More Equal Than Others

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As much as it pains me to say this, particularly as George Malbrunot is someone I know, he and his colleague Christian Chesnot, the French hostages held in Iraq, have received somewhat more attention than others: 12 Nepalese hostages were reportedly killed recently—the worst massacre of hostages yet in Iraq—amid much indifference.

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  1. News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International

    AI Index: MDE 14/046/2004 31 August 2004

    Iraq: Amnesty International appalled by execution of 12 Nepalese

    Amnesty International is shocked by today’s news of the execution of 12 Nepalese men who had been taken hostage in Iraq. Amnesty International appeals for the immediate and unconditional release of all remaining hostages and urges all armed groups to cease such activities.

    “Nothing can justify such horrendous acts that disregard the most precious right — the right to life,” said Amnesty International. “These acts may have a negative impact for all Iraqis who are eager to live a normal life and see human rights respected.”

    An Iraqi militant group called the Army of Ansar al-Sunna published pictures on a website showing the presumed bodies of the hostages after their execution. The victims were employed by a Jordanian firm in Iraq. The group described the killings as “the sentence of God against the Nepalese who came from their country to fight the Muslims and to serve the Jews and the Christians … believing in Buddha as their God.” The group announced that it had kidnapped the 12 men earlier this month.

    “The brutality with which these and other hostages have been killed and the way their execution has been displayed show the executioners’ total disregard for human life,” said Amnesty International.

    Amnesty International appeals for the immediate and unconditional release of French journalists, Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, whose kidnappers threatened to kill them unless the French Government reverses a ban on headscarf for school girls in France.

    The organization also urges the Interim Government of Iraq to maintain security, law and order and bring the perpetrators to justice.

    View all AI documents on Iraq: http://amnesty-news.c.topica.com/maacBwpaa9BNlbfqVPBb/

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    text is not altered in any way and both the header crediting
    Amnesty International and this footer remain intact. Only the
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  2. From Al-Jazeera:
    “The abduction in Iraq earlier this week
    of two French journalists has outraged Arab and Muslim intellectuals, journalists and religious leaders as well as many ordinary citizens.”

    Any thoughts on why they seem more exercised over the kidnappings of French journalists than of Nepalese service workers? Solidarity among journos? Fondness for the French?

  3. I don’t know if I have stronger morals or just less stomach, Shannon, but I just can’t abide that.

    Less of something, joe, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t assume that you have “stronger morals”, either. Where I come from, tracking down killers and putting them underground is moral; rewarding them with cash (as the Filipinos did), diplomatic concessions (as the French are now working toward), or even publicity is most likely immoral. And oddly enough, I don’t find this particular moral calculus particularly difficult. How simplisme of me, non?

  4. The Nepalise can stand in line behind the Darfur dead for TV coverage…don’t you people realize Scott Peterson is on trial, Kobe’s in court, and Jane Pauley has a new TV show*!!! Where are your priorities people? πŸ™

    *(I bring this up because I saw the local station carrying Pauley’s vapid show plug it during several of the local news broadcast)

  5. Wait a minute…

    R C Dean knows French? French?

  6. I promise that if Shannon Love is executed by Islamic terrorists, I will shrug my shoulders and say, “Eh.”

  7. Just to clarify I am not in support of any type of government censorship. That would definitely be a case of the cure being worse than the disease. Even if I did not think so,` censorship is technologically impossible in the internet age. In regards to the media I am talking exclusively about the actions of private individuals and organizations.

    As individuals we can pressure the media to act responsibly and we can support the political leadership in refusing to negotiate or even comment on the hostage takers.

    The media has a much more difficult balance to strike. The central axiom to my argument is that mass media drives terrorism. No media coverage equals no terrorism. All students of the history of terrorism believe this to be true.

    Mass media must report the acts as it is their function but on the other hand the acts only occur if the media reports them. The media is not a disinterested observer in this matter but rather THE key factor.

    I argue that the media should report only the most sketchy details about the vast majority of terrorist acts. The should embargo the names, goals and demands of the organizations or individuals who carry out those acts. They should not disseminate any media that the terrorist themselves produce. I think the media should preface each report with notification explaining how they are reporting and why.

    Right now the media likes to pretend that they are above the fray, that the choices they make on reporting on terrorism do not influence the decisions the terrorist make. We need to call them account.

  8. And Shannon again fails to explain how this policy won’t discredit the media outlets that pursue it…

  9. diplomatic concessions (as the French are now working toward)

    Can you link to a URL which proves this? As far as I can tell, they are lobbying to have the men freed, but they have not made any “concessions.”

  10. Let’s say that the media starts giving less attention to the details of terrorist acts.

    Let’s also suppose that, for whatever reason (including the possibility of coincidence) public opinion moves away from supporting aggressive policies against terrorism.

    Could one accuse the media of down-playing the threat facing us? Could one say that the media is afraid to tell the truth about the barbarians who declared war on civilization?

    Since the media runs the risk of criticism either way (“don’t give them coverage!” vs. “don’t hide the truth!”) it seems to me that the media is just erring on the side of reporting the stories that sell the most papers or get the highest ratings.

    Of course, I have often suggested that profit-seeking entities are fair targets for criticism (NOT for regulation, of course), so that doesn’t exempt them from criticism. But before criticizing it’s worth asking how you might respond if they actually did everything that you ask for. Would you then accuse them of not paying enough attention to the problem? After all, Shannon, you have typically been in favor of very aggressive action against terrorism and rogue states. (I hope you don’t object to that characterization.)

  11. Shannon Love,

    As individuals we can pressure the media to act responsibly…

    Acting responsibly includes reporting terrorist acts.

    The media has a much more difficult balance to strike. The central axiom to my argument is that mass media drives terrorism. No media coverage equals no terrorism. All students of the history of terrorism believe this to be true.

    So if we just ignore the terrorists in the news reporting, they’ll go away? What sort of naive bullshit is this? Terrorists act as they do as much for their own domestic audience as do for their “target” audience.

    I argue that the media should report only the most sketchy details about the vast majority of terrorist acts.

    Ahh yes, ignorance is bliss. πŸ™‚ We needn’t understand our enemy; we should leave that up to the government and our betters. πŸ™‚

    I think the media should preface each report with notification explaining how they are reporting and why.

    This coming from someone bleating the other day about “bias” and “editorializing” in the media? *chuckle*

  12. thoreau,

    We saw what happened when the media downplayed and ignored terrorist acts and instead focused on sharks attacks in Florida and Gary Condit.

  13. One other question for Shannon-

    If the media hadn’t reported on 9/11 would it still have been necessary to invade Iraq?

  14. So very helpful to the discussion, RC. I wonder if you think your kid’s butchering would warrant some press coverage. How brave of you to, once again, volunteer other people’s well being and dignity for your crackpot schemes.

