September 11 marks 20 years since the attack on the Twin Towers in the United States—the most technological act of terror in modern history. The day after which Enduring Freedom—the longest US military operation in history—began.
What's interesting is that the Taliban as an organized force had been defeated in 2001, when there had been fewer US troops in the country than there were Americans in 2021 providing evacuation from Kabul airport. But after that, from the government, it had turned into a network structure 130,000 ISAF contingents could not cope with.
September 11 is the day of the Taliban government inauguration, after the pro-Western Ghani government had collapsed and the Islamists had returned to power. A mocking grin at hundreds of victims of the tragedy. Osama bin Laden is dead and buried in the Arabian Sea, but his legacy seems to be very much alive. Or not? How has the world changed years after the planes with 60 tons of fuel on board had crashed into the World Trade Center building? What has changed for millions of people on our planet after the years of the longest war on terror?
The average person has begun to experience more stress during the flight, and governments and private companies have begun to allocate more funds to safety.
Times when you could go on board with utility knives, perfume, and your own water—the list of items that can be used as weapons is growing by leaps and bounds—are gone for good. A quarter of a century ago, checking in for a flight, getting through the airport security system and boarding a plane could take up to half an hour.
Today it is a quest for a couple of hours with endoscopes, corridors, magnetic scanners, and programs that check your documents for authenticity. In the United States alone, tens of billions of dollars have been spent on this—the staff of air marshals has been brought to several thousand people, the Transportation Security Administration has been established, baggage claim is delayed because it also gets through the endoscopes.
Financial losses and a blow to the economy
In New York alone, companies working in the "terrorist attack epicentr" got paid nearly $700 million in subsidies. All in all, the damage to the city can reach $50-60 billion. And it's not even about the fact that it took cosmic amounts to repair the metro damaged by falling buildings, restore the network, or insurance payments—people are plainly afraid to work where skyscrapers fell. Passengers are scared to fly on the anniversary of the strikes—the airlines canceled dozens of flights simply because they departed on 9/11.
This means indirect losses and shortfall in profits. This means that workers lose countless hours a year getting through countless security checks. Insurance companies are forced to raise rates because they know that in downtown Manhattan, thousands of people can die and office buildings can collapse. Air cargo lingers on countless sieves of the TSA checkpoints, and this is a clumsy government machine, not flexible private companies.
Traffic flows are not directed to maximize profits, but to comply with FDA regulations and be inspected by operatives. Is it possible to calculate the losses for the planet? Even without the trillions of dollars spent on Afghanistan? There are doubts.
But the most interesting thing is that overall, the safety for the average person has increased. Gone are the major terrorist attacks such as the bombing of barracks in Beirut, the demolishing embassies in Africa, and attacking ships in the roadstead. More and more terrorists are switching to knife attacks, car attacks, and bombs from scrap materials—these actions are difficult to track down and stop, unlike large-scale actions, but they cause many times less losses. Shooting in Vienna in 2020—five killed, explosions in Catholic churches in Ceylon—220 dead. In both cases, the Islamic State is behind the attacks. It's just that the security bar has been raised high in the Old World and the United States, and they have to act on the periphery.
Geopolitics: Syria and Iraq in ruins
The largest countries that have served as training centers, militant sponsors or regional leaders who claim to influence geopolitics lie in ruins. Syria and Iraq from building nuclear reactors and militant camps, as well as influencing the hydrocarbon market, were overthrown in the era of city-states. Iran is engaged in three military conflicts and has struggled to get rid of imports of petroleum products by imposing quotas on gasoline. Sunnis and Shiites enthusiastically fight each other. In addition, groups of Sunnis, for example, in Syria, being under siege during the civil war, willingly fight among themselves.
Pakistan finally broke away from the coalition with the United States, beginning to actively support the Taliban. It is not for nothing that terrorist number 1 was hiding in the north of Pakistan—the country needs the Islamists' support in the low-level conflict with India. The United States will always be far away, and Afghanistan will remain a neighbor, Pashtuns live on both sides of the border. The country had been split by thousands of protests when the government announced that Karachi supported the Coalition. It is quite possible that the activity in the region of both China and Pakistan will be directed against India, although expansion into Tajikistan and Uzbekistan is not excluded.
The Taliban, who went through the hell of losses, just like al-Qaeda, are in many ways not the same as they were at the time of the attack on the towers. Because the leaders and middle command level often perished, and young people joined the groups that were already more Westernized and more liberal (as far as this can be applied to terrorists).
Hence the allowance for women to work and study, and in general, so far rather mild actions after the seizure of power. The United States continues to totally control the battlefield with drones and flying batteries, but the response to live bombs and fighters "who virgins in paradise are waiting for" is still hard to find.
Especially in terms of control over territory after a military victory. The roughly 7 million veterans who have served in the Persian Gulf from the war to the present will greatly influence the political climate in the United States. The war does not change, but on the whole, the West chooses the path of isolationism and becomes disillusioned with messianism in the Middle East. And the victory of the Taliban will cause the strengthening of the radical Islamists’ positions.