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July 07, 2005

Comments

Yes. Absolutely Remember.

Pity that we didn't spend the last three years actually hunting these jackals down, spending our soldier's lives, our treasure and our political capital doing so instead of wasting our time in Iraq.

It does. But there is also no great honour in striking indiscriminately. When those among us who as such "pansy liberal" questions as "why do they attack us?" it's not so we can then go round their houses and offer them tea and "therapy," it's so we can effeciently eliminate the threat that they pose to us. Whether that's by taking out the terrorists while leaving the bystanders unharmed (and thus less likely to turn against us themselves) or by using our vast economic and military bulks to create a situation where people are less likely to be swayed by the rhetoric of the extremists, or less tempted by the retirement funds for their families if they blow themselves up, the aims and goals are the same.

Be careful that you, and others further on the right than you, never forget that either.

"We do not see a Klansman at a crossburning and wonder whether he might have been provoked by our insistence on integrated schools. We do not see a neo-Nazi salute, and propose that maybe it is the Jew who should move away. We do not see the gay man tied to a post in Laramie, and claim that he was askin' for it."

If you're implying something about the explaining vs explaining-away debate, I object and say your post is about irrational, not righteous anger.

Jesse Taylor at Pandagon

"I can spend my time discussing why terror needs to be stopped, or I can spend my time discussing how terror needs to be stopped. The latter discussion assumes that the former has already been settled in the direction of "evil and murderous", and therefore we can skip the Bushian "I hate terror, yes I do, I hate terror, what about you?" cheers. You know why so many liberals are sitting here thinking about how our anti-terror strategy doesn't stop terror? Because we want to stop terrorism. The question, then, becomes the end purpose of all these rah-rah boom keyboarders who have dedicated their lives not to winning the war on terror through the best strategy, but instead convincing you that their strategy would be the best if not for all those meddling liberals who insist on existing..."

Righto, von. We shouldn't have to be reminded that the nature of our enemies is what it is.

And what have I forgotten?

Only to identify "they." Otherwise you just start rounding up anyone you don't trust and sort 'em out later.

The problem is, they (whoever "they" are; any "they") have a list just as long. Righteous anger directed at what, at who? People who feel they are righteously angry? When does it end?

No, I don't think righteous anger is the answer. Righteous anger only increases all the anger in the world, and there's quite enough of that already, isn't there?

If attacks such as today's continue, I have visions of everyone of Middle Eastern and North African descent living in Europe being rounded up and shipped back to their (or their parent's) country of origin?

'They' are all the same, and the act of one is the act of all of them and they are equally complicit. 'We', on the other hand, are completely different, and to blame one of us for the acts of someone at Abu Grahib, or to think that we are the same as the people to whom we 'render' suspects is a close to a treasonous act as one can get without actually supplying them bullets and C4. At least that is the impression I get from Charles.

At least that is the impression I get from Charles.

Your impression is wrong, LJ. Before getting the urge to place certain impressions as mine, try asking first instead of going off with meritless assumptions.

"We shouldn't have to be reminded that the nature of our enemies is what it is."

So it's a good job that none of us here need reminding of that, isn't it Charles? All on the same side here, aren't we?

Hmmm?

Seems like a good day to practice the getting along discipline. Just sayin.

Your impression is wrong, LJ. Before getting the urge to place certain impressions as mine, try asking first instead of going off with meritless assumptions.

Ah yes, the old "I never really meant all those things I insinuated" defence.

I agree that we should all practice getting along. I am merely joining in with people in affirming that it would be the height of ignorance to imply in any sense that, for example, liberals in either country will respond to these attacks by offering the terrorists "therapy." I am sure that we can all agree on this, and that there will be no dissent here.

All on the same side here, aren't we?

You tell me, McDuff. I don't believe in "striking out indiscriminately" either.

Ah yes, the old "I never really meant all those things I insinuated" defence.

Read the actual words, shoes, because I insinuated no such thing. Go distort someone else for a change.

Oh, I did so hope that you'd just answer "yes" to that question.

Is it that goddamn hard, Charles? Really?

To what Edward and lj have said I can only add this reminder that if we are to win it will be with American pop culture and not bombs:

Good, [We] can feel your anger. [We] are defenseless... Take your [weapon] and strike [us] down with all of your hatred... Use your aggressive feelings. Let the hate flow through you. Your hate has made you powerful. Now fulfill your destiny...

or if that's too inflammatory how about:

David: Come on! Learn, goddammit!

[time passes]

Joshua: A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?

We shouldn't have to be reminded that the nature of our enemies is what it is.

Actually the Iraq war advocates (such as yourself) do need to be reminded. None of these listed evils were being perpetrated by Iraq prior to the invasion -- war advocates seem to have forgotten this in falsely advocating Iraq as part of the war on terror. Maybe if they kept their eye on the real evil, we could more effectively fight it.

By analogy, I assume that Britain should now go attack Iran (which probably had nothing to do with these bombings) in order to combat the latest bombings. Same logic.

Imagine how much more resourceful the war on terror could be if countless billions and political capital were not being wasted on the Iraq misadventure.

In the case of the Palestinian terrorists that were tempted by the retirement funds for their families if they blow themselves up, well, that money was being paid to the families by Saddam Hussein. We should remember that.

"We shouldn't have to be reminded that the nature of our enemies is what it is."

Who's forgotten?

Read the actual words, shoes, because I insinuated no such thing. Go distort someone else for a change.

You seem to forget you have a body of work upon which you stand.

And who's forgotten that even knowing all this, there are tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of people in the ME who nonetheless are happy to see the West stricken, so deep is their anger.

