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8 Sep, 2011

A Decade Since 9/11: Compendium of Commentaries to Help “Awaken” Travel & Tourism

This dispatch contains a compendium of commentaries and analysis that challenge conventional wisdom and offer alternative perspectives on the aftermath of 9/11. A brief excerpt is reproduced, with links to the full story.

As travel & tourism has been one of the worst affected industry sectors by the terrorist attacks, the industry needs to indulge in some deep soul-searching about the price and the costs it has paid for this so-called “war on terror” and, more importantly, the price and the costs it will continue to pay well into the future. Virtually no attention has been paid to this issue in industry forums in the last decade since 9/11.

A good place to start would be the workshops on “strategic industry issues” to be held this weekend, alongside the PATA Travel Mart in New Delhi where a terrorist attack took place on the first day of the mart itself. If the industry does muster the courage to take a good, hard look both inside and outside the box, it may realise that simply throwing more money at hiring security guards, installing CCTV cameras and airport body-scanners will not solve the problem. Both the symptoms and the causes need to be looked at. Travel & tourism faces a long overdue awakening. It is time to broaden the debate in both breadth and depth.


The True Cost of 9/11 — Trillions and Trillions Wasted on Wars, a Fiscal Catastrophe, a Weaker America.

By Joseph E. Stiglitz, Nobel Prize Winner for Economics, 2011.

Sept. 1, 2011


Even if Bush could be forgiven for taking America, and much of the rest of the world, to war on false pretenses, and for misrepresenting the cost of the venture, there is no excuse for how he chose to finance it. His was the first war in history paid for entirely on credit. As America went into battle, with deficits already soaring from his 2001 tax cut, Bush decided to plunge ahead with yet another round of tax “relief” for the wealthy.

Today, America is focused on unemployment and the deficit. Both threats to America’s future can, in no small measure, be traced to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Increased defense spending, together with the Bush tax cuts, is a key reason why America went from a fiscal surplus of 2 percent of GDP when Bush was elected to its parlous deficit and debt position today. Direct government spending on those wars so far amounts to roughly $2 trillion—$17,000 for every U.S. household—with bills yet to be received increasing this amount by more than 50 percent.


The Price We Paid For The War On Terror

By Anne Applebaum, September 3, 2011,


The events of Sept. 11 reverberated through American life, but nowhere more profoundly than in U.S. policy toward the outside world. Creaking and groaning, the supertanker that is the American foreign and defense establishment turned itself around as Americans prepared to face new enemies. We created a vast security bureaucracy, encompassing some 1,200 government organizations, 1,900 private companies and 854,000 people with security clearances, according to a Washington Post investigation last year. We launched wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. We organized counterterrorism operations in such far-flung places as the Philippines and Yemen, and we changed the culture of our military. We sharpened our focus on al-Qaeda and imitators. We spent, according to one estimate, some $3 trillion.


Rupert Cornwell: The Day America’s Decline Began

The Independent, 7 September 2011


Consider first the opportunities missed. In the aftermath of 9/11, the US enjoyed an outpouring of global support and sympathy unmatched since the Second World War: “We Are All Americans Now,” proclaimed that headline in Le Monde, speaking on behalf of the European country that has more hang-ups about America than most.

Within a couple of years, however, that sympathy had been utterly squandered. George W Bush and Dick Cheney were Ugly Americans reborn, loathed across the Arab world and beyond. Barack Obama has repaired much of the damage among traditional US allies. But in Islamic countries America’s reputation remains in tatters, despite its deliberately low profile in the campaign to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi. (“Leading from behind,” one White House aide injudiciously described the approach, provoking scorn and anger from the president’s Republican foes, insulted that the US was not visibly heading this latest Western military foray against an Arab land.) But at least Obama had tried to take the mistakes to heart.


The 9/11 Decade — My Unfinished 9/11 Business

Bill Keller, New York Times, 6 September 2011,


I’m pretty sure the reporters who have covered Iraq with such distinction in the ensuing years could not tell you whether I still believed the war was just or necessary. I’m not sure I knew myself at that point. It is the job of news to recount, clear-eyed, what is, and questions of what should be are an occupational distraction. In any case, I declined to participate in Slate’s collective examination of conscience.

But I have now returned to the opinion business, at a time when America’s role in the world — and in Iraq — is still unsettled. So, let me be the last of the club to retrace my steps, and see if there is any wisdom to be salvaged there.


