What would have happened had 9/11 occurred in another country?

Assume that Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network decided to drop a 757 on the Sydney Opera House during a full concert or perhaps the London Stock Exchange during working hours? Take your pick or think of a different, comparable act to one of our allies.

While reading some other threads around here (notably Backing the US is the only answer for the future… ) I noticed many of our non-American dopers (and more than a few American ones as well) taking exception to the notion expressed in the title I just linked. On the face of it I don’t blame them one bit.

However it occurred to me how they would feel had it been their country so violently attacked. I’ll grant that many if not most of America’s allies have experienced terrorism for a long time and till now America has gotten off rather lightly. However, I don’t think anything quite so spectacular and singularly devastating has occurred to any of them so I doubt they could just let it roll off their backs as another random bombing.

It also came out in the other thread that Europeans (and Australians and other allies) don’t like America’s heavy handedness, especially as regards America’s self-imposed notion of policeman to the world. Nevertheless their own militaries are almost across the board shadows of their former selves. Only the US really maintains anything approaching a worldclass military (as in project power worldwide…theoretically Russia does as well but the reality is likely very different).

So again, what do you think they (US allies) would have done had some similar atrocity to the World Trade Center attacks been perpetrated on their country? Certainly there’d be a lot of gnashing of teeth but what UN backed embargo would work against Afghanistan? I’m sure that’d devatate their drug trade. Withdraw diplomatic recognition? Afghanistan mostly didn’t have that anyway. Would they come hat-in-hand asking the US to go kick some ass on their behalf? I wonder because I can’t think of a single US ally that could do that alone even against Afghanistan. Would the US just go and do kick ass anyway with or without a request? Maybe (knowing Dubya). Would our allies still take the US to task for taking matters into its own hands? I wonder that too.

MHU is that Dubya was right to go after Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. And actually Australia and Japan offered to help.

If Australia had been bombed, of COURSE Australia would have asked for America’s help, just as America asked for the help and support of its allies. And under the current Prime Minister, Australia would probably have followed any advice coming from America (read: the Guvment) and gone down the same route as America has.

My opinion is that America/Dubya/the goverment/whatever has gone TOO far. I remember in the days straight after 9/11, Dubya said they were going after Bin Laden and the terrorists. They’ve gone a lot further than that, if you ask me. Probably if Aust. had been bombed, Little Johnny would have done the same thing. Another Prime Minister may not have…who knows?

But I bet if somewhere in Australia had been attacked (somewhere on a par with the WTC…which would be what? I’m not all that familiar with buildings and such on the east coast) it wouldn’t have got nearly the coverage that New York did. The regular Japanese TV programs were interrupted to show footage of WTC; I reckon that wouldn’t have happened if Australia was bombed.

If the Petronas Towers had been demolished, supervillain-style…

Most Americans would have compartmentalized the distant tragedy, as if a cyclone had hit Malaysia. Just another one of those Things That Don’t Concern Us, like a train wreck in India, pipeline fire in Nigeria, or collapsed coal mine in China.

Now, if terrorists had targetted several buildings in different countries simultaneously (Kenya and Tanzania notwithstanding), it would’ve made more of an impact. Part of the horror of Sept. 11 was the uncertainty over whether more attacks might occur.

Two US embassies were blown up in Africa, and we didn’t treat it very seriously either.

Interesting concept.

I think if it happened in Australia, the Australians would also be very upset, and justifiably so. But I don’t think that the war on terror would be as big or long lasting as it has been.

The fact is Australia doesn’t have a huge population. Our influence in world affairs is insignificant. The population of all of Australia is about the same as the population of New York. We don’t have the military strength to launch a war or even fight a war on our own. We’re a long way away, and the attitude may well be one of “it didn’t happen to us, and though it’s very sad, it’s not worth risking American (or Brittish or German - whoever) lives over” A token or half hearted response from the world, and we’re left to deal with the consequences.

things like that have been happening to other countries for centuries. these things are called acts of war. the difference in this case is that a new kind of war has become popular. it’s no longer necessarily governments that declare wars; private groups are now getting on the warwagon.

we americans are ridiculously arrogant, are we not? “but no one has ever DARED attack america in our long, long, history”. let me remind you that america is exactly 226 years old. that is a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of time that nations like China and Egypt have been around. america is relatively isolated from the major powers of the world, and has always been an economic and military powerhouse. it’s not surprising that nothing like this has ever happened before. when you look at the ways in which we are almost single-handedly destroying the planet as well as almost every other culture on earth, it’s even LESS surprising that this did happen.

we should really get over ourselves.

