In the years that followed, Biden became disillusioned with the corruption of pro-Western leaders and was skeptical that the United States could unify the warring tribes. He became the main detractor of the government’s use of military force, opposing the increase in troops in Afghanistan, NATO intervention in Libya and even discouraging the operation of the commandos that killed Osama bin Laden.

Now, after fulfilling his promise to leave Afghanistan, it is up to Biden to articulate the next chapter of the war on terror in a country that has grown weary of the issue. Americans are much more concerned about the coronavirus, wildfires, and flash floods that are caused by climate change.

“My biggest concern is that the Food and Drug Administration has not approved vaccines for children under the age of 12,” Cragin said. “The fact that my mother’s biggest concern when she goes to the movies is not a terrorist attack is a good thing.”

Biden has said he is keen to update one of the relics of the post-9/11 period: the 2001 law that authorized the president to wage war against those responsible for the 9/11 attacks. It has been extended beyond recognition to justify military action against all manner of new enemies. Biden has also imposed limits on drone strikes and commando operations, pending a review.

The president’s practical language is no different from that of Obama, his former boss. He talks about the diffuse threats from the Shabab in Somalia; Qaeda affiliates in Syria and Yemen; and organizations derived from the Islamic State in Africa and Asia. He says that the capabilities “on the near horizon” of the United States will allow it “to attack terrorists and targets without having American troops on the ground or, if necessary, there will be very few.”

It’s a stark contrast to Bush, who coined the phrase “global war on terror.” During the feverish aftermath of September 11, he framed the battle in Manichean terms, not just as a law enforcement or counter-terrorism challenge, but as a twilight struggle between good and evil.

“Why do they hate us?” Bush told a joint session of Congress. “They hate what they see in this chamber: a democratically elected government. Its leaders proclaim themselves. They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble ”.

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