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[P]
How Americans See Osama bin Laden

By K5er 16877 in Op-Ed
Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 05:49:37 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

Osama bin Laden is a name now familiar to the average US citizen. Our media portrays him as a mindless religious zealot out to destroy the United States. But, of course, terrorists never act without reason. This is a view of Osama bin Laden from a somewhat informed American. It is informative not just for Americans, but also for the rest of the world.


What Americans Know of bin Laden

On February 26, 1993 a devastating explosion rocked the World Trade Center in New York. The country was in shock. "Bombings belong in Spain, Ireland, or Israel, not the here," we thought. Speculation swirled about who could possibly commit such a heinous crime. It would be early 1995 until Ramzi Yousef is captured in Pakistan for masterminding the bombing. Subsequent searching of his residence showed a financial tie to Osama bin Laden. This is the first most Americans heard of bin Laden. Very few Americans tied him to the deaths of American troop in Somalia a year and a half earlier.

Little was said about bin Laden until three years later. On August 7, 1998, bombs exploded in the US embassies in both Kenya and Tanzania. 224 people died and over 4500 were injured in the two attacks. Of those dead, 12 of were Americans. The bombings are immediately tied to bin Laden. Of little note to Americans was that this bombing occurred on the eighth year anniversary of the United Nations sanctions against Iraq and the ordering of US soldiers to the Middle East. Thirteen days later, the United States retaliated. Like the dual bombings, dual attacks by cruise missiles were sent to a training camp in Afghanistan and a chemical plant in Sudan. Americans are unaware of the mounting evidence that the Sudanese attack may have been unfounded. This chapter closes one month ago today. Four men were convicted of the embassy bombings.

The average American has heard little of substance about bin Laden in the past few years. A few scattered news stories about his failing health, but little else. This is what the average American knows about bin Laden. Joe American knows about the actions of a wealthy terrorist, but not his motive. Joe does not understand the context of his movement.

A Little More Background

Osama bin Muhammad bin Awad bin Laden was born in Riyadh in 1957. Osama's father, Muhammad, is leader of Saudi Arabia's wealthiest construction firm. As the 17th of 52 children, he stands to inherit over $300 million USD. Of course, that is when his father dies. He is likely to not inherit this money as Saudi Arabia has frozen all assets of Osama indefinitely. bin Laden graduated from King Abdul Aziz University in Jiddah in civil engineering in 1979 and prompted left Saudi Arabia for Afghanistan.

Afghanistan, a predominately Muslim country, was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1979. bin Laden joined a resistance movement against the "godless" USSR. This resistance, the mujahedeen, was funded in large part by the United States government. The enemy of our enemy is our friend. For the next ten years, bin Laden provided logistical and humanitarian aid to the mujahedeen. There is debate about whether he actively participated in battles. Eventually, the mujahedeen forced the Soviet Union to leave Afghanistan. This was an important turning point for bin Laden. A small group of freedom fighters had managed to beat one of the largest and most powerful armies in the world. This would later serve as a metaphor for his battle against the US.

bin Laden returned to Saudi Arabia in 1989 a hero. He quickly continued his work by denouncing the Saudi government. The government was seen by many as a corrupt regime. King Faisal destroyed any hope of long-term sustainability by focusing on short-term profits for himself. bin Laden fit nicely into the familiar role of freedom fighter. For his actions, he was confined to Jiddah. Normally, such vocal opposition would be met much more harshly in Saudi. bin Laden's lineage protected him from more serious punishment.

In 1991 the Saudi government asked the United States to intervene in the Iraq/Kuwait crisis. The United States sent troops over to Saudi start the Gulf War. The Saudi government's request was not the reason the US sent troops, but it is essential to understanding bin Laden. From bin Laden and many others's perspective, this was the start of the US occupation of Saudi Arabia. This occupation continues to this day. The Saudi dissident movement seeks to oust the Saudi government. The United States troops are a major obstacle. Saudi Arabia and the US are allies. The US also has major economic ties to oil in Saudi Arabia. The dissidents knew that the US normally responds with force when their economic interests are threatened. If the dissident movement was to be successful, it first needed to get the US out of Saudi Arabia.

How I See bin Laden

Up until this point, I have tried to be objective. What follows is my own opinion and conjecture. bin Laden's cause is essentially nationalistic. He wants the removal of the corrupt government. He is not alone. Saudi dissident groups exist throughout the world, especially in large cities such as London. His main concern is for his country and his people.

The United States stands in the way of bin Laden's goals. Our financial and military ties to Saudi Arabia protect its government. bin Laden first needs to oust the US troops before he can overthrow the government. He has experience in fighting huge countries. The success of the mujahedeen's conflict with the USSR has shown him that he can win. To do so, bin Laden needs a large base of people to join in his cause. Many Saudi's, however, are somewhat comfortable in their lives. They don't want to overthrow the government. Saudi Arabia does not meet the normal criteria of a state ready for a new government. Many of the citizens derive their living from either the government or the US troops. It is against their interests to change. As such, bin Laden needs to recruit people from outside of Saudi Arabia in his goal.

bin Laden has found the perfect vehicle to gain support: religion. Many Muslims, especially in the Middle East, already have at least suspicion of the United States. The US and USSR played the Middle East like cards during the cold war with little regard to how it effected the people. The US has unilaterally supported Israel in any dispute with Arab countries. Neocolonialism by American corporations is changing the Middle East, not always for the better. bin Laden has struck a chord with many Muslims, especially those living in the Middle East. He used the existing antagonism and combined it with Islam. By invoking Jihad on August 23, 1996, he catalyzed the more extreme Muslims of the world. He further combined religion into his own nationalistic cause when, in February 1998, he issued a declaration with several extreme Muslim groups that Muslims should kill Americans (including civilians) anywhere in the world. Osama bin Laden has taken his nationalistic campaign global by exploiting Islam.

I believe Osama bin Laden is a freedom fighter, fighting against the corrupt Saudi regime. His current war with the United States is a strategic move, the first step in overthrowing the Saudi government. Osama bin Laden has successfully abused Islam to achieve his own, nationalistic goals. While I support his goals, I disagree with the means. Religion has frequently been warped to suit the goals of extremists. What he does not realize is the long-term effects of his plan. Americans, in large, know nothing of Islam. What we do not know, we fear. For most Americans, bin Laden has replaced this ignorance with the conception that Muslim means terrorist. If all Muslims are terrorists, then stationing US troops in the Middle East is even more important. Americans will feel that we need to protect the Middle East from the Muslims (as illogical as that sounds). In the United States, bin Laden has found a different enemy than the USSR. His actions are setting back his own goals.

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How Americans See Osama bin Laden | 225 comments (224 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
Very interesting comments. (4.38 / 13) (#2)
by Rasvar on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 04:33:59 PM EST

You did bring up some points that I did not know that make everything make a bit more sense. It does appear that he has made a major mistake in the way he chose the fight the Saudi government.

I really think a lot of the terrorist mindset also comes from a misunderstanding of the US mindset. There seems to be a feeling that if they can attack the US with terror, it will back down to prevent more deaths. Truthfully, I think the oposite is usually what happens. An event like that is more likely to galvanize support for strikes against bin Laden.

Second opinion (4.58 / 17) (#3)
by ubu on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 04:44:05 PM EST

Reciprocally, the US mindset comes from misunderstanding the rest of the world's mindset. The more the US pushes its own interests into other countries by forceful means, the more it solidifies the coalition of governments and nationalistic groups against it.

There is currently a bloc of nations whose utmost desire is the destruction of the United States. That bloc grows larger every decade. The conservatives would have you believe it's because the rest of the world is jealous. The liberals would have you believe it's simply not true; that the rest of the world loves us for "bringing democracy".

The truth is much simpler, and much more discouraging. The US is not the "international policeman", as so many of its citizens are mistakenly taught. It is the International Bully. As of this moment, there is nothing the opposition can do, directly, to defeat the US.

The time may come when US unilateralism no longer holds its own. Then, what will become of asshole foreign policy wonks who believe that the world's business is their own? What will become of EU bureaucrats who claim to be building a more egalitarian society? I betcha they'll send in our 18-year-olds and call it World War III.

Dulce et decorum est!

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
WW III (3.50 / 10) (#4)
by Xeriar on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 05:22:27 PM EST

Lots of people hate the US. We're an easy target. The French are jealous, the Chinese are ambitious, and Latin America has actual reasons, but I doubt World War III will be the world versus the US - most have people they hate a lot more. I'd be more inclined to think that for most countries it would be war versus a nation, but in the US it will turn to civil war. The group of nations that best exploits this will win.

Nations which try to take on the US directly underestimate just what we know and control at a very dangerous level, however.

----
When I'm feeling blue, I start breathing again.
[ Parent ]

Vietnam (3.62 / 8) (#6)
by Nyarlathotep on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 05:47:58 PM EST

I don't think he was saing that they would get together and attack the US. I think he was saing that the US (and EU) would start having more and more troops deploied all over the world fighting mini-Vietnams, i.e. unwinnable wars against civilians.

The French love Americans. It's McDonalds they hate. Persnally, I hope the EU allows the French enough control over their own culture to kick McDonalds out someday. Hell, we keep talking about an unhealthy food tax in the US too. Anyway, the French may protest a bit, but these are not vague anti-American protests.. they know the diffrence between Americans and the bad parts of American culture poluting France.

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
[ Parent ]
Who are "The French"? (4.10 / 10) (#8)
by SvnLyrBrto on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 06:11:28 PM EST

"The French", the ones who hate mcdonalds... who are they? Is it the majority of the French PEOPLE who hate mcdonalds? Or is it some obsolete bureurocacy trying to justify it's tired existence by taking up the vanguard as defenders of the French culture?

Hey, here's an idea.... if you hate mcdonalds, don't eat that shite! If enough people don't want to eat the swill that mcdonalds slings out, then they will not be able to do enough business to keep that "restraunt" (and I do use the word in the loosest sence of the word) open. But just who are YOU, or anyone else, to dictate to OTHERS what they should eat?

Hey, I hate mcdonalds too. Haven't so much as set foot in one in years, and you sure as hell won't catch ME eating that slop. But it's not MY place to dictate to anyone else the rate at which they should turn their arteries to stone.


john

Imagine all the people...
[ Parent ]

only for beer (4.50 / 4) (#54)
by Sikpup on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 01:19:25 AM EST

Last time in Germany, my only McDonalds stop was for a beer - just because. Only McDonalds could supply such bad generic beer.

Next stop was the nearest bar/pub for a sausage and a REAL beer.


[ Parent ]
it's the people (4.25 / 4) (#72)
by streetlawyer on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 03:48:53 AM EST

in general, bureaucrats don't smash up restaurants.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
really? (4.44 / 9) (#10)
by Delirium on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 06:21:59 PM EST

The French love Americans. It's McDonalds they hate. Persnally, I hope the EU allows the French enough control over their own culture to kick McDonalds out someday.

If the French hate McDonalds so much, why do the McDonalds in France make so much money?

It seems it's more than a group of "cultural elite" in France hate McDonalds, while the average Frenchman (or at least a significant portion of them) rather likes McDonalds; likes it enough to eat there anyway.

[ Parent ]

probably (4.00 / 10) (#16)
by inpHilltr8r on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 06:49:39 PM EST

If French McD's are anything like the BK's I used in Barcelona, then they're primarily making money out of tourists too scared to try the local food. (Which admittedly included myself initially)

[ Parent ]
90%+ of their customers are tourists (4.50 / 4) (#69)
by sayke on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 03:30:22 AM EST

thus says a friend of mine who was in france as an exchange student till last month. he asked a mcdonalds manager "how many of your customers are native french?". i'm not surprised, but ymmv...


sayke, v2.3.1 /* i am the middle finger of the invisible hand */
[ Parent ]

87.4% of all stats are made up (n/t) (5.00 / 1) (#202)
by dkr on Fri Jul 06, 2001 at 07:37:30 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Like the food... (4.20 / 5) (#75)
by nobbystyles on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 05:54:12 AM EST

But hate the symbolism of it. Mcdonald's is viewed as one of the ultimate US cultural symbols. So the French have schizophrenic attitude towards, applauding when one is wrecked but still buying their Le Big Macs there....

French have this love/hate relationship towards most things American. They watch Hollywood films but also are glad to protect their film industry.



[ Parent ]
Israel is the bigger enemy (4.37 / 8) (#9)
by Delirium on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 06:20:03 PM EST

There is currently a bloc of nations whose utmost desire is the destruction of the United States. That bloc grows larger every decade.

While there may be a few nations that feel that way (China comes to mind), I think the only significant "bloc of nations" opposing the US do so only because of the US's continued support for Israel. There is certainly a bloc of nations whose utmost deisre is the destruction of Israel, and I think if the United States were to halt aid to Israel and begin to publically support the Palestinians, the US would very quickly turn from an enemy to a friend in their eyes (it's even widely speculated that Iran is interested in restoring ties with the United States but cannot reasonably do so until the US stops supporting Israel so forcefully and publically).

[ Parent ]

iran would love to (4.00 / 6) (#25)
by rebelcool on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 08:21:34 PM EST

they've got that fairly liberal prime minister the public loves. Only problem is, is that the country is really ran by a religious oligarchy who keep stopping that man's liberal reformation at every turn.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

yeah (4.25 / 8) (#28)
by Delirium on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 08:38:41 PM EST

Well yeah, that's the bulk of the problem. I think the Israeli issue is one of the conservatives' best public relation tools though; if the US changed its practices so that the Iranian right could no longer pain the US as "friends of the Zionist oppressors" or something along those lines, the Iranian's desire to open up trade with the US might win out (everyone likes money, and trade with the US means more money for Iran).

[ Parent ]
Outstanding comment (4.00 / 4) (#30)
by ubu on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 09:10:56 PM EST

if the US changed its practices so that the Iranian right could no longer pain the US as "friends of the Zionist oppressors" or something along those lines, the Iranian's desire to open up trade with the US might win out (everyone likes money, and trade with the US means more money for Iran). [emphasis mine]

Unqualified agreement from this corner.

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
International Policeman (4.00 / 2) (#55)
by PresJPolk on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 01:46:17 AM EST

Who gets taught that?

That phrase is typically used by people who want the US to *stop* sending troops out willy-nilly.

[ Parent ]
reply (4.50 / 2) (#95)
by ubu on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 12:36:06 PM EST

I hear it much more frequently from people who sigh patiently and intone nasally that they're willing to accept the solemn burden incumbent in the US's position as "the world's only superpower".

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
International Bully (3.00 / 2) (#106)
by Merk00 on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 01:44:41 PM EST

Is the US the International Bully when it sent food and troops to Somalia? Is the US the International Bully when it reinstated the democratically elected government of Haiti after a military revolt? Is the US the International Bully when it gives foreign aid? There is a lot of hypocrisy on the part of foreign countries when dealing with US dominance in foreign policy. Countries want the benefits of US involvement with none of the negative effects. Sometimes those negative effects are because of policy bungling by the US. Sometimes there are intentional effects to promote US interests. There are also times when there are more positive effects of US foreign policy. I sincerely doubt any country would appreciate the US becoming uninvovled in all international endevours and return to the policies of the early 1930's.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

your answer (5.00 / 6) (#111)
by ubu on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 02:22:39 PM EST

Is the US the International Bully when it sent food and troops to Somalia?

Yes. The Somalia intervention was an utter failure, even on humanitarian grounds. As Rothbard wrote at the time:

Well, things immediately and predictably began to go sour. We at Triple R might have written the script. First starvation increased, because the blundering free aid screwed up the Somalian food supply system. Second, the happy Somalians, who first greeted the American-UN army as liberators and feeders, began to turn sullen, especially since the U.S. decided that among the slew of "warlords" there was one really bad guy warlord, General Aidid, who controlled half of the capital city of Mogadishu. Americans have a deep need to see all foreign quarrels as two-sided: Bad Guys vs. Good Guys, the GG being defined as all opponents of the Bad Guys. The idea of multi-sided Equally Bad warlords fighting each other is too nuanced for the average Americano to comprehend: besides, multi-faceted warfare can scarcely justify massive American intervention on one side or the other. And so Aidid, who actually had been the original major welcomer of U.S. troops, now became the sole U.S. target. And when some Paki UN troops fired into a protesting unarmed Somali crowd, the U.S. shelled some Aididian posts in retaliation, killing more Somalis. (Why are Americans supposed to avenge Paki - and Moroccan - troop losses?)

All these events escalated and unified Somali hatred against the UN and against the U.S. in particular, as usual the main agitator and arm-twister inside the UN for massive intervention. Finally, Aididians ambushed American troops, killing four U.S. servicemen. U.S. blood is now drawn, and the Clinton regime is, of course and we predicted, dropping the humanitarian-food mask, and taking up more and more of the gun, vowing retaliation, war crime trials, and the usual apparatus of armed vengeance. Isabel Paterson's Humanitarian has indeed trotted out the Guillotine.

And as the Cato Institute pointed out afterward:

Not only does inappropriate military intervention fail to reconcile regional conflicts, it also has negative conse- quences for the United States. There can be significant political costs, ranging from diminished American credibili- ty, as the result of an unsuccessful mission, to resentment on the part of foreign governments and populations of Wash- ington's meddling in their affairs. More serious, inju- dicious military intervention can create threats to national security where none previously existed, stoking the fires of anti-Americanism, jeopardizing the lives of U.S. troops, and ultimately undermining our ability to protect vital national interests in the event of a direct threat.

Is the US the International Bully when it reinstated the democratically elected government of Haiti after a military revolt? Is the US the International Bully when it gives foreign aid?

Yes. The history of US military intervention in Haiti is despicable. The US militarily occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934, a period of time during which no native institutions developed because of US-imposed martial law. After we left the place returned to a chaotic hellhole -- we had transferred power from the US marines to the Haitian National Guard, and the military ruled the country from that point on.

Our second occupation, beginning in 1958, lasted for five years while we trained "Papa Doc" Duvalier's military in the hopes that it would be useful against Cuba.

Even after 1987, when we declared we were ending all military aid to Haiti, the CIA continued to funnel as much as a million dollars to the same military that had massacred voters and overthrown Jean-Baptiste Aristide.

Note that after the military overthrow of Aristide, the response of the Organization of American States was a trade embargo of Haiti. What wonderful humanitarian purposes that has served in Iraq so far.

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
you forget (4.00 / 2) (#183)
by fitsy on Tue Jul 03, 2001 at 08:16:41 PM EST

The US's involvement in Chili, Mexico, Colombia, Congo, Uganda, Cuba. None of which were for the "good of the people", but to get its own way as in who runs the country. You should keep an eye out on cryptome.org for the tasty docs which come up now and again.

[ Parent ]
bin Laden's motiviations make sense, except... (4.00 / 11) (#5)
by elenchos on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 05:42:19 PM EST

You characterize him as using his success in Afghanistan against the Soviets as a reason to think he can also succeed against the US. But does he attribute much of his prior success to the help he got from a superpower? Before he was fighting a proxy war for the US against the USSR, wasn't he? But now he lacks that kind of support, and instead has only a few small and poor countries, and some personal wealth to work with, at best.

Thinking he can start a revolution in Saudi Arabia any time soon is a little nutty, but it could maybe happen some day. But if he doesn't realisically understand how difficult it is to face a superpower without another superpower backing him, he really is crazy.

Homeless people stand in line for Pablo Neruda.
In hospitals they feed cancer patients Carolyn Forche.
In churches there are giant wooden replic

Re: bin Laden's motiviations make sense, except... (4.50 / 2) (#129)
by K5er 16877 on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 04:04:38 PM EST

"does he attribute much of his prior success to the help he got from a superpower?" Very good question. Unfortunately, I don't know. It is my opinion that his prior success has fueled his cause, but I have no direct proof of this. It is a very important question to understanding bin Laden.

"if he doesn't realisically understand how difficult it is to face a superpower without another superpower backing him, he really is crazy" True. I don't believe China, the EU, or Japan has any ties to bin Laden. They're probably too smart to try and support such an "unmanagemable asset" (note bitter irony toward the CIA).

Dave

[ Parent ]

Bin Laden will not get support from western powers (4.00 / 2) (#186)
by duffbeer703 on Wed Jul 04, 2001 at 03:43:31 PM EST

Western meaning US, Europe, Japan

Bin Laden draws support from radical fundamentalists in Iran, and gets weapons from Russia, former Soviet republics and China.

Bin Laden is not very signifigant by himself. He is in fact a proxy for the rapidly changing alignment between the world powers.

What he believes in is not really relevant, as he is merely a tool being used by bigger fish.

[ Parent ]
poor taste joke (3.55 / 9) (#7)
by strlen on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 05:55:44 PM EST

[ milkyway : ~ ] % ls -al /bin/ladin lrwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 18 May 14 21:46 /bin/ladin -> /usr/local/bin/gpg

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
Huh? (2.66 / 3) (#43)
by Nimey on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 11:04:46 PM EST

I don't get it.
--
Never mind, it was just the dog cumming -- jandev
You Sir, are an Ignorant Motherfucker. -- Crawford
I am arguably too manic to do that. -- Crawford
I already fuck my mother -- trane
Nimey is right -- Blastard
i am in complete agreement with Nimey -- i am a pretty big deal

[ Parent ]
heh (4.00 / 3) (#49)
by strlen on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 11:44:24 PM EST

do you use a UNIX type operating system? gpg is a tool that lets you encrypt files, and bin ladin has been rumoured to be using encryption over the internet for his purposes. in UNIX programs generally stored in /bin or /usr/bin, and gpg here is stored in /usr/bin/gpg, and i linked it to a file called /bin/ladin, anyways, unless you're a UNIX nerd like myself you don't get the joke.

