"That isn't an ideology . . . "

|

London Mayor Ken Livingstone, speaking in Singapore where he had been working in support of London's successful Olympics bid, said of the attacks in his city that, "This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty or the powerful, it is not aimed at presidents or prime ministers, it was aimed at ordinary working-class Londoners.

"That isn't an ideology," he said, "it isn't even a perverted faith, it's mass murder."

"Black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindus and Jews, young and old," the bombings were an "indiscriminate attempt to slaughter irrespective of any considerations for age, class, [or] religion . . . "

Livingstone sees the "objective" of the attacks as "to divide London."

Advertisement

NEXT: Ihab el-Sherif is Dead

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I’m pleasantly surprised as I figured he’d have nothing but anti-Bush vitriol in response to this.

  2. Andrew Sullivan praises Livingston for his statements of unity…right above his post accusing George Galloway of being pro-terrorist.

  3. When I saw this on TV I thought it was kind of lame, but maybe what you would expect from a guy known as “Red Ken”; “no, really, this is bad, they were trying to kill members of the urban proletariat!” Didn’t Michael Moore say something a little similar, though much more blatant, about how the Sept. 11 terrorists shouldn’t have targeted New York, because people there voted for Gore?

  4. See, if you express anger that the target was the public at large, and point out how indiscriminate the killing was, it really means that you’d prefer they terrorists had killed rich people.

  5. I knew I should not have got out of bed this morning. What a crappy day!

    I don’t suppose anyone would care to consider my (half-serious) proposal for lasting peace in the Middle East and a possible end to Islamic terrorism, but for what it’s worth:

    Give every veil-clad woman in countries where such garments are mandatory a powerful automatic rifle with plenty of ammunition.

    I know: I’m a disrespectful asshole. I think I’ll go get drunk.

  6. Better than Blair’s response, which reads, in part: “It is the will of all the leaders at the G8, however, that the meeting should continue in my absence, that we should continue to discuss the issues that we were going to discuss and reach the conclusions which we were going to reach (emphasis mine).” The show must go on.

  7. Andrew Sullivan praises Livingston for his statements of unity…right above his post accusing George Galloway of being pro-terrorist.

    Joe could you at least avoid the flat-out lies?

    Here is Sullivan’s post on Galloway today.

    I’m not really a huge fan of Sullivan, but I’m capable of finding plenty of things to criticize without fabricating things he never said.

  8. Didn’t Michael Moore say something a little similar, though much more blatant, about how the Sept. 11 terrorists shouldn’t have targeted New York, because people there voted for Gore?

    Comment by: Mitch at July 7, 2005 11:55 AM

    No, because he removed those comments from his website later.

    Therefore, it didn’t happen.

  9. I liked Blair’s comments about this coming in the middle of trying to help Africa. Nothing could more clearly demonstrate the gulf between him and Bush when it comes to using the press to your advantage.

  10. Show me the flat-out lie, Josh.

  11. I linked to Sullivan’s post about Galloway, which in no way accuses him of being pro-terrorist. You made the accusation, would you like to back it up?

  12. OK, he accuses Galloway of adopting the terrorists’ policy position, and of urging his government to advance their cause.

  13. No, he accuses Galloway of urging his government to surrender to their demands. Which, in fact, Galloway is doing.

    He labels Galloway an appeaser — is anyone who labels Chamberlain an appeaser actually calling him pro-Nazi?

  14. Well at least Sullivan is better than Juan Cole who turns to Mike “renditions work” Scheuer:

    “I heard Michael Scheuer, the former CIA Bin Laden analyst, a couple of times this morning, once on NPR’s Morning Edition and once on the Diane Rehm show. I thought his comments compelling.

    He found the statement issued by a “secret jihad” web site similar in form and content to typical al-Qaeda communiques, including the threats against other countries (Italy and Denmark). He was sure this was an al-Qaeda operation.

    He noted that Bin Laden had called off any ceasefire and had several times threatened to hit the United Kingdom.

    He said that “chickens were coming home to roost” for US and UK politicians who had obscured the nature of the al-Qaeda struggle by maintaining that the organization attacks the West because “they hate our values.”

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

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

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

    http://www.juancole.com/

    This isn’t exactly blame the vicitims, but the victims may have voted for the politicians who are misrepresenting al Qaeda’s grievances … according to Cole and Sheuer. So perhaps according to Cole the victims are partially to blame. This is worse than Sullivan saying Galloway is a terrorist, if he in fact said that.

