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Andrzej Kohut  3 października 2021

The 9/11 attacks resulted in distrust of the government and the radicalization of politics [VIDEO]

Andrzej Kohut  3 października 2021
przeczytanie zajmie 4 min

„Twenty years have passed since hijacked passenger planes slammed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. After so long, we can reflect on the significance of the 9/11 attacks. On the one hand, some would like to see them as the beginning of a new era. On the other hand, there are arguments that even if the attacks had not happened, the rise of China’s power, the development of information technology, the popularization of smartphones, social media, and climate change would have happened anyway. So is it really possible to say that 9/11 was in some sense a watershed day for American politics and therefore what happened afterwards?” – says Andrzej Kohut, CAKJ international affairs expert, in the latest KluboTygodnik on the political implications of the 9/11 attacks on the WTC.

„Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, the George Bush administration saw a record increase in support and trust from the public, but this capital Bush squandered very quickly by launching a war in Iraq, the cause of which was allegedly Saddam Hussein’s possession of weapons of mass destruction. In short, Bush deceived his citizens, which had an electrifying effect on the American public. After the 9/11 attacks, trust in the federal government was declared by over 60% of Americans. 5 years later, when it became clear that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, that percentage dropped to 30%, and today in the same survey it is rare to see more than 20% of those surveyed declare confidence in the administration. It was thought that since the government had deceived its citizens once, and on such a gigantic scale, it could do it again. This created an ideal ground for all kinds of conspiracy theories. Moreover, the federal administration abused the trust of Americans also when, after 9/11, it started to introduce various legal solutions to guarantee the safety of US citizens, but at the expense of their privacy. Unfortunately, the authorities went much further than officially announced, as revealed by Edward Snowden. No wonder, then, that during the pandemic, citizens did not want to believe the government, which tried to convince them of the need for various security measures,” notes Kohut.

„The 9/11 attacks also further contributed to a rejection of mainstream politics, which was first seen within the Republican Party. We are talking about the Tea Party movement, those people who believed that America should be restored to greatness by returning to its economically liberal roots. They tried to win over existing Republican politicians by adding themselves to the ballot and thus creating internal pressure on the GOP to change in the direction they wanted. Then, of course, there was Donald Trump, and this is probably not the end of this movement to reject incumbent policies. After all, there are already figures in Congress like Marjorie Taylor Green, who in the past have not hesitated to promote themselves using QAnon materials and all sorts of conspiracy theories. Similar things are happening on the other side of the political argument: Bernie Sanders in 2016, Occupy Wall Street, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in 2018. These are not, of course, symmetrical phenomena, but they all show a rejection of the calm and unambitious centrist politics that have prevailed until now. One of the factors that determined this was certainly the fact that the war in Iraq was demanded by the entire political class, thus, as it were, participating in the deception perpetrated by the government on this issue,” says the expert.

„The United States is founded on several myths. One of them is the myth that the U.S. is the 'City on a Hill’ – such a model, enlightened country, a force for good and an example for the whole world. Of course, this myth has not always been followed by deeds by the U.S. government, as exemplified by the various coups in South America that were financed by the U.S. government. However, it is one thing to see behind-the-scenes actions by the services to advance American interests and another to see the forces of good resorting to inhumane methods. And we have seen plenty of the latter in the 20 years of the war on terror. There have been revelations of torture; there is the prison that has been set up outside the jurisdiction of American courts so that people can do whatever they like in it; and finally there have been drone attacks that were meant to target selected targets but did not always hit them. Sometimes U.S. attacks fell on random civilians, traumatizing countries like Iraq, Yemen, and Afghanistan to this day. U.S. actions have sparked waves of anti-Americanism and accusations of hypocrisy. U.S. citizens, of course, took this criticism badly, and the response to their emotions became Donald Trump, who with some cynicism declared that the United States is a superpower like any other and has the right to pursue its interests,” Kohut comments.

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Public task financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland within the grant competition “Public Diplomacy 2021”. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of the official positions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland.