Revisiting the War on Terror

Article by: Audrey Sy

Some students today might only associate September 11 with tighter mall security and restricted access to public landmarks. However, in 2001, nineteen Al Qaeda hijackers set into motion events that still affect the world today.

On the morning of 9/11, four airlines were boarded and taken over by extremists intending to carry out a suicide mission to attack key economic and governmental buildings in the US. Three out of four plane hijackings were successful, crashing into both the Twin Towers and the US Pentagon, taking nearly 3,000 lives.

The shock and vulnerability that shook America contributed to the 2001 economic recession, and over time, added to the US National Debt. It also prompted then-President George Bush to declare a “War on Terror.” This plan involved not only going to war with Afghanistan, where the Al Qaeda terrorist group was based, but also Iraq, its nearby neighbor.

Despite costing nearly 1.8 trillion dollars and more than 6,800 in casualties, the Afghan and Iraq wars were supported by an all-time high of nationalism from US citizens.

IB HL History teacher, Mr. Colin Aitken, was in China when 9/11 occurred. After returning to the US nearly six months after the event, Mr. Aitken states he “was really surprised at the patriotism people were showing.” He also says that, “As a history teacher, this did concern me as you can see how extreme nationalism has actually led to conflict between countries in the past.”

In this case, this patriotic sentiment led to the drawn out wars with the USA and the Arab countries, Iraq and Afghanistan, during the 2007 Iraq War and the thirteen-year long war against Afghanistan, that started in 2001. Although current criticism against President Barack Obama’s continuation of the “War on Terror” is prolific, in the wake of the 9/11 scare, “anyone who objected to the war was labelled a ‘traitor,” says Mr. Aitken.

So although lines may seem unbearably slow, and security checks unreasonably tight, September 11 will undoubtedly be a day to remember for a long time to come. Despite these painful memories and conflicts, it is of vital importance for us to remain united and accept each as our own.