The Lost Decade

Where have I been ten years ago? Well, I don’t know. Ten years ago, Ahmad Shah Masoud, the leader of the Northern Alliance, had been assassinated by al Qaeda, but I have learned about that critical event long time after the killing. I suppose I have written about my whereabouts two days later already. It was one of these significant emotional events in life you won’t ever forget (and no one in the world did). I had actually been filling packing boxes all day looking forward to a critical move, to the Middle East.  I had got a job offer at Kuwait University. My new colleagues were awaiting me (but, honestly, after the Twin Towers and Pentagon had been hit and hit again, not anymore). The first TV commentators mentioned the world wouldn’t be the same after the assault. They had been right, of course.

When having arrived in Kuwait, I and my colleagues (who were surprised that I had made it) were eagerly or skeptically awaiting the retaliation strikes which then started on October 7.

Contrary to immediate fears, life turned out to be easy in Kuwait, and I got a premier seat for observing what was going on in Afghanistan (and later in Iraq) and developed new sensitivities of an expat, who happened to experience hospitality in an allegedly “hostile” environment. So, I caught up, developed, learned and matured.

Not so the U.S. That the 9-11 attacks had not come out of the blue, Americans never understood. “Why do they hate us?” was the naïve question which was heard everywhere. Americans did never understand that the attacks had something to do with the decade-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with the presence of, as regards intercultural competence, ignorant, well infidel, agents and soldiers in Saudi Arabia, with failed Middle Eastern politics under Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush senior, Clinton and now incredible Bush junior, who seemingly wanted to top previous attempts of patronizing in the sensitive region.

No wonder that the Abu Ghuraib scandal and personal circumstances when I heard about it first were another significant emotional event considerably changed the attitude of most upright men and women in the world. Then Guantanamo. Iraq body count, the Granai airstrike, the similar one of Kunduz. Iran’s nuclear program and how the U.S., together with its western allies, imposed rounds of painful sanctions on the country which seemed to copy those one decade earlier on Iraq (I don’t want to write about the apparent coup attempt after the disputed Iranian presidential election of 2009). This war (including the events after WikiLeaks had published the “Collateral Murder” video, the Iraqi and Afghanistan War Logs and the Diplomatic Cables) and which appeared to be directed not only towards terror or terrorism but the Islamic world at large, goes on and on. Obama’s speeches had been turned out more or less hollow. This year’s Arab awakening did not occur due to his nice words but in spite of Obama. The NATO bombarding of Libya in order to oust Qadafi the western ally has always had a fishy smell. What comes next there? In Egypt? Tunisia?

Well, al Qaeda has not been the winner of this war either, definitely not. The network declines for some time, not only after Osma bin Laden’s killing, and loses influence among Muslims (which has always been very small). But hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties and displaced people in Iraq and Afghanistan must in a way be balanced with the couple of thousands of innocent victims on September 11, 2001. Has it been worth it?

When reviewing the past ten years, I’ve got the impression that some of the real terrorists had been sitting on Wall Street.

Here’s something else.

Last modified September 9, 2011.

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