OPINION

News Analysis: Part II 9/11 — How Did It All Change Back

September 12, 2006
Mark Schannon

Part I of this article, We Are Changed Forevermore, examined the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the international outpouring of support, the sudden and powerful unity of purpose within America, and the upsurge in confidence in many of our institutions from government to religion.

There are people for whom 9/11 irrevocably changed their worlds; nothing will ever be the same. Most are relatives or friends of the thousands who died, but many are simply Americans for whom something was shattered or altered or simply changed ... for some there are positive aspects while for others there are only the negatives.

The New Normal

For America as a whole, it seemed in the immediate aftermath that the dramatic changes in attitudes might actually be signifying a new political paradigm.  But what’s striking is how quickly we returned to normal, although not quite the normal of before.  Bill McInturff, of Public Opinion strategies, calls it "the new normal."

McInturff said, "It didn't take America five years to recover.  It was like a year."

Trust in government soared to 64% after the attack.  By the summer of 2002, it had returned to it's traditional 30%.  In December of 2001, Gallop found that 71% of Americans said religion was more important in American life.  By March, according to a Pew Research poll, that number had dropped to 37%.

One key to why attitudes so quickly reverted is that, despite all the rhetoric, behavior had never shifted that dramatically.  For all the calls to stockpile food and water, 30% told Harris Interactive pollsters that they considered it; the reality is that 9% did.  By early March, 2002, Gallup found that number jumped to all of 13%--statistically almost meaningless.

What people reported is that they way they felt changed dramatically, not their day-to-day lives.  Just over 50% told Fox News/Opinion Dynamics in late 2001 and early 2002 that their lives had changed in a lasting way, but 3/4 of those said it changed their feelings, not their behavior.  When behavior fails to change, attitudes often regress to their former state.

Thus we find that the number who reported feeling depressed or had trouble sleeping declined fairly quickly.  By March and September of 2002 Gallup found that smaller numbers had flown the flag, prayed more than usual, cried, or called loved ones “in the past two weeks” than had done so immediately after 9/11.

Karlyn Bowman, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said in a recent interview, "There was a temporary spike and people felt a little bit better about government after 9/11, but all those numbers have reverted to where they were before."

Bowman notes that people have accepted that terrorism is a real possibility in their lives, but they've incorporated that into their daily lives.  The fear is worse in large cities, but, by and large, "they don't panic." 

As noted in the previous article, Caroll Doherty of Pew Research said in an interview that the country has changed in ways we may not even recognize.  He noted how little attention Bush and Gore paid to foreign policy in the 2000 presidential election.  "That's not going to happen in the future.  The landscape has changed so much since then."

He also has found that people are showing more interest and engaging earlier in the 2006 mid-term elections that is normal, and that there's more of a national and international focus than usual. 

Bowman also cites "a level of pessimism in American that's just not warranted, say, by the economic indicators."  People expect another attack, and they see the world as more dangerous. 

Ironically, they still seem optimistic about their children's future.  "What's profoundly affected is the view of the present," she said.  That pessimism is reflected in how people view the war on terror.  A 2005 Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll found that 24% believed the war on terror would be won in our lifetimes; 62% said it would not.  Moreover, over 3/4 of Americans told Gallup in July 2002 that today's world is the most dangerous in the respondent's life. 

When asked if people think life in the U.S. will ever completely return to normal, i.e., pre 9/11, 62% said no.

Civil Liberties vs. Security

In a Los Angeles Times poll taken in September of 2001, 61% of Americans said we'd have to give up some civil liberties to curb terrorism.  By July 2005, in a PRSA/Pew poll, that number dropped to 40% with 53% disagreeing.  The reality is that Americans are torn about this issue.  Both Doherty and Bowman said that while there is great concern about government scrutinizing American's behavior, there's this sense that it may be acceptable — just as long as "they leave me alone." 

Bowman, however, notes that there has been a rise in concern about civil liberties, and she attributes it to the return of suspicion about government, the reduced fears of terrorism, and that some Americans have found certain government actions "objectionable."

