Enter the Interpreters

Following on from Chuck's post below, the warning to Italy and Denmark is interesting, if indeed the statement is authentic: Evidently, even if societies opposed the Iraq war, as did those in Spain and the U.K., not to mention Italy, it's pretty irrelevant because their governments happened to support it.

That message is worth remembering by those who argue that American and British actions in Afghanistan and Iraq have provoked a "clash of civilizations." In the case of Madrid and now London, no such distinction was made by the attackers. One expects no better from them, but it will be interesting to watch what the public reaction among the wars' critics will be. Who will be blamed for this latest punishment of societies objectively supporting the goal the terrorists' attacks allegedly promote--namely an end to the Western military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Isn't this proof enough that the only agenda of the perpetrators was to kill many people--as it was on 9/11--and that those trying to read some sense into the murders are making a mistake? By the way, notice how the Al-Qaeda statement--again if it is authentic--failed to mention Palestine. No worries, there will be plenty of self-styled interpreters who will throw that into their own assessments of who was to blame, and why.

Addendum: No sooner had I posted the above than I opened Juan Cole's Web site. Here's what he wrote:

Scheuer believes that al-Qaeda is an insurgent ideology focused on destroying the United States and its allies, because its members believe that the US is trying to destroy them. Al-Qaeda members see the Israeli occupation and oppression of the Palestinians, backed by the US; US support for military regimes like those of Pakistan and Egypt; and US military occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq as evidence of a US onslaught on Islam and Muslims aimed at reducing them to neo-colonial slavery. That is, specific Western policies are the focus of al-Qaeda response, not a generalized "hatred" of "values." [...]

All of this seemed sensible to me, and more sensible than most other analysts I heard.

What did I tell you?

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  • Alla||

    It does prove the terrorists are murderers, that's it. Their purpose was to kill, just as it was before the Iraq war: it's not retaliation.

    I think this all illustrates that Iraq and terrorism are largely separate issues. Blame the government for the former and the murderers for the latter.

    Aside from that, shouldn't the issue today not be to blame but to figure out solutions?

  • ||


    the warning to Italy and Denmark is interesting, if indeed the statement is authentic: Evidently, even if societies opposed the Iraq war, as did those in Spain and the U.K., not to mention Italy, it's pretty irrelevant because their governments happened to support it.


    Lets see if I can help you resolve this little paradox:

    1. If these people live in a democracy, then their government represents their will. As such, the people we not against the war, but were for it.

    2. If the majority were against the war, but their government went to war anyway, they are not in fact living in a democracy.

    Of course, it could just be a simpler explanation which would not result in a paradox: The people of these countries not giving a fuck what their government does to people with different languages and skin colors in other countries.

    In this case, I'm inclined to side with the simple explanation.

  • ||

    Let me get this straight - the anti-war people state that their governments' actions cause Islamist terrorists to hate them. The cause is not the attitudes and practices of the people, the antiwar folks say, but the actions of the governments.

    Now, the terrorists attribute their attacks to the actions of the governments, and claim that it is those governments' actions that motivated them to attack the people. No mention whatsoever is made of the practices and beliefs of the people. The terrorists lay it all at the feet of the governments' actions.

    And the conclusion to draw from this is that the terrorists are motivated to attack the people not because of the actions of their governments, but because of the practices and beliefs of the people.

    Uh huh.

    If there is somebody out there saying that actions of pro-war governments are causing terrorists to attack those governments, but not attack the people who oppose those governments, then Mr. Young has just refuted the shit out of those people.

    But if we're going to accept the statement by these mass murderers as reliable evidence of their motives, it would appear to support, not refute, the antiwar people's position.

  • ||

    BTW, the terrorists describe the target of their wholly-unrelated-to-Israel attack as "the British Zionist Crusader government."

  • ||

    This keeps popping up so I thought it was worth a reminder, before the partisan scorekeeping and "tag, you're it" gets into full swing (if it hasn't already; trying not to pay attention):

    Slade Gorton:

    "Just ask bin Laden himself. What did he say? He said three things, "get out of the Middle East, convert to Islam and end all of the corruption of your society."

    They have obviously tacked Iraq/Afghanistan onto this set of demands, but arguing the value of pro/anti/neutral stances regarding war dont' really make a difference. Even if you took all the troops out of everywhere, they'd have at least demands #2 and #3 above (plus whatever else they cook up on the fly; and there will surely always be more) to fall back on.

  • ||

    Michael, Michael, Michael. You blinded fool. Take your head out of the sand and wake up to the reality of the depths that BusHitler / Chimpy McHaliburton and his Jew friends will go to to trample over our rights. The Islamists have no agenda. They didn't blow anything up. Its a giant conspiracy.

    Netanyahu Changed Plans Due to Warning.

    So who called Netanyahu? Osama? I think not.

    You're all sheep. Sheep I tell you.

  • ||

    Translation: somebody please, please, please take my bait and write something antisemitic, because I'm about to get my ass handed to me.

    I don't know about the citrus or scintillation elements of your tag, but the rest is right on.

  • ||

    Evidently, even if societies opposed the Iraq war, as did those in Spain and the U.K., not to mention Italy, it's pretty irrelevant because their governments happened to support it.

    So the terrorists are the only ones who confuse the will of a government with the will of its people? I don't think so--we started a war with Iraq and killed a lot of civilians despite the fact that our beef wasn't with the rank-and-file Iraqis, but with Saddam.

    Really, has there ever been a case of a people trying to fight a war and fighting only the pro-war government folk, keeping the commoners out of it?

  • ||

    Wow joe, I didn't realize you were the type of idiot that needed a /sarcasm tag at the end of a post.

  • DaveInBigD||

    Michael, if I'm reading your intentions correctly, you're saying that anti-war sentiments among a population should be sufficient to sheild that populace from terrorism motivated by the actions of their government. In other words, Al Qaeda would not attack the generally anti-war British people, since they didn't support their government's participation in the war.

    I might think this was valid if it had happened after the British voted Blair/Labor out of power and they had subsequently pulled out of Iraq and Afghanistan. However, Al Qaeda understands that the UK is a democracy, and the people are ultimately responsible for the actions of their government.

    There are clearly some in Al Qaeda that would hate the West based solely on our liberty and secularism. However, until there's an attack in a country that has not participated in Iraq, or better yet, neither Iraq nor Afghanistan (maybe Sweden?), I will assume that the direct cause is retaliation against specific recent actions.

  • ||

    Let me put it this way Joe: If you attack a country because of its policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, then presumably you would welcome the help of those in the country who, while they may not like you personally, at least agree objectively with your stated objectives. So what do you do? You go ahead and kill a whole lot of these people. Makes sense.

    So now the mere mention of the word "Zionist" brings on almost pavlovian musings on the situation in Palestine. Not sure what "Crusader" provokes in all of us, but perhaps Al-Qaeda has trained us better than we thought.

  • Alla||

    Jennifer,
    Terrorists are not fighting a war. They are simply aiming to kill civilians. That's why their claims are absurd: if they were retaliating to our government's policy they would fight a war. They would lose, so instead they just seek to kill.

  • PaulNoonan||

    Isn't at least a portion of Cole's statement essentially that 9/11 happened as a response to the US response to 9/11?

  • ||

    Metalgrid writes
    2. If the majority were against the war, but their government went to war anyway, they are not in fact living in a democracy.


    back to highschool gov. for you. We dont live in a democracy, we live in a representative democracy. Funny how the majority of a population can be against war and their leaders not only for it, but continue to advance it with very little electoral consequence. Wonder how that works.

  • ||

    We should take a page out of the old aQ handbook and turn it around, make it work for us.

    We have GIs in Afghanistan and Iraq because we're so upset over Saudi Arabia's treatment of Christian and Jews.

    What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

  • ||

    Michael Young,

    Warfare is not fought the way you claim that it is. You attack the countries you are at war with, whether the civilian population supports the war or not. I am not condoning the attacks on London, indeed, they are quite despicable; but al Qaeda (or whoever) is fighting their war in the way that combatants have generally done so over the expanse of human history.

  • ||

    Point taken, Alla. My mind was still half in the Iraq-war-London post a few threads down.

    Too much barbarism in the world to keep it all straight, I tell ya.

  • The Lonewacko Blog||

    I wouldn't assume that this statement is definitely from the real perpetrators.

    For those who want to read up on how England has been infiltrated by radicals, I have a roundup of past coverage here.

  • ||

    Alla,

    Killing masses of civilians for the sake of killing masses of civilians is a time honored approach in conducting warfare.

    Matt,

    I believe he was referring to the Danish and Italian governments; one is a Constitutional Monarchy and the other is a Republic.

  • ||

    Michael,

    If you're Al Qaeda why do you need the explicit help of the anti-war British populace? Isn't it enough to cow them into submission? If you believe that Europeans don't really want to be involved in Iraq and that a little violence at home will make the passive anti-war people into actively anti-war then killing lots of people makes perfect strategic sense. It worked in Spain. I hope and expect that Al Qaeda's assumption is wrong on this point, but if you start from the initial premise that you can intimidate the Europeans then Al Qaeda's actions are perfectly consistent with real political goals.

  • Alla||

    If this a "time-honored approach to conducting warfare", we are thus in war with terrorists right? If this is the case, shouldn't our response be to attack the civilians in the countries of origin of the terrorists? So, I guess this view legitimizes Iraq and an attack on Saudi Arabia and so on?

  • ||

    Michael,

    I would probably attempt to work coopratively with potential allies in that country, because I'm a decent human being. If I were a Machiavellian POS with no regard for human life, and if I realized that the majority of those antiwar people would bash my head in as soon as look at me, I might instead try to motivate that population into pushing their government even harder by raising the cost to them of allowing their government's policy to continue.

    Maybe you're right and I'm wrong, but there is nothing in the statement "We did this to you because of your government, and will continue to attack you until your government changes its ways" to suggest that their motivation is McDonald's, tight jeans, and coed schools.

    Wow, when you use the insult "pavolovian," it almost makes me forget that the Zionists have some vague connection to Israel. As for "Crusader," I'll give you a big sloppy joe kiss if you can tell me what country the crusaders and Zionists shared an interest it. Cue Jeopardy theme.

  • ||

    Alla,

    Hold it. Are they killing civilians because they want to kill civilians, or are they killing civilians because they want to stage a military confrontation, but know that they'd lose?

  • ||

    joe,

    "...but there is nothing in the statement...to suggest that their motivation is McDonald's, tight jeans, and coed schools."

    We only have about 10,000 statements from Islamic fundy terrorists - bin Laden among them - for that.

  • theOneState||

    Michael, why do you think they attacked the U.S., London, Madrid...etc.? I mean, specifically.

    For the sake of murder? Many of us here clearly don't buy that. They *do* have political goals, no?

    Yeah the "zionist" rhetoric is silly, and their concern for the Palestinians is thin, but their goal of creating an islamic state, overthrowing the Saudis, subjugating non-muslims...those are pretty clear goals, aren't they? Why doubt them?

  • ||

    Alla,

    Merely because the historical record reflects such barbarism in warfare, doesn't mean that one should condone it at the same time. My sole point was that attacking civilians has been part of warfare for most of human history.

  • ||

    If you're al-Qaeda, then you don't like government "of the people, by the people, etc" (democracies).

    So whatcha gonna do?
    Kill the people of the governments whose policy it is to be "Crusaders."
    Is any of my above rocket science?

  • ||

    Really, has there ever been a case of a people trying to fight a war and fighting only the pro-war government folk, keeping the commoners out of it?

    Someone more optimistic than I might point out that through the development of high-tech intelligence gathering techniques, spy satellites, and all sorts of smartbombs and precision guided munitions that the USA has come closer to that than any other nation.

    You don't see stuff like mass carpet bombings of entire cities like was present in WWII and Vietnam.

