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 3756 times)

cm burns

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Re: Terror
« Reply #20 on: August 15, 2004, 10:32:55 PM »
The rest of my post:

"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."

I agree. The fight against al Qaeda is totally justified under international law. The war in Iraq was not justified under any existing laws. Our proxy wars during the Cold War were not either. That is the difference. Killing Bin Laden will save innocent lives on both sides. This is what the CIA is supposed to do IMO.

"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."

Wahhabism originated in Saudi Arabia. We supported the Saudi Royals for decades. These crazy types are going to develop whether we are involved in their affairs or not. Their craziness is not crazy if we do what they say we are going to do (Invade their country and so forth).

Islam is in a struggle between the moderates and the fundamentalists. By involving ourselves militarily, we complicate matters and prevent the moderates from pointing to countries like ours and saying "This is what the West has to offer." When they do that now, examine my earlier post to see what we offered their world in the past.

"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)."

I am totally against a complete pullout, and I did not mean to imply that. It was early when I wrote that and my daughter was screaming in between points. Military operations are increasing in number, and this is not good. We can agree with that I am sure. At what point do we stop being the world's police force and let the UN and other IGO's do their jobs? This apparatus is in place to prevent wars and to allow peace-loving countries to unite. When we tell these agencies to piss off, we cannot expect them to side with us when we need it unless we make fundamental changes. "Regime change begins at home."

"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"

I made this point to say how people with little to no resources and slim chances of winning were able to beat the most powerful army in the world. Again, the baby was screaming so I could have made this point better. Sorry

"Are you seriously comparing what American Revolutionaries went through with Iraqis who lived under Saddam Hussein?"

No. And I brought up the American revolutionaries to offer perspective, nothing more. One man's traitor is another man's hero (Benedict Arnold). One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.

"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 firstwar in Iraq and the Special Republican Guard brutally crushed them? That's what dictatorships do, they use violence and oppression to maintain political control."

If there was widespread revolt in any country, the people could overcome any dictator. BTW Iraq is actually three countries: Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish. We have sided with the Kurds for some reason. Hussein was Sunni (still is I suppose). Iran's Shia influence in Iraq scares us (via Al-Sadr and his followers). The situation would have resolved itself through revolution once Hussein died or became a little bit weaker. Too bad we decided the outcome of their revolution before they did.

Suppose, for instance, Iraq invaded our country and established a dictatorship. Absurd as this sounds, the people would unite and overcome anything he did. We would not "tolerate" it. Well, I wouldn't.

"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."

Good point, but could the Chinese government run over 1 billion people storming the government buildings? 500 million people? 500 thousand people? 100 thousand people? Democracy in China will not happen any time soon because the majority of people do not feel strong enough about it to fight for it.

The USSR failed because the people wouldn't stand for it anymore. The wall fell in Berlin and the communist officials in East Germany just watched.

"and then see if you can find instances where the redcoats used chemical weapons against the colonies."

My point is that they got the weapons from us. In much the same way we bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Dresden even, civilian deaths work against the enemy. WMD are used against civilians. Giving WMD to people means giving it to them with the undertsanding that there is a strong possibility they will use it on innocents.

However, as an aside, the US government was the first to use biological weapons against people (Smallpox on the blankets given to Native Americans).

"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."

All politicians say things to get elected. However, a large chunk of his party were against the war but are against troop pullout. I for one would not support him again if he pulled all of our troops out. That would be dangerous. And I think a lot of other people feel the same. We broke it, we now have to fix it by rebuilding the infrastructure. We cannot solve Islam's problems. We can only make them worse.

"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."

Um, this post is long enough for tonight. I will answer that tomorrow if that is okay with you.

What amazes me is how many people in this world are willing to die for a small piece of land.

Great discussion BTW

jgruber

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Re: Terror
« Reply #21 on: August 16, 2004, 09:32:20 AM »
I agree with most of what you say.  I picked on you because I love to pick on anyone who says "quite obvious" and things like "it's common sense" and "everyone knows".

I especially like your list of seven points listed below.

And bringing in american history to add perscpective is quite appropriate.  I am not one of those who hold american actions of the past as sacred.  We have a long history of violence and by definition our history is what got us where we are today.  If we are in a bad situation, then it makes a lot of sense to look critically at our past.