  15. With the sheer volume of posts on the London bombing topic, I couldn’t read them all. Still, I wonder if anyone has fingered the obvious villians responible for it: The French!! They’ve been planning this for weeks in the worst case that London got the Olympics and Paris didn’t.

  16. You all can read the Sullivan post, consider the context and the language he and other hawks have used for the past four and a half years, and make up your own minds. I don’t feel like having a semantic debate about how Sullivan, he of “Fifth Column” fame, chooses to make his point.

  17. So while Sullivan didn’t actually call Galloway “pro-terrorist,” your accusation holds up, because you get the vague idea from the tenor of his general writings that he probably actually feels that way.

    Fucking pathetic. Stick to hounding Cavanaugh about Smart Growth, joe, and leave the geopolitics to the grownups.

  18. If I swear a little bit and play dumb, do I get to be a grown up too?

  19. Swearing is optional; responding to actual statements and arguments people make instead of inventing new ones is not.

  20. Joe,

    For better or worse, those are about the only requirements.

  21. Commie or not, he is correct. Attacking civilians is and always has been a dead-end maneuver. There was no tactical advantage to the operation, it was merely a child-culture lashing out and taking dozens of people with it for the sheer sake of grandstanding. The best England can do is arrest, torture, and execute the perpetrators, and then shrug and move on. Londoners have endured far worse than a few cameljockeys with an axe to grind.

  22. “Scheuer opposes any attempt to configure the struggle against al-Qaeda as simple crime-fighting.”

    Why? That’s exactly what al-Qaeda is: a criminal organization.

  23. Ah yes, my invention of the “with us or against us” argument. My invention of Sullivan’s “Fifth Column” smear. My invention of Sullivan’s accusation that Galloway’s opposition to the Iraq War was founded in his being an agent of the Iraqi government. My invention of the conflation of the fight against Saddam with the fight against terrorists. My invention of the assertion that opposing the prosecution of the Iraq War is based in sypmathy for Islamic terrorism. Any my invention of the history of Sullivan making such accusations against Galloway.

    I’ve had a busy couple of years – I should have taken out some copyrights.

    You are either completely dishonest, or an idiot. Either way, buh bye. Like I said, everyone can read Sullivan’s post for themselves, and consider the source.

  24. joe,

    Why does Sullivan’s hatred of Galloway (and Galloway does seem like a prick) have anything to do with his comments on Livingstone? Couldn’t he applaud Ken Livingstone’s reaction and not George Galloway’s? Besides, I think you’re overreaching here. Does Sullivan think Galloway is “objectively pro-terrorist?” Probably. But there’s nothing in the post you pointed to that says anything like that.

  25. That’s great, joe, but none of that has anything to do with the post you originally referenced. For example, if you directly address an argument in the comments here at some point, it’s not ok for me to call it a strawman argument because that’s what you do the other 90% of the time.

    Sullivan made a perfectly in-bounds criticism of Galloway’s statement. The fact that you bear a grudge against him for things he’s said before does not excuse your misrepresentation of him now.

  26. Livingstone sees the “objective” of the attacks as “to divide London.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t London already “divided”? There was certainly little enough love for the war on terror when I was there several months ago, but they still reelected Blair.

  27. Ouch the other H&R post has grown too big too fast for me to comment there.

    4GW strikes again. OIF and OEF are sort of like Vietnam but with offensive operations on the part of the terrorist in our homelands.

    It will be interesting to see how the ripples from this play out.

  28. Steve, they don’t have any connection to his statement about Livingston. In fact, they directly contradict his statement about Livingston. Which was my point – he’s yammering on about the nobility of preaching unity at a time of crisis, stating that unity goes beyond disagreements about tactics and causes, immediately after he accuses someone of siding against England for making a statement about tactics and causes.

    Josh, if you want to accept statement from a guy in a white sheet that “You like to talk to black people” as merely a factual statement, you go on with bad self. Me, having a vague understanding of his background and intentions, I’m going to read a little more into it. Suit yourself.

  29. My own favorite reaction, from http://www.lnreview.co.uk/news/005167.php

    A Letter To The Terrorists, From London
    July 07, 2005

    What the fuck do you think you’re doing?
    This is London. We’ve dealt with your sort before. You don’t try and pull this on us.

    Do you have any idea how many times our city has been attacked? Whatever you’re trying to do, it’s not going to work.

    All you’ve done is end some of our lives, and ruin some more. How is that going to help you? You don’t get rewarded for this kind of crap.

    And if, your MO indicates, you’re an al-Qaeda group, then you’re out of your tiny minds.

