A War on all fronts, sans ending...
The world changed after September 11 in five areas different slices: The US lost its super power status for sometime given the daring attack; Muslims became a target for American that any one regardless of his nationality became an enemy. Iraq, Afghanistan became targets for being Al Qaeda base and sympathetic to their cause. America used 9/11 as means to fulfil its end and declared a war on terror (we need not elaborate) and the arms race and rearmament that can be traced as an offshoot of September 11 attacks.
The world noticed the frailty of a super power; one man struck a chill in the heart of billions. And one embittered Saudi engineer was all it took to plan such a bold, devastating large scale attack that had the hallmarks of precision, speed and maximum damage - overall a well planned military style execution of a plan. Not since Timmy McVeigh, a United States Army veteran, who detonated a truck bomb in front of the Alfred Murrah Building in Oklahoma and killed 168 people, did the US see terror in the form of another disillusioned fanatic.
A War on all fronts, sans ending...
This was the deadliest act of terrorism within the United States prior to the September 11 attacks. Facts do crowd out objective analysis of this act but a strong sense of revolt and a belief that no one can claim full proof security was the lesson the world learnt post 9/11. They say tragedy brings us closer, closer than you can imagine for a broad alliance swept came into force sans frontiers and nationalities and at the helm was the US of A. Promptly it launched an offense - a war on terror. And after a long pause they realised late - 'Terror' is an all consuming fire that builds with the changing winds and serves no master. For America September 11 proved to be a red letter day; over 2,996 lives lost and most of them were civilians, including nationals of over 70 countries.
The response was there to see, an all out attack on all fronts. It invaded Afghanistan to depose the Taliban, who had harboured Al-Qaeda terrorists. The man-hunt for the elusive Saudi dwarfed the days one pursued John Dillinger in the late 20's and early 30's. The Cold War became a thing of the past, the enemy was now a turbaned, bearded Middle Eastern fellow. Profiling changed but the opposition had guile and deceit. A swift strike was the recourse.
A War on all fronts, sans ending...
The United States also enacted the USA Patriot Act. Other countries chipped in too and strengthened their anti-terrorism legislation and expanded law enforcement powers. Some American stock exchanges stayed closed for the rest of the week following the attack and posted enormous losses upon reopening, especially in the airline and insurance industries. The destruction of billions of dollars worth of office space caused serious damage to the economy of Lower Manhattan.
But even in tragedy one could very well see the shades of the old US of A, trying to reclaim the Big Brother tag and in one sweeping motion, they reclaimed their place and used 9/11 as an excuse to foray into areas they had thought as unwise for now they had a reason, a cause for justice or so the world was told. Toe the line was the unofficial verdict else face the guns, a simple choice in the end. The only formidable competition was China; Russia had long lost its place as an adversary.
A War on all fronts, sans ending...
'The War on Terror' continues even after a decade, almost. It is an ongoing international military campaign led by the United States of America and the United Kingdom with the support of other NATO and non-NATO countries. The campaign launched in 2001 with the US/UK invaded Afghanistan in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks. Since then, other operations branched out into Iraq in 2003. What started as a war against Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations became a conquest.
War in Afghanistan has seen the fall of the Taliban government and the destruction of Al-Qaeda camps that were training centres for terrorists. Taliban insurgency then took a turn as it turned its focus to Baloch province and another war came to the fore in North-West Pakistan. Already a military state with generals at the helm, Pakistan now faces the axe internally from its spy centre ISI and Taliban from NWFP areas and Waziristan. The assassination of Benzir Bhutto proved how much of anarchy prevails in the country and the way her murder investigation was scrapped nailed home the fact that the state is far away from any kind of redemption till it discards its power hungry generals and reorganises its spy wing.
A War on all fronts, sans ending...
Good news is that Iraq finally said goodbye to its trials and tribulations as the US shipped off its troop late last month. Of course not before they dethroned and executed the Iraqi Chief Saddam Hussein and ensured the fall of the Ba'ath Party government in Iraq. The shaky regime is yet to come in terms with the new environment and new found freedom. In short what began as an action against Laden & Co rather became country specific and preventing the terrorist from having a home base to launch further attacks.