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



GentleTim

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Re: Terror
« Reply #22 on: August 16, 2004, 10:08:23 AM »
This is an interesting discussion.

Burns,

From what you said it seems like we assess the dangers of terrorism and radical islam similarly, but I think we have profoundly different views in how it should be approached.

I see terrorism as a manifestation of an ideology (radical Islam) of hatred that's preached in Masadrahs throughout the world, but primarily funded with Saudi petro dollars.  I categorically don't believe that this terrorism is like the political terrorism that was seen in Northern Ireland in the 80s, or the seperatist terrorism of ETA in Spain, or even (potentially) groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.  That terrorism was tied to political goals, and I think that your analysis of it being the "last-response from oppressed people with unpopular views to overwhelming force" could be true in these cases.  I still find it reprehensible as a tactic, but I understand that in some cases it's the only option available to some populations.  Let me be clear that I don't believe this is true of Palestinian terror groups, only that I think a reasonable case could be made that they are political terrorists, rather than nihilistic terrorists.

As far as the nihilistic terrorism of bin-Laden, Al-Qaeda and groups of that nature, I don't think that's true.  I think it's their first response.  They've said plainly that they want to destroy what they see as a corrupt, decadent Western Society and restore the Calliphate.  They've attacked civilians to prove it and made no reasonable political demands.  I'm taking them at their word when they say they're at war with the West.

It seems like we also differ in the amount of faith that we put in institutions like the UN, ICC, ICJ and other world bodies.  To wit, I put essentially NO faith in them to be able to reduce terrorism, prevent genocide or do much of anything worthwile beyond some distribution of humanitarian aid.

The UN, for example, has Sudan sitting on it's Human Rights Council.  This is the same Sudan currently committing genocide in Dafur.  Genocide, that is, unless you ask the EU, who refer to it as only "widespread, silent and slow killing...and village burning of a fairly large scale."  This is the same UN which allowed Saddam to corrupt the Oil-for-Food program to the tune of 10 billion dollars, and if you believe the harshest critics (I do, but imagine most here don't) whose highest officers lined their pockets with Saddam's blood money.

This is an organization with no accountability.  It's a club of countries where the membership requirement is simply control, by whatever means, of a government.  It's a mix of dictators (who are pandered to by the European representatives) and democracies who have historically opposed each other at every turn.  I just don't see this being an effective clearinghouse for fighting radical Islam.  In fact, I don't think this is an effective organization for doing much of anything beyond some of the admittedly-worthwhile humanitarian projects that it takes on (I'm thinking of the World Food Programme here).

Additionally, you seem to have a lot of respect for International Law that I don't have.  As far as I can tell, International Law is a patchwork of treaties and agreements that countries abide by because it's in their interests.  Most of these have provisions for withdrawl and no enforcement mechanism other that to declare whatever agreement is breached to be null.

International Law is only binding on a state if the state in question agrees that this particular bit of International Law is binding and follows it.

If this is true (and I'm not an expert, but from what I understand, it is), then the idea of "X action being legal/illegal under International Law," doesn't carry much weight.  As far as I know, it's illegal for the US to carry out assassinations because of an executive order.  The Geneva conventions bind US servicemen/women because we have laws that mirror the provisions of those conventions.

That said, I love the following line:

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.

This is my problem with Bush.  There's no attitude of "walk softly and carry a big stick."  He tromps around like he owns the place and not only carries a big stick but uses it indiscriminately.

But I'm afraid that Kerry would not only walk softly, but sit down and not carry a stick at all.  He just hasn't convinced me that he takes the threat of Fundamentalist Islam seriously, and I'm practically begging for a reason to vote against Bush.  If I was reasonably sure that he wasn't going to sell out to France and the UN, I'd vote for him in a heartbeat.  As it stands, I'm hoping he can convince me before election time, but it's going to be really hard given his congressional voting record and all the back and forth he's done on the issue since the primaries started.

Here are a few things that I would like to see done to protect the US and curb the spread of nihilistic terrorism.

  • Develop effective disaster prevention and crisis management systems domestically.  No more of this ambiguous "orange alert" bull.  Real funding needs to go to the dept. of Homeland defense to provide training to first responders, community awareness about what needs to be done in the event of a chemical, biological or nuclear attack.  My parents did air-raid drills during the cold war at school.  We need similar programs to make people aware of the risks and what to do in case of actual attacks.
  • Develop "community watch programs."  Nothing like the "inform on your fellow citizens" programs that Ashcroft wanted, but something like the Citizen Watch program writ large.  Most people aren't stupid, and have a pretty good idea when something unusual is going on in their neighborhoood.  They need to know what to do with this information to be helpful.
  • Create gov't funded exchange programs between US students/professors/professionals and their counter parts in the Islamic world.
  • Do our best to cut the funding to radical masadrahs.
  • Pour money into developing alternate energy sources.  It's our money that goes towards financing terrorism, and it needs to stop.
  • Rebuld Afghanistan and Iraq.  None of this relativistic crap about Iraqis and Afghanis being better off than they were.  They clearly are, and I think that in all likelihood both of these invasions produces improvements on the prior regimes.  But I'm mostly interested the benefits that will accrue to our cause if these societies provide counter-examples in a region that rife with opression, corruption and abuse.  I'd like to see these two countries use as bases to provide at least moral (supporting the Iranian dissident movement), and possibly financial help to the Iranians who are trying remove the mullahs from power.
  • Help Pakistan and India reach a final peach agreement over Kashmir.  This is more a conflict over land than ideology (though that has come to play a part in it).  We need to do the same thing that we did with Egypt and Isreal.  Buy them off.  It'll be more expensive, but probably easier.
  • We need to remove governments which harbor or sponsor terrorism
  • Do a *much* better job of buying up loose nuclear material from the former Soviet Union.

There are some other things too, but I think that those are the most important ones.  Some of those we're going to be able to do via the UN.  Though I'm no fan, it's currently the best vehicle for legitimacy available.  Others we're going to have to do alone.  But they all need to be done.

jgruber

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Re: Terror
« Reply #23 on: August 16, 2004, 10:21:16 AM »
Tim

What do you have besides your opinion that this terrorism is nihilistic?

You mentioned the duplicity of Sudan, but duplicity is certainly not unique to nihilistic terrorism.


I'm stressing this because your arguments rest on this assumption.

GentleTim

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Re: Terror
« Reply #24 on: August 16, 2004, 10:39:54 AM »
Tim

What do you have besides your opinion that this terrorism is nihilistic?

You mentioned the duplicity of Sudan, but duplicity is certainly not unique to nihilistic terrorism.


Bin Laden's assertions.  Based on everything he and his representitives have said, he's not interested in negotiation.  He's interested in imposing sharia everywhere possible, and killing as many infidels, crusaders, zionists and secular/moderate muslims as it takes to do it.

I mentioned Sudan as evidence that the UN isn't much better than useless, rather than as an example of nihilistic terrorism.  The ethnic cleansing taking place in Dafur isn't nihilistic, the government has what seems to be the specific desire to see all of the black Africans killed or run off their land.  Evil, but not nihilistic.

jgruber

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Re: Terror
« Reply #25 on: August 16, 2004, 10:48:06 AM »
So when the US says they will not negotiate with terrorists then the US is nihilistic?

You can interpret Bin Laden's sayings as nihilistic or you could say they are fanatically determined to win.

I don't remember hearing Bin Laden say he is only interested in killing the whole world.  Just his enemies.

Of course, it is easier to deal with the world when you believe your enemies are nihilistic.  Then you can consider them to be just sick animals waiting for extermination.

Tim

What do you have besides your opinion that this terrorism is nihilistic?

You mentioned the duplicity of Sudan, but duplicity is certainly not unique to nihilistic terrorism.


Bin Laden's assertions.  Based on everything he and his representitives have said, he's not interested in negotiation.  He's interested in imposing sharia everywhere possible, and killing as many infidels, crusaders, zionists and secular/moderate muslims as it takes to do it.

I mentioned Sudan as evidence that the UN isn't much better than useless, rather than as an example of nihilistic terrorism.  The ethnic cleansing taking place in Dafur isn't nihilistic, the government has what seems to be the specific desire to see all of the black Africans killed or run off their land.  Evil, but not nihilistic.

