9/11 : The Impact and the Legacy

This weekend marks the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, a day that has become of monumental importance in the psyche of the US.

On Sunday we will rightly remember the terrible events of 10 years ago, the awful loss of life, and an attack not only on the US, but on all right thinking people, of whatever religion, race, gender or creed.  A waste of so many lives and a terrible impact on so many others.

My own memory of September the 11th and the attack on the twin towers is of hearing the events unfold on the radio as I was driving back from an appointment in Luton.

I was preparing for a tedious journey back to Birmingham when Simon Mayo announced on 5 Live that a plane had gone into one of the twin towers of the World Trade Centre.  The details were sketchy and it was not known that it was a large airliner.  It was also initially being treated as an accident and it was only when the second plane hit that the reality began to unveil itself.

It was a momentous couple of hours as the story unfolded, and without being able to see the pictures my imagination was running overtime.  Of course my imagination, for once, could not live up to the actual pictures which were so awful and graphic they almost defy description.

When I got back to the office everyone was listening to the radio, captivated by the news as rumours spread about companies letting their staff home early for fear of further terrorist actions.

Driving home was surreal, and when I finally arrived to see the television pictures it was just so shocking, like a disaster movie unfolding before your eyes.

10 years on we have a terrible legacy from 9/11.  Not so much from the event itself, but what it led to and the catastrophic mistakes that have been made since.

The US was in shock and it reacted with consideration first, a pause before the storm that was to follow.

Then came the wars, the terrible wars.  Thousands dead, millions of displaced and refugees; and the sinking of the reputation of the US and Britain.

We will all be thinking of the 3,000 victims of 9/11, but sadly our thoughts will not be able to stay there.

We cannot ignore what came after and the hundreds of thousands of victims as a result of the reaction to that terrible day.

The Legacy of 9/11 is truly horrific.

Some say that the world changed that day.  I don’t believe this apocalyptic narrative, that seems to justify what came after.

It was not that the world changed, but that our perception of it changed.

We created the “War On Terror”, one of the most ridiculous concepts that justified the invasion of two countries and the threat to bomb Pakistan out of existence if they did not help the US and hand over some of their sovereignty for military actions inside their borders.

Much of the world agreed with the initial bombardment of Afghanistan to help the northern alliance defeat the Taliban, and of course the search for Bin Laden.  Yet what came after was catastrophic for the region and our own security.

Earlier today I listened with great interest to the Tony Blair interview on the Today programme.  It was a remarkable interview, listening to the “middle east peace envoy” living in complete denial that actions create reactions.  His “belief” that the Iraq war was justified and under no circumstances created more terrorism, more radicalism or destabilised  the region.

Denial is a terrible thing. I understand the human need for him to protect his “legacy” as Prime Minister, but his complete lack of taking on board the facts were remarkable.  He disagrees with the head of MI5, Lady Eliza Manningham-Buller (who he appointed) who has criticised the policy of the War On Terror, stating that it brought more  danger to the shores of the UK.

Tony Blair, like George W Bush is in denial and will not accept any criticism whatsoever for his actions as Prime Minister, or the fact that there was no threat from Iraq to the UK and there were no weapons of mass destruction.

9/11 will not just be a day for remembering the victims of that day, but a day when reflection on all that has happened since will take place.

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