  15. thoreau,

    Well, as we know, detailed reporting of WWII really weakened the American war effort. πŸ™‚ Shannon rather stupidly forgets that the reporting of war can be quite helpful, when the government is actually not fucking things up. She, like many conservatives, appears to live in a perpetual post-Viet Nam era – blaming the media for how things turned out there instead of the people who actually made the decisions in that war.

  16. Fondness for the French?

    Love for French anti-semitism vs. disdain for Buddhists, probably. Remember, an Islamic “moderate” is one who supports a rule of thumb for disobedient women — i.e., only maybe 100 years removed from modern times rather than the region’s customary 400-500.

  17. …while joe himself frequently volunteers others to suffer for his idea of hugs and equality…

    Gary: What detailed reporting of WWII? At that point in history the state maintained essentially absolute control over media.

  18. thoreau,

    “Would you then accuse them of not paying enough attention to the problem?”

    Well no, because practically the type of reporting I have in mind would not ignore the attacks completely so much as render them anonymous. For example, I don’t have any problem showing the terrorist sawing someone’s head off as long as the media doesn’t provide any information about who the terrorist are or what they want.

    Ideally, if I could wave a magic wand and get the media to stop reporting on all terrorist incidents(which is not going to ever ever happen). I would be thrilled because as I keep writing, no media coverage equals no terrorism. Call it Schrodinger’s terrorism, it does not occur until you report it, don’t report it and it won’t occur.

    The media feedback loop drives all terrorism. The current question is what is the responsibility of those in loop? Do they passively let positive feedback amplify the loop or do they take conscious action to dampen it?

    “After all, Shannon, you have typically been in favor of very aggressive action against terrorism and rogue states. (I hope you don’t object to that characterization.”

    No that is a fair characterization. Interesting that you think I might be offended by that.

  19. No that is a fair characterization. Interesting that you think I might be offended by that.

    Shannon-

    I find that people of all types, on this forum and in other places, can get touchy about the way that their own stances are described, and prefer some other phrasing. Sometimes even a seemingly innocuous description can get a person irate, hence I was being careful. That’s all.

  20. And Shannon again ignores the well-established fact that terrorism also occurs in totalitarian or authoritarian countries where local media coverage of such attacks is either non-existent or is portrayed only in an officially-approved manner…

  21. I do agree with Shannon. The kidnappers are after free publicity, because they know full well nary a country save some cowardly Flips will actually capitulate. Just like Eminem, Johnny Knoxville and co., they’re after the shock value to the viewer, and the best thing the media can do is say, well, fuck you, I can put ads in the space I’m wasting on your mindless drivel.

    It is unfortunate however that kidnappings generate more hits than an ad. We should all just adopt a general apathy towards it; it’s not like some hooded Iraqi Army For The Jockstrap Of God is going to yank you off the 1-9. Football season is coming.

  22. The French stand for something? Head scarfs of all things. This must be a story from the Twilight Zone.

  23. Shannon Love is asking a tiger (media) to change its stripes.
    What she says is true, but it ain’t gonna happen.

  24. Gary Gunnels,

    Thank you for making my point for me. It is very true that during WWII the media was thought of as integral to the war effort. Everybody from reporters, editors and censors to the consumers themselves viewed media as weapon. The was a near universal understanding that everybody had moral obligation not to report things that might be of benefit to the enemy.

    If we could get only a fraction of that attitude directed towards terrorism I would be ever so pleased.

  25. Pace Shannon/rst – we could also close our eyes and try wishing really hard for all the terrorists to go away. Our media’s coverage of Al Qaeda/Islamic terrorism was pretty scanty prior to 9/11. Did that startegy produce the negative “feedback loop” that Shannon predicts will now magically happen if the media shut up ? The strategy being basically – just show the beheadings and leave the rest of it to the experts becuase the public can’t be trusted with too much information.

    “The media feedback loop drives all terrorism”
    Wow. A brand new “root cause”.

  26. From Al-Jazeera:
    “The abduction in Iraq earlier this week
    of two French journalists has outraged Arab and Muslim intellectuals, journalists and religious leaders as well as many ordinary citizens.”

    Any thoughts on why they seem more exercised over the kidnappings of French journalists than of Nepalese service workers? Solidarity among journos? Fondness for the French?

    Qatar’s Al-Raya newspaper seems to feel the latter: “France deserves to be treated better, because it is a European state in most solidarity with the Palestinian and Iraqi issues.”
    http://www.expatica.com/source/site_article.asp?subchannel_id=58&story_id=11278

    And according to the BBC:
    Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has added his voice to those of the many Islamic leaders calling for the journalists’ release.

    Describing Mr Chirac as “a good friend of the Palestinian people”, he said the “journalists were helping the Iraqi and the Palestinian cause”.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3609412.stm

    The Washington Post reports:
    An Islamist group which has previously threatened to attack countries with troops in Iraq or those helping U.S.-led forces there, joined international pleas to release the reporters.

    “We ask you in the name of Islam to release the French hostages in appreciation to France’s stand on the war in Iraq and in response to calls by millions of French Muslims,” the Islamic Tawhid Group said in an Internet statement.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A49319-2004Aug31_2.html

  27. Roger, the enemy of my friend’s enemy’s enemy…

    Anyway, I always thought Shannon was an Irish dude.

  28. This is a plea for any libertarians in the crowd to consider joining Amnesty International.

    We need to know about evil – the evil others are doing, the evil our governments are doing in our name.

    AI informs us of this evil and, sometimes, gives us a way of fighting it.

    I am convinced that the most effective way of fighting this evil – the only way to secure rights – is through education.

    I believe that the kidnapping and murder of these Nepali people is a direct attack on my rights.

    The relatively recent construct of universal fundamental individual rights is fragile. Sparta can still win.

  29. Our media’s coverage of Al Qaeda/Islamic terrorism was pretty scanty prior to 9/11. Did that startegy produce the negative “feedback loop” that Shannon predicts will now magically happen if the media shut up ?

    You’re equating al Qaeda and the Iraqi kidnappers. They’re not even of the same cloth.

    the public can’t be trusted with too much information.

    It’s not about trusting you with information. What are you going to do with the information that some French journalists got picked up by Iraqi kidnappers? Anything more than what you’d do with information that some 14-year old kid from Utah got kidnapped by a homeless man? Would you have gone to look for the French journalists? Would you press the French to drop their silly rules about headscarves?

    Apathy is our best weapon against Wahhabism. Go ahead, pick us off a few thousand at a time every couple of years. You’ll wipe us out by oh, say, 9000 A.D.

  30. Well, apathy and a few MOABs.

  31. Apathy is our best weapon against Wahhabism. Go ahead, pick us off a few thousand at a time every couple of years. You’ll wipe us out by oh, say, 9000 A.D.

    That’s certainly not my attitude. And, to be honest, it seems surprising in light of your other posts on the subject of Islamic terrorism.

