These have been heady days within the US inventory market. I might get up by 5 am and watch CNBC earlier than the inventory market opened for buying and selling at 6:30 am Pacific time. It was no totally different on the morning of September 11, 2001. Little did I do know that catastrophic issues have been about to occur that may change the world.

At 8:45 am Jap time, an American Airways flight had crashed into the north tower of the World Commerce Heart in New York Metropolis. Inside minutes, CNBC stopped discussing shares and began protecting the incident, which, at that second, nobody knew if it was an anomalous accident or an assault of some sort.

360° Context: How 9/11 and the Struggle on Terror Formed the World


Three minutes after 9 am Jap, as I watched incredulously on the occasions unfolding, I noticed a United Airways passenger plane fly proper into the south tower of the dual towers. In beneath an hour, the south tower collapsed, leading to an enormous cloud of mud and smoke. By now, there was little question that America was beneath assault.

 “We are going to bear in mind the second the information got here, the place we have been and what we have been doing,” mentioned President George W. Bush in an tackle to Congress on September 20. Pictures from that Tuesday morning are nonetheless etched in my reminiscence, occurring, because it have been, simply 9 days after my second little one was born.

In all, 2,996 individuals of 78 nationalities misplaced their lives in 4 coordinated assaults carried out by al-Qaeda utilizing hijacked business, civilian airliners as their weapons, making 9/11 the second-biggest assault on American soil — second solely to the genocidal assault on Native Individuals dedicated by the nation’s immigrant settlers.

Operation Enduring Freedom: America’s Struggle on Terror

Addressing the nation the next day, Bush known as the assaults “greater than acts of terror. They have been acts of battle.” He promised that “the United States of America will use all our sources to overcome this enemy.” The president went on to guarantee Individuals that this “battle will take time and resolve, however make no mistake about it, we’ll win.”

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Twenty years later, the US has left Afghanistan and Iraq in a chaotic mess. The query stays: Did the United States win the battle on terror the Bush administration launched in 2001? This was a battle that has value greater than $6.4 trillion and over 801,000 lives, in response to Watson Institute for Worldwide and Public Affairs at Brown College.

In October 2001, the US-led coalition invaded Afghanistan and overthrew the Taliban authorities that had harbored al-Qaeda. Quickly after, al-Qaeda militants had been pushed into hiding. Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 assault and chief of al-Qaeda, was killed 10 years later in a raid carried out by US forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

In a shrewd transfer, Bush had left himself room to take down Iraq and its president, Saddam Hussein, utilizing an overarching definition for the battle on terror. In his tackle to Congress on September 20, Bush additionally acknowledged: “Our battle on terror begins with Al-Qaeda, but it surely doesn’t finish there. It won’t finish till each terrorist group of worldwide attain has been discovered, stopped and defeated.”

True to his phrases, in 2003, the United States and its allies invaded Iraq beneath the premise that it possessed weapons of mass destruction. Bush settled his rating with Hussein, guaranteeing he was captured, shamed and subsequently executed in 2006.

Regardless of lowering al-Qaeda to nothing and killing bin Laden, regardless of wrecking Iraq and having its chief executed, it’s inconceivable to say that the US has gained the battle on terror. All that Washington has managed to do is to commerce the Islamic State (IS) group that swept by means of Syria and Iraq in 2014 for al-Qaeda, giving a brand new identification to an previous enemy. Following the US and NATO pullout from Afghanistan final month, the Taliban, whom America drove out of energy in 2001, are again within the saddle. In truth, the Taliban’s recapture of Afghanistan has been so swift, so exact and so complete that the worldwide group is in a shock, questioning the timing and prudence of the withdrawal of troops.

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Setting an expectation for a way lengthy the battle or terror was prone to final, the secretary of protection beneath the Bush administration, Donald Rumsfeld, remarked in September 2001 that “it’s not going to be over in 5 minutes or 5 months, it’ll take years.” Rumsfeld, who christened the marketing campaign Operation Enduring Freedom, was prescient, because the battle enters its third decade in a endless struggle in opposition to terrorism.

The Winners and Losers

Sarcastically, Operation Enduring Freedom has solely resulted in a permanent lack of American freedom, one step at a time. I nonetheless keep in mind that I had walked as much as the jet bridge and obtained my spouse as she deplaned from a flight in 1991. One other time, when she was touring to Boston from San Francisco, I used to be allowed to enter the plane and assist her get settled along with her baggage, together with our 1-year-old. It’s inconceivable to be allowed to do such a factor in the present day, and I might not be stunned if readers query the veracity of my private expertise. In some ways, al-Qaeda has succeeded in stripping Individuals of the sense of freedom they’ve all the time loved.

Greater than Individuals, the most important losers on this tragic battle are Iraqis and Afghans, notably the ladies. Afghan girls, who had a short respite from persecution beneath the Taliban’s strict Islamic legal guidelines and human rights abuses, are again to sq. one and justifiably frightened of their future beneath the brand new regime. The guts-wrenching scenes from Kabul airport of individuals attempting to flee the nation inform us about how Afghans view the standard of life beneath the Taliban and the uncertainty that the longer term holds. 

To its east, the fragile stability of peace — if one might characterize the state of affairs between India and Pakistan as peaceable — is prone to be put to the check as violence from Afghanistan spreads. To its north in Tajikistan, there isn’t a lot love misplaced between Tajiks and the Taliban. Tajikistan’s president, Emomali Rahmon, has refused to acknowledge the Taliban authorities, and Tajiks have promised to affix anti-Taliban militia teams, paving the way in which for continued unrest and violence in Central Asia.

If Historical past Might be Rewritten

In 2001, referring to Islamist terrorists, Bush requested the rhetorical query, “Why do they hate us?” He tried to reply it in a speech to Congress: “They hate what they see proper right here on this chamber: a democratically elected authorities. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms: our freedom of faith, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with one another.”

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Islamic fundamentalists couldn’t give two hoots a couple of type of authorities or a individuals’s lifestyle 1000’s of miles away. The actual reply to Bush’s query lies deeply buried in US international coverage. America’s steadfast help of Israel and its refusal to acknowledge the state of Palestine is the primary purpose for it to turn into the goal of teams like al-Qaeda and IS.

America’s ill-conceived response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 throughout the Chilly Struggle led to the creation of al-Qaeda. It was with US funds and help that the anti-Soviet mujahideen fought America’s proxy battle with the Soviets. With out US interference, al-Qaeda might by no means have come into existence.

Throughout the Iran-Iraq Struggle of the Nineteen Eighties, the US bolstered Saddam Hussein by backing his regime in opposition to the Iranians. When Hussein grew to become too bold for America’s consolation and invaded Kuwait in 1990, George H.W. Bush engaged Iraq within the Persian Gulf Struggle. The US motive at the moment was primarily to guard its oil pursuits in Kuwait.

The US created its personal nemesis in Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden and spent $6 trillion to kill them. Within the course of, US leaders have lowered Iraq and Afghanistan to shambles and created a brand new monster within the Islamic State.

Sadly, historical past can by no means be rewritten. The US has proved again and again that its involvement within the Center East and Muslim world is geared toward advancing its personal political pursuits. The one query that is still is: Can the US undertake a coverage that may not worsen the state of affairs and, over time, deescalate it, with out creating yet one more Hussein or bin Laden? With no radically totally different method, Operation Enduring Freedom is doomed to endure ceaselessly, costing trillions of {dollars} every decade.

The views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Truthful Observer’s editorial coverage.