Posted by: bklunk | October 15, 2006

9-11, Terrorism, and Iraq

s-alves1 gives us this run down on the September 11 attacks and argues that 9-11 led to significant changes in international politics. The cover story in the latest issue of Foreign Policy calls 9-11 “The Day that Nothing Much Changed.” Certainly a war is a major event, but arguably the basics of international politics have not changed that much.Foreign Policy Cover

September 11th attacks

The September 11, 2001 attacks consisted of a series of coordinated terrorist[1] suicide attacks upon the United States, predominantly targeting civilians, carried out on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. That morning, Nineteen terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda hijacked four commercial passenger jet airliners. Each team of hijackers included a trained pilot. The hijackers crashed two of the airliners (United Airlines Flight 175 and American Airlines Flight 11) into the World Trade Center in New York City, one plane into each tower. Both towers collapsed within two hours. A third airliner, American Airlines Flight 77, was crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia. Passengers and members of the flight crew on the fourth aircraft (United Airlines Flight 93) attempted to retake control of their plane from the hijackers; that plane crashed into a field near the town of Shanksville in rural Somerset County, Pennsylvania. In addition to the 19 hijackers, 2,973 people died; another 24 are missing and presumed dead.
Al Qaeda is a terrorist organization whose political ideology was developed by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood of the 1950s. US ties to this organization are historic. In Saudi Arabia during the 1990s Dick Cheney flew to Saudi Arabia and offered US aid; at the same time Osama Bin Laden was in Saudi Arabia just back from Afghanistan. US foreign policy at the time was driven by the need to contain communism (containment) the USSR had just gained control of Pakistan and were closing in on Afghanistan if they attained Afghanistan they would have ocean access to the Middle East, this was greatly feared by the US therefore the US supported Osama Bin Laden (and the jihad) in Afghanistan to keep communism out. Osama Bin Laden and the jihad won the war in Pakistan and communists did not take control. When Osama Bin Laden arrived in Saudi Arabia he was a hero (they supported the jihad); he offered to help Saudi Arabia in keeping Sadam out of Saudi Arabia, but they said no and turned to the US instead. This upset Osama because he didn’t want to bring in infidels to the holy land. Osama wrote a petition to the government for a guarantee that the US would be out directly after the war, and the royal family agreed but turned back on the agreement after the war. Once the war was over Osama Bin Laden disappeared off the radar screen but returned years later with new organization titled “Al Qaeda”. The same Al Qaeda who planed and took out the September 11th attacks on the United States.
There have been many terrorist attacks in this history of the world, but the September 11th attacks will go down in the history books as being a turning point in history. Not only did the September 11th attacks happen during our lifetime, but they changed US foreign policy drastically. Many wonder if it were not for the September 11th attacks whether the United States would be at war in Iraq. US congress woman Harmon is of the opinion that without the attacks of September 11th the public support for a US invasion of Iraq would not have been there, but that something else would have had to happen to cause the US to invade. She went on to say that the government had wanted to go in for quite some time, and that the intelligence the congress (including herself) had at the time suggested that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons. Whether you believe the Iraq invasion was contingent on the September 11th attacks, I believe most would consent to the fact that the proximate cause of the US lead war on Iraq was the September 11th attacks.

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  1. You’re close… SO close.

    Have a look at this:

  2. It was interesting reading the article “A day nothing much changed”. In America it was a day that changed everything in our country, our moral, patriotism, safety, and domestic and international policies. To read the article on how our international policies have not changed all that much brought out some great points. Globalization did not end with September 11th, if anything globalization has spread further. Borders did not become closed around the world with the events. Money and people still flow over borders (now with heightened security), but international policy makers know that closed borders with kill economies. I do believe that the United States international policy did change after 9/11. Our decision to spread democracy across the world with the ‘war of terror’, I don’t believe would have happened without the events. I agree with the blogger that our decision to go into Iraq was something on the radar of the administration before 9/11. The administration used the events to go into Iraq, where a connection to 9/11 has never been proven.

  3. Wow….. . WOW. I have heard a lot of 9/11 conspiracies over the years. But Al Gore? Seriously?

    No, no, wait. Here’s one: It was George W. Bush’s daughter, Jenna, who, after years of neglect from her very busy father, masterminded this concoction to force him into a war that would make him one of the most unpopular and contentious presidents in history.

  4. I agree that the attacks on Sept. 11th were a diliberate plan by Al Queada and that there was no conspiracy in government surrounding it. People always want answers, and they try to say that our govt knew about it and did nothing. If a person really believes this then what are they doing living in this country under this government if they think that they will not be protected?? I think it was right for the U.S. to respond to the attacks the way that they did and that it was because of those attacks that the U.S. went to war.

  5. Conspiracy theories aside, If 9/11 had not happened there is no way the American public would have supported invading Iraq. However, the Bush administration manipulated the horrific tragedy that happened on US soil to justify a war on Iraq. The rhetoric of the administration brainwashed Americans so bad that to this day polls show that a large amount of Americans still think there was a connection between Suddam Hussein and Al Queada, when in there is absolutely no evidence to support that claim. No, I do not believe the Bush Administration planned 9/11. But yes, I believe they played off of the fear and anger the Americans felt after that tragic day.