  32. By all means, report the kidnappings and beheadings. But please also be there to show the deskinning and the reskinning in hogflesh of the culprits.

  33. I should have said hogSKIN.

  34. “Go ahead, pick us off a few thousand at a time every couple of years. You’ll wipe us out by oh, say, 9000 A.D.”

    Good to see someone keeping the Islamist threat in perspective by tempering grand Islamist intentions with their actual capabilities, rst. They can kill a few thousand or maybe destroy a city or two if they get some nukes (granted, a horrific possibility) but they cannot destroy the United States, enslave or forcibly convert us to Islam en masse.

    Have to disagree on the media censorship though. It is not possible in the information age and gives greater scope to wild rumor that will more likely inflate the capabilities and activities of the terrorists.

    Speaking of capabilities, the only entity left on the planet capable of enslaving us or others is the United States government. Since “we the people” have the responsibility to keep it in check and the media gives us the info for the job I’d rather keep the information flowing and choose what I am apathetic about.

    This is especially important in foreign affairs since the government is less accountable for what it does outside the U.S. than inside. U.S. citizens screwed by the government can at least threaten with votes. Foreigners cannot and rely on our informed judgment to keep our government on the right track. The censorship you?re talking about gives the government yet another potential hiding place.

  35. Gary Gunnels, be nicer… “Stupidly” is not an adverb that’s good to use. Bearing in mind how GRUMPY you got over a dropped “r” from your name, so let’s avoid the adjective “stupid” or “stupidly” for one another, or be prepared to be “Gay Gunnels’ in any further postings. You see if you want nice to YOU you have to give it to others.
    Shannon, I’m not sure that your theory on the Media as “root cause” is a good one. In 1968 yes, with only three networks and 2 hours or so of news a day from them. Now with the 24-hour news cycle and a plethora of news outlets trying to fill their schedule, terrorism and kidnappings really are going to get covered. It’s the nature of the beast. And let’s not lump it all on the news media. YOU AND I watch it, IF we don’t buy the Globe, the paparazzi go away. Notice the Globe keeps selling and so the paparazzi remain. So too with terrorism, don’t watch NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, or Fox if they excessively cover terrorism. They MIGHT change, but with so much programming to be filled they might NOT.
    Finally, someone mentioned “Ignoring” the terrorists. That won’t work, to quote Gandalf, “You Hobbits can fence yourselves IN, but you can’t fence the wide world out.” I’m sure a number of folks thought ignoring the Nazi’s a good plan, but evil when left unconfronted will only grow.
    Lastly, Raymond, exactly what will you DO about your violated rights? Who are you going to educate and how will our affirmation of the Bill of Rights affect terrorists in Iraq? I’ve seen some of your ideas concerning dealing with the world… so you point out how individual rights, and repealing the PATRIOT Act will phase Zarqawi (sp.) et. al. in Iraq?
    Bottom-line: Shannon’s idea of hunting them down is the best idea so far. Ignoring them won’t make them any less evil, and repealing the PATRIOT Act is not going to set free anyone or stop anyone with a bomb, here or in Iraq.

  36. I know what you mean about Shannon’s root cause theory. When a town resisted the Mongols’ advance they would slaughter almost every living thing inside but leave a few survivors to tell the tale so the towns ahead would more likely surrender without a fight.

    As horrific as reality was I bet it paled in comparison to the accounts of the wild-eyed survivors. And who knows? If CNN and Fox had been there to cover it maybe Christian Europe and Islamic Middle East would have been better motivated and prepared to stop them. πŸ™‚

  37. from The Daily Times (of Pakistan)

    GAZA: The Palestinian Islamic militant group, Hamas, called on Tuesday for the release of two French journalists held hostage in Iraq, saying it could add to the isolation of Israel and the United States.

    Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for Hamas in the Gaza Strip, said that France has adopted ?a positive stand,? over Iraq because it opposed the US-led war to topple Saddam Hussein.

    Paris has also shown an ?understanding position? toward the Palestinian cause, he said.

    ?Releasing the two French journalists would increase the isolation of hostile American and Israeli attitudes toward the Arab and Muslim nations, and would boost French support for our aspirations,? Abu Zuhri added.

    http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_1-9-2004_pg4_1

  38. “You’re equating al Qaeda and the Iraqi kidnappers. They’re not even of the same cloth.”

    I certainly didn’t equate them. But in any case, why would publicity work for one group but not the other ? The magic feedback loop strenghthens only Iraqi kidnappers ?

    And dude, not of the same cloth ? Are you certain you want to deviate from talking points πŸ˜‰

    “It’s not about trusting you with information. What are you going to do with the information that some French journalists got picked up by Iraqi kidnappers? Anything more than what you’d do with information that some 14-year old kid from Utah got kidnapped by a homeless man?”

    Well, yes. In both cases there are a number of things an informed populace might do that an uninformed one wouldn’t be able to. In the latter instance, an informed citizenry might organise search parties, print & distribute the 14 years olds photograph, co-operate with the police, send information to “America’s Most Wanted”, arm themselves etc, etc, etc.
    Likewise with the former. That doesn’t mean you immediately enlist in the French Foreign Legion. But it does allow a voter to evaluate & petition the elected officials (ie experts) who are directly in line to deal with the problem. Eg. – I am going to be very, very sceptical of any candidate who responds to this kind of thing by distributing copies of “Orientalism”, because, “like, we all killed Kennedy, each and every one of us” etc.

  39. In ready this thread it is quite clear to many that many here have never bothered to study the history and methods of 20th Century terrorism in any detail.

    The idea that terrorism is primarily the killing of random members of the population for the purpose of creating widely reported media events is not my invention. It is THE standard theory of terrorism that is advanced by every researcher I am aware off. It is basic Study of Terrorism 101 level stuff and the fact that many of you believe it to be even a debatable proposition speaks to high a level of willful ignorance.

    We know from first hand reports of individuals who planned the 1970’s era plane highjackings that they were designed to for maximum coverage and that the Achille Lauro ship highjacking was aborted early because the media had no direct access to the ship. I could offer many other examples.

    Whether any kind of alteration in the current standards by which the media reports terrorism is either practical or desirable is a legitimate forum for debate. That terrorism is driven by media attention is not. Period.

  40. Yeah, yeah, yeah … Spelling “period” out instead of using the dot always works.

    Not a debatable proposition ? Aren’t we debating it right now ? Sounds more like you don’t like it when your first principles are challenged. Well, get used to it, chum. The media minders here are above the fray.
    Meanwhile, let’s help you sort out the muddled thoughts.
    1. The 70’s highjackers surely used the media tactically, as do current generation of same. But for the most part they were actuated by bullshit leftist/islamist ideologies ie to say they were driven by visions of a “better world”, not by better press coverage. This should be obvious to anyone who has studied “the history and methods 20th Century terrorism”. Not very clever to confuse tactics with inspiration.
    2. Said press coverage didn’t neccessarily redound to their benefit, did it ? If anything, it caused people to despise the practitioners of such tactics. As a result, the leftist variety of terrorist is mostly extinct or has morphed, in some cases, into islamists.

