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September 12, 2007

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It's time for this to stop. It's time for us to recover our honor, try to help put our country back together again, and mourn 9/11 the way it deserves to be mourned: soberly, thoughtfully, seriously, for itself, and not in the service of any extraneous end.

Great post. Sadly, I hold very little hope of any of the above coming to pass.

I think I dealt with it better when it was still raw. I haven't thought much about it today, really; though I assume it has a fair bit to do with the incredibly lousy mood I've been in.

I used to be able to write about this day: 1, 2, 3, 4. Right now it's eluding me.

I wish they would build something there. Come on New York, Chicago's putting you to shame on the skyscraper front.

i'm done with it - i said my peace here
I have no intention on writing about it again (not to take anything away from those who do -- including this interesting post)

the race point is an interesting one. i think there's a lot to that -- that's the kind of stuff that makes Suck On This even more unforgiveable. He's actually lived there -- and for him to lump them all together, it just boggles the mind.

Among the things I remember in the week after the 2001 attack are (1) the passage in the President's Friday speech that this would be a war that was fought without boundaries in space and time, a hidden war and (2) Bill Maher's empty seat all week for Barbara Olsen, who started to fly to Los Angeles for Maher's show.

Bush's speech resonated that night with part of the Little Steven song "Undefeated", where the anonymous soldier writing home "might be [over there] forever, fighting here forever". While the administration probably was completely surprised by the attack, they already hungered for unlimited power and saw a chance to gain it that week.

Maher's rage at the attack drove him to call for revenge on those who attacked us, instead of venting indiscrimiately and ineffectively. In all, there was wonderful national unity and focus after the attack. (This was faded and finally disappeared in the next election, as the attackers and Iraq were deliberately and falsely equated by Republicans.)


By the way, there are rumors that Barbara's surviving husband Ted Olsen, Solicitor General, might replace Gonzales at AG. While very partisan, I hope that he will choose defense of the rule of law as his personal legacy.

I can't think what to say about 9/11. I just can't. The combination of the fact that it's still raw for me, my anger at the uses to which the murder of so many people has been put, and my near-despair about our inability to deal honestly with the war in Iraq seems to have left me without words.
Very eloquently put nonetheless. On this rainy 9/11 in the NY-NJ area where I live, I couldn't help but think how lost in the wake of history and almost irrelevant (except for cause) this anniversary is. Not to take anything from the victims of that day, but the bitter fact is we now have so many new losses to mourn. I lay all of this to the criminal incompetence of our "leaders" in responding to 9/11. It's a tragedy that set in motion even greater self-inflicted wounds to our society and people.

My reaction to seeing Bush and Cheney bow their heads on the WH lawn was that it shouldn't be in mourning for what happened on their watch then, but rather in shame for what they continue to do now.

No one would dream of suggesting that if Cuba attacked the U.S., we should respond by invading Venezuela.
I'm not so sure about that.

KCinDC:

Exactly what I was about to say. Especially given the rising levels of anti-Hispanic race-baiting in this country, and the fact that Venezuela has oil.

I had my own response to the likes of Flopping Aces and Michelle Malkin. I also liked what John Cole said of Malkin--if she wraps herself any tighter in the flag, she might suffocate.

KCinDC, I'm with you. I've seen occasional right-wing pundits already suggest that we should Do Something about Chavez and Lulu in Brazil (because he's such a Dangerous Leftist); if Cuba had carried out 9/11, I think Chavez would be on the chopping block one way or another.
I do think the progress of South America away from the military-strongman--even if it's not total progress--shows that a region can change without the US invading and occupying it (I'm sure there are people on this list too young to remember when Latin American and Dictator seemed to go together automatically).
As to the main point of this post, though, no question that race and culture have played a huge role in our response. Despite the Spanish-American War, it's beyond belief that anyone would use that to prove "Hispanics have been at war with America for over a century" the way the Barbary Pirates and the Crusades are frequently invoked.

well, just to report a very small slice of personal good news: after six years at least i can look out on crisp blue sky with a trace of fall in the air, and not feel sick to my guts.

healing is slow. for people who profit from prolonging the illness, there can be no excuse.

