I do not believe in conspiracy theories. So I do not think the Bush administration engineered this whole thing. However, I can say this: the Bush administration has effectively utilized the tragedy of September 11th to advance an agenda which it already had and brought with it to power when it was selected in 2000.
In this sense, there is a close analogy to the Cold War. For one thing, it has silenced any opposition to the postwar political movement that sought to dismantle the state's power to regulate the economy. For example, in 1947 there was considerable public political debate about the full employment bill that would guarantee full domestic employment in America. But in the 1950s, after the Greek civil war and the announcement of the Truman Doctrine that formalized the Cold War against communism, these discussions disappeared from the political horizon.
If there had been no September 11th, could you have imagined, with a nation tumbling headfirst into a severe economic recession as America appears to be doing, that there would not be a considerable mobilization of Democrats, workers, women, African-Americans, and otherpopular constituencies to pressure this Republican administration to make some accommodation, to begin to try to use the power of the government to help the nation out of the recession? These issues, which galvanized the population, disappeared from the radar screen in the aftermath of September 11th. No one is debating them right now.
It is also true that September 11th and the war on terrorism does give America something external that helps the government suppress internal dissent. But it is also a source of political capital that America can use to muscle its allies into doing things they might not otherwise do. I do not think America would have received the kind of cooperation that ti did in Afghanistan had it not been for September 11th.
In conclusion, the Bush administration has utilized this event for its benefit. Wars are excellent tools to draw people's attention to something else especially one with no end in sight that has targeted America.
After September 11, discussions on Islamic fundamentalism began yet again. I think it is easier to understand fundamentalism in political, rather than religious, terms. What creates conflict is fundamentally contradictory interests. I think there are individuals in nations that have different political, economic, and cultural interests.
I do not think there is such a thing as Islamic fundamentalism any more than there is a Christian fundamentalism or a Jewish fundamentalism. That is what is going on here. I do not buy this argument that there is an Islamic fundamentalism whose interests are fundamentally contrary to those of the West, which I also think is an imagined community. What is the West? Are Japan and South Korea, Israel and Haiti, Finland and Spain part of it?