But public attitudes are complicated and unstable on this issue.  For example, in May of 2006, an ABC News/Washington Post survey found that almost half of Americans believed that the government wasn't doing enough to protect privacy.  Yet over 50% in a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll at the same time said they'd be willing to give up some personal freedom to reduce the threat of terrorism.

It's U.S. vs. The World

As noted before, Americans are more aware and more concerned about international opinion than at any time in recent history.  While there has been support for America's military activities, the public wants the administration to take a cooperative stance with America's allies. A majority of Americans and nearly half of Republicans say that it should be a top foreign policy priority to improve our relations with our allies. The Pew Research Center conducted a poll with the Council on Foreign Relations and found that, by 49%-37%, "the public believes that the nation's foreign policy should strongly take into account the interests of U.S. allies, rather than be based mostly on the national interests of the United States."

At the same time, AEI's Bowman warns that it's difficult to get to the heart of this issue.  Clearly people are aware that our image has suffered, and they think it would be better for us to have a more positive image, but she doesn't believe we have enough data to state conclusively how important this is for Americans.  Further, she says that "there's a real question in the survey research community and among political scientists about whether we're seeing a new isolationism in the U.S. based on our awareness that we're not very well liked."

The Return to Partisanship and Divisiveness

According to a September 7 article in the New York Times, a big part of the “new normal,” is the resurgence of political divisions on national security questions.  The coming together of Americans in a sense of national unity just after 9/11 has been buried amidst the deeply partisan views over Mr. Bush’s conduct of the war on terror and in Iraq.  A recent New York Times/CBS News poll found wide disagreement between the parties on a host of issues from the war in Iraq to airport security. 

David Broder and Dan Balz, in a July 16 Washington Post article, entitled, "How Common Ground of 9/11 Gave Way to Partisan Split," wrote that the spontaneous outpouring bipartisanship "was quickly swallowed up by a resurgence of partisan differences among voters and politicians."  Ironically, issues of national security no longer held Americans together but created a "new fault line" that's split the parties.

President Bush has seen his ratings drop from the stratosphere to below sea level, apparently stuck below 40% approval.  The challenges to his strategies in Iraq, the growing insurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the failure to capture Osama bin Laden, the accusations of manufacturing evidence to support the Iraqi invasion, the questions of torture and secret prisons — all have taken their toll.Part of what has caused the divisiveness is the lack of clarity of America's strategic focus.  Michael Hirsch wrote in Newsweek that the War on Terror is losing its focus.  "What began as a crystal-clear fight against a small, self-contained group of murderers has become a kind of murky, open-ended World War III in which the identity of the enemy is less certain and our allies seem to grow less reliable."

Even the Bush Doctrine of spreading democracy to the Arab world has been called into question and held up as a reason for the failure of our military endeavors.  Jed Babbin, the former deputy undersecretary of defense in the administration of George H.W. Bush recently cited as "a strategic error in focusing on democracy as the weapon to counter radical Islam and terrorism."  He said that it's irrelevant if the Arab states are democracies as long as they don't threaten our security.  "By making the establishment of democracy in Iraq a precondition to other action, the president has given control of the pace and direction of the war to the enemy."

The public sees what is happening.  In a Washington Post/ABC news poll taken in August, almost 90% said that politics is just as partisan — or worse — than it was pre-9/11.  Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) has said he hoped that 9/11 would make us less partisan, but "we are more divided and more partisan than I've ever seen us."

Why?

How could the spirit of unity that sustained us through the aftermath of 9/11 have dissipated so quickly, leaving scars but so little nobility behind?  Pew's Doherty acknowledges that it's hard to understand why things changed so quickly.  "Some of it is inevitable," he said.  "It's very difficult to keep that spirit.  After all, people are human beings and prone to disagree."

On the other hand, he also has no question that the Iraqi War was a major factor in breaking the bonds, citing the plummeting Presidential approval ratings.

