OPINION

Editorial

This time, reality actually surpassed the usually unfettered imagination of Hollywood scriptwriters. The images that were broadcast yesterday on television channels across the world were unprecedented in world history. The sole superpower suffered serious blows right at its heart. The twin towers of the World Trade Organization in New York, symbols of American economic power and global capitalism, were destroyed by an unexpected suicide attack by two hijacked passenger aircraft. Even more striking was the destructive attack on the Pentagon, the center of unmatched American military supremacy. The number of human casualties from the coordinated strikes is expected to be unprecedented. Material damage is also enormous. Equally unprecedented was the blow to the political status of the USA. The image of the all-powerful and supposedly immune superpower has been tarnished. Even during World War II, the Americans did not feel their territory was immediately threatened by the Axis. There are many burning questions, but we will have to wait a long time for any credible answers. So far there is nothing specific about the identity of the perpetrators, but the first informal assessments seem to point in the direction of fanatic Islamists and, particularly, to Osama bin Laden. Addressing the American nation, US President George W. Bush underlined that the USA will hunt down and punish the perpetrators. This statement leaves no doubt about what is to follow. America will not confine itself to a crusade against all types of terrorism. It will probably retaliate harshly against those considered as instigators but also against those who – according to Washington – nourish or even tolerate terrorism. An anti-terrorist campaign is, obviously, the means by which the Bush government will attempt to appease the feeling of insecurity of the American people and restore the country’s international status. Judging from the fact that nearly all democratic societies have clearly expressed their political will to eliminate terrorism, the day after may have a dramatic transformation of the international arena in store. The nature of that transformation, however, remains to be seen.