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July 07, 2005

Comments

Charles--no straw men or ad hominems here...

...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.

What I question here, and I have always questioned it, is whether, when some splinter group of anti-whatever freakazoids declares war against us or any other state, we should crank up the war rhetoric ourselves? This seems counterproductive. AQ is not a country. To call this a 'war' is to give them power and legitimacy that they do not deserve. To call it a 'war' is to imply that they are a group with which we can treat for peace (assuming such a thing were to happen after the 'war' became too costly for the other side).

AQ is an organized crime network or a hate group. We need to stop treating this as a war and start treating it as a police investigation. We need to act to prevent crime rather than respond to attacks. We need to work with others to make either an effective international police force authorized to work across borders, or get better at sharing information with the police forces already in these sovereign foreign nations.

We already deal with these groups the right way when it is a domestic matter. We need to take that same aproach for international matters. Beating war drums and sending in the troops only plays into their hands and helps them gain legitimacy.

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.

Posted by: John Thullen | July 8, 2005 12:09 PM

That was beautiful.

AQ is an organized crime network or a hate group. We need to stop treating this as a war and start treating it as a police investigation.

I would have to disagree. It was, a few years ago. But it's morphed from organization to movement, in that cult-like way. The law enforcement approach, though, is the best model. I mean, if you're at "war" against terror, then it's a bit foolish to say the terrorists "murdered" 50 Londoners.

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.

The fact of whether the person can or cannot actually do things is distinguishable -- by necessity -- from whether he or she has the impression that he or she can.

lily: 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.

Quite. Somewhere on an Arabic blog there is an Arab von with a very damn similar list, also in praise of righteous anger.

But, when we kill civilians en masse, or take hostages, or torture people to death, we do so in righteous anger: when they do the same thing, they do so unrighteously.

All good people agree,
And all good people say,
All nice people, like Us, are We
And every one else is They:
But if you cross over the sea,
Instead of over the way,
You may end by (think of it!) looking on We
As only a sort of They!

(Kipling. A man for all seasons, sure enough.)

McDuff, I was wrong and you were right, and I wish to hell you weren't.

No petrol bombs - just some small-minded morons smashing windows and a policeman being racist.

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.

I'm as leary of mindreading as the next person, but putting a bomb in a bus -- with no idea who may be riding it -- is so utterly inconsistent with the notion of meaning to harm 'only the guilty' that I'm going to have to see something else before I'm going to entertain the idea.

It's clear enough that if AQ is only trying to harm the guilty, they have a definition of guilt that is morally untenable. My own responsibility for the acts of GWB (for who I did not vote, against who I actively worked) is one thing, but that of my 10 year old son is surely another. And that of his 10 year old friend visiting from Germany this week is yet another. A view of guilt that does not even attempt to differentiate between us is so far out as to be a misuse of the word guilt.

I agree that US policy has from time to time included the intentional killing of innocents -- Dresden is an obvious example. I do not believe that the British government has pursued this kind of policy in Iraq* or Afghanistan.


*Deciding to commence the war at all is arguably close, but I think sufficient moral distinction may be made between SH's regime -- and ordinary uninvolved people in Basra -- that this does not come to the level of AQ. Iraq was not involved with AQ, but its selection as a target of british aggression was not random. It is morally different from someone just riding a train to work in London.

2shoes--...it's morphed from organization to movement, in that cult-like way.

Okay, so it's a 'movement'--the point being that they are not an organization that controls any territory. They are ideological, rather than geographical. Hence the distinction between war and law enforcement. War implies borders and sovereignty and political control.

Our current approach to fighing AQ is rather like us declaring war on Mexico for harboring drug lords.

SH's regime

First Edward, now Sebastian Holsclaw has a regime too? Is that one of the perks of being a blogger here?

Hilzoy,

I am referring to statements by Charles such as:

"Hagel and Kennedy are not the enemy, but they are the useful fools are who are too accepting of what they're saying--letting it seep into mainstream discourse--and too eager to proclaim that we're in a quagmire and that we're losing."

or

"and both have bought into the doom and gloom brigades, many of whom were never on board with the Iraq War, many of whom have unrelentingly cherry-picked every piece of bad news because they were never on board and wanted Bush to go down in flames. Yes, eager, McDuff. Kennedy especially."

(both from the Iraq and the Occasional Communicator thread).

As you yourself said in that thread:

"Shorter hilzoy: give us facts. Don't impugn our motives."

Unfortunately, Charles does not meet this minimal requirement for reasoned discourse.

If you want something to get angry about, you could do a lot worse than this:

Media Matters points out that Fox News' top anchorman, Brit Hume, gave us a glimpse into just how cynical, greedy and disgusting [his] outlook on the world is:


"My first thought when I heard - just on a personal basis, when I heard there had been this attack and I saw the futures this morning, which were really in the tank, I thought, 'Hmmm, time to buy.'"

- Fox News's Brit Hume, 7/7/05

That's right - his first thought after hearing about the awful terrorist attack in London today wasn't "how tragic," or "let's say a prayer for the dead," or "how can I help the victims" - his first thought was, there was a terrorist attack, how can I personally profit off it?

The saddest part of this is that I'm not at all surprised.

Juan Cole and the TPM Cafe have some interesting thoughts on the possible purpose and targets of the London bombings. There are indications that the bombers wanted to kill Muslim people, folks they perceived as too moderate. The purpose of the bombings may have been to intimidate moderate Muslims and to engage in an internal Muslim against Muslim war over the direction of Islamic interests.
Does anybody know?

Juan Cole and the TPM Cafe have some interesting thoughts on the possible purpose and targets of the London bombings. There are indications that the bombers wanted to kill Muslim people, folks they perceived as too moderate. The purpose of the bombings may have been to intimidate moderate Muslims and to engage in an internal Muslim against Muslim war over the direction of Islamic interests.
Does anybody know?

Hence the distinction between war and law enforcement. War implies borders and sovereignty and political control.

I agree. I was just the observation that AQ no longer is an organization in the traditional sense, and that using the Mafia as a model to combat it might fail. But using a cult model (Aum Sect, etc) might bring better results.

"I was just the observation that AQ no longer is an organization in the traditional sense, and that using the Mafia as a model to combat it might fail. But using a cult model (Aum Sect, etc) might bring better results."

(This is a non-snarky question in that I think the answer could lead to an interesting discussion). How do you think one fights a cult? How is that different from say fighting the Mafia? What historical examples do you think apply and how do they work in the modern world?

And yes I have a regime, but it consists of only my roommate's dog.

Well, a cult lives or dies on recruitment. Once "in", a member has been subjected to brainwashing techniques, and thus would require "deprogramming", which in terms of a terror group is probably on the late side. It's my understanding that AQ type organizations do, in fact, subject new recruits in that fashion.

The key for law enforcement is to identify the vunerable and impede the recruitment process.

AQ members, and I use AQ as shorthand, do not come from one single demographic group. Recruitment is broad-based: schools, prisons, immigrant groups, etc.

As for a historical model, I'd have to get back to you.

What is the meaning of "evil"? In asking this question, I am asking for a definition, not an example or series of examples, such as von gave in the original post. It seems to me that people frequently use an "I know it when I see it" sort of definition for evil, which makes it easier to define things that they (whoever they are) do as evil, while things we (whoever we are) do may be mistaken or foolish, may have regretable consequences, or may even be wrong, but they are rarely, according to us, actually evil. Anyone have any ideas as to how to solve this problem?

And yes I have a regime, but it consists of only my roommate's dog.

OMG! Rick Santorum was right!

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

Haven't forgotten Fallujah, Neo. What football field?

Re: #16 in von's list: how is that action different from the US attacks on hospitals in Fallujah?

Do you have a better source than Raimondo's crackpot website, Dianne?

No, but the President you support is.

No, he is not, Dan. Bush said his words a few times in the wake of 9/11. He was directly addressing the governments of the world, asking them to side with us, to reject the sponsoring and harboring of al Qaeda.

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

That's just pure undiluted horsesh*t. I am saying no such thing.

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

That's just pure undiluted horsesh*t. I am saying no such thing."

As noted above, with citations from a prior thread, you have. When you were called upon it, you neither retracted nor withdrew the statements. You even dug yourself further into the ground by misrepresenting your statements as not impugning anyone's motives. When multiple people pointed out precisely where you did that, you did not respond. Sorry, but it ain't horsesh!t -- it's true.

CB: How about the The New York Times as a source? Or The BBC?

What football field?

This one:

Residents of Falluja have reportedly been burying the dead in their gardens and a football field because it is too dangerous to go to the cemeteries on the outskirts of town.

The statements in this post, are things I not only agree with, but seem so obvious to me that I take them for granted. I don't necessarily think about actively on a daily basis. I would guess that that is true of a large number of us here.

Sometimes it is worth stating things taken for granted out loud, and thinking about them actively. I love my family, I take this for granted and so do they, but it is worth saying it and thinking consciously about that sometimes, and not only taking it for granted.

And the same is true of less pleasant and equally obvious things, like this. It motivates you to think more about the harder questions, such as: how do we stop this from ever happening again?

If we are going to guess at von's motivations, I think that is probably all they were.

I just want to add one thing, which I think is only slightly less obvious than this post, but which sometimes seems to escape the President, his administration and some of his supporters--and which may be lost in a post titled "in praise of righteous anger."

Bush talks a lot about "opposing evil", as if that is the greatest thing one can do. Well, it isn't. That our enemies our evil, is something to be recognized, but not particularly good proof of our own virtue. Lots of countries in lots of wars have had evil enemies. To use the crashingly obvious example, Stalin and Hitler both managed it--they had each other. Opposing evil is no guarantee that you are good.

I also think it is blatantly, crashingly, obvious that we are better than Al Qaida and their allies. But again, this is not especially hard or impressive to do. Communist Vietnam pulled that off in the war with Pol Pot.

The hard part is not finding evil enemies to oppose. And when history provides you with enemies like Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, it's also no great trick to be less evil than your enemies.

A harder thing to do is to actually defeat those enemies, and do so without betraying yourself or becoming even a little bit more like them. It's not just hard; the history of our own country suggests that it's almost impossible, not to become at least a little more like what you are fighting. But that's got to be the goal. It may be impossible to do it perfectly, but I know we can do both halves of it better than we are now.

Guy in a fedora walks into a small shop, says to the owner, 'Nice place you got here. Sure would be a shame if anything was to happen to it.' Tense moment of silence as this sinks in.

Owner grabs baseball bat from behind counter, waves it over his head, and says, 'Get out of here, stop threatening me.'

Guy in fedora is pretty surprised, being used to the idea that in this neighborhood, shopkeepers just pay whatever protection money is asked. Says, 'That's total horsesh*t. I wasn't threatening anyone. Just admiring the store.'

I suppose some innocent men in fedoras are going to get hit with some bats for doing nothing more than innocently admiring a well stocked merchantile establishment. Maybe in context, though, it'd be a good idea to find some non-threatening way to convey admiration for the stock. 'Cause the shopkeepers are tired of paying protection money.


(For the inattentive, all I'm saying is that the treason card has been very substantially overplayed. Has CB overplayed it in prior incarnations? It doesn't even matter, because it was overplayed before he ever started.)

I don't think there's any doubt whatsoever that the US government killed more people in this ongoing conflict (and probably in every conflict before this one) than any of its enemies; civilians, children, wedding parties guests and all the rest.

The key for law enforcement is to identify the vunerable and impede the recruitment process.

And the key for society at large is to reduce the conditions that creates potential recruits. Much has been made of the fact that the 9-11 hijackers were all middle class, college graduates who we would have thought were exemplars, but their sense of disaffection and alienation was drawn from the whole history of the West's engagement with the Middle East. The inability to understand that sense of alienation, to attribute it to something, anything that is external to us is most disturbing. The desire to push it outside of ourselves and our world is understandable, but ultimately wrong. Already, the discussion of the authors of the London blast are, in some circles, a 'sleeper' cell. The desire is to claim that those who did this were already set in their convictions. The idea that they are among us, while horrifying (think the end of b/w Invasion of the Body Snatchers), it is much more 'comforting' than the idea that we may be, in some way, creating the conditions for this to flourish.

This list of Islamic terrorist acts should give some pause. These acts have been in the background for 40 years, but it is our interconnectedness and globalized society that makes them a threat that they weren't before.

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

Nice try, shoes, but you're way off subject. The point of my Michael Moore post was to demonstrate that he is an extremist crackpot, and that Democrats should have nothing to do with the guy.

What I question here, and I have always questioned it, is whether, when some splinter group of anti-whatever freakazoids declares war against us or any other state, we should crank up the war rhetoric ourselves?

Fair question, nous. Any old group can declare war on us, but al Qaeda had the means and ability to actually do it. Once they committed those acts of war, there is no choice but to take them seriously and at their word. Does it mean we must beat war drums? No. Does it mean we send in troops? Depends. As I see it, there is nothing wrong with the use of rhetoric against them. Propaganda is an integral component to this war, and they use the media pretty well, something that organized crime syndicates never did. Mafia dons also didn't declare jihad against infidels and send squads of suicide capos to advance their cause. This is more than just a gang of criminals. I don't think we differ all that much on tactics, but I think we're in WW IV, and it's a war unlike any other in history.

Dan,
Let's revisit your 11:14am statement: "No, you are just saying that people who do not wholeheartedly support the President are idiots at best, and traitors at worst."

To support your feeble case, you cited comments I made in another post about Durbin, Kennedy and certain groups who talked down the war from day one. Did I call them idiots? No. I did question the judgment of two politicians, saying that Durbin and Kennedy were useful fools. Did I impugn their motives as Hilzoy suggested? No. I have no idea what their motives were, and it doesn't matter anyway. I criticized the actual words spoken. Did I call them traitors? No. When Hilzoy and Edward and Armando and others disagree with me or are less than wholeheartedly supportive of Bush, are they idiots at best and traitors at worst? Of course not. If you're going to criticize me for a lack of reasoned discourse, look to your own beam.

Wise words, Katherine.

I sometimes think we're hardwired for the disjunctive syllogism, "not P, therefore Q"--thus giving Q a free pass simply on the assumption that it's one or the other, and that we can reject P without having to evaluate Q.

