Ann Applebaum tar et tilbakeblikk på hva som har skjedd de siste fem år. De beste amerikanske pennene overrasker, og har et nytt perspektiv. Applebaum bemerker at anti-amerikanismen oppstå før Bush erklærte sin krig mot terror. Det var folk som var klare til å fryde seg over angrepene på USA, lenge før Bush satte seg i salen. Disse presiseringene er uhyre viktige.
Applebaum sier også at mye har skjedd i USA siden den gang. Det har skjedd en enorm omstilling. Uansett hva man måtte kalle den og War on terror er kanskje ingen lur term ( Niall Ferguson tror den vil bli omdøpt til The Great War for democracy), så er realitetene bak det som teller: og det er at Vesten er i kamp mot ekstreme og fanatiske krefter i den muslimske verden, med såkalt moderate vested interests som ikke vil ha grunnleggende endringer. Denne kampen kan ikke Vesten unnlate å ta på seg, for den er allerede i gang. Hvis vi skulle snu ryggen til den vil prisen bare stige.
The dislike of America, the hatred for what it was believed to stand for – capitalism, globalisation, militarism, Zionism, Hollywood or McDonald’s, depending on your point of view – was well entrenched. To put it differently, the scorn now widely felt in Britain and across Europe for America’s «war on terrorism» actually preceded the «war on terrorism» itself. It was already there on September 12 and 13, right out in the open for everyone to see.
Since then, the changes in both foreign and domestic policy in the US have been profound. Although I don’t need to remind anyone of the former, the latter have been largely invisible abroad.
Living in Washington for the past four years, I watched as the American government reorganised itself, often clumsily, much as it reorganised in the late 1940s, at the start of the Cold War.
The Bush Administration – with the support of the Democrats in Congress and elsewhere – created an enormous new Department of Homeland Security, a new directorate of intelligence. The Department of State finally shifted its attention to the Muslim world; new funds were made available for the study of Arabic and Farsi.
For better or for worse, the conversation in Washington changed dramatically, too, and as a result is now largely focused on problems of Islamic fundamentalism, the Middle East, and democracy (and the lack thereof) in the Arab world. For better or for worse, the «war on terrorism» has become what the Cold War used to be: the focal point of American foreign policy, the central concern around which everything else is organised.
The same cannot be said of Europe. Despite the fact that the worst subsequent terrorist attacks have taken place here, not in the US – and although it now appears that the most dangerous pool of Islamic fanatics is here, not the Middle East – I don’t detect a similar desire in London or Berlin to rearrange priorities or to change the tone of national debate, let alone to forge a stronger alliance with the US or to engage in what ought to be a joint project.
In part, this is thanks to the extraordinary diplomatic failure of the Bush Administration, which, believing its military power entitled it to arrogance, spurned America’s traditional alliances and launched a war in Iraq without making any preparations for the consequences. Although much of the past year has been spent making up lost ground, it’s hard to see how this President, at least, is ever going to be able to build the kind of international coalition necessary to fight what will have to be an international war of ideas against radical fundamentalism.
But perhaps Europe’s failure to enthusiastically join the «war on terrorism» was in some sense preordained. While not entirely incorrect, the notion that President Bush has wasted international post-9/11 sympathy is not entirely accurate either. As I say, at the time of the attacks, influential Europeans, and influential Britons, were already disinclined for their own reasons to sympathise with any American tragedy.
Instead of pointing fingers, the fifth anniversary of 9/11 might be a good time to reverse course. If «war on terrorism» has become an unpopular term, then call it something else. Call it a «war on fanaticism». Or – as we used to say in the Cold War – call it a «struggle for hearts and minds» in the Islamic communities of Europe and the Middle East. For whatever it’s called, it won’t succeed without both American and European support, without American and European mutual sympathy. And whatever it’s called, if it fails, the consequences will be felt on both sides of the Atlantic.
Stop blaming America for terrorism
By Anne Applebaum