9/11 NINETEEN YEARS. IMPACT OF THE INFAMOUS SEPTEMBER 11 Author: PALGRAVE BOAKYE-DANQUAH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, KANDIFO INSTITUTE






In the words of Henry Kissinger the Nobel Prize laureate “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests.”

The world suddenly came to a standstill at the early hours of September 9 2001, after 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al Qaeda hijacked four airplanes and carried out suicide attacks against the United States.

The worst of it all was when an American Airline Boeing 767 loaded with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel crashed into the north tower of the famous World Trade Centre in New York City.

The act led to the death of 2,977 people and more than 25000 injures not to mention the destruction of properties and the deformation of lives.

To most scholars, this was the single deadliest incident to be combated by security enforcement agencies in the history of the United States of America.

Millions of people watched the event unfold in New York on live television and taught perhaps rapture had taken place and was time for the destruction of the universe or perhaps one of the deadliest American adventurous movies. 

Unfortunately, these hijackers were Islamic terrorists reportedly financed by the al Qaeda terrorist organization of Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden, and were allegedly acting in retaliation for America’s support of Israel and its involvement in the Persian Gulf War and its continued military presence in the Middle East.

 It was alarming and surprising that these terrorists could penetrate to cause this havoc after US’s security systems and polarity over the world. 


The September, 11 attack had enormous economic, health and security issues particularly on the United States.

In terms of its economic impacts, the entire business community fell, stock markets immediately closed until 17th September and lost $1.4 trillion in valuation for the week.


At one time the epicenter thus New York City lost 430,000 jobs and $2.8 billion in wages in the first three months, the GDP of New York was estimated to have declined by $27.3 billion for the last three months of 2001 and all of 2002, to a larger extent the attack dwindled the world economy.

The attack as well had great impact on health as it was recorded that several hundred thousands of tons of toxic debris and chemicals were spread in the air due to the collapse of the Twin Towers.

 Several deaths and injuries were linked to the spread of the toxic dust in the atmosphere. Till today people are still suffering from long-term health problems related to the 9/11 attack.   


The following paragraphs will explain the impacts of the infamous 9/11 and how that has led to a paradigm shift in US relations with the rest of the world and thus, subsequently changed the international system to what it is today taking into consideration the whole concept of liberalism and against realism under Presidents Bush, Obama and Donald Trump to justify the quote earlier made that America has no permanent friends or enemies but interest. 


As a result of the 9/11 attacks, many governments across the globe including the United States enacted legislations to combat terrorism.

Countries like Germany, Canada, United Kingdom and
New Zealand have passed anti-terrorism Crime and Security Acts to protect their territory. Indeed the 9/11 attack and the measures adopted by countries across the globe confirms the realist school of thought that the international system is brutish and anarchic meaning that the international system has no power or central authority to regulate it even though the world  thought the system was a unipolar system controlled by US.

 Today many world leaders are guided by the fact that the international system is a self-help system and the need for countries to maximize security for the protection of its citizens. For example, the Bush administration following
9/11 saw the terrorist threat as coming from abroad and sought to destroy the ability of foreign-based terrorists to attack the United States. Hence, the US quickly responded after by
 launching the War on
Terror and invading Afghanistan on October 7th 2001 to depose the Taliban, which had failed to comply with U.S. demands to expel al-Qaeda from Afghanistan and extradite their leader Osama bin Laden.

 Further examples can be seen when after a decade, the US government under Barack Obama captured bin Laden who was located and killed in Pakistan during a US military raid.

Perceiving the actions of Muammar Gaddafi of Libya to be perpetuating terrorism hence tracking him down by the Obama administration was a demonstration of offensive realism.

Today, 19 years after the collapse of the World Trade Centre, most world leaders who believe in realism are of the believe that the international system induces competition and conflicts among states and inhibits the willingness of states to cooperate even in the face of common interests.

 It also contends, if not dismisses, the capacity of international institutions to promote cooperation or to mitigate anarchy’s constraining effects on cooperation among states.

 This explains why the NonProliferation Treaty although accepted by member states, countries like North Korea, Brazil,
Israel and India still go ahead with the production of nuclear weapons to maximize security. Nonetheless, the actions of President Trump in the international system is one clear example of a realist leader who thinks of his national’s interest first before cooperating with his allies.   


On the other hand, critics of realism (liberals) are of the view that the aftermath of the 9/11 disaster reechoes the need for the international system to enter into cooperation and to foster integration and rather reject realism’s propositions on anarchy.

According to the proponents of liberalism the attack on US on September 11, should place premium on the need for countries to enter into international institutions like the United Nations and other regional blocs like the EU and the AU for mutual benefits

 For example the United Nations since September 2001, has always been at the forefront of the global campaign against terrorism.

The Security Council acted with remarkable speed with its Resolution 1373 and set up the Counter Terrorism Committee with extensive powers.

 The liberalists believe in interdependence through economic and cultural exchanges.

Today, international institutions like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Health Organisations among others are playing pivotal roles in poverty alleviation, financial and technical support to countries particularly in Africa, South-East Asia and the Caribbean especially in this era of CoVID-19.

In short with proper institutions and the right leaders, liberals believe that state can work together to maximize prosperity, and minimize conflisystem.


In conclusion, the world has changed since 2001. Most countries today are guided by the realist school of thought whereby they place maximum premium to their national’s interest at the expense of others even if they enter into international system for engagements.

Current happenings across the globe with states maximizing security to protect its citizens and sometimes offend other states are demonstrations that the attack on US has called for leaders of the world to be on the alert, hence has given a paradigm shift to the international system.

On the regional level, Nigeria’s attempt to close its borders to trade for the benefits of its citizens although against the ECOWAS protocol was an indication that the international system has taken a new paradigm. However, we must acknowledge that liberal institutions like the UN, AU, ECOWAS,
EU among others have also demonstrated that cooperation is the only key to enhance a country’s national interest.

 If not for nothing at all, the CoVID-19 pandemic has really demonstrated the need for cooperation as the only means to protect our world and make it a safe place for us all.

Lastly, the African Continental Free Trade is another promising area for poverty alleviation from the continent whereby the continent is expected to create a 3.4 trillion economic bloc. 

However, with ruins of September 11, there may not be permanent friends or enemies but only
interest.
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