Focus 580; Understanding the events of 9/11
On top program my name is David Inge. Good morning to you Welcome back to the second part of the show the producers for our program Jack bright and Harriet Williamson. Brian Wagner is at the controls. We are going to continue with the kind of conversation we've been trying to have you have over the last couple of days with different kinds of people talking about the events of Tuesday and how we can understand them what they mean for this country. And we have a guest we're pleased to have this guest here in the studio. We actually were planning all along to have him here during this hour but we were going to be talking about something a little bit different. However his his academic background his interests and his perspectives I think fit very well into what we've been talking about. And because it is a perspective from out some someone from outside of the United States I think it's also very useful to hear we're speaking this morning with Dan Diener. He is one of Europe's leading historians. He's director of the Simon did no Institute for Jewish History and Culture at the University of Leipzig. He also holds a professorship at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba in
Israel and he is spending some time here on the campus of the University of Illinois as a George a miller visiting professor and he has written on a number of subjects including the conflict in the Middle East the history of the Holocaust world history. Dealing particularly with the long term effects of collective memories he has also written about Jewish history and the history of anti-Semitism. I also would like to mention that he was scheduled to give a talk in the Miller come series tonight on the U of I campus and the talk has been canceled. So we're pleased to have him here to give you and folks here in the community an opportunity to hear from him and to have some discussion with him. As always comments questions are welcome. The number here in Champaign Urbana 3 3 3 9 4 5 5. We do also have a toll free line and that would mean that it would be a long distance call for you. Use that number and calls on us 800 to 2 2 9 4 5 5 3 3
3. W I L L and toll free 800 1:58 WLM. Well Professor Jr. thank you very much for being here. I appreciate it. To start I guess as as you suggest and as I think it would be interesting. I would just like to hear what what you think your thoughts and reflections about about what this all means. You know for us for the rest of the world particularly as your perspective is not as an American but actually from from a European perspective very much European perspective I'm very much from a European point of view and I think that as an historian if a European history in general and of the 20th century in particular that what happened on Tuesday are first of all personally chucked me I'm still in trauma as all eyes are but on the other hand I started somehow to to interpret it
and to integrate what I saw on the TV and all that fell into a wider historical perspective and shocked me so much that somehow that was my feeling that the former son the founder standing of America of the United States as somehow it came to an end. There are some very important icons for and you're peeing for instance to see Manhattan in smoke from the sea side. And it's something like to turn to turn history upside down coming from Europe coming. But I see a Manhattan America Something like to have an affair a 50. And suddenly it was turned around. Or to see and to understand the World Trade Center as something like three prolongation and modernization of the symbolic meaning
of the start of liberty. That is what hit the icons which came up to my mind and very highly connected to an historical understanding of what America means from a European perspective to America something like. Well the other world the new world in a different sense to the world and today's America and America was somehow well defended and surrounded by two oceans. It was a feeling of a civil society was out to state as a German philosopher Hagar once put it something completely safe and just was hit. And I think that it's something which has to be somehow internalized it would take a long time to understand the very meaning what just happened. Well America has gone through a lot of conflict in the last century and yet two world wars and yet the.
