End the War on Terror

Why the world fears America more than bin Laden


So long as Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of 9/11, remained at large, it was perhaps impossible for America to confront the fact that its war on terrorism was a tragic mistake targeted at an enemy that existed more in the minds of its leaders than in reality. But with bin Laden gone, it should be easier to separate fact from fiction and call off a war that has led American foreign policy astray for an entire decade.

For all emotionally healthy individuals not suffering from too much self-righteousness, bin Laden's death is cause for celebration. He was a mass murderer whose malevolent agenda stemmed from a deep indifference to human life. But he was a lucky mass murderer. He pulled off one spectacular act that succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. But he commanded a peasant army and didn't have the talent necessary to be anything more than a nuisance for the United States.

Indeed, international terrorism had already been steadily waning when 9/11 happened. To be sure, in terms of casualties, 2001 surpassed all previous years. But in terms of number of incidents, it was among the bottom five least active years since 1976, according to the Patterns of Global Terrorism, a now-discontinued annual report produced by the State Department. There were 635 incidents of international terrorism in 1985 and 440 in 1995. And in 2001? Only 355. Post-9/11, in 2002 and 2003, the last two years for which reliable data are available, there were 205 and 208 incidents, respectively. This prompted the Center for Defense Information in 2006 to conclude that "terrorism reached its zenith in the mid-1980s and has been declining since," not counting incidents in two conflict zones, Iraq and Kashmir.

And yet America's war on terrorism continued undeterred for 10 years, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths—about 7,000 of its own troops—and $1.2 trillion in spending. The full price of the war can't be counted in American blood and treasure alone. It must also include future consequences.

Right now, the world is awestruck by the sheer brilliance of the Abbottabad operation and furious at Pakistan's possible complicity in harboring bin Laden. But this reaction inevitably will give way to discomfort over America's audacity.

Indeed, America has further crossed a line by invading the sovereignty of a friendly nation with which it has full diplomatic ties without any advance notice. This might have been necessary to maintain the integrity of the operation given that the Pakistani government leaks like a sieve. And if America had done this to rescue its citizens—as was the case with Israel's daring 1976 Entebbe raid or President Jimmy Carter's botched 1980 Iran hostage rescue mission—it would have been one thing. But it did so just to kill a wanted man.

This can't help but make the world nervous. I was in India when America invaded Iraq. If there is any country in the world that can understand America's struggle against Islamist terrorism, it is India, given that it has been fighting this scourge even longer than the United States has. Indians rejoiced when America toppled the Taliban. But when it came to Iraq, I watched friends and family quietly cheer every time the BBC reported American casualties or setbacks. This wasn't because Indians had any affection for Saddam Hussein. To the contrary. Still, they regarded Iraq as an optional war. As they saw it, there was nothing left to counter America's awesome military prowess—either an antiwar movement within America or a competing superpower outside it. Thus, unless America paid a heavy price in Iraq, there would be no telling where it would strike next.

But a world that is rooting against America is not likely to be cooperative with America in future struggles. Indeed, foreign governments will have a hard time wholeheartedly allying with a country that alienates their people.

What's more, if America thinks it is above the law and doesn't have to answer to international opinion, it will lose its leverage for peacefully resolving disputes. For instance, some Indian commentators are openly speculating whether America could legitimately prevent India from pulling an Abbottabad-style raid to abduct the masterminds of the Mumbai attacks holed up in Pakistan. Likewise, America will have less credibility should it want to discourage Israel from striking Iran's nuclear facilities.

The first thing the president could do to calm an anxious world is dial down his triumphalist rhetoric. He should stop saying that "America can do whatever it sets its mind to" when discussing the war on terror.

And then he should call the war off and deal with terrorism as a law enforcement problem. So long as war remains official policy, America will be tempted to undertake actions—drone attacks, targeted killings, interference in civil wars—as a matter of routine that should be reserved only for emergencies.

The open-ended, ill-defined nature of the war on terrorism puts America at odds with potentially every country, lacing disagreements and conflicts with the threat of aggression. This ultimately does more to compromise the world's sense of security than bin Laden ever could.

Shikha Dalmia is a senior policy analyst at Reason Foundation and a columnist at The Daily. This article originally appeared at The Daily.

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  1. accelerate the drawdown. keep the killbots flying

  2. War is not healthy for children.

    It is, however, very healthy for the state.

    The War on Terror and the War on Drugs will last forever.

    1. Being feared is desirable. Our inconsistency is not. Switzerland has it right; have a fearsome military (by European standards), but keep to yourself.

    2. If this wasn’t our war it would be for someone else in the region. The history of that region is WAR. The only difference is that the US actually is producing greater good along with their ulterior motives. Who can not say that our War has been productive for the region looking at the history?

      1. History, but then we have to wait. In the meantime we can look at other examples of our imperialism, or even that of other nations such as Japan. For instance Japan committed many atrocities in China, which many of those familiar with Asia believe led to to support for the communist party, not out of ideology, but in the need to get behind something that would make them less vulnerable in the future. We have yet to see how many Afghans and Iraqis will act in the future after having their countries torn apart, villages bombed, innocents killed. We also have yet to see what will fill the vacuum after the US leaves.

