Al Qaeda Crackdown


The suspected mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, has been captured and is being interrogated by US intelligence.

"It's hard to overstate how significant this is….It's a wonderful blow to inflict on al-Qaeda," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told the press. Mohammed is widely regarded as the number three man in Al Qaeda.

Mohammed's detention raises an interesting possibility regarding Iraq: If the US effectively destroys Al Qaeda before any shooting on Baghdad begins, what effect will that have on the question of war with Iraq?

NEXT: Ethereal Reform

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  1. Gillespie knows this is a War on Terror and that the War on Iraq is just one phase, the most recent one following the War on Afghanistan, which we’ve already won, and the War on Al Queda, which we are in the process of winning.

    What Gillespie is doing is spinning. Like the other America-haters, the game these folk play is to try and reformulate the question every time they lose the argument.

    As usual, one has to repeat to these folk, “get out of the way, there are real men here ready to do real work, and you’ll just slow us down.”

  2. That’s a woefully naive question to ask. It sorta reminds me of yesterday’s INSTAPUNDIT link where the Tehran Times reports of Iraq’s attempt to get
    the imminent US invasion stopped by sending their spy chief on a secret visit to Israel with promises of the most unimaginable concessions if
    Israel gets the US not to invade. (I kid you not.)

  3. For a magazine called “Reason” there sure seems to be a lack of it around here…

  4. The reasons for liberating Iraq are many. If Al Qaeda, including all of the well-nested sleeper cells, were to spontaneously surrender, the problem posed by Saddam would remain.

    The first attack on WTC was conducted by an Iraqi agent, Ramzi Yousef.

    Were it not for the defection of Saddam’s son-in-law, Saddam would now be in possession of around 30 nuclear bombs. If we drop the ball now, we will awake ten years from now to see the middle east as a nuclear neighborhood.

    The impartial use of REASON doesn’t not consist in
    finding flaws in U.S. foreign policy. It should rather lead us to examine all of the relevant information regarding all sides of the issue.

  5. Paul, that’s a bit crude. I think Nick is opposed to the war on Iraq, but I don’t see how that makes him an America-hater.

  6. I don’t think it’s naive or “America-hating” to question the relevance of Iraq to the war on terror. There may well be good reasons to go to war in Iraq, but its dishonest to link Iraq with the war on terror. I think it’s quite clear that Iraq and terrorism are two separate issues for the US to deal with. At worst, war in Iraq may distract from attempts to track down terrorists. If we are so serious about fighting terrorism, why are we still allies with states that have more of a history of sponsoring terrorism than Iraq does?

  7. ?get out of the way, there are real men here ready to do real work, and you?ll just slow us down.? You?re right A’Barge, let?s go get in a bar fight right now and beat up potential terrorists (*grunts*).

    I admit, not an extremely relevant question was raised. However, the response to that question is most disturbing. It seems many people simply want us to stop asking them. Their feeling is that our government, being immutable, is always correct. And that we shouldn?t think before overthrowing a foreign government.

    They want to ignore questions of priority or imminent threat or imperialism. Many, like A?Barge, just want us to band together and make the world better place through force.

    And Robert, it?s not clear that we should all states that sponsor terrorism. Terrorism will always exist in this world. We need to weigh the cost (in lives, time, and money) against the alternatives. Are the 1,000 potential American deaths from terrorism more valuable than the 10,000 Iraqi deaths to come? People who supported terrorism in no way except living in Iraq. Not to mention the 1,000 American troops who will die, or the impact we will have on Iraq?s future. They will never be whole again. They will never have a country again. I particularly love your suggestion that we overthrow England and the rest of Europe. I would love a little chateau overlooking the ashes of Paris.

  8. “…real men here ready to do real work…”
    Well, go ahead and volunteer Paul, just don’t ask me to pay your salary, or for the fancy tank you’re gonna blow up people with.

    Couple of points, which we’re all sick of hearing, but seem to keep getting swept aside.