Still at square one

Sitaram Yechury , Hindustan Times

September 05, 2011


Over 300 times as many people have been killed in these battlefields than those who perished in the 9/11 attacks. The US state department maintained data that was available in the public domain in 2004 shows that more than 130 times as many people have been killed in these two wars than those whose lives were claimed in all terrorist attacks in the world from 1993 to 2004.

Given the sharp rise in these numbers, post- 2004, the State Department statistics have remained “classified”.

This reality at ground zero resoundingly testifies, once again, that State terrorism unleashed by US and Nato and terrorism perpetrated by individual fundamentalist organisations only feed on each other.

Apart from Iraq and Afghanistan, tens of thousands of civilians have become casualties in this so-called war against terror. US estimates suggest that over 35,000 Pakistanis have been killed between 2004 and 2010 and over 40,000 grievously injured.


No bitterness 10 years after Sikh killing over 9/11

By Gabriel Elizondo, Al Jazeera, 2011-09-06


Ten years after 9/11, Rana Singh Sodhi is not bitter at America. It would be hard to blame him if he was.

Rana’s brother, Balbir Singh Sodhi, was murdered four days after 9/11 for nothing more than how he looked.

Balbir, like his brothers, emigrated to America from the Punjab region of India over 20 year. They are Sikh, and wear beards and turbans, customary in the Sikh faith.

They left India because of religious persecution, Rana says, and they came to the United States because of freedom of religion.

The question is really two questions: Knowing what we know now, with the glorious advantage of hindsight, was it a mistake to invade and occupy Iraq? And knowing what we knew then, were we wrong to support the war?


9/11: A ‘babble of idiots’? History has been the judge of that

Seumas Milne, The Guardian’s comment editor at the time of 9/11 on a savage response to those who foresaw the reality of a war on terror

5 September 2011


Political and media reaction to anyone who linked what had happened in New York and Washington to US and western intervention in the Muslim world, or challenged the drive to war, was savage.

From September 11 2001 onwards, the Guardian (almost uniquely in the British press) nevertheless ensured that those voices would be unmistakably heard in a full-spectrum debate about why the attacks had taken place and how the US and wider western world should respond.

The backlash verged on the deranged. Bizarre as it seems a decade on, the fact that the Guardian allowed writers to connect the attacks with US policy in the rest of the world was treated as treasonous in its supposed “anti-Americanism”.


It’s Still the 9/11 Era

By Ross Douthat, Op-Ed Columnist, New York Times

September 4, 2011


Osama bin Laden is dead. So is Saddam Hussein, and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and too many Qaeda No. 3’s to count. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is awaiting his military tribunal. George W. Bush is home on the ranch, Dick Cheney is on book tour, and even Gen. David Petraeus is a general no more, having traded in his stars for a civilian position atop the Central Intelligence Agency.

But 10 years to the week after the twin towers fell, we are still living in the 9/11 era. The names and faces are different, the White House has changed hands, and the country has turned its gaze from our distant wars to the economic crisis on the home front. But American foreign policy is still defined by the choices our leaders made while ground zero smoldered, and the objectives they set. Our approach to the world was fundamentally altered by 9/11, and nothing that’s happened since has undone that transformation.


Failing to realise the promise of 9/11

Al Jazeera, Robert Grenier, 04 Sep 2011


What the president failed to take into account was that with al-Qaeda, the struggle would never be just about terrorists or the willingness of states to confront them. Terrorists cannot long survive in societies which fundamentally reject them. If the US were actually to lead a global movement against terrorism, it would have to find a way to appeal to the many Muslims, including majorities in many countries, who then sympathised with al-Qaeda’s struggle, even as they rejected al-Qaeda’s tactics. It would have to find a way to respond to the young Pakistani Muslims in my own son’s grade school class, many of them from the most privileged families, whose reaction to 9/11 was to say “Now you know how it feels”.

For the world to come together to close the door on terrorism as a political tactic, it would have to open another path to justice for those who felt long deprived of it. And if the US, as the putative leader of the struggle, were to engage on this important front in the war on terror, it would have to commit itself precisely to the quest for justice – whether in Kashmir, in Chechnya, in Xinjiang or, most prominently, in Palestine.


What impact did 9/11 have on the world?

