When I first wrote on the so-called War on Terror, one of my concerns was the the use of language, the way in which our framing of discussion might create the very things we fear. Brussels was not the London Blitz nor the fire bombing of Dresden nor the Rape of Nanking nor the Bosnian massacres. Yes, the deaths and injuries were tragic, yes, we have to do something about it, but we have to keep a sense of balance.
Now in terms of key performance indicators, let us look at what these groups have achieved. Among other things, they have:
- Forced an escalation in military spend
- Forced a reduction in civil liberties among western democracies, one of whose central tenets is the preservation of those civil liberties
- They have forced divisions in western societies, challenging inclusiveness and leading to the rise of right wing parties focused on exclusion. This includes facilitating the rise of Donald Trump in the US.
- They have encouraged sectarian division, setting religious groups against each other
- They have brought key aspects of a major western institution, the European Union itself created as a consequence of war, injustice and genocide, to the point of collapse.