End the war on terrorism

5 February 2018

End the war on terrorism

Early last week foreign affairs commentator Jan van Benthem of the national daily newspaper Nederlands Dagblad condemned the bloody attack in Afghanistan in which the Taliban used an ambulance to deliver a bomb. He coupled this condemnation with a call not to let up on the fight against the ultimate evil which is terrorism. In this, Van Benthem found it necessary to attack supporters of a different, more effective approach, including the writer of this article. He even gave the impression that I was lacking the moral conviction to oppose this evil.

I beg your pardon!?

It's a shame that the foreign affairs commentator didn't take the time to have a closer look at my arguments in favour of ending the war in Afghanistan, the part of the War on Terrorism which began there in 2001, a war which has since become permanent.

Of course attacks by the Taliban, al-Qaeda or any other terrorist group must be condemned, and I do this just as much as anyone else. But an attack, however horrifying, must never be used as an argument for continuing an unwinnable war, a war which has led and is leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of refugees, immense destruction and not to less, but on the contrary to much more terrorism.

As a result of the US wars against Afghanistan and Iraq, these countries are suffering far more attacks. The renowned American Cato Institute has calculated that since the start of the US occupation of these countries the number of attacks has grown by some 1,900%, while prior to 2001 they were rare. The recent attack with an ambulance was unfortunately just one out of hundreds which are making life for many Afghans unbearable.

Even worse, the War on Terrorism has brought us the terror movement ISIS, which has reached such appalling havoc in Iraq and Syria. After years of struggle ISIS has now surfaced in Afghanistan too, as well as in a number of other countries.

Attacks and the menace of terrorism have also grown enormously since George W. Bush unleashed the War on Terror. Recent major attacks in Paris, Manchester, Brussels and other cities bear witness to this.

Terror and the diabolical ideology behind it must certainly be fought against, but this fight must not be conducted in such a way that it leads to more harm. Anyone who advocates continuing the existing approach is advocating permanent war. Absolutely nobody, aside from arms manufacturers, would gain from that.

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