        As for the history, how much of that has the US been responsible for? Supporting dictators at our convenience, using the CIA to overthrow governments,forcing unnatural partitions of countries, these things seem to lead to instability and not peace.

        1. Interesting point; if they feel their culture is under assault they may gravitate towards the government they feel is strong enough to protect them… probably an Islamic State of some kind.

  3. How is this “New at Reason”? Didn’t we read this last week?

    1. They’re trying to balance their “Ron Paul could be President if only everybody could see how brilliant he is” shit, and they’re very short of material.

      1. You’re the last person who should be talking about someone else being out of material, Edward.

        1. Good point. But isn’t Ron Paul an outrageous piece of shit as a presidential candidate? Don’t you find it a little odd that Reason has taken him up so enthusiastically?

          1. Honey, please turn off that computer. Your “lunch” is about ready.

          2. So which candidate do you support, Obama the warmonger and bailout king, or whatever warmonger replaces McCain the insane.

            1. Obama the warmonger and bailout king.

              When my guys do it, it’s not war; it’s kinetic military action.

              When my guys do it, it’s a bailout; it’s stimulating the economy.

            2. You mean you think the choice is a warmonger king or Ron Paul? Can’t the anti-war libertarian right do any better than that? If that’s true, you guys are so fucking marginal you’re off the page. But do send in those donations.

              1. You did not answer my question, who do you support?

                I am guessing Obama.

  4. “war on terrorism was a tragic mistake targeted at an enemy that existed more in the minds of its leaders than in reality”

    Not just in the minds of our leaders. The fact is that even if you live in a higher risk city like NY the chances of you dieing in a terrorist attack is tiny. People are just unable to rationally assess such risks. (Wasn’t there an article on here about that recently?)

    1. So what is an acceptable v. unacceptable rate of casualties? What is the magic number of victims which should trigger a response?

      1. hmm, lets say 10,000 dead American soldiers, hundreds of thousands of dead Muslim civilians, and millions displaced.
        Maybe thats a terrible enough set of casualties that we should respond to.

        1. Are you having fun arguing with the voices in your head?

          1. Weak, very weak response. Juvenile, actually.

            1. If he had actually made an honest attempt to address the actual question, he would have deserved a better response.

              1. “”So what is an acceptable v. unacceptable rate of casualties? What is the magic number of victims which should trigger a response?””

                LS’s post was about risk of incident, which is seperate from casualties from an incident. When you talk casualties, it assumes an incident has occured.

                As a NYC resident, I’m more likely to be killed walking on the sidewalk than in a terrorist attack.

                1. Bloomburg’s War On Cars proceeds apace.

                  1. Yes it does.

                    1. “more likely to be killed walking on the sidewalk than in a terrorist attack” I can surely grasp the math of it all, but frankly you won’t catch me settling down in NYC, DC, LA, etc anytime soon since they just have bullseye written all over them, however remote the odds are that bad guys get their hands on a nuke.

                    2. The bad guys already have their hands on lots of nukes.

      2. If the casualties and costs from the response will likely exceed the casualties and costs from not responding, the response should be withheld. Thus conquering and occupying a country with 4,452 killed and another with 1,570 killed is not a proper response 2,996 people killed.

        If a response is still deemed necessary, the type of response should be re-examined. Giving someone uncooperative a 3000?F day (a la WWII Dresden) tends to get the undivided attention of the next people you request something of, and has the added virtues of being cheap both in American lives and costing very little.

        Sure, it’s barbaric to drop flares, but restricting yourself to ineffective means of war is reprehensible. And it isn’t as if we’re leading with this idea on a first date.

        1. By your measure, the war with Japan was an excessive response to Pearl Harbor. Nonsense.

          1. If we had lost WW2 in 1945—due to The Culture showing up, or what-have-you—the strategic bombing campaign against Japan would certainly have been viewed as excessive, and a war crime. LeMay thought so, as did Bomber Harris when asked about Bomber Command’s actions in Europe. Winning excuses a lot.

            Doesn’t mean those campaigns weren’t effective. IMHO they weren’t wrong, especially given the projected costs of Coronet and Olympic, but you can certainly make a good argument that they were excessive.

            1. There’s nothing excessive about doing what it takes to protect the rights of all your citizens. Further, the idea of withholding a response because it might kill more enemies than your people have been killed is morally abhorrent. Individual rights are absolute and the state is (supposed to be) there to protect them, whether the rights of 1 or 1000.

              1. So how killing non-combatants is not excessive? Isn’t that terrorism of a sort? Terrorism being striking at that which is not the government or military of a nation to achieve an end.

                BTW, if FDR had been so concerned about protecting us he would have had Pearl Harbor on high alert once he knew the Japanese navy was on the move.

                1. Noncombatants are a part of war as well. If a government must take a fight to the enemy civilians to protect the rights of its citizens, then it is moral. The moral burden lies on the government that started it ie Japan’s.

      3. A googooplex is a number.

        Define victim.

        Define who should respond.

        1. “A googooplex is a number.”

          No, it is not.

          1. googolplex, pedant

    2. People are just unable to rationally assess such risks. (Wasn’t there an article on here about that recently?)

      Yeah, it was from the manmade global warming pusher.

