Ten years ago today, 19 Islamist extremists from the terrorist group Al-Qaeda hijacked four planes in the United States.
United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower 17 minutes later.
Half an hour later, American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon.
United Airlines Flight 93 rebelled against the hijackers. It crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
A total of 2,977 people, excluding the 19 hijackers, died in the New York, Arlington and Shakesville attacks that day.
It marked the day when the world changed. It marked the day when enemies revealed themselves. It marked the day we realised what we had blindly stumbled into. It marked the day when the nature of war changed. It marked the day when the nature of terrorism changed. It marked the day when the nature of foreign policy, of the international community, of life itself, changed. An entire generation felt their mortality, and would never view the world in the same way again. It marked a struggle for cultural dominance, and for civil rights. It marked a rise in extremism. It marked a changing point in history.
That was the standard, generic response. For all my dedicated fans who clicked beyond the “read more” tab, here’s a little more…
To start, the standard lefty response – remember the 3000 American dead, but don’t forget the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dead, tens of thousands of Afghan dead, dead Pakistanis, Somalis and Yemenis, all dead as a result of this “War on Terror”. Many of whom were entirely innocent, many had never even heard of the Trade Center…
Don’t forget the thousands of American, British, Australians, Italians, Poles, French, Germans, Danes, Spanish… and many other nations’ troops who died in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Don’t forget everyone who has died in every other conflict of the last ten years. They are no less worthy of your thoughts. No one is less worthy.
9/11 2001 as a day was a turning point, doubtlessly.
But don’t forget the other important 9/11s of history. On the 11th of September, 1973, the democratically elected President Salvador Allende of Chile was overthrown by a CIA-supported military junta, under General Augusto Pinochet. The following 16 years of military dictatorship in America’s backyard did untold damage to its population – c 3,000 people who opposed him ‘disappeared’, and many thousands more were arrested, many tortured. Friedman’s ‘shock’ economic policies, derived straight from the Chicago School of economics had their testing ground. It should have been the end of those ideas. But it found its inheritor in Thatcher. Read or watch Naomi Klein for a summary of that.
Two thousand and two years ago, in September 9CE, a Roman army was ambushed and slaughtered by Germanic forces in Teutoberger Wald. The Germanic tribes under Armenius of the Cherusci had had enough of Roman cultural and military hegemony, was fed up with an arrogant superpower dominating their lands. Three Roman legions, 20,000 men, women and children, were killed.
Roman settler Octavius Romanus talked about it- “I was taking a cold bath in my toga when my neighbour told me to come and see what was happening. We ran outside to see carnage everywhere. The first screaming hordes of berserker warriors had just hit the legion and they were being torn apart- we couldn’t believe it, we never thought something like this could happen in Teutoburg forest! We saw soldiers running away, their faces covered in blood, it was just…..” Octavius had to cut off the interview, as he was overcome by emotion.
(The above is an excellent satire from cafebabel, which I couldn’t help but reference.)
There are many anniversaries today, this month…
There are a million and one turning points in life.
Indeed, every day is a turning point in world history.
Every evening, as I lay me down to sleep, as I pray the Lord my soul to keep, the world has changed, irrevocably. The events since dawn have changed the planet, each and every one of us, and we cannot go back. Never go back.
Every day is a turning point.
Every day is felt in world history.
Every day is new.
The “War on Terror” was not the right way to deal with things. An attack by civilians (admittedly terrorists, but they were civilians, if we define ‘civilian’ in the narrow terms of not being part of a nation-state’s armed forces) against civilians is a crime, not an act of war. The way to deal with this should have been legal, not military. The Iraq war should never have taken place without United Nations support. Osama and his kind should have been put before the International Criminal Court. Interpol should have led the assault. All we did was meet hate with hate, and we cannot live life like that.
So, those are my thoughts, ten years on. One final thought – if you’ve read this far, well done. Now take a moment to think about yourself. Think about where you were ten years ago. Think about how far your life has gone, how much you have developed, and changed as a person. Think about where you were and where you are now. Think about your Ten-Year-Plan.
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