September 11 - did the world really change?
|Bad times. Seriously bad times|
But alas, in the spirit of trying to be a regular blogger, I really should be generating fresh content. And hey, I’m paid to write; surely it can’t be that hard to come up with something? In fact, it’s not.
When I was in first year university, I was sitting in my bedroom playing computer games (yes, not much has changed). It was around 11pm and my Dad came rushing into my room and told me to turn the TV on. What the TV revealed was a plane flying nose first into one of the World Trade Centres in New York.
Well, any plans I had on sleeping were quickly dismissed. For around the next three days or so my eyes were glued to the TV as I got to know a whole bunch of TV hosts I’d never seen before in my life (including the one and only Larry King). I was also exposed to the names ‘Osama Bin Laden’ and ‘Al-Qaeda’ for the first time.
Two days later, I was in a pub in Canberra with a few mates from university (ah, such clichés) who were breaking down the situation with depth normally reserved for top line sporting match ups.
What was evident though, was that everyone I knew had a different opinion. Some people blamed America for the attacks. Some blamed Islam. Some blamed atheist terrorists. Some blamed economics. Some blamed corruption.
However, the sentence on everyone’s lips was: today the world has changed.
Fast forward ten years and those same arguments, it seems, are ongoing. What started in New York, spread to Washington, then to Afghanistan, to Bali, to Iraq, to Mumbai, to London, and pretty soon every country in the entire world had undergone some sort of terrorist attack that was covered 24-hour news style… just like September 11.
Opinions are still divided on almost everything. People are still protesting against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Until a few months ago, people were still hunting Osama Bin Laden. Sure there are increased security checks at airports, and privacy concerns have ratcheted into the top ten of things people are concerned about but, strictly speaking, have things really changed all that much?
We just went through a global financial crisis that had been precipitated by a bunch of smaller crises over the past 30 years. Throughout the Arab world, dictators continue to stifle dissent and get away with outrageous corruption and brutality. There’s still a famine in Africa. China is still shrouded in secrecy. Australia is still arguing about refugees.
Perhaps the statement, ‘the world changed’ needs to be amended slightly. Instead, can we say, ‘America changed’?
I have no education and authority to write the next few paragraphs, but hey, I’m going to do it anyway.
While pointing to foreign and outward events, as I did a mere two paragraphs ago, it seems not much really changed with September 11. However, something changed in America’s psyche. Looking in from outside, I think September 11 united the country, and then divided it.
|Bush's popularity skyrocketed, |
particularly after this moment
However, just a few years later, America seems, at a political level, bitterly divided. When S&P downgraded America’s credit rating it was 95% due to partisan bickering. Furthermore, Obama’s disapproval rating is in the absolute doldrums as a hostile congress fails to make even the most simple of decisions.
Far right groups like the Tea Party are gathering support because they’re opposed to everything the Government embodies. The middle ground is fast being deserted.
Perhaps this is the next phase of America’s war – inside its own borders. When helping the Libyan rebels, America learned its lesson from Iraq and let the natives do the work. All the support provided was largely from drones (un-manned aircraft).
By doing so, they avoided another costly war overseas; probably a good thing for America as it needs all the money it can get to stay out of debt. And if America retreats further into its own borders, perhaps that will be the day the world changes.
No longer will NATO be allowed to send 0.23% of its troops to intervene in conflicts, resting safe in the knowledge that American troops will be there to bail them out.
No longer will Iran lay dormant in the region, if it feels safe that America won’t stop it invading its neighbouring states.
I’m sure there are more repercussions of America retreating to fix its own internal problems, but one thing is certain; it would really shake things up globally.
So while September 11 may have changed America, the rest of the world may have to wait, albeit not for very long.