September 11, 2003

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY

Okay, the day is still young, and God knows what mischief may yet be in store. But I can’t help being amazed at how well we have done in these first two years of what we all knew would be a new world, back on that beautiful morning, a world ago.

Despite the best efforts of news media to portray us as a terrified, angst-ridden nation ready to fall apart with just one more good poke…despite desperate attempts to undo unparalleled victories for political gain…despite hysterical warnings of Islamic rage and retribution, we have gone two years now, knock wood, without a single terrorist attack on US Soil.

Who could have thought such success possible on that first evening? How many of us went to sleep expecting to hear in the morning of new and more terrible attacks on September 12th, or 13th? How is it possible to forget that first Thanksgiving, or Christmas, sure that the symbolism was just too great for our enemies to pass up? And then New Years. Superbowl Sunday. 4th of July. Elevated threat levels. Dire warnings on muffled audiotapes.

Nothing.

This is quagmire? This is a debacle?

Say what you want about George W. Bush and his policies – that is of course your right. But consider this, all you defeatists and self-haters out there: it is barely possible, mathematically, to tie the President’s record for defending this country from a new terrorist horror. You cannot – not even hypothetically – improve upon it. This is a fact that is undeniable and so obvious that only a few will see it.

And at what cost? Did jackbooted storm troopers descend in the night from black helicopters to take away those voicing dissent? Or do the most vile and baseless accusations fly hither and yon, blown ever larger by a terrified and complicit media elite? Did hundreds of thousands of Muslims have their businesses torched, their families terrorized and beaten, the rest hauled off to concentration camps, or are you far safer, both physically and emotionally, as a Muslim in the US then you would be in any middle eastern country – safer and less harassed, without question – than Jews are in France today? Have we given up our liberty and lifestyle for this perfect record, or do we still go to football games and shopping malls and fly, more or less, the way we used to?

What, indeed, has this victory cost us to date, other than the irreplaceable lives of our young men and women, fewer in number still after two earth-changing victories than the number lost in a Beirut barracks during a time of relative peace and hidden yet growing dangers?

Today, if it continues in its bland denunciations of the President and his policies, will be another day where New Yorkers can go back to suing each other over WTC memorials, where the Democrats can cry WMD and Quagmire to their heart’s content, and where life in general returns 1/730th of the way back to normal once again. For those too blind to see the magnitude of this victory, let them whine and seethe all they want. We are still here. We are still here, and far better off, then we were two years ago today, when entire countries were vast terror camps, and children’s cemeteries.

The people that launched that horror, and those that supported it, and those that applauded it – that dwindling number of those of them that are still alive – have, to put it plainly, had their asses handed to them by the country they saw as soft, decadent, gutless and afraid.

And we have been blessed with a President who for all his faults, gaffes, mistakes and compromises has nevertheless maintained the one simple, essential, necessary character trait needed to fight -- and win -- a war against ruthless enemy and the armies of useful idiots that rally to its defense: single-minded determination and an utter disregard for criticism from those who should know better. For all his many manifest failures, it is hard to imagine a politician less effected by the legions of hysterical people determined to put off this fight. In my eyes, he has not tired, he has not faltered, and he has not failed.

Much remains to be done. Many more horrors undoubtedly await. But we have made a decision to fight back, and we are winning on such a scale as to leave future historians shaking their heads in wonder at how so many could be so wrong about something so obvious.

So, it is indeed a Happy Anniversary, tasteless as it sounds. Take a moment, today – take a long moment – and imagine how just how much worse things could have gone.

New essay this weekend. And keep your chins up. There has never been a better people, and don’t you forget it.

Posted by Proteus at September 11, 2003 01:57 AM
Comments

Fine post. As always.
Your friends and allies also remember--with a cold, implacable anger that no amount of weaselly rationalising from the idiot left will ever diminish.
Happy Anniversary indeed, America.Go well, and prosper.

Posted by: Keith on September 11, 2003 02:26 AM

I don't think I've ever heard a better description of the situation than the observation that a Muslim in America today is safer than a Jew in France. Sure wish I'd've thought of it. One of the countries in that comparison has a history of religious persecution, and the other one doesn't, PATRIOT Act notwithstanding.

Once again, I'll be wearing out my mouse this weekend, clicking "Refresh" until The Essay is posted. (But with no Bugs & Daffy Marathon to pass the time, damn the luck.)

--Dave

Posted by: VRWCman on September 11, 2003 04:49 AM

You nailed it on the head! All the yammering hordes need to learn that they will not soften the resolve of this nation...

Posted by: PJ on September 11, 2003 05:01 AM

Thanks Bill, for helping me start this most awkward of days off in a better frame of mind.

Posted by: dave on September 11, 2003 05:39 AM

Godspeed Bill, wonderful as always!

Posted by: Peter on September 11, 2003 06:15 AM

Good again...as if there was any doubt.
Thank you and keep 'em coming.

Posted by: Sam the Small on September 11, 2003 07:12 AM

9/11 wasn't the beginning of the war. But it was the beginning of our victory, with Flight 93.

Posted by: shell on September 11, 2003 07:13 AM

Thanks, Bill, for helping us to focus on the good when so many want to see only the bad. In this great country, the glass is truly more than half full.

Posted by: Berge on September 11, 2003 07:29 AM

I had to reply to this posting. Once again you have summed up in a phrase what makes us the greatest country on earth. The phrase about a Muslim’s in our country and the Jews in France is a perfect description of why this is a great country. Unfortunately, that is not the only reason I am writing. These amazing nuggets of what makes America great are buried in such bombastic and ideological statements that they get lost with the propaganda. The paragraph before that great phrase is a perfect example.

You start by saying that anyone can criticize the president. The following sentence states if you do criticize the president must be “defeatists and self haters”. That is the problem today. If you criticize the president you are called a defeatist and self-hater, if you support him you are called a nazi and an enemy of freedom (or on this site the only “true Americans”). This type of rhetoric helps no one except the talking heads on the right vs. left screaming shows (and I guess blogers who get to attack each other on the net).

What is more disturbing in that same paragraph is statement that follows. It is more disturbing because you claim you are someone who prides himself on being a historian and an expert in common sense logic. Yet you make the claim “that even hypothetically you could not improve upon it (the presidents record defending this country against terrorism)”.

What is so disturbing about this claim is that is forces people who want to see truth and logic win over rhetoric to attack the statement, therefore appearing to be attacking America. Let me state hear that I love this country and believe without a doubt that it is the greatest place on the planet to live.

Having said that, how can you possibly make such a ludicrous claim? First of all, more Americans have died at the hands of terrorists under the Bush administration than any previous administration (and probably all administrations combined). That is a fact not an attack. Even if you hide behind the word “new” (as if the war on terrorism stated with 9/11 and an idea that is reminiscent of the infamous what is is) the claim is still unsupportable by facts. In the two years since the second attack on the World Trade Center there have been bombings in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, the UN headquarters in Baghdad, and throughout Iraq. All of these bombings have been attributed (by the administration, not the press) to the same group that destroyed the World Trade Center. To try to claim that the accomplishment is that they haven’t struck on American soil would be to ignore the history of our adversaries. There was a gap of 8 ½ years between the last attack on American soil and the 9/11 attack. If you are going to base your claims on history and logic do so, if not just admit they are rants and raves designed to elicit reaction but are not based on any truth.

We will win this war against those that want to destroy us. We will not win it by claiming any who disagree with the president are “defeatists and self haters”. We will not win it by spewing rhetoric. We will win for a simple reason. Those willing to die to kill others will never beat those that are willing to die to save others. Never forget the difference between their so-called hero’s and our true hero’s. They trained and brainwashed (through rhetoric and twisting logic) their small group of terrorists for years so that they might be ready to die trying to kill thousands. Our hero’s sacrificed their lives on a seconds notice and ran (I repeat ran not walked) into a burning and collapsing building with the hope of saving even one person. That heroism is why we will win.

Posted by: william on September 11, 2003 08:04 AM

William provides a couple of fine points, and nice noises about American heroes, but within it all is one point I note.

"more Americans have died at the hands of terrorists under the Bush administration than any previous administration (and probably all administrations combined). That is a fact not an attack"

Sure looks like an attack. Why not point out that, given the years of planning that must have gone into September 11th, the biggest terror plot in history went right under President Clinton's nose? While Clinton's Justice Department was struggling to face off against one young Cuban boy, Bin Laden was amassing funding and writing plans to strike the US. Just a fact, man.
Our adversaries most fervant desire is to strike at American soil. We have denied them that ability, and taken the war to them. This is the first administration to do so, and deserves the credit for it.

Posted by: John Irving on September 11, 2003 08:17 AM

Bless you, Bill. I started the day with an argument with a defeatist self-loather who just will not see that the light on the horizon is the sun, raising over our land yet again.

I really needed this. Thank you.

Regards,
Linda

Posted by: Linda on September 11, 2003 08:46 AM

Not all criticism of the President and of the way the war is being fought comes from defeatists and self-haters. Much is disagreement with this strategy or that tactic but much more IS from defeatists. To ignore that simple fact is folly.
No one, not least Bill, has claimed that all criticism comes from self-haters and defeatists. William does the very thing he indicts Bill (and by extension, us his readers and fans) of doing.
The important thing is that we're fighting back. I may disagree with some particular WAYS that we're fighting back, there ARE a HELL of a lot of people disagreeing with the FACT that we're fighting back. Those are the defeatists. Those are the self-haters.

Posted by: Peter on September 11, 2003 08:49 AM

Thanks, once more, Bill. Looking forward to the next essay.

Shell - thanks for this - "it was the beginning of our victory, with Flight 93."

Posted by: Blackfive on September 11, 2003 08:52 AM

Thank you Bill. You just managed to wipe the tears from my eyes.

Posted by: Sweetpea on September 11, 2003 08:54 AM

That comment is also ignoring the point of Bill's statement. Bill sated, quite clearly, that the "President's record for defending this country from a new terrorist horror" is unmatched. This is true.

Before 9/11/01, there was no new terrorist horror. There WAS an old terrorist threat, but thanks to Clinton's time in office, the rest of the world seemed too far away to take such threats seriously.

You also bring up attacks in other countries, directed at people of other nationalities. That these attacks are tragic there is no doubt. But once again, Bills statement clearly has the phrase "this country" in it. Bill did not say that Bush ended terrorism. I wish that could happen, but it won't.

However, Bush is not resposible ofor the defense of the entire world. Countries have to help themselves. You cannot lay the deaths of thirty people in Saudi Arabia on Bush's doorstep--there is no logical connection. Saudi Arabia has to do that themselves, and now it seems like they are. I do give Bush credit for waking so much of the world up to these problems, even if half of Europe feels like ignoring the truth.

I could go on, but I feel like I'm ranting, and I have my own website for that . . .

JK

Posted by: Jason Kallini on September 11, 2003 08:57 AM

William says:

[i]...more Americans have died at the hands of terrorists under the Bush administration than any previous administration (and probably all administrations combined). That is a fact not an attack. Even if you hide behind the word “new” (as if the war on terrorism stated with 9/11 and an idea that is reminiscent of the infamous what is is) the claim is still unsupportable by facts. In the two years since the second attack on the World Trade Center there have been bombings in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, the UN headquarters in Baghdad, and throughout Iraq. All of these bombings have been attributed (by the administration, not the press) to the same group that destroyed the World Trade Center. To try to claim that the accomplishment is that they haven’t struck on American soil would be to ignore the history of our adversaries. There was a gap of 8 ½ years between the last attack on American soil and the 9/11 attack. If you are going to base your claims on history and logic do so, if not just admit they are rants and raves designed to elicit reaction but are not based on any truth.[/i]

Well, it was fairly clear to me that Bill was in fact speaking specifically about attacks on American soil in the two years since 11sept01. Of which there have, as he says, been none. And this happy fact is likely attributable to the crushing defeat we handed to al Queada in Afganistan - its bases destroyed, its leadership driven into hiding, its international financing operations smashed. You are welcome to expand the frame of reference if you like (and therein find fault with the Bush administration's handling of affairs) but that doesn't amount to a valid criticism of Bill's point, because he clearly delimited his statement to concern attacks on US soil during the past two years. Many of us [B]were[/B] expecting more attacks here in the US after 11sept01 and such attacks [B]have not[/B] taken place.

On the other hand I do agree with William's point about calling [i]all[/i] of the anti-Bush crowd "defeatists and self-haters". Some of them - perhaps even most of them - are safely classifiable as such, but some are not. There are valid criticisms of President Bush (in Bills defense, he does say as much) and the folks making them need to be heard. Remember that there is not [B]a voice[/B] of dissent but actually many [B]voices[/B] of dissent; even if most of them are shrill and senseless drivel we have a responsibility to listen for those few who have valid concerns.

And for the record I'm not part of the aforementioned "anti-Bush crowd". I think he's doing a fine job and will be voting for him unless there are some dramatic candidate changes in the next year.

Oh, what I would give for America to have "President McCain".


A

Posted by: aliestar on September 11, 2003 09:05 AM

Nuts. Why don't my italics and bolds work?


A

Posted by: aliestar on September 11, 2003 09:07 AM

Thanks, Bill. Somehow, I knew that you would make a post on this day. I needed the little pick me up for my mood today.

"And keep your chins up. There has never been a better people, and don’t you forget it."

That last part is something, like 9/11, that I'll always remember.

Posted by: matthew on September 11, 2003 09:08 AM

William -

First of all, more Americans have died at the hands of terrorists under the Bush administration than any previous administration (and probably all administrations combined).


More terrorists too...

Posted by: Rich on September 11, 2003 09:55 AM

Thanks Bill.

Posted by: Daniel on September 11, 2003 10:29 AM

That perspective is great to hear. There is much that I wish our leaders would be clear about. You should really be getting more hits from white house computers.

Posted by: Christian on September 11, 2003 10:46 AM

The Clinton Administration had a clear policy on terrorist bombers.

Pardon them.

The Bush administration has a clear policy too. It's different from the Clinton's.

Posted by: Richard Riley on September 11, 2003 10:53 AM

Exactly! Enough said :)

Posted by: Sandy on September 11, 2003 10:59 AM

I must apologize for not being clear.

Criticising the President does not make you, automatically, a defeatist and self-hater. I'm sorry if I gave that impression. Nevertheless, there are indeed armies of defeatists and self-haters out there, and criticising the record of the administration since 9/11/01 has been a full-time job for them. Those are the people I was referring to.

The point is simply this: in the days and weeks after 9/11, many people counseled sanctions, resolutions, and the whole tired bag of appeasement. This President rejected that option, and has been roundly and severely criticised for going after not only the terrorists, but the nations that breed and harbor them.

I feel that my point -- that this policy has had a perfect record -- is undeniable.

Posted by: Bill Whittle on September 11, 2003 11:43 AM

I may be a member of the Alliance, but Instapundit's trademark is appropriate to your last comment, Bill:

"Indeed."

Posted by: Dave on September 11, 2003 12:13 PM

I remember Pres. Bush, about a week after 9/11/01, throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at Yankee Stadium. At a time when Saddam had not been seen in public for years, squirreled away in underground caverns, and Osama could only send out video tapes from a tent, our President walked out to the middle of an open field.

In spite of all the security, I still felt a sense of apprehension: what would happen if someone took a shot at him? Instead he stood tall and set the example for all of us.

Posted by: MarcV on September 11, 2003 12:29 PM

I knew I could count on you, Bill, to provide some of that good old fashioned American Optimism™.

You never disappoint.

CBK

Posted by: cbk on September 11, 2003 12:40 PM

William,

I will concede your point that more Americans have died due to terrorism under this president than under any other. But with all due respect to the intellectual honesty for which this website has a growing reputation, THIS PRESIDENT IS DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Unlike the previous president. (Not an attack; a mere fact. Do with it what you will.)

Aliestar: the reason your italics didn't work is because you used ['s instead of

--Dave

Posted by: VRWCman on September 11, 2003 01:11 PM

We are winning, really ?! Against who? The war on terror is like the war on drugs and the war on crime, both of which are unwinnable. You can not win a war on an ideology and to believe that you can wipe the ideology of terrorism from the entire world is PURE FOLLY.

Posted by: Jeremy on September 11, 2003 01:37 PM

Thanks Dave. Much appreciated.

On William's point that more Americans have died due to terrorism under this president than any other, I think it's important to note that this is due almost exclusively to 11sept01. And while those attacks did happen during the current administration they were planned and emplaced during the previous administration. If we're going to start lining folks up in front of the blaming squad now (something that I, like most Americans, have little stomach for at this point) than Teflon Bill is going to be the first one up against the wall.

The attacks took place in 2001 under Bush's watch, but the penetration of our security that initiated those attacks happened in 1998 - 2000.


A

Posted by: aliestar on September 11, 2003 01:45 PM

Jeremy,

You mistake the forest for the trees. The war on terror is not a war on ideology. Any ideology is debatable and until expressed through physical means is simply rhetoric.

Terrorists expound their views through physical acts: through death, destruction, or any other method of terror. What we are engaging in is the physical battle. What our objective is, simply stated, is to remove the means required by the terrorists to prosecute their aims. This is done by eliminating the physical camps they use, their access to funding, limiting their freedom of movement, and jailing or extirpating any terrorist encountered.

Can we nab all sleepers likely residing in the U.S? Unlikely.

Can we prevent every act directed against us? Impossible.

Will we stop in our efforts to render these terrorist into paste?

NEVER!

Sapper Mike

Posted by: Sapper Mike on September 11, 2003 02:07 PM

You scare me sometimes Bill, because you are writing what I was feeling this morning as I watched some of the coverage...
Another under-reported but "obvious" reality is the reality disregarded by a performance review of the Islamanazi's: "So, Osama, on 9/10/2001, the Arab street seethed because of a couple of squadrons of severely restricted fighter jets sat in hangers on the "sacred lands" of Islam. Now 2 years later, 180,000 "fully cocked and loaded for bear" soldiers are operating without restraint looking for your skinny ass from Afghanistan to within a smelling distance of Mecca. Just how is that war to "drive out the infidels from the sacred sands going Osama?" UH-OH, a newly released video tape (from last spring, no less)threatens "The Great struggle hasn't begun yet!" which is the Arab streets version of a thousand Chicago Cubs fans yelling "Wait until next year"... In effect renewing the George Bush's terrorist hunting license for another couple of years. And yes, the media bleats out the "lost treasure count" on a daily basis without ever putting a face on the loss's suffered by the "believers", which I believe are pretty substantial and more significant than ours.
Thanks for reminding us we are doing OK, Bill.

Posted by: Capsu78 on September 11, 2003 02:08 PM

Jeremy - is terrorism an ideology? I always thought it was a military tactic that (lately) has been used mostly by Muslim surpremacist paramilitary groups.

The ideology of these terrorists is a combination of fascism and the urge to create a perfect and pure state. Hamas, Hitler's Germany, the Khmer Rouge and the KKK all shared some form of this ideology, and you're right, it can never be eliminated. But it has to be fought, and defeated, whenever it appears.

Posted by: mary on September 11, 2003 02:15 PM

Jeremy said:

We are winning, really ?! Against who? The war on terror is like the war on drugs and the war on crime, both of which are unwinnable. You can not win a war on an ideology and to believe that you can wipe the ideology of terrorism from the entire world is PURE FOLLY.

Indeed, any attempt to completely wipe out terrorism is folly. But wiping them out isn't necessarily the goal.

World War II didn't wipe out facsism. The Civil War didn't wipe out racism. Last year's Superbowl didn't wipe out the Oakland Raiders. All three, however, were decisive victories. Why? Because we destroyed our opponent's ability to continue the fight.

Terrorism probably can't be totally destroyed (and it's not really an ideology so much as it's a method of coersion towards ideology) but it can be reduced to an annoyance that claims dozens each year instead of thousands. As long as there are fanatics with weapons there will probably always be terrorism, but if we fight we can drastically reduce the amount and effectiveness of that terrorism.

Are we really winning? There are two liberated nations, dozens of smashed terrorist camps, hundreds of prisoners, and thousands of dead murderers that say "Yep".

And remember Jeremy, there is a difference between winning and won. No one said the situation is yet resolved.


A

Posted by: aliestar on September 11, 2003 02:18 PM

"America: Only The Greatest Force For Good The World Has Ever Known; Keeping Up the Good Work, Whether You Want Us To Or Not!"

Posted by: Sharkman on September 11, 2003 02:37 PM

There will be no peace


Though mild clear weather
Smile again on the shore of your esteem
And its colours come back, the storm has changed you:
You will not forget, ever,
The darkness blotting out hope, the gale
Prophesying your downfall.

You must live with your knowledge.
Way back, beyond, outside of you are others,
In moonless absences you never heard of,
Who have certainly heard of you,
Beings of unknown number and gender:
And they do not like you.

What have you done to them?
Nothing? Nothing is not an answer:
You will come to believe - how can you help it? -
That you did, you did do something;
You will find yourself wishing you could make them laugh,
You will long for their friendship.

There will be no peace.
Fight back, then, with such courage as you have
And every unchivalrous dodge you know of,
Clear on your conscience on this:
Their cause, if they had one, is no thing to them now;
They hate for hate's sake.

- by W. H. Auden, 1956

Posted by: Richard Riley on September 11, 2003 02:39 PM

William sez:

There was a gap of 8 ½ years between the last attack on American soil and the 9/11 attack.

The attacks on the USS Cole and our embassies in Africa were, technically speaking, attacks on US soil.

Posted by: Tom K on September 11, 2003 02:55 PM

The Earth also came closest to Mars under the Bush administration.

So is that Bush's responsibility, too? To say that the greatest number of people died in terrorist attacks under the Bush administration implies that, but for the grace of Gore, we might have been spared these attacks.

Oh spare me.

The terrorists are responsible for 9/11, Jakarta, Bali, Jerusalem, Morocco, et al.

What a weasely comparison.

Posted by: steve miller on September 11, 2003 03:00 PM

Couldn't have said it better. Thanks so much for being there. When's the book coming out?

Posted by: Larry Rachman on September 11, 2003 05:31 PM

Jeremy:

"You can not win a war on an ideology and to believe that you can wipe the ideology of terrorism from the entire world is PURE FOLLY."

We won the war against Nazi Germany and it's hate-filled ideology.

We won the war against Imperial Japan, and it's self-centered Emperor-worship ideology.

We won the war against the USSR. (If you call it a war - it was a battle against the ideology of monolithic communism - and we won.)

North Korea? Yeah, they're prospering and doing well these days.

Islamic terrorists - they've MAJORLY pissed us off. But they haven't SERIOUSLY pissed us off yet.

How can I tell?

Mecca and Medina are still intact. They REALLY piss us off, and the rubble will be glowing in the dark.

Mr. Whittle - an excellent essay, as usual. Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

J.

Posted by: JLawson on September 11, 2003 06:26 PM

Outstanding!

To hell with the whiners(and their little dogs too).

Posted by: alfredo stroessner on September 11, 2003 06:44 PM

We won the war against Nazi Germany and it's hate-filled ideology.

We won the war against Imperial Japan, and it's self-centered Emperor-worship ideology.

We won the war against the USSR. (If you call it a war - it was a battle against the ideology of monolithic communism - and we won.)

North Korea? Yeah, they're prospering and doing well these days.

---

Nazi-ism and Neo Nazi-ism is still alive, so Nazi ideology is still alive, strike one.

Okay, we did win the war on Japan, as there are no large empires...

As for the Cold War, China and North Korea are still dictatrships running under a perverted form of "communism". Strike two.

So if the war on terrorism isn't about getting rid of terrorism, what is the point when you say you've won ? And experts and people like me who have studied terrorism know the answer is that this war will never end and there will be no winner.

Posted by: Jeremy on September 11, 2003 07:16 PM

Then surrender now, Jeremy, and get it over with. Other folk might have a different view on it.

Posted by: Patrick Chester on September 11, 2003 07:20 PM

mary said:

Jeremy - is terrorism an ideology? I always thought it was a military tactic that (lately) has been used mostly by Muslim surpremacist paramilitary groups.

---

Yes, terrorism is an ideology. Strategy is a military ideology on how to procede forward with actions...

As for defeating it, how can you ? You eliminate one cell, two more pop up... You eliminate those two, and you have new ones. Dealing with terrorism can not be done through force (military) or standard diplomatic channels. I've been studying terrorism for awhile, and I'll admit that I don't have THE answer... But a step in the right direction is a major change in foreign policy, especially with regard to backing out of Israel and letting them take care of their own problems.

Posted by: Jeremy on September 11, 2003 07:22 PM

Bill: Very nice. Your blog, along with VodkaPundit, Lileks, Sullivan, Instapundit and numerous others linked from those blogs have accomplished a great deal today in expressing the essence of the grief, rage, anger and resolve that I believe a majority of Americans hold within their hearts. And what of the major media today? How about the OpEd page of the New York Times, where I am confronted by a mealy mouthed lecture about patriotism printed above a reminder that the US really had this coming because it engineered the downfall of Allende in Chile over 30 years ago which resulted in the death of 3000 people. How could those editors draw such an outrageous comparison on this day? It's disgusting. This utter crap is balanced on the other page by Maureen Dowd, who titles her column, "We're Not Happy Campers" and delivers a completely embarassing, ugly and irrelevent screed about Amrican hubris. There is not one serious bit of serious reflection or intellectual effort in that piffle.

Again, thanks.

Posted by: sligobob on September 11, 2003 07:38 PM

Terrorists are people who, for whatever reasons, attack targets without any declaration of hostilities, do not differentiate between civilian and military targets, and generally do not adhere to the Rules of War or Geneva Convention. This is not to be confused with Guerrila warfare, which is a tactically sound style of warfare when one side is severly out manned/gunned/etc . . . by their opponent.

Terrorists can be very powerful in their own right, because they cause fear and uncertainty. Where will they strike next?

However, terrorism has a downside. They tend to require some level of organization, the require funds, weapons, and new members to fill their ranks. Now, in any given country they MIGHT exist, but in countries that actively hunt down terrorists and criminals, they rarely can congregate in groups large enough to cause serious damage. Nor can they build huge arsenals of weapons, and they would certainly have a hard time seriously training in any true militaristic style.

However, where governments either turn a blind eye to their activities, or even actively support them, these groups can then build to become a major military force in their own right, and can house huge arms caches, and create a major central organization capable of coordinating complicated attacks.

We have all seen what this can result in.

By removing the dictators who allow these groups to operate freely, by installing governments that not only condone terrorism, but actively hunt them down, these organizations will lose any member that sticks his or her head out of their cave. They will have to continually move, resort to small groups of people, give up their arms caches, etc . . .

They will cease to exist as armies. They will cease to exist as organizations. They will merely be small teams of idiots running around attempting to cause trouble. By creating stable, defensive, defendable, open countries, we will crush terrorism. And it is working.

If Palestine would let our troops onto their soil, or would put their own military behind the Al Qeada/Taliban soldiers, we could wipe them out in a matter of weeks.

Will these actions end terrorism as a form of warfare for all time, in all manners? Of course not. It only takes one man, who is both suicidal and homicidal, to kill busloads of people. We cannot stop random acts.

But we can stop terrorism as we know it now, and I do believe that we are doing so.

JK

Posted by: Jason Kallini on September 11, 2003 07:44 PM

Just wanted to chip in my $0.02 worth of general agreement with Bill's theme here. But then I got going and the result is, as usual, probably longer than it is interesting. At least I haven't quoted Adam Smith in this one.

I remember vividly on 9/12/2001 feeling sure that more attacks would be forthcoming, and soon. At church on Christmas 2001 I had this unrelenting image of some lunatic lobbing a hand grenade through the door into the congregation just because we hadn't respectfully "paused" our prosecution of the Afghanistan war during Ramadan. (This overlooks the true workings of their thought processes, I know.) And I recall looking at the series of suicide bombings in Israel and was sure it was only a matter of time before I started hearing about similar attacks here stateside. Now we're two years out and no such attacks have followed. Naturally this is a good thing.

But I'm not sure it really means much. It's been pointed out that the time between the first and second WTC attacks was eight years. In that interim we disrupted one major intended attack (New Year's 2000) that I know of. That's about three major operations intended over a period of eight years (inclusive). So I'm not sure this two years we've had without a major attack on US soil is more than just the background rate of periods between atrocities. (I agree that the attacks on the USS Cole and the African embassies were technically American soil and all, but that isn't really illustrative of anything other than the ease of operateions which terrorists enjoy in African nations.) And it goes without saying that the Israelis would consider two years without an attack on their home soil to be a major improvement to their condition.

I don't mean any of this in a critical way, just cautionary. I'm proud of the way we have taken the fight to our enemies, and I think the campaigns in both Afghanistan and Iraq have been substantially successful in beginning to stamp out the long-term strategic problem. The armed forces have probably awed most of the rest of the earth with both their effectiveness and their conduct. And I think that fighting the main front of the War on Terror offensively in Iraq is far better than fighting it defensively here at home (though that element clearly plays its role also). The US military is the best-trained, best-equipped force on earth. I'd much rather have the Islamofacists fighting the 4th ID in Iraq than hitting shopping malls here in the US, because the 4th ID will hand the terrorists their asses over and over and over again. As will the 3rd ID, 101st Airborne, 82nd Airborne, etc.
I am somewhat concerned we may not stay the course though. I'm sure President Bush will, for at least another 16 months, and I hope he will through 2008. If he's not re-elected, we may retreat again in 2005, teaching the terrorists the lesson (again) that we as a nation have no stomach for a hard fight, and that ultimately we'll return to appeasement after our attention wanders and we want to go back to voting ourselves largesse from the public coffers. Or whatever the hell Dean/Kerry/Gephart (and those who would elect them) think we ought to be doing with our time and money instead of fighting an existential war against enemies hell-bent on our anihilation.

What exactly did the nation think when they heard Bush say that the war would be long and that many sacrifices would be required? That skipping dessert would be as far as they'd have to go in sacrifice? The nation sacrificed mightily the last time we were involved in an existential war. The workforce, which was almost entirely male, was almost entirely sent to war. Women had suddenly to go to work en masse. The economy was dedicated almost solely to supporting the war effort. There were price controls, rationing, war bonds, and Liberty Gardens. Is it possible that we as a nation have forgotten how to do that? Would anyone argue today that we shouldn't have fought Germany and Japan because it cost too much or the sacrifice would prove too high?

Yet already we're distracted and every liberal you hear or read about is suggesting that we do essentially that: bring our boys home, pull out of Iraq, and let the French and the UN persuade the bad guys to be nicer to us. The Neville Chamberlain "Peace in Our Time" crowd believes in this approach, which I think would work about as well this time around as it did for Neville. Some of the left say these things but probably don't believe them, and are saying them only for political gain. I believe John Kerry, who voted for the war resolution after all, is one like this. But bold statements made in primary season have a way of becoming policy just to avoid losing face by reversing one's self, and can be persuasive to one's adherents at any rate.

And I really don't think that even if Bush is re-elected, a second Bush term will necessarily see this war concluded. Remember the Thirty Years War? The Hundred Years War? Not all wars can be won so quickly as we hope, and the War on Terror may be one of those that takes a really long time. It's taken the better part of a whole presidential term to quash Afghanistan and Iraq. There are a lot of other nations that will have to be dealt with ultimately, some possibly refusing to mend their ways except after application of force. Which we won't be in a position to do any time soon.

Just my rambling, Bill-Whittle-Bandwidth-Consuming concerns about the overall strategic conflict. I am grateful to see that the President and his team seem able to grasp the importance of pressing the campaign. I do think we'll ultimately win, and yes, I think you could say we're "winning."

JK Saggese

Posted by: JKS on September 11, 2003 08:12 PM

I agree with Jeremy. We should back out of the Middle East and leave Israel to their own devices.

'Course, the result is the same--mushroom clouds over Mecca, Baghdad, Damascus, and Tehran.

Posted by: Mark on September 11, 2003 08:12 PM

Jeremy - How have you 'studied' terrorism? Are you working for a think tank? Are you researching it in a university? What do you know about al Qaeda, Wahhabism, Sayyed Qtub and jahiliyya. You've studied it - do you want to share what you know?

You're trying to convince us that we're already defeated, but you're not giving us much research or facts.

Islamist paramilitary groups have targeted Shiites in Iraq, they've slaughtered Hindus, Muslims in Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.. how would our 'backing out of Israel' will have an effect on these attacks?

Islamists and their philosophy of jihad are responsible for the deaths and the enslavement of millions in the Sudan, for the deaths of thousands of Egyptian Copts, for the murder of thousands in New York, and hundreds in Bali. How would our 'backing out of Israel' will have an effect on those attacks?

Islamic fundamentalism and these paramilitary terror organizations are mostly funded by Saudi Arabia. Their jihad isn't just a threat to Americans, it's a threat to everyone who is targeted by it - Hindus, Jews, Muslims who aren't 'Islamic enough', Christians, Democrats, Republicans, Anarchists, Buddhists and the Falun Gong. We need to convince the world that the spread of this sort of fascism is a threat, and we need to show them that this threat can be defeated. And we need to break away from allies who want ot destroy us. Appeasement, in the form of backing out of Israel would be the worst thing we could do.

Just more proof that if we'd listened to the advice of the defeatists two years ago, the world would not be such a nice place.

Posted by: mary on September 11, 2003 08:55 PM

Thank goodness for the blogosphere. While the mainstream media were colluding in their next phase of group amnesia we could read Lileks, Rantburg, Bill Whittle, Mr. and Mrs. du Toit, Powerline, Hugh Hewitt, Andrew Sullivan, Vodkapundit, and many others. I'm so grateful for the access to you and to all the other fine voices out there.

On the merits of who is winning or losing in the battle to save civilization, I give high marks to President Bush and to Secretary Rumsfeld along with our outstanding Generals and soldiers. My only complaint (wish?) is to ask that America give the same green light to Israel that we have given ourselves to destroy the bad guys.

Posted by: Stephen on September 11, 2003 08:57 PM
"it is barely possible, mathematically, to tie the President’s record for defending this country from a new terrorist horror. You cannot – not even hypothetically – improve upon it. This is a fact that is undeniable and so obvious that only a few will see it."

Sorry Bill, most people can see it. It's just tough to tell listening to a media that is determined to lose this before we win it.

Posted by: Ray on September 11, 2003 09:16 PM

You took the words right out of my mouth Mary, good job demolishing Jeremy's defeatist logic.

The ongoing theme with the naysayers follows the leftist logic of zero-sum economics, they think zero-sum applies to American foreign policy as well. The end result is all the same...roll over, play dead, pretend there's nothing we can do to make anything better unless we make endless concessions to the other side.

Posted by: Jon Davison on September 11, 2003 09:19 PM

My dear Jeremy:

Usually when I respond to someone on these pages, the words are my own. But in this case, your drivel has inspired me to quote from The Master Himself, one J. Lileks, Esq., and his description of what he calls, and what you so brilliantly display, "Virtuous Defeatism":

I’ve written here before about people who believe that skepticism is not only an obligation - which it is - but a modus vivendi, the only possible option for a Thinking Person. The end result of this philosophy is intellectual paralysis. The sufferers are unable to see some things for what they really are. Shown an elephant, their first instinct is to say that it might be the skin of an elephant stuffed with rabbits; just because it’s been an elephant before doesn’t mean it’s one now, and you have to look at who wants you to think its an elephant. When the elephant starts trampling people, and you want to round up villagers to drive the elephant away, the Virtuous Defeatists make fun of those who have accepted that this is, indeed, an elephant. But what of the dead people killed by the elephant today? Well, if it was an “elephant,” they’ll say, using mocking quotes, what drove it to stamp on the villagers? Who cares? It’s killing the villagers! Well, so you say - but look, here’s some evidence of poachers who killed elephants in Africa for their tusks. This is all just a war for ivory.

These people believe that skeptical minds will bring about Change - broadly defined in Utopian terms - but this sort of reflexive disbelief is usually a recipe for inaction. It cannot do anything without first convening a committee to draft a statement about the Elephant Situation, and they'll spend six hours arguing whether the statement from the People’s Front for Ibex Liberation will follow or preceed the Trisexual Orang-utan League’s call for free distribution of those tasty bananas, num num.

But sometimes it gets bloody; sometimes the failure to achieve Utopia does not discredit the idea, just the timidity of the methods used to secure it. The failure of Capitalism to address inequities is always depicted as a flaw of capitalism; the failure of Utopianism to bring about heaven on earth is always blamed on the insufficiencies of the people in the movement, or the means they use. Since the cause is supremely Just, human error and chance are criminalized; an inability to complete a Five Year Plan does not discredit the goals of the Plan - such a thing is not conceivable! - but can only be attributed to conscious efforts to thwart Utopia. And this is, by definition, a crime against humanity.

Hence the bloody basement of the Lubyanka.

No movement whose organizing principle is Opposition to Everything ever accomplishes heaven on earth. At its worst it cripples society and makes it vulnerable to the Jacobins eager to get down to the business of chopping heads for the greater good. This is why I find the American Revolution so astonishing - it managed to avoid that period of totalitarian tyranny that usually follows.

To further paraphrase Lileks (from a screed he delivered circa November, 2001), If Catholic Bishops formed a bucket brigade to put out a burning building, Jeremy would stand in the middle and drop the buckets to protest the Church’s refusal to ordain women.

Maybe you're right; maybe we'll never defeat terrorism. As you so rightly pointed out, 60 years after the (sneerquotes)"Victory"(/sneerquotes) over Nazism, we still have Nazis. So. Here's the overriding question for Jeremy: Are you or any of your loved ones more likely to die in the next 20 years from a "Nazi" or a "Terrorist"? As an addendum, is it more important to go after "Nazis" (all 154 of them currently operating in the world, Hollywood's version of "The Sum of All Fears" notwithstanding), or the "Terrorists"?

To quote Hobson (The butler from the movie "Arthur"), I await your next syllable with great eagerness.

--Dave (Unapologetic patriot, American, and supporter of the War! On! Terror!)

(Confidential to James Lileks: Hope you're not upset with my extensive quoting of your previous writings. I assure you that I didn't make a dime off it.)

Posted by: VRWCman on September 11, 2003 09:59 PM

Bill,

As always, right on and thank you. To quote the Budweiser commercials, "I love you man!" You are a blessing, and thanks for helping with this wonderful and yet sad anniversary. I know it is not a full fledged Whittle essay, but here is a link to something I submitted at Michele's Voices blog.

http://asmallvictory.net/photoblog/archives/004326.html

Enjoy! Just scroll close to the bottom and look for my name. I can't wait for the next essay, and get that book to us ASAP.

Sincerely,
Chris Whittaker

Posted by: Chris Whittaker on September 11, 2003 10:08 PM

For all of this I am still SICKENED however by the opportunistic Democrats running for president, who would throw all of this away, and cause thousands more of us to die. Never has a political party been so traitorous to the country it claims to serve, never have there been people so vile gaining so much attention in the press.

And never have so many people so blindly followed such idiots, undoubtedly to their deaths. Too bad that they'll take the rest of us with them.

Posted by: Banner on September 11, 2003 10:32 PM

said by VRWCman:
To further paraphrase Lileks (from a screed he delivered circa November, 2001), If Catholic Bishops formed a bucket brigade to put out a burning building, Jeremy would stand in the middle and drop the buckets to protest the Church’s refusal to ordain women.

---

That is absolute and pure poppy cock. Its so amazing that you can make such a wide generalization based on one stance that your argument holds no water. Your statement fails because you are proposing an all or nothing statement and fall into the trap of most Americans, which is seeing only two sides: left and right, black and white. You miss those who are neither fully left or right. And such a statement as your proves that you see that believe the concept of left (or right) on issue, the same on the other. Pure folly.

Posted by: on September 11, 2003 11:12 PM

I don't have time to respond to all of this, so let me just say thank you.

My personal favorite: "We are still here."

And might I add: We're NOT going away!

Posted by: datarat on September 11, 2003 11:24 PM

In response to Mary...

First, the "war on terrorism" is solely for the protection of America and its "interests." That is the sole reason that it was started. If in doubt, remember that Bush said so in his speeches. There is no altruistic goal to protect the whole world for terrorism, because if there were, we would have taken interest in terrorism long ago, but instead thousands of Israelis and Palestinians have died over the years... But if one America dies, hell fire rains on the world even though we have lost far less lives than Israel or the Palestinians. Hippocracy because no life is more valuable than any other.

I also double checked and these terrorist strikes against America coincided with the beginning of our involvement in the Middle East (placing bases, etc.) and in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. These are the root causes that brought these far right wing, reactionary Islamic terrorists against America as a whole, not that bull about our them hating our freedoms. That is the biggest lie perpetuated by the government and the media. They simply want to be left alone and they have every right to be left alone (several interviews as sources). Let Israel fight it out and let them blow each other up if they want to do it.

So, let's use logic, something often lacking today. If the root of the problem is our involvement in the Middle East (Kuwait/Iraq, building bases, supplying money and weapons to Israel, install facist dictators like Hussein), the only logical course is to STOP these activities. Any three year old knows after sticking his hand in fire that it harms you and that you should stop, you don't put out the fire every time to keep from being burned. The US foreign policy needs to mirror this natural protection.

And if it is defeatist to see the reality of this conflict (ie- that it is neverending and brought on by American foreign policy) and there are better ways of doing it, so be it. You can yell and call me a defeatist all you want, but it doesn't make it true.

Best regards,
Jeremy

Posted by: Jeremy on September 11, 2003 11:34 PM

It's oh so easy to belittle somebody's analogy when you do so anonymously. Jeremy is fully defeatist, and to deny that is to admit your inability to read. Just because there are many shades of gray does not mean that black and white do not exist.

Anyway, fantastic comments Bill! I eagerly await the next masterpiece (and the book!)

Posted by: Shiva Archon on September 11, 2003 11:39 PM

Shut up Jeremy. The 3000 who died on 9/11/2001 didn't place troops in Saudi Arabia, or Palestine, or Libya.

Neither did the 10,000 orphans from that day.

The terrorists themselves have stated that their goal is a world under Shari'a, and that all Americans are their targets, because we don't believe in their god, their book, etc etc.

You can paint it any way you like, but these are the stated goals. You can work the dates any way you like, but it's not going to be true.

Jeremy, I'd fact check your ass, but you don't post any facts. Just blind references. What did the Embassy explosions in Kenya coincide with? How about the Cole? Had to be the beginning of US involvement in Israel, cuz, you know, there wasn't any of that before 1980 or so, right?

You're embarassing yourself. Go back to Indymedia where the attention span is only marginally longer than the historical knowledge.

Posted by: datarat on September 11, 2003 11:45 PM

"They simply want to be left alone and they have every right to be left alone (several interviews as sources). Let Israel fight it out and let them blow each other up if they want to do it."

Absolutely disgusting regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq had every right to be left alone? You don't think the world is better for having destroyed these vile governments?

Israel is the only bastion of democracy in the region, and without American support I fear it will be swallowed up by the immense hatred that surrounds it.

Isolationism is the WORST possible response to terrorist attacks against the United States. Appeasement does not work, and has never worked, EVER. You claim to not be defeatist, but what else can possibly describe the position of "lets pack up and go home!"

Posted by: Shiva Archon on September 11, 2003 11:49 PM

Despite all those, even within our own country, who predicted defeat we have done quite well. I am actually surprised.

We have a long road ahead. We're in a marathon, not a fast sprint. But, if we don't give in to the defeatists we WILL win. We can ensure our children don't have to deal with those who would destroy us.

We have come this far by faith ... let's continue and go the distance.

Posted by: Chris Josephson on September 12, 2003 01:51 AM

From Shiva Archon to Jeremy:
You claim to not be defeatist, but what else can possibly describe the position of "lets pack up and go home!"
- - -
I may not know english well enought, as I'm Italian, but I can find other terms to describe Jeremy's position: COWARD, EGOIST, SELFISH...
... none of them I'd be proud to be.

Thanks America to keep up the lead of FREEDOM, with all the good and bad of it.

Roberto
Milano, Italy

Posted by: Roberto on September 12, 2003 02:06 AM

Yes, by all means, let's use logic!

The war against death is even more pointless and hopeless than the wars against drugs, crime, poverty, and terrorism combined. Very few of us will even live a whole century, and all of us will die eventually, utterly without exception.

So, we should all stop breathing.

You go first, Jeremy.

Posted by: LabRat on September 12, 2003 02:23 AM

We ARE learning.

We ARE squaring our shoulders, tasting our tears, transforming our anger and focusing our intent...

...on the Osamas, Fah'd bin-Abdul-Aziz's, Sleeper-Cell-leaders, Yasser Arafats and hate-filled killers of the world AND their Jeremys around the world, Jeremys and UmYeahs and QuietVoices who learn, quickly, that we have factual evidence on our side, in our armamentarium, to our benefit.

The Jeremys of western society STILL exclude themselves from the avowed, acknowledged targets of Islamo-fascism, 'ALL' non-believers... for whatever reasons, perhaps thinking to themselves, 'I'm on YOUR side, Osama...' even in face of 9/11 evidence that Osama does NOT CARE ONE WHIT that several of the Americans killed at his hand were MUSLIMS!

Jeremy, you're dirt, you're a lickspittle deserving of death... according to Osama. Your puerile, inchoate and poorly-reasoned apologias for him and his thugs does not and cannot save you from sharing the moral and spiritual reward accruing to Osama and his murderous ilk.

Posted by: Eye Opener on September 12, 2003 03:44 AM

Well, I have to write SOMETHING, dang it.

I was on the road all day yesterday, when this mini-essay and all these great comments were hitting the photons, and didn't have access to a computer when I got to my destination. Now this morning I crack open the blog vault, and WHOA!

Great stuff! Great points! And not a single point that I wanted to make that wasn't already made by someone else, and made better as well. Beautiful. Thanks all.

JKS, your "big one" might have run long (and you're talking to an expert here), but it hit a lot of home runs along the way. Great stuff. Mary, girl, you are on a ROLL. Loved every one of yours. Shell, way back at the beginning, you had the best one-liner of the day... beautiful. And you're right, VRWCman, that quote from Lileks was perfect... as was the quoted 1956 poem from W.H. Auden, Mr. Riley. Great to hear from you too, Roberto from Milano, flawed English and all. And LabRat can always say in three sentences what it takes me three pages to over-describe, and be to-the-point and funny at the same time. Loved it.

Thanks also to JK, MarcV, Sapper Mike, aliestar, datarat, and Shiva Archon for all those nails hit so squarely on the head, and for points made that I hadn't even thought of.

What a great morning read.

And to Jeremy, "what THEY said!"

(sigh)

Like I said, I had to write SOMETHING.

GHS

Posted by: GreatHairySilverback on September 12, 2003 05:32 AM

Two observations, Jeremy:

1) You're using a straw man tactic in your arguements - refuting an opponent's weakest points (or attempting to, anyway) and ignoring their strongest points (which you know you are incapable of refuting). This won't fly here. If you're going to debate with someone you have a responsibility to respond to each point they make, otherwise you lose credibility ... yours is rapidly approaching zero.

2) You were asked - quite specifically - in what way you "study terrorism". Are you a CIA Consultant? A History Grad Student? A Military Intelligence Analyst? Beacuse so far all you've given us is that you have "several articles" as sources. This may come as a shock to you, Jeremy, but reading several articles - even reading lots of articles - doesn't grant one particularly good insight into terrorism. The real terrorism experts in this country (the CIA and military intelligence structures) have decades of experience with terrorism and access to the brightest minds in the nation, and they say fighting is the best option. And while those real-world credentials don't automatically mean our intelligence agencies are right every time, I do trust them over you and your "several articles".

So, Jeremy, we all await your refutaion of everyone's strongest arguements, and also for you to present your "terrorism expert" credentials. If you cannot acomplish both (we'll give you till the end of the day) then I urge you to stop embarassing yourself and go back to posting on alt.wesurrender or whereever it is you came from.


A

Posted by: aliestar on September 12, 2003 06:44 AM

Dear Anonymous Moonbat:

You wrote:

That is absolute and pure poppy cock. Its so amazing that you can make such a wide generalization based on one stance that your argument holds no water. Your statement fails because you are proposing an all or nothing statement and fall into the trap of most Americans, which is seeing only two sides: left and right, black and white. You miss those who are neither fully left or right. And such a statement as your proves that you see that believe the concept of left (or right) on issue, the same on the other. Pure folly.

Pointe the Firste: When your enemies (and yes, they ARE our enemies) operate under the assumption that it's an all or nothing situation, that is to say "Accept Islam or die", it is folly to NOT be prepared for an all or nothing fight. I haven't been to church for years, and I have no intention of wrapping a smelly sheet around myself, prostrating myself five times a day in an easterly direction, and ululating on the high holy days just because that's what Mullah Omar wants. Further, to quote Charlie Daniels, "This ain't no rag, it's a flag, and we don't wear it on our heads." Get it?

Next point: I've written here before (I forget which essay it was) about my philosophy of left and right, and how it's an oversimplified version of politics. As I said then, it's less a matter of left and right than it is a matter of up or down. Either you believe in liberty, or you believe in tyranny. You can't have a little of the one or the other. Pick one; which side do you want to be on?

Another point: What's wrong with keeping it simple? George Orwell once said that there are some ideas so preposterous that only an intellectual can believe them. As a corollary, I suggest that some profound concepts are so simple that (self-proclaimed) intellectuals are incapable of believeing them.

And as for the people who, as you say, are neither left nor right: Screw 'em. The only things in the middle of the road are the dead armadillos. I'm not running for office here; I don't need "The Middle". I agreed with almost nothing that Paul Wellstone said or stood for, but I had respect for him, in that he said what he meant and meant what he said, and he didn't really concern himself with what anyone thought about it.

Neither do I.

--Dave

Posted by: VRWCman on September 12, 2003 07:22 AM

Because piling on is fun!

Jeremy (9/11/2003):
>>I also double checked and these terrorist strikes against America coincided with the beginning of our involvement in the Middle East (placing bases, etc.) and in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. These are the root causes that brought these far right wing, reactionary Islamic terrorists against America as a whole...

I can't help but recall with some amusement the often-repeated mantra of my statistics professor sophomore year in college: "Correlation does not prove causality." Hand in the fire results in a burn: you can demonstrate a causal event by way of a physiological explanation of the consequences. This is much stronger method than simply noting, and emphasizing, that the events happened at roughly the same time.

Basing your whole causal chain on "what every three year old knows," as you say (hand in fire argument), isn't the most compelling evidence I've been presented on the matter. If you have allowed yourself to be convinced on the basis of such flimsy evidence as a mere correlation in time, then I suggest you are too credible and not demanding enough in your proofs.

But of course, you have "several [unspecified] articles" and "several [unnamed] interviews as sources," so perhaps you could share with the rest of us what you've seen, so we can see the evidence which must be so convincing. Please do so in such a way that we can go look it up, as I really like to see raw data and source documents.

Seems this 9/11 anniversary has put me in a feisty mood...

JK Saggese.

Posted by: JKS on September 12, 2003 07:33 AM

Ok - First of all, terrorism is not an ideology, its a tactic. Carpet bombing and concentration camps are not ideologies, either, they are tactics.

In any "ideological" fight, both opponents utilize what they think are their most effective tactics to promote their ideology through a variety of means, including the use of force. The decisions about how force is employed are driven by ideology, but are not, in and of themselves, ideological.

A pretty reasonable analogy will be familiar to fans of TV detective shows: means, motives and opportunities.

The motive may or may not go away - but that's kind of the most intangible, and therefore hardest, of the three to fight. Opportunities - in the context of modern war - are an effective thing to pursue, since it doesn't necessarily require the use of force and thus doesn't engender as strong a reaction as does violence. The downside to this war is that limiting an opponent's opportunities can encroach on civil liberties or negatively affect the business of daily life.

All wars very directly attack an opponent's means of war fighting. From Sherman's March to the Sea, to the firebombing of Toyko, the US has a long history of applying violence to render impotent an opponent's means of prosecuting war.

At no point of which I am aware has an attack on warfighting motives resulted in a lasting peace more quickly, effectively or thouroughly than attacks on warfighting means.

Period.

While some of the points made above are cosmetically true, they seem to avoid the very ideological basis of this war announced by the combatants themselves. Iran feels that it has been fully engaged in a war with the U.S. since the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. Bin Laden is operating under the impression that he is ordained to defeat the two superpowers of the twentieth century the same way that Islam defeated the two superpowers of its day, the Turks and the Persians.

In both cases, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a rallying point (a strawman, if you will) which serves as an easily accessible emotional proxy for warfare, rather than the motive force behind the conflict itself. Not unlike the relationship between 9/11 and the Iraq War.

Finally, as far as root causes arguments go, I would caution those who focus on those to keep in mind that many folks feel that such arguments are an attempt to invalidate and trivialize the feelings of grief and violation experienced by so many during 9/11. I'm still waiting for the mayors of Nagasaki and Hiroshima to do some soul searching about root causes. Or waiting for the Jews to start discussing root causes of the Holocaust. Pray tell, if a female relative of yours is raped, then tell me about the root causes of rape and how they should get over it, how the response of rape victims will simply incite more violence or how they really deserved it.

You spend time telling me that. Me? I dont' have the time - I've got a war to fight.

Posted by: Anticipatory Retaliation on September 12, 2003 07:38 AM

Anticipatory Retaliation (9/12/2003):
>>At no point of which I am aware has an attack on warfighting motives resulted in a lasting peace more quickly, effectively or thouroughly than attacks on warfighting means.

Excellent point, Mr Retaliation. I should write so succinctly. Brevity...wit.

Mr Silverback, you are too kind with your compliments. Thanks.

And, (Steve Miller) "The Earth also came closest to Mars under the Bush administration. So is that Bush's responsibility, too?"

Very nice. I had to laugh at that one. It's been a punchline around my house here that any news story, no matter how unrelated to Bush, can and often is ended with "Kerry blamed the Bush administration for not preventing [whatever it was]." That also is another good example of my new motto, "Corellation does not prove causality."

Excellent work all. Carry on!

JKS.

Posted by: JKS on September 12, 2003 07:55 AM

Bill,

good perspective. I too, am impressed with our President's ability to remain firm in his convictions while many others doubt him. I first noticed that characteristic in his father. It is truly a difficult quality to maintain in that position, and during these times. I think the results you speak of are DIRECTLY linked to that single-mindedness.

thank you, jim

Posted by: Jim on September 12, 2003 07:57 AM

Its apparent that when debate a position against you all is like arguing with people like Rush Limbaugh. You are always wrong no matter what. You people twist words and concepts to fit your beliefs, most arguments are logical fallacious and there only appears to be one person here who knows anything about terrorism (who probably doesn't want to release his or her credentials for several reasons, who knows).

Ed

Posted by: Edward Carter on September 12, 2003 08:54 AM

Jon and GreatHairySilverback (that's an excellent name) - thanks for the encouraging words

Jeremy -

You say that the idea that they hate us for our freedom is "the biggest lie perpetuated by the government and the media"

According to a book written by Yussuf al-Ayyeri, one of Osama bin Laden's closest associates, the greatest threat to the survival of fundamentalist Islam is American democracy. He believes that democracy could lead to economic prosperity, which, in turn, would make Muslims "reluctant to die in martyrdom" in defense of their faith.

Sayed Qtub believed that jihad should be waged against all states that exist in jahiliyya, (governments which wilfully chose to ignore God's word after it has been revealed.)

These extremists are very fussy about what they believe is "an Islamic state". Even the puritanical Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia aren't Islamic enough. Only Afghanistan under the Taliban was considered to be 'pure'.

One-time Hezbollah leader, Hussein Massawi, summed up the attitude of all Islamic terrorist groups towards the West with this: "We are not fighting so that you may offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you."

So, according to Qtub, Massawi and al-Ayyeri, they really don't just want to be left alone - and they do hate us for our freedoms. Do you beleive these men, or do you think they're working with our government and the media to perpetuate a 'big lie?'

If you want to understand terrorism, it's a good idea to learn something about the terrorists. You don't seem to know much about them, you only seem to be concerned with their attacks on Americans. How America-centric of you. Is that why you've come up with the strange idea that this all centers around our support of Israel?

Retreating into a Pat Buchanan/Dennis Kucinich-inspired isolationism in the face of this violent fascist movement would be a bad idea. We don't need any proof that the violence would eventually come to us - it did, on Sept. 11th. Running away doesn't discourage terrorism, it encourages it. If we'd followed the advice of the isolationists and the defeatists, our worst fears probably would have come true.

I didn't say that you were a defeatist - you were just intruding onto a day of remembrance, attempting to disprove Bill's very inspiring (and factual) essay, attempting to convince us that the terrorists will win and we will lose despite all evidence to the contrary.

Posted by: mary on September 12, 2003 08:58 AM

Re: William's comment "More Americans have died due to terrorist attacks under this president than any other."

Up until two years ago, Bill Clinton had that distinction. What did he do? He publicly declared a War on Terror. That's it.

Did he mobilize our troops to fight this war? Did he ask Congress for funding to fight this war? Did he implement new policies designed to win this war? Hah! You must be joking.

I knew when he made that announcement that it was nothing more than hot air. I knew because I knew Clinton for what he was - a compulsive liar telling another whopper for his fawning legions to drool over. And events proved me right.

I also knew that President Bush's declaration of a War Against Terror was a lot more than hot air. I knew because I knew he is a politician who keeps his promises. And events have proved me right.

I am not fawning over George W. Bush. I find myself more and more disappointed with his policies and actions, and as it stands now, my vote for President next year is about 50-50 between him and the Libertarian candidate, whoever he/she may be.

But give the man his due. He is a strong leader who has set our nation on the road to Victory in this war. Clinton had his chance, but he couldn't be bothered.

Posted by: Kevin Grupa on September 12, 2003 09:02 AM

Sapper Mike said
"Can we nab all sleepers likely residing in the U.S? Unlikely.

Can we prevent every act directed against us? Impossible.

Will we stop in our efforts to render these terrorist into paste?

NEVER!"

You couldn't have hit the nail on the head with a bigger hammer!

Excellent!

Bryan

Posted by: BKG on September 12, 2003 09:13 AM

By its very nature, terrorism is opportunistic. The attacks of 9/11--specifically the WTC, but also the Pentagon--occured because we allowed the opportunity to exist long enough for the terrorists to plan the attacks. In other words, for literally years such an attack could have occurred.

What Bush is doing right now is closing those windows of opportunity. Terrorists don't/won't have the luxury of planning for 8+ years to carry out the Next Big Thing. For the first time in this recent (last 20 years) terrorist era, we are taking the fight to them, thereby disrupting their ability to observe, analyze and exploit windows of opportunity.

For this Bush (and his team) deserve high praise and credit.

Posted by: Russ Fletcher on September 12, 2003 09:16 AM

Jeremy said "But a step in the right direction is a major change in foreign policy..."

What the hell do you think we have been doing since we went into Afghanistan? Clinton's foreign policy is what made the 9/11 attacks possible. Bush has done a 180 on Clinton's appeasement policy and has taken the fight to the terrorists on the home soil.

Idiot.

Posted by: BKG on September 12, 2003 09:25 AM

Jeremy said "Any three year old knows after sticking his hand in fire that it harms you and that you should stop, you don't put out the fire every time to keep from being burned."

No you don't...if the fire is used for some serving purpose. But if that fire is there specifically to burn someone/anyone, you douse the flames, stir the coals, then douse them again to prevent the fire from ever rekindling.

Idiot.

Posted by: BKG on September 12, 2003 09:43 AM

Said by BKG: "What the hell do you think we have been doing since we went into Afghanistan?"

Let's see, we are still stick our noses in other people's wars, we still back Israel, we still have bases overseas where they are not wanted, etc. etc.

Nothing have changed. We have just started pushing that policy harder by fighting people against it...

BKG said: "No you don't...if the fire is used for some serving purpose. But if that fire is there specifically to burn someone/anyone, you douse the flames, stir the coals, then douse them again to prevent the fire from ever rekindling."

You miss what the statement meant entirely. Take it in the context of the fire being the Middle East, the Israeli/Palenstinian conflict, etc. Any further explanation would be me doing the thinking for you.

And I'll refrain from using ad-hominem attack...

Posted by: Jeremy on September 12, 2003 09:52 AM

Jeremy,
Speaking of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict...the US needs to let Israel fight its fight instead of tying its hands with our so-called "Road Map to Peace". The PLO is not interested in peace with the Israelis, only their destruction (which is evident by their constant attacks on innocent civilians by homicide bombers). As someone once quoted to me "two dynamically opposed forced cannot occupy the same space." By their own actions, the PLO is nothing more than another terrorist organization such as Hamas, Hezzbola, Islamic Jihad, take your pick.

And as far as you thinking for me...I'm not even going to justify that statement with a reply.

You're still an idiot.

Posted by: BKG on September 12, 2003 10:08 AM

Edward Carter says:

Its apparent that when debate a position against you all is like arguing with people like Rush Limbaugh. You are always wrong no matter what. You people twist words and concepts to fit your beliefs, most arguments are logical fallacious and there only appears to be one person here who knows anything about terrorism (who probably doesn't want to release his or her credentials for several reasons, who knows).

On the contrary, I've seen many people here have their opinions swayed one way or the other by a thoughful, well-stated arguement. I'm one of them, in fact. But Jeremy - who I'm pretty sure is your "one person here who knows something about terrorism" - has made no arguements of any substance (his "appeasement and appology" stance has been discredited time and time again and is respected by no terrorism experts that I've ever read). And he certainly hasn't responded to the strongest points made against his position by the posters here - in fact, he seems to be making a concerted effort to aviod them.

And few posters to Bill's site are old-school conservatives like Rush Limbaugh (who I personally despise). You should really learn more about the folks you're talking to before making inane statements like that.

Jeremy says:

You miss what the statement meant entirely. Take it in the context of the fire being the Middle East, the Israeli/Palenstinian conflict, etc. Any further explanation would be me doing the thinking for you.

What a pathetic dodge. We all got your analogy just fine Jeremy, and BKG's response was right on the money. But to extend and simplify it for you: If the middle east situation is a "fire" and the world is our "house" (and we got "burned" on 11sept01) than your brilliant solution amounts to running away and hiding in the closet! Unbelieveably short-sighted and foolish; the fire isn't going to put itself out, and if ignored it will only grow. The only sane choice is - as BKG said - to put the fire out, and make damn sure it's out for good.

Jeremy also said:

And I'll refrain from using ad-hominem attack...

Oooh, learn a big-boy debate term, did we? Well, here's another: Strawman Arguement. Look it up, and then stop doing it. Answer the dozen or so strongest arguemnts made against your position or be damned!


A

Posted by: aliestar on September 12, 2003 10:44 AM

Jeremy,

I gotta hand it to you. You've had both arms and a leg chopped off and your still here yelling "Have at you!". Heh.

The gist of what you've said seems to be:

We brought the terrorism onto ourselves because we "got involved" with the Middle East. We have backed Israel (an ally for over 50 years no less) in their war agains the PLO and other terrorists. We put military bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. This pissed off certain people in the Arab world who now attack us.


Your solution seems to be:

Leave Israel (an ally for 50 years!) to work out it's problems on it's own. Get out now. Run back home. Then everything will be fine.

So (following your train of thought),

1) I guess we shouldn't have gotten involved in GW1. We should have just let Iraq rape, pillage and rule another country. It's none of our business.
2) We shouldn't have invaded Grenada. Those Americans there had it coming for just being there. They're on their own.
3) We shouldn't have bailed out the French and fought communism for 10 long years in Viet Nam. Just let communism take over (Everywhere). It's just easier and we wouldn't have lost 50K brave American soldiers either. We shouldn't have put bases in Britan, Germany, Italy et al to keep the Soviet Union at bay either. What a big waste of money!
4) We never should have helped out South Korea. "Don't take sides". Let South Korea handle it. I'm sure it would have worked out for the best. I hear things are going swimmingly in North Korea these days. What were we thinking!
5) We shouldn't have backed the British and the French back in 1941. They're on there own. They need to work it out "amongst themselves". After Pearl Harbor, we should have tried to understand why they (Japanese) would do such a thing.
6) Same goes for WWI.

If we follow your logic - it should apply to all these cases. Every damn one. And where would the world be now if we had.

You words and thoughts on this thread show you to be an imbecile - at least to me.

Have a nice day.

Posted by: Black Oak on September 12, 2003 11:38 AM

Not that this is even remotely related to the ongoing discussion(s) between most of the readers here and Jeremy/Edward, but I often wonder, when reading the comments of the (very few) dissenters and leftist/appeasers, just what their personal feelings would be if they had had a relative or loved one lose their live(s) as a result of any of these terrorist attacks.

I dunno, but I have to think they might have a different perpective if it ever hits that "close to home" for any of them.

And of course, excellent work once again Bill!

Posted by: Bart on September 12, 2003 11:41 AM

You nailed it. Fine piece of work.

If you are ever in our neighborhood again ( your last visit was w/Connie and Kim), stop on in for a piece of pie or other tasty treat.