Our political emotions seem to be built on this principle, and it seems to apply to Bush's rhetorical assumption that we're not al-Qaeda, thus we're paragons of virtue.

How do you think one fights a cult?

I wish I didn't have to work today, because I think that merits a thread of its own and some research on my part. My initial take -- based on a bunch of half-baked notions about both cognitive psych and self-organizing networks -- is the same as 2shoes. Once cultified, people are incredibly hard to reach. In that sense cults are indeed very much like the mafia. The induction methods of criminal enterprises, cults, secret societies, and other "deliberate" or artificial clique systems overlap, and their core attribute is precisely that they are hard to undo.

I can think of a bunch of methods just off the top of my head: hazing (deliberately damaging and then rebuilding the inductee's self-esteem), isolation from other influences, forcing the inductee into tasks that trigger fear, forcing the inductee to secretly perform tasks that are illicit or immoral or simply incompatible with social standing in the outside world, psychotropics and staged experiences, largesse combined with demonstrations of power over the inductee, disproportionately small rewards for tasks performed, disproportinately large rewards for tasks not yet performed, good cop/bad cop, etc etc...

All these things are variatons on a few basic themes, whether they show up in an interrogation room, frat house, or Senate cloakroom. And they are very hard to undo, especially when used deliberately and in combination... So yes, nixing recruitment is the rational approach. Whether that means preemptively indoctrinating potential recruits into an alternative "cult" of your own (easier, faster, riskier -- see previous half-joke about pop culture) or training potential recruits to recognize and resist indoctrination (harder, more time consuming, less risky -- see others on the sorry state of primary education in various "terrorist breeding grounds"), the key is not to let them get snared in the first place.

Nice try, shoes, but you're way off subject. The point of my Michael Moore post was to demonstrate that he is an extremist crackpot, and that Democrats should have nothing to do with the guy.

Right. As I said, your mileage may vary....

How do you think one fights a cult?

Well, when we get some ideas, let's try them out on Tom Cruise first.

have the boy go down to the sea
throw a rope
and save our enemy

if he won't play play with my disease
show him how
we burned down Pericles

Posted by: liberal japonicus | July 8, 2005 03:02 PM

Man, I totaly agree with that.

These people deserve to be treated like men and women.

How do you think one fights a cult?

Well, when we get some ideas, let's try them out on Tom Cruise first.

How about some republicans instead?

Charles--

Any old group can declare war on us, but al Qaeda had the means and ability to actually do it. Once they committed those acts of war, there is no choice but to take them seriously and at their word.

We agree in large part on this, but my contention has always been that we must engage on smarter terms. I think Lind has this much right: you cannot use an army fighting a conventional war to combat terrorists and guerillas. We are only making it easier for them to recruit.

Does it mean we send in troops? Depends.

In the case of Afghanistan, troops were warranted.

In the case of Iraq, our decision to use the threat of military action was working. Our decision to invade has precipitated a loss of civilian life on the scale of Saddam's purges and has ruined the infrastructure of the country and decimated the Iraqi's ability to prevent ordinary societal violence, let alone terrorism. We are not necessarily the cause of the death, but our cure has the same mortality/morbidity rate as the 'disease'. Afghanistan has worsened under our lack of attention, and now both of these places are better recruiting grounds for AQ than before the invasion.

As I see it, there is nothing wrong with the use of rhetoric against them. Propaganda is an integral component to this war, and they use the media pretty well, something that organized crime syndicates never did.

Rhetoric is fine, but it needs to be appropriate to the causa belli. In this case, as outlined above, the war rhetoric has been used to sell a fundamentally foolish conventional war against a marginally involved player who had been contained through other means. We will not stamp out AQ with ordinary war, and so our rhetoric should point to the need for a nuanced response.

Unfortunately for all of us, the people in charge have suited their rhetoric to their response and keep wielding a chainsaw rather than picking up a scalpel.

Mafia dons also didn't declare jihad against infidels and send squads of suicide capos to advance their cause. This is more than just a gang of criminals. I don't think we differ all that much on tactics, but I think we're in WW IV, and it's a war unlike any other in history.

Which is why I went with 2shoes emmendation on this.

If this is WWIV, it is a fourth gen. war and we need to get our 2-3 gen. army out of the picture and evolve.

I think we are farther apart on tactics than you indicate. I believe we cannot act unilaterally and need to start working with the rest of the world to empower the International Criminal Court. We cannot stop AQ or Aum or other non-territorial, non-state entities while we squabble over borders and jurisdictions. There must be a concept of society higher than individual state biopower and sovereignty.


How do you think one fights a cult?

Well, when we get some ideas, let's try them out on Tom Cruise first.

How about some republicans instead?

Start with the easy cults, is my theory. ;)

(Don't wax vexatious, Republicans. After you're deprogrammed, the piece de resistance will be Noam Chomsky. As for the Dems, they're too incoherent to be a cult.)

And the key for society at large is to reduce the conditions that creates potential recruits.

Precisely. Both in foreign policy, and domestically.

The Muslim minorities in various European countries have many legitimate claims for disaffection, and European societies really need to look in the mirror. One idea is to look to countries like Canada and Australia - the two industrialized nations with largest percentage of immigrants - for approaches and policies.

It is certainly true that the composition of the immigrant populations in Canada and Australia are more broad than they are in Europe, but it's a place to start.

And it's also true that of the 5 nations mentioned in one of OBL's missives as being "targeted" for the invasion of Afghanistan, only Canada has not suffered an attack, and Australia was targeted outside it's borders. Now, Canada is probably not much of a priority in the AQ scheme, but I also think it's true they would have a more difficult time recruiting there.

Charley Carp writes: "I'm as leary of mindreading as the next person, but putting a bomb in a bus -- with no idea who may be riding it -- is so utterly inconsistent with the notion of meaning to harm 'only the guilty' that I'm going to have to see something else before I'm going to entertain the idea."

What would you say about dropping a thousand-pound bomb without knowing who's under it? Or lobbing a tank shell without having any idea who's at the landing zone? Or spraying a car with 20mm cannonfire, without knowing who's in it?

I'd also point out that being picky about civilian casualties is a luxury that comes with technical prowess and military superiority. When we use less precise weapons, we are much more accepting of civilian casualties.

If the US were in the position of having to fight with improvised 10 lb bombs, against a secure target nation, you might be surprised at what we'd consider acceptable.

There must be a concept of society higher than individual state biopower and sovereignty.

Precisely, too. The Rule of Law must be the foundation upon which international system rest (instead of the half-a$$ed implementation we have now).

"I believe we cannot act unilaterally and need to start working with the rest of the world to empower the International Criminal Court."

The ICC is about punishing people after the fact. It is extremely unsuitable for stopping anything before it happens, or stopping repeat offenders who organize in countries that aren't friendly and send their recruits outside their borders. If we fight terrorism by trying to prosecute the peon-level terrorists who actually come into Western countries while leaving those who do not safely tucked away in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia the War on Terrorism will indeed go on indefinitely.

The ICC is about punishing people after the fact. It is extremely unsuitable for stopping anything before it happens

The ICC is simply one tool that can be used.

"The ICC is simply one tool that can be used."

Ok, well let us focus on the important tools....

