Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
;

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 3972 times)

cm burns

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Re: Terror
« Reply #30 on: August 16, 2004, 01:45:09 PM »
Zap,

Welcome to the discussion!

I am not a Christian, so I will respect your beliefs and interpretations of Jesus' words.

"Why not talk about the history of bloodshed in France, England, Germany, Russia, any other western civilization..."

And look at how they have gelled into the EU. Who could have thought that was possible 50 years ago?

"...or the bloodshed in Africa or Asia"

The Western colonization of these areas resulted in the exploitation of much of the natural resources of the states for decades/centuries. Look at the British in China (opium, tea), or India (tea), or South Africa (diamonds, slaves). Because of colonization and exploitation, these areas are starting the race late, and that is why IGOs like the UN are so important to their development. I fail to see how hiding our heads in the sand and saying "The poor will always be with us" makes their lives any better or absolves us of any responsibility we have to help these areas out.

"Actually, when you put it in perspective, America's no worse than any of the other countries historically. So it doesn't do us any good to feel a great sense of shame because we've done "so much bad" in the past. "

The small child in Iraq who was bombed and lost three of her limbs as a direct result of the choices made by our government does not care whether 21st century America is comparably better or worse than 18th century France, or 20th century Germany for that matter. All she knows is that her current forced liberation resulted in her being crippled for life.

"As long as there's someone who has something, someone else is going to want it."

It is our duty to stop our governments when they want another state's oil and are willing to murder civilians for it.

"As long as there are prejudices, people will fight for their right to hold those prejudices."

It is the duty of citizens in a democracy to fight those who hold dangerous prejudices and keep them out of power.

"So gallivanting around with our heads in the clouds while refusing to acknowledge the realities of the world in which we live is dangerous. It's also unfair to paint America as such an unjust nation. Our score card is far from clean. But it's no worse than others. Just bear that in mind. I hope one day we'll reach utopia... but it's called utopia for a reason. That word means literally "it doesn't exist"."

Part of recognizing the realities of the world in which we live means looking at ourselves and asking, "Why is it that we play by a different set of rules than the rest of the world? How can we expect other states to respect our rights when we have sponsored terrorists around the globe for decades?"

Just my opinion.

I have to say that  I am thoroughly enjoying this discussion.
  :)

jgruber

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Re: Terror
« Reply #31 on: August 16, 2004, 02:14:56 PM »
This is pitiful.  Only eleven votes.

cm burns

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Re: Terror
« Reply #32 on: August 16, 2004, 04:29:05 PM »
Jeffjoe,

Can you believe I posted all of that hyperbole and forgot to vote?  ???

I suck
 :-[




jgruber

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Re: Terror
« Reply #33 on: August 16, 2004, 04:34:10 PM »
you are now officially an evil poster.

Jeffjoe,

Can you believe I posted all of that hyperbole and forgot to vote?  ???

I suck
 :-[





GentleTim

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Re: Terror
« Reply #34 on: August 16, 2004, 04:45:34 PM »
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.


I think they're perfectly capable of focusing on tactical goals.  But I don't think that they are interested in simply having us leave the holy land and then leaving well enough alone.  I think that they want to impose sharia throughout all the lands that constituted the calipate, possibly the world.  Bin Laden has said this too.

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.

The "hate us for our freedoms line" is cheap.  But I don't think they'll be satisfied if we just leave them alone.  And anyway, we simply can't in the near term because that's where the oil is.

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.

Because bin Laden and his cohort are very astute symboligists.  The Pentagon is the metaphorical heart of our military power and the World Trade Center a major nerve center in our economic system.  The message is: "If we can hit you concurrently in these two places, nowhere is safe."  In truth, none of the places you mentioned would do devastatingly more damage than was done by knocking down the twin towers and the Pentagon.  The US just isn't that fragile, and I think that the Al-Qaeda masterminds know that.  They weren't looking to cause maximum damage, they wanted to plant the idea of vulnerability.  How vulnerable would you feel if a remote pumping station in Alaska was attacked?

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.

I agree that way 2 is *vastly* preferable.  But the point is that there is already a government in place to do the peaceful mediation, which both state governments acknowledge as having some measure of authority over them.  And before you jump to say "But that's the role that the UN fills," let me say "No, it doesn't and shouldn't."