  41. Michael Young,

    Some blogs almost state that the French reporters deserve to die. But yes, the murder of these Nepalese is despicable and barbarous.

  42. After all, which is more important for US people to know:
    1. Details of a speech by John McCain?
    2. 12 hostages killed in George Bush’s Iraq?

  43. Hey, I was just watching “Sledge Hammer!” on DVD tonight and discovered something Shannon and Sledge have in common:

    “You know, that’s what I hate about the newspapers in this country. They find out things and then they write about them.”
    –Sledge Hammer, Season 1, Episode: “Over My Dead Bodyguard”

  44. Michael Young,

    The Nepalese were murdered (interesting that you chose the more neutral “killed”) in order to generate news stories. I am sure that their murders succeeded in getting lots of news coverage in Nepal.

    Paying attention to hostage takers is absolutely the worse thing to do. They take hostages and murder them exclusively for the publicity that it brings them. Rewarding them for killing just causes more killing.

  45. Shannon Love,

    Strangely enough the publicity over the kidnappings of the French reporters has glavanized French opinion over the hijab; the kidnappers got exactly the opposite result than what they desired.

  46. If the French give in to the jihadis, I will have a lower opinion of them than I already have.

  47. Shannon, I can understand what you’re saying, but what are we supposed to do? Shrug our shoulders and say, “Eh?”

  48. joe,

    “what are we supposed to do? Shrug our shoulders and say, Eh”

    Publicly yes, but covertly we should try to track down the hostage takers and kill or capture them.

    We never let criminals escape by taking hostages neither do we pay kidnappers ransom demands without trying to use it as bait. We do so because while we could probably save the lives a particular individual in a particular case we know that making it a practice will place more people in danger in the future.

    We need to adopt the same practices in regard political hostages. In addition, we need to try to frustrate their attempts to acquire publicity by their actions as that is in fact their major reward.

  49. I don’t know if I have stronger morals or just less stomach, Shannon, but I just can’t abide that.

    Also, you seem to assume that publicizing these crimes, and the horror of them, is a clear-cut victory for the terrorists. I disagree – look at France this week.

  50. Shannon Love,

    Its alright to express outrage and shock at such dastardly crimes.

    We never let criminals escape by taking hostages neither do we pay kidnappers ransom demands without trying to use it as bait. We do so because while we could probably save the lives a particular individual in a particular case we know that making it a practice will place more people in danger in the future.

    This has literally nothing to do with your previous assertion.

    In addition, we need to try to frustrate their attempts to acquire publicity by their actions as that is in fact their major reward.

    Hmm, for some reason I smell government mandated censorship in this crackpot line.

    To be frank, publicity often works AGAINST the interests of the terrorists, because it can indicate a target and piss off the population most effected. Sorry, but your plea for stoicism is a crock of shit.

  51. Hmm, for some reason I smell government mandated censorship in this crackpot line.

    OK, I’m going to defend Shannon here. Although I disagree with her over whether or not these things SHOULD be publicized, she has not said anything about government censorship. People on this forum routinely say “Well, I think the media should pay more attention to this and more attention to that”, with “this” and “that” depending on the matter at hand and the poster’s preferences. Suggesting that a certain voluntary action would be a good thing in no way implies a call for coercion or censorship.

    As an analogy, what if a poster said “I think the press should pay less attention to the Michael Jackson trial”? Would that be a call for censorship or simply an opinion on what constitutes good journalism.

  52. In defense of Shannon, he/she may mean government when he/she says “we.”
    Is this the wrong place to be thinking that way or what! Especially to the anarchist contingent.

  53. “. . . the kidnappers got exactly the opposite result than what they desired.”

    Well, if you go by their public statements, that’s true. What they ask for and what they desire are likely very different.

  54. thoreau,

    Are you a woman? Because according to anon I only disagree with women. πŸ™‚

    Suggesting that a certain voluntary action would be a good thing in no way implies a call for coercion or censorship.

    Well, she is rather ambiguous in her meaning and she has openly defended campaign finance laws in the past, therefore, its not too far of a stretch to “smell” government censorship here (after all, she supports censorship in political speech).

    Furthermore, that’s hardly the only criticism of her statements to be found in the above posts.

  55. Warning: Hyperbole Ahead!

    I think all foreigners in Iraq should wear bomb belts. I don’t think too many kidnappings would occur if the kidnappers learned that their targets were likely to explode upon a successful kidnapping.

    Of course, that would require the victim to resign him/herself to the inevitability of death after kidnapping, and that the best course of action would be to take a few with you as an honor guard.

    On a less extreme note, I can’t figure out why there’s so little evidence that these people struggle prior to their murders. I recall that at least one of the early kidnapping/murder victims in Iraq fought bravely against his captors prior to his beheading, but the very fact that you see these people lined up neatly indicates that they were either heavily drugged or simply acquiesced to their own deaths.

    On an even less extreme note, were any of these people carrying defensive weapons of any kind? You can bet I wouldn’t be walking around Iraq without at least a pistol (preferably alongside a submachinegun). It’s a shame that for whatever reasons, these people were without an effective defense when it counted most.

  56. Don,

    So what is it that they desire? Can you read their minds and tell us please?

  57. And, to be honest, it seems surprising in light of your other posts on the subject of Islamic terrorism.

    Should have been clearer: regular people, in the role of viewers/media consumers. What else are we gonna do?

    The magic feedback loop strenghthens only Iraqi kidnappers ?

    Yes, by a repetition a.Q. does not currently enjoy. You might also say “emboldens” rather than “strengthens”.

    But it does allow a voter to evaluate & petition the elected officials (ie experts) who are directly in line to deal with the problem.

    Outside the Philipines, said officials’ joint position is known before the user has clicked on the link. The kidnappers pass off tapes to Islamic media, a low-tech enough approach to make a rescue rather difficult, and at a time when the overall American desire is to slowly reduce the American presence. How would you go about finding them? Take the hoods off, hang up the guns, and they look like any other Iraqi walking down the street.

    If anything, it caused people to despise the practitioners of such tactics.

    That’s almost as funny as a baby dressed as a suicide bomber. Who’s despising it? The moderates in Jersey? The Islamic academic left in Indonesia? Kidnappers and suicide bombers are the superheros of Middle Eastern popular culture. I’ll bet Palestinian widows still get the Martyrdom Payout. They don’t have that same pesky core value as we on the sanctity of (non-Muslim) human life. A vengeful tribal god and oppressive arid climates can do that to your culture. Need land? Well, God told me to kill him and take his stuff. Assume the position, Jew.

