12 Sep 2011

Ten years from now

9/12, and they are already pumping oil again in Libya. 9/12, and we are still at war in Afghanistan. 9/12, and can anyone claim that Iraq is at peace?

It is hard to imagine that in 2021 when we consider the twentieth anniversary of 9/11, the terrible loss in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania will remain isolated from the terrible death, maiming and displacement of civilians and military alike that have flowed from the West’s response to the Al Qaida attacks.

Where too will the Arab Spring be by then? Despite the determination of the Palestinian authorities to declare a state on 21st September, it would be a brave individual who would bet on there being one by 2021.

Time, we are told, is a great healer. But anyone who listened to the families of those killed on radio 4’s Broadcasting House on Sunday, will have understood only too clearly, the abject pain of the left behind.

Today there are hundreds and hundreds of thousands, millions even (UN figures suggest well over two million Iraqis still stranded in neighbouring countries) ‘left behind’ from the far East of Pakistan to the far west of Libya. Where will they be in 2021? Where will their states be, and where will the sponsors of the wars that have crisis-crossed their lands be?

Perhaps this is the added value of memorial and remembrance. That we pause not only remember loved ones, but to question where history is leading us and where we are leading history.

And so I conclude with the very domestic matter of banks. On this day when the Vickers report calls for profound reform of the big banks, how will banking look in 2021. How will economics look? Will our children remain so spectacularly less well off than we have been in our time? Or will the worm turn, will our own reform dawn – unaided by war or violence?

Maybe the lesson of 9/11 on 12/11 is that in the age of nanosecond connection, the lesson is for us all to pause and think before we act; maybe to pause and pause again.

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