    Because if this is a message to Tony Blair, we’ve got news for you. We don’t much like our government ourselves, or what they do in our name. But, listen very clearly. We’ll deal with that ourselves. We’re London, and we’ve got our own way of doing things, and it doesn’t involve tossing bombs around where innocent people are going about their lives.

    And that’s because we’re better than you. Everyone is better than you. Our city works. We rather like it. And we’re going to go about our lives. We’re going to take care of the lives you ruined. And then we’re going to work. And we’re going down the pub.

    So you can pack up your bombs, put them in your arseholes, and get the fuck out of our city.

  30. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t London already “divided”?

    There’s a significant difference between division and polarization.

  31. Why? That’s exactly what al-Qaeda is: a criminal organization.

    That was precisely my reaction, Mark. Why are some hawks so reluctant to treat murder as an international crime? Why are laws against murder seen as a perfectly acceptable societal protection against, say, Russian mob hits, but not against al Qaeda’s evil deeds? Investigate, charge, prosecute, execute. Just not as sexy as blowing up more shit, I suppose.

  32. Rick,

    Yes, the eagerness to militarize the conflict almost makes one think that there is some unrelated military goal being piggybacked on the fight against Al Qaeda.

    I mean, I don’t recall hearing that indictments, intelligence work, and murder trials were inadequate after the Cole bombing.

  33. Investigate, charge, prosecute, execute

    Kind of hard to do with suicide missions.

    And also kind of hard when you charge hundreds of people with the work of only a few, sort of hurts the credibility.

    It’s also territorial marking, CIA vs. FBI vs. DEA, etc. One umbrella homeland security organization won’t change that.

  34. If I swear a little bit and play dumb, do I get to be a grown up too?

    Huh? I don’t fucking understand.

    Re: Comment by: David T at July 7, 2005 12:59 PM (“A Letter to the Terrorists, From London”)

    Beautiful comment, thanks for posting that here.

    There will always be an England. (Unless they continue their trend of criminalizing every act of individual self-defense.)

  35. Yes, the eagerness to militarize the conflict almost makes one think that there is some unrelated military goal being piggybacked on the fight against Al Qaeda.

    Because the FBI would have been completely capable of handling the Taliban gang by themselves…

  36. Eric hits the nail on the head. Yes, there are moral reasons to respond militarily to 9/11, but the practical reasons are better. In order to disable Al Qaeda, you had to take out the Taliban. They were basically clients of each other.

    Now Iraq… god, I don’t even want to get into that. But if you think the Iraq war was unwise, it doesn’t mean that all military response to terrorism is unwise.

  37. “That was precisely my reaction, Mark. Why are some hawks so reluctant to treat murder as an international crime? ”

    Oh, you can’t be that naive. We don’t treat it that way because international law is a series of agreements between willing participants. International criminals based in lands not participating in the international law game are uniquely secure from international legal threats. On the internatonal stage, agreements are backed by armies, not police.

    Before someone rolls out the tired “Why not invade X then? Hah!” I’m not saying that the military is the answer to every international problem. What I am saying is that there are differing views about the efficacy (even the potential for efficacy, since nothing seems all that effective) of diplomacy and criminal prosecution in cases of international terrorism. I’m also saying that a non psychotic case can be made to strive to eliminate as many non participating regimes as possible so as to enhance the power of both diplomacy and international legal agreements, and that people other than mad psychopaths could decide that Iraq might be a good place to start.

  38. OK, obviously we needed to attack the Taliban militarily – they were between us and Al Qaeda, and we needed the military to get them out of the way.

    “Militarize the conflict” was bad terminology. What I should have said was, “define the enemy as a military foe.” This is exactly what we did in Iraq, attacking the counry’s military.

    And, arguable, in Afghanistan, where we concentrated troops Kabul and other major cities, and focused our efforts on Taliban columns and troop formations, while coming up short when we actually had the Al Qaeda leadership in our grasp.

  39. Jason,

    My comment honestly wasn’t intended to convey the usual snarkiness. Perhaps I am naive, but my question was asked in good faith. Thank you for taking a shot at it.

  40. “I mean, I don’t recall hearing that indictments, intelligence work, and murder trials were inadequate after the Cole bombing.”

    Whoa. Uhm….well let me say it then. Indictments, intelligence work, and murder trials were inadequate after the Cole bombing.

    OBL claimed that as a victory, did he not? Did he not also see it as a sign that he could go further, a la 9/11?

  41. linguist, I think my terminology is coming back to haunt me. I’m distinguishing between grabbing specific bad guys, bombing their bases, and breaking up their networks on the one hand (intelligence and law enforcement stuff), and invading, overcoming the military of, occupying, and governing countries on the other hand (geopolitical, main force military, Great Game stuff).

    And my thesis is that the administration is more concerned about international balances of power than in controlling stateless actors.

  42. linguist has still got you, though. We didn’t treat Al Qaeda as a military enemy after the Cole bombing, and look where that got us. You’re right, you didn’t hear *at the time* that a law-enforcement approach was a mistake, but looking back, it certainly was.

  43. Steve, what would “treat Al Qaeda like a military enemy” mean? Bombing their tank columns? Seizing the territory they held? Sinking their fleet? Levelling the factories that supplied their equipment? Occupying their capital?

    In fact, a couple of military-style operations were tried. We bombed a factory that was suspected of making weaponry for them, and we destroyed one of their camps with rockets. It didn’t do anything, because they aren’t a military, and can’t be defeated by military means.

    The attempt to impose a military solution to terrorism has required us to engage and defeat a military that had no role in terrorism (Iraq). Even in Afghanistan, where the terrorist group was able to operate as a military, we dealt them a stunning military defeat, and it didn’t stop, or even reduce, the terrorism – because we didn’t follow up with enough actual counter-terrorism.

    OBL and a militarily-insignificant handful of leaders escaped at Tora Bora. From a military perspective, that didn’t matter at all. Tora Bora was an astounding feat of arms. However, from the pov of countering terrorism, Tora Bora was only a minor success.

  44. Joe,

    Some people in our military know how to fight terrorist networks and other non-nations that attack us using 4GW. Unfortunately those people are not in charge of the military. This is not a battle of two armies so much as it is a battle of political will…

  45. Rick,

    Apologies for the assumption of snark on my part. You know how we libertarian hawks are, seeing threats everywhere. šŸ˜‰

  46. Even in Afghanistan, where the terrorist group was able to operate as a military, we dealt them a stunning military defeat, and it didn’t stop, or even reduce, the terrorism – because we didn’t follow up with enough actual counter-terrorism.

    So, you’re arguing that capturing and killing the members of Al Queda that we did had absolutely no effect on their operations?

  47. Eric,

    It had a minimal effect, as the overwhelming majority of captured and killed Al Qaeda and Taliban were easily-replaceable foot soldiers.

    Now, a political solution that made their replacement a lot harder would have been a success. Targetted, smart action that captured key individuals (like the kind our Special Forces are absolutely NOT doing in the border areas of Pakistan) would have been a great success.

  48. Ash, what is 4GW?

  49. joe,

    4GW – Fourth Generation Warfare. Things like terrorism as opposed to traditional military operations.

  50. It has been said that “fourth generation warfare” (4GW) includes all forms of conflict where the other side refuses to stand up and fight fair. Smart commanders throughout history, however, have tried to deceive, trick, and confuse their opponents.
    More interesting info
    http://www.d-n-i.net/second_level/fourth_generation_warfare.htm

    There is a bit of a fight between those of us who work in the defense industry as to what exactly our nation needs to effectively combat our new enemies. Most in the defense industry want our military to be prepared to fight a near-peer in a manuever 3GW campaign. This is an easy solution because it means purchasing a high-tech and expensive weapons systems which makes politicians happy. Unfortunately in order to defeat our real enemies we don’t need F/A-22 Raptors, Joint Strike Fighters, new subs, or aircraft carries. Anyway don’t want to ramble but there is your explanation..

  51. joe: If you’re curious about 4GW, look here:
    http://www.d-n-i.net/second_level/fourth_generation_warfare.htm

    Maybe you’ll come up with a viable alternative to the Bush/Kerry response to the threat…

  52. I know what Fourth Generation Warfare is.

    Phalanxes->Rifle Companies->Combined Arms->Guerilla Warfare.

    I just didn’t recognize the acronymn.

  53. Rick Hall writes, “Why are some hawks so reluctant to treat murder as an international crime?”

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

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

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

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

  54. Steve writes, “We didn’t treat Al Qaeda as a military enemy after the Cole bombing, and look where that got us.”

    What do you propose that the U.S. government should have done differently after the Cole bombing? Invade Afghanistan and overthrow the Taliban, as we did after 9/11? Or just bomb selected places in Afghanistan, while leaving the Taliban in power?

    Do you think Congress would have authorized either of such actions after the Cole bombing? Or do you think that President Clinton should have simply done one of them, without even bothering with any Congressional authorization?

  55. Now, a political solution that made their replacement a lot harder would have been a success.

    What “political solution”?

    Targetted, smart action that captured key individuals (like the kind our Special Forces are absolutely NOT doing in the border areas of Pakistan) would have been a great success.

