Zakaria: Reflections on 9/11 and its aftermath
September 9th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

Zakaria: Reflections on 9/11 and its aftermath

Editor's Note: Tune in this Sunday in the U.S. at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. for a special edition of GPS: "9/11 and the World".  (If you're watching internationally, tune in Sunday at 4 p.m. ET, 8 p.m. ET and Monday 7 a.m. ET.) Fareed will have a one-on-one with former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and an expert panel on how the world has changed - and not - since September 11, 2001.

By Fareed Zakaria, CNN

Those of us who live in New York have our own special memories of 9/11/2001. I was driving down the Long Island Expressway, about to begin a month-long leave from my job at Newsweek to work on a book. Around 9 a.m., I switched from the CD player to the radio to listen to the news. The reports were chaotic but the outlines of what had happened were clear. I turned around and headed back to New York to get to my wife and 1-year-old boy. As I approached the Triborough Bridge I saw huge barricades and dozens of police cars. All bridges and tunnels were closed. Manhattan had been sealed off. Cell phones were useless that morning because 8 million people were trying to use them simultaneously and the result was cellular gridlock.

I turned around and headed to my destination in Long Island, the home of friends where I had been planning to work on the book.  As soon as I got there, I turned on CNN and watched with horror and anger. Finally, I was able to talk to my wife and knew that she and my son were fine. But soon I got a call from one of my dearest friends, my roommate from college. His brother, Chris, worked on one the high floors of the Towers. No one had heard from him. I began calling friends and contacts at the New York Police Department, the FBI, the CIA - anyone who might have any ideas about what I might do to help. I remember looking at the hospital emergency rooms, with beds set up on the streets, waiting for patients to come streaming in. But, of course, they were all empty. No one ever came. Chris was never heard from again.

I guessed instantly who had done it. I had followed Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda for a few years, through the attacks on the U.S. embassies in Africa and on the USS Cole in Yemen. In my previous job, as Managing Editor of Foreign Affairs magazine, I had published a commentary on bin Laden’s then-little-known fatwah against the United States by the eminent Princeton historian, Bernard Lewis. But I was still stunned by the attack - by its audacity, simplicity and success. In one respect, I was thoroughly American. I imagined that America was an island, a rock, far away from the troubles and infections of the rest of the world. And like most Americans, I felt a shock, an intrusion, a violation.

I put my book project on hold and spent all my spare hours reading and thinking about what had caused the attack.  What explained this monstrous evil? I wrote my columns for Newsweek on it and then, a couple of weeks later, I was talking to Newsweek’s Editor, Mark Whitaker, and we decided that I would write a full-length essay explaining the roots of this rage against America. I spent three days and nights in a white heat, reading, researching and writing. The result was a 6,000-word cover essay that ran in Newsweek worldwide titled, “Why They Hate Us?” It got a lot of attention - more than anything I had ever written. It was a moment that Americans - in fact, people around the world - were deeply curious for answers, explanations and understanding. The piece did deal with America and American foreign policy in small measure, but it was mostly about Islam and the Arab world in particular. It was mostly about them.

That’s how 9/11 was discussed and analyzed at the time - mostly with a focus on them. Who are they? Why are they so enraged? What do they want? What will stop them from hating us? That discussion of Islam and the Arab world had its problems, but its was a fruitful discussion, especially once it was joined by Arabs and Muslims themselves. I have often said that the most influential piece of writing of the last decade was a United Nations report, the UNDP’s Arab Development Report, written by Arabs, that documented in granular detail the decay of the Arab world. Once Arabs began to focus on how stagnant and repressive their societies had become, it set off a chain of ideas and actions that I believe has led to the discrediting of al Qaeda and its philosophy and the rise of the Arab Spring.

But if 9/11 was focused at the time on them, ten years later the discussion is mostly about us. What is America’s position in the world today? Are we safer? Are we stronger? Was it worth it? Some of these questions are swirling around because the United States is mired in tough economic times and at such moments, the mood is introspective not outward looking. Some of it is because of the success in the war against al Qaeda. The threat from Islamic terrorism still seems real but more manageable and contained.

But, in large part, the discussion about the United States is the right one to have. History will probably record this period not as one characterized by al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism. That will get a few paragraphs or a chapter. The main story will be about a rapidly changing world and perhaps about the fate of the world’s sole superpower – the United States of America. History might well record 9/11 as the beginning of the decline of America as planet’s unrivaled hegemon.

The day on 9/11, the world was at peace, and the United States strode that world like a Colossus. It posted a large budget surplus. Oil was at $28 a barrel. The Chinese economy was a fifth the size of America’s. Today, America is at war across the globe; it has a deficit of $1.5 trillion and oil is at $115 a barrel. China is now the world’s second largest economy.

Al Qaeda will be forgotten. Few people today remember what the Boer War was about. But what they do know is that, around that time, the dawn of the 20th Century, Great Britain spent a great many of its resources and, more importantly, its attention, on policing the world and sending its troops to Africa and...Afghanistan and Iraq - some things never change. But Britain forgot that the real threat to its power came from the economic rise of Germany and the United States, which were challenging its industrial supremacy.

America needs to get back its energy and focus on its true challenge – staying competitive and vibrant in a rapidly changing world. That requires not great exertions of foreign policy and war but deep domestic changes at home. The danger comes not from them but from us.

For more of my thoughts through the week, I invite you to follow me on Facebook and Twitter and to bookmark the Global Public Square. Also, be sure to tune in this Sunday at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT for a special edition of GPS"9/11 and the World".  I'll have a one-on-one interview with former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and I'll convene a group of experts to discuss how the world has changed - and not– since September 11, 2001.

soundoff (272 Responses)
  1. TowelHeadsAreMorons

    That's how to reflect.

