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Geographies of September 11th : How has the world changed? Before and after View from space Ground Zero Locale : Mapping Ground Zero Location : U.S. regions pulled together Attacks took place on East Coast, we did not experience them directly in our backyard.

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Geographies of September 11th : How has the world changed?

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location u s regions pulled together
Location: U.S. regions pulled together
  • Attacks took place on East Coast, we did not experience them directly in our backyard.
  • Yet empathy and fear spread throughout the U.S.
  • No more New York jokes.
  • More identification with government workers (firefighters, police, mail carriers, etc.)
sacred sites

“Sacred” sites


New York

Washington, DC

freedom tower
Freedom Tower

Rising 1,776 feet (tallest on Earth) with wind turbines on top

WTC Memorial

“Reflected Absence” fountains in footprints of Twin Towers

reconstruction priorities
Reconstruction priorities

Skyscrapers vulnerable, provocative target

Pentagon functional, expected target

has september 11 changed the world
Has September 11“changed the world”?
  • The attacks affected the entire world.
  • The attacks primarily changed the

United States.

  • But changing the U.S. can in turn

change the world.

distance and might no longer protect the united states
Distance and might no longer protect the United States

British burn White House, 1812

Japanese fire balloons, 1944

Pancho Villa raids Columbus NM, 1916

Japanese bomb Hawaii, 1941

u s civilians have experienced the pain of war
U.S. civilians haveexperienced the pain of war

Srebrenica, Bosnia, 1995: 7,000 dead

United States, 2001: 3,000 dead

Rwanda, Africa, 1994: 800,000 dead


Use of Islamist terrorism

to justify crackdowns

Russians flatten capital of Chechnya


Conflicts intensify in

Muslim regions

(though not necessarily centered on religion)

Indians in Kashmir

Israelis in West Bank and Gaza

Chinese in Xinjiang

al qaeda as a product of globalization bin laden exploiting and manipulating muslims alienation
Al-Qaeda as a productof globalization(Bin Laden exploiting andmanipulating Muslims’ alienation)


Foreign domination


al qaeda as an example of globalization bin laden the multinational ceo
Al-Qaeda as an exampleof globalization(Bin Laden the multinational CEO)

Translated U.S. military leaflet dropped on Afghanistan

Internet cafe

Saudi bank

the enemy of my enemy is my friend
“The enemy of my enemyis my friend”?
  • U.S. aided Islamic fundamentalists to

fight Soviet Union in Afghanistan:

"What was more important in the worldview of history? The Taliban or the fall of the Soviet Empire? A few stirred-up Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?” (President Carter’s national security advisor

Zbigniew Brzezinski, 1996).

  • Who are our new friends against Al-Qaeda? Are we now risking the same backfire effect (or “blowback”) again?
war in afghanistan
War in Afghanistan
  • Bin Laden provoked U.S. to launch ground invasion?
  • Bin Laden thought he would “fight the last war” that the Afghans had won against the Russians.
  • Taliban were easy to defeat in war, but the “peace” can become more difficult.
Complex Afghan ethnic geographyNo matter which ethnic“warlord” we support, someone else feels we are taking sides
caspian basin oil and gas pipelines
Caspian Basinoil and gaspipelines

Plans for

route across


new u s military bases
New U.S. military bases

New U.S. “Sphere of

Influence” in region.

Bases built to wage the

wars, or the wars waged

to build the bases?

Gulf War,


2. Yugoslav Wars,


3. Afghan War,


4. Iraq War,


current debates
Current debates
  • Does the “War on Terror” justify a permanent role for U.S. military bases and oil companies?
  • Carries the risk of “overstaying our welcome” and causing a new “blowback”?
  • Iraq War justified by linking Bin Laden, Saddam

(though they hate each other)?

  • Resentment/recruitment increasing since occupation of Iraq (Self-fulfilling prophecy?)
confronting hatred at the roots
Confronting hatred at the roots

“There has been a remarkable reluctance in America to confront the more complex historical dimensions of this hatred. The inclination instead has been to rely on abstract assertions like terrorists ‘hate freedom’ or that their religious background makes them despise Western culture. To win the war on terrorism…. begin a political effort that focuses on the conditions that brought about their emergence.”

(President Carter’s national security advisor

Zbigniew Brzezinski, 2001).

geographies of september 11
Boundaries violated in attack on “homeland.”

U.S. regions have a common grievance & experience of war.

“Sense of place” of 9/11 attack sites.

New phase of anti- immigrant sentiment

Geographies of September 11



  • Islam vs. West geopolitical simplifications.
  • Al-Qaeda as a product & example of globalization.
  • Ethnic complexities of Middle East/Central Asia
  • Natural resources (oil).
  • New U.S. military bases
  • Shifting international alliances