AIM: start

SUN, 30 SEP 2001 21:48:49 GMT

The U.S. Under Attack

What Is the Origin of the Danger?

One lasting consequence of the attack on New York that has also been felt in Slovenia is a general atmosphere of mistrust and fear.

AIM Ljubljana, September 27, 2001

"The U.S. has suffered the worst terrorist attack in its history and it can even be compared to the attack on Pearl Harbor," said the Ljubljana Delo newspaper on Sept. 12, expressing a view almost identical to other reactions published throughout the world in the wake of the kamikaze-like attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon. Such a response was expected from the Slovenian authorities. All officials, the president, the prime minister, the foreign minister, and civil servants of lower rank alike, condemned the attack in the strongest possible terms and offered their condolences. Police tightened security at border crossings, and closed the streets surrounding the U.S. embassy (right in front of the Russian embassy) in downtown Ljubljana to traffic, cordoning off all parking places with yellow tape. The attack caused particular panic in the Port of Koper, which for a month has been serving as a logistic base for the transfer of NATO military equipment needed in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Drastic security measures were introduced, as well as measures to protect U.S. marines stationed there.

Editorials, reactions and forecasts of the consequences immediately followed, both in regard to Slovenia and the world. "The assault on the U.S. was supposed to come from space, as missiles launched by those countries which Washington has outlawed. The Bush administration has risked internal disputes and a crisis in relations with its allies in order to protect itself with an anti-missile shield against non-existing projectiles coming from distant countries. And instead, innocent civilian aircraft traveling on local routes became deadly weapons. The Americans will have to seriously consider where the danger lies and how to defend themselves from it," said the Delo's correspondent from New York a day after the attack. Similar was the tone of other newspaper editorials. Some said the attack was "mindless," others urged listening to voices of reason, others still warned that the already forgotten book by Samuel Huntington about a clash of civilizations should be read once again, or concluded gloomily that "if New York and Washington can be targeted, no other European center is safe any more..."

Film analysts immediately intimated that shots of the WTC will be erased in all new U.S. movies: the horrible images of the two WTC towers coming down prompted a debate on whether iron or concrete should be used in buildings, and Slovenian engineers explained that the problem with iron is that it loses 75 percent of its tensile strength at temperatures above 600 degrees Celsius. Due to fire and strong air currents the towers were turned into two huge, flaming steel shafts, which ultimately caused them to implode. "Until 10 years ago iron buildings were a rarity in our country. The chief construction material should be bricks and concrete, with some iron. We have plenty of clay, cement, gravel, and stone. Materials that melt in fire are dangerous. We've had several fires, even natural gas explosions in concrete buildings that left no more than several apartments damaged, but the buildings' superstructures remained intact," said an architect, warning of numerous new, dangerous buildings built in Ljubljana in the past decade. And Slovenia's capital city hardly has two or three true skyscrapers.

As far as the social aspects of this new form of terrorism are concerned, they will be debated in Slovenia for a long time to come. "America's confidence will probably not recover soon, if ever... This is why the leaders of this great, complex democracy will have to deal with a problem that they have never faced before. Unlike Churchill, they never told their voters that they could promise them nothing but blood, sweat, and tears. They never told them that new enemies could hit America much harder than America can hit them. They never warned that traditional American freedoms would never be the same. They never said that on Tuesday, Sept. 11, Americans would have a taste of what the 21st century has in store for them and that they could suffer blows much worse than those that hit the Wall Street skyscrapers and the Pentagon," the paper Mladina quoted historian Paul Kennedy, the author of book called "The Rise and Fall of Great Powers," as saying is an article written for Global Viewpoint.

Slovenian analysts focused particularly on examining the attitude of the world towards the "new enemy," Islamic fundamentalists, which until yesterday was an "ally of Slovenian allies" in the Balkans. Many, and among them philosopher and publicist Slavoj Zizek, have warned that hatred of the third world, especially Muslims, could expand. All this was accompanied by polls of Slovenian Muslims in front of the Ljubljana-based Muslim community building on their views of the attack on the WTC and the Pentagon. Thus the long range consequences of the U.S. attack are being felt in Slovenia as well, through mistrust and fear that are gradually infiltrating society.

"Whenever we run into such an evil outside world we should muster the strength to return to a pure Hegelian morale; we should recognize it as a changed version of our own essence. Over the last five hundred years the "civilized" West used to buy its (relative) wealth by exporting heedless violence and destruction to the "barbaric" Outside World. It is a long story involving the U.S. attitude towards the massacre in Kongo... In Africa, the number of people who die of AIDS in a single day surpasses the number of victims buried under the ruins of the WTC. By investing just a little money it would be possible to prevent these deaths. The U.S. has had a taste of what is happening throughout the world every day, from Sarajevo, to Grozny, Rwanda, Congo, to Sierra Leone. If we add to what happened in New York several gangs of thieves and a dozen snipers taking random shots at passers-by, we would have the Sarajevo of ten years ago," said Slavoj Zizek.

Igor Mekina