Middle East and Globalization - Terrorism Made Easy: 9/11

Terrorism Made Easy: 9/11

The experiences of September 11 categorized by President George W. Bush as ‘the first war of the twenty-first century’ and the first major war in the age of globalization brought into focus the contradictions generated by this phenomenon. We are now experiencing an extremely complex phenomenon which both divides and unifies the world we live in. While connecting parts of the world that were previously cut off it also ignores and bypasses other regions, and along with this produces enemies whilst it incorporates participants. The circulation of commodities, technology, money and ideas facilitate networks of terror as well as trade and travel. Although it was supposed to promote democracy it was often the case that globalization forces inhibited it leading to an intensification of local and global political conflicts as was the case of the Middle East.

Technological achievements, capital mobility and free movement of people that resulted from the process thus allowed terrorism to express its local grievances and attack key symbols of American power in a way that had never been done before. In the case of 9/11 Al Qaeda presented an example of the unpredictable nature of a globally connected and networked society where a hidden network dedicated its whole activity to attacking the US. According to Hinnebusch it is no accident that the Middle East has witnessed by far the highest number of international terrorist incidents, or that the US is increasingly becoming the target for these attacks. Osama Bin Laden and his following of ‘Arab Afghans’ were partly a US creation and it was not the religious or cultural differences that turned them against the US but its continuous presence in Saudi Arabia, its perceived control over the Arab oil, the siege of Iraq and the support for Israeli oppression of the Palestinians. In her book, Laura Guazzone points out the paradox of US hegemony in the region: while at the military level it stabilizes the Middle East against revisionist states, its biased and inequitable application continually stimulates the nationalist and Islamic reaction at the societal level that keeps the regional pot boiling.

Global terrorism and terror events were made possible due to the availability of new powerful and sometimes lethal technology to groups and individuals that previously had no or restricted access to. Conventional instruments of mass transport or communication have been, and can be at any time converted into weapons of mass destruction, or at least of mass terror producing a situation of asymmetrical war where weaker individuals and groups can attack superpowers. This led to a general increase in fear and anxiety and September 11 was probably the most powerful alarm towards the danger that globalization carries within: new technologies empower angry disempowered people with technologies of mass destruction.

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