By saying "quite obvious" I meant quite obvious to me, not that anyone else who believes differently is wrong. Or a doodiehead. I think I may have given that post a different tone by neglecting to say that. Sorry
I was just discussing, not preaching.
What do I think we need to do to win?
Well, a good place to start would have been to go after al Qaeda and not waste resources on Iraq.
The UN inspections would have revealed that our justification for war was erroneous. I think this illustrates why the UN should be allowed to operate to protect the peace. But, since we already invaded Iraq, I think the strategy Kerry outlined would be enough for now.
1. Bring our allies back into the fold.
2. Get the UN involved deeply
3. Stop threatening North Korea and Iran i.e. let the UN Security Council do its job
4. End the practice of hiring mercenary forces in Iraq and Afghanistan i.e. keep the forces under government control
5. Allow our soldiers committing atrocities to be brought before the ICJ (or is it the ICC, I can't remember)
6. Rebuild the damned country and give Halliburton/KBR one hell of an audit
7. Get out and learn our lesson
We should expect more attacks precisely because we played into Bin Laden's rhetoric (the US is an occupying force, the US wants oil etc.). That is our mistake and we will have to live with that threat whether we bomb more civilians in other countries or we close the borders. There is no easy answer to this, but the answer IMO is not to continue making war for peace.
"GentleTim: Of course they may not be experienced fighters, but how many airplanes had the 9/11 terrorists flown into buildings prior?"
What I meant by that is that terrorists probably do not need a lot of "work experience" to be effective. Their motivation, commitment to their cause, and basic combat skills would be enough.
Other random points:
We are agreed about the screw-ups of the Bush Administration. Totally agreed actually.
I did not specifically say it was fought for Halliburton/KBR. There are plenty of other people with their hands in the cookie jar, although it is hard to believe that KBR won the large "no-bid" contract at the outset of the occupation. I mean, these people have no sense of decency and they are not even trying to hide their war profiteering.
"I think that our role has to be using our financial, rhetorical and, when necessary, military resources to create a space which favors the moderate proponents of Islam over the extremists. We shouldn't delude ourselves, it's not going to be a pretty process, but we should do what we can to reduce the damage that it inflicts upon our societies and theirs."
I totally agree with this. For example, had Saddam Hussein really possessed stockpiles of WMD and the UN found them, I would have supported the effort in Iraq. Nearly everyone would have. He was, according to Powell, successfully contained and not a threat until we needed him to be one. Then we kept the UN from doing their job and lost the legitimacy of our actions. We acted irrationally and it turns out that we were wrong. We are now paying the price for it.
My point is that the modernization of Islamic states will happen if the apparatus that exists under international law is allowed to operate, and moderate Islam defeats the fundamentalists.
For example, I am sure you know that the US uses it's UNSC veto more than anyone else, primarily in support of Israel against the rest of the world. The large majority of states are unable to understand why the US supports Israel no matter what Israel does. The creation of a viable Palestinian state (where the people can actually walk from one side of the state to the other without passing through Israel) will most likely ease Middle East tension. You can add that to my earlier list. Look at our relationship with Egypt, and Egypt's respect for Israel.
"To some degree, this is true. But those mistakes are made. We can't undo support for the Shah or the Iran-Contra affair. The relevant question is "What do we do now?"
The best thing we can do (as future attorneys and leaders in our communities) is to understand what mistakes were made in the past to prevent making them again. I mean, not to just know what happened, but to compare with what is happening now. I expect us to continue making the same mistakes again and again, sadly.
"It seems to me that you think that if we just left things alone, everything would be ok. I don't think that's the case."
I do not think this at all. We have to project a strong image around the world. But just because we are the biggest guy on the block doesn't mean we have to beat the *&^% out of everyone to prove it. Everyone knows how many nukes we have, how many troops we have, how many stealth bombers we have, etc. I think we have to play by the same rules as everyone else. Otherwise, under international law the difference between our use of the military and the Nazi regime is the funny walking.
Also, by involving ourselves in everything, we are setting ourselves up for pissing off a large percentage of the earth.
"Additionally, suicidal terrorism seems to primarily a phenomenon of the Islamic world. Despite intense and aggressive meddling in the governments of S. America, nilhistic terrorism doesn't thrive there like it does in the Middle East."
Agreed, but what does this imply? They are willing to die for their cause and lack the military might to respond normally (bombs and tanks). Do not forget the Kamikaze pilots from WWII.
BTW when Israel drives a tank through someone's home and kills fifteen civilians in the process, it is a military operation. When a 15 year old Palestinian boy straps a bomb on his chest and kills civilians, it is terrorism. When we drop a bomb on a hospital in Iraq, it is a military operation. Civilians are dying for the actions of their governments. Terrorism and state sponsored bombings of civilians have much in common and little difference IMO.
"Sure but it's not like people vote to live under a dictatorship. In most of the countries in the Middle East, many in Africa and in some other places, talking about people's self-determination is a farce."
True, people do not vote to live in a dictatorship, but as we speak we are sending aid to Pakistan, which is a military dictatorship. Again, how does our self-determination and democracy rhetoric co-exist with our support for dictators? BTW Pakistan has nukes.