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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9/11: Looking back and moving forward - 9/11: Six Years Later : hat we learned from 9/11 - A turning point in history

9/11: Looking back and moving forward
- Daily Mirror

By B. Raman

On September 11, 2007, the international community completes six years of the so-called war on global terrorism being waged separately and jointly by the countries of the world affected by the scourge of terrorism.

The war has had a mixed record----positive as well as negative. The most positive has been the acceptance by the international community that terrorism is an absolute evil and cannot be justified whatever be the cause. Old cliches of one man's terrorist being another man's freedom-fighter and one nation's State-sponsor of terrorism being another nation's frontline ally against terrorism have not disappeared from common lexicon, but do not now carry the same conviction as in the past.

The second important positive outcome has been the acceptance of the need for international co-operation in dealing with terrorism. There has been a greater co-operation since 9/11 and greater transparency in relation to the co-operation. The fact of such co-operation is no longer treated as a classified secret, but the operational details are----for valid reasons. The international community has realised the importance of letting the terrorists know that the intelligence and security agencies of the world are acting together to crush terrorism. The conference of the intelligence chiefs of the Asia-Pacific region held recently at Kuala Lumpur at the joint initiative of the US and Malaysia is a good illustration of the way the co-operation has developed.

The co-operation has not only been at the level of intelligence-sharing. It has also been at the operational level where counter-terrorism agencies come in. Before 9/11, such operational co-operation existed only among ideologically like-minded countries such as the members of the NATO, the Commonwealth, the former members of the Warsaw Pact etc. Now, one sees instances of operational co-operation against terrorism even among countries with no ideological convergence. Examples of the growing operational co-operation are the joint counter-terrorism exercises at the bilateral and multi-national levels, the frequent brain-storming at regional and international levels by governmental and non-governmental experts, etc

The growing international co-operation in matters such as intelligence-sharing and action against terrorist funding and gun running has already had beneficial side effects in helping in the campaigns being waged by different countries against purely indigenous terrorism without any links to Al Qaeda. As examples of such beneficial side-effects one could mention the decision of the Irish Republican Army, the Basque separatist movement of Spain and the Free Aceh Movement of Indonesia to give up terrorism and seek a political solution to their demands. The non-countenance of terrorism by the international community has also contributed to the difficulties faced by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in its clandestine procurement and smuggling of arms and ammunition from abroad.

The international community could also draw satisfaction from the fact that Al Qaeda and other jihadi terrorist organisations aligned with it have not so far succeeded in organising any successful catastrophic act of terrorism against maritime and energy security, the critical infrastructure, including the information infrastructure, and the global economy. The global economy, including in Asia, the region most affected by terrorism of various hues, has continued to progress despite sporadic acts of terrorism directed against certain sectors of the economy such as tourism. International co-operation has prevented so far any act of terrorism involving the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or weapons of mass disruption.

Regional and international co-operation to enforce maritime security has not only prevented so far any catastrophic act of maritime terrorism, but has also helped in bringing trans-national piracy in the South-East Asian region under control. The number of major attacks by pirates in the South-East Asian region declined from a high of 70 in 2001 to 28 in 2003, 18 in 2005, and 10 in 2006.In the second quarter of 2007, no major pirate attacks were reported from this region.

The damage in men and equipment suffered by pirate gangs during the Tsunami of December 2004 did contribute to some extent to this fall, but increased maritime security co-operation with measures such as co-ordinated patrolling of the Malacca Straits by Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia played an important role in bringing about this decline. India has also been playing a discreet, but significant role in contributing to a strengthening of maritime security without giving rise to fears of any ulterior strategic motives. The growing Indian naval capabilities reassure the nations of the region unlike the Chinese naval power, which unnerves.

Concerns of the international community over the dangers of the jihadi terrorists succeeding in getting hold of WMD led to vigorous action against a group of nuclear scientists of Pakistan headed by Dr. A. Q. Khan, who were indulging in large-scale clandestine nuclear trade with impunity till 2003. There is now a recognition that if there is an act of catastrophic terrorism involving the use of WMD, this would most probably originate from Pakistan. Hence, the increased focus on Pakistan in this regard.

Co-operation to prevent cyber terrorism has also made headway despite concerns aroused in the minds of many countries over attempts made by the US intelligence agencies to exploit this co-operation for penetrating sensitive government departments of some countries.

India itself was a major victim of this penetration. The US intelligence exploited the joint Indo-US Cyber Security Forum, which came up in the wake of 9/11, to penetrate the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) of the Government of India, which comes under the Prime Minister's Office. The US has been the driving force behind the counter-terrorism co-operation infrastructure, which has come up after 9/11. It has the human and material resources. It has the know-how and technology. But the US never fights shy of exploiting international co-operation to achieve its own national strategic objectives-----whether in terms of penetration of other Governments, securing a military presence for it in foreign territories, pushing through its own ideas etc. The activist role of the US in building the co-operation architecture has had beneficial as well as harmful effects. How to take advantage of the benign dimensions of the US capabilities and role while avoiding being hurt by the malign dimensions is a question, which has to engage the attention of national security managers.

