It’s hard to explain the world before 9/11 to bright-eyed ama-2000s but believe it was a different world when the new Millenium started. Even then, Iike now, I was a keen student of history and global events. There was so much hope, so much goodwill and it seemed like the world was on the mend. Then it all went to hell that night.
Everything changed when George Bush the president who had run against Al Gore on a promise to reform America’s education system turned into a wartime president. The war on terror he started has dominated American and subsequently, its country’s policy ever since. For example, everything we do on the internet and how it’s now regulated by different countries can be traced back to that day.
9/11 Documentary candidly exposes the “fog of war” of this day
There have been so many documentaries and dissections of 9/11. We have seen so many movies of different quality, so many TV shows including nauseating cheap ones like 24 and so many words have been said. So what makes this one special? Two things:
- The timing of the documentary. The last war prompted by the 9/11 attacks ended this week when the U.S finally withdrew from Afghanistan. Chastened and defeated. Clearly not having achieved their goals. So it’s fitting that we get a peak into how this all started and learn what fateful decisions made America go to wage a war in the “Grave Yard of Empires”
- The candid nature of this Documentary which includes recent interviews of the people involved recounting just how the drama unfolded to them. You get to peek into their states of mind and what made them do the things they did after. The passage of time between now and then has added a bit of more clarity, given them time to ruminate on that day and their wiser old selfs get to look at what their younger selves did through the lenses of wisdom that only time can give.
So what do we learn from this documentary? We get to understand the fog of war first hand. Despite the title of this documentary there never was a “War Room” per se. Instead, the stunned American president spent the better part of the day on the move as confusion and misinformation reigned supreme.
The war room was virtual and one thing that strikes you, given how communications have matured during the pandemic, is how backward technology was back in 2001. Even the U.S president couldn’t hold a flawless virtual meeting on Airforce bases. He didn’t have satellite TV on Airforce One and most TV channels were analogue. HD was not a thing and most internet users relied on dial-up.
The documentary shows how this single event more than others made people rely on 24 news hour channels for updates coloured by emotional commentary instead of just facts. A habit that has continued for most people especially those with little internet and explains how companies like Fox News still thrive even in the age of the internet.
Most importantly it shows how this fateful day is so deeply burnt in the memories of all Americans young and old. It has made a whole country neurotic. More people die from lightning strikes in the US than from terrorism and yet it permeates every policy they make including stupid demands for backdoors in phones, mass surveillance and secret courts. They spend billions on it rather than gun reform or preventing accidents all of which kill more people than terrorism.
Learn history and you will learn the world
Most people will probably find this documentary unremarkable but to those who want to understand the modern world and why things are how they are in this century, it’s important to understand how this began. Learn the history and you will understand the world. Besides this documentary is free to watch on the BBC’s website. Alternatively, it can be watched on Apple TV+