General Question

lefteh's avatar

If you could go back in time and stop the attacks on 9/11 from happening, would you?

Asked by lefteh (9396points) February 18th, 2009

I’m not sure one way or another. On one hand, it would be nice to stop those thousands of people from dying, save the World Trade Center complex, prevent the Patriot Act from being passed, and prevent our current involvement in two wars. On the other hand, it could be argued that 9/11 was just the final push in a long buildup to global terrorism. Following this line of thought, had the events of 9/11 not happened, some other event (perhaps one more heinous than 9/11) would have happened, which would have acted as the catalyst for our current situation rather than 9/11. Sort of like the Gulf of Tonkin incident…it can be argued that had those ships not been attacked, some other relatively minor event would have sparked a resolution similar to the one resulting from Tonkin.

What are your thoughts?

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48 Answers

SuperMouse's avatar

I think it is dangerous to change things like this. If I was a time traveler I would probably do my best to warn as many people as I could, get as many people out of the towers as possible, keep people off of those planes, evacuate the Pentagon. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t go so far as to stop the whole thing. A change on that gargantuan a scale is bound to have implications we can’t even imagine.

dynamicduo's avatar

I don’t believe in the argument that 9/11 was the final push in a long buildup to global terrorism. As such I would not go back and stop the attacks. As well, your train of thought that 9/11 was the direct cause of the two wars is in my opinion not correct at all. Take a look back at America’s involvement with the Middle East, you’ll see a longstanding pattern of intrusion and involvement where it was not warranted. The WTC terrorist attack was simply the result of years of American meddling in the Middle East. Even if 9/11 had been thwarted, I’m sure another another similarly-scaled attack would have occurred, and sadly, may very well occur again thanks to Bush’s decision to keep meddling with their affairs.

Bri_L's avatar

I would.

MissAnthrope's avatar

I would, absolutely. I know it’s the point of terrorism, but anything that claims thousands of civilian lives in one fell swoop is terribly tragic. It was a really dark day in our history, in terms of how it felt, the loss of so many innocent people, and what happened afterwards (rather than embracing the new feeling of togetherness and brotherhood as a country, and instead of accepting the love and sympathy of the world, we went the opposite direction).

You could argue that another terror event would have happened eventually, and maybe it would. Maybe it wouldn’t. It’s too hard to speculate, so the easy answer for me is yes, I would stop it. I would stop that level of terror attack in any country.

Sellz's avatar

As a soldier, I would have to say yes, I would. I mean, I would have said yes as a civilian as well. When you are downrange and you see all that goes on and know that maybe, just maybe this all could have been avoided if the attack never happened, it makes you wonder what life would be like for the US today. Someone’s future soul mate could have been in that building but was taken before they even met. Even worse, someone’s mother, sister, niece, cousin, father, brother, etc. was in that building. I know that they wonder from time to time what life would be like if that loved one was still alive.. So yes, I would have gladly stopped it…


aprilsimnel's avatar

Yes. I would. It was one of the worst days of my life. And it could have been stopped. Our government was warned.

I’m under the impression that Bin Laden caused a showdown primarily for the benefit of his weak ego, no matter what he tells us or himself, and dammit if George didn’t try to give it to him.

Look at how many people are now dead because one guy claims he is liberating his co-religionists from the evil West when he clearly isn’t and one guy claimed he would save the Middle East from itself and terrorism when he clearly didn’t.

Look at how many people are now dead because of a couple of spoilt brats with too much money and something to prove.

How they managed to get people fighting and killing for them blows my mind.

dynamicduo's avatar

If you want to get serious about this discussion, we need to take all people into account, not just the people who died on the planes and in the WTC, but all the civilians and military units from all sides of the conflict. Including these “hidden” victims of 9/11: I say hidden because they are rarely considered or remembered.

“In the year following the September 11 attacks, 1595 people died on America’s roads as a direct result of having fled the airpoprts to be safe from terrorism.” – Quote from the book “Risk: The science and politics of fear” by Dan Gardener.

lefteh's avatar

@dynamicduo “I don’t believe in the argument that 9/11 was the final push in a long buildup to global terrorism. As such I would not go back and stop the attacks.”

I’m confused…wouldn’t that generally mean that you would go back and stop the attacks, because if they had not happened a similar event would be less likely to happen?