In terms of prevention, the ICC is probably not the tool you would look to first, no, but that does not diminish it's importance.

I would offer up the concept of Responsibility to Protect in that department.

There are basic intelligence gathering tools that are frequently used in law enforcement that would be of great use to us: infiltration, surveillance, getting somebody to turn state's evidence. As we've seen, however, it is exceedingly difficult to penetrate a cult with these methods, particularly when the cultural milieu of the cult is so at odds with the intelligence gathering assets we have at our disposal.

This is probably a better site for Responsibility to Protect

"If we fight terrorism by trying to prosecute the peon-level terrorists who actually come into Western countries while leaving those who do not safely tucked away in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia the War on Terrorism will indeed go on indefinitely."

And it won't if we go on as we are?

Let's take Iraq as a model, since the conservatives on this board generally think Iraq is going just fine and that Bush is doing the right thing there.

Each country then would require upwards of 200,000 troops (per Shinseiki), a commitment of 10+ years (per Rumsfeld), and $300+ billion (using current figures).

Iraq + Afghanistan + Iran + Saudi Arabia = 800,000 troops and $1.2 trillion. Are we doing this all at once, or stringing it out over a number of years? (And that list doesn't include Pakistan or Syria, countries which fit your description of "places that shelter terrorists." Why not add them to the tab? )

So, in any given year, we're committing 400,000 or so troops and $500 billion (at least) and we're going to be doing that every year for at least 20 years. And that's if we don't wind up invading Pakistan or Syria or both.

20 years? Without a draft? Without tax increases? Without allies?

I'm assuming, also, that the conservatives on this board would like to see the GOP in control of the WH and Congress for - well, forever, ideally; but let's just say "for the duration of the war." So, 20 years of that, too.

And 20 years of "The only people who oppose the war are weaklings, cowards and traitors!" This should get particularly interesting, as the casualty count rises and it begins to dawn on people that becoming a parent today means probably becoming a Gold Star parent in 18 years.

What kind of country do we have in 20 years?

What kind of casualty count do we have in 20 years?

What kind of federal debt do we have in 20 years?

Come on, guys. You want a world war, you want military action: spin me some scenarios.



Sebastian, I'm having a little trouble figuring out where you're going with this business about the ICC not being an important tool. Is it an unimportant tool because it's post hoc? That line of reasoning implies that there's no deterrent effect to law enforcement in general. Or is it unimportant because it doesn't totally rule out an occasional need for military intervention? In which case I find myself wondering why half a loaf isn't better than no loaf at all. If getting the big fish is your goal, then what do you suggest as a strategy, and what is it about the half-a-loaf ICC strategy that interferes with yours?

What stops me dead in my tracks about posts like this is not the statements themselves (I agree with Katherine that most of what von writes here seems quite obvious to me), but the conclusions that I draw from them. The implicit (or at least what I take to be implicit) instructions within them. I spent the better part of a day on Tacitus recently arguing that the media need not focus every day on just how evil the insurgents/terrorists are...that I get it, instinctively, viscerally, intellectually, and even spiritually. They are not parallel to us in any sense I value. No matter how badly I was treated by someone, I would never kill their wives, children, etc. to get back at them.

But, again, what stops me in my tracks are the implicit instructions to hate the enemy more than I already do. "If only we hated them more...enough...then we could beat them" seems the underlying message. What that actually means, though, is if only we hated them enough, we'd put aside our better selves and sink to their level to get back at them. And what that would seem to mean is that we'd turn a blind eye to the sorts of atrocities we'd normally condemn by our own in the name of restoring equlibrium.

I just don't believe that's how it works. You never wash that stain off your hands completely. Moreover, that's too high a price to pay for me. I value my better self. I would happily bust a cap in the back of Osama bin Laden's skull for what he's done to us. But it wouldn't be an act of hate. It would be a mercy killing of a demented beast unfit to move among humans.

I don't need to hate him to want to defeat him.

the key for society at large is to reduce the conditions that creates potential recruits.

This is overbroad. Not every complaint is reasonable, and those who want grievances usually find them easy to manufacture.

We just got BBC world at the LJ home, which is great cause American Morning can get the (in)attention it deserves, but rather difficult because, obviously, it is all bombing, all the time. However, there are some important points that should be noted

putting a bomb in a bus ...is so utterly inconsistent with the notion of meaning to harm 'only the guilty'
There is some speculation that the bus was not targeted, but that the person was en route. Viewing this as a simple question in military tactics, one would aim to have a number of secondary explosions occur after the main ones in order to disrupt and injure emergency service response teams (This isn't my idea, this was pioneered by the Allies in WWII during firebomb raids in Germany and Japan) I don't point this out to make out any kind of moral equivalency as that is a fight that I don't want to get involved in now, but to suggest that there is nothing new under the sun.

Also, the reported small size of the bombs (around 10 pounds each) is really remarkable. What I fear (and what I think will happen if we don't pull our heads from our backsides in the next decade) is that some bright spark will begin to target infrastructure that will cause our economy to grind to a halt. This sort of 'non-violent' resistance (imagine the east coast power grid treated to several blackouts over one summer) would attract more recruits. I believe that the economy is like a restaurant, and like a restaurant, the margin between being in the red versus being in the black is razor thin.

Even if this doesn't come to pass, you still have the potential of all those disaffected, regardless of their background coming together

"You say they're terrorists, I say they're freedom fighters. And I want to instill the same jihadic feeling in our peoples' heart, in the Aryan race, that they have for their father, who they call Allah."

-snip-
"I don't believe that they were the ones that attacked us," Kreis said. "And even if they did, even if you say they did, I don't care!"

Kreis wants to make common cause with al Qaeda because, he says, they share the same enemies: Jews and the American government.
link

Another interesting point that was raised on BBC (I'm still trying to figure out the schedule, so I'm not sure what segment it was in) was that those who were opposed to the EU becoming a super-state rather than a loosely confederated group of sovereign states are going to have to reexamine their ideas because if there is not this kind of coordination, it will be impossible to prevent this kind of act.

After 9-11, there was a closet industry of experts describing how vunerable we were/are. Eventually, I think they lost favor because it was so blinking obvious that we were vunerable and anyone with a few brain cells to rub together could think of hundreds of ways to throw sand in the works. One of the reasons that an open society works, beyond questions of morality, is that the money, time and effort invested in protecting things is not needed. If that advantage is lost, I'm not sure how much better we would fare against some sort of command control economy. But some would have us maintain our openness without admitting the possibility that the asymmetrical nature of our openness might be causing some of the problems. On the other hand, some would take the words about bringing freedom and democracy to the rest of the world as adequate substitutes for actually doing so.

On preview, Bernard notes that my claim is overly broad. I take his point, but when people have the increased ability to wreak havoc, we have to be more, not less, responsive to grievances. In all truth, I don't see, the way things currently stand, that the US has been responsive to grievances except there they further their own interests, despite all claims of bringing freedom and democracy.

Not every complaint is reasonable

I don't understand the logic. So....therefore no grievance should be addressed?

Why are you equating addressing reasonable grievances with addressing every grievance? Common sense need not be discarded.

"I would happily bust a cap in the back of Osama bin Laden's skull for what he's done to us. But it wouldn't be an act of hate. It would be a mercy killing of a demented beast unfit to move among humans."