First off, the Federal Government has it's powers spelled out clearly in the Constitution.  It makes clear which powers are apportioned to which branches of the government, sets up a system of checks and balances between these branches, and provides clear accountablility of the governing to the governed.  The UN isn't set up at all like that.  It's not set up to govern, but rather to provide a forum for states to communicate with each other. 

However, even if the UN was set up to be a world government, I'm not interested in ceding any authority whatsoever to an organization where nations which guarantee basic rights (and I'll remove the US from this equation just for the sake of avoiding chauvanism), such as Norway, France, Japan, and Austraulia have to stand as equals with oppressive, totalitarian regimes like Zimbabwee, Sudan, Saudia Arabia and a host of others.  I think it's great that all these countries have a place to talk, but I'm unwilling to give countries can't that give their own people basic rights any real power over what we do.

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.

The problem with all this is that it wasn't the sanctions killing Iraqi children, it was Saddam Hussein.  Starting in 1996, when the Oil-For-Food Programme was started, the Kurds were able to pump and sell their own oil.  That is, they didn't rely on Hussein to distribute contracts, nor to distribute the goods which were purchased under the program.  And they thrived.  Babies didn't starve, because they used the money from the program to buy baby food, and the actually gave it to babies instead of reselling it.  They built a roughly democratic society (it's not Switzerland, but it's leagues ahead of the rest of the region with the exception of Isreal and Turkey), and managed to improve infrastructure, education, women's rights and all the things that are sorely lacking throughout the rest of the Middle East.

Saddam Hussein could have done this too, but the propaganda value of starving babies was worth more to him than building a functioning society.  And if the Oil-for-Food Programme was corrupted to alleviate the suffering of the children, why didn't things get better as the program became more corrupt?  And if you're looking for companies who are profiteering from misery, you don't have to go much further than those who, by all appearances, were willing to subvert the sanctions to line their pockets with cheap oil from Saddam.

GentleTim

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Re: Terror
« Reply #35 on: August 16, 2004, 04:46:41 PM »
Part 2:

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.

The reason for this is that no one imagined that he wouldn't come clean pretty quickly after the first Gulf War.  The expectation was that he'd come clean, the weapons programs would be eliminated and the sanctions would be lifted in six months or so.

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.

I wouldn't flame you because this is old news.  The idea of removing Saddam by force has been around since about mid-way through the Clinton administration.  If you haven't read it, I'd strongly recommend Kenneth Pollack's "The Threating Storm: The case for invading Iraq."  It's a good read, provides a fantastic description of all the players, and explains clearly all of the policy options that were available to deal with Iraq in 2001.  He was a relatively senior figure in the Clinton adminstration, so you can be assured that it's not a right-wing crank explaining how we have an obligation to "invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity" as one dispicable demogogue put it.

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?

My point is that most of the rest of the world is not only already not playing by the rules, but actively using the letter of the rules to contravene their spirit.  In principle, I agree with you.  I would like to see some sort of credible, international organization with the power and authority to compel nations to obey a common set of rules.  But it should be transparent (which not even the UN's staunchest supporters can reasonably claim is the case currently), and accountable to those it's governments.  And it's officials should be elected, rather that appointed.  The UN is none of these.

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.

Sure, but I want it to be the law and order of Western Societies, not bin Laden's version of it.  And though I think that outcome is forgone, I think that the amount of time it takes and scope of damage that is inflited is going to vary greatly depending on the actions we take over the next decade.

Well, this is the best we have right now, and it would have worked in Iraq to keep us out of war.

A point where we definitely disagree.  I think that US foreign policy is the best we've got.  I think that we are the best chance for a stable, peaceful world.  I think that the UN will ignore very real dangers, and problems until it's too late.  I mean, even 10 years after sitting on their hands in Rawanda, they only reason they've done a damn thing in Dafur is that a few powerful, western countries, particularly the UK, but also the US, have made it a priority.  I mean, if the UN can't protect subsistance villagers from milita on horseback, how the hell can they be trusted with running the world?

We @#!* up, but at our best, US foreign policy saves lives around the world. 

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.

We had a resolution asking the Taliban to hand over bin Laden, but nothing authorizing the use of force.  We also didn't have resolutions for Kosovo or Bosnia.  In fact, the only resolution I can think of that authorized force are those that authorized the first war in Iraq.  As far as I'm concerned, it was a mistake to estabilish the prescedent that the UN is the only thing that gives military force legitimacy.

