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It was the first terrorist attack on the U.S.
Along with a terrorist attack comes prejudice and discrimination towards those of similar nationality or religion as the attackers out of fear of another attack.
Much of the legal and ideological infrastructure that would later constitute the war on terror was introduced onto the U.S. political scene in the 1990s. Osama bin Laden was on President Clinton's intelligence and law enforcement radar screens; antiterrorism legislation that would significantly expand presidential and police powers was debated in Congress; and conservative advocacy groups such as the Project for a New American Century urged a more assertive projection of American power, including forcible regime change in Iraq.
How do individuals and organizations justify these acts of terror.
“We will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime … the civilized world is rallying to America’s side. They understand that if this terror goes unpunished, their own cities, their own citizens may be next. Terror, unanswered, can not only bring down buildings, it can threaten the stability of legitimate governments.”
Note how he was already setting up a distinction between “legitimate” war and “illegitimate” war, thus trying to provide a legal and moral justification for war (which is legalized violence and mass murder) that would be initiated by Israel, the US and allies in the years to come against the Palestinians and other Muslim-majority nations. He made the point that states using regular armies can engage in legitimate war, but not loose bands of fighters which he brands terrorists.
These acts can be described as terrorist actions.
Domestic pressure had been building on Modi to take a tough stand over rising violence in the disputed region of Kashmir, including through non-military measures such as reviewing a 1960 water-sharing treaty. The main opposition Congress Party supports the government’s actions against terrorism, leader Sonia Gandhi said in a statement.
A further concern is the conflation of two separate countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan, into a single theater of U.S. operations now called AFPAK. While there are some arguments in favor of taking a regional view, it will be important to keep in mind Pakistan's other national security obsessions, Kashmir and India, while pursuing this approach. Removing the war on terror lens from this landscape could provide an opportunity to examine anew the social, political, and ideological affiliations andmotivations of actors on the ground, as well as the distinct regional, as opposed to global, objectives pursued by militant Islamists. This is not only the case in central Asia and the Levant, but in the myriad other locations designated as potential or existing arenas of global war on terror operations.
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The attackers were Islamic terrorists from Arab nations.
This is merely the latest example of a powerful rhetoric centered on the word “terrorism” that has shaped — and continues to shape — popular conceptions about contemporary political conflicts, making it difficult to speak intelligently about their real sources.
This is not true, especially in the case of the war on terrorism.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld immediately concludedthat the attack must have come from Iraq. Its half-mad dictator, Saddam Hussein, had chafed for a decade under thesanctions imposed by the United States after the Persian Gulf War of 1991. Rumsfeld ordered his aides to begin collecting evidence implicating Saddam inthe attack, and to alert him as soon as they'd built a case strong enough tojustify a retaliatory attack on Iraq.
Why is one man’s terrorist another man’s freedom fighter.
For Bush, the new narrative literally fell from the sky on September 11, 2001. This "new threat" of "sudden terror" was presented by the administration as existing outside any historical or geopolitical context, and simply as an abiding clash between inevitably opposed forces. Like many durable narratives, it contained easily identifiable archetypal figures of good and evil, an epic battle, and the promise of a triumphal end for the forces of virtue. Indeed, in subsequent years many supporters of this new war would compare it to the earlier struggle against communism. Further, the story had a hyperbolic dramatic force: these were not just villains but supervillains, whose intentions both terrified and titillated. And if the exact nature or number of the enemy was unknown, other details were in all too easy supply: they were "trained in the tactics of terror" and spent their days plotting "evil and destruction" against the United States.
The conflict is now commonly known as the war on terror.
Facing this threat, Americans were cast as superheroes, their government empowered by the Justice Department to leap over both national and international law and, in the process, the country's respect for human dignity and the rule of law. The narrative embedded itself deeply into U.S. government decision-making, notably in the defense and intelligence communities, where it lent powerful conceptual underpinning to major U.S. actions. It was unquestioningly absorbed by the U.S. media, whose need for dramatic, easy-to-understand stories was well-served, as well as by industries that support the U.S. defense community, whose dedication to the narrative had the advantage of being both patriotic and profitable.
Indeed, other countries also told their own versions of the global war on terror story, even while referencing longstanding conflicts with specific local explanations, whether involving national identity, political franchise, or resources. The world's citizens also took up the narrative, although for many it referred to a war against the world's Muslims started by the United States and visited upon Afghanistan and Iraq.
Bush’s Language Comprising the War on Terror
On October 7, 2001, the U.S. and British militaries began air and missile strikes against Afghanistan, giving the new foreign-policy narrative its first expression as a conventional war. Within several years the field of military and support operations had widened to include the Philippines, the Horn of Africa, and North and Trans-Saharan Africa, in addition to Iraq. Although Bush presented military action as only one thrust of the new war, which also entailed diplomacy, intelligence, and law enforcement efforts, the war would nonetheless be most deeply associated with the military for both of the administration's terms. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld helped support the tendency to conflate the symbolic war with actual warfare. Rumsfeld was typical of those who posited hordes of radicalized students spilling out of Asia, and for whom the difference between nuanced gradations of radical beliefs, on the one hand, and violent actions, on the other, had no place in time of war. The terms of victory were the numbers of al-Qaeda members or other terrorist suspects killed. The 2006 U.S. Quadrennial Defense Review, produced during Rumsfeld's tenure at the Defense Department, took the global war on terror as its central theme, characterizing the enemy as "dispersed, global terrorist networks that exploit Islam...[to] subjugate the Muslim world under a radical theocratic tyranny while seeking to perpetuate conflict with the United States and its allies and partners."
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