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July 29, 2009


Nice Smiths reference, especially considering you're writing about Ben Smith! Good work.

As long as we are at it, is there a way to dial back the anger and aggression in the Bush/Cheney True Believers, as well?

Yeah, Obama could resign.

"I'd rather be thin than famous."

Jack Kerouac

I really like the sentences after the highlighted portion: "prosecutions... can be enormously demoralizing to radical groups. There is no glory in being taken to prison in handcuffs. No jihadi Web site publishes such pictures. Arrested terrorists fade into oblivion."

Puts the whole "Our prisons can't hold these superhuman evil-doers" talking point into an even less flattering light.

any day, any day, any day

"It would be nice to think that the Obama administration is heeding the advice of people like Marc Sageman."

You just say that because you're part of the conspiracy to see America taken over by Muslim terrorists, of whom Obama, of course, is one of the chief ringleaders (or dupes, I forget which).

"Yeah, Obama could resign."

Because they love Joe Biden so much?

Because they love Joe Biden so much?

Keep resigning till you hit Boehner or Mitchell. Whicever comes first.

"Keep resigning till you hit Boehner or Mitchell. Whicever comes first."

Can't be done without wiping out the entire cabinet. The succession runs from Veep to Speaker of the House to President Pro Tempore of the Senate (Robert Byrd at the moment), to Secretary of State, and down to the lowest (most recently created) Cabinet post.

If the entire Cabinet were wiped out, I'm not sure current law speaks further. This is why one member of the cabinet is always designated to stay away from State of the Union addresses.

In practice, we'd at least temporarily wind up with this. There was an interesting article the other week on how the Obama administration was not changing the late changes the Bush admin made to make the military more in control in COG, rather than FEMA, btw.

There would probably have to be an election in Congress of a new Speaker of the House of Representatives, who would then succeed automatically to the Presidency, I think.

One might, if one wants to get into the weeds, note some potential legal problems here with current law on succession.

"Keep resigning till you hit Boehner or Mitchell."

Which Mitchell do you mean, by the way?

Wait, you probably meant Mitch McConnell?

The sageman point is key. It also shows that bin laden (and al qaeda) had a more symbiotic relationship than adversarial in many respects.

they needed him to overreact, and he needed them to be boogeyman. so this seems spot on to me

Wait, you probably meant Mitch McConnell?

Heh. Yeah, that's exactly what I meant. Weird that I just mashed it up.

I think the right response is ridicule for those engaged in terrorism. Even when there is a successful strike, it should be framed as an embarrassingly futile effort of some self styled "tough guys" attacking the unarmed and children. Suicide bombers should be simply listed as "losers."

Popular culture should jump on the band wagon, comedians should make fun of them, movies should portray them bungling everything, and successful efforts as mere luck.

Things like "Achmed the Dead Terrorist" but without the racist parts should be staples of media consumption.

Many young people join the military because it is portrayed as serious, respected, effective, and tough. If all media portrayals of the military were like Gomer Pyle and SGT Schultz, I think we would have fewer volunteers. I suspect the same would be true for those leaning toward non-state actions.

Terms like "master mind" and "jihad" and "al qaeda" and even "ruthless" are too positive: describing an attack like "some jackass sent a bunch of losers to kill innocent civilians in an attack on a fruit stand today: despite thousands of unarmed civilians present, the jackass only managed to kill 20 children and 9 adults by having the losers don suicide vests. The group claiming responsibility should be ashamed of its poor performance. Incidentally, the losers are dead too, while the jackass is beleived to be comforting the dead loser's wives."

"Suicide bombers should be simply listed as 'losers.'"

There was a bunch of talk along these lines back circa 2002, as I recall. Along with that much smaller, rightwingish, attempt that seems to have faded away, but for a while tried to persuade people to drop the use of "suicide bombers" in favor of "homicide bombers," making some sort of odd attempted case that that made them sound worse, whereas somehow "suicide bombers" was too forgiving, or something. I never did follow the reasoning on that one.

"Many young people join the military because it is portrayed as serious, respected, effective, and tough."

And "fun"! Also, you learn a trade that'll last a lifetime!

PTSD doesn't tend to come up in the recruiting ads. Just saying.

To be sure, as I recall, Gomer Pyle actually always succeeded at what he was trying to do, despite, or sometimes causing, the frustration of Sgt. Carter. Surprise, surprise, surprise!

Col. Klink, on the other hand, not so much, although it was very much a plot point of Hogan's Hero's that the "prisoners" wanted him kept in his job because he was so incompetent, and a few episodes revolved around attempts to either keep him in office, or get him back when he'd been removed for incompetence.

(As you probably know, ironically, Werner Klemperer's family actually fled the Nazis in 1935, and he fought in the American Army during the war.)

Hey, I didn't know, this, he digressed wildly!