5 September 2011


The following panel of commentators for the Guardian assesses the decade of international upheaval that followed the al-Qaida attacks on the US: Simon Jenkins, Jonathan Powell, Mohammed Hanif, PJ Crowley, Orzala Ashraf Nemat, George Galloway, Aditya Chakrabortty, Inayat Bunglawala and Carne Ross


Robert Fisk: For 10 years, we’ve lied to ourselves to avoid asking the one real question

The Independent, 3 September 2011


The motivation for the attacks was “ducked” even by the official 9/11 report, say the authors. The commissioners had disagreed on this “issue” – cliché code word for “problem” – and its two most senior officials, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, were later to explain: “This was sensitive ground …Commissioners who argued that al-Qa’ida was motivated by a religious ideology – and not by opposition to American policies – rejected mentioning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict… In their view, listing US support for Israel as a root cause of al-Qa’ida’s opposition to the United States indicated that the United States should reassess that policy.” And there you have it.

So what happened? The commissioners, Summers and Swan state, “settled on vague language that circumvented the issue of motive”. There’s a hint in the official report – but only in a footnote which, of course, few read. In other words, we still haven’t told the truth about the crime which – we are supposed to believe – “changed the world for ever”. Mind you, after watching Obama on his knees before Netanyahu last May, I’m really not surprised.

When the Israeli Prime Minister gets even the US Congress to grovel to him, the American people are not going to be told the answer to the most important and “sensitive” question of 9/11: why?


9/11 memories and voices: a new kind of sharing

09/02/2011 — The Washington Post


The way we share has changed since that fateful day, which came before Twitter and Facebook. It pre-dated Storify and YouTube. Google was barely four years old. Now we can share our memories, our pain and even our triumphs with a world that, back then, may not have been able to hear us.

The Sikh Coalition, in concert with the Canadian marketing firm Suntra, has created a virtual video wall where members of the Muslim, Sikh, South Asian and Arab American communities can share their memories of the attacks and the discrimination they experienced in its wake. “This website is our chance to tell our stories so that our voices are no longer unheard,” says Sikh Coalition executive director Sapreet Kaur in an introductory video


Teaching Sept. 11: A more honest approach

By Janice D’Arcy, Washington Post, 09/01/2011


The educational company Pearson, which produces the widely used textbook “The American Nation” and online educational materials, has just overhauled its lesson plans regarding the attacks.

Originally, the company released textbooks after the attacks that contained sterile images for each grade level. Students in elementary school saw the standing twin towers; in middle school, they saw the flag at Ground Zero being hoisted and a candlelight vigil service; in high school, they saw the Ground Zero flag scene and members of Congress at a memorial service.

Now, Pearson has launched an online lesson plan for teachers that includes pictures of the burning twin towers, the destroyed Pentagon and people running in fear.

The lessons for younger students are focused on efforts to keep the country safe. For middle and high school students, they include oral histories with a firefighter and another with a woman who was in school near the attacks.

“For people who witnessed the tragic events that day, the images of the burning towers rekindle very strong emotional memories. For students who do not have memories of September 11, the images, while powerful, do not carry the same emotional weight,” said Emily Swenson, an executive with Pearson.


9/11 has become all about New York — with D.C. and the Pentagon nearly forgotten

Marc Fisher, September 3, 2011, Washington Post Opinions


What happened when that Boeing 757 struck the Pentagon 10 years ago must not be allowed to vanish behind the searing drama of the collapse of the twin towers.

There are good, natural reasons for the imbalance between the New York and Pentagon stories — the scope of the losses, the horror of the collapsing buildings in Manhattan — but there are unfortunate, unfair reasons as well: the lack of video footage of the plane hitting the Pentagon, the building’s separation from neighboring communities, the military’s tradition of smoothing over harsh edges, stereotypes about Washington and the armed forces.

And by its very nature, the Pentagon virtually guaranteed that its piece of the 9/11 story would be remembered in far less vivid detail than the tragedy in New York. “The Pentagon is the anti-World Trade Center,” Young said. “It was built to ward off attacks. By fortifying itself against its own destruction, it actually fortified itself against public memory of the attack. The Twin Towers, in contrast, were built aggressively, soaring into the sky and therefore supremely vulnerable.”


