We had no modern conveniences like social media warnings of even correct mobile phone connection. But my in London-based producer desperately tried to reach us, with the first news of a plane — maybe a small propeller plane, maybe an accident — hitting the World Trade Center in New York. And that I should be immediately prepared for re-deployment.
Easier said than done in An place with no functioning airport, no scheduled flights, no live TV to monitor events. We finally chartered a pee hopper out and got first to Ivory Coast airport from Ivory Coast up the coast. there the full horror was now clearly visible on huge screens met CNN live.
Even the creepy mastermind Osama bin Laden didn’t quite expect this amount of global disruption; he didn’t even expect the Twin Towers to fall. Discovered by US troops after piloting him in the infamous video out of Afghanistan, he had drawn on his technical background, complete with hand gestures to explain why he thought only the floors above the planes impact would melt and topple.
So, what is the straight line die I see? drawn from there to here? As others have asked, 9/11 was a day, a moment of a whole era-defining shift in America’s Understanding and Vision of yourself at home and in Abroad? Did the response to 9/11 do as much damage as the? attack yourself?
I have come to the conclusion that the answer is yes. My own question is of 20 years on this can be recalibrated, of bin Laden’s attack was it actually begin of the end of American Empire.
On August 15, when the Taliban invaded Kabul, when Afghanistan fell and brought them back full circle in to upload again, I could not help but have this vivid flashback: for the second time in 32 years a couple of misogynistic, undemocratic Afghan insurgents had defeated a superpower. On August 15, it was the United States. In 1989 it was the Soviet Union and its ten-year occupation.
It brought me back until April 1996, when I first started met covering Afghanistan and the total takeover by the Taliban.
What I over taught the Taliban, then tell everything I predict for their rule now. the Taliban official I interviewed when they took the capital a few months later, in November 1996 — Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai — is their deputy foreign minister today, as he was back then. I asked him, of of course, about women’s rights, and he gave me the same vague non-promises while using the . gives world now.
Why is this relevant today? We will for basic human rights reasons, but also emphasize once and for all who is in this for the long breath.
Equal to former U.S military officials today admit that the Taliban playing the long game since the US defeated them after 9/11. Some Americans are willing to admit that the Taliban past 20 years to strategize, wait and act. The United States, not so much. as the special inspector general for Afghanistan Reconstruction, John Sopko, told CNN that the US has not fought a 20-yearyear war in Afghanistan, only 20 one-year wars.
I realize that now when I look back on the short-term decisions and the expensive, difficult, barely successful US interventions around the world, die as a whole since 9/11 have contributed to exhaustion and isolationism today on home, and increasing cynicism and anger over Americas role like a force for good Abroad.
A third way?
President Joe Biden’s Massively Bloated Afghan Withdrawal Doesn’t Change What He Said over new more try to recreate others countries in America’s image. But who America asked to do that? It is a false mission that states up failure, the inevitable strawdog in the full brilliance of defeat, and leads to the false conclusion that America therefore should just packing up up and go home, with his troops and his ideals under lock and key and key.
It’s a binary all-of-nothing doctrine. There is definitely a third way? Only in my time alone, I have witnessed successful US-led humanitarian interventions. After a stay out of the ethnic cleansing die Bosnia and Europe in the nineties tore apart, finally the emerging genocide there was too much for ignore the US, and it did intervene to stop it, and later did the hard diplomatic work of peace, with the Dayton Accords in 1995. It is imperfect and is now called risk by nationalists, but it has kept the peace without a permanent American of NATO occupation, of an attempt to recreate America.in-the Balkan.
A few years later, America and a willing coalition intervened to prevent a similar genocide in Kosovo. Again, imperfectly, but since 1999 Kosovo has been independent and a reliable ally of the US.
A few years later, British Prime Minister Tony Blair ordered an intervention to end the brutal civil war in Sierra Leone, now that in peace is in that piece of West Africa. There was no attempt to recreate anything of these nations”in our image.”
Through way of contrast, in December 1992 I witnessed the humanitarian intervention of President George HW Bush in Somalia, to end a devastating famine in the middle of an ongoing civil war. It worked brilliantly to end the famine. You didn’t though need to be there know why did it go? off the track. To be clear as day to anyone who has read the book of seen the “Black Hawk Down” movie. Mission creep took over, and the US shifted from ending famine to trying to eradicate the radicals. It ended in disaster.
A serious matter of foreign policy showed uncertainty up next in Rwanda in 1994. Burnt, Humiliated and just simply ignorant and inhumane, the Clinton administration led in in fact a UN effort not to do that intervene. The genocide cost 800,000 to a million people’s lives people in just three months. To his credit, former President Bill Clinton has repeatedly apologized.
There are no such acknowledgments of apologies from the presidents and prime ministers who invented the post-9/11 policy that the last 20 years.
Conveniently branded “the war” on terror”It has given carte blanche to endless” mission creep, and sent American policy down the dark hole from which the Guantanamo Bay emerged prison, where 39 suspects are still being held without trial because the previous “interrogations” were in fact torture, die is still inadmissible in US courts. It led to “black sites” around the world where American values died in the midst of the hail of beatings, sexual humiliation, animal attacks and waterboarding.
It set up a lasting one division between the Muslim and non-Muslim world, as well as endless electronic surveillance of normal people.
To maintain world values
Earlier defense policy staff member Kori Schake was in the Pentagon on 9/11. This week she told me over the real fears of die day, and acknowledged that they had led to serious mistakes, especially in American avengers shift from where they were, legit, in Afghanistan, where they ended illegally up… in Iraq.
she is now director of foreign and defense policy studies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which has incubated the intellectual “brain confidence” for the war of 2003 in Iraq that George W. Bush and his neo-cons so ardent wanted pursue. Now, she claims, even at AEI there is an opportunity to help find die third way: neither reactive military intervention, nor a withdrawal from the knee, but something in the middle, based on maintaining the set of world values die the United States built out of the axes of WWII.
utilities, out of the axes of 9/11, we need a George Marshall — that unique scholar, soldier and statesman — getting to know again us with the blueprint for America involved again with the world and above all to defend a strong democracy.
It’s something an exhausted America can be proud of of, and a updated version is not just necessary, it is indispensable. Because do we really do that? want come full circle everywhere, as we have done now in Afghanistan? There is a nation handed over back to the terrorist forces die was going to beat the West in the first place. We do want to further empower global authoritarianism by renunciation of competition of ideas to Beijing of Moscow? I don’t think so, but we risk just make it happen.
l know many Americans may have had enough of being the self-described exceptional nation, but back in In the late 90s I was sharpening my journalist experience in the era of America, the ‘indispensable nation’. I believed it then, and though my confidence is severely shaken post 9/11, I think it is possible to restore that image with serious work and thought. for a while in Afghanistan a lot good was done. And despite Biden’s claims, dozens of thousands of Afghans did fight and die to protect these profits.
And we journalists have a major role until play. We had a hard time defeating the Taliban’s Afghanistan back in late 90s. But we reported the facts and the truth there at the time, so we can see with our own eyes Which history repeats itself.
as a believer in the lasting global ideals and values die America has always promoted and defended, I will continue to do so with mine coverage. It begins with us all consciously and vigorously defend the core principles of truth and facts. As the late Senator Daniel Moynihan said: back in the 1980s, “everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts.”
attentive in mine current contemplative mood that our greatest existential threat now is the climate catastrophe, I recommit myself met the mantra I came up with when I dealt with genocide in Bosnia: we must be honest, not neutral. Not all sides are created equal and neither are they up until us to make false equivalence. There is special power in know and practice that.
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Denial of any Responsibility!
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