  58. what will you DO about your violated rights?

    Let me get back to you on that. I’ve got to go educate people in less than two hours, so I don’t really have the time to do your question justice at this moment. Later.

    …repealing the PATRIOT Act is not going to set free anyone or stop anyone with a bomb, here or in Iraq.

    I must have been unclear in earlier posts. Here’s another attempt at expressing what I mean:

    A group of people flew planes into some buildings, killing about 3000 people from many different countries.

    This act was symbolic. Perhaps they megalomaniacally thought they could disrupt business in the world, but the principal goal had to be symbolism.

    Any terrorist act is a message. This one said:

    Individual human life is unimportant.

    Individual human rights are unimportant.

    There is a greater good – the good of the Muslim Nation (the Community).

    The end justifies the means.

    The reaction of the US government was in effect to send a message back. The PATRIOT Act, two sloppy wars, Guantanamo, abu Ghraib, torture… This message said:

    Individual human life is unimportant.

    Individual human rights are unimportant.

    There is a greater good – the good of the American Nation (the Community).

    The end justifies the means.

    In effect, what the US government did was agree with the terrorists. We are seeing a dialogue of the Shepherd and the Shepherdess. With the Shepherdess succumbing to the charms of the Shepherd.

    “It is fitting indeed that one man should die for the People.”

    The Communitarian Creed.

    The second sloppy war has been particularly useful from a Muslim-Communitarian point of view, because it has given the terrorists (the Muslim ones, that is) another world stage for even more messages. And what’s even better for them, the messengers get to pretend they’re insurgents. For everybody loves la r?sistance.

    Each individual is responsible for his own acts. The terrorists (and not all Iraqi insugents are terrorists) are responsible for theirs. But the actions of your agents the US government made their choices possible. Made them almost inevitable.

    One last thing (I’m in a rush):

    …repealing the PATRIOT Act is not going to set free anyone or stop anyone with a bomb, here or in Iraq.

    Neither is killing 20,000 Iraqis, sacrificing 1000 American kids, executing defenseless human beings.

    So even if the end did justify the means, your agents are screwing things up royally.

  59. Shannon,

    Kidding aside, I understand what you are talking about and, based on my own limited but informed observation, that theory was largely considered dated after 9/11 by at least a few terrorism experts. Not that 9/11 was a real turning point. It is just that people started paying closer attention.

    Whether or not media coverage is a necessary element for a successful terrorist operation depends on the motivation and objective. If the objective is to get some kind of message out, then media coverage is important.

    If the objective is to provoke the other side into doing something to generate support for your organization within your own country, people, tribe or whatever then media coverage is not only unnessary but a potential liability.

    To use the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an example, Palestinian terrorist activities in the 60’s and 70’s were focused on getting a message out; the Israeli government says Palestinians don’t exist, we say we do.

    This is very different than many of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad activities in 2001 and 2002. Leaders in these groups openly told Western reporters that the objective was to provoke a violent response from the Israeli government.

    They benefitted because the Israeli response typically weakened the Palestinian Authority/PLO and radicalized the Palestinian population making it easier for Hamas and IJ to garner more popular support.

    In that circumstance, media coverage is neutral to negative. An Israeli response to a bus bombing that kills Palestinian civilians is adequate. A response that looks like unprovoked aggression because the bus bombing was not reported is even better.

    It is impossible to say for sure, but I believe that al-Quaeda falls mostly into the second category.

    BTW, you’re not the only one who has taken a class. I can say from personal experience that the threat to the U.S. and all the intelligence weaknesses various commissions ‘discovered’ were as real in the mid 80’s as they are today. It’s a shame that it took 9/11 for most Americans to notice and demand action.

  60. Raymond,

    Well stated!

    This is directly related to my comments above about al-Quaeda having provocation objectives vs. communication objectives.

    OSBL and his like can derive some satisfaction from bring down a couple buildings and maybe even nuking a city. To realize the big dream, he needs more warm bodies and money from the world’s Muslim population that he cannot secure on his own. He needs the U.S. to react in way that gives weight to the proposition he presents Muslims in general; you can waffle and be destroyed by a Western civilization that rejects you because you’re Muslim or follow me to deliverance.

    I thought Dubya and Co. understood this based on the talk right after 9/11. The Iraq War rhetoric proved otherwise.

  61. Fyodor:

    “Reminds me of how sometimes when I lock the doors to my house I think about how if someone really wanted to break in, there’s likely nothing I can do to stop it. All I can do is make it more difficult so that maybe he’ll skip my house and find some easier target. ”

    I’m going to wax cowboy here. Your vision of the door lock is not the same as mine. The purpose of the door lock is to force an intruder to make noise. The noise serves as a deterrent when I am not home, and it serves to give me sufficient warning to get to a 12 ga. when I am home. He who has been warned by the lock and comes in anyway deserves all the buckshot he gets.

    gaius:

    “and i think it leads us often (and certainly, imo, in the case of terrorism) to try “solutions” that are not solutions so much as aggravations of the problem, instead of the more limited and prudent measures we could be taking.”

    It depends on what your level of tolerance is. I am shocked at the local level of tolerance for a nuclear weapon being detonated in the US. The whole game changes at that point as far as I am concerned. I have to say, if Manhattan goes up in a ball of flame, I am very comfortable with the notion of utterly destroying every city in the middle east and nuking NK if that is what it takes to be sure. Foreign policy at that point means ensuring that every single person who says he wants to blow us up is living in the stone age if he is living at all. I will feel bad about getting his family and friends and parents, but I will not live under a nuclear threat that is unresponsive to deterrence, waiting to be incinerated.

    Terrorists enjoy great tactical advantages that we largely grant them. They don’t care who they kill, we feel the need to investigate and make specific target designations. The glove have never come off before, but a nuclear weapon in the US changes all that. Every tool is available and should be employed at that point.

  62. Terrorists enjoy great tactical advantages that we largely grant them. They don’t care who they kill, we feel the need to investigate and make specific target designations.

    And that, Jason, is what separates us from them. A victory that requires incinerating hundreds of millions, if not billions, of innocent people would be a hollow one indeed — we would have become terrorists par excellence.

  63. Jason Ligon,

    Not sure what the point of your response to me is other than to dramatize your readiness to confront criminals, which is all fine and good, though it hardly contradicts what I said. Different levels of preparedness yield different probabilities of security (as well as different levels of costs and risks), but absolute security is still always an illusion.

    As for “if Manhattan goes up in a ball of flame, I am very comfortable with the notion of utterly destroying every city in the middle east and nuking NK if that is what it takes to be sure,” would even that assure us that we’ve ridded the world of all current and future evil-doers? I don’t think so.

