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Examining the September 11 Terrorist Attacks; Can Democracy and Economic Development Purge the “Clash of Civilizations”

PAM, Vol. 9 No. 1, (2004)

According to Hadstaedt (2001) American foreign policy is often the result of balancing military actions, diplomatic actions and economic development actions. With the horrific terrorist destruction of the World Trade Center, the subsequent overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan and, the war in Iraq, this balance has reached a new and critical stage.

Some view the intentions of the 19 hijackers, and Islamic Jihad, as motivated by a desire to create political and economic upheaval in and between Middle East states, and with the West. Samuel Huntington talks directly to this point in his 1993 essay, “A Clash of Civilizations”. In this essay he warned of an emerging “clash of civilizations” centered on religious and political economic disharmony. Fuller (2002) sees the 911 attacks as the fulfillment of Huntington’s prophecy.

These issues require U.S public policy makers to delicately manage and balance military policy, diplomacy and political economic development. A content analysis was performed which included a thorough review of the pre and post September 11 literature. This information includes articles by staff of the National Institute of Mid East Studies, The Central Intelligence Agency, and the Broodings Institution. The data also included investigative reports by the New York Times and Newsweek following the September 11 attacks. This paper poses the following questions from this analysis:

· Has the “clash of civilizations” arrived?

· Can political economic change in the Middle East purge this clash?

· What role can democracy play in this change?

· What role can economic development play in this change?

·What are the American foreign public policy options?

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