    September 9, 2011 at 8:33 am | Reply
    • johnnyusa

      Some are some are not.
      All are affected by their culture, as the USA and europe is affected also.
      Possibly a way out of the them and us dilemma is for all countries to EDUCATE their religious crazies!
      For science not thousand year old fairy stories should be what we teach our impreesionable children in the 21st century.
      For almost 500 years ago a scientist was jailed for his views as to the position of the earth in the solar system . Today people are damned as "deniers" by those zealots pushing another myth, that of man made global warming.
      Al Quiada are just a passing side show. After all, can anyone now say where they were when Black September/Red Brigades /IRA caused their last terror attack??
      Of course not, but if parents you can remember vividly when your child was born, or got married, or had children of their own.
      Time for the world media to get back to reporting what REALLY MATTERS to people, not chase only BAD news across all continents!

      September 9, 2011 at 10:56 am | Reply
      • ilan

        -Ismail Haniyeh – (top member of the fakestinian govenment.)
        "We condemn the killing of the Arab Muslim holy warrior Osama Bin Laden and we pray that God will have mercy on him."

        "The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!"-article 7 hamas official charter-
        but we all know HAMAS are just RADICALS !,FATAH members are peace loving people !

        youtube>> "FATAH official our goal has never been peace"

        September 9, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
      • marina urbach

        Why are you repeating verbatim Perry's nonsense?

        September 9, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
      • wilbur

        Johnny, you are exactly correct. Thank you. Fortunately...worldwide....the iphone/android tied to the internet is turning ALL children away from religion. Religion is the walking dead. Kids all laugh at heck and think heaven is stupid and boring. Basically, they are agnostic or Jewish in actual belief.

        September 10, 2011 at 1:40 am |
      • LisaZhang

        My life is worse than 9/11 victims.
        As a former Arizona international student, I have to say something in this special day. I worked for Arizona State University as a teaching assistant in 1998. I never got paid. I tried to get my un-paid wages through American legal system. I believed that was the right things to do. However, I started from Arizona Department of Labor, US district court in Arizona, 9th circuit appeal court to US Supreme Court, the justice is not severed. I never get my un-paid wages. Nobody care about us. Every year on this special day, I remember how I have been treated badly. I am still waiting my un-paid wages here.

        September 10, 2011 at 10:09 am |
      • Jaybird

        RT LisaZhang: Holy cow are you serious? You're claiming your life is worse than victims of a horrendous terrorist attack because you didn't get paid for some stupid job?

        September 10, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
      • 2bits

        The solution for the world is the recognition that religion is inherently evil and should be banned from this world.

        September 11, 2011 at 1:17 am |
      • Thomas

        Jaybird....Lisa has been posting that very same self-indulgent sob story on every 9/11 board in existence. I'm glad to hear she got shafted by her bosses. It sounds like she frickin' deserved it.

        September 11, 2011 at 2:12 am |
      • tony

        Johnny do you know that 9/11 is a hoax and a fraud????? Have you done the research instead of believing the liberal government controlled media...maybe not.?

        September 12, 2011 at 8:04 am |
    • Joe Job

      Why must we dwell on this still-? Yes it was terrible-!! There are so many other terrible things happening to this nation (decline from #1, poor economy, health care, our political parties are a bunch of buffoons each year and keep getting reelected, China is gaining power to become the next world leader over the USA, no country listens to us any longer, bottom line our home land has become weak & lazy). 9/11 will be forgotten like WW1 and where WW2 is nearly. When this generation dies so will the memory of 9/11.

      September 9, 2011 at 11:46 am | Reply
      • futbol Czarina

        WWI and WWII are hardly forgotten. Geopolitical boundaries are still in place as a result of the outcome of the latter war. Alliances were reinforced and are still in place. Europe speaks multiple languages, including English, because of our victory in WWII. Don't be so dismissive of wars because you might not personally care. 9/11 was a pivotal event for America and much of Europe. It altered the last decade worldwide. The lasting impact remains to be seen, but it will not be simply a generational issue.

        September 9, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
      • SICKOFIT

        I dwell on it because justice has yet to be served. Send Bush and Cheney to Germany so they can recieve a fair trial and be convicted for their crimes OR we could try them here for treason and then hang them. Oh they are guilty, no question in my mind. We could even waterboard them to force a confession. After all its OK to torture criminals.

        September 9, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
      • Bill

        why should we dwell on it??? I'll tell you why...because justice hasn't been served...The American gov't still have a lot of explaining to do. Those who died on 911 their souls will not rest in peace until justice is served. We all know it's about big oil.

        September 9, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
      • JasonB

        until the next one

        September 9, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
      • wilbur

        9.11 was absolutely nothing. Should have been quietly handed to the FBI. 3,000 sounds like a lot but it is not. WW2 is 'a lot'. 35,000 killed in auto accidents per year...thats a lot. 3000...nothing. Trivial. Should have been small-print news for a few days, footnote in history. Doing otherwise handed victory to whatever enemy it is/was.

        September 10, 2011 at 1:43 am |
      • Jeff Williams

        """9/11 was a pivotal event for America and much of Europe. """

        And for the Middle East as well.

        I'm going to go out on an optimistic limb here and suggest that 9/11 was the catalyst for a future Arab Renaissance, a period where they finally pull themselves out of the bronze age and into the 21st century. A time where they contribute once again to the progress of science, knowledge and achievement..