We can't win if we can't defuse it, and we can't defuse it either by pretending it doesn't exist, wishing it didn't exist, or refusing to understand why it exists. Or by ignoring the Law of Holes.

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

-- Auden

"(And what have I forgotten?)"

For one thing, you've forgotten that "we" (that is, the US government) has also bombed markets and other civilian targets, attacked clinics and hospitals, arrested and tortured innocent civilians in order to pressure their relatives (which I regard as analogous to taking hostages), and murdered children in Bagdad. Maybe if we stopped acting in a way that is practically indistinguishable from the way "they" act we'd be taken more seriously as a force for good.

Incidently, I live in NYC and have since 1999. I spent Sept 11, 2001 in Bellevue Hospital and saw a number of injured people. There were relatively few but all of them had a look of shock and terror that I've never seen on anyone's face under any other circumstances. At the time, I lived in the East Village, about 1 mile away from where the towers had stood, and smelled the smoke from them for months afterwards. It was a particularly unpleasant smell, a sort of burned plastic smell with overtones of barbeque. I don't wish these experiences on anyone. Not even if they are Iraqi or Afghani. Not even if Bush thinks their leaders might want WMD. Not even if they are fool enough to believe that al Qaeda is going to do something useful for the world. Violence is no solution. Find another way.

Is it that goddamn hard, Charles? Really?

What's so hard, McDuff? We don't disagree, and I don't believe that von disagrees with you either.

By analogy, I assume that Britain should now go attack Iran (which probably had nothing to do with these bombings) in order to combat the latest bombings. Same logic.

No, not the same logic, dm. Do we really have to go once more ad nauseum into the reasons for Saddam's removal? Personally, I'd rather pass.

You seem to forget you have a body of work upon which you stand.

Which means you have a whole body of work that you can distort, shoes. You've done it before.

I'm with you on the anger. What the terrorists have done is despicable. There is no excuse for their acts.

However, in response to the debate which your post have sparked, I must reply that one cannot defeat an enemy without understanding him. The sad truth is that people act for what they percieved to be good reasons, even when they are in actuality poor ones.

Racism is an excellent example. America did not simply attack the KKK as an institution or as a group of individuals. Rather, it acted to undermine the dogmas of racism both educationally and by eliminating the structural supports which allowed racism to thrive. One of those supports was segregation, which was undermined by (in one example) forcing people of all races to interact as young children in order to better understand each other. Listing the crimes of the KKK and prosecuting them and other racists, while important, would not have mitigated the problem to the high degree which the much more complex American reaction to racism has.

None of this involved the slightest sympathy for racists or racism. Americans had the strength to admit that institutions and behaviors in which they partook were a factor which contributed to the problem. Perhaps many also felt guilty. That is a matter of individual conscience (though that was perhaps a more reasonable reaction to rascism than it is to terrorism). But, guilty or not, they also changed those institutions and behaviors which contributed to the creation of racism as a serious problem.

This reponse was, I think, analogous (if imperfectly) to the perfered Liberal response to terrorism. Yes, of course we want to see those responsible tried or, where necessary or appropriate, dead. But we also want to honestly evaluate the factors leading to the creation of terrorism as a phenomenon so that we can better undermine terrorist dogmas and persued young people around the world that terror is not a legitimate, desireable, or effective means of actions. Even if it means considering the notion that America, as the most powerful actor in international affairs, may have to examine its own behavior for elements which provide terrorists with the means to argue that America is an evil nation, even if we do not ourself agree with this characterization.

Maybe if we stopped acting in a way that is practically indistinguishable from the way "they" act we'd be taken more seriously as a force for good.

Uh, I as much as anyone agree that the U.S. has behaved far below our standards and principles and far less than honorably over the last two years in Iraq, but let's not go off the rails here. "Practically indistinguishable?" Come on.

Violence is no solution.

That depends on what the problem is, and how much violence we're talking about.

Do we really have to go once more ad nauseum into the reasons for Saddam's removal

If any of them were "stopping al Qaeda terrorism," you might want to re-examine your premises. Apparently.

I also think that it is reasonable to look at the Klansman, the Nazi, the homophobe, the man who roams an engineering school with a gun shooting women, etc, and ask why they hate. If we can answer that question maybe we can find a way to stop them from hating or at least prevent others from falling into the pattern of hatred.

Phil:

I agree with you that 'practically indistinguishable' is way overstating it. Think of this from the other side's point of view, though. The 'we' that they are fighting isn't just the US. 'They' fought our proxy the Shah, they fought one group of 'us' in Afghanistan in the 80s with aid from another group of us, they're fighting us in Chechnya, in Kashmir, etc. etc. Defined this broadly -- in the angry way von speaks of 'them' -- 'we' have done some pretty bad stuff.

Your impression is wrong, LJ. Before getting the urge to place certain impressions as mine, try asking first instead of going off with meritless assumptions.

I'm not sure how impressions are wrong. If I say I feel cold, it's rather idiotic of you to suggest that I don't. If I say that your post made me feel that there was a unitary 'they', you might want to consider why I feel that way. Anyway, the impression I get is that you think that the Baathists, the Sunni and the Shiites (as well as any palestinian, iranian, or iraqi nationalists) are one inseparable 'they'. A veritable ocean of 'they'. If that impression is wrong, they perhaps an update, noting the current assumed suspects for each of the links you give.

At any rate, I'm pleased that you didn't list 'they kill Coptic Christian families in NJ' or 'they form sniper teams to terroize the nation's capital', or 'they plant deep cover agents as Muslim chaplins to gather intelligence in Gitmo'. I'll take my silver linings where I can get them.

lj: are you thinking it was Charles who wrote the original post?

