chapter  7
36 Pages

9/11

Despite the horrifi c material destruction wrought by the hijackings that occurred on September 11, 2001, “9/11” signifi es both a peculiar absence and an ineluctable abstraction. The iconicity of the World Trade Center towers in New York City’s skyline creates, post-9/11, a disorienting absence, and, while (plans for) memorials exist at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, these two sites infrequently appear in broader conversations and debates about the status of “9/11” in the American cultural imaginary. At the same time, as many have commented over the years, the US-led “war on terror” radically shifts conventional notions of international confl ict as the “enemy” is an abstract noun, an affective response, rather than a nation. And yet, ironically, the two geographical locations at which the US focused its “war on terror” call to mind the very material concerns of history’s unfi nished business: that is, the Taliban’s ascendancy in Afghanistan connects to the US-backed covert war against the Soviets in the 1980s; and Saddam Hussein’s deposition in Iraq completes a project begun in the fi rst Gulf War, which is to say nothing about his rise to power. The recollection of these historical circumstances suggest that the abstraction clinging to the “war on terror” itself works to absent considerations of other perspectives or alternative courses of action.