A Question For The Doves

OK, here’s a question for all of you who think that it’s the hawks who are moonbats (and I know you’re out there). It stems in part from Henley’s post, as well as much of what I’ve read from people who want to be ‘aggressively chasing terrorists’ while not invading countries.

How – exactly – does that work? Because I can’t figure it out. Let’s take the following examples…Let’s take three hypothetical cases:

# Joe-Bob Bin Laden, Osama’s Texan brother, who has been demonstrated to have financed the Hamburg Al Quieda cell, and is now living in a small villa on the beach in Lebanon.
# Jessica Bin Laden, Osama’s sister, who was videotaped unloading duffel bags into Mohammed Atta’s car in August of 2001. She’s living in a small village somewhere in Syria.
# Juan Bin Laden, Osama’s South of the Border brother, whose call phone triggered the explosions in Madrid. He’s now vanished into Iran.

OK, let’s toss this open.

* How do you find them?

* Once you find them what do you do?

* What do you require from their host country?

* How will their host country react when you do whatever it is that you do?

113 thoughts on “A Question For The Doves”

  1. You rang?

    First of all, let’s make it clear that the Bush administration is not, in fact, invading Lebanon, Syria, or Iran.

    And let’s further stipulate that we cannot both achieve a stable Iraq and invade one or more of those other countries.

    And furthermore, these are pretty hypothetical cases. Nice try, working an “Atta connection” in there.

    So yes, anyone who advocates that we invade to capture one terrorist is indeed a moonbat.

    The first step I would take is to not allow the bin Laden family to leave the United States in the first place.

    But my serious answer, I suppose, is that we go in there and assassinate them, assuming that their “host countries” refuse to arrest and extradite them. So you find them by paying people to betray them, and then you kill them.

    The host country won’t do much, because to protest is to admit that they’re hosting terrorists.

  2. Aggressively chasing terrorists looks like this:

    Hunting down other terrorists in dozens of countries. Chasing OBL (assuming he yet lives) and much of Al Qaeda and the Taliban into Pakistan.

    For the doves, I think at this point we were supposed to send the FBI to Pakistan. I think, for many, after we caught OBL we were supposed to wrap the whole operation up.

    I think the Bush Admin figured that if 10,000 troops in Afghanistan couldn’t catch all the Al Qaeda dead-enders, 35 FBI agents in Pakistan couldn’t do it either. So we put pressure on Pakistan to go after Al Qaeda themselves, and try to get them to look the other way when our special forces chase Al Qaeda across the border. Notice that they unwilling to do that right away? (circa Spring 2002)

    We invaded Iraq, which led to Ghaddafi rolling over on the Islamicists, which gave us intel on Khan’s WMD proliferation in Libya and Iran and other places we haven’t announced yet, which puts pressure on Musharraf to turn more towards us and away from the Islamicists. Not that I’m saying that this was the plan, exactly. It’s just that pressure=pressure and these folks support and work with each other. Putting pressure on some was bound to yield dividends on others, in addition to the direct victories involved.

    Now we’ve got Pakistani troops instead of lonely (and unwelcome) FBI agents hunting down Taliban and Al Qaeda.

    That’s what aggressively chasing terrorists looks like to me.

    Someone else can expound on how we’ve managed to bring the Saudi Govt. to come to grips with their local Wahabbists.

  3. Hunting down other terrorists in dozens of countries‘…Matt, that’s a cool bumper sticker, but let’s get back to my question: what does hunting them down look like?? I can tell you what deer hunting looks like, I can tell you how police identify and arrest gang members here in Los Angeles. But I can’t figure out how we manage to hunt people down in countries that don’t want us to.

    But I’m all ears on this, because it’s an important point.

    Your ball.

    A.L.

  4. Hunting them in nations that don’t want us to has implications that go beyond simply the WOT. It is in essence a refutation of the Treaty of Westphalia, and its system of nation-states being “absolute”, notably concerning the Westphalian notion of sovereignty. In order to fight this war we will have to propose a new international system, one which recognizes globalization, one where the state held to account for its failures, and one which allows for the case of “broken states.”

  5. Your ball.

    I think you need to await an answer from a dove. I’m not one. Perhaps I didn’t make that clear in my post…?

    You’re right, of course, that it’s difficult to hunt terrorists down in countries that don’t want us around, but that hasn’t stopped us from going into many African countries or sending troops to the Philippines.

    You mention Lebanon, Syria, and Iran, and I think that the Bush Administration is doing exactly what should be done for those countries. They’re certainly not trying to go into all those countries and hunt terrorists down. They’re instead leaning on them individually and on the region as a whole to become more democratic. In short, attempting to turn them into countries like the Philippines (and now Pakistan and to a lesser extent Saudi Arabia) so that they actually want to hunt down the terrorists themselves, and eventually may accept our help doing it. From where I sit, the Bush administration has made a great deal of progress along those lines.

    I don’t think the doves would propose going about that in the way the Bush Administration has, but if I were a dove, I would propose encouraging democracy in a sort of ‘shine a light on tyranny/Amnesty.org’ fashion, I guess. I suppose if I were a certain type of dove I would claim that if only the US would abandon support for Israel, then 75% of the work of democritizing the Middle East would be complete. (Yeah, that’s a quasi-strawman, which is why I haven’t attributed it to ‘most’ or ‘some’ doves, but rather ‘a certain type’. One can quibble about how many of those type are around.)

    I prefer the more muscular Bush approace, largely because I don’t believe the other would work.

    Matt

  6. It occurs to me that I stil haven’t adequately explained how I get to ‘dozens’ of countries. I’m counting everywhere that we’ve been hunting terrorists. (Whether policework or militarily)

    We’ve been active in Europe, Africa, North America, (probably South America), and Asia. I think (but I could be wrong) that the number goes into the dozens. The countries that don’t want us around are the toughest, and generally the most important to get at.

  7. Given that we don’t blend in too well with the locals and can’t even speak the language, I suggest we cut them off—aid monies, trade, supplies, visas—everything.

    Then we go to the Swiss and other money launderers and put the screws to them. A few well placed threats to the Saudis would also be good. They can’t threaten us with scandal. The whole world is in this together.

    Every nation on the planet has to cooperate with intelligence. Then we can trade terrorists.

    That should be a feat. Especially since we are the ones who don’t play nicely with others or share either. ;-)

    Perhaps there should be an international internment area—like Belgium or Siberia? One really nasty place on every continent.

    A new world police system: “MondoPol”

    I am all for treating medieval terror with medieval tactics such as publicly televised captures and executions broadcast world wide to big-screens in town squares and sports bars. Humiliating them beforehand by transporting them in portable pigsties, then having leather clad dominatrix “infidel” prostitutes shave off their grimy beards and making them wear kufur clothing, like hospital gowns, is good too.

    Last meal? Pork entrails. :-D

  8. What to do about terrorists hopscotching among countries with none-too-friendly governments?

    Easy. Just elect John F. Kerry. Once his intellectually nuanced gift for diplomacy and multilateralism has made all nations (not to mention the UN) into American allies, their courts, police forces and militaries will drop everything else and provide us with complete protection from terrorism (with no need for domestic PATRIOT Act powers).

  9. Actually every nation doesn’t have to do a thing. Lebanon is its own little anarchy. It might irritate some of us if bin Ladin set himself up in a chateu in Iran and started broadcasting live.

    I think the original post ask some interesting and challenging questions. The only meaningful answer from a “Dove” I’ve seen so far is that we locate the bad guys outside the normal areas of law and order and extradition treaties, and assasinate them.

    This requires more C.I.A. including a larger group of skilled and trained assasins.

    The questioins seem rather simple and direct, not to mention practical real world situations. Why are the “doves” evading them or wandering off into totally unrelated areas. No war. OK, given the three examples above how does the U.S. deal with them (or perhaps ignore them and hope they come for a vistit to the NBA playoffs?)

    Does no one among the doves have an answer or lacks the nerve/guts/whatever to answer the question?

    A Hawk :)

  10. ….people who want to be ‘aggressively chasing terrorists’ while not invading countries. …
    How – exactly – does that work? Because I can’t figure it out.

    “My house is full of termites. I have a 20-pound sledgehammer I can kill them with, even inside the walls if I hit hard enough! My friends say I should try other strategies that won’t damage the walls, but how – exactly – does that work? Because I can’t figure it out.”

    You have extraordinary tunnel vision. The 3ID is the best hammer ever made, no doubt about it. But Joe-Bob Bin Laden isn’t a nail and you’re unwilling or unable to look through the toolbox (or design a new tool!) for something more appropriate.

    I’m probably what you mean by a “dove” though I certainly don’t think of myself that way.

    The brief answer is that I’m hardly an expert in US intelligence and counterterrorism capabilites. But my best guess for your (limited) scenario would be an “assassinate-and-expose” combo.

    How do you find them?

    I’m not privy to the full details of our intelligence, law enforcement, back-room diplomacy, military, and special forces capabilites. I assume we have procedures for doing so that are less than 100% but more than 0% effective. So, we use those, and try to improve them.

    However, since you’ve posed it as a hawk-vs-dove question I’ll counter with “Why would you expect an invasion of Syria to make it easier to find Jessica Bin Laden?” Individual high-level terrorists are mobile and well informed. They can hear an army coming a month away and be gone.

    Once you find them what do you do?

    Kill them, duh. Surgically, with minimum collaterals. Take out Joe-Bob’s beachhouse with a Navy S.E.A.L. team. Or capture them; a public trial with all the evidence would be dandy. If you really can’t get to them for now, wait and look harder. Either way, expose to the world public all proof that you can afford to release. Demonstrate who they were and why they deserve(d) killin’. Make it clear that nation X is harboring a known terrorist. Specifics always ring more true than vague accusations.

    Per example, compared to the vague noises about Iraq’s WMDs we damn well showed photographs of nuclear-tipped rockets at the UN during the Cuban missile crisis. This gave us the clear high ground and hit the USSR with a 10,000W spotlight of public glare. The appropriate response was under debate, but the realness of the threat was not. Everyone knew we were serious then but everyone thinks we were full of shit about Iraq now. The difference is palpable and will set the tone for the next 50 years of international relations. We shouldn’t make the same mistake with terrorists. If we want to accuse someone of evil now we need to f*cking prove it or even Poland will just hear “wolf! wolf!”

    (The right will scream “they’ll run and hide if we let on that we know” yadda yadda yadda. So? Let ‘em run. I’d sure rather have a Bin Laden spending his time hiding from the police than planning how to blow up buildings. Keeping up the pressure ad infinitum may be a bitch but it’s a lot less expensive than an invasion. And they’ll screw up and get caught eventually.)

    What do you require from their host country?

    With luck Joe-Bob sleeps with the fishes after step 2, in which case you demand bupkus. If not, you expose and demand contrition and extradition, but the truth is, they (say Syria) probably won’t give it and you don’t really care so much. By demonstrating clearly that they’re harboring terrorists they start to look real bad, even their neighbors have to publicly disavow them. If your information is incontrovertible they may be forced to give the guy up to save face. Keep it up with more examples and life continues to get harder for them. Libya was incontrovertibly connected to Lockerbie, and has as a result been a pariah state for years, bothering few. Even Syria doesn’t pay them much attention. The need to escape that, btw, is why they dropped the WMDs, not Iraq. The process began in 1997, though it is possible Libya tried to start it as early as 1992 and was rebuffed.

    How will their host country react when you do whatever it is that you do?

    They (that country’s regime) will probably be pretty pissed off. So? By your premise they already harbor terrorists. I give not a rat’s ass what that government thinks. They (the country’s population) will be doubtless annoyed but considerably less so than if an invasion saw thousands of their civilian and workaday soldier relatives killed in the war. Nobody remains objective when little sis’ head gets blown off by a bomblet. When attempting to fight terrorism, our goal should always be to minimize the number of such people, therefore reducing the number of terrorists our kids have to deal with.

    Under “assasinate-and-expose”, some of country X’s moderates may even be outraged at their own government for knowingly harboring terrorists.

    Now, give me an entire nation that’s a clear problem (the Taliban is at least close), and I may feel differently. But you were asking about a single individual in a beachhouse. That’s the question I answered.

    So, I admit up front I am no expert and “assassinate and expose” is not guaranteed effective. It’s also not the only possible option, but how long an answer do you want?

    But … will the hawks please explain to me how an invasion of Syria guarantees elimination of Jessica BL while avoiding tripling Joe-Bob’s and Juan’s recruiting base??

    You might want to think through your answer carefully. Two years after invading Afghanistan we haven’t captured OBL, though I’m sure we will eventually.

    More importantly, al-Qaeda bulldog Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was in a known location in Iraq’s northern (non-Baathist) regions before the Iraq war. No fewer than three Pentagon-proposed surgical strikes against his camp were nixed by the White House in 2001-2002. Zarqawi got away before the war, and was left free to plan the Spanish train bombings. I feel quite comfortable calling the people who made those decisions moonbats.

    Meanwhile we’ve killed ~10k civilians. So call it ~35k brothers, mothers, uncles, and kids with a lifetime vendetta. Some will increase the ranks of AQ and be trying hard to blow up Disneyland or something in 2015.

    So do you prefer to keep playing whack-a-mole with that hammer, or are you ready to start looking for other tools in the toolbox? It’s a nice hammer, but the termites are breedin’ while you swing that heavy sumbitch around.

  11. Good old fashioned police work ought to be sufficient to bring any of these folks into custody. The methods used to apprehend David Koresh at Mt Carmel in Waco, Texas come to mind…
    Note that using police methods instead of military invasion, the gov’t preserves physical evidence of the perp’s crimes, converts at least accomplices into prosecution witnesses, and upholds the nation’s honor as an instrument of justice rather than an agent of vengeance.