Posted by: Gail Leachman on September 12, 2003 12:06 PM

Hey guys! Stop Pilling on Jeremy! He got one thing right!

Jeremy: "First, the "war on terrorism" is solely for the protection of America and its "interests." That is the sole reason that it was started."

And I would like to add, "and what's wrong with that!"

It has and always will be in America's best interest to have stable democratic governments in place in the middle east. Iraq and Afganistan are only the first and if American soldiers have to die in their hundreds over there to see that it happens it still better than American civilians dying in their thousands over here if it doesn't happen.

John Bouler

Posted by: John Bouler on September 12, 2003 12:31 PM

said by A:

Oooh, learn a big-boy debate term, did we? Well, here's another: Strawman Arguement. Look it up, and then stop doing it. Answer the dozen or so strongest arguemnts made against your position or be damned!

---

Actually, I've known that term longer than we've had the war on terror... *yawn* You can't even discuss something without belittling people. How typical of people like you.

As for the strawman argument... Actually, if anyone has used the strawman argument, its been many of you people. I post an issue and you distort the issue I present. Learn it properly, because strawman has nothing to do with not responding to arguments.

Strawman argument (not my words, but the best way of putting it):

Person A has position X.
Person B presents position Y (which is a distorted version of X).
Person B attacks position Y.
Therefore X is false/incorrect/flawed.

Posted by: Jeremy on September 12, 2003 12:36 PM

said by John:

It has and always will be in America's best interest to have stable democratic governments in place in the middle east.

---

Correct, absolutely correct. But the problem with that is trying to "install" democracy. The revolutions that occur from within and are not forced from the outside. The problem is when we go there and build nations, people's control over their nation and government is lost and many don't like it. The Iraqi's love the fact that we are there and Saddam is gone, but they want control of their country again. America doesn't think they are ready, but these people are and they have been itching for a long time. However, I would have rather seen them institute change on their own and this been their victory, not ours.

Its been said that the Middle East is one of the sleeping giants and its correct. The Middle East was getting to a point where it was ready to engage in massive cultural and ideological change and you can see it in other nations where women are becoming more and more educated and empowered.

Use the American revolution for example, it was partly successful because the was a the critical mass of people who wanted independence and it became the will of the people. France helped and we owe them a lot for that, but if they had come in and induced such a regime change or revolution, it is very likely that the outcome would be different.

The fact is, yes, regime change and government reforms are needed over there, but from the people themselves. And yes, democracy is in the best interest.

Posted by: Jeremy on September 12, 2003 12:46 PM

Said earlier:

Not that this is even remotely related to the ongoing discussion(s) between most of the readers here and Jeremy/Edward, but I often wonder, when reading the comments of the (very few) dissenters and leftist/appeasers, just what their personal feelings would be if they had had a relative or loved one lose their live(s) as a result of any of these terrorist attacks.

---

I would have likely ask that there be no more bloodshed, including the war, period. I'm not going to defend my spiritual beliefs against anyone's attacks, but that's where that is rooted.

Posted by: Jeremy on September 12, 2003 12:48 PM

"Let's see, we are still stick our noses in other people's wars,"

Not often enough, according to the left.

"we still back Israel,"

Which is bad because...uh, it has Jews in it? Here's some reading to brush up on: http://www.nicedoggie.net/archives/002714.html#002714

"we still have bases overseas where they are not wanted,"

Patently false. We have bases where they are not wanted by the POPULATIONS. The governments, for the most part, like them just fine.

"etc. etc."

No, please, give us more!

"Nothing have changed. We have just started pushing that policy harder by fighting people against it..."

That's exactly what's changed, we're fighting now. Once again, the people we're fighting are the people who want to kill us. Why they say they don't like us is completely irrelevant, they'll invent new reasons for as long as our society exists as it is.

Posted by: HitNRun on September 12, 2003 12:59 PM

Ed: Want some cheese with that whine? Plenty of dissenters have come here and earned respect despite an extremely deep central disagreement. Jeremy is under fire because of his Artful Dodger tactics- he's not giving us a debate, he's grousing with his fingers in his ears. That sometimes works in a moderated political debate, because there's NO WRITTEN RECORD and EVERYONE IS CONFINED TO A SHORT SPAN OF TIME. Here we can see a record of every point he's made and had refuted and then ignored. Dissent is not some sort of priceless commodity, it's just another opinion, and like any other it needs to be well-expressed to be taken seriously.

Remember folks: Even though the Middle Eastern conflicts have been going on literally since the dawn of civilization, with mostly the same players, and that they've been genuinely under the bootheel of at least three real-deal empires (the Roman, Ottoman and assorted European nations), and that Isreal was conceived and created by Britain back when America was still almost totally isolationist, it is ALL AMERICA'S FAULT and that's why we're getting attacked.

Posted by: LabRat on September 12, 2003 01:02 PM

More twisting of the words:
Even though the Middle Eastern conflicts have been going on literally since the dawn of civilization, with mostly the same players, and that they've been genuinely under the bootheel of at least three real-deal empires (the Roman, Ottoman and assorted European nations), and that Isreal was conceived and created by Britain back when America was still almost totally isolationist, it is ALL AMERICA'S FAULT and that's why we're getting attacked.

---

Israel is not America's fault and everyone knows that, period. The problem is America's recent involvement with Israel through money and WEAPONS. Some of the weapons that are killing civilians (as well as the one's used by Al Qaeda) in Palestine and Israel have "Made in the USA" stamped on them... They don't like our recent backing and involvement and would likely have left us alone had we stayed neutral. Nice attempt to twist the Middle East involvment argument though, very artful.

Posted by: on September 12, 2003 01:09 PM

OOppps. The above is MY comment.

Posted by: Jeremy on September 12, 2003 01:09 PM

Posted earlier:

Which is bad because...uh, it has Jews in it? Here's some reading to brush up on: http://www.nicedoggie.net/archives/002714.html#002714

---

That's all old news and history... And some of it is pure Pro-backing opinion masked as fact. There is nothing there I haven't heard before.

Posted by: Jeremy on September 12, 2003 01:13 PM

I wanted to take this opportunity to respond to and clarify some of the points that have been made. This is Bill’s site not mine so I promise not to make this a common occurrence. My point was not to attack George Bush’s policy on terrorism. It was intended to challenge the statement (and the belief) that Bush’s policies are impossible to improve upon. The point of my response was to try to get express my concern how everything is becoming so polarized and that it is important to understand that people can disagree with President Bush and not be anti American. Blind devotion and yelling down opponents does not help anyone. Yes there are extremists on the left (see Jeremy’s first post) as I hope everyone will agree there are extremists on the right (see those who have said that God allowed 9/11 to happen because we have taken God out of our schools, workplace and governments). But thankfully these people are the minority. Their warped beliefs should not be used to represent the opinions of all those who do not agree with the current administration (or those that do). To often the feeling I have gotten from this site, and in general, is that you are either with us or against us.

Before any one tries to interpret that as meaning for America (us) or for terrorism (them) let me clarify. One can believe that the force used in Afghanistan was a great idea (and thank god we had a republican administration that was able to take the time to plan and implement a plan of action, instead of a democratic one that would have felt the need to react instantly to prove they are “tough” and launched a few missiles). That same person can also believe that by attacking Iraq we diverted focus from completing the job in Afghanistan and that we sacrificed much of the good will internationally that was allowing us to go after terrorism cells throughout the region and the world. Not to mention the irreplaceable lives of our young men and women and a huge amount of tax payers money. One can even debate the motives behind the attack. Personally, I think the idea that we did it “for oil” is a joke. I do believe that a large part of the motive was that it allowed for the potential of a clear-cut victory. Unlike attacking cells, which while useful and productive, does not allow for the same victory speech (on a carrier maybe?) as defeating a visible and identifiable enemy. None of this makes someone defeatist or self-hating.

But what I have come to realize is that there is truth the fable of the frog and the scorpion. The frog hadn’t even left the riverbank before the first sting. Nowhere in my message did I say or imply that President Bush has done a worse job than President Clinton (I know this to be true because I believe that Clinton did a terrible job). But it only took the first post for someone to blame Clinton. I would have thought that to be a record but many other posts followed stating how it was Clinton’s fault. This goes back to the original problem of us versus them. If you blame terrorist acts that occurred after his administration on Clinton then why was it I saw no posts even mentioning the terrorists attacks that occurred under the first President Bush or even President Reagan. If Clinton is responsible for 9/11 then is the First President Bush responsible for the first attack on the World Trade Centers? Is Reagan responsible for the attack on the barracks in Lebanon? (the answer is no, things aren’t quite that simple no matter what party is in office).

The truly sad thing is that if I were to post something on a liberal site saying I supported the Afghanistan force and many aspects of the Patriot act the stings would be as swift and as venomous regarding Bush being evil. (I don’t go to those sites because I don’t have time and haven’t found one that has Bill’s skills. In almost every posting I have read, many of which I have had the same problems with that I state here, he is able to turn a phrase that is worth all the reading and disagreements). For those of you who first reaction is to blame Clinton, realize you are no different than those who claim President Bush is nothing but evil, you are two sides of the same coin.

America can and will survive the attacks from terrorists who fear what we have to offer to the world. The greater danger is to lose the ability to listen and reason behind the noise of rhetoric and blind reactions.

Sorry for the length, I will gladly give the site back to Bill and his fans (who deserve it and could never lose it anyway). Just remember to listen to all sides and think, not just react because Rush Limbaugh or Norm Chomsky or even Bill (forgive me Bill for putting you in such terrible company)said that thats the way it should be. I also must give credit to what I thought was the best response in defending President Bush from the implied attack. If I had been attacking him it would have been tough to argue his point. The others would have been fairly easy to defend. The one person who said it in the fewest number of words. To Rich and the response “and more terrorists too”…touché.

Posted by: william on September 12, 2003 01:14 PM

Jeremy,

You still haven't answered my post. If we follow what you say, we shouldn't have backed up ANY of out allies over the last 70 years.

You actually seem to think that the terrorists would NEVER have attacked us if we'd have just stayed out. Not backed an ally (Israel).

Which, BTW, would have resulted in Israel's destruction by this point (IMO).

Not many are going to buy that here without something to back it up - at least with something more than your OPINION.

Posted by: Black Oak on September 12, 2003 01:17 PM

Jeremy says:

Strawman argument (not my words, but the best way of putting it):

Person A has position X.
Person B presents position Y (which is a distorted version of X).
Person B attacks position Y.
Therefore X is false/incorrect/flawed.

No, that is simply incorrect (but close in an odd sort of way). Strawman (the working defenition of which can be found at http://www.intrepidsoftware.com/fallacy/straw.php, and you should pay particular attention to example ii because it shows exactly what you've been doing) works like this:

Person A has position X, supported by arguements 1 (strongest), 2 (mediocre), and 3 (weakest).

Person B refutes arguement 3 only, ignoring arguements 1 and 2.

Person B declares position X flawed based solely on his refutation of arguement 3.


I can pick out at least three instances in this thread where you've done precisely this - more if I bother to look with any real effort. Hell, you just did it in your last response - you utterly ignored the "fire" analogy when it turned against you!

However I can't find a single instance where it's been done to you, and I'll call you a liar to your face (such as it is on the internet) for claiming that it has. Everyone here has gone to great pains to refute your arguements on a point-by-point basis, a courtesy you seem unable to return.

Away with you, Jeremy. You stand revealed as the fool you are.

Posted by: aliestar on September 12, 2003 01:19 PM

"You can't even discuss something without belittling people. How typical of people like you."

I guess you're going to employ ad hominem after all. Man, when you fall off the wagon, you don't even bounce. As long as we're playing the logical fallacy game- I love that game- this is technically an ad hominem and a style-over-substance argument rolled into one.

"Actually, if anyone has used the strawman argument, its been many of you people."

I know you are but what am I. So THERE.

"I post an issue and you distort the issue I present. Learn it properly, because strawman has nothing to do with not responding to arguments."

Please provide precise examples of your sterling points and how we twisted them into unrecognizability and then dismissed them. What were you REALLY trying to say, if not that we brought the attacks on ourselves by going around meddling, that the war on terrorism is pointless because we can't change their minds? Now's your chance, say *exactly* what you mean, premises and conclusions and all. Make it untwistable.

"But the problem with that is trying to "install" democracy."

We should learn the lessons of history: look how badly it worked out for Germany and Japan when we forced democracy on them.

"The revolutions that occur from within and are not forced from the outside."

You mean like the one in Iraq that started in 1991 when they thought we weren't going to stop at the border and was subsequently put down with extreme prejudice by the Baathists, from which we are still finding mass graves? Or the Afghanis that were pressed to death with big rocks for sounding like they said something like "democracy" when they sneezed?

"The Iraqi's love the fact that we are there and Saddam is gone, but they want control of their country again."

And we're giving it to them. We're trying to turn as much control as possible over to local governments and police forces. The problem is that there isn't a living generation in Iraq that remembers how to run the country under a representative government instead of a dictatorship, and that we must prevent the Baathists from taking over again.

"America doesn't think they are ready, but these people are and they have been itching for a long time."

It took Germany and Japan each years and years to be ready, and once they were they joined the world as first-rate industrial powers. What makes you think the Iraqis are or will be any different?

"Its been said that the Middle East is one of the sleeping giants and its correct."

Actually, this was said shortly before the Afghan war (by Al-Qaeda no less), and shortly before the Iraq war, when in each instance they were predicting huge bloody involved conflicts and uprisings of the Arab street. You can STILL hear the crickets chirping.

"The Middle East was getting to a point where it was ready to engage in massive cultural and ideological change and you can see it in other nations where women are becoming more and more educated and empowered."

Which nations? Remember, Afghanistan went from a liberated and reasonably secular nation to an extremist regime. Women went from educated professionals to one cut below livestock there, until we intervened. How are we impeding this progress rather than abetting it, elsewhere, currently?

"Use the American revolution for example"

As long as we're still playing "spot the logical fallacy", this is an argument from an unrepresentative sample. The American revolution is of particular historical interest because it is one of the very few, possibly only totally internal democratic revolutions to produce a stable government. The French revolution was a disaster and they're currently on republic number five. The Australians and the Canadians didn't revolt, they got increasing independence by mutual agreement with their respective governments. The British helped India set up their democracy after a relatively bloodless revolution.

"I would have likely ask that there be no more bloodshed, including the war, period."

That's nice. I'd like that too. Doesn't make it feasible.

Posted by: LabRat on September 12, 2003 01:37 PM

Point by point:
You still haven't answered my post. If we follow what you say, we shouldn't have backed up ANY of out allies over the last 70 years.
---

How is backing Israel, a country that is a terrorist country and does harbour terrorists and that uses terrorist like methods worth backing ? Backing Israel is nothing like backing a country like England who is on the verge of an invasion and virtually on the verge of collapse (Israel has nukes, so they have no problems according the to deterrence theory). No, we are actually giving them the tools by which Israel has made incursions illegally, destroyed homes and expanded its terrority.

The way we back Israel is by giving them weapons and money. Then we turn a blind eye and they buy weapons (with the money) or use it to do things that make the situation worse (bomb homes without regard for bystanders, etc.). Israel is currently working on building a road with American money which would take it though "Palestinian" terroritory. Believe me, if England had as bad of a rap sheet as Israel, I would have said "The hell with them."


You actually seem to think that the terrorists would NEVER have attacked us if we'd have just stayed out.
---

You ignore other factors and focus on Israel alone. I've stated other factors, but Israel is a HUGE flash point.

Posted by: Jeremy on September 12, 2003 01:39 PM

"They don't like our recent backing and involvement and would likely have left us alone had we stayed neutral. Nice attempt to twist the Middle East involvment argument though, very artful."

Oh, calm down. I wasn't trying to twist your argument to make it look like you were directly arguing that the Middle Eastern conflict is totally America's fault, I was pointing out a fallacy of exclusion: you are arguing that America has earned the ire of the Middle East through its own actions, yet you ignore that other nations and peoples have done far worse to the people of these nations and are NOT recieving terrorist "retribution", and other nations that have done absolutely nothing (like Norway) are. This implies that outrage over injustice done is not the "root cause" of terrorism, which I understand to be your argument.

"Some of the weapons that are killing civilians (as well as the one's used by Al Qaeda) in Palestine and Israel have "Made in the USA" stamped on them..."

In point of fact a lot more of the weapons that kill civilians in the Middle East are Soviet-made, and this is not a secret. Hell, many of them were used once and then dropped by bona fide Soviets in Afghanistan. By your logic, Russia should be taking the brunt of the attacks, but mysteriously they are not.

Posted by: LabRat on September 12, 2003 01:43 PM

For the record, William, I wasn't blaming Clinton in my response to your post. I was merely trying to point out that your statement "more Americans have died due to terrorism under this president than any other" didn't really proove anything at all about George Bush; the events that set up 11sept01 happened before he was in office, so the abomanably high terrorism casualties on his watch is a skewed statistic.

And I agree with you that shouting people down doesn't do anyone any good. I think folks in this forum have tried hard to give sound and thoughtful responses to opposing viewpoints, even when those in opposition seem unwilling to return that simple courtesy.

I also once held your position on Afganistan and Iraq - but then I read extensively about Saddam and his blood-soaked regime. After that stomach-turning literary adventure my opinion became hunt down that inhuman son of a bitch and everyone who worked for him, and don't stop the artillery strikes or bombing missions until every last one of them is a body bag or a jail cell.

But your points are well-made and seem honest and thoughtful. I like to hear other viewpoints, and though I hold my opinions strongly they can certainly change when enough evidence is presented. I, for one, have found your input valuable.

Mmmmmmmm. Bandwidth.


A

Posted by: aliestar on September 12, 2003 01:51 PM

Stated:
What a pathetic dodge. We all got your analogy just fine Jeremy, and BKG's response was right on the money. But to extend and simplify it for you: If the middle east situation is a "fire" and the world is our "house" (and we got "burned" on 11sept01) than your brilliant solution amounts to running away and hiding in the closet! Unbelieveably short-sighted and foolish; the fire isn't going to put itself out, and if ignored it will only grow. The only sane choice is - as BKG said - to put the fire out, and make damn sure it's out for good
---

Okay, let's look at this then.

The fire in this case in the Middle East and other conflicts. It is isolated and under control because it is in one area and confined to that. In essence, it is a fire on the stove burning.

Along comes America (or any other country) and sticks their nose in to the fire, let's say by installing some dictator. That country gets burned for going into a situation, just like a nose gets burned for going into the fire.

So, here's the problem. Did the burn happen because the fire is there or because the hand went in to the fire ? The only answer is, if the fire is isolated, as is the Middle East because they tend to be isolationist, then the only way to be burned is by going into the fire.
And the cause of the burn IS the fire (fire causes burns), but the CASUAL EVENT for the burn was going into the fire, not the fire being lit.

So how do you stop from being burned. Stay out of the fire. If the fire were spreading, you put it out, but here is where your analogy fails. They Middle East is not an expansionist empire like The Romans or The Greeks, the are staying put. Yes, these ultra right, reactionary groups are trying to combat American influence that has been both negative and positive for them, but the Middle East is not growing.

As well, putting them out is essentially kin to wiping out the Middle East. Sorry, no can do there and you know it. If America carpet bombed the Middle East, and many have said to do so, we would lose our backing.

So no, its NOT run and hide... Its keep a safe distance and keep the nose out of the fire.

Posted by: Jeremy on September 12, 2003 01:53 PM

"How is backing Israel, a country that is a terrorist country and does harbour terrorists and that uses terrorist like methods worth backing?"

I guess I'm done debating you. Blanket, (IMHO - stupid) opinions like that are ignorant, racist and aren't worth my time. Pheeouw!

BTW Bill, I never said great essay as always. Very upbeat for a depressing day. Thank you.


Posted by: Black Oak on September 12, 2003 01:53 PM

"How is backing Israel, a country that is a terrorist country and does harbour terrorists and that uses terrorist like methods"

Support this. Provide specific examples and your underlying logic. Then we'll talk.

"No, we are actually giving them the tools by which Israel has made incursions illegally, destroyed homes and expanded its terrority."

Israel claimed territory under recognized international law at the time during four seperate wars started by their neighbors, the intent of which was to wipe Isreal out as a country. Since then there have been "incursions" into designated Palestinian territory, consisting of settlements. How this breach of the worthless pieces of paper they still refer to as "treaties" than the prior breaches consisting of rocket attacks and nailbombs on schoolbuses on the part of the Palestinians, no one has yet explained.

Insisting Israel rigidly abide by a treaty concerning an imaginary line past which settlements are not allowable when Palestinians refuse to stop the siege of terrorist attacks- and if you read the statements by their leadership, it's not an inability to control the organizations, it's a blatant refusal- is absurd.

" Believe me, if England had as bad of a rap sheet as Israel, I would have said "The hell with them.""

No, it's much worse. At the times we came to their rescue, they were busily engaged in ruling about 20% of the earth by force in corrupt colonial governments, engaging in massive force buildup, and employing chemical weaponry (in WWI).

Posted by: LabRat on September 12, 2003 01:54 PM

Stated earlier:
I was pointing out a fallacy of exclusion: you are arguing that America has earned the ire of the Middle East through its own actions, yet you ignore that other nations and peoples have done far worse to the people of these nations and are NOT recieving terrorist "retribution", and other nations that have done absolutely nothing (like Norway) are. This implies that outrage over injustice done is not the "root cause" of terrorism, which I understand to be your argument.
---

Good catch, but I've attempted to focus on America solely, after all we are attempting to argue (right now) the roots of strikes against America. I'm not trying to focus on the world for two reasons: One, because terrorism has to be looked at by several different levels because motivations are unique to country and circumstance. Two, to paint a picture of terrorism across the world is difficult and daunting and would take volumes of books.

For exaple, earlier someone said that strikes on the USS Cole, the WTC in '93 and the WTC in '01 did not seem to coincide with certain events, and that is correct. Now if we look at this on the small scale (each event), you will see that's true and there appears to be no reason, but all of these strikes were against America, so you have to examine all of them together. By doing do, you see that these attacks are motivated by our policies and their effects overseas. But the key thing to note is that Islamic extremists didn't start till our involvement in Israel was founded, we started putting bases over there, etc. Its even been suggested that there is resentment still from the Crusades regarding Christianity (talk about long memories).

Now if we look at Norway, we are going to see a different reason for the strikes there entirely. This is what makes terrorism a strange thing. Motivation for action against one country is not always the same as motivation against another, but the "hatred for the injustice" is what applies to the America strikes and several others.

Just look at terrorism in Ireland. Its about freedom and getting the people who "invaded" (their words) out. Those people want freedom. Its a different situation and a different cause.

Or look at the slave revolts of America. Acts of terrorism happened, but the reasons were different from of movements.

And you have the Boston Tea party (economic terrorism against Britian), it was about freedom from whacked taxes...

Hmm, interesting, but those I've listed all are about acheiving freedom... *snickers* Strange.


Does that make sense then ?

Posted by: Jeremy on September 12, 2003 02:10 PM

I guess I'm done debating you. Blanket, (IMHO - stupid) opinions like that are ignorant, racist and aren't worth my time.

---

How is that rascist ? They use tactics that would easily be declared terrorist tactics if they were not doing it. They are also known to have radical anti-"Palestinian" terrorists in their country. Call them terrorist because of that is not racist and you know it.


If some one had sad, and no one has, they are bad because they are Jewish, or Arab, or (insert group here), THAT would be racist...

I'm actually surprised the race card actually got pulled here.

Posted by: Jeremy on September 12, 2003 02:16 PM

Below are some links that list of incursions of Israel. (mixed in among other things)

http://myleadnet.lead.org/forums/messageview.cfm?catid=18&threadid=457

http://i-cias.com/e.o/israel_5.htm

I can't find more off hand as I'm about to head off.

Posted by: Jeremy on September 12, 2003 02:24 PM

Jeremy says:

Okay, let's look at this then.

The fire in this case in the Middle East and other conflicts. It is isolated and under control because it is in one area and confined to that. In essence, it is a fire on the stove burning.

Along comes America (or any other country) and sticks their nose in to the fire, let's say by installing some dictator. That country gets burned for going into a situation, just like a nose gets burned for going into the fire.

So, here's the problem. Did the burn happen because the fire is there or because the hand went in to the fire ? The only answer is, if the fire is isolated, as is the Middle East because they tend to be isolationist, then the only way to be burned is by going into the fire.
And the cause of the burn IS the fire (fire causes burns), but the CASUAL EVENT for the burn was going into the fire, not the fire being lit.

So how do you stop from being burned. Stay out of the fire. If the fire were spreading, you put it out, but here is where your analogy fails. They Middle East is not an expansionist empire like The Romans or The Greeks, the are staying put. Yes, these ultra right, reactionary groups are trying to combat American influence that has been both negative and positive for them, but the Middle East is not growing.

As well, putting them out is essentially kin to wiping out the Middle East. Sorry, no can do there and you know it. If America carpet bombed the Middle East, and many have said to do so, we would lose our backing.

So no, its NOT run and hide... Its keep a safe distance and keep the nose out of the fire.

Okay, now you're actually making an arguable point. Congradulations. But it's still wrong (sorry).

The middle east is not comparable to a fire that is "isolated and under control". Not at all! The Arabs have historically been empire-builders, and there are in fact many North Africans and Asains who will tell you that they suffer from Arab Imperialism far more than they suffer from American Imperialism. Furthermore, the stated goals of Islamic Facsism is the creation of a world-spanning Islamic state and the eradication of all competing paradigms. Period. How can any sane person consider such people "under control"?

If these people are allowed to have their way, Jeremy, they will eventually come after the western democracies. If Isreal is allowed to fall (as Checkoslovakia and Poland were allowed to fall to Hitler) it will only embolden them further, and give them additional resources for their jihad against the free and pluralistic nations of the west. You can't see it because you're blinded by liberal propaganda and don't have a good understanding of history, but it's true nonetheless.

Wake up, son.

A


Posted by: aliestar on September 12, 2003 02:29 PM

"but I've attempted to focus on America solely, after all we are attempting to argue (right now) the roots of strikes against America. I'm not trying to focus on the world for two reasons: One, because terrorism has to be looked at by several different levels because motivations are unique to country and circumstance."

Fallacy of Exclusion, definition: "Important evidence which would undermine an inductive
argument is excluded from consideration. The requirement that all relevant information be included is called the "principle of total evidence"."

In other words, if it weren't for the fact that when considering the root causes of strikes against America, and that you are arguing that meddlesome actions including the sales of weapons on the part of America are a root cause of terrorism against America, then the fact that other countries have meddled in far more dramatic ways and sold many more weapons becomes too relevant to your argument for exclusion to be excusable.

"Now if we look at this on the small scale (each event), you will see that's true and there appears to be no reason, but all of these strikes were against America, so you have to examine all of them together. By doing do, you see that these attacks are motivated by our policies and their effects overseas."

There's a whole lotta logic between your premise and your conclusion that appears to be, mysteriously, missing. In fact, on the surface, your premise ("Taken individually, the terrorist strikes against America appear to have no immediate instigation") and your conclusion ("Taken as a whole, the attacks are caused by American foreign policy") appear to be completely disconnected! Have you tried looking under the couch cushions?

At best, this is sloppy. At worst, it's an egregious example of taking two events and simply declaring them to be a cause and effect. I've been growing taller since Halley's comet started moving away from Earth! Clearly, it was stunting my growth.

"But the key thing to note is that Islamic extremists didn't start till our involvement in Israel was founded, we started putting bases over there, etc."

What exactly is your point? That we pissed them off by being involved? I believe the best descriptive term there is "duh". The actual meat of the subject is whether pissing them off was avoidable, whether the ethical, economic, and tactical considerations of not getting involved would have been acceptable, whether it is possible to disengage, and where the burden of moral responsibility lies. You appear to be arguing for America's pre-WWI policy of Western Hemisphere isolationism, but you still need to justify this position in the context of modern history. After all, Pearl Harbor and the Zimmerman telegram both happened while we were being isolationist, as has been pointed out.

Nearly every first-world country is involved in and meddling actively in the Middle East. You're going to have to do better than this, or at least explain why America is so much worse than Britain, France, Germany, or the former Soviet Union that the terrorist strikes concentrating on America were justified.

"but the "hatred for the injustice" is what applies to the America strikes and several others."

You still need to back up this statement with something that lacks a massive logical flaw. Third time's the charm, right?

"Just look at terrorism in Ireland. Its about freedom and getting the people who "invaded" (their words) out."

There are also people in Puerto Rico who think the U.S. invaded and want us out. Unfortunately for them, the other ninety percent of the population quite enjoys being an American commonwealth and some of them would like to go ahead and make it statehood. The Irish don't have quite that overwhelming majority of opinion either way, but even if they did, terrorist acts by people of one opinion would not become justifiable because they felt they were fighting for "freedom". This, as well as your following examples, is a gross oversimplification and rather a romanticization of terrorists. Frankly I'm appalled that you would consider dumping tea comparable to car bombs in the first place.

"They use tactics that would easily be declared terrorist tactics if they were not doing it."

This is not the first nor I suspect the last time I will ask you this: PLEASE PROVIDE SUPPORT, LOGIC, AND EXAMPLES.

"They are also known to have radical anti-"Palestinian" terrorists in their country."

Fallacy of composition. The official leadership of "Palestine" openly supports terrorism. This is not the same as having citizens within your nation who are terrorists. This is why we refer to Syria as a terrorist state and not Northern Ireland.

"I'm actually surprised the race card actually got pulled here."

This is a golden opportunity for you to clear up the misunderstanding regarding your possible ethnic bias by explaining why you consider Palestinian terrorism more morally acceptable than the Israeli's actions, which you still refuse to explain why you regard as terrorism.

Posted by: LabRat on September 12, 2003 02:52 PM

Siad earlier:
The middle east is not comparable to a fire that is "isolated and under control". Not at all! The Arabs have historically been empire-builders, and there are in fact many North Africans and Asains who will tell you that they suffer from Arab Imperialism far more than they suffer from American Imperialism. Furthermore, the stated goals of Islamic Facsism is the creation of a world-spanning Islamic state and the eradication of all competing paradigms. Period. How can any sane person consider such people "under control"?
---

First, past performance does not indicate future performance. In other words, because its been done before does not mean it will be done again. And there are massive deterrent against them lauching an attack against Israel, or most other nations. The closest is the Israeli nuclear threat. Israel has and allegedely continues to build a small nuclear arsenal. Yes, there are some people willing to die to destroy Israel, but the a far and away a minority. But if we are worried about the Arabs building an empire, one that same token, why are we not worried about the Japanese or the English who are historically empire builders (rhetorical question)?

And you get very close to labelling the whole of Middle East as being "facist" in the radical Islamic sense. Be careful there, because the majority of the population is not sympathetic to it, only the powerful few are and they have
control of these nations. Eventually the people will wake up and see this situation for what it is (if they haven't) and take action (which has not happened wide scale).

It basically boils down to this: are there enough people sympathetic to the world state of Islam concept to make it happen and take on the world ? Its very doubtful, otherwise we would have empire building and mass conquest.


said earlier:
If these people are allowed to have their way, Jeremy, they will eventually come after the western democracies. If Isreal is allowed to fall (as Checkoslovakia and Poland were allowed to fall to Hitler) it will only embolden them further, and give them additional resources for their jihad against the free and pluralistic nations of the west. You can't see it because you're blinded by liberal propaganda and don't have a good understanding of history, but it's true nonetheless.
---

They already have come after Western Democracy, but here in lies the rub...

They can not win this war either. And this has nothing to do with ideology, but advantage of size. Israel may fall and they may start marching across the world to Europe and America or bombing buildings, but the problem is they are small in numbers. Even if they have 10Million followers, there are billions more that would likely stop them if they start waging a war. And even if people were forced to fight (considering most don't support the world Islamic state idea), you can bet the fight would not last long as a war because desertion and protest (assuming the are not killed).

As for liberal propaganda, there is no question there is a liberal media bias, but I've seen the results of conservative media outlets and have been equally disgusted. I rarely agree 100% with the "right" or the "left."

Posted by: Jeremy on September 12, 2003 03:58 PM

Jeremy:

I hesitate to wade into this argument (as all of the other posters are doing just fine in Fisking your statements). However, your analogy that "the Middle East is a self-contained fire" has one serious flaw:

The attacks of September 11.

Prior to September 11, the US involvement in the war on terror had been to keep it at a distance. Yes, you can argue that the US entered the fray first by ousting Iraq from Kuwait in 1991. It is reasonable to make that argument, but the counter argument is more reasonable: an unchecked, aggressive Saddam Hussein would not likely have stopped at Kuwait in 1991, and our Arab allies wanted us to protect them from Hussein.

