It was a beautiful morning with clear, clear skies in Washington and New York: on September 11, 2001, I went to get a Wesley Hights the first bus, that of the cleaners of the downtown buildings. The correspondents from America get up early, because 6 am already there 12 o’clock in Italy. I was a bit anxious: the night before, my daughter Chiara had left Washington to return to the University, a Roma, and I was waiting for the call of the “I am home”.
All 06.00while I got on my bus, the hijackers were already on their motorcycles to take their planes. Obviously, nothing hinted at what no American had ever thought was possible, or that all Americans had forgotten was possible: the United States attacked on their soil, a bit like December 7, 1941 in Pearl Harbor. But this time the attack reached the heart of America: not a base in Hawaii, but the iconic city and the federal capital, New York e Washington, respectively the symbols of economic and financial power, the World Trade Center, and of the politico-military power, the Pentagon and perhaps the Capitol (if the plane crashed in Pennsylvania had hit the mark like the others).
The Ansa Washington office is two blocks from the White House: as usual I spent half an hour on the phone with colleagues in New York, to do the day’s work schedule, then I prepared the note to be sent to Rome, to the headquarters. When CNN gave the first news, a plane had crashed into one of the Twin towers, and transmitted the first image – distant and unfocused, a wisp of smoke coming out of the stricken tower -, connects it Alessandra Baldini he warned me and sent our first dispatch: we did not immediately perceive the size of the fact, it could be a tourist plane, it could be an accident. The second crash, live on television, gave the certainty of the attack and began to delineate its dimensions.
On 11 September 2001 it became one of those pivot days, in personal paths – from 6 years upwards, we all remember where we were and what we did when the Towers came down -, professional, socio-political-institutional: we all lived – more or less closely – a piece of history, we got involved and realized it. And the chant of the “Nothing will ever be the same again”, while the Union was filled with flags and every city in our world had its own shrine of candles where people gathered and sang ‘America the Beautiful’ in chorus. Who would have thought that, twenty years later, the ‘goose game’ of convenient choices and the risk of geo-politics would have brought us back to starting square.
America commemorates the twentieth anniversary of September 11: the first ‘of peace’, that is, without the war in Afghanistan launched, not even a month after the attacks, against al-Qaida (and the Taliban regime that had hosted and protected it) and destined to become the longest conflict in US history – and one of the most disastrous, in its epilogue. On the anniversary, the shadow of the disturbing implications of the Afghan crisis on our security extends. Generali and 007, who haven’t hit many of them recently, warn: terrorism could “resurrect” in the area.
The end of the war in Afghanistan, a Caporetto of the West, redraws the geo-political map of the 21st century: the China it continues to increase its economic-commercial and political-military influence; and the Russia he returns to be the protagonist, with Vladimir Putin carving out the role of a great sage – “Look what happens if you want to impose your own models on others” -; the Usa they come out reduced, but they reduce their ambitions as a global superpower and a policeman of the world; some regional players, such as the Turkey and the Pakistan, they jostle because they want to gain visibility, as they already did, between the Gulf and the Middle East, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
The European Union? On the Corriere della Sera, Franco Venturini sees it at the crossroads between strategic autonomy and global irrelevance; but, in reality, apart from speeches and rhetorical appeals, there is no progress towards a common foreign and defense policy, without which the EU could perhaps continue to be a economic-commercial giant, but it will not be a significant entity on the international and security scene. Micragnetic and sovereign in many of its national and political components, the Union finds it hard to express even alone a desire for solidarity.
Already mortified by the Syrian crisis, the EU risks being mortified by the Afghan crisis as well: today we are all Afghans, as in 2015 we were all Syrians; but then we ‘rented’ millions of refugees to Turkey and now we try Pakistan or Tajikistan; and we wash our hands of it, paying not to be disturbed in our home. Pilate 2020, with many greetings to human rights and Christian roots, which precisely those hostile to solidarity flaunt with more vigor.
The United States of Joe Biden they are better equipped than those of George W. Bush in the face of terrorism? They are more aware, because they have been through it; and more sensitive to danger. But they are also a country more divided than by the collapse of the Towers and the blood-soaked quagmires of Afghanistan and Iraq, by the abominations of the Patriot Act with Guantanamo, Abu Graib, he waterboarding, the renditions, he first pulled out the great hope of Barack Obama and therefore the gall of supremacism and of the lies of Donald Trump and its acolytes, the spread of conspiracy theories and denial, the collapse of trust in institutions.
Now, there is Biden: he too is a return to the starting square.