9/11, 2006: Bush Jnr-led invasions of Iraq & Afghanistan nothing short of disaster Print E-mail

  Pakistan -- September 11, 2006, Shaaban 17, 1427 A.H.

Five years of nothing
Five years have passed since the fateful day when a series of terrorist acts shook the United States and the rest of the world, and changed things possibly forever. The events of September 11, 2001, shook the American psyche and gave power to an American president who till then had been tottering on how to administer a country, which he had won courtesy the US Supreme Court. Since then, galvanised by what happened that day, President Bush embarked on a so-called war against terror, in the process taking a number of far-reaching decisions. The only problem with that was that many of these decisions were ill-advised and short-sighted, and helped only to strengthen the very forces the US has been fighting in this war.

Looking back, it would be hard to say whether the years have been spent in something meaningful or constructive. Many would agree that the world is a more dangerous place and that the United States is nowhere close to winning the war against terror. The war, which has no frontiers and which has co-opted many countries, costs America billions of dollars and thousands of lives and yet it is nowhere near coming to any logical conclusion. As far as Al Qaeda is concerned, some of its senior leadership has been caught, but the top two remain on the run while others have filled in the slots left empty by those who have been detained. It would be fair to say that though the terror network has been dispersed and its leaders are on the run it is by no means fully dismantled and continues to pose a real danger.

The United States and its allies have fought two wars and conducted hundreds of military operations in a bid to catch Al Qaeda’s top leadership, which is purportedly behind the September 11 attacks. But the unfortunate fact of this is that millions of people, many completely innocent and in countries that had little connection to the 9/11 attacks, have suffered as a consequence. This in turn has lead to increased resentment against the US in different parts of the world, especially the Muslim one. Bound loosely by religion, this one-billion strong community is now looking for common threads after being discriminated against and victimised in the west, particularly the US, and attacked and bombed at home. In that sense, the policies followed by the US government in response to 9/11 have only served to polarise a segment of society — Muslims — that was also living an uncomfortable existence in many western countries. The Muslim communities in such cases have, by and large, tended to veer further to the extreme. There is also a perceptive rise in sympathy for religious causes, which is fine, and extremist organisations, which is not. Different wars and indigenous struggles have been enveloped in the larger war on terror, with the west immediately siding with the non-Muslim side in most instances on the grounds that the Muslim side is being fought by organisations which it considers to be terrorist in nature. In this complex web of wars and struggles, the US has adopted a policy that is overly simplistic and has multiple implications.

While conspiracy theorists may argue that with the threat of every terrorist attack the US administrations gets further strengthened, the reality is simpler. The US and its allies have only worsened the situation through their responses to the September 11 attacks. Five years is a long enough time to realise this. The interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan have been nothing short of a disaster. The only silver lining that is now emerging is the growing frustration and impatience among western allies as well as among ordinary citizens of the futility of the enterprise that Messrs Bush and Blair charged into. This is a good time to rethink strategies and also take stock of the price the west and the Muslim world are paying for the war on terror. It is hoped that saner minds will prevail and that after all these years, some constructive and positive initiative will be taken. The premise of this would be that terrorism is something that affects us all, and the war, if any, should be fought in that spirit and not under the ‘us versus them’ philosophy that currently prevails.