Daily Answer Writing
11 September 2021

Q. Discuss the impact of the Terrorist attack of 9/11 on the International Polity and on South Asia. (250 Words)

  • Source: Indian Express: Page 13/Explained - America's failure of imagination.
  • GS 1: World History, GS 2: IR


Approach Answer:

Introduction: The September 11th Attack in 2001 were carried out by the Al-Qaeda Terrorists housed in Afghanistan under the protection of the then Taliban government. This prompted a forceful reaction from the United States of America(USA) and its allies in which Afghanistan was attacked with the help of small opposition of Anti-Taliban Northern Alliance forces. The US eventually killed the Taliban head Mullah Omar and the Al-Qaeda head in Pakistan. Eventually leaving Afghanistan recently only to be taken over by the Taliban again.


Impact on International Policy:

    • Busting the myth of American permeability: The United States had believed that it could isolate itself from the troublesome world beyond its frontiers whenever it wants. This myth of invulnerability of America was partially eroded by during Cold War by the Soviets with their entry into space and the introduction of intercontinental ballistic missiles(ICBMs). But al-Qaeda’s attacks on the Twin Towers in New York breached that even physical attack is possible on the US.
    • Indicating the End of US Hegemony: The period after the end of the Cold War only the US as the undisputed  hegemonic power in the world. The Afghan episode showed that the US cannot get whatever it wants and that there are vulnerabilities in the US intelligence and military infrastructure which can be expoited.
    • Re-Strengthening of NATO: After the Afghanistan attack NATO(North Atlantic Treaty alliance) strengthened which paved the way for the invasion of Iraq too.
    • Terrorism-brought to the center-stage of polity: Mechanisms such as FATF(Financial Action Task force) are brought to the lime-light due to the war against terrorism.
    • Impact on Asian Partners: Countries like Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Phillippines depended on the US for their security. These have starting strengthening themselves to reduce the dependency on the US.
    • Opening for China and Russia for power projection: The busting of the invincibility of the US have given more confidence to China and Russia, who are now more confident about their power projection in the Central Asia.


Impact on South Asia:

    • Greater funding of Pakistan impacted India: During the American occupation, Pakistan was given strategic fighter jets -F 16s and were given billions of dollars in aid. This was used against Indian interests.
    • India's Strategic Entry into Afghanistan: India, before exiting was able to create a partnership with the Afghani establishment in terms of construction of roads and irrigation projects, including Salma Dam. It would be difficult even for Taliban to refute this partnership and might want to continue this engagement.
    • Recognition of India as the sole reliable partner in the region: Eventually the NATO partners have realized the importance of India for the stability in the region. India has in the recent past enhanced its engagement with the US, France, Germany and Australia.
    • Pakistan remains as the mother of all terrorist activities: All terror forces currently breed out of Pakistan. The US exit has not changed this scenario at all.


Conclusion: The 9/11 incident created a watershed moment in the world history, creating a set of permanent fissures in the world. The end of the Afghan war is in no way the end of violence in Afghanistan and therefore India would have to remain self-reliant in terms of security preparation to face all the eventualities that are expected to occur.

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