September 10th, 2010
03:13 PM ET

Did the U.S. overreact to 9/11?

Editor's note: Fareed Zakaria is an author and foreign affairs analyst who hosts "Fareed Zakaria GPS" on CNN U.S. on Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET and CNN International at 2 and 10 p.m. Central European Time/5 p.m. Abu Dhabi/9 p.m. Hong Kong.

New York (CNN) - The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, prompted the U.S. to take sensible security measures and launch a justified counterattack against al Qaeda, says analyst Fareed Zakaria. But he says they also led to an overreaction that continues today.

Zakaria argues the organization behind the attacks, al Qaeda, has been greatly diminished by the U.S. response to 9/11 and by growing opposition to the group in the Muslim world:

"All these trends have worked to further diminish the threat al Qaeda poses to us. We're in a strange situation where the right doesn't want to acknowledge it because it would suggest we don't need to be in quite this much of a war footing and ... the left seems reluctant to accept some of this because it suggests that, God forbid, George W. Bush might have done something right.

"As a result of our political dysfunction, we have lost the ability to have a rational conversation about 9/11," Zakaria said.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Fareed Zakaria • Terrorism
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Dennis Brinkley

    The article has a compelling point about U.S. tendency to overreact. Looking at history, U.S. was slow to act in both world wars. U.S. was also slow to respond to terrorism. Our country’s tendency to respond to aggression slowly might provide some explanation as to why we tend to overact when we are finally angered.

    Our national defense system was wrong about the cold war and probably will never be a model of efficiency and management excellence. However, the military and intelligence agencies have responded and are better organized and more capable than they were before. When it comes to national security it is better to be over prepared, than unprepared.

    The conflicts that continue in Iraq are sectarian violence and not Al Qaeda led. The war in Afghanistan also is a conflict that is mostly Taliban fighters with Iranian interplay. Al Qaeda has been diminished and marginalized, but the threat of terrorism persists where there is poverty, ignorance, and strife. Along with military action, U.S. is also engaged in nation building to forestall the replication and expansion of terrorism to other locations of the world.

    Unequivocally, Muslim’s leadership has supported terrorism for decades and they need to acknowledge their culpability. The failure of Muslims in general to coexist with the world and achieve their own self-determination has cost the U.S. dearly. The discussion should not be about U.S.’s over reaction against Al Qaeda, but instead the lack of action of the Muslim community to take responsibility for crimes against humanity.

    September 10, 2010 at 8:52 pm |
  2. KT

    I'm sorry America did not overreact to 9 11. We have become such a weak country...wake up America...we probably have more threats today right here in the U.S. than on 9 11.
    This is so upsetting....America needs a back bone why are we putting up with this.

    September 10, 2010 at 7:34 pm |
  3. Julia


    September 10, 2010 at 6:03 pm |
  4. Marlo

    Mr. Zakaria,

    I guess you could say the same to so called "radical Muslims" who react violently to any "perceived slight" to Islam. I have yet to hear "moderate" Muslims speak out against the violent acts committed by radical Muslims.

    Tolerance is a two way street. The center should go where a lesson in tolerance is needed. When was the last time a church or synagogue was built in an Islamic country?


    September 10, 2010 at 5:59 pm |