On this seventh anniversary-day of the attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, the top news-story is probably the joint appearance at Ground Zero by the two main US presidential candidates. In addition to whatever they may have to say, the occasion will be worth savoring for the all-too-temporary respite it should provide in the ugly partisanship that has prevailed as of late (e.g. the utterly-contrived “lipstick-on-a-pig” contretemps). I hope to be able to cover foreign observations of and reactions to that Ground Zero ceremony in this space sometime in the coming days.
For today, though, I think that it would be suitable to turn our attention to the supposed ultimate source of that al-Qaeda attack, and also the first target for retribution by US forces in its aftermath. That is of course Afghanistan, or specifically al-Qaeda as embedded within a Taliban host environment. Actually, putting it that way shifts the proper focus a slight bit from Afghani territory per se to the so-called Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan lying along the Afghani border. These are hardly “federally administered,” they are in fact a region completely out of the control of the Pakistani government, where various varieties of “neo-Taliban” and Muslim fundamentalist forces are based (including, it is thought, what is left of al-Qaeda), and from which these forces sally forth to attack NATO forces in Afghanistan.