The Changes in Global Politics Since the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks

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Then: “It is very important that Americans understand that the threat we face is not part of the Islamic faith” (Peters et al 1998). Now: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” (Heilpern 2017). Both are controversial, both leading to different intra-state views, both affecting global politics and actions. One underpinning connection. Both are from American presidents before and after the 9/11 attack. Over the last 16 years, after 9/11, global politics has been under the microscope with new policies being made to combat this very real threat to public safety and to ensure nothing like this happens again. Many Western countries have made huge strides to combat terrorism, however in reality it is hard to pinpoint the exact location of the terrorist group, therefore most policies have been made targeting Islamic states and Muslim communities which have intra and international effects. Examples of actions include talk of drastic immigration laws ('National borders must be closed across Europe to halt an Islamic invasion' (Thornhill 2015)) and some directly attacking countries where this threat lies ('The US invaded, occupied or bombed 14 Muslim countries in 30 years' (Faux 2015)). It’s very clear. Actions are being made to try to eradicate terrorism, but the strategies themselves haven’t been successful and some even encourage acts of terror, “US military support for foreign governments encourages terrorist groups to attack Americans” (Neumayer et al 2016). Global politics has changed significantly since 9/11 in a few ways: new international laws and agreements put in place to cut down the threat, aggressive military movements to directly influence numbers of terrorists, and changes in security to make Western states more safe.

One way global politics has changed since 9/11 is the introduction of new laws, e.g. ‘the UN’s 4 pillar counter-terrorism strategy’ and ‘Security Council Resolution 1373’. ‘The 4-pillar strategy’ was put in place to help guide countries in 4 steps from identifying terror threats and how to shut down the threat and potential spread within states. ‘The Security Council Resolution 1373’ was put into action immediately after 9/11 and included: sharing of intelligence on terrorist groups to other countries, increased penalty of acts of terror within states and greater screening for immigration. These laws can combat terror as they allow states greater information about terrorist threats and allow greater security within states (e.g. less potential threats can enter, and greater punishments for acts of terror). You can see the benefit of greater punishments as between 2013-2014 57 people were jailed for a total sentence of 271 years in the UK (Metropolitan Police Service). The greater sharing of information has also been hugely successful in combating terrorism, as it helped the US assassinate Bin-Laden, leader of Al-Qaeda, in 2011 which has resulted in a significant reduction in the acts of terror from this group. Since 9/11, there have been 19 terrorist attempts in the UK, with 9 being successful including the UK’s worst attack,7/7; however, there were 32 in the decade prior (Wikipedia, 2017). Even though this change seems to have worked, there may be another reason for the fall in attacks even though the emphasises on terror elimination has increased significantly. The aim of the 9/11 attack was for Al-Qaeda to show the western world a statement of intent and anger which was used to ignite a fuse in young Muslims around the world to fight for them; so, they haven’t needed to make regular attacks on the West. The aim of this group is to increase recruitment of young Muslims and only make big statements (9/11, 7/7) as a reminder to the West of their existence and power with future attacks planned; this can be seen as the number of attacks has significantly reduced, but the deaths have risen from 16 to 61 – showing the increased impact per attack.

The previous policies were in place for state protection, however some policies are put forward to aggressively eradicate terrorism worldwide with military action. Some include America and Britain’s war in Iraq, as well as the continued air strikes in Syria, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan etc. These forceful moves from Western states were made, in their eyes, for greater global security as they targeted terrorist groups, with the aid of shared intelligence from ‘the Security Council Resolution 1373’. In 2015, Barack Obama said “thousands of terrorists who we have taken off the battlefield”, which later was estimated at 30,000 (Bump, 2016) including a senior Al-Qaeda leader (Tomlinson, 2016) – this shows that the drone attacks have been successful at killing terrorists. However, these drone bombings haven’t only killed terrorists; Obama claimed the drone strikes have killed 116 civilians (Ackerman, 2016), however it is likely this is a huge understatement – as it is reported that the US has bombed Afghanistan for 15 years and these strikes killed 105 civilians in 2016 alone (The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 2017). Because of such huge innocent murders, many other Afghan’s see America and other Western states as the enemy (They regard the US as “the latest empire intent on destroying the Afghans' way of life” (Arbabzadah 2013)), whilst large terrorist organisations, such as Al-Qaeda and more recently ISIS, provide a way to fight against them; this leads to more and more young people joining them to fight against the West which has led to Al- Qaeda growing ‘fourfold’ in the last 5 years (Carroll, 2015) and ISIS having between 20,000 and 31,500 members in 2014 (Gartenstein-Ross, 2015). However, since 2015 the US have been the only state to attack Afghanistan with drones, so bombings and killings of innocent civilians has reduced and the rate of growth of these terrorist organisations has fallen. This shows that the growth of terrorist organisations may be due to aggressive global strategies, correct in the views of some, but not perfectly executed. Therefore, information from the states holding the terrorists (e.g. Syria, Pakistan) could be useful to make these attacks more accurate; however, these states need to make decisions for the betterment of their civilians, but as these civilians aren’t happy with the foreign presence in their country the states are unlikely to cooperate. So, it may be up to 3rd parties (e.g. UN) to make these changes, which will change future government policies.

