No event has had a more profound effect on the world more than the events that occurred on September 11, 2001. “The incidents on that day have profoundly defined and determined recent American foreign policy.” (American Democracy) The devastation of the World Trade Center has encouraged politicians to enact several public policies to avoid history repeating itself. Some of the policies, such as the US Patriot Act, have curtailed civil liberties and privacy in the name of great security for the common people. While in office, George W. Bush articulated an argument known as the Bush doctrine and President Obama has had formed a similar doctrine. The war in Afghanistan and Iraq were greatly influenced by the “connection of Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda terror network to the masterminding and execution of those attacks.” (American Democracy)
Although the attack itself transpired in the borders of the United States, multiple nations had offices located in the World Trade Center, and people of every nationality were killed in the attack. The United Nations, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Organization of the American States, and ANZUS (the treaty organization created by the Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty) all made decisions to enforce various articles and resolutions. (Heritage) The United States enforced several public policies to influence the continual threat of terrorism. Some of the public policies have included military tribunals and benefits, airport security, USA Patriot Act, and the forming of the United States Department of Homeland Security. The military tribunals include the “Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008” which “amended United States Code to expand the educational benefits for military veterans who have served since September 11, 2001. (Top Tenz) Possibly the most visible public policy enacted was the new security at airports. “The full-body scanners now are rolled out at airports around the country”. (RD) The Patriot Act was the most controversial policy to be enforced after the tragedies of 9-11. “The act greatly reduced restrictions that were placed on law enforcement agencies and gave them the ability to search telephone, e-mail communications, medical, financial, and other records. It eased restrictions on foreign intelligence gathering within the United States and expanded the Secretary of the Treasury’s authority to regulate financial transactions. It also expanded the definition of terrorism to include domestic terrorism, thus enlarging the number of activities to which the powers can be applied.” (Top Tenz) Over 1,000 government organizations and almost 2,000 private companies have worked on “counterterrorism, homeland security, and intelligence.” (Top Tenz)
When it comes to these public policies, some have not fared near as well as others and some are nearly impossible to calculate the actual effect they have on terrorism. The public policies that have fared rather well are the military benefits, the Department of Homeland Security; meanwhile airport security, military tribunals, and the Patriot Act have been attacked numerous times on the basis of civil liberties and effectiveness. The Patriot Act’s success is hard to tell due to many complications. One major benefit for the men and women in the military is the Post-9/11 GI Bill that was signed into law in July of 2008. “The new Post 9/11 GI Bill provides education benefits for service members who have served on active duty for 90 or more days since Sept. 10, 2001.” (Military) Also, the Department of Homeland Security has been in operation since its creation 2002 and has only been shut down when the government shut down this year. The airport security has crossed many boundaries when it comes to frisking passengers and doing inappropriate searches to the elderly and children who do not seemingly phase a threat. (News Sky) The military tribunals “permitted the admission of hearsay and evidence obtained under coercion, and allowed secret evidence that would be shown to the jury but not the defendant. In addition, the defendant could be excluded from portions of his own trial. Critics of the tribunals pointed out that this suspension of due process goes against the very principles that the U.S. claims it is defending from terrorism.” (infoplease) It is hard to understand the effectiveness of the US Patriot Act due to several implications. “As for the 300 million Americans at home, exactly as many of them have been killed by terrorists since 9/ 11 as have been killed by the Creature from the Black Lagoon in the same period. None. Those opposed to the Patriot Act argue that the threat of domestic terrorism is relatively small, and that the Patriot Act is therefore unnecessary. Conversely, proponents of the Patriot Act argue that the absence of an attack on American soil is a testament to the legislation’s efficacy. Therefore, the Patriot Act’s concrete ‘success’ is difficult to measure because both sides are claiming the lack of terrorist attacks on the American homeland as ‘proof’ of their arguments.” (atlismta)
