A report created by the U.K.-based Oxford Research Group (ORG) sums up the consequences of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past decade as “a war gone badly wrong.”
Paul Rogers, a professor of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford in West Yorkshire and Global Security Consultant to ORG, created the report which seeks to measure the intentions for U.S. and European involvement in the Mideast against the consequences of involvement 10 years later. The author says the horrific events of 9/11 were a sound reason for the U.S. to pursue al-Qaida in the Mideast, but that the War on Terror has essentially lost direction and represents unexplainable and indefensible practices of foreign policy as it enters its second decade.
The report concludes:
A brief war in Afghanistan is shortly to enter its second decade, seven years of war in Iraq have yet to bring a lasting peace, and Pakistan remains deeply unstable. Meanwhile, groups linked loosely with the al-Qaida movement make progress in Yemen, Nigeria, Algeria and the Horn of Africa.
At present, the outlook is somewhat bleak. The United States and its coalition allies have indeed started to learn from a decade’s failures; but the lessons they are drawing show them still to be rooted in a “control paradigm”: keeping the lid on conflicts (“liddism”) rather than preventing their emergence. The control paradigm still dominates, albeit in a slightly different form. Rather than a reliance on “boots on the ground” and troop “surges”, and the sustained use of air-power and precision-guided munitions, we are likely to witness a blurring of the roles between the military and agencies such as the CIA; an assumption of paramilitary roles by intelligence agencies; and a deployment of the military’s special forces in “taking out” threats whenever and wherever they arise.
In the context of an increasingly fragile and uncertain world, and of a situation where radical groups and individuals from marginalised communities are capable of probing the innate weaknesses of advanced industrial states, these measures are seriously misconceived in terms of finding solutions to the problems western states are facing. This new way of attempting to “control” global insecurity, exemplified in the reaction to Osama bin Laden’s death, may initially prove popular. But so, once, were the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is difficult to imagine that the newer type of “transnational” warfare will be any more successful than the failed policies of the last decade.
The report also calls upon U.S. and British officials to use the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 as an opportunity to reflect on the mistakes of the past decade via an in-depth, comprehensive assessment of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The measure, according to ORG, will allow the U.S. and its partners to learn from the evident failure of the War on Terror by paying more attention to the underlying causes of conflict, such as factors motivating young paramilitaries to take extreme action.