(Paul Rogers, Professor of Peace Studies, University of Bradford) Bradford (UK), September 11 (The Conversation) The September 11, 2001 (9/11) attacks in New York and Washington created panic. In less than three hours, the twin World Trade Center skyscrapers were reduced to a pile of metal and rubble, killing more than 2,700 people and hundreds more at the Pentagon. All these places were attacked by passenger planes. America was attacked. It was the highly influential neo-conservatives of George W. Bush.
America was attacked. It was not long after the formation of a new administration with the highly influential neo-conservatives of George W. Bush. Commentators at the time compared the attack to Pearl Harbor, but the impact of 9/11 was far greater. Pearl Harbor was attacked by a country that had strained relations with the United States. If the war with Japan was the result of the Pearl Harbor attack, there would have been war after 9/11, even though the American public knew little about the perpetrators behind the attack.
Within a month of the attack, a “war on terror” against al-Qaeda and the Taliban began, which lasted barely two months and appeared to be successful. Bush then announced an escalation of the war in January 2002.
Iraq was a priority, along with Iran and North Korea. The Iraq War began in March 2003 and ended on May 1, when Bush announced “the completion of the campaign” aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.
This was the climax of the “US-led War on Terror”. Afghanistan was the first catastrophe in two to three years when the Taliban retreated into the countryside and fought the US and its allies for 20 years before capturing Kabul last month.
The Islamic State was born despite the terrorists in Iraq appearing to be defeated by 2009 and the US withdrew its forces two years later. This started the third conflict in Iraq and Syria. In this war fought by America, Britain, France and other countries, thousands of Islamic State supporters were killed and several thousand civilians were also killed.
After the expulsion of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, it again spread and its terror spread to the Sahel, Mozambique, Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, southern Thailand, the Philippines, again Iraq and Syria and even Afghanistan.
In the face of these blatant failures, we have two questions: Was 9/11 the beginning of decades of a new global chaos? And now where do we go from here?
With reference to 9/11:
It is natural to see 9/11 as a single event of change in military deployment, but this is misleading. Changes had already started. Its role was framed by two separate incidents in February 1993, eight years before the attacks.
James Woolsey was first appointed by the then US President Bill Clinton as the new director of the CIA. When asked at a Senate confirmation hearing on how he would describe the end of the Cold War, he replied that the US had killed the dragon (Soviet Union) but now faced it with venomous snakes. There is a forest full.
Second, the US military and most analysts around the world did not recognize the importance of a new environment in which the ability of the weak to take up arms against the strong was rapidly improving. Shortly after Woolsey’s statement, on 26 February 1993, an Islamic paramilitary group attempted to destroy the World Trade Center with a truck bomb.
The attack was unsuccessful but six people were killed and the impact of this attack was underestimated. In December 1994, an Algerian paramilitary group attempted to shoot down an Airbus passenger plane over Paris, but the attack was foiled by French special forces. A month later, LTTE bombings in Colombo, Sri Lanka devastated Colombo’s central industrial district, killing more than 80 people and injuring more than 1,400.
A decade before the first attack on the World Trade Center, a bombing in Beirut killed 241 Marines, and between 1993 and 2001 there were attacks in West Asia and East Africa, including the Khobar Tower bombing in Saudi Arabia.
The 9/11 attacks didn’t change the world. They were steps leading to two decades of conflict and four failed wars.
We have to admit that all the analysis surrounding the anniversary of 9/11 assumes that the main security concern should be the overly radical form of Islam.
Writing my book ‘Losing Control’ in 1990, several years before the 9/11 attacks, I said: What is to be expected of new social movements that are essentially anti-elitist. In different contexts and circumstances, they may have their roots in political ideologies, religious beliefs, ethnicities, nationalist or cultural identities, or a complex combination of many of these.
More than two decades later, the socio-economic divide has worsened, the concentration of wealth has reached levels that have been described as obscene and even increased dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to food shortages and Poverty has increased.
Meanwhile, climate change has also become a major challenge and its biggest impact is on the marginalized society. At the same time, we urgently need to rethink what we mean by security and the time is running out to do so.
The Conversation Gola Subhash