Title: The Effects of September 11th on Global Politics
I. Thesis: The event of September 11 has permanently changed the outlook of governments and civil society on global politics in general. Specifically, September 11 changed and re-defined “National Border Security” and how security is strategize and implemented on a global scale.
II. Introduction: Pre- 9/11 background situation and nature of national border security vis-à-vis global security measures.
Prior to the September 11 event, there have already been several incidences that have been classified as “terrorists’ acts” by civilized society and governments. This goes way back to the 1100s with the term “terrorism” loosely defined as “a group of individuals using violence against innocent civilians to send messages to the authorities”. Much later on, it was defined by the US State Department as “Premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant* targets by sub national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience. [Whitaker, Brian. (2001) The Definition of Terrorism]. Aside from terrorism, there are other acts of violence between nations and between “races” in the form of genocide and all out invasion mainly due to expansionist tendencies of some governments.
Acts of terrorism, genocide and invasions, secured the foundation for nations and government institutions to secure their national borders and defend its citizens from such attacks. The acts of terrorism, genocide and invasion started in the 1100s and continued on towards the 21st century. The most widespread acts of terrorism, genocide and invasion (according to the loose definition) were during the first and second world war when Europe was embroiled into war with Germany and belatedly sank the Lusitania to involve the USA (1st world war). Meanwhile, the Second World War started with the invasion of Poland by Germany. Alliances of different nations formed the Allies and the Axis powers and the whole world was turned into an “expansionist” free for all with the great powers of Great Britain, the USA and Germany, Russia and Japan on the other hand. The Second World War smacks of expansionist objectives of most of the predominant players of the war. Great Britain has economic interests and has boasted that “the sun rises and sets with us”. Meanwhile, the US have been drawn to war because of its business alliances with Great Britain and even Germany, at first trying to isolate itself from the warring nations. Germany’s participation and instigation of both wars are rooted in revenge, expansionist tendencies and racist ideals and desire to propagate the Aryan race. Meanwhile, Japan has the same racist ideals that Germany has over its neighboring Asian countries – specifically with the Chinese people and other countries in the East Indies trade route including the Philippine Islands.
Going into post World War 2 though, these expansionist tendencies may have changed names, but it’s only like changing collars for the same dog. Expansionism gave way to terrorism and genocide. The post world war 2 scenario wasn’t any better though. There were escalating levels of violence between nations and between cultures, like the more recent genocide in Kosovo and Herzegovina, the Timorese in Indonesia and the now infamous slaughter of the Tutsis in Rwanda. Currently, we have the same scenario in Darfur, Sudan.
2.1 Discuss US Border security measures and international policies and involvement before 9/11. Prior to September 11, what were the international policies of the US? How does it view border security issues? How did it respond to previous attacks on the government and its citizens?
We have parallel situations of cultural intolerance in the US. From the civil war to the late 1970’s, there is the issue of the slavery of the African Americans and the rise of the Ku Klux Clan white supremacy group. There is also the long standing historical issue of the marginalization of the Native American Indians. More recently, border security issues have triggered nation wide debates on illegal immigrants – mostly those coming from Latin American countries and Mexico. All of these coupled with terrorist attacks like the Oklahoma bombing, the failed attempt of the Unabomber, and other attacks of the same nature that affected heightened security measures and policies of the US and was followed suit by other allied nations. These added security measures were generally reactive though. The measures are usually implemented as a reaction to a specific event. It was not in anticipation of any threat in particular. This will all change after 9-11.
III. Post-9/11 immediate after effects.
3.1 Within the USA.
According to David Held in his book, “Global Covenant: The Social Democratic Alternative to the Washington Consensus”, the US government and its allies reacted to the 9/11 event with a hostile response to Iraq and Al-Qaeda, alleged plotters of 9/11 and other terrorist acts all over the globe. The US and its allies used 9/11 to effect stringent measures against terrorist attacks both at home and outside its borders. First and foremost manifestation is this is the declaration of war against Iraq, the continuing war against Afghanistan and Iran. The measures were aggressive and confrontational and the cost, almost immeasurable in terms of lives lost and casualties are still mounting [Held, David. (2004). Global Covenant]. The destruction of an entire nation’s economy has also brought about a domino effect on the rest of the world because of the region’s oil production capacity. Needless to say, the global economy rest so much with oil production.
