With all the suffering and destruction of 9-11 in 2001, when the United States was brutally attacked, the results also produced a peaceable possibility. Even the French Le Monde newspaper gushed with a sympathetic headline, “We are all Americans.”
Then-president George W. Bush liked to talk of “political capital,” and the U.S. had it in abundance, a potential resource for tackling the roots of those hatreds, to isolate and humiliate the terrorists, to build a more constructive basis for resolving tensions in the Middle East.
Led by that same president, the U.S. took another path, fighting fire with fire, seeking revenge on Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaida terrorists, and declaring an endless war on terror, directed at the hiding terrorists, and then expanded with another war.
A look at the rest of this essay serves to begin a conversation about where 9/11 fits into our collective history.