While very partisan, I hope that he [Ted Olson] will choose defense of the rule of law as his personal legacy.

I hope to be offered a non-roster invitee slot by the Red Sox next year.

I like my odds better than yours.

And the 'very partisan' in the sentence above modifies 'I', not 'he', which may or may not be deliberate.

Hilzoy, I share the sentiment, but I disagreed with one part of the quoted passage at Ezra Klein's place and will do so here, too: I don't think it's any specific racism at work.

There was a time when a lot of the sharpest observers of the eastern European scene, the people who could explain just why Czech and Slovak interests aren't identical and what demographic factors were muddying the southeastern border of Ukraine, were conservative. Then the Iron Curtain went down, and as the whole area became much more immediately important to American planning, conservative interest in the details went down. They were all just Commies and slaves now.

A lot of the mid-century "China hands" were left-wing, but by no means all - there were outstanding conservative scholars and diplomats, the sort who knew a half dozen or dozen languages themselves and had contacts for many more, who knew and loved this region or that, for whom Hmong and Viet were as immediately obviously distinctive as, oh, Irish and Italian would be to most of their students and clients. As the Vietnam debacle heated up, conservative authorities became less and less interested in anything these guys might have to say, and dropped understanding in favor of the usual blocs and eternal verities.

I grew up knowing Lebanese and Palestinian emigres, some of whom had parents or relatives who'd been translators, guides, negotiators, and providers of other services for the oil companies and the State Department. Mostly they were and are a quite conservative crowd. As with Southeast Asia, some Arabist communities were very liberal, but by no means all. There's a vast repertoire of conservative expertise and experience that got tossed aside for the sake of the neo-con crusade.

Whatever area becomes most important to these folks, they'll seek to know less and less about it, so as to free themselves whatever action they choose. Umberto Eco (as another of Ezra's commenters pointed out) tagged the idea that action is beautiful in itself and knowledge only corrupts that beauty as one of his 14 qualities of fascism, though (as Eco points out) it's no more unique to fascism than any of his other points, just one of the useful warning signs. The key thing is this pattern: when it matters, the conservative machine's drivers seek ignorance, and they do this everywhere. The Muslim world is just the current victim of their attention. As long as the movement lasts, there'll be fresh targets.

Hilzoy: I’m getting closer to what you wish for here, but in all honesty it will likely take me another 5 years or so to arrive.

The white hot rage is still there, although it takes more fanning these days to reach temperature. It can be fanned though…

While I can mostly agree with you, I find Kamiya’s piece to be extremely naïve and way to close to the “understand why they hate us” and “root causes” piffle. For instance:

One of the neocons' main goals in invading Iraq was to "remake the Middle East" -- a weirdly grandiose, imperialist concept of the sort that doesn't apply anywhere except with Muslims. Only in the Middle East do lofty historical generalizations about why a world culture went wrong…

Bull. We did it all through the Cold War. With the exception of Korea and Vietnam we used proxies, and instead of Muslims it was Communists. It’s Kamiya who has “lofty historical generalizations”. I don’t read him any more, but what I have read boils down to “Its Israeli’s fault. America went to war on the orders of the Likud.”

I don’t read him anymore because I can’t take seriously at all someone who penned this one week after 9/11.

we must also ask ourselves why this happened -- and why it might happen again. Striking back at those who have viciously attacked us is a first step. But if we don't address the underlying reasons why we were attacked, we will invite more hatred, and in the end more attacks.

But as we look down the long, dangerous road that lies ahead, we must remember that there is one specific grievance that rankles in the breasts of millions of Arab and Islamic people in the world. And until that grievance is resolved, there is a greater possibility that one of those people will decide to strike a terrible blow at the United States.

The critical issue is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- a conflict in which the United States plays a reluctant central role. Until a just resolution of that conflict is realized -- one that provides a homeland for the Palestinian people and security for Israel -- it will be far more difficult for America to put together a truly committed coalition to fight terrorism, one that is not simply held together by coercion.