The mainland of this country wasn't touched. I don't want anybody to think I'm in any way minimizing the effects on this country of the wars than those people who fought and died in them. But but it's still the case that it was people here experienced it at some remove. Nothing like this has nothing like this has happened I would say nothing of like this is happened in the history of this country but nothing like this has happened in the last century and I'm sure that for some time people will be talking about it and thinking about it as a an event that change that change this country perhaps in ways that at this point we can't even we can't even think about. I wonder though how you think about that and how you think that it might change. By the way in the people in this country think about this country and also its its
place in the world. Yeah I completely agree. The United States of America. Well some sing for let's say for Europeans and we have to consider the realities that this country is somehow composed from people who left the former the former. A country is the native country is coming mostly but not only if from Europe just to get rid of the prop from the problems of the Old World peoples who are immigrants people story as refugees. America will something which seems to be out out out out of the realm of history. As Europeans understood it and this picture has rose again as during the early Nineties when you could slave Yugoslavia was broken up and ethnic strife and war for it was seen and the TV and Sunday. Well I when I read when I was reading American papers and mostly until
actual papers like The New York Review of Books Sunday American intellectual said Well now I understand why I was anxious to left Europe that was Europe. That stinks Dr nationalism war America was some somehow outside of what the Europeans and the Stand by history. History was a capital age not historical developments that you can tell about. That happens everywhere but a notion of history. America was different and my feeling is that that what happened on Tuesday will change it a lot and it has to do with as far as I do believe it was a kind of well it's a negative side of globalization and America was suddenly drawn into the world. And it is or. Coalition. Between the problems of the
world and the existence and the self understanding of America to be somehow outside the quarrels and to strive. Which happened in Europe in the Middle East in Asia. That will change the self understanding of America. If freedom is not only a concept. Freedom is daily life. We will see about what happened in United States and people will not be anymore in the position to use airplanes like busses. Yeah but people would be checked and so on more state will be in the United States more administration more control. All these things which somehow belonged to the old world will be part of America and will change somehow. Even I would go so far as the polit. Philosophy off this country and that is I would say the very
meaning today two or three days after that terrible event that happened in New York and in Washington that will have its effect on the United States it's something like I would even say a new form of foundational event for the United States a foundational event as lets put it like that as a civil war or something different which somehow molded and restructured the self-understanding of America. It's not just a mere perfectly event. It hit something very very crucial in very very fundamental what America means. I think it's it's really striking your comments about. In the past America an American some house seeing themselves as being outside of history. I think one could have argued that that may be one of our great failings the fact we have seen ourselves as being outside of history.
Well the United States. Well the involvement of the United States in the first and even more in the Second World War was really crucial but one has to consider that this involvement more in the second than the First World War brought America into the world. Nobody thought in America in nine thousand nine hundred fourteen or nineteen hundred and thirty nine thirty nine to get involved in conflicts which were of a European and an Asian dimension. I'm again at the European ist and not as an historic historian of American history. I still was always struck for instance by concepts and doctoring. Like Monder took training off of the early 1900s sure even the America declared. Here we are and there is Europe and there is no connection between ass that's different completely different world. First World War. Well America showed up on the European battlefield but it was not really felt immediately
in nineteen hundred and twenty. America removed its involvement it was not anymore in Europe and left the European Well to be alone a month and solve and their horrible period of the of the 30th and later the Second World War were the result and after 1945 the Americans wanted to pull out of Europe immediately. And what happened. Well that emerging a cold war which the European stay in Europe and made the American North America the United States as a world power but still the very feeling of America was we are involved. It's our let's say international responsibility. But we are not really part of it. We are not really part of it. We can pull out whenever we want. We can get in whenever we want. Now I have to feeling that it changed the whole Salaf understanding of America. It's put somehow into question.
I would like to get to a caller here just a moment and reintroduce our guest. We're speaking this morning with dan diner. He is one of Europe's leading historians. He's director of the Simon did no Institute for Jewish History and Culture at the University of Leipsic. He's also holds a professorship at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba in Israel and is at the moment George Miller a visiting professor at the University of Illinois. Two of the things I just like to mention quickly because I had talked about them earlier. It now appears that the Secretary of State Colin Powell will be holding his press conference at about noon. And when that happens and if national public radio provides coverage we'll bring that to you. Also that we're expecting some kind of a statement from the Attorney General John Ashcroft at perhaps about 11:30 course as these things go. One never knows exactly when they will take place but again if there is coverage they're offered from National Public Radio We'll bring that to you when it happens. So
