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[P]
Did he not rise?

By tmoertel in Op-Ed
Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 04:06:20 PM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

President George W. Bush recently addressed the United States and indeed the entire world. I sat nervously through the address, hoping that he wouldn't stumble over his words, that he wouldn't do anything that might give offense to good people of Islamic faith, and most of all that he wouldn't betray the hope I have in my country, the hope that despite the pettiness, corporatism, and dishonesty that tarnishes its politics, the United States stands for something worth defending, worth offering to other peoples, and worth the suffering and sacrifice America has borne throughout so much of its short history. As I listened, I knew that when President Bush stopped speaking, my nation would be changed, for the greater or for the lesser. Deep down I feared it would be for the lesser. So many times have my nation's leaders failed its people -- indeed, failed the nation itself -- by not rising to our nation's true call. But when the President stopped speaking, I was moved. Here in this time of need, in an era when my nation's leadership so often had rung hollow, this seemingly simple man, elected to his post by the smallest of margins, did what had appeared nearly impossible. He rose to the occasion.


I won't analyze the address, and we can debate the details elsewhere, but I will share what was most important to me.

First, Bush didn't candy-coat the reality. There is no quick fix for terrorism, and he told us so. He told us to expect "a lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen." Most of us were expecting a long, potentially costly commitment, and he didn't shy away from asking for it.

Second, he called the American people to be their best, to live up to the ideals of the Union. In particular, he warned that "no one should be singled out for unfair treatment or unkind words because of their ethnic background or religious faith." After all, if we must fight, let us remember why we do so.

Third, he established the bar and set it high: "Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated." Now, some might say that he set the bar unreachably high, but I say he set it right. Biological and chemical weapons are increasingly available to terrorists, and unless terrorism itself is reduced to the point where terrorist groups cannot function, we can expect future attacks to come in the form of these dark weapons.

Finally, and most importantly, he restored my faith in my nation's leadership. I have no doubt that petty politics and corporatism will still plague my government, but here in the face of a real threat to the American way of life, my nation's leaders have remembered what our nation means, and how they are called to serve it. Under George W. Bush, as history would have it, my nation appears genuinely united and prepared to face a long, hard war on terrorism.

Did this man rise to the occasion? I say he did.

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Poll
Did President Bush rise to the occasion?
o No. 22%
o Yes. 42%
o I didn't see the address. 15%
o I don't care. 19%

Votes: 146
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Did he not rise? | 127 comments (116 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
If you missed the address, (4.16 / 12) (#1)
by _Quinn on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 03:18:05 AM EST

CNN has (finally) posted a trancript.

-_Quinn
Reality Maintenance Group, Silver City Construction Co., Ltd.

Re:If you missed the address (4.33 / 3) (#49)
by truth versus death on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 01:38:33 PM EST

The White House also has the transcript.

And as a counterpoint, Bruce Shapiro has written about What Bush didn't say over at Salon.

I'm not so concerned with whether or not Bush rose as with the political direction his speech indicates for our nation.

"any erection implies consent"-fae
[ Trim your Bush ]
[ Parent ]
Very Impressed (3.91 / 12) (#2)
by fraserspeirs on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 03:43:22 AM EST

I'm not American, I'm Scottish. If you want politicians to be ashamed of, go here.

From the outside looking in, I'll say that I've been extremely impressed by Bush, and also by Colin Powell. Both seem to have the revenge instinct under control well enough to think more or less clearly about the situation, to be sure and careful of what they're getting all of us in the West into.

I'm comforted that Bush has Powell there. If nothing else, Powell will make damn sure Bush understands the consequences of his actions before he takes them.

Both have been true statesmen at a very challenging time.

Tangent: are the IRA a "terrorist group of global reach"? Will they, through Sinn Fein, be banned from fundraising in the USA?

No, IRA has no global reach. (3.50 / 6) (#4)
by Tezcatlipoca on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 04:07:19 AM EST

As far as I know IRA terrorist activity has been constrained to the UK and Ireland. That is hardly global in reach.

Local terrorism that arises from local problems has to be solved by local authorities. That is just common sense so it is good that the US don't grab themselves in that mess in the heat of the moment, although we surely will see a more scrutinizing eye regarding all those fund risers in the US for all kind of organizations that sometimes have dubious methods.






------------------------------------
"They only think of me as a Mexican,
an Indian or a Mafia don"
Mexican born actor Anthony Quinn on
Hol
[ Parent ]
Not Quite True... (3.83 / 6) (#11)
by Cloaked User on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 05:10:17 AM EST

Recently, some known IRA terrorists were arrested in Colombia, accused of training rebel forces. Not exactly terrorist activity, but not far off it.

Regardless of that, however, if President Bush and America are serious about not tolerating terrorism, then ethically and morally there is no way that fundraising for the IRA, or any other terrorist group, can be allowed to continue.

(Disclaimer: I live and work in London, UK, and so am pretty much a potential target for the IRA, as are most of my friends and loved ones. In addition to this, when a large bomb was detonated in Manchester a few years ago, completely destroying a large shopping centre, one of my friends was at the police cordon at the time. If they hadn't been tipped off, he'd probably be dead. I don't know enough about the IRA's cause to comment, but I cannot support their methods.)



Cheers,

Tim
--
"What the fuck do you mean 'Are you inspired to come to work'? Of course I'm not 'inspired'. It's a job for God's sake! The money's enough and the work's not so crap that I leave."
[ Parent ]
You're right (none / 0) (#119)
by fraserspeirs on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 11:17:39 AM EST

Regardless of that, however, if President Bush and America are serious about not tolerating terrorism, then ethically and morally there is no way that fundraising for the IRA, or any other terrorist group, can be allowed to continue.

Correct. If Bush and co. don't cut the IRA off at the knees, their campaign has zero credibility. Unless, of course, they rename it the "War on Arab terrorism".

[ Parent ]

Ireland, UK, Belgium, Holland, Germany... (4.62 / 8) (#12)
by the trinidad kid on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 05:16:46 AM EST

The IRA has killed people in a number of different European states (see title) and been active in Spain as well.

It has connections with ETA in the Basque country, received 4 shiploads of armaments from Libya.

Some members received training from Palestinians in the Bekka valley in the Lebanon in the 1970s.

3 members of the IRA including 'Mortar' Monaghan, the IRA's head of engineering have been caught in Columbia in the last few months having been training the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia) in use and construction of mortars and anti-armour weaponry.

There are several American members/associates of the IRA in jail in the US after trying to buy the Taliban's favourite anti-aircraft missile, the Stinger, off FBI agents.

Meanwhile a member of the IRAs army council, Martin McGuiness was/will be again Her Majesty's Minister For Education in the devolved Government at Stormont.

