I cannot imagine a context that would some day, in some manner, make the monstrous crime of September 11 an understandable or comprehensible political act.
Osama bin Laden, the person, more likely serves the function of a stand-in. Compare the new terrorists with partisans or conventional terrorists in Israel. These people often fight in a decentralized manner in small, autonomous units, too.
I consider Bush's decision to call for a war against terrorism a serious mistake. He is elevating these criminals to the status of war enemies, and one cannot lead a war against a network if the term war is to retain any definite meaning.
Partisans fight on familiar territory with professed political objectives to conquer power. This is what distinguishes them from terrorists.
Global terrorism is extreme both in its lack of realistic goals and in its cynical exploitation of the vulnerability of complex systems.
Perhaps September 11 could be called the first historic world event in the strictest sense: the impact, the explosion, the slow collapse - a gruesome reality literally took place in front of a global public.
Instead of the international police action we had hoped for during the war in Kosovo, there are wars again - conducted with state-of-the-art technology, but still in the old style.
Disappointment over nationalistic authoritarian regimes may have contributed to the fact that today religion offers a new and subjectively more convincing language for old political orientations.
Since our complex societies are highly susceptible to interferences and accidents, they certainly offer ideal opportunities for a prompt disruption of normal activities.
The misery in war-torn Afghanistan is reminiscent of images from the Thirty Years' War.
If the September 11 terror attack is supposed to constitute a caesura in world history, it must be able to stand comparison to other events of world historical impact.