Parry, remise, thrust. Not only is flypaper in full use in Iraq, it seems to have found some function at ObsiWi as well. Von's list and Charles' acknowledgement are indisputable. I'm not sure if the counter argument is that our politics and way of life have pissed these people off so, that we should turn our nukes on ourselves make the world right; or if the contrarians have just found a home here. And we do not have to get along. You get along, we'll get it right. You can thank us later.

How about "in praise of implacable justice"? The anger is extra.

By 'extra', I don't mean 'gratuitous'. Rather, 'extraneous', and maybe 'distracting'.

Which means you have a whole body of work that you can distort, shoes. You've done it before.

Yes, well..."he said, she said"

However, I'm glad you are, here tonight, unequivocally of the view that the only difference between liberal and conservative is one of policy, and not of loyalty or fortitude.

The nature of our enemies sounds a lot like the nature of our friends. If Westerners were really the moral paragons of von's imagination this would not be true. And interestingly, when I have brought up with conservative Christians the fact that Reagan embraced terrorists, mass murderers and genocidal killers, they always bring up his anti-communist motivation, almost as though support for terror is understandable if you know what people's motives are. Apparently motivation matters when it is our allies who murder children in the most vicious ways imaginable.

It's so tiresome to have to point out something that everyone knows to be true. Why do intelligent people have to get up on soapboxes and proclaim their hatred of terror (fine, I agree) and then ruin it by pretending our country has virtues it doesn't possess? We hate terror directed against us and don't want to hear about the terror we support.

Maybe if we stopped acting in a way that is practically indistinguishable from the way "they" act we'd be taken more seriously as a force for good.

Practically indistinguishable? If you haven't done it, Dianne, I suggest you click on each of Norm's 18 links, and then actually read them.

Violence is no solution.

Ever?

I'm not sure how impressions are wrong.

They are if they don't reflect whatsoever the point of view that you are impressing onto me, LJ. If you feel cold and say so, I won't challenge you on it. If I get the impression that you're cold, when the reality is that your air conditioner is busted on a sweltering summer day, then my impression would be wrong, no? That is why I said your impression was wrong. Or should I say that your impression indicated an ignorance of my point of view. In either case, you made wild and unsupportable extrapolations from one single sentence.

Anyway, the impression I get is that you think that the Baathists, the Sunni and the Shiites (as well as any palestinian, iranian, or iraqi nationalists) are one inseparable 'they'.

I do not consider them such, LJ. What more do you want? I've read sufficiently to be aware of the cultural and religious differences between the various groups and nationalities, and I am still learning as I go, just as you are I presume.

We've been "righteously angry" at terrorists for over five years. What's it gotten us?

We've been "hating and killing" for over 2 years. What's it gotten us?

The flypaper strategy - how's that working out?

Bush's WoT is a failure. Repeat: a failure.

None of the indices are improving. None of them.

There are more terrorists than ever.

There are more terrorist attacks than ever.

The terrorists are as well armed as ever.

Iraq is a pit, a quagmire, a failure of epic proportions; chewing up human lives at the rate of one London-style bombing every day, and Rumsfeld says it'll be like that for maybe another 12 years.

Our intelligence services didn't see the Bali bombings coming, didn't see the Saudi Arabia attacks coming, didn't see the Madrid attacks coming, didn't see the London attacks coming. What's the torture, murder, and extraordinary rendition good for, again?

Someone in the Bush Admin outed a CIA op who worked on WMDs, exposing her network, and probably getting her agents killed - and for what? Petty revenge.

The CIA's former executive director thinks it's fine that OBL is still alive and free. The current CIA boss says he knows where OBL is, but isn't in any particular hurry to go get him.

The A Q Khan network was rolled up on Bush's command, ruining Khan as a turned double agent.

The CIA kidnapped Osama Mustafa Hassan, ruining an ongoing Italian investigation into his network.

And, when the US kidnaps these people, imprisons them, sends them to torture-friendly countries for "interrogation," if the US actually does find out anything useful, does it share that info with our "partners in the WoT"?

No:

"The American system is of little use to us," said a senior Italian counterterrorism investigator. "It's a one-way street. We give them what we have, but we are given no useful information that can help us prosecute people."

... or prevent terrorist attacks.

Tell me something. If the Bush Admin was deliberately trying to lose the "WoT," how different would its tactics need to be from what they are?


"And we do not have to get along. You get along, we'll get it right. You can thank us later."

Many Londoners today are appreciating your moral clarity, I am sure. Or is the challenge just to look and talk tough.

Don't confuse all Bush-haters with peaceniks. His supporters stay loyal no matter the inadequacy of his behavior and policy, and hold him responsible for absolutely nothing. And people keep dying.

The point of understanding the enemy's motivations, as others have said, is not to provide sympathy or therapy.

The point is to find a way to prevent people from continuing to turn to terrorism, since without that there can be no end. I don't believe that using violence alone, trying to kill the terrorists faster than they arise, will ever solve the problem -- at least not short of genocide.

I'm not interested in appeasing terrorists. I'm interested in finding ways to turn people who are not terrorists but might someday consider terrorism away from that path. And I don't believe that further oppressing, angering, insulting, injuring, or threatening them is an effective means of doing that.

