On the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, not a single U.S. soldier remained on Afghan soil. The American-backed Kabul administration and its army collapsed at lightning speed, and Taliban forces regained control of the country almost instantaneously.
Meanwhile, the 20th anniversary of 9/11 sparked some interesting debates in the U.S. Among the commentary made in American media is the admission that the "global war against terror" resulted in a fiasco for the country.
One of the remarkable comments was that the Military-Industrial Complex is the sole party that has actually profited from the global war against terror in the 20 years since the 9/11 attacks.
Of course, U.S. President Joe Biden's decision to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan does not mean that America has finally ended its "forever wars." The U.S. alone still represents almost half of global military spending.
Despite the pressures and initiatives of the younger generations of the Democratic Party who oppose the "endless wars," Biden's defense budget is even larger than his predecessor’s. However, hawkish Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress are pushing the Biden administration to spend even more.
Moreover, civilian casualties caused by the so-called global war on terror have also been widely discussed. We do not know exactly how many innocent people died in aerial bombings or drone attacks. Just recently, the U.S. launched a drone attack on a vehicle in the Afghan capital Kabul on August 29. However, it turned out that the 10 civilians who lost their lives in the attack had no ties to any terrorist organization. To add insult to injury, it turned out that seven of them were actually children. Even more tragic is the fact that we now know that Zemari Ahmadi, who was the target of the attack, was working as an electrical engineer in an American organization that distributes aid in Afghanistan. According to U.S. media reports, Zemari Ahmadi and his family were among the Afghans who wanted to leave the country and seek asylum in the U.S.
Many non-governmental organizations in the United States are discussing the cost of the wars against terror on American society. According to a report by the "Costs of War" project conducted at Brown University, 20 years of war cost the United States $8 trillion.
According to the same study, more than 900,000 people have died in 20 years. According to political scientist Professor Neta Crawford, these numbers are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the real damage these wars have wrought on lives. “The war has been long and complex and horrific and unsuccessful... and the war continues in over 80 countries,” said Catherine Lutz, co-director of Costs of War and a professor of international and public affairs at Brown. The stated purpose of the project is to raise awareness about how these wars are financed.
Another study was carried out by the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). Lindsay Koshgarian, director of the institute's "National Priorities Project," points that the direct and indirect costs of the Federal Government's global war on terror inside and outside the United States in the last 20 years have cost American taxpayers $21 trillion.
Emphasizing that it is now clear that 21 trillion dollars did not render Americans any safer, Koshgarian says, “Around the world, the forever wars have cost 900,000 lives and left 38 million homeless — and as the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan has shown us, they were a massive failure.”
According to the IPS study, 16 trillion of the 21 trillion went to the Pentagon. At least $7.2 trillion of this figure was spent on military contracts.
According to the same study, many of the pressing problems facing American society could have been solved with far less than the amount funneled into the forever wars over the past 20 years.
One of the most striking comments in American media came from Garrett M. Graff, the author of the popular book titled "The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11."
In his September 8 article titled "After 9/11, the U.S. Got Almost Everything Wrong," penned for The Atlantic, Graff pointed that the terrorist attacks poisoned America and its politics. Stressing that the so-called duty of protecting the world from evil has dragged the United States to the brink of disaster, Graff ended his op-ed with the following observation: "Looking back after two decades, I can’t escape the conclusion that the enemy we ended up fighting after 9/11 was ourselves."