September 11, 2010


9/11 Major Speeches and Interviews (Learn Out Loud)

Listen to speeches and interviews following 9/11. Included are addresses to the nation by President Bush and Congress, news conferences, reports from Ground Zero and the Pentagon, and the National Memorial Service in Washington.

-George W. Bush, Rudolph Giuliani and more.

These speeches were delivered in 2001.

Here's the link to the Brothers Judd collection of links from 9-11 and the days that followed. Some will inevitably be inactive by now, but you can probably find the original by entering the URL in the Wayback Machine. This still seems the best moment from the aftermath--President's Remarks at National Day of Prayer and Remembrance (The National Cathedral, 9/14/01, Washington, D.C.)--this the best instant essay, The Queen’s Tears (Mark Steyn, September 17, 2001, National Review)--and this the most evocative follow-up, The Falling Man (Tom Junod, September 2003, Esquire).

As you try to assess where we are today--six years after the event--it's helpful, though painful, to recall where we were that day. We had a 25 or 30 person Brothers Judd mailing list in those pre-blog days and I was more skeptical than most about the likelihood that we'd remain engaged as a nation for as long as it would take to Reform the Middle East. Obviously we were going to rout the Taliban and finally finish the Gulf War, but I thought--unfortunately accurately--that we'd not remove the Assad regime in Syria nor push putative allies in Egypt and Saudi Arabia to democratize with as much rigor as required nor do much about Western Pakistan/Eastern Afghanistan. On the other hand, there are generally more hopeful signs of rapid transformation throughout the region than I personally would have expected, though we've not always been terribly willing to accept them as progress:

Turkey: the fact that Islamist democratic victories have moved the nation closer to the West is certainly the most important development in the region, though Turkey is outside the Arab world.

Likewise, knitting non-Arab Indonesia into the Axis of Good has been a stroke of genius, and along with adding India, among the most underrated achievements of the Administration.

Morocco: Recent elections that saw conservatives win and Islamists post a strong challenge are another healthy step on this country's way towards normal liberal democracy.

Libya: Undoubtedly, the most surprising post-911 success story is the revolution (or counter-revolution) Seif al-Islam is leading from within his father's formerly rogue regime. From giving up its nuclear weapons ambitions to freeing the Bulgarian nurses to bringing in the Berbers from the Cold to selling off state-wned enterprises, reform has been rapid and relentless.

Algeria: Though still confonted by radical violence they did manage to hold peaceful elections, even if they've a ways to go before the results of such influence the course of the nation much.

The Sudan: A successful settlement of the war in the South affords hope for quieting down Darfur, though rebels there have failed to take advantage of the opportunity.

Somalia; This one is, for the moment, a squander. The Islamic Courts had restored some semblance of order to Mogadishu but they're just one of a number of popular Islamist governments that we haven't yet learned to accept, so we gave Ethiopia the green light to attack and restore chaos. It's worked out poorly for all concerned and damaged our relationships with Eritrea and Djibouti, which have been useful allies in the WoT, but there's still time to correct this foul-up.

Egypt: Hopes that Gamal Mubarak might be a reformer in the mold of Seif al-Islam, with similar influence on his father, proved fleeting, so the 2005 elections, which might have been used as an opportunity to bring the Muslim Brotherhood into the governing process were instead followed by a clampdown and the coming transition is likely to be violent rather than peaceful.

Yemen: Yemenis themselves refer to their state as a fledgling democracy and they've quite a way to go before they're a mature one, with the combination of a fragmentary society and extreme poverty making it questionable whether they'll get there in their current iteration.

The Lebanon: The failure to regime change Syria has had the most deleterious effects on its neighbors--Iraq, Palestine, Israel and the Lebanon--as the Ba'athists are left free to launch, fund, and support terrorist attacks. The more quickly Hezbollah and the Shi'a are granted their own state in the South the sooner we can split them off from Syria, with whose interests they are in natural conflict.

Palestine: The marginalization of Yassir Arafat and the PLO preceding his death and the holding of reasonably free and fair elections, won by Hamas, were a singular victory for Reformation policies, but we butchered the victory pretty badly. Still, the acceptance by Ariel Sharon and Hamas of the inevitability of the two-state solution means that this is all just the messy prelude to a peace that won't be particularly difficult to achieve once everyone stops muscle-flexing.

Saudi Arabia: Given its support for Wahhabism and its historical importance as the birthplace of Islam, Arabia is obviously the big enchilada. Given the regime's ties to America and the oil it sits on, it is also a place where we've been reluctant to push too hard. Holding the country's first ever elections was a helpful step. Cracking down on their domestic al Qaeda problem has been useful. And internal calls for reform offer reason to hope. But recent steps to form a kind of Arab/American alliance against Iran and the Shia generally are profoundly ill-considered, not least because they encourage Washington to oppose reform in the Kingdom in favor of the same "stability" trap that we swore after 9-11 we'd not fall into again.