Sept. 11, The Day That Never Ends

By Richard Cohen, Washington Post, September 6, 2011


Now it is 10 years later, and the war is not over. We fight still in Afghanistan and Iraq, wars now without purpose or, in the case of Iraq, reason. Like those students, we got high on war fever and marched off led by men — a president and his vice president — at least as incompetent as the German kaiser or, on the other side, that gaggle of statesmen and field marshals who allowed Europe to be convulsed by a war whose effects are still being felt.

It is the same with the disaster in Iraq. It was not Saddam Hussein who attacked us, and it was not Saddam Hussein who had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons or a nuclear program. None of these existed — not a mere intelligence mistake, as is now claimed, but a mistake caused by preconceived notions, an insistence on seeing a goblin in every shadow, a nuclear program in the weak glow of a watch face, a lust for the head of Saddam Hussein. Oops, we marched smartly off to the wrong war.


Canada and 9/11 anniversary

Zubeida Mustafa

7 September 2011


SUNDAY will be the 10th anniversary of 9/11 which turned out to be a watershed event in contemporary politics. It also changed the lives of millions across the globe.

In the United States, which was the main victim of the vicious attacks on the twin towers, and to some extent in neighbouring Canada, there are programmes afoot in the media and in public places as a token of remembrance for those who lost their lives on that fateful day of September 2001.

In the US there is a lot of hype especially about Islamic militancy that comes from the extremists on the right, the pity being that there are too many of them. Canada is more rational and civil.


Five myths about 9/11

Brian Michael Jenkins, September 2, 2011, Washington Post


We all remember where we were on Sept. 11, 2001, when al-Qaeda launched its horrific attacks on the United States. In the decade since, no number of commissions, books, films and reports has been able to end the misconceptions about what 9/11 meant, America’s response to it and the nature of the ongoing threat. As the anniversary nears, let’s tackle some of the most persistent myths.


9/11 pretext for Bush to launch wars’


Sep 3, 2011, Former US President George W. Bush used the September 11, 2011 attacks on the United States to mislead the American public opinion and justify the war on Afghanistan, a political analyst told Press TV.

“Bush wanted to go to war. This (9/11) was an incident that actually happened and that provided the pretext for the US government to mobilize the sentiments of the people of the United States, to mislead them into justifying a war,” Richard Becker from ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition.


‘Oil, Israel, ideology motivated 9/11’

Sep 2, 2011


Interview with James Fetzer, founder of Scholars for 9/11 Truth

Press TV has interviewed Dr. James Fetzer, founder of Scholars for 9/11 Truth, to discuss the latest leakage.

Press TV: There are numerous 9/11 skeptics out there; Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, amongst a host of other organizations, are very serious about pursuing what they say is the truth. Do you think there is truth behind their push to find out the truth?

Fetzer: Absolutely. Without any doubt anyone who takes a serious look at the physics, the engineering, the Aerodynamics of the situation realizes that virtually everything that the government told us about 9/11 is false.

It is obvious that no plane crashed in Shanksville or at the Pentagon. The video footage in New York is highly suspicious, the fires did not burn long enough or hot enough to cause this steel to weaken much less melt. If they had burned hot enough, it would have caused some asymmetrical sagging and tilting not the complete collapse and conversion of those two massive buildings into millions of cubic yards of very fine dust.


9/11 and the makers of history

Tarak Barkawi, 06 Sep 2011, Al Jazeera.


After 9/11, the administration of US President George W Bush initiated the era of the global war on terror. For many, this was a misguided response to terror attacks. But before the decade was over, US forces invaded two countries and are now fighting shadow wars in Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan, while an air war continues in Libya. Pentagon commands cover the entire planet, and US military assistance programmes are active in almost every country.

Wars reorder politics and values. They remake that which is taken to be true and right. They render the world unrecognisable from what it was when the balloon went up. That is why epochs of world history are so often marked off by the dates of wars. How should we understand the era of 9/11? In what historical timeline does it belong?

Tarak Barkawi is a senior lecturer in War Studies at the Centre of International Studies in the University of Cambridge.


Preventing the Next 9/11

September 5, 2011

By Ronald K. Noble, Secretary General of Interpol.


In my official visits to 150 countries, I have witnessed first-hand the transformation from the post-9/11 single-minded focus by governments and law enforcement on Al Qaeda and foreign-born terrorists, to today’s concerns about foreign criminals generally, and cybercrime and security more specifically.

