9/11 - 18 YEARS LATER

much has changed...
18 YEARS AGO, like most everyone else, I watched the planes hit the twin towers on this day, on television, and was stunned. I felt instantly this was a different level of historic event I was witnessing - the world had changed. That gets said a lot, but 9/11 was a major shift - the start of the 21st century that has led, one way or another, to where we are today.

IRONICALLY, the rise of the digital social media world, and the collapse of the banking system a decade ago, could not be foreseen then, nor Trump, Brexit, or the resurgence of Russia and China, and the relative decline of America, in the world. Nor that a Black President would be twice elected in a once slavery-owning nation.

IN SOME WAYS, 9/11 feels like a much-more-distant event, now - like Pearl Harbour, or the Charge of the Light Brigade - because the 2003 illegal war in Iraq, and then the tragic destruction in Syria, as well as the enduring Palestinian-Israeli conflict, not to mention the rise of ever-more extreme radical violent groups in the middle east, and populism across the world, have almost erased the impact.

BUT I RECALL PM Tony Blair speaking that day, pledging alliance to the USA - and for better and worse - that led to 2003's invasion; and it led to the election of Obama, eventually, because of the sort of man Bush was, and surrounded himself with. He was a flawed man, Blair, yet he was, at least, a friend to the idea of a West - of alliances, of the EU, of NATO, of the UN - regardless of how poorly he served those ideals.

THE DISRUPTION we have seen since 2016 is of another magnitude again. Because in 2001, the enemy was very much thought to be outside the walls - now, the enemy is literally elected, by us, or, claims we are the enemy. Our own leaders, in the West, conspire to bring down so much else besides towers. The lurch to disintegration, chaos, may be a mere lust for power, in the rational idea that when things are up for grabs in the mayhem, they can be got dirt cheap. A lesson was learned in the 20th century, when the Soviet Union collapsed... massive fortunes were gained.

BREXIT and the collapse of the UK, the EU - NATO perhaps - perhaps soon the UN - all these goals of deconstruction - feed into the purposes of men (and they are mostly men) like Trump, like Boris, like Farage.

18 YEARS LATER, the fires of the Amazon transfix us on TV; but the terror comes from elections and elected officials - and what war will be waged to save the climate, let alone democracy, now? 2019 is arguably one of the darkest years since 1939, for Britain, for the world. I hope for the best, and prepare for a lesser outcome.

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