Politics Far-right extremism: An overlooked cost of the war on terror
America is still stuck in the world 9/11 built
Spencer Ackerman on Trump, Obama, and the self-fulfilling logic of the war on terror.That’s a big question, and until I read Spencer Ackerman’s new book, Reign of Terror: How 9/11 Destabilized America and Produced Trump, I hadn’t really thought about it. Ackerman is a longtime national security journalist who’s covered the “war on terror” since its inception roughly two decades ago.
Following the 9/11 attacks, almost 20 years ago, the United States witnessed one of the largest restructurings of government in its history and implemented a multitude of domestic and international policies aimed at combatting terrorism.
The cost has been overwhelming: By the end of fiscal year 2020, the taxpayers' total commitment to war was an estimated . Over have died in foreign military campaigns and hundreds of thousands of people in the Middle East were killed as a result of the conflicts in their countries.
House panel to debate banning extremism in the military
House Democrats want the new National Defense Authorization Act to make plain that armed services personnel and recruits are not allowed to advocate or take part in extremist activities or belong to extremist groups. But the debate over what extremism means and how such a prohibition would be enforced is expected to be fierce — starting […] The post House panel to debate banning extremism in the military appeared first on Roll Call.
But even this record fails to account for the full costs of the war on terror. These policies have directly fueled the expansion of far-right extremist groups and led to their progressive militarization, while drastically .
How can this be so?
The war on terror has resulted in a sharp increase in military deployments - more than between 2001 and 2015. U.S. military personnel spent more than in Afghanistan alone. The number of enlisted military personnel, however, has remained relatively constant. This combination has led military officials to worry about , and commanders have applied immense pressure on recruiters to comply.
The results have been predictable. After 9/11, the military allowed individuals to enlist who otherwise would have been rejected - including those with according to Matt Kennard's, "Irregular Army: How the U.S. Military Recruited Neo Nazis, Gang Members and Criminals to Fight the War on Terror." Servicemen who would have been dismissed were instead kept in uniform.
'A heavy price': Two decades of war, wariness and the post-9/11 security state
Now 20 years old, and with a fourth president at the helm, the U.S. war on terrorism has changed dramatically in important ways."The decision about Afghanistan is not just about Afghanistan," he said Aug. 31, hours after the last U.S. troops boarded a flight out of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. "It's about ending an era of major military operations to remake other countries.
Video: Taliban's assurance of women's safety in Afghanistan may not apply outside of Kabul: UN Women (CNBC)
These individuals, armed with military training and sometimes combat experience, have taken these skills back to their extremist groups - or started new ones. Then they taught what they had learned to their fellow members.
Consider Chris Buckley, a now-reformed KKK member and veteran. He was able to directly to Klan members, teaching them "[to] use and conceal weapons, close-quarters fighting, surveillance, [and] secrecy."
Other veterans, like former Florida National Guard member Brandon Russell, founded the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division in 2016. The membership included at least three other veterans and three active-duty Marines, who were for training other participants in firearms and hand-to-hand combat, as well as in recruiting.
'Innocent Until Proven Muslim': How Islamophobia lingers in post-9/11 era
A version of this story appeared in CNN's Race Deconstructed newsletter. To get it in your inbox every week, sign up for free here. © CNN Illustration/Adobe He did nothing wrong, the man. He hadn't engaged in illegal activity. But his innocence didn't matter, he said, because he was Muslim.Muhammad Tanvir, who was living lawfully in the US, said that, in 2007, FBI agents approached him and asked him to consider working as an informant against Muslims. Tanvir refused, but the FBI continued to pressure him over the next several years, eventually placing his name on the no-fly list, he said.
In other cases, domestic extremist groups have explicitly pushed their members to join the military or recruit military members. Dennis Mahon, a white supremacist serving a for a bombing, of his organization to join the military to "learn as much as you can to improve munitions" and to focus on "sniping and explosives."
The result of this greater integration of current and former military members into extremist groups has corresponded with an increase in the number of violent events involving far-right extremists. the 15 years before 9/11 to the 15 years after, the number of violent incidents committed by far-right extremists increased more than 94 percent-from 19 to 37 cases. The post-9/11 period's fatality potential - the loss of life that would have occurred had all plots succeeded - was markedly greater than the earlier periods, though the overall numbers are small.
The increase in far-right extremist activity is concerning. Equally alarming, however, is how government policies effectively equipped these groups with the skills and tools needed to carry out their objectives more effectively. Moreover, in seeing the threat posed by far-right groups, officials have attempted to fix the problem - not by fixing the root cause - but instead by engaging in more intervention, often - surveillance, weapons, and even torture - inward on innocent Americans, violating their civil liberties in the name of "combating terror."
For 20 years, we've watched U.S. counterterrorism policy fail to achieve its stated objectives. Instead, these policies have cost hundreds of thousands of lives, destabilized millions and contributed to unrest and tyranny at home. What started as a campaign to rid the world of terrorism by intervening abroad has instead engendered extremism in our own backyard.
Abigail R Hall is an associate professor of economics at Bellarmine University and a research fellow with the Independent Institute. She is the coauthor of "Militarized Extremism: The Radical Right and the War on Terror," which appears in the .
'The Longest Shadow': Guantanamo Bay and a new rulebook for a new war .
Part 4 of ABC News' series on 9/11 looks at Guantanamo prison, which was used to detain suspected terrorists but came to symbolize America's conflicted response to 9/11. The death and destruction defined that late summer day and remain seared in the minds of those who lived through Sept. 11, 2001. From the ashes and wreckage rose a new America: a society redefined by its scars and marked by a new wartime reality -- a shadow darkened even more in recent days by the resurgence of fundamentalist Islamist rule in the far-off land that hatched the attacks.