In a new FES Perspective Paper, Max Bergmann and James Lamond argue that over the last decade, the 9/11 era has started to become history.
The events of that day two decades ago have cast a long shadow on America, and especially American foreign policy. While the centrality of terrorism in America’s political conscience and discourse has been waning for some time, terrorism as a topic was largely absent in the 2020 election. Issues of systemic racism and police brutality, which were major topics prior to 9/11 burst back into national consciousness with the murder of George Floyd. COVID exposed the deep contradictions of the 9/11 era. While there was a massive expansion of state power through the military, the police, and the state’s intelligence capabilities, the era saw a tremendous weakening of the government’s ability to support the wellbeing of its public. The events of the past year in the United States have brought about a clear end to the era.
Often lost in analysis of the recent period in American politics is the impact of the 9/11 wars. America is struggling with the aftermath of the 9/11 era because it is an era ultimately defined by defeat. America didn’t win its wars; it withdrew and is still withdrawing from them. In Trump’s defining slogan, there is a recognition of defeat. »Make America Great Again,« posits that right now, America isn’t great. Defeat is the history that hurts and can leave a lasting scar on the psyche of a nation. As Washington’s foreign policy establishment turned the page on the 9/11 era and pivoted to a focus on great power competition, much of the rest of the country has struggled with what comes next.
America just had a post 9/11 election be- cause the 9/11 era is over. There is no way for a new Biden administration to return to the way things were before Trump because the era before Trump is over. There is no going back. The question now is: what comes next? The Middle East will no longer drive American foreign policy the way it has for the last two decades. The focus on China and Russia will mean a renewed attention to a national revival. The response to 9/11 was divorced largely from domestic conditions and did not call for any broader national strategy. But competing with an alternative vision of government and how to organize society with a potential peer rival like China could wake America up once more to a sense of national purpose.
The full paper is available to download in English here.
The 2022 midterms are the first elections to take place after the pandemic and the attempt by former president Donald Trump to overturn his loss in... More
Die Midterms 2022 sind die ersten US-Wahlen nach der Pandemie und zugleich die ersten nach dem Versuch des ehemaligen Präsidenten Donald Trump seine... More