Excessive arrogance leads to US failure in its 20-year war on terror
Published: Sep 11, 2021 01:21 PM


Today marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. The attacks, which killed at least 2,996 people on that very day, convulsed the US. "America Attacked" was the headline on the front page of a major American newspaper. An angry US launched the war in Afghanistan within a month and the war in Iraq a year and a half later. Before the Afghanistan War, the American public discussed the idea of using nuclear weapons in retaliation.

Anti-terrorism usually starts on two fronts. One is to fight against terrorist forces, destroy their organizations, and eliminate and arrest them. The other is to follow up with policy adjustments to eliminate the root causes of extremism. But the US failed to do either for the past 20 years. 

It has participated in two severely expanded wars, confusing the enemy with an ideological alien. It killed Osama bin Laden and dismantled Al Qaeda, but terrorism has spread like a cancer. To eliminate extremism, the Bush administration embarked on a wild journey to "transform the Middle East" by using "democracy" to "profoundly improve" Islamic culture. But this tactic didn't work, instead it created more unrest and refugees. So far, no model "democracy" has emerged in the great Middle East area due to the transformation pushed by the US and the West.

Perhaps the only achievement of the 20-year war on terror has been the absence of serious new terror attacks on the American soil. Yet the Afghanistan War has killed about 2,500 American troops, and the Iraq War about 4,500. The combination of the two is twice more than the people who died in the 9/11 terror attacks, not to mention the people who were injured in the wars. The Afghanistan War alone has cost some $2 trillion.

The US failed due to its excessive arrogance. The lessons the US elites are taking from 9/11 are also misplaced -- that the war on terror consumed US resources and attention and presented an opportunity for China's rise. To this day, they still do not fully understand. They arrogantly believe that the rise of China was unleashed by their absentmindedness. They stubbornly believe that the power of the US is strong enough to determine the fate of one of the oldest civilizations with a population four times that of the US, and that they could have kept the Chinese people in the cage of poverty forever. 

Wake up.