As President Joe Biden withdrew U.S. forces from the Afghanistan War, studies and appraisals of the devastating human costs of the American-led war on terror were once again trotted out, laying bare the failures, scandals, and atrocities of multiple Republican and Democratic administrations. In the last two decades, so-called war on terror has run up a bill upwards of $8 trillion—and, according to some of the more conservative estimates out there, has a body count of almost 1 million dead.
The sprawling, brutal conflicts, first waged by the George W. Bush administration, also had other, insanely dumb side effects (blowback, if you will). Among these other consequences, the wars coarsened so much of American political and popular culture, perhaps irrevocably, and made the country’s conspiracy theories and paranoia dramatically worse.
Look no further than the most influential far-right conspiracy theories that flourished throughout the Trump era and continue to flourish during the Biden years.