  6. So they may argue that the basis of international politics has not changed much since 9/11. But I disagree because I think the terrorist attacks showed a whole new side of the U.S. People around the world, and even people in the U.S. lived in this bubble of sorts, observing the wealth, prosperity, and security of the nation. But when the terrorist attacks happened it opened a lot of eyes… in good ways and in bad ways. In a good way, it helped Americans to see that we were not completely safe from all harm. Perhaps it showed Americans that the freedoms we enjoy are to this very day worth fighting for and just because we’ve had a period of moderate safety for a number of years, we cannot take that for granted. On the other hand it may have opened eyes across the world in the same way, but with a negative connotation. The vulnerability of the U.S. was completely exposed and I can’t help but think (remembering that day and the seeing the people in other countries celebrate our national tragedy) that it inspired other countries and terrorists to think maybe they could get a piece of us too.

  7. I agree with Christi. We can look to the surge of people taking Arabic, studying abroad in Muslim countries, and studying international relations all because 9/11 woke them up from a dream of isolationism. For the generation too young to remember the fall of the Berllin Wall, or even its impact and significance, 9/11 was THE defining moment of their lives. We were faced with a clear and present danger that we felt we could do something about. Knowledge and understanding of our enemy is key to winning this war.

    Yet as Jeff Stein recently reported in an op-ed piece in the NYT, when he asked several officials if they knew the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite, many were stumped, including Gary Bald, the FBI counterterrorism chief, among several congressmen and other officials. This ignorance about the enemy we now face is precisely the reason so much has gone awry. How can you possibly understand how to defeat–let alone who to fight–the enemy in Iraq when you do not understand the difference between the two main groups, the Sunnis and the Shiites? This is one of the most BASIC tenets in the war we are now immersed in.

    9/11 has produced a generation dedicated to eradicating this ignorance, and to find a way to win this war, and win it as a non-zero sum game.

  8. I would agree that the Bush administration did not intentionally plan, or allow the attacks on 9/11, however, I also agree that they took the tragedy and used it to manipulate the U.S. population. Even people within congress and the senate have stated that at the time they voted “yes” to go to war , however, they now realized that they had been manipulated and that the facts had been manipulated. The thing that bothers me the most is that our own government, the people we are supposed to trust and look up to made the decision to take a horrific event in U.S. history and capitalize on it.

    The vulnerability of the U.S. was exposed and through international policies and heightened security we have made the U.S. a much safer place to live. However, look back at hurricane Katrina. Thousands of our own people were left stranded during the disaster. We’ve spent so much time, energy and money on terrorists and homeland security that when we were presented with a situation where our own people needed our help, we couldn’t come to their rescue fast enough. We’ve spent almost $340 billion dollars overseas, but we have homeless people, sick people, people who cannot finance an education and yet it almost seems as though the issue of national security has let those issues slip through our fingers. They are just as important and to be perfectly honest I feel that taking care of our U.S. citizens should be our first priority and democracy in Iraq should come second.

  9. In one way I agree with Benjamin when he says 9/11 woke the United States up from the dream of isolationism. We certainly were awakened to the extraordinary threat Islamofascism poses to the world and to the need to engage it abroad.
    The response of President Bush however, in particular the war in Iraq, has offered the U.S. another important revelation: the US government ought to do all it can to avoid extending anything more than a cautious hand into the hornets nest of the Middle East. It is my conviction that the Bush administration bears admirable intentions, yet the reality that is becoming clearer each day is that the interventionist approach in the Middle East is not the right one. The way to gain regime change in hostile governments in this region is to pressure and outlast them, not to actively engage them militarily. The transformation of the Middle East is one that must take place gradually because the alternative of aggressively pursuing rapid change is an approach that all too likely will lead to the Iraq we see today.

  10. I agree with Ben’s assesment that the administration played the attacks of 9/11 to conjure support for the War in Iraq. However, I think it is also important to consider how readily the American people chose to buy into this. It is much easier as an American citizen to buy into the idea of a war in Iraq, a defined state, than it is to get behind the idea of a very ambiguous war with a largely undefined enemy. I think Anna’s assertion that domestic problems should hold higher priority than foreign intervention is correct, and that a large majority of Americans would agree with her. This is where the administrations manipulation comes into play; the situation in Iraq was turned into an issue of domestic security instead of the reality that it had little to do with immediate American security.

  11. I do believe that because the US had been looking for an “excuse” for many years to invade Iraq, that the attacks on September 11, 2001 really did garner the necessary public support for the invasion of Iraq. I really see this as a very similar situation to the one some 60 years ago when FDR decided to enter the war post-Pearl Harbor, since he knew he would not have the necessary public support without such an extreme event that personalized the war on the then-isolationist United States.

  12. Asserting that the United States government has ties to Osama Bin Laden or Al Queda is completely absurd. Asserting that America was looking for an excuse to invade Iraq is also absurd. This is a conspiracy theory of outlandish proportions! If there was any evidence of these claims AT ALL, we would never hear the end of it. The talking heads on every channel in the world would yammer about this until the life was sucked right out of their bodies!

    As your article plainly stated, America was attacked by merciless, fundamentalist killers on 9/11. It was within our right AND our duty to punish those behind the terrorist acts. The United States pursued the roots of this terrorism in Afghanistan first (and liberated Kabul by the way). Iraq was the second objective in America’s declaration of a war on all terrorism. Saddam Hussein needed to be removed from power (as does Chavez, Castro, etc, etc). Bill Clinton, John Kerry, and numerous others outside of the Bush administration beieved Hussein to be an imanent threat that should be nuetralized!

    No one loves war. But in the crazy-mixed-up-world in which we live, there is a time for war and a time for peace. And war usually has to come first. No one likes it, but it is neccessary. President Bush and his adminstration have reacted admirably to the many trials that are thrown at them daily. It is about time that Americans count their blessings that we have not been attacked again, and be thankful that we have a president like George W. Bush who has helped keep us safe.

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