9/11 Prompts Reflections On The Legacy of Terror And American Foreign Policy
WASHINGTON — Twenty years after the Twin Towers collapsed in flamesand smoke, Americans are reflecting on the lessons they say they’ve learned, in particular on the legacy of the U.S. foreign policy triggered by 9/11.
John Allen, president of the Brookings Institution and a former four-star general with the U.S. Marine Corps who commanded the American forces in Afghanistan, said one of the lessons of the last twenty years was that America wasn’t as good at nation-building as it is at conducting decisive operations, during a retrospective of the lessons and legacies of 9/11 held on Friday morning.
For people like Allen, the pace of the troop withdrawal over the last few months has created a “pell-mell” transition.
Allen said the Obama administration’s decision about ten years ago to transition out of the Afghanistan war was the right one, and that the war had to be turned over to the people of Afghanistan. But he also expressed concern over the Taliban takeover, which he said threatens to “[reinvigorate] the platform of terror” in the region.
“Coming out too fast, in the end, undercut the confidence that Afghan forces had in themselves, certainly the confidence that Americans would stay for the long haul,” Allen said, adding that America has had troops in places like Kosovo, the Sinai Peninsula, and the South Korean Peninsula for generations which has allowed those countries, he claimed, an opportunity to stabilize and to create a functioning economy and “inclusive” governments.
Ryan Crocker, who was an ambassador to Afghanistan from 2011-2012, said he had a “ringside seat” to witness the attacks on 9/11.
“Our allies have learned through hard experience that we don’t have strategic patience and our adversaries have learned to count on it,” Crocker said.
Crocker predicted that the withdrawal will “resonate far outside of Afghanistan,” emboldening the Pakistani Taliban and other “Islamic radicals” around the world.
Members of the American public reportedly share broadly in some aspects of the sentiments expressed by Allen and Crocker.
The majority of Americans have a clear position on Afghanistan: they “endorse” the withdrawal but they find fault with the way the Biden administration handled it, Pew Research Center, a DC think tank focused on public opinion, said.
Polling has shown that a majority of Americans, 54%, still think it was the right decision to pull troops out, according to Pew.
Pew’s data suggests that 69% of American adults say that the country “mostly failed” in Afghanistan, the center said in written materials.
The larger picture of public opinion around foreign policy in the wake of 9/11 reveals that it rallied the country behind the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, with that support eventually fading, Pew said.
Public trust in the government, buoyed by a 9/11 effect, has declined since the 2000s from things like the government’s mishandling of Hurricane Katrina, they also reported.
What about the memory of the terror attacks themselves?
The suicide attacks continue to have sway on the public mind, but it is less visceral as younger people enter public life, according to Pew data.
Pew’s opinion polling shows that a large part of Americans over thirty, 93% of them, say they can remember where they were, ranking it among the most impactful events of recent memory alongside the Kennedy assassination, according to scholars.
However, a growing percentage of Americans were too young to recall where they were on 9/11 or they hadn’t even been born at that time.
The anniversary has also led to a consideration of what is known by the public about the attacks and their immediate aftermath.
There are still a lot of unknowns for the American public, starting with the identities of those felled in the attacks.
This week, two additional World Trade Center victims were identified by New York medical examiners using DNA analysis of remains found in the wreckage, according to the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
About 40% of the victims of the terrorist attacks remain unidentified two decades later, and these were the first new identifications in two years.
Medical examiners are still sifting through body parts to put names to the 1,106 unidentified victims, which Barbara Sampson, chief medical examiner of New York, has described as a “sacred obligation” in written materials.
U.S. President Joseph Biden has also ordered that the FBI’s files about their investigations of the attacks be declassified because, his executive order said, “American people deserve to have a fuller picture of what their government knows about those attacks.”
The declassification orders U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and the heads of relevant federal agencies to review the documents over the next six months.
In The News
WASHINGTON (AP) — Vladimir Putin paid scant attention to Fiona Hill, a preeminent U.S. expert on Russia, when she was... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — Vladimir Putin paid scant attention to Fiona Hill, a preeminent U.S. expert on Russia, when she was seated next to him at dinners. Putin's people placed her there by design, choosing a "nondescript woman," as she put it, so the Russian president would... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — The CIA said Thursday it will create a top-level working group on China as part of a... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — The CIA said Thursday it will create a top-level working group on China as part of a broad U.S. government effort focused on countering Beijing's influence. The group will become one of fewer than a dozen mission centers operated by the CIA, with... Read More
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — With record numbers of military flights near Taiwan over the last week, China has been showing... Read More
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — With record numbers of military flights near Taiwan over the last week, China has been showing a new intensity and military sophistication as it steps up its harassment of the island it claims as its own and asserts its territorial ambitions in... Read More
WASHINGTON — Just as the CIA was reportedly evacuating an intelligence officer in Serbia who had injuries consistent with Havana... Read More
WASHINGTON — Just as the CIA was reportedly evacuating an intelligence officer in Serbia who had injuries consistent with Havana Syndrome, guests of Harvard University’s Intelligence Project were asserting that brain injuries from “a new form of asymmetric deniable warfare” aren’t just tricks of the mind. ... Read More
WASHINGTON -- The war in Afghanistan is officially over but the terrorism threat to the United States continues, according to... Read More
WASHINGTON -- The war in Afghanistan is officially over but the terrorism threat to the United States continues, according to military commanders who testified to the U.S. Senate Tuesday. They acknowledged that the chaotic U.S. military withdrawal was disappointing after 20 years of war. A suicide... Read More
WASHINGTON - The Biden administration’s decision to extend travel restrictions at its land border with Canada is causing consternation among... Read More
WASHINGTON - The Biden administration’s decision to extend travel restrictions at its land border with Canada is causing consternation among some members of Congress. The White House announced the decision to continue to bar nonessential travel by land between the two countries last week, just as... Read More