And then he goes on to attempt the standard moral equivalence, the Palestinians are no worse than the Israelis… One week after Palestinians danced in the streets in celebration of the attacks, he excuses it thusly:

There will be those who point to the televised images of Palestinians celebrating the attacks as proof that these people hate us too much to ever be partners in peace. Such a reaction is understandable, but it is wrong. No one can condone celebrating the murder of innocent people. But hopeless, desperate people are driven to do ugly things. In their hearts, the Palestinians, like the Israelis, like Americans, like all the people of the world, want the same things. Peace. A country. A decent life.

No one can condone it, but they were driven to it. Not their fault. He wrote this article one week to the day after 9/11. I remember it because it almost made me physically ill. At the time let’s just say that I wasn’t exactly open to arguments based on: it’s our fault; we had it coming, if only we didn’t support Israel it never would have happened… OBL didn’t give a crap about a Palestinian state, any more than any Arab leader in the region does. It’s crucial that the plight of the Palestinians is never resolved so that these people have a grievance to justify whatever it is they decide to do.

OK. Time for me to back away from the keyboard again.

OCSteve - maybe you should think about the anger and rage you felt after 9/11 and some of the policies you subsequently supported and now regret because of it. Are we supposed to not even think about why you might support bad policies?

The idea that we shouldn't try to understand why our enemies hate us is, quite frankly, astonishing. It doesn't mean we want to give them therapy, or blame ourselves, or excuse their actions, it just one piece (if not the main one) to figuring out how to get them to stop hating us. Now, we may determine that the costs of getting them to stop hating us outweight the benefits, but how are we to know if we don't figure it out?

I can understand you not being open to such arguments and analysis one week after 9/11, it doesn't mean I condone it.

Ugh: Are we supposed to not even think about why you might support bad policies?

Not at all. My point, if I have one, is that I can be swayed to support very bad policies. Catch me on the right day and I’ll support something that I will regret a month later. I’m kind of laying myself out there as an example. I still have the rage, and it can be manipulated. I’m not proud of that – it is what it is…

The rest is context. I can accept Kamiya’s article today – six years later. One week later? No way.

Tell me, how would you feel reading that one week later? One week later, would you have agreed with the premise?

One week later I might have been able to deal with the first three paragraphs you quote above, though definitely not the last one. Definitely wouldn't have been able to write them.

But I guess what I'm also reacting to is you saying I don’t read him anymore because I can’t take seriously at all someone who penned this one week after 9/11.

Even now you can't take him seriously? When he seemed to have his head on straight one week later when most of the rest of us were stomping around demanding retribution (me included)? Shouldn't we take him more seriously?

When 9/11 happened I thought Bush would start carpet bombing all of Afghanistan within a week. IIRC, my thoughts were that maybe that would be a little rash and we should take some time and do this right. That's what I thought the administration was doing when it didn't start bombing until almost a month later (tho I'm sure there were people in country prior to that). I thought (at the time) that that reflected great restraint and wise planning.

OCSteve, I yield to none in my Zionism -- as some of the regulars here will undoubtedly agree with a resigned sigh, recalling threadjacks past.

But, since you ask, one of the first things that occured to me after 9-11 was, "we need to accept some responsibility." (well, a few days after. The first thing I thought was "Oh. We're at war now.")

Now, I disagree with Kamiya about the precise basis for that responsibility. I don't think that the source of AlQ resentment was the Israeli-Palestinian problem. As you correctly said, OBL never mentioned it until years later. I also don't think Arab resentment about that the U.S. role in that conflict is justified, for several reasons, starting with the idiocy of considering Israel an imperialist colony and moving on to the fact that the U.S. has frequently reined Israel in and prevented it from achieving more in its wars, and pushed it into giving away more than was in Israel's interest. Because I don't think that resentment is justified, I don't think the U.S. can (never mind about should) do much to mend it.

But we sure have sowed a lot of hatred with our domineering, contemptous ways in the Middle East in general, especially by propping up corrupt Arab regimes. In that very limited sense, I think Bush had a point when he said that we had a responsibility to spread democracy in the ME and that doing so would be in our long-term security interest. We have spent so long stamping it down, including specifically by supporting Saddam Hussein in Iraq, that we did breed some deserved trouble for ourselves, and we do owe the people there something. Not a war of occupation, offhand, that wouldn't be my first or even fiftieth idea for how to change U.S. policy so as to encourage democracy in the ME, but something.

And yes, I was at that point within a week of 9-11. You seem to think that's outrageous. I go the other way: how can you look at all of our dead and NOT think "what could we have done better?"

I know people in the US were upset by Palestinians dancing in the streets after 9/11. Americans don't congregate in the streets much -- it's easier to watch TV -- but how many Americans were in a celebratory mood a year and a half later, as shock and awe exploded over Baghdad? I can't see much difference between those people and the dancing Palestinians.

OCSteve,


I can understand being upset with Palestinians over dancing in the streets after 9/11. Perhaps not agree with it, but I can understand it. Tell me then: if dancing in the streets brings moral condemnation on Palestinians, do all the Iranians who conducted candlelit vigils in Tehran right after 9/11 earn any praise? Or is there nothing that non-Israeli middle-eastern people can do to earn your praise?

One week after Palestinians danced in the streets in celebration of the attacks

OCSteve, do you know how many Palestinian civilians were killed by the IDF in the second intifada, by September 2001? Do you know how many Palestinian civilians were killed by the IDF in the first intifada? Do you even care, or think how a Palestinian will feel, when the same thing happens to him as it did to you on 9/11?

You've talked of your rage when you saw the WTC fall on 9/11. Yet you appear completely incapable of comprehending that people who are not Americans may feel the same rage as you did when they see their friends and kindred killed in front of them. It just never seems to occur to you to translate your rage and outrage and realize that you're not unique: that what al-Qaeda did to you that day, the US has done to other countries over, and over, and over again.

Why is that?

How well I remember OCSteve's rage over Dinesh D'Souza's recent "Why They Hate Us" book.

Oh, wait.

I didn't lose anyone on 9/11, but I didn't know that for awhile. I agreed with Kamiya's ideas from the very start. I remember thinking on 9/11 that this is what it is like to have the lives of people you care about at the mercy of people who would kill them without qualms--something I'd been reading about for years with respect to other places, but had hoped never to experience firsthand.

I mean, it was always a theoretical possibility to me that NYC would be struck by terrorists--there was that earlier attempt in 1993 that, with better planning, might have been far worse. And I've been reading about US atrocities and terrorist atrocities against our allies and state terror committed by our allies for quite a number of years before 9/11. I knew that people typically react with a kind of tribal narcissistic morality when their own side is attacked. It's what people are like. So the American reaction to 9/11 was no surprise.

I was very disappointed with some segments of the left--Hitchens of course, who was obviously gleeful over the chance of participating in some way in a holy war, but he wasn't the only one. I'd naively expected better. Very stupid of me--I should have remembered how most of the European left reacted to the start of WWI.

Sorry, that was probably out of line. I just really have a problem with people who appropriate 9/11 anger to their own selfish ends, and are awfully selective in who and what they criticize for not responding to 9/11 "properly."

D'Souza's book is a million times more offensive than anything Kamiya is quoted as writing here, not because it seeks to find out "why they hate us," but because it argues that the people who committed that atrocity ARE RIGHT ABOUT US. And have I heard a single word against it from the semi-professional 9/11 anger stokers? Do I even need to ask that question?

One thing I don't get is, given how Bush, Cheney, Rice et al invited the 9/11 catastrophe to happen with open arms (and in Bush's case, a goofy smile), OCSteve's rage is not yet turned on them. And wonder why that is.

OCSteve, I think you are falling into the trap that many on the right have tried to set, which is that attempting to understand why al Qaeda did what they did, or why some people hate us is the same as saying that we deserved to be attacked.

It is equating understanding with agreement. This is a mistake.

At the same time, it is important to understand what motivates your enemy, particularly in terms of devising long term strategy.