    3. The fact is that even if you live in a higher risk city like NY the chances of you dieing in a terrorist attack is tiny. People are just unable to rationally assess such risks.

      If people were willing to wrap their tiny minds around the idea that they are more likely to be shot down in cold blood by Officer Friendly than blown to bits Ahmed the Illiterate Goat Herder, the world would be a much better place.

  5. […]an enemy that existed more in the minds of its leaders than in reality.

    We beg to differ.

    1. Hey! You’re not the real twin towers.

    2. We beg to differ.

      Shouldn’t that be in the past tense?

  6. “But he commanded a peasant army and didn’t have the talent necessary to be anything more than a nuisance for the United States.”

    Really? Those guys flying the planes were peasants? Not really. They had the mindset of peasants, true. But there are millions like them all over the world. That’s because this is not a war on “terror” at all. It is a war against a mindset; the mindset of crazy Islamists.

    By the way, I’m not too surprised that Indians celebrated the toppling of the Taliban, who were supported by THEIR great enemy, Pakistan. Iraq? Eh, we can just go to the old standby, hating America.

    1. a war against a mindset- the crazy Islamists who believe we oppress the Muslim world.

      And to eradicate this mindset, lets bomb countries on a whim, invade and occupy several Arab nations, and prop up brutal dictators friendly towards our military policies.

      1. Some people are still primitive and stupid enough to swallow the totalitarian kool aid force fed to them by statist institutions.

      2. Oh no! Not that? Let’s stay home and pretend it will all go away.

        Anyway, I never said we should invade and occupy anybody. Bomb? Sure, every once in a while. The midset that thinks that the US oppresses the muslim world doesn’t really think that. They think that the US is a threat to their desire to oppress the world. As is required by their holy book.

      3. Oh yea, just on a whim. The Taliban were innocent bystanders who we one day decided to bomb. Iraq too, we woke up one day and bombed them. There was no 8 month lead up to that war.

        1. What lead up? Are you talking about the demands that Iraq follow UN resolutions to disarm? Where’s the uproar over North Korea flouting these resolutions? How about the concern over WMDs which were never actually found?

          I’m not saying that Hussein was an innocent, good-hearted person. Or that he didn’t deserve to be deposed in a violent manner. There are plenty more dictators like him in many other countries and very little which distinguishes Hussein and Iraq from other dictators and their respective countries. A measured, consistent response is what’s required – not spending trillions of dollars and thousands of lives in a 10 year foray that will never end positively.

          1. The wisdom of the war is certainly in doubt, but it wasn’t carried out on a whim. The AUMF was in October and UN 1441 was in November, so the debates about Iraq started much earlier. We didn’t invade until March.

          2. And to be fair, there weren’t lots of other dictators like Hussein the world. Saddam invaded two countries, and perhaps murdered up to a million of his own people, many using chemical weapons. NK certainly is on that level of killing its own people, but hasn’t invaded any neighbors recently. Hafez Assad wasn’t on Saddam’s level. Who else is on that level in the modern world?

            1. Africa probably contains many if not most of the world’s worst dictators today, accidentally assisted by UN supply drops and Red Cross donations.

              1. What makes you think it was an accident?

            2. Who is on that level? NATO.

    2. A fair number of the attackers were college-educated and none to my knowledge were camel herders.

      1. They obviously did not go to Faber College.

      2. doesnt fit the wingnut meme ragnar. remember binLaden was irrevelent to aQ, on dialysis or dead, constantly moving, living in caves, more made-up stuff, etc

        1. What wingnut meme? It’s 49% of Democrats who are at least somewhat truthers. http://www.politico.com/blogs/….._knew.html

          1. The wingnut meme is best exemplified by those who buy government conspiracy fables.

            Also those who cheer for team red, white and blue. Those are the real loser / wingnuts.

  7. What’s more, if America thinks it is above the law and doesn’t have to answer to international opinion

    This sentence is SO full of fail.

    There is, in reality, no such thing as international law, because there isn’t any world government. International relations are necessarily anarchistic.

    There is no “America” that can “think it is above the [nonexistent international] law”. Countries are philosophical and imaginary constructs that can’t have volition. What has volition? Politicians who have opinions about how to use their power — these politicians are individuals, and each has a different opinion about how to act.

    1. Good post. Anyway, what’s the point of a law that’s supposed to be followed on the honor system.

    2. Indeed. And why is a libertarian saying the US should answer to “international opinion”? International opinion says libertarianism is nuts.

      1. International opinion says libertarianism is nuts.

        And libertarians think international opinion is nuts, since most of it is socialist. But in a world with a functioning justice system, national leaders who launch unprovoked wars, authorize torture, or order the killing of unarmed suspects would face criminal charges.

        1. There is no world with a functioning justice system. If we’re lucky, there never will be.

    3. Seems the boards have been overtaken by the philosophy 101 students. What the hell is your point here? That extended organizations are composed of individuals with their own motives? What a novel concept…

      There’s a simple reality here. There are hundreds of millions of people in this shared landmass known as the United States who are connected by various cultural and economic ties. Some mechanism by which to organize their interactions is required; we generally call these things laws. In that sense, “America” exists. Beyond that, it is necessary to somehow organize the interactions of “America” with those of other “countries” containing their billions of individuals. We call this international law.

