September 11, 2001: US response to 9/11 was 'a disaster', former marine tells Euronews

A US soldiers inspects the site of a suicide attack targeting foreign troops in Jalalabad on November 13, 2014.
A US soldiers inspects the site of a suicide attack targeting foreign troops in Jalalabad on November 13, 2014. Copyright NOORULLAH SHIRZADA / AFP
By Euronews
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After 20 years, the US is reckoning with its war on terror and assessing its role in Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks.


The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were "failures" and "not the best response" to the devastating 9/11 attacks, a former marine told Euronews.

Gil Barndollar, a former marine and now senior research fellow in defense priorities, told Euronews ahead of the 20th anniversary of the attacks against the World Trade Centre and Pentagon, that the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq "was not the best response."

"I don't think you can look at these wars now 20 years after 9/11 and say they were anything but failures. You know, the United States spent about six and a half trillion (Us dollars), probably a lot more," Barndollar told Euronews.

7,000 American troops were killed and hundreds of thousands of civilians died in these wars, which left the two countries largely in ruins. The US completed its military withdrawal from Afghanistan on August 31, leaving the country under the control of the Taliban militant group.

"I think the retreat from Afghanistan was predetermined years ago. The way it went down was obviously humiliating for the United States. But I think you can't look at these wars and think they were the best way to deal with a terrorist attack – although spectacular - on the United States," he added.

Just weeks ago, the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan right before the last US troops left the country. After 20 years of war, the former marine believes the outcome is "a testament to the 20 years of hubris and self-deception about the United States".

"You know, we went in with, initially at least, a pretty limited set of aims. The goal was to overthrow the Taliban, teach them a lesson, and decimate al-Qaida. And all of that really happened, despite not getting bin Laden within the first six-eight months of the campaign. So everything that followed was, again, I have no other way to put it, a disaster.

"The United States tried to build a stable, centralised, and to some extent westernised country in Afghanistan, and that was a complete failure. And those ambitions were always wildly unrealistic," he added.

The Taliban's return to power has been accompanied by human rights abuses and internal repression, with protests violently suppressed.

But Gil Barndollar believes US troops have no reason to go back to the country, despite the recent protests.

"The only reason to go back to Afghanistan would be to strike at transnational terrorists that have both the intent and the capability to attack the United States. Short of that, there's no reason for U.S. troops to be in Afghanistan."

Watch the full interviews with Euronews anchors Stefan Grobe and Alasdair Sandford in the players above.

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