Broder and Balz take a similar view.  They believe that the return to "national rancor and partisan conflict" was inevitable.  There were deep divisions in the country after the 2000 presidential elections that hadn't healed, and, as they say,  "In a 50-50 America, the lust for political advantage overwhelmed calls for consensus and cooperation."

Finally, Republicans and Democrats have long disagreed about the use of American force in the world, and the role we should play as the sole super-power.  Those disagreements may have been covered over just after 9/11, but they remain deep and divisive.

In balance, what we've learned from 9/11 is how little we really understand ourselves or the world around us.


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News Analysis: Part II 9/11 — How Did It All Change Back

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Author: Mark Schannon

 

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#1
Sanjay
September 12, 2006
09:48 PM

The Atlanticist IHT features an editorial by Greg Mills appealing for negotiating with Taliban:

http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/09/12/opinion/edmills.php

I strongly disagree with this. An ISI-sponsored organization is not "Pashtun Nationalist"
ISI does not support Pashtun nationalism, it supports Islamic fundamentalism to destroy Pashtun nationalism, Baloch nationalism, etc.
There is no way that Greg Mills could be that stupid -- his article must clearly be recognized as deliberately misleading propaganda.

White liberals are increasingly composed of Euro-centrists masquerading their Atlanticist agenda under the guise of liberal humanitarianism.
And of course the naive will suck up every word of it.

Selective or slanted liberalism is not liberalism at all.

#2
mschannon
URL
September 12, 2006
10:06 PM

Sanjay, I just went through my entire article and I didn't find this link. Where did you get it. I agree with you--negotiating with the Taliban is like negotiating with the devil.

#3
Apollo
URL
September 13, 2006
12:11 AM

The Pakis simply cannot support any kind of pashtoon nationalism because it will finally affect their own North West frontier Province. The pashtoons simply DO NOT recognise the Durand line dividing pak and Afghanistan.

Does that Greg guy know nothing about subcontinental history?

#4
Aaman
URL
September 13, 2006
12:12 AM

Sanjay can use an article as a springboard to introduce other themes and issues, not that that's a bad thing

#5
Sanjay
September 13, 2006
12:51 AM

Mark, I was not citing the link from your article, I was adding it as a supplement.

I feel that the mania for appeasement of Islam is rooted in something other than naivete and lack of imagination. On the contrary, I feel it is rooted in ambition -- the ambitions of the newer breed of Euro-centrists whom I call Atlanticists, or even Neo-Libs, since they masquerade under the pretext of liberal democratic Wilsonianism.

Think of them as the "new zionists" if you like. The desperate refugees of the war that followed WW2 -- the Cold War. Just as how at the end of WW2, many Jews resolutely vowed "never again" -- so too do this subsequent generation from the formerly-occupied Central/Eastern Europe now vow "never again". They constitute a large demographic with powerful feelings, and that's all that's relevant.

Their heroes were the pliable Clinton and Blair, the panderers who quickly bombed Central Europe for them, and rolled NATO right upto Russian borders. They aren't threatened by jihad -- on the contrary, the Mujahedin helped to bleed their Red Army occupiers, paving the way for their liberation. But their careful, painstaking efforts to construct a new global architecture which ensures Moscow never rolls back into their lands
has been eclipsed and endangered by this War on Islamic terror. Ironically, they may have in their overzealousness provoked this War on Terror by thinking that the previous momentum of the mujahedin could be resurrected to use Afghanistan as a springboard to further cut Moscow down to size by liberating CentralAsia.

With their recently victorious agenda in tatters, but their passions unbowed, they are hell-bent on re-salvaging their crusade by evicting Bush and his frightening side-track which threatens to undo all they've accomplished. (ie. "Get your stupid Middle Eastern Holy War off the plate, so I can get my important European Holy War back on the plate!")

