It may be a cliché to say that the world will never be the same again. But it needs to be said again to explain the fears that gripped the world’s peace loving people 15 years ago, when the United States prepared a militarily response to the September 11 terror attacks.
There is no gainsaying the fact that the terror attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington were the biggest shock ever recorded on the political Richter scale. That 17 foreign terrorists with little or no commando training carried out an attack of this scale on the world’s sole superpower was beyond belief. America under attack, screamed newspaper headlines worldwide.
But the stories behind the shock remain only half told. Several questions remain unanswered or are dismissed by US officials as the imagination of conspiracy theorists. Or the answers came in piecemeal and, that too, only when the authorities feared that their silence would give credence to the conspiracy theories. It was only five years after the attack that the Pentagon released a clip of the cctv footage to prove that it was not a missile but a hijacked plane that hit the Pentagon. In July this year, in response to growing public outcry over an alleged Saudi role in the 9/11 attacks, 28 classified pages of the official 9/11 report were released.
The manner in which al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011 at Abottabad in Pakistan and his body disposed of only adds to the many mysteries and unanswered questions surrounding the 9/11 attacks. If 9/11 was a black-and-white case of terror attack, why is there a need to classify sections of the report? Why is there reluctance on the part of the US authorities to reveal all? The more a state hides state information, the farther it is from the spirit of democracy. The way the US has dealt with 9/11 information makes one wonder whether it is a secret state.
The story behind the shock is still hazy. But if the terror attack is seen through the prism of US political power, a link between the attacks and US foreign policy becomes evident.
No doubt, in the aftermath of the attacks, there was worldwide sympathy for the American people who were in a state of shock. But the war party captialised on this fear to generate support for a fitting military response to the terror attacks. Helping the war party in this endeavor was the Corporate Media which avoided discussions on why the United States had been targeted by the terrorists or whether the attacks were the result of the country’s failed foreign policy.
Fifteen years on, little has changed. Covering the 9/11 anniversary on Sunday, the Corporate Media’s focus was largely on Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s health condition after she collapsed while getting into her vehicle. In a mania over Clinton’s pneumonia, the Corporate Media exercises self-censorship on discussions on any possible link between the US foreign policy and 9/11.
Yes the world was never the same after 9/11. It changed for the worse. The 15 years that followed 9/11 were years of chaos and bloodshed. But turn back the clock to take a look at the ten years that preceded 9/11 – from the end of the Cold War in 1991 to September 11, 2001. It was a time when we thought the proverbial sword was being turned into a ploughshare and the wolf was learning to live with the lamb. Yes, a new world order was shaping up, with justice, peace and human rights being given pride of place. With the Cold War no more, social liberalism was gaining momentum in Europe despite the distractions of Reaganomics and Thatcherism. In South Africa, the apartheid system came to an end. Worldwide public outcry forced the United States and its Nato allies to undertake humanitarian intervention in the Balkans. The words “Salaam, Shalom, peace’ reverberated from the White House lawn as Palestinian Liberation Organisation Chairman Yasser Arafat and Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin shook hands and signed the Oslo-brokered peace deal in the presence of the then US President Bill Clinton to bring peace to the Middle East. Adherence to international law was seen as fashionable. On the environmental front, the United Nations hosted the Rio Earth summit that led to the 1994 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. In short, a progressive world order was taking shape, much to the chagrin of US neoconservatives or neocons. But it all came to an abrupt end with 9/11.
If July 4, Independence Day, is a day of hope for citizens of what was once a great nation with a powerful constitution and a Bill of Rights, September 11 is a day of darkness, a day that sounded the death knell of world peace, human rights and international law. Since that dark day in history, we have been witnessing wars and more wars and more terror groups and millions of war dead in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere.
Since that dark day in history, international law has been observed more in the breach. Captives brought to the US Gulag prison in the Guantanamo Bay were denied the rights enshrined in the Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War. Worse still, the United States even justified torture.
The then President George W. Bush’s war on terror, in hindsight, appeared a war for empire building – an imperialistic war. Brainwashed by the fear-mongering Corporate Media, a majority of the Americans by their silence gave Bush and his war party the licence to commit mass murder. They even agreed to forego their liberty and allowed the state to spy on them under the draconian Patriot Act, a post-9/11 piece of law. Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States, said, “Those who give up their liberty for more security deserve neither liberty nor security.” But only a few questioned Bush and his war party, when they rolled out their plans to invade Afghanistan first and then Iraq.
A majority of the Americans believed the lies and deception the Bush administration presented as truth to justify its illegal invasion of Iraq which had nothing to do with 9/11. Even today, how many in the United States would ask themselves the question whether their country was responsible for the mayhem in the Middle East and the creation of the ISIS monster. How many of them know that Bush’s war on terror complements the neocons’ Project for New American Century (PNAC), which advocated a policy of militarily dominating strategic regions and taking control of their resources?
The war on terror resurrected blatant western colonialism. The subjugated nations’ wealth became the invaders’ property. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump overtly and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton covertly support such a policy. A terror war prosecuted to achieve political and economic goals will not rid the world of terror. Instead it will create more terror, as evidenced by the emergence of ISIS, and bring disastrous consequences in the long term. A world order based on peace and justice appears a distant dream.