As such, when one declares a “war” to exist, there must be a physical manifestation of an enemy, as well as the psychological manifestation of victory. After the 9/11 attacks, the “enemy” took on the form of the Taliban in Afghanistan, in so far as they facilitated the operations of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida by providing sanctuary and logistical support, however indirect. That the Taliban had nothing whatsoever to do with the 9/11 attack never registered in the minds of those U.S. policymakers who morphed the Taliban and al-Qaida into a singular entity, thus dictating a singular solution. The United States will forever be chasing the ghosts of al-Qaida in the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan, all the while fighting a Taliban enemy that becomes stronger every day the American occupiers operate inside their country among their people.
The “war on terror” has further complicated the Afghanistan situation by drawing in the complicating reality of Pakistan’s Pashtun population and the centuries-old problem of Islamic fundamentalism, which has always existed in the rugged territory of Pakistan’s hinterlands and northwest frontier. The situation unfolding between Afghanistan and Pakistan is far less influenced by the events of 9/11 than by the historical consequences of the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s and the U.S. covert efforts to oppose the Soviet action by supporting Islamic fundamentalist fighters operating out of Pakistan.
In the simplistic formulations emanating from Washington, Pakistan has become a new front in the “war of terror,” and the conflict in Afghanistan has been inexorably linked to an internal Pakistani domestic condition that has existed for centuries. In short, the United States was drawn into Afghanistan through a lack of understanding of the true nature of the problem it faced in the aftermath of 9/11 and is being further drawn into Pakistan by a similar lack of comprehension of the problems in that nation. In both cases, the United States seeks solutions to problems that have been inaccurately defined, which means the solutions being sought solve nothing, and for the most part only further complicate the original problem.
The “war on terror” into which Obama seems to have thrust himself (the most recent manifestation being Yemen) remains the largest obstacle for any rational resolution of America’s problems in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Simply put, so long as the United States seeks an enemy that does not exist, it will always be looking for an enemy in its stead. The “war on terror” has the United States combing the world in search of enemies, and because American policymakers are responsive not to the reality that exists in the world today, but rather the perceptions of an American people largely ignorant of the world in which they live, and paralyzed by the fear such ignorance generates, there will always be countries and causes America will anoint as foe.
The “war on terror” becomes a self-perpetuating problem for which there is no solution. Worse, it is a problem that ultimately will destroy America, not from any actions undertaken by whatever manifestation of “enemy” America conjures up, but rather from the actions undertaken by America itself.
I highly recommend reading the entire piece.