September 11 was not aimed at getting us out of the Middle East--like bombing the Cole or our embassies. September 11 was about destroying symbols of our prosperity and freedom. To stretch the analogy, it was the fire jumping off of the stove and burning the drapes,rather than staying on the stove and melting the things in the pot.

We have responded in kind, attacking those states that sponsor terrorism (Afghanistan, Iraq...Iran, anyone?). It is not preemptive to do so--it is protective. It is not "meddling" but it is looking after our best interests.

Posted by: Russ Fletcher on September 12, 2003 04:09 PM

Hey look! Another long one from GHS! Who'da thunk that?

Okay Jeremy, I DO understand the fire-on-the-stove analogy, and I do understand your reasoning on the issue. I can appreciate how it's not the fire's fault if you stick your own hand into it. So it was no great revelation to me when you clarified your point by saying, "... no, its NOT run and hide... Its keep a safe distance and keep the nose out of the fire." That makes sense. Fine.

The problem is that at this point, that's entirely academic. Even if I bought the premise that our "meddling" in the Arab-Jewish balancing act was the root cause for all our present woes (which I don't... Israel, as the sole democratic bastion in the Middle East, is a besieged nation, and worthy of the same kind of political and material support we gave England in the early years of World War II, and for the exact same reasons. It has nothing to do with backing Jews over Arabs. It's about one democracy aiding another, just like with Churchill's Britain)... but even if that WAS the root cause, that's still a moot point since (a) that's history, in the past and unchangeable, a done deal that's no longer undoable regardless of what demands or actions they take against us, (b) we did not act alone in either the creation, sustenance, or support of Israel, yet we alone (at present) are the primary recipients of Islamic fundamentalist "reprisals," and (c) we're already long past the point of "keeping our nose out of the fire." It went in a long time ago. And singed or not, saying that we shouldn't have stuck our nose in in the first place is not a solution to our present situation. And it's a SOLUTION we're looking for now.

Israel is a globally recognized, U.N.-created and -supported sovereign nation, and it won't be going anywhere. So asking it to close up shop and leave is out of the question. That's one option gone.

And as a beleaguered fellow democracy, HOW could we abandon them to all the hungry eyes that surround them? Ignoring the doom that would befall Israel, so too would our own credibility and dependability as an ally be destroyed. So THAT'S out of the question.

Decades of negotiations and political bargaining (going back at least through Carter, when I first started paying attention) have accomplished virtually nothing. So perpetuating that endless and futile little loop is apparently not the answer either. But in the meantime, the attacks are stepping up, both in frequency and ferocity. Something HAS to be done, and right now. So what IS the better solution?

I know you've said (and I quote), "... I've been studying terrorism for awhile, and I'll admit that I don't have THE answer." But the problem is that "we" (meaning "the world") NEED an answer, and right now. We need a solution NOW. And in lieu of all the failed and failING solutions that just keep sputtering along while the terrorists and their sponsors grow bigger and bolder and more deadly and more global, GW Bush & Co. have stepped up and given us a solution... an untried and admittedly aggressive one... and set it into motion whether it offends the world's sensibilities or not. But most importantly, it's working. It ain't perfect, it won't eradicate all the violent dissenters of the world for all time, and it won't reduce the number of terrorist attacks worldwide to zero... NOTHING WILL... but it IS most definitely having a telling and convincing effect on the problem, for the first time EVER.

And that's what we need.

You also said, "... So how do you stop from being burned. Stay out of the fire..." (again, a moot point at this juncture, since the hand already went into the fire) "... If the fire were spreading, you put it out..." (but what if it's not "spreading?" What if that isolated little stove fire just keeps spitting out sparks that burn and sting, and that spitting is becoming more frequent, and is burning and stinging worse and worse each time? Then it's time to do something about those nasty little grease spots that are causing all the popping and spitting) "... but here is where your analogy fails," you said, "The Middle East is not an expansionist empire like The Romans or The Greeks, the are staying put."

Au contrare, mon frere.

While the "Middle East," as a region, might not be expanding, Iraq, as a nation, has surely been trying to (hence the invasions of both Iran and Kuwait). And all the money and effort Saddam put into acquiring nuclear and biological weapons (which, I can guarantee you, were intended for use beyond his borders), as well as long-range delivery systems, tell me that he had plans that no one in the world could afford to see come to fruition. And terrorism, bred and sponsored in that region, while perhaps not exporting their attacks to American and other foreign soils for purposes of national expansion, still create the same effects as if they had... they kill our people, they destroy our property, they threaten our way of life. With the exception of actually occupying conquered territory, their actions are identical to those of an invading force, and are NOT the actions of a people "staying put." When they export their violence beyond their own borders, then, semantics aside, they are the same as an invading army. And they should be treated as one... not as a matter of principle, but as a matter of simple practical survival.

So, long story short (too late for that too, I know), we stuck our hand into that fire. Done. Can't take it back, even if we wanted to. But, regardless of whether or not we "learned our lesson" about hands and flames, that stove fire is reaching out now (even if it's not "spreading" to engulf the whole kitchen) in the form of popping sparks and spitting gobs of hot grease. And though it may mean putting out the fire long enough to clean up the grease spots that are causing all the problems, IT NEEDS TO BE DONE. Backing out of the kitchen entirely won't solve or stop the problem... it'll just put us out of reach, and the kitchen out of service.

That's just my opinion, of course.

GHS

Posted by: GreatHairySilverback on September 12, 2003 04:20 PM

"There's a whole lotta logic between your premise and your conclusion that appears to be, mysteriously, missing. In fact, on the surface, your premise ("Taken individually, the terrorist strikes against America appear to have no immediate instigation") and your conclusion ("Taken as a whole, the attacks are caused by American foreign policy") appear to be completely disconnected!"

It falls along the lines of you can't see the forest by looking at the trees. If you look at one strike, say the USS Cole, and view it as an isolated event, you will see no reason for the attack to have taken place. It will appear to be a radndom act of terrorism. Compare it to a murder scene where a person has been stabbed and there is a on marking left on the body; isolated it has no meaning or reason. But, if you look at the sring of terrorist attacks against the US, you see a pattern... That pattern could likely be one group or type of person and it you go back to when the first action by this person happens and compare it to their motives (or policy), you can theorize about causation.

Its like the murder scene with the mark. If the murder scen has a victim with a strange mark on them and you find a history of murders where the victim has the same mark and you know the motive, you can then see the motivation for that killing, missed when you isolate to just the one killing.

"Nearly every first-world country is involved in and meddling actively in the Middle East. You're going to have to do better than this, or at least explain why America is so much worse than Britain, France, Germany, or the former Soviet Union that the terrorist strikes concentrating on America were justified."

The fact is, we don't know with any certainty. If indeed other nations have interfered more and with greater detriment to the middle east, then the argument of our involvement in Israel and well as other arguments stated by the terrorists don't hold up by their own actions. The only conclusion I see is that instead of doing it based on their reasons, they are doing to poke at, throw rocks at, stab and mess with the giant in a sort of mine is bigger than yours manner.

"The Irish don't have quite that overwhelming majority of opinion either way, but even if they did, terrorist acts by people of one opinion would not become justifiable because they felt they were fighting for "freedom". This, as well as your following examples, is a gross oversimplification and rather a romanticization of terrorists. Frankly I'm appalled that you would consider dumping tea comparable to car bombs in the first place."

No one is justifying terrorism, just stating motivations. As for dumping tea being economic terrorism, it indeed is considered economic terrorism. The act of dumping the tea was illegal, was a use of force and was done to advance a political or social agenda. It satisfies the requirement of the US governments definition of terrorism.

"This is a golden opportunity for you to clear up the misunderstanding regarding your possible ethnic bias by explaining why you consider Palestinian terrorism more morally acceptable than the Israeli's actions, which you still refuse to explain why you regard as terrorism."

Actually neither is morally acceptable.

Here are several reasons why I view Israel as acting in terrorist-like ways:

Assassination: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/1258187.stm

If you note, the are targetting leaders of terrorists groups, but not arresting them, just killing them in a Kangaroo court style of judge/jury/executioner. Okay, you could argue that may be justified, but then you have things like (from the article):
"But the current strategy also targets its former partners in the peace process, who once co-operated with the Israeli security services in arresting Hamas and Islamic Jihad bombers."

Israel fires on indentified reporters (recorded by WIDE ranging sources):
http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/israel.palestine/
http://www.metimes.com/2K2/issue2002-14/reg/israeli_army_also.htm

Israel bans media to prevent oversight:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/monitoring/media_reports/1912449.stm

Bulldozes homes:
http://www.dawn.com/2002/01/11/top20.htm

Killed/Maimed civilians and peace activists:
http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/51a/index-d.html
(Jenin is still questionable)
http://www.americanfreepress.net/04_07_02/Peace_Activists_Targeted_by_U_/peace_activists_targeted_by_u_.html
http://www.tomhurndall.co.uk/background.asp
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article1248.shtml
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article1604.shtml

Just a few things there...

And to clarify, if the Palestinians did the same things as this, I would be equally angry at the for the same reason... Yes, the Palestinians are in a crappy situation, but I in no way feel the should use terrorism, but its unfortunately becoming their only method...

and the conflict there is in deadlock until both sides stop the violence at the same time and never start again.

Posted by: Jeremy on September 12, 2003 04:35 PM

"First, past performance does not indicate future performance. In other words, because its been done before does not mean it will be done again."

This is true. However, past history is often an excellent indicator of how the future is going to play out. What is your argument for why this situation is different? Radical Islam has spread all over the Mideast and into Africa and southern Asia. The stated goal of the adherents is to spread it further, turn its host nations into Islamic nations under shar'ia. What is your argument for why this will not happen if we just leave it alone?

"And there are massive deterrent against them lauching an attack against Israel, or most other nations. The closest is the Israeli nuclear threat. Israel has and allegedely continues to build a small nuclear arsenal."

I thought you wanted Israel to disarm and leave everybody alone. Are you actually admitting that they need the threat to survive at all? The Iranians have publicly stated that if they get nukes, Israel will cease to exist, nukes or no nukes.

"It basically boils down to this: are there enough people sympathetic to the world state of Islam concept to make it happen and take on the world ?"

This is how Hitler managed to spread over half of Europe before he was stopped: massive public support.

You don't NEED public support if you have a small but powerful base and enough ability to project force that the objections of others are irrelevant. Stalin's Russia didn't need the support of the average prole-in-the-potato-field, all they needed was a big and mobile military and a populace and targets that were powerless to object. That's how the Soviet Union grew to the size it did and communism spread as far as it did.

"They can not win this war either. And this has nothing to do with ideology, but advantage of size."

I guess that's why they lost the last four wars with multiple aggressive Arab nations. Oh wait... they didn't. Never mind.

And if you think that radical Islamists are few in number, you have REALLY not been paying attention. And even if they can't win, why shouldn't we stop them from doing the damage they can?

Incidentally, when are you going to justify your assertions that Israel is a terrorist state, it's obvious that the concentrated strikes on America are because of the injustices we've done, that we'd be fine if we were isolationist, and the other points you've ignored?

"

Posted by: LabRat on September 12, 2003 04:40 PM

"I guess that's why they lost the last four wars with multiple aggressive Arab nations. Oh wait... they didn't. Never mind."

Substitute "Israel" for they. That's what happens with hasty editing, d'oh.

Posted by: LabRat on September 12, 2003 04:41 PM


Jeremy: (11:34 9/11/03)

...Hippocracy because no life is more valuable than any other...

Not to be a grammar Nazi, but this is just too good to pass up. "Hippocracy" means 'rule by horses.' :) You're looking for 'hypocrisy.'

Posted by: Oregon Dan on September 12, 2003 04:52 PM

In addition to my last: Let me make clear I am not using a typo as a tactic of argument, which is about the lowest internet debate tactic. I was simply amused by it. Carry on all.

Posted by: Oregon Dan on September 12, 2003 05:29 PM

"But, if you look at the sring of terrorist attacks against the US, you see a pattern... That pattern could likely be one group or type of person and it you go back to when the first action by this person happens and compare it to their motives (or policy), you can theorize about causation."

Yes, you can *theorize* about it. But you're making the assertion as though it logically follows, and inviting the whole host of causal fallacies (post hoc, joint effect, insignificant, wrong direction, complex cause...) in the process. You're mistaking your opinion for a logical process.

"then the argument of our involvement in Israel and well as other arguments stated by the terrorists don't hold up by their own actions."

It certainly does seem implausible that a bunch of people willing to kill themselves just as long as they can take certain groups of strangers with them might not be thinking logically or acting consistently, doesn't it?

"The only conclusion I see is that instead of doing it based on their reasons, they are doing to poke at, throw rocks at, stab and mess with the giant in a sort of mine is bigger than yours manner."

There's a whole host of other possible conclusions. 1)They are lying about their real motives in order to garner political support so that world opinion never turns sufficiently against them that they'll be annihilated. 2)They are misinformed because they've been indoctrinated with "evil Jew" and "Great Satan" myths all their lives. 3)They are seeking rationalizations for their rage at how shitty their lives are compared to those of the infidels, and choosing external targets rather than their own horrible governments and pernicious cultural practices. Or all of the above, some combination of the above, or different for different terrorists. I could go on.

"The act of dumping the tea was illegal, was a use of force and was done to advance a political or social agenda. It satisfies the requirement of the US governments definition of terrorism."

I am not arguing that it is economic terrorism, I'm questioning your inclusion of the example in with the murder of innocent noncombatants who represent neither an armed threat nor an agent of the political processes the terrorists are supposedly combating. This implies enough moral equivalency to justify the inclusion in the cohort.

"If you note, the are targetting leaders of terrorists groups, but not arresting them, just killing them in a Kangaroo court style of judge/jury/executioner."

You mean like... police forces hunting down criminals at large who fight back desperately, making taking them alive too costly to try? Are American SWAT teams terrorists? Terrorists target noncombatants and soft targets. I don't see how taking down active violent criminals compares.

"But the current strategy also targets its former partners in the peace process, who once co-operated with the Israeli security services in arresting Hamas and Islamic Jihad bombers."

Yes, but a lot of "former partners in the peace process" were mostly partners in dragging out the peace process. Because they were cooperative once doesn't mean they remained that way, or were actually helpful in the earlier efforts. The BBC is officially sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, so much so that they have an established policy of spin. The reason the Israeli government banned the Beeb is that they made a hideously slanted "documentary" that repeats debunked myths, like the "Jenin massacre", which is still touted as gospel despite the fact that it's been officially acknowledged by all parties that there was no massacre and the people dying were not noncombatants. They closed their doors to reporters whose mission was blatantly propaganda and I don't blame them a bit.

"Israel fires on indentified reporters (recorded by WIDE ranging sources):"

Did you read the articles? For one, most of the shootings were with rubber bullets, a worldwide riot-control method employed during... the riots the reporters were covering. They might be deadly at close range, but all of the ones reporting about being shot by rubber bullets seem to be alive, with no mention of slain comrades. For another thing, the great thing about being a reporter is that YOU ARE THE ONE REPORTING WHAT HAPPENED. Given that Palestinian terrorist groups disguise themselves in order to get near their targets, I wouldn't bet that not all of these incidents involved reporters innocently standing around.

Finally, shit happens. I have no doubt some of these reporters actually WERE totally innocent and did not do anything to deserve being shot, but when you're standing around reporting in a war zone- or a riot, or any tense situation where weaponry is being actively used- you run the risk of catching some of it, whether or not you were being deliberately targeted. Reporters die in war zones all the time; being a journalist does not give you a magic shield, though many of them act like it. I suppose it's possible some of them were targeted deliberately, but the odds say they're the minority. Even so, My Lai did not make the slaughter of Vietnamese innocents US government policy, and even if this is exactly how the reporting makes it out the actions of a few soldiers does not make it official Israeli policy. Soldiers are trained to kill, and when you keep them in a situation where they're constantly killing and being killed for extended periods you're not always going to have total control. Again, BIG difference between this and encouraging terrorist groups to kill teenagers in the mall.

"Bulldozes homes"

The village was being used as a base for Hamas strikes. This is generally what happens when you harbor active terrorists. But I see what you mean; according to Arafat, it had been a whole three weeks since an attack originating from there! I agree it was a tragedy for those whose homes were destroyed, but it doesn't constitute terrorism.

"Killed/Maimed civilians and peace activists:"

Peace activists like Rachel Corrie put themselves in the line of fire when they do things like stand in front of large machinery below rubble which is being operated by someone who can not necessarily see or hear you. When you put yourself in danger, you might get hurt: what a concept! I agree that civilian collateral damage is utterly tragic, but IT IS NOT THE SAME AS THE DELIBERATE TARGETING OF CIVILIANS. As for Jenin, it is not "questionable", it is "bullshit". You really need to diversify your sources to include some with lighter spin.

"And to clarify, if the Palestinians did the same things as this, I would be equally angry at the for the same reason... "

I beg your pardon? The Palestinians have broken nearly every single declared ceasefire with terrorist bombings in which they DELIBERATELY target complete noncombatants. Restaurants, school buses, malls. It's not like the IDF is a low-profile presence they don't have access to, they simply prefer soft targets that they can really do damage to: children, the elderly, people grabbing an espresso before work. Why is it that you think this is acceptable because it's the "only way" they have available to fight but you think Israel is monstrous for accidentally hitting civilians while trying to stop the people sending rockets into suburban neighborhoods?

"and the conflict there is in deadlock until both sides stop the violence at the same time and never start again."

Or until the Palestinians decide the "right of return"- which would mean the eventual destruction of Israel, as Arafat has openly bragged- isn't worth the bloodshed. They've been offered their own state in treaty negotiations numerous times. They don't want it. They want Israel. And they've overwhelmingly been the ceasefire-breakers, so much so that they openly call them "hudnas" and openly admit that a "hudna" is a pause to rearm.

If you value peace and innocent life as much as you say, I really do wonder why your sympathies lie where they are.

Posted by: LabRat on September 12, 2003 05:32 PM

Incidentally, when are you going to justify your assertions that Israel is a terrorist state...
---

Look above and the links will show that actions of Israel. I think these actions are justification enough consdering these are only the ones I could find and there undoubtedly more.

Posted by: Jeremy on September 12, 2003 05:33 PM

Apologies, it wasn't up when I began the post, and as you can see I have now addressed it.

However, I note many of your OTHER assertions still lack a foundation.

Posted by: LabRat on September 12, 2003 05:51 PM

"Look above and the links will show that actions of Israel. I think these actions are justification enough consdering these are only the ones I could find and there undoubtedly more."

I've followed up on your links and I remain unconvinced that "Israel is a terrorist state".
This is in spite of the fact that the BBS and PBS links are utterly biased drivel.

Nonetheless, concluding that Israel is no more or less moral than Palestinian aggressors is surely worth a few more bouts of howling laughter on my part.

Israel has the ability to completely demolish Hamas and company and all of the Palestinians if they so choose, but do not.
The enemy on the other hand, has shown through it's actions that the only thing they are interested in is making as many Jewish bodies as possible turn cold. Israel has made and from time to time continues to make mistakes and (gasp) to even use military tactics to eliminate the main agitprops of the Palestinian terrorist organizations.
The fact that the Israeli's do not always use law enforcement tactics instead of military assassinations on the leaders of Hamas and the like do not make them terrorists. If Israel on the other hand deliberately targeted busses full of kids or pizza parlors full of college students every time they counter attacked, than you may have a point, but the fact is, they don't.

If my neighbor across the street regularly ventured over to slap my wife and bully my kids around, and I occasionally responded by punching them in the nose instead of just calling the cops, does that make me just as bad as them?

Would I be a terrorist?

Certainly not, it would make the destinction that I am human and prone to making mistakes or over reacting, but would not serve to lower me to your position.

There is NO moral equivalency between Israel and the Palestinians.

Posted by: Jon Davison on September 12, 2003 06:16 PM

"I've followed up on your links and I remain unconvinced that "Israel is a terrorist state"."

Or perhaps you are biased against such an idea. Some here stated that I am biased toward that idea, but I define their terrorist status based on my morals and their actions.

"Israel has the ability to completely demolish Hamas and company and all of the Palestinians if they so choose, but do not. "

Guilt by complacence ? If a criminal is out there (say a gang of mobsters) and you do not wipe them out when you can, is that criminal? In fact it serves to encourage them to attack because they feel as though they will not be chased down. Hmmm...

"There is NO moral equivalency between Israel and the Palestinians."

You make an assumption that everyone is operating on the same moral standard... Would that not be, as someone stated, a fallacy of composition?

And yes, they BOTH use violence and they both have killed civilians and innocent people. By some moral standards they are both equally low on the moral scale. Some moral standards are based on the belief that all violence and killing is wrong.

Posted by: Jeremy on September 12, 2003 06:29 PM

"However, I note many of your OTHER assertions still lack a foundation."

Outline them then so they can be explained and clarified... I've read through these ad-hominems and other attacks far too much, so just outline what issue you have issue with. Also, several issues and counterclaims have been addressed but not readdressed.

As well, I would need to know what y'alls definition of terrorism is because you are CLEARLY not using a definition issued by the US government or another literal definition (aka - an action which is used to coerce, force action or induce terror for any type of social, political, religious or economic cause). So clarify, and "I know it when I see it" definitions don't work.

Posted by: Jeremy on September 12, 2003 06:44 PM

" but I define their terrorist status based on my morals and their actions."

I could define you to be an eggplant if I only broadened the definition enough.

"Guilt by complacence ? If a criminal is out there (say a gang of mobsters) and you do not wipe them out when you can, is that criminal?"

You're being logically inconsistent. Under your arguments so far, Israel is an aggressive terrorist state against whom the Palestinians are lashing out for their freedom who should just go ahead and kill the delinquent bastards already if they want to be left alone.

Personally I would think them justified at this point to wipe out Hamas utterly and damn the casualties. But the POINT is, that unlike their opponents they do not see the level of indiscriminate slaughter that would require as morally acceptable.

"And yes, they BOTH use violence and they both have killed civilians and innocent people. By some moral standards they are both equally low on the moral scale. Some moral standards are based on the belief that all violence and killing is wrong."

And some moral standards are completely unrealistic and unsustainable in the real world. In the real world, we like to operate on moral systems that have a chance in hell of working without self-destructing.

WHY do you believe that all violence is equally wrong?

Posted by: LabRat on September 12, 2003 06:53 PM

"I could define you to be an eggplant if I only broadened the definition enough."

And you can lock out states that are terrorist states by narrowing the definition enough. Based on the definition of terrorism, Israel does use terrorist methods. And you claim they are legal, but the UN and the United State UN delgation would disagree. Both have denounced several actions of Israel.


"WHY do you believe that all violence is equally wrong?"

I'm not going to define my spiritual beliefs from attack as I wouldn't expect you to defend whatever religious/spiritual beliefs you have. And I could sit here and try to explicate my moral standing, but of course you would try and say how I believe the wrong thing...

Posted by: Jeremy on September 12, 2003 07:02 PM

"Outline them then so they can be explained and clarified... I've read through these ad-hominems and other attacks far too much, so just outline what issue you have issue with."

I did. Once in each post where the point was made and then ignored, and then I summarized them. But because your scroll button is apparently broken, I will reiterate:

1.Justify a policy of isolationism ("not getting involved" or "pulling your hand out of the fire") and explain why this will stop strikes against the U.S. Take modern history into account, including the Zimmerman telegram and the Pearl Harbor attack.

2.Explain without a large logical flaw why it can be concluded that the terrorist strikes against the U.S. are because of injustices done by the U.S. against the terrorist population. I am not interested in your opinion, I am interested in a logical justification, which you have yet to provide. I will not explain again why you cannot simply disregard the lack of terrorist strikes against entities that have committed similar or greater injustices, as it is still there.

These are the two big pink elephants in the living room and the only two points I really want to see you address. And I am NOT sympathetic to your whining about all the ad hominems, as you are extremely fond of them yourself. People being less than entirely nice to you does not impair your reading ability and it does not excuse you from reading for comprehension while trying to argue like a grownup. You challenged us to use logic and proper debating tactics: suck it up and return the favor. Not a single one of my arguments is BASED on the ad hominem and thus invalid; they're just a free side dish.

Posted by: LabRat on September 12, 2003 07:02 PM

I have to disagree strongly with Bill on this one. President Bush has done next to _nothing_ to end the threat to the U.S.

Within a couple days of Pearl Harbor, a _democratic_ president formally identified the enemy, and declared war against it. The goal of our military from the start was to take down the government of that enemy as quickly as possible, with the least risk to us, and maximum destruction wreaked on the enemy. Within two weeks, 80,000 Japanese were dead, 1 million homeless, and 40,000 buildings destroyed.

Bush has never declared a formal war, and as a result, many of our rights are in danger of being permanently taken away. Bush has never named the actual enemy: fundamentalist Islam. Bush has not directed our military against the governments that have produced this enemy, and has not wreaked the amount of destruction required to terminate the threat they represent.

Afghanistan and Iraq, though deserving of what they got, are not the top threats to the U.S. The top threat is Iran, because it is the ideological source of terrorism. Saudi Arabia is the number two threat, because it is the financial source. One could argue that North Korea is the number three threat.

But George Bush has done _nothing_ to terminate these threats. Indeed, he regards Saudia Arabia as an _ally_, and did nothing to help a brewing rebellion in Iran. Bush has imposed ridiculously rigid rules of engagement on our military, who are being needlessly killed daily as a consequence. Instead of telling the U.N. and "world opinion" to go to hell, like he should, he has very nearly surrendered our national sovereignity to them.

As a consequence of all this, my view is that barring a 180 degree turn by our government, we are _losing_ this war, and we should expect something much worse than 9/11 to happen before too long.

Mark Peters

Posted by: Mark Peters on September 12, 2003 07:03 PM

"I would have likely ask that there be no more bloodshed, including the war, period."

"Some moral standards are based on the belief that all violence and killing is wrong."

OK, I got it! "Jeremy" is actually Sheryl Crow! Remember, "The way to avoid war is not to have enemies."

Posted by: Pete on September 12, 2003 07:07 PM

Dictionary.com definition of terrorism: "The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons."

Israel is a state, not a "person or organized group". By definition their actions are not unlawful unless you go by "international law", which is almost never enforced and broken so frequently, often by founding members of the UN, that it is quite simply a joke. They are enforcing their own laws about not killing their citizens: if you define their actions as terrorism, you also consider every police and military force in the world terrorist.

The UN may have denounced Israel several times, but they also regard Arafat as a legitimate leader, let him give a speech with a gun on his belt, and let Libya chair the human rights committe. Their opinion is not necessarily definitive.

"I'm not going to define my spiritual beliefs from attack as I wouldn't expect you to defend whatever religious/spiritual beliefs you have."

Really? Because I'm quite willing to, as I feel every belief and opinion I have needs SOME sort of justification to expect other people to take them seriously. Even religions have internal theological logic and peer review. If you're going to use your spiritual beliefs to explain why the world should behave as you ethically see fit, at least have some sort of justification other than "that's just what I believe". There's two thousand years of ethical philosophy to draw on if you need help.

Go ahead and explicate it. I respect and admire integrity and logic. I haven't insulted you because you disagree with me- I have several friends with whom I have massive ideological differences- I've insulted you because you accused us of being illogical, while you seem to suffer from an allergy to logically justifying your own central arguments.

Posted by: LabRat on September 12, 2003 07:12 PM

"And yes, they BOTH use violence and they both have killed civilians and innocent people. By some moral standards they are both equally low on the moral scale. Some moral standards are based on the belief that all violence and killing is wrong."

The problem with this stance and pacifism in general is that everyone in the world, every single human being, must believe exactly the same thing you do, infallibly, otherwise it all collapses like a house of cards. Reality dictates that, not my personal opinion.

If everyone doesn't and the gene pool continues to hemmorage bonafide rejects like the Husseins every so often, than you and those who think like you must rely on the efforts of better men to continue to assure you and your loved one's ability to draw the next breath.

You've said all you need to Jeremy, I'll waste no more of my time or effort to make rational arguments with you, you seem to be immune to rationality based on your spiritual beliefs.

Posted by: Jon Davison on September 12, 2003 07:49 PM

"There is NO moral equivalency between Israel and the Palestinians." -- Jon Davidson

Thank you, sir. Clear. CRYSTAL CLEAR.

Jeremy: please,
you're embarrassing yourself,
EMBARRASSING YOURSELF, over and over.

Posted by: Dan Pursel on September 12, 2003 07:51 PM

I have to take serious issue with a trend I am seeing everywhere since 9/11, and that is the definition creep of the word "Terrorist."

Two elements traditionally define terrorist activity. First, they do not wear uniforms. This may seem trivial, but is actually profound.

Uniforms identify an individual as a combatant. What does this do? It identifies EVERYONE ELSE as a NON-COMBATANT. By terrorists not wearing uniforms, they are essentially trying to camoflage themselves as non-combatant civilians, and thus endanger THEIR OWN CIVILIANS by making them harder for the oppposing side to identify.

Spies operate the same way, which is why during WWII, for example, a British commando captured blowing up a Nazi bridge IN UNIFORM would be spared as a POW, while the same man in civilian clothes would be shot as a spy. Terrorists do not therefor deserve the same protections as legal combatants.

The second quality that defines "terrorist" is their target selection. They strike civilians to cause as much fear and TERROR as possible. By purposely targeting the defenseless -- enemy noncombatants -- they also forgo protection under the accepted rules of war -- rules enacted precisely to minimize the extent of civilian casualties.

My point is this: Isreal cannot be a "Terrorist Nation," because their soldiers 1. wear uniforms and 2. target enemy combatants. They also show a great deal of restraint and effort in minimizing enemy civilian casualties. Anyone who doubts that the IDF is incapable of "winning" by total destruction of the palestinians is deluded. They could wipe them out to the last man. They do not. There is a word for this kind of behavior, and this kind of nation, and that word is CIVILIZED.

Jeremy, you cannot call Isreal or the IDF terrorist. You may try to call them brutal, or even genocidal if you wish, but to call them "terrorist" is an insult which also happens to be completely baseless and shows a real lack of understanding of the term you came in here as an "expert" on.

Posted by: Bill Whittle on September 12, 2003 07:57 PM

Bill, as wonderful as always. Deeply grateful for all your efforts.

As much as I admire the patience, restraint, erudition and debating skills of all those responding to 'Jeremy,' I have to ask, don't you have anything better to do? What an exercise in futility. You may as well be talking to the wall. Such willfull ignorance and deliberate obfuscation is seldom amenable to reason and fact.

Posted by: Jon, Imperial Hunter on September 12, 2003 08:00 PM

"Dictionary.com definition of terrorism: "The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.""

---

I wish use THE definitive source for the definition of terrorism. This is from the Second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary.

"2. gen. A policy intended to strike with terror those against whom it is adopted; the employment of methods of intimidation; the fact of terrorizing or condition of being terrorized. "

Terrorism is what is say it is, the use of terror or terrorizing to coerce. The Dictionary.com (what are their credentials BTW) definition is a restricted version of the standard defition. And yes, the OED is THE standard dictionary.

Then you have Merriam-Webster's definition:
"the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion"

And this from the Cambridge A.L. Dictionary:
"(threats of) violent action for political purposes"

Even on Dictionary.com (if you actually looked lower), there are these entries:

"the systematic use of violence as a means to intimidate or coerce societies or governments"

"The act of terrorizing, or state of being terrorized; a mode of government by terror or intimidation. --Jefferson."


Therefore, by these standard and accepted definitions of terrorism, the actions of Israel are indeed terrorist-like.


"They are enforcing their own laws about not killing their citizens: if you define their actions as terrorism, you also consider every police and military force in the world terrorist."

Hmm, if threat of violence or bodily harm is used as a tool of coercion by those people, it is terrorizing.

This is the problem. You are willing to label one group as using terrorism because it fits the standard definition (al Qaeda, Hamas), but if another group fits the definition (Israel rules by instilling terror) and you feel they are terrorists, then they aren't?

Posted by: Jeremy on September 12, 2003 08:12 PM

Actually, I think Jeremy is really JoshMedia incarnate.

Some months ago, JoshMedia "debated" endlessly on a couple of sites, against all discussions to the contrary, that Japan would have surrendered if we had just given them "some time", and that the use of nuclear bombs was totally unnecessary to prevent the need for an invasion force.

The form and "substance" is just too, too familiar. Jeremy = JoshMedia.
Be a man, come clean.
And the Draconian discussion degenerates dramatically, eh ?