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]
Oh (5.00 / 1) (#105)
by Nimey on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 01:37:48 PM EST

Yeah, I'm a Unix geek too, but I still didn't quite understand what you meant.
"If a joke has to be explained..." :-)

/me wanders off.
--
Never mind, it was just the dog cumming -- jandev
You Sir, are an Ignorant Motherfucker. -- Crawford
I am arguably too manic to do that. -- Crawford
I already fuck my mother -- trane
Nimey is right -- Blastard
i am in complete agreement with Nimey -- i am a pretty big deal

[ Parent ]

joke (3.50 / 2) (#107)
by strlen on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 01:49:52 PM EST

basically bin ladin uses encryption, gpg is used for encryption. and bin ladin really sounds like a unix path, so it's /bin/ladin, and link it to gpg. so basically it's sarcasm "hey, i have encryption, i am faciliating bin ladin!"

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]
Well written piece (3.85 / 14) (#11)
by Sikpup on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 06:23:20 PM EST

Someone else noted the US as a bully. This is very true, and a large part of the reason the US has so many foreign relations problems.

In South Korea, I have spent more that a few nights diffusing the results of the US bully pulpit. Such a scenario usually involved a partially drunk college student who would accost me with an anti-american diatribe. When asked wether his was mad at me personally, or just my government, they tended to agree it was the US government they were pissed at. From there it was usually easy to talk and have a few more drinks and leave everyone better off.

In the middle east, the problem is much harder to solve. As long as Israel can continue to do whatever it pleases with no real consequences, and with the US muscle to back it up, the US is going to have problems with the other countries in the area. The US has repeatedly abused its UN veto power to prevent any meaningful punishment from this venue. As long as any kind of balanced treatment is prevented, the other countries populations are going to seek justice in their own manner, in this case terrorism. They are lashing out the only way they know how to protest the current situation.

Anytime a large group of people perceives such injustice (real or imagined) there will be a vacuum that will allow a charismatic leader to direct the resulting outrage to his own purposes. By using religion, the potential pool of followers and their dedication is enhanced.

I can very easily see the point of these people. The Saudis generally resent the outside values US troops bring in, and more so the general lack of respect for their own values. If you visit a foreign country, common courtesy demands that you at least respect the values of the country you are visiting. This is a common gripe against US tourists in general. It doesn't take too many negative experiences with the US presence in Saudi to poison the view of its citizens. Combine this with someone like bin Laden, and you have a volitile mix. The corruption of the Saudi government doesn't help either.

The bottom line is, that as long as the US continues to bully the rest of the world, and to misuse its power in places, preventing justice, there is going to be a place for people like bin Laden, and people willing to follow him. I have no illusions that the US is going to suddenly change its tune and be a better world citizen, but if it were, some of attraction of terrorist behaviour would be reduced.


Um... (4.16 / 6) (#13)
by trhurler on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 06:32:23 PM EST

At this point, Israel doesn't really need US support. It can do pretty much as it pleases, because it has a sizable nuclear weapons program and the best military in the region. The US has, of late, been putting a lot of pressure on Israel to do things it does not want to do(move forward with peace agreements of various sorts, primarily,) and so far, it has not done those things. Whether this is right or wrong is a distinct matter; the point I'm making is merely that it is factually true.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
sort of (4.20 / 5) (#15)
by Sikpup on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 06:44:14 PM EST

Yes and no. Israel still needs to purchase the advanced weapon systems from the US, and the necessary support equipment, and also to insure that its neighbors are unable to obtain comparable equipment. The instant its technical superiority is lost, war will break out again.

As for politically, yes, the US has finally begun to push for peace talks, etc. The real test will be the next time something comes up before the UN - will the US veto it again?

As far as which side is right - any answer will certainly generate a flame war...

[ Parent ]
Gear (3.83 / 6) (#18)
by trhurler on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 07:18:00 PM EST

Israel produces most of its own equipment, and these days, a number of their systems(the Arrow, among them,) are actually superior to US equipment. As time goes on, their need for US equipment drops, and most of the traditional Arab allies are in no position to supply such gear in any case. Russia doesn't even possess it; their weapons development pretty much tanked with the end of the USSR. China is busy developing some of it, but is woefully far behind in other areas, and probably doesn't feel like giving it to allies from whom it would likely be captured and inspected. Nobody else can even come close.

My real fear is that if the Palestinians don't organize better and actually act like they want peace, eventually Israel is going to go apeshit and do something really stupid. I don't think either side is inherently bad, but I do think the real military danger is primarily to Arabs, rather than Jews, and vice versa for diplomatic risk. (The so-called "right of return," for instance, would be the end of Israel, and would quickly lead to the expulsion or slaughter of the Jews currently living there.)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Israel needs dollars (4.00 / 3) (#71)
by streetlawyer on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 03:47:08 AM EST

Israel has significant needs for goods priced in dollars, no natural resources to speak of and few dollar exports except fruit and software. The US aid flows balance out what would otherwise be a current account in chronic deficit. I seriously doubt that anyone would lend dollars to the Israeli economy if they didn't think they were essentially guaranteed by the US government. (In fact I am right about this; in the pre-US support era, Israel used to rely on the diaspora to support its current account, thus providing the punchline to a joke: "Reform Rabbi to Orthodox Rabbi: How dare you come into my synagogue and start talking about God! We're here to sell bonds for Israel!")

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Exports. (4.66 / 3) (#163)
by i on Sun Jul 01, 2001 at 11:50:43 AM EST

Actually, Israeli export was around $25.8b in 1999. Agricultural export was about $780m (more flowers than fruits, and more crops and vegetables than flowers btw). Software was about $770m. Israel's chief exports are diamonds ($6.4b), chemicals ($2.9b), telecom equipment ($2.9b), industrial control, medical and scientific equipment ($1.7b), textile ($1.1b), plastic and rubber ($1b), and machinery ($1b).

US aid is about $3b annually IIRC, most of which must be spent buying US goods.



and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

[ Parent ]
I sort of wonder sometimes. (3.80 / 5) (#14)
by elenchos on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 06:41:32 PM EST

If you're visiting a country, then naturally common courtesy requires that you defer to their values. But what if you are there as an occupying army? What if you are sent there to defend their country for them, even if they don't share any of the ideals that you count as worth fighting for? Does that change any of your obligations as a "guest?" What if yours were the country that had brought in its allies to protect you. Wouldn't you be obliged to accommodate them?

I would never intentionally antagonize anyone in a host country. I'm just saying I often wonder if drawing an exact parallel with tourists is realistic.

Homeless people stand in line for Pablo Neruda.
In hospitals they feed cancer patients Carolyn Forche.
In churches there are giant wooden replic
[ Parent ]

So just *what* would YOU have the US do??? (3.09 / 11) (#19)
by SvnLyrBrto on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 07:19:15 PM EST

Ah yes... K5's dirty little (not-so)secret antisemism rears it's ugly head again...

So just *what* would YOU have the US do???

Withdraw support for the Israelites and just stand by and let another holocaust occur?

Go with delierum's suggestion and throw our support the other way, and take part in the genocide ourselves?

Yeah.... THAT would give the US some moral legitimacy.

Just WHAT is with the "the US can do no right" attitude here? Yeah, it's too bad that some cultures haven't outgrown the desire to slaughter others for having a different religion. But just what WOULD you do? Seems that the US gets criticised no matter WHAT approach we take.

Ethnic Albanian muslims being exterminated in Kosova... the US (and NATO) intervenes directly. We're bitched at for trying to be "the world's policeman".

At the other end of the scale, we did nothing in Rawanda. And people bitch that a great human tragedy was calously ignored.

Israel? We take an approach in the middle of the two above. Rathar than get involved directly, or simply ignore the situation, we give the Jews the support and tools to defend THEMSELVES from extermination. Still, the US is in the wrong somehow.

Well, let's see. We've ruled out intervention, ignoreing the problem, AND the "help others to help themselves" approach... *IS* there a right way???

Oh, and if all you're going to do is rant about how evil "ze dirty jews" are, how and why they SHOULD be exterminated, don't bother. I used to live in the bible belt, and my dad's half of the family is catholic. I've heard just every antisemetic rationalization out there (and quite a few totally IRrationalizations too); and they're all full of shit.

john

Imagine all the people...
[ Parent ]

support for israel (4.71 / 7) (#34)
by Delirium on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 09:35:51 PM EST

Go with delierum's suggestion and throw our support the other way, and take part in the genocide ourselves?

FWIW, it wasn't actually a suggestion, just a statement that *if* the US were to do that, a good deal of the countries that now consider us an enemy would suddenly become our friends. Basically I'm arguing that there isn't really a significant bloc of inherently anti-US countries, just a bloc of anti-Israel countries who are then anti-US because of the US's support of Israel.

My personal opinion on the subject is that the US should support Israel's defensive capabilities, but be more stringent than they currently are in making sure the weapons sold to Israel are used only for defensive purposes. For example, if Jordan and Syria were to invade Israel, using F-16 fighters would be justifiable to defend their state. I don't think punitive bombing runs against poorly armed Palestinians fall in the category of "defense" though, and Israel's early-80s attack on a UN-monitored nuclear power plant in Iraq with US-made fighters was certainly far beyond the scope of activities the US should be supporting.

[ Parent ]

note (4.33 / 6) (#44)
by Nyarlathotep on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 11:07:30 PM EST

I don't think punitive bombing runs against poorly armed Palestinians fall in the category of "defense"

The US considers it defense when we do exactly the same thing. Israel needs it's advnaced wepons to maintain peace, but any country with that kind of military superiority will tend to abuse it (as the US dose).

BTW> Actually, I would be interested to know more about the real history of the Israeli Palistinian situation. Specifically, the Israel hard line did not always have political power (presumably). Why did the Israeli citizens feal the need to take a stronger stance towards the palistinians?
Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
[ Parent ]

a brief recap (5.00 / 7) (#62)
by Delirium on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 02:58:04 AM EST

Actually, I would be interested to know more about the real history of the Israeli Palistinian situation. Specifically, the Israel hard line did not always have political power (presumably). Why did the Israeli citizens feal the need to take a stronger stance towards the palistinians?

Well I don't know enough details about the full history to give a run-down of it all, but I do know a good deal about the recent history since I've been following it. Basically the current era of Middle Eastern politics started around 1993 when Israel finally decided to negotiate with the Palestinians instead of either fighting or ignoring them. I believe those were the Camp David accords, though I'm not 100% sure on that point. Basically around that time the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), a loosely-knit assortment of freedom fighters, academics, politicians, and terrorists was allowed by Israel to re-form itself as the Palestinian Authority. Most of the former PLO groups now joined the PA, with the notable exception of Hamas, who rejected the treaty and the new organization. Yasir Arafat came back to the West Bank (he had been in exile) to take over the role of Palestinian Authority president. The basic framework set up was one of "land for peace" - Israel would gradually pull back from the occupied territories in exchange for the Palestinians ceasing their intifada and removing the destruction of Israel from their list of goals. As a changing of approach to the situation, it was a very significant accomplishment - the Israelis no longer had as their goal the complete eradication or removal of all Palestinians (which was to be accomplished through continual settlement expansion), and the Palestinians no longer had as their goal the complete eradication of Israel. At least now there was some common ground - both sides agreed that there should be some Palestinian territory, and there should be some Israeli territory, and the debate could now be over how much and what territory would be whose.

So that's basically the framework still loosely (very loosely) being followed today. Over the past eight years Israel has pulled back from approximately 40% of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and for most of that period Palestinian violence was much lower than it had been. The past nine months unfortunately are less encouraging, with Palestinians resuming attacks and Israel re-occupying some previously vacated land, but nonetheless the situation is better than it once was.

The main sticking points still remaining are:

  • Jerusalem - Israel wants all of Jerusalem to be its own. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in a 1967 war and which is not recognized by the UN as part of Israel, to be returned to them as the capital of their future state of Palestine. A few other proposals have been to make the entire city a UN-administered "open city" or to make the central religious shrines (the Temple Mount) jointly administered, but both have encountered stiff opposition from Israelis who do not want to give back any of Jerusalem.
  • settlements - Palestinians want Israel to completely pull back from all the occupied territories, including dismantling the settlements that Israel has built there ("in violation of international law," retort the Palestinians). Israel, on the other hand, does not even want to halt settlement expansion, let alone dismantle the current settlements. This is one of the biggest sticking points, as it's extremely unlikely that the Palestinians will agree to any final agreement that includes significant Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, but it's equally unlikely that Israel will agree to any final agreement that requires them to dismantle all their major settlements.
  • Palestinian refugees - Israel forced thousands of Palestinians from their homes in the 1948 war that led to its creation, and thousands more fled in fear ahead of Israeli troops. These refugees, who due to having children and such now number around six million, want to return home and regain their stolen property. Israel, on the other hand, is adamantly opposed to the return of any refugees, fearing that allowing a large number of refugees to return would "destroy the Jewish character of the state" by making Arabs a much larger minority of the Israeli population than they currently are. A few compromise solutions have been proposed, most of which involve allowing a few thousand Palestinians to return to their homes in a symbolic move, while the rest would re-settle in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It is rumoured that Arafat may accept such a proposal, though it would be opposed by a good deal of Palestinians, but Sharon has steadfastly refused to allow a single refugee to return home, apparently worried that doing so would be tantamount to an admission on Israel's part of wrongdoing during the now-nearly-sacred 1948 war.
As for Israel's current right-wing government, that's largely due to failed peace initiatives. Yitzak Rabin was the largely successful left-leaning Labour Party prime minister under whom many of these agreements were negotiated, but he was murdered by a right-wing Jewish extremist opposed to peace with Arabs. His deputy prime minister, Shimon Peres, took over as Prime Minister, and continued the peace-leaning initiatives of his predecessor, but did not meet with nearly as much success. This led to Binyamin Netanyahu of the right-leaning Likud Party taking over, and peace initiatives ground to a halt, but violence was still fairly contained. Unhappy with this turn of events, Israelis voted the Labour party back into office, this time in the form of Ehud Barak; Barak pushed very hard for some peace initiatives, but the sides were not able to reach an agreement on the next step to take, and that frustration, combined with a provocative visit by Ariel Sharon in which he walked, with numerous heavily armed security guards, directly in front of and past the large mosque on the Temple Mount, set off the second Palestinian intifada. Barak made numerous last-ditch attempts to reach some sort of an agreement with Arafat, but as they appeared increasingly unlikely in light of Palestinian violence and unwillingness amongst the Israeli public to make any significant concessions, he finally gave up and was voted out of office. Thus, Ariel Sharon, a far-right hawk of the Likud party, is the current Israeli prime minister. Understandably no significant progress has been made since then, as Sharon is quite possibly the Israeli politician the Arab world reviles most. Sharon was Defense Minister in 1982 when Israel invaded Lebanon, and he commanded a force of Israeli troops who were within 200 yards of a Lebanese village when 700 of its unarmed inhabitants were massacred by the Phalange militia, an Israeli-backed paramilitary group that had been coordinating its military operations with the suspiciously close-by troops under Sharon's leadership. An internal Israeli commission found that Sharon was at the very least indirectly responsible for the massacre, and he was forced to resign from the government. So, understandably, the majority of Arabs still violently hate him, as they consider him a war criminal (in fact, 38 survivors are bringing suit against him in Belgium under Belgium's laws allowing crimes against humanity to be tried in their courts, regardless of where they took place; a decision on whether he will be indicted is expected sometime shortly).

And that's where we currently are. With any luck a more left-leaning Israeli will become the next prime minister, but Sharon is currently very popular in Israel, so that doesn't seem entirely likely.

[ Parent ]

Right of return, statistics... (4.00 / 3) (#68)
by magney on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 03:23:56 AM EST

According to this, Israel's population was just under 6 million in 1998. I doubt the population has grown significantly since. If 6 million Arabs were to move in, Arabs wouldn't become a much larger minority - they'd become a majority.

Do I look like I speak for my employer?
[ Parent ]

Why Israelis are going militant. (5.00 / 5) (#102)
by Apuleius on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 01:12:34 PM EST

In Arab society, Jews are supposed to be submissive and deferential. In Israel, people are anything but. Israelis are getting sick of tired of how the way Arabs and Jews used to live together, which was governed by centuries of prejudice and a set of rules that make Jim Crow look humane, affects what Arabs expect from them. In short, think of what would have happened in Alabama, in the 1950's, if you had Black Panthers with fighter jets and tanks, and you will understand Israeli behavior.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Same reason... (5.00 / 1) (#182)
by fitsy on Tue Jul 03, 2001 at 08:04:41 PM EST

Hitler got democratically elected.

[ Parent ]
I'm sorry. (4.16 / 6) (#45)
by SvnLyrBrto on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 11:26:31 PM EST

I really let my knee jerk pretty hard there. I should not have jumped to the conclusion so fast.

I tend to fly off the handle pretty easily when the subject drifts to the holocaust, antisemitism, and people who advocate bringing about a second round of the above.

I've a nember of close friends who happen to be jewish, including an ex-girlfriend, I'm still very good friends with, and her brother, who, through an unfortunate set of circumstances, is currently in the IDF, defending his people from extermination.

I care greatly for my friends. And when I think about the fact that arafat, bin ladin, and their ilk, would have them dead, for no other reason than that they exist, it disgusts me absolutely.



Anyway, I'm sorry that I jumped to an unwarranted conclusion.


john

Imagine all the people...
[ Parent ]

Arafat (4.50 / 6) (#80)
by Tezcatlipoca on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 06:15:24 AM EST

He, his family, his friends, and his people were expelled from what they have known as their home from generations.

Now imagine that happened to you, or to the whole community where you live. My guess is that you will use any means (and when I say any, I mean any) to get your people back to where they belong.

I don't understand why this simple logic does not permeate in the US conciousness.

Yes, Arafat was (is?) a terrorist, but for goodness sake at least recognize that he has a hughe grievance. For the few months Arafat had a reasonable person in the other side of the divide (Izak Rabin) they were talks.

The right and far right people (Rabin's killer, and then Netanyahu and now Sharon) have done all what they posibly can to stop peace and justice. They want all or nothing, and in such a hateful war, they are going to get nothing, which is a big tragedy.


Might is right
Freedom? Which freedom?
[ Parent ]
It may be extermination (5.00 / 1) (#181)
by fitsy on Tue Jul 03, 2001 at 08:03:02 PM EST

but its from both sides. Both sides have these extremists and unfortunately, Isreal have the bigger guns and are getting greedy. This Middle East situation will get interesting when Saddam builds up his army again. And which leads me to the question; why the fsck did Saddam invade Kuwait rather than Israel?

[ Parent ]
Oil, seaport, ease, immediate US involvement. (5.00 / 1) (#197)
by misterluke on Fri Jul 06, 2001 at 03:58:44 PM EST

Not neccessarily in that order. Once he had that oil money, though, it might have been his next step.

[ Parent ]
The proper way to deal with the Israel dilema (4.44 / 9) (#36)
by wnight on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 09:57:18 PM EST

We missed our change to do the only proper thing, which was to not set up a Jewish state. Why the hell did we go and do something so stupid? And to put them right next to the population that most wants them dead. Oy!

It was also just unethical to take kick everyone who did live in that area out, and to put the jews in. Did any of the people who were living there enslave the jews, or participate in the holocaust? So why were they relocated and the jews put there?

Why did we feel we needed to give the jews their holy land? Why couldn't we have given them a bit of Canada/US if we really thought they needed their own country.

Hell, the best thing would have been to simply integrate their population into ours, so that there was no need for a seperate country, and no easily visible jewish state to attract the anger of religious zealots.

Failing that, we should have given them land that involved relocating the smallest number of people.

Failing THAT we at least shouldn't have relocated religious enemies to place them.

Failing THAT we shouldn't have left the enemies right next door.

But, other than all that, we handled the situation perfectly.

[ Parent ]
Nonsense (4.80 / 5) (#70)
by streetlawyer on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 03:41:22 AM EST

The foundation of the State of Israel out of British Palestine was handled extremely well. The mistake made was to allow support for the legitimate defence of that state to shade into defence of its extraterritorial aggression.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
The proper way to look at this: (5.00 / 1) (#101)
by Apuleius on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 01:08:39 PM EST

You did not set Israel up. The Zionists did. The US had no say in the matter. Until 1948, not a single Arab in the region had lost his home to Jews. Jews however, were getting ethnically cleansed out of Jerusalem, Hebron, and other towns from 1929 until 1947, by the hundreds. In 1948, the tide turned, and Arabs were expelled. But then again, since then, the Arabs have expelled over 600,000 Jews from Arab countries INTO Israel. Keep these things in mind.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Israel (3.71 / 7) (#39)
by core10k on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 10:23:43 PM EST

Israel is an oxygen capsule in a vacuum, and without the walls of the US, it would implode. Israel exists solely for the purposes of sustaining instability so that oil prices remain low in the middle east.

[ Parent ]
I'm curious (3.66 / 3) (#51)
by qpt on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 12:39:07 AM EST

I'm not sure if this was your point or not, but an oxygen capsule in a vacuum would do anything but implode. In fact, it would be much more likely to explode. Could you perhaps clarify your analogy? I feel that I am missing what you are trying to say.

Domine Deus, creator coeli et terrae respice humilitatem nostram.
[ Parent ]

you're right (5.00 / 1) (#135)
by core10k on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 04:48:15 PM EST

Fine, imagine a vacuum-sucked capsule at the bottom of the ocean. Better?