    The arrest of Manuel Noreiga on drug charges is another similar model instance, as is the arrest of Slobodon Milesovic on charges of conspiracy to commit murder.

  12. Good old fashioned police work ought to be sufficient to bring any of these folks into custody. The methods used to apprehend David Koresh at Mt Carmel in Waco, Texas come to mind…
    Note that using police methods instead of military invasion, the gov’t preserves physical evidence of the perp’s crimes, converts at least some of the perp’s accomplices into prosecution witnesses, and upholds the nation’s honor as an instrument of justice rather than an agent of vengeance.

    The arrest of Manuel Noreiga on drug charges is another similar model instance, as is the arrest of Slobodon Milesovic on charges of conspiracy to commit murder.

  13. If I have time, I might give you a longer answer later, but here’s a question that I think you know the answer to:

    What happened to the terrorists who did the Munich Olympics massacre?

    So it is possible for special forces to track down terrorists in countries where they are not unwelcome and to kill them. And that’s the short answer to what we should do. (First, of course, we should try to persuade the host countries to render the terrorists up, with trade or whatever. I point out that Fidel Castro, no friend of ours, has been scrupulous in handing back hijackers, for which we thanked him with a demagogic and illegal delay in returning Elian Gonzalez.)

    I’m getting a strong sense of false dichotomy here. If Mao bin Laden hides in China (some of our domestic Islamofascist sympathizers used western China as a transit point to Talibanland), are we really going to war with China? Boris bin Laden hides in Russia (maybe the Russians are mad at our economic exploitation of Iraq circa 2007), we tell Putin to hand him over or we invade? So another short answer is that we suggest for Syria and Mexico whatever you suggest for Russia and China, where the Marines are not an option. (In case you hadn’t noticed, they have their hands full already. I had never taken you for on of the WoC hallucinators who think we have a whole second military in secret reserve for Syria and Iran.)

  14. IdahoEv – thanks for your lengthy response. I have several points:
    1. Your analogy of a house is interesting: are you saying that the whole world is our house to do with as we want?

    2. If we do accept the analogy of a house as at least refering to our own country, should I read your response as approving assasination of Muslims in the US who support terrorist activities, to include American citizens? I doubt that very many conservative hawks would agree with that.

    3. Your general point about surgical hits is well placed, many of us on the right would prefer that, if we felt it would solve the problem of the creation of new terrorists. No matter how we take out terrorists, the methods we use will be used as an excuse by someone to become a terrorist. So we need (on this view) to go after the support of terrorism which includes various governments, madrassas, NGO’s etc.

    I would agree with a plan of surgical attacks on high profile targets where appropriate and feasible. For instance the current Israeli technique of changing the guard at Hamas fits your plan perfectly. HOWEVER, what if (as some think) a high profile terrorist is hiding in Fallujah? Would you ask for a surgical strike here, or do you have another suggestion?

    by the way, I agree with you that invading various countries is not the answer unless we can ram civilisation change down their throat. Unfortunately, the wonderful example of Japan, where a country’s culture was turned around by occupation suggests that the only way we can do that is to MASSIVELY destroy the existing culture, and I am not sure we are ready to live with the results. On the other hand, what if Steve den Beste and Wretchard, among others, are correct, and this whole thing goes nuclear with the loss of at least American city? Are we ready to live with the destruction of the entire Islamic world?

    TO go back to your hammer analogy, I think we are using a 10 pound because the alternative is a pneumatic jack hammer. I wish we had something smaller that would do all we need.

  15. Here’s a few questions for all you advocates of sending in the ninja assassination squads:

    What sort of American casualties are you willing to endure for this “clean” elimination of the enemy? I mean, are these suicide squads, or do we fully intend to get our guys back out safely after a killing spree? If the former, good luck with your recruiting. If the latter, then you’re going to need your helicopter gunships, your fighter jets, killer drones, etc. (in short, a small to mid-size invasion force) to kill the bad guys who are trying to protect your “target” and/or come after our assassins as they try to escape. Where does this cross over into outright invasion, or haven’t you thought about such matters?

    Personally, I hope our scientists are hard at work on pixie dust or a cloak of invisibility that allows our guys to sneak stealthily into foreign lands and off really, really bad people. But until that happens, our options are not infinite.

    And one more thing, if our assassin ninjas need to shoot a few folks who get in their way, or (God forbid) get the wrong guy (how was I to tell, they all look alike!) are you prepared to accept this as the price of such operations? Are you going to stand by the agency that plans and leads them? Or will you be swayed by the “human rights activists” who will swarm all over these stories, shrug your shoulders and say “it was a good idea in theory but these people are muttonheads/criminals/not to be trusted”?

    War is not ALWAYS the answer, but these mini-solutions are not as simple as they appear at first, either.

  16. Does no one among the doves have an answer or lacks the nerve/guts/whatever to answer the question?

    I don’t call myself a “dove”, but for your purposes that’s probably the category I fall into, since I opposed the Iraq invasion and still stand by that opinion.


    This requires more C.I.A. including a larger group of skilled and trained assasins.

    Hear hear! The $300+ bil ultimate cost of the Iraq invasion would buy an awful lot of assassins, special forces teams, intelligence bribes, and spy satellites. Without risking nearly so many troops’ lives or killing so many civilians.

    Here’s another proposal I’m sure you’ll laugh at. Spend $100bil of that on intelligence and assassinations and another $100bil on food, education, and economic growth programs in Muslim countries, especially Palestine. Apply the rest to reduce the deficit by 17%.

    $100bil will feed and educate a lot of people. While the ideologue leaders like OBL are usually rich, they tend to recruit their warriors from poor, disenfranchised, and terminally pissed-off young men; comfortable middle-class people just don’t usually want to go blow themselves up. Compare Turkey and Dubai to other Arab nations in terms of violent tendencies.

    You’ll laugh, because conservatives are (in my experience) constitutionally incapable of considering the possibility something which appears “nice” may have a possibility of working. If it’s nice it’s obviously just flowers and handwaving and no “real men” would ever take it seriously. So, you’ll laugh, it will never get tried, we’ll move on.

    What pitiful efforts we have made at humanitarian aid over the decades have almost always had political strings attached. People aren’t stupid; this makes many feel the assistance isn’t genuine but is cynical and self-serving. Outside the U.S., the history of strings attached to aid is remembered and resented.

    Ultimately, I think it’s the only possible effective long-term plan to eliminate islamist terrorism: make a real plan and effort to raise the economic status of the region. Hopefully by 2050 we can build a Middle East without so many poor and uneducated people. In such a world, islamist terrorism would be less of a problem.

    In the meantime, assassinate known terrorists, surgically wipe out training camps, and expose governments harboring them.

  17. I think the very phrasing of the challenge encourages responses that use faulty logic. For example, while Idaho made some reasonable comments he’s really just exploiting the weakness of the challenge.

    To see this, consider that Joe-Bob, Jessica and Juan bin Laden are utterly powerless as individuals unless and until they can build a dedicated, well-funded organization to give life to their threats. Once such an organization is built or, more importantly, once the social framework under which such an organization can thrive is built, it will outlast the assassination of any given leader.

    Thus, IdahoEv’s primary point is that all we REALLY need to do is to get some sort of super-secret, whiz-bang commando team in the right place at the right time and a $1 sniper bullet finishes off the War on Terror. He shows the weakness of the challenge explicitly:

    “But you were asking about a single individual in a beachhouse. That’s the question I answered.”

    Indeed, IdahoEv states explicitly the very first premise of the vast majority of the critics of the WOT: war against any Islamic nation is the equivalent of destroying an entire house to root out a few termites. In this, they ignore plentiful evidence that a) opposition to liberal, democratic traditions – rooted as they are in Greek, Christian and enlightenment intellectual foundations that are alien to Islam – goes to the very core of Islamic civilization and b) the spread of Islam in the face of a weak and dissipating West (the Dar al-harb) is the essential cause d’etre of the broader Islamic jihad.

    It is laughable to see the hard left perform the mental gymnastics necessary to believe that the Jihadists are merely the latest recruit to their anti-Capitalist mission. But, just as destructively, the middle left is laughably naive to believe that the civilian deaths in Iraq are the root cause of the growth in Jihadists (which has been ongoing for far longer than we’ve been in Iraq). Even if IdahoEv’s statistic of 10,000 civilians is correct, (most casualty estimates are far lower) this is still less than half of the 20,000 Palestinians that were reportedly killed by Jordan’s Hashemite troops in ONE MONTH during Arafat’s attempted Black September coup in 1970. It is but a fraction of the 70,000 that Saddam is estimated to have killed every year in the decade leading up to the American invasion.

    Why, IdahoEv, do the deaths of Islamics count only if America can somehow be blamed?

    The answer is that the entire house – every beam, every floorboard, every shingle, is crawling with termites and they are nearly done chewing it up. They are looking very enviously and hungrily at the big, creaking house next door – your house, Idaho. And they are thinking that maybe their house wouldn’t look so bad if they could just feast for awhile on yours.

    It is into THAT breach that we were launched on 9/11. Not some fantasy world where, if we just hadn’t supported the Shah of Iran as he fought off the Khomenists, or if we had simply let Israel drown in the orgy of destruction planned for them in the ’67 war, or if only we’d gotten bin Laden in ’96, then all the Islamic world would now be filled with happy little progressive liberals.

  18. A.L. –
    Just for grins, how do YOU deal with the bin Laden kids in your question? Invade Belgium? (Not that that might not be a good answer to some other problems we have…)

  19. Oscar- we can arrest American citizens, given that America is a friendly country willing to give these people up. If they aren’t American citizens, declare them illegal combatants and deal with them via military tribunals. The propaganda value of an assassination is much less than that of an invasion an occupation. Japan, a culturally homogenous and highly industrializd country without connections to global religious fundamentalist terror networks, is not the best historical analogy.

  20. Pouncer,

    The methods Used to apprehend David Koresh at Mt Carmel in Waco, Texas come to mind… Note that using police methods instead of military invasion, the gov’t preserves physical evidence of the perp’s crimes

    The arrest of Manuel Noreiga… Slobodon Milesovic

    Your deadpan is most excellent! You had me going for a while there; indeed I was (embarrasing though it is to admit) already well into an indignant reply before this nagging little voice started saying, “Wait..I think Pouncer is being facetious…”.

  21. Wow… so many valuable comments to reply to. I really can’t afford the time to give the debate the treatment it deserves (I already didn’t sleep last night, interleaving this with deadline work), but I’ll do my best.

    I may not have time to come back for a third round, but I appreciate the debate either way. Much respect to you all.

    Oscar:

    Your analogy of a house is interesting: are you saying that the whole world is our house to do with as we want?

    “House” analogy is weak and not meant to reflect any particular geopolitical entitiy. The hammer and !nail analogy was the important part; the “house” was just my attempt to come up with some item you might damage while using a hammer for the wrong job. That said, I of course don’t feel the world is our house to play in at will; I’m the liberal “dove” in the room after all. All things being relative. :-)

    …approving assasination of Muslims in the US who support terrorist activities, to include American citizens?

    No, in a more complete statement of my plan I’d specify the entire assassinate/expose strategy as a resort after diplomatic and rule of law efforts have failed. We wouldn’t need to invade Britain if they were holding Juan Bin Laden, We’d just ask for extradition. Our domestic legal system is more than equal to the task of handling US citizens engaged in terrorism.

    Your general point about surgical hits is well placed, many of us on the right would prefer that, if we felt it would solve the problem of the creation of new terrorists. No matter how we take out terrorists, the methods we use will be used as an excuse by someone to become a terrorist.

    I agree with your literal statement but strongly disagree with your implication. Yes, any action can and will be used as an excuse. But different actions can and will have different levels of effect. You would have an uphill argument that a surgical strike or CIA assassination killing 10-20 people would cause the same level of popular outrage as an invasion killing 5000 and occupying a nation for a couple of years. Compare the US public emotional responses to the bombing of the U.S. Cole and the fall of the WTC. Vast devastation + many deaths + feeling of vulnerability and powerlessness = great anger + great desire to strike out against the enemy. We’re all human; getting hurt pisses us off and getting hurt more pisses us off more.

    EG: Clinton’s cruise missile strike after the embassy bombings, as idiotic and misguided as it was, did not cause a significant fraction of the outrage being seen now post Iraq invasion.

    what if (as some think) a high profile terrorist is hiding in Fallujah?

    Would depend entirely on the quality of the intelligence, but in any case I’d probably not suggest going in with 20 tanks and 2000 men. As with OBL and al-Zarqawi, the hypothetical high-level terrorist is going to be the most informed and mobile person in the city. Unless we can pinpoint him and get in fast, there’s no point. Roll in the tanks, and he’s long gone by the time you get there to start the manhunt.

    unless we can ram civilisation change down their throat.

    Civilization at gunpoint sounds unlikely to me; people resent being at gunpoint. Agree with you that we’re not ready to live with the loss of an american city and/or distruction of the islamic world. I firmly believe that existing policy of invasion is hastening that end.

    I think we are using a 10 pound because the alternative is a pneumatic jack hammer. I wish we had something smaller that would do all we need.

    Points:
    1) We used something within spitting distance the full force of the US military short of the nuclear option; i.e. we’re using the jackhammer.

    2) Have you really examined to see if there’s something smaller? The Israelis don’t move in 100,000 men to take out a Hamas leader. The Spanish police caught the train bombers, and the Lockerbie conspirators were ultimately caught, extradited, an tried in court. You’re making a hell of an assumption that there are no other options – they seem to work for other countries, at least some of the time!

    3) Have you argued that the hammer is actually effective? This is a really critical point.

    You argue that we need to address governments, madrassas, terrorist recruiting, fundraising, etc. Please explain to me how invasion does this in a way that effectively reduces terrorist activity and recruitment in the long term.

