“Far fetched” is what David Gardner of the Financial Times calls the argument that 9/11 brought on a generational struggle between the West and a determined and organised enemy. The analogy “overstated the cohesion of the enemy, just as the cold war comparisons inflated it as a threat.”
‘Enduring Freedom’, Gardiner’s review of some anniversary books on 9/11 is worth a read. During a decade long cycle of warfare he identifies a “pattern of category errors” in which the West has constantly misunderstood its enemies, and blundered in its responses. So, he argues, has al-Qaeda, and this is the point. “In retrospect, 9/11 was probably the high watermark of jihadi success”.
The 2011 revolts across Arabia and the Middle East have demonstrated the limits of al-Qaeda. Ordinary muslim people, rising in brave and spontaneous outbursts against the old cliques who control their societies, have demanded freedom and autonomy, achieving “in months what neither decades of Islamist activism nor dozens of jihadi insurgencies could do.”
To be fair, the Arab Spring has vindicated Blair’s claim that a desire for freedom and self autonomy is universal. The calls for democracy sounding across the city squares of old regimes across Arabia and the Middle East are a reminder that muslim and christians, jews and atheists want the same thing – dignity, peace, liberty, an opportunity to prosper. But for change to happen, and to have a chance of holding, it needs to start from the inside. I suspect this was once clear to Blair, until the smoke of 9/11 clouded his judgement and rushed him into a new life. Blair’s wasn’t bad, he was befuddled.