    /FWIW

  • ||

    joe,

    They have a beef with the U.S. and the U.K. in part of because of Iraq; no amount of hand-waving is going get rid of this fact. That they also are pissed off about other issues is also true.

  • ||

    If you attack a country because of its policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, then presumably you would welcome the help of those in the country who, while they may not like you personally, at least agree objectively with your stated objectives. So what do you do? You go ahead and kill a whole lot of these people. Makes sense.

    In the aftermath of Madrid, it sadly does. Though I don't think the British reaction will be entirely the same.

  • ||

    Todd,

    1) I was referring to the statment Young linked to. Which is way I wrote, "Maybe you're right and I'm wrong, but there is nothing IN THIS STATEMENT..."

    2) We have 100,000 statements blaming "infidel occupation of Muslim Holy Lands" and "support for the Zionist government" as well. Why ignore those, and uncritically accept only those statements (or edited fragements of statements, since I've never seen a single Al Qaeda statement that didn't mention American and European foreign policy)that emphasize our horrible infidel way of life? I'm not making the point that the cause is one and not the other - Michael Young is.

  • ||

    Michael, if I'm reading your intentions correctly, you're saying that anti-war sentiments among a population should be sufficient to sheild that populace from terrorism motivated by the actions of their government. In other words, Al Qaeda would not attack the generally anti-war British people, since they didn't support their government's participation in the war.

    IIRC, Bin Laden stated that regardless of your personal stance, if you're an American taxpayer you support the war, hence you are the enemy.

  • ||

    Joe,

    Quick question. Since we weren't raging our crusades in Iraq and Afghanistan at the time (the expressed reason for the Madrid and apparently the London attack) exactly why was the Cole, the US embassy in Kenya and the WTC (twice) attacked?

    Maybe you're right and I'm wrong, but there is nothing in the statement "We did this to you because of your government, and will continue to attack you until your government changes its ways" to suggest that their motivation is McDonald's, tight jeans, and coed schools.

    Excuse my punt to Godwin but there wasn't much in Hitler's "we're just doing it to project oppressed ethnic Germans" excuse for invading Austria to suggest he was a power hungry asshat with visions of a united nazi Europe either. Its not as if the suicide-bombing, nutter wing of the islamic world have been coy about their ultimate goal.

    I mean, what have the non Arab Sudanese done to offend Islam to deserve the asskicking they've been taking lately?

  • fyodor||

    Since the statement taking responsibility included a specific quid pro quo regarding actions that the government, and only the government, can take in the future, and only in the future, it makes perfect sense for al Qaeda to use violence as a leverage to effect these actions. If the statement is authentic (and if it's not, Young's argument is nipped at the bud anyway), this is almost the closest thing to a rational move they've made. Whether it ultimately works is another story, but the fact that opinion polls may show the populations of the targetted nations to have opposed the war is rather irrelevant. Michael, you be silly. joe, no need to overplay a winning hand.

  • ||

    wow, the explanations go on and on and on. I think Chris Rock has this one nailed, "Whatever happened to CRAZY?"

  • Adam||

    I second independent worm's assessment.

  • ||

    mediageek,

    Well, maybe that is true with aerial bombing. However, its not true regarding house to house searches in the Sunni triangle. The insurgency in Iraq depends in part on the U.S. not being able to "see" what the insurgents are doing.

  • ||

    Apparently Cole & Scheuer do no better at separating a people from it's government's actions than Al-Qaeda.

    "US" does not mean US Government + 100% support of the US people. Cause I certainly as shit don't support the "Israeli occupation", et al.

    Sounds like a good case for smaller government to me.

  • ||

    Nathan,

    "Since we weren't raging our crusades in Iraq and Afghanistan at the time (the expressed reason for the Madrid and apparently the London attack) exactly why was the Cole, the US embassy in Kenya and the WTC (twice) attacked?"

    In 1994, we had many thousands of troops stationed in the Middle East, were enforcing no fly and no drive zones in Iraq, were holding Iraq in check via a tough embargo policy, were sending $1 billion+ in aid to Israel, were close allies with the House of Saud, and were the world's foremost exporters of crappy hamburgers and movies that showed women's boobies. Hey, I didn't say their grievances were reasonable.

    And again, I'm not making the assertion that American foreign policy is the only grievance the nutbars have against us, just refuting Mr. Young's assertions that 1) our foreign policy has nothing to do with those grievances and 2) this message of responsibility proves it.

  • ||

    1) Yes I realize that you said "IN THIS STATEMENT..." (nice caps there). But your point is stupid, so I ignored it. What this particular statement says or doesn't say is irrelevant - the nature of Al Qaeda, as revealed is by their own words, is.

    2) "We have 100,000 statements blaming "infidel occupation of Muslim Holy Lands" and "support for the Zionist government" as well."
    I'm not ignoring them, of course Palestine is an issue for them. They don't want any infidels - that would include us, by the way - in the "holy land". So what? WHY don't they want us there? Because we're a polluting influence on Islam. Do you think it would matter to them if we weren't supporters of Israel?

  • ||


    back to highschool gov. for you. We dont live in a democracy, we live in a representative democracy. Funny how the majority of a population can be against war and their leaders not only for it, but continue to advance it with very little electoral consequence. Wonder how that works.
    Comment by: Matt at July 7, 2005 02:30 PM


    Ah, but we're not talking about the US. Granted the UK is a representative democracy, but Italy, Spain and Denmark are mixtures of parliamentary democracy, constitutional monarchy, etc. and in all cases, the people do have a say in what their government does. So perhaps a slight majority is insufficient to change the way the government works, but a significant majority could. Either way, the west does harp on and on about how wonderful democracy is (without specifying what kind), and yet tend to abscond the responsibilities of electing their own government.

  • ||

    "What this particular statement says or doesn't say is irrelevant - the nature of Al Qaeda, as revealed is by their own words, is."

    I agree, Todd, this statement is so much self-serving prattle, and Mr. Young's attempt to attach great meaning to it is off base.

    "Do you think it would matter to them if we weren't supporters of Israel?" Not per se. But they aren't slaughtering Swedes and Mongolians, now are they? Because Sweden and Mongolia aren't getting all up in their shit.

    Now, maybe we need to get all up in their shit - keep our energy-intensive economy going, support the closest thing to a decent democracy the Middle East has ever seen (Israel), keep the folks who make stretch Levis empoyed, etc. But let's face reality here - being the global superpower puts a great big target on our back, and the more boorish we behave, the more people there will be who want to take a shot at it.

  • ||

    Nathan,

    Hitler didn't invade Austria; he was welcomed with open arms.

    As to the nature of the conflict in Darfur, there is lots of blame to go around. For example, the British are the ones who seized Darfur in 1916 and meshed it with British Sudan. Typical imperialistic hubris. Or blame the King of Darfur for allying with the Ottoman Empire and declaring war on Britain in 1916. Not smart. Most certainly blame the central government in Sudan. Anyway, Sudan has been at some level of civil war since its independence in 1956; this part of the conflict has just gotten more attention than other periods have.

  • ||

    Hakluyt

    He rolled an army in that wasn't invited by the host country. Just because a large swath of the population supported it and he met little resistance doesn't mean its not an invasion.

  • ||

    "and the more boorish we behave, the more people there will be who want to take a shot at it."

    If behaving boorish is all we need to do to get shot at, then well, we're fighting the right people. Which is why we need to do far more than be boorish (to al qaeda I mean), we need to root them out and eliminate them.

  • ||

    Yes, we need to root them out and eliminate them. More of that, please, and less with the unrelated Really Big Ideas That Couldn't Possibly Go Wrong.

    But in terms of keeping us safe from attacks, killing existing terrorists is necessary, but not sufficient. And in fact, if we go about it the wrong way, we could end up just lopping the heads off Hydra.

  • ||

    Where are the worldwide demonstrations against the Mosque? Where are the internationl concerts to raise awareness of the Islamic menace? When will we stop saying "terrorist" to avoid offending muslims?

    Hey Limeys: stop killing each other at soccer games and start kicking muslim arse!!!

  • ||

    I see two groups of people that we need to worry about, murderers and their supporters.

    ...When a murderer comes to court and begs for mercy because his father abused him, we should laugh him off to his fate, but when we find people in the jury box who eagerly support the murderer's aims, if not his tactics, we should ask ourselves why. In other words, when someone asks me why terrorists murder Londoners, I answer with the question, "Who cares?" ...but when asked why people support these murdering terrorists, I'm sure we can all come up with a long list of likely grievances.

    There are two groups to worry about. One of them is made up of murdering terrorists--and the world isn't big enough for both of us. ...and what they say they want shouldn't matter to us, and why they say they do what they do shouldn't matter to us either.

    ...The other group is made up of people that for various reasons harbor various levels of support for these terrorists. ...If any of their reasons are valid, we should look at them, very closely.

    P.S. Has it yet been determined whether this was a case of murder/suicide?

  • ||

    Joe asked, "Are they killing civilians because they want to kill civilians, or are they killing civilians because they want to stage a military confrontation, but know that they'd lose?"

    Joe, I ask you: show me one bit of proof that the perpetrators of this crime even make a distinction between "civilian" and "combatant".

  • ||

    Nathan,

    Austria was fascist between 1934 and 1938. Though you are technically correct that it was an invasion (which followed a coup d'etat by Austrian Nazis), most Austrians favored annexation and Austrians participated in the actions of the Nazi state with more fervor than many Germans did; maybe they were trying to prove their worth.

  • ||

    Wow, Ken, that's an oustanding point (and I mean that with zero sarcasm). I've always felt the answer to "why do they hate us?" is "who the fuck cares?" But of course, we should care that millions of non-terrorists hate us. As far as why Osama hates us, again, who the fuck cares? After he dies in a rather painful and appropriate manner, we can discuss it.

  • ||

    Though you are technically correct that it was an invasion (which followed a coup d'etat by Austrian Nazis),

    which was part of my point...

    most Austrians favored annexation and Austrians participated in the actions of the Nazi state with more fervor than many Germans did; maybe they were trying to prove their worth.

    which wasn't. I could care less what the average Austrian thought. My point was the 'stached one's reasoning for the invasion was to protect those of a Germanic persuasion within Austria. Complete bullshit of course, but it was what he used to rationalize the whole affair.

  • ||

    linguist,

    The question I asked was in response to this post:

    "Terrorists are not fighting a war. They are simply aiming to kill civilians. That's why their claims are absurd: if they were retaliating to our government's policy they would fight a war. They would lose, so instead they just seek to kill."

    I was trying to discern why he would make the argument "they just want to kill civilians," and immediately follow it with "they're killing civilians because they know they'd lose a military engagement."

  • ||

    joe

    Yes, we need to root them out and eliminate them. More of that, please, and less with the unrelated Really Big Ideas That Couldn't Possibly Go Wrong.

    At the risk of dragging this offtopic lets assume the US didn't take its little jaunt into Iraq, focused only on eliminating Bin Laden / AQ top aids and were pretty successful at that. What would be the state of the Middle East today?

    (not being snarky, honest, speculative question)

  • ||

    joe,
    Terrorists are "Hydra."
    Just like certain drugs are.
    The war on terror, and the war on drugs are doomed to fail.
    In fact, all wars are doomed to fail.

    Why can't warring governments such as the US and GB follow the examples of non-warring countries like ??

  • ||

    Nathan-
    To engage in non-snarky speculation, if we'd focused on Afghanistan instead of being sidetracked by Iraq, then in addition to getting out the Taliban, and possibly catching the guy responsible for 9-11, we might have succeeded in our stated secondary goal of turning Afghanistan into a peaceful democracy (as opposed to what it is now, with the whole country except Kabul being effectively under control of various warlords). Then, there would indeed be at least one functioning democracy in the Middle East, instead of a series of hellholes some of which were made worse by our intervention. And maybe that democracy would start a dmonio effect; at the very least, there wouldn't be a shitload of dead and tortured civilians to inflame anti-American sentiments.

