September 11 - did the world really change?

Bad times. Seriously bad times
It’s hard to write something this week because a big part of me wants to write exactly what I wrote last week.

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
When the towers went down, America was united. George W Bush’s approval rating skyrocketed to a cool 93%. Americans were largely unanimous in their call to invade Afghanistan, hunt down Al-Qaeda, their allies the Taliban, and protect America from future attacks. 

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.


KIM said…
Interesting angle ... from the title I thought you'd be going the "human nature remains totally depraved" route. I'm far less qualified than you to write further comments, though, so I'll leave it at that for now!
Michael. said…
Dylan there's lots of 'food for thought' in your article, but I'd suggest nothing has really changed.
The nature of mankind remains largely selfish, deluded (to varying degrees and in numerous aspects) and often actively and willingly ignorant of what is really important.
It's events like September 11 that shake us out of our delusions and bring us back to reality; often with a frightening thump!
Like most life changing events it's our reaction to them that has the potential make a significant the difference and consequently change the world.
Unfortunately we often choose to strike out in anger and retribution, which is a natural and understandable response (we should be outraged over the deaths of thousands of innocent people), instead of trying to understand the motivation behind acts like this, then taking a more considered response. That response may take some form of military action, however it doesn't address the root cause of the September 11 attacks.

One of my favourite quotes is "Ideas have consequences".
I'd suggest we need to better understand then evaluate the 'ideas' that motivated the September 11 attacks.
But before we do, and let's not jump to any illogical conclusions or generalisations, we need to determine if this was the work of a small group of people or part of a larger problem.
Most people will be familiar with the term 'radical Islam' and attribute the September 11 attacks to it; and the facts say they'd be correct.
What most people don't understand is that 'radical Islam' isn't radical - it's fundamental Islam and in keeping with the actions of Mohammed, The Quran and the Hadiths! You don't need to look too far to find Imams (even in Australia) that would support the September 11 attack. The Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran expressed it accurately when he said, "The purest joy in Islam is to kill and be killed for Allah."
Don't believe me? Do your own research and see what you come up with.
I found Dr. Robert Spencer's Islam 101 ( to be very helpful. It'll take you about 20-30 minutes to read but you'll gain a good understanding of Islam. Before you read anything on Islam, it's highly likely what you read won't be in keeping with the main stream media messages from Islamic leaders in Australia. Whilst most reasonable people dislike deception, Islamic law allows for the deception of unbelievers (infidels) under what's known as Taqiyya (religious deception) to further the causes of Islam.
You may also wish to read Infidel the autobiography of Ayaan Hirsi Ali (

Even if you don't have time to read the above, take a few moments to consider countries ruled by some form of Islamic ideology, under Sharia law or where Islam is the almost universal belief system, and ask yourself if you'd like to live there; I didn't think so.

If you think I'm being too hard on Islam the ideology and it's not really a threat, ask yourself why so many western countries have committed thousands of troops and billions of dollars in military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Michael Foulds