      I’m so sick of this individualist bullshit; put down your copy of Atlas Shrugged and come out into the real world for once. There is no such thing as rugged individualism; societies must be organized in some manner, even in libertopia (perhaps especially so). The goal is not the reduction of everything to the individual, but the elevation of concern for an individual’s right to higher levels of organization.

  8. I am India’s expert in strategic defence and the father of India’s strategic program, including the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program and in my blog titled ‘Nuclear Supremacy For India Over U.S.’, which can be found by a Yahoo search with the title, I have shown that all terrorism and insurgencies in the Indian subcontinent and in much of the rest of the world are sponsored by the C.I.A. Both Pakistan’s ISI and India’s RAW function as branches of the C.I.A. and participate in terrorism and insurgencies throughout the subcontinent, under direction of the C.I.A. (Within the above blog look for ‘What You Should Know About RAW’).The goal of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and partial occupation of Pakistan is eventual occupation and overt colonial rule over the subcontinent as a whole; India is already under covert CIA rule, through RAW. To end this, India has said that five to six nuclear bombs have been prepositioned in various cities/countries such as New Delhi, Washington and New York — see my blog — for the nuclear destruction of New Delhi, Washington and New York and later the coast-to-coast destruction of the United States.
    An AP report is headed “US official: Pakistan says it will grant US access to bin Laden’s wives left behind after raid”. Like the U.S., the sponsor of all terrorism in the world — see above — will grant access to Obama’s wife’s ugly t w a t to drain inspectors from the subcontinent. Satish Chandra

  9. well, at the very least, they are our own laws too. Signed treaties have the force of law in our nation. So if you want to phrase it differently, we are a nation of morally deranged barbarians, with no respect for rule of law.

  10. “So long as Osama bin Laden, the ALLEGED mastermind of 9/11”

  11. “So long as Osama bin Laden, the ALLEGED mastermind of 9/11”

    Preach it, brother!

    1. How about all the preachers who, without a shred of evidence, just buy the state’s conspiracy theory that fout saudis, who did not know how to fly, and armed only with box cutters, brought down the towers.

      1. without a shred of evidence?
        O RLY?

        1. Well, where’s the evidence? HMM? HMM? HMM? Oh, “it was incinerated in the crashes”? HOW CONVENIENT!

          1. I know you’re just being ironic so I’ll add “ZOMG! Bush did it! Reichstag Fire! Building 7!!1!” before you do.

            1. “Ironic”?

      2. Four Saudis? Who didn’t know how to fly? I wouldn’t buy that one, either.

        Now, teams of terrorists, with members who had been through flight school, sure.

        1. half of flight school – the take off part

    2. What, you mean bin Laden wasn’t tried and convicted in a court of law?

  12. this reaction inevitably will give way to discomfort over America’s audacity.

    Hey, how can we be The Greatest Nation on Earth? without at least a little audacity?

  13. Does anyone at Reason want to take on the story of the Koch brothers’ donation of $1.5 million to the economics department at Florida State?

    PZ Myers is shooting hot, hate jism in the eyes of libertarians over this story, so I thought it would be fun to investigate.

  14. I think you could get some libertarians to oppose anything, just call it the “War on..whatever”

    1. We might let the “War on ‘Wars On'” slide.

  15. Terrorism cannot be fought against as a law enforcement issue because it’s sustainability relies on the support of nation-states. What are you going to do? Arrest Iran? Syria? We tried the law enforcement path and it led to 9/11. This is not to say that the ‘War on Terror’ has been successful on every front, but it has yielded some results. Certainly more results than calling the cops would’ve.

    1. “””Arrest Iran? Syria?”””

      How did you come up with Iran or Syria having anything to do with 9/11 which was mostly done by Saudi’s.

      Or is this some sort of John Belushi misquote with Germany bombing Pearl Harbor?

      “”””This is not to say that the ‘War on Terror’ has been successful on every front, but it has yielded some results. “””

      Yes, we now have many more thousands dead, tens of thousands wounded and trillions deeper in debt. We have managed to inflict several 9/11’s worth of damage to the US in return for not stopping terrorism in the US or the world and temporarily occupying mostly worthless territory. And the bonus that even with our world wide war on terrorism we must still be groped and spied on by our own government.

      1. True, SA is an enemy but Iran was identified as having aided AQ in the 9/11 report. Jason is absolutely right the idea that this is a law enforcement issue is absurd.

        1. “””‘but Iran was identified as having aided AQ in the 9/11 report.””‘

          Yeah the same sources who said that the US had to invade Iraq due to WMD’s

          All the threats to the US that were stopped were stopped by law enforcement. The military on the other hand could not even defend two principle cities with fighter jets, they were too busy defending Europe, Asia, Middle East and anyplace but the USA. As far as I see the military has abrogated its responsibility to defend the US so it and its War on Terror are worthless.

          Fighting for useless dirt in Afghanistan and Chinese oil supply in Iraq has nothing to do with defending the US.