Ultimately these terrorist organisations are an international emanation of local problems and both need to be addressed.

[ Parent ]
The UK and terrorists (3.83 / 6) (#15)
by craigtubby on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 06:26:21 AM EST

What about this "THE Muslim cleric who arranged the recruitment of a British suicide bomber for a Christmas Day attack in Kashmir said that his family were fearful of reprisals at their home in Birmingham."

Full stories

Would that count as "International" terrorism. Will the UK be targeted by the US for harbouring these criminals?

Have a search for Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed and see what he and his followers support.

try to make ends meet, you're a slave to money, then you die.

* Webpage *
[ Parent ]

Maybe (3.25 / 4) (#20)
by wiredog on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 08:01:14 AM EST

The press secretary was asked on Wednesday if the US would go after IRA/UDF fundraisers in the US. He didn't say yes but, significantly, he didn't say no. If I had given money to the IRA or UDF anytime in the past 10 years or so, I'd be considering a change of address. To Mexico, probably.

If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle
[ Parent ]
Not to Mexico ... (3.60 / 5) (#26)
by StrontiumDog on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 09:05:23 AM EST

we don't want to have to take the Infinitely Just War to Mexico as well. Stay at home and save the taxpayer some money. We'll bomb you there.

[ Parent ]
Hmm (4.00 / 4) (#28)
by the trinidad kid on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 09:17:45 AM EST

I presume you mean either:
  • UDA - Ulster Defence Association
  • UFF - Ulster Freedom Fighters - covername for the UDA when it was still legal and now the military wing of the UDA
  • UVF - Ulster Volunteer Force
as opposed to the UDF.

Loyalist paramilitaries have never really fundraised in the States anyway - and the IRA has only raised money covertly.

There are other issues with respect to the IRA/Sinn Fein and the US. Unlike the rest of the UK, political parties in Northern Ireland can fund raise abroad - which is why they can get money in the US. As a Labour Candidate in the Scottish Parliament Elections I had to send money back to pals in the Republic of Ireland as I couldn't use it in my campaign. The large amounts of money that they are raising is being used to support a growing party infrastructure to undermine the SDLP in the North and try and win seats in the South. They have a single TD in Cavan-Monaghan but hope to win up to 6 in next year's general election. There is a worry that they could benefit from defections from the green wing of Fianna Fail. However all the main parties have indicated that they will not invite them into a coalition if they remain 'slightly consitutional'. To do them justice it took the old Workers Party 25 years from the Officials going on ceasefire to getting into Government in the Republic - and then it took the split that created Democratic Left from the ashes of the old tankies.

The bigger issue is the credibility that Bill Clinton and other American politicians gave to shinners whilst IRA had still not disarmed. The pan-nationalist front that ran from the White House through the Irish Republic and the nationalist parties to the chuckies looks fairly badly dented to my mind. It seems improbable that the Provies could bomb an English city again (and I mean English, they have never done hee-haw in Scotland and only ever bombed the refinery at Milford Haven in Wales the once [I think]).

[ Parent ]
Scottish Parliament (3.75 / 4) (#41)
by Simon Kinahan on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 12:43:12 PM EST

Whats wrong with it ? Admittedly I moved away from Edinburgh a few months before it was set up (no connection), but it always seemed like a good idea, and the (limited) information I get about what it does seems quite positive. Compared with Westminster, anyway.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Good man! (none / 0) (#108)
by the trinidad kid on Mon Sep 24, 2001 at 05:56:58 AM EST

As somebody who did a squad of work for Scotland Forward, the campaign to win the referendum, and who failed to get elected to the Scottish Parliament in 1999 but hopes to in the future, all I can say is, good man!

[ Parent ]
What's wrong with the Scottish parliament? (none / 0) (#118)
by fraserspeirs on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 11:13:18 AM EST

The primary thing that is wrong with the Scottish Parliament is a lack of political talent, a lack of vision and a lack of genuine freedom from interference by London.

I mean, quite honestly, the SP is doing little more than tidying up the things that Westminster never could get around to (such as the Fox Hunting bill, crofting land rights, abolishing warrant sales and poindings, setting up national parks). Not to mention turning Scotland into a giant biolab for GM crop trials.

It's no more than Westminster's Scottish Coprocessor, if you will.

I'm sickened by the lack of intellectual rigour that is displayed by the politicians that hold senior office. Namely: Henry McLeish, Sarah Boyack, Susan Deacon, Wendy "One Million People *can* be wrong" Alexander, Jim Wallace and my old MSP Duncan McNeil. Scotland was once a country that produced geniuses.

I just find the Scottish Parliament to be a depressing sideline that marginalises Scotland in the context of the UK and even more so in Europe

You can argue that Scotland is over represented at Westminster, but it's quality, not quantity that counts, and if we can't fill the Scottish Parliament with smart people, we have even fewer at Westminster.

Anyway, I'm too depressed to think about it anymore. It's a constitutional dead-end.

[ Parent ]

Please (2.57 / 7) (#48)
by cp on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 01:34:51 PM EST

From the outside looking in, I'll say that I've been extremely impressed by Bush, and also by Colin Powell. Both seem to have the revenge instinct under control well enough to think more or less clearly about the situation, to be sure and careful of what they're getting all of us in the West into.

Look a little harder.

[ Parent ]

Omissions of Style (3.27 / 11) (#3)
by Blarney on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 04:07:10 AM EST

It was pretty much going to be an announcement of war anyway. Wasn't a good one, made you think Bush hadn't ever read a book or seen a video about a wartime leader. It wouldn't have killed him to hug the grieving widow, and perhaps a bit of fist-shaking and promising to avenge her husband wouldn't have been out of line.

It also would have been nice had he come up with some duty, something for us people to do. He didn't tell us to expect to go fight, or that we'd be making weapons back home. He didn't tell us to light a candle or to buy War Bonds or to tie a yellow ribbon anywhere. Instead, he tells us to go back to our jobs, which just increases the general sense of powerlessness. The man has no idea that his countrymen are actually worrying. We fear explosions, we fear economic meltdown, we fear the enemy walking among us and we'd sure like some silly ritual that might help ward them off. He offered no such thing, though it was needed badly.



The term "war" is a different one. (3.85 / 7) (#6)
by Tezcatlipoca on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 04:36:11 AM EST

Which arms do you need to make, that you currently don't have, to defeat a few hundred people scattered around the globe?

How many people do you realisticaly expect to go to fight on adition of professional soldiers?

Would you be wearing a ribbon for the next 10 years?