    1) No credible link between Al-Qaeda and Iraq.
    2) No credible evidence that Iraq has ever attacked us in any way.

    Ergo… from a libertarian point view (clearly the most reasonable), there is no valid reason to invade this unseemly, yet still sovereign nation called Iraq.

  9. It is worth remarking that the people who always defend their position by saying, “people want us to stop asking questions,” rarely give any signs of having asked any particularly tough or even relevant questions.

    The main point of dispute concerns whether or not there is an Iraq-terror connection. I say ‘terror’ and not ‘Al Qaeda’ because it matters not a bit whether our next experience of biological, chemical, or nuclear agents comes from one group instead of another.

    There are a number of media sources which reported that Iraqi agents were in contact with, and in many cases supported, several terrorist groups, well before 9/11.

    Ramzi Yousef, the man who masterminded the 1993 WTC attack, is most likely an Iraqi agent (Ask your questions of Laurie Mylroie’s article in
    The National Interest, Winter 1995/96 (the link
    is provided on Wall Street Journal’s Best of the Web Opinion blog, 2/26/03)).

    The top Al Qaeda figure, Mohammed, who was arrested recently, is the uncle of Ramzi Yousef.
    Uncle and nephew collaborated in 1995 to destroy
    American commercial airplanes in the Philippines
    (see Washington Times today).

    There is just one of many Iraq-terror connections that can be drawn.

    To all the question-askers: How many such connections will be sufficient to convince you?

  10. Patriot: Of course I’m not saying we should attack Europe! Don’t be silly.

    What I am saying is that if we want to go after terrorists, Iraq is probably the wrong place.

    I doubt your numbers though. Its probably possible to end regimes without causing great harm to civilian populations. The US military has learnt a lot about avoiding civilian casualties. I would obviously oppose a war in which there are many civilian deaths, but ending state sponsors of terrorism is still a priority.

  11. It seems that to many people the mantra “no credible Iraq-Al Qaeda link,” is too intoxicating to give up.

    But please, unless you are a member of an intelligence agency, and therefore can’t reveal
    your sources, tell us WHY you believe there is no
    such evidence. Give us just one article that makes a strong case. One more request: do not say that Senator X, diplomat Y, or Actor Z told you so.

    Let’s get back to the basics of REASON. Let’s not appeal to unqualified authorities.

  12. It seems that to many people the mantra “no credible Iraq-Al Qaeda link,” is too intoxicating to give up.

    But please, unless you are a member of an intelligence agency, and therefore can’t reveal
    your sources, tell us WHY you believe there is no
    such evidence. Give us just one article that makes a strong case. One more request: do not say that Senator X, diplomat Y, or Actor Z told you so.

    Let’s get back to the basics of REASON. Let’s not appeal to unqualified authorities.

  13. David: What about the fact that the US State Department says Iran is the most active state sponsor of terrorism? (

  14. Getting back to the basics of REASON, you can’t prove a negative. You can’t prove “there is no such evidence”…you can’t prove the absence of something. The burden of evidence lies on those making an extraordinary claim.

  15. Robert: You are right, Iran is the most active state sponsor of terrorism. But that fact does not imply that Iran is the ONLY sponsor of terror. Saddam aims to destroy us no matter
    what we do.

    Leonard Peikoff insisted that the most rational response to terrorism would be to attack Iran. He would be right, but only on the condition that reason operates independently of context. Strategy must play a part in our next move.

    The people of Iran have had a enough of the mullahs. 70% of its population is under 30 years of age, and they are rebelling against the order in a number of ways (demonstrations, setting up satellite dishes,etc.). The Iranian mullahs
    do not have the kind of Stalinist grip that
    Saddam has over his people. Iran is most
    likely to liberated by Iranians.

  16. jd: I’m not asking anyone to, as you put
    it, “prove a negative.” I’m just asking
    you to state why YOU believe there is no
    credible evidence.

    What sort of evidence would satisfy you?

    There are still people who believe that
    neither Bin Laden nor any Muslims were
    behind 9/11. When emotions are involved
    its all too easy to make the justificatory
    requirements stringent enough so that we
    can still hold on to our dear belief.

