In 2001, New York City wakes up to horrific attacks caused by the al-Qaeda terrorist of September 11, on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon buildings. As a result, the political leaders declared a "war on terrorism" which was to include more than 60 countries as enemies and planned to last for fifty years. In the same year, President Bush allocated $379 billion in Pentagon budget that included $48 billion for fighting terrorism. The parameters and nature of the war on terrorism, however, continue to be frustratingly unclear. The war on terrorism contained elements of war and non-war. Therefore, it is not a real war to fight the concept of terror rather than against the groups of targeted people. The Bush administration implemented war on terrorism to justify going to war with Iraq.
The "war on terrorism" as presently defined and conducted is dangerously ambitious and indiscriminate. Therefore, its parameters should be rearranged to fit in the concrete U.S. security interests as well as limiting the American power. The readjustment needs movement from unnecessarily provocative to traditional uses of military force and from unrealistic to realistic war aims. The United States has historically demonstrated a view of war as a substitute for politics. While the U.S military has looked congenitally hostile when performing their operations other than, war. Therefore, the "War on Terrorism" as currently defined and waged as tactically unfocused and seem to promise much more than it can deliver. In addition, the war threatens to dissolve U.S. military in a hopeless and endless search for absolute security. Despite U.S. destroying and defeating al-Qaeda, it cannot do the world of terrorism much less evil.
Various studies have indicated that the "War on Terrorism" does not qualify to be defined as war because it lacks the fundamental principles that define war. For instance, according to Bradley and Goldsmith, the "war on terrorism" lacks various basic "feature that define, justify, and limit the conduct of war". The author argues that the "War on terrorism" violates the concept of the "enemy alien" because the enemy interacts with the civilians and attacks the military and civilian targets alike. In addition, the battlefield does not have an exact geographic location and hence diminishing effort to defeat the terrorists, and consequently threatens the conceptualization of efforts to end the conflict.
The record also agrees that the global war on terrorism (GWOT) is not really a war but rather a military operation. The study indicates that the war on terrorism is similar to the drug war that involves the military's participation, and can only be termed as military operation instead of war. According to Sunstein, the Authorization of Military Force (AUMF) and Congress allowed the president to use military operation in combating individual, organizations, or nations that threatened the security in the United States. Record also argues, "The GWOT has so far encompassed two major military campaigns, in Afghanistan and Iraq". The author argues that these campaigns were fundamentally struggling and grand strategy that incorporated all elements of national power together with the resources of various countries.
In addition, research indicates that the same people argue that the AUMF has granted the President of the United States limited powers in the war on terror because it is not a real war. Similarly, some people argue that the conflict with terrorists is not a genuine war because it does not involve conflict between the states, and hence difficult to identify the enemy. Hoffman also understands that "terrorism itself is becoming a more diffuse and amorphous phenomenon: less centralized, and with more opaque command and control relationships." Therefore, the terrorist organizations and their members are not perceived as "belligerents" or "combatant" under the laws of war.
However, the literature illustrating that president has limited power in the war on terrorism because is not a real war is inaccurate. For instance, according to Professor Bradley and Goldsmith, the Congress and AUMF were aware that the President was authorized to apply military powers against the terrorist groups or organizations. Bradley and Goldsmith argue that the separation-of-powers approach is inadequate because the AUMF provides a reasonable interpretation that violates the basic liberties of American to end war on terror. For instance, the President can order the killing of a citizen on American soil for the reason that the citizen helped the terrorists to conduct the terrorist attack. Other instance, illustrates how the presidents of the United States have fully utilized military powers to attack the non-state actors with or without the congressional authorization. For instance, President Clinton ordered a voyage missile strikes to attack al Qaeda targets in Afghanistan and Sudan.