        One can only hope.

        September 10, 2011 at 9:17 am |
      • clarke

        9/11 will never beforgotten, nor will any of the wars. People lost lives, families, friends. There is nothing more important. I am sorry for you.

        September 10, 2011 at 9:28 am |
      • Corey Barcus

        9/11 remains a pivotal moment for the US- where the threat of Peak Oil likely led a shadow leadership in a bout of insanity to commit the unthinkable. We are facing not only Global Warming, but the inevitable and terminal decline of one of the most important substances to civilization, and we still don't have a viable replacement. This is scary stuff. The inability to maintain low energy prices is having a very negative effect on the economy.

        There is a way out of this spot between a rock and a hard place. If we venture into our basement of neglected technology, and wipe away 40 years of dust from the most incredible invention ever conceived, we might just pull out of this nosedive in time. This is not science fiction. Back in the 60s, a prototype liquid-fueled nuclear reactor was tested for a number of years. After the plug was pulled in the early 70s in favor of the uranium/plutonium fuel cycle (and superior weapons production), this Green Nuclear technology remains our single best hope for dramatically lowering energy costs.

        Historically, 9/11 will mark the beginning of the Long Emergency. Hopefully we'll see our way out of it promptly via the Thorium Race. If not, then we are facing the darkest age yet.

        September 10, 2011 at 10:46 am |
      • Big Bob

        Did you bother to read the article? All the points you made can be directly attributed to 9/11.

        September 11, 2011 at 9:49 am |
    • usapanda

      Okay US, time to get over this and more on. The government and media play this crap up every year way too much.

      September 9, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Reply
      • HRTX

        I hope someone close to you dies horribly. Then I'll be able to tell you to get over worthless waste of air. I hope you get cancer and rot.

        September 9, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
      • Hi

        I agree

        September 9, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
      • Tia

        You are free to get over it if you want. Clearly you live in a vacuum and are incapable of caring about anyone but yourself so please, go watch some cartoons since you have the intellect of a 4 year old.

        September 9, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
      • ed

        Fareed supports the attackers and not the attacked.
        It is the way of CNN.

        September 10, 2011 at 8:26 am |
      • clarke

        How old are you? Maybe one day you will grow up.

        September 10, 2011 at 9:30 am |
      • Tyler

        For everyone who says every year starting around the end of august till september 13 the media hypes the 9/11 attacks. They do it so much now,so now if there is an attack they would say, they saw it coming

        September 11, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
      • Godfrey

        Crap? You, indeed, are swine!

        September 12, 2011 at 7:15 am |
    • Laura

      Why does Ameria dwell on September 11th? It was horrible, it was a tragedy that brought our country together for what? A couple years? Now the friends and family members of those victims can't turn on the TV without replaying the events that destroyed their lives and their families. Let the dead reast in peace, and leave it in the past America, move forward.

      September 10, 2011 at 1:29 am | Reply
      • kyle

        moving on is hard too do, as a nation it changed us and started the spiral that leads us to today, to forget the past is to repeat it and we can not let things be forgotten but to learn from it and make the right choices so that in generations to come they never have to face a world of terror

        September 10, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
    • wilbur

      TowelHead? Are you talking about the Pope again? He is a towelhead....his is folded nice. Oh, the cat olics really like little boy rod-of-god choir practice. Muslims know how to properly treat a woman. All American men should pray for Muslim control to put women back in their (very subserviant) place intended by God.

      September 10, 2011 at 1:47 am | Reply
      • John Galt

        Yes, by properly treat you mean make them walk behind you, make them cover themselves completely in the heat of the day while you wear something much lighter, make them submit to your will, make them provide additional witnesses for testimony since their word is somewhat less than worthless, make them submit to your will with a staff or the back of your hand, and if they do not do these things bury her to her chest in the ground and hurl rocks at her until she dies.

        September 10, 2011 at 8:59 am |
    • wilbur

      TowelHead? Are you talking about the Pope again? He is a towelhead....his is folded nice. Oh, the cat olics really like little boy rod-of-god choir practice. Muslims know how to properly treat a woman. All American men should pray for Muslim control to put women back in their (very subserviant) place intended by God.

      September 10, 2011 at 1:51 am | Reply
      • Big Bob

        Yes, because women are for making babies. Boys are for love, right Wilber?

        September 11, 2011 at 9:54 am |
    • LV

      johnny that is just batsh(t crazy. Islamic Jihad is to blame, along with an entire culture which holds a 500 year-old grudge against a nation which did not even exist at the time coupled with a billion Muslims of inaction. Do not try to convince Americans that their issues are the root cause; we did learn that it is not over the past 10 years.

      September 10, 2011 at 3:34 am | Reply
    • larry

      There is a lot of talk, especially on CNN and Anderson Cooper and his guests that question whether America was weakened by the terror attacks in New York and the endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yes, we spent billions if not trillions in the war against Al qaeda and the Taliban. Yes, Bush2 illegally raided the Social Security Trust Fund and spent 1.7 trillion of American workers money to fund his massive tax cuts to the rich, corporations and endless wars in the middle east. That was unethical and now the seniors and those retiring are now uncertain if all the money they put into Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes will pay for their retirement. If is unethical if not illegal for the Republicans and Tea Party members now refusing to pay that money back and instead propose to eliminate Social Security and Medicare because they now refuse to pay back the money that Bush2 and the Republicans stole. The trillions that went into the endless unfunded wars in the Middle East to get Bin Laden and the terrorists was a financial drain on the American economy and it's citizens, but the conclusion to this barbaric injustice by these secular barbarians was that the seeds of freedom and democracy were planted, and now those seeds are now growing all across the Middle East and the young people now demand freedom and democracy. These ideals were foreign to their parents who lived under Tyrants and Totalitarian goverments for centuries. They now all live in a world that is open and free, and they now yearn Freedom and Democracy and one by one, the Domino Effect is now being felt all across the Middle East and one by one all the Tyrants, Dictators and Totalitarian goverments are falling one by one. The people in the Middle East will eventually realize that freedom and Democracy have a price, and they will have to fight to keep that freedom. The Middle East will never be the same, ever again!

