What 9/11 Did Not Change
THE SOURCE: “9/11 in Retrospect” by Melvyn P. Leffler, in Foreign Affairs, Sept.–Oct. 2011.
Looking back, it’s easy to think of September 11 and its immediate aftermath as a time when U.S. officials made strategic choices that fundamentally changed the nation’s course. Melvyn P. Leffler, a historian at the University of Virginia, takes a different view. The 9/11 attacks were terrible, but “they did not change the world or transform the long-term trajectory of U.S. grand strategy,” Leffler writes.
Rewind to late August 2001. President George W. Bush had been in office about eight months, and his foreign-policy team was busy with an array of familiar issues, from free trade to China. Then the attacks happened. Suddenly—necessarily—the Bush administration had a new focus. In the months that followed, the administration launched the “global war on terror.”
To read the rest of this article, please consider becoming a WQ subscriber, which allows online access to the current WQ issue as well as archive content. Other access options are below.
Research, browse, and discover more than 35 years of articles, essays, and reviews by preeminent scholars and writers. Our searchable archive of back issues is free for WQ subscribers.