Yes, evil exists. Yes, the people who committed those acts were evil. I'm not too into getting angry about it--for me, it feels a little like getting angry about the weather--but YMMV. They exist, they're evil, they're a problem for us, and we need to try to solve the problem. OK, fine. So what? Are we likely to do a better job of solving that problem if we get good and pissed off about it first? I don't know about the rest of you, but I don't do my best thinking when I'm angry. And when we're dealing with a situation in which the infinite gradations of "they" is a central part of the problem--how do we do kill or incapacitate the hardcore evildoers without convincing a whole lot of other people that we are the evildoers who should be killed or incapacitated?--it seems to me that working ourselves into a righteous rage isn't the right approach. But I guess that must mean that somewhere deep inside I just want to sing Kumbaya with the Al Quaeda Boys' Choir, right?

It took you three posts, Charles, of talking around the subject, to even say "I don't disagree." You still haven't said "yes, of course we're on the same side," or anything so direct.

On a day like today, all the flags in the world flying from all the mastheads of all the blogs, and apparently those words are too hard for you to say.

And people wonder why there's antagonism between left and right.

The more I see, hear and read the more I believe:

GWB is totally committed to "fighting" the war on terror but not the least bit committed to (or even interested in) winning it.

Thank you Norm Geras.

You know, I'd almost forgotten that terrorists were bad. Just the other day I caught some terrorists playing in my garden, but they were so cute with their little suicide belts and puppy dog eyes and shouts of "die infidel!", and I just shooed them away with a rolled up newspaper.

I guess I completely forgot to find a convenient scapegoat country to bomb the hell out of.

OK, out of poetry mode ...

I agree with everything von said. Partly this is because, knowing von in that odd way in which one can know someone one has never met (but actually spoke on the phone with yesterday; first time ever), I didn't read the 'they' he referred to as meaning anything other than: they, the terrorists. Not 'they, the people of the Middle East', or 'they, the Muslims', or they anything other than: they, the terrorists. And if we -- meaning 'we, the people who read this blog', not 'we Westerners', or anything (since who knows where our readers are?) are not better than them -- not by some sort of inevitable 'better nature' but because of our own choices and our character -- then we are in even deeper trouble than I thought.

Nor did I read him as advocating any sort of indiscriminate attacks. Again, here it matters immensely who you read him as calling 'our enemies'. If it's terrorists -- actual people who have decided to join groups dedicated to spreading terror through violence -- then it goes without saying that one needs to identify them in order to act against them.

You may think there is something else he should have said. But -- speaking for myself -- I try not to read things into omissions. Maybe this just comes of having, too often, written my own posts and then kicked myself later for leaving something out: not every omission actually means anything. None of us ever says all that needs saying.

The two quibbles I have are: first, I think I would want to know if the Klansman was provoked by our insistence on integrated schools. Not because I would be the least tempted to re-segregate, but because that would be the first step towards figuring out his motives, the one that allowed me to say: right, and why do integrated schools have this effect on you? And it's only after figuring that out, and answering any further questions that arose, that I would know how to counter him.

The second is that I don't think anyone needs to be reminded that there is evil, and that it must be opposed. But I would be very, very wary of attributing to von any specific thoughts about who needs to be reminded, and why; or even the idea that anyone does. When I first read his post, before all the acrimony, I just took it as an expression of resolve; more a response to what happened today than any kind of accusation. And writing anything in response to terrorism is, as I said on the other thread, really, really hard.

I have this rule: that I will never criticize anyone for the manner in which they grieve. Too few tears? Too many? Too buttoned-down? Too indecorous? I hate it when people ask these questions, as though there were a right way to grieve, and as though people should be expected to get it right in a moment when, God knows, they have other things on their minds.

I think we are all grieving.

Can anyone think of anything we could do, other than sending our thoughts and sympathy, to concretely help people in the UK?

lj: are you thinking it was Charles who wrote the original post?

Whoops! Yes I was. Now I'm not and I apologize to Charles for thinking that he wrote it.

But I'm still at a loss to understand how, simply by listing a set of terrible acts, done by people who may or may not claim to be motivated by the same intention, we have gotten anywhere close to 'they'. We could list people tossed out of airplanes into the sea by argentinians, French going into an Algerian village and murdering all the men over 16, thousands of acts that have happened and continue to happen every day. Perhaps the 'they' is 'people who do these things', but why isn't the BTK killer there? Or Eric Rudolph? Or Timothy McVeigh?

My students often, in lieu of writing, make lists. They are formatted like essays, but they are simply lists, with no order, no motivation. I would like to assume the same here, but I don't think anyone can argue that this is the case here.

1. They attack Red Cross personnel.

2. They murder people working for the UN.

3. They kidnap and kill care workers.

4. They bomb holiday-makers, in nightclubs.

5. They blow up people travelling on trains - civilians.

6. They target people on buses - civilians.

7. They take civilian hostages.

8. They decapitate them.

9. They murder trade unionists.

10. They kidnap diplomats.

11. They kill people for being... barbers.

12. They fly aircraft full of civilians into skyscrapers where people are at work.

13. They take schoolchildren hostage and murder them.

14. They bomb synagogues.

15. They kill people shopping in a market.

16. They kill people queuing at a medical clinic.

17. They murder children in Baghdad.

18. They murder people on their way to work in London.

Supposing your country was occupied by a foreign power and there were unwanted foreign soldiers in the streets, and also supposing that you believed any and all of the above would help end that occupation, which of the above acts would you refuse to commit?

And as a reference point, would you claim that you would refuse, on pain of imprisonment or death, to participate in any of: the firebombing of Dresden, the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, the carpet bombing of North Vietnam, or the "reduction" of Fallujah?

Nope, that'll probably do, Hil.

We're a pretty well developed country, and in all honesty this attack wasn't that bad. It'll take us a couple of weeks to get the tube working, but after that we'll be back to normal.

If you know someone personally over here who was affected, do what you can for them, that you know they'd appreciate. This isn't going to even provoke a blood shortage, though. I appreciate the sentiment, but I really don't think there's anything we need, short of kind words and best wishes.