GAMBIT's avatar

Yes I would have tried to stop it from happening.
If I worked at the airport I would have had them on radar.
If I were a fighter pilot I would have shot them down.
If I were the president I would have listened to my advisers. If I were the man who trained the terrorist I would have told the government that they seemed suspicious.

dynamicduo's avatar

I’ll rephrase my comment a bit to try and aid in your un-confusing, @lefteh.

I would not go back and stop 9/11 from happening because terrorism has always been here and will likely always be here in one form or another. While I don’t agree with the loss of civil liberties that have happened as a result of Americans being scared and intimidated into not rioting over the PATRIOT act, I have hope that some of the damage will be remedied during this presidency and the next. Furthermore, here in Canada we have not seen a similar restriction on our liberties or consequences of 9/11 (although we do have to comply with the stupid airport security theatre show they’re putting on) so I personally see no benefit from going back and stop 9/11 from happening. Even if I did have a benefit in doing so, I still would not, because of one simple reason: 9/11 was a culmination of the previous decades of American policy in the Middle East. It did not happen because bin Laden hates America’s freedom, or hates Christianity, it happened because bin Laden was tired of seeing his country occupied and his friends and family killed by foreign forces (America) as well as the results of previous American meddling (taking down leaders of countries, supplying countries with weapons to fight other countries, etc). Let me make it clear: I’m not saying that I condone his actions. But if I were in his position, I sure wouldn’t sit back and let an occupation happen or try to resolve things diplomatically, since it’s obvious that the enemy isn’t trying to resolve things diplomatically either.

Bagardbilla's avatar

I would, simply to save the lives of thousands of our countrymen, and hundreads of thousands of Iraqi and Afghans. War, in my humble opinion is THE ultimate failure of all humanity!

toomuchcoffee911's avatar

I would not because because of 9/11 we have all the added security. Something worse could have happened if 9/11 didn’t. No doubt I wouldn’t try to get people out of the buildings.

dynamicduo's avatar

Ah, @Bagardbilla, as disgusting as war is, it’s often one of the biggest drivers in developing advanced technology. Just look at how much technology was created throughout and immediately after WW1 and WW2. Even technology being developed for use in wars such as Iraq (unmanned military robot) has made its way into our modern world (such as Roomba). How ironic it is that technology often leads to peace (telephones lead to diplomacy, et cetera), yet the easiest way to develop such technology is through war.

psyla's avatar

Actually, 9/11 was stopped before it happened. Several years later, the White House was nuked by terrorists. Bush was not in the White House at the time it was nuked.

Bush ordered the top-secret military time-travel Phoenix Project team to go back in time & let 9/11 happen. They were sucessful, leading to a cleaner, less radioactive NJ, NY, and DC.

No doubt Bush was irate when the Phoenix Project team from the future showed him videos & news footage of the nuclear blast & damage of the entire NY, DC, & NJ area. He never smiled again. All he could do was make that awful false smile that looked like an anus puckering up.

A_Beaverhausen's avatar

you cant. the government did it

psyla's avatar

It is not widely known that Bush’s hobby, which he enjoyed in the White House basement, is assembling nuclear explosives. All mad nuclear bombers have that same jittery insane look in their eyes.

dynamicduo's avatar

@A_Beaverhausen – we’ve had threads before discussing whether 9/11 was an inside job or not. You may find those interesting. I will not take a lot of time to respond to your exact comment as it doesn’t really belong in this thread. I will, however, say this one line: the government can barely manage itself correctly, but I am expected to believe that it successfully masterminded a plan as complex as 9/11 without one document being leaked or one person blabbing? I don’t think so.

