War on terror
The war on terror, officially the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), is an ongoing international counter-terrorism military campaign initiated by the United States following the September 11 attacks. The targets of the campaign are primarily Islamic terrorist groups, with prominent targets including al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. (Learn how and when to remove these template messages)
The "war on terror" uses war as a metaphor to describe a variety of actions which fall outside the traditional definition of war taken to eliminate international terrorism. 43rd President of the United States George W. Bush first used the term "war on terrorism" on 16 September 2001, and then "war on terror" a few days later in a formal speech to Congress. Bush indicated the enemy of the war on terror as "a radical network of terrorists and every government that supports them." The initial conflict was aimed at al-Qaeda, with the main theater in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a region that would later be referred to as "AfPak".
The term "war on terror" was immediately criticized by individuals including Richard Myers, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and eventually more nuanced terms came to be used by the Bush administration to define the campaign. While "war on terror" was never used as a formal designation of U.S. operations, a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal was issued by the U.S. Armed Forces.
The Obama administration sought to avoid use of the term and instead preferred to use the term Overseas Contingency Operation. On 23 May 2013, Obama announced that the Global War on Terror was over, indicating that the U.S. would not wage war against a tactic but would instead focus on a specific group of terrorist networks. The rise of ISIL led to the global Operation Inherent Resolve, and an international campaign to destroy the terrorist organization.
The notion of a "War on Terror" was contentious, with critics charging that it has been used to reduce civil liberties and infringe upon human rights, such as controversial actions by the U.S. including surveillance, torture, and extraordinary rendition, and drone strikes that resulted in the deaths of suspected terrorists but also civilians. Many of the U.S.' actions were supported by other countries, including the 54 countries that were involved with CIA black sites, or those that assisted with drone strikes.
Criticism of the war on terror has focused on its morality, efficiency, and cost. According to a 2021 study conducted by the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, the several post-9/11 wars participated in by the United States in its war against terror have caused the displacement, conservatively calculated, of 38 million people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and the Philippines; 26.7 million people have returned home following displacement. The study estimated these wars caused the deaths of 897,000 to 929,000 people, including over 364,000 civilians, and cost $8 trillion. Critics accuse participating governments of using the "War on Terror" to repress minorities or sideline domestic opponents, of mainstreaming Islamophobia, and have criticized negative impacts to health and the environment, resulting from the "War on Terror". Critics assert that the term "war" is not appropriate in this context (much like the term "war on drugs") since terror is not an identifiable enemy and it is unlikely that international terrorism can be brought to an end by military means.