          1. I’m not aware that the 9/11 report said there WMD’s in Iraq. That’s a shitty argument.

            And no, all threats cannot be stopped by law enforcement otherwise we wouldn’t have 9/11. How the hell is out LE supposed to stop attacks on American embassies?

            Also, your second paragraph is just fail. Just because the US military is overstretched doesn’t mean it’s abrogated its responsibilities.

    2. I’m just curious, but on what front has the War on Terror been successful?

      1. Well Al-Qaeda in Iraq was pretty much defeated.

        1. And in place of al Qaeda we have 100k+ Iranian insurgents fighting U.S. forces in Iraq? Good trade, methinks.

          1. CITATION NEEDED

  16. Arrest Iran?

    Hmmmm ….

  17. What “results”?

    Thousands of US troopers killed.

    Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi, Pakistani and Afghani civilians murdered.

    And, how about the trillions squandered?

    1. The hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, Pakistanis and Afghans (where is that number form btw?) were murdered by the people were trying to stop! Al-Qaeda its affiliates, and the Taliban have killed many more civilians than we (unintentionally) have.

      1. That number is from various sources: the World Health Organization, Lancet, the Associated Press, etc. The numbers vary dramatically. Turns out it’s extremely hard to quantify these thing…but 100k is generally taken to be a lowball estimate. The estimates range into the high 100k’s or even 1M+. The most recent estimate of 120k relied on international media reporting of deaths and notes that it is very likely to be and undercount.

        At any rate, it really doesn’t matter who murdered these people. The fact of the matter is that these deaths wouldn’t have happened had the U.S. not wantonly invaded these nations. So we are responsible, even if only indirectly so.

        1. That’s bullshit. The Lancet study has been debunked roundly. Civilian casualties in Iraq are in the tens of thousands and the vast majority from sectarian BS, which is not our moral burden. We liberated them and they had a choice what to do with that freedom. That altruistic mindset is exactly what got us into nation building.

          1. “””That altruistic mindset is exactly what got us into nation building.”””

            And what do you think Iraq has been about if not nation building? The whole idea was to invade and then build a US leaning Iraq government.

            Under you anti-nation building idea, you are against the war in Iraq. Welcome to the anti-war side.

            1. Because it’s impossible to invade a nation to depose a psycopathic hostile tyrant who is a funder of terrorism and suspected of links to the first WTC attack? Welcome to logic.

      2. stevey boy, stop drinking the totalitarian claptrap fed to you by your statist masters.

  18. But when it came to Iraq, I watched friends and family quietly cheer every time the BBC reported American casualties or setbacks.

    With friends and “allies” like these, who needs Osama?

    I still can’t understand this. They “cheered” when US troops were killed trying to unseat a mass murdering psychopath who had gassed his own people? What kind of friends and family do you have?


    1. To be fair, they were probably cheering when US troops were killed trying to prevent Islamonutters from all over the Middle East from killing Iraqis.

      That’s different. Its part of their culture, so we were being insensitive and oppressive.

      1. Why wouldn’t they cheer the death of the Islamonutters instead considering how much they hate Hindu’s?

        None of this makes any sense.

        1. Wait until you learn that Hindu’s are sometimes nuts and hostile as well. Religious nuts are universal.

    2. What about the half a million Iraqi dead as a result of the sanctions?

      The average Iraqi may have been living under the grip of a brutal, mass murdering dictator, but many more would have lived had it not been for the mass murdering sanction enforcers-i.e., team red, white and blue.

      1. Yes, it’s our fault. The plight of the North Koreans is also our fault.

        1. The North Koreans do not have enough protein in their diets.

          1. According to your logic LM, the US is responsible for said lack of protein. In fact this is exactly what our former dear leader Jimmy Carter directly stated recently-

            “There are human rights issues that relate to the policies of the North Korean government, which I don’t think any of us on the outside can change,” Mr. Carter said. “But one of the most important human rights is to have food to eat. For the South Koreans and the Americans and others to deliberately withhold food aid to the North Korean people because of political or military issues not related is really a human rights violation.”

            According to your logic, this is exactly the same thing as what happened with the sanctions in Iraq.

            Your logic is BUNK. You expect the US to be morally obligated to feed these countries even if that means we will simply be helping Kim Jong-il or Saddam stay in power longer and cause more famines.


            1. Clearly 50 years worth of sanctions swiftly ended the Juche regime. Show me one time where withholding food has gotten rid of a dictator.

              1. The Soviet Union was effectively starved into collapse. Now show me one time where giving a dictator free food has made him leave peaceably.

                So if I’ve got to deal with the bastard anyway I’d rather deal with a malnourished bastard than a healthy strong one.

            2. Tman, first, my post was a joke.

              Second, I do not think that a dime of your money should be taken from you in order to feed North Koreans. You know that I am a no exceptions, consistent, anarcho-free enterprise-individualist, and as such, would never support such communism. Even if you were a new poster here, my post above can not be read to mean that I support the state stealing your property in order to give to North Koreans.

              1. LM,

                I kinda thought the NK post was a joke, but you wrote something so stupid previously about the sanctions it was tough to tell.

                To repeat:”Sanctions” did not kill anyone. Saddam stole the food and the money and the oil from said programs and LET HIS PEOPLE STARVE (the ones he wasn’t brutally murdering). So to say that “sanctions” were responsible for however many deaths is irresponsible bullshit.