Posted by: Dan Pursel on September 12, 2003 08:20 PM

"The second quality that defines "terrorist" is their target selection. They strike civilians to cause as much fear and TERROR as possible. By purposely targeting the defenseless -- enemy noncombatants -- they also forgo protection under the accepted rules of war -- rules enacted precisely to minimize the extent of civilian casualties."

You have just now legitimated some actions that are now categorized as terrorist, such as "cyber terrorism", "eco terrorism" and "economic terrorism". These people do no target people and act to cause loss of life. Your definition Bill fails to account for all types of terrorism and focuses on one type making it incomplete.

And like I've posted. If you read the standard definitions of terrorism, you will see your definition is incorrect. If you want to argue that, call them.

"They could wipe them out to the last man. They do not. There is a word for this kind of behavior, and this kind of nation, and that word is CIVILIZED."

Actually its fear. If Israel wiped out the Palestinian people, you can rest assured that countries like Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabi, etc will be marching toward Israel and devistate them. And they know that.

Posted by: Jeremy on September 12, 2003 08:23 PM

"The form and "substance" is just too, too familiar. Jeremy = JoshMedia.
Be a man, come clean.
And the Draconian discussion degenerates dramatically, eh ?"

And now the conspiracy thoeries pop out... This is getting better and better.

I can assure that I (a) have no clue what you are talking about and (b) am not this person you reference. Is it hard to believe that there are people out there who think alike and think differently than you do ?

Posted by: Jeremy on September 12, 2003 08:25 PM

Jeremy (JoshMedia) says:
"If Israel wiped out the Palestinian people, you can rest assured that countries like Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabi, etc will be marching toward Israel and devistate them. And they know that."

Please. It did not work before (OK, once it ALMOST did). It will not work now. They know they are no match for the IDF. And they know who has the nuclear trump card.

Israel does not wipe out the Palestinians because they want the US to continue to be on their side.
Period.

Posted by: Dan Pursel on September 12, 2003 08:32 PM

1.Justify a policy of isolationism ("not getting involved" or "pulling your hand out of the fire") and explain why this will stop strikes against the U.S. Take modern history into account, including the Zimmerman telegram and the Pearl Harbor attack.
---

Actually there is a problem with attempting to do something like that and I'm surprised that you unaware of it. Attempting to justify isolationism with regard to this new type of "warfare" (GWB rightly called it a new type of warfare) by using arguments based on an older, conventional style of warfare would undoubtedly be fallacious.

2.Explain without a large logical flaw why it can be concluded that the terrorist strikes against the U.S. are because of injustices done by the U.S. against the terrorist population. I am not interested in your opinion, I am interested in a logical justification, which you have yet to provide. I will not explain again why you cannot simply disregard the lack of terrorist strikes against entities that have committed similar or greater injustices, as it is still there.

As for this, I am formulating the response.

Posted by: Jeremy on September 12, 2003 08:35 PM

Israel rules by instilling terror!? From where exactly do you come up with this particular piece of drivel. You've been trying to convince us that Israel is a terrorist state, but you've done NOTHING but pull out the dictionary and try to loosely slide Israel under the definition.

Israel's actions are defensive in nature. There is no public statement from the Israeli government proclaiming their wish to eliminate and/or terrorize the Palestinian people. Where is the irrefutable evidence which proves Israel's purpose is to strike terror into Palestinians? Either come up with better stuff than what you've posted before or defend your links from Bill's and Labrat's attacks.

Posted by: Shiva Archon on September 12, 2003 08:37 PM

"I can assure that I (a) have no clue what you are talking about and (b) am not this person you reference. Is it hard to believe that there are people out there who think alike and think differently than you do ?"

Jeremy, sorry, I accept (b), you are not JoshMedia. My Bad.
But it does prove your last point. Nothing wrong with that. Many people think alike and also differently than I.
Including my wife. Makes life interesting. {:^)

Posted by: Dan Pursel on September 12, 2003 08:41 PM

"Actually its fear. If Israel wiped out the Palestinian people, you can rest assured that countries like Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabi, etc will be marching toward Israel and devistate them. And they know that."

It's morally acceptable for Arab nations to cause Israel to fear for its very existence? I thought you just denouced Israel for terrorizing the Palestinians? Why the double standard?

Furthermore, Israel would wipe the floor with Syria and Egypt. Saudi Arabia wouldn't touch Israel because doing so would torch relations with the United States. Once again, Israel has NEVER stated their aim is to eliminate the Palestinian people, so why do you automatically believe this is Israel's ultimate goal?

Posted by: Shiva Archon on September 12, 2003 08:41 PM

"Israel does not wipe out the Palestinians because they want the US to continue to be on their side."

Wait, it was just sad the aren't wiping out the Palestinians because the have restaint and now you are saying the don't wipe them out because they don't want to lose US backing ?!

One is being altruistic and proper while the other is being self serving. While not mutually exclusive, they don't work well together.

So which is it ?


"Please. It did not work before (OK, once it ALMOST did). It will not work now. They know they are no match for the IDF. And they know who has the nuclear trump card."

Are you so sure that their nuclear weapons would serve to deter them, or anyone else for that matter, from taking on Israel for committing genocide if they wipe our the Palestinians? And even if Israel has nukes, are you so sure that they would use them. Doing so would certainly be putting the nail in their own coffin.

And even though Israel has a large and powerful military, is it really strong enough to withstand an attack from the many other nations of the Middle East?

Posted by: Jeremy on September 12, 2003 08:42 PM

"It's morally acceptable for Arab nations to cause Israel to fear for its very existence? I thought you just denouced Israel for terrorizing the Palestinians? Why the double standard?"

Wow, that's a load right there... No one stated its "morally" acceptable, just that Israel has to be in fear of the retaliation of wiping out Palestine.

"Once again, Israel has NEVER stated their aim is to eliminate the Palestinian people, so why do you automatically believe this is Israel's ultimate goal?"

That's the problem with hypotheticals, some people take them completely wrong.

Both of your statements are trying to X from Y when Y is not even addressed or mentioned.

Posted by: Jeremy on September 12, 2003 08:50 PM

Jeremy, I think you're getting a bit overwrought.

"Are you so sure that their nuclear weapons would serve to deter them, or anyone else for that matter, from taking on Israel for committing genocide if they wipe our the Palestinians?"

Which is it ? "OUR" or "the" Palestinians. Freudian, eh ?
Let your fingers do the walking for your mind.

"And even though Israel has a large and powerful military, is it really strong enough to withstand an attack from the many other nations of the Middle East?"

Yes. "Paper tigers" is the phrase that comes to mind.

Jeremy: sorry, enough of the flaming. I feel you're probably very sincere with your beliefs.
I quit. The ballgame is ins in the 6th inning.

Posted by: Dan Pursel on September 12, 2003 08:51 PM

Correction of above:

Both of your statements are trying to X from Y when X is not even addressed, mentioned or entertained.

"You've been trying to convince us that Israel is a terrorist state, but you've done NOTHING but pull out the dictionary and try to loosely slide Israel under the definition."

Also, If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like it duck, the its not a duck ?

Hmm, the (regular, non radical) people of Palestine are afraid of Israel because of their excessive use of force via missiles and tanks... You make people afraid of you by acting one and therefore you control by terror.

Posted by: Jeremy on September 12, 2003 09:00 PM

"Which is it ? "OUR" or "the" Palestinians. Freudian, eh ?"

Actually, I meant "out", not our. I'm actually not "Palestinian" or related to them. The family tree is rooted those democratic socialist coountries in Europe.

The typo is because the mind is far faster than the finger. ;)

"I feel you're probably very sincere with your beliefs"

Yes, I sincerely believe that the problem can be solved, but there are better and yet unknown ways to achieve peace... At least I hope there is for the men and women in the service, law enforcement (I'm heading to this one), etc.

Posted by: Jeremy on September 12, 2003 09:06 PM

Right, I'm knocking off for the night. Friday night should be spent in the company of sex, drugs, and rock and roll rather than keyboards and politics.

Back in the game in the morning if it hasn't been called.

Posted by: LabRat on September 12, 2003 09:12 PM

I spent a lot of time in the US military, Jeremy, and a certain portion of THAT time as a member of the Air Force's special forces. I went through a lot of schools, back to back to back, as fast as they could stuff me through them. I never saw actual combat, but I got thoroughly drilled on all the tactics and techniques they used, including a little time in the mock city (for urban warfare) at Fort Lewis in Washington State.

And I can tell you this... we not only used tactics that were similar to the Israelis, we used tactics that we'd LEARNED from the Israelis (I could tell you some great stories about our airfield assault exercises that followed in the wake of the Israeli commandos' highly successful raid on that hijacked aircraft in Entebbe, Uganda... because we SUCKED at it). We trained like crazy, often using Israeli methods as examples, to ensure (or at least to strive for) surgical precision in our operations, with an absolute minimum of collateral damage, which often called for aborting an assault just because of the excessive risk to surrounding civilians and property... just like THEY did.

The point is, WE use the same tactics the Israelis do. Any effective, modern military does. And since, by your definition, Jeremy, THEY are terrorists, then apparently WE must be terrorists too... and thereby, logically, I too, personally, am a terrorist. Apparently, because you place Israel on an even par with bomb-wearing, baby-blasting, suicidal, yowling extremists, you also place the US military, and thereby ME, in that same category as well.

Good to know.

You need to leave now, Jeremy.

If you REALLY can't tell the difference between the two... if you can equate the two on ANY level, even through the quibbling semantic differences of several different dictionaries... then you are lost and unreachable, not to mention insulting to those who CAN tell the difference. A surgeon is NOT the same as the cancer he excises, just because they both, by definition, "kill." Nor is the person who shoots a rabid dog.

As Bill just said, "... You may try to call them brutal, or even genocidal if you wish, but to call them "terrorist" is an insult which also happens to be completely baseless and shows a real lack of understanding of the term you came in here as an "expert" on."

Time to retire this whole line of discussion, because more than just your credibility has now been blown to shit.

Good night to everybody else.

GHS

Posted by: GreatHairySilverback on September 12, 2003 09:18 PM

I said goodnight, but .....
'Actually, I meant "out", not our.'
Accepted, understand.

"Yes, I sincerely believe that the problem can be solved, but there are better and yet unknown ways to achieve peace... At least I hope there is for the men and women in the service, law enforcement (I'm heading to this one), etc."

As an old man, all I can say to ....
"law enforcement (I'm heading to this one)"

Godspeed, and I hope you can keep your idealism long enough to retire, but I'm afraid I'm extremely pessimistic.
Peace, and Good Luck in the future, Dan

Posted by: Dan Pursel on September 12, 2003 09:19 PM

Just some random responses to various topics discussed in the last 100 or so posts.

1) The Palestinians. According to demographers, the Palestinian population will be LARGER than the Israeli population in about 20 years. This is genocide? Israeli "terrorism?"

2) The BBC. Every time I hear someone quoting a story by The Beeb, I think of Monty Python's Flying Circus, and Eric Idle's voice telling us that "The BBC would like to apologize for the next announcement." During WW2, the BBC could be counted on to relay information that would help the Allied forces against tyranny. Today they seem to be doing all they can to stand in the way of those same forces. For my money, they have no credibility anymore. They rank down there with Dan Rather and Katie Couric.

3) The War. While it may appear to some that nothing is being done, I trust my instincts. Specifically, the ones that tell me that there's a LOT of stuff going on in the world about which we know absolutely nothing. Several months after the war, we know almost nothing about the Special Forces units that were in Iraq long before the war began. All we hear are a few things on various talk radio shows and the occasional website. Rest assured, these forces did herculean work in paving the way for the success of the war, but it will be years before we know how much they really did. We didn't know about ENIGMA machines for years after WW2, either. Military secrets, don't'cha know. In the years to come, the spy novels that will be written about this era will put anything by Ian Flemming or Tom Clancy to shame.

4) Jeremy. This poor fellow has been Fisked to within an inch of his life, so I won't add to the dogpile. But it is interesting to note that thanks to his posts (asinine as they may be), we're fast approaching a level of user participation that we only see when Bill posts a full-blown essay. It reminds me of the heady days, before everyone was online, when local BBS's were all the rage. By all means, let's keep the party cooking.

TOGA! TOGA! TOGA!

--Dave

Posted by: VRWCman on September 12, 2003 10:22 PM

Mr Jeremy

Lift me of a doubt. Why are you caring so much for the Palestinians (under 10,000 dead) and so little for the South-Sudanese (2 million dead and rapes on a massive scale)? Because they don't friends with oil or because they are black?

Posted by: JFM on September 12, 2003 10:39 PM

GreatHairySilverback spake thusly:

"If you REALLY can't tell the difference between the two... if you can equate the two on ANY level, even through the quibbling semantic differences of several different dictionaries... then you are lost and unreachable, not to mention insulting to those who CAN tell the difference."

You are assuming an equivication that based on a single shared property.

Essentially what you are saying is this:

1. XYZ person is a terrorist (a person who uses terror for gain)...

2. Some terrorists are evil (evil terrorists exist, duh)...

3. Therefore, all terrorists (people who use terror for gain) are evil...


That error is by taking an unrespresentative sample. You are looking at one specific group.

And I can list one instance of good terrorists, such as the people who dumped the tea at the Boston Tea party. And while its an exceptional case, it shows that some terrorism can work for good.

The problem here is this... Some of you are stuck on a stereotypical view of "terrorist", ie a person who is hell bent on killing people just to make some point... If that's the only way you see it, its because you fail to understand the FUNdamental and basic meaning.

Or another way...

Saying all terrorists are evil because some target civilians exclusively is just like saying that all cholesterol is bad because some kills. Truth is, soldiers in America don't target civilians and try to minimize civilians deaths as best as they can and some cholesterol is good. In the case of Israel, yes they try to minimize civilian deaths in helicopter strikes (which have been excessive at times), but there have been videos (unfortunately I can't share them over the internet) where Israeli forces have shot reporters lying on the ground repeatedly after they had gone down. There have been times Israeli forces have blocked medical aid to people regardless of which side the aid comes from and let people die. Peace activists and UN vehicles has also been targetted after clear identification. These indictments have been verified by several sources and observers. And while the BBC and PBS report them, the fact that the events happen has nothing to do with who reports it.

Just remember, once you get beyond the hang up of the stereotype of "terrorism" and "terrorist," you can differentiate.

Posted by: Jeremy on September 12, 2003 10:47 PM

Responding to:
"Lift me of a doubt. Why are you caring so much for the Palestinians (under 10,000 dead) and so little for the South-Sudanese (2 million dead and rapes on a massive scale)? Because they don't friends with oil or because they are black?"

It hasn't been mentioned because it was not brought up. WE have been discussing the Middle East conflict, but if you want to bring up African, sure, I'll address what you've said.

Standing by my belief that all lives is equal, I am equally disgusted by the deaths of the South-Sudanese, along with the female babies disgarded in China, those killed in the Genecide of Bosnia, etc. I'm also disgusted by the deaths of people in America due to inadequate health care, by people starving over seas, and the exploited children in Asia and abroad... Shall I go on ?

You making a false assumption that just because I didn't mention it, that I don't think it matters. You could be no further from the truth.

Posted by: Jeremy on September 12, 2003 10:57 PM

Wonderful essay Mr.Whittle,

I remember in the days emediatly after 9/11 I expected large scale conflict here, I expected to be drafted and see combat in my home State, I don't think anybody could accuse me of being an optemist, instead we are "handing them their ass." I can't say that I always support President Bush, I'm a Democrat for blank sake, but I don't think any President could have done a better job in two years. Thank you for giving me some perspective on where we are now two years later.

As for all the posts here in the comments section, its given me a lot to think about, mostly it makes me hesitate to post for fear of "The Wrath of .com".

Here goes anyway,

We have alliances in the middle east and if we don't back our allies to the hilt then the treaties we sign are just so much waste paper and our word is no good. Isolationism is historicaly a no good policy, America's experiance during the early stages of both world wars is a good example, the cultural stagnation in the Communist States (USSR, China, Cuba, North Korea, and so on) seems to me another good example. I don't think the fire analogy is quite right,fire can't make decisons it just is, it's more like being in a house with a burglar, the burglar chose to break down your door. That isn't quite right either but then again analogy works only so well.

Maybe us being there did piss them off, but in no way shape or form did us being there make them attack they consieously chose there method of response. I beleive the 'myth' that they attacked us because they can't stand our democracy and freedom, of course they don't think it quite like that we're the "Great Satan" to them, they know that our Nation is the greatest threat to their distorted image of the Muslim paradise. So what if the war in Iraq was "meddleing" in their affairs, if you push somebody out of the path of a bus then you're "meddling" in his affairs but his response will likely be the same as the Afghan and Iraqi response so far "Thanks".

Posted by: Tim on September 12, 2003 11:21 PM

Sum it up Jeremy. You've had two posts for everyone elses, and now all you are doing is responding to paragraphs posted in response to your previous paragraphs.

We've heard nothing new, not to mention interesting, from the first. Make a point and call it a day. I think 33 posts has been enough for you to make whatever point you think you are making.

Posted by: Bill Whittle on September 12, 2003 11:50 PM

Hey Jeremy, I couldn't help but notice that your "definition of record" of the word terrorism, coming from OED, is actually the second definition they give. What's the first definition they give, and why didn't you quote that one? Less supportive of your point?

Since I don't have a copy of OED I await your posting of the OED's #1 definition of "terrorism" eagerly.
JKS.

Posted by: JKS on September 13, 2003 02:10 AM

Oh, NOW I see!

The Israelis are terrorists, but because there are degrees of terrorism, we can therefore choose to think of them as GOOD terrorists instead, just like the Good Terrorists who tossed the tea into Boston Harbor. Or, if we're NOT big fans of the Israelis, then we can go for lesser degrees of goodness, like say Medium Chummy Terrorists, or maybe Okay-Most-Of-The-Time-But-Occasionally-Ruthless Terrorists. But however you class them, the key thing is THEY'RE STILL TERRORISTS.

I see now.

Well, since MY point (of my previous posting) still remains unchallenged (about how, by comparison, the U.S. military... and therefore ME... is also, by your definition, "terrorist"), I guess the only question then is "what kind of terrorists are we?" And by extension, "what kind of terrorist am I?" (thank God there are different levels!)

I guess we were Bad Terrorists at Kent State (since that was clearly government policy in action, and indicative of military procedure in general), but Good Terrorists when we patrolled the streets of Miami after Hurricane Andrew. It's probably tough to tell whether we were good or bad terrorists in Vietnam... the political issues were so muddy then. I guess we were just like Well-Intentioned-But-Misguided Terrorists for that one. Or were we Just Bad Terrorists because of the isolated incidences of inhuman conduct.

The point is that, thanks to your "FUNdamental and basic meanings" of the word "terrorist" (which, as you pointed out, I just don't understand), I can rest assured that we in the military ARE in fact all terrorists... it's only a question of degree.

Wow, you managed to insult every person who ever served in the military (of ANY nation), as well as devalue not only all the good work ever done, but the very word "terrorist" itself. "Terrorism" now apparently means "ANY application of force or coercion for ANY cause or intention."

(sigh)

Why am I bothering?

"Terrorism," as referred to here (before you came along anyway), and as commonly used EVERYWHERE when referring to the actions of the Palestinians and those of like ilk, means "the application of PHYSICAL VIOLENCE against INNOCENT NONCOMBATANTS to further a political, philosophical, or religious agenda." Period. We're not talking about "economic terrorism" or "racial terrorism" or "sexually biased terrorism" or "spiritual terrorism" or any other "FUNdamental or basic meaning" of the word. And we're not quantifying these physically violent acts with any shades of gray. They are all BAD acts. Perhaps this is more of a colloquial usage of the word "terrorism," rather than an official, spelling-bee-winning, FUNdamental and basic variant, but for that very reason, it is the meaning that EVERYONE USES... and you know it. You know what people mean when they refer to other people as "terrorists," all this semantic quibbling aside. So when you call the IDF... and its methods, and its members... "terrorists," on a par with their Palestinian (and other fundamentalist Islamic) opponents, you insult every member of every military or police organization in the world, AND completely devalue the word "terrorist" in the process (since it could now apply to just about anybody, including you, if you ever poked a bully in the nose for messing with your younger brother).

You need to stop while you're only this far behind.

Jesus, I've gone beyond beating THIS dead horse. Now I'm flogging at the greasy spot where it used to lay.

I'm done.

GHS

Posted by: GreatHairySilverback on September 13, 2003 05:27 AM

TWEEEEEET!!!

Everyone - time the f*ck out!

This discussion is godawful pointless and just a lot of he killed/she killed nonsense unless all y’all actually slow up enough to get a grip on what war is and isn't and what terrorism is and isn't. Let's see if I can do this and be as succinct as GHS. ;-P

Use of force between organizations falls into two categories, deterrence and compellance. Deterrence is the use of the threat of pressure to influence another party's actions. In other words, it makes the costs of a course of action outweigh the gains. Compellance is the application of pressure on an opponent to influence their actions (rather than the threat of pressure).

In this sense, warfare is a very specific subset of communication in which deadly force is used in either a deterrent or compellant role to influence behaviors of an opponent.

Good so far? Ok.

In any strategic contest, the contest may be either symmetric or asymmetric. In a symmetric contest, both parties are choosing to prosecute the contest of wills on the similar terms and in the same arena (e.g. Syrian and Israeli jets slugging it out over the Bekaa valley in '82). In an asymmetric contest, opponents choose to engage each other on dissimilar terms in the hopes of obtaining a decisive advantage in the contest of wills. The current Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an example of this - Israeli AH-64 attack helicopters performing strikes against Hamas leadership targets versus suicide bombers blowing up cafes. Another example of a warfighting asymmetry was the use of longbows at Agincourt to defeat French knights. Or the use of bulls to repell the Spanish invasion of the Azores. Or the use of nukes to creat a shock and awe effect in the Imperial Japanese government. Historically, asymmetric conflict has been far, far, far more common than symmetric conflict.

Ok, I just cut a whole lot of history out here. But even I get tired of my bloviations.

By the dawn of the twentieth century, two things had come to light - soldiers fought soldiers on the battlefield and soldiers attacked means of production behind the front lines (sort of like the distinction between tactical and strategic bombing). It is important to note, however, that even then creation of civilian casualties (collateral damage) was never considered an objective, in and of itself. People were attacked directly with the intent to kill individuals when they were soldiers, while behind the lines, attacks were centered on production.

As conventional warfare has become much more lethal in the last several decades, sensitivity to collateral damage has become much higher (in the conventional warfare arena). First, with the increasing lethality of modern warfighting, the entry cost for those wishing to fight a conventional symmetric war has gone through the roof. No longer can you convert a tractor factory to a tank factory and produce tanks with a prayer in hell of standing against top-line armored formations. As a result, the gulf between the combatant and non-combatant has increased in modern armies. Combined with the ability of modern weapons to start racking up body counts, civilian casualties have become a very, very big no-no.

So people have resorted to pursuing more asymmetric responses, such as low-intensity, low-tech conflict (like VietNam), low-intensity, high-tech conflict (like the no-fly zones and "cyber terrorism"), and high-intensity, low-tech war (like Congo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, et al.) These asymmetric responses have in some cases dropped some of the traditional conventions of warfighting.

Part of this has been the advent of terrorism. Now we all are more or less familiar with Guerilla Warfare, in which either troops or irregulars conduct high-mobility attacks on military forces. That's considered fair game and part of the cannon of modern warfare.

The new twist is terrorism. Terrorism has been around for a while (e.g. Jewish terrorist attacks during the British occupation of Palestine). State-sponsored terrorism, however, didn't really come into its own until after 1967. It became a mechanism for states who recognized their marked conventional warfighting inferiority to continue to prosecute war through proxies against various targets. (Guerrilla warfare carried with it a much higher risk of evolving into conventional war, which is just the thing some states really wanted to avoid).

What makes terrorism such a hot-button issue is that it violates two of the "customs" of modern warfare. First, the practicioners do not distinguish themselves as combatants. That is frowned upon, but happens, as in VietNam or Somalia. Second, they target civilians for the simple sake of killing civilians. That too is frowned upon, as in Rwanda, Kosovo, East Timor, et al.

Terrorist attacks are a form of compellance that directly, with forethought and intent, does two of the "don't do" things. Full stop.

Why do we get so darned exercised about it?

Because in this particular asymmetry, we "play by the rules" we try to make sure our soldiers marked clearly as combatants and we try to avoid collateral damage. The "bad guys" try to make their combatants blend in and have no, and I mean absolutely none whatsover, concept of collateral damage as being distinct from intended damage.
One can see how this clearly gets some folks rather exercised.

But here's the kicker, while we continue to prosecute our strategic conflicts according to "the rules" - the other guys don't, but are held as being equally moral in the prosecution of their grievance.

The reason this is bad is the kind of human behavior we saw in the Pacific in World War II. Originally, American soldiers both felt that they were able to surrender and accept surrender if the situation demanded it. Just like in Europe or North Africa.

After the, ahem, "cultural misunderstandings," that attended surrender in the Pacific, the entire theater essentially went to a "Take No Prisoners" status for both sides. In other words, an asymmetry or prisoner treatment very quickly developed into a symmetrical treatment.

Taking that historical analogy, those supporters of terrorists may very well encounter the day that the U.S. cares as much for civilian Arab casualties as the Palestinian street cares for the dead of 9/11. That, clearly, will result in a losing strategy for the Middle East and Islam as a whole. While currently the entire Arab world has a GNP lower than that of Spain, the U.S. spends roughly 45% of the world's defense budget. If the terrorists' insensitivity to civilian targets doesn't change (and they consider paying U.S. income tax a sufficient reason to kill you) then this does stand some chance of metastasizing into a something that will look a hell of a lot more like genocide than the many on the Arab street can possibly even begin to fathom.

And not because westerners are racists or this that and the other, but simply that every time one opponent adopts an asymmetrical approach, they damned well better understand that their opponent may choose to break that asymmetry and may just do it better than you. And don't scoff, that very same mechanism is exactly what kept the Cold War cold, chemical weapons out of World War II.

So - at the end of the day, quit wasting time with dictionary definitions of terrorism. It doesn't matter which dictionary you use, 'cuz neither are worth a flying damn. And if you use the term, use it properly and don't give me any of this bullcrap about Israel being a terrorist state - evil, maybe, but not terrorist.

Second, terrorism is not evil, of itself, any more than a cruise missile is evil. Likewise, terrorism may not be an effective, smart or worthwhile way of purusing one's goals, anymore than a cruise missile.

Finally, who in the international arena, is right or wrong, is an argument of navel-gazers of generations yet to come. Who has a chance in hell of succeeding is a lot more important.

Posted by: Anticipatory Retaliation on September 13, 2003 07:58 AM

OH, yeah, in the day late, dollar short deparment...

WILLIAM - liked your post a lot, and certainly enocurage you to come by more often and share your opinions. They're well thought out and expressed. Even if I don't agree.:)

Seriously, if you have the patience for it, stick around.

Posted by: Anticipatory Retaliation on September 13, 2003 08:02 AM

Anticipatory Retaliation (BravoRomeoDelta), you'da man.

That may have been long (look who's talking), but it was a great read. Educational too. Thanks.

GHS

Posted by: GreatHairySilverback on September 13, 2003 08:57 AM

JKS: The following is the first definition given. Its is considered almost obsolete and sites on specific example:

1. Government by intimidation as directed and carried out by the party in power in France during the Revolution of 1789-94; the system of the ‘Terror’ (1793-4)


As for these discussions regarding the meaning of terrorism and terrorists, once again it goes to the argument of black and white, either you are or you are not (a logically fallacious argument). If it is so chosen to narrow the definition down to a epcific set of people you do eliminate whole classes of bahviour that are LEGALLY considered terrorism, IE the punching the guy in the nose. Anyone familiar with the law is familiar with the the term terrorizing.

Coming here has taught me alot. Most people really don't know what body of behavior terrorism enbodies and that terrorism has many forms, which indeeds shows a total lack of understanding for the ENTIRE concept, and focus on a narrow subset of it. Fine, you and others want to think like that, you are entitled to do so, but if you want to "correct" it, change the definitions and make the definition FIT the interpretation, not vice versa.

To the lot of you, I'm done here. I've banged my head against the wall long enough and know when its a waste your time and, infinitely worse, a waste of mine now. The supporters of war will always find "reasons" for full scale, conventional war (like long gone WMD) and keep the unending war on terror going. Hopefully someone comes with wisdom and fresh ideas and figures a better way than we are going because the way we are doing this certainly is not the best way. The body count, the bottom line and the morale of the people will tell is several years...

Thanks for the diversion...
J

Posted by: Jeremy on September 13, 2003 11:36 AM

Jeremy -

Assuming that you'll actually be back to read my comment...

I'm really sorry you feel that way, and was rather hoping that you'd share your view on terrorism as a discrete operational approach, versus the use of terror in violent conflict. I suspect that you're looking at terrorism more as a political tool, while my understanding tends from more of terrorism as a set of warfighting tactics.

At any rate, something that you do touch on obliquely but not directly is that much of the behavior of the Israeli settlers to American engagements with the Native Americans centuries ago would still class as terrorist tactics. That's the very reason that "freedom fighters" and "militants" are terms that I feel have no operational significance.

Furthermore, I suspect you are quite well aware of distinctions in targeting priorities as they relate to choosing civlian versus military targets. Or the death of people through deliberate action versus incidental casualties.
It is a shame that your thoughts on this as well have been engulfed by the specific focus of this thread on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The fact that some of your last statements like:

Standing by my belief that all lives is equal, I am equally disgusted by the deaths of the South-Sudanese, along with the female babies disgarded in China, those killed in the Genecide of Bosnia, etc.

show that that you are certainly capable of contributing effectively and equitably in a larger, more general discussion which would be beneficial to us all.

Even if you are, at times, a bit snarky in doing things like suggesting that your time is infinitely more valuable than mine, your discussion about a best method of fighting terrorism, verus simply an adequate method for fighting terror I think does speak highly of your intent.

So, if you do feel compelled to wander back this direction to do your part to ensure that this forum is not simply an echo chamber for incestuous amplification, please consider this my invitation to do so.

Elsewise, cheers, and thanks for stopping by.

A. Retaliation

Posted by: Anticipatory Retaliation on September 13, 2003 12:12 PM

Dear AR:
A brilliant exposition on asymmetric warfare. Thank you for taking the time to share it. If only posters the web over could frame their arguments as clearly and compellingly what a bright world this would be.

Here is a question - do you think we would adjust our way of life to attacks on civilians the way the Israelis have in order to preserve the rules of engagement that became entrenched during the Cold War, when that strategy served both sides well, or would we change the rules as you suggest might happen? While reading your post, I realized that we, the US, define the rules and that Israel obeys them at least for now. The question that needs to be answered is do we want to win? Or do some parts of our society benefit from a protracted period of uncertainty and fear in our lives? While others would rather die than fight. In other words, what would it take to change our strategy from one of deterrence to one of compellance?

Posted by: socalgail on September 13, 2003 01:57 PM

Bill-

Thanks for the quick, thoughtful read. Keep it up.

Everyone else-

Don't you wish Jeremy would have mentioned pacifism in his first comment? Because, I don't know about all of you, but I totally agree with him that pacifism is what the world needs... as long as all would-be pacifists are Ghandi and all of their opponents, the English.

But it takes two to tango. And what Islamist (note the distinction from "Muslim") has ever indicated a desire to be party to a peaceful solution?

I mean, come on, the guy brought up Jenin, of all things! "...the bodies of those 450+ innocent civillians are here somewhere, I know it... it's a war crime because I say so, dammit..." Jenin is one of those touchstone events that has turned up the despicably anti-Israel sentiments of the media, most of the UN, and for those of us in college at the time, the liberal elite. I think it serves as a microcosm of the whole conflict: 1) Israel hits a strategic target with at least some success 2) The media focus on any possible negative aspect of the hit, writing headline stories when 3) Palestinians claim innocent civillians were directly targeted even though 4) Only a short while later, a flood of evidence shows that the Palestinian sources are deliberately lying and, sadly 5) The media completely ignore the ramifications of the truth, and conveniently overlook their own overeager reporting of early anti-Israel speculation as fact.

Sorry for the tangent rant. I think Jeremy could have brought something useful to the discussion if he tried to make a smaller argument and thought it through, instead of trying to mow down the capacious swath of ideology that he did. Further, claiming to be a student of terrorism, citing "several articles," did not help his case.

Mark

Posted by: Mark Gunderson on September 13, 2003 02:28 PM

One shining light, to ease the shadows of the night.

Congratulations, Bill, another great essay on a subject much distorted in todays "Brave New World." A subject, a tragedy, suborned to advance tyrannous agendas.

