Legacy of 9/11

Legacy of 9/11

It is ten years since the horrific terror attacks in New York and Washington. While the world will grieve along with those whose kin were killed in the attacks, it is hard to ignore how much the world’s sentiment towards the US has changed in the past decade.

A tidal wave of sympathy for Americans swept across the world in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. This sentiment of solidarity was aptly captured by the French daily, Le Monde, the day after when it declared that “We are all Americans”. But ten years on, that sympathy has evaporated somewhat and the US’ post 9/11 strategy must bear responsibility for this. On September 11, 2001 America stood at a critical crossroads.

It had a choice. It could have pursued the path of justice for the victims by trying the masterminds in courts and seeing them punished under the law. Sadly it chose the other road – of revenge and war. It declared a so-called ‘war on terrorism’. This involved stamping out dissent and restricting civil liberties at home and waging war against ‘terrorists’ abroad.

Governments elsewhere quickly signed up in support of the ‘war on terrorism.’ It enabled them too to squash dissent. It became evident quickly that this war involved unleashing terrors on unarmed civilians, torture and snuffing out criticism. In the name of fighting terrorism, the US invaded and occupied countries and left them reeling in civil war.

As the US observes the tenth anniversary of 9/11 it must pause a while to recall other 9/11s. It was on September 11, 1973 that the US engineered a coup in Chile, overthrew the democratic government of Salvador Allende and put in place the brutal regime of General Pinochet.

The terror unleashed on Chileans by that US move is felt to date in Latin America. And then there is September 11, 1982, when Israel massacred around 3,000 Palestinian refugees at Sabra and Shatila camps in Lebanon. The US silence on this massacre and many other atrocities by Israel that followed has fuelled the anger that resulted in the 2001 attacks.

That terrorism must be addressed is without doubt. But terror by non-state actors cannot be defeated unless that by the state is eliminated. While America grieves for the victims of the 2001 attacks, it must do some deep thinking about its role in fuelling global terrorism. It cannot ensure security of its people by rendering others insecure.

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