There can be no doubting the enormity of the terrorist attacks of September 11, whether one is referring to their costs to human individuals or to their impact on the larger fabric of American life. America has been shaken to its core. Moreover, because the United States lies at the center of world politics and the global economic system, because the nations of the world are increasingly interdependent, and because the full horror of the attacks on New York City and Washington, DC was played out on television around the world, the impact of these events was inescapably global. People around the world have as much at stake in what happens now as do the people of the United States.
No single analysis can hope to encompass all the ramifications of September 11. What follows focuses firstly on what these events reveal about the United States, its history, and present foreign policies, including American and overseas perceptions of the United States' international role. Despite the vast volume of the information about the United States that daily floods our media, or perhaps in part because of it, America remains a baffling presence to many observers. In this book, I look behind some of the cruder stereotypes of the United States with the aim of understanding the country from the inside. The second area of concern is the global political system, the environment in which American foreign policy is pursued. The relationship between these two fields constitutes the subject of the book. The main claim of the book is that September 11 must be understood in the light of the interaction between America's dominant international position since the end of the Cold War, the rise of political Islam, and the complex set of phenomena that comes under the heading of globalization. These are themselves admittedly large questions involving a range of themes, each of which merits book-length study. These include, besides the politics and history of the United States, globalization,