The West, classified itself as the retaliating injured party, struggling to appreciate and react to the Islam that commenced these senseless terrorist attacks. The American response to 11 September defined the rules of engagement by launching an unconstrained “war on terrorism.” President George W. Bush set an insistently American plan, defined by U.S. safety, estimated by the Western media, and imposed by American power. The same American protection machinery that had not had adequate evidence to avert the attack promptly pronounced Osama bin Laden and the Al-Qaeda system of Islamist terrorists responsible for the terrible assault on the Twin Towers. The President spoke in words bereft of the usual subtlety. He announced that the perpetrators of 11 September and those like the Taliban who protected them were “wanted dead or alive.” The war on terrorism against Islam was to be an American jihad and the world was expected to trust and to join the “crusade.” If you are not with us, you are against us, said the American President. He vowed to “smoke out” the terrorists anywhere they hunted for refuge and to punish those who protected them. Osama bin Laden became the wicked fugitive with a price on his head and the forces of good in hot pursuit.
The U.S. government would not heed opinions that the “crime against humanity” of 11 September should be condemned as such and countered by international law. The voices that asked what would come subsequently in Afghanistan, once the Taliban had been toppled by the military assault, were reduced to a feeble whisper. The public declaration of a U.S. right to bring down regimes and wage war on any place at any time would symbolize the only change in American policies. The United States had been attacked for its kindness, its sovereignty, and its wealth, the President explained. No changes in its primary foreign policies, including those in the Middle East, were necessary.
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