By far this very action has further angered the Al Qaeda and many a time it has tried to hit back through umbrella organisations and sister cells, but most actions remain thwarted. Some of them include: Plan to crash airplanes into the US Bank Tower (aka Library Tower) in Los Angeles, the 2003 plot by Iyman Faris to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, the 2004 Financial buildings plot which targeted the International Monetary Fund and World Bank buildings in Washington, DC, the New York Stock Exchange and other financial institutions, the 2006 transatlantic aircraft plot which was to involve liquid explosives and the 2007 John F. Kennedy International Airport attack plot. Let's not forget the Times Square plot as well.
A War on all fronts, sans ending...
In this picture construction continues at the World Trade Centre site in New York. Two additional high rise towers and a transportation hub are planned for the pit under excavation.
The aftermath of 9/11 has forced a lot of people to sit and take notice as to what happened in the name of war on terror. The notion itself proved to be highly contentious, with critics charging that it has been exploited by participating governments to pursue long-standing policy objectives. Some argue that the term war is not appropriate as there is no identifiable enemy. Therefore, the term terrorism has been characterized as unacceptably vague.
A War on all fronts, sans ending...
Family members of victims pay their respects at the site of the former twin towers on the eighth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Centre, in New York, September.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime stated that there is lack of agreement on a definition of terrorism and that has proven to be an obstacle to meaningful international countermeasures. It proceeds to declare that "Some have often commented that one state's 'terrorist' is another state's 'freedom fighter'". Governments in Iran, Lebanon, and Venezuela consistently use the term "terrorism" to describe actions taken by the United States. Further criticism maintains that the War on Terror provides a framework for perpetual war; the announcement of such open-ended goals produces a state of endless conflict, since "terrorist groups" can continue to arise indefinitely.

In a 2005 briefing paper, the Oxford Research Group reported that "Al-Qaeda and its affiliates remain active and effective, with a stronger support base and a higher intensity of attacks than before 9/11. ...Far from winning the 'war on terror', the second George W Bush administration is maintaining policies that are not curbing paramilitary movements and are actually increasing violent anti-Americanism."
A War on all fronts, sans ending...
Workers prepare Zucotti Park for the city's September 11 commemoration ceremony in New York on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010. Construction at the World Trade Centre site can be seen in background.
So far we have seen the war and its effects but one should spare a thought for the group that fought the axis of evil has a Judas in its midst - Pakistan. On one hand it is a supporter in this exercise against militant organisations and on the other hand the aid it gets for being a partner goes to these very terrorist via the ISI. Not much of an ally, eh, are they? The US has turned a blind eye to its own double standards and others have also criticized the US for this double standards in its dealings with key allies that are also known to support terrorist groups. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly stated that in the "war against terrorism," "the central front is Pakistan"; Pakistan has also been alleged to provide Taliban operatives with covert support via the ISI. Sadly it has not even reached its destination.
A War on all fronts, sans ending...
A street vendor, left, selling photo albums with images from Sept. 11, 2001 points to the site of one of the photographs in the book to a family visiting the World Trade Centre site .
Back to the topic one wonders what actually happened and who gained from this exercise. It is a tough question to answer, generals playing their wars, defence industry boom - happy to rearm countries worldwide, they are having a ball, more distrust and wariness among countries and these crooked gun-toting fellows who fight in the name of a religion based on peace do not make the world all that good a place to live in, not that we have any choice. But let me be clear that what one saw at ground zero and other sites was a grim determination, wrought by angst, outrage and despair were borne the hopes of rebuilding the premises with even greater grandeur as a signal to one and all, we stand united in the face of wellness and hell, and we stand unified against all odds. Maybe in such time we should take it as a sign and look forward for 'what cannot destroy us makes us stronger'...
(With Inputs from Agencies, reports and journals. Photo Credit - AP/AFP/Reuters)