Although the war on terrorism is not perceived as war, various studies indicate that it possesses several elements of the traditional and past conventional wars the United States has fought in the past. Bradley and. Goldsmith argues, "The scale and organized nature of the September 11 attacks and the scope of their destruction in terms of lives, economic loss, and psychological trauma also transcend what is typical of mere criminal action." The nature of the al Qaeda's threat has been characterizing war because the group has threatened to use the weapon of mass destruction again the United States. Moreover, the goals of the al Qaeda terror group is political in nature and has forced the United States to increasingly and continuously use the military resources against the group. These are similar characteristics to the traditional war. In addition, because of the overpowering doctrine and technological superiority in the US military, the US is deliberately utilizing symmetric warfare such as terrorism and insurgency. As a result, this has locked the United States into the war of attrition. In addition, Angstrom et al. and Kalic argue that the war on terror are a modern war in the contemporary era of warfare where the enemy is primarily different from the enemy in the traditional wars.
The nature of the al Qaeda's threat has been characterized as a threat to use the weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) again the United States. Therefore, the war on terror was perceived as a war aimed to eliminate this potential threat. The United States had already acquired the intelligence to know that the terrorist groups have the likelihood of using the WMD against them and hence make the modern security environment more dangerous and complex. The National Security Strategy recognized Iran, North Korea, and Iraq as rogue nations that have the potential to use the WMDs. Therefore, the United States had to strategize and prepare to block the rogue nations and their associated terror groups from using the WMDs against the United States and its friends and allies. It is due to this reason that the United States was motivated to launch a war on terror to hinder their enemies from using the WMDs. From this perspective, the global war on terrorists is a response to the potential threats of using the WMDs against the US and its allies.
Theories as to why the war took place
In this research study, the theories that explain why the war on terrorism took place include Power Politics, Realism, Democratic Peace Theory, Misperceptions, and Costly Signals from the domesticated audience in the US. The Power Politics, theory helps to explain that the aims of GWOT were to divert the public concern from the failure to prevent September 11 attack or arrest al-Qaeda leaders, and from the best links to Saddam Husain. In addition, the GWOT was developed to cater for the interests of the intelligence agencies and defense bureaucracy. The United States attacked Iraq to avoid appearing vulnerable.
The Realism approach tends to investigate whether the GWOT was established to accomplish hegemony desires from the US such as imperialism. The theory also suggests that GWOT was established to mitigate nuclear proliferation and eliminate the Iraqi's WMD potential threat against the United States and its allies. Other motives for GWOT include self-interest of US, the balance of threat, more military powers and money applied as deterrence, and balance of threat. On the other hand, the Democratic Peace Theory portrayed the US as democratic and Iraq as not democratic. In addition, the prevalence of war proves the theory accurate, and war creates political mobilization in the US. The misperceptions include motivated and cognitive errors, the urge of Bush to surpass his father in the family dispute against Saddam, and the cognitive inability to embrace a non-state opponent and spontaneous resort to Cold War weaponry and strategies. In addition, the GWOT was established to enhance Bush's credibility and to rebuild US nationalism after 9/11.
Following the 9/11 attack in the United States, the political leaders declared a "war on terrorism" to attack the terrorists and rogue nations that posed a threat to the American security. The war identified 60 countries as enemies and was estimated to last for fifty years. In 2001, President Bush's administration allocated $379 billion in Pentagon budget that included $48 billion for fighting terrorism. The AUMF and Congress allowed the president to use military operation in combating individual, organizations, or nations that threatened the security in the United States. The parameters and nature of the war on terrorism, however, continue to be frustratingly unclear. The war on terrorism contained elements of war and non-war. The Bush administration implemented war on terrorism to justify going to war with Iraq.
Evidence of Conflict and Analysis of Theories
Power politics is a theory that manipulates war with an aim of political leaders achieving political and financial benefits. The theory was used to divert the public from knowing why the Bush administration failed to prevent 9/11, to capture al-Qaeda leaders and to know the past ties that were between Saddam Hussein and Bush administration. For instance, Bush was lacking the legitimacy of an uncorrupted electoral victory. However, after the incidence of September 11, he seized a political opportunity that was presented by the terrorist attacks to declare himself as a "war president" and later invaded Iraq to extend the politically favorable domestic climate that were created.
