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Quora Answer : Why were the September 11 attacks considered the worst in U.S. history?

Dec 2, 2017

No it wasn't either the worst act of war or the greatest loss of life.

But it, might, ultimately turn out to have been the most damaging.

9/11 has deeply, deeply wounded the US's self-confidence and "psyche". In response to 9/11, the US has torn up fundamental rights and freedoms (including removing habeas corpus). It's squandered its moral authority by engaging in, and defending its own use of torture. It's violated international norms of war in Guantanamo Bay. It is systematically and unconstitutionally spying on its own citizens. It has ended up voting into power an incompetent braggart and known pathological liar who flirts with neo-Nazis. The Americans did that for a number of reasons, but one which stands out is his willingness to speak aggressively about and to Muslims. He commands undying loyalty from increasingly strong far-right movements who draw their energy from far more widespread paranoia about Muslim terrorism.

Four years after Pearl Harbour, the US had dropped a nuclear bomb on Japan, decisively won its war, and was already moving on to economic growth and prosperity. Sixteen years after 9/11, the US is still bleeding uncontrollably, unable to comprehend or accommodate itself to, the trauma of the blow. It's still thrashing around the world, trying to find some fight that it can decisively win to bring it closure. But however much blood and treasure it expends nothing will bring it peace.

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