      September 10, 2011 at 5:13 am | Reply
    • khan

      its not the towel that makes them a moron. I mean just look at you.

      September 10, 2011 at 8:47 am | Reply
    • scndnv

      Milk it!

      September 10, 2011 at 10:05 am | Reply
    • LisaZhang

      My life is worse than 9/11 victims
      As a former Arizona international student, I have to say something in this special day. I worked for Arizona State University as a teaching assistant in 1998. I never got paid. I tried to get my un-paid wages through American legal system. I believed that was the right things to do. However, I started from Arizona Department of Labor, US district court in Arizona, 9th circuit appeal court to US Supreme Court, the justice is not severed. I never get my un-paid wages. Nobody care about us. Every year on this special day, I remember how I have been treated badly. I am still waiting my un-paid wages here.

      September 10, 2011 at 10:06 am | Reply
      • Aridzonan

        Typical foreign student. This country affords her a better education than where she came from and all she can do is whine and complain. Ms Zhang, you obviously have no respect for the USA. Do us a favor and ship out!

        September 11, 2011 at 11:29 am |
      • pro-Peace

        No pay no work. You shouldn't do your work at all or you should stop immediately if you didn't receive your wages. And, you should believe God by praying to him, who will bring you the justice you deserve very soon. We all pray for you. Last giving the faith to this great country, where the freedom, democracy, and human rights protect every legal workers. Keep fighting, you shall get what you worked for.

        September 11, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • wilbur

      Towely, think back (if you are capable). The Anthrax mailings...domestic...caused the fear and terror. it was so bad that idiots like you transferred it to 1 billion muslims. bet you did not know indonesia has more muslims than any other nation and bet you don't know where that is. back to your impotent false pride and walmart ammo towely.

      September 11, 2011 at 9:50 am | Reply
    • pro-Peace

      John Lennon answered:
      Imagine there's no Heaven
      It's easy if you try
      No hell below us
      Above us only sky
      Imagine all the people
      Living for today

      Imagine there's no countries
      It isn't hard to do
      Nothing to kill or die for
      And no religion too
      Imagine all the people
      Living life in peace

      You may say that I'm a dreamer
      But I'm not the only one
      I hope someday you'll join us
      And the world will be as one

      Imagine no possessions
      I wonder if you can
      No need for greed or hunger
      A brotherhood of man
      Imagine all the people
      Sharing all the world

      You may say that I'm a dreamer
      But I'm not the only one
      I hope someday you'll join us
      And the world will live as one

      September 11, 2011 at 11:53 am | Reply
    • Robin

      Fareed, you are a psuedo-intellectual phony and your broadcast today on 9/11 was utterly shameful. It is time for Americans to turn off CNN and other programming which serves as a mouthpiece for our enemies. While we are at it, we should elect leaders with real backbones who will stop the shipping of US jobs to China and India, stop the theft of our intellectual property by the Chinese government and prepare to do full-scale economic war with those who plot against us. It is time to take the gloves off America, not roll over in defeat as Fareed is suggesting.

      September 11, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Reply
    • Oyvind Moen

      Imagine how much love we all can create together, when so few can cause so much pain...

      September 12, 2011 at 1:50 am | Reply
    • Tom Pellegrini

      You're all morons if you believe any of the official story on 9/11 including CNN's disinformation. Open your eyes. Check out the link below.

      September 12, 2011 at 10:20 am | Reply
    • George


      September 12, 2011 at 10:26 am | Reply
  2. j. von hettlingen

    Fareed: "it has a deficit of $1.5 trillion". No, it's 14 trillion!
    True, the Al Qaeda hasn't been able to stage an attack on similar scale since 9/11, but the excessive war on terror has cost billions. The burden of this public good – the global security – is not equally shared and the West stands on its own -broke.

    September 9, 2011 at 9:27 am | Reply
    • johnnyusa

      Those who perpetrate the attacks also are "broke" too!
      Not just broke, but morally bankrupt.
      They have strict religious codes with NO MORALITY, they have strict "family values".
      Like selling off their young daughters to relatives, (and killing them to "avenge their honour") if the girl wants to make a choice of partner herself!
      Honour killing is frequent and applied mostly to women but men are tragetted too.
      Women used as baby machines, with a culture of easy divorce for a man, but none for women.
      Western women cry about their "inequalities" but the Sisterhood raise not a peep about their religiously bound sisters!
      Hopefully the "Spring" that is breaking out in N Africa will eventually allow those sociaties to cast off their actual and mental dictatorships and emerge from the 12th Century world into the light and freedom of the 21st Century!
      Maybe the "Arab Spring" is a start, but reflecting on 9.11 it seems unlikely without a step change in their societal thinking!

      September 9, 2011 at 11:06 am | Reply
    • Gary Dee, Portland, Oregon

      The gross national debt (including what is owed to Social Security) is around $14 Trillion. $1.5 Trillion is this fiscal year's budget deficit.

