Cold War, BRICs and Why 9/11 Doesn't Matter

A Century Weekly editorial at Caixin online cites Niall Ferguson’s argument that 11/9 (1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall) is more definitive of our times than 9/11, and argues that the rise of the BRIC nations outweighs the War on Terror in terms of historical significance.

An article in Foreign Policy magazine tellingly ranked 10 major global events that have taken place in the decade since 9/11, and America’s response to 9/11 was last on the list. No. 1 was “the rise of China and other BRICs,” and one position ahead of 9/11 was the Arab Spring.

It’s clear most analysts regard the 10 years after 9/11 as America’s “lost decade,” and their anxieties over the country’s decline are palpable.

The Americans have reason to worry. But these analyses did not go far enough to separate cause and effect. Instead, they generally gave an impression that post-9/11 events were somehow a consequence of the attacks and the response to them. In fact, major events such as the rise of the BRICs and the Arab Spring had little to do with 9/11, but instead resulted from the collapse of the Cold War order.

During America’s lost decade, the BRIC economies enjoyed 10 golden years. Descriptions of their power gained currency over the years, and cooperation among them took root. The four BRIC countries began to grow closer in terms of strategy and stance, so much so that they have now become a political group of considerable weight. All four countries have in fact seized the strategic opportunities for development that emerged after the end of the Cold War, when globalization and market development accelerated, and a multi-polar world was taking shape.


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