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Remembering 9/11: Time to Move On?

Posted on the 07 September 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost
Remembering 9/11: Time to move on?

Memorial at the World Trade Center. Photocredit: Ross2085[email protected]/845688271/sizes/m/in/photostream/

On 11th September 2001, the world woke up to one of the most shocking images of the decade: the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York up in smoke as a hi-jacked plane smashed into it. The attack, orchestrated by terrorists al-Qaida (whose leader, Osama bin Laden, was killed in Pakistan on the 2nd May 2011), set in motion a chain of events that led to the invasion of Iraq, the deposition of Saddam Hussein and the rhetoric of the War on Terror.

The ten-year anniversary of the attacks is now approaching. As the world remembers, some people are asking: is it time to move on?

  • The landscape has changed. It’s time to escape the “shadow” of 9/11, said Jonathan Freedland in The Guardian. Not that those who’ve suffered directly should stop grieving. It’s just that continuous news coverage simply continues the tragedy. bin Laden’s dead, Iraq and Afghanistan are rumbling towards an end, al-Qaida is disabled. We shouldn’t be complacent, but should remain vigilant, as the threat hasn’t vanished, just mutated. After 9/11 we lumped every threat together into an overarching fear of Islamic terrorism. This has led to “rampant Islamophobia” and the “shredding of civil liberties.” The landscape created by the collapse of the World Trade Center has changed – look at the Arab Spring, which happened without Osama. Sure, we should pay respect to the memory of 9/11. But it was a decade ago, and “we ought to close this sorry and bloody chapter – and bury the mentality it created.”

“I think these great events have to rot down. Maybe another generation has to look at it.” Salman Rushdie, quoted in The Guardian.

  • It’s not about Osama. That’s true, said David Miliband in The Times. Osama bin Laden has had nothing to do with this decade. We’ve seen sterling performances from the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China); the collapse of capitalism, the advance of internet usage and the Arab Srping. The idea of a “war on terror” just made bin Laden look bigger, and meant the West diverged from the rest of the world. We need now to “reassert” the place of diplomacy as opposed to military interventions. We need also to reassess ideas about “balance of power” – information, now accessible to all, means that alliances “must be formed at micro level” rather “than at the macro.” As resources grow scarcer, the importance of mulitlaterism is paramount. The biggest lesson from 9/11 is that political vision is what it takes, not just military expansionism.
  • It was all a mistake. Bill Keller, in a long magazine piece on The New York Times, said that whilst we remembered the loss and the heroism, there’s no organised memorialisation of “the bewilderment, the vulnerability, the impotence.” Was the invasion of Iraq a mistake? Nobody imagined that Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen would aspire to democracy. The cost of lives in Iraq and America has made Keller rethink his stance: “Operation Iraqi Freedom was a monumental blunder.”
  • Look towards greater understanding. Steven Kull on said that there is still anger against America throughout the Muslim world – not that they advocate terrorist attacks. It does mean though that it’s easier for terrorists to recruit. Mulisms perceive the American narrative as “arrogant and dismissive”, which threatens their own path; thus they become more hostile. Only when Muslims see America as not being an obstacle will they “be able to move forward.” Only then will the relationship become “amicable.”

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