September 11th 2001 One Year On: A New Era in World Politics?
By Andrew Cottey
In the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC, it was commonplace to say that 11th September 2001 would be remembered as a day that changed the world. One year later, it is an appropriate time to take stock of the events of 11th September and developments since then and assess their impact on world politics. In this paper I undertake such a review, advancing a number of arguments. First, not withstanding the shock of 11th September 2001, many important aspects of world politics have not changed. The basic political structure of international politics, built on the concept of the sovereign nation-state, and the dilemmas of global governance in an anarchic world arising from the state system, have not changed. Many global problems - globalisation, global warming, north-south economic divisions - have not been significantly affected by the events of September 2001. Nevertheless, the international politics did change in two very important ways on 11th September 2001. First, the terrorist attacks on the US confirm the emergence of a new type of threat: a truly global terrorist group, engaged in an all-embracing conflict with the US and its allies and unconstrained in the violence which it is willing to use. The challenge posed by al- Qaida (and allied groups) is therefore likely to be a key feature of international politics for years to come.
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