The question as we look forward, therefore, is how can we protect our countries from Al Qaeda’s remaining elements and from other emerging serious criminal threats on the horizon?


“Top Secret America”: A look at the military’s Joint Special Operations Command

Sept 3, 2011 — The Washington Post


The president has also given JSOC the rare authority to select individuals for its kill list — and then to kill, rather than capture, them. Critics charge that this individual man-hunting mission amounts to assassination, a practice prohibited by U.S. law. JSOC’s list is not usually coordinated with the CIA, which maintains a similar, but shorter roster of names.

Created in 1980 but reinvented in recent years, JSOC has grown from 1,800 troops prior to 9/11 to as many as 25,000, a number that fluctuates according to its mission. It has its own intelligence division, its own drones and reconnaissance planes, even its own dedicated satellites. It also has its own cyberwarriors, who, on Sept. 11, 2008, shut down every jihadist Web site they knew.


9/11 After A Decade: Have We Learned Anything?

September 2, 2011

by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts


How well has the US government’s official account of the event held up over the decade?

Not very well. The chairman, vice chairman, and senior legal counsel of the 9/11 Commission wrote books partially disassociating themselves from the commission’s report. They said that the Bush administration put obstacles in their path, that information was withheld from them, that President Bush agreed to testify only if he was chaperoned by Vice President Cheney and neither were put under oath, that Pentagon and FAA officials lied to the commission and that the commission considered referring the false testimony for investigation for obstruction of justice.

Most of the questions from the 9/11 families were not answered. Important witnesses were not called. The commission only heard from those who supported the government’s account. The commission was a controlled political operation, not an investigation of events and evidence. Its membership consisted of former politicians. No knowledgeable experts were appointed to the commission.


Was There an Alternative? Looking Back on 9/11 a Decade Later

6 September 201, Noam Chomsky, TomDispatch | Book Excerpt


On May 1, 2011, Osama bin Laden was killed in his virtually unprotected compound by a raiding mission of 79 Navy SEALs, who entered Pakistan by helicopter. After many lurid stories were provided by the government and withdrawn, official reports made it increasingly clear that the operation was a planned assassination, multiply violating elementary norms of international law, beginning with the invasion itself.

There appears to have been no attempt to apprehend the unarmed victim, as presumably could have been done by 79 commandos facing no opposition — except, they report, from his wife, also unarmed, whom they shot in self-defense when she “lunged” at them, according to the White House.


9/11 and the Damage Done

Sep 7, 2011

By Deanne Stillman


In the months leading up to 9/11, America had been in the grips of what may be the most intense celebrity mania we have yet experienced. Day after day there was chatter and talk and screaming about the banal and talentless Britney Spears; the coverage had cleaned the slate—there was no mention of anything else, certainly not another kind of chatter that was being picked up by intelligence agencies everywhere—although there was an occasional time out for discussion of another kind of doom—shark attacks! The summer of 2001 apparently had the highest number of shark attacks ever, or at least the most reported attacks, and everybody was supposed to get out of the water now!

I should mention at this point that I generally steer clear of celebrity coverage. It’s just not what I write. But to me, the Blake story was different; it had certain elements that appealed to me, and I agreed to take on this assignment, thus adding to the avalanche of news and commentary about famous people that is continually being produced.

Which brings me to why I was in New York on 9/11.


How Not to Commemorate 9/11

Sep 6, 2011

By Stanley Kutler


Big lies nourish big beliefs. Do we remember the lie peddled by Bush and Cheney that Mohammed Atta, the alleged leader of the bombers, had met with Iraqi intelligence operatives in Prague? Widely read New York Times columnist William Safire, no doubt working with administration-provided “evidence,” repeatedly promoted the charge, giving it widespread currency. No matter that Vaclav Havel, the highly respected Czech president, proclaimed the allegation a pure fabrication, despite his support for the American invasion. Alas! Poor Havel simply did not realize that the lie was a valuable asset for his Washington friends (and the ultimate con man, Ahmed Chalabi), again anxious to provide further “proof” of Saddam as an imminent threat to American security. Yet Congress, most of the nation and the media organs believed and promoted such lies, only at the cost of truth and our historical integrity.

We invaded Iraq more than eight years ago. President Barack Obama announced we were leaving this year, but his secretary of defense, Leon Panetta, is pressing the Iraqi government for a decision as to whether it “wants” us to remain. Are we to believe that we simply will abandon bases costing billions of dollars to build?