[ Parent ]
Oil Prices (5.00 / 1) (#88)
by Merk00 on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 08:31:53 AM EST

How does instability lead to low oil prices? Wouldn't instability lead to high oil prices? Wouldn't there be less supply with instability and more supply with stability? I fail to follow your logic.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

yawn part 2 (5.00 / 1) (#119)
by core10k on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 03:10:21 PM EST

"United we stand, divides we fall." Sound familiar? Imagine you're the Middle East. Well, it doesn't just work for the US. Instability means division, division means loss of power, loss of power means loss of leverage, loss of leverage means we can't keep the market price for oil at a natural price, even though we are *the* oil producers of the world.

[ Parent ]
Oil and Instability (5.00 / 2) (#120)
by Merk00 on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 03:14:58 PM EST

So you're saying that instability causes an oil monopoly not to occur? There already is an oil monopoly: OPEC. And it's not a particularly good thing. It's very unnatural. The arguement that instability leads to lower oil prices because countries have more difficulty colluding to raise oil prices is silly. Instability drives prices up. Not down. It never has. There's a reason the US is so concerned about warfare in the Middle East: instability drives prices up. It makes the oil harder to get out of the Middle East. It makes it more expensive to do so. It makes oil drilling a riskier proposition which means higher prices.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

Baloney. (5.00 / 1) (#100)
by Apuleius on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 01:04:27 PM EST

Israel exists as a minority enclave for Jews, just as Lebanon exists as a minority enclave for Arab Catholics, Druze, and Shiites. In the 20th century the Sunni Arabs have beaten the living stuffing out of every single minority among them, with the exception of the Armenians and Circassians, hence these two enclaves, with more to come.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Armenians (5.00 / 1) (#103)
by Merk00 on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 01:33:23 PM EST

The Ottoman Empire repressed the Armenians during World War I. Hitler actually used the fact that the destruction of the Armenians was ignored by the world as a reason why no one would care over the fate of the Jews.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

.. were killed by Turks. (5.00 / 1) (#109)
by Apuleius on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 02:03:19 PM EST

In fact, the reason they are one of the two minorities that have not been beaten by Sunni Arabs is that the latter feel the former deserve a break because of what happened.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
yawn (5.00 / 2) (#118)
by core10k on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 03:06:43 PM EST

Except in Iran, right, where they get the beating stuffed out of them since they're the minority. Just like any minority anywhere else in the world. The minorities get shit on , you see, that's how it works for humans. Now explain again why Jews get a free pass?

[ Parent ]
An open mouth gathers no flies. (3.00 / 2) (#130)
by Apuleius on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 04:19:05 PM EST

In Iran, Sunni Arabs get beat up. So, they can cross over to Iraq (whose Iranian population is probably down to zero at this point). So, they get a free pass too. Why shouldn't we?


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
oops (5.00 / 1) (#134)
by core10k on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 04:46:17 PM EST

I meant 'explain why Isreal gets a free pass.' Apples and Oranges anyways. I wasn't the one that brought up the analogy.

[ Parent ]
My take on Israel (3.57 / 7) (#42)
by Nimey on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 11:03:00 PM EST

First, I'm not anti-Semetic.

Second, I think the Israeli government (and several citizens) need a boot to the head WRT their treatment of the peace process. Building new settlements in disputed territory is a Bad Thing, mmmkay? Not that I think their opposite number in the Palestinian camp are any better.

To be fully honest, I think the only solution is to evacuate Jerusalem (since it's a major hotpoint that nobody will negotiate reasonably over) and just nuke the sucker. Let them fight over the glowing ashes of their precious Temple Mount and mosques. It'll have the same purpose it does now, i.e. nothing.

Damn, I hate the human race sometimes.
--
Never mind, it was just the dog cumming -- jandev
You Sir, are an Ignorant Motherfucker. -- Crawford
I am arguably too manic to do that. -- Crawford
I already fuck my mother -- trane
Nimey is right -- Blastard
i am in complete agreement with Nimey -- i am a pretty big deal

[ Parent ]

argh!! (4.66 / 6) (#53)
by Sikpup on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 01:05:30 AM EST

"Ah yes... K5's dirty little (not-so)secret antisemism rears it's ugly head again..."

Not exactly. What about all the other semitic people. Like the Palestinians, Syrians, Saudis, Kuwatis, most everyone else between (not inclusive) Egypt and Iran?

"Withdraw support for the Israelites and just stand by and let another holocaust occur?"

Not entirely. But whats with giving them $3 billion/year? Likewise with Egypt?

They made their bed. The state was founded on terrorism; for example does the King David Hotel ring any bells? The US should never have gotten involved in this mess.

Obviously I don't have a solution. If I did I'd be off collecting that Nobel Peace Prize.

Both sides are equally guilty. Each teaches their children to hate. Until that goes away there will be no peace between the two.

"Ethnic Albanian muslims being exterminated in Kosova... the US (and NATO) intervenes directly. We're bitched at for trying to be "the world's policeman". "

That was Europes' problem. They had the resources to deal with it and should have.

"At the other end of the scale, we did nothing in Rawanda. And people bitch that a great human tragedy was calously ignored. "

Most people are pretty clueless about the real situation in Africa. A large part of this is the western worlds' fault. All the maps need to be torn up, and the countries borders redrawn to represent the areas of tribal control, not some 17th century european idea of where they should be. Again, the US has nothing to contribute here, any influence is going to be resented or abused by both sides - see Somalia.

"Oh, and if all you're going to do is rant about how evil "ze dirty jews" are, how and why they SHOULD be exterminated, don't bother. I used to live in the bible belt, and my dad's half of the family is catholic. I've heard just every antisemetic rationalization out there (and quite a few totally IRrationalizations too); and they're all full of shit. "

Nope. There is more than enough blame to be spread around. I couldn't care less what someones religion is. As long as they don't try to shove it down my throat, its fine. However, I resent any attempts to drag me into their conflict. This religious dogma crap about whose way of worshipping is correct is something I don't have time for.

Its the bleeding hearts in the US and elsewhere who keep wanting us to get involved in these disputes. Of course they aren't the ones going to the "front lines" and getting wounded/killed.


[ Parent ]
Anti-semitism (4.33 / 3) (#92)
by Ken Arromdee on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 10:04:55 AM EST

"Ah yes... K5's dirty little (not-so)secret antisemism rears it's ugly head again..."

Not exactly. What about all the other semitic people. Like the Palestinians, Syrians, Saudis, Kuwatis, most everyone else between (not inclusive) Egypt and Iran?

The word "Anti-semitism" was created in 1879 by Wilhelm Marr, a German anti-semite who specifically targeted Jews for his hatred, not Palestinians, Syrians, Saudis, etc.

[ Parent ]

semite != jew (4.66 / 3) (#94)
by Sikpup on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 12:33:59 PM EST

Semetic is still a racial classification. It does include all the people of the region. "Jew" or "Jewish" is a reference to religion, not race.

The reason for the targeting was Jews and Gypsies (another semetic offshoot, and to this day treated the same in eastern europe the way the jews used to be...) was their presence in Europe, and their concentration in well educated, lucrative professions - banking, medicine, etc. Their better than average lifestyle, along with their close communities created resentment that was manipulated into outright hatred.

[ Parent ]
I thought the Roma were... (4.66 / 3) (#116)
by elenchos on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 02:52:52 PM EST

...originally from India. Their language is Indo-European and related to Sanskrit. Semitic languages are a whole other group.

I think the confusion here is that the terms have different connotations that don't match their definitions. Semitic peoples are Arabs, Jews, etc., but anti-semitic doesn't connote anti-Arab AND anti-Jew, etc., even though it seems like it should. It is used to only mean fear and hatred of Jews. So when you describe an Arab as being "anti-semitic" it is kind of sad and funny, because he is hating a group that actually includes himself.

But then, it is kind of hard to hate others without hating yourself as well, isn't it?

Instead of NBC and CBS, there is WSMerwin,
the Walt Whitman channel, and Sappho at Nite.
--Poetry Nation, Jeffrey McDaniel
[ Parent ]

yup.. (4.50 / 2) (#132)
by Sikpup on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 04:39:27 PM EST

A good parallel would be some of the gang warfare in the US - like Bloods killing Crips and vice versa ie blacks killing blacks (african americans, whichever one prefers), as opposed to blacks and whites killing each other.

Just goes to prove that religion has killed more people than anything else.




[ Parent ]
What about supporting the UN and international law (4.33 / 6) (#77)
by Tezcatlipoca on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 05:58:15 AM EST

The US should force Israel to accept a UN peacekeeping force in the occupied territories while meaningful peace talks are carried on.

The US should back in principle the string of UN resolutions that basically ask Israel to get the hell out of what is not theirs. In oractice they coul let Israle do what they see fit, but the US could put a lot of moral pressure with this.

The US should force (not ask politely) Israel to stop the building of Jewish setlemments in ocuppied land.

And for good measure, the US should remember that Ariel Sharon, the current Israel PM, has a less than exemplary past(look for Sabra(sp) and Shatila's (sp) refugee camps' massacres, and Sharon's involvement as the military commander during the Israeli occupation of Beirut). That alone should be enough to be fairer and not to blindly assume that Israel is the poor one defending itself.

Israel claims to be defending itself, since when "defend yourself" means brake the law (international law), grab what is not yours (occupied territories) and then beat the one you are stealing from? (the Palestinians), specialy taking into account the pesky detail that you live in the house of the beaten one, but never mind, the <put religious book here> says your ancestors lived there 2000 years ago, so surely you have the right to expel anybody that lives there today.

This has nothing to do with antisemitism: I whish the Jews of the world would never had to face the idiocity of antisemitic people (many of then in Christian religions, and claiming guidance from the Bible, for goodnes sake). But to point out the real shortcommings, mistakes and omissions of the US while dealing with Israel is not to say that all jews should be exterminated.

What you are advocating is almost to give carte blanche to Israel, and whatever they do, nobody can criticize them because that would be antisemitic, which I hope most people appreciate would be nonsense.



Might is right
Freedom? Which freedom?
[ Parent ]
Israel and Occupied Territory (4.33 / 6) (#87)
by Merk00 on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 08:30:37 AM EST

It's important to remember that Israel never started any of the wars where they ended up occupying territory. The way I see a lot of this is that a country starts a war with Israel, loses, and then cries when they loose territory. Particularly if it's strategic. Israel does have a right to defend itself. Should Israel give back the land? Probably. But then again the countries where land was taken (namely Syria at this point, both Egypt and Jordan have made peace and gotten their land back) should back off their warlike stance and hatred of Israel.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

And what about Palestine? (4.66 / 3) (#169)
by Tezcatlipoca on Mon Jul 02, 2001 at 07:42:37 AM EST

I can understand the point of view relating to the countries you mentioned, and certainly one can defen oneself. Of course the Arab countries argue that Israel is the original agresor against the Palestinian people, to which I agree.

Palestine and Palestinian people did not start a war against nor invaded or attacked Israel.

Israel keeps building in Palestininan land , activity for which they dont have justification neither legal nor moral of any kind.

The important point is that people should be able to scrutinize the actions of Israel without immediately being called antisemitic.


Might is right
Freedom? Which freedom?
[ Parent ]
Stealing Palestine (5.00 / 3) (#171)
by Merk00 on Mon Jul 02, 2001 at 09:44:08 AM EST

I agree with the point of being able to criticize Israel without being called antisemtic. I'd hope we'd refrain from name-calling in general and have a more civilized discussion. But I digress. The main problem with the whole of Palestine/Israel/the Levant or whatever you want to call it (about anything but Levant ties the land to a group of people) is that various groups have been stealing the land from each other for millenia. If you take the Biblical account, the Israelites stole the Levant from the Philistines and related people. They got kicked out by various peoples (Babylonians, Romans, etc.). And then obviously those empires fell and others moved into the Levant. At some point the Muslims captured the Levant and occupied it. And of course Muslims from other areas settled there. During the Crusades, western Europeans took the Levant but then lost it back to the Muslims. And then of course the British finally got most of the Levant during their Imperiallistic era (I'm not familiar with the actual date). So people have been fighting over this area for millenia. And people have had their land stolen for millenia. So the question becomes who's land is it? And there really isn't a good answer for that. Lots of people claim the land and most of them have valid claims. I really doubt the issue will ever be solved but I think the best solution is to allow both the Israels and Palestinians to live under a common government that does not deal with religion. But I doubt either side would ascede to that.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

USian behaviour (4.33 / 3) (#81)
by spiralx on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 07:04:11 AM EST

Also, let's not forget things like this and this. This is what many people see of the US, and it's not pretty. Is it any wonder there's so much resentment?

You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
[ Parent ]

Saudi Arabia (4.37 / 8) (#12)
by Delirium on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 06:26:08 PM EST

Osama bin Laden has more problems in Saudi Arabia than only the US if he wishes to overthrow the government. Saudi Arabia for the past few hundred years has been ruled by an alliance between the Al-Saud family (who are the royalty and heads of state) and the Islamic fundamentalist Wahabi sect, who, through the country's sharia (Islamic law) courts, control most of the judicial system. Against a powerful ruling family who have powerful allies on the right, bin Laden would have difficulty starting a major revolution, as his most likely supporters are exactly the sort of Islamic fundamentalists from the Wahabi sect; but as the Wahabi have a significant role in the current regime, they're unlikely to want to join such a revolution. And I somehow can't see bin Laden gaining much support from Saudi Arabia's underground liberal opposition.

I was unaware (5.00 / 1) (#126)
by K5er 16877 on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 03:55:54 PM EST

I was unaware of the ties between the Wahabi and power in Saudi Arabia. That might well change my entire argument. Do you have any references I can look up to find more information?

Thanks,

Dave

[ Parent ]

the economist, mostly (5.00 / 1) (#136)
by Delirium on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 05:20:25 PM EST

Well either was I; pretty much the entirety of my comment is based on an article I read in last week's Economist. You might try searching their website, but I'm not sure if it's still up there or has moved to the for-subscribers-only archive section. From what I understand though, the Wahabi don't have any official executive or legislative power, but are given almost complete control over the country's sharia courts that adjudicate Islamic law, so they are in effect the judicial branch (all sharia judges are clerics, and nearly all are members of the Wahabi sect).

[update: I checked The Economist's website, and the article's in the archives now; you have to pay $2.95 to access it here unless you're a subscriber to the print or online versions of the magazine. Or if you can find a copy of the print magazine, it's in the June 16 issue.]

[ Parent ]

So (4.00 / 8) (#17)
by trhurler on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 07:09:30 PM EST

Maybe I'm missing something. Here I was thinking that freedom fighters fought against their enemies, whereas terrorists attacked the helpless. Granted, some people do both, but Osama bin Laden hardly qualifies. He has never made any substantive assault againt his stated enemies, but he has murdered a lot of innocent people.

(Note that I do recognize that the US government does the same thing. However, in fairness, I object to that action on its part, and moreover, that action does tend to be incidental to attacks on legitimate targets, which at least puts the US in the position of achieving its goals, rather than senselessly destroying random people for no reason or possible gain. You will never see the US intentionally blow up a private trade center with no military value, be it a skyscraper or a local produce market. bin Laden doesn't seem to mind doing things like that.)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Hiroshima (4.77 / 9) (#24)
by marx on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 08:17:45 PM EST

I bet there was at least one trade center in Hiroshima and Nagasaki (I apologize to any Japanese reader). Also, as far as I know, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not military targets at all.

I found some interesting minutes from the "targeting committee" or whatever before Hiroshima (here):

7. Psychological Factors in Target Selection

A. It was agreed that psychological factors in the target selection were of great importance. Two aspects of this are (1) obtaining the greatest psychological effect against Japan and (2) making the initial use sufficiently spectacular for the importance of the weapon to be internationally recognized when publicity on it is released.

B. In this respect Kyoto has the advantage of the people being more highly intelligent and hence better able to appreciate the significance of the weapon. Hiroshima has the advantage of being such a size and with possible focussing from nearby mountains that a large fraction of the city may be destroyed. The Emperor's palace in Tokyo has a greater fame than any other target but is of least strategic value.

I think "psychological factors" are exactly what are discussed when a standard terrorist attack is planned. I can't really see why Hiroshima and Nagasaki would not be classified as "terrorist attacks" by any definition, can anyone? So, is the US a "freedom fighter" or a "terrorist"?

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

This (3.50 / 8) (#27)
by trhurler on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 08:29:19 PM EST

is why simple classifications that claim to be exhaustive are foolish in most cases. "Freedom fighter" and "terrorist" are not necessarily the same thing, though it might be possible for one person to be both, but it is certainly not the case that every combatant who makes an aggressive move is one or the other.

In this case, we saved something like 800,000 Japanese lives and probably half a million US that would have been lost in an invasion. It is today debated whether such an invasion would have been necessary, but at the time, it was considered essential, and you can hardly judge peoples' actions without taking into account what they did and did not know. Most of those Japanese would NOT have been military, by the way. Invasions of civilian areas in WWII were messy, messy things with lots and lots of dead people. Now, you can argue til you're blue in the face about whether it was "right," but it was better than any other alternative the US planners saw, and that's what counts when people are shooting at each other.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
False dichotomy. (4.27 / 11) (#33)
by elenchos on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 09:33:42 PM EST

You are falling for the idea that the only two choices were invasion or nuking a city. One of the several other options they considered and rejectied was exploding an atomic bomb at high altitude or in an unpopulated area. They decided that the lives of the Japanese civilians killed were worth less than that risk of the demonstration failing to convince the Japanese to surrender on the first try, so that something else would have to be tried. And if it had worked, they would have been deprived of the valuable data provided by the testing of their new weapon on actual humans

This doesn't even begin to consider the other options, like waiting longer, or accepting less than unconditional surrender. The disadvantages of these things were also considered to be greater losses than the lives taken.

What is adds up to most clearly is that no Americans were concerned with whether or not they saved 800,000 Japanese lives. They had many other things they valued more.

Homeless people stand in line for Pablo Neruda.
In hospitals they feed cancer patients Carolyn Forche.
In churches there are giant wooden replic
[ Parent ]

Clarification. (4.50 / 6) (#40)
by decoy on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 10:41:42 PM EST

What is adds up to most clearly is that no Americans were concerned with whether or not they saved 800,000 Japanese lives. They had many other things they valued more.

I can't tell if you agree or disagree with this position. I don't think anyone could really expect the americans to have any sympathy for the japanese. It's not like the japanese would have treated the americans any better were their positions reversed.

One of the several other options they considered and rejectied was exploding an atomic bomb at high altitude or in an unpopulated area.

IIRC japan didn't surrender after the first bomb was dropped, it surrendered after the second. The americans only had two bombs. If it took destroying two cities to get the japanese to surrender, wasting one of the two bombs the americans had would have just put them at a disadvantage. The americans would have been out of bombs, and japan could have called the american's bluff (that they had enough atomic bombs to destroy all of japan).

[ Parent ]

And then what would have happened? (3.81 / 11) (#47)
by elenchos on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 11:38:25 PM EST

They would have... made more bombs? Which is exactly what they did anyway. But it would have taken longer. So the correct justification along this line is that they nuked two cities to save time, not 800,000 lives.

How poorly other people may behave is not a justification for my own poor behavior.

Some people would have expected the Americans to have some sympathy for the Japanese, as fellow human beings. Socrates, Jesus Christ, Voltaire, I don't know, people like that. It isn't like in 1944 no one had ever heard of the idea of stepping outside your own narrow self-interested viewpoint of the world and trying to objectively assess the situation from both sides. It isn't like seeing your enemy as a mirror image of yourself is some radical new 1960's hippie idea. It is central to Achilles' decision in Homer (c. 800 bc) to end his rage against his enemies. Thucycdides (around 400 bc) lectures at length on the way that we lose our humanity and dignity in war by becoming less compassionate. He shows how the Athenian empire suffered through their ruthless treatment of their defeated enemies, and the fallaciousness of their morally bankrupt mass killings.

This idea had indeed survived and been refined through Roman times and on into medieval ideas of chivalry and into Shakespeare's ability to see into the hearts of those labeled "evil." I'm only sketching in some of this. The humanism of the enlightenment and the beginnings of our idea of liberalism in the 19th century furthered these ideas that are claimed as the central values of Christians, Moslems, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and even strategists like Sun Tsu.

Americans in 1944 had all this moral philosophy before them, and they went to the not inconsiderable effort to push it out of their minds and ignore what they knew was right. The dehumanization of the Japanese as a race didn't just happen: it takes work to carry off that kind of hardening of the heart, especially on a mass scale.

And, actually, the Japanese did try to surrender after the first city was nuked, but they didn't surrender unconditionally. The Americans wanted more and they were willing to drop their only remaing bomb and waste more lives to get it.

Perhaps what they got for the lives they took with those two bombs was worth it, but this silly either/or picture that Americans have painted to make themselves look less monsterous has got to be put away for good. There were many other possibilities, and we had the moral sophistication to know better.

Homeless people stand in line for Pablo Neruda.
In hospitals they feed cancer patients Carolyn Forche.
In churches there are giant wooden replic
[ Parent ]

bottom line (4.44 / 9) (#50)
by fluxrad on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 12:22:29 AM EST

japan was a pawn from the get-go.

"Jeepers mister Wilson, how come all our air craft carriers were out on 'training' excercises the day Pearl Harbor was bombed?"

Japan was an excuse for the U.S. to stop with the lend/lease program we had going on in Europe and start with operation slaughter-the-fuck-out-of-all-who-oppose-us. There were already hostilities growing, and war was certainly inevetable, but there's no better way to get the entire civilian population on your side than an unprovoked attack by the enemy.