    Carried out by who, exactly? I agree with some of your criticisms of the Afghanistan invasion, (though I’m unconvinced that our effect on Al Queda has been minimal) but when you get down to it, who else are we going to send for big operations aside from the military – and for small operations, the military’s special forces? Where would we have gotten the smarter-than-we-had generals and officers to plan better operations?
    All we had is what we had – that “great military Clinton left us” in the words of some Democrats of the time.

  56. Al Qaeda is not a criminal organization, it is a political organization that uses criminal means. It is not a mafia. The Mafia certainly meddled in politics, but with the end of getting whoever was in power in their pockets, beyond that they didn’t care who was there.

    Also, you don’t just fight and army with guns, you also out manoeuvre them to cut off supplies and to force them to fight on unfavorable ground. Corrupt mid-east states are the suppliers for terrorists, both directly from governments and indirectly from citizen’s contributions. Undermining and rebuilding these corrupt states as pro-western democracies is a one-two punch: you cut off the supplies while bringing the states within international law, and undermine the ideology of Islamic radicals by planting a democracy answerable to it’s citizens in their midst.

    Whether this will work remains to be seen, but it’s a reasonable strategy.

  57. Funny how Livingstone’s now talking of the “free society”. Why wasn’t he telling that to Dr Yusuf al-Qaradawi?

  58. Mark Bahner, it seems to me that you’re overlooking some aspects – namely, that the ultimate objectives are political (in the case of war and terrorism, i.e. they’re trying to get us out of the middle east and to adopt Islamic law) rather than personal (in the case of run-of-the-mill crime, in which the objective is some satisfaction or material gain to the perpetrator – gains the terrorists may get – but without political implications for the rest of us).

    The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor because they thought they could defeat and capture the United States and impose obedience to their emperor. Likewise, bin Laden wants to tell us where we can and cannot send our military and he also wants to impose his Islamic doctrine on the people of the United States (see my comments here, namely where I quote from bin Laden’s writing about 4/5ths of the way down the comments).

    That’s what makes this a war, against a new but nonetheless political enemy, rather than a criminal/law enforcement operation against murderers who do not have totalitarian political ambitions.

  59. Funny how a (past?) Commie like Livingstone thinks. What difference does it make what social class the victims were? Would he find an attack on the City less objectionable?

    When you are a hardcore leftie, like Red Ken, your thinking is so twisted, that by trying to express outrage and sympathy for the victims (explain how they weren’t the powerful, ruling classes) you actually manage to sound stupid and insulting.

  60. When you are a hardcore leftie, like Red Ken, your thinking is so twisted, that by trying to express outrage and sympathy for the victims (explain how they weren’t the powerful, ruling classes) you actually manage to sound stupid and insulting.

    Never heard of “Red Ken” before today, but I read his statement to imply that the bombers were cowards for attacking the defenseless public (instead of those with the means to retaliate). The ol’ “pick on someone your own size” sentiment – maybe not what you or I’d choose for the occasion, but not insulting to the victims at all.

    However, feel free to hurl all the projections you want about what them hardcore lefties is thinkin’, even if they ain’t sayin’ it.

  61. Wait a damn minute here! It wasn’t appropriate to use military means against the Japanese because of their motivations. Our situation with Japan was a war because of their capabilities and actions. They sent gunships and aircraft carriers and infantry formations against us in battle. I don’t care if the Emporer of Japan had been motivated by a desire to shake down pimps in Los Angeles – if the fights between your forces and his involve national armies and the weaponry and tactics of war, it’s a war.

    Similarly, it doesn’t matter that the al Qaeda leadership and cadres are motivated by politics. The sneak around alone or in small groups, operate in secret, carry out operations that require evasion and quick hits, have no weapons heavier than rifles and explosives, etc etc etc. They’re a gang – a politicized gang, but not an army or a nation.

  62. Eric the Half Bee,

    ‘What “political solution”?’ I don’t know. It would have to depend on local conditions, but something that made living a normal life more attractive to young Muslim men than waging jihad against the Americans.

    “Carried out by who, exactly?” Aaargh! Again, my sloppy language comes back to haunt me! I agree, military special forces are an important part of the counter-terror operations I’m including under the heading of “police/intelligence work.” The contrast I’m drawing is between the type of small group raids and recon work that is commonly carried out by detective squads, swat teams and special forces on the one hand; and the main force prosecution of battles by military formations on the other.

    We have large numbers of these personnel, but as John Kerry said, we need a lot more, because we’ve got a lot of work for them to do.

    And it wasn’t that the generals couldn’t plan and do the operations, it was the political leadership putting them on other tasks (Iraq War) instead.