Bin Laden’s Unintended Legacy

Sep 6, 2011

By William Pfaff


The attacks were meant to punish the American government for its policies. The first provocation for the attack was the U.S. force stationed in Saudi Arabia. The second was one about which Americans who have public careers, and especially Washington careers, prefer not to talk about. It was, and is, American acquiescence in and support for Israel’s continuing annexation of territories assigned by the United Nations in 1948 to compose a new, independent Palestinian state.


ADC-RI Releases Publication for the 10-Year Mark of 9/11

Washington, DC | www.adc.org | September 7, 2011 – In observance of the 10-year mark of the 9/11 tragedy, ADC Research Institute (ADC-RI) releases its newest publication: Arab and Muslim Civil Rights and Identity: A Selection of Scholarly Writings from the Decade after 9/11.

The current publication, marking ten years after 9/11, seeks to offer insight into the many dimensions of what Arabs and Muslims in America have faced throughout the past decade. It brings together scholars from around the country, who present the legal and social challenges with which members of these communities have been confronted. In particular, the writings explore how Arab and Muslim Americans were impacted in relation to their civil rights and civil liberties, as well as their image in the public eye and their own sense of identity.

If interested in a copy of the publication, please send your name, address, email, telephone number, and numbers of copies requested by email to adc@adc.org

View the Table of Contents


Muslim Travelers Say They’re Still Saddled With 9/11 Baggage

Kari Huus, MSNBC, 9/6/11

Imagine it is 5 a.m. and you’ve landed in New York after a 12-hour overseas flight. Standing in the line for U.S. citizens, you wait as a border agent asks passengers ahead a few cursory questions, then waves them through. Your family is instead ushered into a separate room for more than an hour of searching and questioning.

This was the welcome that Hassan Shibly, traveling with his wife and infant son, said they received in August 2010, when they returned to the United States from Jordan, after traveling to Mecca. . .

One complaint filed by the nonprofit Council on American Islamic Relations with Homeland Security and the Justice Department said its Michigan branch alone has received “dozens of reports (from Muslim travelers) … that CBP agents pointed firearms at them, detained and handcuffed them without predication of crimes or charges, and questioned them about their worship habits.” (More)


Poll: Many Americans Uncomfortable With Muslims

Eric Marrapodi, CNN, 9/6/2011

Ten years after 9/11, Americans are wrestling with their opinions of Muslims, a new survey found, and where Americans get their TV news is playing a role in those opinions.

Nearly half of Americans would be uncomfortable with a woman wearing a burqa, a mosque being built in their neighborhood or Muslim men praying at an airport.   Forty-one percent would be uncomfortable if a teacher at the elementary school in their community were Muslim.

Forty-seven percent of survey respondents said the values of Islam are at odds with American values. (More)


Anti-Muslim Slurs ‘Truly Unacceptable’ Say Religious Leaders

R. Leigh Coleman, Christian Post Reporter, 9/5/2011

Stories being told on a new website reveal tales of ten years of discrimination and bigotry against religious minorities in the post-9/11 era in America.

The project, titled “Unheard Voices of 9/11,” officially launched online Friday and calls for people to share their experiences about being discriminated, targeted and demoralized because of their spiritual and cultural beliefs.

Religious leaders are in favor of the website saying it highlights the growing number of hate crimes, physical threats, and profiling of ethnic groups in America. (More)


9/11 Lesson: U.S. needs to repair itself first

September 7, 2011


Time heals. Memories fade some. Children who lost parents have grown up with a keepsake photo, ring or earring and moved on. But like a fault in the earth’s crust, a deep fissure from that attack remains just beneath the nation’s surface.

The line was etched just 15 days after the attack. “Either you are with us or against us in the fight against terror,” President George W. Bush declared in a joint press conference with French President Jacques Chirac. There is no neutrality, Bush had decreed, evoking the raw emotions of 9/11 itself: “All nations, if they want to fight terror, must do something.” He formalized this policy in a U.N. speech a few days later and soon after declared America’s right to launch a first strike against a potential terrorist nation, known as the doctrine of preemption.

From that day on, the U.S. has wrestled with some hard lessons about itself and the world. Polls show Americans value their independent superpower status as much as ever. But they wonder whom to trust at home and abroad .