(Image: AP)

How will 9/11 be remembered on its 100th anniversary? Will it be seen as a dramatic but ultimately minor tragedy or as a turning point that altered the United States and the trajectory of world politics in fundamental ways? Will future generations see that day as a telling reflection of underlying trends, the catalyst for a series of catastrophic foreign-policy blunders, or as an isolated one-off event whose long-term impact was relatively modest?

It is impossible to predict exactly how 9/11 is going to be interpreted, of course; perhaps all we can say with confidence is that the meaning attached to it will vary depending on who is doing the interpreting. Americans will view it differently from Afghans, Iraqis, Saudis or Europeans, and for many people around the world it is likely to be little more than a historical footnote.

What looms large in our consciousness today is often irrelevant to others and especially once memories fade and more recent events command our attention.