The idea of replacing the felled twin towers of the World Trade Center with a “Freedom Tower” — the design of which seems, at least to this eye, self-consciously grandiose — always was a bit … overblown. Now we learn that the design originally approved by the city of New York would make the structure too accessible to a nearby highway — making it an inviting target for attack. The project has now been indefinitely delayed.
It seems to me that this development reflects a similar learning curve when it comes to our response to 9/11 in terms of U.S. foreign policy. Our first response was to embark on some impossibly broad and generalized “war on terrorism,” one that eventually came to include the “democratization” not only of the Middle East but of the entire world.
As we approach the fourth anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in Amerian history, we are beginning to realize that our initial response — an enraged lashing-out at the nearest target — was in large part profoundly misdirected. Instead of taking on the entire Muslim world — and signing on to a futile crusade to “export democracy” to places that have never known it — our aim must be to restore what was: to make ourselves whole again by rebuilding what has been lost, rather than destroying some foreign country. The majority of Americans now believe that going to war with Iraq and occupying that country was not worth it.
The people of New York City and environs have had enough of the posturing politicians, and a movement has grown up to restore the twin towers to their previous glory — no more, and no less. Go here to look at the plan. This scaled-down project, it seems to me, is a worthwhile effort: bereft of the imperious and overbearing design of the “Freedom Tower,” this campaign to restore what has been lost seems like a metaphor for what has to be done in the rest of the country.