GentleTim

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Re: Terror
« Reply #26 on: August 16, 2004, 10:54:54 AM »
So when the US says they will not negotiate with terrorists then the US is nihilistic?

You can interpret Bin Laden's sayings as nihilistic or you could say they are fanatically determined to win.

I don't remember hearing Bin Laden say he is only interested in killing the whole world.  Just his enemies.

Of course, it is easier to deal with the world when you believe your enemies are nihilistic.  Then you can consider them to be just sick animals waiting for extermination.

It does make things easier...

The ZAPINATOR

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Re: Terror
« Reply #27 on: August 16, 2004, 11:37:41 AM »
edit

jgruber

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Re: Terror
« Reply #28 on: August 16, 2004, 12:11:57 PM »
More votes.  I must have more votes.


ZAP, no one is picking on the US.  We happend to live there so it is appropriate to emphasize our part.

Jesus said that struggle and poverty will always be with us, and that we are to oppose them.  I don't think I ever suggested that we ignore the bad things in the world.
But I didn't and I don't think Jesus ever did suggest that we just give in and join the fray.  We are to fight for peace and justice even if it appears hopeless.

We live in the real world and we fight for a better one.

cm burns

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Re: Terror
« Reply #29 on: August 16, 2004, 01:19:19 PM »

All of you are raising excellent points. And I was scared I would get flamed for my book-length posts.  :)

BTW It would be the ICC, not the ICJ. My international law professor would punch me for f-ing that up.

This is going to sound asinine, but I do not think Al Qaeda is nihilistic. So far, when countries have pulled out of Iraq because of kidnappings, they have kept their word.

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/040317/325/eotq9.html
http://abcnews.go.com/wire/World/reuters20040629_266.html
http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/E5DC03C9-E88F-4665-84BD-83E1D73C777D.htm
http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L21196569.htm

Last night while trying to go to sleep I kept trying to compare the IRA with Al Qaeda. The religious component is there (Catholics v. Anglicans). I think the demands are similar (pullout of our lands). The idea that Al Qaeda wants us out of their holy lands makes much more sense than Bush's "They hate us for our freedoms" line. And Bin Laden has actually said that.

BTW If you haven't read House of Bush, House of Saud, I recommend it.

We are agreed that terrorism as a tactic is reprehensible. But we could also probably agree that it is effective. However, one thing about 9/11 has always bothered me. If they are nihilistic, why did they attack our symbols of government, globalization and freedom? Why not try to kill as many people as possible?  I can think of many better targets than two buildings full of rich people and a building full of war-mongers (their perspective, not mine). Why not bomb the Alaskan Pipeline? Why not fly a plane into the NYSE? Or Fort Knox? Or the Hoover Dam? Or bomb the credit bureaus a la Fight Club? Or bomb the IRS? See my point? These targets would kill hundreds of thousands and/or wreck our economy for decades.

The best analogy I ever heard about IGOs and their effectiveness would be to compare the United States to the UN. I live in KY currently, and I used to live in Illinois. These two states fought bitterly over jurisdiction of the Ohio River a few years ago.  If you stepped into the water from Illinois to cast a fishing line, you could conceivably be cited by KY gaming officials even though you are one step into the river on the Illinois side. This pissed off a number of fishermen. Two examples o how it could have been solved:

1. The US Foreign Policy way: This issue was settled through a bitter war of attrition whereby Illinois sent in right wing death squads to murder civilians until KY conceded defeat.

Or

2. The US domestic policy way: This issue was solved through Federal mediation and a peaceful resolution was achieved.

Just a thought.

Off the record, I think the UN Oil for Food program was intentionally corrupted by the UN because of the massive starvation of Iraqi children. Being familiar with Human Rights Watch would lead me to believe that you also know that the economic sanctions were crippling that country.  The No Fly Zones were totally against all established international precedent, and by patrolling these areas we dropped bombs on civilians for about a decade illegally. I think that pissed off a number of western countries (because the West rules the UN) and France, Germany, Russia, etc. wanted to alleviate the suffering of those kids. The corrupt Oil for Food program has been portrayed in this Country as being done for Hussein's benefit. I just disagree with that idea.

