith in our institutions, and fundamentally disturb our way of life. In this way the terrorists who struck us so hard on September 11, 2001, can use our own defensive efforts to do us much greater harm than they could ever do themselves.

This poses a crucial question. Is it indeed true that our efforts to protect ourselves from external threat have made us even more vulnerable than we already are? This paper will try to explore this seeming irony and examine the mistakes the country may have made in the pursuit of the war on terror . For centuries wars have been fought using the rhetoric of defending the motherland. In recent times, wars have been fought to push an idea – the American Way of Life, for instance. Indeed, it is a form of nationalism that believes that one’s way of life, one’s ideological firmament is more stable, and thus should be exported to the rest of the world, even if it means using guns and killing civilians. But wars cost money, and every cent channeled to finance a war is a cent taken away from the domestic population. Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes (2010) dicussed what he calls the “opportunity costs” of the war They explain: The Iraq war didn’t just contribute to the severity of the financial crisis, though. it also kept us from responding to it effectively. Increased indebtedness meant that the government had far less room to maneuver than it otherwise would have had. More specifically, worries about the (war-inflated) debt and deficit constrained the size of the stimulus, and they continue to hamper our ability to respond to the recession. With the unemployment rate remaining stubbornly high, the country needs a second stimulus. But mounting government debt means support for this is low. The result is that the recession will be longer, output