Enough Already

Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism
© 2021 Scott Horton
330 pages

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.

Related:
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.

About smellincoffee

Citizen, librarian, reader with a boundless wonder for the world and a curiosity about all the beings inside it.
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14 Responses to Enough Already

  1. Cyberkitten says:

    The ‘War on Terror’ was a stupid idea from the get go. As if you can make ‘war’ on an idea, tactic or technique…. Of course politicians thought that they had to be ‘seen to be doing something’ rather than handling it the normal way with law enforcement, the Security Services and, where required, Special Forces. But no one has ever accused politicians of doing the smart thing….

  2. I don’t know. The tribes across the world do a pretty good job killing each other with or without foreign influence. We cannot implement democratic ideologies on people who are loyal only to their own tribe. Belonging to a culture and religion that has kept millions of people culturally in the dark ages is not going to change by force. And thanks to oil and the massive amounts of money it’s accrued, people with primitive tribal loyalties now have the technology to be a world wide terror threat.
    How did you help this man kick-start his book? I ask because I’m ready to launch a book.

    • It’s been a bit over two years now, but I think Scott hosted something on his website or the Libertarian Institute’s. Those who paid $25 would receive an autographed copy of the book. It may have looked something like this: https://libertarianinstitute.org/donate/

      I can’t argue that the regional powers are bellicose even without foreign influence, but DC’s culpability in a great deal of its current and past unrest is undeniable — between funding groups, arming groups, and taking part itself, as it was doing with Yemen until recently. DC doesn’t belong over there on principle alone, nevermind the results.

      • Cyberkitten says:

        Generally it all goes back to the end of WW1 and the carve up of the Middle East by the British and the French. *Everything* follows on from that…….

  3. mudpuddle says:

    i don’t disagree with any of the above, saving that the probability is that the instigators of all this incompetent “nonsense” are the major corporations who’ve manipulated the government into these sorts of policy so they can make more money… capitalism in addition to destroying the planet, fosters unbridled and unprincipled competition, demolishing any chance of co-operation designed to help people instead of kill them…

    • Corporations are of course a heavy actor, particularly where mideast oil is concern. But much of DC’s involvement has been initially pragmatic and geostrategic — attempting to prevent Nazis and Soviets from controlling or interfering with the flow of oil, more to our allies than us.

      Bellyaching about ‘capitalism’ is weak, to me — humanity will seek material gain and material goods regardless of what economic system is in play. The heart of the beast is avarice and greed. Capitalism is merely freedom to seek and preserve that gain — and the hyperproductivity it allows is also what keeps politicians and intellectuals paid. :p

      • mudpuddle says:

        and i thought I was anti-human! i see you take it to another level and you’re probably right; so is it impossible to educate the species out of its seemingly genetic predisposition to self-destruction?

      • I’m certainly not anti-human…I just recognize that humans are not perfect and cannot be made perfect through science, economics, or legislation.

      • Cyberkitten says:

        Oh, I think that Capitalism is *THE* problem underlying most of the other issues besetting the world right now. Our choice is simply to end Capitalism before it ends us. Of course once we’re gone Capitalism will follow but that’s hardly any compensation [lol]

      • We are born with problems — born poor, exposed to disease, etc. Capitalism has done more to bring humanity out of the sickly slums than any legislation I’m aware of. India, China, and various African nations being a salient example. In my lifetime they’ve grown from being over-populated and very nearly third world countries into leaders of the global economy, with increasing influence in intellectual spheres. The same problems that people attribute to capitalism were present within other economic attempts — injustice, environmental degradation — but with no way forward. Capitalism is simply human freedom. There are potential consequences of that freedom which I don’t like, but it’s like living in a nation with the second amendment. I’ll take the freedom to arm myself even knowing other people may MIS USE that freedom. Taking away economic freedom from people in the name of fighting problems is a losing game. I’ll take capitalism over the parasites of the state any day of the week and twice on Friday night…

  4. Genetic predisposition to self-destruction. That’s a scientific way of describing man’s fallen nature. Which is to say I agree with the diagnosis, even if my good friend mudpuddle and I disagree on the origin.

    • Cyberkitten says:

      Oh, we are a VERY destructive species but I don’t believe we are inherently *self* destructive. Given the right circumstances and the right motivation we are capable of great things. Our ‘nature’ is reassuringly plastic hence our great adaptability.

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