American Foreign Policy: Post-9/11

Sneha Sharma

September 11, 2001, was the second time that the U.S. was attacked since the Civil War on its own soil. The terrible tragedy was forever seared into the fabric of American society, our military, and foreign policy. As we mark the twenty-year anniversary of the attack, a lot has changed. The American military spent the last twenty years fighting the  “war on terror” across different parts of the globe, culminating in the final American military withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021. This war on terror cost the U.S billions of dollars and over 2,400 casualties.   

Soon after the attack, America’s Middle East policy changed from building relationships with countries, securing energy & maintaining Israeli supremacy to combating terrorism. Tensions with Middle Eastern countries and their citizens escalated as America increased its troop presence and use of drones in the region.

  Following the attack, President Bush made it evident that his goal was to avenge the United States. It took the U.S many years to assure Americans of their safety. Some citizens argue that there will always be room for the government to make changes to assure the protection of the United States and Americans. It took till May 2, 2011, before America was able to bring Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the attack to justice.

The post-9/11 efforts foreign policy changes have thus far proved to be a success, as there have been no major terrorist attacks by al Qaeda since that tragic day in 2001. Since the attack, foreign policy and national security have been changed to ensure that no similar tragic events occur in the future. By 2008, the defense and the foreign aid budget had increased by over double their original amounts. New institutions such as “the Department of Homeland Security, Directorate of National Intelligence, and National Counterterrorism Center” (Center for American Progress, Katulis, and Juul) have been established. 

To quell the radicalization of Middle Eastern populations and rising anti-Americanism as well as to seed Western idealisms of democracy, America launched several nation-building programs. Along with the new and focused organizations, the United States Government has also modified its immigration policies. Homeland Security has worked to enforce immigration and citizenship requirements. According to the US Department of State, the foreign policy serves four main goals: “protect the United States and Americans; advance democracy, human rights, and other global interests; promote international understanding of American values and policies; and support U.S. diplomats, government officials, and all other personnel at home and abroad who make these goals a reality” (US Department of State) The devastating day prompted the United States to increase privacy and protection of the US and its residents.

9/11 was a tragic day for America. Peace and security among American civilians were put in jeopardy and the government was forced to make changes to ensure Americans that another event like 9/11 will not happen again. The changes made to the foreign policy after 9/11 benefited the American civilians’ confidence in their safety.

Works Cited

“Did 9/11 Change the United States?” Foreign Policy, 8 Sept. 2021, Accessed 11 Oct. 2021.

“Diplomacy: The U.S. Department of State at Work.” The U.S. Department of State, June 2008, Accessed 26 Oct. 2021.

“How 9/11 Reshaped Foreign Policy.” Council on Foreign Relations, Accessed 11 Oct. 2021.

Katulis, Brian, and Peter Juul. “The Lessons Learned for U.S. National Security Policy in the 20 Years since 9/11.” Center for American Progress, 10 Sept. 2021, Accessed 11 Oct. 2021.

Rathod, Jayesh M., and Deepa Iyer. “9/11 and the Transformation of U.S. Immigration Law and Policy.” American Bar Association, 1 Jan. 2011, Accessed 11 Oct. 2021.

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