Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism
© 2021 Scott Horton
The war on terror has consumed American resources and human lives for well over twenty years now, breaking numerous countries, deforming the United States at multiple levels, and perpetuating itself like a cancer. In Enough Already, a journalist who has specialized in understanding the Middle East and DC’s role there, armed with experience from thousands of interviews with authorities across the world and spurred by his passion for justice, offers a critical history of the conflict which urges Americans to stop being so complacent about the corruption at home and devastation abroad which DC’s policies have created. It is infuriating, tragic, and comprehensive as a single volume can be without exploding to Biblical lengths.
The war on terror did not begin on September 12th, 2001. al-Queda’s infamous and murderous attack upon New York City and the American people was inspired by longstanding meddling by DC. The United States became increasingly involved in the Middle East throughout the 20th century for geopolitical reasons, needing to stabilize access to its oil reserves and sea lanes for its allies, and to limit access from DC’s foes – including Germany, but especially the Soviet Union. This meant that the Empire of Liberty, beset with a sense of mission and power after World War 2, became increasingly involved in the business of people a world away – supporting dictators or even replacing leaders with a democratic backing to create a order most amenable to its own interests. This generated – unsurpisingly to anyone but DC’s experts — reaction. Bush’s asinine explanation of the terrorists’ motives (“They hate us for our freedoms”) ignored the perpetuator’s steady stream of releases decrying DC’s frequent mideast interventions, bombings, and placement of troops through the region. The latter decades of the 20th century were flecked with explosive anger targeted at American interests in the middle east, crowned by the “planes mission” that Osama bin Laden conceived to draw the United States further into the mideast so that it might drive itself to financial ruin and bankrupt any influence it had in the region. Well, “Tamat almuhima!” as they might say in Arabic — Mission Accomplished.
In the aftermath of September 11, George W. Bush committed the nation not to simply finding the persons responsible and then giving them their just desserts, but to fighting terrorism abroad – any time, any place, anywhere. This grandiose mission led to first invading Afghanistan when the ruling powers the Taliban would have been happy to surrender bin Laden in a way that would let them save face, and then invading Iraq for an array of farcial reasons, and still later sowing chaos in Somalia, Libya, and most notably, Syria. Rather than destroying al-Qaeda, the sudden expansion of American power in the region inflamed passions, particularly as DC picked favorites to rule Iraq and Afghanistan, persons and parties who were already at odds with other groups in the country. Al-Qaeda and sister groups’ membership ballooned, to the point that after American troops had officially “left” Iraq, they were forced to re-invade after an al-Qaeda offshoot labeling itself the Islamic State took over large portions of Iraq and Syria — an event entirely made possible by DC’s recklessness. So catastrophically did DC fail in its mission, so far did it stray from its own ideals, that in Syria it was actively helping fund groups linked to al-Qaeda. The war on terror has driven the war-state to bankruptcy – moral and fiscal.
After recounting the train of horrors visited upon people the world over by the overweening ambition of DC’s political types, all of whom have sworn to end or curtail the terror war only to continue and expand it, Horton ends with a chapter on how the war on terror has adversely affected Americans through the expanding security state. Perhaps we don’t care that DC and by connection the American people are complicit in hundreds of thousands of deaths — through wars created by DC-spurred chaos, through starvation caused by sanctions, through disease because of DC’s bombing of civilian infrastructure — but surely the insidious growth of the NSA and CIA’s online surveillance networks, treating us all like subjects in 1984, might stir us to action? The ongoing militarization of the police force — both the direct transferral of ex-servicemen into the law enforcement sector, with laxer engagement standards and the use of military-grade armor, weapons, and equipment by civilian law enforcement — has provoked some response, but in a distorted way. Instead of targeting militarization itself, public outcry is fixated on the red herring of racist cops.
For me, Horton is preaching to the choir. I’ve been angry about the war on terror for sixteen years now, growing to hate Bush and Obama because of their expansion of the polite state and their aggressiveness abroad. The war on terror helped form my political identity as a libertarian, and my copy of this book is autographed — a result of having funded Horton’s kickstarter. A lot of this sorry story I already knew, but the chaos in Libya, Somalia, and Mali has fallen under my radar until now. Horton does an admirable job of addressing decades of action and misery in just a few hundred pages, and — despite his passion for the subject, which listeners of his podcast are familiar with — he only rarely editorializes, instead letting the raw facts speak for themselves.
Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan, Scott Horton. Intended as part of this volume, but a re-write prompted Horton to release a separate book on Afghanistan and then a broader view of the terror-wars.
The Looming Tower: al-Queda and the Road to 9/11, Lawrence Wright
The Scott Horton Podcast, featuring thousands of interviews since 2003. Listen and you’ll never take a talking-head on the mainstream media seriously again.