Why have the terrorists become more active since the world started fighting them?
First of all, the US went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq without a clear plan of action. And if the global community supported the Afghanistan operation as a just retaliation for the 9/11 events, then the Iraq operation (started under false pretenses) virtually crushed the international anti-terrorist coalition and split the previously united NATO. France and Germany were against the operation, and Washington was forced to coin a new phrase and call it “the coalition of the willing.” Today, acts of terror are being committed non-stop in Afghanistan and Iraq, their victims number in hundreds of thousands, not to mention the fact that American taxpayers paid trillions of dollars for the military campaigns which brought no tangible positive result.
Second, the US made a colossal mistake: instead of focusing on fighting Islamist groups, Washington and its allies began a parallel war on secular regimes first in Iraq and then in Syria. In both cases, the power vacuum was quickly filled up by terrorists who later united in the “Islamic State” (IS), and the national armies of Iraq and Syria cannot defeat it. Even the “Arab spring,” intended to become the triumph of democracy in the Arab world, bore fruit that was dubious at best. In Egypt, democratic elections brought into power Mohammed Morsi, a member of the radical Muslim Brotherhood; subsequently, Morsi was overthrown in a military coup. After the murder of Muammar Gaddafi, Lybia has gone into a half-life state and is plagued by unceasing internenice wars. In Yemen, the conflict between the authorities and Islamists has been going on for several years already. In fact, none of the operations carried out or initiated by the US in the last fifteen years can be called a success bringing freedom and prosperity. Moreover, the Islamist threat ‘mutated,” it became more diverse, and it spilled into new countries and regions.
Third, none of the problems underlying the spread of terrorism has been solved. The countries of the Muslim world still feel excluded from the global processes. The number of Muslims supporting ISIS is on the rise. Surveys conducted in Arab countries’ capitals in late 2014 – early 2015 showed that 8.5 million people were active supporters of IS, and another 42 million (out of 370 million in 11 Arab countries) viewed its activity in a positive light. Fifteen years of antiterrorist campaign not only failed to improve the US relations with Muslim countries, they in fact led to the deterioration of those relations because of near-sighted policies which led to highly dubious results.
Fourth, having started the “war on terror” without setting itself clear tasks and a precise definition of criteria for judging success, the US overestimated its capabilities. In fact, today we can state that Islamist terrorists succeeded in drawing the US into a long-term confrontation, a classical asymmetrical conflict where the strong opponent cannot achieve a military victory. Now the US is forced to play by others’ rules, without any prospects of gaining a quick victory, and it clearly undermines the US leadership. The American society is tired of the endless war on terror. The voices of isolationists sound louder and louder; they insist on limiting the US interference into global affairs. In particular, the US presidential candidate Donald Trump voices such ideas; he could be called a representative of a non-systemic opposition to the US political elite which has dominated since the end of the Cold war and has drawn the US into a series of exhausting conflicts. Apparently, even if Mr. Trump does not become President (both Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate, and the most conservative part of the Republic establishment are in the way), isolationist moods in the US will grow.