September 11, 2001 attacks truly shook the world power US in every sense. A look back at the `Black Day` in the United States history, a day of unimaginable tragedy, still reminds us of emotional stories of loss and the spirit of hope of many Americans.
In an exclusive interview with Shruti Saxena of Zeenews.com, defence expert C Uday Bhaskar discusses the rise of anti-Islamic feeling in the US after the 9/11 attacks and how the American society has changed after this incident.
C Uday Bhaskar is director of the New Delhi-based National Maritime Foundation and former officiating director of Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.
Shruti: Do you think it has become tougher now for al Qaeda and other terrorist groups to launch an attack on the US?
Uday: Yes, clearly if you look at the evidence of the last ten years, I would suggest that the US has been able to ensure a level of physical security for the mainland which has made it much more difficult for any terror outfit to attack its mainland and this is reflected in the fact that for the last ten years, there has been no terror attack there. And I feel their stringent policies play an important part as far as homeland security is concerned.
Shruti: How has this incident changed the US as a society?
Uday: Over the past ten years I think the US has clearly paid a very heavy price for 9/11 domestically. I see this at two levels. One is that if you review the entire manner in which the United States carried out the war and the way in which the suspects were taken to places like the Guantanamo Bay, for a country that is the oldest democracy in the world, I would suggest that some of the democratic values and the normative principles that we associate with a liberal democracy were perhaps transgressed and this in turn has had an impact on the internal dynamics of the US. But, more than that one thing I have been noticing whenever I visit the US is that perhaps they have started conflation of terror with Islam and as a result a certain amount of ‘anti-immigrant’ attitude, particularly when it comes to those of the Islamic faith which is unfortunate because you cannot wish Islam away as a religion or in society whether it is the US or any other part of the world.
Shruti: Do you think this anti-Islam feeling will further rake up the terror issue?
Uday: Well, I think that yes, the US does represent a melting pot syndrome where it has paid a heavy price. But, at the same time, I concede that the US has a robust economy and they have the ability to review, regulate and self correct their policies. So, I am hoping that in this case, the US and its society will be able to carry off the same.
Shruti: After Osama bin Laden’s death, how safe do you feel the US is in particular and the world at large?
Uday: Well, I would say that after the bin Laden operation, al Qaeda and its leadership are on the defensive meaning the amount of pressure that has come on them has caused them to re-grow and find their origin again and it will certainly take time. One area that I am concerned is that whenever you have a new leadership, there is a possibility that they want to prove the credibility of al Qaeda as a group and use September 11, 2001 attacks on the US as a benchmark and try and emulate some event of that nature.
Shruti: What lessons should India learn from the US in combating terror?
Uday: I would say that for any democracy, you need that political determination and I regret to say that India lacks it. Our institutional integrity is also very inadequate. I feel for a democracy, every organ be it the Legislature, the Executive, the Judiciary and similarly the media should perform their individual duties to the best of their competence to maintain harmony. Unfortunately, India lacks it in every sense when we compare it with other democracies where the will is much more visible. We are talking about a country where the first attack on Mumbai took place in 1993 and the case is still pending in the Supreme Court. So, that’s where we are.