    As I’ve pointed out, the hammer has been slow to catch OBL and al-Zarqawi.

  22. praktike,

    Before WildMonk goes off to do his appointed homework, perhaps a clue from you as to why this is relevant to our present crisis would be in order. Because I can’t see where he said anything remotely resembling either “Islam never contributed anything to anyone” or “Every Muslim is a terrorist” or anything like that. All he asserted is that those who are doing the chewing have ruined their own realms, and are looking to do the same to ours.

  23. Idaho,

    Hope you are able to keep on with the discussion! Here’s my two cents about your most recent:

    Points:
    1) We used something within spitting distance the full force of the US military short of the nuclear option; i.e. we’re using the jackhammer.

    Not at all. We may have moved a large portion of our land-based assets into the area for the affair, but if we had actually used the “full force” of those forces Baghdad would look like Dresden, wouldn’t it? And look at the most recent news out of Fallujah–it may be misguided to stop short of levelling the place, but the fact remains we could but we aren’t.

  24. Kelli:


    What sort of American casualties are you willing to endure for this “clean” elimination of the enemy?

    Well, one less than the invasion strategy would be an improvement. We’re at 800+, Iraq + Afghanistan. Doesn’t look to be letting up anytime soon.

    … shoot a few folks who get in their way, or (God forbid) get the wrong guy… are you prepared to accept this as the price of such operations?

    Dude … (very roughly) 10k civilian casualties from the Iraq invasion…

    …I’m stunned you’d even make this argument.

    Answer: Hell yeah I’ll accept that “cost”.

  25. Not presenting a argument of my own here, but here’s something those that are need to consider…

    When weighing the merits of the various approaches to the WoT, can we all agree that the Nuclear Genie should be kept in its bottle as long as possible?

    Frankly, this is orders of magnitude more frightening than a few random terrosists acts here or there… even those on the scale of 9-11.

    So, any plan that doesn’t address nuclear coopperation between states and terrorists is not complete. When considering this, also remember that you might not learn of this cooperation until NYC disappears.

    This is the subtext driving the WoT. The clock is ticking.

  26. “Spend $100bil of that on intelligence and assassinations and another $100bil on food, education, and economic growth programs in Muslim countries, especially Palestine.”

    In addition to the billions sent to Palestinian refugees by UNRWA, the EU, and the US? Much of which goes into Arafat’s swiss bank account?

    Plus, why should we spend billions of dollars on Muslim countries when some of them have huge wealth in oil? If they aren’t spending on their own people, how is our money supposed to get to them? Education: they send boys to madrassas and girls stay home. How are we supposed to “educate” them contrary to their customs, without force?

    Economic programs: We got em. Microlending programs, for example, are very big in Asia and Africa and are making a big difference, especially to women, which in turn affects the entire society for the good. But it’s not enough, or 9-11 wouldn’t have happened.

    Not to mention the totally discredited idea that terrorism is a result of poverty and ignorance. It’s not. It’s an ideology, like Naziism, and appeals to the educated middle class.

    Next.

  27. Argh! I’m disappointed I showed up at this discussion so late.

    BTW, I’m with IdahoEv on all of this. I’d like to add something though. I think that IdahoEv’s stratgies aren’t really anything new. These are the basic methods that our government has been using to block terrorists for fifty years.

    The big question, I think, is “do these methods still work?” Many would say that september 11 shows that the old techniques don’t work any more.

    I don’t agree with that assessment. So much of what the 9/11 commission has turned up seems to indicate that the agencies in question were severly dysfunctional because of legal and administrative problems. Despite the pervasive dysfunction, they nonetheless seemed to be mere inches away from catching the bad guys. The obvious conclusion is that if we repair the dysfunction, then the next major event will be prevented, just as hundreds of past terrorist plots have been.

    In other words, I think 9/11 was the exception that proved the rule: these agencies work.

  28. IdahoEv,

    “Please explain to me how invasion does this in a way that effectively reduces terrorist activity and recruitment in the long term.”

    There have been a number of threads in which proponents of the war have tried to explain how the democratization of Iraq should, over time, lead to the reduction ME terrorism. It relies crucially on an understanding of the underlying conditions of terrorism, and some empirical observations of the (non-terrrorist) conduct of democracies. Repeating them here would be repetitive (you can find them if you search the archives).

    Suffice to say that the competing analysis of terrorism from the left has been weak at best, and incoherent at worst. This has led to incomplete and unsatisfactory anti-terrorist solutions.

    Police work relies on the co-operation of countries; many of the countries that harbor terrorists will be uncooperative. If you resort to targetted assassination, you risk open warfare with countries who interpret your violation of their sovereignty as an act of war. This might create a new opportunity for terrorists: base your terrorist attack in a country that the US would rather not attack (say China)- if the US doesn’t respond, it looks weak; if the US responds, it risks open warfare with another nuclear power.

    Most importantly, though, the left anti-terror response fails because it lacks a credible explanatory theory of terrorism. Explanations that are but variations of the immiseration thesis – “poverty”, US foreign policy, capitalist advance, etc – break down when faced with well-educated, wealthy, feudalist, religiously-inspired terrorists.

    Hence, we get the confused offer of “humanitarian aid” to solve the underlying problem. But, of course, redistribution of income cannot change the poliltical dysfunction of the ME. As Bernard Lewis notes, the ME put a new spin on “no taxation without representation”; oil-rich dictators do not face the pressure to democratize because their wealth removes the need to significantly tax their subjects. In this sense, redistributing wealth to the ME works against democratization regardless of the short-term benefits it might bring.

    To effectively contribute to the discussion, social democrats must clean out the intellectual attic by junking quasi-Marxist concepts.

  29. Kirk Parker-

    “rooted as they are in Greek, Christian and enlightenment intellectual foundations that are alien to Islam”

    This is what I was objecting to. Given that it was Islamic scholars who preserved the knowledge that led to the revival of humanism in Europe, I think it’s fair to say that WildMonk has some reading to do.

    If he wants to say that humanism is alien to Islamism, fine.

  30. By the way, how did this get turned into the same discussion we always have?

    A.L. asked a narrow question. Some of us answered it. Let’s not get into the whole deal here.

  31. > If you resort to targetted assassination, you risk open warfare with countries who interpret your violation of their sovereignty as an act of war.

    Now this is an argument I just don’t get. You’re saying that if we had used targeted assassination inside Iraq, we would have risked open war against Hussein? I’m with IdahoEv on this one: “So What?”

    Actually, if Hussein had declared war on us, would our NATO allies have been forced to come to our aid? I don’t know enough about the treaties to know how much obligation they would have had.

  32. > Now we’ve got Pakistani troops instead of lonely (and unwelcome) FBI agents hunting down Taliban and Al Qaeda.

    I think this is a weird argument too. So you’re suggesting we should take the word of the Pakistanis that the Al-Qaeda in Pakistan have been caught and captured? That doesn’t make me feel safe at all. I feel a lot safer taking the word of 35 American CIA operatives, even if they are lonely and unwelcome.

  33. Josh,

    You’re suggesting targetted assassination as a general policy. I’m just working through the consequences of the policy for future terrorist incidents. I would think the application of the policy to theoretical situations would be relevant to its viability.

  34. Since I am a geneticist, and not a dove, I can’t post an answer here. But when I was at still at work, we ostensibly did not do assassinations. Has this changed? All the VR site models we built were for the purpose of ‘extraction’.
    Are doves extinct? It seems no one will acknowledge being one.

  35. > You’re suggesting targetted assassination as a general policy.

    Yes. Of course, in those cases where you can get cooperation from the country, say, extradition, you should use that instead. But yes, in general, the terrorists need to be killed. I’d rather use targeted assassination than war.

    – Josh

  36. > Since I am a geneticist, and not a dove

    Hoho. :)

    > But when I was at still at work, we ostensibly did not do assassinations. Has this changed? All the VR site models we built were for the purpose of ‘extraction’. Are doves extinct? It seems no one will acknowledge being one.

    So many of the “scenarios” designed for the purposes of argumentation here are designed to be intractable: “there’s a terrorist leader, he’s in a country that doesn’t support extradition, we don’t know who’s working with him, he never travels, we have no agents implanted in his organization, thousands will die.” In such scenarios, you don’t have many options. In such scenarios, I would support extreme measures.

    That said, I think such scenarios are rare. More often, terrorists travel, and periodically show up in airports of countries with which you have extradition treaties. In those cases, it’s not just morally better to imprison them, it’s also tactically better: you avoid making a martyr, but you increase your chance of getting some useful intel out of them.

  37. Josh,

    I’m not sure I understand your position. You argued for targetted assassination. Then, when faced with a situation where targetted assassination is not viable, you support war. So really, your position is not a general policy of targetted assassination, it’s more of a mixed targetted assassination/war when necessary.

    Perhaps the only difference between your position and the proponents of the WoT is that the latter don’t think targetted assassination is a viable way to remove the underlying source of terrorism. We’d rather treat the lawn than simply pull the weeds as we find them (otherwise we’ll be weed-picking forever).

  38. Josh: Thanx, I get it– you are less constrained by reality here, and so can postulate assassinations! Cool!

  39. IdahoEv, seems to forget that there are millions of people in the countries who support the terrorists. And we don’t blend in! Pretty tough to do covert operations if all you have to be covert in is a desert camouflage suit.

    “Surgical Strikes” on a massive scale are not working for Israel and it won’t work for the U.S. either. We shall bring the whole house down around our heads if we only use hammer like force.

    Oscar’s example of having “massively destroyed” the Japanese culture is erroneous. Japan remains culturally Japan. They may be democratic, but their values are Japanese. The recent hostages taken in Iraq are back in Japan now. They are being SHAMED! In the U.S. or Europe they might be lauded as heroes. In Japan they are being vilified for having been selfish.

    It would be wiser to spend billions on people, trained both cross-culturally and linguistically, to deal with these cultures—instead of war. Instead of aid, the carrot of development helpers might be a good thing. Send our MBAs, legal and business experts to teach them how to run a civil society that prospers.

    “You’ll laugh, because conservatives are (in my experience) constitutionally incapable of considering the possibility something which appears “nice” may have a possibility of working.” . .

    . . .make a real plan and effort to raise the economic status of the region. Hopefully by 2050 we can build a Middle East without so many poor and uneducated people. In such a world, islamist terrorism would be less of a problem.

    Absolutely right. These people in the current administration are in their own John Wayne movie. Except in real life, people don’t get up to live another day.

    In the meantime, assassinate known terrorists, surgically wipe out training camps, and expose governments harboring them.

    That can only happen with world cooperation including the governments who have spawned this hydra. After all, the terrorists are seeking WMDs and will most likely get them soon enough. We are all in this together as the Saudis have now recognized.

    In other words, I think 9/11 was the exception that proved the rule: these agencies work.”

    9/11 was the rule that proved the rule. These agencies DON’T work! According to Clark they need a serious overhaul.

    A WMD strike will be the ultimate incentive for cooperation among the world’s peoples.

  40. Could someone explain to me more slowly why we will fail (completely) at targeted assassinations, including extricating our special forces, when the Israelis have succeeded so well? I don’t mean Sheik Yassin’s death from the air. I mean what happened to every single one of the Munich massacre PLO team.

    Frankly, given the utter botch we’ve made of Iraq (as our war of liberation turns into a war of colonialist occupation against increasingly long odds), I don’t see how Team Hawk gets to use the “It Won’t Work” Card.

  41. > I’m not sure I understand your position. You argued for targetted assassination. Then, when faced with a situation where targetted assassination is not viable, you support war.

    Did I say that? Oh, I understand. Yes, I said that in the process of doing targeted assassinations, if somebody declares war on us, we should defend ourselves. I don’t think any liberal ever suggested that we shouldn’t defend ourselves if somebody declared war on us.

    But I think there’s a big advantage to letting them declare war on us, rather than the other way around. Not only is it more politically acceptable, but it brings NATO into play.

    I don’t think that counts as “supporting war,” because I don’t really want war, and I don’t really expect to get it: not many people are stupid enough to declare war against the US.

    > So really, your position is not a general policy of targetted assassination, it’s more of a mixed targetted assassination/war when necessary.

    It’s a pragmatic position. Use extradition where possible. If that fails, use assassination. If somebody declares war on us, we should defend.

    > Perhaps the only difference between your position and the proponents of the WoT is that the latter don’t think targetted assassination is a viable way to remove the underlying source of terrorism.

    I agree. I think that much of the hubbub seems to suggest that this is a huge conflict of ideologies. I don’t think it is. I think almost everybody takes a pragmatic view: you do what you have to, you use force when you have to, and you use no more than you have to. It’s merely different beliefs about what’s pragmatic and what’s not.

    Liberals think the idea of democratizing the mideast simply isn’t going to work. Conservatives think that the idea of continuing to use the CIA and FBI to root out terrorists isn’t going to work.

    Even liberals agree that we will be “weed-picking” forever. We’ve been doing it for fifty years. I don’t think we’re going to eliminate terrorism any more than we’re going to eliminate domestic murders. The CIA is here to stay, just like the criminal justice system.

  42. “Frankly, given the utter botch we’ve made of Iraq (as our war of liberation turns into a war of colonialist occupation against increasingly long odds), I don’t see how Team Hawk gets to use the “It Won’t Work” Card.”

    Andrew,

    The success or failure of the policy of targetted assassination to reduce ME terrorism is independant of the alleged failure of the Iraq war. We are entitled to test the viability of dovish policy on its own merits. If, however, you want to engage in comparative analysis, feel free. But expect those of us in favor of the Iraq war to vigorously contest your bald assertion that the war was a failure.

  43. Josh,

    Ok, I think we’re getting somewhere at least.

    “I said that in the process of doing targeted assassinations, if somebody declares war on us, we should defend ourselves… But I think there’s a big advantage to letting them declare war on us, rather than the other way around. Not only is it more politically acceptable, but it brings NATO into play.”

    I’m not sure this would have a positive effect on US military policy. If the US anticipated that an assassination strike on a sovereign nation would likely lead to a declaration of war by that nation against the US, the US would have to prepare to fight it. Given your belief that we could find ourselves assassinating ME terrorists forever, it is conceivable that the US could find itself in a perpetual state of war with multiple nations that may only be tangentially involved in ME politics. How is this preferable?

    “Liberals think the idea of democratizing the mideast simply isn’t going to work… Even liberals agree that we will be “weed-picking” forever.”

    This is interesting, and I think it’s related to your view that this isn’t a conflict of ideologies. I suppose we may have 2 different historical views at play; I tend to see the past 50 years as, in part, an intellectual and military struggle between communism and Western liberal democratic capitalist societies. Importantly, the West was victorious because its way of life was more successful in providing necessary moral, political and material goods to its proponents, relative to the communist system. Note that there was a pragmatic, as well as intellectual, element to this victory: the West convinced potential liberal democrats in Eastern Europe that they would live better lives under our system than under Marx’s.

    You could deny my view, but I would argue that history is made, and conduct undertaken, by men and women who are motivated by intellectual systems and beliefs; this applies to Islamic militants as much as it applies to communists.

    So I would disagree that the West should view the struggle in the ME as a series of interminable inchoate skirmishes. Rather, the West should approach the struggle against theocratic ME fascism the same way it approached the struggle against communism: with political, intellectual and military force.

    You can counter that this is just colonialism by another name, but you’d be invoking a moral system that condemned ME people to either failed Arab nationalist tyranny or theocratic fascism (akin to abandoning Eastern Europeans to marxist slavery), and I would be prepared to argue for my position on those grounds.

  44. praktike,
    “Given that it was Islamic scholars who preserved the knowledge that led to the revival of humanism in Europe”
    IIRC, it is true that the Islamic scholars preserved much of the classical knowledge during the dark ages. However, IIRC almost none of that knowledge was accepted/adopted by Islamic philosophy/society, nor were any significant contributions made to that body of knowledge by the contemporary Islamic scholars. (cf. the Irish scholars who in addition to also preserving a good deal of classical knowledge, also made signifacant contributions.)
    Therefore, Wildmonk’s claim that “liberal, democratic traditions [are] rooted … in Greek, Christian and enlightenment intellectual foundations that are alien to Islam” is actually supported by the history of Islamic caretaking of classical knowledge in that Islamic scholarship neither borrowed from it nor added to it. Islamic scholarship merely helped preserve it during the dark ages.

  45. er, still wrong. Islamic scholars actually came up with a lot of great stuff. Like, for instance, numbers, which they adapted from India. Then there’s astronomy.

    Come on, this is really pathetic.

  46. This brings to mind something else. Who’s to say we aren’t pursuing all these policies (war, extradition, assassination, etc.) already. I’m sure we only hear about a fraction of what the Special Ops guys are up to, and even less about the CIA This isn’t an either/or thing.

    And Josh says:

    Even liberals agree that we will be “weed-picking” forever. We’ve been doing it for fifty years. I don’t think we’re going to eliminate terrorism any more than we’re going to eliminate domestic murders.

    That’s the scary part. Terrorists are getting closer, and closer to having nuclear capability. The clock is ticking.

    Assuming we want to be good international citizens, must we announce our new assassination policy and get UN approval before proceeding? Or should we pursue it in a unilateral fashion?

  47. Andrew, the Israelis are successful at targeted assassinations because they live in the region, the region is small, they have super intelligence (including Arabs) and they even blend in.

    We don’t have any of those advantages. We would have to go to where ever in the world: Afghanistan, the Middle East, Europe, Russia, Asia, etc. In all of those places our people would stick out like a sore thumb. It would take decades to recruit and train native-speaker operatives. Then, the problem of taqiyya arises. Can you trust a Muslim?

    Regardless of the “success” of the Israeli assassinations, these are not a success because the policy is not working on the grander scale.

    “the West should approach the struggle against theocratic ME fascism the same way it approached the struggle against communism: with political, intellectual and military force”

    We outspent communism and they collapsed. We cannot outspend Islam. The poor and destitute, who are the jihadi cannon fodder, have nothing to lose and “everything’ to gain in the big, celestial whore house, as well as legendary hero status in Muslim nations.

    “Islamic scholarship merely helped preserve it during the dark ages.”

    Islam has always been a conduit and not an innovator. Its laurels are from the accomplishments of the conquered peoples, not from anything that Muslims developed, discovered or invented.

    And that is the problem. How to educate the Islamic masses out of their nihilism.

    Inshallah will get us a one way ticket to the 7th century!

  48. > If the US anticipated that an assassination strike on a sovereign nation would likely lead to a declaration of war by that nation against the US, the US would have to prepare to fight it.

    Ah! Now I see your source of confusion. You were assuming that the terrorists were holding positions of power in foreign governments. I was assuming that the terrorists were, just, well, terrorists. So when I was suggesting targeted assassinations, it was against some guy whose “outward identity” is the owner of a grocery store, and whose “secret identity” is as the leader of a terrorist cell.

    When the terrorists hold positions of power, things get trickier. Fortunately, I think this is rare. OBL holds no office, neither does Zaraqwi. I suppose in someplace like Palestine, the terrorists hold positions of power, but not enough power to really threaten us – Israel assassinates them anyhow with relative impunity.

    > it is conceivable that the US could find itself in a perpetual state of war with multiple nations that may only be tangentially involved in ME politics.

    So you’re asking what I would do if I found a major terrorist, who was holding a fairly powerful position in a government of a nation that’s nominally friendly to us? It’s unfortunately likely, and it’s a tough call. Hypothetically, let’s say we learn that Prince Bandar is funding terrorists out of his personal fortune, but that the rest of the Saudi government is not involved and doesn’t know about it. What would I do? I suppose my options are:

    1. block his actions without killing him
    2. assassinate him
    3. declare war on Saudi Arabia

    I think I would definitely choose option 2 over option 3, simply because option 3 *definitely* gets us bogged down in a war, whereas option 2 at least *possibly* might not lead to a war. Of course, I might choose option 1 if I felt that war with Saudi Arabia were a completely unacceptable outcome.

    Fortunately, I think that most of our operations wouldn’t hit this stumbling block. Most terrorist cells consist of people working as secretaries, retail clerks, and auto mechanics, not senators, princes and presidents.

  49. “We outspent communism and they collapsed.”

    We outspent communism because A) we chose to do so on moral, political and strategic grounds and B) our system of governance created the preconditions of economic prosperity such that we could outspend it. But that, by itself, wouldn’t have been enough; East European leaders and citizens decided, after exposure to our system and a few hints of it promise, that Western liberal democratic capitalism was preferable to the dictatorial (marxist) alternative, and worked for it.

    The Iraqi democrats, working with the Coalition, voting in early municipal elections, living normal non-violent lives, are evidence that this achievement can be replicated.

  50. Josh,

    I’m not sure how the position of terrorists inside your targetted nation changes the analysis.

    Certainly, there could be 3 situations: 1) the terrorist is a non-state actor with no political or social support, 2) the terrorist is a non-state actor with some covert political or social support (think AQ in tribal Pakistan or SA) or 3) the terrorist is a state-sponsored actor.

    Leaving aside the difficulty of determining, after a terrorist attack, under which category our terrorist falls for the moment, problems arise for your policy in case 1 and 2.

    For category 1, the terrorist-occupied nation could say: We have no affiliation with this terrorist, but we won’t had him over, and if you try and harm him by violating our national sovereignty we will consider it an act of war and declare same on you.

    Similarly, for category 2, the nation can say: We have no affilation with this terrorist (honest!), and regardless of how many private citizens might sympathize with him, we won’t hand him over, and if you try..blah blah. [For fun, imagine that the diplomat to whom you’re speaking has a sneering french accent ; )].

    You could bring international pressure to bear, but, as in Afghanistan, such a nation might simply call your bluff and refuse. And then, as above, you’d either have to go to war or appear weak. Soon, if you’re not careful or just unlucky, you might find yourself in a host of internationa conflicts.

  51. Lili, this may surprise you, but there are hundreds of thousands of patriotic Americans who could blend into the Middle East. The USA isn’t only those blond Nordic types who stick out like sore thumbs. We could form some (more?) Arabic-speaking covert action teams, if we wanted to. And the Israeli theater of operations isn’t small: in one notorious case they assassinated an Arab waiter who resembled a Munich terrorist by mistake—in Norway. I don’t think these excuses for why we need a full-scale war and the Israelis don’t have much going for them.

    Mark, my point was not that the Iraq War was a mistake; that’s for another thread. My point is that facing escalating resistance for which we are manifestly unprepared (too few troops, not nearly enough armored vehicles, anticipated local cooperation from Chalabists completely imaginary), it’s silly to hear you suggest what will and won’t work. We know what doesn’t work: the Bush Administration’s plans in Iraq. Even people who supported the invasion on principle are starting to realize that (e.g. Thomas Friedman, or the blogger Tacitus).

  52. Josh, you said that if the US were to pursure targetted assasination:

    “But I think there’s a big advantage to letting them declare war on us, rather than the other way around. Not only is it more politically acceptable, but it brings NATO into play.”

    You are right that it would be politically more desirable. But there are major drawbacks to targetted assasination, mainly legal at the moment.

    If the US were to launch a targetted assasination in another country (one that does not agree with the US policy) then, as international law stands at the moment, the US would be in breach of international law. By merely landing its troops, or firing a weapon without authorisation on their sovereign territory, it would have, in effect, invaded a sovereign country. That country would be perfectly entitled to defend itself, militarily if necessary, and could declare war on the US.

    Now, the best way around this of course, is to amend international law/perceptions of what is legitimate or not. This is (fortunately or unfortunately depending on your point of view) unlikely in the near future, as it would probably involve a complete redefinition of the concept of state sovereignty.

    And, (thinking far far ahead) even if international law is ammended to allow targetted assasinations, this brings with it problems of its own. Because if targetted assasinations are acceptable for the US, they become legally acceptable for other nations. Imagine the situation if China were to launch a targetted assasination attempt against a Chinese dissident residing on US soil, and there was ‘collateral’ damage’ (or, to put it another way, some US civilians got killed in the operation). The US would be morally outraged, but legally, it would have very little recourse. It would not be legally able to retaliate militarily.

    I would imagine that China doing this is pretty unlikely (as is the chance of the US launching a targetted assasination attmept in China), but imagine if China were to do it somewhere in South America? What would happen then? What would be the Monroe Doctrine implications? Especially if China were regularly assasinate people in the region.

    Having said all that, leaving aside the legal difficulties, there are enormous practical benefits to pursuing a policy of targetted assasination. Just like there are practical benefits to a lot of policies that are strictly illegal, but states (all states) pursue anyway. The trick to international politics these days seems to be about breaking international law, but keeping just within the bounds of international opinion & its concept of what is legitimate. Two simbiotically related concepts.

  53. Lots of smart people here. I confess being a bit nervous entering this fracas.

    That said, this quote struck me as really getting to the heart of the matter (assuming that both sides generally would agree with their respecive charactarizations:

    “Liberals think the idea of democratizing the mideast simply isn’t going to work. Conservatives think that the idea of continuing to use the CIA and FBI to root out terrorists isn’t going to work.”

    If I state the converse we get a more telling picture:

    Liberals think that the idea of continuing to use the CIA and FBI to root out terrorists is going to work. Conservatives think the idea of democratizing the mideast is going to work.

    For me, the notion of “work” here is defined as Americans not being attacked by militant Islamic fundamentalist groups. What I think of immediately is the old laundry list of attacks we’ve suffered to date. The Embassy bombings, the Cole, The WTC bombing, and the most recent culmination in the 9/11 attacks. So, to “use the CIA and FBI to root out terrorists” doesn’t seem like it has worked so far. I’m not saying it might not work in the future – I’m just saying it has clearly not worked so far.

    Next, I wonder about “democratizing the middle east” and whether or not we have tried this before. Naturally, I can sense everyone’s knees jerking with their examples of Japan or Germany, El Salvador or Vietnam, and so on. So far, I am unconvinced that any of the traditional examples square with what we’re trying to do in the Middle East.

    The folks that think that it’s Japan/Germany all over again are missing just how thoroughly we pulverized those nations. We didn’t RE-build them, we (and they) built something entirely new on top of the ashes and rubble. Similarly, the folks that think it’s Vietnam (or pick your American colonialist conquest country du jour; and btw I’m only half mocking) are missing that we’re trying to bring liberal democracy to an entire region, not just one country.

    So as I see it, we tried to make it work one way and it demonstrably didn’t work. Now we’re trying to make it work a different way and we’re hoping it works. Regardless of which ‘side’ you’re on, if this current effort doesn’t work – you are going to be in a still worse situation having tried two very expensive and difficult methods with still no solution.

    As a right-leaning centrist, I support the war and consequently grudgingly support Bush. I know why I support the war and what I hope to see come from it. Where I live, Berkeley, naturally the war is extremely unpopular, and I’ve found myself retreating in conversations to the very question posed in this article, “what should be done instead?” It’s not to get out of talking, it’s because I truly do not know and am more interested in finding solutions than calling people names.

    Sadly, I’m still waiting for an answer.

  54. Andrew,

    I don’t find your argument that the plan in Iraq has failed persuasive. The fact that we are facing stiff resistance from certain parties who are, not coincidentally, interested in returning to tyranny, is not evidence that we are failing. Historians can debate about the things that we should or might have done differently, but this early on, it is difficult to draw conclusions. I’d suggest a 3-5 year time frame, with a successful peaceful democratic transfer of power at some point.

