A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, September 11, 2015

9/11+14 Years

It seems commentators feel compelled to note each anniversary of the September 11 attacks, even if there is little new to say. Certainly no one who was in New York or Washington that day will forget it; I was driving to work, already aware of the two planes that hit New York, when I saw the black plume of dense smoke rising above the Pentagon a couple of miles ahead, tried to call home and could not get a signal, and turned around to rejoin my wife and daughter. (Ironically, I am old enough to have seen black smoke rising over Washington twice: the other was as an undergraduate at Georgetown in April 1968, from the fires of the rioting following Martin Luther King's assassination.)

But while the memories will endure, it is also disturbing to realize how much the violence of that day 14 years ago still echoes. Afghanistan still struggles; Iraq, which had no ties to 9/11 but which we invaded anyway, may be destroyed, and the regional chaos has devastated Syria and crippled Libya and Yemen. Not all those events stem from the 9/11 attacks directly, but neither are they unrelated. As we remember, it remains important to discern that in some cases we may have learned the wrong lessons from that dark day.

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