What really sucks is that the economic sanctions were tied to weapons inspections. When Hussein kicked out the inspectors in 1998, people thought he was ramping up his programs again. That was not true. Western intelligence agencies were using the inspections to gather intelligence for an upcoming invasion. Have you seen this?

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article1665.htm

This has been in the works for years. All they needed was a tragedy. Now, before I get flamed, I DO NOT think Bush or his administration planned 9/11 or was responsible for it in any way. Anyone seeing how he froze in that classroom could tell he was taken by complete surprise. I do think they used 9/11 as an excuse to do what they said they would in the cited article.

The legitimacy of the UN is based solely upon the consent of the governed. Sounds familiar, I know. My point is that when the big boy doesn't play by the rules, why should we expect anyone else?

International law is developing at a whirlwind pace. The world will no longer be the wild west, per se, when some group brings law and order to the masses. That is why I love it when Bush plays the cowboy. I can just imagine one of his ancestors in the 1800's riding on a horse, shouting "yee haw" as he shoots a bunch of native americans and takes their cloths. Eventually, though, the cowboy will disappear and law and order will prevail.

"I just don't see this being an effective clearinghouse for fighting radical Islam. In fact, I don't think this is an effective organization for doing much of anything beyond some of the admittedly-worthwhile humanitarian projects that it takes on"

Well, this is the best we have right now, and it would have worked in Iraq to keep us out of war. And we did have UN support to go into Afghanistan, if my memory serves correctly. That is the purpose of the UN: to find a peaceful resolution whenever possible. And remember, the biggest stumbling block to an effective UN is the US' belligerent attitude toward it and insane amount of vetoes used by us in the UNSC.

International law is made to be generic because of the broad applicability of it. States are free to approve treaties with reservations, but treaties are supposed to be binding. If you study IL, you should see a pattern of US attitude towards it: when it works in our favor, we are the most law abiding nation on earth, but when it works against us (Nicaragua v. US, ICJ case from 80's), we tell them to go f--- themselves and nothing happens. Who will be stupid enough to sanction us?

Kerry has about 20 years of experience on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. When Bush came to power, he had been in government a total of around 6 years. Granted, he had more experience than actor and former muscleman Governor Schwarzenegger, but nobody hammered home Bush's lack of experience in 2000.

What scares you about Kerry's voting record? The "most liberal senator" charge? As a member of the Senate leadership, he really only needs to show up for votes that are important or close. this skews both his and Edwards' voting records to the left since they are voting against conservative issues. His "vote for the war?" This has been portrayed in the media falsely. He voted, based on erroneous intelligence provided by the CIA, to authorize the president to use force IF NECESSARY to topple the Hussein regime. His later vote against the 87 billion supplemental bill after Bush misled us to war was in protest to the heavily skewed dollar amount away from the soldiers and towards defense contractors such as Halliburton/KBR.

"Develop effective disaster prevention and crisis management systems domestically. No more of this ambiguous "orange alert" bull."

Absolutely. I also liked that I should fight terror by going shopping.

"Do our best to cut the funding to radical masadrahs."

This means cutting off the Saudi Royals, which will never happen with Bush in the White House.

"Rebuld Afghanistan and Iraq. None of this relativistic crap about Iraqis and Afghanis being better off than they were. They clearly are, and I think that in all likelihood both of these invasions produces improvements on the prior regimes."

They are not right now primarily because Hussein at least kept the water and lights on. But even a "rabid left wing commie pinko" like myself holds some amount of joy in seeing Hussein removed from power. I just do not think this will end up in a good place.

"We need to remove governments which harbor or sponsor terrorism"

Prepare for never-ending war, then. I am sorry but this will never happen. We approach the problem this way, then we will inevitably f--- up again and remove another Hussein who we thought was a terrorist funding tyrant but really was not. The cycle will continue unless we can work through the UN under existing IL. Just a difference of opinion here, and probably the true point of contention.

"Do a *much* better job of buying up loose nuclear material from the former Soviet Union."

We missed our chance at stopping a lot of nuclear proliferation after the fall of the USSR. Had we had a Marshall Plan for the USSR, the world would look a lot differently for sure and we would be safer. To be fair, Clinton missed his chance at a wonderful legacy because of this oversight.