Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
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Poll

Are we wining the war on terror?

Yes
 4 (26.7%)
No
 7 (46.7%)
Don't know
 4 (26.7%)
Don't care
 0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 9

Author Topic: Terror  (Read 3859 times)

GentleTim

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Re: Terror
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2004, 05:19:58 PM »

1. I think it is quite obvious that we are losing.

I wouldn't go so far as to say "quite obvious."  In addition to the number of attacks, another factor that should be taken into account is the size.  Though the attacks in Bali, in Turkey, and in Madrid were sizable, they weren't comparable in scope to 9/11.  While I don't think it's obvious we're winning, I don't think we can definitively say we're losing either.  

If you think we're losing, what do you think we need to be doing to win?  I'm guessing from the links you provided and tone of your writing, that you don't think more fighting is the answer.  Do you think that it would be effective to simply withdraw from the Arab world and hope they don't bother us anymore?

2. GentleTim: Of course they may not be experienced fighters, but how many airplanes had the 9/11 terrorists flown into buildings prior?

I don't really understand what you're trying to say here.

3. GentleTim: Why has the Bush Administration screwed up the occupation/reconstruction?

Hmmm, where to start?  I think they've screwed it up in a vast number of ways, but I'll just list a few:
  • Not being more effective in their prewar diplomacy.
  • Not committing the troops or money to do the job as well as it could be done
  • Sanctioning torture

Have you seen this data?

http://www.publicintegrity.org/wow/resources.aspx?act=total

Compare that with this:

http://www.publicintegrity.org/wow/resources.aspx?act=contrib

Correlation? Cause and effect? IMO this war is lining pockets whether they manage the country or screw it up.

Yeah, I've seen it, and here:

http://www.slate.com/id/2090636

is a pretty good breakdown of why it isn't as nefarious as it seems.  And Slate is a predominantly liberal site, so this isn't a wingnut denying reality.  I'm a lot more sympathetic to the argument that this war was fought to ensure access to oil (though I'm sure I'll drive a lot of people crazy when I say that I think oil is a legitimate reason to fight a war), than I am to the charge that it was fought to line the pockets of Halliburton.  The data simply don't support that charge.
 
4. How about some of our allies in the war on terror? How can we speak of modernizing Islamic countries and be taken seriously?

http://www.cato.org/dailys/11-16-01.html

Well at the moment, it's pretty damn hard, since even our ostensible allies are opressive.  But I don't think that having no allies and crossing our fingers is a viable option.  So we pick the ones that either help us the most in the short term (Pakistan) or who we must have on our side in the long term (China).

But the unfortunate fact of the matter is that we're not going to be able to do the necessary modernization.  It's going to have to come from moderate muslims and governments that support them.  And whether we sanction it or not, sometimes oppressive governments are going to be the ones supporting moderate muslims.  

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.

5. We are fighting against an enemy that is responding to decades of internal interference by the CIA

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?" 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.

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.

Can we accept that other have the right to self-determination?

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.

Because once we accept that, even if they disagree with us, we have to demand that our intelligence agencies stop murdering people around the world.

I don't want our intelligence agencies murdering people indiscrimantately, but quite frankly if they have the opportnity to kill bin Laden or other known Al-Qaeda members, I don't want them to hesitate to pull the trigger.

Terrorism is a last-response from oppressed people with unpopular views to overwhelming force.

It's at this fundemental level that we differ.  I don't think that we brought terrorism on ourselves.  I think that Wahhibism has been teaching that Jews, Crusaders and Muslims who aren't sufficently devout, are to be killed.  I don't think that if we just left these societies to develop by themselves all would be sweetness and light.  Let's remember that it took centuries of war for Europe to go from a collection of feudal states to what it is today.  Expecting that the Arab/Islamic world will modernize the same way the western world did should scare the hell out of us.

Additionally, if you do think think that the solution is to just pull back, isolate ourselves and hope for the best, I don't see any real possible basis of agreement between us (which isn't to say that I'm not interested in what you have to say, but I just think that our grounding assumptions are too different to find commonality).

If Hussein was as bad as we were told, why did the people tolerate it?

Um, you're kidding right?  Do you really think that the Iraqi people had it in their power to simply rid themselves of Saddam Hussein?  Don't you recall when the Shia's revolted after the first war in Iraq and the Special Republican Guard brutally crushed them?  That's what dictatorships do, they use violence and oppression to maintain political control.  Tienamin Square is what it looks like when people unsuccessfully try to not "tolerate" dictatorships.  Would you let yourself be crushed by a tank after you've seen how effective it was at bringing change to China?  They "tolerate" it because they don't have a choice.

And I think the argument that the people were starved, tortured and beaten into submission is fallacious, esp. when one reads about the battle conditions our soldiers braved against the British during the American Revolution.

What does the American Revolution have to do with anything?  And I really don't understand how arguments about people being "starved, tortured and beaten into submission" are fallacious.  That's precisely what happened in Iraq, what happened in the Soviet Union and Cambodia, and what's happening in Sudan, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and under other dispotic regimes.  Are you seriously comparing what American Revolutionaries went through with Iraqis who lived under Saddam Hussein?  If you are, please read up on your history (of both the revolutionary war and modern Iraq) a bit.  You can start with Human Rights Watch report on Genocide in Iraq here: http://www.hrw.org/reports/1993/iraqanfal/, and then see if you can find instances where the redcoats used chemical weapons against the colonies.

6. John Kerry is against complete withdrawal. He is for increasing the international presence in Iraq until they can police themselves. I am about as peace-loving as one can get and even I am against troop pullout. We are, sadly, stuck there for a long time.

That's what he says, but I think he'll say whatever it takes to get elected.  As far as I'm concerned, the man has zero credibilty.  His congressional voting record and talk about a "secret plan" indicates that he'll want to pull as many troops out as fast as he can.

I'm honestly glad that people who are strongly against the war are committed to stick it through.  Despite the monumental screw-ups of the Bush administration, I still think there's a chance that it won't turn into a total disaster if we remain committed.

Given that you don't like what Bush is doing, and that you believe we're losing "The War on Terror," what would you propose for improving both short-term security and improving our long-term chances against an ideology which wants nothing more than for us to cease to exist.

jgruber

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Re: Terror
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2004, 05:23:12 PM »
Tim, 'quite obvious' really means we can see it clearly and anyone who doesn't is a doodie head.   :D


1. I think it is quite obvious that we are losing.



jgruber

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Re: Terror
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2004, 05:25:06 PM »
he's making the point that Al Quaeda acheived dramatic success with relatively inexperienced people on 9/11

2. GentleTim: Of course they may not be experienced fighters, but how many airplanes had the 9/11 terrorists flown into buildings prior?

I don't really understand what you're trying to say here.


jgruber

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Re: Terror
« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2004, 05:26:56 PM »
Tim, to think that we have not made many enemies over the decades and brought hatred and violence on ourselves is to deny our history.  We have been agressive and powerful.

How could we not create enemies?

the point is that we need to start using our heads and learn from our history instead of denying it.

GentleTim

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Re: Terror
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2004, 05:30:51 PM »
Maybe we are winning, but we are still fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan and Baathists in Iraq.

We have to be on constant guard in the US.

Plus we have a shortage of first responders in the US because so many are serving with their reserve units in Iraq.

If this is wining.....


Let's get our people back here and worry about America for a change.

I agree profoundly that our domestic measures have been woefully inadequate since 9/11, and I put the blame squarely on the Bush administration for making us think that as long as we're willing to stand in line for another hour or two at the airport we don't need to take more action domestically.  But, though it's tempting to believe that we should pull back to within our boarders, I think that while it would make us safer in the short run, but be disasterous in the long run.  Look at the following link for good reasons that we shouldn't just return home and point the guns out.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/files/story2579.php

jgruber

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Re: Terror
« Reply #15 on: August 15, 2004, 05:32:22 PM »
To be fair, the idea of the defense dept. defending everything except america goes back decades.

But Bush is still a doodie head.

The measures we've taken thus far don't seem to have helped much.

Maybe we are winning, but we are still fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan and Baathists in Iraq.

We have to be on constant guard in the US.

Plus we have a shortage of first responders in the US because so many are serving with their reserve units in Iraq.

If this is wining.....


Let's get our people back here and worry about America for a change.

I agree profoundly that our domestic measures have been woefully inadequate since 9/11, and I put the blame squarely on the Bush administration for making us think that as long as we're willing to stand in line for another hour or two at the airport we don't need to take more action domestically.  But, though it's tempting to believe that we should pull back to within our boarders, I think that while it would make us safer in the short run, but be disasterous in the long run.  Look at the following link for good reasons that we shouldn't just return home and point the guns out.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/files/story2579.php


GentleTim

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Re: Terror
« Reply #16 on: August 15, 2004, 05:35:27 PM »
Tim, to think that we have not made many enemies over the decades and brought hatred and violence on ourselves is to deny our history.  We have been agressive and powerful.

How could we not create enemies?

the point is that we need to start using our heads and learn from our history instead of denying it.

I'm not denying that we've created enemies.  But the point is that we can't be paralyzed by bad things that we've done in the past.  We can't undo those things.  We can try to make sure we don't do them again, and use what we've learned to solve the current problems.  But whenever someone tosses out the statement "We supported Hussein in the 80's" as a reason for not going to war in Iraq, I roll my eyes.  First off, the strategic situation was completely different before the end of the cold war, and second, how does supporting a dictator two decades ago absolve us of holding him accountable today?  It seems as if the reverse should be true.  If we helped, directly or indirectly, him perpetrate crimes against his people, we should bear a special responsibility to bring him to justice.

GentleTim

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Re: Terror
« Reply #17 on: August 15, 2004, 05:36:42 PM »

But Bush is still a doodie head.

The measures we've taken thus far don't seem to have helped much.

On these two points, I think we're in agreement  ;D

jgruber

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Re: Terror
« Reply #18 on: August 15, 2004, 05:37:55 PM »
That's my point.  Try to avoid the same mistakes, but we are already doing it again.

Pakistan was on our bad guy list of terror supporters for years.  They have a military ruler.  But now they are our new best friends.

Who else are we getting into bed with that we will have to fight tomorrow?

What about Saudi Arabia?  how will Saudis consider the US when the royal family is ousted?

Tim, to think that we have not made many enemies over the decades and brought hatred and violence on ourselves is to deny our history.  We have been agressive and powerful.

How could we not create enemies?

the point is that we need to start using our heads and learn from our history instead of denying it.

I'm not denying that we've created enemies.  But the point is that we can't be paralyzed by bad things that we've done in the past.  We can't undo those things.  We can try to make sure we don't do them again, and use what we've learned to solve the current problems.  But whenever someone tosses out the statement "We supported Hussein in the 80's" as a reason for not going to war in Iraq, I roll my eyes.  First off, the strategic situation was completely different before the end of the cold war, and second, how does supporting a dictator two decades ago absolve us of holding him accountable today?  It seems as if the reverse should be true.  If we helped, directly or indirectly, him perpetrate crimes against his people, we should bear a special responsibility to bring him to justice.

cm burns

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Re: Terror
« Reply #19 on: August 15, 2004, 10:31:55 PM »
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.