My point is this: it is a good thing that Bush delivered a dry, realistic assesment of what lays ahead, that he tonned down a bit the over the top mindless patriotism, and that he is asking from the people the most important thing: to go back to normality. Terrorists measure their degree of success in how much they are disturbing daily life of normal people. To go back to normal is the greatest statement the US can make about how little success the terrorists had in spite of the human tragedy.



------------------------------------
"They only think of me as a Mexican,
an Indian or a Mafia don"
Mexican born actor Anthony Quinn on
Hol
[ Parent ]
arms (3.00 / 2) (#78)
by garlic on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 03:43:14 AM EST

Which arms do you need to make, that you currently don't have, to defeat a few hundred people scattered around the globe?

Need? maybe not. But check out defense contractors stock, and how they all shot up the first day the stock market was openned back up in NY.

HUSI challenge: post 4 troll diaries on husi without being outed as a Kuron, or having the diaries deleted or moved by admins.
[ Parent ]

Not his style (3.40 / 5) (#23)
by wiredog on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 08:15:06 AM EST

He is, admittedly, more publicly emotional than Vice President Cheney or Al Gore. (Try to imagine how Gore would have dealt with this. Yikes!)

About that ritual you want. What do you think all those flags flying are about? (Other than extra shifts working at the flag factories in Shanghai) The flag is a symbol, it means many things. Flying it at times like these is, among other things, an act of defiance.

If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle
[ Parent ]

I agree, question about terrorist arms. (3.25 / 8) (#5)
by Tezcatlipoca on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 04:19:30 AM EST

It is good that the US dear leaders have moderated their rethoric, that is a welcome change. I guess all the strategists around WB v2.0 have been reading K5 which would be a good thing (otherwise they would get only a one sided, very biased, blood thirsty kind of coverage from mainstream media). OK,OK, maybe they did not read K5 but certainly they are paying attention to all points of view, unlike many other US people. I send a big "well done" to them.

Puns aside, how do we know that "Biological and chemical weapons are increasingly available to terrorists"? If they were, terrorists would have used them already I guess (cross fingers, touch wood), they would not be resorting to low tech attacks that although very "spectacular" cause far less damage, if damage can be measured at all when talking about human life (1 life lost is one too many).


------------------------------------
"They only think of me as a Mexican,
an Indian or a Mafia don"
Mexican born actor Anthony Quinn on
Hol
A minor incident in Japan (3.60 / 5) (#8)
by Xeriar on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 05:00:28 AM EST

involving serin gas, maybe?

Seriously, many try, most kill themselves trying it. Explosives have been around for quite some time, so there is more practice, fewer things that can go wrong, etc. They certainly would like to...



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

Point taken and well made. (none / 0) (#10)
by Tezcatlipoca on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 05:10:09 AM EST

...

------------------------------------
"They only think of me as a Mexican,
an Indian or a Mafia don"
Mexican born actor Anthony Quinn on
Hol
[ Parent ]
Another thing (3.50 / 4) (#22)
by wiredog on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 08:10:12 AM EST

These terrorists weren't poor, desperate people. They were well educated, with college degrees, middle-class people. That scares the hell out of counter-terrorist types. A person with a graduate degree in chemistry can produce nerve agents, physicists make nukes, molecular biologists can develop biological agents. And they know how to deliver them. Clearly, these highly educated terrorists are willing to do so, and die in the process.

This also scares the hell out of countries that have supported terrorists in the past. The policy of the US, and every other nuclear power, is that any attack on us ,or our allies, with weapons of mass destruction will be met with massive retaliation. So if Hezbollah, supported by Iran (alsoSyria and Libya), hit us with a nuke Tehran and other cities would be vaporized.

If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle
[ Parent ]

Politicians are only loved in a war (3.29 / 17) (#7)
by LQ on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 04:50:16 AM EST

Is this is the same corporate stoodge who only got into the job because of his brothers corrupt regime in Florida? Now everybody thinks he's the bees' knees!

There's nothing quite like a war to make a mediocre or just plain disliked politician seem like a hero of the people. Mrs Thatcher soared from lowest rated British PM to top of the pops by sending a expeditionary force to the Falklands. Even if they'd lost (which they damn nearly did), the politicians covered themselves in glory.

There's nothing like a war to take people's minds off a looming resession.

It was ... OK, not great, not bad, OK (3.45 / 11) (#14)
by baptiste on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 06:18:47 AM EST

I've never been a big fan of Dubya. Regardless of the election fiasco, I feel he's a zealot hiding in a compassionate/moderate shell. His zeal for missle defense (that would have done wonders last week), give aways to business (airlines excluded), etc have driven me crazy.

But as a previous poster explained, times like these cause political differences to be pushed aside albiet for a short time. He may not be the greatest President, but he's all we've got and I'm impressed with how Americans have rallied around him, myself included, in these troubling times.

Bush has made progress. But he still, IMHO, is not inspiring. He's compassionate, though it often feels staged even if its sincere) However, his National Memorial address hit the right tone and as time progressed he seemed to be improving. So last night I sat down hoping to be inspired. Yes, technically he was telling Congress what he planned to do. But when a President addresses Congress more than one a year, its a BIG deal.

The shock of 9/11 is abating somewhat. Patriotism (a GREAT thing) is still strong, but that too over time will subside a bit as time goes on. We obviously are faced with a difficult task, one which eventually WILL become tedious, difficult, and one that may appear fruitless for a time. Bush is in a VERY difficult situation. This was probably one of the biggest speechs of his life. And he scored a C. Why? He simply wasn't inspiring. I agree with previous posts, the speech contained decent information, he set the bar, explained what we hope to accomplish, don't hate Muslims based on this event, etc. But last night the country needed to be inspired. Needed to have their anger channeled into determination for the long haul. That simply didn't happen. The cheesy references to audience members, while nice, got old fast - just like during state of the union addresses (blame CLinton for starting that mess) I also think Bush failed to show any anger like he did initially. He seemed to be reading hsi speech for the first time, one I'm sure he didn't even write. - even if he did, it came across like he didn't.

Now I'm not saying just because I wasn't inspired, I'm not yearnign for justice. Thats not it at all - I think we need to kill every terrorist we can find and smack down the gov'ts that sponsor them. But in times like these the country needs to be rallied for the tough task ahead. The attacks started it, but Bush failed to sustain it I fear.

Only time will tell, and in fact, given the enormity of recent events, the country may not have NEEDED to be inspired by the address. But even now you hear quiet rumblings about 'unclear goals', 'impossible objectives', etc from everyday folks. Nows not the time for indecision. WE've been attacked and we need to track down and eliminate those who attacked us or who may attack us in teh future. But our leaders need to do more to rally the nation for the cause. Alas, last night that didn't happen. Yes, he had huge shows to fill and things weren't as cut and dried as they were in 1941. But you would have hoped a president who prides himself on his 'advisors' would have been able to come up with something more inspiring.

I support our president in this time of crisis, but I still can't shake the feeling that he is 'smaller' than the job. Who knows.
--
Top Substitutions For 'Under God' In The Pledge Of Allegiance

patriotism = nationalism, it is not good or bad (2.33 / 3) (#21)
by boxed on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 08:09:46 AM EST

Nationalism can lead to good, but it has lead to bad stuff most of the time. Think Nazi-germany, WWII-Japan, and such.

[ Parent ]
Using that same logic (3.80 / 5) (#30)
by baberg on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 10:16:08 AM EST

Technology is good, but it has led to bad stuff most of the time. Think computer viruses, buggy software, bank fraud, and such.

The problem isn't nationalism; having pride in one's nation is quite ok, and I even encourage it. What's a problem is when people have unthinking nationalism, trusting the nation, without analyzing the situation for themselves. I know that you were referring to this kind of nationalism, but let's not knock patriotism... It's done a lot for freedom.

[ Parent ]

Matter of definition. (4.00 / 1) (#77)
by Apuleius on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 01:31:16 AM EST

In his essay, "Notes on Nationalism", George Orwell defined the two very, very differently. His definitions make good sense, and his writinges make good reading. My vote is for making the distinction between the two.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Being Presidential (none / 0) (#104)
by cam on Sun Sep 23, 2001 at 11:10:12 AM EST

>Bush has made progress. But he still, IMHO, is >not inspiring. In the events of the last two weeks I thought Guliani looked far more Presidential than Bush ever has. cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]
You are either with us (4.07 / 14) (#16)
by hulver on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 06:42:43 AM EST

Or you are with the terrorists.

And we've got bigger guns, so you had better be for us, or you will be sorry.

He might not have said that last bit, but thats the conclusion I drew from it. Threatening your allies with force is hardly the way to fight terrorism is it?

Don't get me wrong, I think wipeing out terrorism is a good thing, I just don't think it can be done. I'm in "wait and see" mode at the moment to see how he plans to go about it.

I do find it ironic that the president everybody was laughing at when he was elected because he had (a percieved) no understanding of international affairs, now has to speak to almost every single leader in the world.

--
HuSi!

Are you sure? (4.40 / 5) (#25)
by tmoertel on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 09:03:49 AM EST

hulver wrote:
Threatening your allies with force is hardly the way to fight terrorism is it?
He's not threatening his allies. Why would he need to? They are already compelled to fight along side the United States by Article 5 of NATO's constitution.

It seems more likely that he's talking to rulers of borderline nations where terrorism, or alliances with terrorist organizations, have been used on occasion to further the ruling party's goals. He's giving them strong incentive to change their ways and quickly remove any traces of terrorist support from within their borders.

Seems like a reasonable step toward fighting terrorism.

--
My blog | LectroTest

[ Disagree? Reply. ]


[ Parent ]
erm... (4.16 / 6) (#38)
by Danse on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 11:28:50 AM EST

It seems more likely that he's talking to rulers of borderline nations where terrorism, or alliances with terrorist organizations, have been used on occasion to further the ruling party's goals.

You mean like, oh.. I don't know, the US?






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
Threatening whom with force? (2.80 / 5) (#84)
by marlowe on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 08:05:12 AM EST

If they're already with us, they're not targets of the implied threat.

And if they're not already with us, they're not allies, now are they?

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Evaluating from outside the US (4.39 / 23) (#17)
by jesterzog on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 07:42:44 AM EST

From the transcript:

"It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated."

...and it was at this point that I started asking myself how the hell are you supposed to define a terrorist? All I can guess is that a terrorist is whoever the United States government says is a terrorist.

Is someone a terrorist before or after they kill someone? When they plan something? When they have anti-american thoughts? Because I have plenty of those. And then there's the gem of this whole speech that will get played over and over again...

"Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists."

So he's telling countries that they have to take a side and co-operate the US in a "do what we say" context if requested. Otherwise they'll be considered the enemy.

The problem is that America has to declare war on someone, but terrorism isn't anyone. It's an action, and a subjective one at that if we get into the whole terrorism-verses-freedom-fighter debate. Would you consider someone a terrorist if they were attacking the army base of a country that the US government didn't like?

You can't declare war on an action, so what Bush has effectively said is that the US is going to declare war on and blow up anyone who disagrees with him about what actions constitute terrorism.

We're probably at the beginning of a stream of wartime propaganda speeches right now. Maybe he rose to the occasion if you say so, but it doesn't make me feel any better.


jesterzog Fight the light


It's not as hard to tell as you're making out. (4.20 / 10) (#29)
by garbanzo on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 09:27:58 AM EST

The basis of most jurisprudence (I was going to say Western but I suspect it is the same in the East) includes the motivation of the criminal actor. When courts try a person they are trying to determine first, if the person did the things they were accused of and second what their motivations were.

If they determine that no person was in any way responsible for a death (lightning, sharks, etc.) we call it an "act of God." It happens.

If you kill someone because they were actively and at that specific moment trying to kill you, it is generally called "self-defense." In a lot of places, that act is not a punished.

If you kill someone because you screwed up but not because you meant to, that is (where I live) called "manslaughter." Punishment may be more severe if you are shown to to be lackadaisickal or negligent--essentially if you did not care enough to stop doing something that could get someone killed.

If you kill someone so that you can profit thereby (e.g. during a robbery, for pay, etc.) or because you were angry or otherwise emotionally distraught at that person, it is generally called "murder." Let's go ahead and include people with psychotic motives (those runnig amok, serial killers, etc.) here.

Terrorists, soldiers, and guerrillas are those who kill in order to achieve a political end. Again, we can make some simple distinctions here. Soldiers and guerrillas generally try to kill other combatants. When they kill noncombatants (civilians or prisoners of war) we refer to this "collateral damage" when it is not intentional or as "war crimes" when it is intentional. We have rules against this. These rules get broken by everyone, but most folks pay at least lip service to them.

Terrorism targets noncombatants in order to achieve political ends.

If that suddenly includes someone's favorite band of "freedom fighters" then they might want to reconsider (for the sake of their souls, if not for their welfare) what sort of behavior they are supporting and approving of. Wherever they might be.



sure, it's all fun and games--until someone puts an eye out

[ Parent ]
I don't think it's that easy (4.25 / 8) (#31)
by jesterzog on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 10:20:05 AM EST

I think I see where you're coming from but I still don't think it's anywhere near that easy.

To cite an example, why is it that the suicidal attack on the USS Cole in Yemen has been constantly referred to as a terrorist act? From some perspectives the ship was full of non-combatants. From other perspectives they were military personell. From yet another perspective, simply being in the region could be considered an invasion and act of war by some.

The whole thing's subjective, but I'm concerned that whenever subjectivity creeps in it's being defined objectively by the US government and by Bush's recent speech, everyone has to agree with it.


jesterzog Fight the light


[ Parent ]
from Al Quaeda's perspective... (4.75 / 4) (#42)
by garbanzo on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 12:49:13 PM EST

...the sailors on the Cole were combatants. The war had already been declared by them. Only lately is the US acknowledging that it truly is a war. Since the US did not acknowledge the state of war prior to that, I guess they considered the Cole incident to be "terrorism."

Notice that I lumped the basic motives of soldiers, guerrillas, and terrorists together: they commit violent acts to further a political end. The difference is that soldiers and guerillas are (supposedly) interested in each other more than non-combatants.

If the world simply agreed to treat all terrorists as "combatants", that would be about the same as they are likely to be treated under a cooperative "anti-terrorist" system. That is, they will be aggressively targeted, may be held indefinitely (like POWs) and are "legal targets" for combatants.



sure, it's all fun and games--until someone puts an eye out

[ Parent ]
no, its actually much harder (4.33 / 9) (#34)
by eLuddite on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 10:52:09 AM EST

If you act with extreme recklessness by, say, shooting up a country in order to sniff out a vanishingly small number of terrorists, US law interprets this recklessness as knowledge and the requisite mental state for murder. When a country with massive intelligence gathering capabilities doesnt bother to find out whether it is condemning thousands, it is entirely for lack of caring. If such a thing happens in Afghanistan -- as happened most recently in the bombing of a Sudanese drug factory -- the US will be culpable of murder by their own legal standards.

A war on terrorism has infinite potential for murder; nor is America's history of callous statecraft reassuring.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

although I disagree with you... (4.66 / 6) (#45)
by garbanzo on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 01:02:42 PM EST

...I admit that you have identified the point of least comfort for the Americans I know. And that is that many of us are not comfortable with the Clinton administration's response to the Embassy bombings. Using the cruise missiles on Afghanistan was, at best (assumes no mosque or school was hit) a waste of good ordinance and at worst (assumes mosque and school were hit) negligent and homicidal. Likewise, the Clinton people have become steadily more evasive and uncomfortable when the Sudan strikes are brought up.

In short, the Americans I know think that those cruise missile strikes were a good example of screwing up by the numbers.

I am glad that the US has not (to date) made that mistake in this instance. Not that many opponents of the US seem to have noticed. It sometimes feels (especially on K5) like we are being pilloried for body bags we might have filled, had we fulfilled the opposition's nightmare visions.



sure, it's all fun and games--until someone puts an eye out

[ Parent ]
Maybe... (3.60 / 5) (#52)
by rusty on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 02:01:27 PM EST

It sometimes feels (especially on K5) like we are being pilloried for body bags we might have filled

Maybe when we keep saying "over 6,000 civilians killed" they think we mean Afghan civilians? In fact, we haven't killed anyone yet, military or civilian. I also rather wish people would at least let us act before we get criticized for whatever we do.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Important Distinction (3.00 / 4) (#56)
by Fenian on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 02:29:17 PM EST

I think most people are still missing a distinction between judicial and military matters. You're applying US law to an international military matter. That's like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. They're just different issues. Sure, to quote the the movie about Michael Collins, "War is murder, sheer bloody murder!" That doesn't mean that any time somebody goes to war, regardless of the reasons, we claim that they're committing a crime they can be prosecuted for.

[ Parent ]
what value is there in your distinction? (3.71 / 7) (#64)
by eLuddite on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 05:03:57 PM EST

I understand that war and justice are two different things. So is war and ballet. I do not understand your ahistorical suggestion that a requirement for justice dissolves upon declaration of war on an abstract noun. It doesnt. What it does is offer the opportunity to confound false sanctimony with justice.

What is the basis for this false sanctimony? Why were the Lockerbie bombers brought to trial without war? How about McVeigh? Why was he brought to trial without a War Against Militia Maniacs and Millenarian NRA Loons?

War means something, right?

Right now war means to prepare Americans for a wholly reactionary policy formulated by epileptic statesmen and media relentlessly stressing indignation, shock, and demands for a peculiar form of "justice" based on just enough flimsy, circumstansial evidence as necessary to create cartoon villains and prove the existence of hierarchical responsibility at the "top". The ommission of any official or popular challenge to such a demonstration of resolve and pathetic insight into the problem implies that without war, there is no prospect whatsoever of bringing the guilty to trial, improving circumstances in the Middle East, or retaining a large tv audience for the commodification of revenge.

What bullshit.

You know, Bush has repeatedly called terrorists evil-doers. How does this sound: America's New War on Evil-Doers?

You're applying US law to an international military matter.

You can safely substitute international law where I wrote US law, but you shouldnt have to in order to grasp the point.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

This is bigger than a response bin Laden (4.16 / 6) (#69)
by tmoertel on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 07:30:16 PM EST

eLuddite wrote:
Right now war means to prepare Americans for a wholly reactionary policy formulated by epileptic statesmen and media relentlessly stressing indignation, shock, and demands for a peculiar form of "justice" based on just enough flimsy, circumstansial evidence as necessary to create cartoon villains and prove the existence of hierarchical responsibility at the "top"
This "war on terrorism" is not a hasty response to a criminal act. Rather, a singularly heinous criminal act served as a stimulus that caused a change in United States policy. Whereas the old policy regarding terrorism was passive (respond to individual terrorist acts), the new policy is pro-active (remove terrorist groups and the regimes that support them before they attack).

It is this change in policy that resulted in a "war on terrorism," not a lust to get bin Laden. Given this new policy, however, bin Laden and his terrorist cells are legitimate targets, if only because Bin Laden has declared in front of television cameras that he considers all U.S. citizens, military and civilian alike, to be legitimate targets. That bin Laden also seems to be linked to the recent attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon is but icing on the cake.

Let's take a look at the whole picture:

  • Terrorists attack the WTC and the Pentagon.
  • U.S. understands that the attack is a wake up call.
  • U.S. accepts the call and changes its policy on terrorism, calling the rest of the free world to do the same: The U.S. (and all freedom-loving peoples) will work together to end terrorism. This means going after not only terrorists but also their beds of support.
  • As a result of new policy, Bush declares a "war on terrorism."
  • Because bin Laden is a known terrorist, he and al Qaeda are among the first announced targets of this "war."
  • Because the Taliban regime supports al Qaeda, its leaders are put on notice: They must rid their nation of terrorists, including bin Laden and al Qaeda, or be considered supporters of terrorism and hence enemies of all freedom-loving peoples and the nations at war with terrorism.
Pretending that the "war" is a trumped up excuse to go after bin Laden doesn't fit the facts.

--
My blog | LectroTest

[ Disagree? Reply. ]


[ Parent ]
Nope. (4.14 / 7) (#81)
by StrontiumDog on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 05:00:16 AM EST

The "war" rhetoric is quite easily explained. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the points you so carefully listed. The reason is much simpler.

The day after the attacks the entire US public, (with the possible exception of ubu and alprazolam :-) was calling for someone to be bombed, and bombed good. It was a purely emotional response. Somebody had to pay. Pay big time. The US public wanted blood, and buckets, nay rivers of it.

Bush is a man with an unsteady mandate. He's a good Republican, but even by his supporters, he is percieved as something of a wimp. Inarticulate, uninspiring, unheroic.

If he had called for anything less than a total war, he would have been signing his own political death warrant.

What a pity the attack was committed by individuals, not a nation. Otherwise we wouldn't be having this futile discussion over semantics. America would be at war with Eye-Raq or North Kurrear and we would be watching the bombs rain down on some foreign capital Live On CNN ("Punishment In Pyongyang"). Thanks to the generous offer of Afghanistan to fill in the position of Scapegoat Nation, we may still get to do just that ("Annihilation In Afghanistan").

[ Parent ]

sorry, no justice? No peace. (3.85 / 7) (#86)
by eLuddite on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 09:23:44 AM EST

This "war on terrorism" is not a hasty response to a criminal act. Rather, a singularly heinous criminal act served as a stimulus that caused a change in United States policy.

I'm really uninterested in pursuing a moral calculus based on dead souls, but I cannot resist pointing out the absurdity of your claim. WTC was certainly not singularly heinous by any stretch of the imagination. What about Shabra and Shatila? When Haig gave Israel the green light to invade Lebanon, 17,000 civilians died. The State Dept. then counselled "restraint" for both sides and Sharon, the man since held responsible by an Israeli court for the massacres of Shabra and Shatila, was given a warm welcome by the Bush administration when he visited Washington.

I wrote

Right now war means to prepare Americans for a wholly reactionary policy formulated by epileptic statesmen and media relentlessly stressing indignation, shock, and demands for a peculiar form of "justice" based on just enough flimsy, circumstansial evidence as necessary to create cartoon villains and prove the existence of hierarchical responsibility at the "top".
and your reply was an affirmation of all that. But I thought it was stupid policy before you replied, and your repitition of the official line, sophistry and empty rhetoric hasnt suddenly made the war on terrorism an intelligent decision selected from a field of debated alternatives.

Whereas the old policy regarding terrorism was passive (respond to individual terrorist acts), the new policy is pro-active (remove terrorist groups and the regimes that support them before they attack).

In 1999, the US spent 10 billion dollars combatting terrorism. In 2001, the US has decided war is justice and is busy preparing Americans for retaliation, mission creep, and military escalation based on the law of unintended consequences in a part of the world that dislikes you for a variety of good reasons.

A War on Terrorism offers as much prospect for the removal of terrorists and their sympathizers as does a War on Evil-Doers. I think it's a mistake to assume people slam planes into skyscrapers for no reason, or that the supply of people with nothing to lose is fixed for your war's convenient eradication. How is a war proactive? A proactive solution would demand a long term commitment to isolating terrorism by promoting global justice for those with legitimate demands of their own. Unfortunately, even this first step is anathema to the US which is the only country whose foreign policy systematically resists international law due process.

Pretending that the "war" is a trumped up excuse to go after bin Laden doesn't fit the facts.

Bin who? I didnt mention the man, you did. Bin Laden is irrelevant, and Afghanistan was too busy starving to declare war on the US on Sept the 11. Nor am I under the impression that the US needs much of any excuse to go to war; the US has started more wars, participated in more wars, covertly supported more wars, and supplied arms to more wars than any nation in the 20th century. You are not a peaceful nation.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Show me the way (3.75 / 4) (#88)
by tmoertel on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 11:18:46 AM EST

eLuddite wrote:
WTC was certainly not singularly heinous by any stretch of the imagination.
Thanks for taking the time to respond. However, I believe that you have interpreted my statement out of context. You have responded as if my use of "singularly heinous criminal act" was unrestricted rather than confined to its implied context, that of acts against the United States. After all, I was explaining why United States policy makers had changed United States<policy. It's only reasonable to interpret my words within that context. And, when taken in context, there's little doubt that this attack was indeed singular. <p>
But I thought it was stupid policy before you replied, and your repitition of the official line, sophistry and empty rhetoric hasnt suddenly made the war on terrorism an intelligent decision selected from a field of debated alternatives.
It's clear that you think the current U.S. direction is foolish. Please help me understand what you would recommend instead. Help me see, by way of contrast, what makes the U.S. policy so wrong. I really do want to see things from your perspective. Would you be so kind as to consider the following questions?
  • How would you classify the attacks on the WTC and Pentagon?
  • If it turns out that a government sponsored the attacks, what should be the U.S. response to that government? Is it realistic to expect such a response to prevent future attacks from that government?
  • Is terrorism a legitimate way to effect political change?
  • If not, what is an appropriate policy for a country such as the U.S. to have regarding terrorism? Please explain how the policy would prevent, deter, and respond to acts of terrorism. Make reasoned arguments for why each part of the plan is practical. (For example, don't just say "promote global justice"; explain why you think global justice is achievable and why its promotion would stop terrorism.)
  • If this policy has long-term goals, what should be done about immediate and short-term threats from terrorists?
  • What about states that support terrorism? How should the policy address them?
  • Do you believe that there are some people with an unquenchable hate of the American people and a real desire to harm and kill Americans, military or civilian? If so, how should the policy address people with an unquenchable hate?
I'm looking forward to your response.

--
My blog | LectroTest

[ Disagree? Reply. ]


[ Parent ]
yeah, well, elect me first (4.00 / 5) (#90)
by eLuddite on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 01:03:26 PM EST

How would you classify the attacks on the WTC and Pentagon?

The same way I classify the Lockerbie bombing. The same way I classify the bombing in Sudan. The same way I classify the attack in Oklahoma; at the end of the day, McVeigh's rhetoric was a reformulation of bin Laden's.

If it turns out that a government sponsored the attacks, what should be the U.S. response to that government?

Beg your own questions. I'm of the opinion that one normally doesnt fabricate hypothetical enemy states for lack of evidence in order to justify declarations of war.

Is terrorism a legitimate way to effect political change?