Recently, the President called for 21,000 more troop deployments to Iraq to regain lost ground and territory. It is also suppose to change the tide of war. This declaration has proven to be unpopular even with the American public who has lost faith in the government’s inability to produce evidence why the war was instigated in the first place and why several thousands of young American soldiers have to be sacrificed for a war that cannot be won.
The atrocities and destruction does not end with the waging of war against Iraq and Saddam Hussein. A lot of human right violations have been recorded in the name of protecting “National Security” so much so that the term is almost synonymous to a cancellation of an individual’s Bill of Rights. One such manifestation is the establishment of interrogation camps for suspected terrorist like the now infamous Guantanamo Bay. Since September 11, thousands of people have been imprisoned, interrogated, tortured and held without counsel. According to the Human Rights Watch Organization, there are still an estimated 400 people still being held in Guantanamo Bay without charges as of January 2007 [Human Rights Watch Organization]. This year is the 5th year anniversary of Guantanamo Bay and there is a growing clamor for its closure and the Bush’s administration’s inept handling of the whole post September 11 response.
In Europe, the US allies have sent delegations to the UN “peacekeeping efforts” to Iraq. According to BBC News in their April 28 2004 broadcast, because of this show of support for the US “aggression on Iraq, some of the US allies have had their share of mass terrorist attacks linked to Muslim terrorist network (Al Qaeda) [Human Rights Watch Organization] as reprisal actions. One manifestation of these attacks against US Allies was the bombing of the early morning commuter train in Spain on March 11 that killed more than 191 people and injured at least 1,800 others.
IV. Examine the impact of post 9-11 on contemporary politics and explain where it has been felt. Is 9-11 a legitimate point of departure in global security or have government abused their power in exaggerating the threats posed?
As a direct result of September 11 attacks on the twin towers, the continuing war against elements of the terrorist network of Al-Qaeda can be justified [Meacher, Michael. (2003). This War on Terrorism is Bogus]. However, the “forced” expanded war on Iraq because of allegations by the US and the UK that there are weapons of mass destruction has now been proven moot and academically bogus. It is one thing to be overly-precautious about global security but the outright invasion of another country under the pretense of ensuring global security is another.
Contemporary politics after September 11 created an over zealous culture of protectionism of citizens and borders. This is true not only in the US and UK but also in other parts of the globe where the identified terrorist network of Al-Qaeda is said to be operating like in Southeast Asia, notably, the Philippines. In the Philippines, there were several instances where US citizens were kidnapped for ransom by elements linked to the Al-Qaeda network [BBC News Online. (30 December, 2000). Who is the Abu Sayyaf?]. The group is referred to as the “Abu Sayyaf” which has been known to operate in Southern Philippines – particularly in Jolo and Sulu Provinces even prior to September 11. It is alleged that this group is directly linked and even related to Osama Bin Laden and have received funds for its operations. The kidnapping for ransom activities of the group apparently funded further terrorist activities not only in Southern Philippines but have also been tied to the train bombings in Manila and other Metropolitan Cities.
The immediate impact of these international linkages of the terrorist network Al-Qaeda to other groups beyond Afghanistan and its so called sleeper cells in the USA caused global paranoia about security but none more so than in the USA, the UK and USA’s other allies. While at the onset, countries hastened to support the US in its efforts to “quell” the terrorist network of Al-Qaeda and invaded Iraq, one by one, countries started pulling out or out rightly withdrawing its support from the US led war. Other countries like Spain hastened to secure its borders after the train bombing incident in 2004 but cooled off its ties with the USA by withdrawing its troops. The Philippines withdrew its contingent in Iraq when one of its citizens was held for ransom in Iraq and the insurgents demanded the Philippine troops to withdraw from Iraq. President Macapagal-Arroyo did just that. More recently, troop withdrawals followed from other countries like Bulgaria, Japan, and Ukraine [Childs, Nick. BBC New Online. ‘Troop Withdrawals. America’s ‘dwindling coalition’ (May 6, 2005)]. Poland is cutting its commitments [Childs, Nick. BBC New Online. ‘Troop Withdrawals. America’s ‘dwindling coalition’ (May 6, 2005)]. The United Nations have tried to remain neutral in the face of growing global pressure that the US led war in Iraq has been a mistake. There were no weapons of mass destruction found – which was supposed to be the fundamental basis of the war.
In the timeline of events from pre-9/11 to post-9/11, the term “Global security” has been used as an excuse to derive a similar threat assessment for all – be it the US or UK and other countries in the world. In reality, the assessment that a threat to America is a threat to everybody else now rings hollow as more and more people realize – even America’s own citizens that September 11 has not made the US or any parts of the globe more secure. The re-alignment of stakeholders in the Iraq war has proven that and the growing isolation of the US and the UK in its handling of Iraq
Based on the foregoing discussion, was September 11 a catalyst for global political changes? If so, how is it manifested? Is 9-11 a legitimate point of departure in global security or have governments abused their power in exaggerating the threats posed?
Based on the foregoing, it appears that governments have used September 11 as a vantage point to launch international aggression and to bypass civil rights in the guise of protecting national security. At the forefront of this is the US government and the UK and other European Allies.
Offshore, the continuing war against Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran has cost thousands of lives both on the insurgents’ side and US soldiers and its allies. This extends to countless of lives lost and ruined among the Iraqi and Afghan population. According to a recent issue of the L.A. Times (January 22, 2007, article entitled: “The Conflict in Iraq: the Iran Factor”), there are claims of violence crossing and extending from the other side of the border – contrary to claims of US military analysts that guns and long range missiles may be crossing from Iran to Iraq. Some Iranian villagers living on the border communities fear en masse immigration from Iraq because of continuing hostilities with no end in sight for the sectarian violence. These same villagers fear that armed militia groups crossing the border may be bringing the violence with them into Iran.
Furthermore, the black spot that is Guantanamo Bay is still in operation and the US military officers and personnel involved in human rights abuses that were documented were meted out light punishments or dismissal compared to the human rights abuses suffered by the inmates – most of which have not been even charged to this day. This continues to be in direct conflict with what America supposedly stands for – a democratic and civil society that upholds individual liberty and dignity.
In closing, some governments – particularly the US have definitely abused their powers and authority within its borders and beyond by using September 11 as a rationale for doing so.
ABC News. (January 2007). Iraq Troop Boost Will Mean Longer Tours. Retrieved from: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory?id=2785745
BBC News Online. (30 December, 2000). Who is the Abu Sayyaf? Retrieved from:
BBC New Online. Nick Childs. (May 6, 2005). Troop Withdrawals. America’s ‘dwindling coalition’ BBC World Affairs correspondent. Retrieved from:
BBC News. 28 April, 2004. Timeline of Madrid Bombing.
Brinkley, Alan. (2005). The Unfinished Nation: A Brief Interactive History of the American People. Chapters 32 to 33. pp. 502-537. New York.
Craige, Betty Jean. (1996). American Patriotism in a Global Society.
SUNY Series in Global Politics. Albany: State University of New York Press. Retrieved from: http://www.uga.edu/news/september11/resources/index.html
Edwards, Michael. High Stakes in the New Global Politics.
Toronto Globe and Mail. Retrieved from: http://fpc.org.uk/articles/150
Held, David. (2004). Global Covenant: The Social Democratic Alternative to the Washington Consensus. Retrieved from: http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/pressAndInformationOffice/publications/books/2004/GlobalCovenantPR.doc
Human Rights Watch Organization website. Retrieved from:
Meacher, Michael. (2003). This War on Terrorism is Bogus. The Guardian.
Retrieved from: http://politics.guardian.co.uk/iraq/comment/0,12956,1036687,00.html
US State Department website. Retrieved from:
Saurette, Paul. (2006). You dissin me? Humiliation and post 9/11 global politics
Cambridge Journals. Retrieved from:
The Los Angeles Times. (January 22, 2007). The Conflict in Iraq: The Iran Factor.
The Christian Science Monitor. (2007). Retrieved from:
Whitaker, Brian. (May 7, 2001) The Definition of Terrorism. Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved from: