Sep 11, 2014

After the September 11th attacks: A Short Guide and Timeline of the Foreign Policy Actions Taken post 9/11

While most adult Americans remember vividly where they were on the day of the attacks, feeling those same emotions and fears 13 years later, many are a bit uncertain about the events that came afterward.  This is especially so for those that have only recently entered adulthood.  As a Political Science Professor, I find that a high percentage of my students are confused about which country was invaded as a direct result of the attacks and which came later, but was indirectly related to this horrific slaughter of 3,000 Americans. Knowing where these countries are on a map is a whole other challenge.  Here are the facts:

Who attacked us?

Al-Qaeda, a terrorist organization led by Osama bin Laden, organized and carried out the attacks from their base in Afghanistan.  The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in order to hunt down al-Qaeda and its leader bin Laden, but also to overthrow the Taliban, the group brutally ruling the country.  The Taliban, are an extremist Islamic group, like al-Qaeda, that took control of Afghanistan by force in the 1990s.  While both are violent and extremist, the Taliban and al-Qaeda have different reasons for existing.  Al-Qaeda is an organization bent on terrorizing the U.S. and our supporters in an effort to change policy in Arab countries and the U.S.  The Taliban are isolated to Afghanistan and operated as a ruling regime.  The Taliban are a local group that overthrew the government in Afghanistan in order to install a theocracy.  The Taliban's efforts do not extend beyond Afghanistan's borders, unlike the efforts of al-Qaeda.  This is why the U.S. deals with the two groups differently.  Because the Taliban and al-Qaeda share a vision, the Taliban gave refuge and support to al-Qaeda beginning in the late 1990s, allowing them to train and hideout in the country.  The U.S.'s secondary goal to hunting al-Qaeda was to overthrow the brutal Taliban regime and support the creation of a democratically elected government.  The U.S., and now the democratically elected Afghan government, continues to this day to fight remnants of the Taliban who are attempting to reassert control over the country.  Under the Obama administration in 2011, bin Laden was found and killed while hiding out in neighboring Pakistan.  The fight against al-Qaeda continues, but unlike with the Taliban, it is a global fight as this group and its members can relocate just about anywhere.



What does Iraq have to do with all of this?

In 2002, during the already begun war in Afghanistan, Bush directed attention to Iraq.  Bush shared a growing concern that Saddam Hussein, dictator of Iraq, was building weapons of mass destruction, and may already have them ready for use.  Bush made the case for U.S. action against Iraq to both the United Nations and to the U.S. Congress.  Of the two, only the U.S. Congress supported any military action against Iraq.  Unlike with Afghanistan, the United Nations and much of the world community was opposed to any overt military action in the  country, believing there was no reason for it since Iraq had not engaged in international aggression since 1991.  On March 17, 2003, Bush warned Hussein and his government via a live Presidential address to leave the country immediately or face action.  The U.S. then invaded Iraq March 20, 2003 on the basis that Iraq had WMDs that they could use against neighbors in the Middle East or even the U.S.  It was found in the few years following the invasion that Iraq had not had a weapons program since the 1991 Gulf War, although this was used as the primary basis for the invasion.  Iraq is only indirectly related to the 9/11 attacks, while there is a direct relation between the 9/11 attacks and the war in Afghanistan.  It is likely that the U.S. never would have invaded Iraq had it not been for the fear that gripped the nation as a result of September 11.  In assuming Iraq posed a large threat, Bush saw an opening with the WMD concern for transforming the entire region of the Middle East.  In the administration's view a democratic transformation would make it less likely that dictators, extremists and terrorist organizations would grow and thrive in the region, leading to another 9/11 scale attack on the U.S.  It should be noted that after losing 3000 Americans in the September 11th attacks, we have since lost a number of Americans that is more than double that figure in both of these wars (over 2,200 in Afghanistan and nearly 4,500 in Iraq).





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21 comments:

  1. This article is interesting. I did not know that theocracy was a guiding force to the crimes administered. Although I realized that there are many religious views that fuel the flames of division, I did not know that theocracy was the driving form of government. I am sure there a gods who relish in such brutal styles of service however I know that the basis of most religion, even if not in harmony is peace or love. It is a shame that those who represent such a small group of many create prejudice within those who succumb to it. I was told long ago that we live in a time where the UN will attempt to banish open expression of religion and I thought it to be impossible. The more I see the more real the notion seems. JAG

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  2. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" is a middle eastern proverb that rings true in this instance. With the invasion of Afghanistan, it made "political sense" to dismantle a government that was pretty much subsidizing asymmetrical warfare against the United states. The "oppertunity" presented itself after the September 11th attacks, and the unsurption of Saddam Hussien's dictatorship and his Ba' ath Party was a direct cause of his policy towards the United States' and our involvement in the Middle east.
    Eventhough Saddam did not have WMDs, and the invasion was not approved by the internatinoal community, those ther coutries were not attacked, like America was attacked, on September 11th 2001.

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  3. I found this interesting because I didn't know some of this information. I had been under the impression that Iraq and Afghanistan were directly related with Al-Qaeda, and that that was the reason why there are wars being fought in both countries. I think I would have to agree with the UN regarding the question of invading Iraq. It seems like the decision to invade would just make the problems worse, especially since it turned out that Iraq really didn't have any WMDs. The vision of the end result, transformation of the Middle East, was good, but to me, just done at the wrong time.

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  4. Many people thought that Iraq or Iran was the main battle grounds for the United States after the 9/11 attacks. However, Afghanistan was the real territory in question. Afghanistan became a focal point in the Middle East and the US searched for Al Queda, while the Taliban gave them refuge. Al Queda led by Osama bin Laden led the attack on the US in 2001. However, as the United States searched to put an end to Al Queda, the US was also trying to break the Taliban up and put in a democratic form of government into action. With wars still fueling in the MIddle East, the United States still is assuring that Afghanistan will be a democratic nation and trying to ease the discomfort left by the Taliban.

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  5. I found it very interesting that the number of American deaths in Iraq has doubled more than the 3,000 deaths caused by 9/11. I also found it very interesting that the Taliban and AL-Qaeda do not share some of the same beliefs and have the same goals. You did mention that the Taliban gave refuge to Al-Qaeda, after hearing this it would almost seem to me that these two different organizations must have combined some ideas, and part of the Taliban must have mixed in with Al-Qaeda. This to me seems like since the Taliban and Al-Qaeda are allies, that they too have the potential to be an international threat, just as Al-Qaeda.

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  6. Al- quada is in Afghanistan which was ran by the Taliban government. Even thought it dismantled our government, the attacks on 9/11 were unforgivable. The war in Iraq really got on my nerves because they did not have any type of WMD and at the end of the day the middle east is still a disaster. Justice was served when Osama was killed, but the problem is now getting worse wit Isis.

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  7. I gotta be honest, I really enjoyed this write. In most ways, I agree with all actions taken by the US. After 9/11 how could anyone argue with these decisions. I mean, these are hating radical, extremist. I strongly believe that most of their hatred actions are out of anger towards the US, which we all see clearly but also, part of the radical extremist Muslims belief. Now understand, I am not a know it all, but I do know that some acts of terrorism are due to Muslims who believe that if you are not a descendant of Muhammad or whoever they worship, you should die. AGAIN I emphasize this is extremist which there are many Muslim extremist. Here in America, we worry about Christian extremist known as bible pushers. Uh oh, lets make a Facebook post cause someone tried to push something on you... Yikes. Muslim dominated countries have to worry about getting tortured and killed if you are not a Muslim. And as I think I believe the extremist Muslim are Muslim Sunnis, but again, I'm no expert. I strongly support almost all actions against violent foreign countries. The hatred and discrimination some of these countries have is relentless. And there ways of thinking aren't exactly Christian style. Whether is be blowing themselves up or planting a bomb or maybe even launching missles. These countries resumes says "watch out"... You don't know what these people are gonna do. Now, there are many peaceful Muslims. These is not a disrespect post, I actually have a few close Muslim friends. This is a best and safest way to protect our country. And I think any precaution is arguably acceptable.