Still, I say fuck Japan. They got what they deserved. Disagree? Let's go ahead and analyze it:

There's a room full of people. Hirohito, Adolf, Benito, Joseph, Winston, and Harry (Harry is a composite of himself, and his friend Franklin). Now these guys get into a big brawl. Hirohito, Adolf, and Benito decide they want to "own" the room and kill anyone who opposes them in their designs on the ownership of the room. Adolf starts to beat the living fuuuuck out of Winston and Benito jumps in for shits and grins. Now at this point, Joseph decides he's not going to get into it, and Hirohito decides he's with Adolf and Benito. Harry is trying to help pick Winston up off the ground when Hirohito kicks him right in the ballzack. Adolf turns around and smacks Joseph and a full fledged brawl ensues.

At this point, Benito, Adolf, and Hirohito are trying to beat the bejesus out of Joseph, Winston, and Harry. Eventually, Joseph, Winston, and Harry wind up hospitalizing Benito, and soon after bludgeon Adolf to death. Hirohito is still trying to beat down Harry though while Winston and Joe are recovering from the near-death beating they recieved during the course of the fight. It is at that point that Harry discovers a switch-blade laying on the floor. He knows that, since he's the strongest guy currently in the room, he can slowly beat the crap out of Hirohito until he says "uncle", or he can just use the switchblade and finish the fight, without risking further injury to himself or his friends.

Keeping in mind how the fight started, and the designs of the antagonists: If you were Harry, would you use your fists or the switchblade?

--
"It is seldom liberty of any kind that is lost all at once."
-David Hume
[ Parent ]
No, that's only a metaphor. (3.66 / 6) (#52)
by elenchos on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 12:47:17 AM EST

It does nothing to erase the evidence that there were several less extreme options on the table, and that we could have tried them first. We tried none of them, and went straight for the most violent option we had. No story about some guys in a room makes that into a sensible decision.

What your story does is takes the lives of thousands of people and hides them behind one bad guy you call "Hirohito" in your little play. Then when something bad happens to this character, we can grasp it and call it just. But we didn't stab one evil man with a switchblade. We dropped an atomic weapon on two civilian cities and burnt thousands to death in an instant, and left more to die from radiation, and more to suffer from the lingering effects of the radioactive fallout. You are saying that those lives were forfeit and they deserved to die.

What if we had no bomb but won any way? According to you, justice demands that those people deserved to die because of what "they" all did. Should we have firebombed them instead? Or built a death camp and gassed them all? It is the same thing: killing many thousands even though killing them is not a requirement to accomplish your goal. Killing them gratuitously.

This is exactly why Osama bin Laden is called a terrorist: because he is killing extravagantly, without purpose. He causes deaths that are not intrinsic to his goal. We need to look at the historical record directly and face these unvarnished facts, and quit telling stories.

Homeless people stand in line for Pablo Neruda.
In hospitals they feed cancer patients Carolyn Forche.
In churches there are giant wooden replic
[ Parent ]

Really? (4.20 / 5) (#56)
by fluxrad on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 01:52:42 AM EST

I've seen the facts. I've seen evidence that suggests that Japan was in the midst of talks of surrender and that the only reason we dropped the bomb was to show Stalin what we had.

I've seen evidence that suggests that japan wasn't at all about to surrender and that a mainland invasion would have caused signifigantly more loss of life than the bomb ever did. This is the theory that i agree with.

The fact of the matter is, if you pick a fight, you had better be prepared to lose in a manner not of your own choosing. Now, maybe we should have continued the war with japan until we had developed a harmless "freeze-o ray" which, in one bang would freeze all of the people of japan and show them the light, thus causing minimal loss of life to the japanese and no loss of life to the americans. but we didn't have a magical "freeze-o ray" and we didn't know what a mainland invasion would have cost.

Maybe that's why you're not the President. When you're elected to lead a country, you're not supposed to think about the emotional or physical toll war is going to take on your enemy. You're supposed to think about the emotional and physical toll war is going to take on the people you were elected to protect. And if, at that time, you'd asked any American if they would accept 1 more american life in order to spare the lives of a few thousand civillians living in a country that, without provocation, attacked a few thousand americans living in Hawaii, the answer would have been a resounding "Fuck you!" (except, maybe the japanese-americans living in internment camps in the states. if you wanna talk about wrong. talk about that!)

--
"It is seldom liberty of any kind that is lost all at once."
-David Hume
[ Parent ]
You're just changing the subject. (3.50 / 6) (#58)
by elenchos on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 02:17:03 AM EST

How does that demonstrate that we should not have tried less violent means before dropping the bomb?

You repeat again the false dichotomy: that there were only two options, invasion and nuking a city. So you believe an invasion would have cost more lives. Do you really believe there was nothing else that could have been tried? You must know that Truman had many choices set before him, not just two. Not science fiction options; viable choices, like a demonstration. The question is, why was the most destructive, most violent choice the right one to try before all the others? Why not save that one for last?

What the Japanese or anyone else should have been prepared to accept is not the issue. The question is why do you cling to this story they've told you that there were only two choices? And if you realize that maybe it was done as a test of its capabilities, and a warning to Stalin, then doesn't that lend credibility that it was not done to avoid an invasion?

Instead of wandering off on another tangent, can you tell me why it would have been such a bad idea to try a less violent option before going all the way and using the atomic bomb directly on a city? It wasn't as if that option would really go away; they knew they could make more bombs, and they did make more. Japan wasn't going anywhere. So tell me, why not try something else first?

Homeless people stand in line for Pablo Neruda.
In hospitals they feed cancer patients Carolyn Forche.
In churches there are giant wooden replic
[ Parent ]

You do not understand. (5.00 / 3) (#60)
by decoy on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 02:49:35 AM EST

Wartime is different than peacetime. During a war you are tasked with defeating the enemy while minimizing your own risk. You do not take the welfare of the enemy into account. You use the maximum force available to minimize your own losses. If you try to be "nice" and not kill so many of "them" you will be at a disadvantage to the opponent that isn't going to be "nice". This disadvantage could cause you to be beaten and your own people killed.

The questions is, "Would it have been less risky to try the other options instead of dropping the bomb?"

[ Parent ]

Exactly! (5.00 / 3) (#63)
by fluxrad on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 03:01:50 AM EST

There's an old marine saying that goes something like, "Hit the enemy so hard that they don't want to hit you back."

--
"It is seldom liberty of any kind that is lost all at once."
-David Hume
[ Parent ]
Oh, you too? (3.00 / 4) (#66)
by elenchos on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 03:21:19 AM EST

So, then, all that stuff about trying to save Japanese lives from an invasion was false, wasn't it? You don't think trying avoid deaths is good. You think more deaths would be better. So then, why not skip the bomb and invade! Fight them down to the last man. Kill them all. Wouldn't that really have shown them? Or else, would it have been better to continue firebombing, again and again until there was not one building standing and nearly everyone was dead?

This stuff you are spouting has nothing to do with serious military doctrine. It sounds like some theory that fell out of a Heinlein novel. Where did you learn this nonsense?

Homeless people stand in line for Pablo Neruda.
In hospitals they feed cancer patients Carolyn Forche.
In churches there are giant wooden replic
[ Parent ]

do you have evidence that a demonstration... (5.00 / 1) (#74)
by sayke on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 03:55:18 AM EST

even occured to any of the people involved in the bomb-use planning process?

i suspect "well shit, let's drop it offshore or something" never occured to any of the people in power.

what was the point of this discussion again?


sayke, v2.3.1 /* i am the middle finger of the invisible hand */
[ Parent ]

Alternative Options (5.00 / 1) (#90)
by simon farnz on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 08:40:43 AM EST

Actually, the scientists on the Manhattan Project suggested that the best demonstration would be to nuke empty land, and allow people to see the power of the A-bomb
--
If guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns
[ Parent ]
given that japan didn't give up till... (5.00 / 4) (#91)
by sayke on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 09:09:09 AM EST

two were dropped, dropping one over dry land may not have caused a surrender after all - then the US would have been stuck, and unable to quickly end the war, no?

i'm sure that was their rationale...


sayke, v2.3.1 /* i am the middle finger of the invisible hand */
[ Parent ]

The point is that they didn't even try. (4.25 / 4) (#99)
by elenchos on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 01:01:48 PM EST

And incidentally, what you just said is that the purpose was just to save time, not to save lives. The original point was to ask what is the difference between "terrorism" that kills people without restraint when killing them is not neccessary, and the atomic bombing of Japan. Why didn't they try to accomplish the same goal with less killing?

The president did have several options before him. One idea was to explode a bomb at high enough altitude over Tokyo to demonstrate the power of the bomb. Other variations on this idea were presented as well. The islands could have been blockaded to get more time. This would not have cost as many lives as an invasion, or as many as the atomic bombing, and would have given room to try other things. So we have the mystery of why all these less violent choices were skipped over in favor of the most extreme option. Why not try something else first? It wasn't as if they would have been forced so launch an invasion the next day if Japan didn't come around. They had time.

So the "it was to save lives" explanation is just inadequate; it doesn't account for all the facts, and so we should consider the other explantions for the decision, such as a warning to the Soviets, or to collect data about the new weapon. Perhaps the war had made them so bitter that they were no longer being completely reasonable, and were taking revenge with the most destructive means they had. Perhaps they were just afraid of what would happen if they didn't overreact.

I don't really know, but this simple formula "it was either nuke them or invade" just doesn't work.

Homeless people stand in line for Pablo Neruda.
In hospitals they feed cancer patients Carolyn Forche.
In churches there are giant wooden replic
[ Parent ]

Condemn the past... (5.00 / 3) (#115)
by beergut on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 02:47:27 PM EST

Were mistakes made? Probably.

Can you demonstrate, for sure, that dropping two atomic bombs on Japan did not end up saving lives? Can you say, for sure, that dropping the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not the right thing to do?

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

If I can't, does that mean that... (2.66 / 3) (#117)
by elenchos on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 03:06:10 PM EST

...I should go around saying that they had to drop the bomb because it saved lives by prevneting an invasion?

If it is a question of absloute cetainty, then I also have to say I can't be certain that declaring independence from England was not a mistake. Maybe it would have been better if Lincoln had negotiated with the Confederacy. And continuing this kind of skepticism, I can't even be certain that Osam bin Laden is a terrorist or freedom fighter. Anything is possible, and nothing can be proven, right?

But if you say "According to these criteria, and the facts we have at hand, bin Laden is a terrorist," then I think you may call the dropping of the atomic bomb terrorism as well, using the same criteria and only the facts at hand. Maybe there is some hidden fact that would prove the bin Laden is not killing people gratuiously, and by the same token, maybe some hidden fact would show that it was right to nuke all those people in Japan. But that remains to be seen.

For now, I can only observe that if the facts about bin Laden lead to the conclusion "terrorist" then the same method leads to the same conclusion about the US action against Japan.

If you want certainty, try religion, or blind patriotism.

Instead of NBC and CBS, there is WSMerwin,
the Walt Whitman channel, and Sappho at Nite.
--Poetry Nation, Jeffrey McDaniel
[ Parent ]

Certainty... (5.00 / 2) (#121)
by beergut on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 03:25:50 PM EST

If you want certainty, try religion, or blind patriotism.

It is unfortunate that I can do neither.

I do not doubt that part of the justification for dropping the bomb was as a warning to Uncle Joe.

I also do not doubt that projections were made as to the casualties on both sides, with importance weighted heavily in our favor - after all, it was a war.

I do not doubt that the idea of a simple demonstration was considered, and then rejected. It would seem that, looking back on events, that decision was correct. It took two bombs for Japan to surrender properly.

Further, as a demonstration for Uncle Joe, it may have saved Japan from another onslaught of war when his troops came a-knockin'.

It saved us from having to boot him out of Japan, certainly.

It was a disgusting act. Brutal, savage, perverse, and maniacal. Was it necessary? That is unknown, and unknowable.

I happen to think that maybe it wasn't necessary, but it was expedient and effective. When you choose to do something like this, you do it for those reasons, and to make a statement about the future.

To those ends, it was necessary. And effective. And, history.

Crying over spilt milk won't unspill the milk. Better to sit and think about how to avoid spilling it again.

This discussion reminds me somewhat of Ender Wiggin and the confrontations he had as a young boy, and how that shaped his future.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

But the question that started it all remains: (3.33 / 3) (#123)
by elenchos on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 03:39:12 PM EST

Is this any different than Osama bin Laden's actions?

Couldn't bin Laden answer his critics by saying "war is war" and it was "expedient and effective" and all that? It isn't just about judging history. It is about testing our intellectual honesty by applying the same criteria to ourselves and to someone else and seeing if we reach the same conslusion. Could the war criminals that we prosecuted have said "after all, it was a war?" We were willing to hold them accountable, and we continue doing so to this day.

So you could throw your hands up and refuse to judge anyone's past actions. But if one is willing to call Nazis war criminals, and people like bin Laden terrorists, then one has already shown oneself to be willing to make judgements. And so one should also be willing to judge one's own country just the same.

You are basically right, and we agree: the standard justification for the bombing is not enough, and the truth is that there was more going on.

Instead of NBC and CBS, there is WSMerwin,
the Walt Whitman channel, and Sappho at Nite.
--Poetry Nation, Jeffrey McDaniel
[ Parent ]

bin Laden... (5.00 / 2) (#127)
by beergut on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 03:58:57 PM EST

I personally think that ObL wouldn't be an issue at all, were it not for our interventionism and imperialist tendencies. This is why I think G. Washington's admonishment to avoid foreign entanglements was both prescient and instructive.

I wonder, if the U.S. would decide to throw up its hands and say "fuckit" tomorrow, would ObL have any followers? Would he continue his actions, or even be able to?

As to the question of judging his actions by the same standards we use to judge others', that's a good question. Judged by those standards, there are some similarities. But, should we judge him by those standards? I don't think we should, but the question of why or why not might bear some thought.

Personally, I think he's a nutbag. But, he apparently thinks he's right in doing what he's doing. In fact, he may be right - God only knows, and he ain't tellin'.

The difference, in my mind, lies in that there is no formal declaration of war between two governments. The nations that support Osama bin Laden are in no warlike state (at least, officially) with the U.S. We are not actively (militarily) destroying those nations.

That said, I'm all in favor of private folks here organizing themselves into a death squad and plinking this rat bastard.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

Ooh! (5.00 / 2) (#137)
by fluxrad on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 05:38:47 PM EST

I personally think that ObL wouldn't be an issue at all, were it not for our interventionism and imperialist tendencies.

them's fighting words. or might i remind you that, of the last two major european conflicts the US decided to keep away from, the first ended in the total destruction of Germany's economy and laid waste to most of europe. The second time, the world didn't fare much better as i'm sure you're aware, since we've been talking about it for the past 15 posts.

Washington was an incredibly intelligent guy, and I firmly agree with his belief that a party-based election system would destroy this country (which it is doing). I also believe in the Monroe doctrine, and for the most part, i agree that the U.S should stay out of small conflicts elsewhere. But when you're the biggest, baddest kid on the block, it's not all that simple.

Everyone wants your help, then if you win, you're called a bully. And, if you lose, you're a laughing stock. We could just stay out of it, but then we're capitalistic american pigs who do nothing to help our friends and only take, take, take. Lessons that have been learned over the past century should not be forgotten at all costs. Total isolationism is not the way to go, but neither is total interference. And, most importantly, fuck the countries that don't like us. Being number 1 means people are going to hate you, let's just deal with it.

now if only we could get around to legalizing marijuana...

--
"It is seldom liberty of any kind that is lost all at once."
-David Hume
[ Parent ]
OT: Nested Mode (5.00 / 1) (#143)
by urgan on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 10:07:51 PM EST

Get's ridicule at this level, posts just get smaller and smaller in width.

[ Parent ]
What's the alternative? (5.00 / 1) (#174)
by marx on Tue Jul 03, 2001 at 09:40:25 AM EST

Washington was an incredibly intelligent guy, and I firmly agree with his belief that a party-based election system would destroy this country (which it is doing).

Ok, so what's the alternative? Vote for one independent guy who then assembles the government? Then you'd get even more of marketing instead of campaigning. Then you'd also have a lot of trouble knowing what issues each candidate stand for, and having a guarantee that he will follow his promises. With a party system at least you have some continuity.

The problem is not having a party system, but a two-party system. The winner-takes-all system implicitly creates a situation where there can only be two parties. If I vote for a third party, my vote has zero impact (not a tiny impact, but zero). It's not really a very good democracy if you're restricted to a fixed number of choices. I.e. you can vote "conservative" or "ultra-conservative". What if I want to vote "liberal" or "zen-buddhism"? Tough luck, I don't count. The only way my Zen-Buddhist party is going to have any power whatsoever is if I can convert over 50% of an entire state in one stroke. Since human change is typically progressive, this is just never going to happen. How many times has a party which is not the Democrats or the Grand Old Party held a state?

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

WWII, Hitler, Godwin... (5.00 / 1) (#175)
by beergut on Tue Jul 03, 2001 at 01:32:45 PM EST

We saw, after WWI, a League of Nations that wanted to subjugate an entire populace, control their economy, and lay waste to their infrastructure. Well, it worked. Then, the people fought back. Their choice of a leader left something to be desired, however.

We saw, in WWII, that Hitler wanted to form a European superstate. He was thwarted by an alliance of European powers and the United States.

Now, instead of the capital being in Berlin, it will be in Brussels.

Big difference, there.

Instead, Europe has had to wait fifty years for "unification", which was bound to happen, in order to counter American hegemony.

My contention is that we should not be pursuing our interests in other countries. Rather, we should be self-sufficient and let other countries trade with us freely. If they fuck us over, well, no more market for you! And, if they attack us militarily, they cease to exist. Period.

No American hegemony, no need for a European superstate. Everybody happier, and politically more free. All of us. Europeans and Americans. No need to fear China, as their leadership knows they will not live to see a second day of bombardment should they launch an attack against us.

Let private citizens organize and fund guerilla movements in other countries whose leadership does not work the way they think it should. Other nations do it to us.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

It was *because* it was the most violent choice! (3.40 / 5) (#64)
by elenchos on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 03:13:09 AM EST

Finally, you answer the question and for that I'm grateful. I didn't think you were going to.

Your theory of how warfare should be conducted is that you always choose the most destructive of your options first, showing no restraint? You just kill em all and wreck everything and stop at nothing?

What country are you talking about here? Are you aware that the US has voluntarily signed many treaties limiting what kinds of weapons and tactics that we will use in war? Do you know that we prosecuted hundreds of Germans and Japanese for exactly this kind of unrestrained, wanton destructiveness? That even today we are branding those who fight like this as war criminals?

Look, if you personally think the Wehrmacht way should be the best way to fight, fine, you can think that. But don't bullshit me with this idea that that is the way of warfare for the US. That is an attitude that is completely alien to the values of the United States, and while the Japanese Imperial Army in Manchuria or the Nazis in Poland may have thought that such overkill was beneficial, where are they now? Who has prevailed? Who taught you that that is the way the US fights its wars?

I guess that is one of the reasons the decision to use the atom bomb so prematurely sticks out so much: it really is against what Americans have always stood for.

Homeless people stand in line for Pablo Neruda.
In hospitals they feed cancer patients Carolyn Forche.
In churches there are giant wooden replic
[ Parent ]

Yes. (5.00 / 1) (#128)
by decoy on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 03:59:37 PM EST

Your theory of how warfare should be conducted is that you always choose the most destructive of your options first, showing no restraint? You just kill em all and wreck everything and stop at nothing?

Yes. If you show restraint, and you opponent does not, your opponent can take advantage of this and use your restraint against you. I'm not talking about unrestrained warfare against civilians, they shouldn't be targeted specifically. If there are civilians in the area of a factory that you are bombing, should you leave the factory alone, fearing that you might kill civilians? I don't think so. The Nazis were evil because they systematically killed civilians for no reason. They just wanted them dead. America wanted to demonstrate to Japan what it could do, so the japanese would surrender, and in so doing save american lives.

You don't let a war drag on to save the lives of the people who have been trying to kill you the whole time. You end it quickly, with as little thought given to the ememy's well being as possible. You don't kill people if killing them won't help you win. Dropping the bomb helped America win.

[ Parent ]

Well, that is a very special viewpoint. (2.50 / 2) (#144)
by elenchos on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 10:20:32 PM EST

All that concerns me is that it supports my original claim that the simple idea of the purpose being to save 800,000 Japanese lives is not true. There are many alternative explanations for the decision to drop the bomb, and I think that it is not at all unlikely that the bloodthristyness in your mind is a close match for the bloodthirstyness of those who nuked Japan. Perhaps they, like you, only wanted to kill as many people as they could. It sounds more plausible than the idea that the only alternative was to invade and fight for every inch of Japan.

As far as the merits of this automatic overkill strategy, it I don't think I need to bother with it: it is roundly rejected by practically everyone that matters. Perhaps Tim McVeih or Osama bin Laden would agree with your claim that civilians may so easily be killed if they get in the way, but I think more people today believe the Earth is flat than believe the weapon of first choice should be a nuclear bomb.

Instead of NBC and CBS, there is WSMerwin,
the Walt Whitman channel, and Sappho at Nite.
--Poetry Nation, Jeffrey McDaniel
[ Parent ]

Godwin's Law (5.00 / 1) (#145)
by decoy on Sat Jun 30, 2001 at 01:37:02 AM EST

I may need to invoke some modified form of Godwin's Law, as you have seem to decided that I should sit next to McVeigh and Osama bin Laden, but I won't for now.

