Afghanistan: 5 lessons learned from the ‘war on terror’ since 9/11

Silhouette of soldier and prison fence in photo taken against the sun.

Credit, Getty Images

Photo caption,

US abuses at Guantánamo prison have scratched the image of the West

September 11, 2001 brought the United States to its knees with the worst terrorist attack in the country’s history.

Soon afterward, part of the world saw a sharp contrast: there were the good guys and the bad guys. “Every nation, every region,” then President George W. Bush declared, nine days after the attacks, “now has a decision to make. You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists.”

The so-called “war on terror” was declared. It has since led to the invasion of Afghanistan, then Iraq, the rise of the Islamic State and the proliferation of Iranian-backed militias across the Middle East, and the deaths of thousands of soldiers and civilians.

Terrorism has not been eliminated — several European countries have come under attack in recent years — but there have also been successes. So far, there has never been an attack approaching the scale of 9/11.