Notice how Czech-born Madlenka Albright is the ideological godchild of Zbigniew Brzinski. And Dr Brzinski is more of a Dr Strangelove than a moderate. Notice how quick the dovish Democrats were to go on their bombing spree in Kosovo. But someone forgot to tell the flighty novice Blair to come in for a landing, since he quickly picked up with Bush's bombing campaign once 9/11 struck. Now Blair will run out of fuel before Bush does, and will have to ditch first. Too bad, he was such a good little Atlanticist soldier at first, just like his pal Clinton.

But once the Euro-centrist Atlanticists re-take the Whitehouse by ralling lefties, Islamists and anyone else they can find all under the Democrat banner, they won't pursue the classical liberal agenda. No, the Neo-Libs will try to regain focus on their blood-enemy and persecutor from recent memory, Russia. This may require some feigned "bipartisan healing" exercise, in order to recruit support from Republican hawks needed to get Russia back front-and-centre in the crosshairs again.

But these people absolutely do not have classical liberalism as we know it on the agenda. That's just the pretext that the marginalized use, in order to rally support to storm the gates and get into power. And they'll likely be successful however, since there are enough "useful idiots" out there that hate Bush for other reasons to make common cause with them. Those who were occupied and oppressed under the Iron Curtain due to the Cold War will use any means to prevent a return of those dark days to their door. In the process, they will become as ruthless as those who persecuted them. Something like that final scene from Orwell's Animal Farm.

#6
Apollo
URL
September 13, 2006
01:37 AM

Aaman, sanjay can really give indepth perspectives with his commentary and even introduce some things that most others have overlooked and i think that's a good thing because it sets people thinking.

#7
temporal
URL
September 13, 2006
01:48 AM

he should write

i am on record encouraging him to write here since way back

but he has been shy - for reasons best known to him

#8
mschannon
URL
September 13, 2006
05:46 PM

Sanjay, I've read your comment three times, and I have to confess I'm more than a little confused. Who is it that wants to resurrect the Cold War and contain Russia, preventing them from taking over Eastern Europe?

The Russians couldn't do it even if they wanted.

But once the Euro-centrist Atlanticists re-take the Whitehouse by ralling lefties, Islamists and anyone else they can find all under the Democrat banner, they won't pursue the classical liberal agenda. No, the Neo-Libs will try to regain focus on their blood-enemy and persecutor from recent memory, Russia. This may require some feigned "bipartisan healing" exercise, in order to recruit support from Republican hawks needed to get Russia back front-and-centre in the crosshairs again.

You're using too many code words: What the heck is a "Euro-centrist Atlanticists?" What Islamists? In the U.S? I think there are about 18. Sorry, I really tried to understand your points, but came up somewhat confused.

In Jameson Veritas

#9
temporal
URL
September 13, 2006
10:58 PM

Mark:

usually i have learned to ignore sanjay's know-it-all rants...he tends to outdo the pope in his catholicism but since his outlandish post perplexed you no end please allow me to decipher a part of it for you

Mark, I was not citing the link from your article, I was adding it as a supplement.

-you could use some help bud - here is a link that is more pertinent

I feel that the mania for appeasement of Islam is rooted in something other than naivete and lack of imagination. On the contrary, I feel it is rooted in ambition

- i had problems with this one too...it is called double-speak;)...he is speaking from both sides of his mouth...notice how he sets up one position and then merrily goes on to blow the air out of it with 'on the contrary'?

-- the ambitions of the newer breed of Euro-centrists whom I call Atlanticists, or even Neo-Libs, since they masquerade under the pretext of liberal democratic Wilsonianism.

- this is his attempt to put a reverse spin on a spinning top...as if euro-centrist (Centered or focused on Europe or European peoples, especially in relation to historical or cultural influence) is not enough he befuddles you further by creating neo-cons opposite 'neo-libs' with a similar nefarious connotation...and marrying them with atlanticism (A doctrine of cooperation among western European and North American nations regarding political, economic, and defense issues.) ... he thinks by pulling this rabbit he would amaze you with his insightful brilliance or despair you further...and then further mixing them to wilsonism tinged with a dash of liberal democratism:

[Wilsonianism or Wilsonian are words used to describe a certain type of ideological perspectives on foreign policy. The term comes from the ideology of American President Woodrow Wilson, and his famous Fourteen Points that he believed would help create world peace if implemented.

