Two Decades of the Global War on Terror: Legacies and Future

This policy outlook examines the contours of the historical legacies of the post-9/11 world with a view of developing a better understanding of the post-post 9/11 world.

The US withdrawal from Afghanistan comes two decades after the launch of the US ‘Global War on Terror’, which was declared all but over by US President Biden in a recent address marking the end of America’s longest war. In the intervening two decades, the United States has used its military might to pursue an ill-defined and ultimately invisible enemy, ‘terror’. With victory never clearly defined, the world’s only superpower found itself fighting so-called ‘forever wars’, with important consequences at home and abroad. With post-mortems of the US ‘War of Terror’ underway, this policy outlook examines the contours of the historical legacies of the post-9/11 world with a view of developing a better understanding of the post-post 9/11 world. Special attention is paid to the roots of the policy choices taken by American decision-makers as well as the long-term geopolitical significance of the ‘War on Terror’.

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