The trade-off in the curtailment of civil liberties and privacy are not worth the greater security. As one of my teachers have said, “I don’t mind giving certain people that knowledge and information, but when presidents change, different people have access to that information and that is what I am not okay with.” The civil liberties put in jeopardy are typically over the Patriot Act. “Civil libertarians criticized the law, saying it would result in overzealous use of wiretaps on individuals and businesses and less judicial scrutiny of the process, as well as unjustified detention of immigrants. In fact, under the law, about 1,200 people were detained for months without access to lawyers or the release of their names.” (infoplease) Also, “according to the Breakthrough Institute, a public-policy think tank, only two plots against the United States have been foiled because of the increased snooping allowed by the Patriot Act. Dozens of others, the report concluded, “were broken open due to the combination of well-deployed undercover agents, information from citizen or undercover informants, and tips from foreign intelligence agencies” – in other words, old-fashioned gumshoe work.” (RD)
Former president George W. Bush and current President Obama created a famous doctrine when it comes to foreign policy. They differ slightly, but Bush’s policy seems to be more straightforward and strict while Mr. Obama’s policy is more on the defensive side. Bush’s policy was created off of three reoccurring themes in his speeches from 2002 to 2008. (family security) “These included: challenging radical Islamist havens abroad (what Vice President Cheney called “draining the swamp”); building democratic institutions as a moderating influence in tyrannical states that harbor radical Islamic factions and preemption (attacking those intent on doing harm to us before that harm is inflicted).” (family security) When President Obama spoke to crowds about the war, “it [was] stunning how similar in tone [the] speech [was] to George W Bush’s Iraq speeches,” Republican congressman and TV anchor Joe Scarborough said. Mr. Obama’s doctrine covers four different principles when it comes to foreign affairs. “The first is a reliance on multilateral organizations such as the United Nations.” The Human Rights Commission “is populated by the most egregious abusers of human rights.” Yet, “the Obama administration reversed the decision of previous presidents and joined this organization, claiming it was in the national interest to monitor cases the commission is considering.” Thirdly, and possibly the biggest change from Bush’s doctrine, is that “the Obama team believes it must apologize for America’s previous foreign policy decisions.” And Fourth, the government’s lawsuit against the State of Arizona’s legislation “which calls for the enforcement of the law against illegal aliens.” This “is a demonstration of the belief that borders do not matter and sovereignty is in the eye of the beholder.” (Family Security) There are few differences between the doctrines but they are minimal. President Bush’s doctrine articulated that “unilateral action directly targeted at an enemy is both justifiable and feasible.” Bush called this a preemption strategy. Preemption was attacking that intent on doing harm to us before that harm is inflicted. “From [Obama’s] rhetoric, it appears that President Obama has rejected the idea that the United States and Islamic nations are destined to clash, instead seeking to build bridges between the United States and the Muslim nations.” (textbook)
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq did not produce all the results the United States was looking for. The United States did succeed in some aspects including “the most compelling reason for the Afghan war” which was “geopolitical obtaining a secure military foothold for the U.S. and its NATO accessory in the Central Asian backyards of China and Russia. In addition, a presence in Afghanistan places the U.S. in close military proximity to two volatile nuclear powers backed by the U.S. but not completely under its control by any means (Pakistan, India).” (global research) However, in some aspects, the United States did not get the results they were looking for. “The alleged purpose of the war was eliminating Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, but it turns out he didn’t have any.” (foreign policy) “Even worse, the war in Iraq caused the U.S. to take its eye off the ball in Afghanistan. Rather than following through, the Bush administration allowed the country to stagnate, prompting a Taliban resurgence beginning in 2004.” (think progress) “The Afghan war is expanding even further, not only with increasing drone attacks in neighboring Pakistani territory but because of U.S. threats to take far greater unilateral military action within Pakistan unless the Islamabad government roots out “extremists” and cracks down harder on cross-border fighters.” (global research)
No single event in history has had such a profound effect on the United States that it actually created positions, formed numerous new policies, and changed the way people look at the world today. The events of September 11, 2001 changed the events of the world and transposed civilization into continuous turmoil.
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