America is the great loser in the war against terror that was launched in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. Too sure of itself in 2001, it is now paying the price.

The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 brought about the first great war of the 21st century — a war with unclear boundaries that the United States started in response to the spectacular aggression of the jihadi organization al-Qaida. The U.S. presented it as a global battle against terrorism and used it as an excuse to invade Iraq, a country unrelated to the attack of which it was the victim. The American administration of the time tried to turn the slap in the face inflicted by al-Qaida into an implacable demonstration of America’s military superiority. It nearly succeeded by invading Afghanistan in record time and overthrowing the Taliban regime, which was guilty of protecting the terrorist organization. But America then became blinded by its own success. By extending the battlefield to Mesopotamia, it passed a tipping point, which was a mistake. Fourteen years after its clear victory, the United States has turned out to be the great loser in the conflict. Washington’s first defeat is a moral one. Although the United States likes to present itself as the defender par excellence of democracy, it has disqualified itself from this role in a number of ways — most notably with its massive violation of human rights through the practice of arbitrary detention and torture, and by invading Iraq on the basis of an enormous lie, the supposed presence of weapons of mass destruction in the country.

A Clear Military Failure in Iraq As Well As in Afghanistan

The second failure is military. In Afghanistan, the United States helplessly witnessed the strong resurgence of its adversary, the Taliban. In Iraq, it had to abandon the land to its worst enemies, the Shiites and Sunnis. The American administration is now trying to extract itself from this hornet’s nest, but without success.

The third failure is strategic. The United States has exhausted its moral capital and military reputation in the Middle East when both could have been used more effectively elsewhere, such as in Asia, where tomorrow’s world is emerging. The opportunity has been lost. It will not return. The first 15 years of the 21st century may go down in history as the beginning of the end of American supremacy.