And even those, y'know... no flannelling. We get embarrassed.

And even those, y'know... no flannelling. We get embarrassed.

*plaids you anyway*

McDuff: I suspected as much. I won't flannel (assuming I've interpreted it right.) But the thoughts are there.

LJ: Are you also going to apologize to Von for thinking that Charles wrote it?

And the thoughts are very much appreciated.

I almost wish that I could say, "yes, send teddy bears or blood or shoes," because when people want to help and there's nothing they can do, it's a bit frustrating. But, on the other hand, I'm inestimably grateful that there really is nothing you can do to help, because it was small enough, and we were prepared enough, that we have it covered.

Oh, I just thought of something. If anyone knows anyone who's in the process of photoshopping an angel onto a union flag with the words "Never Forget" in some cursive font, can you shoot them for us with one of your big American guns? That's like the grandma's Christmas sweater of "kind thoughts." You don't want to appear ungrateful, but, well... I'm sure you know how it is.

Anybody pray for rational anger?

LJ: Are you also going to apologize to Von for thinking that Charles wrote it?

But then, I might have to apologize to Charles for apologizing to Von for, well, you get the picture. However, I am very curious if I was the only one who made this mistake.

And as for photoshopping antics, may I just say, lay on, McDuff?

I swore to myself that I'd let a day pass. It's close enough that I'll let fly.

Von, you and Norm missed a few.

They blow up day care centers.

They kill doctors, nurses policemen and bystanders.

In fact, they kill damned near anyone you can describe.

Terrorism is a tactic, not an ideology. From InsideDefense.com, I'll offer these remarks by General Wallace Gregson, currently commander of Marine forces in the Pacific:

Terrorism is a means of power projection, it’s a weapon, it’s a tool of war. Think of it as our enemy’s stealth bomber. This is no more a war on terrorism than World War II was a war on submarines. It’s not just semantics . . . Words have meaning. And these words are leading us down to the wrong concept.
To focus on the tactics only obscures our understanding of the goals that those who attack us are pursuing. Our anger must be tempered by our resolve to uphold our values in the face of an attack such as we have just seen. It is simply impossible to eliminate terror as an available tactic. Our best hope is to deter those who are currently disposed to its use. While we need to actively pusue the perpetrators the individual acts, we also need to go beyond these measures.

There will always be people out there with evil hearts and malicious intents. We need to find ways to shrink the pool of followers that will actually act out the fantasies of these demagogues.

Can anyone think of anything we could do, other than sending our thoughts and sympathy, to concretely help people in the UK?

It's nearly 20 years since I left Britain, but I suspect a lot of people there would like you to ditch your Administration ASAP.

I've been trying to make a comment here twice, but got stopped both times because it might be comment spam. I suspect it was the number of links in my reply: can you advise?

jes
Yep, Typepad seems to have upped the barriers to deal with spam. I've had two posts bounce. If you take off the http, it might go through, though you lose the clik-thru. I'm thinking that google cache might be a way to get around it, but I'm not sure. It appears that they are catching whole domains, so it is a bit indiscriminate.

I didn't read the 'they' he referred to as meaning anything other than: they, the terrorists. Not 'they, the people of the Middle East', or 'they, the Muslims', or they anything other than: they, the terrorists.

That's great, hilzoy, but you're usually pretty good at seeing through this kind of silliness. Is there some specific, nontrivial group of people that von might have been thinking of who have forgotten that "terrorists are bad," and who needed reminding of such? If not, then it's just irrelevant hand-waving puffery, no? I think that everyone whose opinions are worth nothing accepts the rather obvious tautology "terrorists are bad," and so I don't know who von thought he was reminding.

And if we -- meaning 'we, the people who read this blog', not 'we Westerners', or anything (since who knows where our readers are?) are not better than them -- not by some sort of inevitable 'better nature' but because of our own choices and our character -- then we are in even deeper trouble than I thought.

Again, this is the far right's game that you're playing right into. I know we're better than terrorists. You know it. Everybody whose name appears above mine in these comments right now knows it. Who needed reminding of it?

I have this rule: that I will never criticize anyone for the manner in which they grieve. Too few tears? Too many? Too buttoned-down? Too indecorous? I hate it when people ask these questions, as though there were a right way to grieve, and as though people should be expected to get it right in a moment when, God knows, they have other things on their minds.

It's a fine rule. However, when people grieve by lashing out, or inciting others to lash out, a point can be reached where the rule has to yield.

The good news -- and good is a really relative term here -- is that Britain is the least likely nation to 'lash out' (either internally or externally)among major players. Whatever the terrorists wanted to accomplish, they will not accomplish from the Brits. If the Danes are next -- an awful thought -- they'll take it like grown-ups too.

(I guess I don't know enough to exile communities within Britain to make the statement as sweeping as I'd like: I'd like to think that Arab Londoners are going to approach the thing with the same resolve not to give in to paranoia as Brits in general -- any Brits care to comment?)

Internally, we are very likely to lash out. In fact, I think I've heard reports of a petrol bomb attack on a mosque already. There are also areas up north like Oldham and Bradford where tensions between immigrant communities and poor white communities have reached rioting point in the past, about five years ago IIRC, where far right radicals might again manage to whip up people into a frenzy.

I suspect we will see an increased rate of assaults on Muslims over the next couple of weeks. Unfortunately, every country has its share of small-minded morons, and we were dealt an extra helping.

However, we won't invade anyone, partly because of our magnificent stoicism that you've all noticed, but mainly for the not insignificant reason that we've run out of troops.

