It has been five years today since the 9/11 incident. In these 5 years since the incident there have been US-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and terrorist attacks in places such as Bali, Madrid and London. With oil prices soaring, there have also been the Korean Peninsula and Iranian nuclear crises as well as Lebanon-Israel conflict. The world seems to become even more chaotic than it was five years ago. The possibilities of a "Third World War" have even been discussed by famous international figures.
However, Bush Administration sees a totally different world: terrorism has been taken under effective control; the Middle East has entered a new era of lasting peace; the new Afghan regime is rewriting the history of Central and Western Asia; and the cooperation between world powers is turning a new page. Most importantly, the US homeland has not been attacked by terrorism during the past five years and can be seen as a much safer place. Actually, these also are achievements that President Bush emphasizes in his speeches for remembering 9/11.
Why does the U.S. government see such a different picture of the world from the one in the eyes of the international community and even of at least half of American people? The reason is that such logic and "brilliant tactics" can make it easier for Bush Administration to take certain political actions. Firstly, the US government intends to exaggerate threats. As pointed out by an article in the latest issue of the "Foreign Affairsy" journal, the reason for no terrorist attacks during the last 5 years is the absence of al Qaeda terrorists in the US homeland. However the government still deliberately exaggerates terrorist threats to attract more public support for what it is doing. Secondly, the government is trying to divert the attention of the general public to other parts of the world in order to maintain domestic stability. For many times, President Bush emphasized that the US would have to face terrorism on its streets if it was to give up fighting in Iraq. This argument has not only become a belief of Republic supporters but also won the support of many Americans. Thirdly, the U.S. pursues its global strategy in the name of anti-terrorist cooperation. The US has enabled other countries to take part of risks and hardship off its shoulders by seeking cooperation on anti-terrorist issues after the 9/11 attack. However, this international support has often been used by the U.S. for the pursuit of pure national interests.
On the fifth anniversary of 9/11 incident, we can find some causes and consequences by appraising disorders caused by the Iraq war. First, the Iraq war, whose goal goes beyond anti-terrorism, has lead to a deterioration in effective international cooperation on anti-terrorism and disagreement between world powers, leaving the US army locked in stalemate. Second, without authorization of the United Nations and evidence of weapons of mass destruction, the US initiated military attacks on Iraq. This has inevitably led to suspicion that the Iraq war was actually part of US plans to control Iraq's oil resources, protect Israel, deal with the Islamic World and eliminate its enemy country. Third, the US has plans to apply its democratic system to the Middle East countries regardless of their situations. This has not only failed but led to social turbulence in several countries and threatened world security. This has also made the US cautious about pursuing her global strategy.
The Iraq war has become an important issue in the U.S. As the fatalities of U.S. soldiers in Iraq is approaching the casualties in 9/11 incident, U.S. citizens begin to fully reflect on or even protest against Iraq war, making it a major topic prior to the mid-term election of the US congress. Regretfully, the U.S. government has no intention to change policies on anti-terrorism and wants to adhere to its original plan. As well as this, Bush recently invented a new term, "Islamic fascism" and reiterated that the anti-terrorist war is a war of ideology between democracy and "Islamic fascism". This means that U.S.-led anti-terrorist war has converted to a civilization conflict which Bush had tried to avoid before. If this is so, there will be no turning back for the US and the world is at greater risk.
In retrospect, we can say that 9/11 incident has changed the U.S. and what make the world change is U.S. inappropriate reactions to the incident, especially the Iraq war.
Written by Yuan Peng, deputy director of the Institute of American Studies of China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations and translated by People's Daily Online