          2. A world without cats and dogs.

  19. If I thought there was much chance of Afghanistan turning into a civilized country in the next few years, I could be convinced to stay.

    I don’t think that, so I think we should get out.

    I don’t think there is much more we can do to civilize Iraq at this point, so I think we should get out.

    The best thing we can do for both countries is “encourage” regime change in Iran and Syria. Rather than, as the current administration has been doing, passively blocking regime change under their bizarre policy of supporting regime change only in countries that are not our enemies.

    1. How would such “encourage[ment]” look?

      1. Not sure how that would look, but their response to such will be a one finger salute.

        1. My guess is that it would have to look like American James Bonds assassinating various dictators and their upper echelon of enforcers, said Bonds getting captured and then killed during the torture process denying any ties to the US, thus making them seem like highly trained, well-equipped, unstable individuals with a political axe to grind. In other words, the U.S. needs its own unofficial terrorists. That and Iron Man suits. We could always use those.

  20. Didn’t 9/11 Truther claim that the Jews had stolen their knowledge from the Martians?

  21. My expectations on the war on terror ending is about the same as the war on drugs ending. Way too much establishment has buit built to support it. It was modeled and built with the intention that it would be forever more.

    1. Perhaps there’s a slight difference. The war on drugs costs a few billion a year. And the general populace either supports it or is indifferent to it. The war on terrorism is vastly more expensive, in the face of the general populace, and pisses a lot of people off. I don’t think it’s sustainable.

  22. Every time I see that picture, it makes me want a Krinkov even more.

  23. Just do what the United States tells you to do, and nobody gets hurt.

    1. ^^yep+1^^

  24. Congressional Republicans apparently want to expand the WoT, not end it. What a surprise.

    Buck McKeon – sounds like a character from Dr. Strangelove.

  25. It’s possible that the reason the odds of you dying in a terror attack is because we’ve been taking very proactive steps to prevent terror attacks…

    1. I’d have to see a lot of evidence that this is in fact the case before I believe that the “war on terror” has been justified.
      I am not just going to take the government’s word that this is all worth while.

  26. Terrorism is not a threat. The real threat are automobiles. How many people do cars kill a year?

    End the War on Terror. Start the War on Automobiles.

    1. ok sounds good.

  27. “But he was a lucky mass murderer. He pulled off one spectacular act that succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.”

    Dalmia needs to do better research. bin Laden and al Qaeda had a rep for carrying off big attacks. Or weren’t the bombings in Tanzania and Kenya enough for you?

    1. That does not fit the meme of muslims who are just real mad because the US is an oppressor. Fact is, they are hell bent on establishing a new caliphate. The US, concerned about its own interests in being able to obtain a very important product that just happens to exist in abundance in the region, protects the current providers of that product. It’s a fucked up situation, yes, but I wonder where we’ll be after we “pull out” as many are desparate to see happen. Will there be a vacuum? And who will fill it?

      1. I am sure that there are some Muslims who are hell bent on establishing a new caliphate. But how many? It seems quite plausible that the belief that the US is an oppressor is a big part of terrorists’ motivations. That doesn’t mean that it is necessarily true that the US is an oppressor. You can’t deny that that is what a lot of people around the world believe, though.

      2. “And who will fill it?”

        At your service!

      3. So, they want to establish a caliphate. Wildly unlikely, and how is this our problem?

  28. I also have to take issue with the numbers stating the total number of terror attacks. If those are worldwide, then those earlier numbers definitely include attacks by the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) who have nothing to do with extremist Islam terrorism targeting the West. Those numbers may also include the Shining Path and the MRTA in Peru, which again is a completely separate issue.

    1. The whole idea of “Global War on Terrorism” (as opposed to war on Al Qaeda and related islamic terrorist groups) just invites mission creep.

      1. Yeah, but Global War on Terror is a lot shorter to say, and I’m sure nobody wants to put Islam anywhere in the title of a war.

  29. Look, it’s clear the terrorists have won. Too many Americans have demonstrated that, as Ben Franklin supposedly opined, they deserve neither liberty nor safety, as they are willing to give up essential liberties for a small measure of perceived safety.

    Just take a look Drudge Report. There’s a new national alert system coming out that will MANDATE that new cell phones be equipped with chips to receive national broadcasts. And consumers will be able to opt out of them, EXCEPT for messages from the President.

    Combine this with Obama’s discussion of the possibility of requiring new cars to have tracking devices to tax them based on miles traveled?

    Shit, that’s truly Orwellian, and I don’t mean in the worn-out sense of that term. This truly and genuinely is Orwellian.

    1. Evidence:

      The voice from the telescreen paused. A trumpet call, clear and beautiful, floated into the stagnant air. The voice continued raspingly:

      ‘Attention! Your attention, please! A newsflash has this moment arrived from the Malabar front. Our forces in South India have won a glorious victory. I am authorized to say that the action we are now reporting may well bring the war within measurable distance of its end. Here is the newsflash -‘

      Bad news coming, thought Winston. And sure enough, following on a gory description of the annihilation of a Eurasian army, with stupendous figures of killed and prisoners, came the announcement that, as from next week, the chocolate ration would be reduced from thirty grammes to twenty.