Bri_L's avatar

@dynamicduo “so I personally see no benefit from going back and stop 9/11 from happening.” thats cold. So approximately how many innocent lives is worth how much technical advancement?

onesecondregrets's avatar

For the sake of humanity, absolutely yes.

kwhull's avatar

I would, in a heartbeat. At the time it was just a tragic incident that had happened to other people. It did not directly effect me. Now, I have a son that is in the Army and in Basra. I worry about him constantly & catch myself crying at strange times about him being away from family (he has 4 children). Our cell phone bills have been outrageous with the long-distance charges. As hard as it has been on me for my son to be away, I can’t imagine what other families have had to go thru. Loosing a soldier or multiple tours of duty, and all of the innocents that lost their lives or that of someone they loved on 9–11. It’s tragic and heartbreaking. It should have been prevented.

lefteh's avatar

@dynamicduo: Thanks for clearing up your opinion. I understand where you’re coming from now.
This thread is becoming everything I hoped it would become.

dynamicduo's avatar

@Bri_L: yes, it’s cold. I never said I wasn’t a cold person. My outlook on humanity is drastically different from most people’s. I find your last sentence to be baiting and not worthy of a serious response in the least.

How about you tell me how many innocent lives were ended by American military personnel throughout America’s existence?

psyla's avatar

If we could have stopped every unnatural death that ever occurred, we would all be dead. The planet becomes more insanely overpopulated daily yet nowhere do people question the mindless overbreeding.

essieness's avatar

You might all hate me for this, but no I wouldn’t stop it. While it is obviously tragic that so many people had to lose their lives because of 9/11, sometimes tragedies like that have to happen in order for real progress and change to occur, in our country and the world. If 9/11 hadn’t happened, would we have hated Bush enough to desire to elect someone completely different into office this go round? Would we have voted in a Democratic Congress? Possibly, the answer is no. While I completely disagree with the Patriot Act and I despise war in any form, I feel that the events that have occurred in the past 8 years or so were necessary.

And, honestly, America needed to be knocked down a peg or two. I think we were getting too big for our britches. If you think about it, you can’t blame the rest of the world for hating us. We are an arrogant bunch.

@psyla I agree with you 100% on the overpopulation issue.

psyla's avatar

Go Obama! He’s the Man! Good riddance to old anus lips Bush!

Bri_L's avatar

@dynamicduo I didn’t say you claimed to be anything other than cold. That is a cowards way out and a cheap dodge to a poorly thought out line of reason that can’t be effectively defended.

TaoSan's avatar

I am not happy to say it, but no, I wouldn’t. 9/11, the current financial crash, politicians running haywire ‘n what not. We really needed a kick in the groin to check us.

Seems faith dished those out on a smaller scale throughout the 80’s and 90’s, yet we marveled at our magnificence, ignored the signs and thought because we were the last man standing we had it made.

To me, the passing decade was just a culmination of all the things we had coming, but ignored to see.

It’s a horrible thing to say, thinking of all those that suffered at this dreadful day, and those that made the ultimate sacrifice for their country in the aftermath, but I think we really had it coming.

essieness's avatar

@TaoSan You said it perfectly. I think America collectively got too caught up in it’s own arrogance and desire to be the one and only super power. It’s not necessarily our fault we are this way… it’s how we are raised. Pride in country. America is the best country in the world, and so on. Like I said, we are an arrogant (an often pious) bunch. A more humble America will probably actually have more “pull” on a global scale. Nobody likes a braggart, and we sure love to brag.

TaoSan's avatar


Unfortunately, that is so true

Bri_L's avatar

So would those people who wouldn’t go back and stop it, go back and swap places with the innocent people who died?

essieness's avatar

@Bri_L Sure. I’m not afraid of death. Death is simply another phase of life. It’s certainly a better alternative to life on this horrid place we call Earth. don’t worry folks, I’m not suicidal or anything…lol

Bri_L's avatar

@essieness very admirable. You back it up, I commend you for that.

I guess I just have a problem condemning 2,000 innocent people to death for the reasons that have been listed here. Pride does not deserve the death penalty.

essieness's avatar

@Bri_L Good point. I think there are valid arguments for both sides of this issue :)

Bri_L's avatar

And it isn’t that I don’t agree with your’s TaoSan’s and DynamicDuo’s assessments because I do. TaoSan helped me understand that a great deal in another thread. I just can’t bring myself to see letting those people die as a solution.

psyla's avatar

@Bri L, pride is not a good thing, but it doesn’t deserve the death penalty much in the same way that persons selected for jury duty come from the voter’s registry, in effect, punishing people for voting. Damn Earth-haters, man, it’s alot harder breathing on Mars, thankless lot. It is not in the nature of the US to be humble & third-world. We got too many smart responsible people to let that happen. It’s always corruption that third-worlds a country. It was those corrupt, greedy lenders that got us into this sub-prime mortgage economic graveyard. Give me a bunch of honest hard-working responsible people & we’ll build the best country in the World from scratch.