let's go ahead and bring in some people to convert to the conversation here starting with the caller in Champaign and that'll be line number one. Hello. Hello. Yes I should apologize for my ignorance of this issue. What if you could would be able to give me any background information or your thoughts on the sentiment of hatred of people against the United States in the Middle East I I don't I guess I don't really know much about it why they would hate it. But perhaps you might. Maybe I might be able to fill me up. Well it's a very interesting question but I would if you allow somehow are corrected in such a sense. It's not the Middle East or it's not the people of the Middle East that hates America hates United States I think it's something we're very deep going even in Europe also not comparable to some kind of put it like that. An ideology which can be called anti-Americanism which is
not directed against a specific state but it's directed against a specific cultural which has a lot to do let's say which is universal the form of capitalism. Off duty something which changes tradition which is everywhere. And somehow you find it as well in Europe not as a political force not at all but a kind of phantom and people they dislike. Well some people dislike America not because of its policy but because it is a different kind of civilization which seems to be strange foreign. Ed to a more traditional societies that is the background now in the Middle East. Well we have to distinguish and to be very careful. And that's something the American administration has have to have to consider and to distinguish let's say with its policy concerning the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians between Israel and
the Arab states and to well to try to resolve this conflict on the one hand on the other hand to be very much aware and conscience about well that there is no clash of civilizations as claimed but America is seen as something which is well threatening forms of traditional way of life. People don't understand. The way of life Americas are presenting even today or mostly today in the age of globalization when people are coming much more closer and that what happened. Three days two days three days ago is the negative result of globalization closeness of different cultures coming together and then the difference between is becoming much more obvious between cultures
and in so far America is seen as something like the pioneer of modernity and the societies and cultures which are rejecting our civilization which is a global civilization. There do pin point to America and America seems to be as something like a global enemy but I wouldn't go so far. And it doesn't if I descend to mend. And isn't standing with the people of the Middle East not at all. Well I appreciate that. Thank you very much. I think you will go on to another caller here in Aurora. Number four. Hello. Yeah. I have a couple of things. What is the Taleban. I was going to call the library but I heard your program so I thought maybe you could explain what is the Taleban. Well I'm not a specialist on the Taliban on this group but well my luggage is very general. It's a group of
Muslim fundamentalist which was established during that period. If the resistance against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan mostly by the Pakistanis there were the. Well they were born and raised. I took no no it's more than 20 years. They were all born or raised in the refugee camps of Pakistan and which were supported one have to remind the audience that the Taliban and the Pakistani government today is supported by the United States and they're fighting the Soviet Union. Insolence to phase in the last phase of the Cold War and the Taliban conquered all of Afghanistan and during the last years and established a very very fundamentalist. Islamic regime is so much
fundamentalist that it is even rejected by us or Islam as Islamists as movements or even governments. For instance the government of Iran Inter Milan is at loggerheads with the Taliban government in Afghanistan. So we have to be very differentiated concerning its at what's happening in the Middle East even among Islamist fundamentalist or regimes or groups. There are a lot of differences the Taliban is now the government off Afghanistan a fundamentalist regime and which was established in the struggle against Soviet occupation into 80s. What will happen when the company countries have to choose sides. I can see that you know a country will have to decide if they are going to be for United States or
not join in or they were against the United States. I can't imagine how much problem and how much that will really tear countries apart. I can hardly imagine that any country if you are talking about states and countries not about to fundamentalist groups which are hardly to locate to. That's our problem today that I don't see any state or any country standing up against United States. And I don't believe and I wouldn't like to cede that the United States will act unilaterally as its means one sided. I think it ought to be an international coalition a world coalition with or your penis with the Arab states and with Israel and others to deal with the problem. If I may as an historian somehow COMPERE or to present situational
also a difference completely. From the past but somehow when the Ottoman Empire the Ottoman Empire the large Muslim empire which existed for more than 400 years and collapsed during the first at the end of the First World War that when its empire weakened mostly at the very beginning at the end of the 18 and the beginning of the 19th century there were a lot of pirates in the area of the Mediterranean in the Persian Gulf and so on and so far and they're both an international coalition and military involvement to fight this pirates. And if some similarity they all saw the situation completely different then we're living in another world. But compared to international struggle against pirates with the international struggle today against this kind of terrorism is should be international. It shouldn't be unilateral. It should involve Arab and Muslim states as well.
