As we approach the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, the journalistic drumbeat will build to a deafening crescendo. While much of this will be mere traditional lookbacks, there will be plenty of contrarian and ‘what-if’ retrospectives as well. One is an article at Foreign Policy, The Black Hole of 9/11, which can be characterized as… not good.
While the 9/11 attacks were an American event, the article asserts there are “10 [worldwide] events from the past decade that have actually been more important” than 9/11.
As with much analysis, defining terms is a bit of an issue. That is, just what constitutes an “event”?
Regardless, they are declared to be the following:
10. The American Response to 9/11. My take: this is a nearly decade-long “event.” And while I agree it is more important than 9/11 itself (given the gigantic time and treasure commitments taken on as a result of 9/11), does an event really take a decade? That’s like saying the Beatles or the Cold War were “events.”
9. The Arab Spring. My take: does the author think the Arab Sprig would have happened without 9/11, the Iraqi war, and the subsequent freedoms gained by the Iraqi people?
8. The Rebalancing of Asia. My take: again, this is an event that has unfolded over a long(ish)– decade-plus — period of time. And it would be far better stated as “The Debalancing of Asia.”
7. The Stagnation of the U.S. and Other Developed-World Economies. My take: said stagnation was a slow-moving, multi-decade, man-made disaster that made Titanic look well-paced.
6. The Invention of Social Media. My take: wake up, McFly. Groan.
5. The Proliferation of Cell Phones and Hand-Held Computing Devices. My take: this pales in comparison to the world-wide proliferation of nuclear weapons and delivery systems.
4. The Crash of 2008. My take: profoundly important; most damage happened over a short(ish) flash-crash period; huge social-welfare state implications.
3. The Eurozone Crisis and the Crash of 2011-2012. My take: another multi-year “event,” eh?
2. The Failure to Address Global Warming. My take: 1) Google “Roy Spencer+Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer+NASA+Aqua satellite,” 2) read some of the results.
1. The Rise of China and the Other BRICs. My take: the rise of China part I can agree with because of their military and economic power. India as well, but at a lower level than China. Brazil and Russia? Not nearly so much (but without them, you lack an acronym).
The author’s major shortcoming was trying to come up with ten “events,” consistent with the decadal theme. However, the list of ten then needed to be made so broad as to fail to measure up as singular “events” that might (arguably) outdistance 9/11 on the importance meter. As such, the article doesn’t work, but that’s OK: the likely idea is to generate buzz, page views, and sell books and not to make (let alone win) an argument.