Additionally, the theory was used to cover up the past ties that were between Saddam Hussein and Bush administration. Bush aided Saddam with military intelligence, loans, and weapons during the Iran-Iraq war. Additionally, the interests of the United States were desegregated by bureaucratic politics to defend the intelligence agencies. The U.S government had factions that promoted war with an aim of advancing their interests in the intra-elite competition for power. The war was against Iraq, nor any other nation to distract the administration's failure to find Osama Bin Laden as well as his senior deputy and the failure to prevent the Renaissance of the Taliban in Afghanistan. The war was against Iraq due to inevitable national security and the interest in protecting the reputation of U.S not to be seemed weak if it could leave the Baathist regime intact.
Realists believe that nations try their level best to survive, and hence, the survival of the nation is above all other things. Realism power is used to control outcomes and makes international politics remain in a constant balance of power where some nations will gain more power. For instance, U.S felt that Iraq was a threat and hence there was a necessity to balance against Iraq. The United States was the only hegemon in a unipolarity system and therefore there was no any other nation that it could share the risk with. In addition, maintaining hegemony was to avoid 9/11 decline by demonstrating America willingness to use force.
Realism also helped America to avoid nuclear proliferation by implementing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs. This helped in eliminating WMD threat against the America as well as its allies. By implementing those programs was to prove that an invasion of Iraq was a self-defense approach. This is supported by the realist theory, which tries to use the great power of U.S to balance the state. However, according to Bush, the war was not largely motivated by self-interest of the United States.
In Kenneth Waltz article, he quotes a French priest in saying that, "I have never known a country disposing of overwhelming power to behave with forbearance and moderation for more than a very short period." By quoting him, Waltz meant that a nation could not learn from history, and abuse their power. Despite Waltz being against the Iraq war, he believes that it was predictable that invasion of us to Iraq was to happen since hegemons will certainly destroy themselves.
Democratic Peace Theory
The theory refers to the notion that democracies by nature do not go to war with one another. This is a theory of peace that suggests that the war was not really, since it outlines motives that discourage state-sponsored violence. The United States believed that implanting democracy in the heart of the Middle East was an idea of promoting democracy that has the salutary effect of advancing peace. Therefore, this shows that U.S was democratic while Iraq did not enhance democracy. The war later came to prove the theory was accurate since if Iraq could have implemented on the theory, the war could never happen.
The theory included motivated and cognitive errors that could justify going to war with Iraq. The theory states that if there was enough evidence that the United States had found WMD in Iraq or evidence that Iraq was funding and supporting al-Qaeda, then they did not require UN approval for them to go to war. Hence, the theory considers it as a self-defense act. Another misperception was that the Bush administration invaded Iraq to surpass his father and family vendetta against war with Saddam. Finally, misperceptions help U.S to adapt cognitive inability to a non-state opponent as well as the reflexive option to Cold War strategies and weaponry, as well as the ignorance of the Middle East, especially Iraq.
Costly Signals from domestic audience in the US
A significant number of Americans back Bush for his sound mind decision of invading Iraq and declaring himself as a war president to extend his political powers in the domestic climate. He had intentions to keep military strengths beyond a challenge to outdo Saddam as well as overthrowing his government. This made Bush remain relevant as American politics are concerned.
As indicated by various studies and theories, the war on terrorism contains several elements of the traditional and past conventional wars the United States has fought in the past. For instance, the President has the capacity to utilize full military powers to attack the terrorist organizations and their members, and the AUMF and Congress are aware of that. In addition, the scope and nature of the organized attack, the nature of the al Qaeda's threat the goals of the al Qaeda terror groups, and the use of symmetric warfare such as terrorism and insurgency characterize GWOT to war. Different theories have indicated that the aim of GWOT was to fulfill financial and political benefits. The political nature of GWOT illustrates that the war on terrorism is really a war.
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