  63. “Mark Bahner, it seems to me that you’re overlooking some aspects – namely, that the ultimate objectives are political (in the case of war and terrorism, i.e. they’re trying to get us out of the middle east and to adopt Islamic law) rather than personal (in the case of run-of-the-mill crime, in which the objective is some satisfaction or material gain to the perpetrator – gains the terrorists may get – but without political implications for the rest of us).”

    No, I don’t think I’m overlooking anything in this case.

    Look at Timothy McVeigh. His goal was…well, who really cares? But his goal was definitely *political.* He CONSIDERED himself to be “at war” with the U.S. government. Did that MAKE him “at war” with the U.S. government? No, it didn’t. His pretensions don’t matter. The Constitution (and treaties such as the Geneva Conventions) don’t recognize him as anything more than a criminal.

    The same could be said for the Symbionese Liberation Army. The may have CONSIDERED themselves as “soldiers” and their goals were political. But they were just criminals.

    Lee Harvey Oswald and John Wilkes Booth had political motives, for that matter. That didn’t turn them into soldiers.

    “Likewise, bin Laden wants to tell us where we can and cannot send our military and he also wants to impose his Islamic doctrine on the people of the United States (see my comments here, namely where I quote from bin Laden’s writing about 4/5ths of the way down the comments).”

    Yes, I agree those are bin Laden’s motives. And if he should ever get control of a government, then the U.S. Constitution would recognize his government as being at war with the U.S. government. Until then, he and his followers are criminals. They are NOT soldiers, and they deserve none of the protections that treaties such as the Geneva Conventions afford them.

    “That’s what makes this a war, against a new but nonetheless political enemy,…”

    No, the Constitution and treaties such as the Geneva Conventions don’t recognize people who are not affiliated with governments as “soldiers” who can be “at war”…anymore than the Symbionese Liberation Army or the Red Army Fraction (aka the Baader-Meinhof gang) were “soliders” at “war.”

  64. Mark,

    I’d be interested to hear where exactly the Constitution has a definition of who is and isn’t a soldier, and what is and isn’t a war. I’ll wait.

  65. “I’d be interested to hear where exactly the Constitution has a definition of who is and isn’t a soldier, and what is and isn’t a war. I’ll wait.”

    OK. But I also wrote that treaties such as the Geneva Conventions define who is and is not a soldier, under U.S. law. (Remember, the Constitution says both the Constitution and treaties constitute the Supreme Law of the Land.)

    Let’s start with the fact that the Constitution only authorizes wars that are first declared by Congress:

    “To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;”

    Now, is it at all logical that the Founding Fathers had in mind that the Congress could declare a war that:

    a) was against “Islamic terrorists” anywhere in the world (i.e., “There are some terrorists living next door to Tony Blair…let’s bomb ’em”?), or

    b) would last forever? (Think about it…the “war on terrorism” will absolutely NEVER end, because there will always be terrorism. That’s unlike any war with a government, which ends when the government is overthrown.)

    Now, let’s turn to the Fifth Amendment, “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

    If the U.S. can be “at war” with terrorists who are not affiliated with any government, does that mean that anyone who the U.S. government thinks is a terrorist does not have a fifth amendment right not to be deprived of life without due process of law?

    For example, suppose the U.S. government thinks there was someone who helped plan the September 11 attack, who is now living in Detroit. Can the U.S. government blow up their house, because we are “at war” with terrorists?

    But the Geneva Conventions have much more clear definitions of who is and who is not a person who is protected by the Geneva Conventions. First, the person must belong to one of the signatories of the Geneva Conventions (which were governments, not private individuals). The person must wear a uniform or some insignia that identifies them as soldiers. They must report to an established chain of command. Al Qaeda was not a signatory; they don’t wear insignia; they don’t have an established chain of command. In short, they don’t meet any of the characteristics that afford them protections under the Geneva Conventions.

    They’re criminals, not soldiers.

  66. Wait a damn minute here! It wasn’t appropriate to use military means against the Japanese because of their motivations. Our situation with Japan was a war because of their capabilities and actions. They sent gunships and aircraft carriers and infantry formations against us in battle. I don’t care if the Emporer of Japan had been motivated by a desire to shake down pimps in Los Angeles – if the fights between your forces and his involve national armies and the weaponry and tactics of war, it’s a war.

    Joe:

    Again you don’t understand the type of war al-Qaeda is fighting against us. just because their tools are different does not mean the outcome is. 19 hijackers against our defenses can accomplish more than Iraq’s entire Army could. 4GW means that war does not have to envolve armies. War is all about strategy and tactics. defeating your enemy through any means possible. Al-Qaeda can fight a war against using means that means go around the advantage that we have in the amount of money we spend on war and the structure of our forces.

