September 11 marked a historic turning point. Withdrawal from Afghanistan 20 years later is proof that the US is now putting its domestic interests above everything else, writes Ines Pohl.
The 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US hit America in the heart. Multiple. An attack that in this form had never occurred on American soil. Not just in terms of the number of dead and injured. But also because of the precision with which the terrorists destroyed within an hour the symbols of economic and military power in the world. Only thanks to some brave passengers did the fourth plane after the Pentagon World Trade Center not continue the death flight to the White House or the Capitol.
The existential shock almost forgotten
Today 20 years later this shock, this existential shock was almost forgotten. Especially for 30 year olds and younger people who have very few active memories for this day. But even for Americans and Americans far from New York and Washington these events would have gone down in history. Security measures at airports can make you nervous, but in the long run people got used to it, they take off their shoes themselves and are willing to pay $ 4 for a bottle of water after the security check. Nothing was to change in this regard even 20 years after the terrorist attacks.
All this, as if President Biden had not linked the withdrawal from Afghanistan to this fateful date. He set September 11 as the day when all American troops would eventually leave Afghanistan. To say, that the mission was successfully completed.
But because of the current picture from Kabul it is difficult to talk about success in foreign policy. In domestic politics, the debate over how to deal with refugees from Afghanistan has fueled the Islamophobic prejudices of the first years after the terrorist attacks. It seems that Muslims are turning again into instruments for election campaigns or by-elections. The images of the first 20 years are used precisely for this instrumentalization.
A look at the past is enough to understand the actuality. In September 2001 George W. Bush was in his first year as President of the United States. He applauded loudly for the statement that he will eliminate the organizer of the terrorist attacks, Osama bin Laden by all means. For years billions were poured into the so-called war on terror, with both the secret services and the military armed with high technology. The universally accepted narrative was that the US was attacked from outside and everything had to be done to put an end to this threat once and for all.
The dream ended
But with each passing year, the view of the towers faded, and the willingness to sacrifice other people’s lives and spend billions on wars that seemed to never end fell. The political elite was trapped. To justify the wars, it could no longer be about fighting terrorist networks after the 2011 assassination of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan.
There was more and more talk of supporting democratic forces. With the aim of transforming Afghanistan into a state modeled after the Western model. As in Vietnam, there was an illusion that a political system could be exported to protect the world from communism, extremism and terrorism. This dream is over. Joe Biden leaves no doubt now, that the US its foreign policy activities will be devoted solely to the interests of the country itself. US military engagement will be further reduced. President Biden will focus on domestic policy needs such as improving infrastructure and combating climate change.
Who fills the vacuum?
There is only one priority in foreign policy. Power struggle with China. In Syria, the Americans left the battlefield to Russia, and in Libya, the US remained withdrawn. Even Israel will no longer even rely on the US and is expanding its relations with Arab states. How much these alliances will resist is uncertain. Many experts are of the opinion that the deterrent to military annihilation attacks will not be as high as the US goes off the field. Twenty years after the September 11 terrorist attacks, the collapsing towers of the World Trade Center have become a symbol of the US withdrawal from the position of world gendarme for so many years. And as a warning that new alliances must be created, if the created vacuum is to be filled with anti-democratic forces./DW/
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