Had someone chosen to take out the Sydney Harbour Bridge during peak hour, or make kamaze attacks during one of our football grand finals (about the only two options I can think of which would lead to loss of life of the same magnitude as the September 11 attacks), I suspect that our government’s first reaction would have been extreme restriction of movement within Australia.

We would almost certainly have planned some kind of military response in coalition with our allies, but I doubt it would be on anything like the same scale as that which has taken place in Afghanistan - we don’t have the defence resources necessary to make that kind of “whatever it takes, however long it takes” commitment.

I suspect we would have called for extreme economic sanctions against any nation thought to be harbouring those responsible.

Mostly though, I think we would have seen the pretty much immediate introduction of a national identity card, further tightening of our immigration laws, censorship of the media, and extension of the powers currently enjoyed by our intelligence organisations - with the exception of the national identity card, there have already been attempts to implement these measures post-September 11.

eh, the Pentagon was almost destroyed, and it is barely remembered amid the WTC memorials.

I might point out that Egypt and China have ancient cultures but not governments. I think the United States in one of the oldest if not the oldest unbroken form of government on the planet today and I think that is a salient point to make. Also, America has been attacked many times in its history…I don’t think a generation has passed in the US that someone wouldn’t have seen a war in their lifetime.

If I’m catching the mood of this thread right there seems to be consensus that had something similarly tragic to the WTC attacks occurred elsewhere little would have happened beyond a lot of rhetoric, a pile of aid money sent to the injured country and some mostly toothless sanctions against the offending country.

Maybe it’s just me but I find that depressing.

It just occured to me that if Osama bin Laden truly wanted to effect change in America’s foreign policies he would have been better off attacking, say, the Sydney Harbor Bridge.

If the general feeling expressed in this thread till now is true bin Laden and his cronies would likely have gotten off mostly free with maybe a few Tomahawk missiles nailing a base here or there. However, bin Laden would likely have had a better chance at getting American foreign policy changed. The attacked country(s) (in my example Australia but take your pick) would likely have started applying all sorts of pressure on the US. From their viewpoint they’d feel like they were paying, dearly, for America’s foreign policy. In addition, other allies would also start clamoring for change as they might figure they could be next on a hitlist.

If change is what bin Laden wanted then he screwed-up royally. Of course, if all he wanted to do was kill some Americans then I guess he hit the nail on the head.

governement ignored.
A munitions factory was blown up in the city of Toulouse.shortly after 9/11 and a suspicious new employee from the Middle East vanished. His apartment was totally cleared out.
Many homes were destroyed and damaged as well as many schools.
The French government took the position that the explosion was an accident, althought they could not specify a cause.
Clearly, they didn’t want to take on the terrorists.

As much as people here like to slag the US, one thing that impresed me after 9/11 was the attitude towards Muslims. despite isolated incidents of anti-Muslim hatred, the overwhelming attitude here was to protect Muslims and reassure them that Americans didn’t hate them for what some of their co-religionists did.

As to what the other country would do, I dunno. I think the US would likely initiate airstrikes, intelligence and logistical support for any ally similarly attacked. Major numbers of ground troops might be dicier, but I think many would be surprised at the committment of the general public, especially if the attack was in the same manner and for the same reasons as 9/11. (If it’s a local thing – IRA or militant aborigines in Oz – that’s a different kettle o’ fish.)

If it was the UK, and to a lesser extent Oz, so attacked, I can’t imagine US troops not getting involved, even if the US populace was opposed. The rest of the EU and Japan are probably in the ring of “support yes, planes yes, troops, umm…” Russia and China wouldn’t want help.

