“09/11” A Pretext Which Made The World Worse Off!

One scholar called 09/11 a historical “game changer” akin to that of the attack on Pearl Harbour, and from that point on, the everyday lives of not just Americans, but of all the people around the globe were forever altered. This attack was indeed a despicable and a barbaric act which shattered more than lives and property. The attacks, and the US government’s response, also shattered the boundaries between war and peace.

In retrospect however, the question is being asked: which of the many changes are genuine consequences of 9/11? There is overwhelming evidence that the US policies of pre-emptive strike and regime change started not with the collapse of the World Trade Center in 2001 but with the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989. According to many critics, including some distinguished figures like Noam Chomsky,, the evidence clearly shows that, contrary to the popular claims , 9/11 served more as an excuse, or bogeyman, than a “trap” laid by Osama bin Laden in order to bleed and disgrace the US by prompting it to wage war and military aggression against the Arab-Muslim world. With the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US needed to rethink not only the strategy behind its foreign policy but also to consider finding a new enemy in order to justify its continuing internationalism. It is in this context that the so-called Muslim bogeyman comes into play, and US brings in the ‘Islamic threat’ into their military strategic equation,  considering  ‘political Islam’ as its’ prime adversary.

Wilfried Gerhard in his book on ‘American Exceptionalism and the War in Iraq’ says, ‘Upon digging deeper it becomes evident that there was a huge effort underway to redesign not only Iraq, but the entire Arab world’. Anatol Lieven of King’s College London’s department of war studies, says “that the Bush administration would have tried to invade and occupy Iraq anyway. The extreme anger of the Muslim world, the blow to US military prestige, the rise of Iran – all of that would have happened.”. Robin Niblett, director of Chatham House, feels it is questionable whether the US hawks would have won the day on Iraq without the “extreme shock” of 9/11. But he notes that much else in the broader world picture would have happened regardless. Major post-Cold War US military strategies such as regime change were formulated not after the 9/11 attacks, or under President Bush Jr., but under President Bush Sr., that is, soon after the demise of the Soviet Union.

Al Jazeera’s Phyllis Bennis opined, ‘it wasn’t however the crime of September 11 that threatened US’s survival, that destroyed its’ democracy, it wasn’t September 11 that expanded the devastating impact of those attacks far beyond those already directly affected. It was the events of September 12, when the Bush administration made the decision to take the world to war, that changed the world, and that continued to threaten the world’s security and shred US democracy’.  In this context, many conspiracy theories have been presented to point towards this 09/11 being even an inside job in order to build up this pretext.

Be it as it may, in the post 9/11 period, we witnessed this so-called war on terror launched by the so-called ‘holier than thou’ developed nations led by Bush and Blair,turning to a war of terror. In the rush to punish ‘terrorists’, the tried and tested principles of democracy and the rule of law were thrown to the winds, and contrary to its principles, international law was used asymmetrically, to favour only dominant countries. Today, world is worse off- more failed states, terror, and extremism in all forms. The creation of the ISIS global threat clothed in Islamic garb, too could be traced back to the military and economic strategies of the West.  

Moreover, in this overall context, one of the worst disasters afflicting humanity specially in the Post-09/11 phase has been the exponential growth of hatred towards the ‘other’, specifically Islamophobia. US particularly saw Islamophobic attacks increase by 1,700% in 2001. This miasma continues to fester crossing the borders of the US to Europe, and even beyond. Trumps, Gert Wilders, Le Penns and Farages of the West supported by a biased Media, have been spearheading a concerted alt-right campaign to demonize, stereotype and stigmatize the ‘Other’ especially Islam and Muslims in the West.   Continuous anti-Muslim rhetoric from the political leaders as well as the Media has long being left unchecked which resultantly has bred mistrust and mutual suspicion within communities.

Logically, Islamophobia today is therefore normalization of anti-Muslim hatred that has grown exponentially since the outset of the War on Terror culture that began after the events of 9/11, although it wasn’t the starting point. During this time, intolerance, bigotry and the development of alt-right, far right, radical left and other religious extremist groups have found succour in the clamour of the marginalized sections of the society for public attention. This elephant in the room has been by and large ignored or subjected to double standards both by the Media and the governments in the Post 09/11 era, not just in the West, but beyond as well.

The world thought after Nazis’ genocide and anti-Semitic mentality of those times, the scourge of racism was a thing of the past. But, it sadly continues in other forms, specially Islamophobia! The Post 09/11 era Muslims may feel defeatist and morally exhausted, from the horrendous atrocities of ISIS, and the culture of fear in the West created by a powerful Islamophobia industry, which sees everything Muslim as pure evil. But, they must take heart in the fact that despite claims to the contrary, racism is still a fringe activity and not mainstream. They must also not lose hope in Allah SWT who has promised help for those who persevere and are patient. Besides, lessons from their glorious past of overcoming similar challenges as well as how people of all faiths and races today come together to defeat attempts to divide humanity should boost their sagging morale too. They should be torch-bearers! The world expects nothing less.!      

-Lukman Harees