On Sept. 11, 2001, the world woke up to not just a new day, but a new era. The terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York City led to developments that transformed the U.S. and the rest of the world.
A decade after the Cold War had ended and the Soviet Union crumbled, a new enemy emerged: terror. But, this enemy had no particular nation or army. Global powers deemed it insufficient to call the struggle against this enemy a military intervention. Instead, they chose the word war, as if there was a concrete target on the opposite side, leading to the conceptualization of “war on terror."
Terror was an abstract enemy. It was hard to detect the perpetrator but even harder to eliminate it. This conceptual war was open to abuse, with no certain geography and no identified perpetrators who served it. For instance, the process that began with the invasion of Afghanistan was moved to Iraq on the false pretext that Baghdad was developing weapons of mass destruction. New combat techniques became common in this war on terror. The U.S. dropped bombs on nearly 10 countries, including Pakistan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia.
In 2016 alone, 2,617 bombs were dropped on eight countries. In fact, the era of Nobel Peace Laureate, liberal democrat Barack Obama has gone down in history as a bloody period in which 10 times more drone strikes were carried out than in the tenue of his predecessor, the neo-conservative George W. Bush. Currently, the U.S. has drone bases in 21 foreign countries.
The September 11 attacks also changed the relationship of American society with the government. Had it not been for 9/11, the majority of Americans would have seen the Patriot Act as an attack on civil rights and freedoms. However, it was brought into force with great approval. Other western democracies continued the same tradition. The idea that privacy is a right that should be protected by the state is no longer as popular as it once was. Although Edward Snowden showed what extremes this breach of privacy might have reached by risking his own freedom, the limit has now been violated and it is impossible to return.
Today we face another invisible enemy: COVID-19. Although doctors and other experts are at the forefront of the fight against this enemy, it is a fact that the global pandemic will transform both international relations and the social structure.
The lack of cohesion among the members of the European Union is evident from images of Russian tanks roaming the streets of Italy. China is offering support to 54 African and European countries, pushing its global PR campaign alongside. Once the pandemic is eliminated, the haze caused by it will go away and we will awaken to a new international order. It may also normalize some responses that were not common among us earlier.
For instance, many of us will now be more easily convinced to allow state intervention in our bodies in a bid to protect public health. We may also voluntarily participate in governments' bio-chip injection practices that can instantly detect a pathogenic virus entering our bodies and monitor our health. If there is any practice left in which Big Brother is not watching us, we, ourselves, will let him in.
Since it was revealed that the circulation of banknotes is one of the main factors in the spread of the virus, there has been a surge in the use of credit cards. Soon, electronic money like Bitcoin and digital currencies will gain further prominence. In short, the policies made in the name of security during the war on terror will now be followed by those made in the name of healthy living.
The year 2020 is not only forcing us into quarantine; it is also urging us to ponder the codes of the new world order.
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