  • ||

    "DOMINO" effect.

  • ||

    Evidently, even if societies opposed the Iraq war, as did those in Spain and the U.K., not to mention Italy, it's pretty irrelevant because their governments happened to support it.

    Isn't that basically what we say to countries with rulers we don't like, right before we slap sanctions on them?

  • ||


    At the risk of dragging this offtopic lets assume the US didn't take its little jaunt into Iraq, focused only on eliminating Bin Laden / AQ top aids and were pretty successful at that. What would be the state of the Middle East today?


    Saddam would still be killing Iraquis, Palestinians and Isrealis would still be killing each other, and the region would generally be imploding as they were busy killing each other. Can't say that it would sadden me.

  • ||

    Jennifer,
    You know that's not true, because Afghanistan was destined to become an echo of Colombia because of the heroin and the "Democratic Crusade" against drugs.

  • ||

    non-warring countries like Switzerland. How long has it been? 200 years since they had a war? Not much of a terrorist threat there.

  • ||

    Nathan,

    Well, if you could care less what the average Austrian thought then I would suggest that your analogy doesn't get very far then.

    Chuck,

    We generally treat governments as representative of their people and as the main unit of analysis when it comes to issues of foreign policy.

  • ||

    Can't say that it would sadden me.

    well then.

    In fact, all wars are doomed to fail.

    sure, if we accept the ever-expanding definition of "war" as "ongoing confrontation with something we don't like that involves violence". wars as defined as military encounters between governments usually do succeed, in that they result in a significant change in the balance of military power, which may lead to any number of things.

  • ||

    At the risk of dragging this offtopic lets assume the US didn't take its little jaunt into Iraq, focused only on eliminating Bin Laden / AQ top aids and were pretty successful at that. What would be the state of the Middle East today?

    Probably about the same with fewer US casualties. I'm not certain that catching bin Laden would make a difference. If anything, he less dangerous to the U.S. in hiding.

    Despite what we seem to think, it isn't difficult commit a terrorist act. It doesn't cost much and doesn't require many people. It doesn't need months of elaborate planning. A person or small group just needs to say "Lets leave a bomb in a train car today." One person can easily do that alone.

  • ||

    Jennifer,

    Well, the islamists have stated that they are just as unhappy about us being in Afghanistan as they are in Iraq. Their rationale for bombing London is still there.

  • ||

    Hakluyt

    What did the Austrian-on-the-street's view of Germany have to do with Germany's reasoning for invading the country?

  • ||

    hardboiled,

    Much of what is Switzerland today gained its independence in the 14th century after defeating the Hapsburgs in two seperate battles (in 1315 and 1383). It attained formal independence after the Thirty Years' War ended in 1648, which Switzerland participated in via its mercenary armies. Napoleon invaded and conquered Switzerland in 1798 and renamed it the Helvetic Republic. During the Congress of Vienna Switzerland was re-instated as an independent nation and the members there assembled promised to honor Switzerland's neutrality. As far as I know the last war to be conducted on Swiss soil was in the 1840s during a civil war between Catholics and Protestants.

  • ||


    Can't say that it would sadden me.

    well then.


    Yes, I'm an evil man because I believe people won't treasure their self-government and their liberties until enough of them die for it. I don't think the body count in the middle east and africa has reached the point where it has driven them into an era of enlightenment. I also think the interference from the west has contributed to that state of helplessness and unwillingness to help themselves. I also see no reason to sacrifice our own in a meat grinder to bring about something that won't be appreciated because the people it is being brought to have not grown in understanding enough to appreciate its benefits.

  • ||

    based on past comments from M.Young - if Juan Cole said 2+2=4, he'd find some way to disagree. The terrorists have an agenda, they aren't nihilists or yippies or something or the bombs would be going off in transdeinester or the marshall islands or some other place of zero importance in the war on terror.

    To back up what others have said until they purposefully hit a nuetral target in a place of irrlevance in the war on terror, I'd say they operate on an ideology and with purpose.

    Of course 38 people dead and 700 wounded is a typical day in Iraq -- we could care less about those folks, knock off a couple westerners and its 24 hour coverage.

  • ||

    david, that's true hypothetically except that's not the way it works out in reality, at least when we're talking about terrorist attacks on western countries. the vast majority of people who actually live in countries like the U.S. and UK enjoy a high enough quality of life that they don't want to bomb their own countries. so attackers need to come from somewhere else, and that involves at least enough planning to get the person into the country and armed without suspicion.

  • ||

    Jennifer,

    If we had gone into Afghanistan, and not followed up by going into Iraq. Iraq would be the Al Q headquarters. They would be planning attacks against US soil from Iraq, but not in a way that could be followed back to Iraq easily.

    Funding for the Taliban's and varios other warlord's attacks against US efforts would be originating from Iraq.

    Enemy terrorists would be being trained and funded in Iraq, to attack the US and to crush our efforts in Afghanistan.

    I think our anti drug efforts in Afghanistan may doom our efforts there anyways. But we are fighting there an enemy that defeated the Brits when they were big, and the Soviets when the Soviets were thought to be undefeatable.

    I think if it were not for our anti drug crap, we would be succesful in Afghanistan. And I also think that there is no way with or without our anti drug crap that we would be succesful in Afghanistan with Saddam in Power.

  • ||

    Nathan,

    A lot. There was much pressure from Austrian Nazis and ordinary Austrians to join up with Nazi Germany. Hitler's rationale was based on a true desire of many Austrians to become part of Germany. Hitler made many trumped up excuses for invading Poland, etc., but his rationale for entering Austria actually had popular support in Austria.

  • ||

    metalgrid, i agree. what goes on over there is for the most part not my problem (especially since i don't drive a car), but i can still feel sad or angry when i see the ignorant shit that goes on, whilst understanding that it's not my problem.

  • ||

    Jennifer commits the fallacy of believing that we were "sidetracked" from achieving success in Afghanistan by the war in Iraq. I have seen no indication that we have not done anything that needed doing in Afghanistan because of the Iraq war. Afhganistan has been primarily a political problem and not a military problem from day one, so claims of military overstretch simply don't apply to that theater.

    I think it is simply a fundamental gap in people's worldviews as to whether they think we are being targeted by Mohammedan fanatics because they hate our society and the way our society exports its values in a way that is corrosive to their beliefs, or because of our strategic/security activities in the Middle East.

    I think the balance tips pretty clearly toward the former, and I think anyone who believes that if we were to unilaterally withdraw from the Middle East we would be left alone is terminally naive.

    As to where the Mideast would be if we hadn't invaded Iraq.

    Afghanistan would be about where it is now, maybe a little worse off since it would be the sole destination for peripatetic terrorists. Iraq would be under the boot of Saddam with no hope for progress. The Iraqis would be, in my view and in theirs according to recent polling, worse off if Saddam had not been thrown down.

    By now, the sanctions would have been lifted (there was a strong movement to do this before 9/11), and Saddam would have reconstituted his WMD programs.

    Syria would have no threats on its borders and no reason to behave itself, so there would be no nascent reform movement there and no liberated Lebanon.

    We would still be in Saudi Arabia, to protect it from Saddam, and so the fundies would still be pissed at us for that.

    Libya would have seen no reason to come clean. Egypt would have no reason to make whatever moves it is making toward democratization.

  • ||

    Hakluyt's comment about civilians being targetted in war is true in part. However, one of the marks of civilization is leaving wars of extermination and enslavement behind, in favor of military-on-military conflict. If the Qaedists had attempted to blow up the the British Ministry of Defense, that would be one thing, even if they overshot it and hit a train station. But they don't have the goods to attack military targets in the UK, so they target civilians.

    One of the benefits of modern military technology is that we can drop the ugly mathematics of "Bomber" Harris and use our ordnance to actually hit military targets.

    The result of the latest UK election didn't accurately depict the British public's views on the Iraq war. Critics of New Labour claimed that Parliamentary redistricting was needed to keep Blair's crew from receiving an overinflated majority in the Commons. Labour's percentage of votes - at 36% (down by 5% from 2001) - is the lowest any winning party has ever achieved. ... More people voted for the Conservatives in England than for Labour - but the Conservatives won 92 seats less than Labour within England (285 to 193). The Conservatives received 60,000 more votes than Labour in England. ... The Liberal Democrats got 10% of the seats but 22% of the votes cast - Source One could argue that a majority of votes were cast for anti-war candidates, but the first-past-the-post single-member districts, combined with the dated constituency boundaries, distorted the result. Stateside we are all familiar with similar arguments leveled against our Electoral College and Senate, and against gerrymandered House districts. But we are explicitly a republic, and our political culture does not demand as much obeisance to majoritarianism as does the UK's.

    If Blair could enforce party discipline, the Labour majority could pass legislation on the order of our constitutional amendments backed by a 36% "mandate." His "reforms" of the Lords have made it much less able to block these sorts of acts, too. It'd be quite scary, except that he's got enough anti-war backbenchers to worry about that if he tries anything too bold he'll lose the leadership.

    That the mad mullahs may have misjudged the British public, who may rally around their PM, rather than follow the Spanish example, isn't anything I can predict. Someone in Britain might want to report how likely Blair's political support will be to wax or wane.

    Kevin

  • ||

    Nathan,

    The sad fact is that Austria and Hungary went along willingly with Nazi Germany's plans of Jewish and other ethnic, etc. group extermination, aggression, etc.

  • ||

    Of course 38 people dead and 700 wounded is a typical day in Iraq -- we could care less about those folks, knock off a couple westerners and its 24 hour coverage.

    not quite a typical day, but anyway, the fact that it doesn't happen as often (read: ever) in london is the reason it merits 24 hour coverage.

  • ||

    Kwais-
    I think, if we'd stayed the course in Afghanistan, al-Qaeda would have gone to IRAN, not Iraq. Saddam was too secular for Bin Laden's taste, and apparently there's stuff coming out to suggest that Iran may have even played a role in planning 9-11. At least according to an author I saw interviewed on the Daily Show.

    I dunno--this whole thing is such a damned mess the only way I can see to fix it is to invent a time machine, go back to the days of the British Empire, and kill the idiots who re-drew the map of the Middle East. (Have you noticed that just about EVERY country-boundary invented by the British in the Middle East has resulted in some horror or other? It's almost like they did it on purpose--"Here, let's put three tribes who hate each other's guts and make them a single country called 'Iraq,' there, let's stick a national boundary smack down the middle of a close-knit tribe's traditional homeland. . . ."

  • ||

    also, don't ignore the fact that westerners are getting killed in iraq, too.

  • ||

    I have to agree with Michael Young. The rationale for the violence is basically one of purity, which isn't a rationale so much as an excuse.

  • ||

    Hakluyt

    It had popular support, but not overwhelming. That's the reason Hitler threatened to invade if Schuschnigg didn't cancel the pleblecite on unification with Germany. He wasn't positive that he'd win.

    Actually, I was wrong about the not being invited above. The lone member of cabinet not to resign (a nazi toadie) did actually wave the army in.

  • ||

    It just occurred to me that I might be misconstrued--my statement about the British Empire was IN NO WAY intended as a justification for today's attacks.

  • ||

    kevrob,

    Are you suggesting that there is a lack of seperation of powers in Britain?

  • ||

    The sad fact is that Austria and Hungary went along willingly with Nazi Germany's plans of Jewish and other ethnic, etc. group extermination, aggression, etc.

    I've never disagreed with that. Simply pointed out that proclaimed excuses for actions are rarely the real excuse.

  • ||

    Nathan,

    Without the Iraq War, what would be different?