  67. Geneva Conventions

    Mark read the Geneva conventions they only give protection to UNIFORMED SERVICEMEMBERS. Enemies capture without uniforms have no protection under the Geneva conventions, in fact they can be executed. This is not to say that I agree the US government on its actions, but if you are going to use the Geneva code please at least read it.

  68. Mark wrote…
    Do you think Congress would have authorized either of such actions after the Cole bombing? Or do you think that President Clinton should have simply done one of them, without even bothering with any Congressional authorization?

    That’s the point. We know in hind sight it was incorrect, not that any *one* person could’ve reacted differently. It always comes down to political will and it wasn’t there at the time. What we do, is learn from the mistake and move forward with a strategy other than law enforcement measures.

  69. “Our situation with Japan was a war because of their capabilities and actions. They sent gunships and aircraft carriers and infantry formations against us in battle.”

    Yes, we were at war against Japan because the actions were taken by the Japanese GOVERNMENT. If some Japanese civilians had STOLEN an aircraft carrier and attacked Pearl Harbor, it would be a crime…not an act of war.

    Geneva Conventions

    “Mark read the Geneva conventions they only give protection to UNIFORMED SERVICEMEMBERS. Enemies capture without uniforms have no protection under the Geneva conventions, in fact they can be executed. This is not to say that I agree the US government on its actions, but if you are going to use the Geneva code please at least read it.”

    I HAVE read the Geneva Conventions, Ash! But you apparently didn’t read my post. Or at least not carefully. I said that, in order to be protected by the Geneva Conventions, people had to: 1) wear uniforms/insignia, 2) report to a chain of command, and 3) be SIGNATORIES of the treaty (and only GOVERNMENTS were signatories).

    This is a long discussion I had with the author of the “Murky View” weblog, in which I made it very clear that people had to do ALL those things, in order to be protected.

    http://www.murkyview.com/archives/2005/04/13/fallujah-war-crimes-part-2/

  70. “What we do, is learn from the mistake and move forward with a strategy other than law enforcement measures.”

    That is NOT the correct strategy, unless the Cole bombing was either planned by someone in a government, or unless the people who carried out the Cole bombing were subsequently protected by some government.

    Did any member of any government plan (or know in advance about) the Cole bombing, or did any member of any government protect people who carried out the Cole bombing after the fact? If the answer is “yes,” then military action might be or would be appropriate. If no member of any government was at all involved, before or after the fact, then military action would NOT be appropriate.

  71. OK, Mark, we get your point. But you’re arguing semantics, and you’re arguing a tautology — a war is a fight between states, sez the dictionary (or sez Mark Bahner). Therefore, we can’t be at war against Al Qaeda.

    I don’t see WHY it is automatically inappropriate to respond militarily against non-state actors.

    And your appeals to the Geneva Conventions aren’t helping. The Conventions state that terrorists aren’t entitled to the protections that soldiers are. They don’t say that, therefore, we can’t be at war with terrorists.

  72. Anyway, to answer your question, yes, a government did protect the people who carried out the Cole bombing. The same government that harbored the people who carried out 9/11: the Taliban.

  73. My apologies Mark. You and I are in agreement. I failed to read your whole post.

  74. I often make the same arguement about the Geneva conventions because so many people have not read it that I often jump right in.

  75. I don’t see WHY it is automatically inappropriate to respond militarily against non-state actors.

    Mark and Steve:
    So perhaps we can not agree on terms. What other instrument would you use besides our military to go after terrorist “criminals”? I agree that our military needs to change in order to be more effective against terrorist organizations however what would this be besides forth generation war?

  76. MyNameIsAsh,

    Actually, the Geneva Conventions concern “protected persons” whether they are in uniform or not. This is how the Conventions deal with civilian populations. And “protected persons” have to have some sort of judicial process to determine if they are not as I recall. So no, once someone is captured you can’t just toss them out of the plane.

  77. When the U.S. has fought non-state actors in the past, we have declared that we will treat their uniformed combatants under the Geneva accords, and expected our forces to be extended the same rights. Not every non-state belligerent is a terrorist organization, though some definitely are.

    See my post on the “Interpreter” thread @ July 7, 2005 07:34 PM

    Kevin

  78. “I don’t see WHY it is automatically inappropriate .”

    OK, it is not “automatically inappropriate to respond militarily against non-state actors.” It was clearly appropriate to, for example, bomb the Ansar al Islam camps in northern Iraq, and send peshmerga and special forces to clean up.