Reading it, I sat back to mull something that's been bothering me for a couple of weeks: a story about the advantages of "School Vouchers" for inner city students, in the Houston Chronicle.

This story appeared in the "City and State" section, within the last month, and, supposedly listed the advantages of education in alternate schools. However, the picture illustrating the spotlighted school should have shattered anyone's misperceptions. It was a picture of someone walking down a hall in a local Montessore School with a series of inspirational signs overhead, marching into the darkness ahead, which may be indicative of the nature of the light at the end of the Tunnel.

The first two signs were out of focus, but, the third stood out in stark and shocking relief: "Sell the Shadow for the Substance"...the essence of Lenins instructions on the distribution of Propaganda.

Gordon

Posted by: Gordon DeSpain on September 13, 2003 02:31 PM

Thanks everyone, for a great and entertaining read. I suspect this same sense of frenzy and anticipation of spattered blood and body parts is what made the Colliseum such a succes for Rome, and keeps the underground pit-bull and fighting cock breeders rolling in Susan B. Anthonies (Okay, *YOU* try figuring out the proper plural form!)

Seems like this session showed the value of having a persistent "adversary" for the debate. Jeremy's dogged refusal to concede, or take a breather to reflect upon the exchange and calmly weigh the merits of new perspectives had the wonderful effect of inspiring a number of people to go to great lengths to marshall their thoughts, facts, and arguments to reach him. Other readers reap the benefit, even if poor J is not ready.

I'm coming to feel increasingly that any ability to sort through these issues requires a few decades of adult experience and long access to a wide variety of information sources. There is a need for knowledge of history, of different cultures, and particularly a need to understand the tools of disinformation, distortion, and damn lies used by extremists on all sides.

The references to classic debating gambits ("straw man," "ad hominem," etc.) have been helpful, and I may not be the only reader who would appreciate a reference to some online discussion for further reading.

Penn and Teller, the celebrity magician duo, hosted a great broadcast show on magic through the ages a few years back. One of the points they made was that there have always been a few magicians about whose goal was subversive. They wanted the audience to begin to consider how readily they had their perceptions manipulated to accept the "trick" as real, and maybe they would be a little more skeptical of attempts at manipulation by others with more sinister purpose.

We could use a lot more of that.

David March
animator & fiddler

Posted by: David March on September 13, 2003 03:13 PM


"Make a point and call it a day. I think 33 posts has been enough for you to make whatever point you think you are making."
Bill Whittle

Jeremy left because our host asked him to. Which I think is proper etiquette, don't you?

Posted by: socalgail on September 13, 2003 05:13 PM

Jeremy, for someone who claims to have "studied" terrorism, you are remarkably enthusiastic to show your ignorance.

You seem focused on Israel. Interestingly, Al Queda's focus has largely been away from Israel. Israel has occupied only a small fraction of the writings of Osama Bin Laden and most of that in just the more recent justifications for his terror campaign against the West. Relatively little of his resources went to attacking Israeli related targets - and again more of those Israeli related attacks ( such as in Africa ) were in only the last few years.

Al Queda is a movement that is based on a particular radical interpretation of Islam and its view of the "correct" Islamic regime. It is not focused mainly on redressing the Palestinian question.

So we can conclude with great confidence that it wasn't your "studies" of terrorism that led you to your anti-Israel screed.

Posted by: Robin Roberts on September 13, 2003 05:50 PM

Somehow I admire the spirit of resistance that Jeremy seems to display, even if his grammar is less than perfect and his ideas are just contrarian self-righteous drivel. I think he deserves a little leeway for not individually answering the myriads of arguments with which he was flogged.

He reminds me of, well, us - except for the fact that he happens to be a moron.

This blog is one of the very few places in which we are not hopelessly outnumbered. I'm young. I'm surrounded by commies. When I seek refuge from them, I encounter the religious nuts. It's ridiculous. But I still argue and I still laugh and I still know more history than all of them combined. The other day I encountered a certain Saddam-apologist who thought Islam and "muslimism" were different religions.

Gentlemen, the situation is very simple: we're screwed. We cannot possibly win. We are surrounded by people who are too stubborn or stupid to accept freedom. But we're going to fight, with words where possible, with bullets when necessary. God forbid it should come to that.

Some of you are more optimistic than me. Good for you.

... I'm sure I began with a relevant point, but I just ended up depressing you. I'm sorry.

Posted by: Lord Duppy on September 13, 2003 06:14 PM

Looks like there's no longer a point in or a need for my re-engaging, so I won't.

David: Logical structure and fallacies

For my own thoughts...

I enjoy debate tremendously. Arguing with a skilled opponent, without rancor or other personal feelings coming into it, is probably the greatest single pleasure in my life. If I sound cranky in these threads, it's because I find it enormously frustrating when my opponent won't go according the rules as I know them. It's like playing a game of pickup basketball only to find that the other player either doesn't know or doesn't like the rules of the game you know as "basketball", and insists on carrying the ball around with him, pushing you back from the basket, or leaving the court at random.

So, I enjoyed the alternative perspective Jeremy offered- much less boring than a plain old lovefest- but I would have been much happier (and much less bitchy) had he consented to argue based from concrete reasoning, a central thesis, and faced up to counterpoints rather than going from emotion and undefined spirtual convictions.

Posted by: LabRat on September 13, 2003 06:46 PM

And socalgail- Bill didn't ask Jeremy to leave, he asked him, in essence, to shit or get off the pot; either make his points and counterpoints or concede.

Posted by: LabRat on September 13, 2003 06:48 PM

Lord Duppy wrote: Gentlemen, the situation is very simple: we're screwed. We cannot possibly win. We are surrounded by people who are too stubborn or stupid to accept freedom. But we're going to fight, with words where possible, with bullets when necessary. God forbid it should come to that.

Some of you are more optimistic than me. Good for you.

... I'm sure I began with a relevant point, but I just ended up depressing you. I'm sorry.

*********************************************
A couple of hundred years ago John Paul Jones said: I have not yet begun to fight

*********************************************
I think that says it better than I can

Posted by: Tim on September 13, 2003 07:21 PM

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of my nephew's death. So many people are still mourning their loved ones lost on 9-11. So many more are mourning the loss of their loved ones who died defending our country. Me, I'm trying to decide how I can possibly make it through tomorrow. The day. The phone call. Trying not to hear the words. I had a party dress all laid out and I was trying to get everything ready -- then the phone call. The preparations, the flight to my sister's side, the wounded and the dead.

And we had a body to bury, my friends. We had a child who was fought over desperately (he drowned in a boating accident that nearly claimed all their lives.) But the mourners of 9-11 -- they had no bodies to bury. They had nothing to put in the coffin but shreds of flesh, a stained coat, cups of filthy dust.

To read over Jeremy's posts is to despair. How could he compare a uniformed combatant to the unspeakable creatures who killed little girls and pregnant women on 9-11? How could an American describe a Palestinian homicide bomber in approving tones?

Every time I hear of an innocent who is murdered by a filthy terrorist, I think of how it was to bury my little child, my nephew. I think of what it is like to start the day with hopes and dreams and end them with horror and despair.

I'm glad for the what we are doing, dear Bill. You are right in all you say. But there are terrible people out there, and apologists for them. What agony for me to read Jeremy's ignorant, hateful posts.

And tomorrow I still have to make it through the day. How can I? How did the survivors of 9-11, whose loved ones were murdered?

They'll make it. I'll make it too, with God's loving grace. But I will never forget. I will never forget.

Posted by: Bonnie on September 13, 2003 09:21 PM

To Bonnie, today, on your sad anniversary...

Best wishes and warm thoughts, after reading your eloquent little missive above. And good luck to you as well.

I've never lost anyone close to me. 3 of my 4 grandparents departed this Earth while I was stationed in Germany for four years (all natural and separate causes), but I hadn't seen or even communicated with any of them in years, and I wasn't there for their declines, demises, or final rites. So nothing about it touched me. My father-in-law finally succumbed to his cancer just a couple of weeks before the infamous 9/11, but he was such an irrascible, curmudgeonly character, that his departure came as more of a relief than a loss... for everyone, including his wife and (I believe) himself.

But there was one event that did manage to reach me... I was standing at "ground zero" at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, on August 28th, 1988, during their annual "Flugtag" ("Flight Day" or "airshow") when the Italian stunt team "Frecce Tricolori" (the "Tri-colored Arrows") collided over the runway, and one of the beheaded and burning aircraft fell into the crowd right in front of me. I watched that aircraft slam to ground and bounce, shedding wings and wheels into the air, flinging great arcs of burning fuel over our heads, then rolling through the crowd like a burning log. I was standing about 35 yards from where the tumbling machine suddenly jammed to a stop, snagged between two refrigeration trailers. And I stood there while blistered, scorched, screaming people ran past me, some of them with their hair melted to their scalps, running away from the carnage on the airfield behind them while a rain of airplane parts continued to pelt the ground between them.

It was the worst airshow disaster in history... 45 people died instantly that day, hundreds more were injured. And before it was all over, another 30 would succumb to their burns and injuries. To this day, Germany has not staged a single airshow since. That was the last one.

I bring this up NOT because of what it meant to me THEN (surprisingly it never really registered with me emotionally... just a wierd sort of dark "awe," accompanied by an embarrassing sense of impotence as I ran around, from one downed person to the next, having absolutely no idea what I could possibly do to help people so badly burned... especially since the emergency crews showed up within less than 2 minutes and basically shoved any non-injured people out of the way)... but because of what it meant to me AFTER 9/11... after I could imagine (or THOUGHT I could imagine) what the overwhelming scale of the carnage must have been like. THEN I began to feel something.

But "MY" disaster, unlike the events of 9/11, was at least an accident. So I could keep my head focused on the exigencies of the moment, and not be swallowed up by the emotional "awfulness" of it. But with 9/11...

You know, it's wierd, but I think I was bothered less by the thought of those who perished in or beneath the collapsing towers than I was by the thought of those who rode those airplanes in. No, I shouldn't say "bothered less"... I should say that I was bothered MORE by the latter than the former. That's more correct. And I think it's because those were the people who had to look into the eyes of the madmen, who had the TIME to contemplate their doomed situation (and yes, I know there were plenty of people trapped on the top floors of the WTC buildings that had to endure a similar inexorable march to their doom)... but the thought of what it must have been like to watch a "hijacker" slit the throat of a stewardess "just to make a point"... what it must have been like on the flight deck, to be one of the pilots as some crazed bastard barged through the door and started hacking and slashing with a knife (I'm presuming here that he used a knife).

Oh my God, the RAGE that washed over me, that still washes over me today when I think about that.

Those creatures were not "soldiers" for any cause. They weren't even martyrs. And as far as I'm concerned, they were beneath even MY definition of "terrorists." These were wretched, hateful THINGS. These were murderers, MASS murderers, who personally, with their bare hands, killed innocent people IN FRONT OF other innocent people, who were themselves the next to die, and knew it.

Just like Uday and Qusay in their little basement dungeons. Just like their miserable "father," who bred, instilled, promoted, and was doing his best to spread this despicable way of interacting with the world. And just like every student of his "teachings."

There is no bargaining with these "things." There are no concessions, no negotiations, and no forms of diplomacy that they recognize as anything more than the weak begging of inferior species. And for them, force... coercion by firepower... WAR... is the only language they understand. Right by might. That's the only currency of their mindset and their sub-culture. That's how THEY got where they are today (or WERE yesterday anyway, before WE came along), and that is quite simply the only "convincing argument" that they will ever accede to, usually at the cost of their miserable lives.

So as you said, Bonnie... and as many have said before... I'm damned GLAD we're doing what we're doing. Not because I'm a warmonger... I've been at the tip of the spear, and during Reagan's more "provocative" years of goading the Soviet Union too... and the last thing in the world I want is to put ANY American in a life-threatening position like war. But NOTHING ELSE WILL EVER GET THROUGH TO THESE CREATURES.

Diplomacy may placate their national leadership, and work out a wonderful balance of power and property among nations over there. But that will not stop the sheer, bone-deep, life-long HATRED that the individual perpetrators of these kinds of deeds still possess. And neither will just killing those individuals who've already acted with violence against us (those that haven't offed themselves in the process anyway). We need to go after the roots... the havens, the sponsors, the organizers, the breeding machines.

And that's just what we're doing... using the only form of coercion that they'll even listen to, that they believe in... namely, that "might makes right."

It stinks. It's not the kind of thinking that we, as Americans, share, despite what our global image might imply. But it's like fighting the Terminator... a whole BUNCH of Terminators... stupid, inefficient, self-destructive, blind, hateful Terminators. There will simply be no reasoning with them, no matter how much we might WISH there was.

I'm not calling for the total destruction of all Palestinians, or Syrians, or Libyans, or Sierra Leonians, or any national populace as a whole. I want just the terrorists of the world... the murdering shitbags, and their sponsors, and their teachers... run down like the dogs they are, and eliminated. Period. Unfortunately, as Anticipatory Retaliation pointed out, by their own tactics, they tend to blend into their respective populations. So until someone can figure out a way to definitively comb out the rif-raf from the uninvolved population, there's likely to be some unwanted collateral damage. But it's either that or do nothing at all. And that we can no longer afford. And not just US either.

As the famous quote says, "The only thing that evil needs to triumph is for good men to do nothing." And "talking" to murderers and their creators is exactly the same as doing nothing.

We are doing the right thing, and we're doing the right thing RIGHT.

(*whew*) Got that off my chest just in time for Bill's next essay to push this comment stream off into the archives. Good thing too.

Sorry for the rant, folks. And it ain't even late at night.

GHS

Posted by: GreatHairySilverback on September 14, 2003 08:45 AM

GHS,

Kinda funny that you mention the 88 airshow.

In this whole, angry v. not angry or soldier v. scum, I have to say that I have a great deal of "respect" for the 9/11 hijackers.

Their plan was well concieved operationally (although it was a bonehead manuver strategically) and well executed. For that, I have a certain measure of "respect".

I wouldn't cheer or laugh if I saw them lit on fire before my very eyes. I would obtain no grim satisfaction or some inner peace or sense of accomplishment. I just don't think I would trouble myself to put them out.

It's kind of like getting back at a toaster or getting even with the flu or being gleeful about a reasonably satsifying bowel movement.

I don't hate them, because they've excommunicated themselves from the family of man. They aren't subhuman. They aren't below me. They aren't above me. They just aren't of me.

No, I might not extinguish them if they were on fire in front of me. Then again, I might if they might be a source of intelligence or might be useful publicity if captured alive - but my umbrella of human compassion just doesn't extend that far.

Posted by: Anticipatory Retaliation on September 14, 2003 09:11 AM

Another good one Bill.

Reading the debate above, I think a lot of people don't know the history of what we did to Japan. We decided to attack the "basic economic and social fabric of the country". In other words, we killed Japanese civilians until they had had enough.
For example, on the night of March 9-10 1945, we dropped around 1,700 tons of fire bombs on Tokyo. Around 16 square miles of the city were destroyed and over 100,000 people are estimated to have died in the "fire storm". This was just one raid and by July of that year, we were dropping 42,700 tons of bombs a month.
And then we used nuclear bombs on two cities.
http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Tokyo_in_World_War_II

This is what can happen when someone pisses off the US enough. I am not suggesting that we should do this to the Mideast, but another 911 and public pressure may demand it.

I think President Bush deserves a lot of credit for the way he is fighting this war.

Posted by: Sam Hall on September 14, 2003 09:38 AM

Sam,

You touch on an important point, but maybe not the one you intended to.

A lot folks in the moral equivalency crowd love to point out parallels between carpet bombing and 9/11. The one thing you allude to in your post was that the bombing campaigns of the twentieth century have been essentially campaigns against warfighting ability, rather than purely collateral. Secondly, in all of the cases of world war II, just about all of the civilian casualties (with the notable exception of the Holocaust) stemmed from a set of logical warfighting decisions about how to destroy the opponent's ability to fight a war.

What chafes my hide (personally) is that the 9/11 WTC attacks were most assuredly non-critical targets (and even poorly executed at that). They weren't out to stop us or hurt us as much as they were placing an advertisment.

If, God ever forbid, the U.S. decides that casualties are a worthy end, in and of themselves, then all bets are off.

Posted by: Anticipatory Retaliation on September 14, 2003 10:01 AM

I disagree. I think they thought that 911 would make us pull out of the Mideast. After all, we did not do much about their other attacks except retreat. Shows how little they understand us.

In my mind, the biggest problem we have is Saudi Arabia. We don't dare go anything that would cut off that oil supply because the world would go into a very bad depression.

Posted by: Sam Hall on September 14, 2003 11:49 AM

SoCalGail,

Thanks for the kind words, I really appreciate them.

The whole thing about the creation and breaking of symmetries is whether one or both parties feel that a given pattern of interaction is more or less successful than another course of action. It is entirely possible that the current pattern of conflict might just be a preferable one for the U.S. and Israel.

In the current setup, attacks in Israel, loathsome and despicable as they are, may also not necessarily be particular effective means of influencing the Israeli electorate. For sake of argument, it might be that some system of completely stopping suicide bombing might result in Palestinian adoption of much more effective and devastating tactics. By way of example, consider the German switch from bombing airfields to London in the Battle of Britain. It resulted in a much higher human cost, but was a much less successful strategy.

It is important to recognize breaking and creation of symmetries, however, is seldom a rational, conscious process. Towards that end, the effectiveness of the attacks is much less relevant than the perception of the effectiveness of the attacks (or defense) and whether or not it results in a shift in the mode of conflict. I think this is what the dear, departed Jeremy was trying to allude to – but I’m not certain.

At any rate, most of the time (in current western theory), shifting from deterrence to compellance means you (or someone else) screwed up. (Compellance and deterrence can exist side-by side in the same war, but that’s an issue for another day). So switching to a compellance format doesn’t always have a direct correlation with winning. Had Kennedy and Kruschev adopted a very strongly compellant mode of conflict resolution over the Cuba spat, odds on I would be more concerned with things other than waiting for Bill’s essay.

So bearing in mind that, plus the possibility that this might actually be a fairly advantage for the terms of conflict, it is entirely possible that continuation of the current rules of engagement might just be the smartest way to skin this cat. Might not. Beats me – that’s all stuff way above my pay grade.

But, aside from that dodge, the question of how one fights the war, is that all other things being equal (and with some really big exceptions) I usually prefer the option of taking the “offensive” and being the symmetry breaker, simply because it allows you to be, on some level, the guy with the initiative. Now patterns of controlling the conflict don’t always map to patterns of warfighting, but real generally, if you can adapt to an enemy’s strategy quicker than they can change it (or respond to your adaptations) then they are in deep trouble most of the time. We (the west, the U.S., carbon-based life-forms, or Cubs fans) customarily aren’t able to exhibit the kind of control (or gather the kind of information) that permits us to retain a strong grip on things at the Grand Strategic Level, so kicking over the termite’s mound always has the possibility of stirring up the hornet’s nest (sorry, couldn’t resist the terrible grinding together of metaphors).

I realize this doesn’t answer your questions fully, but I’m not enough of a Israel-Palestine expert to feel really comfortable about making those kind of suggestions without a bit more than just a gut feel and TLA approach to Palestinian policy creation.

As to what it would take to shift American attitudes sufficiently that we would become as darned happy about dead Arabs as they some seemed to be dead waitstaff, janitors and folks visiting the WTC, well, hmm… At a guess, is that we would have to be pretty convinced that genocide was just the only way to go – which would be a pretty hard sell in the U.S., but not impossible – we were relatively OK with it during the Cold War. A sense that all other options were doomed to be ineffective and any less drastic measures would not earn us any sort of respite or reprieve.

At a more practical level, if you start hearing about soldiers in Iraq being strung up and flayed alive, you might see a little bit harsher measures taken in peacekeeping. Groundpounders tend to take things like prisoner treatment pretty seriously and have been known to formulate policy responses on the fly without going to DC to write White Papers and attend panels on prisoner treatment.

For Joe Sixpack to start reacting the same way, you’ve got to sort of get them in to GI Joe’s headspace. In other words, Mr. Sixpack has to feel that this really is a battlefield (and not in the way that we all piss and moan about the Terrorism Battlefield, but a bit more of the Antietam or Dreseden without borders kind of way). Between that and a sense that the other guy won’t play by the rules, then you might see a shift in our Rules of Engagement in the WOT.

Frankly, I hope we never do. Simply because the preconditions for such a change in attitude are just way to grim to contemplate.

Hope this answers your questions (at least after a fashion).

A.Retaliation

Posted by: Anticipatory Retaliation on September 14, 2003 01:42 PM

Anticipatory Retaliation,

Well said, except you left out the kicker: "You cannot negotiate with Evil."

But, not knowing more about your personal history, I don't know if you've walked th' ground, talked to, worked and lived amongst the people, the Arabic people.

They do not want to defeat us, they don't want to conquer us, they want to wipe us from the face of the Earth, along with Israel.

I've walked the ground, talked to the people, lived amongst them, stood toe-to-toe with known terrorists, and, spit names in their faces...thus gaining a measure of their respect.

I understand how they think, and, how they fight: in order to defeat them, you have to launch an assault, and, continue it until there is no-one left to fight (including the general population). If you worry about collateral damage, you just blinked. This is the major mistake that the Bush Administration is making, they're trying to negotiate a "Roadmap to Peace" when the road is not there, it has never existed.

I don't hate them, I don't even dislike 'em because I know too many I consider friends...even the terrorists, who continued to work with me and for me, for several years, in Syria, Saudi and Algeria...Al Hamdilallah ("such is the will of Allah,"...more or less, "such is life").

Our sub-contractors in all three places had major ties with Palestinians and the Bekaa Valley, and, we had little choice in the matter. These were the choices we were presented with, and, like drag racing, you run what you brung.

Until we deliver a crushing defeat on the order that they would inflict, there will be no victory. When the survivors are slaughtered or carried off into slavery, then they will understand that they can't win (slavery is still an arab tradition, even in Saudi).

Gordon

Posted by: Gordon DeSpain on September 14, 2003 03:25 PM

To Anticipatory Retaliation...

Another good read. Although you and I diverged on a couple of points (I CAN and do HATE those bastards... the actual perpetrators, that is... you might not put them out if they were on fire, but I'd be at the front of the line holding the Molotov Cocktail), I once again enjoyed and learned something from the rest.

To me though, the kind of creature that would slit a stewardess'es throat in front of a planeload of doomed and innocent people is precisely the same kind of loathsome diseased garbage that would break into someone's home, and slit the throat of the baby-sitter right in front of the kid's eyes. Ideology or no, there cannot be a justification for that kind of action. That cannot be deemed acceptable under any circumstances, whether it happens in the Middle East, high over New Jersey, or in a gated community in Middle America. It's their actions, not their birthplace, that makes them reprehensible and indefensible.

And I'm sorry, but for all the respect and appreciation I have for your commentary and viewpoints here, it's NOT "... kind of like getting back at a toaster or getting even with the flu or being gleeful about a reasonably satsifying bowel movement." Just like a bite from a rabid dog, it's not the "fault" of THOSE things that they cause the damage (or good) that they do. Hurricane Isabel is on its way to beat the hell out of the east coast right now, and I wouldn't get mad at THAT. But the sub-human drooling evil that took over those planes did so consciously, gleefully, proudly, and utterly ruthlessly, and there is no place for them on this planet. They cannot be placated or reasoned with or rehabilitated. And from creatures for whom life (including their own) means so little, we can expect to be preyed upon for as long as we continue to grant them the status of equals.

I can appreciate your "umbrella of human compassion," I really can, and though I don't agree with it, I can understand what you're saying about how "... they aren't below me. They aren't above me. They just aren't OF me." (my caps) I can buy that ethic in probably 98% of the cases of human interaction... but to me, the events of 9/11 fall into that little 2% category that's left over. I can see that you're not blindly pacifist, and that by knowing and heeding history, you recognize what has to be done and what the long-range picture needs to be. I am just unable to accord them the same "respect" (quotes included) that you do.

I DON'T think their plan was ingenius, in concept OR in execution. I think it was gallingly simple, both to conceive and to enact. All it took was the complete abandonment of their humanity to take that leap. It required no special tools or weapons, no special training (they didn't NEED to take flight lessons to do what they did)... it didn't even require the TIMING they adhered to. That was just for affect, and all it took was making flight reservations. No, all that was required was the will to do it. And they probably just got the idea from reading Tom Clancy's "The Debt." (yes, now I'm exaggerating... sorry).

In addition, from all I've seen and read, their plan WASN'T well executed. There is some evidence to suggest that there were several other flights that had been similarly targeted, but that were thwarted by the air traffic control shutdown (a feat of which I am most proud, even though I had nothing to do with it). And of the four targeted flights that WERE engaged, one was thwarted by its unarmed passengers, one missed its target (the White House) and had to "settle" for a secondary target downrange (the Pentagon), and one of the two WTC aircraft nearly missed ITS target, barely catching one corner of the building, and only after bending the aircraft around through a last-second high-G turn. And in the recordings of Osama bin Laden that were later acquired, even he confessed that he hadn't expected the buildings to actually fall down.

All these things, plus the murderous disregard for human life exhibited by the perpetrators and their planners, allows me not the tiniest inkling of respect for them or their schemes.

But then that's me.

(*sigh*) Anyhoo...

I was curious about one thing though... you started off your post with the sentence, "Kinda funny that you mention the 88 airshow." But then you didn't explain that. Or I missed the explanation. To what were you referring?

Well, I just proofed this little missive of mine, and I don't THINK it sounded angry or hostile toward you... just to THEM. But if it came across that way, please allow me to apologize in advance.

And to Gordon... I can dig where you're coming from, dude, about working with and befriending these kinds of "people" while you were in the Middle East (I spent a little time in Oman myself). But I gotta' tell ya', personal friend or not, if I ever recognize one of them as a wanted terrorist as he's walking down the street, he's going down.

I don't carry a gun though, and I don't want to damage my P.T. Cruiser, so I'm just going to have to dial 911 on my cellphone, I guess.

Cheers all. And keep up the great work.

GHS

Posted by: GreatHairySilverback on September 14, 2003 04:53 PM

GHS,

Please...don't misunderstand me. You feel no more loathing for the creatures that assaulted America than I do. I can't even call 'em human, they're programmed, soulless Bionic Robots, for whom no human compassion can be spared.

Like you, if I saw one of those who planned and participated in that mission, in whatever capacity, it wouldn't matter how many bodyguards were around him, I'd go for 'im with total focus and point of aim. I'd wade through a thousand bullets for the privilege of putting one in his brain. Better yet, in his Gut, because my Ruger P95DC is loaded with RBCD Performance Plus Platinum Frangibles, and, it would blow his intestines out his anus.

Hopefully, I'd have one breath left to whisper in his ear, "Suffer...bitch."

Gordon

Posted by: Gordon DeSpain on September 14, 2003 06:29 PM

Just reading "Happy Anniversary" helped me tremendously as I continuously said "right on" to just about everything our friend Bill wrote. Then on to the comments here several days later and wow what a continuing education I got. I consider myself fairly well educated but some of you folks make me feel somewhat slow in my own thinking. Thank heaven for little Jeremy whose frantic fingers got more out of control as each post appeared.

Perhaps his opening "Hippocratic" was actually a warning about the horse s**t which would follow. But it was all fun, educational and most importantly helped me cement my views even more firmly as the various posts built solidly on Bill's original thesis. You folks are wonderful and your willingness to share and discuss bode well for the future of the blogosphere.

Posted by: Roy on September 14, 2003 07:33 PM

Hee-hee-HEE! Amen, Gordon. Don't worry, I never doubted you for a second.

And speaking of "seconds," I second Roy's opinion as expressed above.

And to Anticipatory Retaliation... I really DO agree with and enjoy just about everything you've written here. Always an education. Thanks.

Oh, and by-the-by... LabRat... ever since you called me an "idealist" a few hundred comments back (a concept I'd never considered before), it's been festering in the back of my mind like sun-ripened mayonnaise. And dang it, I'm starting to think you just might be right.

And I hate that.

All right. Enough of the lovefest. Somebody go find Jeremy and bring him back here.

GHS

Posted by: GreatHairySilverback on September 14, 2003 08:15 PM

Since Jeremy's no longer participating, I thought I'd share my own thoughts on isolationism and interventionism.

Isolationism may or may not be a good idea, depending on the circumstances. But, after an alliance has already been agreed to, isolationism is not such a good idea (unless you expand the territory being isolated to yourself and your ally). Once you've been attacked, retreating into isolationism is the best way to encourage your attacker.

Also, any neutrality must be armed neutrality, preferably heavily armed. Unarmed neutrality, which is what certain idiots brought us in the 1930's and early 1940's, is a good way to get into serious trouble.

Your solution seems to be:
Leave Israel (an ally for 50 years!) to work out it's problems on it's own. Get out now. Run back home. Then everything will be fine.

Actually, that would be a mind-bogglingly stupid thing to do.

Isolationism may or may not be a good idea - before you are attacked. After you're attacked, retreating just encourages the bastards. So, no, abandoning Israel would not work.

I figure we'd have been a lot better off if it had never been created in the first place... we should have invited those Jewish refugees to the United States of America, which has had a long history of welcoming oppressed and displaced peoples from all over the planet, rather than trying to establish and defend them in the Middle East, which is one of the last places I'd pick to establish people I cared about.

But that's a done deal, and it's too late to back out now.

So (following your train of thought),

1) I guess we shouldn't have gotten involved in GW1. We should have just let Iraq rape, pillage and rule another country. It's none of our business.

Sure, if we felt like buying all our Middle Eastern oil from Iraq, and watching it develop nukes. On the other hand, a Saddam Hussein that we hadn't attacked might be more friendly to us than the Saudi Royal Family, and less friendly to terrorists. Or not.

In any event, attacking a foreign power and then letting it loose to regroup and come gunning for revenge is just asking for trouble. Germany should have taught us that lesson 60 years ago. I'd say we probably took the worst of all possible courses there.

2) We shouldn't have invaded Grenada. Those Americans there had it coming for just being there. They're on their own.

Grenada probably didn't make too much difference either way.

3) We shouldn't have bailed out the French and fought communism for 10 long years in Viet Nam. Just let communism take over (Everywhere). It's just easier and we wouldn't have lost 50K brave American soldiers either. We shouldn't have put bases in Britan, Germany, Italy et al to keep the Soviet Union at bay either. What a big waste of money!

In a nuclear standoff, the outcome of ground skirmishes becomes far less critical. Winning or losing South Vietnam wasn't going to make the Soviets more or less willing to have a nuclear exchange over California.

Giving them Europe would have given them the means to keep going for years longer than they did. The significance of this is related to the risk of a nuclear exchange occuring over that time period. I don't know what that risk would be, and I doubt that anyone has any real idea. Was our survival of the Cold War just dumb luck, or was MAD really rock-solid? I don't have any idea.

In any event, I think it's clear that the draft did a lot more harm than good all around, and getting rid of it contributed quite a lot to our long-term military readiness.

4) We never should have helped out South Korea. "Don't take sides". Let South Korea handle it. I'm sure it would have worked out for the best. I hear things are going swimmingly in North Korea these days. What were we thinking!

South Korea might yet turn out to be a useful launching point for the Final Showdown with North Korea, which seems all too likely to sell nukes to terrorists.

5) We shouldn't have backed the British and the French back in 1941. They're on there own. They need to work it out "amongst themselves". After Pearl Harbor, we should have tried to understand why they (Japanese) would do such a thing.

They would do such a thing because they wanted to build their empire without us interfering. They chose the the most spectacularly counter-productive method available for bringing this about.

Letting them get away with it was definitely contraindicated. (See above)

As for sitting out WWII (assuming no Pearl Harbor), we might have gotten away with it if (a) the Russians crushed the Germans without our help (they took about 70% of German casualties anyway, but used lots of our equipment to do it) and preferably bled themselves white doing so or (b) we developed nukes before the Germans could take Russia's equipment and Britain's navy and turn it against us.

But with the stakes so high, that sort of risk definitely wasn't worth taking.

6) Same goes for WWI.

I'd say out of all the conflicts listed above, the case for sitting out WWI is by far the strongest.

If we'd sat out, the Kaiser probably would have stayed in office. He'd definitely have ruthlessly crushed any plot by Adolf Hitler to overthrow him, and no one outside Germany would ever have heard of Hitler.

The Kaiser might also have taken care of the Soviets for us. We might have helped him out, or we might have sat back and watched. Either way, the Soviets wouldn't have had a prayer against him without our support, and we certainly wouldn't consider the Soviets the lesser of two evils compared to the Kaiser!

