Twelve years have passed since the crumbling towers fell. And again, the prospect of going to war is a topic on most people’s minds.
In 12 years, American policies have changed in response to the global shift toward combating terrorism. With those policies, politicians have also reconstructed their opinions surrounding the issue.
“Senator Kerry, when he was still an officer for the military, had taken his medals that he had won in Vietnam and threw them over the White House fence at the White House in his objection for a presidential objected war, Vietnam,” said Paul Crumby, adjunct political science professor. “Now he is beating the drums of war, to another war — not unlike the Vietnam war.”
President Obama is currently seeking congressional approval to attack Syria, which according to Paul Crumby, hasn’t happened since after Pearl Harbor when Congress officially declared war on the Japanese.
“Presidents can conduct wars but not declare them,” Crumby said.
In 2001, President Bush announced the invasion of Afghanistan, but did not seek congressional approval. He didn’t have to.
Afghanistan was debated until a whole series of resolutions were made and support was secured.
“(Afghanistan) had the overwhelming support from both houses of congress — from both parties — to enter into Iraq,” said James Lindsay, Middle East professor at CSU.
While the U.S. invaded Iraq with 40 some countries as our allies, we will not receive that same assistance with a Syrian intervention, according to Lindsay.
“If we do anything in Syria, we will do it entirely by ourselves,” continued Lindsay.
Past conflicts have made some countries feel misled by the U.S.’s policy in intervening in some conflicts instead of others.
“We don’t seem to have a coherent policy other than: if you are an ally of the United States, we are going to abandon you and if you’re an enemy of the United States, we’re going to support you,” Lindsay said.
The policies in question were established starting with the Patriot Act, a month after the 9 /11 attack.
“Extraordinary measures” were taken as a response to the attacks and according to Crumby, a Republican dominated Congress made it simple to pass policies into law.
“The issue of 9/11 was a little more complex, because it wasn’t a nation that attacked us, it was a movement, it was a group — it was al-Qaeda,” Crumby said.
After the 2001 attack, terrorism emerged as a focal point in American policy.
“By its very nature, terrorism is meant to shock, to surprise, to cause widespread fear among the public,” said Lori Peek, associate professor of sociology.
In response to that shock, American politicians have changed policy and those changes demonstrate how government decisions shift with the times.
During the debate about whether to invade Iraq, then-Senator Obama was a vocal opponent of the Bush administration but as President, his policies regarding Syria have not been disclosed, according to Lindsay.
“He has not clarified what he intends to do,” Lindsay said.
America’s foreign policy was shaped by the events in 2001 but much like politicians, policy is ever-changing.
As Congress gears up to make history, the world awaits an answer.
Collegian staff writer Lawrence Lam can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.