According to Brown University’s Cost of War Project, the war on terror has cost approximately $5.9 trillion since September 11, 2001, including $2 trillion for operations in various foreign countries and $924 billion for security at home. And what do we have to show for it?
Not much. The jihadis haven’t struck again in America on the scale they did on 9/11, but they have struck, in Boston, Fort Hood, Chattanooga, Little Rock, San Bernardino, New York City, and elsewhere. The jihad threat is still very much with us.
Indicative of why these trillions have largely been wasted is the fact that the people who are prosecuting this war keep predicting that it will end in a few years. General Petraeus said in 2010 that it could take another ten years to defeat the Afghan “insurgency.” Do you think the Taliban is likely to be disbanded and Afghanistan to be a stable, functioning republic in 2020? Did he really think that? Unfortunately, he probably did, because to think otherwise would have been “Islamophobic.”
Likewise in Britain. In 2007, the UK security chief, Admiral Lord Alan West, said it could take 30 years to defeat terrorism in the United Kingdom. Do you think that in 2037, Britain will be peaceful and free of jihad terrorists?
The very idea is preposterous, and it is preposterous for the same reason that we have spent so much money and have accomplished so little.
West said more in that 2007 interview:
I now realize that we are talking about a generation — and by that I would say 30 years. That doesn’t mean necessarily that we are going to stay at a severe level of threat for all those years. But to be able to say one has absolutely changed the mind-set and thought of people IS going to take a generation.
West nailed the answer there — but no one seemed to notice.
Because nothing, nothing whatsoever, is being done in Britain or anywhere else to change “the mind-set and thought of people.”
The entirety of Western intelligentsia, the totality of our political and media elites, steadfastly refuses to acknowledge exactly what the “mindset and thought” of the terrorists really is, and where it comes from. Because of that refusal, policies that don’t deal with the actual problem keep being applied and re-applied — at the cost of thousands of American lives, billions of American dollars — and we have nothing to show for this expenditure besides a sharp and continuing loss of American power and prestige.
The jihadis who struck the U.S. on September 11, 2001 have made such immense advances since then not because they are strong, or clever, or capable, but because we are weak, short-sighted, and resolute. Resolute not in fighting them, but in maintaining our denial about who they are and what they want.
The denial is so complete that we have taken numerous steps to actually enable them to achieve their goals: the billions that Barack Obama gifted to the Islamic Republic of Iran and the welcoming of the massive Muslim migrant influx into Europe are just two of the most recent examples.
After Fort Hood, and Boston, and Garland, and Chattanooga, and San Bernardino, and Orlando, and Paris, and Brussels, and Nice, and so very many others, this myopia is ludicrous to the point of being grotesque.
And it is the key reason why this war drags on: millions unthinkingly accept the dogma that to speak honestly and accurately about the jihadis’ motives and goals is to descend into “racism” and “bigotry,” and to endanger innocent Muslims.
Over seventeen years after jihadis murdered nearly 3,000 Americans, it is still almost unheard-of for there to be an honest discussion of jihadi motives and goals in the mainstream.
The Leftist political and media elites are dug in: wholeheartedly committed to denial, willful ignorance, and policies that are self-defeating to the point of suicidal. In light of that, the wonder is not that this war has lasted so long, but that we have held out so long.
Unless Trump prevails and this denial is decisively rejected and discarded, much darker days are coming.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His new book is The History of Jihad From Muhammad to ISIS. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.
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