9/11: A Day that Changed the World

One of the lessons to be drawn from that tragedy is that violence begets violence and intolerance breeds intolerance.

A new anniversary of a catastrophe brings back strong feelings and sad memories. Such is the case of the 9/11 attacks on New York’s World Trade Center, a tragedy that had long-lasting effects. New York, and the world, has not been the same since the events of September 11, 2001.      

The attacks on the Twin Towers produced the most concentrated response to an emergency in the history of the United States. It is estimated that at least 100 emergency units and dozens of private ambulances headed to the scene to pick up the wounded and take them to nearby hospitals. At the same time, more than 2,000 police officers searched the towers and rescued survivors. But the weight of the response fell to the New York Fire Department, whose response to the events was truly heroic.

The attacks on the towers led to a surge in national pride and public expressions of patriotism and a strong commitment to help those that survived and the families of those who were killed. But there was also an increase of harassment incidents and hate crimes against South Asians, Middle Easterners and even those who looked like them. Several Indian Sikhs were attacked and killed because they were erroneously believed to be Muslims. 

Health effects

The attacks were particularly disturbing to children, who saw the images of destruction replayed relentlessly on television. For years after the attack children suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. More than 2,500 contaminants, many of them dangerous carcinogens, were present in thousands of tons of toxic debris resulting from the collapse of the towers. It is estimated that over 18,000 people have become sick as a result of the toxic dust. 

Economic consequences

There was a wide range of economic losses after the attacks. It is estimated that the city suffered economic losses estimated in more than $90 billion. They were the consequence of lost productivity, wide-ranging insurance claims against the city, loss of real state and art objects, and impaired tourism and trade, among many other effects.

Security and military actions

Images from wars in afghanistan and iraq
Clockwise from top left: Aftermath of the September 11 attacks; American infantry in Afghanistan; an American soldier and Afghan interpreter in Zabul Province, Afghanistan; explosion of an Iraqi car bomb in Baghdad.

Security and protective services suffered significant changes due to the attacks. Congress passed Aviation and Transportation Security Act which affected air travel and security policies, as well as guidelines to be followed before getting on board. The Department of Homeland Security required pilots to carry firearms on board, and pilots were obliged to undergo training to prevent other terror attacks.

The USA Patriot Act was also passed, which broadened the powers of law enforcement agencies for the purpose of identifying terrorist activities. The government was given wide powers to search people’s records. Through the program called Total Information Awareness special technology was developed to allow the collection and analysis of information about every individual in the United States, and detect unusual behaviors that could lead to terrorist attacks.

International

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have ravaged those countries, and resulted in a permanent state of instability and destruction.

Using the attacks as an excuse, the U.S. conducted wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that would have serious consequences on the U.S. economy and the world rule of law. Many people throughout the world believe that the U.S. squandered a wave of world goodwill resulting from the attacks. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have ravaged those countries, and resulted in a permanent state of instability and destruction. “The war never — the choice of the Afghan people — has done great harm to our people for all sorts of different local, national, regional and international reasons. Widespread corruption, the massive arming of militias, the fueling of war by neighboring countries, the civilian losses and night raids and deterioration of security have all undermined our children’s education, our women’s ability to work, our ability to provide basic social services to the neediest part of the population,” said Orzala Ashraf Nemat, an Afghan human rights activist.

Lesson

One of the lessons to be drawn from that tragedy is that violence begets violence and intolerance breeds intolerance. Unless there is a new approach to preventing terrorist acts we will continue to live under the threat of terror. Permanent confrontation is not the answer. While it is easy to create enemies, it is much harder to understand the “other”, a necessary approach if we wish to eliminate conflict and honor the desire for peace and security of all people in the world.

SOURCECommondreams on 9/10/2019
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César Chelala

César Chelala is a global health consultant and contributing editor for The Globalist.

Since 1980, he has worked as a consultant on planning, monitoring and evaluation of public health projects for several international agencies.

He has conducted health-related missions in over 50 countries for USAID, UNICEF, WHO, PAHO, UNFPA, UNDP, UNESCO, Capital Development Fund, the Guttmacher Institute, the Mexican Foundation for Health, World Education, the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Carnegie Corporation.

He earned his medical degree in 1964. In 1971, he came to the United States and worked as a researcher in molecular genetics and pharmacology at New York City’s Public Health Research Institute and later at the New York University School of Medicine.

He has written scientific and medical articles for The Journal of the American Medical Association, Lancet, Molecular and General Genetics, the British Medical Journal and Proceedings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

He has written for several newspapers around the world, among them: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The China Daily, The Daily News Egypt, The Japan Times, The Moscow Times, The News International (Pakistan), Le Monde Diplomatique (France), Asahi Shimbun (Japan), Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Seattle Times, Neue Zücher Zeitung, The Daily Star (Beirut), The Swiss Review of World Affairs and The International Herald Tribune.