Fifteen years ago, I was getting ready for school and yelling at my big brother for hiding my Sleeping Beauty backpack from me when my mom turned on the TV, and I witnessed an airplane slam into the side of a building. I was too young to understand why it happened or how this was a turning point in world history, but I did understand what just happened was horric; no one just attacks the United States. In the minds of many watching the Twin Towers collapse, this was war even before Congress passed one of the shortest most vague bills in history authorizing the use of force against terrorism.
With this bill, the United States declared war on an ideology. According to Clausewitz, declaring war on terrorism is acceptable because the War on Terror, at the time, had a clear political objective. The political object, directly after 9/11, aimed to protect the United States by eradicating the group responsible, and many other countries joined the U.S’s War on Terror. With Al Qaeda’s numbers all but decimated, the world’s War on Terror continues. Though a valid war with a strict political objective fifteen years ago, countries are now abusing the War on Terror as an unacceptable excuse to use excessive violence and destruction for political means outside the objectives of the declaration of war.
The “War on Terror” is now a failsafe term countries use to forgo reasonable justifications for violence and to disregard human rights. Russia attacks non-ISIS rebels in Syria in the name of killing terrorist even though the rebels were not terrorists. The rebels had only the distinct misfortune of standing on the opposite side of Russian backed Assad. Turkey’s uses its ISIS bombing initiatives as an excuse to also bomb the Kurdistan's Workers' Party (PKK) who are major actors in fighting against ISIS in Iraq. China continually oppresses separatists and government dissenters by monitoring social media and using violence such as executing Uighurs separatists in the streets while they protest. The United States’ “targeted killings” of terrorists has left over 800 civilians dead. Countries, in the name of eradicating terror, carried out all these acts of terror.
Though all these countries actions are politically motivated, the world has wandered far from its original objective of protecting their home countries from attacks like 9/11. The world stepped onto a path of using preventing terrorism as an excuse for violence to advance their governments’ agenda. Fifteen years ago, the world fought to protect ourselves from watching another plane fly into another tower. Now, the world fights terrorism for further political gain. The world is no longer fighting 9/11’s “War on Terror.” The question is “Were we ever?”