September 11 - One Year On: In Retrospect

We are close to a year on from September 11. The main consequence is clear: the attacks on mainland America have provoked the United States into a new strategic campaign, likely to dominate US foreign policy for a long time to come. The impact will be protracted not only because of the broad ramifications of this policy, but because the very goal – the elimination of an enemy, unseen and drawing on considerable support – will remain elusive.

The World Today Published 1 August 2002 Updated 23 October 2020 4 minute READ

Fred Halliday

So far, certain definite achievements have been attained. There was no further immediate attack on the US itself, the Taliban regime in Afghanistan has been removed and Al Qaeda has been weakened.

However, the first place to start must be with the enemy himself. There is no clear indication as to how far Osama Bin Laden’s organisation has been effectively destroyed. Certainly, the patronage it enjoyed from the Taliban government in Afghanistan has been removed, with the fall of that regime last November. No doubt too its activities have become subject to considerable surveillance and disruption.

But this is far from saying that the organisation, itself part of a loose coalition of like-minded groups, has disappeared or that others will not take its place. The very example of September 11, and the continuing evidence of sustained anti-American sentiment in many parts of the globe, particularly the Muslim world, make elimination of the threat improbable.

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