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Many people, Muslims and non-Muslims, think America should stop these bombings and try to offer peace with them instead. However, terrorism has taken a more hatred fuelled route, from being “Because you attacked us and continue to attack us” (Bin-Laden’s letter to America (The Guardian 2002)) to a plan to “take over the West in just 4 years’ time” (Burman, 2016). This suggests that Al-Qaeda and ISIS are unwilling to listen to peace offers. This is likely to mean the US will continue to bomb these countries, and the threat of terror increasingly likely in the West; and if a large act of terror was to happen, it is likely the world will descend into global state of war.

Another change in global politics is with states trying to restrict the threat of terrorism, after 9/11, by increasing security measures. Due to 9/11, the “US has spent an estimated nearly $100 billion to secure airports and airplanes since the attack” (Peterson, 2016). Thus, reducing the threat of terror through aircrafts as potential terrorists find it near impossible to board aircrafts, through updated no-fly lists, and if they do make it aboard, the potential damage caused has also reduced as most cockpit entrances are now bulletproof. This global policy has been affective, as there have only been 4 aircraft terror attacks since 9/11, compared with 8 in the 15-year period prior (CNN, 2016); this halving shows the benefits of continued investment in security, as it also makes civilians feel safer. However, terror attacks still occur with aircrafts because of the continued advancements in military weapons; the last aircraft terror attack was the Metrojet flight in 2015 which was claimed to be shot down by ISIS (Dearden, 2016), this shows that the threat of on flight danger has reduced, but advancements elsewhere can also lead to acts of terror. However, it is impossible for global policies to be put in place to reduce this, because militaries will continue to research and develop weapons for them to be fully equipped and ready for a possible war e.g. fight against terrorism, or WW3. Another policy, with global effects, is the ‘Muslim ban’, which means citizens from Syria, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen will not be able to get visas to enter the USA for 90 days, thus restricting immigration from these countries, with the aim to “keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the US” (Rothwell et al, 2017). This law was put into place to keep the American public safe from threats of terror, but as it is early in the regime it in unclear if it will work, but a survey shows that 49% of Americans agree with the policy (Kahn, 2017) suggesting the policy has been successful early on. However, this regime is extremely controversial with 41% of participants in the same poll disagreeing with the ban; due to humanitarian issues such as helping someone in need i.e. the refugees, as well as moral problems (discrimination) in picking certain countries over others – Pakistan and Iraq have larger terrorist backgrounds than Yemen, but they aren’t on the list, showing the aim to stop terror isn’t the only factor when making global policies i.e. economic factors could influence decision making e.g. overall trade, in 2016, between the US and Pakistan was over $5,500 million, however the figure was only $173 million with Yemen (United States Census Bureau, 2017). This shows global politics has changed dramatically, as prior to 9/11, there were not any “country bans” in action globally; thus showing, now, it is accepted that policies can be placed “by any means necessary” to combat terror, even if the plans are discriminatory.

America is the worlds “only Superpower” (Bremmer, 2015), and their actions affect different areas globally, including military actions and global issues. Many blame the USA for the rise in terrorism, as they have been involved in most ‘high profile’ wars in the last 70 years. Examples of countries that have been at war with America include, China (Korean War), Russia (Cold War), Iran (Tanker War), Iraq (Gulf war) and more recently Afghanistan and the Middle East ('The war on terror'). This constant conflict, with different countries, has left many with the perspective that America is the problem, rather than their 'enemy’. It has been argued by some that America invade countries to exploit them and cover this up with other reasons; an example of this is the invasion of Afghanistan, which was portrayed as a ‘war on terror’ but some say it was to exploit their natural minerals (Baker, 2012). This constant conflict has made the US a prime target to exploit for terrorist groups, as it makes them more likely to retaliate leading to greater global awareness of these organisations, which has resulted in more young individuals joining them in countries such as Syria; “Hundreds of British teenage girls still keen on joining Islamic State (ISIS)' Townsend 2016). The growing recruitment of teenagers to terrorist groups has strengthened them, which may result in a future attack and could be why ISIS are so confident of their plan to “take over the West in just 4 years’ time” (Burman, 2016). These intentions show that it may be too late for peace, and a ‘counter-attack’ from western states may be needed to stop the spread, and hopefully eradicate these groups – which will further effect global politics in the future.

In Evaluation, since 9/11 global policies have changed for greater awareness and greater security for civilians against terrorism; which will help keep the public safe whilst the state deals with combating the threat of terrorism. However, terrorist groups (Al-Qaeda and ISIS) are growing in numbers with more ruthless future intentions ('take over the West in just 4 years’ time' (Burman, 2016)); therefore, the time for policy making could be over and time for action is arriving. With a growing threat, it will become harder and harder to eradicate terrorism, as it may become engrained into some cultures. To combat this very real threat, countries need to work together and try to stop them; however, different countries will have different agendas (e.g. the US terror agenda is different to the Afghan agenda), therefore a 3rd party (UN) needs to play a key role in making policies swiftly which can help benefit both parties to eradicate terrorism with as little harm to civilians as possible. But, for this to happen more global policies will need to change and global anti-terrorism co-operation needs to occur, otherwise there could be a more deadly and permanent 9/11 in “the West in just 4 years’ time” (Burman, 2016).

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