      September 9, 2011 at 11:12 am | Reply
    • Harvey

      The national debt (14.7 trillion) is only part of the picture. You have to also add in the interest on the debt (3.7 trillion) and the liabilities we have been obligated to, but are unfunded (115.4 trillion!). This adds up to 133.8 trillion.

      There are about 312 million of us in this country, To cover everything, every man, woman, and child in this country would have to cut a check for about $429,000. Are you ready to cut your check? Remember to cut one just like it for each member of your family.

      If you want to see something that will curl your toes check out www(dot)usdebtclock(dot)org

      You might want to skip this if you are prone to cardiac arrest.

      September 9, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Reply
    • SCOTO

      1.5 trillion is the budget deficit. 14 trillion is the national debt. You are confusing them.

      September 9, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Reply
    • Cody (D.C.)

      deficit =/= debt

      September 9, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Reply
      • pro-Peace

        Smart ass! Debt is debt if you don't silver bullet.

        September 11, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • wilbur

      $1 million spent planning/executing 9.11 to place America in complete paralysis of FEAR. It worked.
      Endless trillions trying to feel 'safe' in the vast universe.
      I saw the enemy and it is us.

      September 10, 2011 at 1:49 am | Reply
      • Big Bob

        Geez, Wilber. You almost sound happy about it. Not very peaceful...

        September 11, 2011 at 9:58 am |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    The US is in the greatest decline since its origins, and that is likely to continue, because our government does not care about the country, as a country. The Dems just want to keep everyone on welfare, and have total dictatorial control, and the GOP just wants to have everything set up to make money at any cost.

    The government has allowed our manufacturing to all be sent off shore, and the middle class has been destroyed.

    Higher education is so expensive, no one can expect to pay of the debt to get a degree, in less than 25 yrs.

    Our southern border is no better than a sieve, and illegal immigrants have taken all of the lower class jobs, putting Americans out of work. Our government is encouraging that, so they can grow their voter base, and ensure they remain in power.

    Our people have become lazy and shiftless, preferring to play games on computers, rather than o outside and fix their houses, or maintain their yards. Americans eat so unhealthy, and have gotten so fat, that now they claim to be disabled, because they are so fat.

    There is absolutely nothing positive about America, today.......absolutely nothing.

    September 9, 2011 at 9:49 am | Reply
    • Onesmallvoice

      Very well said, Rick. Thank you.

      September 9, 2011 at 10:35 am | Reply
    • klm

      re: Rick McDaniel
      Exactly. Except that many Americans now EXPECT the government to support them, at any cost. It is said that the Americans don't have work in the lower job classes because the illegal immigrants take those jobs, but most of those are jobs Americans WON'T do. I'm in AZ and see it first hand. In Mexico, for example, you want to eat?... get a job. Need a place to live?... work for it. In America.... just go to welfare office and you get cash, a place to live, transportation, medical care, education, etc.
      I am 60 yo, white, American, and have worked my entire life. Why can't everybody who can just get a job and earn a living? Because the socialists are taking over. It didn't work in the past so why try it again?

      Well spoken Rick!

      September 9, 2011 at 10:36 am | Reply
    • Chris

      While you have some of the problems about our country correct, you are also entirely ignorant. "There's absolutely nothing positive about America?" Please. You're being dramatic, and it's certainly not becoming. Get over yourself and stop being a crybaby.

      September 9, 2011 at 10:43 am | Reply
      • ed

        Everything Liberals touch goes bad.
        There will never be another Liberal President in this land of ours.

        September 10, 2011 at 8:30 am |
    • johnnyusa

      THAT is what people in the UK felt like whenthe last government was in ofice.
      Government spending citizens money on Programmes which East Germany would have admired.
      CCTV on every street in the name of "freedom", ID cards proposed, free speech attacked and reduced.
      Socialists were in control!
      2010, Socialist kicked out..NO MONEY LEFT &Billions in debt. Sound familiar.
      But now people are getting to have more hope. For a new government are cutting programmes and excess govt.
      A start.
      Before people too had no that how socialists the world over operate??
      Well people can now see a little light at the end of the tunnel, and are getting a little less pessimistic.
      Perhaps after Obama and the socilaist Dems have gone, citizens in USA may feel the same.
      But all bets are off if the citizensreturn to power those who have failed USA since 2008!

      September 9, 2011 at 11:15 am | Reply
    • Alex

      Nearly everything you just said outside of our political BS is either outright false or horribly exaggerated. In all honesty, your whining about people who don't live you do (living to work, working to live) is what's causing the US to stagnate. What the hell does keeping a tidy lawn have to do with ANYTHING, anyways? That foolish sentimentality has no bearing whatsoever.

      Besides all that, I think we've been #1 long enough. It's high time that somebody else (perhaps China?) to handle the reins. They can deal with all the crap in the world today, and we can get on with enjoying life (what life SHOULD be about!).

      September 9, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Reply
    • alanseago

      Rick, I almost agree with you, but I disagree with your statement that the country is in decline because of the government. The country is in decline because we have become a weak and greedy people. The U.S. government is the mess it is because we have elected those people, and we have elected them because they have promised us the world. We expect to be given cradle-to-grave health care, without paying for it. We expect infinite extensions of umemployment benefits without paying for them. We expect another government stimulus will make us all wealthy, but none of us want to pay for it.

      Yes, our government has failed us - but only because we've told it to.

