We hear the phrase "the global war on terror" daily, whether it be on the news, radio or in passing on an article online. Since 9/11, that phrase has been a household topic. But what actually is the global war on terror? At what point did that begin? Is it really over even though it was technically deemed concluded? And what do we even define a terrorist as in today's day and age?
To someone my age, the global war on terror seems hard to quantify. It seems too abstract to even understand why it truly began. I was 2 and a half when 9/11 happened. I don't remember it at all. The first memory I have of 9/11 is watching the footage being played on a TV in my garage during an anniversary of 9/11.
To this day, although I have learned about 9/11 nearly every year in school, I still do not actually know what the World Trade Center was and why it was targeted. Granted, I know part of that is on me and my lack of research, but that helps to frame my stance.
As someone from the upper middle class, I don't know many people who went into the military. I am not part of the American group that knows people who enlisted immediately as a result of 9/11. Of the people I know that went into the military, they did it via ROTC programs at their colleges.
I think it's interesting to try to define the bounds of the war on terror. Do we define it as the United States and who they classify as terrorists, or do we classify it as the overarching organizations that major world powers are targeting? Because realistically, all "major" countries in the war have experienced a terror attack and as a result are involved in this international war on terror. However, not all these countries are targeting the same terrorist organizations. So then the question becomes is it the game of terrorist Whack-A-Mole in regards to where the US is targeting or where the general world powers are?
It would be quite easy to say this is just the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, even though those were and continue to be starkly different wars on many levels. However, even regarding those two countries, there are many other countries included by association. On top of that, the US has been and currently is in other countries. Furthermore, it becomes even more difficult when you start to decide who/what is and isn't a terrorist and terrorist organization. That gets tricky as we start to pair with people that the general public defines as "terrorists."
It's integral to our country's history to consider these questions and their implications. You could say the war on terror was confined to Iraq and Afghanistan that began with the original declaration of the war on terror and ended when declared, but is that really accurate?