The post 9/11 Narrative vs. The past 50 years of American Foreign Policy is a very long title for a blog post. However, let me explain in this opening paragraph why the title must be so long. I’ve written about 9/11 on this blog once before on the 14th anniversary last September. I wrote briefly about why it happened and the effects. I also recounted my personal experiences. The reason for this post is not necessarily about 9/11 but about the circumstances that were created afterwards. Just yesterday, ISIS sent suicide bombers to an airport in Belgium.The whole world has responded in horror and sadness. Yet another case of innocent people dying because of extremists. The 9/11 attack is an example of a bigger narrative, or more accurately its the effects of 50 years of misguided or mislead policies by the US and Europe. The post 9/11 narrative is one that can be used to predict how all terrorist attacks will be handle in the future. First, I want to explain the narrative and what it entails. Second, I want to briefly touch on some key moments in American foreign policy dating back to the 1950s. The 50 years in the title refers to the 50 years before 9/11. The last thing is to bring all these narratives and histories together by presenting in terms of the attack on Belgium and how the US has handled it.
After 9/11 occurred, there was a lot of things happening in the US. As a nation we came together and united unlike any other time in our history. The exception being Pearl Harbor. The mourning for the loss of the thousands of innocent lives started. The most important changes within the US came in the form of policies. The US traded freedom for security. Security was tighten everywhere, football games, baseball games, events, airports, borders…etc. The US government passed the controversial patriot act which allowed the NSA to spy on the American.The US government created the TSA for airport security. At the time, President George W. Bush decided in 2003 to combine many of the departments that handled elements of security to Homeland Security. He put all the CIA, FBI, Department of Defense under one roof. In that same year, Congress easily voted to invade Afghanistan and later Iraq. Even New York City stepped up its police force and made stricter rules regarding safety on its public transportation. Now there is two cops on every other block in Manhattan.
Things changed for good. Today we still see these things as normal. The most telling action that occurred during this time was the start of the two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. These wars were not started because either country had attacked the US directly. Afghanistan was under rule by the Taliban. Iraq was under rule by Saddam Hussein. It was supposed that attack mastermind Osama Bin Laden was hiding out in Afghanistan so in retaliation for the attacks. In Iraq, Saddam Hussein was allegedly hiding weapons of mass destruction. It turned out to be untrue.Both wars created a very important policy for the future. Aptly named the Bush Doctrine. The Bush Doctrine is a policy that uses preventive measures and preempted invasions or interventions to prevent future terrorist attacks. The Bush Doctrine has been used in countries such as Libya, Syria, Iran (Iran deal is preventive), and Egypt.
The post 9/11 narrative is partly the Bush Doctrine. The other part is political rhetoric. To justify these wars and acts to prevent terrorism, the politicians warned that terrorist did not like our way of live. They didn’t like that we had freedoms. The terrorist hate democracy. So in the name of freedom and democracy the American people were tricked into trading freedoms for security. But ask yourself, are we really safer? Now lets turn our attention to some of the events leading of up to 9/11.
The first event leading towards the creation of terrorist groups in the middle east is set in the 1950s. Iran was happy being ruled by a democratic government. President Eisenhower decided to have the CIA overthrow Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh and replace him with the Shah (Mohammed Reza Pahlavi). Iran went from being a democracy to a dictatorship. Why? It was a deal with Britain to take control over the oil supply for British and American oil companies. Iran would has not forgotten about this overthrow. Eisenhower was not done in the middle east either. He defend Egypt from attack by the Israeli’s and French over the Suez Canal. Unfortunately, it helped a dictator stay in power. This strongly affected many countries in the middle east because of Eisenhower actions it set up trouble later on.
Ronald Reagan also did some damage in the middle east. Starting with the bombing of Libya in 1986. Muammar Gaddafi was still in power at that time, and a bomb exploded in Berlin killing some Americans. The tensions between the US and Libya were already high. Reagan also sold weapons to the Iranian rebels. The Iran-Contra scandal was the result. These small but meaningful events all helped to contribute to instability in the middle east. Also in the 1980s during the Soviet Afghanistan war, the US backed the rebels of Afghanistan against the Soviets. They supplied leaders like Osama Bin Laden with weapons.
Now we are back in 2016. The attacks on Belgium and the advanced security of the US is in full force. President Obama said:
“The thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the people of Belgium. We stand in solidarity with them in condemning these outrageous attacks against innocent people. We will do whatever is necessary to support our friend and ally Belgium in bringing to justice those who are responsible and this is yet another reminder that the world must unite, we must be together regardless of nationality or race or faith, in fighting against the scourge of terrorism.
“We can and we will defeat those who threaten the safety and security of people all around the world”.
“We face an adversary that is constantly adapting and operating across multiple theaters,” she said. “Our response must be just as nimble and far reaching. We need to reinforce the alliances that have been pillars of American power for decades.”
As you can see both these quotes put the weigh of defense on preventive measures. They both insist that America will be going to war. I could find a lot of quotes with similar sediments. The post 9/11 narrative of Bush Doctrine is still at work even today. American politicians are obsessed with fighting terrorists. I think its because they have the perfect justification for it, democracy and freedom. The choices previously made by the US government to intervene in middle east affairs over oil or disputes has been wrecking havoc today. The problem is not what many candidates or President’s suggest, its not that America is defense-less or lacks the ability. Its not that Europe hasn’t beefed up its security. Its that we have meddled in other countries business and disrupted the natural order.
I believe that terrorists are religious extremists and that they use fear and coercion to lead governments into retaliation. The terrorists don’t care what type of government or anything like that. They only see the non-believers in their sect of religious beliefs. If you can’t make people comply with reason then you go to killing and terrorism. The US government would be smart to realize that America has the defense resources and it could make the coalitions necessary to defeat these terrorists.The problem is we shouldn’t be attacking. We should be defending. Diplomatically, we pose a truce and try to work out the problems. However, if any terrorist decide to attack then we will be ready to push them back. This whole post is basically what the political science world calls an example of blowback. Blowback is a term used to described retaliation over actions between countries or groups.
I hope that this post clears up some of the misconceptions about terrorism. Terrorism is notoriously hard to stop. There is no clear solution. Just remember to keep alert. Be safe.
Thanks for reading!