On September 11, 2001, Robert Grenier (now retired) was the CIA Station Chief in Islamabad, holding the intelligence brief for both Pakistan and Afghanistan. He recalls the outpouring of sympathy for the U.S. and great sense of international solidarity at the time—”we were at one of history’s inflection points”—and laments that it wasn’t in the end used to galvanise the world against the scourge of terrorism.
What’s the Big Idea?
“…perhaps we can say it didn’t matter in the end. After all, the US could never have simply imposed just solutions for the oppressed on an unwilling world, even if it wanted to. And Muslims themselves have revealed the illusion at the heart of al-Qaeda’s appeal, by mobilising in many parts of the world to seize justice and freedom for themselves… The struggle against al-Qaeda may be far from over, but the inevitability of its final defeat is not in doubt.”