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.

That's because the wildly disproportionate number of resolutions that target Isreal without also condeming Palestinian suicide bombers which target civilians.

GentleTim

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Re: Terror
« Reply #36 on: August 16, 2004, 04:47:22 PM »
Part 3:

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?


No one.  That's the point.  The idea of a world where all countries stand as equals is a farce, and I don't think that it does anyone any good to pretend.  I think that we *should* enter into treaties that are to our advantage, and back out of those that aren't.  I conceive the phrase "our advantage" broadly, and I think in a lot of cases, it's most to our advantage to set an example, but we shouldn't feel bad about either not entering into, or backing out of treaties that don't help us.  And I think we should expect other countries to act in their own interest as well.

What scares you about Kerry's voting record? The "most liberal senator" charge?

No, I'm actually pretty liberal, if you can believe it.  I'm basically pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, and socially quite liberal.  I'm a bit more conservative on economics, but still left of center.  But I'm an unabashed hawk.  What scares me about Kerry is stuff like his vote against the *first* Gulf war.  I mean, if ever there was a multi-lateral endevor, that was it.  I just feel that his voting record prior to running for president shows a lot of hostility to the idea of the US government using force abroad.  The recent stuff doesn't really bother me.  I understand that most of the votes of the last 2 years have been tactical, and I don't really have a problem with that.  A candidate gets bonus points for sticking to his guns and being consistant, but I don't expect it.

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

It won't happen as long as the global economy runs on oil.

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.

I still have hope that things will turn out ok.  But maybe not.  And that scares the hell out of me.  Because I don't know what the next strategic move is if what happened in Iran 30 years ago happens in Iraq now.

"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.


I was never impressed with the way Clinton handled Russia.  Such a lost opportunity.  But we were dreaming if we though that Russia was going to immediately become a liberal democracy after 500 years of authoritarian rule.  We tried to impose the solutions that worked in the US on Russia without considering what might work in a different cultural context.

I'd love to go on, but it's getting late here (Switzerland), and my Fiancee is making the "you're spending too much time in front of the computer" noises.  Hope to continue the discussion tomorrow!   ;D

cm burns

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Re: Terror
« Reply #37 on: August 16, 2004, 07:49:10 PM »
Jeffjoe: I suppose this makes me a part of the "Axis of Evil Posters" right? :)

Gentletim:

"The "hate us for our freedoms line" is cheap. But I don't think they'll be satisfied if we just leave them alone. And anyway, we simply can't in the near term because that's where the oil is."

Agreed, but my point is that I do not think we can win the war on terror the way we are fighting it i.e. making more enemies than friends, being unable to please everyone etc. I thought this op-ed summed it up perfectly:

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/16/opinion/16hiro.html?th

Notice how different the opinions are. Some of the "fundies" are supporting our moves against Iraq, although I suspect it has more to do with the large Shia influence. We cannot win the hearts and minds there by force.

"They weren't looking to cause maximum damage, they wanted to plant the idea of vulnerability. How vulnerable would you feel if a remote pumping station in Alaska was attacked?"

This is a very good point, but I think it also proves that they are more concerned with symbolism than body count. This would indicate that they are fighting for something, an idea or belief, and are willing to die for it. To me, this indicates they are not nihilists (whatever the opposite of nihilist would be). IMO A nihilist would launch a bloody terrorist operation with no concern about political statements.

"It's not set up to govern, but rather to provide a forum for states to communicate with each other. "

The UN Charter states that the organizations primary focus is to protect future generations from the scourge of war. I think the UN was working in 2002 and 2003 to protect our soldiers and the Iraqi people from the scourge of war. Had we let UNMOVIC do its job, Bush would have had to present the case for war in a much different fashion. The American people would probably not want to go to Iraq to topple a dictator. Therefore, we would not be there now and there would be NO TERRORISTS in Iraq now.

"The problem with all this is that it wasn't the sanctions killing Iraqi children, it was Saddam Hussein."

I disagree.

http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20020121&s=letter

"...invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity" as one dispicable demogogue put it. "

Ann Coulter?  >:(

"And it's officials should be elected, rather that appointed. "

Absolutely.

"A point where we definitely disagree. I think that US foreign policy is the best we've got. I think that we are the best chance for a stable, peaceful world."