    Too many variables. Plus, there was no "do nothing" option in Iraq - we were already elbow deep, and the status quo was not sustainable.

    Iran probably wouldn't have been able to squash its domestic dissidents with such impunity, absent the room to operate that a hostile army on your border gives to a government.

    On the one hand, Bush could have leaned a lot harder on the Saudis, Egyptians, and others to reform, if he didn't need their support or acquiescence on the war. OTOH, it's unlikely that he would have, if he hadn't found himself scrambling for a post-facto justification for the war.

    Arafat would still be dead. Hariri would still be dead.

    It's an impossible question, because given who George Bush and Dick Cheney are, there is no scenario that doesn't end with them making the war happen. It's like asking, how would the 50s and 60s have been different if Joe McCarthy had been responsible and sober?

  • ||

    Now we are getting somewhere. It is not important to understand why the terrorists hate us. It is far more important to understand their ultimate goals so that we can prepare and defend ourselves. Al Quaeda jihadists derive a great deal of their ideological inspiration from a Pakastani writer named Sayyid Abul Ala Mawadidi.

    Mawdudi had written, "Islam wants the whole earth and does not content itself with only a part thereof. It wants and requires the entire inhabited world. It does not want this in order that one nation dominates the earth and monopolizes its sources of wealth, after having taken them away from one or more other nations. No, Islam wants and requires the earth in order that the human race altogether can enjoy the concept and practical program of human happiness, by means of which God has honored Islam and put it above the other religions and laws. In order to realize this lofty desire, Islam wants to employ all forces and means that can be employed for bringing about a universal all-embracing revolution. It will spare no effort for the achievement of this supreme objective. This far-reaching struggle that continuously exhausts all forces and this employment of all possible means are called jihad." (excerpted from Mark Erikson's "Islamism, Facsism, and Terrorism)

    Their beef with the West is not with any specific governmental policy, cultural clashes, or religion. They will not be statisfied until the entire world is under the control of Islam.

    Fortunately, fanaticism like this contains the root of their own destruction. They will alienate most of their own (moderate) Muslim bretheran. It would behoove the West to understand this dynamic and figure out a response that does not drive more moderates into the jihadist ranks.

  • ||

    Nathan & Hakluyt,

    What is the point of ya'lls little argument about how much the Austrians loved Hitler?

    I know it had something to do with the thread originally.

  • ||

    Nathan,

    Well, he had enough support that when Hitler showed up he was mobbed.

    Jennifer,

    The British, during WWI, broke with a tradition of not wishing to break up the Ottoman Empire. During the war they made some backroom deals to partition it up between herself, France, Russia and Italy. In the end Llyod George ended up screwing over not only the Arabs, but also the French and the Italians and left the Greeks hanging out to dry despite promises of aid if Greece were to invade the asia minor rump of Turkey. Its been one long tragedy every since then.

  • ||

    "crushinator", exactly. add to that the fact that they were supposed to have taken over the world a while ago, and that it turns out they can't even hold on to a few countries with any kind of stability (with some exceptions), and you've got the recipe for some very pissed off would-be dictators.

  • ||

    the most obvious example of their failure being israel.

  • ||

    kwais,

    We are having a discussion, not an argument. But yes, it is tangential to the official topic at hand.

    Crushinator,

    I would suspect that individuals have a variety of reasons for getting involved. Indeed, I would imagine that many of them are simply pissed about the U.S. being in Iraq. Indeed, for those young men who go to Iraq to become suicide bombers that may their primary motivation; getting the invader or non-Muslim presence out of "Dar al-Islam."

  • ||

    zach,

    I think its a mistake (and a potentially deadly one) to view Islamicists as a monolith.

  • ||

    hakluyt, right. but the important thing is the ultimate goal of the movement.

  • ||

    We didn't conquer Afghanistan so much as pay off enough warlords that the Taliban were ousted.

    While Al-Queda's core operatives have official ideological aims of instituting a vaguely defined Islamic superstate, their actual goals, and the goals of their supporters are very diverse.

    Some hate western liberalism.

    Some hate infidels being in holy lands.

    Some hate the corrupt arab governments that oppress them, and those who provide said governments with assistance.

    Some are merely swept up by the need to be part of a cause, and by chance ended up supporting Al-Queda.

    Every society has members with wacky, violent ideas. The question is how much traction these ideas get when lots of people are exposed to them. For example, in the '80's my Turkish grandmother, a cousin of a Turkish General herself, was advocating that Turkey should militarily conquer and unite all Turkic peoples under one rule. She got nowhere; nobody was interested in her cause.

    To me, the problem is not so much that murderous bastards like the leadership of Al-Queda exists. Rather it is that they can convince thousands of followers that their cause is just.

    Government officials' strategy of killing/apprehending Al-Queda rather than marginalizing them, and these officials' willingness to accept the deaths of innocents to accomplish this is quite counterproductive.

    George Bush was quite correct in realizing that the U.S. military had to be removed from Saudi Arabia. His decision to defend the Saudi Monarchy by knocking out the one state that posed a credible invasion threat to it was quite unfortunate.

    The right course of action, long-term, is to give up our tendency to intervene, our willigness to provide aid to local warlords in return for their favor, and to open up our borfers to trade/tourism, while killing/arresting these guys quietly, without fanfare, when the opportunity presents itself.

    This strategy would cost Al-Queda the support of intelligent, competent people (the sort motivated by oppression) and bias the type of operatives they fielded to towards the incompetent/emotional types, who are much more prone to make mistakes and tend to be less effective at killing people.

    This is not being soft, it is thinking strategically.

    Unfortunately, we are driving people to fight us, and thus allowing our enemies to pick from a pool of more capable, intelligent recruits, and making ourselves a bigger target to boot. Our war in Iraq may feel good, and provides some minor benefits, but it, in the long-term, is making things worse.

  • ||

    The center of gravity of this conflict is not, and never was, in Afghanistan. It lies in the Persian Gulf, for the simple reason that the well- being of billions of people is tied to a natural resource, and the largest deposits of that natural resource are in the Persian Gulf. If the United States military did not exist, China, Japan, India, South America, and much of Europe would have to invent it, for make no mistake, and all fantasies of near to medium term economic independence on Persian Gulf oil aside, the populations of those areas will demand every bit as vociferously as the population of the U.S. that the oil be extracted. Period. The only open question is how many people get slaughtered in the process.

    If we put aside dreams of not having to engage with the population of the Persian Gulf, the question becomes simply in what way do we wish to engage with this population?

    The model which has been employed for the past eighty years or so, in which we offer tribute and protection to despots which tyrannize the population, in return for access to oil, began to fail in the 1970s, and finally failed catastrophically 34 months ago. The model which has been employed through most of human history, when natural resources were highly desired by more powerful groups, that of mass annihilation and direct enslavement, has been ignored so far, but I fear one mass attack which is substantially larger that that of 9/11 would be all that is needed to cause that older model to seriously considered once again. Unforutanately, the increasing ubiquity of destructive technology, as evidenced by utter poverty cases like North Korea gaining access, means that one cannot write-off as scaremongering the prospect of a non-state actor gaining access in the medium term future. History indicates that attempts to deny access to technology to highly motivated groups of people tend to ultimately fail. It is unlikely we have four or five decades to allow things to slowly evolve.

    If the population of the Persian Gulf can no longer be enslaved by proxy, in order to gain access to oil, and mass annihilation is not an option (yet), and if one desperately desires that it never be seriously considered as an option, and one drops all fantasies of ending the vital importance of Persian Gulf oil in the near to medium term future, then what options are there left? It seems that all that is left is to devise some way in which the population of the Persian Gulf achieves self-government, including self government of their mineral resources. They can then decide whether they would like to trade profitably with more powerful popualtions, or to wage war against more powerful populations.

    That this is exceedingly difficult task, with no guarantee of success, does not obviate that this is, indeed, the hand that has been dealt, and it is the hand that will be played. Lamenting on how playing differently three, five, or eight decades ago would have made things easier today, even if it were true, won't change anything about the current conumdrum.

  • ||

    tarran,

    So she wanted to follow in the footsteps of Enver Pasha, eh?

  • ||

    Jen,
    I always thought that either Iran or Iraq was involved some way in 9/11. The Taliban were not enough by themselves.

    Anyhow, before we invaded Iraq Al Q was moving into Iraq. Zarqawi was coming out of Afghanistan into Iraq. So I think the destination of choice was Iraq.

    (Also, Iran has something squirly going on with Israel, that I can't quite put my finger on. I don't know if Al Q feels the same way. I don't know if that relates to anything, or if that is just me reading too much into the rantings of a paranoid CIA guy.)

    I began to think it was more likely Iran, because I figured if Saddam were involved they would have found the link by now. Now I am not so sure.

    But Iran has been at war with us for 30 years now, and we have just failed to recognize it. If I had my say we would have bombed Iran long long ago, when the terrorist organizations that they supported were killing American hostages.

    Iran was also likely responsible for the Beirut embassy bombing.

    Who was the Author that was on the Daily Show? Was it Rober Baer?

  • ||

    joe,

    How do you lean on the Saudis? They sit on the worlds biggest pile of what makes the economy go 'round and 'round. What threat do you levy against them to make them "fly right?" An attack will enflame Islam about a billion times more than Iraq. Threaten not to buy their oil? Who cares. Oil's a commodity. Someone else will step in and buy it (the Asians already buy the bulk of it). What leverage do we realistically have with the Saudis?

    I contend that most of the region's problem lead right back to the Saudis. They're creating the bulk of the hard core jihadists and they're the ones funding both the insurgencies under the table and their own, special brand of radical Islam via mosques overseas.

    How do you solve a problem like the Saudis?

    Hariri would still be dead.

    Not necessarily. Would Hariri had the stones to stand up to Syria without GI's on Syria's back door? Maybe, maybe not.

    It's an impossible question, because given who George Bush and Dick Cheney are, there is no scenario that doesn't end with them making the war happen.

    That's a bit of a dodge. I wasn't asking what Bush and Cheney would do. We already know that. I was simply asking what the world would look like if they hadn't invaded Afghanistan and/or Iraq. You're obviously a critic of their current policy (I'm hot and cold on different aspects). I'm just wondering how you think a different approach would have changed anything.

  • ||

    Better we fight the terrorists in London, England than New London, Connecticut. At least the people of Connecticut and the rest of our great union can rest easy knowing the government is protecting them.

    We have evidence the London terrorists have a connection to Iraq. We fully support the British planned response of bombing Iraq and toppling the murderous Talabani regime.

  • ||

    Crush, although there is truth in all that, at least for some portion of these radicals, it is also true that young men have joined fighting forces for the same reasons the world over, since as far back as anybody can remember: (i) it pays; (ii) they can feed their families (iii) patriotism (iv) impress daddy/mommy/the local girls; (v) just like shootin shit (vi) true ideological hatred of "the enemy" (vii) nothing much else to do (viii) desire to climb a more clearly defined status-driven hierarchical order than the ones found in less structured peer groups (ix) some religious guy told them to do it so they did it out of fear of violating a religious precept (x) some combination of several, all or none of the above.

    Doesn't matter whose army, militia, terrorist cell, radical group, cult, whatever. Once you've joined, regardless of why, your leaders can paper-over this myriad of motivations with sloganeering ("we're all patriots and freedom lovers" or "we're all here because we hate the infidels", etc) but that doesn't eliminate the diversity of motivations that underlie it all.

    Out of the 19 guys who hijacked those planes on 911, there might be some combination of the above motivations that numbers in the multiple dozens. No one guy need by limited to any one motivation. As long as somebody can figure out how to tie them together in some sort of loose theme, that's about all they need to recruit more guys.

  • ||

    kwais

    Beats me. Ask Hakluyt. He's the one with his knickers in a twist about it. My point was simply that the stated reasons for Germany's expansion weren't the real reason, which is what sort of what this thread was orig. about.

