Most of us will never forget the events of that morning, 11 September 2001, and the emotions we went through, as we watched the Twin Towers in New York City collapse. The sympathy for the victims was underscored even further by the shock and horror of the widespread attacks against other targets, including the Pentagon. The aftermath was extraordinary.
An event of such tragic dimensions should have provided an opportunity for genuine soul searching. America was hurting and humiliated--others around the world had equally been hurt and humiliated--and there seemed an opening for a reordering of the world on a more equitable and just basis.
The US at that moment had the sympathy and moral high ground to initiate such a global conversation, whilst insisting on the importance of having justice, through police action, for the victims of the attacks.
A sister of a very good American friend of mine had died in the Twin Towers. Ironically, she and a few other relatives were among those who, in the unfolding weeks, were calling for a genuine conversation and resisting any further round of violence.
I remember suggesting this to various people in the UK--that President George W. Bush should be a statesman, lead his people into accepting the hit, and initiate such an honest conversation, which would of necessity deal with America's own involvement in creating/supporting elements of Al Qaeda during the Afghan war against the Soviets--only to be howled down.
Bush could not do this--he would be destroyed if he didn't "follow" his people, who wanted blood. Bush, whose professed guiding mentor urged turning the other cheek, instead gave in to this bloodlust, when he visited the debris of the Twin Towers. With the bullhorn in his hand, he bellowed a call not for justice, but for a kind of blind revenge to satiate the bloodlust.
The bloodlust was fuelled by genuine hurt but also by the kind of humiliation rarely suffered by a superpower, which in turn produced an irrational and, for that reason, dangerous kind of quiet rage.
It was partially satiated with the blood (100,000 dead) and other...