I'm afraid I'm not nearly as nice as you. I do have a revenge fantasy against Osama bin Laden: I'd like to make him understand what he's done. To truly understand it, be aware of the suffering he has caused and to know that he destroyed thousands of people. Not sent them off to paradise where Allah awaits to give them their just reward or punishment, but destroyed them utterly. And finally I'd like to make him face his true reasons for doing what he did, without excuse or mental defense. To know that he killed thousands of people not for some greater good but simply because he is a spoiled, angry man who is incapable of creating and instead seeks to destroy out of jealousy.

So I suppose Cheney is, in a sense, right when he claimed that "liberals" want to give AQ members therapy. What he failed to understand is that successful therapy could be the most vicious thing anyone could do to them.

CB: " but I think we're in WW IV"

Been working pretty hard these past couple decades.

Did I miss WWIII?

Why are you equating addressing reasonable grievances with addressing every grievance?

I am not doing that. The notion I object to is that anything we do that helps terrorists recruit must be changed. Maybe that's an unfair reading of LJ's point, but taken literally that is close to what it means.

Clearly, it is wrong to mistreat people, and I intend the word "mistreat" to cover a lot of territory. That is so irrespective of terrorism. Still, where perfectly reasonable, or even desirable, actions or conditions incite an irrational violent response I see no need to change things to cater to the irrationality. In fact, I think it would be wrong to do so.

Still, where perfectly reasonable, or even desirable, actions or conditions incite an irrational violent response I see no need to change things to cater to the irrationality. In fact, I think it would be wrong to do so.

Do you have an example of a "reasonable or desirable" act that is serving so?

Charles,

Nice try, but it doesn't even come close to holding water.

"Did I call them idiots? No. I did question the judgment of two politicians, saying that Durbin and Kennedy were useful fools."

You may think there's a substantial difference between "useful fools" and the more frequently used phrase of "useful idiots", but you are very likely to be unique.

"Did I impugn their motives as Hilzoy suggested? No. I have no idea what their motives were, and it doesn't matter anyway. criticized the actual words spoken."

This is actually funny. In that thread you described them as "too eager to proclaim that we're in a quagmire and that we're losing" and "wanted Bush to go down in flames." I want to hear how this can be called a criticism of actual words spoken. Please provide a cite which contains actual words by either Senator where they proclaimed a desire for Bush to "go down in flames". Please explain how the word "eager" can be viewed as anything other than a statement of motive.

I am sorry, but you have repeated your offensive comments far too many times for me to take your protestation of innocence at all seriously.

xanax: Did I miss WWIII?

Nah, you didn't miss anything -- It wasn't worht the 6 bucks...

The word "I" somehow got removed from my second quote of Charles. It should read:

"Did I impugn their motives as Hilzoy suggested? No. I have no idea what their motives were, and it doesn't matter anyway. I criticized the actual words spoken."

Do you have an example of a "reasonable or desirable" act that is serving so?

Give me a list of all the grievances that Islamic terrorists have, and I'll try to point out a few.

Bernard, reduce and eliminate are not synonyms.

Maybe that's an unfair reading of LJ's point

Don't worry, I'm used to it ;^) But seriously, I'm not trying to lay out a bright line here, so I don't want my comment to start a fight (especially since a previous one did such a good job already :^()

And I agree that we can't simply assume each grievance as an honest statement. But we do have to provide a narrative that shows that we have responded in a reasonable fashion to it. I don't think we are 'catering' to irrationality by suggesting (admitting?) that there are a lot more potential grievances out there than have been given credit for. And, setting aside how it is acted on, is it the height of irrationality for a middle class Saudi Arabian college graduate of a German university take the suffering of his co-religionists as part of his suffering? If we fail to understand that there is a human impulse at the heart of all this, as well as a burning desire for moral clarity that often results in black being white (a desire that is often on display in the blogosphere, I might add), we aren't going to solve things.

Prove your case, Dan. You wrote: "No, you are just saying that people who do not wholeheartedly support the President are idiots at best, and traitors at worst."

You are accusing me of saying that Edward, Hilzoy, Katherine, von, Phil, Gary, Jes, LJ, nous and legions of others--here and elsewhere--are idiots at best and traitors at worst. Instead of digging in your heels and stiffening your neck, you should be backing away from such an absurd statement. How can anyone, left or right, see you as credible when you unbendingly defend this tripe?

I believe we cannot act unilaterally and need to start working with the rest of the world to empower the International Criminal Court.

I'm with Sebastian on this, nous. The ICC is tantamount to closing the barn door after the horses have already escaped. Someone--and that someone is the US because no one else will--has to go in and get the guy, well after the crime has already been committed (see Mugabe and al Bashir), well after tens or hundreds of thousands have been murdered.

Give me a list of all the grievances that Islamic terrorists have, and I'll try to point out a few.

Ah. By the decisive tone of your post I thought you already had something particular in mind. I guess not.

In terms of AQ's expectations of the West, my understanding is that their main grievances consist of - in short - of "hands off" the Middle East (removing bases from SA, stop supporting dictators, etc), and a perceived lack of evenhandedness in regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

And I wouldn't say you have to deal with the grievances of the Islamic terrorists, but with the grievances of the people who tolerate the presence of Islamic terrorists in their midst. The Admin has a theory about what is a principal one: lack of say in their national government. I don't know of any empirical support for this, and tend to think it less likely than a feeling of powerlessness in the face of the onslaught of western civilization. Way tougher to sell to a US population, who like to be told that everyone wishes they could be just like us.

CB, I think you and Seb are just looking through the wrong end of the telescope wrt the UN and the ICC. These institutions, and others like them, are not useful because they are more efficient tools for some narrow task, they are useful for the legitimacy they confer on US efforts that are undertaken using these tools. Less efficient in the short run, I'll grant you, but in the longer haul, maybe more effective.

Note I am not speaking of these institutions as if they have some kind of ability to act independent of US leadership. As I've noted before, they are only useful when used as tools by the US. They nonetheless provide a cloak of legitimacy.

It's funny that the Admin is pursuing a worldwide quest for democracy, with the underlying philosophical underpinning that people will feel empowered by the small measure of control over their fates, and thus not channel resentment against the US, and then ignore the same philosophical underpinning for "internationalizing" parts of US policy.

The ICC is tantamount to closing the barn door after the horses have already escaped. Someone--and that someone is the US because no one else will--has to go in and get the guy, well after the crime has already been committed

Um....how is this different from the "after the fact" ICC, exactly?

And I'm very happy you chose to read the websites on the Responsibility to Protect concept.

Charles,
I am truly sorry that I thought you wrote this post and that my frustration with your previous posts and comments spilled into this one. But please don't invoke my name to defend your statements. I can't speak for the others, but I really think that you get taken away by your own words and end up saying things that seem self-evident to you, but are rather insulting to others. I also realize that you have a lot of posts on various fora, and not allowing for the tone and voice of those fora when those statements are cited is unfair. However, when you refer to those posts to defend your current positions, it gets much more murkier as to what can fairly be used in discussing these points.