This scares me. And if you are looking for a reason to vote for Kerry, I present to you the last four years of W's foreign policy. One thing is sure: Kerry would not have handled Iraq the way Bush did.

" I think that the UN will ignore very real dangers, and problems until it's too late. I mean, even 10 years after sitting on their hands in Rawanda, they only reason they've done a damn thing in Dafur is that a few powerful, western countries, particularly the UK, but also the US, have made it a priority. I mean, if the UN can't protect subsistance villagers from milita on horseback, how the hell can they be trusted with running the world?...We @#!* up, but at our best, US foreign policy saves lives around the world. "

Well, the UN can only act if the UNSC acts, which is the West primarily. The other option is a Uniting for Peace resolution. And I am not advocating World Government. It won't work anytime soon. What I am advocating is the use of the UN as a mediator and the use of force only when absolutely necessary.

Example:

2002. UNMOVIC finds WMD stockpiles. Iraq is caught dealing with terrorists. Hussein remains belligerent. If in that situation the UNSC cannot act to authorize force because Russia vetoes, we present the UNGA a Uniting for Peace Resolution and we go in. We did that in Korea I think. But this was not the case. Material breach of 1441 would result in UN authorization for the use of force. There was no material breach in 2002-03. We went in anyway and we were wrong IMO.

"We also didn't have resolutions for Kosovo or Bosnia."

NATO was an established UN protectorate of the area, so under IL UNSC authorization was not necessary as far as I can tell.

"As far as I'm concerned, it was a mistake to estabilish the prescedent that the UN is the only thing that gives military force legitimacy."

This is not true. States can respond to what is a perceived "imminent threat." This goes back to the Caroline Incident around the end of the 18th century. Actually, under this doctrine, had Hussein attacked the US forces or the Continental US while watching the amassing forces on his border, this would have been legal under IL. The National Security Strategy of the US adopts a policy of pre-emption established by the Nazi's during WWII. This precedent was ruled illegal and a war crime under Nuremburg. This is the precedent that scares me the most.

"No, I'm actually pretty liberal, if you can believe it. I'm basically pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, and socially quite liberal. I'm a bit more conservative on economics, but still left of center. But I'm an unabashed hawk. What scares me about Kerry is stuff like his vote against the *first* Gulf war. I mean, if ever there was a multi-lateral endevor, that was it. I just feel that his voting record prior to running for president shows a lot of hostility to the idea of the US government using force abroad. The recent stuff doesn't really bother me. I understand that most of the votes of the last 2 years have been tactical, and I don't really have a problem with that. A candidate gets bonus points for sticking to his guns and being consistant, but I don't expect it."

Yeah, I can believe it. I actually thought you were a lefty before you said this. You seem to be arguing the Christopher Hitchens side of the left.  That is not an insult BTW.

"I still have hope that things will turn out ok. But maybe not. And that scares the hell out of me. Because I don't know what the next strategic move is if what happened in Iran 30 years ago happens in Iraq now."

Yeah, that scares me too. Especially as a parent. My daughter is three months old. My wife has two brothers at military age. I have a friend in Iraq right now (Marines). But I am most afraid that, with the sabre rattling about Iran, who is next? When does this end? How is it going to end? This cannot be the best of all possible worlds simply because there is so much ignorance and hatred out there on all sides. I just tend to fall on the side that by cooperating more and pissing others off less, we can bring others to our side. By talking about the world in black and white terms, we force people to choose sides. I just don't think it is all black and white... I see shades of grey. You probably do to. Bush doesn't, Kerry does. To me that is critical in a war on terror.

"I was never impressed with the way Clinton handled Russia. Such a lost opportunity."

I am in total agreement here. We can still do something about this, but Bush won't buy the nukes that are still left.

I guess I should apologize to your fiance. I don't want to make waves there :)

Ahhh, Switzerland sounds much better than Kentucky right now. Enjoy!


jgruber

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Re: Terror
« Reply #38 on: August 16, 2004, 08:06:42 PM »
No, it's more of an axle of evil.

You have to write shorter posts once school starts.  I have homework to do.   ;D


Jeffjoe: I suppose this makes me a part of the "Axis of Evil Posters" right? :)


cm burns

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Re: Terror
« Reply #39 on: August 17, 2004, 09:48:09 AM »
 :D

Forgive me, Jeffjoe, if you can. I have been in LSAT world since June.