The War That Never Ends…

At an anti-war march in 2003, we chanted a protest song borrowed from an old-time novelty song:

“This is the war that never ends,

It just goes on and on, my friends.

George Bush started fighting it, not knowing what it was.

Now we will keep on fighting it forever just because”

(repeat ad-nauseam)

Unfortunately, it seems that this may be the case.

As we commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the United States is also ending the war in Afghanistan, which began officially in October of 2001, less than a month after the terrorist attacks. I chose to analyze a story about a subject I have dutifully followed throughout the ensuing years, The War on Terror. 

In the New York Times article, published on September 10, 2021,  20 Years On, the War on Terror Grinds Along, With No End in Sightjournalist David Landler brings together the voices of international terror experts, renowned scholars, and former government officials. Together, they look back at America’s protracted conflict and strive to create consensus for why it must inevitably continue. The article’s quantity and quality of sources support a text that reads like a first draft of history.

Mark Landler is a veteran journalist with more than a quarter-century at The New York Times. A thorough reporter and a master of narrative, Landler is also the London Bureau Chief for the New York Times and has covered international economic news for most of his career. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a longstanding nonprofit and nonpartisan think tank. His experience and reputation give Mr. Landler a great deal of credibility on this subject.

The article contains more than a half dozen hyperlinks that expand and support the information being presented, employing the gravitas of the New York Times archives. Additionally, there are two text boxes in the body of the text. One features links to NYT stories about the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. The other contains FAQs about Afghanistan with short answers and embedded links. Throughout the text, Lander fosters a discourse between the sources cited, voices of dissent, and the author’s central claims and evidence. Landler asks the reader to consider the proposition that we are entering the post-post 9/11 period. He concludes that this transitory era requires a certain level of introspection but also a refocusing of our counterterrorism policies to avoid an attack while we are “divided and distracted.”

There were several recent articles on this subject that I could have analyzed, some of which would have aligned seamlessly with my own beliefs. However, breaking out of my bubble has helped me come to terms with my own biases on this complicated subject. Although I still believe that the War on Terror is a misguided policy, I have developed a deeper understanding of why many still envision a war that never ends for the foreseeable future.

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