The US has successfully managed to prevent so far a repeat of 9/11 in its homeland. While the tightening of the laws relating to terrorism and strengthened homeland security measures have contributed to this, one should also underline the role played by non-governmental groups and even private individuals in the US in monitoring the Internet-related activities of jihadi terrorist groups, which has helped the Government in its counter-terrorism preventive measures. US citizens have provided a very good example of the useful role, which alert and well-motivated individual citizens can play in counter-terrorism.

This is worthy of emulation by citizens of other countries, including India. Victim and citizen activism in fighting terrorism in the US is a matter for admiration and emulation by other nations and societies. One saw the way the relatives of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist strikes mobilised themselves to ensure that their Government took the necessary follow-up action----whether it be in the matter of the enquiry into the failure to prevent 9/11, the implementation of the recommendations of the National Commission on 9/11, strengthening counter-terrorism laws and capabilities or strengthening the political will to fight terrorism. Thanks to this citizen and victim activism, no political leader in the US today can afford to take a soft stance on terrorism and survive in politics.

The lack of citizen and victim activism continues to be the bane of the Indian counter-terrorism scene despite the fact that more innocent civilians have died at the hands of trans-national and indigenous terrorists in India than in any other country of he world.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, the Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai

Courtesy South Asia Analysis Group


9/11: Six Years Later Daily News

Today marks the sixth anniversary of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre Twin Towers in New York. Here we reproduce several articles on 9/11: Six Years Later from the regional press in the USA.
Americans will forget 9/11 at their peril

Cal Thomas

Throughout our young history, Americans have been admonished to ''Remember the Alamo,'' ''Remember the Maine'' and ''Remember Pearl Harbour.'' These remembrances - and others - were for the purpose of motivating the public to fight on until an enemy was vanquished. When victory was assured, the memory faded into history.

Now, as we approach the sixth anniversary of Sept. 11, there are suggestions that we should begin to forget the worst terrorist incident in America's history. Recently, a front-page story in The New York Times suggested it is becoming too much of a burden to remember the attack, that nothing new can be said about it and that, perhaps, Sept. 11 ''fatigue'' may be setting in.

Charlene Correia, a nursing supervisor from Acushnet, Mass., is quoted as saying, ''I may sound callous, but doesn't grieving have a shelf life? We're very sorry and mournful that people died, but there are living people.

Let's wind it down.'' Yes, Sept. 11 forces us to be serious, not only about those who died and why they died at the hands of religious fanatics, but also so that we won't forget that it could very well happen again and many of today's living might end up as yesterday's dead. That is the purpose of remembering Sept. 11, not to engage in perpetual mourning. The war goes on and to be reminded of Sept.

11 serves as the ultimate protection against forgetfulness.

Images of the Twin Towers is used on jihadist Websites for the purpose of recruiting new ''martyrs.'' What's the matter with some people? Does remembering not only Sept. 11 but the stakes in this world war interfere too much with our pursuit of money, things and pleasure? Serious times require serious thought and serious action. In our frivolous times, full of trivialities and irrelevancies, to be serious is to abandon self-indulgence for survival, entertainment for the stiffened spine.

''Few Americans give much thought anymore on Dec. 7 that Pearl Harbour was attacked,'' says the "Times" writer, who goes on to mention Nov. 22, 1963 (the date of JFK's assassination), the Kent State shootings on May 4, 1970, and the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995.

The difference between those tragic events and Sept. 11 is that Kennedy's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, is dead, as is Timothy McVeigh, and the Vietnam War ended long ago. While all of the Sept. 11 hijackers died, their ideological and religious colleagues are plotting new attacks in a war that is far from over.

''Why didn't we see 9/11 coming?'' was a question frequently asked in the aftermath of that terrorist attack. And the answer should be, because we forgot the attacks preceding that one, or brushed them off as inconsequential aberrations so we could get back to watching the stock market go up and obsess about Bill Clinton's pants coming down.

By not remembering those earlier attacks, the reasons behind them and the intentions of the terrorists and those who trained and incited them, we put ourselves in further jeopardy.

Sept. 11 should not be remembered for maudlin, ghoulish and certainly not for nostalgic reasons. Unlike those other mostly forgotten or no longer observed dates, this one is key to defending ourselves from a future attack and further disasters.

Not to remember Sept. 11, is to forget what brought it about. That can lead to a lowering of our guard and a false sense of security, the conditions that existed immediately prior to that awful day six years ago.