  • ||

    Kwais-
    I'm afraid I can't recall either the author's name or the name of the book, but I think the interview was last week.

  • M1EK||

    "How do you lean on the Saudis?"

    What the hell is wrong with you people?

    How did we lean on the Japanese and Germans during WWII? Yes, it was painful. It wrecked our free-market economy for a while. But, and here's the kicker, they (at least the Japanese) ATTACKED US ON OUR OWN GROUND.

    The Saudis are 90% as culpable for 9/11 as the Japanese were for Pearl Harbor. And all you suburban SUV-drivin' oh-my-gas-might-get-really-expensive-and-I-might-have-to-carpool-with-smelly-folks appeasers can't bend over fast enough for them.

  • ||

    Reasons al-Qaeda kills innocent people:

    1)Since they cannot fight our military with conventional tactics they have to use terrorists tactics when attacking our homelands and guerilla tactics in OEF/OIF.

    2)War is an instrument to force your political will on another group. I don't know how killing all of us gives al-Qaeda leaders a fundamentalist Islamic state but in order for them to gain power they certainly need an enemy for their followers to unite against.

    3)The countries that were attack are supposidly "By the people and for the people." So by al-Qaeda reasoning if the people chose the government and the government trying to force its political will on us then we can strike back by killing anyone from a democratic nation that pisses us off. Of course it is also much much easier for al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations to kill average joes than it is to directly kill politicians.

    If their tactics work though the public will vote out those politicians and replace them with ones willing to get out of Iraq or try something different than our current head-on approach to terrorism. Al-Qaeda wants us to think its not worth it for our nations to mess with them they are willing to keep at it for years if required. Unfortunately I think the more we give the more they will take, but I don't know that for sure.

  • ||

    Mona,

    Some nitpicking with that analysis is needed. The Ottoman Empire was dead long before Attaturk kicked the corpse in 1922. WWI and the the Turkish War of Independence that followed it are what finally put the Ottoman Empire to rest.

    Anyway, "golden age" movements in Islam predate the 19th century (successive waves of them hit Muslim Spain for example), so its a bit difficult for me to accept that 19th century nationalism somehow inspired the writings of these fellows when they have plenty of indingenous examples to draw from.

  • ||

    kwais,

    I think you are mistaken, we have been at war with Iran for about 50 years. You are right that most Americans do not realize it, but the Iranians on the other hand have not forgotten how U.S. government officials destabilized their country as a favor to the British government.

    Frankly, the Iranians have good reason to hate us. We, in effect, attacked them, and then have the gall to pretend that we're victims of their irrational hatred.

    Google for the name "Kermit Roosevelt" for the details.

  • ||

    About Juan Cole and Palestine: you are wrong. No the document doesn't mention the Palestinians. But I suspect Cole was referring to this paragraph:


    Community of Islam: rejoice at the good news! Community of Arabism: rejoice at the good news! The time of revenge has come for the crusader, Zionist British government.


    I agree that these guys are murderous, power-hungry sons-of-bitches. But the reference to Zionism is certainly a reference to the Palestine/Israeli conflict. By calling it "Zionism" rather than "Palestine", they are trying to broaden the conflict.


    That said, I agree these guys have a pretty bone-headed philosophy: what's mine is mine and what's yours is mine.

  • ||

    Nathan,

    And my point is that they were in part of a reflection of how many Austrians felt. The majority of Austrians did indeed feel that the requirement of seperation was a sort of persecution (created by Versailles). Thus I think your analogy falls flat.

    Whether their analysis was rational or not is another issue.

  • ||

    Tarran, you make some good points, but you err in simply assuming that we have the luxury of relying solely on long-term solutions. The oil of Saudi Arabia, and the Persian Gulf, must be extracted. Right now. The well-being of billions of people, all over the globe, depends on it. The oil will either be extracted by paying tribute to despots, or the people of the Persian Gulf will achieve self-government with nearly unprecedented rapidity, or the people of the Persian Gulf will be annihilated. That's it.

    Anyone who believes that large, powerful, populations will defer to the wishes of weak populations, and thus be willing to suffer extraordinarily painful, even deadly, economic consequences, doesn't grasp the history of humankind in the least.

    Any proposed strategy which does not directly address by what method the oil of the Persian Gulf is to be extracted, today, tomorrow, five years from now, and 25 years from now, is a strategy which is indulging in fantasies.

  • ||

    Hakluyt writes: Some nitpicking with that analysis is needed.

    Your interpretation of that piece of history may be correct, or not. However, I still find that the gentleman's explanation of what motiviates the jihadists is accurate. As is his assessment of the immorality of abandoning the oppressed -- women, democrats, secularists etc. -- in the ME.

    He is one "progressive" I can take seriously.

  • ||

    What the hell is wrong with you people?

    How did we lean on the Japanese and Germans during WWII? Yes, it was painful. It wrecked our free-market economy for a while. But, and here's the kicker, they (at least the Japanese) ATTACKED US ON OUR OWN GROUND.

    Well, as much as I'd like to see the Saudis get what's deserved, this isn't exactly WWII. Think of how much support everyone loves to point out we didn't get for invading Iraq.

    "Hey World, we're going to do something that will severly cripple the world economy for the next few years. Who's on board?"

    So, do we go it alone?

    How quickly would the like of China side with the Saudis in order curry favor / get access to more oil? Are we willing to fight them too?

    How about the fact that we've set foot in the home country of Islam? Hell, we've apparently pissed off the entire Islamic world for invading Iraq, and Saddam was a secularist tyrant who most of the Arab world didn't like anyway. Put a boot / drop a bomb on Mecca and lets see what happens.

    Again, how do you solve a problem (and it is a problem) like the Saudis?

  • ||

    Mona,

    It may motivate some of them, but I have as yet to find any accurate all-encompassing theory about the matter. Humans make decisions in ordinary life for a diverse set of reasons; I suspect diversity also reigns in the mind of terrorists as well. And of course one has to differentiate between leaders, like bin Laden, and the troops or even allied groups.

    Anyway, you should expect terrorism to be generated out of the Islamic world for at least another generation.

  • ||

  • ||

    And my point is that they were in part of a reflection of how many Austrians felt. The majority of Austrians did indeed feel that the requirement of seperation was a sort of persecution (created by Versailles). Thus I think your analogy falls flat.

    So Hitler had no pan European adventure planned in 38? He just waltzed into Austria to help those who felt put out by that pesky boarder? So what was the deal with Czechoslovikia and Poland? Could he not find the handbrake on the tank and rolled in there by accident?

    "Sorry chaps, worn brake pads!"

  • ||

    Nathan,

    Only time and internal dissent will change the situation in Saudi Arabia.

  • ||

    On that Hakluyt we agree.

  • ||

    It's a helluva conumdrum, Nathan, and if it isn't solved fairly soon (5-20 years is my guess), we WILL see death totals which rival those which occurred in WWII. The vast majority of the dying will be in the Persian Gulf, but that is a very small consolation.

  • ||

    "The oil of Saudi Arabia, and the Persian Gulf, must be extracted. Right now. "

    Um, why would it ever stop?

    First, the most significant export good from the Persian Gulf is oil. If they embargo us, they are hurting themselves. Whomerver controls the oil has significant incentive to sell it to us.

    Secondly, if they refuse, so what? There are other sources of oil that are underutilized, mainly because the low prices made possible by Persian Gulf production render these other sources uneconomical. However, they are there.

    True, the price of oil would go up if the Saudi production were interrupted. But the economic losses would be significantly mitigated by the savings of ceasing to use our military to ensure that production (which amounts to 10's if not 100's billions every year), and by the necesary changes to infrastructure that would occur if bussinessmen acquired a more realistic expectation of the stability of Persian Gulf production.

  • ||

    Nathan,

    Oh, he most certainly had a vision for Eastern Europe. I don't think it originally dealt with Western Europe though. He had a very traditional view of Eastern Europe being Germany's true stomping grounds. He would have been (to my knowledge) more than happy with Western Europe staying neutral on matters involving Eastern Europe and leaving it at that.

  • ||

    tarran,

    You are right. An embargo would hurt the West, it wouldn't cripple the West forever. Our economies would struggle for a while, but we'd muddle through it and technological progress would provide us with the tools to leave the embargo behind.

  • Mark Bahner||

    Rick Hall writes, "Why are some hawks so reluctant to treat murder as an international crime?"

    It goes way beyond "hawks," in my opinion. I'd say that 90+% of the U.S. public would agree with the statement, "We are currently at war with terrorism."

    There's only small problem with that thought: it is not possible to be "at war" with terrorists, under the Constitution of the United States. Under the Constitution (and important treaties, such as the Geneva Conventions), war is what one government does to another government. Al Qaeda has no formal affiliation with any government, so they have no legal standing to be "at war" with the U.S. government. They can never be more than criminals.

    But as I wrote, it's not just "hawks" who make the mistake. Even the Cato Institute wrote, right after the September 11 attacks, that they were acts of "war." There was a nearly universal misperception that the ***magnitude*** of the act changed its nature. Kill 10 or 100 people, it's a crime; kill 3000 people, it's an act of war. But it's not the magnitude that affects the distinction, it's the nature.

    Is the act done by a government or private individuals? If it's a government, it's an act of war (though it might also be a "war crime"); if it's done by private citizens, it's a crime.

  • ||

    It won't stop Tarran. That's my point. The only things that change is the consequences which derive from the political model which is chosen to allow the extraction. The current model, that of slavery by proxy, will lead to mass attacks of increasing scale. The people who pursue those mass attacks have been knocked back a step since 9/11; what happened in London today is hideous, but it isn't 3000 dead. Make no mistake, however, they aren't knocked out, and they are highly motivated, and they have access to resources, thanks to the oil revenues that flow to the region. They will eventually achieve some level of tactical success which exceeds what they achieved on 9/11. When the happens, the populations which need Persian Gulf oil, and have suffered such a mass attack, will, with some logic, conclude that the oldest political model of resource extraction, that of mass annihilation of the people sitting atop the resource, provides the safest means (for them) of gaining access to the oil.

  • Mark Bahner||

    Oops. My bad on my last post. I was responding to a question on the "This isn't an ideology" post. Copied and pasted to this post by mistake.

  • ||

    tarran

    You've got some good points. The Saudis need to sell oil or they run out of money. The question is since they're a relatively small country (albeit one with expensive tastes) who wins the "you're economy is in the toilet" game of chicken.

    First, the most significant export good from the Persian Gulf is oil. If they embargo us, they are hurting themselves. Whomerver controls the oil has significant incentive to sell it to us.

    Not totally. If the Saudis embargo the US then you get a temporary glitch in the market while the Saudis find new people to sell their oil to and the US finds new suppliers (basically economic musical chairs). This is exactly what happened with the oil crises in the 70s. The US did a lot more panicking in the short term than OPEC (ironically, though, it did more damage to OPEC in the long term). Again, how willing is the world to go along with punching the global economy in the stomach for 6 months to a year?

    Secondly, if they refuse, so what? There are other sources of oil that are underutilized, mainly because the low prices made possible by Persian Gulf production render these other sources uneconomical. However, they are there.

    Very true. Again, though, higher energy prices weaken economies. How happy will China, Europe, Asia, India be when the economy takes a tumble. And in the short term it will be messy. The Saudis know this and use it to protect their interests.

  • ||

    I still say this is a law enforcement issue.

  • ||

    Ahh, Will, I think I see your point.

    You're saying that my proposed strategy has an element of fantasy in that most consumers of oil will be quite willing to take it if the owners refuse to sell at a "Reasonable" price.

    So my strategy is unimplemantable because most oil-consuemrs won't stand for it.