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  8. Wow, I am mad that as citizen of a America I did not know that these two regimes were separated. I always thought everyone in Pakistan and Iraq were our enemies. The decision made by Bush that day was a very robust one. I have confidence that even if there were not weapons of mass destruction in the east that help was still needed there. That area of our planet is like a third world and does not comprise of a peaceful living.So many people died that day and America lost a building that was one of its biggest money makers, so retaliation was need.

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  9. Honestly, before reading this article I had no idea that al-Qaeda and the Taliban had two different reasons for their existent. I thought that there primary goal was to terrorize the U.S. I believe that the U.S. did the right thing by going after both groups because I would think that by supporting one another, they must have been plotting against the U.S. The U.S. has always been in support of a democratic nation and there was no surprised that they will try to enlist this into Afghanistan. It seems that their efforts has worked since Afghanistan has a democratically elected government.

    I believe that even if Bush had hard evidence that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, he would’ve stilled find a reason to intervene. I do agree that if the 9/11 event did not take effect, the U.S. wouldn’t be so deeply involved in the Middle East. The response in result of 9/11 is somewhat acceptable because if someone were to invade your house and hurt your family, you would do anything to make sure it won’t happen again. I believe that violence in that part of the world will continue to go on because of people’s different and strong beliefs. The hatred/ discrimination of others taking place in the Middle East, brings me back to the history of the U.S. mentality towards minority groups. The U.S. has made great strides since then to ensure equality, but maybe the Middle East is just behind on the acceptance of different cultures, beliefs, and religion, etc.

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  10. This article was interesting and informative. I thought I knew the timeline of events following September 11 however, this article provided some clarity. Spelling out the difference between al-Qaeda and the Taliban was helpful as well. The topic of Iraq was the most interesting to me and as we know Iraq continues to be a thorn in our side.
    Although I can’t even imagine the difficult responsibility that it is to be the President of the United States, I have to say that I think we were wrong to make the decision to go to war with Iraq. As the blog points out, there were many issues that should have been a red flag to not invade. Invading Iraq caused challenges to our U.S. military forces since we are already at war with Afghanistan. Having our forces deployed to two regions really stretched our military resources. In addition, I think we should rarely go against United Nations recommendations. The fact that there were no weapons of mass destruction ever found was also a red flag that we should not have engaged in the first place. I think the U.S. took advantage of an opportunity at a time when we were afraid and perhaps vengeful.

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  11. Angelique VirgleMay 4, 2015 at 8:31 PM

    Ok, this is what I have to say about this article. Just because of one event happening to the U.S. by foreign countries doesn't mean that everyone is against us. I think that decision that Bush made to attack Iraq because of suspicion was not smart. He started a senseless war that killed more Americans than what we lost in the 9/11 attack. Just think about it, if we hadn't attacked Iraq, many family members that different families lost would still be alive today. We really have to learn to make smarter decisions.

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  12. It's been almost 14 years since the attack on the World Trade Center and and 11 years since we went to the war with Iraq. The horrific death of 3,000 and more Americans is unfortunate and the leader of the attack is now dead. It wasn't until I got older and joined the military and discovered the real reason why we were at war with Afghanistan and Iraq. Growing up I always assumed Afghanistan and Iraq were the same country. I have heard other reason why the United States was at war with Iraq and that's because of the oil industry. I believe that is a theory because soldiers shouldn't have die for the greediness of oil. I remember learning about the "No Blood For Oil" mantra at school during the anti war protest. President Bush concern with Iraq was that Saddam Hussein was building mass destruction weapons and was concerned that they might use them on the United States. Well, I recently just did a research paper on the newly Islamic extremist group "ISIL" and "ISIS" and according to resources, ISIS supplies are still being supplied by Saddam Hussein archives of weapons. So what are still fighting for, if they weapons have yet been obtained by the U.S. and there still being use? I still oppose a few questions. If the Obama administration found and killed Osama Bin Laden who was the leader in Afghanistan, why did the troops get pulled from Iraq and not Afghanistan, if we "solved" the solution?

