historical stuff by Gareth Millward
As a historian, I do wonder how we'll classify 9/11 in a hundred years time. Will it be the Middle East's Gavrilo Princip moment?— Andy N (@Mr603) September 11, 2012
Much like the invasion of the Falkland Islands allowed Margaret Thatcher to use military force and improve her standing in the British opinion polls, 9/11 gave Tony Blair and George W. Bush the license to pursue interventionist policies in the near East.
The terrorists which perpetrated this horrific act shocked the Western (and indeed Eastern) World. By painting the terrorists as the “Islamists”, the “Eastern”, the “Other” it gave justification to the invasions of both Iraq and Afghanistan.
To compare Iran with Afghanistan and Iraq is like comparing nineteenth-century Russia with nineteenth-century Britain and nineteenth-century Spain. A loose connection between religion and the (relative) geographic proximity of Moscow, Madrid and London is about it. Culturally there are major differences. But to the West, “they” are:
They are not us. They are potentially dangerous. They must be controlled.
But how will this be seen in the future? It really depends what else will happen in the Middle East. Perhaps 2001 was the beginning of a massive cultural change in the area around the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean sea, a prelude to the “Arab Spring”. Or perhaps it was the first excuse for Western invasions to secure much-needed energy resources such as oil and gas.
Or maybe it was an isolated incident – another part of the histories of Western nations in which the declining US and UK empires asserted their dominance. Perhaps 9/11 was the equivalent of the Communist revolution in Vietnam – the prelude to wars which ultimately tainted the legacies of the Presidents and Prime Ministers who oversaw them.
I wonder what others think? Is 9/11 even that significant event in the grand scheme of things? Thoughts, as ever, appreciated.Tags: C21, islam, orientalism, politics, race