    I’m sure that many people maintain that we are failing in Iraq, including some prominent ones. I don’t find this appeal to authority persuasive, however.

  55. Leaving sarcasm aside for a bit…

    The problem is assymetrical war. A very few bad guys can with very little difficulty hit a large number of non-combatants and do a great deal of damage.

    Let’s talk about the assymetrical response of targeted assassination. A very large troop of good guys taking vast pains to hit a very small number of very high level combatants while doing minimal collateral damage…

    The thing is, that assymetry is structural. The bad guys are typically highly hierarchial organizations with a vital irreplacable leader at the apex. Hit Saddam, hit Kim Jong Il, hit Castro, hit Arafat … the whole poltical structure of their nation/threat changes afterwards. But hit Kennedy and you get LBJ —
    historically VietNam war continued, the Cuban trade embargo continued, the Cold War continued, the Civil Rights movement continued … there was barely a blip in the actual trends, even though the nation will never lose the scar. Hit Shrub and you get Cheney, hit Cheney and you get Hastert; line the prominent Republican leadership of the current day up, blow a high powered rifle round thru all of them, and set fire to the chambers of Congress as well — and you STILL have fifty functioning state governors, legislatures, bureaucracies, militias… Not to mention the mayors and their city staffs and police. Not to mention the sherriffs of every rural county. The United States is a distributed polity more resistant to a “decapatation” attack than any internet server farm yet built. As such, US leaders could sanction assassinations against dictators secure in the knowledge that symmetric reciprocal strikes would not result in symmetric damage to US freedoms or institutions — though it would be tough on our individual leaders personally.

    And we could, should we choose, make the situation even more assymetrical. Move the Supreme Court, Senate, and most cabinet offices out of Washington D.C. Physically “distribute” the offices as the constitution dictates we “separate” powers. Then the crash of an aircraft, the infection of anthrax, the failure of a particular electrical sub-grid … these would weaken but not cripple our nation.

    The response of our adversaries would, it seems to me, necessarily be to emulate us. Distribute and separate power. Delegate decision making to lesser officials. Encourage independent operations … all of which promote an odd mental state among the so empowered known as “freedom”.

    Note that we could do a very great deal of our own local distribution and geographical separation of powers, and a very little deal of high profile assassinations, to acheive a whole of rethinking things among dictatorial regimes.

  56. > You could bring international pressure to bear, but, as in Afghanistan, such a nation might simply call your bluff and refuse. And then, as above, you’d either have to go to war or appear weak.

    You seem to be under the mistaken impression that I would ask permission to shoot the terrorist before shooting him.

    If the terrorist were in Canada, I wouldn’t shoot him at all. I’d have him extradited and tried in a court of law.

    If he were in a nation like Iraq, I’d shoot first, then I’d say “Oh, by the way, Hussein. You know that dead guy you found in the marketplace yesterday? That guy was a terrorist, and it was a CIA sniper who shot him. I hope you’re OK with that. If not, make my day.”

    > If the US were to launch a targetted assasination in another country (one that does not agree with the US policy) then, as international law stands at the moment, the US would be in breach of international law.

    Now that’s the real problem. Of course, we’re comparing this to a policy of launching a preemptive war, which is illegal too.

    I think in the long run we need to get extradition treaties in place with all these nations, or else have them declared rogue states with no sovereignty rights. Until then, I think that you’re right about keeping just within the bounds of international opinion. The law adapts to accommodate what’s necessary. If sending undercover ops into rogue nations is patently necessary to keep terrorism under control, then the law will change.

  57. This is the same old wheel spinning. Terrorism of the Islamic Fascist kind is caused by the oppression used by the rulers of the country. They fund “educational” systems based on a religion where (in that area of the world) no evolution of theology has occurred, for when people do public deviate, holy war starts. So being good despots, desiring to hold onto power, they use the power of thier oil wealth to target the anger of their people to the west, specifically America and the Jews. So the question is how do you deal with it, targeted assasinations seem to work in a limited way, but Israel still has people blowing themselves up in cafes.Plus, this does nothing to change the under lying culture of fundementalist Islam w/o any ability to reform itself because the whole teaching system has been created by the state to keep people poor and stupid and fundelmentalist. (I realize this is simplistic and not nuanced and the reality is probably alot different). We can send all the economic aid in the world to them but they’d still be poor, why becuase they lack education, they know the Koran, they may know some engineering, medicine, but there is no risk taking, no real business class. No engine driving change. So the money gets sent down rat holes and just disappears.

    So in the end what are the options, we could fence of the middle east, evacuate Isreal, develop an economy not based on oil (how we do that I don’t know) and watch them form thier perfect Islamic state and the misery that will spring from it. We could Withdraw to our borders, buy their oil and nothing else, hoping that the cia is perfect that day and everyday or we can actively and aggresively change try to make things better by introducing Tom Jeffereson and

  58. “declare war on Saudi Arabia”

    Excellent idea. Much more solid than attacking Iraq. Lots of evidence against the Saudis. Threaten Mecca and Medina. Hold those for “ransom.” Behave or —poof! ;-)

    “Lili, this may surprise you, but there are hundreds of thousands of patriotic Americans who could blend into the Middle East. The USA isn’t only those blond Nordic types who stick out like sore thumbs. “

    Certainly, Andrew, the problem is they are Americans. Americans who know bupkes about other cultures and can often barely speak English, never mind a foreign language. I did say it would take decades to train operatives. And if we use Arabs/Muslims there is the danger of taqiyya. How about Latinos? Arabic with a Spanish accent anyone?

    “We know what doesn’t work: the Bush Administration’s plans in Iraq.”

    Yup! Today is not a good day in the “theater” of war. Children were killed again and so far 40 others: http://www.granma.cu/ingles/2004/abril/lun26/18ni%C3%B1os.html

    One wonders if the clueless government peruses internet sites to get ideas for how to get out—given that they haven’t got any ideas themselves.

    ” We didn’t RE-build them,[Japan & Germany] we (and they) built something entirely new on top of the ashes and rubble.”

    No we/they did not, Matt! The cultures are still the same—albeit not fascistic or militaristic but still very distinctly German and Japanese. The cultures of the ME, even with democracy, will still retain their cultural identities.

    But, that is a pipe dream. Democracy is un-Islamic.

    It’s a Pandora’s box. The Genie is out of the bottle . . .

  59. > Does anyone remember when liberals were opposed to the CIA assasinating people? This right here is bizarro world, dude!

    Like they say, 9/11 changed everything… it even changed liberals. :)

    But seriously, it’s all a continuum. On the “fewest innocents hurt” end of the scale you’ve got extradition followed by a court of law. On the “most innocents hurt” end of the scale you’ve got open warfare. Liberals are still pulling toward “fewest innocents hurt,” with an acknowledgement that times have changed.

    > The Embassy bombings, the Cole, The WTC bombing, and the most recent culmination in the 9/11 attacks… So, to “use the CIA and FBI to root out terrorists” doesn’t seem like it has worked so far.

    I would argue that it worked for a very long time, and then it stopped working. But the 9/11 commission has revealed, if nothing else, that both agencies (CIA and FBI) have deteriorated into management nightmares. It seems likely to me that the uptick in successful attacks might represent, not an increase in the competence of the terrorists, but rather, a decrease in the competence of the agencies. I believe that this is partly due to funding cuts and partly due to the personalities of the people heading the agencies. If this is true, then it’s merely a question of firing the right people, and spending more money on spies.

  60. See how far afield we’ve gotten?

    Apparently, the position on the right here is that in order to deal with these three specific bin Ladens, we must embark on a generation-long commitment to remake the Middle East by toppling a hostile dictator and occupying his former country for the indefinite future. I think all of the reasonable people out there agree that what we have done has increased the appeal of jihad in the short term. But the hope is that by creating a democratic nation in the heart of the Arab world, moderates will be empowered to defeat the Islamists and “drain the swamp.” This will take some time. After all, the dysfunction that is modern day Saudi society didn’t exactly evolve overnight. This isn’t altogether crazy.

    But I’m scratching my head here, really, as to how that relates to the immediate threat of the three bin Ladens that we need to eliminate. It seems to me that one can handle the immediate issues immediately, and also set up a long term formula for success.

    Now, I actually don’t believe anyone doesn’t understand that democratizing the Middle East is a worthy goal. The questions are, is it achievable, and if so, how do you go about it?

    Dialogue is best achieved when the debaters are honestly representing one another’s positions, so let’s try to do that.

  61. “No we/they did not, Matt! The cultures are still the same—albeit not fascistic or militaristic but still very distinctly German and Japanese. The cultures of the ME, even with democracy, will still retain their cultural identities.”

    Everyone argues about this topic. I don’t think it’s possible to eliminate a culture without eliminating the people. Cultural identity wasn’t our target then, nor is it now. We didn’t tell the Japanese or Germans they had to be American – we told them they couldn’t act the way they were doing it before, and for some time we’ll be making the decisions about which actions are acceptable or not.

    I think the cultural rift between your average Japanese family circa 1940 and your average Iraqi family of today is far more slanted towards democratic liberalism for the Iraqi than for the Japanese. Am I wrong?

  62. Josh,

    I think it’s immaterial whether you ask permission or not. Eventually, someone would refuse or object to your targetting of their citizens on their own soil, and they’d likely declare war.

    But let’s take your example, Canada. It’s possible that Canadians would extradite a terrorist who, say, planned a nuclear strike from Montreal or Toronto on Manhattan. But it’s also possible that, given the moronic, incestuous anti-American members of the Liberal Party that rule Canada in perpetuity like a private feudal estate, Canada would decide to tell the US to take a hike.

    In that case, the US would send a few tanks to Toronto (ignoring the cheering throngs of right-wingers who would welcome liberation), and gun down said Jihadist. Canada would mobilize our 24 guys in uniform, a couple rusty Sea-King helicopters, and a few ex-hockey players, then declare war.

    Now you’ve got a bunch of angry canucks who um… refuse to sell you maple syrup, but more importantly are running around the world trying to drum up support for sanctions or a counter-strike, talking to anyone who will listen, from Saudi Arabia to our commonwealth partner, Britain. And, if you believe that Canada would eventually come to its senses, you underestimate the persistence of our delusions when it comes to opposing the US.

    Sound like fun?

  63. > Now you’ve got a bunch of angry canucks who um… refuse to sell you maple syrup… Sound like fun?

    I agree, the scenario you describe sounds unpleasant. But what course of action *are* you arguing for?

  64. Josh,

    I’m arguing that the US invade Canada!

    Ok, I’m mostly kidding. I’m squarely in the “(try to) democratize the ME to cure the disease” camp, but I’d happily also assassinate various Jihadists if it’s politically and militarily feasible. I just don’t think law enforcement and assassination alone is a long term solution, for the reasons many people have mentioned above.

  65. “I would argue that it worked for a very long time, and then it stopped working. But the 9/11 commission has revealed, if nothing else, that both agencies (CIA and FBI) have deteriorated into management nightmares.”

    Arguably we’re talking about roughly 40 years, and I’m leaving myself wide open for all history-minded folks to take a shot at when organized cross-national Islamic terrorism first started/struck. I think it worked pretty well up until the advent of globalism. I’m guessing here, but I’d shoot for somewhere around the late 70’s or 80’s somewhere. The various advances in travel and information technology made the world a much smaller place and for a distributed network based enemy, this meant that intelligence agencies had to be much much smarter and more powerful.

    I think the 9/11 commission has made clear that the opposite occurred.

    Another thing the 9/11 commission has made clear, in a very bi-partisan way mind you, is that although everyone has 20-20 hindsight now, and a few had some vision of the future back then, nobody in power would have been able to do anything about it anyway until a 9/11 flashpoint occurred. I’ve watched almost all of the 9/11 commission interviews on CSPAN, and I keep hearing that said by everyone. Even if we had the intelligence, we could not have done what needed to be done.

    Consider that even with 9/11 as a flashpoint – there were still protests against going into Afghanistan, with wailing that it would be a bloodbath and so on.

    and so your conclusion:

    “If this is true, then it’s merely a question of firing the right people, and spending more money on spies.”

    If we had the right people, and enough money for them, would we still invade another country based on it? And even if we did, as in Iraq’s case, and the evidence we have of malfeasance is destroyed or moved, or perhaps never existed at all but was actually part of a unimaginably deep counter-intelligence operation?

    I agree that we should arm our intelligence community much more heavily. But I also understand that they are just the eyes of the operation – and we need brains and fists to complete their purpose.

  66. Mark, I’m willing to entertain the possibility that some course of action would result in a good outcome in Iraq in three to five years. I doubt it, but I’m willing to discuss it.

    I don’t think see how you can deny, though, that the plans of the Bush Administration to date have never had the results promised or anticipated, and that the difference is always in the direction of failure. We were, for example, supposed to be down to 30K troops in Iraq months ago according to the pre-invasion blueprint. Instead, we are abandoning the promised rotation schedule and a stop-loss order prevents soldiers from leaving the armed forces when eligible. That seems to me to indicate incompetence born of wishful thinking. (I could, of course, provide many other examples: “Mission Accomplished”, anyone?) Even supposing that there is some good outcome available through any course of action, what reason is there to believe that Bush will find it? Steely resolve and dedication to staying the course aren’t so great, when the current route of travel is over a precipice.

  67. “I think the cultural rift between your average Japanese family circa 1940 and your average Iraqi family of today is far more slanted towards democratic liberalism for the Iraqi than for the Japanese. Am I wrong?”

    That is difficult to say, Matt. My experience in both the German and Japanese cultures indicates that they have not changed all that much. They are still very, very racist and bigoted against the “stranger.” And they don’t even have the burden of misanthropic Islam to “guide” them. At least both cultures had a base of worldly sophistication and in the case of Germany, prior democracy.

