Twenty years ago we watched in horror and live the crash of three planes against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, while the fourth did not reach its objective. We all remember where we were at those times and it is logical that we remember it because that day changed the world and the 21st century began.
By September 2001 the USSR had disappeared ten years ago and the United States was the only superpower. They lived in full euphoria and Fukuyama was encouraged to think that we had reached the “End of History” with the triumph of democratic Liberalism, victorious over Fascism and Communism, which were the other two great ideologies of the 20th century.
And from that dream they were awakened by the terrorist attacks of 9/11 to which the Americans reacted with unity (remember the slogan “United we stand”) and seeking revenge, first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq, which have been two unfortunate wars. That of Iraq , which deeply divided the West, gave rise to the birth of the Islamic Statewhich was defeated in the Middle East but is growing today in Southeast Asia and the Sahel. The one in Afghanistan was just finished by Biden in a somewhat chaotic manner and with the added humiliation of seeing the Taliban return to power in Kabul.
The Americans went to Afghanistan to drive out the Taliban and end terrorism and twenty years later the Taliban return and say goodbye to Kabul with the pain of receiving a suicide attack in the same airport . It’s like wondering if the enormous effort was really worth it.
But the world has changed a lot in these twenty years and to begin with, we must recognize that today we are safer from terrorist attacks because both Al Qaeda and the Islamic State have received severe blows, they have been beheaded and international cooperation against terrorism has collapsed. developed a lot , as well as the internal coordination between the different people in charge of the fight against terrorism within each country.
We now know much better how Islamist terrorism operates, how it is financed and how it recruits its killers. In fact, the Islamist attacks have been decreasing since 2014 until today without this meaning that we should trust ourselves because they will attack us wherever an opportunity arises, as shown by what happened just a few days ago in New Zealand.
It is also to be expected that the Taliban will derive consequences from the high price they have paid for sheltering Al Qaeda, and it must not be forgotten that they are sworn enemies of the Islamic State that pays them in the same currency. It has been the Islamic State that has claimed responsibility for the attack at the Kabul airport during the last days of the hasty evacuation.
Therefore, a possible future cooperation with the Taliban against the Islamic State is not ruled out.can use Afghanistan to reorganize and launch attacks against the West. But perhaps it is premature to speak of that at this point.
In 2001 the world was unipolar while today it is heading towards an imperfect bipolarism between the United States and China, which in some matters (weapons) will have to count on Russia, while to talk about economy and trade they will have to do so with Europe. It is a world with threats (climate change, mutant viruses, growing inequalities, cyberterrorism, disinformation), very different from those that existed in 2001, and where the geopolitical struggle occurs in domains such as artificial intelligence, 5G networks, nanotechnology, space, or the Arctic.
In a world that tilts towards the Straits of Malacca as the economic epicenter of the planet, and where a withdrawal of the United States is foreseeable at least in the short term while it licks the wounds of Afghanistan. The void left by the Americans in the Middle East, from where the terrorist attacks of 2001 arose, are being filled by the heirs of the old empires that already dominated it for centuries: Iran (Persian Empire), Turkey (Ottoman Empire) and Russia (Empire Tsarist).
A fight for hegemony has opened in the region before the watchful eye of China that also moves its pawns there cautiously while confirming its conviction of the unstoppable decline of the West and taking precautions in relation to its conflictive region of Xinjiang, neighboring Afghanistan. All this configures a stage of geopolitical transition that marks the end of Western rule.in the world as the planet’s economic center of gravity shifts from the Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific. Many shocks still await us until this new order takes hold.
What I have no doubt about is that we have all learned the lesson of the past twenty years and that if today there were terrorist attacks similar to those of 9/11, the response would be made without invading any country and with geolocation techniques, drones and command operations.
Attempts to export our democratic models to countries with other cultural traditions and simply not prepared to assimilate them would also be abandoned. And as far as Europe is concerned, once again our grievous dependence on the Americans for military matters has come to light. Borrell’s idea of creating a rapidly deployable European force aims to remedy this, which will begin to be discussed this fall in Brussels.