terrorist attacks changed the world, and the way America looks at the world, but they also changed the way the world looks at us.
Causes of September 11
Earlier attacks, including Tokyo nerve gas, Iran barracks, Cole attack
Muslim hatred of United States and call to "jihad"
LAX security at airports and U.S. entry points
Lack of reliable security and intelligence information
Effects of September 11
Death toll and destruction
"War on terrorism"
World outlook and worldview of the U.S.
The Causes and Effects of September 11
The purpose of this paper is to introduce, discuss, and analyze the topic of the terrorist attacks of September 11. What were the causes leading up to the terrorist attacks of September 11, and what have been the effects of the attacks? One political expert writes, "There is no single September 11 effect, if by 'effect' we mean the way in which something - an event, for example - has influenced our lives" (Arthur). These are not simple questions to answer, and everyone has their own opinion about the events surrounding September 11. Certainly, the terrorist attacks changed the world, and the way America looks at the world, but they also changed the way the world looks at America.
While the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington D.C. were a surprising wake up call to most of the nation, there are many who believe the government should have seen the attacks coming. One terrorism expert notes, "Terrorism is a problem the U.S. government has been contending with in an increasingly organized fashion since 1968, when Palestinian terrorists began hijacking aircraft and the modern era of international terrorism was born" (Schoenfeld 21). Terrorists kept their attacks away from American soil for the most part, and so, to most Americans, the danger of attack seemed remote until that day. Previous attacks, however, gave a hint of what world terrorist organizations were planning. The nerve gas attack in Tokyo, the bombing of the marine barracks in Iran, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and the attack on the U.S.S. Cole all illustrated the power and intent of the terrorist community. Expert Schoenfeld continues, "That these same terrorists might attempt once again to hit targets in the American homeland was an obvious possibility" (Schoenfeld 21). These early attacks indicated how terrorists were evolving, and how their attacks were escalating.
One major cause of the attacks was the Muslim hatred of the United States, and the call to "jihad" by Al Qaeda leaders. "Jihad" is the Islamic term for a "holy war" against an enemy, and the Arabic world sees us as an enemy partly because we are "infidels" who do not believe in Islam, and partly because of our continued support of Israel. The Arab world feels Israel is a violent usurper in the Middle East, and they blame the United States for supporting Israel and Israel's tactics. One commentary on the attacks notes, "As a people, we condemn the narrow, authoritarian brand of Islamic fundamentalism that spawns those capable of such random and seemingly arbitrary slaughter" (Stone). Yet, the Muslims feel justified in their attacks, because they view us as their enemy, and as such, we must be eliminated. This hatred goes back many years, and is not easily removed or understood. It is the underlying cause of the attacks, but of course, many other factors led up to the attacks.
Many people blame lax security at the nation's airports and entry points as a direct cause of the terrorist attacks, and there has been much finger-pointing in placing the blame, as Schoenfeld notes, "Some has been directed at the Federal Aviation Administration and other bodies in charge of airport security, where laxity unquestionably ruled the day. Some has been aimed at our immigration authorities, for opening the door to virtually all comers" (Schoenfeld 21). If security had been more stringent, perhaps the highjackers would not have made it onto the planes with their box cutters and knives. If security had been more stringent, perhaps they would not have made it into the country at all.
Unfortunately, there was also a breakdown in intelligence information from the CIA and FBI agencies. Schoenfeld continues, "Among other problems, we are told, the FBI lacked adequate authority to engage in electronic surveillance of suspected terrorists, while the CIA, thanks to a series of ill-guided 'reforms,' has been chronically weak in gathering human intelligence" (Schoenfeld 21).
All of these problems added up to create the terrorist attacks on September 11, but as writer Arthur notes, there was not one cause, or even a variety of causes that can be blamed for September 11. It was a political situation that could not have been anticipated, and once set in motion; it could not have been prevented. America learned much from the events of September 11, as health expert Ruth S. Hanft notes in Stone's essay, "The United States has awakened to the fact it is no longer an island separated from world problems. We are as vulnerable as others to terrorist attacks, global warming, and anti-Western, ethnic, and religious turmoil" (Stone). Thus, we learned much from the terrorist attacks, and the way we live our lives dramatically changed after September 11. The causes of the attacks were many, and so were the effects.
Of course, many of the effects of the terrorist attacks were immediate. The country went into shock as they watched the World Trade Center twin towers collapse into rubble, and 3,000 people died because of the attacks. "Some have said that this is not the same country it was September 10, or that the world changed forever September 11" (Lindberg 3). The death toll grew as victims in Washington D.C. And Pennsylvania were added to the Trade Center totals, and the destruction to New York and Washington was immediately apparent. Manhattan shut down for several days and business and industry ground to a halt as air traffic stopped all over the country. People began to question how this happened, and why. As one writer says, "Once something catastrophic happens, we can see with perfect clarity what we 'should' have done. But not necessarily before the catastrophe, when the very things that it will turn out we should have done are competing with all the other things we might do or not do" (Lindberg 3). These were the first and immediate results, however, the attacks continue to affect Americans in many ways, from fear of more attacks to the way we live our lives.
The government's reaction to the terrorist attacks was swift. President George W. Bush quickly declared a "war on terrorism" that would hunt down those responsible for the attacks, and try to wipe out terrorist organizations. The initial war focused on Afghanistan, where the Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Ladin was hiding out with his assistants. Ultimately, many of the Afghanistan terrorist camps were discovered and destroyed, and Afghanistan was restored to a democracy with the defeat of the Muslim extremist Taliban government, which had ruled the country with an iron fist for many years. Writer Arthur states, "One year later, Afghanistan has a new government, the United States has a new cabinet-level department, and whole regions of the world have taken on a new significance through their relation to the antiterrorism campaign" (Arthur). Expert Schoenfeld quotes another expert in his essay who states, "Terrorism is a risky, dangerous, and very disagreeable business, few people who have a reasonably good life will be inclined to get into' it" (Schoenfeld 24). Extremists such as bin Ladin, who do get into it, do so with an alarming and frightening passion. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, America learned much more about terrorists than it knew before, and the people learned how fanatical and obsessed terrorists can be about death and destruction in the name of jihad. Writer Lindberg continues, "The essential problem is that we are confronted by people willing to risk death in order to kill us (or even to go to certain death in order to kill us)" (Lindberg 3). The war on terrorism spread and finally encompassed the Middle East when President Bush sent troops into Iraq in March 2003, ostensibly to remove Saddam Hussein from power and reduce the threat of terrorism by his weapons of mass destruction (WMD). However, the WMD that were supposed to exist were never found, and much of the world is wondering why the U.S. attacked Iraq, and what terrorist threat actually existed there. It has changed the way much of the world looks at the U.S.
The attacks also caused the administration to take a hard look at security in the nation. They created the Homeland Security department, which is in charge of securing the nation, as well as alerting the nation to the threat of terrorism with their color-coded terrorism alert system. Green is the lowest threat, and red is the highest. Homeland Security also created much…