    I’m not saying this is true of your case.
    I’m simply asking you (and others) to
    explain your belief that Iraq is not
    linked to any terrorist groups.

  17. Completely lost in all this is the fact that this suspected terrorist has been bundled off to an unspecified non-US country for unspecified interrogation. I think we all know that that means that he’s been shipped off somewhere to be tortured. Am I the only one bothered by this sort of policy-laundering? Government sanction of torturing suspects seems much more likely to effect the lives and liberties of Americans than speculation about the future of Iraq.

  18. David: We mishandled terrorism for a long time. When the USS Cole or the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were attacked, we did little or nothing. Now in our enthusiasm to get rid of Saddam, I’m afraid that we haven’t done enough against the real terrorists, the ones who organized and made 9/11 possible. Shouldn’t that be priority #1? I would prefer to see the US declare victory against Al-Qaeda before moving on to anything else. I’m afraid that we are leaving a job half-finished. I appreciate your point, but I don’t share your trust in our government’s strategy.

  19. Anti-war argument before Khalid Shaikh Mohammed’s capture:

    War on Iraq hampers a successful prosecution of the war on terror.

    Anti-war argument after Khalid Shaikh Mohammed’s capture:

    Successful prosecution of the war on terror implies that war with Iraq is unnecessary.

    Why bother arguing any more? They don’t listen. There will never be enough evidence for them.

  20. As if Khalid Shaikh Mohammed’s capture implies that we have won the war on terror.

  21. I said “succesful prosecution”, not “we won the war on terror”.

    Some of the antiwar crowd are saying we can’t fight al Qaeda effectively while distracted by Iraq; I am saying that this arrest shows that we CAN. Now that we have shown that, Nick Gillespie says there’s no need for war with Iraq. Not that that is a new sentiment from him.

    Which is my whole point. Everything that happens, apparently, is a reason not to go to war. This is not a reasonable position.

    Doesn’t matter what we say. It’s never enough. No amount of evidence is enough. I’d like to see what circumstances the antiwar posters would agree would justify war. Any takers?

  22. I suspect your more worried about Mohammed naming Iraqi names, but that would just be Bush propaganda, wouldn’t it!

  23. Knock out every one of their leaders. Does that mean they disappear?

    We need the strategic position that taking down Saddam will give us, regardless of whether we get every current Al Qaeda leader or not.

  24. I think I should go to an anti-war rally with a sign that says “Appease Tyrants NOW!” I think that really says it all about the anti-war movement.

  25. The WORLD is saying “fuck you”.

    Maybe it’s time to do a little self examingation.

  26. 9/11 made it quite evident to me that waiting to be attacked before taking action was no longer acceptable. ANY nation that is hostile to the U.S., capable of inflicting thousands of American casualties and has demonstrated a willingness in the past to act upon their hostility is now a legitimate target in this war. This includes Iraq, Iran and Lybia at least.

    In 1917, Wodrow Wilson said, “The world must be made safe for democracy.” I believe he was mistaken. The form of government another nation takes is of no interest to me as long as they are not hostile to the U.S. Today, in this war, it is our security that needs to be selfishly protected. Finally, we are fighting for ourselves instead of for someone else.

    It’s simple, really: the world must be made safe for America.

  27. No, the “world” is not saying “fuck you”. Why should we only consider the anti-war voices? especially knowing that their motives are mixed up with anti-Americanism, anti-Capitalism and their own highly exploitive oil deals with Saddam? What about all the people around the globe that are rooting for the U.S. to liberate the people of Iraq? Why don’t their voices matter to you?

  28. Cathy Young of Reason wrote….”In fact, the consequences of a war against Iraq are highly unpredictable. We don’t know who may replace Hussein, or in whose hands some of Iraq’s deadly weapons may end up. And that’s the most powerful argument against the war.”
    So, Young is implying that the consequences of NOT going to war with Iraq are predictable? Right.
    and if we DON’T go to war, she thinks that we WON’T have to worry about whose hands Iraq’s weapons end up in? I see. If that’s the “most powerful” argument against the war, then you’d have to be an idiot to be against the war.

