Saturday, July 09, 2005

THIS IS NOT THE END

Coincidentally, on the day before the London attacks, in one of my now intermittent postings, I picked up on a question Alan asked.

Alan surmised that at some point we will be in a post-‘post-9/11’ era and he was on the lookout for signs. He suggested that the re-emergence of anti-globalisation protests at the G-8 might be one of them.

Being a history student, I understand that it is impossible to define or even recognize historical eras while at the same time living in them, and I suspect Alan would agree, but I nonetheless found his question interesting, partly because of the impossibility of answering it definitively.

Mader, a fellow McGill history alumnus, picked up on the question and provided his own interesting analysis. Mader wrote in part:

Matt asks whether the re-emergence of anti-globalization protests marks the end of the 'post-9/11' era.
I don't think so.

What we're seeing is not, therefore, the end of an era or the beginning of something new. Rather, I think we're seeing an attempt by many to return to what was before.

That doesn't mean it's 1999 again, though, and it doesn't mean that 2005 is the new 1999. Instead, it means that, in years to come, we will look back on 2005 and wonder how we could be so silly as to believe we could ever go back.
The following day, when London was attacked, Mader seemed to imply that the previous day’s question had been proved inconsequential.

If I read Mader correctly, I disagree, but only, I think, because of a difference in understanding of what was meant by “post ‘post-9/11.’”

I titled my last post ‘The End of the Beginning?’ in obvious reference to Churchill’s remarks in London of 10 November 1942. I did so because, for me, the question of a post ‘post-9/11’ era does not necessarily imply that the war on terror is over, or even that the war on terror is no longer impacting our lives. Like Churchill of November ’42 I recognize that the war is far from over, but, in picking up Alan’s question, I was wondering what will be the possible signs that the beginning of the war is over?

So, to continue the Second World War analogy, what stage are we at? 9 May 1940, 4 June 1940, November 1942, or perhaps only August 1939?

Do the attacks in London indicate that there are inevitably more attacks to come, or does the scale of Thursday’s attacks, relative to those in New York and even Madrid, indicate a decline in the enemy’s capabilities?

Whether the ‘end of the beginning’ or the ‘beginning of the beginning,’ it is clearly not the end. However, will we be able to recognize the end when it comes?

Posted by Matthew @ 6:53 PM