Thank you. All right thank you. We'll continue our next caller is in champagne on line 1. Hello. Yes thank you for having me on again I was I was cut off last. And I just thought that maybe this would be an opportunity to say you know in a different context to make some of the same points I was making them and perhaps then and perhaps to follow up on them. Sure. What I'm hearing from professors and dinner is kind of a classicist civilizations model of world history or of recent history such as propagated by Samuel P. Huntington and Robert Kaplan Thomas Friedman and others who feel that the United States is offering a kind of a kind of you know the nip and beneficence vision to the world and that there are certain elements in the world that can't tolerate that and can accept it and that are threatened by that. I just I read history completely differently I must say what I see during the last century and especially
since the Cold War or since World War Two and the end of the Cold War is that the United. States would not allow third world nations in especially in the Middle East to develop their own particular for their own particular forms of nationalist democratic or otherwise institutions to come to terms with modernity in their in their own way and that this is the evidence for this has to do with the overthrow of of you know indigenous nationalist forces in countries like like Iran Syria Syria Iraq and so forth the support for authoritarian governments. Afghanistan one example also in terms of their support for the Taliban. Vietnam all of these countries which wanted you know not to idealise any of them bust out into Indonesia in there.
None of them none of them were allowed in whatever ways that they may have deemed necessary in terms of their own people in their own nationalist ideologies to deal with a post colonial post colonialist modernity in a way that was apart from the global politics and especially apart from the United States satisfaction. In pursuance of its of its economic interests I simply have to say that I see this attack not as a class of civilizations but as that and maybe in a different sense it is but it's basically the chickens coming coming home to roost as it has as Malcolm X would have would have said. I think that we have deemed the Middle East to extremely important reason because of oil. We have sacrificed incredible precious resources human and otherwise. But both of our in terms of our own people but especially in terms of the people there we have
devalued human life. We have devalued the you know the the human life of what we see as faceless Arab and Muslim peoples. And I I simply am opposed you know in all honesty in all due respect. This view of the world. I don't think it gets us anywhere and I certainly don't think it's any way to do you know tell exactly what has happened this week. Well as a diary What do you think. Well first of all I think that I have to to correct this impression if I'm not I'm not supporting the Syrian findings concerning the clash of civilization. I think it's a very generalizing. It's not a Syria which helps to really understand and but on the other hand I do believe that the command and interpretation of a last gasp.
It's not so far away from the hundred seizes it just turned it around. It means that there is some kind of well an international or even American conspiracy concerning the so-called Third World states which try to establish their own journey. I would agree if for instance concerning the intervention of United States and more more even Britain in Iran the 953 one of the most adik government was toppled. And that was really what we understand in history or in political sciences and imperialist. Plot an intervention into the domestic domestic policy all for now as a country. In the sixties things were the 50s and 60s things things have to be seen and understood and the framework of the Cold War but the Cold War came to an end and in nine thousand nine hundred eighty nine or nine thousand nine hundred ninety
one. And we are completely in a different in it in a different world. And I think that it's less or even not at all the American policy that tries to. Well to. To ignore and to disrupt any indigenous democratic society I think it is more a struggle between. Specific elements in this society against our own leadership against our own let's say governments for instance the struggle of governments against Egyptian fundamentalist agnostic you are not states or even I would say when the former Syrian President Assad the father of the present president was destroyed the power of a Muslim
fundamentalist in 82 by completely completely wild and putting to ashes nearly the Syrian city of Hama. It has nothing to do with United States is to struggle inside this society is between specific groups and between specific ideologies. I don't I don't ignore at all that the United States there well is the most important power in the world and that is the way of life the American way of life somehow is becoming globalized and other people may feel somehow they're endangered and provoked by it is a way of life you know. You trivialize that and you trivialize this. This expression a way of life by by ignoring the actual economic consequences of American
foreign policies this is what this whole anti-globalization movement movement is about is all it is all about. It isn't. It isn't about Britney Spears like like the man the last hour says it's about fundamental economic consequences of U.S. foreign policies which are not conspiratorial in nature and do not make me a conspiracy theorist but which are very very clearly laid out in in in the data after document after after evidence of what it is the United States really wants from these countries what it wants and what it's what's what it's not afraid of. And it isn't that it's afraid of Islamic fundamentalist movements we support the most Islamic fundamentalist country in the world namely soft Saudi Saudi Arabia. It doesn't have anything to do with that it at all. It has to do with with being opposed to any country which might decide that it can dispose of the it should be able to dispose of its own resources in the manner with which which which it sees fit.