McDuff: . In fact, I think I've heard reports of a petrol bomb attack on a mosque already.

Sod. Where? I was searching for a reaction like this on the news this morning, and couldn't find anything - much to my relief.

Supposing your country was occupied by a foreign power and there were unwanted foreign soldiers in the streets, and also supposing that you believed any and all of the above would help end that occupation, which of the above acts would you refuse to commit?

Every last one of them. There's a difference between executing unconventional war on occupying forces and just going out and bombing the uninvolved.

There are also areas up north like Oldham and Bradford where tensions between immigrant communities and poor white communities have reached rioting point in the past, about five years ago IIRC, where far right radicals might again manage to whip up people into a frenzy.

Sadly true. There was also this report last year which makes it a very important question of whether it was home grown extremists or a foreign cell. Excerpts of the report are here. A number of commentators suggested that the notion of Islamophobia was simply political correctness. The Wikipedia link has a large number of links, though it conflates the phenomenon around the globe rather than discuss the aspects as it relates to the UK.

Slartibartfast,

What was Dresden? Toward the end of the Civil War? Our collateral damage throughout Iraq?

Righteous anger always justifies horrible actions against the children of "those evil dastardly people".

This is usually less about good and evil and more about perceived threats...real or imaginary.

Survival...not The Lord Vs. Satan.

Jes: I heard it on R4 today, but I can't seem to find any mention of it on their website now, so it may have just been a rumour or an attempt.

If so, well done us for not being fools.

Slartibartfast,

This is the only part of your comment that seemed relevant in any way to anything I said, so I ask you: WTFO?

You said:

Every last one of them. There's a difference between executing unconventional war on occupying forces and just going out and bombing the uninvolved.

Posted by: Slartibartfast | July 8, 2005 09:26 AM
--------------------------

I responded:

Slartibartfast,

What was Dresden? Toward the end of the Civil War? Our collateral damage throughout Iraq?

Righteous anger always justifies horrible actions against the children of "those evil dastardly people".

This is usually less about good and evil and more about perceived threats...real or imaginary.

Survival...not The Lord Vs. Satan.

Posted by: NeoDude | July 8, 2005 09:47 AM


Posted by: Slartibartfast | July 8, 2005 09:50 AM

-----------------------

If the early American colonialist were willing to start an insurrection with Britain over “taxation without representation” (and let’s be honest, of all of Britain’s colonies, the Americans were treated with the most respect) what would they have done if the Crown treated the colonies like the United States treats it’s occupied areas?

Slarti: and just going out and bombing the uninvolved.

There is indeed.

what would they have done if the Crown treated the colonies like the United States treats it’s occupied areas?

I have no idea. I'm just telling you what I, personally, would not do. Alternate history is always an interesting topic, but it's also always fiction.

But your analogy is itself interesting, so let's discuss how apt it is. Is it your claim that it's the Iraqi general population that's involved in that laundry list of terror?

Well, since "Slartibartfast" is a nom de blog, I suppose it's possible that he was personally responsible for either or both of the Dresden firebombing and the Afghanistan clusterbombing; but since we can't know for sure, I think you'd need to find a statement of his in support of those actions if you want use them to contradict his description of his personal view of what he'd do in felix's hypothetical situation.

Oops, should've previewed; also should've let Slart respond for himself; also should be working instead of commenting on blogs.

Unfortunately, every country has its share of small-minded morons, and we were dealt an extra helping.

Considering that we are you on steroids, that's not very reassuring.

Seriously, though, I was talking about official action, or even broadly socially sanctioned non-state action.

Hey guys. Chill.
Yoda's right about Anger->hate->dark side, okay? Hasn't the past 4 years proved that?

We need justice. The world needs justice. Political, economic, human justice. Simple as that. The world is small. Resources are limited. Every time we choose aggression we lose the chance to use partnership.

Mothers everywhere weep for their children, dead because of someone's anger.

Think. Think. Think. Act.

And you can make just such a list of horrilbe things we've done, shame on you for this kind of rhetoric Von.

Try pointing the finger inward instead of outward at a time like this, glass houses and all.

"Your impression is wrong, LJ. Before getting the urge to place certain impressions as mine, try asking first instead of going off with meritless assumptions.

I'm not sure how impressions are wrong. If I say I feel cold, it's rather idiotic of you to suggest that I don't. If I say that your post made me feel that there was a unitary 'they', you might want to consider why I feel that way."

This is nonsense thinking. A crazy person may have the impression that he can he can turn people into rats--it would be rather idiotic to assume he can. A child gets the impression that when he hides his hand behind his face you can't see him. But he is wrong. Only an intellectual could think of something so silly as to convince himself that you it is idiotic to argue with someone when they form a wrong impression about reality.

You are contributing to exactly the impression I had of you, however.

You still haven't said "yes, of course we're on the same side," or anything so direct.

Oh, you were expecting exact words. Look, McDuff, I don't know who you are or where you're coming from, and it's apparent that you don't know where I'm coming from either. There is a chasm of political differences between myself and a multitude here, but I assume that commenters here are on my side (or me on theirs) in the larger sense, that we are at war with several radical militant Islamic groups, in particular one that has declared war against the United States, and that they need to be defeated so they do not attack us again. There are, of course, differences large and small on how to go about it, which is the subject of thousands of comments here. I generally agree with what you wrote here and here. I've never believed in "indiscriminately striking" at enemy targets, or that we should not try to understand and know our enemy. Most, if not all, conservatives are with you on that.

But let's be clear about this. I'm not the one demanding whether or not you're with me or against me. I'm not asking for some test of fealty. You are. Why? You ask: "And people wonder why there's antagonism between left and right." Perhaps the answer is that both sides are making the wrong assumptions about the other, trotting out straw men and making gross generalizations. I don't claim total innocence here, and neither should you.

