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On September 11, 2001, I was 14 years old and not a regular reader of newspaper or watching news regularly, but on that day, for the first time I saw Doordarshan News continuously for 1 hour for the first time in my life. I was not only shocked, but quiet amazed after seeing repeated images of airplanes hitting twin towers of World Trade Center and was asking the same question to myself, which millions of people in the whole world was asking: “How can it be possible?”

Because till that day, as an Indian I knew that plane can be hijacked, but can a terrorist organization even think of hitting an airplane full of passengers to twin towers of World Trade Center in New York; answer to this question was a definitive NO. But today, I recalled the images of people falling from American C-17 Aircraft after taking off from Kabul Airport on 15th August, reminded me of the images where desperate people jumping out of the window of their offices of World Trade Center on 9/11.

9/11 attacks marked the beginning of a new era for America, because those attacks brought the paradigm shift in defining the contours of global security. The whole world rallied around America. NATO invoked Article 5 for the first time in its history, “An attack on one is an attack on all.” International-rules based order has changed after 9/11.

President George W. Bush declared a War on Terror as he ordered his troops to attack Afghanistan to eliminate Al-Qaeda, a terrorist organization responsible behind those attacks. Soon after that, he started another war by attacking Iraq to dismantle and overthrow the regime of Saddam Hussein, as CIA was able to convince the President that Al-Qaeda got support from Saddam Hussein and he is hiding Weapons of Mass Destruction and building a nuclear weapon. Iraqi invasion, arresting suspects and innocent people for the sake of extracting information to prevent another terrorist attack on American soil and keeping them in cruel and inhuman conditions at Guantanamo Bay prison facility at an island in Cuba and images of US’ soldiers torturing them to the extreme level created a huge backlash at home in US and around the world.

Guantanamo Bay not only symbolizes the true picture of human rights violations, but also laid the foundation of a tragedy that changed everything. Terms like Islamic terrorism, Islamic radicalization and Islamist fundamentalism were circulating and mentioned in electronic and print media. America is today the most hated nation among muslims in the world and the consequences of mistakes committed by US leadership resulted in loss of American lives including killing of US Ambassador to Libya in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. US’ soldiers who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan still going through post-war trauma, their lives forever changed.  War on Terror has opened Pandora’s box not only for US but for the whole world. Iraqi invasion and false propaganda about Weapons of Mass Destruction, hatred against muslims and full withdrawal of US troops from Iraq led to the creation of ISIS (Islamic State for Iraq and Syria).

Attack on office of Charlie Hebdo, knife attacks, lone wolf attacks in France, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, UK and many other western nations is a grim reality of Islamic extremism panning across the whole world. Recent survey by University College London reveals that extreme views such as racism, misogynistic views, Islamophobic attitudes are widespread in classrooms across the UK.

On the other hand, America is facing growing anger, mistrust and division at home as a result of leading the country through decades of conflict. George W. Bush’s war of Good versus Evil had ushered in a dark era of division. America went over to Iraq and Afghanistan to change those societies and after 20 years, it feels like America has become one of them.

After 20 years, the biggest national security threat US is facing is internal; whether it’s Black Lives Matter movement resulting from the murder of George Floyd, mass shootings, and trust erosion in government and institutions. It is the result of American leadership failure over the last 20 years. American values have been destroyed. America has lost its moral authority and its standing on global stage. Ben Rhodes, who worked under Obama’s administration and one of his top members of his National Security Advisor’s team and author of “After the Fall”, rightly said: “The January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol was the logical endpoint of the 9/11 era.” The United States of America has weakened by its own acts. World’s oldest democracy has become a cause of concern for every nation on this planet. 

Also read: SubscriberWrites: Why America’s presumptuous China policy needs a reset

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