      September 9, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Reply
      • Laz

        Decline... is mostly a consequence of the growing ignorance of the american people...toward Economy, World affairs and finally the very basic fundamentals upon which this country was originally created. Americans still believe they live on a magical land of opportunity and they dream the life of their idols and patrons...not realizing that this life they envy... is reached by 1 out of a thousand...and this is only because the other 999 can't live it... Why is it that america has to be synonymus of inequalities...(on education, welfare, chances in life). Why is it that it only comes down to greed and money.... You realize how deep a country can go when you get to analyse who its people select to represent them...Everything in the US is about how you package things instead of what you package in.... it's becoming to the ideology side what was China on the manufacturing side....

        911 was so sad... sad because it was mostly paid by innocents... in America and elsewhere.... 911 is a sad event because... it became an opportunity for America to lead as an example finally no one wants to follow. What did all these innocents die for...? Since it's all crumbling down now.

        September 9, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • mary

      There is nothing good about America? Really? Love it or leave it.

      September 9, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Reply
      • Laz

        There is actually... a lot of good... and bad.... the best and the worst...and I don't live in it so I do not have to leave it!

        September 9, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
    • George


      September 9, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Reply
    • LV

      Rick – The positive thing is America asks, eventually "How did things get this way, and how can we improve?" as a culture. If you dig just a layer deeper, I think you will find that we did this to ourselves, economically. We have allowed China to blatantly violate WTO rules and essentially steal growth from the USA, we have allowed our Congress to default on obligations to declare war, and our government is coin-operated. That last point is very important, and it is the reason why our government bails out Wall Street, not Main Street. We can fix it. America has done more good for more people than any nation in history. We have much to be proud of, and should be apologizing to no one, least of all the Middle East.

      September 10, 2011 at 3:40 am | Reply
  4. Christian Aglen

    Well thought-out reflections, Fareed. By the way, I noticed one small typo in one of the sentences: "I have often said that they most influential piece of writing of the last decade was a United Nations report". - >"they"

    September 9, 2011 at 10:42 am | Reply
  5. TXJim

    Great article..

    September 9, 2011 at 10:59 am | Reply
    • zakariajoker

      Lousy article as usual from zakaria.

      September 9, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Reply
      • Gethetruth

        Obviously your are a Muslim and hate Zak because he does not toe your line. Get a like stupid Paki !

        September 9, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
      • ed

        Zakaria is the worst of the worst.

        September 10, 2011 at 8:31 am |
  6. Will

    Best 9/11 joke: shortly after 9/11, a guy from the State Dept gets a visit from the new Saudi Ambassador in Washington. "Ahmed, nice to see you. Are you and the family getting settled in okay?" "Yes, but I have one question." "Sure Ahmed, I'm here to help." "Well, my kids are watching this TV show Star Trek. On the space ship there are many people: Americans, Russians, Africans, Asians and Indians. But why no Arabs on Star Trek?" "Oh Ahmed, that's because Star Trek takes place in the future."

    September 9, 2011 at 11:00 am | Reply
  7. Johnny 5

    Chris: Dramatic? ignorant? Rick is telling it how it is, it sucks, but it's reality.

    September 9, 2011 at 11:05 am | Reply
  8. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    I have commented extensively on my former countryman from India Mr. Zakaria’s writings and his ongoing Anti-Western, Anti-Semitic pro-Islamic agenda.

    While a lot of Americans have until now had been misled into believing his moderate stance given his penchant for saying certain obvious things (ONLY in an effort to capture gullible minds), while cleverly hiding all the vitriol in sugarcoated language, through this article, Mr. Zakaria himself blows the lid off on his overall thinking & agenda!

    Here are some notable comments that I would like readers to focus on to understand Mr. Zakaria’s line of thinking.

    (Readers please note: I need to truncate my response as it is being censored!)

    September 9, 2011 at 11:29 am | Reply
    • Amit-Atlanta-USA

      Unfortunately it looks like my comments are being censored.
      Readers please read the article in his enterity paying close to attention to Mr. Zakaria's initial anger which dissipates into holding America itself responsible for all these terrorist acts.

      September 9, 2011 at 11:48 am | Reply
      • Beverlee

        I read his articles only to see how the other half thinks. And his thinking is quite flawed. I will remember 9/11 until the day I die. I will remember the crying as I drove to work. The fear of leaving my child at school waiting for another attack. The smell of the burning buildings for days on end. The cheers from the Muslim communities of North Jersey as the rescue workers became clean-up workers. The purchases of socks, breathing filters, water to be sent to those workers. The monies raised by our union to help the survivors. The tears. The anguish. The horror. Yes. I will always remember.

        September 10, 2011 at 12:15 am |
    • ik

      OMG! Amit you are an idiot... I read your comments and really wish I rather stab myself in the eye... you are an ignorant fool and I have been noticing that for a couple of months.. No wonder your comments are censored!

      September 9, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Reply
  9. Jenny

    Great article, but tons of typos.

    September 9, 2011 at 11:48 am | Reply
  10. Kevin Gould

    My friend, Fareed.

    Thanks again for your balanced and measured perspective on the state of the world. I've spent the past eight years deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, executing the military policies of this nation, with mixed results. I don't get to watch GPS too often, but I think you would be well-served to interview some middle-level troops on their experiences in reconstruction, training, and repairing the destruction caused by past despots and the current plague of nihilistic terrorists. Keep up the fire, Fareed.

    September 9, 2011 at 11:58 am | Reply
  11. Carla

    It was the beginning of opening the lid of the tightly closed Middle East. Americans got sacrificed for liberty to all women, as they always did. Thank-you to USA.