Also, the Germans could hardly have managed the old Ottoman Empire worse than the British did. We might have avoided the Islamist terrorist problem that we currently face. Or they might still exist and habitually set off bombs in Berlin (which, remember, would be directly ruling them, and probably wouldn't be inclined to leave). Or they'd bedevil us, which they do now anyway.

So I really don't see any upside to joining WWI, or any downside to sitting it out.

Posted by: Crazy Eddie on September 14, 2003 08:34 PM

Thanks, GHS,

Strange how many people think I'm kiddin' or bragging. I didn't spend most of my life learning to fight, without gettin' my face shoved in a lot of "mud, th' blood and th' Beer." Not a few of those fights started with a remark, like, "My...aren't you th' pretty boy."

Thank God, I fought my way through enough bars, including Gilley's, to change my image...well, at least, alter the appearance.

Gordon

Posted by: Gordon DeSpain on September 14, 2003 08:44 PM

GHS Wrote:

In addition, from all I've seen and read, the plan WASN'T well executed. There is some evidence to suggest that there were several other flights that had been similarly targeted, but that were thwarted by the air traffic control shutdown (a feat of which I am most proud, even though I had nothing to do with it).

I've heard rumors that when one plane was still on the ground when the ATC shutdown happened, a group of "Arab-looking men" jumped up and nervously began talking among themselves. When the plane returned to the terminal, the men left the plane and vanished into the airport. Did this really happen, or is it merely internet rumor? (I strongly suspect the latter.)

And of the four targeted flights that WERE engaged, one was thwarted by its unarmed passengers, one missed its target (the White House) and had to "settle" for a secondary target downrange (the Pentagon), and one of the two WTC aircraft nearly missed ITS target, barely catching one corner of the building, and only after bending the aircraft around through a last-second high-G turn.

For the last week, the various educational channels on cable have been replete with stories about the WTC and its collapse. One thing that was mentioned was that both planes hit the buildings at an angle. Most likely, they wanted to damage as many floors as possible. That the first plane hit dead-on and the second one hit the corner seems to indicate that hijacker #1 was a better pilot. Ironically, hijacker #2 did a better job, inflicting greater damage with his shoddier flying.

And in the recordings of Osama bin Laden that were later acquired, even he confessed that he hadn't expected the buildings to actually fall down.

I've heard that Osama is an engineer. After all, that's how his family acquired so much wealth; they were THE builders in Saudi Arabia. Anyway, if it's true, then OBL isn't any better an engineer than he is a human being. On 9/11, my father (a civil engineer since 1963) was in the dentist's chair, listening to the reports from New York. The dentist, a very bright fellow we've known for years, asked how they'd rebuild the buildings after they put the fires out. Dad said "You don't get it. Those towers are coming down. Today." OBL, who had planned this for years and was "surprised" by the collapse was outguessed by someone (under the influence of gas and novacaine) in just a few seconds. So I can speak from experience when I say that not only is Osama evil, he's STOOPID!

[A]ll that was required was the will to do it. And they probably just got the idea from reading Tom Clancy's "The Debt."

You must be thinking of "Debt of Honor". It should also be noted that the pilot episode of "The Lone Gunmen", Fox's spin-off from "The X-Files", was all about crashing a plane into the WTC. That was about 8 months before it actually happened. How's that for all you anti-Rupert Murdoch conspiracy buffs out there?

Anyway, "Debt of Honor" came out in 1994, and I think OBL was likely behind the 1993 bombing. And if he wasn't, it was probably then that he got is "inspiration".

--Dave

Posted by: VRWCman on September 14, 2003 08:45 PM

Right on all counts, VRWCman, including the Tom Clancy title, and especially the part about OBL being STOOPID!

My point exactly.

I'm not entirely convinced about the "they-hit-the-WTC-towers-at-angles-because-they-were-trying-to-involve-more-floors" argument though. It MIGHT be correct (though of course we'll never know), but personally I just think the angular impacts were the results of last-second corrective maneuvering.

Try it on the Microsoft Flight Simulator sometime. I tried flying an L-1011 into the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building) at the Kennedy Space Center one time, and, at high speed, where the final seconds of closure seem to fling your target into your face with breathtaking abruptness, last-second extreme corrections are inevitable.

Doesn't mean that's what happened. It just seems more likely to me, considering the terrorist "pilot's" marginal training in small, sluggish Cessnas and Cherokees.

Not an argument, mind you. Just saying.

Goodnight.

GHS

Posted by: GreatHairySilverback on September 14, 2003 09:37 PM

To AR, GHS, Gordon and everyone else who made my procrastination of household chores so rewarding this evening - my sincere gratitude.

So many thoughtful ideas - so little time. I feel like I've just come in from the cold. No time to reply in detail. Don't know how this works but I hope you are all regulars here...

Anyway, while I was waiting and hoping that AR would reply to my question, and to my delight, he did and more, I did some skipping around in Google. Here are three links worth at least a cursory glance to students of strategy and perhaps human nature. The first describes the "Iterative Prisoner's Dilemma" as a way of modeling how human cooperation could evolve. The second applies these theories to some real life situations. The third describes another game strategy that was kinda interesting. None as sophisticated as AR's ideas, but entertaining and intellectually provocative. My main motivation is to figure out how we can win with the least cost in blood and treasure and continue civilization more or less as we knew it.

The Prisoner's Dilemma

Decision Science Quarterly

Settlers of Catan

Posted by: socalgail on September 15, 2003 12:06 AM

To All Y'all,

Thanks for the comments, and no, I don't think any of its personal - I hear the commentary of people who read what I said and wanted to share their own experience and understanding. I think maybe I had failed to say exactly what I meant to say on a couple of cases - and this being a forum, I have the chance to rephrase.

I don't hate the terrorists simply because they, to my mind, aren't part of humanity. I guess it goes back to the old notion that hate is not the opposite of love, but rather apathy. I wouldn't be first in line to toss a molotov on ObL if he showed up on my front lawn, nor would I shoot him in the guts. I would, on the other hand, have no qualms whatsoever about restricting his mobility with a couple of shotgun blasts to the knees while I decide if he's more useful dead or alive.
I mean you can't break a dead man. You can't make him a parody of his former self. You can't sit him on TV as a disgrace to everything he believes in. Hell, you can't even make a dead man scream. I guess some folks just credit them with more humanity than I do. I tend to regard the hijackers with much the same emotion as I do cruise missiles. They are an engineering problem, a tactical problem, but not a compassionate problem.

This is part of the reason I thought that their attacks were, in fact, well executed. I tend to look at it (on my more dispassionate days) as an advertising problem. Their slaughter of 3,000 people was essentially, for their purposes, advertisment. For the cost of 19 boxcutters and plane tickets and flight lessons, they got nielsen ratings it took the Apollo program to match. I suppose if you want to figure out the cost per casualty inflicted, the only way to beat their tally is with serious WMD. Secondly, they executed power projection on the cheap - compared to B-52s and ACLMs.

Just don't get to thinking that "respect" means that they need to die any less or need to be listened to or negotiated with. They just happened to be pretty good at creating an asymmetry that they exploited ruthlessly.

GHS - the reason I mentioned the airshow was thinking about the innocent injured in the airshow versus the WTC and the differences in how they were killed. It's a whole long bit of navel-gazing on that, I essentially decided wasn't important enough to type.

GDS - you can't negotiate with evil, in this I agree absolutely. I still, I guess, think about the difference in the way that we prosecuted WWII and the Cold War. Sometimes you need to shoot, sometimes you need to strangle. I'm not certain that killing all of the people of the Middle East is the best way to skin this particular proverbial cat. I'm pretty certain that bombing none of them won't help a damn bit. The nuances of how many we need to boot off this mortal coil is kind of tricky question. As a for instance in the WOT, I'm a very big fan of flushing the mullahs in Tehran. I think that a massive invasion might just not be the best way of doing that. On the other hand, I don't think wringing our hands over their enrichment program is altogther that useful.

I guess on the whole appropriate level of destruction question, I haven't a good feel for whether or not nuclear-whack-a-mole is necessary or jumps beyond the point of diminishing returns. My gut is that it won't be useful. It was the way to deal with Germany and Japan, but not the way to deal with Russia. The whys and wherefores of each case are too much for me to delve into right now. Don't misconstrue this to mean that I think that this is not a total war (or "conflict") - it certainly is. Sometimes though a total war doesn't turn into a total hot war, sometimes it does. I still haven't made up my mind on how hot the total war has to be. That doesn't mean that it is any less total though. We've fought more than a handful of conflicts on multiple levels. This one won't be amenable to, let's say, diplomacy and cultural exchanges. But we might want to see what we can get of proxy wars and any one of a number of the tools in our Cold War toolbox. Then decide what's the best way to skin the cat, and start skinning away.

SoCalGail, the Prisoner's Dilemma is part of (as you know) the whole field of Game Theory. That is some ferociously interesting reading. Sometimes folks don't apply it all that well and get hung up on the terminology, but it is one of the best tools in the analytical box, in my eyes. I'm reading the lead Decision Science Quarterly article right now (although the color scheme is a bit rough on my eyes) - and actually mentions one of the important facets of the War on Terror. The possibility that Al Qaeda might be our best ally in getting rid of Al Qaeda. They seem to be so hell bent on alienating every sympathizer they have, that they've done all of our recruitment in the WOT. Interesting stuff and thanks for the link.

Well, got to get back to the cube farm.

Posted by: Anticipatory Retaliation on September 15, 2003 08:06 AM

Not to take away anything from the essay, but we did have one official terrorist incident on US soil--the LAX El Al counter shooting last July 4.

And I'm still not convinced that the Beltway snipers weren't terrorists.

Posted by: Rand Simberg on September 15, 2003 09:23 AM

To Rand Simberg: absolutely, that Beltway Sniper was a terrorist... as was the Oklahoma Federal Building demolition team of Timothy McVeigh and company, and as was that moonbat hyper-Christian nutcase that was just recently "euthanised" for gleefully shooting that abortion doctor. As I said previously, it's their actions, not their birthplace, that makes them terrorists.

To Anticipatory Retaliation: now THAT explanation of your "respect" for the terrorist plan I could understand... the mega-bang they got for their mini-buck. Okay.

I have to admit, I still tend to think in terms of military objectives, and quality of performance standards (both of which they failed to achieve), grand strategies (which they misjudged, and which will cost them a lot more than they can afford in the long run) accomplished with appropriate tactics (which, in their simplicity, were probably the strongest cards they played). But I can see now the angle you were approaching it from.

Interesting.

And I definitely agree with the greater value of Osama or Saddam or Muammar as anti-martyrs, prisoners and media toys of the Great Satan, used best when brought to blubbering tears, even better when brought before the cameras showing their own shit and piss stains. Absolutely.

As for their mindless slavering minions though... the non-thinking bomb-vest fodder who hate purely for the sake of hating (the ones who actually carry the box-cutters onto the planes)... they can all be run under a steamroller for all I care. A FLAMING steamroller preferably. They have no value and no place in this world, and just need to be bug-bombed like the termites they are.

As for the appropriate level of destruction, well, my personal feeling is that it's really not effective to escalate beyond what we're already doing. Certainly nothing nuclear... too many moral, ethical, practical, logistical, and even environmental reasons not to go that far, not to mention the hugely disproportionate collateral damage that would result.

No, I think it's more important that we wage this "war" not so much "on their terms," but "in terms they understand." One on one, mano e mano... guns for guns, personal valor and professionalism versus lunatic zealotry and a penchant for rank-thinning through self-annihilation. Show them our resolve, our perseverance, our decency, our honesty... show them the value of our word, the effectiveness of a volunteer military from a nation of happy, decent people, as well as our willingness to do the dirty work when the dirty work needs to be done... to me, that not only defeats them in the field, it defeats them in the eyes of the world. It highlights their own savagery, it alienates them even further than their own bad politics (yes, I read socalgail's links), erodes their support base, and ultimately (optimistically) leaves them alone in a WORLD of enemies, in which NO ONE is any longer willing to countenance their predations.

That's the Best Case Scenario (the BCS) anyway.

In other words, we need to do... and STICK with doing... just what we're doing now. Yes, it's costing us the lives of some of our finest, but whether the average Joe Civilian believes it or not, that's a sacrifice that the military accepts and even draws further resolve from, in direct opposition to how Joe Civvy usually takes it.

Consider the outrage among the Rangers and Delta Force dudes after the "shoot-out" in Mogadishu (the incident that inspired the movie "Blackhawk Down," for the two people in the world who didn't already know that). THEY were ready to go charging right back in there. THEY were ready to do whatever it took to take down the "warlord" Aidid. And they sure as hell COULD have. WE, on the other hand (meaning the general U.S. citizenry), were appalled at the loss of 18 good American boys (versus more than a thousand dead Somalis), and as a group (minus me) applauded Wild Bill Clinton's order to withdraw from Somalia with our tails between our legs.

THAT we can't afford to do again, especially not when you consider the scale of the operation that we've committed ourselves to this time.

No, we're doing it just right. And as long as we, as a nation, don't lose our resolve (because the military sure won't), and remember how we readily accepted GWB's original assertion, right from the beginning, that this will take a while... if we just let the people that are doing so well right now CONTINUE to do so, I think we'll purge this house of its termites right fine-like.

This will not stop another Atlanta Olympics bomber or another Waco Whacko for making their nasty little spiteful statements, in the ugliest ways they know how. But letting the professional murderers of the world know that they are no longer welcome ANYwhere, that the WORLD wants them gone, and that when "the world" (or at least America) SAYS they're going to step on some weenies, by gum, some weenies are gonna' get stomped, then I think we're going to see an entire vicious sub-culture evaporate. Not cease to exist, but rather just retreat from the global stage.

As for dealing with "Islamic fundamentalism" in general (hell, just about ANY kind of fundamentalism, as far as I'm concerned), well, that's another whole epic blog-posting in itself. And from better educated folk than me.

Sounds, though, like you and I are in agreement.

Good on us.

GHS

Posted by: GreatHairySilverback on September 15, 2003 12:21 PM

GHS- all cynics are idealists who have realized that ideals and reality bear no resemblance whatever to each other. Thus, most of us live our lives in a Jekyll-and-Hyde bipolar state of KNOWING what's right and KNOWING that 99% of the time, it's not going to happen.

Posted by: LabRat on September 15, 2003 12:24 PM

"...as was that moonbat hyper-Christian nutcase that was just recently "euthanised" for gleefully shooting that abortion doctor."

I disagree with that. He was a murderer, but terrorists go after random people. His target was someone who was, in his mind, specifically responsible for the "crime" of abortion. I'd agree with you if he'd blown up a clinic.

Posted by: Rand Simberg on September 15, 2003 01:01 PM

Hmmm. Well, point taken, I suppose, Rand.

I'm not sure I ENTIRELY agree with your assessment (since the guy actually killed three people in his assault, the doctor and two people walking close to him... I think one was an assistant at the clinic, and the other was either a secretary or a patient, I no longer recall), but I suspect my disinclination is more a matter of my personal feelings on the matter rather than an acknowledgment of any "official definition" of "terrorist" (which I will NOT go into again, having beaten that subject to death with "Jeremy" a few dozen postings back). So I won't stick to my guns on this one. Point taken.

I tend to lump murderous scum into a general sub-human category anyway, but lean toward the "terrorist" label when either their bloodthirsty actions come with an ideological rationalization, OR, as you said, they target random groups of people... or both. And this abortion clinic loon came packing a SERIOUS ideological cause, which he continued to shout to the mountaintops right up until they slid that well-earned needle into his arm. But, whatever... I buy your point.

GHS

Posted by: GreatHairySilverback on September 15, 2003 05:54 PM

You want cynicism? I'll give you cynicism. The Waco siege happened 2 days after the original WTC attack. I wouldn't put it past the Clinton Abomination Administration to scour the FBI files for some "fringe" group out there, preferably Down South (where, EVERYONE knows, the real Bible-banging fruitcakes reside). Then send in the ATF in order to make it look like, despite the WTC bombing, the people in charge were Doing Something about terrorism. Didn't quite work out as well as they'd hoped.

Flash forward 2 years. The Murrah Federal Building is blown up. With a truck bomb. Very similar M.O. to the WTC. (And the bombings in Riyadh in 1996. And Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. But I digress. Or do I?)

After his re-election in 1996, Clinton cited the OKC blast as the turning point of his career, when he was able to brand his opponents as the same kind of "extremists" who blew up a building.

So. With all the bloviation on various leftist message boards about how "Bush Knew", I'll always wonder what Clinton knew about OKC, and if he knew, why he did nothing.

Why couldn't I have been born rich instead of so damn cynical?

--Dave

Posted by: VRWCman on September 15, 2003 05:58 PM

I think the distinction behind motivation is actually an important point if the difference between warfare and crime matter. Would Charlie Manson or Jeffrey Dahmer be considered terrorists?

Posted by: Anticipatory Retaliation on September 16, 2003 05:58 AM

Labrat -
"all cynics are idealists who have realized that ideals and reality bear no resemblance whatever to each other..."
Absolutely loved that one.


A.R. -
Great post about symmetric v. assymetric conflict. vonClausewitze called war "diplomacy by other means," pointing out the continuum of tools available in conflict. "Purity," or "domestic content" laws, less subtle open tariffs or embargos, diplomatic manuevering to isolate your opponent from those who might otherwise provide him aide & comfort... Clausewitz & Machiavelli should be companion texts in every history course.

Re why the radical Islamists hate us.
Too much attention is given to the Palestinian/Isreali conflict. The radical Islamists hate us for the WalMart/McDonald/Madonna phenomena.
How many of you remember the venom directed at WalMart in the 80's and 90's. "They're ruining small business!" "They're killing our downtown business district!" Everybody hated them. And everybody flocked to WalMart every Saturday to pay 25% less than what the local merchants charged for the same goods. WalMart changed the shape of retail world in small-town America.
Now consider how much angrier people'd've been if WalMart had been a foreign outfit.
The Islamists hate us because their cherished world-view is being demolished, and the US is the most readily identified "cause". (It's not very satisfying to blame Adam Smith, he being already dead and all). Their people are choosing our culture over theirs, hence, in their view, we are destroying their society. Add to that the misery & futility of their daily existence, and their (distorted) view that we're all wildly (and undeservedly) rich...
That's exactly why the French hate us. The French are simply too pampered by their socialist state, and too wrapped up in dellusions of importance to become as desparate as the Islamists.

Just a theory. Hope it inspires a little thought.

Posted by: Jumper on September 16, 2003 08:57 AM

Hope that last didn't sound too flippant. Sometimes what was intended to be dark humor simply comes off as glibness. That was not the intent. (A risk trying to dash something off when you're meeting someone for lunch in a few minutes.) Consider another analogy.

In the 60's in the "Deep South", the stable, righteous world of their fathers & grandfathers was threatened both from within (blacks who were refusing to stay in their "place"), and from without (federal judges, northern civil rights activists...). They loved their ordered, stable world. It's easy to love stability when you're at the top of the pyramid. They couldn't conceive of anything but chaos if they allowed that world to be upset. And look at the lengths to which a few of them went to stop the destruction of their social order. Despite the benefit of being members of a civilization with a centuries-long tradition of rule by law, some turned to assassinations and bombings.

The plight of the traditional, sheltered, poorly schooled, Pizza-Hut-tablecloth-wrapped-around-his-head Arab is somewhat similar. He imagined nothing (and nothing that could be better) than living in the world of his father, and his father's father. But forces he does not understand are irrevocably changing the stable, ordered world in which he lives, are threatening to replace that world with one of utter chaos, of Madonna & Brittany kissing each other on his satellite television, where women are treated as regular citizens, and if his daughter disgraces him, he can't just stone her, or gun her down with his AK. Further infuriating him, many of his countrymen are embracing these foriegn ideas (hence my original WalMart analogy). Iran has got a simmering rebellion, and it's giving nightmares not only to the ayatollahs, but also to the Koran-thumping, conservative, jus' plain folks.
Someone (forgive my paraphrase), pointed out that the palestinian issue was just a handy coat-hook on which they hang their emotions; a concrete "example" of what they already "know". The true source of those emotions is the fact that their world seems to be crumbling, that the righteous (them) suffer in poverty while the wicked (us) enjoy unimaginable prosperity. Gee, somehow we must have stolen what's rightfully theirs. They don't understand why their world's crumbling. They put OUR face on the forces responsible.

The question is what can we do about it. Don't dismiss the radicals because they're a minority. Small numbers matter not if you have organization, unquestioning loyalty to a cause, all the guns in general vicinity, and the willingness to use them. We can tighten up our borders and our immigration policy, and leave them alone to stew in their own juices. But that leaves the entire world economy tanking if the middle east turns itself into a loose alliance of Shi'ite Iran-clones and Wasabbi (sp?) Taliban wanna-be's.
That's not just me insisting on being able to drive my big pick-up truck whereever I please on cheap deisel fuel (although it is a little bit of it). It's also about there being enough global trade to allow utterly destitute people in Africa to become merely poor; about poor people in Mexico and India having the opportunity to climb up into their middle class... It's about our own poor having jobs instead of sucking on the public dole.
This is history in the making. What can we do to vent some of that hatred over there? What recipe of fear, respect, admiration, and/or affection should we employ? How do we best manage this potentially huge flood?
Nothing wrong with what we've started in Afghanistan & Iraq. But that's all we've done: started an engagement. We have a wide range of tools at our disposal: Mech. Armor Divisions, the Salvation Army, and everything in between. And whatever we do, we have to keep the electorate on board:
- slack-jawed, short-attention-span mouth-breathers watching their wrestling on pay-per-view who think C-Span is a famous bridge somewhere...
- nice, middle-class ladies who can recall every illicit affair on "As the World Turns" for the past year, but who can't name the vice president or their own congressman, and who cast ballots based on the last argument they heard...
- earnest, good-intentioned people who just don't want any of "our" boys to die...
- earnest, loving, kind-hearted people who simply cannot quite understand that it takes only one to fight, but everybody's cooperation to have peace...
- cynical opportunists who will manufacture military defeats for their own short-term political gain...

If I had the answers, I'd be running for office instead of hacking out computer code for DoD... But I like hearing/reading others ruminating about problems I find seemingly intractable.

Posted by: Jumper on September 16, 2003 12:26 PM

Jumper,

The basic argument is a sound one and rings true to my ears. I didn't think it was at all flippant - I just wanted to gnaw on it for a spell.

Posted by: Anticipatory Retaliation on September 16, 2003 02:40 PM

Jumper,

Well said. I've spent a lot of time in Saudi, Syria, Algeria and Indonesia, and, the condition of the average person seems the same in all those places, and, here: a total lack of knowledge about the world at large, and, sometimes even their own neighborhoods.

I've often said that the easiest way to tell the richest woman in a Syrian Village (along the Al Furat...the Euphrates) is to look for the one that has a Donkey to carry water back to her house (all the rest carry it on their heads). Sadly, you'll find the same thing in all-of-the-above, Venezuela, and, as close as the Barrios in Juarez (across the Rio Grande from I-10, in El Paso, Texas...early '90's).

But, the worst thing in most of the countries I've been in, is the manipulation of everything they know, from who they are, to, who to hate. Both Saddam and Hafez Asad claimed to have invented the single channel Radio and Hafez included Television (Iraq had several TV channels which Syrians could watch, if they had a Channel Selector).

I found this out the hard way, trying to buy a new Radio/Alarm clock in Deir-Ez-Zor, Syria. Every one I could find had an On/Off/Volume Control, but, no Dial, and, I started asking questions..."Anna fi mushquilla...whazzis?" ("I have a problem...What's this?...No Dial?"). The answer stunned me, even though I was an "old hand" in country. The vendors in the Souq (Market) seemed as proud of it as Hafez Asad, they were proud of the invention of their "Great Leader."

I should have expected it, because I read the governments "English Language Newspaper" religiously (Boy Scout...be prepared), but, that's the one thing I'd never read in that paper.

To me, the second most heinous act of Tyrants is control of information, after banning Guns, which paves the road to Tyranny.

Gordon

Posted by: Gordon DeSpain on September 17, 2003 05:58 PM

That was excellent, Gordon. Bullseyes right down the list.

MAN, people here just have no idea have good they've got it in America.

GHS

Posted by: GreatHairySilverback on September 18, 2003 06:04 AM

"There has never been a better people, and don’t you forget it."

It is precisely this sort of arrogance which provokes hatred towards America in the rest of the world.

Posted by: Michelle on September 18, 2003 07:40 AM

"There has never been a better people, and don’t you forget it."

It is precisely this sort of arrogance which provokes hatred towards America in the rest of the world.

And it's precisely this kind of snotty-sounding one-sentence anonymous jibe which provokes apathy towards those sentiments in the rest of the commenters.

Posted by: Anticipatory Retaliation on September 18, 2003 10:36 AM

The funny part about Michelle's little snipe above is that, wherever "she's" from, I can just about guarantee they feel the same way about themselves and their country as Bill... and I, and just about every other regular to this site... feel about the USA. Every country I've ever lived in or even visited has felt exactly the same way. The scrappiest little Third World ragamuffin dustbin of a nation marches proudly down their capitol's Main Street on their "Independence Day" or "Bastille Day" or "Himey the Conqueror Day," waving their flag and shouting slogans akin to "We're number one!"

So don't go getting all uppity and bent out of shape because we dare declare the same... especially when we've got so damned many REASONS to make such a claim.

It's funny how, after a football game (or a soccer match, for Michelle's international taste), the team that comes in second always sneers at the cheering winners, thinking them arrogant and boastful... even though THEY were doing the same BEFORE the game (to fire themselves up), and would have been doing exactly the same AFTER the game if it had been them that had won.

We're damned proud of ourselves, Michelle, just like you and yours are of yourselves. We've been through a wierd couple of years, some tough, stressful and costly adventures, and we're pleased as hell at how well everything has (and continues to) turn out. So if we feel like patting ourselves on the back, with all the justifiable reasons to do so, then we're going to do it, with or without your blessings.

But ESPECIALLY without.

GHS

P.S. - a lot of words, I know, just to say "Shut the hell up!"

Posted by: GreatHairySilverback on September 18, 2003 09:10 PM

GHS calls it right: even the most pitiful little one-generator outpost in the middle of the jungle has their own local version of "We're Number 1!"

Now, I'm obviously guessing here, but I'm not convinced Michelle hails from another country. I think I hear that peculiar flavor of guilt that is unique to the left. Their feelings seem to go something like this.

I am incredibly fortunate to be born in a place and time of such wealth and prosperity.
Others were born into poverty or sickness, and they didn't do anything to deserve such ill fortune.
I did nothing to deserve being born to my wealthy (or middle class) family. That's blind chance.
Therefore, I am undeserving of this good fortune.
But I'll feel much better about myself if I keep reminding everyone else that they don't deserve their good fortune either, and that they should be ashamed too.

Generalized away from personal circumstances, these feelings become scorn for anyone who is enthusiastic about the US's prosperity and power, since it is undeserved good luck. Taken a little further, it goes to the point of inflating all of our faults to support the belief that we not only don't deserve our good luck, but that all our prosperity is ill-gotten gain.

As a fetus, I was obviously incapable of doing anything to deserve being born into my cozy little lower-middle class family. But that's not the point. My parents worked their tails off, and scrimpled and saved and deprived themselves of most of the luxuries available to folks in those days, to provide me with that little ranch house with a back yard. They deserved it.
I live on wooded acrage crawling with deer and wild turkey, in a house at least twice as big as the one in which I grew up. Why? Because when I got out of high school, I didn't ask my dad to get me a job at the GM plant. I didn't ask my uncle to get me a job stringing power-lines for the utility. I worked nights, and went to school in the day. For those years, I deserve a little bit bigger house than my folks'. For saving my money, and not putting it all up my nose, or spending it in the bars, I deserve a little bit bigger house. For putting in 110% at work during schedule crunches, occassionally putting in allnighters to do the "impossible", I deserve a little bit bigger house...
The guilt-ridden, self-loathing lefties are correct to say that nothing I could possibly accomplish in my life makes me deserving of the difference between my material wealth, and that of some villager in the Congo, whose children have just been abducted by one "Peoples Army" or another.
But I earned the incremental difference between my standard of living and my parents'. I didn't settle for what they'd won and given to me.
They didn't settle for what they'd grown up with. They earned the difference between a farmhouse with no electricity or running water, and that nice, neat little ranch house, where dad somehow kept the lawn green no matter how many games of pickup football pounded that turf. Every generation worked to be a little better off. All the way back to the german peasants who bribed Prussian border gaurds to leave the country, and boarded a ship to America (where they lived in indentured servitude to pay for their passage). All the way back the welshman who took the deed to a chunk of wilderness as pay for fighting for Virginia with the Continental Army.
So if I'm gung-ho for America, it's gratitude to all these previous generations that built this place for me, and an urgent desire to leave a brighter, better place for the next generation. America is the place where we are lucky enough to have the opportunity to reach just a little further than our parents. If we can just keep it that way.

Jumper

Posted by: Jumper on September 19, 2003 07:16 AM

Yep, gotta' agree with you there, Jumper.

I'm always amazed at the inability of certain people to distinguish between arrogance and pride, strength and domination, involvement and intrusion. Not that a nation in our position isn't fully capable of being any of those things at one time or another, but that they act as if each of those word-pairs actually means the same thing. And they don't.

They presume that a nation that is strong is therefore, by definition, a dominating dictatorial, muscle-bound oppressor, and that one that is proud of itself is therefore, automatically arrogant... unless, of course, it is THEIR nation that exudes these attributes. Then it's okay.

I would like to ask the now-vanished "Michelle" what he/she would have me do, as a representative American? Should I walk with my head down, and refrain from expressing, in any outward form, the sheer seam-busting, breathtaking, teary-eyed pride I currently feel for our men and women in uniform and the astounding job they're doing on my behalf? Or should I just not be feeling that pride at all? Should I not be joyful that I live in a country that actually HAS both the capacity and the will to DO SOMETHING about this global scourge of international terrorism, when others either CANnot or WILL not do the same? Or is it just more "proper" that I wallow proudly in my victimhood and the "enlightened nobility" of NOT returning tit for tat, as is all the rage in Europe right now?

You're damned right I'm proud of America and of being an American. And there's not an ounce of arrogance in that statement. I do not for a second consider myself to be "above" or "better" than anyone from any other nation... just incredibly "fortunate" and "better OFF" than most. And if you can't tell the difference, then I pity you. It must really SUCK where you live.

Unless, of course, you're actually proud of YOUR country and its people. But then, that can't be right... because then YOU'D be an arrogant bitch/bastard.

Right?

GHS

Posted by: GreatHairySilverback on September 19, 2003 01:42 PM

"The funny part about Michelle's little snipe above is that, wherever "she's" from, I can just about guarantee they feel the same way about themselves and their country as Bill... and I, and just about every other regular to this site... feel about the USA."

It's quite amusing how wrong you all are about me, and you seem to use the assumptions you make about the rest of the world to justify your own arrogance - "Everyone else is arrogant, so why can't we?"

Here's a novel idea: what if I, strangely, DON'T think the place I come from is number one? I guess your answer would be "Well obviously, because only the USA is number one, and if you're not from there..."

Can you not contemplate the idea that I can think about what is good and bad about my country, think about what is good and bad about yours (and the other countries I know something about), and not share your conclusion about the US being number one? Why this need to even choose a number one?

"It's funny how, after a football game (or a soccer match, for Michelle's international taste), the team that comes in second always sneers at the cheering winners, thinking them arrogant and boastful... even though THEY were doing the same BEFORE the game (to fire themselves up), and would have been doing exactly the same AFTER the game if it had been them that had won."

Here is where we differ again. I have never been on a team that gloated either in winning or in losing, and if I were, I would be utterly disgusted. I would not use the behaviour of others to justify my own disgusting behaviour.

"America is the place where we are lucky enough to have the opportunity to reach just a little further than our parents."

This may come as a surprise to you, but there are other places in the world where this happens too. I paid my own way through college in the UK (not my country, so this was at astronomical overseas fees) because I had one of the innumerable scholarships available in my country. Many of my friends studied at Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, Cambridge (the list goes on) on similar scholarships. I don't write this to trumpet the virtues of my country, but merely to point out that there are many lands of opportunity, not just yours.

I am not anti-American. I watched the 9/11 remembrance ceremonies with a huge lump in my throat. I think America, like all other states, is entitled to act in its self-interest and defend this vigorously. However, some disadvantages to the international community flow from how it makes some of these choices. Are these disadvantages, in themselves, enough reason to hate America? No. I think any state with so much power will use it unjustifiably some of the time. People make mistakes. The Germans, for example, face up to their huge one admirably.

