POR: Eduardo del Buey

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The attack on the World Trade Center in New York City twenty years ago was a watershed moment in modern history – one that changed our lives forever.

The attack on the World Trade Center in New York City twenty years ago was a watershed moment in modern history – one that changed our lives forever.

The deaths of some 4000 people in four attacks on that sunny September morning galvanized the world, and, in the space of a few minutes, most of the world became one with New York City.

But the sympathies did not last and, the legacy of actions taken on and since that eventful day have left some parts of the world in turmoil.

In the weeks after the attack, the United States and its allies passed a resolution at the U.N. Security Council sanctioning the Taliban government of Afghanistan and legalizing a military attack to rid the world of the Al Qaeda terrorist base located there.

So far, so good.

However, then U.S. President George W. Bush decided to attack Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9-11, in 2003 without U.S. Security Council approval. Although a dictatorship, its government was anything but Islamist.

This war was as illegal as it was irrational, the result of a whim on the part of President Bush and his senior advisors.

He also decided to embark on a process of nation building in Afghanistan, which did not turn out as planned with the recent fall of Kabul and the entire country to the Taliban.

The results were disastrous.

By withdrawing troops from the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan to invade Iraq, the U.S. administration provided the Taliban with time to regroup as a fighting force and eventually gain the strength with which today it can challenge the government of Afghanistan militarily.

By withdrawing troops from the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan to invade Iraq, the U.S. administration provided the Taliban with time to regroup as a fighting force and eventually gain the strength with which today it can challenge the government of Afghanistan militarily.

So, one may ask if the objectives set out after the events in 2001 have been met.

In my view, they have not.

Although Osama Bin Laden was eventually killed, Al Qaeda remains active in some form or other on five continents. Iraq is falling to pieces and has not become the democracy that the Bush administration predicted that it would become after the 2003 intervention.

Finally, the Taliban is set to rule Afghanistan once the United States and its allies pull out their troops, leaving that country unchanged.

The dispersion of Al Qaeda and removal of Saddam created a power vacuum that spawned the Islamic State, another terrorist player in the region.

Today, their combined tentacles reach from the Philippines to Morocco and throughout large swathes of Africa and Asia.

Iraq meanwhile is unstable and increasingly under the sway of the Ayatollahs in Teheran and in Afghanistan, the Taliban seem to be gaining power as the United States and its allies leave the country with a weak government and armed forces.

Iraq meanwhile is unstable and increasingly under the sway of the Ayatollahs in Teheran and in Afghanistan, the Taliban seem to be gaining power as the United States and its allies leave the country with a weak government and armed forces.

Over twenty years over $6 trillion have been spent, hundreds of thousands have died, and the regional security situation has worsened. Although a second attack on the United States has been avoided, the same cannot be said for many European, African, and Asian countries where attacks and the consequent loss of lives have been many.

The lives lost and trillions spent in both wars appear to have been for naught, and the world still faces many terrorist threats.

Islamophobia has increased exponentially as has racism against Muslims and other groups often mistaken for Islamists – Sikhs, Hindus, and others – and this has partly contributed to the growth of extremist right wing populist movements worldwide.

The result is that many European countries now face difficulties from their own Muslim populations resulting from anti-Islamic hostility, and this is feeding Muslim extremism around the world.

And the newly minted refugees created by the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban will create even more tensions within recipient countries and exacerbate anti-Muslim and anti-refugee sentiments.

Muslim youth in many parts view Islamist terrorism as successful in addressing what they perceive to be historical injustices.

As a result, many are turning towards Islamist extremism as a balm for their emotional injuries.

This has led to an uptick in foreign recruitment by Islamist groups as well as an increase in foreign converts to radical Islam.

This has made it more difficult for governments to monitor and stop terrorist activities and to curtail the flow of funding from supporters to militants.

Since 2001, the communications revolution has opened new doors for extremist behavior – from facilitating recruitment worldwide to funding terrorist operations and to decentralizing terrorist groups, allowing them to operate anywhere with little centralized command.

This has made it more difficult for governments to monitor and stop terrorist activities and to curtail the flow of funding from supporters to militants.

The United States and its allies have left Afghanistan in no better shape than when they found it – with a strong Taliban and a government that fell because of dismal military and government incompetence and corruption.

Twenty years wasted, and a return to the status quo ante, with no global support or appetite for attacking this extremist group whose human rights atrocities are legend and will only continue to grow with their return to power.

So, the legacy of 9/11 twenty years later is a world still plagued by terrorism and political movements seeking to curtail human rights and freedoms in the name of security.

As I said at the beginning of the article, a watershed moment in human history whose ending is neither clear nor written.


Eduardo del Buey

Eduardo is a former deputy spokesperson for Ban Ki-Moon.

He is an expert in public diplomacy.


The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CEIM. Any content provided by our bloggers or authors are of their opinion. The content on this site does not constitute endorsement of any political affiliation and does not reflect opinions from members of the staff and board.

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FECHA DE PUBLICACIÓN

septiembre 09, 2021

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