I dont think so, but I'm not the USA. Were Freedom Fighters in Nicaragua terrorists? How about guerrillas in Afghanistan? Ethan Allen? Bin Laden before the soviet pullout? Hussein when Iran was your enemy de jour? Help me out here, I didnt declare war on an abstract noun, you did.

If not, what is an appropriate policy for a country such as the U.S. to have regarding terrorism?

A proactive solution would demand a long term commitment to isolating terrorism by promoting global justice for those with legitimate demands of their own. Unfortunately, even this first step is anathema to the US which is the only country whose foreign policy systematically resists international law due process.
That meant the US should consent and abide by international jurisprudence and international tribunals. It doesnt do this. It does the opposite by actively resisting the establishment of any such international juridical institutions. That means it currently stands in the way of global justice whenever legitimate demands are studiously rejected in favor of callous statecraft. The US talks about justice, but it actually acts to promote international lawlessness.

The War on Terrorism is a war on global terrorism, yet Bush in his speech managed to evade any hint of US complicity for the globe in favor of bellicose simplicity. No wonder it continues to ignore the Taliban's request for the UN to arbitrate in the matter of American "evidence" against Afghanistan and bin Laden.

Please explain how the policy would prevent, deter, and respond to acts of terrorism.

Blah, blah, blah.

Look, I'm not an expert in international affairs. That is why I insist on a procedure to uncover policy instead of abject, reactionary declarations of war that seek to silence intelligent decision making.

Please explain how a unilateral declaration of war on terrorism does anything other than justify your nation's sanctimonious drivel. You certainly havent explained why the US should prepare Americans for retaliation, mission creep, and military escalation based on the law of unintended consequences in a part of the world that dislikes you for a variety of good reasons.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Let's try again (2.75 / 4) (#91)
by tmoertel on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 01:19:30 PM EST

Look, I wasn't asking the questions in order to receive icy barbs. It's clear you don't like the U.S. policies. You already made that point. No need to waste my time with more anger-laden responses.

I gave you an opportuntity to provide constructive criticism. You didn't take it.

Care to try again? Care to contribute to the solution rather than fan the flames?

--
My blog | LectroTest

[ Disagree? Reply. ]


[ Parent ]
what flames?? (2.20 / 5) (#93)
by eLuddite on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 01:29:10 PM EST

What the hell are you talking about. I didnt flame you, and I answered your question rather directly. US policy should be subject to international review, amendment and enforcement. The time for unilateral decision making on global issues is OVER. You want a flame? Learn to read.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

One more time . . . (3.75 / 4) (#94)
by tmoertel on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 01:57:35 PM EST

I'll be more specific. What I meant by "icy barbs" and "anger-laden responses" is that rather than answering my questions directly and calmly, you attacked the questions and sent barbs back at the United States. Not one single answer you provided fails to attack the U.S. In my earlier post, when I effectively said, "Okay, let's assume that U.S. policy is all wrong. Show me the right policy." You didn't show me the policy. You just attacked the U.S.

For example, when I asked

If it turns out that a government sponsored the attacks, what should be the U.S. response to that government?
you responded
Beg your own questions. I'm of the opinion that one normally doesnt fabricate hypothetical enemy states for lack of evidence in order to justify declarations of war.
The question is legitimate. (Otherwise, please demonstrate why state involvement is an impossibility.) Do you have an answer?

You chose not to answer the following questions:

  • If this policy has long-term goals, what should be done about immediate and short-term threats from terrorists?
  • What about states that support terrorism? How should the policy address them?
  • Do you believe that there are some people with an unquenchable hate of the American people and a real desire to harm and kill Americans, military or civilian? If so, how should the policy address people with an unquenchable hate?
The point of my asking these was to see if your solution not only handles the long term but the short term. Also, your solution seems to assume that deep down all people are capable of just behavior and respecting international law. My final question asks what you would do in the event that this assumption is faulty.

Please understand that I want to hear what you're saying. I want to understand your point of view. But I can't do it if everything you say is laced with attacks. Please try again, but think of me as a misguided friend rather than an enemy.

--
My blog | LectroTest

[ Disagree? Reply. ]


[ Parent ]
to repeat myself for the last time (3.20 / 5) (#96)
by eLuddite on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 04:53:45 PM EST

The question is legitimate. (Otherwise, please demonstrate why state involvement is an impossibility.)

An alien invasion is also possible. I am uninterested in debating the beggary of questions. You are defending an actual declaration of war, not a hypothetical declaration of war. Rigorously speaking, a terrorist state would in fact be an enemy state at war with you, wouldnt it? So tell me, what country are you at war with?

Why dont you can the rhetoric and identify a real enemy instead of fabricating phantoms to indulge your country's self-righteous drivel. When you actually uncover evidence for state conspirators in the WTC, go to the UN with your evidence and debate your response with the rest of the world. Until then, your evidence for "terrorist states" is no more compelling than evidence the US is a terrorist state.

I do not value American lives over Afghan lives. Solve your homeland problems without bombing the shit out of destitute innocents. No war. No bombs. No collateral damage. No sanctions against humanitarian aid. Within those limits, find something useful to occupy your moral outrage. You have a crime to solve, dont you? Isnt there a bible of previously ignored UN resolutions and initiatives for your renewed consideration?

You have ignored everything I wrote and now demand a litany of easy answers for unilateral American implementation. But why cant I demand the same from your "War on Terrorism"? Nation states actually get a lot of things done without war, and if bin Laden was a guest of China, for example, we wouldnt now be debating facile, nonsensical declarations of war against a "terrorist state" which can whoop your ass. You'd have to come up with more peaceful rhetoric, wouldnt you? Similiarly, immunization from your own rhetoric allows you to dismiss "global justice" as inchoate without blushing at a war against an abstract noun.

Do you believe that there are some people with an unquenchable hate of the American people and a real desire to harm and kill Americans, military or civilian? If so, how should the policy address people with an unquenchable hate?

Grow up; I'm sure there are many such people in the America itself. In fact, McVeigh was one such a person, and I dont remember the US declaring war against itself because of it.

Also, your solution seems to assume that deep down all people are capable of just behavior and respecting international law. My final question asks what you would do in the event that this assumption is faulty.

Of course it's faulty. Specifically, the US actively rejects the establishment of international jurisprudence and due process. You keep on asking me what to do and I keep telling you that global problems should be resolved at the UN, not the US. You seem oblivious to any insight that you shouldnt be acting as your own international judge, jury and executioner.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

I'm sorry . . . (3.66 / 3) (#97)
by tmoertel on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 06:39:20 PM EST

It looks like we're not going to be able to communicate. I'm sorry if I've said anything to give you offense or raise your temper; it was not my intention. My questions were asked in earnest. I had hoped you would provide constructive answers.

