9/11: Eleven years after, has US gained anything?
Eleven years ago on this day, the course of international history had changed permanently. Thousands of people were killed after the al-Qaeda brought down the Twin Towers after hijacking passenger aeroplanes and using them as missiles. A third aircraft hit the Pentagon while the fourth crashed in Pennsylvania. The US had hit back with full force within a month and destroyed Afghanistan where the Taliban, an ally of the al-Qaeda of late Osama bin Laden, was ruling.
The US soon found itself seriously involved in the politics of West Asia and the Afghan invasion of 2001 was backed by the Iraq invasion of 2003. In the name of war against terror, the US went on the offensive as a paranoid, smashing anything or everything it sensed opposing its interest. A fierce clash of civilisation followed and today it can no longer be said that the war against terror is the USA's own war but has in a way, involved each and every corner of the world in some way or the other.
The 9/11 trauma not only left a lasting scar in the minds of Americans, but it also affected the country militarily, politically and economically, the Afghan Taliban said.
The Taliban said the US retaliation for the 9/11 attack was unethical for the Afghans had no role in executing the devastating attack on the soils of the US. It said it had only made the citizens of USA vulnerable in every corner of the planet.
USA's war has only become unpopular
The Taliban's words are not wrong. The war in Afghanistan and the subsequent continuation of the global war on terror have given rise to a sharp public opinion back home for not only a huge number of US troops have lost their lives there but also because the anti-terrorism mission has taken a toll on the nation's economy.
Several Americans support the Nato's plan to withdraw forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, a decision which the American authorities have taken. But the Americans have already left Afghanistan and Iraq in a mess and there is very little hope that normalcy will return there in the near future. On the contrary, the spillover effect in these countries have affected the adjacent region.
The situation in Pakistan has steadily deteriorated so much that the relation between the two traditional allies has declined and the US is regularly bombing the unstable areas in Pakistan to wipe off militancy. The Americans have also meddled in Libya and are eagerly waiting to topple regimes in Iran and Syria.
In a nutshell, the US has destabilised the crucial western and south-western regions of Asia while pursuing national interest of capturing energy resources. They miscalculated, resorted to lies and hasty pre-emptive strikes in Iraq, setting up a horrendous precedent before the world. International diplomacy and peace initiatives have been rendered ineffective by the continuous belligerence shown by the American policy-makers and the lack of a balancing force meant that it was only a 'black-and-white judgement' that had prevailed.
End of Laden doesn't end the war
According to experts, there is no reason to believe that with bin Laden's demise in 2011, the USA's enemies are over. A British agency has recently said that the exhausted Taliban were looking towards a peace initiative with the US but it is still in a rudimentary stage. And as far as the al-Qaeda is considered, it has changed its functioning style today and become more decentralised entity.
The Americans might not take the al-Qaeda as a powerful entity anymore. But the fact is that the terrorists' network will strengthen its activities whenever there is a political crisis taking shape in any place and the enormous region comprising West Asia and North Africa offers enough opportunity to these forces, particularly after the series of US adventurism and Arab Spring. This will not allow the US to end the war and look towards new frontiers as it has been doing vis-a-vis China in East Asia.
The US also has limited number of allies now around the world to help her continue its war against terror. Israel, Saudi Arabia (which was another nation deeply affected by the 9/11 tragedy) and India are some of its close allies today but each of these states have their own problems to exclusively focus on America's enemies.
To conclude, noted British journalist Jason Burke said both the US and the al-Qaeda had made errors while executing their plan of action. The Americans tried to impose western-style democracy in alien conditions while the al-Qaeda's idea of Islamic state failed to win many friends among the moderates. Even in Europe, terrorist attacks in mid-2000s ensured that a variety of hate politics began to creep into the social life.
War on terror seriously violated human rights
The US war on terror has left a trail of human rights violation and none other than US President Barack Obama knows it by heart. Many believe that Sept 11 goes down in the USA's history next only to Dec 7 (1941), the day when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour during the World War II and ensured the USA's entry into the war, but such comparison is only of academic interest. Did the post-9/11 aggressive counter-terrorism really deliver for the US in the last one decade or a more de-radical approach would have worked better?