  64. Thinking more about Jason’s post. Jason, is there no limit to how many innocent people you would have killed in the name of hopefully saving your own hide and the hides of those you care about? Not sure how I’d answer that myself, but I think it’s worth thinking of the issue in those terms.

  65. I have to say, if Manhattan goes up in a ball of flame, I am very comfortable with the notion of utterly destroying every city in the middle east and nuking NK if that is what it takes to be sure.

    mr ligon, are you sure you will not reconsider that?

    for my part, post-event, i’d like to see what i’d have liked to ahve seen post-9/11: some really excellent police work to catch the criminals and kill them particularly. what i would not like to see is what i’ve seen: the mass killing of the unrelated and the innocent in a shotgun-spray of retribution and score-settling that may or may not kill the guilty.

    americans have a weakness (and it is weakness) for demanding revenge at ten times scale — largely out of deep personal and social insecurity, imo. insecurity and fear may be a logical response to a decaying social structure in the states — but it can make for truly horrifying policy.

  66. And that, Jason, is what separates us from them.

    Apparently not.

    Apparently, very little does.

    And since the US government has taken for itself the “right to strike pre-emptively”, nothing does.

  67. What I’m getting at is criticism of what strikes me as a blase, ‘Oh, well. Nuclear terrorism is something we have to live with’ vibe.

    I am aware of the ethical implications of crossing the line of harming innocent people in a retaliatory act. I am also aware of the tactical implications of holding to that principle. Namely, there is absolutely no defence against terrorists. All you have to do is hide behind an old lady and deliver nuclear bomb after nuclear bomb. If you have a village or a country full of people hiding you, all the better.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying nuke everyone on principle. I am saying that the gloves are off. Apply minimum necessary force that allows you to persue all avenues you need to. Iran, stop production NOW. No? Boom. Hey, Kim, you will want to stop production NOW. Hey, Pakistan, we believe that people connected to bombing the US are hiding in your country. We are coming in after them whether you like it or not.

    There is a goofy level of confidence in police work in comments like gaius’. How many domestic crimes are solved? Now take the crime scene and throw in into the Sun and tell me how many crimes are solved with the location in that condition. It is not a police problem. It is a problem that some cleric thinks he can order it and still draw breath.

    fyodor asks if there is a limit for me on the number of innocents that I would kill in defence of self and loved ones. I have thought about that in this context quite a bit. Looking inward, I find that defending myself only seems different than defending my family. In the old ‘red button’ ethics delimma, I have the choice of pushing the red button and causing the death of someone I don’t know or not pushing it and causing my own death. That is very tough. If we change the game so it isn’t my life on the line, but that of my wife, the button gets pushed easily. I can’t explain it, but I believe that is what would happen. In the case in question I feel that what is at stake isn’t just my life and the lives of loved ones. It is bits of civilization, centuries of advance, and a culture of freedom being destroyed bomb by bomb at the hands of barbaric psychopaths. I can’t tolerate it. That is the most honest answer I can give you.

    An answering question is: I wonder how many bombs would have to explode in the US with no arrests before your ethical limit would fall. My limit appears to be one.

  68. In response to the murder of the Nepali people in Iraq, there have been attacks on the great mosque, airline companies, and placement bureaux in Kathmandu.

    Communal violence is very rare in Nepal.

    If Indians are kidnapped and killed, expect massacres of Muslims in India, where communal violence seems – despite the reverence in which Gandhi is held – to be a national pastime.

    The murdered Nepalis were cooks and laundry workers, according to the BBC. They weren’t trying to hurt anybody. They just wanted to feed their kids.

  69. Shannon Love,

    The was a near universal understanding that everybody had moral obligation not to report things that might be of benefit to the enemy.

    Honey, you really ought to do some research into that period and quit with the myth-making.

  70. The murder of the Nepalis was on the front page of the Boston Globe this morning.

  71. joe,

    The evil media!!! How dare they report such!!! It weakens the war effort!!! πŸ™‚

  72. Kidnappers and suicide bombers are the superheros of Middle Eastern popular culture.

    But that place of honor is about to be assumed by Giant Fucking American-Killing Spiders.

  73. Speaking of things French, buy this CD:

    http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/living/9380278.htm?1c

    You might remember one of their songs from the Lost in Translation soundtrack.

  74. But that place of honor is about to be assumed by Giant Fucking American-Killing Spiders.

    Seriously I thought that was a rip from the Onion. Sounds like somebody dropped acid and rented Eight-Legged Freaks.

    Everybody click on that link…*this* is the mentality of our enemny. Giant spiders. Big as chairs.

  75. rst,

    How is this any different from Americans claiming that “God is on our side,” alien abductions, that feng shui is a “science,” or that the Earth is a mere 6,000 years old? πŸ™‚

  76. Patrick D,

    “that theory was largely considered dated after 9/11 by at least a few terrorism experts.”

    Islamist terrorism is different from Cold War terrorism to be sure. Up unti the late 80’s terrorism was almost purely political theater for mass media consumption. It’s primary audience being the peoples of Western democracies.

    Islamist terrorism differs largely in that it has two audiences: the external non-muslims audience and the internal muslim audience. The internal audience is the most important and the switch to mass-causality attacks is driven by the need to gain status in eyes of potential supporters in the Islamic world. 9/11 was primarily intended to enhance Al-Quada’s standing in the muslim world not to have any particular effect on the West.

    A free media is not a root cause of terrorism but it is a necessary cofactor. This is especially true when the terrorist organization is new, small and limited to relatively minor attacks. All terrorist organization start out with small attacks or incidents that can be carried out with a handful of individuals and a few hundreds or thousands of dollars. The attention given to these initial attacks brings recruits, money and political support which lets them carry out larger attacks. It’s a feedback loop.

    The current fad for taking hostages certainly falls in this category. In theory, Teenagers with access to a pistol and video camera whose parents were gone for the weekend could have carried out the kidnappings. They are very small scale operations. Only the media attention makes them significant to people not immediately involved.

    Whether media attention, especially Western media attention, drives large scale attacks is a matter for debate but it is clear that the quest for the attention of media and political leaders does drive these hostage takings. Anything that rewards the terrorist for their actions increases the likelihood that they will use the same tactic in the future. Just as paying ransoms and letting the kidnapper get away increases kidnappings, rewarding hostage takers with attention, money or policy changes causes more hostage taking. By making a current hostage more prominent it even places current hostages in greater danger.

    To save the lives of current hostages, to help prevent future hostage takings and to slow the growth of new terrorist organizations it is vital to find a way to stop rewarding the terrorist. Since media attention is one thing they want we should try to find ways to deny it to them.

  77. Time to call Rivendell Arms* and place a purchase order for Sword (1) etched with legend: “Maegnas aen estar nin dagnir in yngyl im”. Units: 300,000

    Should only set us back about $35 million, plus cost overruns and quick delivery bonuses.

