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Read/review the following resources for this activity:
The Cold War ended over a decade before the 21st century began. What was supposed to be a “Brave New World” free of the threat of nuclear conflict and a long period of peace and prosperity has been less than what was expected. Yes, communism as a threat to the world and to the dominance of the United States and capitalism has come to pass, but even though the threat of war from the USSR never materialized (thankfully) a new threat did rise up to challenge the U.S. and the West for control. The rise of radical Islamic groups bent on destroying those they call infidels, especially the United States and Western Europe have caused more than a little death, destruction, and despair to a world hoping those threats had ended.
For the initial post, address one of the following:
Follow-Up Post Instructions
Respond to at least two peers or one peer and the instructor. At least one of your responses should be to a peer who chose an option different from yours. Further the dialogue by providing more information and clarification.
Good afternoon Professor and class. I will be discussing option 1 for this week’s post.
Why wasn’t the U.S. and its vastly superior intelligence and military able to stop these attacks? How effective are current measures in dealing with attack prevention? Have we really learned from past mistakes?
As many of us remember, 9/11 was a significant day where we experienced a terrorist attack on our nation. “On September 11, 2001, Muslim terrorists hijacked four commercial jet planes shortly after they took off from Boston, Newark, and Washington, D.C.” (Duiker, 2015). The attack was placed by the leader of the extremist Islamic al-Qaeda group, Osama bin Laden. Thousands of people lost their lives that day and our national security has grown increasingly to anticipate and prevent further attacks. “Al-Qaeda and other extremist groups…looked to avenge what they considered decades of mistreatment of Arab nations at the hands of the West” (Maranzani, 2018). He was angered by the presence of the United States in the Middle East. The attacks on U.S. embassies in 1998 in Kenya and Tanzania prompted the U.S. to start taking terrorism seriously. Unfortunately, the U.S. failed to stop the attack of 9/11 because they believed that the Islamic groups were not capable of coordinating a large-scale attack on our nation and they were not working together. “Law-enforcement agencies had multiple opportunities to stop the plot, but failed—because of a lack of coordinated intelligence-sharing, bureaucratic infighting and a failure to grasp the sheer scope of the threat at hand” (Maranzani, 2018). Additionally, they did not believe that the extremists were willing to sacrifice thousands of civilian lives. After the attack of September 11, we have made numerous changes with aviation traveling, national security, and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security that helps protect our nation. “Before 9/11, no executive department had, as its first priority, the job of defending America from domestic attack. This department now has the lead responsibility for problems that feature so prominently in the 9/11 story, such as protecting borders, securing transportation and other parts of our critical infrastructure, organizing emergency assistance, and working with the private sector to assess vulnerabilities” (National Commission, 2004).
For this discussion I have chosen option 2.
September 11, 2001 is a day most Americans will never forget, its a day I will never forget. It was the first time in most of our lives that we saw a mass terrorist attack on American soil. That was what was about to be the beginning of the Iraq war (A&E Television Networks, 2021). The Iraq war posed a great deal of problems for both the United States and our allies around the world.
Shortly after the attacks of September 11th both the United States and the United Kingdom began an investigation into Iraq’s military and weapon manufacturing (Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia, 2021). This sparking a fear amongst many nations not knowing exactly how things were going to play out. Shortly after on March 19,2003 the Iraq war began with both the United States and the United Kingdom on the center stage. One of the major problems in which were caused by the Iraq war was a shortage of troops for both the U.S and our allies. With the Iraq war going on, the United States economy began to suffer. Being most of our oil had came from the middle east, we began to see a shortage thus causing prices to increase to the point that some families simply couldn’t afford to drive around anymore (A Report by the Joint Economic Committee Majority Staff Chairman, 2008). Without affordable transportation a lack of goods being exchanged shortly followed.
For decades during the Cold War millions around the world feared that one day the world would get into a conflict they could not back out of, and they would start a nuclear conflict that would end most if not all life on Earth. Then, in 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed, and, in one chain reaction of events, the states of Eastern Europe broke away from the USSR and established their independence. The old dangers were gone, and the world could face the future with an optimism they had not dared to allow themselves for a long time. They did not realize that at about the same time the world’s two leading superpowers were making peace, a new danger was starting to take form far away from the now crumbling Berlin Wall. Most of the world rejoiced. Now the threat of violence and war were a thing of the past and maybe the world could finally be at peace.
Sadly, the threat of war had not completely disappeared. Only a few months after the Soviets headed home from Afghanistan after a decade of misery and frustration in trying to subdue what had seemed like a band of farmers and herdsmen (who happened to have an arsenal of U.S. made weapons), their government and their whole socio-economic system came crashing down. The Soviet departure from Afghanistan created a power vacuum which was filled by the largest subgroup of the Mujahideen, the Taliban. They seized power in Afghanistan installing Sharia law and an ultra-strict theocracy with it. In a few years they would allow an extremely radical Islamic group called Al Qaeda to establish their base there.