    You are probably right: human nature being what it is, alot of my countrymen would quite happily use military force to gain access to markets/resources.

    I was however not focused on what is likely to happen so much as what I thought should happen.

    I share your pessimism as to what will happen. After all, the vast majority of my countrymen are quite willing to go along with our ham-handed, counter-productive strategy.

  • ||

    Nathan,

    You're right. Sorry I was being vague. I should have said sell to the World Market instead of sell to us.

    In fact, I don't think we consume much Saudi oil. Most of the stuff that goes into U.S. refineries comes from Venezuela and Nigeria, right?

    Too lazy to look it up.

  • ||

    I really should have gotten to this first, but busy day:

    Isn't this proof enough that the only agenda of the perpetrators was to kill many people--as it was on 9/11--and that those trying to read some sense into the murders are making a mistake?

    Even as a hawk who supported invading Iraq....good grief, no, it proves no such thing. They kill in order to achieve other goals besides simply killing. To suggest bloody slaughter is their only goal because they're just ravening madmen who happened to work together is, I'm sorry, idiocy.

  • ||

    Mark B:

    It is a little more complicated than that. Take 100 angry guys in uniforms, give them bombs and AKs, and they can start a war. Remove the uniforms, and they can't start a war? What about funding terrorists? Using claims of sovereignity to protect them within your borders?

    Semantics can't be the Aegis of our day. It is exactly at this point where a certain flavor of libertarianism is so doctrinaire as to be impotent. No, joe, that isn't the definition of libertarianism in general ...

  • ||

    tarran, one can only define "counter-productive" if one defines what one's goals are. If, as has been the case of most of humankind throughout history, the goal is to avoid any economic dislocations which may threaten the material well-being of millions (in this case, billions) of people, then it is not counter-productive in the least to take whatever means are available to ensure that the oil in the Persian Gulf continues to flow. People may spout all sorts of beliefs, from the U.S., to India, to China, to Europe, and elsewhere, but when it comes right down to cases, if they feel their material well-being is gravely threatened, they will do whatever it takes to remove the threat. The Lakota were every bit as happy to drive the Apache from resources that the Lakota desired as the Europeans were happy to drive the Lakota out. Trade, of course, allows people on both sides to benefit. The populations of the Persian Gulf will either gain the ability to trade the resources that they sit atop, as opposed to the tyrants which currently do, or a hideous blood-bath awaits.

  • ||

    Michael, if you are trying to score political points against Juan Cole -- good job and cutting out appropriate parts of his quote. Fortunately "reason" isn't about reason -- but about being RIGHT and wrong. You leave out the fact that the person Juan Cole cites is a former CIA analyst on Bin Laden, and the "..." in your quote convinently scuttles over...

    Scheuer opposes any attempt to configure the struggle against al-Qaeda as simple crime-fighting. He believes that they must be addressed through a thorough-going counter-insurgency effort.

    All of this seemed sensible to me, and more sensible than most other analysts I heard.

  • ||

    Will, I think you're right. And I say "nuke the site from orbit, it's the only way to be sure". Ok, glib quote from a movie - this is real life. But what are the chances that the ME can be liberalised enough to where everybody becomes trade partners for the precious black fuel? I think it's way more likely to go the annihilation route.

    Damn, can the crazy jihadists actually make me madder than my own statist government?

  • ||

    Will makes some very good points, and there's a corollary to them which he forgot to mention:

    He's right about the importance of Persian Gulf oil to our economy, and being the real cause of pretty much all of our problems with them. And yes, I am one of those who believe the Iraq War has a lot to do with Iraq's oil. And certainly, if we reduced (better yet, eliminated) our dependence on Middle Eastern oil, we'd be much better off, economically and strategically.

    But here's the problem: even if we were somehow able to magically make our dependence on Gulf oil disappear tomorrow, we would STILL have to keep the Saudi oil under control either through trade or through force, and we would STILL be in Iraq. Why? Because in this world oil is like weapons or ammunition--if you can get control of this stuff and use it for yourselves, that's ideal; if not, just taking control of it away from your enemies or rivals (China, among others) is a victory in itself.

  • ||

    Lowdog, if the non-jihadis can begin to grasp what danger the jihadis have placed them in, the chances of avoiding the bloodbath will improve.

  • ||

    I think you're being unfair to juan cole in the included quote by leaving out the paragraph before he says "i think that makes sense". It makes him sound more like he is making excuses for the terrorist. The missing paragraph refers to the person he is quoting advocating a large counter insurgency command against al-quaeda.

  • ||

    All we know is that an organization that "claims to be part of El Quaida" says they are responsible, but it may be that the attacks were carried out for political motives entirely, i.e. a group who wants us to keep troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is similar to 9/11 in that it may be a false flag operation .... plant a Koran on the scene, throw some anti-U.S. rhetoric at the media, and everyone jumps on the bandwagon

  • ||

    Persian Gulf oil will only decline in importance over the long term, unless one is willing to endure some pretty significant global dislocations. Yes, energy usage is much more efficient than in 1973, and much more could be done. However, there are several billion more Chinese, Indians, and others who are clamoring for oil now than in 1973. Ideally, it is preferred that the oil be controlled by the populations of the region, who see fit to trade it in an orderly fashion. I have no idea whether this can be achieved, but some very bad things are in store if it isn't.

    I also have no insight as to the Bush Administration's strategy vis-a-vis the House of Saud. Unlike the Cold War's open discussion of strategy, it isn't the sort of thing that can be printed on the front page of NYT. If one had plans, however, of paving the way for the toppling of the House of Saud (which seems to me to be inevitable anyways, at least in terms of how the House of Saud is currently constituted), one would see great advantage in first having the Iraqi population in control of their oil, and fully exploiting their extraction potential. We'll see.

  • ||

    Yes, douglas, that 9/11 attack may have been a false-flag operation. Just look at all the Jews who were forewarned!!!

  • ||

    On CATO and others calling the 9/11 attacks "acts of war." :

    Even if they don't qualify as that, and are merely "crime", states have used their naval and military forces to suppress piracy for centuries. At minimum, the 9/11 hijackers were pirates, and so were those who attacked USS Cole. To the extent that al Qaeda and related groups operated from under the wing of sheltering states such as the Taliban-dominated Afghanistan, the U.S. had the right under international law to confront said states and subject them to such retaliation and retortion necessary to coerce such sovereign powers to surrender the pirates, and even make war on such states if such cooperation does not seem to be forthcoming.

    Let's not forget that, especially in more recent times, the idea of non-state actors who are recognized belligerents has become not that strange. While many national liberation movements may seem indistinguishable from "terrorists," often they have a uniformed branch whose members qualify as "lawful combatants" under the Geneva protocols. At the same time they can have a group that operates in mufti, whose members would be considered "unlawful combatants" or worse. So one member of the Lower Slobovian Liberation Front is a soldier, while another is a criminal terrorist. Also, such groups often receive post bellum legitimacy, either by winning, or through a compromise peace settlement.

    I always though Bush missed a trick by not emphasizing the Saddam/Qaedist connections, rather than the WMD stuff. One may have been as dodgy as the other, but terrorist-hunting would have been a better sale to the electorate.

    Kevin

  • ||

    I agree, Kevin. I would have preferred that Bush more strongly emphasize Hussein's role in aiding terrorists, like giving refuge to one of the bombers in the first WTC attack. Or, simply stating the simple truth that Hussein was in violation of the 1991 cease fire terms, and thus the firing was to resume full scale. I tend to think, however, that they really believed they would find more of a WMD program once they invaded, however rudimentary, and thus they leaned on that crutch, since it seemed to garner the most response from other nations.

  • ||

    "Why? Because in this world oil is like weapons or ammunition--if you can get control of this stuff and use it for yourselves, that's ideal; if not, just taking control of it away from your enemies or rivals (China, among others) is a victory in itself."

    Jennifer,
    I'm shocked... shocked you would say above.
    Are you the solution or the problem?
    I'm looking at my Jack Daniels calendar and seeing Dynamite Gulley. (Don't press me as to why I get gifts from Jack Daniels. And Dynamite has a few years on you.) My point is you need a tutorial on conflict resolution.
    Either I or the Lerch near you there would be happy to supply, for sure.

  • ||

    If there were substantial evidence of the Hussein regime collaborating with Al Qaeda, the Bush Administration would have used it when the chips were down. Likewise, if the Bush Administration thought that going to war for oil resonated with the American people, they would have emphasized it.

    ...If I was your average Mo on the Arab street, I think I'd rather hear that the Americans were coming for oil rather than coming to remake Muslim society. ...but that's just speculation.

  • ||

    ...That is to say, just as there's a difference between murderous terrorists and Muslim people who support their declared aims to various degrees, so are there differences between whatever program the American government is selling and the people who, to various degrees, support it.

  • ||

    Ruthless-
    I'm not saying this is a good thing, or that I approve of this, or that I'd even do it myself if I had any power; I'm just saying that's how it IS. Seriously: if tomorrow some genius figured out a cheap and easy way so that we no longer needed ANY petroleum at all (without even making sacrifices), and the sudden lack of American customers on the world oil market made gas prices drop to seventy-five cents a gallon or some cheap number like that, do you really think the government would sit back placidly and allow people like the Chinese to gobble up all that cheap, cheap gas to further expand their military-industrial complex? Watch countries we don't like buy all that super-cheap jet fuel?

    I don't think so. I'm just trying to say that from a strategic standpoint our being in Iraq--even if we're not directly benefiting from the oil ourselves--is a bit like capturing an enemy ammo dump; if we can't use it ourselves we'll at least make damned sure our enemies can't.

  • ||

    For those who don't know, Michael Young is a Lebanese phalangist, an extreme right wing Christian fanatic who supported Bush's reelection and his bloody war in Iraq.
    Young is an oriental orientalist, a self hating Arab (he even changed his name and took an American nick). His posts are ridiculous.

  • ||

    That's fascinating Ray.

    ...In Mr. Young's defense, I have to say that I often disagree with him. Do you have anything to say about what he wrote?

  • ||

    Jennifer,
    You are deifying oil.
    The Goddess is pissed.

  • ||

    Jennifer,
    Goddess just spoke to me:

    "Blood for sins, but not a goddamned drop for oil!"

  • ||

    Ray claims: Young is an oriental orientalist, a self hating Arab

    Yeah, those Arabs who wish to live without either religious (e.g., Iran) or secular (e.g., Saddam's Iraq) tyranny, just hate themselves and their culture. Everyone knows individual rights, and democracy under the rule of law, are only embraced by and for lily white Westerners. Arabs who disagree should be despised for not knowing their place.

  • ||

    P.S. Some of these ME folks technically are Persians and not Arabs. But if Arab Michael Young supports freeing Persians, I guess that still makes him a "self-hating" Arab in Ray's eyes.

  • ||

    I don't think Ray 'll listen to anything you say, unless, maybe, you preface it with a statement saying that you once disagreed with Mr. Young, or that you once agreed with someone who disagreed with Mr. Young or something.

    ...Maybe if you prefaced your comment with--oh, I dunno--a statement saying that you find the President's neckwear revolting, then maybe Ray 'll listen?

    P.S. President Bush's necktie yesterday was hideous! ...and can anyone show me an instance in which someone followed the term "self-hating" with something meaningful and interesting?

  • ||

    Ken Shultz,

    "Self-hating" is a favorite charge of Horowitz. He seems to think that its relevant.

    I heard that they didn't serve haggis Wednesday night because Bush doesn't like it.

    Are Bush's ears getting floppier?

  • ||

    Bush actually spent time shaggi.... herding sheep in Scotland as a kid. Maybe he stayed away from the haggis because he knows where it comes from.

