After the horrific incidents that occurred on 11 September 2001 in the United States, the US administration accused 19 Egyptians and Saudis of carrying out the bombing of the two towers. This story was widely circulated as the official US account of the events and Bush’s administration made good use of it to convince their allies to wage a global war on terrorism.
However, on the other side of the Atlantic, Jean Baudrillard, the famous French sociologist and philosopher, wrote an article in Le Monde tackling these incidents from the angle of a philosopher. He saw the current world system as cruelly powerful and unjust to a great extent, especially when it faces those who oppose its strength. Out of its brute force, this system is able to totally wipe its opponents out.
Logically speaking, as long as those who carried out the bombing are Arabs, there will, of course, be grievances. Their complaints are mostly focused on Palestine where Israel continues to commit terrible acts of aggression in an attempt to erase the identity of the people there. But Israel’s actions prompt violent reactions from Palestinians, hence they launch attacks against the Israeli state. Those attacks convey a message to this powerful world system that its threat of destruction to its opponents will only provoke a backlash through suicide attacks on Israel or against the US’ symbols of financial and military power.
Baudrillard’s controversial article caused a major commotion in France. Many cultural and intellectual circles considered the philosopher’s article as one justifying terrorist operations and finding excuses and arguments in favor of these terrorists. Moreover, they accused him of stirring up citizens against the world system led by the United States.
The reason behind this row was not that the article gives any justification to terrorism, but because it contradicts the official US story of the incidents. The US explanation managed to convince all countries including France. That is why the front-page headline in Le Monde in the morning of 12 September 2001 was “We are all Americans”, with many European newspapers following suit.
The US is used to seeing its vision and explanation prevalent in the world, whether this vision is related to terrorism or to any other international phenomena. It is the number one superpower in the world since the collapse of the Soviet Union, which ended a bipolar era globally. In addition, it has the most powerful military force across the world, and maybe even in history. US bases, ports and trains are everywhere on earth to secure its strategies and its allies in all continents.
The article of the French philosopher is important because it broke the limitation of the US’ one-and-only explanation and offered the writer’s own vision about the incidents. Being a philosopher, he expresses only his thoughts and does not care about political alignment. His main interest is using logic as a way to discover the truth or at least one aspect of it.