Common principles that are often described as "Wilsonian" include:
Advocacy of self-determination by ethnic groups
Advocacy of the spread of democracy
Anti-isolationism, in favor of intervention to help create peace and / or spread freedom
Overall, Wilsonian principles are often characterized as being motivated by benevolence and ideology, rather than strict self-interest and fear.]


--if you are still not perplexed he throws in new Zionists!

no wonder you are puzzled mark...

this is enough to give you a flavour of his convoluted ways!

at some initial stage a while back i made this assessment about sanjay: he knows the price of everything but the value of nothing

hope this helps

:)


#10
Sanjay
September 13, 2006
11:47 PM

Sanjay, I've read your comment three times, and I have to confess I'm more than a little confused. Who is it that wants to resurrect the Cold War and contain Russia, preventing them from taking over Eastern Europe?

I'm talking about the the immigrant refugee ex-patriates from communist Eastern Europe, who fled from communism. The Brzinski and Albright generation. They still blame Russia.

The Russians couldn't do it even if they wanted.

That doesn't mean there isn't a paranoia against the Russians.

You're using too many code words: What the heck is a "Euro-centrist Atlanticists?" What Islamists? In the U.S? I think there are about 18. Sorry, I really tried to understand your points, but came up somewhat confused.

Atlanticists are those who seek US Foreign Policy to perpetually revolve around safeguarding Europe, and that all other foreign policy goals and considerations should be derived from this core objective.
Brzinski and Albright are examples of Atlanticists.

#11
mschannon
URL
September 14, 2006
03:30 PM

Temporal, thanks for trying, LOL. You've made the confusion oh so much more clearly confused.

However, Sanjay, America has moved byond what you call "Euro-centrist Atlanticists." There's been a growing in the U.S. from being Euro-centric to being Euro-snobbish. Certainly Bush et al. made it clear prior to the Iraq war how little they thought of the Old Man of Europe. OF course, now we're thrilled that NATO's going to get creamed in Afghanistan.

Part of the problem is that no president has really come up with a viable Post-Cold War global strategy...not that that would be easy. Thank God no one was stupid enough to elect me president.

(Bush doesn't count because he's an idiot.)

We know that, for example, India and China are becoming, if not already there, major world economic (and military powers) but we don't know how to incorporate that into 400 years of being Euro-Centric. South America is getting very strange again and Africa is a human disaster. We don't know how to handle North Korea--or S. Korea for that matter.

Russia matters--but foreign policy and economi experts here are much more concerned about the other areas I've mentioned.

In Jameson Veritas

#12
Sanjay
September 15, 2006
03:27 AM

Temporal, thanks for trying, LOL. You've made the confusion oh so much more clearly confused.

Yes, he certainly always tries hard -- to confuse the issues, that is.

However, Sanjay, America has moved byond what you call "Euro-centrist Atlanticists." There's been a growing in the U.S. from being Euro-centric to being Euro-snobbish. Certainly Bush et al. made it clear prior to the Iraq war how little they thought of the Old Man of Europe. OF course, now we're thrilled that NATO's going to get creamed in Afghanistan.

Mark, it's certainly ironic that the same Europeans who have acted as obstructionists in the War on Terror, are now going to see their troops clobbered by the Taliban who benefited from Euro fulmination against the US.

However that hasn't kept Euro-centrists from doing their darnedest to attack the War on Terror. Whether or not Americans leave them behind won't change the attitudes of these people.

Part of the problem is that no president has really come up with a viable Post-Cold War global strategy...not that that would be easy. Thank God no one was stupid enough to elect me president.

Well, there are large constituencies within both the Republican and Democratic parties which continue to have a Moscow-baiting hangover from the Cold War. Those are the politicians whom the Atlanticists lobby works through.

Here's a timely news article worth reading, Marc:

http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/09/14/opinion/edtrani.php">http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/09/14/opinion/edtrani.php

Look at the double standards.

