From the ashes of September 11, a new world has taken shape. It didn’t last. | national
In the gruesome rubble of the towers that fell from Ground Zero 20 years ago, Hour Zero has arrived, a chance to start over.
World affairs abruptly reorganized on this morning of blue skies, black ashes, fire and death.
In Iran, songs of “death to America” quickly gave way to candle light vigils to mourn the dead Americans. Vladimir Putin provided substantial assistance as the United States prepared to go to war in Russia’s region of influence.
Libyan Muammar Gaddafi, a murderous dictator with a poetic side, spoke of the “human duty” to be with the Americans after “these horrible and awe-inspiring events, which are sure to awaken human conscience”.
From the first terrible moments, America’s longtime allies were joined by longtime enemies in this singularly galvanizing moment. No nation of world renown acclaimed stateless terrorists. Is it rare?
Too rare to last, it turned out.
Civilizations have their allegories of rebirth in times of devastation. A world favorite is that of the phoenix, a magical and magnificent bird that rises from its ashes. In the hellish landscape of Germany at the end of WWII, the concept of Hour Zero, or Stunde Null, offered the opportunity to start from scratch.
For the United States, the zero hour of September 11, 2001 meant a chance to reshape its place in the post-Cold War world from a high level of influence and goodwill. It was only a decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union left America both the moral authority and the military and financial strength to be unmistakably the only superpower.