From the attacks on the twin towers to the recent disaster in Afghanistan, 20 years of deadlock in the war on terror have allowed the jihadist movement to take advantage of mistakes in American policy.
On Sept. 11, 2001, we were all Americans. Twenty years later, the United States has never seemed so alone. The disaster in Afghanistan — America’s rush to withdraw, the collapse of the Afghan army faced with the sudden acceleration of the Taliban’s advance and finally, the murderous attack of Aug. 28 at Kabul airport, perpetrated by the Islamic State — brings two decades of stalemate in the war on terror to a tragic end. In scarcely six months, Joe Biden has ruined his efforts to fix relations with his allies, damaged by four years of the Trump administration.
The new tenant of the White House had announced his wish to end this “endless war” as far back as his presidential campaign. The withdrawal, promised to be completed before the symbolic date of Sept. 11, was intended to mark the start of a new chapter for America. The project, already begun by Donald Trump, who signed an agreement with the Taliban, could have achieved a consensus. But images of the army’s defeat, chaos at the airport and the procession of helicopters over the Afghan capital were a cruel reminder of Saigon and the fall of Vietnam in 1975 — another humiliation for Washington after the collapse of the twin towers in Manhattan.
Muslim Countries Hit Hard
The 9/11 attacks — like Pearl Harbor in 1941 — first and foremost led to a declaration of war by the Americans, who took charge of a coalition against terrorism. However, with victory against the Taliban assured and Osama bin Laden on the run, the United States then launched a crusade against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, justified by a lie: the existence of weapons of mass destruction. The use of torture on prisoners of war and global surveillance in the name of counterterrorism has weakened democracies and international organizations such as the United Nations and NATO. And the world has changed, to the great pleasure of Beijing, Moscow, Tehran and Ankara, who are now trying to regain areas abandoned by the West.
While Islamist attacks have moved away from American soil, they have hit Europe hard, and even more so, Muslim countries in the Middle East, Africa and, of course, Afghanistan. It is here that jihadists have killed most of their 180,000 victims in the past 20 years, sometimes in spite of the presence of international forces. It is in these countries that they are regenerating, capitalizing on this huge world disorder.