    —–

    Speaking of Canada, the Canada that has just acquiesced to sharia law for domestic disputes in the case of Muslims.

    “A Canadian of Palestinian descent, Maha Elsamnah is the wife of Ahmed Said Khadr and the mother of Abdurahman Khadr. Zaynab Khadr is her daughter. In this interview, the two discuss the allegations against their family members. They deny that the family was ever officially a part of Al Qaeda but admit they are sympathetic to the organization. They also say they are proud that Ahmed Said Khadr died as a martyr for Islam and express their frustration with U.S. involvement in the Middle East. In April 2004, Maha returned to Canada to seek medical treatment for her youngest son Abdul Karim, who was paralyzed in the attack that killed his father. Zaynab still lives in Pakistan. This interview was conducted on Feb. 22, 2004. “

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/khadr/interviews/mahazaynab.html

    We heal these people so they can live to breed more jihadis.

    ============

    Militants in Europe Openly Call for Jihad and the Rule of Islam

    LUTON, England, April 24 — The call to jihad is rising in the streets of Europe, and is being answered, counterterrorism officials say.

    In this former industrial town north of London, a small group of young Britons whose parents emigrated from Pakistan after World War II have turned against their families’ new home. They say they would like to see Prime Minister Tony Blair dead or deposed and an Islamic flag hanging outside No. 10 Downing Street.

    They swear allegiance to Osama bin Laden and his goal of toppling Western democracies to establish an Islamic superstate under Shariah law, like Afghanistan under the Taliban. They call the Sept. 11 hijackers the “Magnificent 19″ and regard the Madrid train bombings as a clever way to drive a wedge into Europe. . .

    “All Muslims of the West will be obliged,” he said, to “become his sword” in a new battle. Europeans take heed, he added, saying, “It is foolish to fight people who want death — that is what they are looking for.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/26/international/europe/26EURO.html?th

    =========

    What are we going to do about the enemy within? The West needs to re-consider its immigration policies!

  68. “And they don’t even have the burden of misanthropic Islam to “guide” them. At least both cultures had a base of worldly sophistication and in the case of Germany, prior democracy.”

    I realize that compounding generalizations is fraught with peril vis a vis conclusions, but having already done so, let me continue.

    I think the availability of both TV, both broadcast and commonly satellite, and the internet in Iraq give your average Iraqi family at least a chance at a wide spectrum of information (and entertainment). The Japanese family of the 1940’s was severely limited in their understanding of the outside world due to not just their own culture’s information dissemination process but also the utter absence of any alternative.

    This is said from the perspective of culture war, however. One significant and ongoing distinction is that in the Germany/Japan examples we had already annihilated all resistance before we started the reconstruction process. Unfortunatly for our troops, we no longer have the luxury of total war.

  69. Andrew,

    “I don’t [see] how you can deny, though, that the plans of the Bush Administration to date have never had the results promised or anticipated, and that the difference is always in the direction of failure.”

    I don’t find this difficult to deny. You can point the troop reversal, but I can point to municipal Iraq elections, and freedom of thought, press & religion. (I won’t insult my American friends by lecturing them on the value of these freedoms.) You can point to security failures, but I can point to security successes.

    These developments were elements of the plan, and, in fairness, you must consider them.

    I will admit, though, that the Adminstration probably underestimated the extent to which anti-democratic regimes such as Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia would go to foul democratic reforms in Iraq.

    Someone, prior to the war, should have sat down with US decision makers and said: “If you do this, every dictatorship in the region will correctly perceive our efforts to democratize the ME as a declaration of war against them. At issue is the enslavement of the mass of Arabs by a privileged few, backed by billions of petro-dollars, imported Western miliary technology and marxist/fascist techniques in political repression. Facing this mortal threat, these regimes will use every dirty trick to ensure failure; nothing will be off limits. You are going to be in a knife fight to the death. If you are not prepared, for example, to suffer medieval brutality, to countenance radical policy changes on the fly or covert assassination of key individuals in these opposing dictatorial governments, then you might as well not bother. Now do a gut check.”

  70. “Someone, prior to the war, should have sat down with US decision makers and said: “If you do this, every dictatorship in the region will correctly perceive our efforts to democratize the ME as a declaration of war against them. At issue is the enslavement of the mass of Arabs by a privileged few, backed by billions of petro-dollars, imported Western miliary technology and marxist/fascist techniques in political repression. Facing this mortal threat, these regimes will use every dirty trick to ensure failure; nothing will be off limits. You are going to be in a knife fight to the death. If you are not prepared, for example, to suffer medieval brutality, to countenance radical policy changes on the fly or covert assassination of key individuals in these opposing dictatorial governments, then you might as well not bother. Now do a gut check.”

    As I recall, virtually every country in the world, including the Arabs and the U.N. said something to that effect. An attack on one Muslim nation would be considered an attack on the ummah—the body Islamic. That every Muslim would consider it his duty to fight jihad. They were warned that the “gates of Hell” would be opened with Muslims screeching for revenge; that such a war would create more terrorists than ever before. And indeed, that is exactly what is happening.

    Such sentiments were also posted on internet chat sites end endlessly debated.

    Did the Bushies listen to any of the warnings? No! Indeed, they dismissed them as silliness, cowardice and fear mongering. Those who were not for the war were mercilessly hounded, called names and dubbed as “traitors,” etc. People even lost friends and acquaintances over whether to go to war or not.

    So, now it is we who have to pay with the blood of our children and treasure. Is Bush sending his offspring to Iraq to do their patriotic duty? How about the other hawks in the administration—are their children paying for this?

    It’s a crime— and heads should roll. People should be prosecuted.

    Time will tell. . .

  71. I’m no dove but I wanted to get into the conversation anyway. First, in the interests of full disclosure I’d characterize my own position as being roughly Matt’s above with, perhaps, a soupçon of Andrew J. Lazarus.

    Matt:

    We absolutely did not pulverize either the Germans or the Japanese. However, we did demonstrate to the Japanese both the ability and the will to destroy them utterly. We certainly don’t have this kind of will right now. The Germans were more frightened of the Russians than they were of us. As the Russians say–with some merit–they won the war in Europe.

    The fundamental problem I have with both the “hawk” and “dove” plans is that both require time we just don’t have. I’m a little more willing than Andrew J. Lazarus to give the neocon plan more time to work. But as he points out–possibly a trifle prematurely–the window is closing rapidly.

  72. Andrew J. Lazarus:

    …hundreds of thousands of patriotic Americans who could blend into the Middle East…

    I believe that I disagree with you here. Although the U. S. is, indeed, very diverse, that’s not the problem. It is my understanding that the terrorist cells in the ME are very tightly organized largely along tribal lines. When you add to that my further understanding that many native Arabic speakers are able to converse in extremely localized dialects you’d find that infiltration is probably not an option. That leaves subornation which may also be a problem with close kinship ties. Dan Darling could certainly comment more authoritatively than I on this subject.

  73. Dave, I don’t want to get nitpicky but I’m going to very briefly because I’m an English Nazi… forgive me.

    Second definition of “pulverize” from Encarta Dictionary 2004:
    2. defeat somebody: to subject an opponent to a crushing defeat (informal)

    Even without my English nerdery, I would have imagined that the firebombing in Germany (Hamburg and Dresden, for example) and our nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan were sufficient evidence of my choice of wording. In stark contrast you have both the first Gulf War and it’s more current iteration. We knock over a wall next to a mosque and it’s front page news.

    At any rate, I think it’s clear that the world is a different place now in critical and fundamental ways, which was my point in the first place.

    This still leaves the question of this article unanswered…

  74. And Johnnie Walker Lindh infiltrated Al Qaeda with Marin-accented Arabic?!

    But the question here wasn’t about infiltrating small terrorist cells, it was about having good enough Arabic and blend-in skills to be part of a covert assassination team, with (say) fake passports and tourist visas. As I said before, the Israelis have managed this.

  75. “[V]irtually every country in the world, including the Arabs and the U.N. said something to that effect…”

    That Arab tyrants and kleptocratic UN bureaucrats would counsel the US not to disturb their little playground hardly counts as sage or impartial advice.

    My criticism was directed at the willingness to do unpleasant but necessary things in a liberated post-war Iraq – at the plan for democratic implementation – not at the justification for ME democratization itself. Failure to engage in ME reform would have been both immoral and strategically feckless – akin to condemning Europeans to marxist slavery after WW2 in hopes of avoiding a confrontation with the Soviets.

  76. “Lili, What would you suggest we do instead? I mean what’s your response to the posted question?”

    I have already given my responses in several posts from assassins, to immigration reforms, to intelligence, to tracking the money, to cutting the S.O.B.’s off, etc. Matt.

    And an occasional, BIG thump on the head.

    “we did demonstrate to the Japanese both the ability and the will to destroy them utterly. We certainly don’t have this kind of will right now. “

    I believe this will is bound to manifest the moment there is a WMD attack. Sad to say just like 9/11 was an impetus to “do” something—a WMD attack will galvanize our will with laser like precision.

    “And Johnnie Walker Lindh infiltrated Al Qaeda with Marin-accented Arabic?!”

    He was in a training camp as cannon fodder. That is different than penetrating a cell. These people would just as soon cut your throat as look at you. How would our poor guys ever sleep? ;-) Besides, the cell members typically only know their bit of the puzzle on a “need to know” basis. Nope, infiltration has severe limitations.

    “That Arab tyrants and kleptocratic UN bureaucrats would counsel the US not to disturb their little playground hardly counts as sage or impartial advice.”

    Regardless, they were correct—whether we want to admit that or not. They told the truth and the administration lied. Now the whole world is in deep sh**!

    “Failure to engage in ME reform would have been both immoral and strategically feckless – akin to condemning Europeans to marxist slavery after WW2 in hopes of avoiding a confrontation with the Soviets.”

    Not the same thing at all. In this case there is religion involved—BIG time! And you really don’t believe that the Iraqis or any other Muslim buys the BS that we are there to “liberate” them do you?

    Iraq is heating up at this hour. . .

    Anyone ever see the movie, “Casino Royale”? “Pleasant” ending. . .

  77. You know, I’ve been thinking.

    We are all going about this the wrong way.

    We are all geeks and techie types. What we need here for creative brainstorming are a few Hollywood types.

    I recall after 9/11 the White House actually did consult with Hollywood. Wonder if anything ever came of that? ;-)

  78. Lili: I went back and re-read your posts and noticed sporadic and sometimes contradictory support for what you say here:

    “I have already given my responses in several posts from assassins, to immigration reforms, to intelligence, to tracking the money, to cutting the S.O.B.’s off”

    Your first post, which I will only take somewhat seriously, has a few points in it:

    “Given that we don’t blend in too well with the locals and can’t even speak the language, I suggest we cut them off—aid monies, trade, supplies, visas—everything. Then we go to the Swiss and other money launderers and put the screws to them. A few well placed threats to the Saudis would also be good. They can’t threaten us with scandal. The whole world is in this together.”

    What do you think will be the international result of this? Let’s say we completely cut them off economically as best we can. Can Russia, China, France, Germany, etc. still buy oil from them?

    “Every nation on the planet has to cooperate with intelligence. Then we can trade terrorists.
    That should be a feat. Especially since we are the ones who don’t play nicely with others or share either. ;-)”

    I’m not sure if you’re agreeing with intelligence sharing or not. As for playing nicely and sharing, are you serious? If you are, can you tell me which nation(s) currently (as in within the last century or so) play nicer and/or share more?

    “Perhaps there should be an international internment area—like Belgium or Siberia? One really nasty place on every continent. A new world police system: “MondoPol”

    Presumably this police force would enforce ‘international law’. Who composes this law, and who enforces it?

    “I am all for treating medieval terror with medieval tactics such as publicly televised captures and executions broadcast world wide to big-screens in town squares and sports bars. Humiliating them beforehand by transporting them in portable pigsties, then having leather clad dominatrix “infidel” prostitutes shave off their grimy beards and making them wear kufur clothing, like hospital gowns, is good too.”

    Aaaaand scene… I’m out of seriousness.

  79. “Not the same thing at all. In this case there is religion involved—BIG time! And you really don’t believe that the Iraqis or any other Muslim buys the BS that we are there to “liberate” them do you?”

    I didn’t say they were the same, I said they were similar. Bevertheless, I fail to see how the involvement of religion makes enslavement fundamentally different if the masters are clerics rather than commissars. In fact, I can think of a few similarities – the suffusion of ideology into all aspects of life, the subsumption of the individual into the collective, the denigration and careful cultivation of individuality.

    I think Iraqis understand that the Coalition liberated them. Please see Firdos Square Statue, Apr. 9, 2003 and subsequent Iraqi celebration. See, also, mass graves.

  80. Dave and Andrew:

    With regard to al-Qaeda, one thing to keep in mind is that John Walker was basically cannon fodder, which was how he ended up being captured at Mazar-e-Sharif to begin with. The only reason that he was brought before bin Laden (in the full presence of his praetorian guard, no less) was because he was an American and bin Laden, who has had only a limited amount of contact with Americans, wanted to better understand the mindset of his enemy.

    Regarding how al-Qaeda recruits, in the Middle East and South Asia it is almost certainly within filial, social, or tribal circles and there are a number of very good reasons for this approach, not the least of which being that al-Qaeda cells in that part of the world face a very real chance of capture and torture at the hands of the local security forces and while most people won’t think twice before selling out a stranger, they do tend exhibit a great deal more loyalty towards members of their own family, particularly in the Arab world where filial and tribal ties run deep. This approach, incidentally, is what enabled the Greek November 17 group to remain completely undetected by the authorities for three decades following their initial debut in 1975. Ali Mohammed, Abu Ubeidah al-Banshiri, and Mohammed Atef, the three men who drew up the network’s cell structure, recognized the obvious benefits of this approach and set up their organization accordingly.

