Today, seven years ago to this date, is the day when the terrorists brought their war on American soil.
As the TV cameras telecast the visuals of the World Trade Center collapsing, there were many people celebrating in some parts of the world.
It was, they argued, appropriate to celebrate: The Great Satan had been inflicted a body blow. It serves them right, said the sympathisers of the Taliban, as they danced in the streets. The Yankees have caused enough harm in many parts of the world and it is time that they were taught a lesson. The Yankees must leave the Middle East and its oil to the locals and not the Zionists or the favoured few families that control the oil wealth in the deserts.
One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.
An eye for an eye, said the great Mahatma, will merely make the whole world blind.
American policy has indeed been harmful in many instances. Many of us in India are upset at the support given to Pakistan - which most Indians regard as, to use an Americanism, "a terrorist state". The 9/11 attacks were seen by some Indians as an opportunity for the US to work closer with India. The world's two largest - and self-styled greatest - democracies working together in a new world order.
Well, there is a new world order now.
For decades we had a "uni-polar" world. America was the Empire. To some it was Evil, to some it was Great, but it was an "Empire".
It may not have been a fair "umpire" though. US foreign policy was driven by a combination of what the "Zionists" wanted (the Israel policy); what the multinationals wanted (engage China so that its labour markets are opened for building the world's low-cost factory); and what the local Americans wanted (cheap goods, cheap oil, and cheap money). Somewhere in this equitation were many other important players each with their own angle of ensuring that business interest drove foreign and economic policy.
Great Empires, as Bill Bonner notes in his fantastic book (The Empire of Debt), have to die.
So the American ruled uni-polar world is challenged.
Russia is in Georgia.
China stays on in Tibet.
India mulls over what to do with its fringe countries.
(By the way did anyone from the Left front protest the Russian invasion? I recall they were pretty upset about the US in Iraq.)
Is America dying? Or is it already dead?
The US dollar is broken.
The US housing markets are battered.
You can buy the stock of Fannie Mae, the backbone of the housing finance market, for less than one dollar: 72 cents. This means that the Fannie Mae stock would not qualify to be in the so-American institution, "The Dollar Store". They sell things there for 99 cents. The stock is 72 cents. Too cheap even for The Dollar Store.
America must be dead.
Well, I hope not.
For all its faults - and, yes, there are many - the US has this wonderful ability to allow the bad stuff to be exposed and written about.
Try doing that in China and Russia.
And much of the bad stuff gets addressed because people focus on it.
Try doing that in India.
Many people judge the strength of a country by the strength of its economy, or military might, or currency reserves.
The best indicator may be: how are people voting with their feet?
A friend of mine from Canada told me that she was amazed at the thousands of people in the world who attended a mass citizenship conversion program. The selected immigrants seeking US citizenship are asked to stand up by country. The names of the country were read out alphabetically. "More than one hundred countries were listed", she said, "it was amazing. It was an experience."
Looks like many people still wish to move to USA. From Brazil, Russia, India, China, Africa, Europe.
I wonder how many people apply to live in India, Brazil, China, or Russia.
From how many countries?
Somehow I cannot imagine the same sort of excitement.
Maybe one day. One day in the very far away future.
9/11 was a terrible event.
The target was not America, as such; it was the world as we know it.
The planes hit the World Trade Center with global businesses, multiple nationalities. One hit the Pentagon building - the headquarters of the US military might. One was on its way to the White House. To greet the most powerful position in the world.
We can mourn the fact that there are many evils in the world. And that there are many who are deprived of basic human rights.
But 9/11 did not seem like the correct way to attract attention to any of these causes.
But that may have been their way of informing us that the world (whether uni-polar or not) is in trouble.
In a strange twist of numbers: when you need help in the USA you pick up your phone and dial 911: the date of the attack.
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Note: Ajit Dayal, the author is a Director in Quantum Information Services Private Limited and Quantum Asset Management Company Private Limited. Views expressed in this article are entirely those of the author and may not be regarded as views of the Quantum Mutual Fund or Quantum Asset Management Company Private Limited or Quantum Information Services Private Limited.
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