I seem to be just talking past you, or you are trying to fit what I'm saying into some preconcived notion of what I think. I'm not bloodthirsty, I'm not advocating being bloodthirsty, I'm just talking about being practical. During war, a single one of your countrymen is worth you're entire enemy: you don't sacrifice your men (or put them at risk) to save the enemy's. You don't consider the well being of the enemy because they are the ones trying to kill you.

War is unfortunate, was is costly, but once you are committed to one you need to fight it with everything you have. Fighting half assed is not a good way to do it, it's liable to get you, and your friends, killed.

but I think more people today believe the Earth is flat than believe the weapon of first choice should be a nuclear bomb.

Things have changed since WWII. Other people have nukes, and they will use theirs on us if we use ours. Using them would just put ourselves at risk, they would get us killed.

[ Parent ]

Um, things have changed since the stone age. (2.66 / 3) (#147)
by elenchos on Sat Jun 30, 2001 at 02:57:44 AM EST

I understand this point of view; it's been around forever. And it has been rejected forever. I mentioned Thulcyidides before. He illustrates in detail how after fighting for many years, the Athenians came to think the way you do, and they took to wiping out whole cities. The fact that they killed everyone by hand instead of with a bomb is immaterial. The reasoning was identical and they learned the lesson that everyone else has from that kind of narrowness: it doesn't work. You end up being the one who pays the price when you become that brutal.

The infamous Milean Dialogue in Thucyidides shows how old your argument is: the Athenians invoked all the same excuses and the Mileans warned them that they would simply alienate their allies and potential allies by their murderousness. They warned them that they would not always be strong, and they would someday pay a price for the bitterness they created. Turned out to be true. Which is why generals like Alexander the Great were so frequently willing to be merciful towards their enemies, and the Romans learned the same lesson. You have both a carrot and a stick, and by using only one and not the other, you are tying one hand behind your back.

And so on. Sun Tsu says that you must give you opponent a better choice than fighting. If you always kill to the maximum extent you are able, you simply harden their will against you. This leads up to the United States' willingness to help create the vaious laws of armed conflict that put limits on attackng civilians, or on kinds of weapons, like chemical or biological weapons. Restraint is central to the warfighting doctrine that we have always taught, long before there were any nuclear weapons.

Look at the technological drive of the last thirty years towards more and more precise and discriminatory weapons. If anyone agreed with the kind of strategy you offer, they would simply be trying to build bigger and bigger bombs, not "smarter" ones.

Maybe you are getting this from some misunderstanding of the 'Powell Doctrine' of using overwhelming force rather than commiting troops in a piecemeal fashion. You might observe that Colin Powell in the Gulf War Powell was not advocating wiping civilian populations off the map.

I don't know what you are basing this on. Like I say, it mostly reminds me of something I remember reading in Starship Troopers or some similar nonsense. But maybe you can tell me why you believe it. Do you see a lot of evidence that such tactics work? Am I just not able to find any examples of successful generals who think this way too?

Instead of NBC and CBS, there is WSMerwin,
the Walt Whitman channel, and Sappho at Nite.
--Poetry Nation, Jeffrey McDaniel
[ Parent ]

OK, fine... (4.50 / 2) (#172)
by crayz on Tue Jul 03, 2001 at 02:08:12 AM EST

...just tell me this: if you accept this doctrine, why is Timothy McVeigh or Osama bin Laden a terrorist? McVeigh blew up a federal building. Sure it had kids in it, but a government building is a legitimate target, right? bin Laden blew up US embassies. Legitimate targets, right?

Why is nuking a city OK, and blowing up a government building not?

Oh, and while we're at it, what if we were fighting against say Iraq, and Iraq had some new superstrain of Ebola, and unleashed it on the US. It would certainly weaken our ability to fight. Would that be a legitimate way of attacking us?

[ Parent ]
Our friend Osama. (5.00 / 1) (#173)
by decoy on Tue Jul 03, 2001 at 03:06:45 AM EST

We could be considered at war with Osama bin Laden. He's fighting back, he doesn't consider his actions wrong. Us, on the other hand, consider his actions wrong because he is killing our people. I'm sure bin Laden considers the missles we shot at some of his training camps terrorism.

Osama bin Laden is a terrorist for blowing up US embassies, America is a terrorist nation because we blew up Osama's training camps. Japan is a terrorist because it blew up a US military base, America is a terrorist because it blew up some of Japan's cities. Everyone is a terrorist to someone.

Why is nuking a city OK, and blowing up a government building not?

I never said it was the right thing to do, war is not right, but it was the warlike thing to do, and you do warlike things during war.

Oh, and while we're at it, what if we were fighting against say Iraq, and Iraq had some new superstrain of Ebola, and unleashed it on the US. It would certainly weaken our ability to fight. Would that be a legitimate way of attacking us?

Yes. They're fighting a war aren't they? I assume they want to win. The US may not like it, but, hey, that's life.

[ Parent ]

You're not really listening (3.50 / 2) (#191)
by deaddrunk on Thu Jul 05, 2001 at 07:18:39 AM EST

What this guy is trying to say is that it is a bit hypocritical to declare someone who killed a few hundred innocents evil when the US is responsible for the deaths of millions, and not just in Japan either. In fact if you add up all the 'terrorist' killings I doubt it would come close to the amount of Palestinians or East Timorese killed by regimes fully backed by the US.



[ Parent ]
Since I know you'll jump on this (3.50 / 2) (#192)
by deaddrunk on Thu Jul 05, 2001 at 07:21:04 AM EST

I mean 'terrorist' killing of Americans



[ Parent ]
Yes I am. (5.00 / 1) (#194)
by decoy on Fri Jul 06, 2001 at 04:07:49 AM EST

So then America shouldn't call Mr. bin Laden evil because at some point in the past we killed more people than he has? Are we to say, "Osama, you're off the hook for now. You still have to engage in a few major wars before we can say you're evil without being hypocritical."

In fact if you add up all the 'terrorist' killings I doubt it would come close to the amount of Palestinians or East Timorese killed by regimes fully backed by the US.

So the US isn't just responsible for the people it's killed for whatever reason. Its also responsible for every killing by every nation we have ever supported? We supported the Soviets during WWII, are we also responsible for the people they sent to labor camps during that time?

And on a side note, what's wrong with the Israelis protecting themselves, and the territory that they aquired in wars that they did not start, from hostile nations and terrorist groups/freedom fighters that are opposed to the very fact that Israel exists?

[ Parent ]

That's not what I meant (5.00 / 1) (#196)
by deaddrunk on Fri Jul 06, 2001 at 07:54:24 AM EST

My point is that the US is directly and indirectly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands through its foreign 'policy', so it's hardly surprising that fanatics like bin Laden take up arms against them. For the record my opinion is that bin Laden is evil, but so are all those that kept the likes of Suharto and Pinochet in power.



[ Parent ]
Why single out the US? (5.00 / 1) (#201)
by decoy on Fri Jul 06, 2001 at 06:09:09 PM EST

Nearly every single nation on Earth has gotten people killed with its foreign policy. This includes Russia, China, France, Iran, Egypt, Honduras, etc. Why single out the US? If killing people makes your government evil then nearly every government that has ever existed is evil.

[ Parent ]
Because that is the thread subject (5.00 / 1) (#203)
by deaddrunk on Sat Jul 07, 2001 at 10:08:03 AM EST

This is about bin Laden being considered a terrorist for killing a few hundred Americans while successive American governments have a hand in the deaths of hundreds of thousands.

I certainly couldn't defend the UK's record given that successive governments have supported the same set of vicious fascists as the US, not to mention various other crimes in other countries such as India and Ireland.



[ Parent ]
Osama is considered a terrorist. (5.00 / 1) (#206)
by decoy on Sat Jul 07, 2001 at 05:30:27 PM EST

But who considers him one? The people he blows up, of course. Who considers the US a terrorist? Some of those that America blew up, and some of them have unrealistic opinions about how a nation should act. You keep whining about how the US put all of these dictators in power. I'm sure there was a rational besides what you are implying (America did it beacause they are terrorists and wanted to get innocents killed!). I also doubt that the US anticipated mass killings, but what is the US suppose to do once they realize that the guy is a mini-hitler? Should they get their own citizens killed to control a dictator that cannot threaten their country in any way? Should they risk having this guy ally with their enemies, and, in so doing, become a real threat?

The first obligation of any resonable national government is to protect its own people. As far as most governments are concerned, if putting a dictator in power helps protect them it's justified, and it is only justifed to use force, to remove a dictator, if it will do the nation some good.

[ Parent ]

Osama is considered a terrorist. (none / 0) (#211)
by deaddrunk on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 01:08:21 PM EST

The US government should not have participated in the violent overthrow of democratically-elected governments in Indonesia and Chile in the first place which was my point. Hundreds of thousands died unnecessarily due to the US 'protecting' itself from governments that were no threat to it.

As for:

what is the US suppose to do once they realize that the guy is a mini-hitler? Should they get their own citizens killed to control a dictator that cannot threaten their country in any way?

That is exactly what happened during the Gulf War. What was the difference between the brutal dictator Saddam Hussein and the brutal dictators Suharto and Pinochet - except that he wouldn't do what he was told by Washington?

The only whining I hear is from someone trying to defend the indefensible. bin Laden is without a doubt an evil man, but so are all those American politicians who are complicit in mass-murder. However I've yet to see any real action being taken against the likes of Kissinger.

As far as most governments are concerned, if putting a dictator in power helps protect them it's justified

So you agree with the Soviet Union annexing Eastern Europe and installing puppet governments - after all it was in the interests of their 'national security'?



[ Parent ]
Not quite. (5.00 / 1) (#214)
by decoy on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 06:43:07 PM EST

That is exactly what happened during the Gulf War.

No it's not. One word, oil. Saddam could have managed to gain control more of the world's oil production that the US government was comfortable with if the they hadn't intervened.

So you agree with the Soviet Union annexing Eastern Europe and installing puppet governments - after all it was in the interests of their 'national security'?

You don't want your enemy to be secure. I was on the other side of that confilct, so I don't think it was right. As far as the Soviets were concerned, they only needed to justify it to themselves, and they did that. It's the same for the US. If the US thinks it's necessary to overthrow some government, then it only needs to justify it to itself, not the rest of the world. It's also the same for every other nation on Earth, but most of them don't have the resouces to pull it off.

[ Parent ]

Ooo, I know the answer to this one! (5.00 / 1) (#205)
by EriKZ on Sat Jul 07, 2001 at 12:10:16 PM EST

Because Timothy McVeigh and Osama bin Laden are not countries or governments! When someone who gains enough personal power to equal a government, without any of the responsibilities of a government, that's bad.

Almost all governments have built in rules to prevent individuals from gaining enough power to rival the government.

[ Parent ]
No... (3.60 / 5) (#67)
by Sikpup on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 03:22:55 AM EST

"I've seen the facts. I've seen evidence that suggests that Japan was in the midst of talks of surrender and that the only reason we dropped the bomb was to show Stalin what we had."

Japan's own Generals admitted shortly after the war the second bomb cause the surrender. Many beleived it was a one shot deal, not something that could be replicated.

I don't have the reference handy - buried in my old texts somewhere.




[ Parent ]
not quite (5.00 / 2) (#165)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sun Jul 01, 2001 at 01:58:06 PM EST

Japan's own Generals admitted shortly after the war the second bomb cause the surrender.

You mean the unconditional surrender. Japan was looking to surrender conditionally; they wanted to keep their emperor.

--em
[ Parent ]

you weren't there (3.50 / 6) (#93)
by orthox on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 10:22:40 AM EST

kid, stop talking about something you know nothing about. you were definitely not around for the war. things were different then. armchair quarterback...

[ Parent ]
How am I any different than... (4.50 / 6) (#97)
by elenchos on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 12:55:27 PM EST

...those who think it is a fact that there were only two choices and the choice to bomb was made "to save lives?" Were they there too?

If I were parroting that old story, would you then say I was an armchair quarterback who doesn't reallize that "things were different then?" I don't think so. I think you are saying that because you don't like what I am saying and since you don't have a better argument, all you can say is that I have no right to any opinion at all.

By that reasoning, there are no lessons of history, because if I wasn't there then I am incapable of knowing what really happened, and any judgement I make about what happened is just armchair quarterbacking. Are you planning on modstorming to 1 every single post you see that makes a judgement about any historical event? Or is that reserved only for points of view that you disagree with?

Homeless people stand in line for Pablo Neruda.
In hospitals they feed cancer patients Carolyn Forche.
In churches there are giant wooden replic
[ Parent ]

more than 2 (4.00 / 4) (#104)
by orthox on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 01:35:28 PM EST

Of course there were more than two options, the two that are mentioned are the two that made it to the end of the evaluation process. The others were not even close alternatives when all the facts at the time were weighed. When you run off and condemn others for a decision that you probably only know _very_ little about, that makes you an armchair quarterback. Entire staffs of educated people analyzed the options using loads of information, 99% of which you ave never seen or would know what to do with if you had. You are not learning from history, you are condeming the past. There is a difference. BTW- whats modstorming?

[ Parent ]
Oh yes, I'm ignorant of an infininty of things. (4.16 / 6) (#110)
by elenchos on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 02:04:01 PM EST

As is everyone. And nothing pleases me more than to have some of my ignorance removed by a more knowledgable person.

Now in this instance, that would be where you come in and clue in a poor "kid" like me as to what it is that you know that I don't. That means data, not just the fallacy of Appeal to Authority shoved in my face as if it were supposed to change my mind.

And even if the decision was right because all those experts really did know what they were doing, that doesn't prove that the true reason for their decison was to save lives by avoiding an invasion. I'm trying to explain why they made that choice and the standard propaganda explanation does not account for all the facts. How educated the president's staff was does not change that. If anything, it only begs the question, since if they were so educated it means they should have know better.

Modstorming is giving posts you happen to disagree with a rating that is intended to be used for inane or noise comments, like mindless flames or redundant spam. Some of us were here having an interesting dialogue, and you came along with comment ratings that said that you don't want to see this dialogue here. At least, you don't want to see the half that you disagree with. If you don't want to read things that you disagree with, log out and stay home.

Homeless people stand in line for Pablo Neruda.
In hospitals they feed cancer patients Carolyn Forche.
In churches there are giant wooden replic
[ Parent ]

Re: And then what would have happened? (4.33 / 3) (#138)
by los on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 06:01:40 PM EST

They would have... made more bombs? Which is exactly what they did anyway. But it would have taken longer. So the correct justification along this line is that they nuked two cities to save time, not 800,000 lives.

You are arguing as if waiting for the war to end was like waiting for the bus. There would have been serious consequences to waiting for the war to end.

Many Japanese, civilians and military, would have died of starvation in the winter of 1945-6.

Maintaining US forces in the field against Japan would have been a drain of economic resources -- resources which were not, in the large, used to put caviar on American tables and televisions in American living rooms. Resources that were in fact used to rebuild war-torn Europe AND Japan, and to reduce both European and Japanese deaths from exposure and starvation in the winters of 45/46 and 46/47.

SInce you have been arguing as if you are sure that these consequences would have more humanitarian than dropping the bomb -- let's see your evidence.

---------

As for the projected consequences of a conditional surrender, I can't say as I really have much expertise there. But given what they had just been through, you can't blame them for wanting to be absolutely sure that it didn't happen again in another 20 years. And, as things turned out, they did have a pretty darned good plan for this.

But I don't know enough to know if that was part of why they rejected this option.

Lee

[ Parent ]

This is an excellent post and spot on (3.33 / 6) (#79)
by Afty on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 06:10:26 AM EST

Despite the claims of humanitarian and benevolent factors behind the US detonation of an atomic weapon without warning in a highly populated civilian area, there is a plain and simple fact to present:

The bomb was exploded to incite fear and terror in the Japanese population and leaders. In order to do this, tens of thousands of civilians were killed maimed and hurt, and many more suffered from thje effects of radiation passed down through generations.

Perhaps some of the factors in the decision were admirable ones, but at the end of the day it was still terrorism of the highest order. There were other options (hundreds) but none were taken. End of story.

[ Parent ]
Dr. Strangelove (4.00 / 3) (#37)
by marx on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 10:03:10 PM EST

elenchos makes good points in the parallel comment. However, I think if you have seen Dr. Strangelove, you will find your comment a bit funny. They have mistakenly launched some nukes, and are debating whether to start an all-out nuclear war, and the fanatic military, General Turgidson, says something like "If we nuke their launch sites first, we will destroy most of their missiles. Only 10-20 million Americans will die, tops."

When it comes to just playing with numbers, it's pretty easy to make a decision like this, but those who have to die may not agree with you. It is almost always the case that the planners basically face no risk at all as a consequence of their actions. They only face a risk if they lose the war, which I think can explain quite a lot.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

True (4.70 / 10) (#38)
by trhurler on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 10:22:54 PM EST

Believe me, I'm no advocate of war as a means of solving problems. However, as long as there is war, I have two primary considerations regarding it. First, I'd rather not be on the side instigating it, and second, I'd rather not lose.

That's something people seem to neglect; once you're fighting a war, people are going to die. Innocent, guilty, right or wrong, they're going to die, and in large numbers. This is why I do not advocate war. However, if you find yourself in a war through no fault of your own, I do not believe that you can, in the end, be blamed for winning it, or for doing everything you can to avoid more wars. Japan had an easy way of not being nuked - they could have chosen not to go to war with the US.

(Yes, I know, their citizens didn't make that call. Again, this is why war is bad. You cannot win one by any means which can remotely be characterized as ethical; if you intend to win, you must do things which are horrible. If you refuse to do so, you will lose, and then things will be done to you which are horrible. There's really no nice way out, except to not have wars in the first place.)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Commonly-cited figure off a bit... (5.00 / 1) (#96)
by ubu on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 12:54:40 PM EST

In this case, we saved something like 800,000 Japanese lives and probably half a million US that would have been lost in an invasion. It is today debated whether such an invasion would have been necessary, but at the time, it was considered essential, and you can hardly judge peoples' actions without taking into account what they did and did not know.

From the Web:

"In June and July 1945, Joint Chiefs of Staff committees predicted that between 20,000 and 46,000 Americans would die in the one or two invasions for which they had drawn contingency plans. While still in office, President Truman usually placed the number at about a quarter of a million, but by 1955 had doubled it to half a million. Winston Churchill said the attacks had spared well over 1.2 million Allies.

"Barton Bernstein, 'The Myth of Lives Saved by A-bombs,' Los Angeles Times, July 28, 1985, IV, p.1

"Barton Bernstein, 'Stimson, Conant, and Their Allies Explain the Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb,' Diplomatic History, Winter 1993, p.48."

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
Further (5.00 / 2) (#98)
by ubu on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 01:01:45 PM EST

From another source:

"The idea that the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved millions of American lives that otherwise would have been lost in an invasion of Japan is 'a popular myth,' according to Alperovitz. Veterans believe their lives were saved 'because they were told that,' he said in a documentary for CBC Prime Time News aired in January of this year. In fact, we now know that as early as the spring of 1945 Truman was aware of the desire of the Japanese emperor to sue for peace (as recorded in a diary entry) and of Stalin's intention to declare war on Japan in August. According to Admiral William D. Leahy, the highest ranking military official in the U.S. at the time as chief of staff to the president, 'The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender.... The use of this barbarous weapon was of no material assistance in our war against Japan.'

"This was also the opinion of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme commander of the allied forces in Europe: 'I was against it on two counts. First, the Japanese were ready to surrender, and it wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing. Second, I hated to see our country be the first to use such a weapon.'"

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
Slanted Evidence #2 (4.00 / 2) (#151)
by los on Sat Jun 30, 2001 at 11:43:25 AM EST

In fact, we now know that as early as the spring of 1945 Truman was aware of the desire of the Japanese emperor to sue for peace (as recorded in a diary entry) and of Stalin's intention to declare war on Japan in August. According to Admiral William D. Leahy, the highest ranking military official in the U.S. at the time as chief of staff to the president, 'The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender.... The use of this barbarous weapon was of no material assistance in our war against Japan.'

Of course, this ever-so-neatly ignores the fact that the Emporer didn't want to go to war in the first place, but the militants had their way. Ever since the mid-1930s, the militants had their way. Anyone who stood in their way was assassinated by nationalist "martyrs" who would receive a slap on the wrist -- for crimes up to and including the assassination of the Prime Minister! Even if the peaceniks in Japan were ready to surrender, the nationalists weren't...even AFTER the bombs. They actually attempted to sieze the government radio station in order to prevent the surrender. This, of course, is conveniently ignored by Alperovitz & Co.

Alperovitz is also notorious for his double standard. He rightly calls Truman to task for Truman's statements in the 50's that might not match the events of 1945. But others' 1950s statements that support Alperovitz's thesis are curiously swallowed hook, line, and sinker. See this.

Lee

[ Parent ]

Slanted Evidence #1 (5.00 / 1) (#150)
by los on Sat Jun 30, 2001 at 11:29:43 AM EST

Yes, it's true that the original (June) estimates for casualties invading Kyushu were not so high...but as the Japanese continued to reinforce the island, the estimates were revised upward. Of course, MacArthur did his best to suppress the new estimates -- because he desperately wanted to command an invasion of Japan. He'd get an ego boost, even if lots of people died.

Of course, this is only for the invasion of Kyushu, ignoring casualties for the rest of Japan. See this, especially the section "The Argument for Staying the Course"

Of course, this was only the invasion of Kyushu. The rest of Japan wasn't going to be a cakewalk, either.

Lee

[ Parent ]

Hiroshima and Nagasaki weren't that simple (3.62 / 8) (#46)
by jreilly on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 11:37:47 PM EST

Ok, here's my view on the use of the A-bomb on Japan.
At the end of WWII, there were essentially two options for forcing Japan to surrender. The first was a plan developed by McArthur, who had no knowledge of the A-bomb. This plan was a full-scale invasion of Japan that was like D-Day on crack. There were projections of over a million American casualties, and several times that on the Japanese side. Why so many? Because the Japanese had already shown that they didn't know when to quit. Not only were untrained pilots who were practically children being strapped into kamikaze aircraft, Japanese soldiers routinely killed themselves rather than be captured. US military planners had every reason to expect significant portions of Japan's civilian society to resist a US invasion, and lose their lives in the process.
Enter option two. The A-bomb. Zero American casualties. Comparatively few Japanese casualties. I don't see how there could be any question as to how the US should have ended the war. Any method of doing it was likely to result in civilian casualties, and it was strongly believed that a full-scale invasion would have caused more damage to Japan than the usage of atomic weapons.
As to the question, "is the US a freedom fighter or a terrorist?", may I remind you that the Japanese attacked first. They started a war, and the US returned the world to a peaceful state.

Oooh, shiny...
[ Parent ]
Huh? (4.50 / 4) (#82)
by amanset on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 07:41:59 AM EST

may I remind you that the Japanese attacked first. They started a war, and the US returned the world to a peaceful state.

Dear oh dear oh dear oh dear.

The war had been going on for a long time. Many nations got drawn in during the two years before Pearl 'Harbor'.

Which reminds me. The European trailer for that film contains a quote from someone I do not recognise, "How much longer can the United States pretend that the world is not at war". Is this included in the US trailer? You see, that statement sums up my feelings about the US and WW2. The US seems to believe that WW2 started when they joined in. I remember having a "discussion" with someone at the other place about how the bombing of Dresden was overkill in response to Pearl 'Harbor'. He seemed to have forgotten about all the other bombing that was going on.

Repeat after me. "The War did not start in 1941". The first declaration of war on Germany was made by France, Britain, New Zealand and Australia. Thus, it was never a European war. From the very beginning multiple continents were involved.

Also, the US didn't return the world to a peaceful state. If taken literally then I suppose you could say it did, but this flamebait of the first degree. Yet another example of the US thinking that the other countries were just "also rans".

[ Parent ]

Japan and WW2 (3.20 / 5) (#85)
by Merk00 on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 08:13:47 AM EST

It's important to view the Pacific and European theaters of war as separate wars. Because for the most part they were. The Japanese did act aggresively. They did attack the US, Britain, Australia, Belgium, and China among others. None of these countries attacked Japan. The Japanese claim that cutting off sales of scrap metal to Japan was just cause to start a war is complete rubbish. It's also important to remember that Japan had invaded Manchuria and had been fighting China for many years prior to the "beginning" of WWII. Japan started an aggressive war and they got what they deserved. You don't start an agressive war without taking risks, and Japan lost.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

They were not separate. (5.00 / 1) (#198)
by misterluke on Fri Jul 06, 2001 at 04:38:37 PM EST

At least not after Pearl Harbor ( American spelling for an American place - I'm ever so sensitive ). That brought it all together. The USA was brought in to the war and with the Japanese dealing with the Americans, the Soviets were free to send their Siberian troops to reinforce the German front. I think the idea was for Japan to keep the USA occupied long enough for Germany to win the war in Europe, after which things would have become quite different.

I'm still not entirely sure whether or not the USA let Pearl Harbor happen, but it looks to me like they were aware of it, and decided they could turn it to their advantage. Provided, of course, their aircraft carriers were out to sea at the time.

[ Parent ]
Double Huh (5.00 / 1) (#156)
by IntlHarvester on Sat Jun 30, 2001 at 09:43:37 PM EST

War didn't start in 1939 either. Japan invaded China in 1937.

And that quote was in US trailer for Pearl Harbor. Although I think you are drawing the wrong conclusion -- The US population at the time was fully aware of problems abroad, and for the most part wanted nothing to do with them.

[ Parent ]
False (5.00 / 1) (#164)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sun Jul 01, 2001 at 01:47:35 PM EST

There were projections of over a million American casualties, and several times that on the Japanese side.Why so many? Because the Japanese had already shown that they didn't know when to quit. Not only were untrained pilots who were practically children being strapped into kamikaze aircraft, Japanese soldiers routinely killed themselves rather than be captured. US military planners had every reason to expect significant portions of Japan's civilian society to resist a US invasion, and lose their lives in the process.

You should read some serious historical works about WWII and not apologetics. At the time the US decided to drop the bomb, their casualty projections for US soldiers were around 45,000, not a million. Also, US intelligence already had found out that the Japanese wanted to surrender-- but were seeking assurances that their emperor (a symbolic figure) would remain in power.

The "one million US casualties" "theory" was only given later as a (false) justification for the bombing.

The most likely reason the bomb was dropped was to send a message to the USSR.

--em
[ Parent ]

And keep them out of any invasion. (5.00 / 1) (#199)
by misterluke on Fri Jul 06, 2001 at 04:48:02 PM EST

Could you imagine a North and South Japan as well as an East and West Germany? Shudder. The Soviet/Chinese alliance might even have lasted with that element factored in.

Ah well, enough armchair historical speculation.

[ Parent ]
But why did they start the war (5.00 / 1) (#180)
by fitsy on Tue Jul 03, 2001 at 07:37:54 PM EST

because Europe and the US were colonising the far east, the Japs couldn't stand that.

[ Parent ]
Hiroshima and Nagasaki (3.75 / 4) (#84)
by Merk00 on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 08:08:42 AM EST

Hiroshima and Nagasaki WERE military targets. At least at Hiroshima, the atomic bomb was sited at a strategic bridge. The bombings weren't designed to simply terrorize the Japanese. Both Hiroshima and Nagasaki were industrial centers which meant that they are defacto military targets (the same way any plant making guns is during war time).

It's also important to know that there was a list of cities to target and that both Hiroshima and Nagasaki were on that list. It was just that the bombers had not reached that point on the list yet. Compared to the beginning of the war, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not the biggest military tartgets, but at the time, they were because most of the other larger targets had already been hit repeatedly. Bomber Command was starting to run out of things to target. That's why Hiroshima and Nagasaki got the bomb.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

Read the quote! (5.00 / 2) (#140)
by marx on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 06:58:52 PM EST

Look, did you read the quote, or more of the minutes?
A. It was agreed that psychological factors in the target selection were of great importance.

How can you come to the conclusion that the bombs were not meant to terrorize the Japanese from this? What other "psychological effects" do you think they are talking about?

Here is some more:

He has surveyed possible targets possessing the following qualification: (1) they be important targets in a large urban area of more than three miles in diameter, (2) they be capable of being damaged effectively by a blast, and (3) they are unlikely to be attacked by next August.

Why is it so important that it's an urban area do you think? What's so military about an urban area?

Here is a part about '"military" objectives':

A. It was agreed that for the initial use of the weapon any small and strictly military objective should be located in a much larger area subject to blast damage in order to avoid undue risks of the weapon being lost due to bad placing of the bomb.

It doesn't seem that pure military use was of a very high priority does it?

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Psychological Effects and Military Targets (5.00 / 1) (#154)
by Merk00 on Sat Jun 30, 2001 at 05:37:02 PM EST

There are other psychological effects besides terror. In all probability, the psychological effect referred to in the notes was that of demoralization. To show that the Japanese cannot win and that the US is nearly invicibly powerful. And that helped to end the war. It would be ridiculous to think that the Japanese surrendered because of the damage done by the bomb dropped on Hirsohima. They surrendered because of the potential damage done. But that does not detract from the fact that Hiroshima is a military target. From the minutes provided:
2) Hiroshima - This is an important army depot and port of embarkation in the middle of an urban industrial area
It's an important army depot, hence it is a military target. Nothing was listed about Nagasaki so I can't comment on it. Simply because there was also a psychological effect does not detract from the fact that they were both military targets. Attacks can have multiple purposes.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

Uh, dude ... (5.00 / 1) (#200)
by misterluke on Fri Jul 06, 2001 at 04:54:33 PM EST

Would you have been 'demoralized' if you'd seen a mile high, bright white fireball eat the middle of your city and 100,000 of its people for breakfast in the space of a couple of seconds? If you say yes, you're in denial or a liar. You'd have been shitting your pants just like me. Terror. The end.

[ Parent ]
You would think... (5.00 / 1) (#131)
by los on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 04:23:24 PM EST

that someone around here would have brought up that the Hiroshima bomb was dropped directly over a military complex.

Lee

[ Parent ]

Blast area (5.00 / 1) (#139)
by marx on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 06:49:16 PM EST

They probably knew that the blast area was a bit bigger than that though.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Backpedalling, I see (5.00 / 1) (#141)
by los on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 07:33:12 PM EST

Your original statement was:

Also, as far as I know, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not military targets at all.

Given how totally bogus this statement was, I thought it should be pointed out.

Lee

[ Parent ]

That was an error (5.00 / 1) (#157)
by marx on Sat Jun 30, 2001 at 09:47:11 PM EST

I put "as far as I know" because I was not sure. I don't think it's common knowledge that they had any military significance.

Look, ok, this is an argument, so you are right to point out little inaccuracies like this. But I think it's pathetic to claim that the aim was to blow up some depot or port or whatever. Only a psychopath would destroy a whole city and its population for a relatively insignificant thing like that. Ok if there was a doomsday device in the city, and the only possible way to save the earth was to blow up the city with it. But just to gain some small military advantage, it's just sick.

Timothy McVeigh was accused of killing children with his bomb. So what? I guess they were in the way of his strategic target. Why was he called insane and a coward, and the bombers of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are not?

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Hypocrisy of course (none / 0) (#190)
by deaddrunk on Thu Jul 05, 2001 at 07:00:30 AM EST

Because Americans killing foreign civilians is morally justified whereas Americans or foreigners killing Americans is an act of terrorist aggression. Not that the British are any better. The IRA killing 20 people is evil, but supporting Suharto and Pinochet who killed hundreds of thousands between them is good foreign policy.



[ Parent ]
well DUH (5.00 / 1) (#204)
by EriKZ on Sat Jul 07, 2001 at 11:43:10 AM EST


What kind of government do you know that advocates killing of it's populace by forigners?

[ Parent ]
Possible Answer. (none / 0) (#209)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Sun Jul 08, 2001 at 06:57:54 PM EST

The kind that doesn't last that long.



[ Parent ]

because it's so meaningful (5.00 / 1) (#193)
by mami on Thu Jul 05, 2001 at 10:31:48 PM EST

considering what kind of a bomb it was...

[ Parent ]
Terrorist vs. freedom fighter (5.00 / 1) (#125)
by K5er 16877 on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 03:53:10 PM EST

A freedom fighter is someone who fights for reform in their own country. It is motive. A terrorist is a person use utilizes terror to achieve a purpose. It is method. Two different concepts. I do not attach any moral qualities to a freedom fighter. I realize now that many people do. Many people have assumed that I somehow endorse bin Laden. That is not true. I apologize for using such an emotionally charged word.

Now, bin Laden is both a freedom fighter and a terrorist. He utilizes terror to achieve reform in Saudi Arabia. In writing this article, I assumed that he was a terrorist. I didn't even think it was worth going over. I thought it was obvious. I was trying to describe his motive. Americans see bin Laden as a crazed Islamic terrorist. In fact, he is a nationalistic terrorist acting against the US as a strategic move. Understanding this difference is, I believe, essential to dealing with bin Laden.

Dave

[ Parent ]

Osama Bin Laden: racist. (4.30 / 13) (#20)
by Apuleius on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 07:26:59 PM EST

Your view of Osama needs a little seasoning from the other side. Consider these issues:
1. The biggest problem Saudi militants have about US soldiers on Saudi soil is the predominant religion among these soldiers. 2. More significantly, the reason Osama has not shown the slightest regret over killing large numbers of Kenyans in Nairobi, in buildings next to the US embassy, is that they are 'abdees, that is, niggers.
This is hardly a man worthy of praise, even if he is fighting against the Saudi monarchy (ostensibly). You will also note that the Taliban's decision to shelter him has not stopped the Saudi monarchy from sending aid to them (since both the Taliban and the Saudis are Wahabbi Muslim.) You may want to be more skeptical about Osama's anti-Saudi fervor.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
Bin Laden advoctates genocide, not good government (3.00 / 11) (#21)
by LiberecoDeAmasoj on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 07:28:03 PM EST

"I believe Osama bin Laden is a freedom fighter, fighting against the corrupt Saudi regime."

This man has advocated on numerous occassions the systematic extermination of all men, women and children that won't convert to Islam. He has acted in his own way to achieve a little bit of that by helping Abu Sayef in the Philipines. There is also a reporter that investigated the OKC bombing and discovered that McVeigh was assisted by at least a dozen islamic terrorists with at least indirect connections to bin laden. McVeigh also received assistance from Abu Sayef. How much more do you need to see that he is not a man worthy of any respect?



hmmm.. (4.71 / 7) (#23)
by rebelcool on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 08:16:01 PM EST

ive never heard any reputable news source say that mcveigh had any middle eastern ties (except perhaps at federal prison...). Sources?

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

yeah (4.25 / 4) (#32)
by Delirium on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 09:30:13 PM EST

Yeah, the only contacts I've ever heard of between McVeigh and Arabs were when he was housed in the same unit as Yousef Ramzi (the World Trade Center bomber) in federal prison.

It seems pretty unlikely that he would've had any such contacts while actually planning the attack, since the militia culture he came from tends to be exclusively white, sometimes rather racistly so.

[ Parent ]

Source: fox news (5.00 / 1) (#159)
by LiberecoDeAmasoj on Sun Jul 01, 2001 at 12:29:44 AM EST

A reporter was interviewed by Bill O'Reilley and she told him that she found that out after doing an investigation. She said she tried to turn that data over to the FBI, but they turned her down.

[ Parent ]
Cite? (3.50 / 4) (#41)
by Nimey on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 10:50:24 PM EST

This man has advocated on numerous occassions the systematic extermination of all men, women and children that won't convert to Islam.
Cite?
--
Never mind, it was just the dog cumming -- jandev
You Sir, are an Ignorant Motherfucker. -- Crawford
I am arguably too manic to do that. -- Crawford
I already fuck my mother -- trane
Nimey is right -- Blastard
i am in complete agreement with Nimey -- i am a pretty big deal

[ Parent ]
As a Muslim... (4.60 / 23) (#22)
by Lai Lai Boy on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 07:58:01 PM EST

I am deeply offended by bin Laden being called a "Freedom Fighter" of any sort. While Islam preaches peace and tolerance, bin Laden creates terror throughout the world, not even for Islamic purposes (which would be hypocritical anyway), but for his own ends.

He has declared every U.S. citizen one of his targets, including U.S. Muslims, like myself. Killing fellow Muslims and innocent people (including women and children) is completely against the message of Islam.

As I have mentioned before on K5, bin Laden does not represent Muslims. Ninety-nine percent of us love tolerance. Many of us live in the U.S. But bin Laden's actions, coupled with a biased Western media make all Muslims seem like extremsists. I've spent my whole life battling perconcived notions of who I am because I'm Muslim; it begs the question, why does America want to take the image of a few thousand extremists, compared to the example of the vast majority of Islam?

If bin Laden was truly a freedom fighter, he would not attack innocent people. Is the U.S. partially responsible for the monster they created by playing the Middle East and funding bin Laden during the Cold War? Yes, but that doesn't excuse bin Laden's actions.

The author seems to think that bin Laden is going to the right place the wrong way. In perverting Islam, despite what dlacykusters thinks, the ends can not justify the means, under any circumstances.


[Posted from Mozilla Firebird]

Osama == entertainment (4.27 / 11) (#26)
by your_desired_username on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 08:22:16 PM EST

why does America want to take the image of a few thousand extremists?

Violence, Death, Madness, and Hate. All of these things command the American entertainment industry. Extremists like Osama bin Ladin are a vital part of the American entertainment industry. Most Americans have never met a Muslim, and know nothing about Islam, except what they 'learn' from their entertainment industry - which tells them that Osama bin Ladin commits his atrocities because of his Muslim beliefs.

[ Parent ]

To be fair: (4.50 / 4) (#31)
by elenchos on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 09:15:37 PM EST

Dlacykusters writes that,"Osama bin Laden has taken his nationalistic campaign global by exploiting Islam." This indicates pretty clearly that he does not think that bin Laden is a respectably religious man, but instead simply uses some Islamic extremeists as tools for "his own nationalistic cause." Thus he agrees with you that bin Laden is cynical about Islam. The question then is whether his "nationalism" is also a cynical facade used as a means to power, or if he really does represent the genuine aspirations of his region and country. One tends to think he does not.

Homeless people stand in line for Pablo Neruda.
In hospitals they feed cancer patients Carolyn Forche.
In churches there are giant wooden replic
[ Parent ]

For peaceful people.. (3.25 / 4) (#59)
by QuantumG on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 02:37:23 AM EST

You sure shoot a whole lot of gats at your neighbours. For tolerant people you dont appear to be too live and let live about jewish people. Or am I just a victim of propoganda?

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
For peaceful people... (5.00 / 2) (#176)
by Lizard on Tue Jul 03, 2001 at 05:38:49 PM EST

If those niggers like that King guy would just shut up and quit marching all the time we wouldn't have to beat them so often....

There's a lot of bad blood on both sides of the Isreal/Palistine issue. The real root of the problem is that there are two different groups in the area who each have very little respect for each other as human beings. In general the treatment of Arabs by Jews in Isreal is pretty similar to the treatment of blacks by whites in the south prior to the 1960s or so.
________________________
Just Because I Can!
[ Parent ]

For peaceful people (5.00 / 1) (#179)
by fitsy on Tue Jul 03, 2001 at 07:31:23 PM EST

You fail to add: Israel is supported financially by the US, and that makes a lot of people uncomfortable with the "US" and its motives.

[ Parent ]
It goes both ways. (none / 0) (#212)
by Apuleius on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 01:56:22 PM EST

The treatment of Jews by Arabs in Arab countries makes Israel's treatment of Arabs positively angelic by comparison. Syrian Jews were not allowed to leave their home towns for decades on end.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
You're right of course. (none / 0) (#213)
by Lizard on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 02:33:28 PM EST

Treatment of Jews by Arabs (and Russians and Germans and Spaniards and Americans....) has historically been awful. I have a deep sympathy for any persecuted people and I don't wish my comments to make it appear that I am indifferent to the plight of the Jewish people. What I do have objection to is Zionism. The Jewish people have no more instinsic right to control over Isreal/Palestine than Palestinians do. I believe that it is wrong for the US government to give such strong support to a government which is fundamentally racist and largely unwilling to live peacefully with their neighbors.

I also realise that there are a large number of US citizens who disagree with me quite strongly. If you watched the debates last fall between Bush and Gore this was quite apparent. Whenever a question regarding the Middle East was raised it was a race between the two canidates as to who could say the most nice things about Isreal the fastest. This kind of environment is not at all conducive to making objective decisions about what practices we are or are not willing to support.

That said, I would like to congratulate Mr. Clinton, Ms. Albright and Mr. Powell on the hard work that they have put forth toward gaining peaceful compromises in that region. I hope that the next year is more successful than the last year has been.
________________________
Just Because I Can!
[ Parent ]

Re: As a Muslim... (4.50 / 2) (#124)
by K5er 16877 on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 03:43:54 PM EST

When I said "freedom fighter", I was not implying any sort of morality onto bin Laden. I apologize if you took offense. The term freedom fighter implies that he is seeking reform in his own country. He happens to use terror as his means. I completely disagree with his means.

One of the main points of the article is that bin Laden's goal is purely nationalistic. It has nothing to do with Islam. bin Laden has abused Islam to garner support from extremists throughout the world. I don't believe bin Laden really cares about the situation of Muslims. The embassy bombs and his fatwa against even American Muslims proves this point. Islam is a red herring for bin Laden.

My last point is that bin Laden's use of Islam will backfire. Americans know almost nothing about Islam. bin Laden has made Muslim mean terrorist to many Americans. The end result of that will mean more American intervention in the Middle East, not less.

I feel for you as a Muslim in the United States. Few understand your religion and more and more people will start to equate you with terror. I pray that there isn't a violent backlash against Muslims in the US anytime soon.

Dave

[ Parent ]

Re: Re: (5.00 / 1) (#158)
by Lai Lai Boy on Sat Jun 30, 2001 at 11:54:11 PM EST

I see. The main point of confusion was that to me, and seemingly a few others replying to your story, was the connontation of a freedom fighter carries...usually good.

I agree that it will backfire; the U.S. has always supported Israel. bin Laden's actions only serve to keep that support alive.

I thank you deeply for your sympathy, though it's honestly not as bad as you would think. Many people I have met maybe uninformed (many are not, though) but are open minded. It may be the caliber of people that i socialize with or because I'm a highschool student (my peers seem to be less jaded than adults). There are idiots, but I seem to be lucky. My world history and English teachers invited my father to talk about Islam to my students. I hope in my own way, I can do some part to seperate the image of a terrorist from the Muslim.

[Posted from Mozilla Firebird]
[ Parent ]

How America Perceives Muslims (4.50 / 2) (#162)
by plara31480 on Sun Jul 01, 2001 at 09:13:37 AM EST

If you are referring to America as a democratic group of people who views Muslims a certain way your wrong. If you are referring to the media that has to look for sensational stories in order to boost ratings, sell newspapers etc. you are correct. And thats what sells information, I would rather live and die in that country, than in one where information is controlled.

[ Parent ]
Free info in the west (3.33 / 3) (#189)
by deaddrunk on Thu Jul 05, 2001 at 06:51:29 AM EST

Information not controlled in the West? Pull the other one. Just because it isn't the government doing the controlling doesn't mean that you get the truth from the media, merely mainly status-quo supporting propaganda. There are honourable exceptions, Private Eye over here in the UK being one of them.



[ Parent ]
Controlled information (none / 0) (#221)
by vectro on Mon Jul 16, 2001 at 01:48:33 AM EST

There is nonetheless an important distinction. It may be the case that most people get their information from the corporate media, but that dosen't mean that other media are persecuted. Witness kuro5hin - Lots of people use it as a source of news, and it is decidedly independent.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]
Speaking from a purely American staindpoint... (3.60 / 10) (#29)
by fluxrad on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 09:07:04 PM EST

Bin Laden is a terrorist. It's all very cute to say that Osama Bin Laden is a freedom fighter, and that he is trying to achieve the right thing in the wrong way. But here's a thought: how the fuck does that make him different from any other terrorist group? Look at the IRA and you have the same damned thing. freedom fighters doing the wrong thing for the right reasons.

As far as I'm concerned, Bin Laden's islamic belief has absolutely nothing to do with anything. I've had the privilege of knowing a number of muslims in my life. The vast majority of them are more peaceful than any other religious group I've met. Of course, that doesn't make them any less idiotic in my own mind for believing in god...but that's another rant for another time.

Plain and simple: Osama Bin Laden is a terrorist, no matter what he's fighting for. And his belief in god appears to serve no purpose but to pursuade others to do his bidding. (I always find it amusing that the ones who so fervently believe in god are among the first to break his laws). Overthrowing any government is difficult. But bombing the world trade center to try to overthrow the Saudi government means this guy's either insane, or a moron. (I'll go with all of the above)

--
"It is seldom liberty of any kind that is lost all at once."
-David Hume
Two orthangol conepts (5.00 / 2) (#122)
by K5er 16877 on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 03:34:16 PM EST

Terrorist and freedom fighter are completely different concepts. Terrorist describes method. Freedom fighter describes motive. Freedom fighter does not imply morality. Osama bin Laden is both. Your statement "Osama bin Laden is a terrorist, no matter what he's fighting for" is absolutely correct. Calling someone a terrorist does not imply motive.

I didn't intend to imply that bin Laden is a good person. My goal was to show Osama bin Laden's motives. Only by knowing his motives can you really react properly.

"Bin Laden's islamic belief has absolutely nothing to do with anything." I mostly agree. bin Laden's war is not a religious one. He has abused Islam to suit his own, nationalist goals. That was the point of the whole article. The only reason it matters is that many Muslims throughout the world are upset at the United States. bin Laden capitalized on this emotion and abused it to suit his purpose.

Dave

[ Parent ]

Republicans are a minority (5.00 / 1) (#142)
by rehan on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 08:33:56 PM EST

I don't think that the IRA are doing things for the right reasons. The majority of people in Northern Ireland want to remain part of the UK. Republicans are a minority.

Stay Frosty and Alert


[ Parent ]
yes (5.00 / 1) (#146)
by fluxrad on Sat Jun 30, 2001 at 02:48:23 AM EST

and when the american (r)evolution took place, only 1/3rd of the population of the colonies actually wanted to seceed from brittain.

that being said - i think it's ridiculous to have two different countries on an island the size of ireland.

--
"It is seldom liberty of any kind that is lost all at once."
-David Hume
[ Parent ]
How big an island do you want? (4.50 / 2) (#170)
by bil on Mon Jul 02, 2001 at 08:52:01 AM EST

i think it's ridiculous to have two different countries on an island the size of ireland.

I've never understood this logic, I mean what size island IS big enough to have two countries on it? 200 miles long? 400 miles? 1000 miles? Below what point do you say "You are all one country, and if you hate each others guts, well that'll teach you to be born on a small island!"

Surely the geographical size of an island is far less important then the fact that the population of the island want it to be one country, if they dont then why the F**K should they be forced together merely because people elsewhere in the world look at a map and go "ooooh look thats a small island isn't it!!"

Sorry, I just dont get the logic.

bil


bil
Where you stand depends on where you sit...
[ Parent ]

Speaking from a purely anti-american standpoint... (none / 0) (#210)
by ckotso on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 10:45:21 AM EST

Overthrowing any government is difficult. But bombing the world trade center to try to overthrow the Saudi government means this guy's either insane, or a moron. (I'll go with all of the above)

Overthrowing any government is difficult. But bombing [Serbia,Iraq,you-name-it] to overthrow the corresponding government means the US president is either insane, or a moron (or plain mass-murderer). Hard to tell the difference between terrorism and ``American values'', huh?

--
Yes, I *am* biased against the US; stop bitching about it, and start thinking why it is so.


[ Parent ]

The Wrong Thing For The Wrong Reason (3.00 / 1) (#220)
by phliar on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 02:10:44 AM EST

It's all very cute to say that Osama Bin Laden is a freedom fighter, and that he is trying to achieve the right thing in the wrong way.
So where does that put us, doing the wrong things (killing civilians) for the wrong reasons (to safeguard our economic interests and wasteful lifestyle)?

Before thou cast a stone at the mote in the eye of yonder bad guy, take a look at the beam in thine own. Or whatever that dude said.

People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid.
--- Soren Aabye Kierkegaard (1813-1855)
Indeed!


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Huggable terrorists? (3.80 / 10) (#35)
by DoomGerbil on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 09:45:46 PM EST

Terrorism is terrorism. Does it really matter what his purpose is? When you start gunning for civilians, you've stepped over the line between war and dementia. There's no excuse for deliberately killing unarmed people, and I don't care what their government feels about this or that issue. Bin Laden is a terrorist. He is a threat to the peace and security of the world, and there is no justification for that. People should not be afraid to travel abroad, or work a government job. You people seem so eager to think outside of the box that you have forgotten this man murders innocents. Why? His religious beliefs? Because he hates his government? Would you support any religious beliefs? How about ancient Aztec human sacrifice? KIlling US Civilians doesn't seem to have brought about many changes in the Saudi governement. What reasons do you have to justify writing an article in support of a terrorist? Are you so desperate to be different that you'll get behind anyone unpopular?

If some of you are so into achieving an ideal at any cost, even if that involves the slaughter of a type of people, simply because of their religion, race, or nationality, maybe you should do some research on Naziism.

If it was your country? (4.50 / 4) (#57)
by QuantumG on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 02:16:53 AM EST

Back in the 70's the US Government seriously fucked with politics in Australia. The CIA infiltrated trade unions and bribed the governer general. That pissed a lot of people off. Now imagine how people in Saudi feel. So it is your opinion that the citizens of a country who have duely elected this government are in no way responsible? You feel that people who work for that government and make these things possible are not responsible? The topic of this article is simple, USians dont care what their government does over seas, so much so that they are ignorant, well terrorists make them care.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
movie ref (4.00 / 2) (#65)
by Sikpup on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 03:18:49 AM EST

"The Falcon and the Snowman" was based on the fallout from this.
-

[ Parent ]
Terrorism? (4.00 / 4) (#61)
by J'raxis on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 02:54:31 AM EST

Does it really matter what his purpose is? When you start gunning for civilians, you've stepped over the line between war and dementia.
Name one war where the United States or its allies did not attack civilians. Here are just a few examples of major wars that I found:

-- The Raxis

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]
[ Parent ]

So then (4.75 / 4) (#78)
by Afty on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 06:00:38 AM EST

During the second world war, the French Resistance which did such a good job of assasinating Nazi leaders, and completing hit and run raids on vital resources both civilian and military was 'demented'?

Bin Laden is a terrorist. He is a threat to the peace and security of the world

Usama Bin Laden is a far, far smaller threat to the peace and security of the world at large than any one of a number of US military initiatives being put into action currently like Star Wars, and the NMDS - the latter of which makes my country a first-strike target for any power wishihng to attack the US, without providing us with any of the beenfits of the system.

If some of you are so into achieving an ideal at any cost, even if that involves the slaughter of a type of people, simply because of their religion, race, or nationality, maybe you should do some research on Naziism.

While this has a cutting edge, the 'goal' of nazism was to eradicate non-aryan populations, the goal of Bin Laden is not to eradicate them, this is merely a means to an end. I'm invoking Godwins Law on this one because it's such a poor comparison.

[ Parent ]
Wow... reading between the lines (5.00 / 2) (#114)
by K5er 16877 on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 02:41:05 PM EST

I do not support Osama bin Laden. My main purpose in the article was to outline bin Laden's goals. I am not "behind him". A terrorist acts with purpose. Americans do not know his purpose. I believe Osama's goal is purely nationalistic.

The average American seems bin Laden as a crazed Islamic terrorist. While he is Muslim and he is a terrorist, he is not an Islamic terrorist. His goal is not a religious one. He wants the removal of the Saudi government. Islam is a red herring to gain internation support. The quicker Americans realize this, the quicker we can come to dealing with the real bin Laden.

I think that you misinterpreted the article. I apologize if I gave you the impression that I support Osama bin Laden.

Dave

[ Parent ]

Terrorism is Terrorism (none / 0) (#219)
by phliar on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 02:02:19 AM EST

Terrorism is terrorism. ... When you start gunning for civilians, you've stepped over the line between war and dementia.
Does this apply to us? What about the civilians killed by US military actions?
KIlling US Civilians doesn't seem to have brought about many changes in the Saudi governement.
Somehow we humans seem to just not be able to learn this. (I don't just mean US civilians or the Saudi government.) Killing Iraqi civilians certainly didn't bring democracy to Kuwait. And South Africa got democracy in spite of, not because of, violence.
You people seem so eager to think outside of the box that you have forgotten this man murders innocents. Why? His religious beliefs? ... Would you support any religious beliefs?
Words like "murder" and "innocents" are loaded. I might accuse Spurious George Dubya Bush of the murder of innocents - and here "innocents" used in its specific legal sense - while he was Governor of Texas. For isn't someone who has the power to stop a great crime but refuses to do so at least partly responsible for that crime?

Speaking for myself, I neither support nor condemn any religious beliefs. I myself don't have any.


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Hrmph. (4.62 / 8) (#48)
by Kasreyn on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 11:41:13 PM EST

While it's interesting to learn some more about the man, and it's true that the U.S. is known worldwide as an arrogant, heavy-handed meddler, this does not mean Bin Laden deserves praise for anything he has done.

When you advocate the killing of the evil and corrupt, you might be doing it out of good motives, but it's still not the best way to do things. You might be called a freedom fighter, but you'll also likely become a monster before you're through.

But when you advocate the killing of complete innocents, you are ALREADY a monster. When you spur a group of frustrated, angry people into taking their anger out on others, you are partially responsible for everything they do. I agree with almost everyone else replying to this post: Bin Laden might have some twisted notion that he's doing the right thing, but it's only because he might think the welfare and lives of Saudis is worth more than the welfare and lives of innocent US citizens who have nothing to do with some of our government's more despicable abuses of the Middle East.

Personally, I think the US should give it up and withdraw all our troops from the middle east. It's time to drop the issue. We've meddled long enough, and NO one - not the Palestinians or Muslims, or really even the Israelis, want us around over there anymore. We are the quintessential visitor who has long overstayed his welcome but is too drunk or stupid to go home. This, however, would not give the host an excuse to blow the guest's head off with a shotgun, no matter how pettishly annoyed he might be. Compare to Bin Laden.

The only right thing to do is pull out of the middle east, and watch the terrorist attacks just fade away like a bad dream (at least the Islamic terrorist attacks...)


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
A few corrections (3.83 / 6) (#76)
by Afty on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 05:56:38 AM EST

Bin Laden might have some twisted notion that he's doing the right thing, but it's only because he might think the welfare and lives of Saudis is worth more than the welfare and lives of innocent US citizens who have nothing to do with some of our government's more despicable abuses of the Middle East.

Two things :
1] Bin Laden is Saudi. To him the welfare of innocent Saudis is more important than the welfare of 'innocent' (we`ll get to this in a moment) USians.
2] Where on earth do you get 'innocent US citizens' from? The US citizenry is responsible for voting in and maintaining the power of the current regime. responsible. This means that Bin Laden sees the 'average' US citizen as someone who endorses the corrupt and greedy government and military machine - and he is correct The vast majority of the US citizenry are happy to sit back, enjoy their SUVs, big houses and cheap gas prices and ignore the suffering and corruption they cause to others in order to obtain their high quality of life. To me, this is amoral - but it's also a fact of life. If the majority of the US citizenry were moral, upstanding people they would voice their opinions and something would be done to change it, the fact remains that the people willing to do this are in a tiny minority, which means that if a muslim kills an american, there's a good chance their killing someone who they despise.

Do I disagree with these killings? Hard to say really.



[ Parent ]
The US Leaving Saudi Arabia (2.25 / 4) (#83)
by Merk00 on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 07:59:03 AM EST

You'd think that if Saudi Arabia wanted the US Troops to leave, they'd ask for it. But they haven't. Have there been protests in Saudi Arabia calling for the US to go home? No. So what it comes down to is the fact that a small group of extremists wants the US troops to leave. So based on that small group the US should leave?

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

Protests? (4.50 / 2) (#149)
by Afty on Sat Jun 30, 2001 at 08:25:56 AM EST

Are you joking?
While many western countries hand their citizens the right to peacefully protest, I don't believe that is the case in Saudi Arabia. It is an incredibly tight and controlling ruling regime, and dissenting voices tend to be silenced quickly. The legal system is corrupt, and completely biassed against anyone who offends it or the government. There is no sense of 'due process' in Saudi that exists in states like the US and UK.

Were there any protests by the German people against Hitlers persecution of the Jews? I've never heard of one. Did the majority of the population support the persecution? A very debatable point, but I believe not.
I assume, from your comments, that you live in a 'free' country where you are free to voice your opinions and protests, never forget this is not the case for most of the rest of the world.

[ Parent ]
Protests (5.00 / 1) (#153)
by Merk00 on Sat Jun 30, 2001 at 05:26:30 PM EST

Protests happen even when they're illegal. If something is THAT important to the people, they will protest. A good example of this is Tianeman Square. They weren't allowed to protest but did anyway. A right to protest is not needed for actual protests to occur. But I know of zero protests in Saudi Arabia. Because frankly I don't think the Saudi people mind US troops there. An extremist minority does. The majority does not. And as far as the persecution of the Jews goes, most Germans didn't particularly care. It wasn't that they supported the Holocaust, more that they were apathetic.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

Tiannemen Square (5.00 / 1) (#168)
by Afty on Mon Jul 02, 2001 at 05:34:05 AM EST

The student/academia culture in China appears to me to be more enlightened, and free to protest than the general populace in Saudi. Add to that the fact that you have predefined social groups in academia, particularly populated with those of a revolutionary/idealistic nature, and you have a good mix for organising a protest.

In addition - can we also consider how many young men and women were crushed under the tracks of tanks, and left on the ground in a mangled mess to die horribly over the next few minutes / hours. I personally hope that another Tiannemen Square never happens, but I sincerely doubt I will live out my life without seeing further massacres of people protesting for freedom.

[ Parent ]
<shakes his head in amazement...> (4.00 / 5) (#86)
by Kasreyn on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 08:28:25 AM EST

Do you think *ALL* U.S. citizens are that apathetic and stupid? It's true that corporations have a stranglehold on our government. We're certainly doing a better job than most MIDDLE EASTERN countries, most of which are currently ruled by tinpot dictators. Let he who is without sin throw the first stone, heh?

And what makes you think that some muslim fanatic, who's been driven berserk by Bin Laden's frothing anti-US sentiment, do you think the man with the bomb strapped to his chest will stop and ask the people he's about to kill whether they voted in favor of oppressing the Middle East?

Let me clue you in: There WAS no vote on whether to oppress the Middle East!! Nope, no vote at all. All we can do is vote out of office politicians who do things we don't like. We can also try to avoid voting such politicians in, but that's a bit harder since they're all liars. I personally voted against Bush, which was a vote against corporate and oil interests further strangling our democracy. However, to a muslim fanatic, he sees me as nothing but an infidel worthy of death.

I don't even want to get started on the oppressions carried out by muslims. Ever hear of the Taliban? Religion can be a good thing when it's practised as a spiritual guide to life. But invariably people try to use it to force others to conform to their own way of life. From this, many evils flow. And the muslims' hands are only slightly less covered in blood than the christians'.

There are no grounds to stick up for Bin Laden on this basis. Anyone who will kill others based on a GENERALIZATION, a *prejudice*, is a monster. Or, to put it more clearly: If you are killing someone you have never met before, and you feel there is a 99 out of 100 chance that he is your enemy, you have no right to kill that person. The 1% chance they are innocent means that you MUST desist. If it were .1%, it would be too much. Or .01%. Ever hear the term, "shadow of a doubt"? Well, fanatics don't operate on such cautious grounds, because they have religion to appease their conscience for what they do.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Points (4.25 / 4) (#148)
by Afty on Sat Jun 30, 2001 at 08:22:04 AM EST

Do you think *ALL* U.S. citizens are that apathetic and stupid?

No, just the majority.

And what makes you think that some muslim fanatic, who's been driven berserk by Bin Laden's frothing anti-US sentiment, do you think the man with the bomb strapped to his chest will stop and ask the people he's about to kill whether they voted in favor of oppressing the Middle East?

Life is never full of absolutes, but assuming the majority of Americans were apathetic as to their vote, or voted for one of the corrupt regimes currently attempting to wrestle control, then the chances of the dead Americans being the kind of Americans Bin Laden wants dead are pretty high. Just like when US planes went after targets in Bosnia-Herzegovina, for the most part they hit targets they intended to, but occasionally they wiped out a civilian house, or carpet bombed a convoy of refugees fleeing the fighting. Do not for a minute believe the US Government controlled forces are any less ruthless than Bin Laden - they just have the financial means to achieve many of their objectives in more surruptitious ways, and when they can't they usually have enough money and influence to cover up what they did wrong, at least from their own populace.

We can also try to avoid voting such politicians in, but that's a bit harder since they're all liars.

Then stand yourself, or convince moral people to stand. Sitting back and doing nothing because you don't believe you have enough money or inflluence to get voted in is another in absentia vote of confidence in the kind of person who is currently standing. No-one said you were innocent if you didn't try - equally I am not condemning you as guilty for not trying, you must decide for yourself. Bin Laden has decided for himself, and that is his right.

I don't even want to get started on the oppressions carried out by muslims. Ever hear of the Taliban?

Yes, I know all about the Taliban - I'm also aware that the US were one of the major factions involved in bringing the Taliban to power.

There are no grounds to stick up for Bin Laden on this basis. Anyone who will kill others based on a GENERALIZATION, a *prejudice*, is a monster. Or, to put it more clearly: If you are killing someone you have never met before, and you feel there is a 99 out of 100 chance that he is your enemy, you have no right to kill that person. The 1% chance they are innocent means that you MUST desist. If it were .1%, it would be too much. Or .01%. Ever hear the term, "shadow of a doubt"? Well, fanatics don't operate on such cautious grounds, because they have religion to appease their conscience for what they do.

Just like most other major armed forces of the world, the US army during a combat scenario does not use the 'fire only in retaliation' rule - during a war you fire if you feel that the results of the action will bring you a greater standing than you had before the action. Bin Laden has declared war on the US. He has not the resources to win an outright war of invasion upon US soil (as no nation on the earth does) so he fights his war covertly. Somewhat like the CIA and NSA. In fact, identically to the CIA and NSA.

Do I believe Bin Laden ideals are 'right' or just? - I don't know
Do I believe that his methods are right or wrong? - I don't know
Do I admire the man? - Yes
Do I believe the US is innocent of war crimes, and oppression of other nation states? - No


[ Parent ]
Innocent Blood. (5.00 / 2) (#155)
by CheSera on Sat Jun 30, 2001 at 06:06:58 PM EST

Admire Bin Laden. Huh. Never thought of that. Kind of like admiring Timothy McVeigh. Sure the US gov is corrupt. Of course we've done nasty bloody things. So has pretty much every single goverment since 3 guys got together and decided to beat another guy's head in with a bone. Hell, the US has pretty much admitted to its soldiers killing whole villages full of women and children in Vietnam. You know what? Its still wrong to blow up a building full of people you don't know. Nothing, Nothing, is proper justification for blind violence. And as to blaming the whole of the US population for the crimes of its government is just a tad absurd. Might as well give the US carte blanch to bomb every single arab country into the stone age for the deaths of those killed by Bin Laden. Hell, one guy ordered it, so they're all in on it, right?


============
**TATDOMAW**
============

[ Parent ]
Going in the deep end.. (5.00 / 3) (#167)
by Afty on Mon Jul 02, 2001 at 05:29:54 AM EST

I may admire him, I did not say I thought he was 'right'

As for your going off the deep end re: assuming all arabs are responsible for Bin Ladens actions - you are just proving that you have not read or considered my post correctly.

Might as well give the US carte blanch to bomb every single arab country into the stone age for the deaths of those killed by Bin Laden. Hell, one guy ordered it, so they're all in on it, right?

Not exactly. Bin Laden is not a democratically elected body, and those people in arab countries are not represented by a single, unified political body. Almost NONE of those 'arabs' has any control whatsoever over Bin Laden or the people he associates with. Even if they wanted to do something, they could not.
On the other hand, every American of voting age is responsible for the institution that is voted in every x years, they are responsible for not standing up and preventing the election of corrupt ministers. They are responsible for not taking any action to prevent the abuses their country perpetrates on other smaller, less powerful countries.

[ Parent ]
Foolish Choices (none / 0) (#225)
by cassandra on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 01:14:27 AM EST

I am an American : 1. I worked throughout my highschool years with Alliance for Survival, an anti-nuclear group advocating disarmament and alternative energy sources. 2. In college I put considerable effort into grassroots movement for divestment in South Africa's apartheid government. 3. I wore a band of mourning on my college graduation gown in memory of the students so recently slaughtered in Tiananmen square and I still won't but anything from that country if I can determine an items place of manufacture. 4. I organized a neighborhood peace protest to register disagreement with Bush Sr.'s decision to invade Iraq, and made sure there was a group there registering like-minded voters. 5. I became a Union shop steward at my grocery store job and used my position to educate people about social justice and enlighten them to their kinship with people around the world. 6. I vote and further more I walk the streets on election day pounding on doors and leaving reminder notes so that others will vote. 7. Every month I give money to the local foodbank. I am a great admirer of Kofi Anan and believe in human kinship. In short, I am the kind of American bin Laden would do well to leave alive if our habits as a country are to be changed. Oops, except I am a woman, and therefore very likely to support groups like RAWA in hopes of helping the women of Afghanistan live with human dignity. Ask Nelson Mandela whether killing the average American is more helpful to your cause than inciting the average American's sense of justice. The U.S. government would not respond to South Africa's plight, but the American people were willing to cut financial strings one municipality at a time, one company at a time if neccessary. The "majority" of human beings (Americans are no exception) live within horizons limited by such tribal hierarchies as "Family","Nation", and "Religion." I have traveled the world enough to realize that people are generally good, generous and hospitable when encountered one at a time. Unfortunately, when they think of each other in terms of groups they are often ignorant, dangerous, and easily misled. That does not mean one should kill them. How much more powerful to do what the ANC did and send people over one by one to speak at college campuses and neighborhood democratic clubs and 4th of July celebrations. They created ties which generated funds for their cause and enormous economic backlash for their enemies. There is enormous energy to be harnessed here, and, to be brutally honest, people who wish to see the United States change it's policy towards the countries of the Middle East would be more effective spending millions of dollars on T.V. commercials and lobbyists than investing in biological warfare programs and bombs. Yasser Arafat realized this at some point. We began to see in our media pitiful and shocking accounts of displaced families and slaughtered children. As of two years ago you could see the shift in opinion polls on U.S. backing of Israel. As a matter of fact, even average Israelis were talking about moving out of the West Bank. The scissors were starting to close on the purse strings. Then the violence started again and the Isralies elected Sharon and the whole thing is out of control again. But it is two steps forward and one step back. Next time an opportunity comes for peace talks, fewer Americans will have to be persuaded to feel at least some ambiguity about blindly backing Israel in the occupied territories. Human life is only as valuable as we humans make it. People all over the world scream about "innocent women and children" being killed, but the tragedy is how meaningless the lives of those women and children AND men were not only to the killers, but to the people screaming. The Taliban stone a woman to death for learning to read, but if the U.S. Army kills this woman, the Taliban wants to improve the situation by killing me. By the same token, if one of the women or men killed in the WTC had instead been hurt somewhere besides on the job and could not work, the U.S. government would allow such a person to be fired and essentially forgotten. No health insurance and no money would mean no doctor or steep bills which in turn would probably mean poverty, homelessness and all of the attendant dangers. Usama bin Laden is dead wrong on this one. If there is a hell he will be roasting right alongside some of our most glorified Generals and Presidents. The Koran says we are all one family, but Usama bin Laden would divide us into different nations of people and say one nation is worthy of death. Compassion and morality begin with you, and you have no right to assume that because a person is "American" or "Islamic" or "male" that person probably thinks a certain way and should be killed. You and Usama bin Laden and George Bush and Toni Blair have no right to kill anyone, nor do you have the right to think of them as a member of any group other than humankind. Kofi Anan (this is what I really dig about him) said that while we would like to think of terrorism as inhuman, human nature can indeed sink to those depths. It is up to each one of us alone to make certain that we strive only for the noblest reaches of our character. Those of us who see the need to follow some basic universal laws will mercilessly wield money and education as the two most powerful weapons against oppression. Hopefully we will have a chance to make more headway before some self-righteous deluded kook decides to improve the world by killing us.

[ Parent ]
Schroedinger's American (3.25 / 4) (#89)
by eightball on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 08:38:34 AM EST

There is an American in a sealed box. You have the means to flip a switch and release a deadly gas which will kill the American. You do not know whether this American voted for the 'current regime' or not. If you kill the American and they voted for the 'current regime', maybe you were justified. Otherwise, you would be responsible for killing someone you don't know their position.
This is why it is all wrong, American aggression and anti-American terrorism (plus alot of other stuff we aren't addressing in this article). You don't know what you are doing when you end a life.
I am not exactly sure why you are qualified to talk of the morality of the American public anyway. Looks like smoke and mirrors to me:
*Poof* "An absolute majority of american personally sent in letter to kill as many of those 'godless foreigners' (direct quote from every single letter)"
*Puff* "The tiniest minority of Americans think that the value of a human life (non-American) is worth more than a jelly donut"
(Please pardon me for the extreme examples, its just frustrating when people think violence can solve their problems. There are many things wrong with the world. Many of the US's foreign policies are wrong or administered poorly. Another is people making blanket statements about groups of people)

Actually, it is a tiny minority that DID vote for the current regime. ~50% voted, ~50% of those for Bush, that makes 25% of Americans who voted for the current regime.

[ Parent ]
No, 75%. (5.00 / 2) (#133)
by Kasreyn on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 04:45:03 PM EST

Being an apathetic twit and not voting is the EXACT equivalent of saying, "I don't care, you guys can decide for me, and I'll be happy with the results."

However, to determine the actual percentage one would need to determine just how many people were registered to vote (and how many of the unregistered were unregistered out of apathy), and which of the registered voters who failed to vote failed to vote out of laziness. This total will yield the number of apathetic twits who voted for Bush in absentia as it were. I hope they enjoy what they got. Of course, the way the world works, I bet it'll be a bunch of folks who voted Green or Libertarian who get killed in the next terrorist attack by Bin Laden.

One imagines St. Pete welcoming them to heaven with a big hearty "LIFE'S A BITCH!!" =P


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
WTF (none / 0) (#208)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Sun Jul 08, 2001 at 06:42:38 PM EST

He says 25% voted for Bush and so you say 75% didn't care? What happened to the group of people that voted for someone else? Aren't you forgetting them. And what about those that cared but knew that their vote wouldn't swing the electorial area they live in? There are many reasons that people don't vote. You are being sloppy.



[ Parent ]

Actually... (none / 0) (#207)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Sun Jul 08, 2001 at 06:39:03 PM EST

...25% is an overestimate. Using 270,000,000 as the population (I don't know actual adult number, but total is 284,613,765 via here), and the 50,456,169 that voted Bush, we get 18.7%.



[ Parent ]

That would be true.. (4.00 / 1) (#215)
by eightball on Tue Jul 10, 2001 at 03:04:52 PM EST

if all residents are legal voters. In fact, there are many people too young to vote or not otherwise eligible.

According to Dave Leip, ~205m were of voting age, ~155m were registered. So, it pretty much goes with the above numbers, but I could have gone either way.. :P

But, yeah, it is a good point that many millions do not even get to choose and yet the person I originally responded to would have them 'pay' for the actions of a few elected by a relatively small (shall I say minority) voting group.

[ Parent ]
That's (none / 0) (#216)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Wed Jul 11, 2001 at 03:54:55 AM EST

More kids than I would have guessed. Oh well. Live and learn. Thanks.



[ Parent ]

A few corrections (5.00 / 1) (#178)
by fitsy on Tue Jul 03, 2001 at 07:17:43 PM EST

You are right, most Americans are unaware of the military role the US plays in other countries, don't really care what goes on in those countries as long as their imports are cheap and are happy to leave hot-heads in the military to stoke up negative feelings.

[ Parent ]
Re: Hrmph. (5.00 / 1) (#113)
by K5er 16877 on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 02:33:48 PM EST

I never meant to imply that bin Laden deserves praise. I don't think I gave him any praise in my article. I was unfortunate in my choice of the word "freedom fighter". It is an emotionally loaded word. I used it to drive home the point that his goals are solely nationalistic. A freedom fighter is someone who fights for reform in his own country. I did not mean for it to have any moral meanings. I do not praise Osama.

As for the US pulling out of the Middle East, the issue is much more complex. The US in the Middle East is like public health. Public health is the government intervening in the lives of its citizens to improve health. Many are opposed to it. But, the reason the US has public health programs is actually cost containment. It is cheaper to inspect restraunts, give low cost clinics, and mandatory vaccinations than it is to deal with the effects of not. It's cheaper to vaccinate all the children in the US than to manage an outbreak of small pox. The Middle East is the same way. Sure, it costs the US in terms of money, lives, and international standing. But, the costs of not intervening is much greater.

Dave

[ Parent ]

RE: Hrmph (2.33 / 3) (#185)
by duffbeer703 on Wed Jul 04, 2001 at 03:35:56 PM EST

That sounds great. I suppose you'll be pleased to give up everything you own after you lose your job, since oil fuels the entire western economy?

The world economic system is bigger than your idealogy and bigger than the United States. If your closed mindedness is so overwhelming that you would condemn the entire planet to another Dark Age, I pity you.



[ Parent ]
Everything you own... (none / 0) (#222)
by fredl on Tue Jul 17, 2001 at 02:06:28 AM EST

That sounds great. I suppose you'll be pleased to give up everything you own

One thing you don't own is the oil. You buy it. Ofcourse it's so much easier to use some military muscle flexing to get King Greed on the Saudi throne and slide your hand up his ass to make him squeal like you want him to. When you keep doing that long enough, hell, your population may even start believing that they have a 'right' to the oil. Bah.

[ Parent ]

Answer me this (4.00 / 3) (#188)
by deaddrunk on Thu Jul 05, 2001 at 06:35:04 AM EST

How do you view the continuing deaths of thousands of ordinary Iraqis under US-backed sanctions, or the deaths of thousands of Palestinians under the US-backed Israeli government. If bin Laden is a monster then so are those who have funded the above atrocities (and no I'm not absolving Saddam Hussein or Ariel Sharon of any blame either). This is the problem - the US has stirred up hatred in the Middle-East by its actions. You should not then be surprised when there are some willing to take up arms to redress their grievances. I do agree that the US should stop meddling in the Middle-East - they never should have started in the first place.



[ Parent ]
Blameless US Citizens (4.00 / 2) (#218)
by phliar on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 01:40:59 AM EST

..when you advocate the killing of complete innocents...
Who is completely innocent? The soccer mom driving the giant Lexus SUV? The person in the single-occupant car driving 50 miles each way every day?
Bin Laden might [think] that he's doing the right thing, but it's only because he might think the welfare and lives of Saudis is worth more than the welfare and lives of innocent US citizens who have nothing to do with some of our government's more despicable abuses of the Middle East.
The first is a natural response; of course we think more of the welfare of our own kind than of others. We apply this to people of our own religion, our own musical tastes, skin colour, whatever.

But I'm not sure any US citizen is innocent. I didn't vote for Reagan; yet I am (partially) responsible for every Granadan who died. I must take some blame for Cubans not having access to imported medicines; I am responsible for every Palestinian killed by the Israelis, and for every Iraqi, Panamanian, Guatemalan, Salvadorean, ... killed by us. Therefore if bin Laden, or MacVeigh, or Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman see me as worthy targets for their bombs... well, of course I condemn their actions just as I condemn the actions of the US Govt (I am a pacifist) but I can't say that I don't understand.

Personally, I think the US should give it up and withdraw all our troops from the middle east.
Now this, I agree with 100%. I don't see Israeli or German soldiers on the street outside; why should others have to see US soldiers in their countries?

Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

and if you believe that .... (3.14 / 7) (#73)
by streetlawyer on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 03:53:56 AM EST

I've got an Israeli oil well to sell you.

Laden is in the same industry as Ilich "Carlos the Jackal" Ramirez Sanchez. He's neither terrorist nor freedom fighter; he's a terror entrepreneur, someone with more or less serious psychological problems who has seen in global destruction a way to have a lifestyle which addresses his psychological needs.

Laden has no real systematic program and his actions (particularly the bombings) are utterly out of proportion to his ostensible aims. It's pretty much known that the WTC and embassy bombing was bought and paid for by a Middle Eastern government (I forget which one, but Paul Foot of Private Eye magazine covered the story extensively).



--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever

Interesting... (5.00 / 2) (#112)
by K5er 16877 on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 02:25:17 PM EST

Interesting idea, that his terrorism is for his own purpose. But what purpose? Terrorists are deliberate. Terrorists have purpose. You state his purpose is to "[address] his psychological needs." Without proof, I don't buy it. It sounds like an ad hominum attack. Terrorists act with reason. Osama has his. I believe that his purpose is purely nationalistic. His constant anti-Saudi government statements since 1989 are proof.

[ Parent ]
Foundation? What foundation? (5.00 / 1) (#166)
by Otto Surly on Sun Jul 01, 2001 at 02:33:22 PM EST

The original poster puts forth some rational arguments. Your reply is nothing but an "is not!" without any supporting data. This is not to say he's right and you're wrong; I actually have no idea. But you can be sure that rational people will not even consider your ideas unless you put forth a little more support for them than just saying "this is how it is".


[ Parent ]
Replying to several comments (5.00 / 7) (#108)
by K5er 16877 on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 01:54:17 PM EST

I was going to reply to individual messages, but k5 wouldn't let me log in last night, so you get one response.

First, let me apologize for using the term "freedom fighter". I didn't think about the emotional power of the word. I didn't intend to imply that a freedom fighter is a noble thing. A freedom fighter denotes a person's goals, not their method. A freedom fighter is a person who acts for reform in their own country. I did not intend to assign moral qualities to the term. A terrorist does not imply goal. It defines the method. A terrorist is a person who uses terror to achieve a purpose. According to these definations, bin Laden is both.

My main purpose with using the term freedom fighter was to drive home the point that his goals are solely nationalistic. I believe that bin Laden doesn't really care about the US. In fact, I doubt he cares about the Middle East or the situation of Muslims worldwide. This is apparent in the fact that the embassy bombings killed Muslims. His fatwa against US citizens included US Muslims. He cares about Saudi Arabia. He is using, no abusing, Islam to turn his goals into global ones.

My main goals in the article were:

  1. Americans see bin Laden as a mindless Islamic terrorist intent on destroying the United States.
  2. bin Laden really only cares about Saudi Arabia.
  3. bin Laden has abused Islam to gain international support in his nationalistic cause.
  4. bin Laden's use of Islam will back fire because of his misunderstanding of American culture.
I never meant to imply that his actions were noble or that he should be respected. I did say that I supported his goals. That is very different. In the US, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Black Panthers had the same goals, but very different methods. Today, Greenpeace and the Earth Liberation Front have the same goals, but very different methods. I support the goals of all four of these groups, but not the actions of all of them. I'm sorry if I wasn't clear.

I find it very interesting that the same people bin Laden may speak to are already in power in Saudi Arabia. I was not aware of this. I'm not sure what that means to my argument. Maybe I'll have to rethink my points :).

My comments about Israel were not meant to imply that the US should withdraw from Israel. The United States has unilaterally support Israel in every Israeli/Arab conflict. If I was an Arab, I would find that upsetting. I simply meant that bin Laden exploited this feeling for his own gain. I have little knowledge of the complex issues behind the Israeli/Arab situation. My lack of knowledge prevents me from making any meaningful comments about this issue.

Hope that clarifies some things.

Dave

Whose goals are they? (4.00 / 2) (#152)
by Skapare on Sat Jun 30, 2001 at 04:10:39 PM EST

Perhaps instead of saying that you agree with bin Laden's goals, you should say that bin Laden agrees with your goals. That way, you can cast the goals are not belonging to bin Laden (which they certainly do not, but this is not well understood when simply describing him).



[ Parent ]
Replying to Comment (3.50 / 2) (#161)
by plara31480 on Sun Jul 01, 2001 at 09:01:24 AM EST

Dave, Once again, well put, I retrack part of my comment based on your reply.

[ Parent ]
How Americans see Bin Laden (3.33 / 3) (#160)
by plara31480 on Sun Jul 01, 2001 at 08:57:06 AM EST

Great article, very informative, I didn't realize the background on this. Bin Laden is a terrorist not a freedom fighter. He claims a corrupt Saudi government, yet the Saudi people realize one of the more stable and prosperous lives in the Middle east. When you take a look at other countries whether Libya, Iraq, Iran etc. the people there live in a state of poverty, confusion and terror. Additionally, the US has to protect it's economic interest in oil. If we don't, rogue governments arise that do not represent the interest of their people, they represent the interest of a few. Additionally, the US would then have to have it's own primary interst in the Midle East (Occupying a country). We need oil and gas to run our lives, that isn't changing. I don't think any American wants to see high fuel prices.

How Americans see Bin Laden (5.00 / 3) (#177)
by fitsy on Tue Jul 03, 2001 at 07:08:49 PM EST

Don't take it the wrong way, but that's the problem with americans. You seem to think that you have a *right* to continue living your life at such a standard that you should exploit any other country to achieve this. Saudi Arabia is one of the most autocratic countries on this planet, yet China is blasted by the US and SA is welcomed with open arms as a strong US ally.

[ Parent ]
We do (5.00 / 1) (#184)
by duffbeer703 on Wed Jul 04, 2001 at 03:28:10 PM EST

Might makes right.

Happy 4th!

[ Parent ]
Terrorist or freedom fighter (5.00 / 2) (#187)
by deaddrunk on Thu Jul 05, 2001 at 06:27:00 AM EST

Either label depends on whether their actions are approved of. Nelson Mandela was a terrorist to the white South Africans, George Washington and Gandhi were terrorists to the British. And given that US-backed countries such as Israel have killed thousands upon thousands, bin Laden's terrorism pales into insignificance. Perhaps if the US wasn't so keen on ruling the world then perhaps people like bin Laden wouldn't feel the need to take up arms against them.



[ Parent ]
Iran? (5.00 / 1) (#195)
by stuNNed on Fri Jul 06, 2001 at 05:20:43 AM EST

You mentioned Iran. I thought Iran was moving more towards a democracy. Especially since the re-election of it's latest leader.

[ Parent ]
The "Saudi People" (none / 0) (#217)
by phliar on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 01:11:46 AM EST

[bin Laden] claims a corrupt Saudi government, yet the Saudi people realize one of the more stable and prosperous lives in the Middle east.
Before you get too carried away with this vision: realise that "the Saudi people" are not necessarily what you think they are.

Most of the residents of Saudi Arabia are not citizens and they do not have what you and I might think of as civil rights. "Saudi citizens" do have some rights but not freedom of speech, association, due process, religion etc. Only Muslims can be citizens; and the only way to get citizenship is by marrying a citizen. Conversion of a Muslim to another religion is called apostasy and is punishable by death.

Women have no rights and are not allowed to leave the house except with a male escort who must be a brother, father or husband. (There are a few more eligible males.)

Additionally, the US has to protect it's economic interest in oil.
Why? I don't see the Germans, or the British, or the French, or... doing it. We used to call that sort of thing "imperialism."
If we don't, rogue governments arise that do not represent the interest of their people, they represent the interest of a few.
The Saudi government is the quinetessential example, the poster child, of such a government. They exist only to further the interests of the Saudi royal family. Horrendous civil rights abuses of "temporary" workers (usually Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis) at the hands of Saudis are rampant, and they don't even have the right to call the police.


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Defining terrorism (none / 0) (#223)
by compsci guy 2000 on Fri Aug 24, 2001 at 10:51:56 AM EST

If you want to define terrorism as the attacking of innocent civilians. Then Osama bin Laden is certainly not the only terrorist around. In fact he would be a very minor terrorist compared with the US or Israeli military. Or for that matter, the Iraqi or Indonesian military. Or the Columbian, Chinese, Indian armies... the list goes on and on. Bottom line, governments like to kill innocent people. Especially the US. While the US has (more than) it fair share of blood on it's hands, it constantly condemns other countries/people for doing things that are miniscule compared to it's own actions. The US and UK are directly responsible for 2 million civilian deaths in Iraq over the past 10 years. That includes 500,000 children. The US had no qualms about dropping bombs on civilians in Serbia during the balkan war. The US has no problem with Israel using US provided weapons to destroy palestinian neighbourhoods. The US has no problems providing support and weapons to the Columbian government which is well known for murdering its own populace. Or the Indonesian military which carried out a massive bloodthirsty campaign against the East Timorese. Or over a decade ago, providing Iraq with biological weapons (that it later condemned...) that Saddam Hussein used against the Kurds. Osama Bin Laden is nothing but a paltry scapegoat used to attract the attention of slack-jawed americans that know nothing of their governments wrong-doings. More informed americans would pay little attention to someone like Osama bin Laden. He's nothing but a right-wing extremist that has virtually no support in the international Muslim community. I myself am a Muslim. Peace :o)

Defining Ignorance (5.00 / 1) (#224)
by Lenny on Wed Sep 12, 2001 at 12:52:20 PM EST

You wrote: governments like to kill innocent people. Who, exactly, makes up the "government"? They are people just like you and me. They are human. The make some good decisions and some bad decisions. Do you really think they have meetings on how best to kill innocent civilians? In the United States, leaders are elected by the "innocent people". If you want to blame someone or something, blame the "innocent people". If you want real change, run for office. Until then, love thy neighbor and shut thy mouth.
"Hate the USA? Boycott everything American. Particularly its websites..."
-Me
[ Parent ]
How Americans See Osama bin Laden | 225 comments (224 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
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