TaoSan's avatar


And who enabled these “corrupt, greedy lenders”?

@Bri L
Yes, we covered the perception part quite well! It pains me to say it, believe me. What a horrible thing to say, to let these people die if you had the power to avoid it. But then, isn’t that a burden every military commander in war-time has to make at some point? I mean, in order to accomplish a mission, to eventually win a war?

I’m having real issues to discuss this properly, because my base-opinion will always lead me to “the loss of life was unpreventable”. Maybe it is too early in history to discuss this properly. I couldn’t live with my “large scale opinion” being acid in someone’s face that lost a loved one.

Maybe, just maybe, my view/opinion will at least mean that the departed didn’t die for nothing. If this “kick in the groin” will eventually bring about changes in the way we perceive ourselves, making us less arrogant and more perceptive to how the rest of the world responds to us, then at least they didn’t vanish in vein.

Jack79's avatar

No, but I’d post a blog on a Jewish website advertising that there’d be free kosher lamb chops on the last floor that morning :P

(yes, I can be nasty at times)

Ok, seriously? The whole thing had been planned months in advance. So if it weren’t for the WTC, it would have been the Pentagon. And if that had survived, it would have been the White House, the Statue of Liberty, or Mt.Rushmore. They would certainly have found their excuse somewhere. Apparently nobody in America gave a damn about the priceless Buddha statues being destroyed, but everyone stood up and noticed when some ugly shopping mall got blown up. And of course American lives are each worth thousands of Afghan ones.

Bri_L's avatar

@TaoSan – Precisely why I could never be a military man. I can’t kill animals. Well, I did lop the head off of a mole I accidentally hit with my lawn tractor. But he was in pain so it was to end his suffering. Besides that I am quite the carnivores hypocrite.

But the question asked if “you” meaning me could would I. I would.

@Jack79 – I think that speaks to the whole issue of american egotism that was mentioned earlier.

dynamicduo's avatar

@Bri_L It is sad to think about. Which is why I often don’t dwell on such thoughts. The simple answer is that we can’t go back to save anyone, many people die all the time and someday it will be your and my turn too. The best we can do is make our lives as much like concentrated juice as we can: pack it with so many experiences and adventures such that our actions will be felt long after we leave this place. Diluted into the future, if you will. Ok, no more juice puns :D

Bri_L's avatar

@dynamicduo don’t say that, you’re great at puns! :-)

cdwccrn's avatar

Of course, I would. And if I had that kind of power, I would address the concerns of those who seek to destroy us.

Blobman's avatar

Also if there hadn’t been an attack on 9/11 our airport security would defiantly not be as effective as it is now.

steve6's avatar

Racial profiling and don’t forget to bring your balls with you. Little old ladies aren’t as suspicious as the looks of the “shoe bomber” or some of the pictures of the trained pilots on the security video at Boston. How to you think Israel does it? They profile and crazily enough, they don’t let Palestinians on the plane. Go figure. What is their record lately?

augustlan's avatar

Way to ask a tough question, lefteh. I like @cdwccrn ‘s idea. If one could go back in time, perhaps one should go back to an earlier time, and prevent the arrogance (on our part) thus preventing the hatred (on the terrorists’ part), which in turn would prevent 9/11. There. Problem solved :)

Bri_L's avatar

OH OH, lets go back even further and prevent the worst mistake ever made on our soil and warn the natives of this land what will happen to them and their people. Talk about a bad immigration policy.

fireside's avatar

How did I miss this thread?

I watched the first tower fall from the 28th floor of my office building on 42nd street. It was a brutal week for people in New York, and everywhere else too I’m sure. People I know lost loved ones and other people I know were lucky not to be in the towers that day. I could actually feel something being ripped out of my chest when that first tower fell that i don’t know how to describe.

Despite all of that, I wouldn’t change it either. It was a necessary correction to the conditions that essieness mentions above. I agree that it would be hard to ignore and I would probably do everything I could to get people out of the building before it happened. But I think the world needed a reason to come together because it will be more and more necessary as we progress into the future.

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