[...] In 1993, Klemperer reprised the role of Klink in an episode of The Simpsons as Homer's guardian angel and spirit guide in the episode "The Last Temptation of Homer" (episode # 5.9). According to the episode's DVD commentary, when Klemperer appeared, he had to be given a quick reminder of how to play Colonel Klink.
I think SGT. Schultz's line, "I know noooothink! Noooooooooootthink!" remains a cultural icon, at least to us amongst the aged generation.

Subsequent thought: jrudkis, I think you're suggesting we undercut these folks by giving them bad reviews.


We need Roger Ebert on the job as an anti-terrorist reviewer!

And Anthony Lane!


Exactly. They should simply be portrayed as ineffective and bungling criminals. Sort of like the Dallas Cowboys. Who wants to join a group like that?

Might work for street gangs, too...just refer to them as bozos.

Good stuff on Klink: I recall the Simpsons episode, but was not aware that Klemperer was actually a talented musician.

"Might work for street gangs, too...just refer to them as bozos."

I think the only way that would work is if their own peers and idols rejected them as such, rather than anyone else. The street has to reject the street; the rest of the world tends to more or less not exist for many or most of those living that kind of life. That's kind of the whole raison d'etre of gangs: that they recognize you and give you a "family" and peers when you can't find them elsewhere.

Say, have you seen The Wire? :-)

The wire.

No. I don't tend to watch much TV, or really any. At best I watch an old movie on Netflix on the occasions I have any time.

You are right about the current gang members, I am thinking more about potential gang members. If everyone simply made fun of gang members (rather than "celebrate" the lifestyle and ruthlessness), maybe fewer would choose to join.

Back to the original Sageman piece, which I've finally read: good piece. Comports with everything I've read over the years, including lots about Irhabi007 (there was more than one good long profile of the guy back when he was arrested).

I can't help but desire to highlight this aspect:

[...] It had been the online images of the war in Iraq that first radicalized him. [...] The new, third wave is unlike its predecessors. It consists mostly of would-be terrorists, who, angered by the invasion of Iraq, aspire to join the movement and the men they hail as heroes. [...] Take the case of Mohammed Bouyeri, perhaps the most infamous member of a network of aspiring jihadists that Dutch authorities dubbed the “Hofstad Network” in 2004. Bouyeri, then a 26-year-old formerly secular social worker born to Moroccan immigrants in Amsterdam, could also trace his radicalization to outrage over the Iraq war. [...] Their informal leader, Jamal Ahmidan, a 33-year-old high school dropout who liked to chase women, wavered between pointless criminality and redemptive religion. When he was released from a Moroccan jail in 2003 after serving three years for an alleged homicide, he became increasingly obsessed with the war in Iraq. [...] The explanation for their behaviour is found not in how they think, but rather in how they feel. One of the most common refrains among Islamist radicals is their sense of moral outrage. In the 1980s, the most significant source of these feelings was the killing of Muslims in Afghanistan. In the 1990s, it was the fighting in Bosnia, Chechnya and Kashmir. Then came the second Palestinian intifada beginning in 2000. And since 2003, it has been all about the war in Iraq, which has become the focal point of global moral outrage for Muslims all over the world. Along with the humiliations of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, Iraq is monopolizing today’s conversations about Islam and the West.
And so on. What a great idea invading Iraq was, as a way to fight Islamic terrorism!

"At best I watch an old movie on Netflix on the occasions I have any time."

I saw all of The Wire via Netflix. I highly commend it to your attention.

See also this thread, for example.

What a great idea invading Iraq was, as a way to fight Islamic terrorism!

Come on, Gary, as Sully reminds us, the only reason The Left opposed the Iraq War was because they hated America and wanted the terrorists to win.

Sort of like the Dallas Cowboys. Who wants to join a group like that?

Eh, I'm a Raiders fan, so I'm hardly in a position to talk...

Sort of like the Dallas Cowboys. Who wants to join a group like that?

Eh, I'm a Raiders fan, so I'm hardly in a position to talk...

So, which team gets Michael Vick?


Hopefully he will go to Philly so he can use some of his talents on the Phillies fans.

Even if each and every Dem official in the US would resign in favor of a rabid right-wing GOPster, it would not significantly diminish the hatred and aggression, it might even increase it. The very fact (or impression) that hatred and aggression yielded success would guarantee its survival (and even growth). Hatred also does not need the object of hatred to be present or even exist. Current German experience: xenophobia and antisemitism is strongest in parts of the country where neither Jews nor foreigners are significantly present. Studies have found that often the antisemites do not even really know what a Jew is but know that they are to be hated (starting at kindergarten age).
As far as terrorism is concerned, there has been the idea (at least partially successful in other areas) to deny them the 'fame' by suppressing their names (or even their deeds if possible). That might deter at least some wannabe Herostratuses. For the same reason captured terrorists should not be executed so they don't become martyrs.

So, which team gets Michael Vick?

I'm hoping now that Favre pissed on them that the Vikings will pick up Vick. I love watching insane Viking fans.

And that from a Minnesotan!

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