On Terrorism.’ Subsequently, leading to the reframing of world

On September 11th, 2001, four planes attacked the United
States (US) and brought down the ‘twin towers’ at the World Trade Center. This
led to approximately 3,000 civilians being massacred by a non-state based
terrorist group known as Al-Qaeda, evidently, this was a prominent attack on
Western civilisation. It can be argued that the effect 9/11 had on international
politics has been exaggerated and the roots of the effects are from elsewhere,
however, it is evident that the attack affected international politics in
several ways. These include setting the foundations for a change in how
individual rights are perceived, as well as uniting all the nation states with
one goal, the ‘War on Terrorism.’ Subsequently, leading to the reframing of
world structure, with the US losing its invincible appearance. This led to a
rapid increase in globalisation through Liberal Interventionism in several
countries. This leads me to conclude that 9/11 did have a big impact on
international politics in several ways, however, the effects have become less
significant due to the prevalent nature of politics. 


Following the 1990’s international politics saw major
conflict on the Eastern continent including mass genocide in Yugoslavia and
instability in the Middle East with the invasion of Saddam Hussein in Kuwait.

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After 9/11, the threat of transnational terrorism became apparent leading to a
shift in international politics from globalisation to the ‘global terrorism’.

This was supported by claims by Ken Booth and Tim Dunne (2002) ‘For years to
come, if not decades, the “war on terrorism” will be the defining paradigm in
the struggle for global order’. This was further emphasised by Blair’s claim in
2001, “mass terrorism is the new evil in our world” (T.Blair, BBC News).

Nations found themselves focusing on a single threat together, with domestic
terrorist groups such as the IRA in Britain and ETA in Spain appearing less
prominent. It was now evident that ‘the whole of the international community
has a responsibility to deal with it’ (Nye, 2005). This was reflected in French
newspaper LeMonde’s headline ‘We are all Americans now’ (Columbani, 2001). This
highlights how 9/11 changed international politics by uniting key
nation-states, in particular, the Western world, with the ‘war on terrorism’.

This subsequently brought a sense of stability as many nations were working as


Jack Holland argues that the 9/11 redefined America in terms
of where it stood with other nations. It was ‘the first time in sixty years
that Americans had witnessed their vulnerability, at the hands of an external
energy, on their own soil’ (J. Holland, 2003). This would suggest that there
was a shift from unitary world order lead by the US, to the US feeling
susceptible to threat and no longer invincible. This was due to the inability
of the US to act alone without the tacit support of the United Nations. Indeed,
according to Mr. Annan (The Guardian, 2004) ‘the invasion was not sanctioned by
the UN security council or in accordance with the UN’s founding charter’,
therefore the idea that the Chilcot enquiry (BBC News, 2016) declared that
there was ‘no imminent threat’ from Iraq, suggests that the US faced scrutiny
and was no longer considered to be a world leader. This highlights that 9/11
did have an impact on international politics in that it paved the way for the
collapse of the unitary system controlled by a single state, instead stateless
organisations such as the UN and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation), who
in turn held states to account.


After 9/11, a policy of liberal interventionism was
introduced by the ‘coalition of the willing’ consisting of the US, UK, and
Australia, to justify a preemptive attack on Iraq and Afghanistan, using
self-defence as their reasoning behind. They believed not intervening in Iraq
posed a significant threat to security globally as it was believed that Saddam
Hussein was in possession of weapons of mass destruction, with the intent to
sell to Al-Qaeda. Prior to 9/11, the notion of self-defense had not been used
to justify the invasion, however, according to O’Loughlin (2001) the events
that took place that day forced political leaders to change who they considered
being on the ‘radical outside’. President Bush stated that “no distinction
should be made between terrorists and those who harbor them” (J. Holland,
2003). This led to the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq on the premise that the
Taliban regime and Hussein’s regime was harboring and providing a base to
Al-Qaeda. This demonstrates how 9/11 impacted international politics as
political leaders were forced redefine the radical outside as well as their
motives for invasion.


9/11 led to many undemocratic imprisonments and violent
interrogations. The year following 9/11 saw George W. Bush set up the
Department for Homeland Security to defend the US both outside and within its
borders. This led to the CIA practice of ‘extraordinary rendition’ whereby
individuals suspected of terrorist activities were taken to other countries and
tortured. A report by Amnesty International ‘Below the Radar’ described the
process as ‘the transfer of individuals from one country to another, by means
that bypass all judicial and administrative due process’ (D. Holloway, 2008).

Evidence of this is ‘Guantanamo Bay’ and the atrocities that occurred in Abu
Ghraib under the Iraq War, putting forward the argument that the use of
military means has led to resentment ‘across the Middle East and in turn
alienated moderate Muslim opinion. Clarke argues that we must fight ‘against
those who would use the terrorist threat to assault the liberties the
Constitution enshrines’ (D. Holloway, 2008). 9/11 affected how international
human rights and freedoms were viewed by the American government and many
others.  In contrast, President Obama’s
final State of the Union Address he restated his pledge to close Guantanamo Bay
suggesting that Obama was not prepared to undermine rights in the name of
security and wanted it to be undone. This is supported by Obama in the
Washington Post stating “this is about closing a chapter in our history”
(Washington Post, 2016). This shows that although the atrocities cannot be
undone, there is a desire to prevent it from happening again suggesting that
9/11’s effect is the more short term.


It could be argued that the effects 9/11 has had on
international politics has been exaggerated. There have been many tensions
between the Middle East and the Western world pre-date 9/11, including the
invasion of Kuwait in 1990, their subsequent dismissal of the resolutions put
forward by the Security Council and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Fred
Kaplan (2016) argued that the conflicts in the Middle East today stems all the
way back to the ‘collapse of the Ottoman Empire’ following World War One. The
borders put in place under the Skyes-Picot Agreement by Britain and France
showed little resemblance to the natural borders. Furthermore, the agreement
collapsed due to the inability of the colonial leaders to impose colonial rule.

Consequently, the sectarian violence and wars we see in the middle east today
is a result of the ‘blurring of borders, the erosion of regimes and of their
leaders’ legitimacy’ as a direct result of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

It is, therefore, reasonable to argue that the tensions between the Middle East
and the Western world reached a tipping point following 9/11 but was not caused
by 9/11. Instability in the Middle East can be viewed as inevitable and 9/11
accelerated the process.


In conclusion, there is no doubt that 9/11
affected international politics by paving the way to the undermining of Human
Rights in favour of national security and the legitimation of torture by
liberal democracies. This was made evident by the revelations of Abu Ghraib and
Guantanamo Bay. The ability of liberal democracies to surrender people’s rights
and liberties highlights a shift in international politics. Additionally, 9/11
can be seen to unite the world with the ‘war on terror’, the post-Cold War
world was forced to come together to combat one aim ‘global terrorism’.

Additionally, we saw a process of liberal interventionism take place in the
Middle Eastern continent after 9/11. This, in turn, brought about initial
stability in the post-Cold War world by reframing the political structure from
a single unitary world leader to a system whereby state-less organisations such
as the UN and NATO now had increased prominence and a greater role in international
politics. On the other hand, despite the initial stability brought about
through 9/11 recent events including mass terrorist attacks across the western
world suggests that this stability may no longer be ascertained and therefore
should be considered relatively short term. However, as civilians are still
held at Guantanamo Bay without trial suggests that 9/11 has had some impact
long-term on international politics 


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