It’s not so long ago that we all lived in a world of innocent oblivion. There have been religious disputes and wars for as long as we can remember and pretty much nonstop. Which is probably why we gotten so used to it that we couldn’t even see it as war anymore. But that doesn’t make it any lesser. In 2001 the whole world was surprised and terrified by the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York. The famous Twin Towers where for the western world what the Statue of Liberty is for the United States: a monument to our freedom. When with two suicide actions the towers came down, this was not just an attack on America on U.S soil, it was an attack to the freedom of the western world.
The attack on the World Trade Centre lead immediately to the bold action of the Bush administration to declare the War on Terror, unaware (I’d like to believe) how properly this name would be. Because what started as the War on terror soon became a War of Terror. Fourteen years ago The Twin Towers came down, the first move on a chessboard of war as never seen before. Fourteen years of wars, interventions, assassinations, torture and kidnappings. Fourteen years of astronomical expense, bombing campaigns galore, and a military-first foreign policy of repeated defeats, disappointments, and disasters. Fourteen years of a culture of fear in in the Western world, of endless alarms and warnings, as well as dire predictions of terrorist attacks. Fourteen years in which to launch Afghan War 2.0, Iraq Wars 2.0 and 3.0, and Syria War 1.0.
With a small number of supporters, $400,000-$500,000, and 19 suicidal hijackers Osama bin Laden pulled off a geopolitical magic trick of the first order. Think of it as wizardry from the theater of darkness. In the process, he did “change everything” or at least enough of everything to matter. Or rather, he goaded us into doing what he had neither the resources nor the ability to do. He knew exactly which buttons to push so that we would essentially carry out the rest of his plan. All he had to do was sit back and wait in Abbottabad, while we followed the blueprints for his dreams and desires as if he had planned it and, in the process, made the world a significantly different (and significantly grimmer) place.
Bin Laden did not only loosen his dogs of war, but ours too, which was exactly what he needed to bring chaos to the Muslim world. It took the Americans no time at all to decide to launch a “Global War on Terror” in up to 60 countries, followed by the sort of global imperium that had previously been conjured up only by cackling bad guys in James Bond films. Don’t you find it strange, looking back, just how quickly 9/11 set their brains aflame? Fourteen years of war that includes the targeted killings of numerous leaders and “lieutenants” of militant groups have visibly promoted, not blunted, the spread of Islamic extremism. And by doing so, and didn’t we become the pieces on Osama Bin Laden greatest chess board, following every move he envisioned for the future. Fourteen years later, the improbability of it all still staggers the imagination. –BM-
Cover photography by Jorge Rivas
(editor's letters are musings on actual events and are disconnected from the cover art).
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