    September 9, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Reply
  12. M

    Must be nice to have "contacts at the New York Police Department, the FBI, the CIA". The rest of us are normal people who just had to wait in fear.

    September 9, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Reply
    • otomakascram

      Are you suggesting that he should not have used those contacts? If it had been you, would you have not tried to help out a friend in anyway you could?

      September 9, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Reply
      • ed

        Liberals: indict the warriors.
        Republicans: War

        September 10, 2011 at 8:33 am |
  13. rhymeskeema

    Also, I can't wait for your the slowpitch softballs you are gonna throw at a war criminal.

    September 9, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Reply
  14. Dante Xaiver

    Nice to Know the Great Lie is still going on and the Average American is taking the bait hook line and sinker. Wake the hell up people and take a look at the facts. Not the facts the main stream media want you to know, Im talking about the evidence that points to a Controlled demolition.

    Bush is a war criminal and should be hung for his actions along with all his pals in the CIA CFR NATO and so on.

    September 9, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Reply
    • Cody (D.C.)


      Stay in school.

      September 9, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Reply
    • DavidW

      Good grief, I thought all you 9/11 conspiracy nuts had finally shutup. You need to Google Popular Mechanics 9/11 and read, learn, forget the fact you hate Bush because you voted for Gore and Kerry and they didn't win. Give it up, yes there was smoke, yes there was fire, but it's because a jumbo jet loaded with thousands of gallons of highly flamible Jet A1 fuel crashed into the buildings at 500 mph destroying the integrity of the structure and the buildings failed and fell on top of everything around it including Building 7 you moronic peter leech.

      September 9, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Reply
    • kyle

      so u also think that bin laden who had a history of attacking america just admitted to the attack for fun? no he planned the attack and there is plenty of proof, simply look at this, when ever the government plans a complicated plan does it ever work? i bet you also think JKF and the Moon landing were all conspiracy too

      September 10, 2011 at 11:57 pm | Reply
    • tinb

      Right. Don't you think if Bush was behind it he would have planned things a little not sitting around and reading to kids about goats for 10 minutes while all hell was breaking loose? LOL.

      September 12, 2011 at 12:51 am | Reply

    I will remeber it as the day my distain for our own government reached the level it is today. Anyone who thinks our government didn't know something was going to happen has been drinking to much lead contaminated water. they can tell you things about yourself you don't even know. I would not be at all surprised if our own government contributed in some way in the attack. What better way to promote an unjust war for oil. I'm not saying they did, just that I wouldn't be surprised. Bush and Cheney should be shipped off to Germany so they can be tried for the war crimes they commited. At the very least they should be held accountable for destroying the American economy, a treasonist act. All you right wing rebublicans can blame Obama all you want. The majority of Americans know whose to blame for our current state of affairs. I have no political affiliation, I simply call it as I see it. My own parents voted for that moron Bush and I warned them that it was a huge mistake. They have come to realize.....I was right.

    September 9, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Reply
    • Onesmallvoice

      Well put SICKOFIT, and quite true. I couldn't have stated it better!

      September 9, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Reply
    • stan.k

      Did you ride the short bus?

      September 9, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Reply
      • Sandra

        Short bus? What are you insinuating? I have a small child that happens to ride the "short bus". I bet you use the word "retard" as well. The words/phrases you chose to use make you look as stupid as some of these posts I'm reading about the real topic. eight year old "short bus" rider has more class/dignity in his pinky than you do in your entire body.

        September 12, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • Mike

      Well said. It was the darkest period of history in my life at least. And now I just watched the CNN summary of that day and of course no mention of WTC 7 going down. Pathetic. Really. Oh well, thank God we can all watch it on YouTube and come to our own conclusions. It's all coming out slowly and becoming mainstream in conversation at least; I just hope it will hit critical mass within the lifetime of these idiotic perpetrators.

      September 10, 2011 at 6:17 am | Reply
    • Big Bob

      Wow sickofit! Must feel great to be right all the time. Turd...

      September 11, 2011 at 10:07 am | Reply
  16. We are one

    Hello Everyone,

    Just want to share this important piece of information with every one. Islam has clearly stated that no one is permitted to hurt an other inocent person or animal or a bird or a property and that means NONE in any way shape or form.
    So any one who is born in a Muslim Country / family or has a Muslim name, decides to go out there and hurt any one or an animal or a bird or a plant or a tree anything that is living or non living, is absolutely NOT a MUSLIM. I am no Scholar but if some how I am given the authority, I will declear every single person (muslim or non muslim) who goes out to hurt other innocent human beings (of any religion) in any way or form, AN ANIMAL with no religion.

    This is just my thought.

    September 9, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Reply
    • WWRRD

      Thanks and Peace!

      September 9, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Reply
    • Jeff Williams

      """any one who is born in a Muslim Country / family or has a Muslim name, decides to go out there and hurt any one or an animal or a bird or a plant or a tree anything that is living or non living, is absolutely NOT a MUSLIM."""

      I'm sorry, but this is a tired semantic game you play. If someone believes himself to be a Muslim, and then commits a heinous crime motivated by his belief, you can not absolve Islam.

      You believe the Qur'an to be the direct word from Allah – no ifs ands or buts. True? Then whose fault is it if his Word is misinterpreted by a mere human?

