There is no doubt these were premeditated attacks, and truly horrific. The circumstances behind it are far form easy. The fact is that two other airliners were also hijacked, and one flown into the nerve centre of the US military , the Pentagon in Washington, presumably to limit the US ability to retaliate. The other plane crashed into a wood 80 miles from Camp David - the US presidential retreat - , after being hijacked. Initial reports stated it was downed by F-16's; pretty soon there was no reference to the F-16's. Firing on an civilian airliner is illegal in US airspace, let alone one filled with American civilians. I cant imagine any US administration will admit to doing that, and quite frankly, given what else has happened today, the American people will be too busy worrying who to blame to wonder if their own government shot down an unarmed airliner on US soil.
The choice of targets in New York was not coincidental. The World Trade Centre buildings were the tallest commercial buildings in the world, and each one of the twin towers had up to 25,000 people working inside them at any time. The structure of the World trade centre was unlike most skyscrapers insofaras it supported the majority of its weight from the external wall- exactly where would be most vulnerable to a collision. Whilst designed specifically to survive a plane collision, it was the factor of 91,000 gallons of aviation fuel burning at above the melting point of its steel superstructure, which caused the superstructure to melt and collapse, and one floor and then another proved unable to support its own weight.
In terms of bringing down a symbol of modern capitalism, there could have been few better targets, being in the heart of the financial quarter of New York. Both World Trade Centre buildings collapsed, and when these buildings contain headquarters for major financial companies such as Morgan Stanley Dean Whitter, Salomon Brothers (major stockbrokers), Cantor Fitzgerald (Who lost 700 employees, and are responsible for 25% of US government bonds trading) and American Express. MSDW and Amex at least have other headquarter offices. It's no coincidence that the New York centre for co-ordinating disaster/terrorist attack response etc was located in the World Trade Centre either.
The economic consequences will be horrendous, though Lloyd George, head of the Bank of England, has tried to downplay such fears ; in the same way the Bank of England tried to downplay fears of the Millenium bug in order to stop runs on cash withdrawl in the runup to New years 2000. The Insurance companies losses will be huge - Its estimated in the region of $30 billion in material property alone, not counting human damage. We're not talking Lloyds names here, or individuals; but also companies that have used insurance funds as investments -limited companies, Pension funds companies - could be devastated. Money will go out of stocks, into golds and bonds, and certain commodities - such as Oil, will rise, and panic buying has already been seen to start in the US. Oil in particular will rise at a crude price once the reserves have been sold off, especially if the US alienates oil producing nations in the middle east with military action.; and this has already be seen to be the case.- with Brent crude oil for November delivery up $1.26 at $29.63 per barrel. The real litmus test will be when trading resumes on Monday 17th September. In Europe, initial panic buying set in in certain commodities, only for these panic buyers to sell at a loss when prices stabilised. The dollar has fallen, and european markets have on averaged fallen by 4%.
The Asian stockmarket slid heavily within minutes of opening, with $67 billion wiped off share values. It's the biggest one day fall on the FTSE since 1987.And some have estimated that as many as 25% of London's richest, who are dependent on the stock market, will try to make good their losses by selling property sales, leading to many housing markets suffering massive negative equity. Depression is expected to spiral with the loss of a major financial centre, along with a virtual standstill in New York,. Couple this with a temporary hiatus on airborne imports and exports as all US internal and international flights have been suspended temporarily, as well as the US closing its borders with both Mexico and Canada for an indefinite period, presumably in an attempt to capture any remaining terrorists; though the Mexican border was reopened within 24 hours.Maybe it's a case of when the going gets tough, the tough close their borders.
As if to help kickstart the economy from the shock of Tuesday and the temporary hiatus on trading, George Bush asked Congress to release emergency recovery funds worth $20 billion in order to facilitate the cleanup of New York. Instead, the Senate approved $40 billion worth of anti-terrorism measures and to also cover the cost of the cleanup in Washington and New York. If nothing else this sudden influx of billions into the economy will temporarily boost the economy, possibly even begin a temporary economic resurgence as the US economy switches into war mode, production goes into overdrive and so forth.
Politically, the consequences are much more severe. In many ways, it's a call for the US to wake up for its perceived immunity .The US, especially since the inauguration of George W. Bush (whose father brought us into the Gulf War), has been enforcing an increasingly isolationist policy, focusing on internal issues. When I say isolationist, the US seems to be concentrating not on international or global issues; but concentrating on its own economic gain ; Bush has withdrawn from the Kyoto agreement on protecting the global environment as it would be too detrimental to the economy, Bush walked out of the Durban conference on racism; and restarts the arms race by proceeding forward with the SDI missile system and ignoring the 1972 ABM treaty.
The US though, takes the attitude it is the world's policeman, ready to pounce when anyone is seen to threaten anyone's liberty. By which I mean, ready to pounce on anyone willing to threaten its economic opportunities. Such as say, the Phillipines, which has US support, a repressive military regime, and coincidentally, one of the largest "export processing zones" in existence, where subcontracted workers work for as little as $1 a day producing goods for Nike and other US corporations. The US of course, does not apply its own yardstick to itself.hence why the US supports repressive regimes such as in East Timor (where 850,000 people were killed in 1994, to nil military response from the US) , and Turkey, where the US has a military interest with bases and troops stationed, and a vested military interest. For example the US went into Kuwait in 1991 before a UN mandate, yet ignores the 1974 UN mandate regarding the Turkish invasion of Cyprus because of US bases on Turkish soil.
When George Bush spoke in his speech of "Today our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts,". It was odd to think that it is only when something like a terrorist hijacking happens does he take notice: yet ignore that other's peoples "way of life", other people's "very freedom is under attack"; from US corporations in Africa persecuting people who oppose Shell in Nigeria, from the US military bombing innocent civilians in indiscriminate bombing raids in Iraq in 1991, from the US raids on Libya in the aftermath of the Embassy bombings; only later, after the US has bombed Libya, did it turn out that Syria was responsible.
Militarily, the US will resort to a military retaliation. The question is, who will the US blame? While attacks on Kabul were originally assumed to be US actions, they came form an anti-taleban group within Afghanistan.. The US has stated that it will make "no distinction between the terrorists who committed the attacks and those who harbour them".; that sounds like an open declaration of war on any country in which these terrorists are. The US military has been put on full wartime alert, and the USS Enterprise in the gulf has been ordered to stop their voyage home and return back, awaiting additional carrier ships to join her, presumably before an airborne raid from these US carriers takes place. Unconfirmed reports also have US bombers being flown from East Anglian bases to Europe, to bolster the US strength in the area. Unconfirmed reports also state that 4 nuclear submarines, complete with nuclear warheads, have been dispatched to the gulf, and have been given no expected date of return. But what is confirmed is that the US has drafted 50,000 reservists to bolster its military strength, as well as requesting flight permission for raids over Afghanistan to overfly Pakistan airspace.
It is quite clear that George Bush is continuing the gung-ho policy of an eye for an eye; unfortunately, that will leave everyone blind. George Bush stated in his address:" We go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in this world" (presumably including repressive regimes friendly to US corporate interests in the Phillipines, and the recent WTO/GATT negotiations on which the US imposes massive financial burdens on the third world to help subsidise US business interests - this is the good and just, and the freedom he defends - in reality just the freedom for big business to continue economic pillage of developing countries). He also forgot to include what Nixon said in 1971 - "The President can bomb anyone he likes".