Lecture 23 text-only version

Lecture 23 text-only version - History 20 Lecture 23 The...

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History 20 Lecture 23 The Assault on America I. Why September 11? On September 11, 2001, when terrorists flew jetliners into the World Trade Center towers in New York, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania, Americans watched in a monumental moment of stunned awakening. It seemed that there were people in the world who would risk everything, and commit acts of unspeakable horror, to demonstrate their hatred for America. What happened? Why were there people in the world who seemingly would do anything to strike out at America? This lecture explores attitudes and perceptions about America’s actions in the world since 1990 at the end of the Cold War. There is no attempt here to label any such opinions or viewpoints as “right” or “wrong.” Rather, the effort is try to understand why some global groups today, especially those that perform acts of terror, feel so hostile toward the United States and its foreign policy as it has emerged in the post-Cold War period. II. The facts: What exactly preceded 9/11? As a first step, we should review and further explain some critical events in the waning years of the Cold War. Recall from our previous lecture on the “Soviet empire” that in 1979, the Soviet Union launched an armed intervention into Afghanistan. In response, there was fierce resistance from inside Afghanistan. Muslim groups calling themselves “mujahideen,” an Arabic word meaning “those who struggle,” organized against Soviet troops. Inside Afghanistan, mujahideen eventually organized into two large umbrella groups: the Northern Alliance and the Taliban. When the Soviet Union left Afghanistan a decade later, a civil war broke out between these two groups. The Taliban won and established an Islamic revivalist government in 1996. During the decade of fighting, many other individuals and groups also traveled to Afghanistan from other Muslim areas of the world including various Middle Eastern locales, from Pakistan, and from various Central Asian areas, most of which were still encompassed by the government of the Soviet Union.
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These individuals also became known as mujahideen because they, too, believed that they were part of a large and growing struggle on a global scale, to fight those who acted against Islam. One individual who ended up in Afghanistan during this period was the son of a wealthy businessman from Saudi Arabia, Osama Bin Laden, who fought and organized extensively on the side of the mujahideen against the Soviet Union. The United States, in the context of the Cold War environment, funneled huge
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This note was uploaded on 07/26/2010 for the course HIS hist 20 taught by Professor Ying during the Spring '09 term at Riverside Community College.

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Lecture 23 text-only version - History 20 Lecture 23 The...

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