How Did This Happen?

Terrorism and the New War

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Foreign policy analyses written by CFR fellows and published by the trade presses, academic presses, or the Council on Foreign Relations Press.

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Terrorism and Counterterrorism

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, one question has been on the mind of every American: “How did this happen?” PublicAffairs and Foreign Affairs came together to publish a book that seeks to answer this question in all its critical aspects: the motives and actions of the terrorists, the status of the U.S. military, the context of the Middle East, airport security, and diplomatic pressures.

The book provides readers with an authoritative but accessible account of the issues that led to the present crisis—not as a symposium of opinion, but as a series of narratives on different aspects of the situation, providing perspective, information, and sound interpretation. How Did This Happen? brings together such noted experts as Fouad Ajami, Karen Armstrong, Richard Butler, Samuel R. Berger, Wesley K. Clark, William J. Perry, Alan Wolfe, and Fareed Zakaria to help make the events of that terrible day more understandable, even as we steel ourselves for actions yet to come.

Among the conclusions of twenty-three essays on the causes and consequences of the September 11 attacks: the terrorists will not provoke the “clash of civilizations” that Osama bin Laden promoted, nor reduce the U.S. presence in the Middle East; larger U.S. defense budgets will lessen the pressure to choose between new force structures and expensive weapons systems; the attacks increased the need for support from partners abroad, including former Cold War adversaries Russia and China; the United States should reconsider whether its close ties with repressive regimes truly serve long-term U.S. interests.

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