What was missing from the 1990s was the serious engagement of a great power, especially the American superpower, with a major enemy. So superior was the United States to all other states on the standard indices of strategic power that the potential appearance of a ‘peer competitor’ was not officially anticipated to recur for fifteen to twenty-five years. But on 11 September 2001 a worthy foe made its existence and intentions crystal clear, even though it bore no relation to standard American notions of a ‘peer competitor’. With al Qaeda in the field as a self-declared enemy of the United States – in fact, an enemy of all ‘Zionists and Crusaders’, as Osama bin Laden’s fatwas labelled al Qaeda’s foes – strategic history was back up and running with a master narrative.