9/11 Ten Years After: Perspectives and Problems

9/11 Ten Years After: Perspectives and Problems

9/11 Ten Years After: Perspectives and Problems

9/11 Ten Years After: Perspectives and Problems


Ten years on, what have been the principal impacts of the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 on the external policies and international outlooks of the world's major powers, the range and scope of the international security agenda and on the capacity for states and international organisations to work together to combat the dangers of international terrorism? This book investigates a range of international responses to the events of 9/11, to evaluate their consistency over time; to analyse their long-term significance and impact and to consider both their implications for the international security agenda and the prospects for international cooperation in addressing the challenges posed. In particular, the book considers the perspectives of some of the world's major powers and international organisations on the question of international terrorism, and on its perpetrators, comparing their interpretations and responses and examining how these have changed over the course of a decade of conflict. This book is primarily directed at an academic market, and especially towards undergraduate and taught postgraduate students on courses in international politics, international relations, security studies, terrorism studies, and contemporary international history.


11 September 2001: A ‘day of fire’ as George W. Bush recalled (2010); for UK Prime Minister Tony Blair it was a date which saw a ‘cataclysmic act of terrorism that stunned, shocked and appalled the world’ (Blair 2010: 349).

On that day, nineteen hijackers seized four commercial passenger flights shortly after take-off from the eastern United States of America. Two were flown into the iconic Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City; a third was brought down on the Pentagon; the fourth had been set on course for Washington, DC, its presumed target being the White House or the Capitol Building, when it crashed into a field in Pennsylvania after passengers tried to wrest control of the plane back from the hijackers. Responsibility for the attacks was attributed to Al Qaeda, an international terrorist network based on radical Islamism under the leadership of the Saudi Osama bin Laden.

The immediate damage caused was immense. The Twin Towers collapsed within two hours of the initial impacts, causing widespread additional damage to the World Trade Center complex and the surrounding areas of Lower Manhattan; the Pentagon too was severely affected leading to the collapse of one section of the building; beyond the damage to property the economic and political tolls of the attacks, as well as their subsequent military consequences, were far-reaching. But considerable though all of these were, the loss of life caused by the attacks of 11 September 2001 was unprecedented. Albeit that initial estimates put the figure much higher, confirmed deaths finally numbered over 2,970 including all passengers on the hijacked aircraft, and almost all of the victims being civilians (with the exception of a number of military personnel killed in the attack on the Pentagon), plus the nineteen hijackers. The attacks of 9/11 thus comprise, by some significant margin, the most costly terrorist attacks to date by most measures – not exclusively, but especially, in terms of human lives lost.

While the immediate consequences of the attacks were substantial, longer-term developments were yet more far-reaching. Reflecting US President George W. Bush’s combative initial reactions insisting that the US would ‘make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harb[ored] them’, and explicitly condemning the attacks as ‘acts of war’ (Bush 2010: 138, 141), the subsequent decade was marked by the resultant campaign against international terrorism which came to dominate many facets of international affairs. Originally conceived under the banner of the US-led ‘global war on terror’, and thereafter the ‘long war’, the campaign defined Bush’s administration (2001–9); it dictated the course of US relations with vaitics of special relationships

John Dumbrell and Axel R. Schäfer

Since the end of the Cold War, and especially since the later 1990s, journalistic and academic commentary on the United States has been preoccupied with the nature and sheer extent of American international power. The United States has been variously described as the global hegemon, the lone superpower, the indispensable nation, the hyperpower and the Überpower. By the close of the twentieth century, American global pre-eminence, rooted in the triad of military, economic and political/cultural ‘soft power’, was widely recognized as having assumed extraordinary proportions . . .

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