Listen to us interact. I don't I don't want to interrupt you but it was only one point I don't follow don't want to pushed into into a corner where I'm suddenly defending American foreign policy and not American foreign policy spokesman. I try to understand what's going on. But just one correction. The Saudi Saudi government and the Saudi society is not a fundamentalist society it's traditional Islam it's not fundamental. It's not fundamentalism fundamentalism is it is not a traditional reaction fundamentalism is a reaction of Muslim or der Niti. Most of the people who are fundamentalist often Amendment fundamentalist ideologist were formerly very very enlightened people a lot of them were former communist others were educated in the West it is a later backlash of their tradition coming out from the 70s and 80s being disappointed by modernity. They were becoming fundamentalist Saudi Arabian society or the Saudi leadership I'm not very fond of. I have to claim they are traditionalist and not fundamentalist.
Well I wrong allow you to split that hair except. Say that. Whatever this backlash is it's a backlash resulting from the failure of nationalist movements in these countries. A failure of which was engendered by United States foreign policy partly and probably mostly by U.S. foreign policy and it hasn't really changed that much since the Cold War. It's just a new enemy now instead of the Soviet Union being the enemy and everything that we do in the Middle East being justified in terms of the Cold War. Now Islam and fundamentalism is the new enemy. And everything that is done to justify opposition to that except when of course we have to support some Islamic fundamentalists because or whatever you want to call them because they support our economic goals. We you know we just have about 15 minutes left I have a couple of other callers. And the caller will forgive me for because we have I think give him quite a lot of time to to make his comments. And I don't know if there's anything else that you want to
say or we could just go on and we talk some other folks and I do do want to give other people a chance to make comments ask questions too. Let's go on here the next person is in champagne. Line number two. Well yeah I agree with the last caller. In many ways I think that is. Before the Second World War the United States already assumed the colonial interests of Spain in this hemisphere and viewed the countries of this hemisphere as having to toe the line for our economic interests or pay the price. And at the end of the Second World War when the colonial powers of France and Britain and others collapsed we assumed their code names stabbing men in the back in Vietnam and thereby plunging our country into chaos for a
very long time and and then with Britain and France had very carefully constructed the countries that came out of their holdings in the mid east and used them the area as a means to bridge Europe's Jewish problem. And then I used the way they constructed countries to control oil which has been a driving force of foreign policy throughout this century. So I think the United States had some chickens coming home to roost and they're going. Keep coming. Unless we stop raping the rest of the world of its resources. Well Professor Dean you want me again and I'm not and here and off the cuff conspiracist serious and
I from a European perspective I have to well to claim that it was the United States and most of the policy you know fruit during the Second World War and later on immediately afterwards after its nice that it was him and United States that. Well that is because of a policy which is based on free trade and what claims that it's imperialism. OK we can talk about it what it means. It's that the DOT and the French and the British colonial empires were somehow. Were taking part by American policy I just as an historian have to put my finger on the quarrel between Churchill and between Roosevelt ofter concerning ze interpretation of the Atlantic Charter about self-government
American government was in favor of self-government and it means some kind ofa let's say an empty colonial policy under colonial is a sense of immediate presence of the friend to British and the Dutch in the colonies and it's true I would agree that the American stepped in stepped in into the tradition of the colonial and Paria is. But as Mara said it concerning the void in Vietnam it was a mistake a big mistake it doesn't mean that it was somehow. And Nessa city of American existence and American policy is to step in in China and to fall to fight. It is unreasonable and morally not acceptable wards of war in Vietnam. But one has to distinguish between let's say America is not something like a nation state. Like we know them in Europe or
maybe in the European periphery or other let's say political bodies based on some kind of belonging. America is well it's an universal system if you like it or not and in so far America is somehow everywhere. And by judging the United States its very existence exists and according to the concept a notion is the lines of European and nation states means not really to understand modern 80 and in so far I'm very much in favor of it personally. Complete self government of and national self-determination of the different countries but on the other hand one has to take into consideration what does it mean in an age of globalization. We have to find the right institution and so far I'm criticized for globalization. But I cannot be against the words or cannot be
