Osama bin Laden’s attacks had a threefold purpose:
The first was payback.
The second goal was to use massive terrorist strikes to put fear in the hearts of the American people, turning them against their leaders.
The third purpose was to encourage other Muslims to attack the United States by demonstrating that America is a “paper tiger.”
By contrast, the consensus among some of the most notable American scholars is that America is no mere superpower or hegemon but a full-blown empire. For example, Yale’s Professor Paul Kennedy, who once insisted on the idea of American decline in his bestseller, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, recently, and especially after the Afghan war, has been presenting the most spectacular acknowledgment of US dominance: “Nothing has ever existed like this disparity of power.”
“The Pax Britannica was run on the cheap . . . right now all the other navies in the world combined could not dent American maritime supremacy. Napoleon’s France and Philipii’s Spain had powerful foes and were part of a multipolar system. Charlemagne’s empire was merely Western European in its stretch. The Roman Empire stretched further afield, but there was another great empire in Persia and a larger one in China. There is no comparison,” Paul Kennedy, “The Eagle Has Landed.”
The United States is now undoubtedly the only one superpower. But few trust the United States to be sufficiently benevolent or wise to use its power for everyone’s benefit.