    Will, I think you have it mostly right. I wasn't so hot on the "Saddam violated the cease-fire so let's get him" meme. He'd been at that so long, and support for the sanctions was so eroded internationally, that stiffening enforcement at last wasn't going to fly with our *ahem* "coalition partners." Bush latched onto the WMD because non-proliferation could garner more intl. support.

    Kevin

  • ||

    Not deifying oil, Ruthless, just trying to get a handle on the motivations of those with the power to cause serious damage.

  • ||

    Will,

    Is your argument that the reason why the ME (or Persian Gulf more specifically) exports terrorism and terrorists while Africa largely does not, is due to the fact that the Gulf has resources the rest of the world needs, and Africa generally does not?

    That seems interesting and a bit different than other explanations I've heard.

  • M1EK||

    "Again, how do you solve a problem (and it is a problem) like the Saudis?"

    Once again, you treat them like what they are: a country which should be at the business end of our war machine.

    During WWII, did we care what the rest of the world thought when we went after Japan? Hell no. It was a direct attack on our shores, which provided all the legitimacy we needed for ultimately even a nuclear attack.

    The thing you guys just aren't getting is this:

    IRAQ DIDN'T ATTACK _US_. IRAQ HAD NO REAL CREDIBLE CONNECTION TO ANTI-WESTERN TERRORISM.

    SAUDI ARABIA _DID_ ON BOTH COUNTS.

    And even if we COULDN'T get international backing, we SHOULD HAVE DONE IT ANYWAYS. Once again: SAUDI ARABIAN ACTORS ATTACKED US ON OUR OWN SOIL.

    History would have absolutely justified us for giving the Saudis the same deal we gave the Taliban: Surrender (list of people), do (list of things), or the bombers are coming.

  • gaius marius||

    they must be addressed through a thorough-going counter-insurgency effort.

    absolutely. this is not war, but it isn't common criminality. it is international organized crime -- an insurgency. and we will have to remove the reasons for the insurgency to make real headway against it.

  • ||

    Easy on the caps, M1EK. It makes you come off like an asshole.

    Iraq didn't attack the US, but it did attack our allies (Kuwait, remember?). Of course, Germany never attacked the US either, but we declared war on it as well.

    The final attack on Iraq was the logical culmination of the Kuwaiti war. Iraq was the agressor in that war, and we paused on the border under a cease-fire which Iraq violated. Of course, we paused about 9 years too long, but whatever. We had all the legal justification we needed; all that we needed was the political will, which was created by 9/11.

    The strategic situation Bush was faced with post-Afghanistan was one where, pretty clearly, sitting pat in Afghanistan was inadequate. Afghanistan wasn't the center of gravity of AQ, it was just their current haven. Reforming Afghanistan wasn't going to put AQ out of business or do anything to push the Mideast as a whole out of the dysfunction that was producing the effluent of terrorism washing into the West.

    Iraq's allies (the French and Russians) were pushing for normalization of relations, Iraq had extensive and well-documented ties to Islamist groups, including AQ, and Iraq had never come clean on WMDs.

    A situation was coming into being where Iraq would have both WMDs, an unassailable normalized diplomatic/strategic position, and a nice long history of working with the folks who had just killed 3,000 Americans. Iraq was already a haven for terrorists, after all. Many concluded that this would be intolerable, and that if nothing was done Iraq would become the primary threat to the US. Even with the absence of working WMD programs in Iraq, I think this analysis holds up pretty well.

    Bush was faced with the need to both neutralize the pending Iraqi threat, and get some fundamental change going in the Mideast. Doing nothing was not an option. Coexistence was not an option. Invading Iraq was the least bad option. That doesn't make it a wonderful thing to do, just less bad than anything else.

  • ||

    Small quible, Germany declared war on us, not the other way around.

  • ||

    M1EK (and Tarran) -

    There is no doubt that Saudia Arabia is the prime state culprit in the support of radical Islamism (followed closely by Iran and Pakistan). Sure we hesitate to throttle them by military force because of their subterranean treasure - but the Saudis pose another frightening obstacle. The Saudis probably have nuclear weapons. We have 150,000 troops right next door. If we attack SA, they respond by nuking our boys (and probably fling a few warheads at Israel for good measure). They might be crazy enough to nuke their own oilfields to spite us. It will be a mess, especially if the Israelis jump in the game. I think we will need to find a better way to influence their behavior. Wacking them in the head with a 2x4 will throw the world into chaos.

    Gaius - the early days of Islamism illustrate your point. The Muslims spread their religion at the point of a kris, even though they were at a miltary disadvantage during the rapid spread of Islam in the first 100 years. They defeated superior military forces such as the Byzantines due to the support of the masses. Christians, Pagans, and even Jews opened the gates of otherwise impenetrable fortresses to aid their new Muslim overlords. Their motivation was to shed the oppressive regimes that made their lives miserable. The rapid advance of the Muslim forces petered out when they had picked all of the low hanging fruit. Once they encountered populations that lived under fair and just rulers, the Muslims made no further headway. These clashes were less about religion and culture than they were about living conditions (and just plain survival).

  • ||

    I think it's safe to assume that the terrorist attack on London occurred as a result of the British government's aid to the US government in Iraq; just as the terrorist attack in Madrid was a result of the Spanish government's alliance with the US government in Iraq; to suggest that the terrorists are simply enthralled with killing, and that there is no political motivation behind this, is ludicrous.

    I agree that the terrorists don't really care whether the citizenry agreed with their government's actions in the first place. As in Spain, the terrorists probably hope this sort of terrorist action could be the catalyst for the Brits to vote their leadership out of power.

  • ||

    The Jesuits are responsible for all of this ...

  • ||

    Crushinator,

    I've never seen Saudi Arabia on the list of countries that probably have nukes. Got any evidence for that assertion?

  • M1EK||

    RC Dean,

    "Iraq had extensive and well-documented ties to Islamist groups, including AQ,"

    You're a liar.

  • ||

    Steve,

    A good starting point is a scary article by Amir Mir "Where Terror And The Bomb Could Meet". You can find it in The Asia Times (www.atimes.com). Mir contends that Saudia Arabia has obtained the bomb from Pakistan in return for oil. It makes a lot of sense. SA can certainly afford the bomb. With threats from Israel, Iraq, and Iran I am sure they have been shopping.

  • Mark Bahner||

    Jason Ligon writes, "It is a little more complicated than that. Take 100 angry guys in uniforms, give them bombs and AKs, and they can start a war. Remove the uniforms, and they can't start a war?"

    No, "100 angry guys in uniform" can't start a war. Only GOVERNMENTS can start wars.

    Even more importantly, the ***U.S. government*** is NEVER at war, under the Constitution, unless the U.S. Congress has declared war. Therefore, we are clearly NOT at war.

    "What about funding terrorists?"

    If the U.S. government knows that any government in the world is funding terrorists (who committed crimes in the U.S.), the U.S. government should demand that ALL the people in those government responsible for the funding be turned over to the U.S. government for prosecution. If the other government refuses, the U.S. government should take out that government, and install another government that is more compliant.

    "Using claims of sovereignity to protect them within your borders?"

    If they have been formally indicted in any U.S. court for any crime, sovereignity-schmovereignity!

    No government on this earth has the authorized power to protect people who have been formally indicted by U.S. courts. Every government on earth should promptly and affirmatively reply to U.S. government extradition requests. Because WE AIN'T ASKIN'!

  • ||

    M1EK:

    You are a jerk. RCD may be mistaken, but the question of Iraq/al-Qaida links prior to our deposing Hussein is at least controversial. Even in the face of the 9/11 Commission report, which downplayed them, the Administration continued to make the case for them. That Hussein supported terrorism more generally, especially in the case of paying bounties to the families of suicide bombers who committed terrorism in Israel, is not controversial. It is a separate question whether Saddam's support of terrorism was sufficiently dangerous to the United States to move us to invade Iraq, of course. I would have asked for a higher standard of proof, myself.

    Kevin

  • ||

    Mark B.:

    If Osama or one of his spokesmullahs proclaimed bin Laden to be the leader of the "Provisional Government of the restored Caliphate of Dar al-Islam", would that qualify al-Qaida as an army of a "government?" I refer to those who would actually wear uniforms, follow a chain of command, etc., of course.

    Kevin

  • Mark Bahner||

    "If Osama or one of his spokesmullahs proclaimed bin Laden to be the leader of the "Provisional Government of the restored Caliphate of Dar al-Islam", would that qualify al-Qaida as an army of a "government?" I refer to those who would actually wear uniforms, follow a chain of command, etc., of course."

    No, not any more than if I declared myself the King of Durham, NC. If Osama bin Laden is in Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai is the the head of that government. If Osama bin Laden is in Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf is the head of that government.

    If Osama bin Laden is on the moon or Mars, we've got a legally fuzzy situation. But if he's on earth, there's no fuzziness about it. Osama bin Laden's pretensions carry no legal weight.

    "I refer to those who would actually wear uniforms, follow a chain of command, etc., of course."

    Osama bin Laden is (or should be!) under indictment in the United States (for both the U.S. embassy bombings in Africa, and 9/11). So whatever country he's in, the REAL government should turn him over to the U.S., or specifically request that our military come in to do the job.

    Again, the pretensions of Osama bin Laden and his sycophants carry no legal weight. They are not a legally recognized government.

  • ||

    Again, the pretensions of Osama bin Laden and his sycophants carry no legal weight. They are not a legally recognized government.

    Agreed, but considering how abusive governments can be, do we want to give them even MORE authority by letting them say "Only those who fight in my name and under my banner have any rights?" If our government goes completely Nazi on us do we want to discourage those who would rebel against it on the grounds that you have to join an official government army if you want to fight for a cause? I shudder to think of how history might be different if such laws were recognized during our own Revolutionary period.

  • Mark Bahner||

    I wrote, "Again, the pretensions of Osama bin Laden and his sycophants carry no legal weight. They are not a legally recognized government."

    Jennifer responded, "Agreed, but considering how abusive governments can be, do we want to give them even MORE authority by letting them say 'Only those who fight in my name and under my banner have any rights?'"

    That's not what I'm saying at all! People like Osama bin Laden have a very basic right that they do NOT have, if they ARE members of a government: if they are civilians, U.S. law does not authorize the U.S. government to execute them without a trial.

    If the U.S. Congress declares war on a government (e.g. the Taliban government in Afghanistan, or Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq), then ANY members of that government are at risk of being cruise-missiled into a thousand pieces. (Until that governments surrenders.)

    Under U.S. law, that is NOT a possibility for civilians. The U.S. government cannot legally kill Osama bin Laden without a trial. The U.S. government cannot legally send a cruise missile slamming into a house, just because the U.S. government thinks Osama bin Laden is in that house.

    The U.S. government can (AND SHOULD) send cruise missiles slamming into houses where the U.S. government is pretty confident the head of a government with which we are at war is staying.

  • ||

    U.S. law does not authorize the U.S. government to execute them without a trial. . .[or] send a cruise missile slamming into a house, just because the U.S. government thinks Osama bin Laden is in that house. . .

    And yet since this war started we've done all these things that we're not supposed to do. Murdering people by torturing them to death. Destroying an entire city (Fallujah) because of what a dozen criminals did, despite the fact that the Geneva Conventions forbid collective punishment. Using missiles to destroy moving cars because we believe somebody we want to kill is inside.

    If violating the Geneva Conventions is good enough for us, then why not for our enemies as well?

  • ||

    Another thing occurred to me--under US law, it IS illegal to kill foreign leaders; it's the little peons who are unprotected. I think Ford's the one who signed that into law.

  • ||

    Since I haven't referenced my favorite science fiction novel, The Star Fraction in over a week, I'd like to mention an interesting idea it covered.