against the wind I cannot be against the clouds in globalization excess it's not just an invention. It is there it is very much connected to specific kinds of technology and so on and so far so far it has to be regulated true. It has to be regulated but it can only be regulated internationally in the framework of international organisation and not according. I would say the perception of the national state in the European periphery or in Asia as in the 40s 50s and 60s where people did believe they have just to establish national states according to the French model of the French Revolution. And that was the trade of the high days of anti-imperialism. It was people like Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt of Tito in Yugoslavia of Sukarno in Indonesia and so on and so far and one has to remind our listeners to him in when he declared
independence. Vietnam North Korea Town the Democratic Republic of Vietnam he cited the American Declaration of Independence. That was the well I would say that was the document of independence of liberties and of anti-colonialism it sounds today very I would say because some how crude or even unbelievable but the peoples of the peoples of this world world into struggle against colonialism which meant a struggle against Britain France and the Dutch in Asia and in other parts of the world that Americans were somehow a model and Americans didn't step in into this role because most I do believe are out of an evil every day or and as a kind of understanding stepped in well into the cold war and took over as a tradition of the former colonial powers but it came to an end and I
think that the discourse today is a different one and become a just prolong this understanding of imperialism and imperial expansion and in Konami economic. Involvement as it was done let's say 30 40 or 50 years ago it was not anymore living in the days of Sukarno if not for Tito and all the others in Custer if you like. It's a different world and we need true I here fully agree we need institution in order to regulate the world which is today a globalized regulate means to Democrat ties them. Regulate means more state intervention regulate means some kind of international of international supervision connected to not just the United Nations. I think situations international holding. We have just about 7 or 8 minutes left and perhaps I should introduce Again our guest when I want to spend in the last little bit we're speaking with dan diner he is one of Europe's leading
historians. He's director of the Simon did no Institute for Jewish History and Culture at the University of Leipzig and also holds a professorship at They've been Gorean University of the Negev in Beersheba in Israel and he's now spending some time on the campus of the University of Illinois as a George Miller visiting professor. He was scheduled by the way to give a talk in the Miller comedy series tonight talking about the understanding the 20th century and that has been canceled that's all that will take place tonight. And we have some other folks here and again I want to go on trying to get in at least one or two others. I think that next. Color should be in champagne I think on line one. Hello hello. Yes David I'm glad you had some cogent callers today because I'm afraid your guest's account has been generally propagandistic. For example it's simple Israeli propaganda to draw a distinction between Islamic fundamentalism and Saudi traditionalism and the reason that's done is of course that Saudi Arabia is an effective ally of Israel right now since both countries are
clients of the United States and for that reason in the context of you know the burgeoning worldwide war against fundamentalism Saudi Arabia has to be removed from that category. This is this is a distinction without a difference. This is made up for the purposes of say propaganda. It's not new. It was after all the Israeli secret police who established the mosques the religious organization designed to undercut secular nationalism amongst pilots. Minutes so it's to do the sort of accurate history that your callers have been suggesting is absolutely appropriate here and needs to be done over against what are essentially propagandistic surgeons. PRESIDENT Well if it's propaganda so I don't have to add anything about it. Well then we'll go again to Rabbani here lie number three. Yes. This may seem a simplistic question I was just wondering whether
or not the fact that some of the cultures that are clashing in modern day global world have something to do with understand Hardyman I have to interrupt you I'm so very sorry to do that. However we've got to go to National Public Radio for a statement from the Attorney General John Ashcroft will do that now.
- Focus 580
- Understanding the events of 9/11
- Producing Organization
- WILL Illinois Public Media
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- WILL Illinois Public Media (Urbana, Illinois)
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- with Dan Diner, Institute for Jewish History and Culture, University of Leipzig
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- Talk Show
- community; International Affairs; 911; Politics; Military; Terrorism; Foreign Policy-U.S.
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Producer: Brighton, Jack
Producing Organization: WILL Illinois Public Media
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Illinois Public Media (WILL)
Identifier: cpb-aacip-dc58a00873d (unknown)
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- MLA: “Focus 580; Understanding the events of 9/11.” 2001-09-12. WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 3, 2024. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-16-zs2k64bd7v>.
- APA: Focus 580; Understanding the events of 9/11. Boston, MA: WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-16-zs2k64bd7v