May 6th, 2012
09:57 AM ET

Fareed's Take: U.S. has made war on terror a war without end

By Fareed Zakaria, CNN

Whatever you thought of President Obama's recent speech on Afghanistan, it is now increasingly clear that the United States is winding down its massive military commitments to the two wars of the last decade.

We are out of Iraq and we will soon be largely out of Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden is dead, and al Qaeda is a shadow of its former self. Threats remain but these are being handled using special forces and intelligence. So, finally, after a decade, we seem to be right-sizing the threat from terrorist groups.

Or are we?

While we will leave the battlefields of the greater Middle East, we are firmly committed to the war on terror at home. What do I mean by that? Well, look at the expansion of federal bureaucracies to tackle this war.

Since September 11, 2001, the U.S. government has created or reconfigured at least 263 organizations to tackle some aspect of the war on terror. Thirty-three new building complexes have been built for the intelligence bureaucracies alone, occupying 17 million square feet – the equivalent of 22 U.S. Capitols or three Pentagons. The largest bureaucracy after the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs is now the Department of Homeland Security, which has a workforce of 230,000 people.

The rise of this national security state has entailed a vast expansion in the government's powers that now touch every aspect of American life, even when seemingly unrelated to terrorism. Some 30,000 people, for example, are now employed exclusively to listen in on phone conversations and other communications within the United States.

In the past, the U.S. government has built up for wars, assumed emergency authority and sometimes abused that power, yet always demobilized after the war. But this is, of course, a war without end.

So we continue to stand in absurd airport lines. We continue to turn down the visa applications of hundreds of thousands of tourists, businessmen, artists and performers who simply want to visit America and spend money here, and become ambassadors of good will for this country. We continue to treat even those visitors who arrive with visas as hostile aliens - checking, searching and deporting people at will. We continue to place new procedures and rules to monitor everything that comes in and out of the country, making doing business in America less attractive and more burdensome than in most Western countries.

We don't look like people who have won a war. We look like scared, fearful, losers.

soundoff (358 Responses)
  1. Kim Rey

    Being a member of the profession at arms let me say first and foremost that I support the decisions and policies of the office of the President.

    With regard to Afghanistan we as a military have been successful to accomplish removing the direct threats by conducting counterinsurgency operations such as the killing Osama bin Ladin and weakening the threat and the activity of Al Qaeda.

    There will always be insurgent activity due to ideology providing an ever present threat to the US. But, we will remain vigilant as an Army as well as a superpower and protect our borders.

    After two wars and two administrations the decision needed to be made to provide an "end date" to operations in an effort to refocus our efforts internally in the United States. Or economy is ready and will bounce back, jobs are slowly being created, and our military needs is going through a retrograde process. The future situation for both Iraq & Afghanistan is positive and optimistic because of U.S. involvement We are resilient and nation-builders. Our challenges are our strengths and we triumph over adversity every time.

    The President did declare the mission in Iraq a success. The administration highlighted all of the tangible successes in this war. Of course, there are many hybrid threats to this conflict making the solution much more complex than past wars.

    So, to answer Fareed's question the answer is yes. The war is going to soon be over and troops withdraw. There will be a remaining U.S. presence which is the same in any other country, post conflict. But, the role of the remaining troops on the ground will serve in other capacities for security and humanitarian needs.
    This was and still remains a complex problem and will take a complex solution to fix.
    Therefore, it is time to move forward with new strategy.

    May 7, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Reply
    • hindunegative

      Statement by hindu gentile, terrorist slave of hindu Jew's, criminal self centered, secular, his hindu santans, filthy goons, USA has no power to end this war, it will not be over till Al Qaeda, truth absolute, 360* says it is over, war will not be over till hindu Jew, criminal self centered and their hindu Judaism, secular ism, denial of truth absolute is no more, have no doubt about it hindu gentile, criminal slave.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Reply
  2. Ibrahim Doumbia

    The war on terror becomes a war without end for couple reasons. Number one reason is the way continents portrait each other and the unthinkable spray of poverty in under-developed nations. Secondly is corruption, and corruption becomes the under-developed nation’s way of life and lastly is the lust for power.

    May 8, 2012 at 12:26 am | Reply
  3. ghouri

    This is sad but true america has lauched their own war as a torrist state to kill innocent people as Afghanistan has nothing to do with Osama as he was a CIA agent.
    This is history a illegal and infidel country always starts with lies and ends with lies.
    There is only one truth americans have killed over three million muslims only on charges which are not prooved even 9/11 is biggest lies of the 21th century. There is not a single logic in it and all the parameters shows that bombs were laid on every floor.
    America is a lossed country with very bad future. Politicians have destroyed a wonderful land of dream through their wars and every american president is a war president not peace.
    Defence industry is strong and they force the administration to wage a war and sell their ammunitions.

    May 8, 2012 at 7:00 am | Reply
  4. Marti58

    Fareed is wrong..the terrorist threat is very real. All over the globe there are millions of young men with no future join organizations, like the Taliban etc..and embrace the West is evil, it has to be destroyed. This is not being exagerated..and 9/11, sadly was very real. Thank you

    May 8, 2012 at 8:24 am | Reply
  5. markjuliansmith

    You are the most demented commentator to have existed on the planet earth – you are dangerous because you determine the wrong culprit – have you ever picked up the Quran – simply read the first chapter and reflect on what 'grievous harm' and 'severest penalty' has is and will translate in reality – you complete burke.

