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On September 11, 2001, 2977 people lost their lives during the plane hijackings and the attacks on the World Trade Center towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Virginia. This single incident led to major changes in the United States in both domestic and foreign policy. These changes have led to an ever-changing role for the US in the global arena.
Following the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States has been in the position of being the primary military and economic ‘superpower’. Foreign policy was focused on the possible threats of long-range missile attacks by North Korea directly or upon our European allies by Iran. Domestic policy was more economic in nature focusing on developing markets and free trade agreements, such as NAFTA, with emerging foreign markets in developing countries such as Mexico, China, and India. Unfortunately, this has led to a loss of 20% global market share for the US as outsourcing jobs and sometimes entire companies to these countries has become a more prevalent practice.
Since the 9/11 attacks, the focus has been on fighting a war against terrorism beginning with the bombings in Afghanistan 26 days after 9/11 in 2001 and the invasion of Iraq in 2003 (, 2014). In a speech to the joint houses of Congress on September 20, 2001, President Bush stated, “We will direct every resource at our command ... to the destruction and to the defeat of the global terror network. ... We will pursue nations that offer aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation in that region now has a decision to make: either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.” (Jones, 2014).
Most military actions taken by countries is preemptive or occurring when they know an enemy is about to attack. This change in foreign policy became about preventive action: preventing countries from possibly harbouring or arming the terrorists in the future.
This policy has led to a greater physical presence of the US in the Middle East in the form of armed ground troops sometimes acting as occupying forces as in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq during the past 13 years or as humanitarian aid. At first most humanitarian aid was given to countries under the auspices of USAID, a division of the US State Department and non-government organizations. Currently, more military commands are offering humanitarian aid as seen during the recent democratic revolution in Libya and after natural disasters such as the flooding in Pakistan in 2011. This role expansion puts US troops in unique positions to respond to trouble spots around the world and achieve its goals of countering extremism, deterring and defeating aggression, shaping the future military, and strengthening regional and international security as defined by the Military Strategy of the US of 2011 (Rowen, 2011).
The attacks of 9/11 also changed domestic policy in the US. The creation of the Department of Homeland Security and the passage of the Patriot Act went a long way to initially restore a feeling of safety in the country after the attacks. The Patriot Act gave law enforcement officials the authority to conduct searches without warrants, detain and deport individuals suspected of committing terrorists acts, and to monitor financial transactions and electronically eavesdrop on the nation. The 9/11 Commission report stated “The losses America suffered that day demonstrated both the gravity of the terrorist threat and the commensurate need to prepare ourselves to meet it.” (p. 323)
Initially the Patriot Act was to expire in 2005 but was extended and provisions of the act that were to expire in 2011 were again extended. As time has passed and people in the US have questioned the practices of the Department of Homeland Security and the powers of the Patriot Act for compromising due process and civil right in the name of national security.
The US involvement in the Middle East is warranted but at what levels, to what extent, and for how long? It was reported that by 2011, actions in the region had cost the US over $1 trillion dollars and 6000 lives (Li, 2011). But all efforts to improve the countries by military force and occupation have proved unsuccessful in that as soon as the military leaves an area there is a resurgence of oppressive or terrorist behavior. So the question becomes how many more lives and how much more money is spent on military action. Richard N Hass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, believes that prospects for “peacemaking are poor” and efforts of “massive nation-building” are not working. Dominique Moisi, a French political scientist, believes that the US should concentrate more on initiating economic growth and reducing the deficit as recent history has shown how important economic power is as evidenced by the fall of the Soviet Union (Li, 2011).

The 9/11 Commission Report (2004). National Commission on Terrorist Attacks. W.W. Norton and Co., p.323.
(2014) 9/11 By the Numbers. . (2014, October 20).
Jones, S., US Foreign Policy After 9/11. . (2014, October 14).
(2011) Rowen, B., Post-9/11 Changes By the U.S. Government . (2014, October 21).
(2011) Li, Hao, U.S. Involvement in the Middle East: 2 Reasons to Scale Back, International Business Times. . (2014, October 22).…...

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