States come and states go but nations go on till Doomsday. Anniversaries come and anniversaries go but the world goes on till the end of time. We either celebrate or mourn anniversaries, depending on the event. Today is the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001, a dastardly event that changed the world. We mourn not only the 3,000 innocent lives wantonly lost, we mourn too the millions equally wantonly killed in its wake. But most of all, we mourn the global destruction that followed 9/11. The first decade of the new millennium can justly be called the Decade of Destruction. Great start.
The decade went with lightening speed, but when one considers the events that followed, it’s been a long, and painful journey to a destination yet unknown. The Leviathan is convulsing harder and we still don’t know exactly what kind of a monster it will eventually become. What we know for certain is that the pendulum of global power is swinging from west to east.
So great has been America’s decline in this decade that it commands little respect today. Afghanistan and Iraq have shown that it can be defeated. America’s economic meltdown has dented its legitimacy to lecture others on how to run their affairs because it is becoming patently obvious that soon it will no longer be able to finance their deficits and development. Its perception as a superpower has diminished woefully. The diminishment continues.
We are moving back towards a non-polar world, which is the best of all possible worlds. But good things last rarely. Soon it will become multi-polar, which is far more equitable than bipolar or unipolar. Large-scale awakenings have started not only in many Arab Muslim countries but also in Europe – and are spreading. The time is nigh when they will start in America as well as incomes get squeezed, prices rise and joblessness becomes a pandemic. The efficacy of political systems to produce good leaders and good governments is under question. The Arab uprisings are not so much for western-style electoral democracy as for freedom from a homegrown ruling elite as well as from foreign powers: the process that could take long before Muslims arrive at their own Enlightenment and Reformation. Presently, they are undergoing their own kind of Inquisition. The end losers will be the hegemons.
September 11, 2001 has come and gone ten times with nary an answer to many vital questions. What happened, why did it happen, how did it happen, what has been achieved?
Who did it? Who really did it? We are told to believe what we are told else we will be branded ‘conspiracy theorists’ at best or killed at worst. Some choice. I don’t necessarily disbelieve that Al-Qaeda did it. I have seen a lot of evidence when I helped President Musharraf write his autobiography. But I will not believe it entirely until the US government provides credible proof that it indeed was Al-Qaeda. An undamaged passport found in the ruins of the Twin Towers defies belief when both aircraft have been vapourised. Flying manuals in the glove compartments of the cars of alleged hijackers cannot teach someone how to flying huge Boeing airliners. Al-Qaeda accepting ‘credit’ on a website is hardly proof when the world knows that false websites can easily be made and run by intelligence agencies – to use an Americanism, ‘false flag’ websites.
Then what does one do about the many American naysayers who have held high positions in the US government, like the former Deputy Secretary of State Dr Steve R. Pieczenik who claims that 9/11 was not only a ‘false flag’ operation but supervised by Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Stephen Hadley, Elliott Abrams and Condoleezza Rice, amongst others. “They ran the [9/11] attacks.” How can one just disbelieve someone in Dr Pieczenik’s position? We need to know and only the US government can tell us. Calling Pieczenik a fruitcake or a conspiracy theorist is not enough.
If Al-Qaeda did indeed perpetrate the 9/11 attacks, it was like Frankenstein’s monster attacking its own creator. What were its motives? There may be many, like announcing their presence in a big way, but the primary one has to be the destruction of the USA, just as after 9/11 the objective of America was the destruction of Al-Qaeda. Its leader, Osama Bin Laden is dead, how and when we still don’t know for sure, but Al-Qaeda is very much there. Despite the fact that America has managed to prevent a repeat of a 9/11 kind of attack largely through much improved security structures and also through good luck, the world is a far more dangerous place today. State terrorism gives birth to most non-state terrorism and when state terrorism increased after 9/11, so did non-state terrorism. Al-Qaeda was already disliked. Now America is arguably the most disliked country in the world, its passport possibly the greatest liability. Worse, America, Europe and Japan are indebted to the gills, the ‘mighty’ dollar is mighty no more and their economies are trashed. They stand on the brink of a deep depression. The ‘American Dream’ has become a nightmare. Sad. What else could Osama have wanted? In the process, Afghanistan and Iraq have been destroyed with Pakistan fast moving there. The only gainer is Iran.
America has lost its moral high ground, what with concentration camps like Guantanamo Bay, Abu Gharaib, Baghliar, Kandahar, on its naval vessels and by rendering suspects to other countries to be tortured, what they call ‘enhanced interrogation’.
Al-Qaeda for its part may have achieved its objective but it has damaged the Muslims and Islam more than it has damaged America and more than America could have damaged them. Politeness and political correctness aside, Muslims have become international outcasts, even in their own countries.
One expects governments to take collegiate and considered decisions. Instead, the US government’s reaction was self-destructive. Could it be that 9/11 provided them just the opportunity to do what they had been itching to do in the first place? What else can explain the attack on Iraq on fabricated evidence? Mindless, destructive reaction one expects from a human being, particularly of the male variety liberally marinated in a surfeit of testosterone. It seems that the Bush government was suffering from high testosterone levels. Now they have given their country prostate cancer. I just hope they will learn some lessons before it’s too late, the most important one being: don’t create monsters against others for they will turn on you one day.
The writer is a political analyst. He can be contacted at [email protected]