    That being said, in Europe where al-Qaeda tends to recruit from a combination of unemployed youths, radicalized college students, and even upper middle-class Muslim members of society, their cell structure is far less professionalized, particularly since the Spanish and Italian authorities arrested Imad Yarkas, Khemais, and other key continental European leaders. This is precisely why the French, German, Italian, and Spanish authorities have been able infiltrate and disrupt literally dozens of cells planning attacks on the Continent since 9/11. But the inability of the European governments to move against the central node of al-Qaeda on the Continent (which is located in London) combined with the willingness to tolerate known front groups like al-Muhajiroun have hampered the effectiveness of the law enforcement approach in this regard.

    As far as Andrew’s suggestion regarding assassination teams, a lot of Israel’s success was been directed against Fatah, which is a very different animal than al-Qaeda because of its legitimization in the eyes of Arab governments is such that it has to maintain both an official presence in various nations and adhere to pseudo-state-like functions in order to operate. Al-Qaeda is far more decentralized than Fatah (and therefore free of the limitations the other group suffered due to Arafat’s meglomania) and doesn’t have many of the same vulnerabilities that Israel was able to target during the 1970s and 1980s.

  81. I’m not a dove, and the following post colors outside the lines that A.L. set, so he may rule it out of order.

    After 9/11, I cannot believe in the FBI/CIA plan. I still hope for the democratization strategy to work. It is in the highest traditions of our society to make this attempt. But I have enough concern re the apparent lack of a critical mass of civil society in the ME to want a Plan B. Ergo:

    It strikes me that both of A.L.’s alternatives accept one given: the sanctity of national borders and governmental monopoly on force. Our enemies aren’t concerned about this, why should we be?

    Or put it another way: Al Qaeda wants to take the entire ummah to war with the West. We seek to separate the Islamists from the rest, preferably by seduction and when necessary by force. Why should we be limiting our repertoire of ‘divide and conquer’ to the bounds of nation states?

    We’ve already admitted mini-states like Estonia and Slovenia to the UN or NATO, and they seem to be making good jobs of it, no matter the size. I’m hardly the first to observe that Kurdistan separate from Iraq is a more tractable problem. I’ll also mention that mini-states do not have the means to create significant military forces.

    So why are we spending blood and treasure to preserve the colonial boundaries of the French, Brits and Russians? Since when is it in our interests to keep the Kurds subject to Baby Assad? Would the tribes of the Northwest Frontier be more or less tractable outside of Pakistan? Where is it written that the oil-bearing Shia provinces of Arabia should enrich the Saudi royal family forever?

    So,here’s a strawman policy:

    We hold current states responsible for any support or protection of non-state violent actors against the US and West. When and if we have reasonable evidence that such are present, and the regime will not hand them over, or allow us to remove them (one way or another), so far as we are concerned, the regime is no longer legitimate. Our response will be to remove the regime, by a method and at a time of our choosing. We will devolve power to smaller scale constituencies after the destruction of the regime, along ethnic, religious, language or other lines as seems most opportune. (Since this policy is a prima facie violation of the logic of the UN’s charter, it will not be consulted.)

    How these smaller areas govern themselves is their own choice, but they will be in turn responsible for those in their territory of control. Repeat as necessary, reducing the scope of authority at each iteration. Some of the mini-states will be despotic pest holes. A few might turn into Kurdish success stories. If we find it necessary to make sanguinary examples, at least they will not be at the scale of nation states. Evolution in action.

    Along with the sanctity of borders, this policy does give up one (currently) cherished American idea: the notion of a multi-ethnic state as an inherent value. But then, those emigrating here in this day and age know they are signing up for that vision. Just being in the neighborhood when the US Army decides to drop in isn’t quite the same degree of sign up.

    OK, tear it up.

  82. After Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt didn’t invade Germany or Japan – he invaded North Africa.

    Imagine how history would have changed if Roosevelt decided that North Africa was enough. He would ‘democratize’ North Africa, and we would use this shining example of democracy as a beacon and an example to the fascist dictatorships. We would consider Germany and Japan to be allies (why should we stop trading with them, after all? Stopping trade could damage our economy).

    Yes, Roosevelt would say, this democratization would take decades, and many, many, many Americans would die for this dream. But someday, it might work.

    In the meantime, ‘doves’ would be fantasizing about assassinating Hitler, random SS officers and kamikaze pilots. They’d have long debates about how this could be done.

    What would the world would be like if we’d done that?

  83. “What do you think will be the international result of this? Let’s say we completely cut them off economically as best we can. Can Russia, China, France, Germany, etc. still buy oil from them?”

    They have to sell oil or they will starve. So, sure they will buy and so will we. Cutting them off means aid in any form from technology to funds to exchanges to porn. Cell phones is not something they should have either.

    “If you are, can you tell me which nation(s) currently (as in within the last century or so) play nicer and/or share more?”

    The U.S. gives the least of all nations proportionately. And we don’t share intelligence (hardly) at all. That is why the guy in Hamburg, Germany is getting a second trial because the U.S. would not come through with the evidence we claimed to have. Certainly we are not cooperating with anyone. But, as you can see, that is changing rapidly. In another month Bush will be begging the U.N. to come save his a**!

    “Presumably this police force would enforce ‘international law’. Who composes this law, and who enforces it?”

    There are already things such as Interpol. Obviously, we have to work on international cooperation with respect to terrorism. There have been many moves made in that direction. More to come. Just give it a few more attacks.

    ” I fail to see how the involvement of religion makes enslavement fundamentally different if the masters are clerics rather than commissars.”

    Because Islam is a cult that brainwashes people. Submission and being “slaves” (literally) to allah is the way it works. They tell you how and when to do everything—including wiping your a**. Just ask Mufti:

    “It is Makrooh (disliked) in Shari’ah for a person to stand and urinate without any valid excuse.”

    http://www.islam.tc/ask-imam/view.php?q=3694

    “I think Iraqis understand that the Coalition liberated them. “

    The Iraqis, like all Arabs/Muslims, have very short memories for anything good that any “infidel” ever did and very long, as in hundreds of years long, memories for any perceived offense that any “infidel” ever inflicted on a Muslim. Mark, you are kidding yourself if you think these people have the same values as we do. Even the Euros are no longer grateful to the U.S. for saving their bacon several times. The Muslims don’t recall us helping them out in Kuwait or Kosovo, etc. But, they remember that we “attacked” Afghanistan. Never mind that it was a response to Islamic aggression.

    Muslims only remember the nicety until the next little transgression. It is not uncommon to be sitting with your Islamic “friends” chatting, when all at once you do something to offend, like look at one of the women in the wrong way. Boom! You are in danger at that point. Men have had their throats cut for less.

    Who here has had extensive dealings with Arabs and or Muslims besides me?

    FORGET IT!

    Democratization of an Islamic country without a democratic strong man, such as Attatürk was, will never happen.

  84. “Because Islam is a cult that brainwashes people. Submission and being “slaves” (literally) to allah is the way it works.”

    The Soviets worked hard on techniques for re-educating people with incorrect beliefs, involving everything from social sanction & alienation, to imprisonment, to torture. In invoking Marx or Wahhabist Allah to make slaves, I don’t think this program differs fundamentally. You’ll have to identify further characteristics than the ones you mention.

    “The Iraqis, like all Arabs/Muslims, have very short memories…”

    You’re changing your argument. Earlier, you said Iraqis didn’t “buy” that they were liberated. I argued otherwise. Now you are saying “Well, even if they did understand it, they will soon forget”.

    You base this on your understanding of the Arab mindset, and suggest that this understanding is correct because of your extensive dealing with Arabs. This is an appeal to authority (your own), and is unpersuasive.

    Unless you provide a valid argument for your position that “All Iraqis will quickly forget that the Coalition rescued them from Saddam’s regime” and thus the project to democratize Iraq will fail, your position will remain untenable.

  85. “The Soviets worked hard on techniques for re-educating people with incorrect beliefs, involving everything from social sanction & alienation, to imprisonment, to torture. In invoking Marx or Wahhabist Allah to make slaves, I don’t think this program differs fundamentally. You’ll have to identify further characteristics than the ones you mention.”

    Religion is a much more powerful tool than any secular ideology. It really sticks. As I have already stated above and on other threads Islam is a complete way of life consuming the person every hour of the day and night. I don’t understand you request for “further characteristics”. What I mean by “educating” is that we need to expose the Iraqis and the Arab world to all the rest of the world. It seems to me, they only get the bad stuff: Permissiveness, porn, rampant crime and blatant sexuality. Why can’t we “beam over” some of the positives of civilization? And of course, sending those who make our sytem tick—profis like MBAs, economists, teachers, artists, writers, etc.

    You’re changing your argument. Earlier, you said Iraqis didn’t “buy” that they were liberated. . .”

    No I am not, Matt. They (some) “bought it” for a very short time, from a few days to weeks to months. While Iraq supposedly has a relatively well educated populace, it is doubtful that many have a clue what it takes to sustain a democracy. Some (a few?) are even saying they want Saddam back. Certainly the greater Arab world has said that.

    All one has to do is to read or listen to interviews with Iraqis. They are angry at the U.S. for not providing security and “instant” fix-up of their nation. It’s called the “man on the moon” syndrome. If America can send a man to the moon, why can’t they wave a magic wand and make an Arab Disneyland out of Iraq. One man was quoted as saying, “The Americans could help me, but they just don’t want to.” (I think that is almost verbatim.) They want all of the benefits of democracy with none of the responsibilities.

    I don’t know about you, but I am damned tired of the whole world constantly expecting the U.S. to “fix” everything. “Do something” they scream. If we then “interfere” we are condemned. It’s lonely at the top. ;-)

    Negroponte is being “interviewed” on C-Span. Oh, the fawning, the bowing, the scraping! It’s almost 19th century. LOL

  86. “All one has to do is to read or listen to interviews with Iraqis…They want all of the benefits of democracy with none of the responsibilities.”

    I agree that there are many interviews with Iraqis that tend to demonstrate your claim. However, I take interviews of Iraqis done by Western media with a grain of salt, for several reasons. 1) The media has an interest in framing Iraqi discontent and maladaptation – the story of US/Iraqi failure sells more than US/Iraqi success. (When was the last time you saw a story on CNN that went: “Today in a random Iraqi city, nothing happened. Elections were held, schools renovated, police patrolled, but other than that, nada.”) 2) The media has a bias against the war, ranging from hard left (BBC) to soft left (ABC, NBC, etc.), with some notable exceptions (Fox). 3) Iraqis have a tendency to say in public what they think Western media wants to hear (anti-coalition sentiment), but often speak differently in private (as noted by various Iraqi webloggers); see, also, various polls showing Iraqi preference for democracy over Islamist theocracy, and security/occupation over insecurity/withdrawl.

    Thus, given the history of negligently misreporting or outright falsification by Western media and the self-distortion of Iraqi “street” opinion, I’m leery of drawing conclusion based on the aforementioned sources. I would rather read Iraqi or Iraq-based blogs, along with (preferably non-media) polls in order to construct a provisional view of Iraqi opinion.

    “I don’t know about you, but I am damned tired of the whole world constantly expecting the U.S. to “fix” everything.”

    For what it’s worth, I sympathize. As it is, America is one of the few nations that has the moral and military strength to actually make a positive difference around the globe. It would be a disaster for everyone if the US left the world to its Arab Islamist slavemasters and their arch-appeasers, contemptible Old Europe.

  87. Mark, I base my conclusions about the Iraqi Arabs on the history of the region and not so much on the “interviews” or the media. Although, if one listens to alternative media such as “Democracy Now” and “Counter Spin” the view is not much differrent than that of the mainstream. It is interesting that you claim the media is against this war. When so many have criticized the media for taking the side of the administration by keeping silent and over looking its wrong-doings.

    It is highly unlikely that there is a day where “nothing” happened. After all, Baghdad is a big city. There will always be crime.

    ” As it is, America is one of the few nations that has the moral and military strength to actually make a positive difference around the globe. It would be a disaster for everyone if the US left the world to its Arab Islamist slavemasters and their arch-appeasers, contemptible Old Europe.”

    I happen to be very fond of “contemptible Old-Europe.” However, it is time that the rest of the world does its share—including the indolent Arabs. It cannot always be left up to the U.S. to fix whatever is wrong in this world. And then, when someone does not like our solution beat us up for it. I would like ALL nations to participate in the “democratization” of the ME. After all, it is in the interest of the whole world. Europe uses its share of oil. So the “blood for oil” argument is specious.

    We pull back, the rest of humanity steps up to the plate. Sounds fair to me. :-)

  88. Mark,

    On the whole, I don’t know if I can say I agree with everything you’ve said, but I certainly hope you’re right. And even if you’re wrong, I think the payoff could be worth the gamble. Still, Lili does have a point about religion vs Marxism or any other secular ideology. Secular ideologies(or at least Marxist varieties) promise vague benefits for someone else (posterity) in some vague future. Religion promises _you_ a meaning and purpose in life and a redemptive reason for your suffering _now_ and promises _you_ eternal life when you die. Also, Marxism is an attempt at a complete rupture with the past, we’ve got to eliminate all traces of bourgeois ideology etc. Islam, or really any religion, is part of a tradition, a connection with a past that is holy. I can particularly see the appeal of that in traditional societies like the Arabs have. I’m not sure things are as hopeless as Lili believes they are, but fighting Wahhabism ideologically will be much tougher than fighting Marxism was.

  89. ” I’m not sure things are as hopeless as Lili believes they are, but fighting Wahhabism ideologically will be much tougher than fighting Marxism was.”

