The 'War on Terror' is the crusade of our times, with the sticky black Holy Grail forever lying below the rocks of the next Middle Eastern horizon. Dominating our political and journalistic landscapes for nearly the entire 21st Century as yet experienced, it feels hard to relate this fervent and thinly-veneered-with-reluctance collection of wars and ostensible consolidations of security to the world as it was before then. History can be edited by the victorious, of course, but often they need not bother. Often, we only see in the past that which seems the most relevant at a feverish glance. Of course, no matter how sure you are of the book's contents, never judge it by its cover.
Anyone who thinks 9/11 was the start of all this can think again. Yes, it was a big atrocity that cost many lives and demolished several very large buildings, not to mention two aeroplanes, all full of people who were as scared as you would expect to be when living your final seconds with your colleagues in the wreckage of crashed kerosene-laden aluminium flying machines and a collapsing, burning mix of desks, computers, documents, floors, ceilings, glass and reinforced concrete. By all means the USA had every right to be angry and to try and track down the people who did it and bring them to account. So did the UK when a bus and a few tube trains suddenly found themselves in several more pieces than they should have been, complete with the dashed remains of commuters on the pavements of London. Of course the police felt edgy, of course the government felt it was right to increase surveillance. Gut instincts can always be trusted, and this was all far worse than anything before, right?