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  13. Josie Crane
    The Middle East continues to confuse me. I defiantly didn't understand either war, but reading this comment did increase my understanding on the issue. Based on the information given I don't agree with Bush's decision to attack Iraq. It just added more problems to a devastated country. I wonder if the issue would have been resolved quicker if we had focused all of our efforts on the Taliban and Al-Qaeda? In one of the diagrams in the comment it says "Insurgency and violence still plagues the country [Iraq]." I'm trying to understand where ISIS (or ISIl?) comes into play, and there has been plenty of media coverage with terrorist attacks, not only in America but in other countries as well. For example, there has been the Boston booming, the booming of a museum in Italy, and recently a shooting in Texas. It seems to me that these attacks are getting more and more frequent. I really want to understand who is behind it all, and if it is ISIS who is leading them?

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  14. Janna Bourdonnay
    I think that many of the upcoming generations will not understand the tragedy of 9/11. I know that I and many of my peers, being so young when it happened, are unable to answer many questions about the details of the terrorist attack. This article was very informative. Before reading it, I didn’t know that there were several different issues going on in the Middle East and also different terrorist groups formed there.
    I think it was unnecessary to invade Iraq based on the information we had. There was no real evidence but fear of the U.S. to invade Iraq. I feel like that could have possibly damaged our relationship with them. It was use of troops and resources that we could have put to better use sending them into Afghanistan. I think it also proves the U.S.’s ability as a country when we took the Taliban out of power and changed it to a democratic government.
    After reading this article, a lot of the news I have heard on TV and things I have heard discussed at school and home make a lot more sense. I am able to know now what they were talking about and what they meant. Also it gives me a clear view on the U.S.’s foreign defense policy, and our role as a country in so many world issues. It truly shows our power and ability.

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  15. I think before reading this article, most of us had a very vague idea of our history with the middle east, most of which was filled with misconceptions and falsehoods. When your only glimpse of a major issue is a chapter you have to read for a class, or hearing a snippet of a new broadcast, your knowledge becomes extremely limited and one sided. I really had no idea of the specific events surrounding the attack on our country on September 11th. While it is a day that Americans still grieve every year, when I was finally are able to see the whole story, I couldn't help but think of them many people from the Middle East that have been marginalized and persecuted by predjudiced Americans who don't know the what is really going on between American and Iraq/Afghanistan.

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  16. I remember September 11th vividly, along with all the feelings I had at the time. I was upset and sadden by the fact that something like this could happen where I live. I also remember watching the war with Afghanistan and the videos of what the Taliban were doing to that country’s population and being horrified at what I saw. I also remember a lot of talk about who was supporting al-Qaeda and funds being seized at different banks and countries around the world. For some reason, I thought this was also part of the reason we went to war in Iraq, but I guess that was incorrect. With these feelings of fear and shock, I was on board with anything our country was doing at the time to ensure our safety and as I look back, I am not sure that I would have thought any differently. Fear blinds you.

    The loss of soldiers in both conflicts is astounding, with regards to how there were less lost on 9/11. I had not seen those figures, but when I think back, there was a lot of news about how the fighting was difficult and there was no clear enemy. Now I think we should have fought with intelligence and spent more time studying who was actually trying to harm us and other countries around the world, but we cannot go back.

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  17. I thought that Al-Gaeda and Taliban, was in the same group and they stand for the same thing. You broke down that Al-Qaeda is an organization bent on terrorizing the U.S. and the Taliban is isolated to Afghanistan and operated as a ruling regime. I didn’t know they wanted to turn Afghanistan into a theocracy government and until this day they still trying to over throw the government. Also Al-Qaeda organization is still in this world plotting against the U.S. and that the Taliban relocated anywhere in the world and probably doing the same thing. It’s crazy that a lot of people here support the Al-Qaeda because I seen on a flyer in front of a restaurant that said “supporting Al-Qaeda only”. They can be all over this world and we wouldn’t even know it. Finding out that Bush didn’t go to war because of September 11th but to know that altogether 6,700 people died is really sad. Fact that he thought that Saddam Hussein were building weapons of mass destruction on our neighbors in the east or even the U.S. and when the army got over there it in up not even being any weapons. I think he should have listen to the United Nation didn’t support any military actions against Iraq. Out of all the events that happen, I think it is a great chance that Bush protects the 9/11 from happening again. TSF

