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Bin Laden Made News, Not History

LONDON – Ten years after 9/11, the instant history is being written. In the French newspaper Le Monde, a highly intelligent commemorative supplement dubbed the period “The Decade of Bin Laden.” But is that right?

In the ten years since 9/11, the combined GDP of Brazil, Russia, India, and China (the BRICs) rose from 8.4% of the global economy to 18.3%. Anglo-Saxon-style capitalism crashed.

Moreover, it was the decade when Internet access went global – from 360 million people in 2000 to more than two billion people today. It was a time when the war in Iraq divided the world, but also when a civilian surge for freedom finally hit the Middle East, as millions of Muslims turned for inspiration to democratic governance, not global jihad.

None of this was the doing of Osama bin Laden. To be sure, Al Qaeda was (and is) a new and serious kind of threat. Born of 30 years of tumult in the Muslim world, Al Qaeda has a worldview, not just a local view. It aspires not just to change, but to revolution.