Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

No end in sight 10 years on

By Liu Weidong (China Daily) Updated: 2011-09-13 08:27

Decade after Sept 11 attacks on US, its anti-terrorism war drags on with more civilian casualties and economic woes

Ten years after the Sept 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, people still remember the collapse of the two World Trade Center towers. But the world has changed in those 10 years.

The 9/11 attacks have greatly changed the Middle East, the US and even the world. But it's hard to tell who has benefited from the changes and who has been the real victor.

The death of Al-Qaida leader, Osama Bin Laden, means the US has finally avenged the 9/11 attacks. More importantly, after the 9/11 attacks the US homeland hasn't suffered from any new terrorism attack, and all the violent behavior seems to be confined to local areas on the other side of the globe, which seems to show the US' indestructible strength.

Meanwhile, the security situation in Iraq and Afghanistan is improving with their national armies growing steadily, and two new governments have been established in the Great Middle East region, a place described by former US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld as "unchanged for centuries".

However, the War on Terror has lasted longer than World War I and World War II and terrorism still has not been completely eradicated despite the combined might of the US' hard and soft power. Al-Qaida has not been destroyed and has indeed spread to more regions in the world, such as Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan. New terrorism masterminds are constantly emerging. They wage "brain wars" with modern communication methods to cultivate "Trojan horses" inside Western countries.

The US might appear to have gained an advantage over the terrorists, but actually there is now a deadlock.

The US' overall anti-terrorism target is to eliminate both the terrorists and the wellspring of terrorism, which it has found hard to achieve. The culture of terrorism that is hostile to the West originates from the poor and backward Islamic regions. The US government reiterates that the anti-terrorism war is not cultural conflict and makes efforts to help regions that suffer from terrorism attacks develop democracy and livelihoods. But the task is too difficult for the US, which still adheres to its tradition of hegemony. Although Iraq and Afghanistan's political and social conditions have gradually improved, terrorism has still spread to other regions including countries allied to the US.

Bin Laden told the media that he hoped the 9/11 attacks would destroy the US' economic growth, and it seems they succeeded to some extent. US anti-terrorism experts have said that its anti-terrorism campaign should bear the main responsibility for the US' economic recession. President Obama said this year that the US' 10-year anti-terrorism war has cost $1 trillion, while a study by Brown University in the US puts the actual expenditure at around $3.7 to 4.4 trillion, far more than expenditure on domestic public welfare and economic stimulus.

Furthermore, the anti-terrorism war has severely undermined the US' image and provoked more anti-US feelings around the world and, while the US has mainly focused on the dangers from Middle East region, there are other areas of potential threat.

Nowadays, new skyscrapers have been built at the site where the World Trade Center once stood. However, according to a recent survey by Time magazine, only 6 percent of the public agrees that the US has emerged from the shadow of the 9/11 attacks and 78 percent of respondents said they worry about more terrorist attacks. More than two-thirds of the respondents expressed discontent with the US' political system because of the numerous unsolved domestic issues.

Ten years is too short a time to heal the wounds caused by the 9/11 attacks or to eliminate the rancor accumulating from the US' long-term hegemony. Ten years is a long time for a war, but a short time for a confrontation between nations and ideologies.

The international structure has changed after the US' War on Terror, but neither the US nor the terrorist organizations are victors. Many people have paid with their lives for the US' revenge and more people will suffer from the struggle before it ends.

The author is a researcher with the Institute of American Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Science.

(China Daily 09/13/2011 page8)

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