#13
Sanjay
September 15, 2006
03:41 AM

Here's a chillingly ironic 1970s advertisement for Pakistan International Airlines:

http://www.webmaniacos.com/wp-content/img/2006/09/pakistan_airlines_torres_gemelas.jpg

Come fly the jihadi skies?

#14
Sanjay
September 15, 2006
05:16 AM

And another worthy look at 9/11:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1016720641536424083

For the most gripping part of the story, move the slider to 49 minutes into the video, and start watching. Pay close attention, kiddies.

#15
mschannon
URL
September 15, 2006
03:27 PM

Sanjay, the IHT article, while interesting, doesn't support your thesis. The tape, which I watched most of, is chilling and upsetting, but I've lived through the Kennedy and the MLK conspiracy theorists among many.

Besides the point the tape doesnt address the issues we're discussing, one thing it also doesn't address is "why?" Why would the administration -- and I am no friend of this administration; i think they're criminially insane and negligent--why would they allow this to go on? Why would they protect Pakistan?

There are unanswered questions. Someday, perhaps we'll know the answers.

#16
Sanjay
September 15, 2006
08:25 PM

Sanjay, the IHT article, while interesting, doesn't support your thesis.

I disagree -- the US govt continues to follow a containment policy against Russia, as it did during the previous administration. The double-standard of China's glass being judged as half-full while Russia's is judged as half-empty, is only one example of this. The reluctance of the US to abandon its support of Pakistan, its erstwhile ally against Moscow in CentralAsia, is yet another example. Both Republicans and Democrats support this policy, as Paul Thompson remarks near the end of the documentary.

Besides the point the tape doesnt address the issues we're discussing, one thing it also doesn't address is "why?" Why would the administration -- and I am no friend of this administration; i think they're criminially insane and negligent--why would they allow this to go on? Why would they protect Pakistan?

Because Pakistan had been in cahoots with the Taliban, and it was Pakistani field commanders and commandos holed up in Kunduz along with Taliban, where they had both been fighting alongside each other all those years as part of Pakistan's attempt to conquer and control Afghanistan.

In order to retain Pakistan's cooperation in the US invasion of Afghanistan, the US agreed to Pakistan's request for evacuating its troops from Kunduz, which was surrounded by the US Army. Pakistani Air Force transports were allowed to fly in and out of Kunduz, to ferry out men. But of course Pakistan took out whomever was important to them, which naturally included key Taliban/AlQaeda leaders.

Some of Bin Laden's relatives were in Kunduz too, having been sent to this isolated northern outpost of the Taliban regime in order to keep them safe from any potential snatch attempts by the US.

So everybody got out. No wonder Rumsfeld had to invade Iraq -- they certainly needed a distraction to divert public attention away from the fact that they were letting all the Islamist militants get away and flee to Pakistan. No satisfying sight of enemy scalps there -- hardly any Taliban/AlQaeda died in the US invasion. Therefore the US would have to go to Iraq to get some scalps.

Why do you think Taliban are making such a rapid comeback in Afghanistan -- a next generation? Nope, it's the very same guys the US let escape. Alright, there are the 12-yr olds who are now 17-yr olds, after five years of breathing space provided by the US. And Pakistan has kept its madrassas running all this time, churning out new recruits.

http://www.saag.org/%5Cpapers20%5Cpaper1950.html

The evil is quickly coming back, because the US never destroyed it when it had the chance. I predict that within 5 years, Taliban will be coming back to power in Afghanistan. And AlQaeda (which means "the Base") will once again have Afghanistan as its primary base of operations. Afghanistan will become like the Spanish Civil War, which drew young leftists from all around the world to fight. Similarly, it will become the key pilgrimage spot for angry young men from across the Islamic world to go and fight the Western troops. I predict NATO countries will withdraw their troops much before the Americans fold.

It's only a matter of time before another major Sept11 attack occurs. And anytime some clash in the Middle East occurs, it will only fuel the recruitment drive.

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