The consequences of the 9/11 attack were clear. The US would go on to wage a “War against Terror” and end up in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Al-Qadea was confronted, the Taliban ousted and Osama was put on the run. The world was split between “Us and Them “and the US infantry looked more intent than ever before. Bin Laden ultimately was killed in Pakistan, the faithless ally of the US and the supposed revenge was had. But now, 2 decades later, a lot of analysts including Western experts are also asking if the West won in full or did Osama Bin Laden inflict a wound from which it has not recovered.
9/11 forced the West into unwinnable wars both in Afghanistan and later in Iraq and Syria. As events show, both were disasters for them. The recent departure of the US from Afg in a shambolic way is a grim symbol of the fall since its peak in 2001. The invasion of Iraq on the grounds that Saddam was hiding weapons of mass destruction that could cause a second 9/11 is probably an even worse departure waiting to happen.
And in both Afghanistan and Iraq, NATO forces travelled with their US fellows into a hole in which all were stuck. Never has the West looked more inept.
An expiring power
The West was weakening from much earlier though, as the financial crisis of 2008 showed. Its economy had become linked to the deregulation of the 1980s and the mortgage boom of the 1990s. However, its brand was at its shiniest in 2001, even if the product was edging towards an expiry date. The Berlin Wall and Russian socialism had both died and the West was chirping loudly. But the world had changed neither democracy nor regime changes could no longer be ordered off the menu. The West got involved in war after war and chased a phantom called “ Islamic” terrorism which the West including Russia didn’t see was a reaction to its own policies and wars.
At least 6,000 British and American servicemen, as well as perhaps 200,000 Afghans and a similar number of Iraqis have died in the most futile wars on earth. The consequence is that “democracy” is no longer available on the shelf and the White Knight image that the West sold of itself is today a figure of scorn, nothing more or less.
The lies of the US to attack Iraq, the prisoners in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib have been stamped deeply into the global memory.
After all the killing and wars the Taliban is back, the US wants to depart from Iraq knowing it may mean a takeover by the IS, Iran suffers due to sanctions but is a major player in the Middle East and US leadership is not visible anywhere.
China’s rise was perhaps inevitable but it took every advantage and every mistake the West did. Today, it has become the “strongest” power without waging any wars and is near-about the Taliban’s best friend.
The West is a shadow of what it was 20 years ago. It just isn’t smart enough to cope with the new world. And sadly for the West many of the causes can be traced to the events of 9/11. That was a hit which Al-Qaeda certainly intended, and in that they succeeded.