expression that has been dedicated to the 2001 terrorist attacks by Al-Qaeda that the United States suffered from on September 11. It won't be incorrect to state that 9/11 proved to be a turning point for the George W. Bush administration and the foreign policy of the United States of America. The events unswervingly led to the United States support for the downfall of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan where it was believed to have its foundation. These attacks were also important as they were later used by the United States of America as a justification of invading Iraq regardless of the fact that no apparent proof could be presented regarding any connection between Iraq with Al Qaeda. Nevertheless, the 9/11 impact was strong enough and the invasion was therefore strongly supported by the American public ("9/11," 2013).
Description of the Event
Al-Qaeda is a radical Islamic group that has been involved in various terrorist activities and was led by Osama bin Laden. Nineteen agents of Al-Qaeda were responsible for carrying out the 9/11 attacks. They were able to get through and defeat a security checkpoint system and then made use of 3 commercial jet airplanes. The purpose was the destruction of the renowned World Trade Center (New York) and damaging of the Pentagon. Unfortunately, they were successful in executing their plans resulting in the death/missing of more or less three thousand innocent people. Thus, there is no doubt that the 9/11 was unquestionably the most upsetting and overwhelming terrorist episode in the history of the United States of America ("The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States," 2004).
Historical and Contemporary Causes of the Event
Even though the attacks on September 11, 2001 were a shock; they weren't a surprise owing to the fact that the American government had been warned by the Islamist extremists about their plan of killing American people in large numbers and without any discrimination. Al-Qaeda had already established itself as an intoxicating opponent of United States of America by targeting embassies of the United States in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998. Regardless of the fact that various Al-Qaeda plans had been picked up by the U.S. Intelligence, they were unable to do anything about the 9/11 attacks ("The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States," 2004). Osama bin Laden clearly took the responsibility of the 9/11 events in a video in which he gave a full description of his dealings with Muhammad Atta, the major hijacker. The 9/11 Commission conducted the biggest criminal investigation till date and also wrapped up by claiming Al-Qaeda to be the sole culprit for the 9/11 attacks. However, the question is what caused the terrorist group to launch such a devastating and hateful attack on the Americans? There have been various explanations that are being given to describe the causes of the attacks ranging from apparently reasonable but faulty and the more realistic and believable (Bergen, 2006).
Imagination: The major malfunction in the whole 9/11 scenario was that of imagination as the leaders were unable to open up their mind's eye and understand the intensity of the Al-Qaeda threatening. The Congress, media and even the public policy debate in the United States did not pay any heed to the impending danger of terrorism. Though United States was being consistently challenged by the Al-Qaeda, the administration did not plan or designed anything to meet the dangers. The administration was not certain whether Al-Qaeda threats had any weight or not. They were not sure whether Al-Qaeda had to be taken seriously or not. Thus, this lack of imagination resulted in the loss of thousands of precious lives and millions of dollars ("The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States," 2004).
Policy and Strategy: Both Clinton and Bush administrations did not regard terrorism as a prime national security concern. This imagination failure thus affected the policy-making and the subsequent decisions. The mentioned administrations had not imagined to invade Afghanistan fully considering it as almost unthinkable before the events of 9/11 (Zakheim, 2011).
Competence: Prior to 9/11, the government in the United States made attempts for resolving the problem of Al-Qaeda with the same resources and competence that had been used by it the Cold War final stages and after its end. However, those capabilities were not enough to handle the problem. The administration did not do much for the expansion or reformation of the available resources for handling Al-Qaeda. The CIA did not have sufficient resources for the performance of any paramilitary operations with the available workforce. Also, it did not make any effort for the expansion of the resources and competences on a large-scale before 9/11 attacks. There was also a lack in the capabilities of the CIA for collection of intelligence from human representatives (Zegart, 2007). All the important institutions including Department of Defense, NORAD, FBI, FAA etc. lacked the important capabilities and competence that are mostly needed for countering any terrorist attack. It can be easily concluded therefore that it was a collective failure that made it possible for just nineteen human beings to deceive the security systems and take thousands of lives as a result ("The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States," 2004).
Management: The 9/11 plot could not be thwarted due to the lack of ability of the government to manage the problems that the twenty-first century had brought with it. The action officers were not trained enough to collect and mull over the facts and figures regarding Al- Qaeda. It was the mere incapability of the management that it did not ensure the sharing of information and clear assignment of duties to agencies. There were also critical issues related with the people in top office who were unable to set priorities and give out resources. The government was unsuccessful to pool intelligence and use it for the guidance, planning and assigning of duties for "joint operations involving entities as disparate as the CIA, the FBI, the State Department, the military, and the agencies involved in homeland security" ("The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States," 2004, p. 11).
Unproductive and Ineffective Diplomacy: The United States government made efforts from February 1997 to September 2001 for using diplomatic pressure so that it could convince the Taliban administration in Afghanistan to discontinue its support for Al-Qaeda. The U.S. administration also pressurized Taliban to exorcise Bin Laden to any other state where he could be countered for all his internationally-rebellious actions. The U.S. sometimes warned and sometimes it put sanctions but all such attempts were faced with failures. Two consecutive Pakistani governments were being also forced by the United States to have a reconsideration of their relationship with Taliban. However, this unsuccessful attempt to find a mixture of incentives and force made the Taliban stronger and consequently resulted in 9/11 ("The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States," 2004).
Support to Israel and Foreign Policy about Middle East: The way United States had always treated and supported Israel and its foreign policies regarding the Middle East were one of the major reasons why Al-Qaeda attacked America. According to Osama bin Laden, it was the major reason behind 9/11. Al-Qaeda strongly criticized America; particularly "the support it gave to Israel's invasion of southern Lebanon in 1982, first triggered Bin Laden's anti-Americanism, which during the 1980s took the form of urging a boycott of U.S. goods" (Bergen, 2006).
Afghan Jihad and Subsequent Radicalization: Even though no proof has ever surfaced regarding the training and funding of CIA to Bin Laden and his agents, a number of critics strongly believe that a generation of Arab revolutionaries was radicalized after the Afghan-Soviet War. This consequently gave rise to bitterness against America and the foundation of Al-Qaeda took place in 1988 that continued their so-called jihad to all over the world especially West (Bergen, 2006).
Leaky Aviation Security: The information about the aviation security system was easily available and the hijackers went through it keenly. Thus, it then became really easy for them to use items that did not contain much metal and was allowed to carry. Despite the fact that 2 of the 19 hijackers were on the watch list of U.S.TIPOFF; the TIPOFF data was not used by the FAA ("The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States," 2004).
Different Interpretations of the Event
The attacks of 9/11 can be interpreted in a number of ways. Firstly, there is an official interpretation that is being accepted by a number of people that the 9/11 was in fact a surprise attack on the government and people of the United States of America by Islamic radicals. However, another group…