As the third-ranking official at the US Agency for International Development (USAid) during the George W. Bush administration, I flew to Singapore on Sept 11, 2001. I found travellers huddled under television monitors at Changi Airport, staring up at images of the World Trade Center being struck by commercial aircraft and collapsing.
Across the Pacific Ocean, I deeply felt the fear and anger of my family, colleagues and fellow Americans. Violent attacks on innocent civilians in our homeland would demand a harsh response. The next day, then President George W. Bush declared a war on terror. The Taleban's resolve to harbour the Al-Qaeda terrorists responsible for the attacks meant that America would soon be at war in Afghanistan.