    As for the Shannon/Gary disagreement about how the media treat terrorists, I’ve lost whatever faith in collective attempts to manage the news I may once have had. Warez doodz ftp’ing BitTorrent versions of al Jazeera satellite feeds from node to node on the web would be worse than the broadcast networks and daily newspapers reporting on the latest atrocities. I used to be enamored of the idea, from an old Dean Ing story+, of a coordinated effort to subject terroristas and their causes to ridicule, but any cartel is destroyed by sufficient defection, and I can’t believe the cooperation needed for such an effort would survive the temptation to be first with the story.

    Kevin

    * or their subcontractor:
    http://www.cbswords.com/product_info.php/cPath/21/products_id/29

    +Soft Targets as a novel, “Very Proper Charlies” as a short story.

  78. “Go ahead, pick us off a few thousand at a time every couple of years. You’ll wipe us out by oh, say, 9000 A.D.”

    Good to see someone keeping the Islamist threat in perspective by tempering grand Islamist intentions with their actual capabilities, rst. They can kill a few thousand or maybe destroy a city or two if they get some nukes (granted, a horrific possibility) but they cannot destroy the United States, enslave or forcibly convert us to Islam en masse.

    it should be mentioned that this engine of reason also works when the perspectives are reversed.

  79. How is this any different from Americans claiming that “God is on our side,” alien abductions, that feng shui is a “science,” or that the Earth is a mere 6,000 years old? πŸ™‚

    None of these things ring true for me, so I’m not sure. The cleric’s spider fantasy is on par with alien abductions; the other three are abstractions with no concrete manifestation anyway. Certainly, every culture has such fantasies, but the cleric is actually saying that we are incurring casualties from giant spiders, and that the military is tossing bagged U.S. casualties into a lake by the hundreds. Somebody is channeling Baghdad Bob.

  80. Islamist terrorism is different from Cold War terrorism to be sure. Up unti the late 80’s terrorism was almost purely political theater for mass media consumption. It’s primary audience being the peoples of Western democracies.

    shannon, i completely agree — i don’t think the birth of modern terrorism with michael collins just accidentally dates to the period when western republics morphed into plebiscitarian democracies.

    but it should also be said that terrorism can have multiple aims. striking fear into voting masses is one aim. functioning as effective and lethal guerrilla warfare is another. bolstering political support and morale for the organization is another. simply calling attention to issues that are perceived not to be getting a fair hearing by the imperial government due to a lack of representation is yet another.

    in short, my point is (as you likely know) terrorism is more complex that just a detrimental media feedback loop. it can even be useful for us — indeed, had the british parliament paid more careful attention to the boston tea party, could they not have possibly retained the colonies? i don’t know, of course, but i find the willful ignorance of terrorist/insurgent grievances out of disgust at their methods to be counterproductive — as most denials of information are — and possibly very expensive and frustrating as well.

  81. rst,

    Certainly, every culture has such fantasies…

    As I recall, a NSF survey found that 60% of the US population believes that at least some individuals have ESP. 75% described magnetic therapy as based on science. Trust me, Iraqis are no more prone to wacky bullshit than Americans are (or Europeans, etc.).

  82. rst,

    Certainly, every culture has such fantasies…

    As I recall, a NSF survey found that 60% of the US population believes that at least some individuals have ESP. 75% described magnetic therapy as based on science. Trust me, Iraqis are no more prone to wacky bullshit than Americans are (or Europeans, etc.).

  83. a NSF survey found that 60% of the US population believes that at least some individuals have ESP. 75% described magnetic therapy as based on science.

    makes disenfranchising the masses seem like potentially a pretty good move, doesn’t it? πŸ™‚

    i’ve always wondered how rule by mob got to be such a holy thing in the west. isn’t it plain that the masses most frequently labor under delusions?

  84. Gaius Marius,

    Sorry. I assume you are referencing my comment about Islamist goals vs. capabilities. It seems that the logic can be rearranged a couple different ways. What do you come up with when the perspectives are reversed?

  85. gaius marius,

    Terrorism dates back thousands of years; long before the era of the modern media.

    Shannon Love,

    Up unti the late 80’s terrorism was almost purely political theater for mass media consumption.

    Bullshit, the terrorist acts committed by the KKK, etc., were not “purely political theatre.”

  86. gaius marius,

    Well, think about how many Americans believe in something as irrational as a non-corporeal entity that “rules” their lives. πŸ™‚

  87. Terrorism dates back thousands of years; long before the era of the modern media.

    certainly, gg, but the modern incarnation is a sort of refinement designed for mass media and empowered populations capable of mass panic. i think that helps to explain its increased popularity in the 20th c. to the extent that one can terrorize a population to revolt against its tyrant, terrorism can be effective against tyranny too. it’s simply easier to effect change through fear in a democracy — therefore, the increased preference for terrorism now.

  88. “it should be mentioned that this engine of reason also works when the perspectives are reversed.”

    Reminds me of how sometimes when I lock the doors to my house I think about how if someone really wanted to break in, there’s likely nothing I can do to stop it. All I can do is make it more difficult so that maybe he’ll skip my house and find some easier target. And that’s about all we can do about the jihadists, that is to work on the margins by making their immediate goals more difficult and showing that their ultimate goal is unnaitanable while also making their lives as miserable as possible and then hope it’s a ten year fad rather than a thousand year fad.

  89. What do you come up with when the perspectives are reversed?

    patrick, i get: “we can kill a few (or many) thousands or maybe destroy a city or two (or dozens) with our bombs (granted, a horrific… well, certainty) — but we cannot destroy islamic society, enslave or forcibly convert muslims to westernization en masse.” or a conversion to that effect — you understand my direction, i’m sure.

    our capabilities are great — but far from limitless or devoid of consequence, imo.

  90. gaius marius,

    certainly, gg, but the modern incarnation is a sort of refinement designed for mass media and empowered populations capable of mass panic.

    Mass panic? Don’t know much about the reaction created by Mongols when they came to town, eh?

    i think that helps to explain its increased popularity in the 20th c.

    Its no more popular today than it was at many times in human history; we simply don’t recognize this because we’re caught up in the moment.

  91. All I can do is make it more difficult so that maybe he’ll skip my house and find some easier target. And that’s about all we can do about the jihadists, that is to work on the margins by making their immediate goals more difficult and showing that their ultimate goal is unnaitanable while also making their lives as miserable as possible and then hope it’s a ten year fad rather than a thousand year fad.

    i concur, fyodor. unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be in the current american makeup to accept that which we cannot change. there’s a certain absolutism, imo, that has pervaded common thought and deluded a great many into thinking we can “fix the middle east”, for example, or “end poverty” or any of the other unreasonable utopian quests of our age.

    and i think it leads us often (and certainly, imo, in the case of terrorism) to try “solutions” that are not solutions so much as aggravations of the problem, instead of the more limited and prudent measures we could be taking.

