The nonpartisan magazine Foreign Policy marked the anniversary of September 11 with an essay about how the attack changed the United States, and concluded that Al Qaeda succeeded beyond its wildest dreams.
The provocative piece, headlined “Al Qaeda won,” is framed by the concept of “diathetical warfare,” which author Stephen Marche describes as “the battle for hearts and minds—not other people’s but our own.”
In this battle, victory is defined by “clarity,” and defeat as confusion.
And when you step back from 9/11 and look at the significance, you see that the United States has been plunged into a swamp of confusion to the point of electing a president who lies casually and doesn’t believe in objective truth.
“Diathetics is the rearrangement of the enemy’s mindset by spectacle and the means of its consumption,” he writes. “This is a new kind of war and a deeply confusing one. Confusion is its purpose. The problems of assessment are substantial.”
Not only did Al Qaeda win, but the scale of their victory continues to blossom.
“The cultural front opened by 9/11 keeps widening, and the terms of the struggles along those fronts, as each new technology opens them, are almost impossible to recognize immediately.
“Even to look at 9/11 as a work of culture, to investigate its significance, is fraught in itself,” he writes. “The occasion is sacred, suitable for solemn reflection. Real people really died. But as painful and grotesque and offensive as it may seem, if you want to understand America’s current vulnerability, you have to look at 9/11 as a show. It is a war show that the United States lost and continues to lose.”
Read the full piece here.