Something I think about a lot is how absolutely ready late-90s America was to become Terrorism Power Freedom Flag Land. There's a West Wing where one of the characters lambasts stand-ins for the 1999 Seattle WTO protesters. He calls them dilettante hippies and then says "free trade stops wars." This is the event it was referencing, these are the cops and institutional politics it was celebrating.
We were always going to get here, somehow, specific collective trauma or no. We had it locked and loaded. We would have found an excuse to become what we are. And given how we treated the world, someone was going to take a shot at us anyway, so I guess that worked out. Ultimately, remember that while much is said about Obama inheriting Bush's powers, so did Bush inherit from Clinton.
The proto-stage of post-9/11 American fascism was made to stomp out objections to our obscene post-Cold War victory lap across the planet. All Bush's retinue of ghouls really had was an excuse, and the will to actually start crossing lines outside of "special circumstances" and let hypernormalization do its thing.
Unstoppable shitposting engine.