    I will tell you what it means underpants bombers on a conveyer belt and young French school children chased and shot in the head with reduced rights for woman and everyone else to boot. There is not a word which describes you sufficiently.

    May 8, 2012 at 9:30 am | Reply
  6. Amit-Atlanta-USA


    Mr. Rafiq Zakaria, Islamic Scholar & father of Mr.Fareed Zakaria did in India what Mr.Fareed Zakaria has been ACTIVELY DOING here in the US.....hoodwinking Indian govts. to SOFT PEDAL terror by raising a hue & cry on minority rights, religious freedoms etc. every time a Muslim/Muslim organization was investigated.

    May 8, 2012 at 9:46 am | Reply
    • Mohammed

      Dear bhai;
      Did a Muslim harm you personally? It surely seems that way by your incessant animosity towards Muslims. Are you a Gujarati by any chance? I have come across Gujjus of Narendra Modi kind who are full of hatred.If you are unhappy about Islamic conquests in India 1000 years back, well.....Hindu kings were killing each other too and India was not as a united nation as it is now.

      May 8, 2012 at 10:21 am | Reply
  7. C. Faini

    War on terror can never end because new terrorists are recruited everyday.
    The US should come with a better strategy to regain the love lost on US.
    Its very strange that some diplomats have to go through such trouble whereas they can visit China and India with their diplomatic passports without a need for visa.

    There is a need of coming up with a better strategy otherwise the US will lose its love and attraction.

    May 8, 2012 at 9:58 am | Reply
    • JonnySL

      Very simple. handle Israel-Palestine situation with fairness. But the jews won't let US do that and Arabs won't trust US/Israel.

      Its a very simple solution and Obama may tighten the screws on Israel once he is re-elected.

      May 8, 2012 at 10:16 am | Reply
  8. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    How about putting all these people who believe security agencies efforts are a waste, on a plane!

    For a change let's have fast track clearance through airport security, obviously b'coz they don't want to waste time & resources there, and also don't want to make compromises on their privacy rights.... which is understandable!

    We can then wait for their comments here.......eternally!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 8, 2012 at 10:27 am | Reply
  9. Matt F.

    While I don't always agree with an ever increasing bureaucracy, the threat against the United States is real. I for one would rather continue to fight that threat overseas and protect our homeland than see bombings and terror attacks in the U.S. become common place. We must continue our diplomatic efforts to reduce the threat from terrorists all over the world but ignoring those threats will have deadly consequences.

    May 8, 2012 at 10:30 am | Reply
    • Jimbo

      Live in perpetual fear. Yea' – we are a "Land of free and brave" – my ass. Patriotic Act took away most of freedom and we bomb poor Afghan villagers from 20,000 feet up in the sky by the push of a button – yea' we are brave. sure!

      May 8, 2012 at 10:34 am | Reply
      • George Patton

        Thank you, Jimbo. That was a very good post! Moreover, it appears that some Tea Partying idiot here usurped my screen name and now I expect this bozo to start posting a lot of that Tea Party bla-bla-bla under it!!!

        May 8, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  10. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    Dear Friend Krm007:

    "They won the VIET NAM war for Americans in Afghanistan in the 1980s."

    WELL SAID !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Please revise when u cut & paste!

    May 8, 2012 at 11:34 am | Reply
    • Jimbo


      You have about 16 post. Do you ever work? Or are you paid by Israel to post anti-Moslem Arabs, all over?

      May 8, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Reply
      • hindunegative

        He is a hindu, criminal, an employ of RAW, hindu terrorist intelligence agency of hindu, terrorist country india, designated to spew his hinduism, absurdities about Muslim's and Islam.

        May 8, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  11. April

    Just like the unending war on drugs-now we are taking the soldiers out of Afghanistan and according to the NYTimes–sending them into the jungles of Honduras to fight the war on drugs-how stupid. How many troops to we have in Afghanistan and we can't stop the flow of heroin out of that country--WHY ISN'T OBAMA'S WAR ON DRUGS MAKING THE NEWS!

    May 8, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Reply
    • hindunegative

      Way of hindu Magi's, criminal tricksters, they are fighting to take control of drug production, not to eradicate drugs but to control production and distribution of drugs for themselves.American solders are just a tool to reach their aim. Reason for failure of public drug enforcement policy. Same people making policy are hindu's, criminals, proliferate rs of them. Way of hindu Jew's, criminal secular s to hind, fool humanity in their hindu Judaism, criminal denial of truth absolute.

      May 8, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Reply
  12. George Patton

    I don't mind so much as having some Tea Partying idiot steal my screen name but I do hope that whoever it is doesn't start using any foul language as most Tea Partiers do here! So please, if you're going to usurp my name and post under it, do spare the profanity!

    May 8, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Reply
  13. George Patton

    George Patton, you really are as dumb as Israel's IDF soldiers to think nobody would take your name and post on unmonitored public forum. Idiot!