    Actually, Fred, I don’t see things as “hopeless.” I just don’t believe the current policies will work. Sometime in the future, a long long time from our age, there will probably be a change in the way Muslims look at the world and other people. But, it will take much time.

    In the meantime. . .I believe East is East and West is West as the saying goes. Even the multi-culti Übertolertant Dutch have decided that enough is enough!

    “AMSTERDAM — It’s not quite terminal yet, but the great experiment in tolerance that has been the Netherlands since the 1970s is taking its last gasping, breaths. . .

    . . . The infamous coffeeshops are still there, but their numbers are down sharply and more restrictions are in the works. Prostitutes are being hustled off the streets. Immigrants who refuse to contribute to society are getting the boot, and welfare benefits are being rolled back. Law-and-order is in, multiculturalism is out. . .

    . . .Most of these loiterers are clearly not Dutch. They are German heroin addicts, Jamaican rastafari-types and English yobs. They are former bus drivers from Senegal and farm-boys from Turkey who took the wrong path. It is these foreigners that are drawing the ire the Dutch. . .

    . . . In February, the parliament took the unprecedented step of ordering some 26,000 asylum-seekers out of the country, prompting howls of protest from activists.

    http://www.techcentralstation.com/042604B.html

    I have posted links to such stories including one for over 130 detention/deportation camps for migrants.

    “You may have difficulties in your life, we are very sorry to hear that, but you’ll have to find another place.”

    http://www.ipsnews.net/interna.asp?idnews=22590

    Conservatism is on the march across the West, while the East is struggling to become less so.

    “Those who regard the decay of civilisation as something quite normal and natural console themselves with the thought that it is not civilisation, but _a_ civilisation, which is falling a prey to dissolution; that there will be a new age and a new race in which there will blossom a new civilisation. But that is a mistake. The earth no longer has in reserve, as it had once, gifted peoples as yet unused, who can relieve us and take our place in some distant future as leaders of the spiritual life. We already know all those which the earth has to dispose of.

    There is not one among them which is not already determined by our own. All of them, the gifted and the ungifted, the distant and the near, have felt the influence of those forces of barbarism which are at work among us. All of them are, like ourselves, diseased, and only as we recover can they recover.

    It is not the civilisation of a race, but that of mankind,
    present and future alike, that we must give up as lost, if belief in a rebirth of our civilisation is a vain thing.

    Albert Schweitzer,
    The Decay and Restoration of Civilization, 1923

    Truth or nagativism from the humanitarian, Schweitzer?

  90. Re: marxism vs Jihad Islamism

    Marxism, by some accounts, annihilated close to *100 million* people in the 20th century, all in the name of equality. The goal of equality was promised to its followers in this life and posited as something worthy of the ultimate sacrifice. Marxism engaged in massive slaughter to radically re-organize society, much as one would expect from Jihadist Islam. Moreover, the goal of world socialism was thought be to worth the deaths of millions of people, even if some of them were innocent.

    Marxism, in fact, perceived religion as a direct competitor, and the Soviets (and their brethren) set about removing all aspects of it from life, setting up Marxist precepts to govern right thought and right action instead. Rituals and routines were derived from a revered text (anything by Marx & co.), just as in Islam. Marxists invoked Marx, Jihadists invoke Allah; both seek to enslave human beings while claiming deliverance for humanity. I would deny that Islam displays greater fervor than Cambodian, NV, African or Soviet revolutionary marxists. I fail to see why Jihadist savagery or fervor is fundamentally different than the marxist variety (though it obviously is different in other important ways).

    We have seen this all before, in Cambodian killing fields and the Soviet Gulags. The question is the same: Will the West stand and fight – testing its moral, political and material might against a totalitarian system – or run away screaming like a bunch of Frenchmen.

    Speaking of which, Lili, I enjoy some aspects of Old Europe as well. I just don’t think that, having sold their fellow human beings into slavery in exchange for petro-dollars (see Franco/Saddam signed oil deals and UNSCAM), they should be trusted to make geo-political or moral decisions.

  91. Mark: we’re again mostly on the same page. One addendum, though, regarding comments about “Old Europe.” I frequently see disparaging remarks about France, Germany, etc. as if it is the French or German people themselves that are wholly culpable for their government’s actions. Although they are responsible in ideal, I think it’s safe to look at the USA and see that someone saying “Americans are war-mongers” would be over-generalizing, as would someone saying “the French are cowards.”

    I don’t think it helps anyone to over-generalize negative characterizations. Honestly, it lets off the real cowards/warmongers/traitors/etc. by diffusing their responsability unto others.

  92. IdahoEv:
    “Spend $100bil of that on intelligence and assassinations and another $100bil on food, education, and economic growth programs in Muslim countries, especially Palestine. Apply the rest to reduce the deficit by 17%.”

    I’d say the intel/assasination spend might be a good one.
    The deficit reduction: as a non-American I’ve no opinion. NMFP.
    But $100 billion on economic programmes?

    Money thrown away, without massive social reform in the Arab/Islamic world.
    Oil revenues in Saudi alone amount to about half to 3/4 that every year, and have hardly produced a thriving economy there.
    Elsewhere, the rent seeking of corrupt officials is a massive economic drag.

    “we’re using the jackhammer”
    Nowhere near.
    The (sub-nuclear) jackhammer would be moving the econy to a war footing, ramping the army to the the maximum volunteer level (for offensive operations), perhaps going for a draft for garrison formations, being prepared to use all-out air warfare, etc.
    And the ladder has rungs even beyond that, of course.

    Compared to that, current casualty levels on both sides are trivial.
    Compare Vietnam or Korea.
    Or World War 2.
    A reason not to use the ‘war’ mode?
    I would argue, a reason to use limited war while it still might, maybe, avoid having to walk that road.
    (Possible analogy: preventive war in Europe c.1933)

    Similarly, an attempt at producing an Iraq that can have a chance of being receptive to a gradual accumulation of reform may well not work.
    But it might increase the chances of avoiding other, even worse, possibilities:
    – the nuclear Caliphate = nuclear war
    – ‘Oil Empire’ to enforce ‘quarantine’ of Islamic world
    – total conventional war, general occupation.

    Whereas policing and assasination alone, as opposed to being part of a more comprehensive strategy of all levels of coercion and force, focus on symptoms rather than the disease.

  93. Regarding covert operations and policing:
    Sufficiently smart terrorist organisations can be very difficult to eradicate with such means, as the UK found with the IRA.

    Certainly you will need to be willing to make uncooperative states “offers they can’t refuse” – and they must know they can’t refuse.
    Absent that, your hit teams may well be going on suicide missions.
    And another problem; friendly states who refuse to extradite “politicals”, and cut up rough if you try assasination.

  94. Matt, your point about generalizations is well taken. It’s an easy and sometimes irresistable dig to take, though.

    However, I think the conclusion that the French government engaged in de facto slave-trading by selling Iraqis into thralldom in exchange for promised oil contracts and petro-dollars is inescapable. I find this particularly odious given that European governments have often called on the West to rescue them from slavery by appealing to common humanity, but ignored similar calls from Iraqis.

    I’m not sure Europeans or Europhiles can be seen to complain about this.

  95. Praktike,

    I’ve not paid attention to this forum for a few days but, reading it now, I see you’ve kind of run amok with one of my statements. I don’t know if you are still tracking this thread so I won’t respond at any length but, hopefully, it is good for one more go-round. You criticized my statement that:

    “a) opposition to liberal, democratic traditions – rooted as they are in Greek, Christian and enlightenment intellectual foundations that are alien to Islam – goes to the very core of Islamic civilization”

    and suggested that I had some “homework” to do.

    You went on to claim, in various posts that Islam shepherded many ancient works through the dark ages (true) and that it offered many innovations of its own (also true – those arguing that Islam merely held the candle for a few years are simply wrong on the facts).

    During the “Golden Age of Islam” (midth 9th century till the sack of Baghdad in 1256), Islamic cultures were indeed rich, varied and powerful. But they were not liberal and democratic – which was my point. More to the point, they did not offer a framework or any kind of foundation for liberal democracy. It is simply false to claim that, because these societies were commercially and intellectually successful, that they were also compatible with liberal democracy.

    Indeed, even the claim that Islam itself was at the root of their success is suspect. It can be argued that the successes of the Islamic “golden age” were due to the particular political genius of the Abbasid Caliphate and the interaction of their expanding empire with other cultures (high rates of cultural intercourse have been characteristic of the golden ages of Greece, Rome and even America as well). The introduction of paper from China was also a powerful technological enabler of Islamic growth.

    Throughout this period the political and cultural powers at the heart of the Caliphate were far more cosmopolitan than any of those that followed. As the empire consolidated, a resurgent Islamic fundamentalism, as embodied in al-Ghazali’s “The Destruction of Philosophy,” essentially put an end to the practice of free inquiry by arguing, convincingly, that evidence, experience and reason had nothing to offer the faithful Muslim. The only true path to knowledge in Islam, according to al-Ghazali, is a direct intuition of God’s design for the world. This work (or at least its conclusions) is seminal to understanding the last 900 years of Islamic history and the failure of the Islamic world to keep pace with the West. In essence, you shouldn’t be arguing with ME that Islam is incompatible with modern liberal democracy and pluralism – you need to go argue with al-Ghazali: perhaps the most influential Islamic scholar since Mohammed.

    Thus, I stand by my original point that liberal, democratic traditions are rooted in Greek, Christian and enlightenment intellectual foundations and that they are alien to the practice of Islam – just as al-Ghazali argued 900 years ago. Can Islam evolve and adapt? Of course it can. But I have little faith that this will happen without world-historical spasms of violence and war.

  96. WildMonk,

    Thanks for the clarification, and sorry to misinterpret. Once you left, lesser mortals tried vainly to carry the torch for you.

  97. Mark, your list of alleged successes of our Iraq program, besides being so trivial compared to the failure in-the-large, isn’t even accurate. Municipal elections were held in only a handful of places outside the Kurdish zone; we appointed most of the local governments ourselves. Freedom of the press didn’t extend to Moqtada al-Sadr, maybe with reason.

    Would you agree that all of Team Bush’s expectations with respect to the security situation and the political reconstruction of the country have turned out over-optimistic? Isn’t that completely undeniable, given the Garner to Bremer to Brahimi sequence? The broken promise of troop reduction? The long-gone estimate that the total cost of reconstruction to the USA taxpayer would be $1.7 Billion? Next to that, the improved fortunes of the Iraqi national football (soccer) team just don’t matter.

    [Two asides to Lili: If conservatism is on the march across Europe, why did the conservative party in Spain just get turned out of office? And the Canadian Sharia decision is wildly exaggerated nonsense: the court decided that it would enforce civil decisions made by Muslim courts with the consent of both parties (basically, binding arbitration), in the same way that, say, similar decisions by a Jewish bet din are already enforced.]

  98. I confess that I haven’t read even half of all the responses to the question of how to handle the terrorists living in other countries, but if we can somehow elect John Kerry to the Presidency next November, we can just hand over the job to the U.N. and we can forget about it because the U.N. will take care of it for us. Problem solved!

  99. “Mark, your list of alleged successes of our Iraq program, besides being so trivial compared to the failure in-the-large, isn’t even accurate. Municipal elections were held in only a handful of places outside the Kurdish zone; we appointed most of the local governments ourselves. Freedom of the press didn’t extend to Moqtada al-Sadr, maybe with reason.”

    If I recall correctly, al-Sadr’s newspaper was banned because it incited violence against coalition troops and other Iraqi groups. This is consistent with the long-standing formulation of intellectual freedom insofar as it does not infringe on the freedom of others (no yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre, no death threats, etc.). It has been noted that Iraq now has greater freedom of the press than many Western democracies.

    Please explain your belief that freedom of religion, freedom of expression and freedom of thought are trivial relative to other goods. People often place greater value on these freedoms than on personal security, for instance. Moreover, I’m not sure all Iraqis are being forced to choose between freedom and security, nor that they should show, or have shown, an exclusive preference for security. Nor are these freedoms incidental; they are necessary to the creation of a political space in which to practice democratic political debate – they are essential to the plan. That you discount these freedoms is rather odd.

    Re: elections.

    We are arguing about the success or failure of the plan for Iraq, not the plan for Iraq minus Kurdish areas. Thus, your exclusion of Kurds is little more than an attempt to define away an uncomfortable fact.

    From a WaPo article: “In the province of Dhi Qar, about 230 miles southeast of Baghdad and a backwater even by Iraq’s standards, residents voting as families will have elected city councils in 16 of the 20 biggest cities by next month.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A44553-2004Feb15?language=printer Elections in Kurdish areas are ongoing. I’m sure there have been more elections since, but the left media doesn’t report Iraq news unless it involves explosions or setbacks.

    Schools have been largely rehabilited: 2500 renovated, 80 million new textbooks; 5 million school supply kits, increased pay for teachers, rehabilited Ministry of Education. Hospitals and clinics are up and running. There are over 18,000 infrastructure rebuiling projects. Oil and electricity production are either at or near pre-war levels. Full elections are planned for Jan., 2005, with 25% of electoral seats set aside for women. Political parties of all types are preparing for these elections, despite anticipated opposition by thuggish anti-democrats.

    The fact that you fail to mention all of this, but insert comments about the Iraqi national soccer team, is telling.

    But let’s go with your example of the Iraqi soccer team. Like ordinary Iraqis, players are no longer subject to torture or execution if they displease their masters. On-plan or off-plan? Trivial or important?

    Would the symbolism be lost on you if, in the next World Cup, the free Iraqi National Soccer team gets to play their former slavemasters, France?

    I’m not suggesting that the post-war plan was perfect, or that mistakes weren’t made, or that the security situation is adequate. But I am disputing your claim that either there was no plan or that the plan is a failure.

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