9/11 Scorecard

What Bin Laden wanted:

  • the United States in an exhausting war of attrition,
  • Americans and Muslims hating each other for years to come,
  • the United States bankrupted,
  • a fundamentalist Islamic revolution in large oil-producing states,
  • reverence throughout the Islamic world as a saint, and
  • to stay alive

What Bush wanted:

  • no more mega-terrorist attacks on U.S. soil,
  • a delay in nuclear weapons programs development in the Middle East,
  • a regional democratization movement in the Middle East, and
  • reverence in the United States as the second Ronald Reagan

Each got some but not all of what they hoped for. We make no attempt to assess costs here.


[post modified 9/8/11]


2 comments on “9/11 Scorecard

  1. Gordon says:

    Regarding the Bush scorecard, you are more conversant with the history here than I am, but I would need to see the causal relation between Bush’s invasion of Iraq and Al Bouazizi setting himself on fire worked out in detail before scoring a success on number three. It seems too much like post hoc ergo propter hoc to me.

  2. poseidonian says:

    I am agnostic about causes. That said, the Middle East in which it occurred is a very different place than it was before 9/11, because of the actions of these two men, and I’d be surprised if they didn’t play some role. There was a kind of official Bush line about how he wanted people to think about things (that democratization would come through demonstration effects via Iraq, which didn’t occur). But I recall another administration official (Rice?) saying in more subdued tones that they were just trying to shake things loose and see what would happen; 9/11 showed that things couldn’t continue as they had without creating unacceptable costs to the US. That could be very like what actually happened. What Iraq taught the Arab world, among other things, is that their unchallengeable dictators were paper tigers, and that if one consoles oneself that they at least stood up to the US and Israel, they were a lousy bargain to boot. One thing that causing dramatic changes, welcome or not, can do, is inspire the thought that the world is a place where change happens. I suspect that that is a far more powerful thought than people realize.

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