  29. Um, I’m coming here late.

    Perhaps a useful ‘interrogation’ of this man will give information that the US administration could use to wage a more effective battle IN Iraq, which might minimise civilian casualties. No one seems to have mentioned that.

    (Not in favour of the war, nor of torture, but since when did my opinion count, I’m only trying to be realistic.)

  30. “The WORLD is saying “fuck you”.”

    Who asked them for an opinion? They want the right to complain without taking responsibility for the consequences. They won’t even pay for their own defense. They supported bloated welfare programs that nurtured Islamic extremism during the ’90s and now has sapped their economic strength and made their militaries flabby and ineffective.

  31. Grant: Of course our government is going to do whatever it takes to extract information from Mohammed…so what? We’re talking about a leader of a terrorist organization that has successfully attacked us, and intends to do it again. He’s not a citizen, he isn’t here, I don’t care what they do to him. More to the point, I don’t see how this sort of policy affects the lives and liberties of Americans. Do you think this is the first time the US government has sanctioned such action in our history? I seriously doubt it.

    Now if you want to make the same argument about Jose Padilla, you’d have a point, but I don’t want to get that far off track…

    Regarding Gabriel’s challenge…you are right to say that to many in the anti-war movement, there is no sufficient evidence. They simply want to see America brought down a couple of notches. As for me, I’d need to know that Iraq intends to attack us or supply weapons to those that would. All the administration has provided is evidence that Iraq has not disarmed. If there is secret intelligence that shows Iraq really is an immediate threat, then why is the US government wasting its time trying to get approval from countries that will not back an attack, no matter what? I don’t think the actions of this administration reflect an immediate threat, just a burning desire to go to war with an inconvienient regime.

  32. Scott,

    “The form of government another nation takes is of no interest to me as long as they are not hostile to the U.S.”

    This is just the sort of stupid, short term thinking that led us to install the Shah. How’d that work out? Ditto with our cancellation of the elections in Vietnam in the 1950s. Thank God the Viet Minh didn’t become a parliamentary bloc!

    We need to stop with the “friend of my enemy’s enemy’s brother’s cousin’s enemy…” bs. It just comes around and bites us. Only stable, rights-affirming democracies create the conditions in which America will be safe. Puppet dictators are more trouble than they’re worth; we’d be better off letting an anti-American ideologue come to power democratically, so he can get voted out after one term. The only way nations get over delusions is to see them self destruct.

  33. What I wanna know is what is the best strain to use for baked apples? I baked some Fuji apples (the most tasty and non-acidic IMHO) and they came out too tough. I’m thinking Cortland apples would be better for baking. Anybody have experience with this? btw, Osama Bin Ladin is still dead. The FBI/CIA/NSC proclamations that he’s still making audio tapes is a ruse to keep the unwashed masses from declaring the War On Terror won and thus should be over. IMHO, of course.

  34. and, Joe; great post. I would add that to ignore the victims of tyrany by asserting that it’s “none of my business” is a cop-out at best and an admission to moral relativism at worst.
    If we, the free nations of the world, don’t influence murderous oppressors outside of our own borders, then we are admitting that freedom is are not worth fighting for. It’s to say “liberty for me and mine; but those under the heel of a tyrant currently will just have to make their own history.
    If you wanna read me rant some more on this visit

    and check the post “Who Are We To Do This?”…
    not that you have the time to be bothered…it’s just that at least there’s where I can yammer at more length. (Plus the idea that someone I’ve never met actually reading my drivel just makes me all sparkley inside.)

  35. There’s just no pleasing the appeasers

  36. joe,

    “This is just the sort of stupid, short term thinking that led us to install the Shah. How’d that work out? Ditto with our cancellation of the elections in Vietnam in the 1950s. Thank God the Viet Minh didn’t become a parliamentary bloc!”