Many here have asked why the reminder is needed. Witness:

Supposing your country was occupied by a foreign power and there were unwanted foreign soldiers in the streets, and also supposing that you believed any and all of the above would help end that occupation, which of the above acts would you refuse to commit?

Please note the timeline. 9/11/2001 occurs BEFORE the invasion of Iraq which took place in 2003.

Please note the targets--people on the tube in London are not occupying anything other than their own affairs. Even under a rather loose definitions of targeting, that isn't allowed under the Geneva Conventions. Please also note, they weren't mistargetted or hit by a stray bullet which was aimed at an occupier.

Seems to me that the there are indeed people on this very board who need reminding.

And you can make just such a list of horrilbe things we've done, shame on you for this kind of rhetoric Von.

Who's "we", wilfred, and when's the last time you were involved in such activities?

"9/11/2001 occurs BEFORE the invasion of Iraq which took place in 2003."

And no Iraqis had anything to do with it. Not even Saddam Hussein or any of his pathologic followers. It is a little as if, after Pearl Harbor, the US declared war on China.

"Please note the targets--people on the tube in London are not occupying anything other than their own affairs."

One could argue that they were contributing to the occupation by paying taxes and re-electing Tony Blair. I'd find it a very weak argument, but it's at least as valid as saying that anyone living in Fallujah is a fair target. Possibly moreso: Iraq was not and is not a democracy so its citizens have less control over and therefor less responsibility for, the policies of its government.

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2005/07/08/a_look_in_the_mirror_for_america/

Has everyone forgotten Feluja, already...the football field used as a mass grave?

Mostly all the "evil terrorist" left the town, only "evil homeowners" were left to defend their houses.

Just because we changed the name of women and children to "evil terrorist" it didn't change moral responsibility.

Like it or not, the United States made a conscious decision to use terrorist tactics, when dealing with the Middle East, as a whole. What happened in London, yesterday will force many others to believe that this is what needs to be done “over there” to “them”

Al-Queda has been playing many Americans like yo-yos. And many in the Middle East have seen what we do and come to the decision that only Anglo-American lives have value. Only Anglo-American lives deserve to be treated as if they are beyond good and evil.

http://www.boston.com/news/
globe/editorial_opinion
/oped/articles/2005/07/08/a_look_in_the_mirror_for_america/

sorry, couldn't get this link to work.

Sebastian:

We're a democracy, not a tyranny. This means that we own our governments, both the good and the bad. I do not get to wash my hands of abuses of power by those in charge. This is the price I pay for free speech, freedom of association, and a say in the workings of my country.

I assumed that this was considered to be true in America as well.

I am not saying this to justify the actions of the terrorists or to claim some kind of moral equivalency, but I would stress that, while on the surface we can say that this is black and white, such views are rarely helpful for forming a proper, working understanding of the situation that will help us prevent such atrocities in the future.

Slarti: Who's "we", wilfred, and when's the last time you were involved in such activities?

I presume that in a democracy, citizens of the democracy feel responsible for atrocities committed by their soldiers in their name. At least, I feel that way when I read about the British army - in especial, I feel personally disgusted by the British use of cluster bombs in Iraq. (I am impersonally disgusted, if you get the difference, by the American use of cluster bombs.)

As you observed, Slarti, there's a difference between war on military forces and just going out and bombing the uninvolved. Cluster bombs used in urban areas or on arable land constitute a direct attack on civilians, especially children, and their use is as repellent as any other deliberate attack on civilians.

Re: #16 in von's list: how is that action different from the US attacks on hospitals in Fallujah? Should not both be condemned?

Expressions of righteous wrath aren't really all that useful. Sure, it feels good in a way, but what's the point?
The Bush admiistration used the rage and sorrow over 911 for domestic political purposes and as a justification for an unnecssary war. Their track record on real domestic security and real efforts to combat terrorism abroad is lousy, an mixture of incompetence, profiteering, and irrelevance. That won't stop the current administration from using the London bombing for more "you must be angry and support me or you are for terrorism" rhetoric. I'm glad von didn't intend his post that way, but I can understand why people would take it that way since there has been so much of that kind of talk in our political arena.
But as one of the posts near the top pointed out, the real question is how to combat terrorism, not who is more angry about it than who. One of the problems with indulging in expressions of anger is that it leads right to the desire to strike back with violence, which, in the case of fighting terrorism, isn't necessarily the most effective tactic. Terrorism is best "fought" through domestic security, international intelligence action, efforts to secure source of nuclear materials, and efforts to address root causes. None of these things are as emotionally gratifying to an angry person as invading a country that we don't need to invade or throwing a petrol bomb on the neighborhood mosque, but all are much more likely to prevent future attacks.
So I don't see a positive point to calls for people to be angry. Instead we need a focus for responding constructively.

Diane, I think yours of 10:57 unfairly fails to respond to the most important point of Sebastian's of 10:40. Taking a narrow "we" -- the British government and its people -- it's fair to say that most if not all of the harm to innocents is a byproduct of an effort to harm the non-innocent. Now I'm not going to argue with you about whether the british efforts to harm the non-innocent are undertaken as carefully as possible, on either the micro or macro scale. It is, however, a significant difference that British authorities recognize that there is such a thing in Iraq and Afghanistan as innocents. AQ does not recognize the difference.

Charles,

"I'm not the one demanding whether or not you're with me or against me."

No, but the President you support is.

"I'm not asking for some test of fealty."