In the summer of 1990, Saddam Hussein launched an invasion of tiny Kuwait. This invasion succeeded in only a couple of days. This placed a dangerous amount of the world’s oil supply into Iraqi hands and threatened their collective neighbor, Saudi Arabia. The U.S. did not feel they could take the chance that Saddam Hussein would not continue to conquer the region, so they sent military forces into Saudi Arabia in what was called Operation Desert Shield. A few months later, after U.S. and UN forces were built up in the area, Operation Desert Storm commenced, defeating Iraqi forces in Kuwait and Iraq. What seemed to be a potential region-wide war was over in short order.
While these events were celebrated in much of the world, including must of the Arab world, there was one person and one group who did not like what he saw. This man was Osama bin Laden, the leader of one of the bands of the Mujahideen, who had fought against the Russians, with U.S. weapons. He saw the continued presence of the “infidel American forces” still stationed in Saudi Arabia as an insult to Islam and formed his own group of Muslim fighters called Al Qaeda (or “the base”) to force the U.S. out of the Muslim holy lands of Saudi Arabia. They would spend the next decade preparing to attack the U.S. and force them out of Saudi Arabia.
Al Qaeda and their allies did manage to pull off some successful attacks against U.S. interests in the years between the end of Operation Desert Shield and the infamous 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centers, such as some hotel and embassy bombings, a preliminary attack one of the World Trade Centers in 1993, and the bombing of the US warship the U.S.S. Cole in October of 2000. Despite these attacks the world did not seem to take bin Laden or Al Qaeda seriously. That was about to change.
On September 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked three American airliners and flew them into both World Trade Centers, and the Pentagon. A fourth attack was thwarted when the passengers of Flight 93 stormed the cockpit of their airliner forcing those hijackers to crash the plane in rural Pennsylvania. In all, almost 3000 Americans were killed in the attacks, though the death count could have been much higher. Some people feel the greatest casualty of those attacks was our innocence, our false sense of security, and the feeling that nobody could attack us here, inside the U.S.
Watch the following video on important intelligence information that was not acted upon by the U.S. government regarding Al Qaeda operatives living in the U.S. and chatter about a possible attack.
9/11: Before And After, Part 1 (13:09)
Since the attacks, the U.S. has been in a constant state of war against the nation and government of Afghanistan, who gave aid and comfort to Al Qaeda while they prepared to attack the U.S. In 2003, the U.S. invaded Iraq, claiming that Saddam Hussein was in possession of weapons of mass destruction and that he was planning on acquiring the materials necessary to build nuclear weapons. Both the initial Iraqi and Afghan campaigns were initial successes, but rebels and insurgents inside both nations have continued their war against U.S. forces in what seems like an endless series of attacks in a futile attempt by U.S. forces to control those nations and peoples.
While the threat of nuclear war between the U.S. and USSR seemed to end with the end of Cold War and the collapse of the USSR, it seems to have been replaced by a new threat, radical Islam. Where would they strike next? What type of weapon would they use next? Most important of all, have we just exchanged one giant threat to the future of world peace, the Cold War, for another, the threat of radical Islam?
The rise of religious fundamentalism is one of the most significant religious events of the 20th century. Fundamentalism is a worldwide force and exists in almost all religions—Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and even Hindu. Fundamentalists see the modern world as a threat to their way of life. It is a response, in many ways, to modernity. However, fundamentalists are not fossils; they look back to the past as a presumed perfect time in religion. They see a breakdown in the family and the loss of traditional ways of living. While rejecting much of modernity, fundamentalists use science and technology to further their beliefs. Fundamentalists have perfected the use of technology more than other religious groups to get out their messages. Mega-churches, like the Crystal Cathedral in California, use the most sophisticated equipment – HD cameras, satellite broadcasting, and the Internet -to bring their message to the people. Terrorist groups like the Taliban use cell phones and other technologies to communicate with each other. The attacks on September 11 were collectively a technologically coordinated event that relied heavily on the latest communication devices.
While there are precedents to fundamentalism in the past, the current movements are peculiarly 20th century. The current use of the term dates back to a series of Protestant tracts, The Fundamentals, published between 1910 and 1915. These tracts rejected the Protestant liberalism of the time in favor of a more literal translation of the Bible. If there is one thing that fundamentalist religions have in common, it is a hierarchical and patriarchal structure. Fathers rule over mothers and parents over children. There is no ambiguity regarding who is in charge. Much of the debate in current Islam between secularists and fundamentalists is over the role of women in religion. Fundamentalists see feminism as separating women from their natural state. For Protestant fundamentalists, men still rule the pulpit.