The U.A.E.: The Administration had this one right, but the wahoo Right and the reactionary Left combined for an own goal when they raged against the ports deal. In the longer term though that was a rather minor kerfuffle and Dubai and company are roaring ahead with the sort of economic development--not related to oil production-- that the Arab world so desperately needs.

Kuwait: They even let women stand for election and vote last time around.

Iran: Here we find the Administration's biggest squander, in the rejection of Iran's 2003 offer of a big deal to bring them in from the Cold. This was followed by the President urging Iranians to boycott their presidential elections, which, together with Ayatollah Khamenei's catastrophic miscalculation of the degree of alienation from the political process by the Reform movement, brought Mahmoud Ahmedinejad to power. On the bright side, the Ayatollah took immediate steps to rein in the 12ers, continuing with the recent elevation of Hashemi Rafsanjani, who promptly called for talks with the West. While it would have been better to avoid this mess altogether, the likelihood that Iranian voters will turn out to repudiate Ahmedinejad may provide exactly the sort of opening that's needed for Iran and America to get past their thirty year playground spat and start acting like the allies they naturally are. The need to work together in Iraq and the intercession of mutual ally India may serve to grease those skids.

Pakistan If Saudi Arabia and Wahhabism are the intellectual center of Islamic extremism, the tribal regions of Western Pakistan are the physical refuge. This is where the war ends but it remains to be determined who will do the required killing. We'd have preferred that General Musharraf and the Pakistani military take care of it, but they proved unwilling or incapable. Now we're trying to give the regime at least a democratic patina, by forcing a shotgun marriage with Benazir Bhutto. But just as we're reluctant to attack territory that is, theoretically, part of an allied state, so too are the governing elites of Pakistan hesitant to fight a civil war. The best solution may well be to create an independent Waziristan and require its government to either put down the militants itself or face war with the U.S., which is more easily countenanced once we'd be waging it against a sovereign enemy.

On balance, you'd have to say that if someone had told you on 9-11 that the Islamic world would evolve this quickly, that we'd not have experienced any subsequent terrorist attacks on our soil, and that our military casualties in the various wars of the WoT would be so minimal and the economic and social costs at home so trivial you'd have thought them deluded. An awful lot remains to be done -- and nearly all of it has to be done by the people of the region themselves -- before we can say of the Middle East, as we can of the rest of the world, that it has universally accepted the End of History and is uniformly and voluntarily reforming in the direction of democracy/protestantism/capitalism, but it seems not inappropriate to be optimistic that the End is nigh.

Perhaps we could draw a comparison between the Middle East now and Eastern Europe circa the late 80s/early 90s, at various stages of revolution, but with little doubt how things were headed. Just as George Bush senior made some dodgy decisions about how to manage the collapse of the communist superstructure, so too will his son and his successor likely make some dubious ones as they try to navigate the collapse of the dictatorships. But that we've reached this point in a mere six years of War -- where it took us fifty years, hundreds of millions of lives, trillions of wasted dollars and irreparable social harm throughout the West to bring the Cold War to the same point -- suggests that we've accomplished something quite significant the past few years. If self-congratulations are not yet appropriate, self-flagellation is entirely uncalled for. We're doing better than would have been expected and giving real meaning to the loss of life on that awful day. The victims of 9-11 did not die for nothing if out of their deaths came a better Middle East, as will be the case.

So How Goes Bin Laden's War on the U.S. Economy? (James Pethokoukis, 9/11/07, US News)

Since September 11, the economy hasn't suffered a single down quarter. In fact, it has notched 23 straight quarters of economic growth. (And despite the subprime mortgage crisis, this is likely to be the 24th straight quarter of growth.) Those numbers are especially amazing when you consider that when the terrorist attacks happened, the Internet stock bubble was in full implosion mode. The economy dipped in the third quarter of 2001 and was slightly negative in two of the previous four quarters. But it's been nothing but growth since then. Overall, the American economy is, adjusting for inflation, $1.65 trillion bigger than it was six years ago. To put that gigantic number in some perspective, the U.S. economy has added the equivalent of five Saudi Arabias, eight Irans, 13 Pakistans, or 15 Egypts, depending on your preference. And while 9/11 did cause the stock market to plunge, the Dow is 37 percent higher than it was on Sept. 10, 2001, creating trillions of dollars of new wealth for Americans. What's more, the unemployment rate is 4.6 percent today vs. 5.7 percent back then. Not bad at all.

