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  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The United States has now been at war in Afghanistan for some seventeen years and been fighting another major war in Iraq for fifteen years. It has been active in Somalia far longer and has spread its operations to deal with terrorist or extremist threats in a wide range of conflicts in North and Sub-Saharan in Africa, South Asia, and South East Asia. In case after case, the U.S. has moved far beyond counterterrorism to counterinsurgency, and from the temporary deployment of small anti-terrorism forces to a near "permanent" military presence. The line between counterterrorism and counterinsurgency has become so blurred that there is no significant difference. The national academic consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) has just issued new trend data on terrorism that are updated through the end of 2017. When they are combined with other major sources of data on terrorism, they provide the ability to trace the history of U.S. "wars" against terrorism in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. They show the results of America's "long wars" of attrition where it is increasingly unclear that the United States has a strategy to terminate them, or has the capability to end them in ways that create a stable and peaceful state that can survive if the United State should leave. The resulting graphics and maps are provided in the full text of the report on which this summary is based, and which is available on the CSIS website here. This summary both summarizes how the trends in such data reveal the patterns in terrorism and impact on U.S. strategy. The key conclusions, and an index to these graphics, are provided in this summary.
  • Topic: Imperialism, National Security, Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, War on Terror
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Africa, United States, South Asia, Asia, North Africa, Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa