President Joe Biden has announced that America’s longest war would be brought to an end on September 11, 2021 — the 20th anniversary of what started the war. But what caused 9/11 has been open for debate. Steve Coll argues that the events of 1979 led up to 9/11. Lawrence Wright believes the fire was ignited back in 1948 when Sayyid Qutb started seeing sexual filth in American society as a student in Colorado. Qutb’s writings, especially his book, Milestones, created a generation of Takfiri jihadists. A more intellectually intriguing argument is put forth by Tariq Ali. He says the roots of 9/11 could be traced all the way to 1916 and 1917. The Sykes-Picot happened in 1916 creating a feeling of humiliation among Muslims, followed by the Russian Revolution bringing the Bolsheviks to power.
Both outcomes interacted with each other through the decades. The Western society, especially the United States, used the Jihadist mindset of radical Muslims to counter what had come out of the Russian Revolution (communism).
We must laud Biden’s urge to end this war because he sees its continuation as a drag on real issues such as climate change, the pandemic, and the eroding US influence globally. But while those issues especially climate change are quite real and it is commendable that the Biden administration wants to redirect American energy and resources toward them, it would not be a walk in the park. I’m hopeful that the Taliban would agree to this slight delay in withdrawal in the upcoming meeting in Turkey.
When I first arrived in America, it was about a week after Shah Rukh Khan was detained at the New Jersey airport suspecting him to be a terrorist due to his last name. In those days, international news was the news. People in America knew about Peshawar, Afghanistan, and the ISI headquarters more than they knew about the local Walmart because grim descriptions of the former places along with horrid pictures were ever present on the pages of The New York Times and TIME magazine. Today, international news has been relegated to some sort of intergalactic space where no news outlet catches it much.
Every time I turn on Pakistani news channels, there is the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) or other local news. Even talk show anchors in their show promos claim to be focused on domestic issues. I do realise Aristotle’s dictum that all politics is local but there is no politics in Pakistan without global politics. Every time I turn on CNN, FOX or MSNBC; the news is only national. Even the lens with which the Afghanistan war is viewed is domestic and it’s disgusting. The NYT reported this week that “nearly 2,400 American troops have died in Afghanistan in a conflict that has cost about $2 trillion.” Not a word about the Afghan and Pakistani deaths or how much it cost them. Jon Soltz, an Iraq war veteran, said that “words cannot adequately express how huge this is for troops and military families, who have weathered deployment after deployment, with no end in sight, for the better part of two decades.” Nothing about the people who lived under that occupation, not for the better part of those two decades but rather the entire two decades.
Turning the attention of a nation that is high on local, toward global threats that require both global and domestic awareness would be hard. Asking a nation that only hears about stimulus checks and George Floyd to cut down on beef and gasoline consumption or else risk being drowned is too much. While Trump would have loved this showmanship of ending the war on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the topic wouldn’t trend on American social media because international news is out of fashion in America today.
this post was written by Imran Jan at Express Tribune.