'Afghanistan Will Be a Better Place in 20 Years': Weak government, poor infrastructure, a wretched security situation: The highest-ranking German officer at ISAF headquarters in Kabul, Major Gen. Bruno Kasdorf, told SPIEGEL ONLINE he wants to see more troops, more reconstruction workers and a lot more patience in Afghanistan. (Der Spiegel, 9/11/07)

Letter from Timbuktu
: The Pentagon has allotted $500 million to the fight against terrorism in the Sahara Desert, using American Special Forces teams to train African armies and befriend locals. Vanity Fair was invited to join the U.S. military on a recent mission to Timbuktu, Mali, to get an up-close look at one of the lesser-known fronts in the battle against al-Qaeda. (Austin Merrill, September 10, 2007, Vanity Fair)
The Return of Rafsanjani (Sayyed Wild Abah, 09/09/2007, Asharq Alawsat)
[M]any quiet reforms began in the era of Rafsanjani. At that time, it became clear that Rafsanjani had approached the growing reformist trend from a realistic and pragmatic perspective. Although he did not support the dynamism of openness and renovation that was established by his successor reformist Mohammad Khatami, he did not stand against this dynamism and was keen to crystallize a third option that replaces the two conflicting reformist and conservative approaches. Thus he had prepared himself for the 2005 elections, which he thought had been settled for him in advance. Yet the surprise to come caught the sophisticated, shrewd Rafsanjani unawares. The desperate uprising amongst the youth took the adverse picture of Rafsanjani to the seat of power; the rebellious popular face that is reminiscent of the early stage, innocence and spontaneous activity of the revolution. Meanwhile the quarrelsome Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was not the man of transition as conceived by the Iranian people. The country has become immersed in a grinding economic crisis.

Oil production is in decline and fuel has become subject to rationing. Meanwhile, experts have predicted that Iran will have to import oil in approximately ten years if the present situation prevails. The diplomatic blockade is intensifying, international sanctions are in succession and the crisis of the nuclear issue may lead to a new war in the region.

Rafsanjani has returned to the decision-making process in these gloomy circumstances by presiding over the Assembly of Experts, after passing through all the other gates, namely the leadership of parliament and the Expediency Discernment Council. Rafsanjani has not become a leading imam; rather he has gotten closer to the supreme post of the Iranian regime. As Tehran’s sources report that Khamenei's health is in decline and he is increasingly unable to carry out his responsibilities, it seems that Rafsanjani's influence will be bolstered and his presence in the decision-making pyramid will be consolidated especially in the two biggest issues: the nuclear issue and Iraq. Recently, he has made several moderate statements that heed in the direction of appeasing the situation with the West and demonstrating readiness to contribute to putting an end to the Iraqi turmoil.

Internally, he is known for his pragmatic sense and tendency to cooperate with the bazaar in an attempt to activate the Iranian economy through openness to external markets and attracting foreign investments in the vital areas of production.

It is believed that Rafsanjani is adopting a similar model to that of the Chinese with its three pillars: economic openness, political centralization and pragmatism in international relations. Rafsanjani may become the man of center stage for the surrounding reformists and moderate clerics who have become aware of the need to let go gradually of the concept of Waliyat al Faqih [Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists] that was determined according to the standards of Imam Khomeini and is no longer suitable for the transformations of the Iranian experience.

Olmert, Abbas agree to divide up talks (Richard Boudreaux, September 11, 2007, LA Times)
Israel and the Palestinian Authority agreed Monday to set up negotiating teams on the core issues standing in the way of Palestinian statehood, bringing the two sides a step closer to full-fledged peace talks.

Among Arab nations, an atmosphere on edge: Recent squabbles between Syria and Saudi Arabia highlight increased differences, while Iran's behavior unnerves many. (Jeffrey Fleishman, September 11, 2007, LA Times)
"The idea that there is a coherent Arab or Muslim voice has always been a bit of a myth," said Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, an Iranian political analyst at the University of London.

It seemed at times over the last year that Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally, was emerging as the regional leader. It grew more engaged in Iraq, helped broker a deal between Palestinian enemies Hamas and Fatah to form a unity government, and supported Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's besieged government, criticizing Hezbollah for the 2006 war with Israel. It was that condemnation of Hezbollah that prompted Syria to refer to Arab leaders as "half-men."

But the Palestinian pact didn't hold and Saudi Arabia's actions in Beirut angered Syria, which has felt marginalized since its troops were forced to withdraw from Lebanon in 2005 after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. A United Nations investigation has tentatively linked Syrian officials to the killing, but Damascus denies any role.

Syria's animosity with Saudi Arabia, along with its determination to manipulate Lebanese affairs, has pushed it closer to Iran. Damascus went against its Arab neighbors by siding with Iran during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, but the current ill will helps Iran undercut U.S. efforts to stabilize Lebanon and end sectarian fighting in Iraq, according to analysts.

