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According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, the War on Terror is a phrase used to describe the “American-led global counterterrorism campaign launched in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.” As a result of those attacks, President George W. Bush mainly aimed to eliminate terrorist groups in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq, though it was a multi-faceted campaign. However, based upon the consequences of the past, moving forward, the United States should remove its military from the Middle East.
Our presence in the Middle East occurred long before the September 11th terrorist attack and the resulting War on Terror. The first time the United States was involved in the Middle East was during the Truman Administration. American troops were in Iran during World War II to transfer military supplies to the Soviet Union and to also protect Iranian oil. However, President Truman protested the Soviet presence in Israel, and as a result, Joseph Stalin withdrew his troops. This began the American duplicity in the Middle East as Truman opposed the Soviet influence in Iran. Over the following decades, other successors had intervened in various wars, threatened countries and created treaties in order to bring peace in the Middle East. However, in approximately the last decade, particularly under the George W. Bush Administration, our involvement in the Middle East consisted of toppling the Taliban regime, democratic regime change and attacking countries that sheltered terrorists. Although the United States originally had good intentions about occupying the Middle East, the times have changed and so have our objectives, but now the consequences are worse.
The War on Terror was successful for the first few years. The United States’ actions prevented terrorist attacks on American soil and many terrorist suspects were arrested around the world. Additionally, the United States toppled the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, closed terrorist training camps, and captured and eliminated many Al-Qaeda members. The main goal of eliminating terrorist groups was achieved while also increasing international cooperation in counterterrorism efforts.
However, the failures of the War on Terror outweighed the success for various reasons. The war in Afghanistan scattered the al-Qaeda network, which made it increasingly harder to capture and fight terrorists. Additionally, the constant attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq increased anti-Americanism among the Muslims there. In turn, it seemed to amplify and support the Islamic groups that wanted to fight against America, while also increasing the number of militant Muslims. Some critics also believe that the War on Terror was a disguise for the “U.S. to try to control global oil reserves, increase defense spending and expand the country’s international military presence.”
Furthermore, the United States’ actions in the Middle East resulted in their regression in development, as Iraq plummeted into chaos and civil war following the removal of Saddam Hussein’s repressive regime. In addition to this, from 2004 to 2007, more than 200,000 Iraqi civilians were killed as a result of the violence and instability in the Middle East. If the United States had not intervened in the Middle East, there may have been more terrorist attacks on U.S. soil following the September 11th terrorist attack. Nevertheless, lives, both American and Middle Eastern, may not have needed to be lost. Our presence in the Middle East only incited the anti-Americanism there and may have instigated the terrorist attacks following September 11.
Following the September 11 attacks, many people across the world had varying opinions on the United States’ intervention in the Middle East. The popular domestic opinion in December 2001 was that 92% of the Americans expressed satisfaction with the amount of progress made by the United States military in the war in Afghanistan.
However, the Bush Administration faced incredible domestic and international backlash for its actions that it deemed necessary to fight terrorism, which critics thought to be illegal or immoral or both. By the end of the Bush Administration, the public opinion had become negative regarding how he handled the Iraq War, the War on Terror and other national security matters.
Based on the consequences of our actions in the Middle East over the course of many decades, we should remove our military presence. Although the War on Terror was briefly at the beginning successful, the negative impacts ultimately outweighed the positives. The role of the United States of America should be to refrain from involvement in wars unless a serious threat to the general population of the United States is prevalent.
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