Should countries like the United States rethink the “war on terror?”
For more than a decade, the United States has made the elimination of terrorist organizations that pose a threat to national security one of its central foreign policy objectives. This “war on terror” has cost the lives of thousands of American soldiers, has entailed extensive collateral damage to innocent civilian populations in countries that harbor terrorist groups that the U.S. has targeted, and is costing taxpayers trillions of dollars (Reuters: 14 Mar 2013). And given the continued turmoil in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, and Pakistan, for instance, in which terrorist organizations are known to exist and are said to continue to pose significant risks to the U.S. and Europe (New York Times: 25 Mar 2014), it is unclear whether efforts to eliminate the threat of future terrorist attacks have been successful. It is unclear, in other words, that the “war on terror” has made us any safer.
Is it time that countries like the United States reevaluate their approach toward global terrorism? Why or why not? Would a different foreign policy strategy to eliminate the threat of terrorist violence be any more effective? Are there more important foreign policy goals we should be pursuing?