    You make my point. My statement would not have led us to install the Shah or to Vietnam. Quite the opposite. I insist that our national interest be at stake. A distasteful government, in and of itself, does not qualify.

  37. Assuming that Iraq is funding terrorists, it’s likely another group would show up if Al Qaeda is demolished. This should be a no-brainer.

    Send ’em to hell.

  38. “Only stable, rights-affirming democracies create the conditions in which America will be safe. Puppet dictators are more trouble than they’re worth; we’d be better off letting an anti-American ideologue come to power democratically, so he can get voted out after one term. The only way nations get over delusions is to see them self destruct.”

    Guess what, the people in these countries hate America. Therefore, why would they vote out a leader who hates America?

  39. No one like us–I don’t know why. We may not be perfect but heaven knows we try. All around even our old friends put us down. Let’s drop the Big One and see what happens.

    Asia’s crowded, Europe’s too old, Africa is far too hot, Canada’s too cold and South America stole our name. Let’s drop the Big One; there’ll be no one left to blame us.

    We’ll save Australia (don’t wanna hurt no kangaroo). We’ll build an all-American amusement park there. They got surfin’, too!

    So BOOM! goes London, and BOOM! Paree. More room for you and more room for me…and every city the whole world ’round will be just another American town.

    Oh, how peaceful it will be. We’ll set everybody free! You’ll wear a Japanese Komono, babe, there’ll be Italian shoes for me!

    They all hate us, anyhow…so let’s drop the Big One now. Let’s drop the Big One now.

  40. The “war” is on terrorism, not just Al Qaeda. That group has been the focus, but is far from the only one, nor is so-called “radical Islam” the only source of terrorists. It is unfortunate that this is not mentioned more often, and very rarely stressed.

  41. With any luck, the interrogation of Kalihd may produce some information that will make the liberation of Iraq easier and more painless. And maybe without their “mastermind” AlQaeda may start making false steps that may bring in other leaders and even produce proof of ties to Iraq that even the French have to accept. I hope Saddam is having the same thoughts right now.

  42. This is not a war on Al-Qaeda. I think on 9/12/2001, it was clear that there was a need to end states that sponsor terrorism. That hasn’t changed. For moral and practical reasons, states that sponsor or shelter terrorists should not be tolerated. Of course, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan sponsor more terrorism than Iraq, and there seem to be many members of Al-Qaeda who hold British/European citizenship.

  43. People in what countries hate the US? Do you seriously think the US has been popular in Europe or Latin America or the Arab world for decades, and suddenly now we are going to ruin it all? I assume 9/11 and Bush changed all that–for instance, in the 90s Americans of course were LOVED by the French government and intellectual establishment…. I would say there is a helluva lot more serious anti-American sentiment in Europe than in Cuba, or Venezuela, or Iran, or Iraq. That doesn’t mean pro-American, by the way, but it probably has not escaped the notice of the inhabitants of those countries that being anti-US has not brought them paradise–or that fact that most of their misery is caused by their own governments. Go figure.

  44. Al Qaeda is a large collection of loosely connected terror cells. To say that a government, like Iraq, could support other loose networks of terror cells, like that of Abu Nidal, without some of that support filtering through to Al Qaeda affiliated cells is absurd on its face.

    There are only 2 choices. Live with Islamic terror, or destroy the governments that support it.

    Also, at what point did it become good strategy to attack your enemy where he is strongest? Iraq is first because it is the weak link in the chain. A five year old would understand that much, even if he hadn’t heard of Sun Tzu.

  45. It appears to me that neither group in this debate is very honest or otherwise willing to accept that the other side’s position has validity. Which is of course why you are talking past each other.

  46. “At worst, war in Iraq may distract from attempts to track down terrorists.”

    Whatever you may think of going to war in Iraq, this particular oft-repeated argument is downright silly. The war against terrorism is being carried out primarily by intelligence and law-enforcement agencies. The war in Iraq would be carried out by the military. There’s some overlap to be sure, but for the most part they’re being handled by separate people in separate organizations. Sending troops to Baghdad doesn’t mean fewer computers doing message traffic analysis in Langley, unless they actually cut the CIA’s budget to give to the Pentagon, which to my knowledge they haven’t done.

