When the United States was attacked suddenly and en masse on Sept. 11, 2011, it became immediately obvious that the new century was going to be very different from what we were expecting at the start of the new millennium. The over dominance of capitalism, the wide dispersion of advanced technology and the charm of a liberal democracy — consequences from the fall of the Soviet Block in 1989 — did not lead seamlessly to world peace and prosperity. The attacks on the heart of the American economic and military power 14 years ago showed that, together with its gifts, the new era also brought new weapons for carrying out war.
For the first time, it wasn't factions, races, nations and state alliances that were clashing on the front line, but small groups that took advantage of the power of technology and states that could control and manipulate ever growing crowds through technology. In the past few years we have repeatedly seen small groups (or even one individual) causing grave disruption in the lives of many, whereas the reaction from states has led to new limitations and imposed new behaviors on the crowds.
Edward Snowden's revelations regarding the attempt by the USA to control a huge part of electronic communications across the globe and, at the same time, the volatile global situation show that superficial knowledge does not lead directly to omnipotence. While more and more are accepting surveillance (especially through the embracing of smartphones and tablets) and while states and supranational entities specialize even more in surveillance, we would expect the "eradication" of all the enemies. To a great extent this was achieved with many attacks by small groups having been prevented. Although this has not stopped solitary terrorists from spreading death, nor small armies that have occupied whole parts of countries, mainly in Syria and Iraq. The "Islamic State" combines the ruthless barbarism (under the guise of godliness) with great skill in the use of technology to recruit and rally supporters but also to terrorize opponents and victims. New weapons serve basic instincts.
The USA is constantly seeking to remain dominant in the field of technology, but this does not mean that they are achieving their goals. Other countries also have developed the ability to conduct electronic warfare while whole regions of the planet are sinking into authoritarianism and barbarism. Technology isn't the problem; it's the power it provides and the bad policies. The unwise invasion of Iraq in 2003 led to today's chaos in the region, the mass exodus of refugees and the general instability.
Inside the USA, the years after Sept. 11 were marked by the over simplification of complex issues and by an extreme polarization which makes consent increasingly difficult — a greater threat for the most powerful democracy in the world than any attack. This situation proves that, while some events can change the world, people remain the same.