    However, this is the exception. Most non-state actors do not organize and operate in ways that make them good military targets. Instead, they operate in ways more reminiscent of crimal gangs. Thus, the tools and techniques that are effective in law enforcement, intelligence, and para-military raids are going to yield better results.

  79. Steve writes, “OK, Mark, we get your point. But you’re arguing semantics, and you’re arguing a tautology — a war is a fight between states, sez the dictionary (or sez Mark Bahner). Therefore, we can’t be at war against Al Qaeda.”

    I’m not arguing a “tautology”. (A “tautology” is a silly statement that’s true by definition, such as “triangles have three sides.”)

    I’m arguing from simple logic. Since the Constitution says that wars can only happen after Congress declares them:

    1) Is it logical that the Founding Fathers ever intended Congress to make a declaration of war such as, “We are now at war against Islamic terrorists anywhere in the world…no matter which country in which they reside?”, or

    2) That Congress would ever be able to declare a war that will NEVER end? (That’s the absolutely inescapable conclusion of the concept that we can be at war with “Islamic terrorists,” because there will ALWAYS be “Islamic terrorists.”)

    Steve continues, “I don’t see WHY it is automatically inappropriate to respond militarily against non-state actors.”

    It is automatically inappropriate because it violates our most basic legal structure. If the U.S. government thinks there is someone in another country who is in some way involved in a crime, the U.S. government, under U.S. law, should go to the GOVERNMENT of that country to deal with the person. The U.S. government should demand that the other GOVERMENT find the person and extradite him.

    There is absolutely nothing in our law that supports the idea that the President can direct the military to “take out” someone in another country who the President suspects of being a terrorist, because: 1) Congress hasn’t declared war, and the President can’t constitutionally wage war without a Congressional declaration, and 2) it violates the very fundamental legal principle of “innocent until proven guilty.”

    Let me give a concrete example. After 9/11, many people–including many libertarians!–said that we should go into Afghanistan and just “take out” Osama bin Laden…but leave the Taliban government in place.

    I say that is the exact OPPOSITE of what is supported by U.S. law! The ONLY action supported by U.S. law, if the Taliban knew where Osama bin Laden was but refused to turn him over, was to declare war on the Taliban government and take THEM out. (And to put in place, or allow to be elected, some government that either could find Osama bin Laden and arrest him, or would be willing to help us look for him.)

    Or let me give an even BETTER concrete example: after the U.S. embassy bombings in Africa, Bill Clinton “took out” a pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan (killing one man in the process, and possibly killing hundreds or thousands due to lack of medicines). That was an absolutely BLATANT violation of U.S. law. He had no Congressional declaration of war. There was clearly NO “clear and present danger,” because it was a pharmaceutical plant. (And even if it HAD been a chemical weapons precursors plant, he had allowed it to operate for many, many months before he destroyed it, so it clearly could NOT have been a clear and present danger.)

    Steve continues, “And your appeals to the Geneva Conventions aren’t helping. The Conventions state that terrorists aren’t entitled to the protections that soldiers are.”

    Yes, Steve, that is exactly my point. SOLDIERS are protected by the Geneva Conventions. Terrorists-people who do not wear insignias, who don’t report to an established chain of command, and perhaps most importantly, who are NOT signatories of the Conventions–are NOT protected by the Geneva Conventions. No non-state actors were signatories of the Geneva Conventions, so non-state actors can NEVER be protected by the Geneva Conventions (except as civilians).

    If you or anyone else wants us to be “at war” with terrorists, then the terrorists become enemy “soldiers.” We do NOT want them to be “soldiers.” We want them to be what they truly are…criminals.

    The MISperception that we are “at war” with terrorists makes us LESS safe…because: 1) it elevates the terrorists to a status they do NOT deserve, and 2) it lets the GOVERNMENTS in the countries in which the terrorists reside “off the hook.”

    This is precisely what Israel has done wrong with the Palestinian Authority (PA). Israel has conducted extrajudicial executions of “terrorists,” in contravention of very basic law. Meanwhile, they did NOT “take out” Yasser Arafat, when he was running the PA. So Yasser Arafat (and everyone else in the PA) had NO incentive to stop the terrorists within their midst. In fact, the PA had an incentive to actually HELP the terrorists, because that made the PA look like heroes in the eyes of their people.

    We want the U.S. government to deal with other governments. We do not want the U.S. government to deal with private individuals in other countries. And we definitely don’t want private individuals in other countries to deal with us! (Unless it’s for pleasant reasons!)

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.