  30. “Indeed, America has further crossed a line by invading the sovereignty of a friendly nation with which it has full diplomatic ties without any advance notice.”

    According to The Guardian’s report on 5/9/11, this may not be true:

    ‘The US and Pakistan struck a secret deal almost a decade ago permitting a US operation against Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil similar to last week’s raid that killed the al-Qaida leader, the Guardian has learned.

    The deal was struck between the military leader General Pervez Musharraf and President George Bush after Bin Laden escaped US forces in the mountains of Tora Bora in late 2001, according to serving and retired Pakistani and US officials.

    Under its terms, Pakistan would allow US forces to conduct a unilateral raid inside Pakistan in search of Bin Laden, his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the al-Qaida No3. Afterwards, both sides agreed, Pakistan would vociferously protest the incursion.

    “There was an agreement between Bush and Musharraf that if we knew where Osama was, we were going to come and get him,” said a former senior US official with knowledge of counterterrorism operations. “The Pakistanis would put up a hue and cry, but they wouldn’t stop us.”‘


  31. Should be interesting to see how all that turns out. Wow.


  32. So you guys have finally figured it out? I’ve been saying this for a week.

    And you don’t even have to say “it was all a failure”. You just declare victory and go home.

    Who gives a fuck about Afghanistan now? Apparantly, OBL was having trouble commanding Al Qaeda because communications were breaking down. We probably have enough evidence gleaned from his house that we can track down and kill the top few layers of the organization.

    This was a death blow.

    So we no longer have any reason to keep this shit up. The job is done. It is an IDEAL opportunity to say “OK, we won, war over!”

    1. Who gives a fuck about Afghanistan now?

      During some travel last week, I found out most of the–admittedly liberal?Canadians (Disclaimer: By no means does this represent the opinions of the majority of Canadians) I interacted with thought we should be in Afghanistan to mainly help the poor oppressed women, and to force the country to turn into a progressive social democracy, complete with recycling, Starbucks, no smoking in bars, and violent death for adults who cuss in front of children, use drugs, and/or watch pornography. Of course my response of “Well, since that is a broad justification (read: Slippery Slope of a Rationale) for why we should invade and occupy countries, I guess most of Africa and the Middle East should be quickly surrounded and threatened promptly unless they stop oppressing women, and start building Harris Teeters and using low-flow toilets powered by moon-beams” fell on deaf ears. Never thought I would see the day when I would out-left liberal Canadians on the war issue, but there you have it. They want to sacrifice their blood and treasure (in reality they want the US to sacrifice its blood and treasure) to make sure that certain people on the other side of the planet can drive cars, vote, get abortions, and wear skirts. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to posit that if the rights of Afghan women are so important to Canadians, then Canada is welcome to try –emphasis on try– to secure them.

      So to answer your question, I bet there are a lot of “pragmatic” liberals worldwide who could use the same white/western man’s burden type of reasoning for murdering Arab wife beaters en masse.

      The historical solution to this type of problem is that either the Imperialistic power brutally imposes its will (in this case equal rights for all Afghan women) on the far-flung violators of its will, or said violators, after decades, if not centuries of cultural turmoil are overthrown by a more egalitarian underground. The path we are on in Afghanistan, namely, surround the violators, kill some, threaten others, and give handouts to even more —the good cop/bad cop method of imposed cultural change has never worked, let alone in a world where the violators have access to relatively cheap methods of perpetually resisting and harassing their self-imposed imperialist betters.

      Then again, if I was Superman, I would spend my Thursday afternoons breaking the limbs of people who beat women and children time permitting. But Superman doesn’t exist, and if he did, he’d be a hell of a lot cheaper than the bloated, bureaucrat-infused military we have let grow like a tumor on our blackhead(Blackwater?) laden faces.

      1. Well, you know Canada has “peace, order, and good government” in it’s constitution to contrast with “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.

        They’re actually pretty conservative in that way. They believe in law and order.

  33. “But a world that is rooting against America is not likely to be cooperative with America in future struggles.”

    Yes, the USA is afraid that India will not provide telemarketing for us in the next war.

    There is no doubt that several ethnic groups cheer against the USA even here at home. Muslims chanting quietly something about Allah and Osama in public bathrooms……

  34. The best thing we can do for both countries is “encourage” regime change in Iran and Syria.

    (1)Stop giving speeches supporting the regimes, and start giving speeches calling for their ouster.

  35. The best thing we can do for both countries is “encourage” regime change in Iran and Syria.

    (1)Stop giving speeches supporting the regimes, and start giving speeches calling for their ouster.

  36. The best thing we can do for both countries is “encourage” regime change in Iran and Syria.

    (1) Stop giving speeches supporting the regimes, and start giving speeches calling for their ouster.

    (2) Set up programs in those countries, staffed by diplomats (with immunity) to promote human rights, democracy, all that stuff.

    (3) Give asylum (and a podium) to any of the oppo leaders who ask for it.

    (4) Promote media coverage of the protests and uprisings.

    (5) Make no secret of our distaste for primitive theocrats trying overthrow the regime, and dangle sweet deals coming to fruition if a civilized government takes over.

