On Oct. 28, 2019, Syrians sift through the rubble at the site of a suspected US-led operation against Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi the previous day, on the edge of the small Syrian village of Barisha in the country’s opposition-held northwestern Idlib province.
Photo: Omar Haj Kadour/AFP via Getty Images
As a matter of principle, I try to restrain myself from celebrating the misfortunes of others. But nearly a decade ago, when I heard the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed in a nighttime U.S. military raid in Pakistan, I briefly allowed myself a moment of naive optimism. My hope was that the death of the Al Qaeda leader might be the beginning of the end of the “war on terrorism” — that strange, brutal global conflict that had defined our generation and already claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent people worldwide.
In the years since Bin Laden’s death, the Middle East has become a far more violent place, marked by state collapse, ever more brutal wars, and the sinister growth of international terrorism.
Such hopes, it turned out, were far too optimistic. The killing of bin Laden did not usher in a better world. In the years since his death, the Middle East has become a far more violent place, marked by state collapse, ever more brutal wars, and the sinister growth of international terrorism. At the same time, Europe and the United States have turned inward, erecting physical and psychological barriers to insulate themselves against the chaos now consuming the region. We now face the very real specter of far-right governments arising in countries that had championed liberalism and social democracy just a generation earlier. As ugly as things looked in 2011, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that may now be headed to much darker places.
I thought of bin Laden’s death last week after hearing the news that the U.S. military had killed another infamous terrorist, 49-year-old Islamic State leader Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri – better known by his nom de guerre Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Baghdadi’s death provided a moment of brief catharsis, particularly for his hundreds of thousands of mostly Iraqi and Syrian victims. But at home, the celebrations that followed his death were much more muted than those that we saw in 2011. There were no crowds outside the White House jubilantly celebrating the raid. President Donald Trump’s self-congratulatory speech appeared to engender little enthusiasm even among his own supporters.
Personally, I felt none of the cautious optimism that had accompanied the news of bin Laden’s death. As has long become clear to any observer, the war on terrorism has today transformed into a seemingly omnipotent, Frankenstein-like creation, capable of outliving any one individual or group.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is displayed on a monitor as U.S. Central Command Commander Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie speaks at a joint press briefing at the Pentagon on Oct. 30, 2019.
Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP
While the American public has largely turned its attention away from these endless and seemingly unwinnable conflicts, a few people have held their gaze.
One of them is Mike Giglio, a staff writer at The Atlantic. Last month, Giglio released “Shatter the Nations: ISIS and the War for the Caliphate,” one of the most important reflections on the war to date. The beautifully written book spans across Iraq and Syria during the years in which those societies began their long, painful collapse into the abyss. It also charts the rise of Baghdadi’s terrorist group, which briefly built a fanatical new political order upon the ruins of the old one.
“The suspense was not about whether ISIS would win but how it might change the world before its cities fell and how many of America’s allies it might kill along the way.”
[...]Leia o texto completo em The Intercept