"Syria has reached a decisive moment in its regional politics," said Joshua Landis, co-director of the Center of Peace Studies at the University of Oklahoma. "As it becomes clear that the U.S. must begin withdrawing from Iraq . . . Syria must decide what policy it will pursue toward a post-American Iraq. Will it side with Iran in supporting a Shiite government or will it side with Saudi Arabia in supporting the Sunni opposition?"

Syria's more immediate concern, however, is Lebanon and how Saudi and Iranian influences will affect Beirut politics.

"If Iran and Saudi Arabia reach an agreement, Syria will have very few options for sabotaging peace in Lebanon," said Hilal Khashan, chairman of political science at the American University in Beirut. "As long as the next Lebanese president is not anti-Syrian, Syria will have to heed Iranian requests for self-control in Lebanon."

There has long been "conflict between Saudi and Syrian interests, especially as far as Lebanon is concerned," said Turki Hamad, a Saudi columnist and political analyst. "However, as we are getting closer to the Lebanese presidential elections, this conflict has reached its peak."

What Syria lacks, according to many analysts, is savvy leadership in precarious times. President Bashar Assad is widely regarded as a less skilled diplomat than his late father, Hafez, who mastered regional dynamics. In addition, leaders of other Arab nations, such as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, have grown less influential, especially since the rise in terrorism and the Iraq conflict have jolted the Middle East.

"Hafez Assad succeeded in navigating the turbulence of inter-Arab relations. Bashar does not have the wit and intellect of his father," Khashan said. "To be honest, the challenges are graver now, and the quality of leadership is inferior."

Is Bin Laden Dead? (Jack Kelly, 9/11/07, Real Clear Politics)
There was something odd about the Osama bin Laden video made public last week, noticed Web logger George Maschke (Booman Tribune).

"The video freezes at about 1 minute and 58 seconds, and motion only resumes again at 12:30," Mr. Maschke said. "The video then freezes at 14:02 and remains frozen until the end. All references to current events occur when the video is frozen."

Could the current events references have been added to an older tape? Osama is dressed just as he was in his last video, released in 2004. But that may be simply because there isn't much of a selection at the mall near his cave.

Bin Laden sounds more like Keith Olbermann, MSNBC's nutty talk show host, than like an Islamic terrorist leader.

On 9/11 anniversary, looking inward to explain terrorist attacks (Jane Perlez, September 10, 2007, NY Times)
[E]uropeans for the most part are looking inward to explain why Islamic extremists have made the Continent a favored target, while the United States has been spared - despite its leadership and the anger it has stirred waging wars in two Muslim countries.

In that setting, questions about how minority populations of Muslims are integrated into the mainstream are coming to the fore, along with basic questions about Islam itself. Less attention is being focused on finger pointing at the United States, analysts say.

Gaddafi goes green in effort to rid Libya of 'rogue' reputation (Claire Soares, 11 September 2007, Independent)
Colonel Gaddafi's son has launched an ambitious eco-tourism venture in an effort to take Libya away from its past "rogue state" reputation by hauling it on to the environmental bandwagon. [...]

[L]ibya has escaped the mass tourism invasion of neighbouring Egypt and Tunisia, and this blank canvas for green tourism has architects salivating as they sketch visions for high-end hotels that blend into the rocky landscape, with solar panels on the roof to make them energy self-sufficient.

Mr al-Islam, who studied architecture at Tripoli's Al-Fateh University, has more recently been studying for a doctorate at the London School of Economics. He approached Norman Foster's architecture firm with his plans for the Green Mountains three years ago, not long after Libya gave up its weapons of mass destruction, the key to its international rehabilitation.

Only time will tell whether the plans, to which the climate change expert Professor Nicholas Stern has also given his backing, will translate from the drawing board to the ground.

9/11 demolition theory challenged: An analysis of the World Trade Center collapse has challenged a conspiracy theory surrounding the 9/11 attacks. (BBC, 9/11/07)
Ireland: A Historic Handshake (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/11/07)
Ian Paisley, the leader of Northern Ireland, and President Mary McAleese of the Irish Republic shook hands for the first time — another symbolic milestone on Ireland’s road to reconciliation. Mr. Paisley, 81, for decades rejected any role for the Irish Republic in Northern Ireland, a predominantly Protestant part of the United Kingdom.

Wiretaps 'foiled terror attacks' (BBC, 9/11/07)
The US director of intelligence has said wiretaps played a significant role in stopping bomb attacks by suspected Islamists in Germany last week.

Michael McConnell told a Senate committee eavesdropping had revealed that the suspects had obtained explosive liquids.

He said Congress should not restrict the programme.

September 11—Six Years On: Six years after the attacks of September 11, FP looks back at some of the critical essays and arguments that shaped the international debate on the war on terror. (Foreign Policy, September 2007)

[originally posted: 9/11/07]

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 11, 2010 12:01 AM
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