It is important to note that after the invasion of Afghanistan, there was little increased resentment in the world toward us. In fact, the number of people who had a high opinion of OBL was dwindling, until we invaded Iraq.


If wre understood dynamics and were really serious about fighting OBL and his ilk, we would have taken advantage of that respite. Instead, we gave more ammunition.

It is not a case of kowtowing to what OBL wanted. It is a case of working to undercut his support. Instead we bolstered his support.

Phil: "Sorry, that was probably out of line." -- Yes, it was; thanks for taking it back without waiting to be asked.

Props to OCSteve for continued commenting here, despite the various pile-ons (me included, of course). And also for being a reasonable guy.

*collective pint or seven*

OCSteve, I think you are falling into the trap that many on the right have tried to set, which is that attempting to understand why al Qaeda did what they did, or why some people hate us is the same as saying that we deserved to be attacked.

It is equating understanding with agreement. This is a mistake.

At the same time, it is important to understand what motivates your enemy, particularly in terms of devising long term strategy.

I see this a lot. And I've pointed out it's basic MILITARY strategy to do this. It goes back to Clausewitz and Sun Tzu. And I get roundly ignored, if not disdained for pointing this out.

I don't get it. Why is it a partisan matter to undertake basic military strategy.

Ugh: Even now you can't take him seriously?

To rephrase, I decided at the time that I couldn’t take him seriously and stopped reading him.


Turbulence: do all the Iranians who conducted candlelit vigils in Tehran right after 9/11 earn any praise?

Of course. I have no issues with the Iranian people for the most part, just their leaders (yes, I know ours are also a problem).


Jes:do you know how many Palestinian civilians were killed by the IDF in the second intifada, by September 2001?

Around four thousand. How many Israelis? How many of those where woman and kids taking a bus ride or getting a slice of pizza? BTW, who started the second intifada?

Yet you appear completely incapable of comprehending that people who are not Americans may feel the same rage as you did when they see their friends and kindred killed in front of them. It just never seems to occur to you to translate your rage and outrage and realize that you're not unique: that what al-Qaeda did to you that day, the US has done to other countries over, and over, and over again.

I’m not sure you can actually judge what I comprehend or what occurs to me - mind reading foul. ;)


Phil: How well I remember OCSteve's rage over Dinesh D'Souza's recent "Why They Hate Us" book.

I haven’t read it, and it’s not something I would spend money on. Do you recommend it? ;)


john miller: I think you are falling into the trap that many on the right have tried to set, which is that attempting to understand why al Qaeda did what they did, or why some people hate us is the same as saying that we deserved to be attacked.

Probably true. But I think that it is implicit that the desire to understand means changing what prompted it. I mean why strive to understand if you are not going to act on the knowledge. Isn’t that capitulation? I guess I reflexively go the other way. I mean, I understand that OBL did this because he doesn’t like our troops being in SA. Well then double the number of troops we have there…

But I think that it is implicit that the desire to understand means changing what prompted it. I mean why strive to understand if you are not going to act on the knowledge. Isn’t that capitulation?

Well, no. If you understand why they did what they did, you can then weigh whether it's worth changing your behavior, or if they attacked you by mistake. If OBL attacked the United States because he didn't get a pen that President Bush used to sign a bill into law, and would not continue attacks if he got one, why not send him one? True that may encourage others to attack or just emolden bin Laden, but I haven't seen the "we do not negotiate with terrorists" line work so well.

OTOH if OBL attacked us because he hates the first amendment, well fnck him them.

I mean, I understand that OBL did this because he doesn’t like our troops being in SA. Well then double the number of troops we have there…

Yes because OBL would never, say, misrepresent what he wants.

BTW, who started the second intifada?

Better to ask who started the killing.

And the answer to that is lost in the mists sometime before 1870. Or maybe it's pushed back to 1834. The way it works, whenever some palestinian with a historical bent finds an earlier example of jewish violence in palestine, some zionist will look until they find an earlier example of violence against zionists. There's no end to it. There's no beginning to it. It's just another cycle, just another cycle of justifications for why it's all the other guys fault. "But Mooommmm! He did it first!"

