Wars of Decline: Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya

Photo: The U.S. ArmyPhoto: The U.S. Army

Ten years have passed since the explosion of violence in the heartlands of the West on September 11, 2001. The attacks of 9/11 posed fundamental questions about the principles, rules and means by which we live, conduct foreign policy, and manage relations with others. The disastrously conceived “War on Terror” presaged upon the use of military instruments of power has wrought enormous death and destruction across the broader Middle East. The intervening decade has seen the rise of a new pattern of warfare in Afghanistan, Iraq and, now, Libya. These wars have weakened the very structures of international law and multilateral institutions that underpin international society. Yet the stretching of the United Nations mandate authorizing the NATO-led intervention in Libya also demonstrates the continuing inability of international rules to limit or constrain the use of coercive power.

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