Indiana University history professor John Bodnar is asked in the Times story what might happen on Sept. 11 a hundred years from now. He replies, ''It's conceivable that it could be virtually forgotten.'' It might be forgotten - or relegated to a ''Jeopardy'' answer - but only if we win the war against Islamofascism. If we don't, Sept. 11 will stand as a day of infamy with consequences to humanity far worse than Dec. 7, 1941.

Salt Lake Tribune


Our View:
What we learned from 9/11

Any democracy serious about the well-being of its people should re-examine how well its government works regularly. Perhaps Sept. 11 each year is a good time to do that.

The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 showed the flaws in our system of national security, most obviously. But with the help of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission we came to see many more flaws in a variety of institutions that made us vulnerable to those attacks.

We saw flaws in the communication between our intelligence agencies; we saw flaws in our diplomatic efforts overseas; we saw flaws in our system of airline security, and we saw flaws in our ability to correct those problems in airline security even though the Government Accountability Office had pointed out those flaws years before 2001.

We came to realise shortcomings in our ability to rally world support around our cause. That came in reaction to our willingness to reject the solutions of our friends at the United Nations.

We didn't wait for the U.N. to sanction Saddam Hussein. Clearly, we did away with an evil dictator faster than the United Nations could or would have. But we also paid a cost that put more of the death toll on American soldiers because members of the United Nations were unwilling to put more of their own soldiers on the front lines.

What we learned from that is somewhat unclear. But it's heartening to see that Washington seems to be working more closely with the U.N. to rein in Iran and North Korea. Working with the U.N. on North Korea's nuclear threat is working, by and large.

The jury is still out on whether it will work with Iran.

American business learned quickly some lessons about how the terrorist attacks and our attack on Iraq disrupted world oil markets.

It became all too clear that the lifeblood of some American industries could be cutoff with a series of incendiary explosive devices made by rogue militias in the streets of Baghdad. We learned to build an alternative fuels industry, with the help of government subsidies, that continues to reduce some of the risk of volatile world oil markets.

Clearly, Sept. 11, 2001 magnified the power of the forces of evil in the world. It should also highlight the need for the United States to gather democracy-minded friends around the world, or even friends who are not so democracy minded just yet, to come together in defense of innocent people under attack from those motivated not by justice but by jihad.

To that end, we've made progress. Last week Congress approved a 10 percent increase in U.S. foreign aid to $34 billion, a figure $700 million less than President Bush requested, and a figure many international experts say is still too small given it is usually less than 1 or 2 percent of the entire U.S. budget. The bill also allocated some $500 million in educational aid aimed at mostly Muslim countries.

The lesson here becomes it is cheaper to help our friends around the globe by offering humanitarian aid than military aid. When human beings have the basics of daily living, they can more seriously consider the complex and costly system of democracy.

Six years after the wake-up call of Sept. 11, we're back in the race to bring peace and democracy to those in the world who desire it, but we're still a long way from the finish line.

The Free Press, Minnesota

A turning point in history

Leesha Faulkner

History takes only seconds to make but, say those who teach it, years to understand. Witness great events that affected so many generations: the bombing of Pearl Harbour, the murders of John Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy and, most recently, the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

On that day, now just known as 9/11, terrorists took over passenger planes and slammed them into buildings in New York and Washington and into a field in Pennsylvania. Six years later, we still don't understand the historical context.

On many campuses, college professors teach the catastrophe that killed 256 people on four planes and 2,725 people on the ground at the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon in a variety of ways. And, they teach it as part of something larger, not as a single historic event.

That's because it takes the passage of time, analysis and availability of documents to dissect an event, write about it and consider it, said historian Elizabeth Payne of the University of Mississippi.

It may take years before historians find clarity about 9/11. Some of the questions: In what context did this event play out? What international political pressure led up to this?

Did this event give birth to a new patriotism in the U.S.? What is the overall historical theme of 9/11? The beginnings of the Cold War, which marked the struggle between U.S. democracy and Soviet communism, is one example of a historic event that has reached sufficient age to provide fertile ground for academic research.

Several schools of thought exist about the Cold War's origins. The traditionalists, who were there and helped form policy during the 1960s, wrote about it from the perspective that the Soviets were responsible for the breakdown in relationships and that it was necessary for the U.S. to contain the spread of communism.

The revisionists of the late 1970s primarily saw the U.S.'s push to become a world cop and the U.S.'s untrustworthy behaviour during World War II as a primary cause of the tensions with the Soviets.

The latest school of thought emerged during the 1980s and 1990s from the post-revisionists - a consensus-type perspective that blamed actions and miscommunications on both sides for the Cold World tensions.

There's a name for this history of writing history: historiography. Payne points to a lack of historiography of the 9/11 terrorist attacks as one reason it's not taught per se in college or in university classrooms by many professors. This isn't a bad thing; it's just how history is written.

Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal

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