I do believe that you have responded to complaints that I and others have made on this blog. Unfortunately, that response, which has (partially) been to use comments by people like James Carville and Armando to support your assertions rather than the NRO or various blogs of the right persuasion, has been (obviously IMHO) an attempt to avoid the problems of your rhetoric rather than confront the contradictions.

I say again that I am sorry for thinking that you wrote this post, and it is obviously something that I have to consider (i.e. the way I responded to you), so it is partially my fault that you are invoking my name here, but I don't think it is right in this case, especially when you complain so vociferously that I am making assumptions about what you believe.

Sorry, Charles, but you said the first indefensible thing in the other thread. You refused to back away from it when multiple people pointed out its palpable absurdity. If you cannot back away from it when repeatedly called on it, why should anyone else back away at your request?

Charles--Someone--and that someone is the US because no one else will--has to go in and get the guy, well after the crime has already been committed (see Mugabe and al Bashir), well after tens or hundreds of thousands have been murdered.

You keep trying to cast the US as Gary Cooper, but I will say again that we cannot build any sort of international community if we continually exempt ourselves from it and lecture everyone else on what total schmucks they are. We are not the Shining Beacon on Freedom's Hill, surrounded by Darkness and Apathy. We are an exceptionally lucky country that has managed to do a lot of things right and has managed so far to dodge the karma from the worst of our mistakes.

Africa does not act in Africa because they have no money and not a lot of infrastructure or state. Europe took far more from them than they ever gave in return. Asia is still trying to win the development lottery before globalization pins them in the losers bracket along with Africa and most of South America. Central and South America have enough on their plates in Central and South America.

That leaves us and Europe (and maybe China), and we are snubbing half of Europe and lecturing them on foreign affairs--we who are a fraction their age and who have not had to rebuild ourselves after two world wars, or had to get along with dozens of languages and cultures and governments for centuries, but who still fancy our not-so-sorely-tested selves as inherently superior.

By accident of location and resources as much as any perceived merit, we are the ones currently with the military might and the money, acting as if anyone else could intervene the way that we do and believing as only an American could that what we want is best for everyone else as well.

I'm not looking at what the ICC is (which is, in large part, what we have made it), but rather at what the ICC could be if we were to look at our current situation and decide to throw in with the rest of the world while we still have the power and resources to get things rolling, rather than waiting for China to come into its power, collapse our economy, and then proceed to follow our example and act unilaterally in their own best interest throughout the globe. I'm looking at what we could do to stop terrorism if we would quit acting like some jealous parent testing a child and start trying to build up the rest of the international community so that they can be our partners rather than our lackeys.

I don't think the rest of the world lacks the will. I think they lack the resources we have, and we suck at sharing.

2shoes,

stop supporting dictators, etc

Are you claiming that Bin Laden is simply trying to promote democracy in the ME? I think his political goals are somewhat different. My understanding is that he would like to re-establish the caliphate, and have the entire area operate under Sharia. How do you think the US should address this particular grievance?

Bin Laden also complains of Gulf War I. Do you think that it was wrong and we ought to apologize for it? I don't.

LJ,

No, it is not insane for "a middle class Saudi Arabian college graduate of a German university take the suffering of his co-religionists as part of his suffering." It is, however, irrational for him to attribute this suffering solely to the West. Does it really make sense to think that the Muslim world bears no responsibility for its own problems?

I am not claiming that there are no legitimate Arab grievances, and that western conduct in the region has been irreproachable. I began, and continue, by trying to make two points:

1. Some grievances may have to do with matters that it would be undesirable to change.

2. Those who seek grievances will find them. The easiest thing in the world is to blame others for our misfortunes.

Are you claiming that Bin Laden is simply trying to promote democracy in the ME?

That is a distortion of what I said, or at the very least, a most unfair interpretation.

Living under dictatorships feed the sense of powerlessness and disaffection. Etc. It allows those like OBL - offering messages of self-empowerment, no matter how illogical the actual content of the message is - fertile ground to flourish.

Bin Laden also complains of Gulf War I.

No, he didn't. He complained of US, read infidel, troops on "Holy ground". You do know he offered Kuwait AQ's services to fight Saddam, right?

"Do you have an example of a "reasonable or desirable" act that is serving so?"

Sure.
Letting women work.
Letting homosexuals live.
Making TV shows with morals that Osama doesn't like.
Drinking alchohol.
Letting Spain be a non-Muslim country.
Letting Jews visit Jerusalem.
Letting Jews live.
Trying to stop regimes with close ties to Hezbollah from getting nuclear weapons.
And that is without thinking more than a single minute.

And I agree that we can't simply assume each grievance as an honest statement. But we do have to provide a narrative that shows that we have responded in a reasonable fashion to it. I don't think we are 'catering' to irrationality by suggesting (admitting?) that there are a lot more potential grievances out there than have been given credit for. And, setting aside how it is acted on, is it the height of irrationality for a middle class Saudi Arabian college graduate of a German university take the suffering of his co-religionists as part of his suffering? If we fail to understand that there is a human impulse at the heart of all this, as well as a burning desire for moral clarity that often results in black being white (a desire that is often on display in the blogosphere, I might add), we aren't going to solve things.

There is a human impulse behind rape and pedophilia too, but I'm not spending much time worrying about the why's of that either.

I guess my problem with this whole concept is that there are lots of people (both in the sense of individuals and groups) in the world who have complaints--many, many of them far worse complaints than some whiney middle-class Saudi, who nonetheless don't make it their business to blow up people going to work on the tube.

What is it about the Islamist greivances which makes them better?

Letting women work.

So you are offering up this as one of the reasons AQ has taken up arms against the West?

Letting homosexuals live.

You are offering up this as one of the reasons AQ has taken up arms against the West?

Making TV shows with morals that Osama doesn't like.

You are offering up this as one of the reasons AQ has taken up arms against the West?

Drinking alchohol.

You are offering up this as one of the reasons AQ has taken up arms against the West?

Letting Spain be a non-Muslim country.

Can you cite some AQ statement in support of this assertion?

Letting Jews visit Jerusalem.

Well there's one, although I think it would be more correct to say their objection stems form "letting Jews control Jerusalem".

Letting Jews live.

Can you cite some AQ statement in support of this assertion? I mean, they want to exterminate all the Jews?

Or merely drive them from the Holy Land?

Trying to stop regimes with close ties to Hezbollah from getting nuclear weapons.

Can you cite some AQ statement in support of this assertion?

And that is without thinking more than a single minute.

I think you needed to spend more than a minute thinking about it.

" The point of my Michael Moore post was to demonstrate that he is an extremist crackpot"

You forgot to mention that he was fat, though, Charles. Tsk tsk.

"How do you think one fights a cult?"

Is this a trick question? You fight them with the law, same as you fight any other destabilising influence on society. And it's no different from fighting the Mafia, except possibly in some niggling details. In the broad strokes, you rely on intelligence and slow, plodding, painstaking work to gather evidence. You infiltrate the organisation and break it from within. You use members and former members against it.

All of these tactics would also work, are in fact essential, at countering terrorist activity. They will not work at combatting lone gunmen or isolated cells, but in terms of breaking "networks" there is little to no alternative method that I can think of.

Law enforcement has the singular honour of being the most effective and most despised method of solving problems of violence known to man. Everybody hates the police because they give them speeding tickets, and when something happens to them they bemoan their inefficiency and wail for the opportunity to don a trenchcoat and mete out some vigilante justice with a shotgun. But the rule of law is the reason we are not in desperate anarchy, and its lack is the reason that the international arena is anarchic and sympathetic to despots. Although such methods are deplored by those who wish to frame things only in the black and white contrasts of good and evil, we will only beat terrorism with police, not with soldiers.


And, can I just say that 2shoes does not speak for me on the "greivance" debate despite the fact that we are probably both "anti-war liberals". The few vague inklings he has had towards a reasonable argument have long since been obscured behind obtuse rhetoric.

Suffice it to say that while it may not be necessary for everyone to understand why rapists do what they do, it is certainly someone's job to do so. Criminal psychology is an important part of law enforcement, and vital not only in finding and capturing criminals after they have committed crimes, but also in preventing future crimes from happening.

Simply sitting there and saying "rapists are bad bad people" does not have the same practical applications, for all its veracity or moral fortitude.

I think that the point of the original post was that well meaning folks shouldn't defend the indefensible, for instance AQ, and attack our own countries which by and large protect the values and freedoms that we hold dear. I don't see the need for cites to assert that AQ is bad and against what I consider a civil society. The Taliban version of Afghanistan is a good enough example of AQ's model society for me to be totally against what AQ stands for.

Hey Bernard,
I understand your point. But it seems that, with the G8 granting the money (3 billion?) to the Palestinians, (plus the debt relief plan) there is an acknowledgement of the kind I am talking about. I've only caught the beeb talking about the G8 communique, so I'm interested in any links to content and analysis.

And, can I just say that 2shoes does not speak for me on the "greivance" debate despite the fact that we are probably both "anti-war liberals". The few vague inklings he has had towards a reasonable argument have long since been obscured behind obtuse rhetoric.

You know, when people lay such charges, it would be really nice to know the specifics of their objections.

The post directly above mine was the one that broke the camel's back. Everything Sebastian said is well documented and can be found in speeches by people claiming to be members of Al Qaeda and by bin Laden himself. It should not be incumbent upon anyone to prove that radical Islamic Fundamentalist bombers really have mad-assed ideas.

I doubt you would object if I mentioned that particular breeds of Christian support the Jewish state because it supports their view that Jesus is coming soon to magic them to heaven, even if I didn't pull a cite directly out of my ass.

The post directly above mine was the one that broke the camel's back. Everything Sebastian said is well documented and can be found in speeches by people claiming to be members of Al Qaeda and by bin Laden himself.

Really? Those were the reasons AQ is bombing Metro Stations in the West, eh?

Bullsh!t.

None of those rationales presented by Bernard Yomtov were mentioned in the "press release". Nor were they in any other press release after any other bombing against Western targets...or any other targets for that matter.

And I challenge you to prove me wrong.

I doubt you would object if I mentioned that particular breeds of Christian support the Jewish state because it supports their view that Jesus is coming soon to magic them to heaven, even if I didn't pull a cite directly out of my ass.

Wouldn't I? If someone Christian nut blew up the Syrian consulate in Los Angeles I would, in fact, examine their rationale regardless of what I might have read on the "internets"

Sorry Bernard, that should read Sebastien

The post directly above mine was the one that broke the camel's back. Everything Sebastian said is well documented and can be found in speeches by people claiming to be members of Al Qaeda and by bin Laden himself.

Ayup. There used to be a really nice cache of all bin Laden's interviews and public documents online but I've lost the link; anyone know where (or if) it still exists?

People, please. I don't doubt OBL hates gays and wants women to stay barefoot and pregnant, just like the Christian right for that matter, but that's not why AQ is bombing Western targets.

A rapist may hate the colour green, but that's not why he rapes. It's simply incidental.

Etc.

Anarch
I think you might be referring to this.

What's wrong with treating terrorism as a criminal matter?

The people who were responsible for the first attack on the WTC are in jail. How'd they get there? Criminal investigation, trial, and sentencing.

The people who were responsible for blowing up the Murragh Building in Oklahoma City are dead or in jail. How'd they get there? Criminal investigation, trial, and sentencing.

The man responsible for setting off a bomb at the '96 Olympics is, at last, in jail. How'd he get there? Criminal investigation, trial, and sentencing.

The people who were responsible for the Madrid bombings are dead or in jail. How'd they get there? Criminal investigation, trial, and sentencing.

Meanwhile, the "war" on terrorism has accomplished... what, exactly?

Bin Laden has said in as many words that it is. That AQ are latching onto genuine greivances does not make their utterly batshit insane reasoning go away, nor does it change the fact that, as Sebastian says, plenty of people have valid complaints against us and don't plant bombs.

Don't mistake the genuine complaints of the proles who find themselves caught i a war for the weird-ass religion of those who fund them.

And don't grab reasons out of the air and stick them onto the police report for the World Trade Center bombing, Madrid, or Wednesday's events.

The West's position on gays and women is not why Saudi engineers fly planes into towers.

You need to understand why OBL's "message" has resonance. I can tell you with certainty, it has nothing to do with the reasons mentioned.

You know, it might have something to do with the reasons mentioned in the AQ's archive that LJ kindly provided. Maybe you should peruse them again.

As for legitimate grievances vs. bat guano, I am most certainly not confusing the two and wouldn't hestitate to proverbially flip the bird and perhaps a grenade at anyone who would seek to impede the civil liberties of another citizen, though to make it seem so might make your argument stronger.

I appreciate critiques of the arguments I actually make. Yours wasn't one of them.

link

Scroll down.

There are the objections to various things that you say. Occupations, American soldiers in Islamic countries. There are also objections to the very existence of Israel. There is also, at great length, a treatise telling us that we should rid ourselves of "the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling's, and trading with interest."

Money quote:
"If you fail to respond to all these conditions, then prepare for fight with the Islamic Nation"

Now, can we stop talking about just how ridiculous and evil these people are, because it doesn't matter and doesn't help.

Okay, well..I've looked through the whole thing and golly, I don't see anything about "letting women work", and the single mention of homosexuality...

We call you to be a people of manners, principles, honour, and purity; to reject the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling's, and trading with interest.

Yes. Liquor, gays, cards, and high interest rates. It's like being in Sunday school again. A throwaway paragraph, don't you think? Don't really the heart of the message, eh? Considering all the words spent on other subjects?

Nor do I see anything regarding extermination of all the Jews. Oh yes, the dissolution of Israel is mentioned explicitly...that sort of goes without saying. But the rationale behind that....well let's let AQ speak for itself:

It brings us both laughter and tears to see that you have not yet tired of repeating your fabricated lies that the Jews have a historical right to Palestine, as it was promised to them in the Torah. Anyone who disputes with them on this alleged fact is accused of anti-semitism. This is one of the most fallacious, widely-circulated fabrications in history. The people of Palestine are pure Arabs and original Semites. It is the Muslims who are the inheritors of Moses (peace be upon him) and the inheritors of the real Torah that has not been changed. Muslims believe in all of the Prophets, including Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon them all. If the followers of Moses have been promised a right to Palestine in the Torah, then the Muslims are the most worthy nation of this.

Money quote:
"If you fail to respond to all these conditions, then prepare for fight with the Islamic Nation"

So?

Who cares?

There are probably, at best, one or two people in this world of any religion who will blow themselves and a bus station up because Nathan Lane walks the streets of New York. I think the other parts of the message carry, you know, more resonance with potential recruits.

Which was the point: you want to weaken the recruiting message, and undercutting the major planks of said is the first and best step.

So, more listening, and less posturing.

In condemnation of righteous anger:

No one lies so boldly as the man who is indignant.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Katherine said: A harder thing to do is to actually defeat those enemies, and do so without betraying yourself or becoming even a little bit more like them. It's not just hard; the history of our own country suggests that it's almost impossible, not to become at least a little more like what you are fighting. But that's got to be the goal. It may be impossible to do it perfectly, but I know we can do both halves of it better than we are now.

I hope so, too. What will not help us do it is intensifying our anger and congratulating ourselves on the righteousness of it.

And I'm less convinced every day that the war model (including 'fighting' and 'defeating') is useful in stopping or even reducing the attacks.

London, 9th July 2003.

Still missing; almost certainly dead; mangled corpses in underground trains still in the tunnels beneath London.

Neetu Jain
Phil Beer
Behnaz Moakka
Jamie Gordon
Rachelle Lieng Siong Chung
Christian Small
Miriam Hyman
Philip Russell
Marie Hartley
James Mayes
Anthony Fataji-Williams
Michael Matsushita
Shahera Akther Islam
Slimane Ihab


The names say it all. That's London today. That's us. This isn't a war of religion or race. This isn't even a war of ideas. The people who did this don't have ideas. They huddle in the darkness, afraid of the lights in the distance, afraid of change.

Go and fight them, go an wreak death and destruction in their country, as they try to do in ours, and you provoke hatred. You give aid to the enemy. You start to turn us into them.

Bring them their own London. Turn them into us.

There is a human impulse behind rape and pedophilia too, but I'm not spending much time worrying about the why's of that either.

When the question is how to punish them, I agree.

When the question is how to figure out whther someone is going to do something, or why someone who is not going to do it nonetheless approves of it being done, isn't knowledge better than ignorance?

2shoes,

I have deliberately avoided bringing up Israel, as it tends to send threads off the rails. But I am astonished at how glibly you treat Bin laden's call for the dissolution of Israel.

Above, you claimed that one of his complaints was lack of "even-handedness" in the conflict. Is calling for the dissolution of Israel your idea of even-handedness? What do you think would be the consequences for the Israelis?

LJ,

I have no problem, in principle, with aid to a Palestinian state. But this goes also to my point about responsibility. The Palestinians have received lots of aid. Much was stolen by Arafat and much else diverted to terrorism. Suha Arafat lives an extravagant lifestyle in Paris, while Palestinians suffer. Sounds like a legitimate grievance to me, but not against the west.

Bernard,

Stop attributing OBL's positions as my own.

Thanks.

2shoes,

From your comments:

Letting Jews live.

Can you cite some AQ statement in support of this assertion? I mean, they want to exterminate all the Jews?

Or merely drive them from the Holy Land?

Merely.

In terms of AQ's expectations of the West, my understanding is that their main grievances consist of.... a perceived lack of evenhandedness in regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Lack of evenhandedness.

Nor do I see anything regarding extermination of all the Jews. Oh yes, the dissolution of Israel is mentioned explicitly...that sort of goes without saying. But the rationale behind that....

Dissolution. Rationale.

I did not attribute OBL's views to you. I suggested that you seemed to have a cavalier attitude towards at least some of them.

And those items on Sebastian's list you couldn't really be cavalier about you simply dismissed out of hand as AQ motivations. I think "glib" is a fair term, even generous.

I really don't care what AQ's issue is with the West and I don't care how Bin Ladin justifies himself. He's just a power freak who has tapped into the deathwish of dependent, inadequate people, kind of Charles Manson on a larger scale. His thoughts don't interest me.
As someone pointed out upthread, it isn't the cult members that concern us. It's the potential cult members, the potential helpers, supporters, enablers, or people who don't participate but don't object either. They are the people we need to understand and their possible grievances arre the ones that might need to be addressed.
On NPR last night a guy from Scotland Yard made the comment that there were only a hundred or so people actively involved in terrorism in England. From a police point of view the problem was that the thousands of Muslim who do not support terrorism are also afriad of and distrustful of the police and becoming increasingly alienated from English society. he felt that an essential step in terror prevention was to build trust.
This is, of course, totally a sensible attitude. it is also the kind of attitude that gets obscured if people focus on telling themselves how angry they are and how righteous their anger is.
On a larger scale the general issue of Middle Eastern Islamic people toward the West is resntment of Western support for dictators, resentment of Western interference such as the innstallation of the Shah in Iran or ithe invasion of Iraq, and resentment of Western opposition to a Palestinian homeland (this is, of course, changing). The vast majority of people who feel thses resentments don't want to blow up anyone. We shouldn't let AQ's use of these resentments interfere with our acknowledgement of their basic validity. After all, Charles Manson claimed to be fighting for racial equality. We haven't, as a society, rejected the idea of racial equality just because some vicious wacko used it as a rationalization.

Bold goes!

Sounds like a legitimate grievance to me, but not against the west.

I really don't want to get pulled into this. I was just struck by the 3 billion figure. It does seem that the G8 views this as a grievance that needs to be addressed. I know that if we delve into it, there are going to be a lot of views about who fault it is, and on a certain level, I don't really care. Just fix the d*mn thing is sort of the state of mind I find myself in. But when in that state of mind, the absolute worst thing to say (and I'm not saying that you are doing this) is to claim that everything is fine and that there is nothing wrong.

In terms of AQ's expectations of the West, my understanding is that their main grievances consist of.... a perceived lack of evenhandedness in regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Lack of evenhandedness.

You are conflating two different things: the perception in the Middle East that the West is not even-handed in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the idea amongst some that Israel has no right to exist at all. The former drives some people into embracing the latter, sure. But they are separate. And you need to understand AQ is exploiting that perception, which would exist whether there was an AQ or not.

And those items on Sebastian's list you couldn't really be cavalier about you simply dismissed out of hand as AQ motivations. I think "glib" is a fair term, even generous.

Yes I was "glib" towards certain items on that list, (some of which are not actually AQ positions -> extermination of all the Jews, everywhere) in the way in which they relate to conversation on this board.

ie. What is it that attracts recruits, from many different demographic groups, to AQ?

And I suggested, again and again now, that Osama bin Laden's position on gays and women is not one of the primary motivations people "join up". It's beside the point. Indeed, to harp on it is counterproductive.

As has been mentioned, many hardline Christian groups have similar positions on women and gays, yet don't find people to chuck bombs. I would humbly suggest, then, that you look to those things hardline Christian and Muslim groups don't share to explain the difference. Read the Statement of "Responsibility" from the London bombing. You'll find no mention of women, gays, or even Israel (only an oblique reference to Zionism).

You can recite "Muslims chuck bombs because Muslims are inherently violent/nuts" over and over again, but you'll be dooming us to this conflict for a long long time.

Again, the point of this exercise is not make a deal with Osama, but to undercut him.

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