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SEPTEMBER 11/ We are less free than we were

Vittorio Emanuele Parsi on the years following September 11, the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya and the loss of some freedoms for Americans and Europeans.

Ground Zero Ground Zero

“The world changed much less than we thought it would after September 11th. The thing that is no longer as it was before is the degree of freedom, of civil freedoms in the United States and Europe.” This is the judgment of Vittorio Emanuele Parsi, an expert in International Relations, ten years after the terrorist attacks on the towers of the World Trade Center, which brought an anomalous and smarmy war onto the stage of history for the first time.

America was in the era of Bush, the President perhaps least loved by Europe. The terrorist attacks by Osama bin Laden on the heart of the American “empire” caught the United States off guard, and they acted swiftly with war. But bin Laden was not the head of a state. Not knowing where and how to aim at the horseman, Bush aimed at the horse, or rather, at one of the horses, Afghanistan—not the principal one, but the most vulnerable—thus opening a Pandora’s Box that has yet to be closed. “The strategic lesson to be learned from this? One cannot open up a new front in the war without closing the old one. One cannot bring war to Iraq before closing up the one in Afghanistan, where there is no sign of an end even now”, Parsi said. “In any case, the most important thing is that world-wide jihadism has lived out its lifespan. That is what matters. First it hit the Twin Towers in a highly symbolic attack, and then it touched Europe, in Madrid and London. But this was its last act because the West responded and terror was not able to defend itself. No, global terror no longer exists.”

Let’s take a step back. After the attack, the Bush administration took a new road in politics. They put “multilateralism” in the file cabinet, with the conviction that a post September 11 world calls for determined actions by a principle decisive actor, the United States. Nevertheless, America involved its Western allies in the strategy of "working together” to defend civilization against terrorism and its friends. Afghanistan, but especially Iraq were the scenes of this "coalition of the willing," enlisted to put an end to Saddam's regime. Then America chose a different president. Obama, on his part, has begun a new strategy in Libya, that of "leading from behind", putting the “good guys” in a position to play an active role in the process of change. This is something completely different from what Bush had in mind. "You ask me for a judgment on this strategy, but the reality is that, today, we do not have the conditions to even imagine something different. The United States has demonstrated in the field that they do not have the political and military capabilities necessary to maintaining a multipolar system, and the case of Libya is the perfect example of this new situation. Now the U.S. is much more interested in Egypt as a state-hinge between the Middle East and North Africa, and has consistently left it up to the Europeans, with France in the lead, to lead the operation in Libya. It is a choice—albeit strongly conditioned by the changed context—that definitely gives Europe more responsibility".