An utter waste. If things keep going on this way eventually israel/palestine will be an utter waste too. A dead, radioactive, utter waste.

But I think that it is implicit that the desire to understand means changing what prompted it. I mean why strive to understand if you are not going to act on the knowledge. Isn’t that capitulation?

That is a serious, if common, error. We want to understand why we were attacked because we want to respond as appropriately and effectively as possible.

If it turns out that we were attacked for irrational or illegitimate reasons (and it requires judgement to make that call) then we can proceed on that basis. But what if there is some merit to the hostility others feel towards us? The case of Bin Laden certainly raises questions. Do we have a right to military bases in the Arab world? Is it necessarily an easy question with clear and obvious answers? How would you feel about foreign military bases on US soil?

Suppose your best judgement was that there was at least some merit to the hostility, but perhaps not enough to remove the bases? Is there some other path that would address what merit there was? Some diplomatic or other effort to build bridges?

Re-frame the entire question in terms of interpersonal relationships (yours!) Do you reflexively dismiss your friends any time they might offer you a criticism? How would your social life look if you did? And can you grow as a person without being open to the possibility of error?

OCSteve: I mean why strive to understand if you are not going to act on the knowledge. Isn’t that capitulation?

In April 2003, the US announced it was withdrawing the permanent military bases from Saudi Arabia. You could say that this was the US capitulating to al-Qaeda, since the removal of US bases in Saudi Arabia was al-Qaeda's primary and persistent goal. Or you could say that Bush's Saudi friends had made clear to him that the presence of US bases in a country regarded by Muslims round the world as peculiarly sacred was an ongoing affront: and, having understood, Bush acted on the knowledge.

Just as a matter of interest, how do you see that?

I also strive to understand things out of pure curiosity. Back when I was working at the shelter, for instance, I was fascinated by what drove the batterers I heard about. To some extent I needed to understand this in order to know how to counsel the women who had been battered, but I was interested in many more details, and a much deeper understanding, than that required. I just _didn't get_ why they did it, and wanted to know.

Likewise, my main reason for wanting to understand e.g. OBL is practical, but I'm also curious about why on earth someone would do what he does. I am also fascinated by Eichmann. Call me weird. ;)

Probably true. But I think that it is implicit that the desire to understand means changing what prompted it. I mean why strive to understand if you are not going to act on the knowledge. Isn’t that capitulation?

No. It's BASIC MILITARY STRATEGY.

You want to understand the enemy so you can predict their responses so you can act in the manner that benefits YOU the most. If it means sitting on your hands, do that. If it means pulverizing a al Quaeda training camp, do that. But figuring out what's the best course of action means understanding the enemy.

What's so hard about that????????????

Around four thousand. How many Israelis?

The exact figures, from September 2000 to August 2001:
Palestinian civilians killed by Israeli security forces: 481, of whom 123 were minors.
Israeli civilians killed by Palestinians in Israel and the Occupied Territories: 112, of whom 27 were minors.

How many of those where woman and kids taking a bus ride or getting a slice of pizza?

B'Tselem lists, where they are able to establish facts, names and circumstances. For your benefit, I've listed all the known casualities on a post at my journal. (Update: well, I HAD, but GJ ate the damn thing, and I don't have time right now to resurrect it. I will, though.)

Samples:

Sabrin 'Abd al-Karim Ijrawi Abu Snineh: 10 year-old resident of Hebron, killed on 12.08.2001 in Hebron, by gunfire. Killed in an exchange of gunfire while she was on the roof of her house.

Ashraf Khalil 'Abd al-Mun'im. 8 year-old resident of al-Judeidah, Jenin district, killed on 31.07.2001 in Nablus, by gunfire, from a helicopter, during the course of a targeted killing. (Killed in an explosion in a building next to the clinic where he was with his brother.)

BTW, who started the second intifada?

Ariel Sharon, if you really want to pick out one individual, but I agree with J Thomas that I don't think there's much point.

