World News: September 11 and The Upheavals Leading Towards a New Era

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The attacks of September 11 marked the collective memory to the point of upsetting the apprehension of the world as it then presented itself. Twenty years later, one thing is clear: Don't these upheavals pave the way for a new era?

The commemorations of the attacks of September 11, 2001, have given rise, both in the United States and throughout the world, to numerous comments both on the reasons for such an act and on the consequences that resulted. Among the latter, one of them has often come up as a leitmotif highlighting the end of the North American hyperpower, a thesis put forward by the diplomat Hubert Védrine.

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Proven or not, however, it appears that the United States has lost since these attacks a certain global influence, leaving poles of agitation and contestation that can destabilize regional and global balances. Not that the United States was in charge of the security of the world, even if the facts might suggest it, but the North American hyperpower, the fruit of the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1989, masked a form of annoyance and irritation, sometimes leading to a deep hatred, towards the homeland of the Founding Fathers.

The political, economic, military and above all cultural omnipotence of the United States during the nineties generated in specific points of the world resentments that are for some killed and extinguished on their own when others have materially been concentrated, the attacks of September 11 proving it.

A-Polar World and Micro-Conflicts

At the same time, it is not wrong to argue that, blinded by its power, the fruit of a mode of operation specific to its nation, the United States did not appreciate the appearance of an a-polar world freed from the ideological pressure imprinted by the Soviet Union. Political misconduct or overconfidence? The two reasons come forward and answer each other and have ended up obscuring the drama of September 2001.

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Another error, perhaps more underlying, would lie in an overly Manichean interpretation of history. The fall of the Soviet Union, of a bi-polar world, by certain reassuring aspects, regulated by the balance of nuclear terror, has totally reshuffled the stakes of international diplomacy leaving the United States in a dominant position for lack of a rival powerful enough to upset them. The idea of a hyperpower giving birth to the failure of the bloodless Soviet Union is therefore not to be excluded or totally dismissed either.

However, beyond the diplomatic explanation, the question now arises of the definition of the reality in which these attacks have influenced the world. Whether Western or not, these acts, which in their time were deeds of war, profoundly changed our relationship in the twentieth century. Thus, and a contrario, if the nineteenth century died out with the First World War, the twentieth perished with the beginning of the twenty-first.

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A time of conflicts armed or secret, of excessive nuclearization, the twentieth century died with these attacks, tipping humanity into another era made of micro-conflicts with planetary repercussions through the diplomatic and political interactions induced.

Civilizations and Opposition

The terrorist threat, nagging and continuous for two decades, often underlying these conflicts, has proved and still proves that the power of States, even if they are haloed like the United States of the first world power, is capable of destabilizing a global whole, ultimately fragile and exposed.

International relations, long articulated around the notion of war or clash of civilizations, a thesis defended in 1996 by Samuel Huntington, seems to have shown itself in the face of the ideological complexity of the current century. Breviary of many diplomats to quickly explain and justify at the same time aggressive policies or questionable diplomatic interference, the postulate of a civil opposition no longer holds at the time of a globalization that involves among the most isolated regions of the planet.

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It is therefore clear that the attacks of 11 September 2001 have changed more than the apprehension of the world. What did the United States have? The upheaval was intended to be global, diplomatic, and political, but also and above all cultural, referring each of us to different conceptions of history, conceptions, (historians will have to confirm it or not for several decades), opening the page to a new era, or even to new civilizations.


Bio: Olivier Longhi an opinion columnist for, has extensive experience in European history. A seasoned journalist with fifteen years of experience, he is currently professor of history and geography in the Toulouse region of France. He has held a variety of publishing positions, including Head of Agency and Chief of Publishing. A journalist, recognized blogger, editor, and editorial project manager, he has trained and managed editorial teams, worked as a journalist for various local radio stations, a press and publishing consultant, and a communications consultant.

Caption: The attacks of September 11, 2001, upset a humanity locked in its certainties to the point of imagining that a new era would open today.

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