The bin Laden decade – 2001-2011 – "really did a number on all of us," writes Tom Friedman. The Arab states, America and Israel all have "deeper holes than ever to dig out" because of how we reacted to the 9/11 attacks. The Arab states: Washington basically gave the region's dictators a free hand to oppress their people so long as they played ball in the war on terror. The result: today, those countries are in worse shape in terms of economic development, population growth and education, and no leaders have emerged with the clout needed to push through necessary and painful reforms. America: Bush exploited the post-9/11 economic dip to push through a second huge tax cut, and followed that up with a huge Medicare prescription drug entitlement, neither of which we could afford. And of course he launched two lengthy, expensive wars that dragged the country deeper into debt. As for Israel: it hardened its position and plowed ahead with settlement construction while the U.S. disengaged from the peace process. "I find myself asking the same question in Cairo, Washington and Jerusalem," writes Friedman. "'Who will tell the people?' Who will tell the people how deep the hole is that Bin Laden helped each of us dig over the last decade — and who will tell the people how hard and how necessary it will be to climb out?"
• 'The Bin Laden Decade' [Thomas L. Friedman/NYT]