Isn’t that capitulation? I guess I reflexively go the other way. I mean, I understand that OBL did this because he doesn’t like our troops being in SA. Well then double the number of troops we have there…

Sigh. OCsteve, that isn't proper stragic planning. Just because your enemy is against something doesn't make it a smart thing to do. Seriously suppose we did double the troops in SA, what are they going to do? Why are they there? Why do we need them there? Have you considered that increased troop presence will further inflame local sentiment, making them more amiable to bin laden's arguments about US domination?

I guess I reflexively go the other way. I mean, I understand that OBL did this because he doesn’t like our troops being in SA. Well then double the number of troops we have there

i know that feeling. but it's one that comes when i neglect to consider that i do not necessarily have the upper hand, that i am still capable of being injured. blind indignation causes me to overestimate my position and i pay for listening to my ego.

obscure: Do we have a right to military bases in the Arab world? Is it necessarily an easy question with clear and obvious answers? How would you feel about foreign military bases on US soil?

A right? Of course not. But the bases dated from the 40’s and we where there by invitation. When asked to leave we did.

Jes: Just as a matter of interest, how do you see that?

Somewhere in the middle I guess. I mean we left because they asked us to, but IMO they asked us to due to concern about the radical elements in their society. So I think it’s fair to say that the Saudis capitulated to AQ in that regard. Once they asked us to leave though what else could we do?


Gwangung: What's so hard about that?

Nothing? ;)

I mean we left because they asked us to, but IMO they asked us to due to concern about the radical elements in their society. So I think it’s fair to say that the Saudis capitulated to AQ in that regard. Once they asked us to leave though what else could we do?

That's an honorable way for us to get out of iraq. It won't be the fault of whoever's President. Just -- what else could we do?

OCSteve: Once they asked us to leave though what else could we do?

Is that a joke? Iraq's Congress asked the US to leave back in May. When the government of a country asks the US to leave, the US will stay if it wants to: everyone knows that.

So I think it’s fair to say that the Saudis capitulated to AQ in that regard

I guess from the point of view of a person who thinks people being publicly Muslim are big scary threats, yes, it's fair. From the point of view of a person who respects religious feeling without actually sharing it, no, it's not.

A right? Of course not. But the bases dated from the 40’s and we where there by invitation. When asked to leave we did.


Who asked us? SA is a dictatorship: the people of SA never asked us to do anything because the people of SA have no voice in their government.


I mean we left because they asked us to, but IMO they asked us to due to concern about the radical elements in their society. So I think it’s fair to say that the Saudis capitulated to AQ in that regard. Once they asked us to leave though what else could we do?


Here's an alternative reading: the SA government asked us to stay there in order to help them resist a democratic coup. They asked us to help ensure that their dictatorship doesn't get overthrown by a popular uprising. After a while, they realized that our presence was doing more to increase the likelihood of a coup than to decrease it and they asked us to leave, blaming AQ because all problems are caused by AQ.

"Once they asked us to leave though what else could we do?"

Is that a joke? Iraq's Congress asked the US to leave back in May. When the government of a country asks the US to leave, the US will stay if it wants to: everyone knows that.

I don't remember the details very well. I thought the majority of the congress voted to tell us to go away in january, but it was a nonbinding vote and they hadn't been able to bring a binding vote to the floor.

So in, maybe, the beginning of june? they said that there was no way to avoid letting them vote on extending the UN mandate in December? January? and that they would then vote not to renew. But some of them talked like they wanted to extend it with conditions -- like they wanted some big bribes to extend the occupation.

However, since then the leading coalition has sort of fallen apart and they've pieced together a new coalition that leaves out the most anti-US members.

I'm real unfocused and unclear about all this, but it seems to me that we have something like a little fig leaf left. And there are various ways around the problem. Like, if we can't get an iraqi government that will approve the occupation by the end of the year, we surely have enough legislators to prevent a quorum, and require elections, and by the time the new government gets organised in say next may they'll put off voting on extending the occupation until january 2009 and then Bob's your uncle.

