In the months and years after the 9/11 attacks, a series of analyses published by Oxford Research Group offered a critical perspective on the war on terror, arguing that the forceful military response was both wrong and dangerous. It could even prove highly counterproductive to US security interests and would certainly do little to promote international peace and stability. While the response to 9/11 was readily understandable, given the appalling nature of the attacks but also the neoconservative overtones of the Bush administration, it was argued that it was deeply mistaken and would lead to a long period of war.
This perspective has stood the test of time. Moreover, the experience of the eight years since 9/11 supports a wider ORG analysis of global security that argues that there is a need for a fundamental rethinking of those current approaches to security that focus primarily on military instruments. Instead, the major global trends of a wider socio-economic divide, mass marginalisation and environmental constraints all require an approach rooted in what is now being termed sustainable security.
This paper examines the context of the decision to go to war after 9/11 and the anticipated results. It goes on to analyse the actual consequences and seeks to explain why they have been so radically different to original expectations by the United States and its closest coalition partners such as the UK. The paper then updates the analysis of the major global challenges that Oxford Research Group has previously discussed and the need for a new paradigm focused on sustainable security. It concludes by assessing how the experience of the eight years that have followed the 9/11 atrocities might make a change of paradigm more likely.