Anniversary of 9/11 attacks: twenty years chock-full of US misadventures - YASIN AKTAY

Anniversary of 9/11 attacks: twenty years chock-full of US misadventures

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that saw the destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Center, the symbol for U.S. capitalism. The scale of this attack, its symbolic weight, and the deaths and casualties it caused were felt, from the very first moment the planes struck, not only the United States but also the world over. 

Since that attack, we have only watched the moribund struggles of the so-called unipolar world, at whose center was the U.S.. These moribund struggles still continue, but they are not only conducted in a way that punishes those who carried out the crimes, but inflicting that very same pain on the whole world.

The U.S.’s response to these attacks was disproportionate. Maybe it was because of the hurtful nature of it. Washington responded to it not with reason, but as if it were lashing out. It was like a bully, and attempted to demonstrate its greatness not through smart behavior, but but with its physical might, and to take revenge against the attack on its image.

But the perpetrators of the attack were in no way their match. Washington designated a more sizable, visible target and invaded Afghanistan first and then Iraq soon after. In the space between the attacks and the invasions, naturally, there was a suitable window for all kinds of conspiracy thoughts to fester: The attacks were the work of the U.S. itself, and its purpose was to mobilize Washington to reshape the Middle East.

In order for the United States to achieve such a goal, it was indeed a far too great price to attack it in such a tragic way that it would disgrace itself in front of the whole world, destroy its image, and shatter its own sanctities. It also had to be an unnecessary cost, because the United States was never accustomed to paying such a high price to achieve its desired goals. 

The U.S. has always been strong and capable enough to come up with the tools and excuses to pay the least amount or even get it free of charge. It would be very difficult for the U.S., which was exposed to these attacks, to recover and maintain its reputation, prestige, majesty and image in the world as before, and it didn’t.

Of course, it was not completely unthinkable that other powers within the U.S. would embark on such an adventure in order to persuade Washington to go to war. However, no convincing evidence has been produced for any of the scenarios put forward so far. It's not that important for now. 

After all, what is more crucial is to look at what the U.S. did after this attack, what kind of inferences it made and how it steered its policy.

The invasion of Afghanistan, which the U.S. launched immediately in the aftermath of the attacks, turned into an immediately regrettable misadventure from the very first few years. It has been one that has cost the United States dearly. Neither the huge military, intelligence, nor scientific institutions of the U.S. could succeed There. 

Over a trillion dollars was spent. Some talk about getting a lot in return through some mines or drug trafficking. I do not want to shatter these conspiratorial fallacies, but the geography of Afghanistan is by no means one that can produce such material value in such a short amount of time. Of course, this does not mean that serious drug and other trades were not carried out by the U.S., but it was not worth the adventure just for the sake of them. 

Because it was deemed insufficient, the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks as if it was running away, thinking that there was no profit to be made after that loss.

Again, the U.S. had previously ended the invasion of Iraq, whose pretext was the 9/11 attacks. Although the same reasons were used to justify its presence there, its fate was no different. In addition, Washington had a mission to bring democracy to Iraq. The 9/11 attacks were framed  as an attack on U.S. values and democracy as America decided that the Iraqi people needed democracy and that bringing its values there would be the best response to this attack. Thus, democracy was brought to Iraq as if it were taking revenge on the victims. This is ironic in and of itself. Democracy, functioning as a vehicle for revenge, and at the same time as punishment, naturally turned into misery that was inflicted on the Iraqi people in an undemocratic way. 

Even more ironically still, at the end of the day, the U.S. has had its own share of this torment and continues to do to this day. Like the Afghanistan misadventure before it, the Iraqi one has almost shattered the U.S. myth in just 20 years.

As things currently stand today, taking the balance sheet into account, and after careful examining of the biggest winners and losers, who can go back and dwell on the possibility that the U.S. was behind the 9/11 attacks?

In his initial reaction to the attack, George W. Bush asked, "Why do they hate us so much?". Until then, he was trying to make it seem like the United States wanted nothing but good for the world. Maybe it was indeed his intention, but since all the interventions they made with this intention were in line with our Kemalists' understanding of "for the people despite the people," it would not have been possible for him to get any sympathy. For example, the unconditional support given by the U.S. to Israel as it oppresses the Palestinians was enough reason to be on the receiving end of and constantly fuel hatred in the entire Islamic world. Not to mention the support Washington provides to autocratic-despotic regimes across the Muslim world.

Still, with the measures taken that day, starting with this question, the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the continued unlimited support for Israel, it gave people around the world more reasons to hate America.

On the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we are at the point where a more prudent assessment must be made on what the U.S., and the world, have gained and lost in the aftermath.


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