In Timothy Garton Ash’s latest book, Facts are Subversive, he makes the persuasive argument that if the fall of the Berlin Wall was “the true end of the short 20th century, there is a good case for arguing that the demolition of the World Trade Centre was the true beginning of the 21st. Welcome,” he says, “to another brave new world.”
On the 8th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we’ve made six articles from Prospect‘s archive free to read online, examining the impact those events have had on various aspects of the “true” 21st century and this new “brave new world” we continue to grapple with.
In “The end of the west?”, Anatol Lieven examines how the inflammation of US nationalism post-9/11 blinded the Bush administration to the potential disasters of a split with Europe while, at the opposite end of the political spectrum, Geoffrey Wheatcroft’s “Two years of gibberrish” considers how the political fallout garbled the message of the left—a message which only flattered the arguments of warmongers rather than oppose them—and concludes by drawing some fascinating parallels between the western left and militant Islam: not least their similar experience of defeat.
Rowan Moore’s profile of the Twin Towers’ architect, Minoru Yamasaki, considers the significance of the towers’ “defiant mute” design in influencing the terrorists’ choice of target, while Murray Sayle recalls how made-for-television terrorism was first born, and how the attacks in New York deployed television not only to amplify terror, but also “to hearten the terrorist’s supporters, with visual proof that the cause is far from lost.”
The eternal question of conspiracy theories is given a thorough overview by Peter Bergen in “What were the causes of 9/11?”, which explores a wide range of possible causes, from the highly credible to the plausible but flawed. On a more lateral tangent, Elena Lappin considers Hamburg, the city which became the launchpad for 9/11 and whose “ultra-liberal justice system” arguably enabled Mohammed Atta, one of the four suicide pilots, to cultivate not only an academic life and German friends, but a terrorist network.
As ever, weigh in with your own thoughts and comments on any of these articles.