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The effects of 9/11 on America's political and social environment

2001-2008: George W. Bush

Short-Term Effects

  • total of 2,977 victims

  • American air space completely shut down

  • stock markets closed → Dow Jones declined by 14%, rapid recovery though (at first)

  • insurance companies, airlines and tourist sector showed longer period of recession

  • short-term oversupply of rental space in tall buildings in NYC, reduction in hotel occupancy

  • Transportation Security Commission → discrimination of “Muslim-looking” travelers

  • increase of hate crimes shortly after 9/11



Long-Term Effects

two wars:

I. Afghanistan: “Operation Enduring Freedom”: find Osama Bin Laden, destroy Al Quaeda, remove Taliban

II. Iraq - “Operation Iraqi Freedom”

- questionable justification: Weapons of Mass Destruction and Saddam Hussein's link to Al Quaeda

- officially ends by the end of 2011, but permanent base remains


  • increase of patriotism, many joined military

  • high approval rates for Bush: “war on terror” and “the axis of evil”

  • USA Patriot Act: October 26, 2001

- enhancing security vs. constraining individual rights

- allowed law enforcement agencies to search private data

- gave USA right to detain and deport immigrants suspected of terrorist activities

→ Guantanamo Bay (Cuba), torture as method to gain information


  • November 2002: Department of Homeland Security

- protecting the territory of the United State from terrorist attacks

- determine “risk of terrorist attacks” on scale from “low” to “severe”

  • 2004: Bush's re-election, but:

- missing proof for WMD, evidence of tampered data (Vice President Dick Cheyney and CIA )

- Bin Laden not yet found

  • approval rates for Bush dropped due to:

- missing justification for wars and their huge costs and casualties, national debt (resulted from tax cuts and wars)

  • approx. $1.3 Trillion for wars vs. $1.3 Trillion in debt Congress wants to clear off by the end of 2011


2008-present: Barack Obama

Importance

  • “hope of the nation”

  • campaigns against him because of Muslim background (dad from Kenya)

  • main campaign pledges: end wars, rescue economy, reduce national debt (“Change”)


Economic Struggles

  • 2009: recession at lowest point

- faltering banks, auto companies bankrupt

- 9.8% unemployment (today at 9.2%)

  • meanwhile: Republican strategy to undermine Obama's presidency

- against his request for bipartisanship, drove parties further apart

- 2010: Democratic loss in midterm elections

- Republicans: lower taxes and cuts in social benefits etc.

- “9/11 first responders”- bill, “Jobs Plan”

  • stimulus package failed to recover economy

  • Obama's popularity bruised → risk for upcoming elections

- Republican candidates remind of Bush jr. (Tea Party movement)

- approval rate of Congress at low point of 9%


Prejudices against Muslims

  • 2007: study proves lower wages for Arab and Muslim men

  • 2009: Obama's speech in Cairo → “a new beginning”

  • Islamic cultural center close to Ground Zero reason for protest

  • among Conservatives: reserved acceptance of “Arab Spring”, fear of Islamist threat


Killing of Osama Bin Laden

  • May 1, 2011 on Pakistani ground

  • contradictory statements about legal aspect of killing, perhaps international law violated

  • no end to war in Afghanistan


Issues with Guantanamo Bay

  • cannot be closed because detainees cannot be sent to their home countries, since it is by law prohibited to spend national money for such actions (Obama said he does not accept the extension of this law to the fiscal year of 2012)


Conclusion:

  1. patriotism, national identity

  2. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan → costs and casualties

  3. national debt

  4. election of Barack Obama

  5. political extremism, no much-needed bipartisanship (maybe return to very conservative president)

  6. discrimination of Muslims

  7. Guantanamo Bay

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