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September 11 of 2001

8:25 am: American Airlines, Flight 11 has been reportedly hijacked and the plane’s transponder has been switched off, making it impossible to track.

8:46 am: Uncertainty, a plane has crashed against the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

8:50 am: The event is being televised around the world and hypotheses are being made. American Airlines, Flight 11 is still unable to be tracked.

9:00 am: United Airlines, Flight 175 is now presumed to be hijacked and is taking a very rapid descending.

9:03 am: United Airlines, Flight 175 hits the South Tower of the World Trade Center. There is no doubt… United States is under terrorist attack.

9:04 am: History has been written.

Al Qaeda’s terrorist attack of 9/11 is one of the most important events in contemporary history and a pivotal point in American’s foreign policy. After this occurrence, the way United States interacted with the world had to be (for better or for worse) revisited and reshaped.

Understanding the unprecedented threat and the significance that non-state actors had achieved aided with technology, made U.S. decide, for security purposes, to increase its military budget to a point that is now difficult (not to say impossible) to pair by other nations. To be more precise, United States has invested close to $8 trillion on the military and homeland security since 9/11, which depending on where you sit, could represent needless or necessary decisions for U.S. and hence, its citizens.

On one hand, some people like Joshua Holland consider adverse the expenditure on military since 9/11, when according to him “Afghanistan costs alone could pay for 15.6 Years of Head Start, which provides education, health, nutrition, and parenting services to low-income children and their families.” Also, some people from this group think that if we use the money being spent outside of U.S. borders, we could not only invest more money on health insurance, education, among others, but we could also open up our market and reduce protectionism, which has been one of the 9/11 aftermaths.

Contrary to this point of view, there’s the other part of the population, who might not be 100% in accordance with the military spending, but still believe it is a necessary evil. This group considers that the terrorist attacks highlighted the global significance of non-state actors and radical Islam, giving U.S. the opportunity to create the strongest military capabilities in the world, in order to prevent, preempt, and attack, if the situation mandates such action. Some people from this group might even see the increase in military budget as a positive consequence of 9/11, since such a large military represents world power.

Internationally, however, the situation has shifted not only after 9/11, but after former President George W. Bush. Current President Barack H. Obama’s focus remains the same as Bush’s (East Asia); however, their approach in the region is opposite. During Bush’s administration he started the “War on Terror” and created even a bigger anti-American sentiment in the region by promoting intervention, wars, and Washington’s relationships with some of the world’s most illiberal regimes. On the contrary, current President Barack H. Obama has followed a more protectionist policy, where he allows countries to solve internal issues without intervention from the United States. An example of this is the Arab Spring, the Ukrainian-Russian issue, and the cut on foreign aid budget by Congress on 2012.

Since Obama’s foreign policy has been based on soft power and nonintervention, this shift has caused resentment, especially from those who do not believe in this kind of approach.  They think President Obama appears weak to the rest of the world and is not keeping its guard in times of commotion. Moreover, the fact he has decided to continue creating treaties among Europe without addressing possible communist threats such as Russia, Cuba, China, and Venezuela, gives them the idea U.S. will soon be in no position to lead the world as it has done until now. This is debatable, if we take into account 1) The consequences hard power and intervention has brought to the nation, 2) The fact the world’s currency is the US Dollar, printed by the United States, and 3) The fact nations are bandwagoning and not balancing U.S. and its multimillionaire military. Also, there is a study conducted by the National Security Agency of the United States, which expects U.S. Power to last for at least the next 30 years. This of course, is still yet to happen and a sudden event, such as that of 9/11, could perfectly well change the course of history.

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