It’s now exactly ten years ago that the first plane crashed into the Twin Towers. I was sitting in DAIMI‘s computer lab at the time, and I found out shortly afterwards from some Internet news source, and I quickly went up to the TV room together with lots of other people, where we watched the second plane crashing into the building live on CNN.
I remember thinking at the time that George W. Bush to a large extent was responsible by infuriating most of the world with his unilateralist, born-again, right-wing policies and that it would never have happened if Al Gore had become president instead.
I find it interesting to contemplate what would have happened if 9/11 had never happened. For instance, if the CIA had found out about the plot and prevented the hijackers from boarding the planes, there would probably have been a newspaper story about the plot, but most people wouldn’t have assumed that it actually could have brought down the Twin Towers.
So what would the consequences have been? Obviously Afghanistan wouldn’t have been invaded at that point, but I believe Dubya would still have been keen to invade Iraq. Would he have succeeded in building up an alliance without 9/11? He probably would have found it easy to convince Tony Blair, but I reckon it would have been hard to add many more countries to the coalition.
I also think Bush might not have been reelected in 2004, which would have led to all sorts of consequences later, for instance for the handling of the recession.
In most western countries, there wouldn’t have been such a rush to introduce anti-terrorism legislation, and civil liberties would have remained stronger.
In Denmark, I doubt Dansk Folkeparti would have managed to play such a pivotal role if the public hadn’t been scared witless by the thought of Muslim terrorists.
On the other hand, it’s entirely possible that al-Qāʿidah would have managed to pull off an even worse atrocity later if 9/11 hadn’t happened. There’s no way of knowing for sure, but I find it more likely than not that the world would have been a slightly better place if 9/11 hadn’t happened ten years ago.