The rise of fundamentalism as a global movement can be traced back to the late 1960s and early 1970s. In the Mideast, the Six-Day War set the stage for the development of both Jewish and Islamic fundamentalist movements. In this country, the liberalizing trends of the 1960s contributed to the upsurge in fundamentalism. Today, fundamentalism is at least steady and probably growing in the United States. It has exploded in the Middle East and parts of South Asia. Under the leadership of Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) mercilessly killed civilians, ordered the taking of hostages, and pioneered hijacking to draw attention to their demands for statehood. Witnesses found it hard to forget the unnecessary bloodshed when groups associated with the PLO murdered 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics and killed a 69-year-old American man, confined to a wheelchair, during the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro, an Italian passenger ship. These tactics helped to underscore Palestinian grievances, but were abandoned when Arafat, like Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress, realized that terrorist acts could alienate public opinion as easily as they could call attention to a worthwhile cause.
During the 1980s, Islamic fundamentalism spread quickly throughout the Middle East, and terrorists became openly religious. It is not difficult to see why certain religious groups (Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and Algeria’s Islamic Armed Group) joined the ranks of the terrorists. Theirs was not a trivial backlash; they saw themselves in a clash of good versus evil. It is no wonder both Ayotollah Khomeini and Osama bin Laden were against modernist movements in such diverse countries as Egypt and Indonesia. Religious fundamentalists see evil both from the inside and the outside of their respective religions. This ultimately led to the tragic events of 9/11.
The rise of religious fundamentalism parallels the rise of globalization in general. Garrett Hardin, in his seminal article, “The Tragedy of the Commons,” argues that it is impossible in a finite world to support a finite population, that, in the pursuit of our own self-interest, we are using up the resources we hold in common. If this trend continues, it will have a negative impact on the entire planet and the future of democracy itself, but some groups have used today’s technology to further their own fundamentalist beliefs.
Globalization and the loss of the commons have increased exponentially. Thomas Friedman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the New York Times, has written extensively on the phenomenon of globalization. Friedman realized early on that what we called the post-Cold War era was something more than just a world with no Soviet Union. It was a new international system of mutual dependence which soon had its own name: globalization. Friedman (2000) writes, “Globalization is not just a passing trend. It is an international system, the dominant international system that replaced the Cold War system after the fall of the Berlin Wall” (p. 7). The differences between the old system and the new one are striking. The old system was built on walls and division, the new one on integration. Globalization is driven by the Internet and there is not one nation or person in charge. Globalization can then be defined as “the inexorable integration of markets, nation-states, and technologies to a degree never witnessed before–in a way that is enabling individuals, corporations and nation-states farther, faster, deeper, cheaper than ever before” (p. 9). If the Cold War system was defined by the weight of missiles, then the global world is defined by the speed of the Internet. If the Cold War had the hotline, the global world has e-mail, but in the process of globalization, the commons is being destroyed along with the indigenous peoples who depend on it.
The global economy is relentless in replacing the past with new technology, and, in the worldwide competition for consumers, everyone is a competitor and only the fittest survive.
Globalization has its own political landscape. During the Cold War, the balance of power hung between the United States and the Soviet Union. The situation today is much more complex. There is still the traditional balance between nation-states, and the United States is still a world power. But new nation-states like China and India are exerting more influence. There is also the balance between nation-states and global markets, what Friedman calls “the Supermarkets.” While the United States may be the dominant player in maintaining the game board, it doesn’t make all of the moves. Friedman (2000) writes, “The globalization gameboard today is a lot like a Ouija board–sometimes, pieces are moved around by the obvious hand of the superpower, and sometimes, they are moved around by the hidden hands of the Supermarkets” (p. 13). There is a third balance of power, the one that balances individual investors with nation-states. Warren Buffett, one of the world’s richest men, is chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, a holding company with seventy-six businesses. Buffett recently invested in the Israeli group Iscar, and, as a major stockholder, can exercise enormous influence on Israel as a distinct nation-state. The overall reality is that individuals can exert influence on the world stage without the approval of those states. Friedman concludes, “The system of globalization has come upon us far faster than our ability to retrain ourselves to see and comprehend it” (p. 14). However, in the process of globalization, “the commons” itself has been harmed and indigenous peoples are in danger of losing the resources they need to sustain themselves.
Watch the following video on a differing perspectives of globalization with regard to trade:
Explaining Globalization (7:30)
Click on the following link to access the transcript:
Bonin, R. (Producer). (2004). 9/11: Before and after, part 1 [Video]. Columbia Broadcasting System. Academic Video Online.
Friedman, T. L. (2000). The lexus and the olive tree. New York, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. https://books.google.com/books?id=lMVSRj_hYm0C&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false
Hardin, G. (1968). The tragedy of the commons. Science, 162(3859): 1243–1248. doi:10.1126/science.162.3859.1243
NewsHour Productions (Producer). (2010). Explaining globalization [Video]. Academic Video Online.
Temple, M. (Director), & Barling, K. (Producer). (2002). Trouble at the mosque [Video]. Journeyman Pictures. Academic Video Online.
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