Anglo-American Culture, Chapter Thirteen

Chapter 13, The War on Terror

 

Pre-reading vocabulary and phrases:

Foreign Policy:

Kabul:

Buoyed By Success:

Descend Into Chaos:

Drone War:

Ethnic Cleansing:

Not Open For Negotiation:

Share ~’s fate:

With Us Or Against Us:

 

Since the attacks of 2001, the fear of terrorist attacks has dominated American and, to a lesser extent, British foreign policy. There was an intense desire on the part of Americans especially to prevent another terrorist attack from ever happening again. First, President George W. Bush ordered an invasion of Afghanistan. This decision was immensely popular with not only the American public but most foreign nations as well.

Troops from many nations came together to conquer Afghanistan over late 2001 and early 2002. At this time, most people thought the invasion a success because it resulted in a large number of dead al Qaeda members and the installation of a democratic government in Kabul. The reason for this war was to drive al Qaeda terrorists out of the country they had previously controlled and to destroy al Qaeda’s structure.

Buoyed by this success, America and a few allies decided to invade Iraq. The reasons for this are much less clear. Initially, it was supposed to be because Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had illegal, dangerous weapons that he might share with al Qaeda. However, this turned out to be untrue. When that happened, the reason changed to Hussein’s support for al Qaeda, which also turned out to be untrue. Finally, the answer became “it is important to bring democracy to Iraq.”

Both wars followed a similar pattern. The coalition (American, British, Spanish, Italian and many other countries) would swiftly conquer the territory but fail to set up a functioning replacement for the old government. Both Iraq and Afghanistan descended into chaos for years after their liberation from the terrorists. Most experts estimate the death toll from these wars at between 100,000 and 500,000 Muslims and around 5,000 coalition soldiers.

As these wars took a turn for the worse, English and especially American popularity around the world plummeted. The huge numbers of deaths were part of the problem, so was the fact that the Iraq invasion didn’t seem to have a real reason for happening. However, scandals were probably the most damaging. Examples include Abu Ghraib Prison, where American prison guards would torture random Iraqis, cover them with feces and force them to perform homosexual acts on each other. Another is Guantanamo Bay, where the US has held hundreds of “terror suspects” without trial, under torture conditions, for more than 10 years. Finally, the drone campaign of targeted assassination has proven extremely unpopular around the world.

Anti-Americanism, especially in the Middle East and Europe has become the norm rather than the exception. While this has fueled American resentment towards the rest of the world, the wars’ economic impact and unpopularity was too great to ignore and, after more than a decade, the US and allies are withdrawing from both Iraq and Afghanistan. The invaded countries are, in both cases, more dangerous places for the residents than they were before the invasions, racked with ethnic cleansing campaigns and continuing insurgencies that continue to kill thousands of people every year. One region of success, the Kurdish region of Northern Iraq, does provide some hope, however.

Further, while terrorism in general has increased since the beginning of the War on Terror, al Qaeda has been greatly weakened. It is not difficult to say that of all the original players – America, the United Kingdom, the Coalition, the civilian populations of Iraq and Afghanistan, al Qaeda, the governments of both Iraq and Afghanistan – everybody lost more than they gained.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please read this speech by President George W. Bush:

 

In the normal course of events, Presidents come to this chamber to report on the state of the Union. Tonight, no such report is needed. It has already been delivered by the American people.

 

We have seen it in the courage of passengers, who rushed terrorists to save others on the ground – passengers like an exceptional man named Todd Beamer. And would you please help me to welcome his wife, Lisa Beamer, here tonight.

 

Todd Beamer is one of the passengers who tried to take the airplane back from the terrorists. Because of those passengers’ bravery, the fourth airplane crashed into the empty forest in Pennsylvania rather than New York City.

 

Tonight we are a country awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. Our grief has turned to anger, and anger to resolution. Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.

 

And on behalf of the American people, I thank the world for its outpouring of support. America will never forget the sounds of our National Anthem playing at Buckingham Palace, on the streets of Paris, and at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate.

 

We will not forget South Korean children gathering to pray outside our embassy in Seoul, or the prayers of sympathy offered at a mosque in Cairo. We will not forget moments of silence and days of mourning in Australia and Africa and Latin America.

 

America received a lot of sympathy after 9-11 from many nations, including South Korea.

 

Nor will we forget the citizens of 80 other nations who died with our own: dozens of Pakistanis; more than 130 Israelis; more than 250 citizens of India; men and women from El Salvador, Iran, Mexico and Japan; and hundreds of British citizens. America has no truer friend than Great Britain. Once again, we are joined together in a great cause – so honored the British Prime Minister has crossed an ocean to show his unity of purpose with America.

