Did Anyone Win the ‘Global War on Terror’?

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As we approach the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Chris, Melanie, and Zack discuss Daniel Byman’s article in the current issue of Foreign Affairs, “The Good Enough Doctrine: Learning to Live with Terrorism.” Byman surveys the various aspects of the “Global War on Terror” and concludes that, on balance, the United States and others have achieved a level of effort that is both strategically and politically feasible. But can we actually tolerate some level of risk from terrorism in the same way that we tolerate other dangers, from pandemics to severe weather events, or will political leaders always resort to maximalist promises to eliminate terrorism permanently? Was it inevitable that the Global War on Terror would amplify xenophobia and nativism, and what else can we learn from the efforts of the past 20 years? Grievances for critics of the “Blob,” special scorn for Sen. Chris Murphy, and “attapeople” to the U.S. military personnel for their enormous sacrifices in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and to those civilians who are now helping to resettle Afghan refugees, as well as those displaced from other disasters.




Daniel Byman’s “The Good Enough Doctrine: Learning to Live with Terrorism,” Foreign Affairs, September/October 2021, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/middle-east/2021-08-24/good-enough-doctrine

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Christopher Preble, “We Are Terrorized: Why US Counterterrorism Policy Is Failing, and Why It Can’t Be Easily Fixed,” War on the Rocks, Jan. 8, 2016, https://warontherocks.com/2016/01/we-are-terrorized-why-u-s-counterterrorism-policy-is-failing-and-why-it-cant-be-easily-fixed/

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“How to Help Afghan Refugees and the Relief Effort,” New York Times, Aug. 20, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/20/world/asia/how-to-help-afghanistan-refugees.html

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Tanisha M. Fazal, “The Case for Complacency,” Foreign Affairs, September/October 2021, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/reviews/review-essay/2021-08-24/case-complacency

Joe Biden, “Remarks on the End of the War in Afghanistan,” The White House, August 31, 2021, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2021/08/31/remarks-by-president-biden-on-the-end-of-the-war-in-afghanistan/

Darren Lim, Zack Cooper, and Ashley Feng, “Trust and Diversify: A Geoeconomic Strategy for the Australia-US Alliance,” US Studies Centre, Sept. 2, 2021, https://www.ussc.edu.au/analysis/trust-and-diversify-a-geoeconomic-strategy-for-the-australia-us-alliance

Susanna Patton and Ashley Townshend, “Kamala Harris’s Asia Trip Can’t Fix Biden’s Troubled Indo-Pacific Strategy,” Foreign Policy, Aug. 24, 2021, https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/08/24/kamala-harris-singapore-vietnam-southeast-asia-trip-biden-indo-pacific-strategy/

Elliot Ackerman, “What the War on Terror Cost America,” Foreign Affairs, Aug. 27, 2021, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/middle-east/2021-08-24/winning-ugly

Michael McKinley, “We All Lost Afghanistan,” Foreign Affairs, Aug. 16, 2021, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2021-08-16/we-all-lost-afghanistan-taliban

Jeffrey A. Singer, “Society Will Never Be Free of COVID-19–It’s Time to Embrace Harm Reduction,” Cato, Aug. 26, 2021, https://www.cato.org/pandemics-policy/society-will-never-be-free-covid-19-its-time-embrace-harm-reduction

Image: U.S. Army (Photo by Master Sgt. Alexander Burnett)