But I think the arguments I have read here (perhaps not in this comments thread exactly, but I can't quite remember where) to the effect of "Think we're bad? Well, Europe would be even WORSE!" again smack of the same tactics of deflection that seem so commonly used here. We're not meant to be on a race to the bottom in this world, are we?

A strange (and regrettable) phenomenon I tend to have experienced is that I'm often quite pro-America, until I actually meet Americans. I find parochialism and arrogance annoying in everyone (including my own countrymen, although we tend to err more on the parochialism than the arrogance), and what I have found at this site is no different. I never want to live in America, but the paradox is that I would rather think well of you from afar, than let familiarity breed contempt.

I'm aware that this site mostly preaches to the converted, which is probably why my comment got the vitriolic response it did, but you did your great country no credit by it.

Posted by: Michelle on September 19, 2003 02:31 PM

Well, Michelle, I'll start with your last point...

"I'm aware that this site mostly preaches to the converted, which is probably why my comment got the vitriolic response it did, but you did your great country no credit by it."

No, the reason your comment got the vitriolic response it did is because the first words out of your fingers were, "... [this] is precisely this sort of arrogance which provokes hatred towards America in the rest of the world." None of the thoughtful, broader perspective stuff that you just employed in your last posting. You would have gotten an entirely different response had you opened with that.

You said, "... you seem to use the assumptions you make about the rest of the world to justify your own arrogance - "Everyone else is arrogant, so why can't we?""

That's NOT the assumption we make, and that's sure as hell not what I SAID. What I said was that PRIDE is not the same thing as arrogance, and that everyone, everywhere, exudes pride, to some degree or another, in themselves and their own... and that pride, in the form it took in Bill's posting, is what we're shouting to the world. We are proud (at least the "converted" here in this comment stream), PROUD as hell of where we are and what we're doing, and I see nothing wrong or "arrogant" in such a feeling, in us or in anyone else who feels similarly jazzed in their great accomplishments.

You said, "... Here's a novel idea: what if I, strangely, DON'T think the place I come from is number one? I guess your answer would be "Well obviously, because only the USA is number one, and if you're not from there..."

Well, (a) that summary conclusion is (again) NOT what my answer would be (it would be more like "it must suck to be so disillusioned," or "what would you do to change it?" or "why don't you leave?" but it would have nothing to do with the USA, because "we" are not what makes your country number two), and (b) why DON'T you think your country is "number one?" (as long as we're sticking with the sports vernacular). Not "number one" in a "global domination" sense, but just "number one" in your heart? That's what Bill was referring to in that one little line you chose to pick to shreds.

You then said, "... Can you not contemplate the idea that I can think about what is good and bad about my country, think about what is good and bad about yours (and the other countries I know something about), and not share your conclusion about the US being number one?"

Of course I can contemplate that. Hell, I PRESUME it. What I find interesting is that YOU can't seem to contemplate that in reverse. YOU'RE the one who seems to think that the only thing we see in America is PERFECTION... that, based on a few pep-rallying sentences from Bill -- on a blog specifically dedicated to drawing people away from the constant barrage of negative, defeatist, conspiracy-based rhetoric of the contemporary media and "leftist" politics, by the way -- the most self-critical nation on the planet is wrong to occasionally focus on the GOOD things we've done and continue to do today.

We are very aware, PAINFULLY aware, of our flaws, our foibles, and our historical outrages. With our hyperactive media, WE'RE usually the first to announce them to YOU. So how does that make us "arrogant" when we say, "look at the GOOD we're doing here!" "Keep your collective chins up!" And, most importantly, "You're NOT the imperialistic scum that many would contend you are. You are good people! Take pride in that!"

"Why this need to even choose a number one?" you asked.

Let's ignore, for now, that you're still clinging to and dissecting the niggling specifics of a simple little sports analogy here, and instead step back and ask another question: "Are you saying there's NOT a number one?" Whether you want to CHOOSE one or not, are you saying there's NOT a nation that's, say, "number one" economically? Or militarily? I don't care whether you'd rank the U.S. in that position or not. Pick whoever you choose. But are you saying that no nation is "number one" technologically? What about spiritually, or morally? Creatively, or charitably? Are you saying there are no gradations between nations? Or if you do recognize the differences and thereby the degrees of differentiation, are you saying there's no "best" in any of the categories? And if there ARE some "best in category" winners, are you saying that the citizens of those nations shouldn't take pride in that fact?

You said (astonishingly enough), "... Here is where we differ again. I have never been on a team that gloated either in winning or in losing, and if I were, I would be utterly disgusted. I would not use the behaviour of others to justify my own disgusting behaviour."

Well, (a) you're right... here IS where we differ, BIG TIME. In fact, here's where you differ from most of the WORLD, Michelle. If you've never been on a team that reveled in its victories, then you've just never been on a team. Period. Hell, I don't think you've been among humans. Either that or (more likely) your "team" DID revel in its victories, and YOU just sat there sulking in some moralistic funk, "disgusted" that anyone should exhibit such crass behavior. And that's YOUR problem, not ours... or anybody else's, for that matter. And (b) "... [you] would not use the behaviour of others to justify [your] own disgusting behaviour?" What? Cheering your successes is disgusting behavior? Wow. Hmm. I wonder if you can understand how I might draw from that statement the conclusion that you are a very bitter person?

Then you wrote (regarding "Jumper's" statements about the opportunities available here in America to elevate yourself above your predecessors, and your contention that that can be done elsewhere as well), "... I don't write this to trumpet the virtues of my country, but merely to point out that there are many lands of opportunity, not just yours."

I just re-read Jumper's posting, and I couldn't find anything in it that suggested otherwise. Of COURSE America isn't the only place you can do such a thing. It IS one of the FEW though. You cited several others. I would presume that the citizens of THOSE nations would take pride in their opportunities as well, and I sure as hell wouldn't begrudge them that pride.

You had a good stretch going in the following paragraph, which actually sounded somewhat openminded and inclined toward broader understanding, but then you slipped again with, "... But I think the arguments I have read here (perhaps not in this comments thread exactly, but I can't quite remember where) to the effect of "Think we're bad? Well, Europe would be even WORSE!" again smack of the same tactics of deflection that seem so commonly used here. We're not meant to be on a race to the bottom in this world, are we?"

I've read those comparisons too. But I don't take them to mean that the shitty stuff we might occasionally do is "okay" because Europeans do them too, or do them "worse." I take that to mean that "Europeans" (or whoever) calling us "imperialist" or "war-mongering" or "racist" or whatever the issue-du-jour is, is like the proverbial pot calling the proverbial kettle black. If you want to call us names, it sort of nullifies your point if the name you choose applies more to YOU ("you" meaning whoever made the charges) than us.

Take, for instance, your charge that WE'RE arrogant. Re-read your last post.

And just so you know, the way you chose to sum up your last posting is another good way to draw a "vitriolic response." You said, "... A strange (and regrettable) phenomenon I tend to have experienced is that I'm often quite pro-America, until I actually meet Americans. I find parochialism and arrogance annoying in everyone (including my own countrymen, although we tend to err more on the parochialism than the arrogance), and what I have found at this site is no different. I never want to live in America, but the paradox is that I would rather think well of you from afar, than let familiarity breed contempt."

You know, as I've mentioned in several other comment streams (sorry to everyone else who's already heard this routine), I've lived in four different countries around the world (including Germany, for 4 years), and visited close to a hundred more. And I can confidently tell you that every country in the world, including yours (whichever one it is) has people that acquit their homeland well, and others that embarrass it. Every country in the world. Yep, the USA included. Regardless of what impressions certain individuals have made on you (don't get me going on the impressions that certain French folk and several Italian gentlemen have left with ME), that fact that you find occasion to be "pro-American" shows that you can recognize the points that Bill makes in all his essays. It's America that's great, not each and every single individual person in it (of COURSE we've got our share of dirtbags and racists and criminals and even terrorists). Not each and every single action we've ever taken either (of COURSE we've done some things, historically, that we regret today). But the NATION, as a political and open-ended entity... where self-criticism is allowed and encouraged, where a person can make a mistake, acknowledge it, learn from it, and move on without dire repercussions, where hard work and creativity are rewarded... is damned great. Flawed, imperfect, and still learning, but the best place on Earth to be that way, and to improve upon it.

And that's not arrogance talking. That's pride and precedent. Feel free to list all the better places, with all the greater opportunities, and all the better efforts being made to elevate the individual, and I'll start checking the real estate brochures.

No I won't.

GHS

Posted by: GreatHairySilverback on September 20, 2003 06:36 AM

Hi GHS,

My impression of Michelle leaves me a little cold with the thinly veiled arrogance sneering through the leaks in her prose.

My guess is that she has never been anywhere other than 1st World countries, and, not being American and assumed arrogant and boorish, got along quite well. I think she needs to spend some time in an Arab, far eastern, or South American society to really understand how great her own country is, and, America by extension.

I think she needs to stand on the side of the "Autopista" (toll road) over the high pass between Valencia and El Palito, Venezuela, and, watch the peasants washing their food, dishes and themselves in a cold mountain stream far below, then, look up at the Mansions on the mountainside above. It helps to know, at the same time, that these two disparate groups represent almost the only two classes in Venzuela. There is a middle class, but, it's so close to the upper class as to be indistinguishable.

She needs to pull off the highway, in Algeria, Syria, Saudi, or, any number of other Arab/African/Far Eastern/South American countries, walk a few paces off the road, and, look back at the strange shiny thing on the weird rock, stretching into the distance, 2,000 years in the future.

She needs to get out more.

Gordon

Posted by: Gordon DeSpain on September 20, 2003 10:10 AM

GWS refers to "the now-vanished "Michelle". Give me a break. I live in an incredibly different time zone, and I have a life. Petty snipes are not the way to carry on a discussion.

I'll begin by saying you guys are still amusing me, but I don't really want to waste Bill's bandwidth, your time or my time by continuing this any further. The primary reason for this is I don't think it will do any good whatsoever to embark in balanced discussion on a site that doesn't seek to be balanced.

Before you jump up and start SCREAMING that I have INSULTED you and I am obviously BITTER about my sad life which would be SO much better if only I lived in the US, let me clarify. The purpose of this site is "to convince you that all the good things you believe about America and her people are true. Factually, provably true. Don't believe it? Hang on! We're reaching for the LOUD handle!" Certainly, some of you in particular seem to take that bit about the LOUD handle really seriously.

But the thing is, it isn't quite what I personally look for in a discussion. I don't like to begin with a particular assumption of truth and then set out to prove it, discarding along the way the facts which don't work in its favour. I like to figure out what the truth (used in its loosest, least philosophically complex sense) is along the way, following my intellect or at least going as far as it's capable of taking me.

You guys, on the other hand, appear to be here because Bill writes eloquent, inspirational pep talks in support of the US way of life. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, in principle. In practice, the only reason I ever made a comment in the first place was because I found the last sentence (I disagreed with a number of points in the rest of it, but they were points on which reasonable people may reasonably disagree) arrogant and unnecessary.

In short (and I do apologize to Bill for the length of my comments, as I have said this will be the last one), neutrality and unbiased discussion is difficult if not impossible to find anywhere, but it is what I prefer to engage in (yes, of course I'm not unbiased either, but I keep seeking it anyway), and it is not the agenda of this site. Obviously Bill is free to adopt whatever agenda he wants for his site, and all of you are free to read it, but it isn't really what I'm *personally* after. (For what it's worth, I've read sites with viewpoints fundamentally opposed to yours i.e. they pretty much try to say everything in the US is wrong, and I have the same problems with the nature and aim of their discussions as well.)

And now some responses. Again I feel this is a bit of a waste of time and bandwidth because the initial comment I made still pretty much sums it up.

"What I said was that PRIDE is not the same thing as arrogance, and that everyone, everywhere, exudes pride, to some degree or another, in themselves and their own... and that pride, in the form it took in Bill's posting, is what we're shouting to the world."

Pride, "to some degree or another". My point was that it becomes pride to an excessive degree - arrogance - when it extends to saying there has never been a better people than yours.

"it must suck to be so disillusioned," or "what would you do to change it?" or "why don't you leave?"

If you think acknowledging that my country has things to learn from other kickass countries in the world in some areas, regardless of how we may kick ass in others, is disillusioned, then I guess I am. I just don't want my country to rest on its laurels, which brings in the second and third questions you ask. The reason I don't leave is because I hope to do my part in changing things and make sure we don't lose what we've worked so hard to achieve.

"So how does that make us "arrogant" when we say, "look at the GOOD we're doing here!" "Keep your collective chins up!"

As I said earlier, while I disagreed with some of the rest of the post, I didn't criticize it for being arrogant. Saying "We've done pretty well all things considered, so keep your chins up" is different from saying "We are better than everyone else."

"Are you saying there are no gradations between nations?"

I don't think one particular group of human beings should ever think they are "better people" than other particular groups of human beings. To take a fairly simplistic example: Germany's economic might beats Ireland's economic might. But people tend to think of the Irish as far better company. (Note: I personally disagree with the German stereotype. I've never met a German I didn't like.) Who's better? How can you even compare? It's a huge, seething, complex and intensely subjective gloop.

"In fact, here's where you differ from most of the WORLD, Michelle. If you've never been on a team that reveled in its victories, then you've just never been on a team. Period. Hell, I don't think you've been among humans."

Wow, I guess you must be right. How can I possibly deal with arguments like that? I must just be weird because the many winning teams I've been on made sure we gave the losing team a damn huge cheer. I don't remember us ever giving ourselves a big public cheer, because we never felt we needed to - we'd won, hadn't we? Why gloat? Sometimes we even thought we'd won undeservedly, in which case we told the other side we thought they'd deserved the win. Maybe we just do things differently where I come from.

"I can confidently tell you that every country in the world, including yours (whichever one it is) has people that acquit their homeland well, and others that embarrass it."

Of course this is true, and I have been frequently embarrassed by my own countrymen abroad. Unfortunately I have also been extremely unlucky with almost all the Americans I have met in person. This isn't sarcastic, I really just have been unlucky. But I keep my fingers crossed. In the meantime, I enjoy the company of my friends from everywhere else.

"My guess is that she has never been anywhere other than 1st World countries". "She needs to get out more."

Damn, this cracks me up. Really, just refrain from making assumptions about the life experiences of someone you have no idea about. You're pretty far off in your guesswork.

Okay. I've tried to be concise, but as usual, have failed. Sorry for the length of this, but rest assured that it's the last you'll hear from me. Our aims of discussion aren't compatible, so me hanging around is useless.

Michelle

Posted by: Michelle on September 20, 2003 11:28 PM

"The primary reason for this is I don't think it will do any good whatsoever to embark in balanced discussion on a site that doesn't seek to be balanced."

Really? Then why did you first take the time to open the thread, click on this window, and type out "It is precisely this sort of arrogance which provokes hatred towards America in the rest of the world."?

" Petty snipes are not the way to carry on a discussion."

Given that you believe we're completely unreachable and unreasonable, what, pray tell, was then the purpose of commenting at all? Surely it couldn't have been to leave a petty snipe. Anything but that! Perhaps Tourette's syndrome of the keyboard?

"I like to figure out what the truth (used in its loosest, least philosophically complex sense) is along the way, following my intellect or at least going as far as it's capable of taking me."

So you never start with a central thesis that you then defend? In all the education on writing and debate I've ever had, the thesis statement, and the construction of a central argument with corollary points has been the focus of the exercise. Evidently this has not been the case for you. I see you also missed the unit on rhetorical writing. Had you had the benefit of such education, with your clear head and unbiased perspective you would no doubt realize that formal style does not imply or delineate the entire scope and breadth of a person's attitude or ideas.

"neutrality and unbiased discussion is difficult if not impossible to find anywhere, but it is what I prefer to engage in (yes, of course I'm not unbiased either, but I keep seeking it anyway), and it is not the agenda of this site."

How convenient. Having decided that we are clearly hopeless, you are now free to leave your snarky comments and depart into the ether, as we are too jingoistic and riled up to have a discussion like civilized beings, totally unlike the level of intellect and probity provided by "you Americans are so arrogant." If you don't wish to be judged on this, perhaps you should be a bit more willing to judge us based on something other than how we react to a one-line snipe from a stranger.

"Again I feel this is a bit of a waste of time and bandwidth because the initial comment I made still pretty much sums it up."

Then again, maybe we should. You're really not making your case here for how much more level-headed and civil you are than us red-white-and-blue-drooling dittoheads.

"My point was that it becomes pride to an excessive degree - arrogance - when it extends to saying there has never been a better people than yours."

Do you always perform your deep and incisive analyses on pep-talks? There's a whole sidebar full of deeper and more serious stuff, you know. This is sort of like basing your opinion of a university on a speech the president makes before a football game.

You will find us quite happy to discuss things in a cooler, friendlier, and more logical manner- provided you do us the SAME COURTESY.

"Who's better? How can you even compare? It's a huge, seething, complex and intensely subjective gloop."

You don't, in absolute measurements from people people. However, you can make judgements about how well their plan for government is doing on economic scores, crime rates, cost of living, infant mortality, human rights, and other things. It's all part of that "self-improvement" thing you were talking about earlier. We look at other nations and examine them and ourselves, to try and see what works and what doesn't.

"I must just be weird because the many winning teams I've been on made sure we gave the losing team a damn huge cheer."

I don't even like organized sports and I've done this. Doesn't mean we weren't happy we won, or that we'd cheat to win. We didn't go around the field screaming, followed by the ritual sacrifice of the losing team's captain or anything like that. We just jumped around happily for a bit and went off for a pizza.

"Unfortunately I have also been extremely unlucky with almost all the Americans I have met in person."

It's nice that you seem to realize how unlucky you were, though that seems not to be reflected in your attitude elsewhere. I was extremely unlucky in every British citizen I met here; my home state is a popular tourist destination for Euros who want to sneer at "cowboys", and I met a great many arrogant, obnoxious snots who seemed to have paid for their vacation purely for the purpose of bitching about the food, the weather, and how much better everything was back home.

Now my best friend is English. I was merely unlucky, I knew that then and I know that now, and I bear no ill will toward the United Kingdom, nor do I or have I ever gone around to British sites expressly for the purpose of telling them what assholes they are.

"Really, just refrain from making assumptions about the life experiences of someone you have no idea about. You're pretty far off in your guesswork."

Pot, meet Kettle. What a lovely lustrous shade of black that is!

"Our aims of discussion aren't compatible, so me hanging around is useless."

Good fucking lord! You mean you showed up in someone's comments section for a pep-talk post to leave a snotty one-line comment, your entire thesis is that Americans are arrogant bastards, and you got FLAMED? Holy shit! We must not be interested in any sort of level-headed discussion! Flee! Flee for a place where civility prevails!

Or you could, you know, just not let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. It's easier.

Posted by: LabRat on September 21, 2003 11:57 AM

Hello everyone,
Interesting discussion. What I have to say (or rather, quote) may be relevant here. It's from the short story "Sam Hall" by the science fiction author Poul Anderson (The story portrays how a REAL American fascism would look like. I refer it to those hard-leftists who cry "fascism" at what the US is now).

"The intellectuals had been fretful about the Americanization of Europe, the crumbling of the old culture before the mechanized barbarism of soft drinks, hard sells, enourmous chrome-plated automobiles...chewing gum, plastics...None of them had protested the simultaneous Europeanization of America: bloated government, unlimited armament, official nosiness, censors, secret police, chauvinism...Well, for a while there had been objectors, but first their own excesses and sillinesses discredited them, then later..."

Full disclosure here. I'm Canadian, so no one can play the hyper-nationalist card on me. Maybe they'll call me an Uncle Tom, then? (/sarcasm)

Posted by: Jim on September 21, 2003 12:53 PM

william, a suggestion:

try increasing your font size when reading bill's piece. you apparently have it currently set so small that reading between the lines is impossible.

Posted by: firq krumpl on September 21, 2003 01:07 PM

LabRat

it's a shame that you have diminished your otherwise excellent response to michelle with the adolescent crudeness of your last two paragraphs. sort of plays into her american stereotype doesn't it?

Posted by: firq krumpl on September 21, 2003 01:30 PM

Firq: I return courtesy offered. I find it utterly absurd to be accused of rabid jingoism and lack of intellectual depth by someone whose entire intial contribution was a one-line troll post. I also return rudeness offered. I honestly do not give a shit whether Michelle thinks me crude or not, as it's clear that was what she was going to think anyway, and she's announced her intent to run for the hills before anything can change her mind.

Nor do I think language is relevant to the sentiment and point expressed. You can use as many Latin-derived syllables as you want and still have your head stuffed up your ass, and as few Anglo-Saxon derived short naughty words as you like and still have a point. I'm not writing a term paper here, and I have very little care for people who value style over substance so much that they'd ignore my point because I was sarcastic or used a dirty word.

In short: If some weenie who thinks she's being civilized and intellectual just because she didn't directly and explicitly insult us gets her stereotype reinforced because I didn't respond with the Alphonse and Gaston treatment, then too fucking bad. She's not my superior and I don't have to take shit with a smile.

Posted by: LabRat on September 21, 2003 08:31 PM

Howdy, "firq."

Think you can find a hidden agenda by "reading between the lines" of Bill's essays? You ought to see what you can find by knowing the guy for 34 years.

Think you know what he's "really saying" by the biased slant you've read into the blank spaces? Or do you think there might be just a stain of your own coloration in there? Oh wait, don't tell me...

Because Bill espouses that we are good people, who deserve to occasionally be recognized for the good we do, and who are, in his and Abraham Lincoln's opinions, "the last, best hope for the world," that therefore, between the lines, he's actually saying that everybody else sucks, and that we've never made a mistake, a misjudgment, or committed an atrocity along the way. Well, stick around for the posting of his next essay, POWER. He's been writing and tweaking it up here on this mountain for the last several days, and I've read the first third of it. And trust me when I say, he -- and WE -- are fully aware of our faults and foibles. 'Nuff said on that, here.

Unfortunately, Bill has to fly back to L.A. today, and so will have to finish and post it from there, probably tomorrow. But it's going to be a powerful statement, with no space between the lines, even at a larger font size, for subliminal messages or satanic verses.

If that's not the hidden meaning you were referring to though, then what was it? I'm looking at a 21-inch flatscreen, wearing my reading glasses, with the comments insert maximized, and I'm still not seeing what you're seeing. What IS he really saying here, firq?

I've known the guy a long time, and there surely isn't much of his heart that isn't out there fully plastered to his digital sleeve.

He says what he means, with a flourish. We like it. He has a popular blog site.

Easy math. Good reading.

GHS

Posted by: GreatHairySilverback on September 22, 2003 05:56 AM

Wow. Go out of town to show for a weekend, and look what I missed. Wish I could post a reply to Michelle, but since she said she's not coming back, why bother.

Jim - Liked the quote. I'll have to try & track down that story. The ideas used to justify totalitarian government seem to all be European: Socialism, Marxism, Nationalist Socialism, Fascism... The only truely home-grown "American" ideology I can think of would be some brand of populism. When totalitarians come into power here, they'll probably be wearing populist clothes (for market appeal); but I'm sure that intellectually they'll be European.
I liked the other side of that quote just as well. The market loves blandess that offends the fewest number of people, and appeals to the largest possible market; Adam Smith's "invisible hand" and economies of scale tend to smash flat the regional differences that used to make every area unique. We (Americans) are losing as many unique cultural identities as Europe. Instead of having real regional dishes (TexMex, southern, Cajun, midwest, California, New England...) you end up with the generic Appleby/OCharley/Chili/Max&Irma chain restaurant where you can get "cajun" food that's slightly blackened on the grill, just don't expect any cayenne pepper. Food may seem trivial, but it's only one example.
I just get tired of people hating the USA for the results of market forces and their own countrymen's choices. People are people though; all nations and breeds seem to share a lot of the same faults. I remember in the late 70's and 80's, there were an awful lot of Americans hating the Japanese for being so good at selling us ugly little fuel-efficient cars.

LabRat -
I can swear with the best of them, I've seen every episode of South Park, and know the words to most of the songs. One of my two all-purpose exclamations happens to be derived from the name of an AngloSaxon fertility goddess. But I look at it this way. There's a place and a time for everything. Foul language is like belching and farting. It's totally OK fart around the fire at night at deer camp. It's OK to belch around the pool table with a beer and your friends at the local seedy dive. But around strangers, you generally try to suppress rude noises. When one does slip out, you smile, pretend you don't normally to that, and say "'scuse me".
You're %100 correct that the language a person uses doesn't add to or detract from the correctness of their point. But like chewing with your mouth open, or talking with your mouth full: it distracts some people from what you're saying. If they're distracted or uncomfortable, they're not listening quite as well, and your probability of influencing their opinion goes way down. It depends on what your goal is. Do you just want to vent, or do you want to influence someone's opinion?
Foul language or no, a writing style that's the equivalent of shouting will sway very few opinions. It may be good for rallying the troops, but it won't inspire any of the enemy to defect, and join our side. I think that opportunities to sway someone's opinion are rare, and shouldn't be wasted.

Posted by: Jumper on September 22, 2003 08:07 AM

Hi Jumper,

Thanks for reminding me. You're right about populism being the likely form of a "home-grown" dictatorship. There was also a fictional treatment of that: Sinclair Lewis' "It Can't Happen Here". A sort of super-Huey Long gains dictatorial power by stages in 1930's America. The point was made explicitly in the book, too.

Posted by: Jim on September 22, 2003 10:43 AM

Jumper: re-read my post. I'm polite most of the time and always try to return genuine courtesy to the best of my ability. When someone's rude to me, however, I have no compunction whatever about returning the sentiment. I'm also much more likely to be such when I doubt my target is going to really hear me no matter how I phrase it.

Posted by: LabRat on September 22, 2003 11:05 AM

Jim - I'm not particularly a fan of Sinclair Lewis, but It Can't Happen Here has been on my list of books to read for a while. Also, I think I was wrong in calling populism an ideology. I think it's better characterized as a tactic, or a group of tactics, empty of true political thought.
Socialists try to create class envy and sow distrust between the (presumed noble) "working man" and the (undeserving, exploitative) "rich". The ideology is still the destruction of everyone's property rights, government allocation of wealth, and the centralization of and growth of government power (required if you're going to start stealing people's property in order to give it to someone else).
Ultra-nationalists use the tactic of populism to incite fear of a neighboring nation, or an economic trading partner in order to get people to agree with centralizing & increasing government power, managing the economy with subsidies & tariffs, etc.

LabRat - Wasn't picking on you. Yours is one of the names I look for when I don't have time to read every single post. I understand the source of your frustration, and the feeling that no matter what you say you're just not going to be able to get through to somebody. There are so many things that can stand in the way of communicating abstract ideas: arguing from radically different unspoken assumptions, words that have different connotative meanings to different people, or to people of different regions... It's even worse when you can't pick up clues to someone's intent and reaction by the tone of voice, or gestures & facial expression. I try to extend the benefit of the doubt and assume a misunderstanding as long as possible, and avoid a potential verbal downward spiral. That, and I don't like letting somebody know when they've gotten under my skin. If someone remembers how to push your buttons, they might be able to use that knowledge to your disadvantage.

Gotta go.

Posted by: Jumper on September 22, 2003 12:47 PM

Jumper- no offense taken, we simply have different perspectives on the matter. For one thing, when I express annoyance is usually a long way off from when I'm genuinely upset about anything; it's not so much a loss of control as a verbal cuff upside the head. When I'm enjoying the discussion, I try to show it. When I'm not, I show that too. For another, I'm really not a very nice person, in that I place no special premium on being as tactful or nonconfrontational as possible. I really enjoy good-natured debate as opposed to arguments and flamewars, but I also hate wasting my time and energy if the other person just isn't going to do things that way.

I try to never BASE my argument on an insult or make the insult the argument- that indicates a genuine loss of control and the point where I should leave the playing field.

Posted by: LabRat on September 22, 2003 02:06 PM

LR;
Like you, I enjoy exchange of differing ideas. (The only bad thing about this website is that it's often difficult to find something with which to take issue.) Zero patience for childish shouting matches. Decibles (or their printed equivalent) are not ideas. Like you, I don't consider myself to be a particularly "nice" person. But when I made "Don't Tread on Me" my own personal motto (actually, it's Leave Me the F*** Alone), I feel that I obligated myself to put forth extra effort not to tread on others, intentionally or no.
I think what I forgot to say before was that in a public forum, incivility directed towards one person is read/heard by all, and therefore lowers the tone of the entire forum/thread/blog, doing discourtesy to all (including our talented host Bill). It also encourages more of the same, creating the downward spiral, a vicious circle, a/k/a a positive feedback loop (for engineering types)...


In attempting to be a writer, I've become painfully aware of how imprecise words can be, and how two people can read the same words and take home two entirely different meanings.
I describe somebody as being a "Good Ol' Boy." By that, I mean he's pretty laid back, easy-going; he's good company for sitting around and downing a few beers, and that he probably has one or two "southern" stereotype traits; maybe he listens to country/western music, maybe he has the rifle rack in his pick-up truck, maybe he rides in western tack, and probably wears Tony Lama boots. That's what "Good Ol' Boy" means to me.
Person X hears "Good O' Boy", and pictures a slobbering dimwit with tobacco stains on both of his teeth swilling beer on the front porch of his trailer in a sweat-stained wife-beater shirt, malevolently anticipating sundown when he'll don his white robes, burn some crosses, and find somebody to hang from the live-oak tree. That's what "Good Ol' Boy" means to X.
If I'm talking to X face to face, and I describe an acquaintance of mine as being a Good Ol' Boy, I have the opportunity to see the expression of disgust & loathing on X's face. I realize X isn't using the same archetype as me, and immediatly clarify my meaning. Want to make it 10 times worse? What if I try to pay X a complement by actually calling him a Good Ol' Boy. By his lights, I've just compared him to banjo-boy in Deliverance
On a blog, I don't have that immediate feedback/monitoring opportunity of facial expression or vocal tone. Neither does anybody else. To make things worse, the fast turn-around time (relative to actual pen and paper, snail-mail correspondence) of e-mail and weblog discourages extensive editting, and even precludes the absolute best method of proof-reading: laying the words aside, and not looking at them until tomorrow, when the writer will be more likely to read what he actually wrote, as opposed to what he meant.
Given all that, we're all going to offend each other and misunderstand each other at some point. Talk to a European, and he might describe many of us as being "Liberal"; by which he means being for individual rights, representative government with strictly limited power, and so on. So if someone calls me a liberal, I'm going to make double sure they're not comparing me to Thomas Jefferson before I alienate him forever by specifying exactly which breeds of canine dominate the family tree of his maternal line. Likewise, if I read a post with a jocular, easy-going wit and a few turns of phrase I perceive to be southern, and a let slip with "Good Ol' Boy", I hope they'll ask me what I meant by that before damning me to having venom dripped on my face for all eternity in the dankest pit of El's realm.
I don't perceive it as a matter of being "nice". It's merely grease to lubricate the gears of the idea-exchange machine, preventing innocent friction from bringing all the machinery to a squeeling, clanking, screaming, grinding halt.

Posted by: Jumper on September 23, 2003 08:13 AM

On the imprecision of words: I can certainly agree with all of that.

However, I honestly don't see another way one can interpret "You Americans are so arrogant, and here's why", as "arrogant" is not exactly replete with alternative meanings. There is a point at which the benefit of the doubt borders on naivete.

Posted by: LabRat on September 23, 2003 08:02 PM

All these self-loathers and leftist idiots do tend to bring one down. I say to hell with them. (Even if they live off the work of those who defend our great country.)

Sorry for the redundancy when I wrote leftist idiot.

Posted by: alfredo stroessner on September 23, 2003 09:46 PM

LR -
But what fun it can be when you "innocently" ask them to clarify their meaning, define their terms, provide specific examples, or something to that effect, and you get to watch as they sputter and squirm in discomfort because you've forced them to confront the fact that what they believed to be their thoughts and ideas are nothing more than feelings that they can niether explain, defend, nor justify.
At best, you force them to re-evaluate their own beliefs, and at worse you expose the emptiness of their thinking.
Or maybe I'm just a sadistic bastard, I don't know.
Anyway, we probably just about beat this dead horse long enough.
Curmudgeons & Misanthropes of the World Unite!
Have a great day.

Posted by: Jumper on September 24, 2003 06:13 AM

I enjoy that too when I'm in the right mood, but when you get to the party late sometimes all there is left to do is throw their things out after them.

You too!

Posted by: LabRat on September 24, 2003 08:43 PM
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