No, you are just saying that people who do not wholeheartedly support the President are idiots at best, and traitors at worst.

"Taking a narrow "we" -- the British government and its people -- it's fair to say that most if not all of the harm to innocents is a byproduct of an effort to harm the non-innocent."

I don't know any al Qaeda members. Normally, I'd say that is a fortunate thing, but in this case it leaves me without the ability to ask any AQ members if they intend to harm the innocent. However, I would hazard a wild guess that they don't. Their idea of who is "innocent" is probably wilding different from yours, mine, or the average Iraqis, but I strongly suspect that if asked they would say that, yes, it was tragic that some innocents had to die in the holy war, but that it was inevitable and that they meant to harm only the guilty. The US and Britain have killed at least 25,000 civilians in Iraq, apparently mostly in bombings. And this is almost certainly an underestimate, perhaps an underestimate of an order of magnitude or more. This is how the British and US governments go about not harming the innocent? I'd hate to see what they'd do if they were feeling malicious.

Just checking in briefly, in the middle of a busy day:

Dantheman: "No, you are just saying that people who do not wholeheartedly support the President are idiots at best, and traitors at worst."

I don't see where Charles has said anything like this. If you're referring to some part of his pre-ObWi oeuvre, it would help those of us who are unfamiliar with it if you'd cite. If not, then don't put words in his mouth.

I have to say that Dianne's point has been largely ignored. If my wife and boys were killed as "collateral damage" in an attack on some legitimate target, that would not make me any happier than if they were targeted directly.

Killing innocent people is American policy. Has been at least since WW2. We sometimes make more or less of an effort to minimize the number of innocents killed, but we have never renounced our right to kill them.

All in the name of minimizing our own soldiers' casualties. Better that a civilian Iraqi family die, than that a U.S. soldier be wounded.

When I first started reading von's post I thought it was by Edward, that he was listing American actions in Iraq, and that he was going to point out how we lose credibility and increase support for terrorism throught such actions.
The problem with glorifying righteous wrath is that everybody gets angry and everybody can glorify their wrath. We would like to think that our wrath is more glorious than the other person's but the other person might not agree. So you just end up with people all puffed up with self-righteousness, using their wrath to justify behavior that could not be justified any other way. The sleep of reason produces monsters; the behavior of the terrorists and their targets converge.
It is morally better and much more effective in terms of self defense to be smart and self-disciplined rather than to be angry.

Yuck. This whole thread. Yuck, yuck, yuck. From von's imperious, didactic "Do not forget," (as if we, but not he, had done so), to the inevitable explosions of indignation ("How dare you! But the US is just as bad!"), to SH's "some on this very board," to, well, to this whole sad panoply of begged questions and unyielding assumptions, with the possible exception of CB's 2:39. Yuck.

Er, CB's 10:39, I mean.

Of course, everything that anyone writes is a make-wrong of someone else, specially if it doesn't do so overtly.

Yuck, indeed.

If you're referring to some part of his pre-ObWi oeuvre, it would help those of us who are unfamiliar with it if you'd cite. If not, then don't put words in his mouth.

Well, your mileage may vary, but this post comes pretty close, in that insinuate but never actually say kinda way...

Notes on Righteous Anger:

My righteous anger, which I view righteously as much more righteous than anyone else's, presents itself a little differently.

I misdirect. Big, big stuff like the London bombings leaves me numb; I may even do some ironic, totally lame commenting on it, like a guy in a foxhole who puts his finger through the hole in his helmet and remarks on the effing arbitrary vanity of the gods.

Then, like a Brit, I find a pub.

But the anger and its pure righteousness will emerge later. Say, a week later, I'll stub my toe on a piece of furniture or fail to advance the runner in a close baseball game. Then volcanos erupt, the air around me turns spooky colors, and S.W.A.T teams belay from helicopters and cordon off the area.

And then the people around me take the brunt.

But it's just that we swim in the same waters and righteous anger of various forms is a free-floating problem like the red tide.

It's odd. I agree with Von, whose posts by the way are instantly distinquishable from Charles' or Sebastian's by the style of writing. But then I look at the behavior of the stock markets yesterday and I don't see much righteous anger, or at least the amount of righteous anger I deem appropriate. It seems to me that when 40 or so people get blown to smithereens, the Dow should make a quick trip to zero for at least a week, just out of respect.

But it doesn't. Which is one reason why I'm not utterly enamoured of markets being the final arbiter of anything, though they are useful, speaking ideologically.

That's O.K. Nothing makes people hungrier either than a funeral, which is why you have those huge bowls of three bean salad and chili at mid-western funerals.

So here's what I think about this thread. I think we liberals, Hilzoy being the best example of restraint, are misdirecting our anger (at Von, at Slart, at Sebastian, at Charles) in anticipation of something in the coming weeks and months.

Someone, probably at a conservative site yesterday, noted that Margaret Thatcher asked at some time of crisis that partisan bickering halt temporarily, that there would be plenty of time for that.

To which I thought, yes, good sentiment, but no doubt she had folks staying up all night getting the partisan ducks shot, dressed and set in neat rows.

So here's what I expect, not from conservatives at Obsidian Wings (yeah, yeah, I know), but from the fishies in the common waters. This bombing will be invoked soon and furiously to once again impugn the patriotism of the Democratic Party and the very correct judgements many liberals have made about the invasion of Iraq.

Further, any questions, objections, filibustering, etc. of one, two, or three SCOTUS nominees (or any other domestic issue) by my representatives in Congress, will be tied to their and my imputed lack of righteous anger over the latest instance of terror in London.

FOX will lead. Rove will conduct.

And so we bite the fish closest to us. Even the innocent ones.

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