 

On September the 11th, enemies of freedom committed an act of war against our country. Americans have known wars – but for the past 136 years, they have been wars on foreign soil, except for one Sunday in 1941. Americans have known the casualties of war – but not at the center of a great city on a peaceful morning. Americans have known surprise attacks – but never before on thousands of civilians. All of this was brought upon us in a single day – and night fell on a different world, a world where freedom itself is under attack.

 

The only other military action in America since the American Civil War was the Japanese sneak attack on Hawaii in 1941.

 

Americans have many questions tonight. Americans are asking: Who attacked our country? The evidence we have gathered all points to a collection of loosely affiliated terrorist organizations known as al Qaeda. They are the same murderers indicted for bombing American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, and responsible for bombing the USS Cole.

 

This is a list of other targets al Qaeda had attempted to destroy. Each of these previous attacks had killed relatively few people.

 

Al Qaeda is to terror what the mafia is to crime. But its goal is not making money; its goal is remaking the world – and imposing its radical beliefs on people everywhere. The terrorists practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected by Muslim scholars and the vast majority of Muslim clerics – a fringe movement that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam. The terrorists’ directive commands them to kill Christians and Jews, to kill all Americans, and make no distinction among military and civilians, including women and children.

 

This is exaggerated slightly, but mostly true. The religious beliefs of al Qaeda and its allies are extremely harsh and primitive.

 

This group and its leader – a person named Osama bin Laden – are linked to many other organizations in different countries, including the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. They are trained in terror tactics and sent back to their homes or sent to hide in countries around the world to plot evil and destruction.

 

The leadership of al Qaeda has great influence in Afghanistan and supports the Taliban regime in controlling most of that country. In Afghanistan, we see al Qaeda’s vision for the world. Afghanistan’s people have been brutalized – many are starving and many have fled. Women are not allowed to attend school. You can be jailed for owning a television. Religion can be practiced only as their leaders dictate. A man can be jailed in Afghanistan if his beard is not long enough.

 

The United States respects the people of Afghanistan – after all, we are currently its largest source of humanitarian aid – but we condemn the Taliban regime.

 

The Taliban is the former government of Afghanistan. They are a very religious, very strict group that supported Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda for decades.

 

And tonight, the United States of America makes the following demands on the Taliban: Deliver to United States authorities all the leaders of al Qaeda who hide in your land. Release all foreign nationals, including American citizens, you have unjustly imprisoned. Protect foreign journalists, diplomats and aid workers in your country. Close immediately and permanently every terrorist training camp in Afghanistan, and hand over every terrorist, and every person in their support structure, to appropriate authorities. Give the United States full access to terrorist training camps, so we can make sure they are no longer operating. These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion. The Taliban must act, and act immediately. They will hand over the terrorists, or they will share in their fate.

 

Basically, Bush is telling the Taliban to cooperate or die.

 

I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith. It’s practiced freely by many millions of Americans, and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah. The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them. Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.

 

Bush was afraid that the War on Terror would become the War on Islam in the minds of Middle Eastern people. History has shown he was right to worry about this.

 

Americans are asking, why do they hate us? They hate what we see right here in this chamber – a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms – our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.

 

Bush and many of his allies pushed this argument for several years, that terrorists hate America because they hate freedom.

 

These terrorists kill not merely to end lives, but to disrupt and end a way of life. With every atrocity, they hope that America grows fearful, retreating from the world and forsaking our friends. They stand against us, because we stand in their way.

 

Osama bin Laden said, before he died, that he wanted to unite the Muslim world against America and the West.

 

Americans are asking: How will we fight and win this war? We will direct every resource at our command – every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence, and every necessary weapon of war – to the disruption and to the defeat of the global terror network.

 

The Global War on Terror, as of 2011, cost approximately $5,000,000,000,000.

 

This war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion. It will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat. Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.

 

Bush refers to the 1991 War called Desert Storm, where the US quickly and easily defeated Iraq after Iraq invaded Kuwait. The Kosovo War was a genocide that the US assisted in ending.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Study questions:

How do you think the War on Terror has affected the American relationships with foreign countries?

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Did America waste the sympathy other nations showed it?

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Why do you think the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan failed?

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Why do you think America and the United Kingdom decided to attack Iraq?

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What do you think of Bush’s declaration that “you are either with us or with the terrorists”?

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What do you think is the real reason al Qaeda hates America and the West?

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When you look at America now and the United Kingdom 100 years ago, do you think they are still like Rome? Explain.

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Does Bush remind you of any Korean leaders? How?

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