(Original post by Rhadamanthus)
It was not a pointless military adventure that satisfied the American desire for revenge. No new atrocities have yet occurred in the US, in part because Al Qaeda was forced to change its strategy and the information and personnel rounded up in Afghanistan has prevented such attacks. Training camps that had once provided more than 20,000 fighters, according to the IISS, are now closed. Was this a traditional war that can be won? Yes. Against whom? The Taliban in part, but mainly against a terrorist group, and in light of the elections and the campaign to protect civilians that is ongoing as I write, it is a war against terror itself, or more specifically the use of terror to cow an entire population into accepting the rule of intimidation. Most Afghans, you may be surprised to know, do not accept the 500 year-old 'morality' of the Taliban.
The reason for the growth of radical Islamic terrorist organisations is not US occupation of Muslim lands, but is the changing nature of the state system itself and the growth of the modern market state and the accompanying global reach of the Islamist ideology - rule by terror. Groups like Al Qaeda attempt to replicate this terror through their actions. For them, terror can be an end in itself and not always just a means to an end. This, again, differentiates them from nation state terror groups like the ETA who would carry out bombings to make people pay attention to them and to ensure self-governance for themselves. In Europe and the Middle East, Al Qaeda seek terror as an end in itself. That is precisely where their actions will take us if they are not defeated: societies where women cannot be equal, where girls can't attend school, where religion rules the public sphere, and where free speech is severely restricted - all backed up with the threat of violence. States in the twenty-first century should actively oppose any effort made by global, networked terror groups to implement their goals - goals ranging from the creation of an Islamic Caliphate to instilling an attitude of fear amongst civilians of Western democracies. If a group such as Al Qaeda can instill fear to such an extent that civilians of free democracies feel they cannot perform their legal rights (whether it be voting or simply eating in a restaurant) then the state has failed in its duty to protect.
I assume when you talk of "democracy by stealth bomber" that you are referring to the use of unmanned drones to eradicate terrorist outposts. NATO figures show that there was a 9% reduction
in violence throughout the country and in areas where the fighting increased, NATO had gone on the offensive. Civilian deaths in the last 4 months have dropped 21%
. There was a 2011 UN report which suggested a significant rise but
their figures included arrests, searches and "intimidation" as "security incidents." The loss of civilian life is regrettable, but it does not make the campaign illegitimate.
In Afghanistan the death toll is not quite as high as many think. At the high end, the figure
is 14,700 and the low end is 12,500. And again – every single report, every single statistic notes that almost all of these are killed by the Taliban or its allies. Civilian deaths caused by pro-government forces decreased by 24% from 2009-2010
, making them responsible for 15% of civilian casualties. UN figures show
that only 9% of the civilians killed in 2012 were attributable to coalition forces.