In depth


9/11 in retrospect

Eugènia Riera & Léonie van Tongeren
International Catalan Institute for Peace
Eugènia Riera i Léonie van Tongeren

Eugènia Riera and Léonie van Tongeren

With this September marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, Shanksville and Washington, it is time for retrospect. Along with honouring victims in the attacks and remembering the horror as well as the heroic sacrifices made on 9/11, it is important to place the attacks in context and to gain some perspective on their impact and the challenges that we are still facing.

After all, while much attention and funding has been devoted to anti-terrorism programmes in the past 10 years, many unresolved issues remain. In addition to ongoing terrorist threats, problems exist regarding the use of torture in the war on terrorism, rising anti-Muslim sentiment in the West, the impact of data and intelligence sharing on fundamental rights, and ongoing problems in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan – just to name a few. Critics are often quick to point out inefficiencies of anti-terrorism tools and, while it is sometimes argued that not enough is being done, controversies have also been raised about the huge amounts of money involved in anti-terrorism programmes. Recently some have complained in Brussels, for example, about the 20-fold increase in EU funding devoted to anti-terrorism programmes over the past 10 years, arguing that this is inappropriate at a time of major budget cuts at the national level.

This edition of Peace in Progress brings together several articles about key issues in this respect. The first article, by Rafael Grasa, examines the evolution of the fight against terrorism in the last decade, touching upon the major changes that have taken place and the challenges that remain. Next, specific attention is paid to the US, with Judith Renner and Alexander Spencer comparing security strategies towards the Taliban by the Bush and Obama Administrations, and with Alicia Sorroza comparing anti-terrorism measures taken in the US with those in the EU. These different approaches taken by the EU and US after 9/11 have had an impact on the transatlantic relationship and on the role of NATO, which in response to the attacks of the 9/11 invoked the Article 5 collective defence clause for the very first time in history. The impact of the attacks on the organization's security strategy is therefore commented upon by Pere Ortega. Particular attention is also paid to the theatre of operations of the war on terror in Afghanistan and Pakistan, with Ricard Gonzàlez reflecting on possible AfPak exist strategies. Furthermore, two contributions analyse the difficult relationship between freedom and security – a question which remains highly pertinent even 10 years after the attacks-, with Jaume Saura paying particular attention to the situation in Spain and Esteban Beltrán taking a more international approach.

Special attention to 9/11 is also given in the sections Finding out more, providing you with a list of useful tools for further reading and research on this topic, and Interview, in which Javier Rupérez talks about his experience as the former executive director of the UN Security Council's Counter-Terrorism Committee.

Also touching upon other important topics, in this edition's Platform section one will find reflections on the situation of the Mapuche in Chile, by Blaise Pantel, on issues related to the banning of depleted uranium munitions, by Doug Weir, and on the question how to respond to the impact of explosive weapons, by Richard Moyes.