Today is the 19th Anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attack on strategic or most symbolic reflections of American power in New York and DC. Nearly two decades thereafter, the world is far from being clearer about its security. This is in spite of two wars involving the US military in Afghanistan and Iraq. Terrorism has not only spread, each state is also using the concept to settle internal snags by labeling just about any threats as terrorism. The world is less and less safe, many would argue.
Above all, it remains imprisoned in conspiracy theories about how and what the global war on terror sought to achieve. The 19th Anniversary is being overshadowed by three inter-connected issues of a global public health crisis – COVID 19; the presidential election in the US and great power competition between the status quo power – the US and a rising power – China.
But memorials activities would go on in remembrance of the day. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, (NATO), for instance, is commemorating the Anniversary. But it is an event very few would physically participate. For instance, media representatives would not cover the memorial in person due to precautionary measures regarding COVID-19.
Attendees would include no more than Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General joining Kay Bailey Hutchison, US Permanent Representative to the organisation and permanent representatives of Alliance member nations. Both Stoltenberg and Hutchison would, according to the press release to that effect, make brief remarks, observe a moment of silence at 14: 46 said to be “the exact minute 19 years ago of the first attack on the North Tower of the World Trade Center” and the ceremony would be over. In all, everything would just take no more than 12 minutes.
NATO itself is not what it used to be, what with Donald Trump’s rather less enthusiastic attitude to it in the context of ‘America First’.
Perhaps, the best description of the world situation is the notion of the Interregnum: the old order is sick and tired but a new order has not been born. That is good old Gramscianism as refurbished in post Cold War International Relations scholarship. The puzzle is the difficulty of knowing what the world order ahead would look like. It used to be said it is an Asian Century. That does not appear to be what the Asians are thinking anymore.
Whatever or whoever’s century, it doesn’t appear Africa’s fortunes would be significantly transformed. There are no signs of such yet although most turning points in human history came not from planning. In that sense, it could still be morning yet on creation day regarding this being the African Century.