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  18. The article points out that the Bush government declared a war against Iraq due to the fear started from 9/11 terror. It makes sense since the entire country's focus was counter-terrorism and the fear against terrorism was biggest after 9/11. Opposite to dictators or militant group controlling the country, democratic government is of course much more stable and less likely to indulge in tyranny. However, as the article mentioned, the intervention of the U.S costed lots of casualties of our soldiers during the war of Iraq and Afganistan. Violence still exist sporadically in Middle East region even though the U.S tried to stop it.
    One of the reason for the U.S to engage invasions in Iraq was Iraq's alledged development of WMD. Ironically, the U.S is known to have many forms of WMD including nuclear weapons and biochemical weapons. The U.S is the only country to actually use nuclear weapons in actual combat. Regarding previous statements, I believe the U.S intervention in Middle East using military force cannot be justified.

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  19. This article was informative; the author described the difference between al-Qaeda and the Taliban with the fact of who attacked the U.S. They both had two different reasons for their existence. The U.S. has been dealing with these two groups. After the September 11th attacks, I would have to agree with some points about the U.S. doing the right thing by going after both groups to protect the country, but I do not agree that the U.S. made decisions to go to war with Iraq. I understand that the U.S has been in support of a democratic nation and help the countries who need help.
    In my opinion, the U.S. can find so many ways to help support a democratic nation in Iraq. This should not always end up with war. Iraq caused so many problems to the U.S. military, and U.S. spent a lot of money on Iraq. According to the article, that in 2011, bin Laden was found and killed. The U.S. fight against al-Qaeda continues, but unlike with the Taliban, it is a global fight as this group and its members can relocate just about anywhere. How can the U.S. protect this country from terrorists if the U.S. still spend time, military, and money to protect Iraq? Don’t feel afraid about what it happened. Americans should be strong and stand by their country.

    Ekarat Beyer

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  20. This article is very interesting because it conveys a very tragic time in history that will always be remembered. I honestly was not familiar with the real facts and information about the al-Qaeda and Taliban. I just remembered being taught that a couple of terrorists were the case of this tragedy. I didn't know that al-Qaeda was the name of the terrorist organization that caused of the attacks that were based in Afghanistan. I also did not know that the Taliban and the al-Qaeda had different reasons for existing.

    I think Bush did a great job during his reign as President, and that we are now even more protected from 9/11 reoccurring. I was familiar about Saddam Hussein and considering the type of person he was I figured he was making weapons of mass destruction, and it seemed as if it was only a matter of time before something happened. I had no idea that under the Obama administration the fight of al-Qaeda is still continuing. Knowing that the group along with it's reason can relocate anywhere. After reading this article everything started to fall more into place, and it made a whole lot more since. It is very important to keep up and understand the real events that took place because you never know what might happen. We as Americans need to stay up to date and be prepared for anything that might be coming our way.

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  21. Amelia Williams
    I found this blog article to be insightful. Unfortunately, like many other Americans, I lived through the attack on 9/11 but never really understood the differences between the War in Afghanistan and the War in Iraq. After the 9/11 attacks, I remember there being an unspoken (and sometimes spoken) hatred directed toward American Muslims. This article was clear and concise, and I now understand with new knowledge the reasons behind each war.
    After reading this article, it is revealed that the attacks had very little to do with Muslim faith. Al Queda, who is responsible for carrying out the attacks, is "bent on terrorizing the US". The War that began in Afghanistan had more to do with government control than religion. Also, Islam extremists are a very small percentage of people and most Muslims are peaceful. In fact, the Muslim faith claims that Muslims and Christians--since our country was founded on Christian principles--should be like brothers to one another.
    In regards to the War in Iraq, I know why so many Americans had strong feelings of dislike for Bush. It was hard to justify the war after no WMDs were found in the country; however, Saddam Hussein was terrible to his people, and I truly believe that his execution was a relief to Iraqis.

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