  47. My, my, Nick’s rather mild hypothetical question certainly provoked a lot of squealing from the “anti-idiotarians,” didn’t it?

    The neo-libertarians like to dismiss anti-war libertarians as whim-worshippers with a purely emotion-based aversion to war, while passing themselves off as rationalist “fact-checkers.” Why, it’s those ANTI-WAR people who would never be persuaded by any imaginable evidence. But the squeals of outrage in response to Nick’s question belie this pose.

    By squealing like stuck pigs, the warbloggers and anti-idiotarians show themselves to be emotionally committed to a perpetual war against [insert enemy of the week here]. There is obviously no victory against any particular enemy, including a total victory against Al Qaeda, that would persuade them to turn down the fire-eating adolescent bravado. Since “terrorism” (as opposed to particular terrorist networks like Al Qaeda) is a TACTIC used by all major states (ever hear of the Contras or death squads, or Operation Phoenix?), there can NEVER be a final victory and end to the war. Oceania will always be at war against Eastasia, and the warbloggers will always be trying to outdo each other in adolescent bellicosity from behind the safety of their keyboards, and cheerleading the State and its wars.

    But hey, I’m just one of those old-fashioned “tinfoil hat” libertarians. You know, the ones who don’t worship the State.

  48. >>The WORLD is saying “fuck you”.

  49. >>IN A 1994 BRITISH television interview, the journalist Michael Ignatieff
    put a startling question to Eric Hobsbawm, the distinguished historian and
    long-time communist. ”Had the radiant tomorrow actually been created,”
    Ignatieff asked, referring to the Soviet Union and its bloody history,
    ”the loss of 15, 20 million people might have been justified?” Hobsbawm’s
    answer was perhaps even more startling. ”Yes,” responded the historian.
    He did not hesitate.

  50. Think other citizens of the world might hate us because we’re propping up the corrupt dictators that oppress them. How about for calling Saddam’s civil right’s abuses evil 20 years after the fact? Maybe using Saddam’s treatment of his people as a reason for war while at the same time buddying up with Saudi thugs? Nah, none of this stuff is worth getting cynical about.

  51. “we will awake ten years from now to see the middle east as a nuclear neighborhood”

    You should’ve woken up a couple decades ago. The Middle East is the most heavily militarized area on the planet, in large part to the arms sales by the US, USSR, France, China, and others. Given this, and the fact that Israel and Pakistan have had nukes for years, why would anyone think this hadn’t already happened ten years ago?

  52. Nick, I’ve heard that you hate America. Is it true?

  53. Gee Randy. No one here was advocating bombing Paris. But now that you mention it… 😉

  54. Oh, and a couple of other things, Jim N.:

    Nick wasn’t “arguing” that Al Qaeda and Iraq were connected. His *question* presupposed a pro-war movement that DOES treat them as connected, and speculated on how the decimation of Al Quaeda would affect the tenability of the pro-war position. To engage in such speculation certainly does not require sharing your opponent’s views.

    And BTW, I am a big fan of Buchanan’s. You’re quite right about the marginalization of the antiwar Right. Like Justin Raimondo, I’m sick of the way the mainstream antiwar movement alienates the middle Americans whose support they need, by endlessly harping on Mumia, New Age pacifist hokum, and other politically correct crap.

  55. When will you die?
    How big a piece do you want of this pie?

    How long will you live?
    What else do you want the universe to give?

    You hit him. He hits you.
    You hit him back. He hits you, too.

    Today you’re red around the ears.
    But as you look back in 1,000 years
    And see how the die was cast
    You realize that this, too, has passed.

  56. Come on, Kevin, Nick’s question was pretty lame. As has been pointed out, last week the argument was that we needed to focus on Al Qaeda — an argument which assumed that Iraq and Al Qaeda were completely separate. Now Nick argues that Al Qaeda is being completely squashed, so there’s no need to attack Iraq — an argument which assumes they are connected.