      September 10, 2011 at 9:27 am | Reply
  17. WWRRD

    I say streamline the TSA, dunp the DHS. Let's save our money and return to living our lives as Americans. It might happen again. No one knows. But at least we would live free and proud and not be so obsessed with being safe. That would be a victory against those who delight in seeing us spend our blood and treasure in Afghanistan. Put our energy , labor, intellect and resources into becoming the greatest economic , and then military power the world has ever seen. Our old President had it right, Speak softly and carry a BIG STICK. Don't meddle in other countries. Don't get tangled up in alliances.Don't tolerate international corporations that earn profit in America but but don't contribute to american jobs or taxes. If someone threatens our country, don't be squemish about attacking the enemy , DESTROY THEM, preferably quickly and without mercy. And never , never let people convince you that Americans deserve to be victims of terrorism. At least not so long as people are risking their very lives so they can come here to be Americans.

    September 9, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Reply
  18. Butters

    I really don' see how history is suppose to remember something , when the entire truth has not been divulged .
    The entire truth will never be known .
    I wondering how history will remember Americans and their brainwashed lives .

    September 9, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Reply
  19. George

    Looks like Fareed has me on the no post list. He doesn't like what I say about him.

    September 9, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Reply
    • Chrono

      Wow, you must really think highly of yourself to think he would take the time out of his day to censor you.

      September 9, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Reply
  20. WWRRD

    I remember how beautiful that day was. The air was crisp and cool. There was no humidty and the sky was a brilliant blue. Then the news came from New York , and then while the news was on we saw the second plane and things have never been the same.

    September 9, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Reply
  21. MAA

    "The day on 9/11, the world was at peace"....I don't think so. More like most Americans turned a blind eye towards any international news back then. Some good points, too sugarcoated and usa-centric in analysis in my opinion (but I do understand that this is partly due to the fact that these are your personal reflections).

    While the USA is definitely in economic, political, etc. decline, I think we are very far away from any sort of meltdown or unstoppable decay. While China is the 2nd largest economy right now, their numbers are so distant compared to the USA's. Yes, their growth is exponential but that growth can only sustain itself for so long. Furthermore, China's and the USA's economies mutually and extremely depend on one another. I know this point is a little off topic, but it is an important one nonetheless.

    Regarding the "they are taking all of our jobs" issue, the problem is not that there is a "finite" amount of jobs out there, but that our nation is not providing the resources to advance our citizens' job skills. We need to help our unemployed, lower-skilled brothers and sisters evolve to the next step. The job market is changing in this country and well all need to help one another gain the skills to compete. Jobs can/will always grow, the question is if the job-searchers' skills can grow.

    Thank you for the article Fareed, because although not everyone may agree with your views, the fact is that people are TALKING about these larger issues- and this is the most important point.

    Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance.-Confucius

    September 9, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Reply
  22. zakariajoker

    Zakaria is the only smart one !
    He has all the contacts. He knows all the solutions to the world's problems.
    He advised Obama on healthcare.
    He was the teleprompter at the speech last night.
    He was the smoke from the towers.
    Zakaria for secretary of the taliban.

    September 9, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Reply
    • ed

      I second your nomination.

      September 10, 2011 at 8:50 am | Reply
      • kyle

        america has free speech but it doesnt mean you have to use it to slander people. what caused this current political stalemate is the fear mongering and chaos of people like you. we can not move forward if we sit here and just complain

        September 11, 2011 at 12:01 am |
  23. JMW

    Flight 93 made for a good story...too bad it was shot down.......yes shot down by a US Fighter. But the public will never be privy to that infomation as no one can stomach that we had to actually shoot down one of our planes heading (maybe) to the White House. How do I know? I was the duty controller that day.

    September 9, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Reply
    • Joseph

      Actually, it was aliens, but the government doesn't want you to know that. I mean, as long as we're being weird and not paying any attention to the facts, right?

      September 12, 2011 at 11:16 am | Reply
  24. 911insidejobber

    Zakaria is a Council On Foreign Relations member and a willing servant of the International Bankers controlling America.

    September 9, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Reply
  25. bobalu

    Why is Pakistan still holding Osama's wives and kids in custody and not repatriating them like they said they would? Are they a threat? Obviously the US didn't think so. Or do they know something the Pakistanis want kept secret?

    September 9, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Reply
  26. Bill

    listen guys you need to look into 911 gov't cover up ..we owe the ones that died that day to investigate more into what really happened on 911 and bring those accountable forward. Don't let the mainstream media brainwash you.

    September 9, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Reply
    • ed

      Are you checking all of your closets before bed at night?

      September 10, 2011 at 8:49 am | Reply

    Our jobs are going to India. Instead of my grandfather, its some lousy woman in india answering phones ! thats our downfall !!!

    September 9, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Reply
  28. Skeptic14

    It will be remembered much like Pearl Harbor, the USS Liberty, Operation Northwoods, the sinking of the Luisitania, the burning of the Reichstag, the killing of Archduke Ferdinand, the US's approval of Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, etc. etc. etc.

    September 9, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Reply
  29. AndyF

    My 2nd thought after the towers fell; OMG, we have an alcoholic frat boy who bankrupted every business he was charged with as President. Hope he knows what he is doing. Well he didn't, and Al Queda's goal of wrecking our economy was accomplished not by the 9/11 attacks themselves, but by the gross mismanagement of the country and of the war. I mean tax cuts during a time of war, and now the Tea Party want the segment of society who send the most troops in harm's way to continue to shoulder a majority of the burden with their anrachist approach to running the economy? Where was the anger when we had to have military families hold fund raisers to provide our troops with what Rumsfled later acknowledged were basic protections the US military should have provided going in? I will remember all this as the greatest military and economic failure in American history unless the Tea Party and GOP concede that it is time for all of us to pay for this war, not just the middle and lower classes.

    September 9, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Reply
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