War on Terror Debate

History and Debate of War on Terror

The War on Terror is an international campaign to end terrorism. The effort is overseen by the United States and the United Kingdom and also receives much support from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO. The effort has included several wars, most recently the Iraq War and also the War in Afghanistan. It is being fought predominantly in the Middle East, but also in Southeast Asia and the Horn of Africa.

The War on Terror officially began on October 7, 2001 and was spurred by the attack on the World Trade Center of the United States on September 11, 2001. The initial phase of the War on Terror was the War in Afghanistan. This resulted in the fall of the Taliban government as well as the destruction of the Al 'Qaeda camps. The Iraq War began in 2003 and has resulted in the overthrow of the Baath Party government as well as the execution of Saddam Hussein, the nation's former leader. Free elections and a democratic government have been instated in Iraq, but insurgency and loss of civilian lives continues.

The phrase "War on Terror" was initially used by President George W. Bush. However, it has not been used by the administration of President Barack Obama. Instead, this administration prefers to refer to the effort as the Overseas Contingency Operation. This is largely because the concept of a war on terror has been criticized for its lack of a framework and defined enemy.

Proponents of the War on Terror

Proponents in the War on Terror debate commonly support the cause because they believe the government will be able to end terrorism through the effort. It has been shown that ending terrorism is nearly impossible and many people feel, in fact, that the world is less safe since the invasion of Iraq.

Opponents of the War on Terror

Critics in the War on Terror debate commonly charge that it has been exploited by governments to reduce civil liberties and take away basic human rights. Many argue that the term war is not appropriately used in this context since there is no one enemy. Ken McDonald, the Director of Public Prosecutions in the United Kingdom, has stated that those responsible for terrorist attacks like the London Bombings are not, in fact, soldiers. Thus, they should be dealt with through the criminal justice system, not through military action.

One other problem with the War on Terror is the lack of agreement on the very definition of terrorism. Some who are labeled terrorists in one nation may be considered freedom fighters in another. In fact, citizens of Iran and Venezuela commonly use the work "terrorism" to describe the actions of the United States during the War.

Some also believe that the War on Terror is very inefficient in achieving its goals. In a 2005 paper, an Oxford Group showed that the Al Qaeda was still alive and active, despite efforts of American forces. George Bush pledged that the War on Terror would not end until every global terrorist group had been found and defeated. This initially rallied support for the war, but upon further examination proved to be rather unrealistic and seems to denote a perpetual war.

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