    All the soft stuff that State is supposed to be so good at. Can’t hurt, probably will help at least a little, and shouldn’t make enemies of anyone who isn’t already our enemy.

    1. (2) Set up programs in those countries, staffed by diplomats (with immunity) to promote human rights, democracy, all that stuff.

      1, 3, 4, and 5 preclude 2.
      If we were doing all of that, there wouldn’t be a US embassy in the country. They would be expelled.
      We don’t have an embassy in Lybia, Iran or Cuba. I’m not sure if we have one in Syria. I’d be shocked if our ambassador is still there if we do.

      1. Correct … the US Liason office in Lybia was upgraded recently to embassey status (before the current uprising). Still, we only had an embassy during the few years that relations between the US and Lybia had warmed. It’s obviously not open now.

    2. We’ve been trying much of this and it’s going nowhere. Just launch a full scale invasion already. It’ll be easy as pie.

  37. Oderint dum metuant.

  38. There are a lot of problems with this column. First is the idea we should suck up to world opinion, which is bunk. Much of the world is anti-American by default and winning their hearts and minds isn’t worth it. Even when bombing Ghaddafi in the ’80s Germany wouldn’t give America flyover rights because they are assholes. Also, Shakhias’ Terribe Consequences of losing “control” are laughable. India will kill terrorists? Israel will stop Iran from going nuclear? OH NOES!11one
    Funny, the kind of soft-power intervention requiring the leverage that Shakhia want’s to preserve is usually disliked by libertarians here. Lastly, this is not a law-enforcement issue. We’re not dealing with ELF here these groups have stat-sponsorship.

    Shakhia is absolutely right that the WoT is stupid. Can’t wage war on a tactic. We need to recognize the enemy as Totalitarian Islam. From there, the targets flow logically.

    1. Maybe Germany didn’t agree with the attack and was well within its rights to deny us access to their airspace on that basis?

      1. Yes, they were within their rights and they were assholes for exercising it.

    2. As I pointed out above, everyone knows the WOT is not really a war on a tactic, but on extremist Islam, but we could never use War on and Islam in the same sentence.

  39. I love how “world opinion” is less concerned about a nuclear state which harbors and protects an international terrorist masss murderer with 3 army regiments than the state that kills the terrorist in a surgical strike killing no one outside the compound.

    Here’s some news for cocktail parties in India – Pakistan’s nukes and radical Islam are a bigger problem for you than us. Would you rather be fighting them alone, or have you already planned your surrender party? Were you eager for the day when Bin Laden would be running Pakistan, with his finger on the button, and we ruined your fun?

    I know this kind of nitwitism is popular in Europe. I hope it isn’t so rampant in India.

  40. “America has further crossed a line by invading the sovereignty of a friendly nation with which it has full diplomatic ties without any advance notice.”

    A “friendly nation” with Bin Laden in it’s midst and a compromised security apparatus protecting him should welcome the assistance in ridding their country of this scourge. So sorry we didn’t send a telegram to Bin Laden through Pakistani security forces, warning him of the impending assault.

    Friendly nation. The US has taken up the burden of global security for over half a century now, with a world full of “friendly nations” playing local domestic politics, spitting on the US in public while relying on the US for their security needs and undermining US efforts in private, playing both sides against the middle.

  41. indians support iraqis over the US because they are both “people of color” and they resent europeans or whites Europeans being liberal also resent themselves. these issues are all ethnic, racial, national identity issues. whites are different and successful (so far) so they are hated. It is not about human rights or killing. if that was the case, China would be hated for Tibet and other things.

    1. Uh….. China is hated for Tibet and other things.

  42. American sailors taken hostage for ransom and some sold into slavery by muslim pirates. An American president that sends the Navy to attack at Tripoli. The horror…. In the 1700s. This goes way back and we didn’t start it. While I agree we need to get smart about what we do, just treating it as a criminal problem underestimates the scale of the issue. Terrorist acts are commuted somewhere against someone practically every day somewhere and the terrorists always seem to have a reason. If they don’t, they make one up. They even want to recapture Andelusia (part of Spain) because it is theirs. They conquered it fair and square once a long time ago and its not fair that the Spaniards threw them back out 5 hundred years ago.

  43. Thank you Ms. Dalmia, it is always a pleasure to read your insights.

    These last ten years have done considerable damage to liberties overseas and here at home. The U.S Border Patrol is seeking a tenfold increase in manpower on the Olympic Peninsula citing only “national security” as their rationale and asking the local media to “cooperate” in news blackouts on any BP arrests.

    The local sheriffs’ departments question the need for such a show of force.

    Apparently, the Obama administration has no intent of reining in the monster of “national security” unleashed by the Bush administration.

  44. “But when it came to Iraq, I watched friends and family quietly cheer every time the BBC reported American casualties or setbacks. This wasn’t because Indians had any affection for Saddam Hussein. To the contrary. Still, they regarded Iraq as an optional war. As they saw it, there was nothing left to counter America’s awesome military prowess?either an antiwar movement within America or a competing superpower outside it”

    It explains his entire world view:

    America is strong.

    India is a joke.

    He’s ticked-off about it.

    Whatever. Boo-fucking-hoo.

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