Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The World Today And Remembering 9/11

Memory is a powerful tool of introspection, a medium for vicarious voyages and both a route for melancholic nostalgia and euphoric reminiscence. It has helped me reconstruct the days of those terrible events back in September. I knew where I was, what I did the whole day and discussions which I had with my parents – so vividly.

Five years ago yesterday, I remember being awoken from my slumber to a surreal dreamy-like chatter from my parents in Arabic. I was only five days shy of starting my orientation at the University of Chicago. My parents and I were staying at a nearby rented apartment close to the university campus. We had taken an American Airlines flight from San Francisco to Chicago on the eve of September 11th 2001.

“America is being hit! One of the World Trade Centers in New York is burning…” is what I heard my parents discussing. Having had a mediocre nights sleep due to chest wheezes and allergies, I disregarded the fact that it was 8 am CT and jumped out of bed only to see United Airlines Flight 175 crash in to the second World Trade Center tower almost 3 minutes later.

The whole day was incredibly surreal. My family and I were contemplating the perpetrators, but most importantly discussing the repercussions. Thankfully, having been admitted to an incredible liberal and intellectual university, I came under no scrutiny as an Arab.

September 11th opened my eyes to a new reality and to the “War of the 21st Century.” The 20th century witnessed a long, draining list of battles most notably WWI, WWII and the Cold War. On the other hand, the War of the 21st Century was to be something no government or nation-state has ever experienced – a war of ideas and principles. The ideals behind democracy and freedom (as is defined in the West and the US) have geared their heads on to a clash with a misconstrued version of Islamic jihad.

So what is the world like today?

The world remains replete with hatred and tension. The US refuses to understand the roots of the terrorism problem, al-Qaeda continues with its fascist ideologies and the cleavages between the West and the East is constantly growing. More people have been innocently slain during this battle of ideas in all corners of the world: from London to Madrid to Palestine.

Palestine remains stateless while Israel continues its state-sponsored brutality and the presence of American troops in Iraq has encouraged more sectarian bloodshed and divided the region.

Iran remains the only true state which seeks to challenge Israel and the United States (the country’s official rhetoric from Ahmadinejad has been indicative), while Syria’s draconian regime (supporting Iran and Hezbollah) has remained quiet in the background yet an instigator of further antagonism.

All summer long, Lebanon had been the playground of the IDF and Hezbollah’s militants while Russia and China play power politics diplomacy with the US a la the Cold War.

The world still remains at grave danger post 9/11. This is certainly not a fatalistic, pessimistic perspective yet the truth. Osama Bin Laden and his right-hand man Ayman al-Zawahiri remain at large, more importantly their ideology has been spreading like fire.

Al-Qaeda copycat zealots have caused further security breaches around the world with amateurish-style bombing techniques (i.e. such as the recently foiled plot to bomb US-bound airplanes from the UK) and have caused major efficiencies in traveling and any joys derived from a globalizing world.

What should one expect after the 10th anniversary of September 11?

Will my decade anniversary post contain such abysmal observations or will a new American administration along with its Western allies start to think about their actions and the root of the problem? Will Palestine finally gain its own state and live in some sort of peace next to Israel? Will the Islamic fascists finally come to a halt? Will some sort of harmonious survival exist or will people continue to live in fear and hatred?

When will all this just stop?
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