    In the time of the book (2045), armed nongovernmental groups could register with the UN as "a registered terrorist organization." Apparently, in exchange for following rules such as taking steps to avoid harm to completely innocent bystanders not party to a dispute, this registration would give the group and its fighters certain rights usually reserved for states and their soldiers. Probably this included being treated as a lawful combatant under the Geneva conventions. The book did say that certain disputes among states and terrorist groups could be settled in "the Geneva courts."

    For example, in the book, there was a Luddite group opposed to research into artificial intelligence -- the Carbon Life Alliance. It bombed AI research labs. It had a Web domain of cla.org.terr .

  • M1EK||

    "but the question of Iraq/al-Qaida links prior to our deposing Hussein is at least controversial"

    No, it's not. It's a flat-out lie by RC Dean and his ilk. Period.

    Sometimes there really IS only one side to a story. At least, one TRUE side.

  • ||

    Mark, your insistence that U.S. law is dispositive when determining when a non-state organization tries to raise itself to the level of a belligerent in a conflict doesn't describe reality. History is replete with rebel organizations that, through force of arms, became recognized as belligerents by states, and even gained diplomatic recognition by other powers. This was especially true during the Cold War, with the U.S. often witholding diplomatic recognition of governments that controlled a country in favor of a government-in-exile, rump state [The Republic of China (Taiwan)] or armed opposition. The Soviet Bloc and Red China often did the same thing, supporting the government or rebels on the other side, of course.

    Abe Lincoln wasn't happy that Britain and France recognized the belligerence of the CSA, and I'm sure Lyndon Johnson didn't want the Viet Cong at the Paris peace talks. Facts on the ground required those Presidents to extend belligerent status.

    As for attempts to kill leaders of such groups, that isn't expressly againast U.S. law, though Presidents have issued executive orders prohibiting that.

    In normal state-on-state, army-on-army action, one state trying to destroy the civilian leadership of the other country - decapitation - is frowned upon by the international community. Who is going to negotiate a surrender or ceasefire if you kill the President, PM, foreign minister, etc.?

    Nuclear warfighting, however, seems to have contemplated decapitation as a strategy. Such wars would probably not be declared, either, in order to maintain the surprise needed for a first strike.

    For myself, I always thought that any dictator who liked to parade around in military uniform, the way Castro and Hussein have, is fair game for conventional forces. In 18th Century warfare, shooting at officers was not considered cricket. Good thing we Americans weren't much for cricket. Mores and law both change over time.

    Kevin

  • Mark Bahner||

    RC Dean wrote, "Iraq had extensive and well-documented ties to Islamist groups, including AQ,"

    M1EK responded, "You're a liar."

    I don't suppose you watch "60 Minutes"?

    Did you see the interview of that "60 Minutes" did IN IRAQ in May 2002, of Abdul Rahman Yasin? In the interview, he ADMITTED he participated in the 1993 WTC bombing:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/05/31/60minutes/main510795.shtml

    Given the fact that: 1) Yasin is Muslim, 2) he ADMITTED attempted mass murder (therefore, he qualifies as "Islamist"), 3) he was part of a GROUP, and 4) he was IN IRAQ at the time of the interview, in 2002...

    ...it seems to me that qualifies Iraq's government in 2002 as having "well documented ties" to at least one "Islamist group."

    I think you owe RC Dean an apology for calling him a "liar." (Though I have the the strong suspicion you WON'T apologize.)

    P.S. Or do you think "60 Minutes" was "lying" also?

    P.P.S. And Abdul Rahman Yasin was definitely not the ONLY Islamic terrorist to which Saddam Hussein's government had well-documented ties:

    http://www.husseinandterror.com/

  • Mark Bahner||

    "Mark, your insistence that U.S. law is dispositive when determining when a non-state organization tries to raise itself to the level of a belligerent in a conflict doesn't describe reality."

    No, what "doesn't describe reality" is anyone who claims that Osama bin Laden--a man under U.S. indictment for mass murder--and a few hundred or thousand of his followers (without uniforms or with!) would ever be recognized by ANY government on earth as a legitimate government.

    After what happened to the Taliban, NO government (not even Pakistan's) would ever even knowingly protect Osama bin Laden...let alone let him rise to any position of authority.

    Under U.S. law, Osama bin Laden is a suspected (indicted) criminal. (He's "suspected" in part because he apparently was so stupid/arrogant as to make a tape admitting his crime!) And no government in the world would ever be foolish enough to officially recognize him as anything different.

    THAT is reality.

  • M1EK||

    "I think you owe RC Dean an apology for calling him a "liar." (Though I have the the strong suspicion you WON'T apologize.)"

    I won't, because you're full of shit.

    RC Dean's contention:

    "raq had extensive and well-documented ties to Islamist groups, including AQ"

    "extensive and well-documented" to "AQ" is not true. Sorry. One guy hiding out is not "extensive".

  • drf||

    M1EK:

    this discussion reminds me of a right wing self-annointed "linguist" who explained why muslims shouldn't have certain rights. and that the world changed when "planes started flying into buildings".

    but this bozo also called clinton and everybody around at that time a "nazi" because: "if you substitute the word 'Jew' for 'the rich' and say 'pay with their lives' instead of just 'pay', they're nazi's."

    i'm not making that up. i wish i were.

  • ||

    Oh no, Mark, I am quite convinced that there are heads of state scummy enough to recognize bin Laden, should he ever try to gain status for his group as a legal belligerent. N Korea and Iran would probably be first. Had Indonesia kept their outgoing Prez he might have been tempted. Those SLORC bastards running Burma (Myanmar) might join in, not to mention any number of Third World kakistocrats. I still don't trust Pakistan not to fall to a radical Islamist regime.

    Just because bin Laden and crew are murderous pirates who ought to be locked up or shot while resisting arrest doesn't mean that he couldn't one day wind up as a head of state, more's the pity.

    Kevin

  • ||

    Mark Bahner,

    I just want to ask again because I want to make sure you mean what you say: If we know for sure that Osama bin Laden, and only Osama bin Laden and his henchmen, is in a house, we shouldn't blow it up? Is that really what you're saying?

  • ||

    You know, if Mark Bahner is a libertarian, he has a very uncharacteristic worship for the Westphalian nation-state.

  • Mark Bahner||

    "I just want to ask again because I want to make sure you mean what you say: If we know for sure that Osama bin Laden, and only Osama bin Laden and his henchmen, is in a house, we shouldn't blow it up? Is that really what you're saying?"

    "If we know for sure..."?

    You mean, kind of like we "knew for sure" that the Al Shifa plant in the Sudan made chemical weapons precursors?

    Kind of like we "knew for sure" that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction?

    Like that?

    And where is this house, anyway? Why can't we just surround it, and tell them all to come out with their hands up? (If they don't, and choose to fight to the death like Uday and Qusay Hussein, I've got no problem THEN dropping a bomb on the house.)

    "You know, if Mark Bahner is a libertarian,..."

    Heh, heh, heh! I'm more of a libertarian than most people on THIS website! I'm a straight-ticket-voting, contributing member of the one-and-only Libertarian Party, and have been for about a decade.

    How about you, Steve?

    "...he has a very uncharacteristic worship for the Westphalian nation-state."

    Bullshit. I simply realize, unlike some people, that it's stupid to elevate Osama bin Laden and his sick friends to any status higher than criminal slime.

  • Mark Bahner||

    "I think you owe RC Dean an apology for calling him a "liar." (Though I have the the strong suspicion you WON'T apologize.)"

    M1EK responded, "I won't, because you're full of shit."

    Clever comeback!

    I showed that Saddam Hussein had a "well-documented" (self-confessed, on "60 Minutes!") connection to an "Islamist group" specifically, the group that did the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. In fact, I think most people consider that the group that did the 1993 WTC attack *was* Al Qaeda.

    http://www.infoplease.com/spot/terror-qaeda.html

    Further, Saddam Hussein's "connection" was AFTER THE FACT...so Saddam Hussein absolutely knew that the guy was guilty (especially after he confessed on TV!).

    Further, I pointed you to a website that gave detailed, verifiable evidence that Saddam Hussein:

    1) Paid the families of Palestinian homicide bombers...including bombers that killed U.S. citizens.

    2) Deliberately sheltered Abu Abbas, a truly disgusting piece of Islamist slime, who hijacked the Achille Lauro, and murdered wheelchair-bound Leon Klinghoffer, simply because he was Jewish and an American.

    3) Had connections, via an Iraqi diplomat, to Abu Sayyaf, which can be called Al Qaeda's "franchise" in the Philippines.

    4) Sheltered Abu Nidal, another disgusting piece of Islamist slime, whose organization was responsible for more than 400 murders, including the machine-gun attacks on the Rome and Vienna airports.

    MIEK concludes, "extensive and well-documented" to "AQ" is not true.

    Heh, heh, heh! You're a clever little boy! Good work on the selective quotation!

    The full quotation of what RC Dean wrote is, of course, "Iraq had extensive and well-documented ties to Islamist groups, including AQ."

    You can INFER that RC Dean was saying that "extensive" ties were to EACH one of the "Islamist groups." But other people could just a validly think that RC Dean was saying that Iraq had "extensive and well-documented ties to Islamist groups," and those Islamist groups included Al Qaeda. In other words, the "extensive" may easily have referred to Saddam Hussein's connections with "Islamist groups"...not necessarily that EACH individual connection was "extensive."

    Rather than bother to ask RC Dean what he meant, you called him a liar. When I presented you with DETAILED evidence of Saddam Hussein's "extensive" connections to Islamic terrorists, you wrote I was full of shit. You don't bother to read carefully, or investigate the facts; you call names.

    I sure hope you're not a member of the Libertarian Party. If you are, I hear the Greens and Democrats are looking for your type. (I hear the phrase that gets one into meetings for either group is, "Bush is worse than Hitler!")

  • ||

    I know I'm late to the party, but I'm not sure Abu Nidal is a good example of what you seem to be trying to say.

    ...As I recall, Abu Nidal was...um...celestially discharged in the run up to the Iraq War. I once read a piece by a die hard Iraq War supporter suggesting that Saddam Hussein killed Abu Nidal because he refused to help train al Qaeda operatives, and I once read a piece where someone speculated that, for all we know, Abu Nidal was murdered by a jealous husband. ...The conventional story, the one that I understand most subscribe to, holds that Abu Nidal was killed as something of a peace offering. ...a gift if you will.

    ...You're not suggesting that Abu Nidal's presence in Iraq indicates that Saddam Hussein was active in the Abu Nidal terrorist network, are you? Once again, it was my understanding that most people thought that Saddam Hussein held Abu Nidal as a poker chip, nothing more. If that's true, doesn't it suggest that just because a terrorist was present in Iraq, doesn't mean Saddam Hussein was collaborating with that terrorist? Indeed, didn't the 9/11 Commission find that in spite of the Al Qaeda "connection" you allude to, that Iraq, in fact, was not collaborating with Al Qaeda?

    ...And, for some reason, we seem to be skipping the second part of the big question, which, in my opinion is, did the Saddam Hussein/Al Qaeda "connection" you're citing, in and of itself, justify the invasion of Iraq in the minds of most of the American people?

    You may think it was sufficient justification, Mr. Bahner, and I may think it wasn't; but it's what the American people were willing to support at the time that mattered. And in my humble opinion--and, apparently, the opinion of the Bush Administration at the time--that neither the Al Qaeda connection you described nor the Abu Nidal connection you cited presented sufficient justification to the American people for risking American troops. Saddam Hussein's open support of Palestinian suicide murderers wasn't enough to do it either.

    ...It was the Anthrax attack and 9/11 that justified the invasion in the minds of most Americans. ...I don't need to cite the poll showing that almost seventy percent of the American people, almost a year after we invaded, believed, quite wrongly, that Saddam Hussein was complicit in 9/11, do I?

    P.S. I think you're askin' for more mileage out of the word "connection" than that word has miles to give.

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