As far as Canada, they could be glad for once that they’re the 51st state. :stuck_out_tongue: External attacks on Canada would be more or less regarded as attacks on the US.

A key factor is who is president. Dubya is, like Reagan or Carter, more inclined to see things in terms of moral obligations. “How faithful an ally has X been?” Other presidents (Clinton, Poppy Bush, Nixon) would likely do more of a cost/benefit analysis and act for American interests.
France, of course, can go screw themselves… :smiley:

We would have offered everything we have done. Of course, had any other country been punched like that, we coud not (politically, that is) done anything unless asked.

After the WTC attacks, Australia invoked the ANZUS treaty which ties us to the United States in the event that either of our nations are attacked.

So there would have been some help from the US, but to what extent?

Not the scale we are seeing now, for sure.

Ok but what form of aid has invoking that part of the treaty really entailed from Australia (I’m really asking and not being sarcastic because I don’t know)?

NATO similarly invoked their mutual defense clause but I don’t see much in the way of help from them either. Certainly Great Britain is shouldering a fair amount of the load with the US but they likely would have done that anyway (I love those guys). I may be misinformed but it seems to me that after the initial show of solidarity most European countries found little in the way of real support. Some logistical support and intelligence support has come to the US via Europe but hardly anything painful or difficult for Europeans to bear. Chances are they would have given as much without invoking their mutual defense clause.

So, what does invoking a mutual defense clause really entitle the country who it was invoked for to? Are there specifics or is it so much flowery language that looks good on paper and sounds nice in a sound bite but amounts to no more than a food shipment or two in actual support?

The English parliament was founded in the 12th century, and has sat every year since, through wars with France and Spain, and latterly with Germany of course. That is why it is known as the “mother of all parliaments”.

In answer to the question, if targets in London were hit, I feel sure that we would not have responded with an all-out war on Afghanistan. Let’s face it, how many of the 3000+ Afghanis killed were terrorists? or had any sympathy with them? The US seems to have got revenge without justice, which is simply counter-terrorism.


[Off Topic]
I thought the British government was a constitutional monarchy since the Magna Carta (around 1200). At some point (and I don’t know when but after 1800) the British government evolved into a parliamentary democracy. While it was all relatively nice as government changes go it seemed somewhat more than just a minor change. It essentially removed the monarch from all real power which parliament and the PM took over. To me that would be like saying the American Congress has sat every year since 1200 but in 1990 our president was replaced with a King yet we really are still an essentially unchanged form of government.
[/off topic]

The significance of Australia invoking the ANZUS Treaty was that the attacks occured at a time when all indications were that there was about to be a change of government, and the Treaty was invoked before there was any clear indication of the will of the Australian people (it was invoked on September 15). Remember at that time there was a great deal of speculation about whether there would be further attacks in the US and whether other Western nations would be directly attacked. Commitments were made by nations who didn’t know to what extent they might need themselves the very troops and hardware they were promising.

Our government chose to interpret Article IV to apply to the September 11 attacks and by invoking the Treaty committed us to supporting the US in military action. That pretty much guaranteed Australia’s continuing involvement even if there was a change of government at the November election. Anything less than invoking the Treaty would have left open the possibility of an incoming government withdrawing our support (in fact, the Opposition didn’t suggest that they would do so).

While invoking the Treaty might not sound like any big deal, given the political climate at the time and given domestic concerns about our capability to maintain any commitment without introducing conscription it was a big deal. Our military forces are spread out all over the world on peace-keeping missions these days (and in keeping intercepted boat people on Pacific Islands) so committing any of our troops to open-ended services in a theatre of war is not a decision made lightly; nor is committing our military hardware.

That we sent our SAS troops is a pretty good indication of just hour seriously we took that commitment; that our ships and their crews are currently involved in enforcing the embargoes against Iraq indicates that our commitment extends far beyond Afghanistan.

So yes, in terms of absolute numbers of troops, plains and ships it might seem that we’ve contributed little compared to more populous nations - but we’ve not just contributed what we had available to share, we’ve contributed our very best.

that’s “how” and “planes” :o