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Twenty Years Ago

The first hint that something big was happening was when we got a call from a client based in central London, informing us that they were being evacuated from their offices as there was fear of a terrorist attack.

Radio was the only way to find out what was being reported in the news, as most websites were unreachable due to sheer weight of traffic. But all we knew was that there had been a terrorist attack in New York on the World Trade Centre.

The full impact of that had happened didn’t hit me until I reached the train station on my way home, to find loads of people milling around as services into and out of London had been halted. There was a TV on in the office of the local taxi firm, tuned in to Sky News, and I got glimpses of the footage from New York, and confirmation that two planes had been flown into the Twin Towers. I think one of the towers had collapsed, or did so while I was stuck at the station.

Eventually I got a lift home from my dad, and returned to some semblance of normality. Or so I thought.

I’m thankful now that my memory of that day is faded, and I’ve no doubt that the scars run deep for those who were closer to the event. But I wonder how many will just commemorate with “Never Forget” today and then go on with their lives, not questioning all the things that were enacted as a result of it over the last twenty years.

I have a feeling that the War On Terror, and Britain’s enthusiastic support for it (at least amongst those in government), kept alive the illusion that we are still a Great Power in the world. And that illusion fed into our foreign policies and our treatment of minorities, and ultimately into Brexit.

I find it particularly galling that the news cycle today will be dominated by those events twenty years ago, with barely a whisper of the far greater loss of life from Covid–19. Or, for that matter, the continuing carnage going on in the world thanks to the refusal to reflect on and change course on foreign policy in the wake of that terrorist attack.

But much as with climate change, fixing such problems is either someone else’s responsibility or an impediment on making lots of money.

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