    As for who has reason on their side and who has emotion, I think both sides have been mostly full of it, although the pro-war side has been a little better. In fact, I can think of only one person on the anti-war side who has made a compelling, reasonable case and that is Pat Buchanan (do you think the anti-war movement will be asking him to speak at any of their rallies?). And cut the 1984 crap. Reading your posts about the war, I get the impression that you don’t actually oppose the war for any real reason; just that you do so because you think it proves that you are not a sucker for corporate-imperialist propaganda. If you think that self-defense against an immediate, real threat is the only legitimate reason to go to war, fine. There are others who support what are popularly called “liberal” wars. That doesn’t mean they are driven by emotion. It also doesn’t mean they worship the state, in spite of your ridiculous final sentence. One does not need to be an anarchist in order to be a libertarian. No one is going to be swayed by an accusation that they are not manly enough for real libertarianism.

  57. Oh, c’mon people, they’re making all this stuff up as they go anyway. The “terrorist mastermind” was killed several months ago, and it was duly reported by the world press at the time!


  58. I’ll be damned, Lassiter. Every time I think I’m getting too cynical something ELSE pops up.

    For all we know the current “crisis” has already played out and the spooks are having cocktails with Saddam and OBL on the French Riviera.

  59. Jim N:

    My main reason for opposing war in Iraq, is I fear it will cement in place a world order whose roots go back to WWII.

    The Bretton Woods system, the UN Security Council, etc., were set up with the US as enforcer, in order to guarantee a corporatist/mercantilist global economic system. As Samuel Huntington put it, the U.S. was “hegemonic power in a system of world order.”

    And the foundations of the system were laid by the planners at the State Department and CFR largely without regard to any hypothetical rivalry with the USSR. The planners of postwar order, as early as 1942, were discussing the possibility that the U.S. would replace the British Empire as guarantor of the global political-economic system. As the authors of NSC-68 put it, the basic structures of U.S. policy would have been largely the same even without the Cold War as an issue.

    And the maintenance system has involved a huge amount of U.S. aid to death squad regimes of landlords and generals. I know it was ostensibly to fight communism–but look how much parallelism there is between the gunboat diplomacy before WWII, that of the Cold War, and that after 1990. There is a massively documented historical record compiled by people like Bill Blum. This version of history is certainly disputable, but the “anti-idiotarians” by and large don’t dispute it–they simply characterize it as “anti-American.” Their view that the U.S. has largely “meant well,” despite “some mistakes,” is an article of faith, not a reasoned conclusion.

    But yes, you’re right–some of my position probably does reflect a visceral reaction to the kinds of libertarians who sneer at Rothbard while recycling the authoritarian propaganda of people like David Horowitz.

    My ridiculous final sentence is based on my impression of the neo-libertarian culture as I’ve come into contact with it. They will tip their hat to the danger of total war promoting the growth of the central state, and of their distrust of the U.S. government–but having thus paid lip service, they immediately proceed to dismiss as “anti-American” or “appeasers” those who are skeptical of the State’s version of international events.

  60. Al Qaeda is a bigger organization than most folks realize. Since Afghanistan’s war with Russia, mujahadeen called fanatics to training camps that were funded by the CIA. After Russia withdrew, the CIA left weapons and camps in the hands of the muajahadeen, and Osama bin Laden picked up the financing of the training. In 1994 and then 1996, OBL declared war on “cusaders and zionists”, and he financed the training of about 20,000 radical fighters and millions of madrassah students per year!

    So, that’s the thanks we got for helping send the Russians out of Afghanistan! 200,000 trained extremist islamic terrorist war fighters, and 10 million youthful islamic religious zealots.

    Considering that maybe 10,000 Al Qaeda graduates died in Afghanistan, and another 4,000 captured Al Qaeda loyalists are in jail, that leaves over 90% of Al Qaeda trainees on the loose!!

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