J Thomas: I went away to look stuff up about where and when and how the Iraqi government had asked the US to leave, and what the composition of the government had been when, and when the various polls had been carried out to establish what the Iraqis wanted, and found myself more confused than I'd been when I started.

But I also thought:

Practically speaking, there is no way the government of Iraq can force the US occupation to leave, and as anyone with access to the Internet knows, Bush has no intention of letting the occupation come to an end while he's President and US Congress seems unable to override his whim.

If the Iraqi Congress voted formally on a timetable for US withdrawal from Iraq, there is no way they could enforce that timetable, and it seems extremely likely that Bush would ignore it and veto any attempt by Congress to honor it. The Iraqi Congress would then be in the extremely awkward position of being, publicly and explicitly, not in control of the country they are supposedly governing: it would be explicit that George W. Bush is de facto military dictator of Iraq, and the Iraqi Congress governs at his pleasure. While this is practically true, it's not explicit: and politicians everywhere thrive on blurring the practicalities with the rhetoric. If it became explicit, they could all kiss goodbye to any prospect of ever holding power in Iraq when the US occupation does finally terminate, assuming they survive that long.

So yeah: I'm not surprised, when I think about it, that the Iraqi Congress has never ventured to say formally that the US occupation should end, though my faulty memory had it that they did.

Jes, they did pass a nonbinding resolution directing the government to demand the US leave on a set schedule.

link

It was near the beginning of may as you said, not january as I thought.

The claim is that by law the PM has to schedule a binding resolution presented with the petition, but there are various ways he could wiggle out of it. Assuming that hasn't happened yet with no US publicity, he probably did wiggle out.

It's worth noting that "set a timetable" and "get out now" aren't interchangeable. Asking us to set a timetable for leaving is most definitely NOT a request that we leave immediately.

Depending on the timetable, of course. If they wanted a timetable for our withdrawal over the next 30 days, back in February, OBE. If they just wanted to know the plan, that's a different discussion entirely.

Slart, at this point demanding the US set a timetable would be a big step.

Demanding we leave on their timetable would be a bigger step.

When the government of a country asks the US to leave, the US will stay if it wants to: everyone knows that.

That's not completely accurate.

Since I am only able to say something at the ends of the day (either one) I am late in responding to what OCSteve said about changing behavior based upon understanding and isn't that capitualtion.

The premise is wrong. To understand means exactly that. If one changes behavior on that does not necessarily mean capitulation. The key with fighting terrorism, above all else, is to act in a manner that undercuts the support of terrorism. If there is a basic understanding of what drives people to jump on the terrorism bandwagon, we can act in a manner that lessens that likelihood. Not capitulating, but depriving terrorists of there main source of support.

Perhaps the bases in SA were an insult to Islam, and for that reason should not have been there. There was little strategic reason for them being there so why, for no real benefits tick off people intentionally.

At the same time, realize that a lot of OBL's support came from being a benevolent person to people in Iraq and some areas of Pakistan. Think about how that gains support, just like Hamas and Hezbollah. Now think of our and other Westerners behavior, which is seen as more take than give.

Perception matters and OBL undrestands that better than this administration does.

Clinton actually gave us an opportunity to gain credit by going into Bosnia and saving Muslim (though not Arab) lives. I think that may have even spurred OBL into more action, (though only a guess). Bush threw that, plus the good will of much of the Arab and Muslim world that had been achieved after 9/11.

I knew we were in trouble when shortly after the attacks he said that the motivation of the terrorists was jealousy, that they were jrealous of our freedoms and wealth.

They are neither jealous not are they hating us for our freedoms. It is not even that we have a footprint in the ME per se, but that that footprint is ground into the soil with arrogance.

Again, understanding does not mean kowtowing, or changing or capitulating nor is it accepting responsibility as if we deserved the attack.

It does allow us to reflect on our behaviors, however, to recognize that they have an impact, and that some change, even minor tweaks, without giving in, can make a major change in how others view us.

This administration basically has done everything in the worst conceivable way. This may have been deliberate, but it also was at least partially done by not trying to understand.

Indeed. But I can come up with other examples.

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