  92. Gaius,

    Thanks for the clarification. I agree entirely. Unfortunately, it seems to be a minority view.

  93. Mass panic? Don’t know much about the reaction created by Mongols when they came to town, eh?

    lol — no, familiar with that. i would never suggest it hasn’t been a constant presence. i’m simply suggesting that terror functions better *against us* now because of our political power distribution — see spain and the madrid bombing, for example — and that’s bound to increase its use.

    i’d be surprised and enlightened if someone could find an anti-western terrorist intellectual that would disavow the importance of fear and discontent being connected to political power in a democracy.

  94. Shannon & Gary,

    Are you sure you two aren’t married? πŸ˜‰

  95. not to speak for Jason Ligon, but what he seems to be stating is NOT a tactical plan detailing – step-by-step – what should be done! He is not saying, call Iran’s mullahs, give ’em 24 hrs for results, then nuke ’em. Next, call NK …

    he is simply advocating that we should consider ALL options/tools available to us (including nuking the cities of ‘enemy’ countries if necessary). personally Jason will be OK if we nuke some ‘enemy’ cities, in response to 1 nuke on the US soil. the question was how many nukes (in US) would it take for the other preachers here to agree to nuke ‘enemy’ cities.

    for the record, my limit is 2 nukes on the US soil. there! that makes me feel more moral/humanitarian than Jason Ligon πŸ™‚

  96. I admire your convictions raymond. If it matters, I know what the ‘right’ answer is supposed to be. I am supposed to oppose the harming of the innocent in all places everywhere, and if that means everything important to me is incinerated, I am supposed to be satisfied that I am being ethical.

    I’m just not there yet.

  97. Jason –

    I’m very lucky. My ethical limits have never been tested. Not really.

    I’ve never been in a war. No one I love has been murdered or raped or tortured. It’s easy to be on a high horse when one’s life is perfect, when one is surrounded by kind people.

    If I were a parent of a kid in that Ossetian school, I’m sure I’d want to rip the terrorists limb from limb. I’d want to nuke Chechnya and solve the problem for good.

    (But I want a lot of things I know I shouldn’t want. Sex with my next-door neighbour comes to mind. SO cute!)

    Anyway. I have an idea how I would feel. And so, I understand (a little, at least) how an Iraqi father must feel, holding his dead son – torn apart by an American grenade. He must loathe all Americans. He must want to destroy us all.

    And while I understand his anguish and hatred, I don’t want him killing me or anyone I love or might love. I don’t want him to give in to his rage. I want him to be… better than that. I expect more of him.

    And since I do, I have to expect more of myself. I have to make sure that my reason is never overwhelmed by hatred. That I will never do to him what I wouldn’t want him to do to me. I have to protect and exercise my freedom even in the depths of despair.

    I’ve never been tested, and for that I am incredibly grateful. But if I ever am tested, I hope my moral code will be up to the test. I hope I really believe all that human-rights stuff I’ve been spouting all these years. I hope I really do have free will.

  98. Jason,

    I just can?t sit by while you imply I am ethical. πŸ˜‰

    I don’t know. I hear what you’re saying but something about your logic seems circular. The states with nukes who (we will assume) are not deterred now suddenly will be after the first bomb goes off.

    That aside, I also think you’re assuming a lot in terms of the progression of events and the reactions of various countries, most of whom you’re not even considering. This is especially true if you don’t have the intel you need from your much-derided “police work”.

    A nuke goes off in Chicago and we don’t have the intelligence to know where it came from. You go after Iran who may or may not have supplied the material. Another bomb goes off and maybe you take out North Korea and Pakistan but the bombs keep coming. To draw from Ron Bailey?s article, they are really black market nukes. Who are you going after now? The easy targets are gone and you don?t have the intel to get the tough ones.

    You assume that Japan, S. Korea and nuclear China and India are going to be OK with you creating nuclear dumps blowing waste into to their countries. There will be waste because you’ll have to be extensive about the nuclear attacks. If you simply decapitate the governments of Iran, NK and Pakistan with tactical nukes or conventional weapons you risk releasing more goods into the nuclear black market. You don’t have the troops or intel to secure the nuclear material in those countries.

    You will certainly drive more warm bodies and cash to the Islamists. This makes things easier in a sense because you have more terrorists and supporters and fewer innocents to worry about. However, you also have more threats with no incremental resources to address them. Maybe fewer if countries that were allies now see you as a rabid dog running amok. You may even find it necessary to nuke a great deal of the Middle East. Assuming a nuclear Israel is not already busy taking out parts of the Middle East itself, they are not going sit by while you create a spreading ring of nuclear waste out of the Baka?a, Damascus, Amman, Ramallah and Gaza.

    Overall, this is wild speculation but the scenarios we?re discussing are pretty wild and could get out of hand in unexpected ways. I?m all for ?police work? if that?s what you want to call competent intelligence agencies who know what is going on and special forces teams to hunt, capture or kill the whack jobs. That approach increases the probability of killing the right people and minimizing their flow of money and recruits. Things could still go nuclear but you?re going to need good intelligence in that scenario anyway.

  99. I wonder how many bombs would have to explode in the US with no arrests before your ethical limit would fall. My limit appears to be one.

    In other words, your “ethical limit” is defined by the bad guys. I think this used to be called being “other-directed”.

  100. Patrick,

    I am of course not suggesting that no effort should be made on the intelligence front. I am just skeptical that after the crime scene and 2 miles surrounding hits a million degrees that we will find a ‘smoking gun’. That doesn’t mean we accept our fate.

    In fact, what I am really saying is that we apply all intelligence resources possible at directing counter attacks, but the nuclear option is on the table if we face an ounce of obfuscation or failure to comply. At that point, a nuclear NK or Iran is unacceptable (it is probably unacceptable now). A fixed number of suitcase bombs is bad, but Nukes R’ Us in NK is worse. Whatever it takes to dismantle those programs is what we do. We will assume collusion on the part of any government that resists our persuit of terrorists within their borders. No more petty regional politics and face saving. Help us, get out of the way, or die.

    If the nukes keep coming, well, they would have kept coming anyway and we have at least eliminated a production network. Doing nothing is just not an option.

    If we assume a world where everyone has nukes, but where only one faction is willing to use them, those guys make the rules. Whatever we need to do to kill them, I’m comfortable with.

    Finally, Special Forces are not miracle workers. If the local populace is willing to hide their heroes, we won’t find them any faster than we found OBL. If a mushroom cloud erupts over the US, the entire Arab world has a choice to make as far as I am concerned. You can do everything in your power to hand over the terrorists, their suppliers, and anyone who gave them protection, or you can cheer in the street at the sight of dead Americans. If you choose the latter, my reserve of sympathy is dry. You are part of the problem. Our goal in life should be to change the image of a martyr into that of a plague bearer.

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