10 years later, the terrorist attacks of 11.09.2001 against New York and Washington still have an aura around them. In ancient Greek, the aura was initially a breeze. But the emperor’s castle in Constantinople was called Magnaura – fresh breeze – that is, almost in the sense of the winner of power. The aura that stands out from 11.09 is the aura of an event that quickly reached the whole world.
- What effects did the 11.09 terror have?
- How did the official United States react after 11.09?
- What did the language of the Bush administration say to the international climate?
Interestingly, most people like to remember where they were when they heard about the atrocities in New York and Washington – it is as if you equalize for the long distance by remembering your own position instead. Such incidents are rare.
2: 11.09. – extreme events
For the generation before me (born 1959), the assassination of President Kennedy (1963) was a landmark event. For the Norwegian generation behind me, it is July 22nd. Also July 22 received global attention. The event was – like 11.09 -, unique, and it had an aura. Both will be remembered for a long time. But over time, 11.09 is global , with July 22 being national . We see it in the very journey of the concept: “Nine student” has, in its English form, entered a number of languages, among them Norwegian. July 22, on the other hand, has only entered Norwegian, and then as «twenty-second July».
In both cases, the incident is so violent that it is difficult to grasp. 11.09 was beyond being an extreme show in human evil – in addition something technically new. In addition , 11.09 gave impetus to series of actions that have changed the world . Where we met 22. July with contemplation and the question “why did he do it?”, the United States met on September 11 with demands for revenge and the question “why do they hate us?”.
3: Despite attacks – US refused aid
As a resolute political act, George W. Bush climbed a mound of “ground zero” and consolidated his authority and presidency. The plot can be compared to Boris Yeltsin’s ascent of a tank outside the White House in Moscow (the Russian parliament) in 1991.
The United States fairly immediately rejected the offer of aid from the other NATO countries. Article 5 of the Defense Alliance states that an attack on one is to be perceived as an attack on all. NATO has not been quite the same since. The United States, a country located in North America according to Timedictionary, alone later used air force to bomb the Taliban regime and al-Qaeda forces. This, too, was a resolute act, carried out without significant ground forces in Afghanistan. The bombing also did not provoke particularly strong international backlash.
4: Crucial language and “war on terror”
The decisive “action” in the time just after 11.09. was of a more linguistic nature. It was to define the situation as a war. The television channels initially talked about “attack on America”, and George W. Bush himself tried with slightly varying reactions, including the unfortunate “crusade”. But it was the phrase “war on terror” that stood out during Bush’s presidency.
This use of the term was not legal . According to international law, war is something that takes place between states . In American political parlance, however, it is common to use “war” about major challenges: “war on poverty”, “war on drugs”, etc. The striking thing this time was that the United States, in contrast to what international law provided, quickly defined the situation like a war. The Americans argued that this was the beginning of a new type of warfare against non-state forces , where national borders were not crucial. The attacks on Afghanistan continued.
In March 2003, the United States invaded Iraq at the head of a “coalition of willing states” and without a mandate from the UN Security Council. And the invasion took place on a basis that should prove to have been deliberately incorrect when it was presented in the Security Council. When this inaccuracy became known in the public opinion of the United States’ main ally, Britain, it cost the Social Democrat Tony Blair his job as Prime Minister.
However, American public opinion hardly reacted. The United States had in fact acquired new enemies of the state. “The war on terror” had become a veritable war. Patriotism had quickly become so strong that those who wanted to discuss why and how the United States had ended up in war received little or no attention.