    May 8, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Reply
  14. hindunegative

    George Patton-way of hindu Magi's, criminal tricksters, this hindu, forger has been around for some time, such as ID, of Yakobi, forged one, any time hindu, lair is exposed, he changes and robs and ID, to spew his hinduism, absurdity on other ID"s in his hindu Judaism, criminal self center ism, secular ism, to deny truth absolute.

    May 8, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Reply
  15. Sultan Salah ud Din Ayubi

    End of this War will be destruction of USA, fulfilling all requirements of its destruction. The definition totally stands to crusade war. Ask definition from a Muslim, every one in Muslim Countries even children knows its definition, but you don't know. You will know its definition when history will come back to get you on charge, doesn't matter how long. But revenge always takes place. People in Muslim countries never never can forget killings of 3 million Muslims without justification in the hands of crusaders. Just wait….

    May 8, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Reply
    • George Patton

      Agreed, Sultan Salah ud Din Ayubi. All Al Qaeda has to do is to survive while the U.S. along along with it's worthless allies will bleed themselves white, trying to wipe it out! This country will self destruct unless it's people quit electing the wrong people into office and break the stranglehold the M.I.C. has on this government!!!

      May 8, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Reply
    • Ryan

      I agree, although we have good muslims fighting with us to kill the bad ones, if we leave, the bad ones will influence the good, and tell them we are a terrible enemy country. Which is why I am pushing to make Permanent bases in Afghanistan and Iraq to continue the fight against the extremists! AMERICA!

      May 9, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Reply
  16. deniz boro

    Discussion lost its international aspect. I believe I have no view-and the right of it- to butt in the internal affairs of USA. I hope they may sometimes learn to do the same.

    May 8, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Reply
    • Patrick

      Deniz, HABIBJI, for months now you have been spewing poisonous rants about the USA.
      You have, on multiple occasions, demanded changes to the government, tax system, defence... and today you decide to state that " I believe I have no view-and the right of it- to butt in the internal affairs of USA. I hope they may sometimes learn to do the same."
      You are complicated aren't you?

      May 8, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Reply
      • deniz boro

        Patric for once and all and because You asked. I am what I am. I do not voice other opinions other than my own. I am simply as I am. Nothing else. All of what I have said so far is my true opinion. This is a blog where everyone has a nickname. So what is your problem when someone speaks out the truth

        May 13, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
      • deniz boro

        "You have, on multiple occasions, demanded changes to the government, tax system, defence... and today ". Are we on the same line? I definatelly do not trust the internet or communications in Turkey. I have no knowledge on the quoted issues. Did someo0ne else use my name and make any comments?. Or is this Patrick's high flying? I hardly commented on the GPS recently. (6-7 months)

        August 3, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
  17. hindunegative

    No one butted in American affairs but USA butted in internal affairs of Muslim countries by hinduism, terrorism, an open invitation for other's to do the same, what American hindu' out law have done to promote hindu Judaism, criminal self center ism, secularism.

    May 8, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Reply
  18. clearick

    Fareed, you don't understand....the Government looks for any excuse to spend the people's money...this is what drives a lot of businesses in the US. Wars- make the defense contractors wealthy, a home war on terrror gives a lot of people spying jobs, just like the war on drugs. Why? These businesses are looking for a sure thing- government spending. Own a prison, that's money in the bank as long as it's filled with criminals. Is anyone really going to argue that Homeland Security isn't keeping us safe? How can you put a price on that?

    May 9, 2012 at 9:28 am | Reply
  19. Ragh

    Well US will have to wage this war against Islamic terrorism and any other as long as Wahabi form of intolerant Islam exists and the brainwashing and spreading of intolerance and hatred through an army of Imams funded by Saudi and other rich nations continue. I don't see the source ending for the next 100 years unless Arabs and other muslim countries modernize and become moderate muslim countries like Turkey and some Central Asian countries. Do you have any answer ??

    May 9, 2012 at 11:55 am | Reply
  20. Zee

    Who is this guy, Fareed. I like him he has conservative views and seems like a guy who would vote for Ron Paul but either way i like his articles and i'll definitely read them from now on

    May 9, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Reply
  21. Ryan

    Complacency kills. Unfortunately, we will have to get complacent some day because living in fear is too taxing on our energy levels and our economy. The Middle East is complacent with their terrorists, which is why people get blown up all the time in markets, etc. They slowly realized they can't live in fear and must live their life normally, because if they cower in their house all day they will never get anything done. That will be America, getting blown up randomly in the streets unless we continue to attack them within their countries. We must continue the fight on these terrorists. Occupy Afghanistan!

    May 9, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Reply
  22. Matthew Carr

    But what do we do? Terrorism is a new kind of war, It is one where a single well trained individual can kill and maim thousands, it is unconventional because it utilizes technology that has become common place and accessible and because it requires one slip for an attack to hit a country. I'm no fan of a big bureaucracy but the department of homeland security should be prepared for a big downsize if things stabilize in the middle east. I believe it best to leave up to the professionals who can better analyze this than I can.

    May 12, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Reply
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