It's sad. If two guys on the Internet can't make peace (and I know I'm trying), what hope can we have for nations?

--
My blog | LectroTest

[ Disagree? Reply. ]


[ Parent ]
ok, bye (3.00 / 3) (#98)
by eLuddite on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 07:32:21 PM EST

It looks like we're not going to be able to communicate.

Why? I understand you just fine.

I'm sorry if I've said anything to give you offense or raise your temper;

Yeah, I'm declaring a Jihad against you.

You seem have created an enemy for yourself in me, without my knowledge or participation. I can infer a strained analogy based on a current international dilemma, but I wont.

If two guys on the Internet can't make peace (and I know I'm trying), what hope can we have for nations?

No, you are not trying, you are withdrawing in an unctuous snit of rhetoric.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

I'll give it a shot (4.66 / 3) (#112)
by generaltao on Mon Sep 24, 2001 at 11:38:46 AM EST

Hi there,

I read the exchange between you and eLuddite and thought I might give a shot at responding to your questions. I disagree with you that he was avoiding your questions, but I can see why you found the answers difficult to distinguish from "attacks on the US". Like many people who disagree with America's foreign policy, eLuddite has probably been watching this develop for the past several YEARS, whereas prior to September 11th, most Americans didn't know what foreign policy meant.

Anyway, I am not a very intelligent person and my responses to your questions are likely to be inadequate, but I'm feeling bold today.

* How would you classify the attacks on the WTC and Pentagon?

Honestly? That depends on which standard I would use. You see, there is a blatant double-standard when it comes to the classification of such things. If I was to use my own personal standard, the standard I also apply to America's actions against Iraq, Sudan, Japan, Vietnam and many others, I would classify it as a horrendous act devoid of any goodness. I'd call it something that could only have been unleashed by people who have rationalized mass murder.

If I use the American standard, however, (the standard America applies to itself when it "strikes") then I would call it an assault on strategic infrastructure with inordinately high colateral damage.

* If it turns out that a government sponsored the attacks, what should be the U.S. response to that government?

I'd say that the situation would have to dictate the response. Sometimes war would be the outcome, but I think that I agree with eLuddite in that the immediate response should be to file a protest in international forums and seek international approval for retaliation before initiating it. This is what pretty much all other countries are expected to do in such a case. (Because after all, if that is not the case, then how do you know this WTC attack was an attack and not a retaliation?)

* Is it realistic to expect such a response to prevent future attacks from that government?

Again, it depends. It is usually pretty unrealistic to expect violence to end violence. In human history, the only thing which has ever been successful in stemming violence is justice... equity and justice. (I don't mean the selective kind of justice where all men are equal but some are more equal than others).

Sometimes war is justified. More often, it is not.

* Is terrorism a legitimate way to effect political change?

Your question contains two words which need to be defined: "terrorism" and "legitimate". But I know what you meant when you asked the question. You meant: do we want to encourage the targetting of civilians as a means to effect political change? My answer to that would be no.

Please remember, however, that the term "terrorism" has been misused very often in recent times.

The other important question that should be asked along with yours is: If diplomatic channels are stonewalled, and terrorism is bad, do we provide for an alternate means to effect political change? ie: What should those who have a beef with the USA do about it? That's my question to you.

* If not, what is an appropriate policy for a country such as the U.S. to have regarding terrorism?

The first thing a country such as the US should do in the face of terrorism is ask the question "Why did they do this" and come up with a better answer than "because they hate freedom and freedom-loving people".

The answer, in the case of the US, would be that US foreign policy has been brutal and inhumane in many cases. The first course of action then, would be to rectify the situation. The next course of action would be to pursue those responsible for the attack (with the aid and support of an international tribunal) and bring them to justice.

This policy will be effective against terrorism for the same reason that upgrading schools and hospitals and services in general is effective against crime in America's inner cities. Crime is sometimes caused by pure evil. More often, it is caused by anger, resentment or despair. Americans don't have too much trouble understanding that it's in their best interest to provide equal opportunity (or at least *equitable* opportunity) to its citizens. And yet American foreign policy could not be further removed from its domestic ideals of freedom and justice for all. Outside its borders, America is a bully and an oppressor.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that among the millions and millions of people who suffer at the hands of US foreign policy every day, there are bound to be a few that fly off the handle. It also doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how to prevent that from happening.

* If this policy has long-term goals, what should be done about immediate and short-term threats from terrorists?

Immediate and short term? Nothing. There is nothing anyone can do in the short term to stem the threat of terrorism. I repeat: nothing. Even Bush admitted as much in his speech.

The American people's insitance on a short-term fix is exactly why the Bush administration (eager to legitimize itself) has rushed to a declaration of war. Bush's speech was in fact some major back-pedaling from the stance he had been taking and voicing just days earlier.

* What about states that support terrorism? How should the policy address them?

People in glass houses should not throw stones. The USA is the biggest and most prolific supporter of terrorism on the face of this Earth. Of course if the terrorism is aimed at others, then it's not REAL terrorism eh? The first step, therefore, is for the USA to stop supporting terrorism its own self. It would then be in a much better position to condemn it elsewhere. In fact, it may look up and find out that it has snuffed out terrorism's reason for existence! Wouldn't that be great?

* Do you believe that there are some people with an unquenchable hate of the American people and a real desire to harm and kill Americans, military or civilian?

Yes, foreign and domestic.

* If so, how should the policy address people with an unquenchable hate?

If we are to believe Bush in his speech, then as a freedom-loving nation the USA should support their right to hate them. Punish actions, not ideologies. If you want my answer to "what do we do with the small minority of people who kill others for no other reason than blind hatered?" I say we need to find them and put them away where they can't hurt anybody. That happens every single day on the streets of every American city. We don't demonize them, we recognize their mental illness and try to treat it.

Anyway, I hope that helped. For what it's worth, what eLuddite was saying in response to all your questions was basically: "Regardless WHAT the answers to your questions turn out to be, it is not America's place to arrive at them on its own. If it's a global problem, it requires a global solution."

Peace.

[ Parent ]

Classification (4.00 / 1) (#114)
by Mitheral on Mon Sep 24, 2001 at 06:53:55 PM EST

Honestly? That depends on which standard I would use. You see, there is a blatant double-standard when it comes to the classification of such things. If I was to use my own personal standard, the standard I also apply to America's actions against Iraq, Sudan, Japan, Vietnam and many others, I would classify it as a horrendous act devoid of any goodness. I'd call it something that could only have been unleashed by people who have rationalized mass murder. If I use the American standard, however, (the standard America applies to itself when it "strikes") then I would call it an assault on strategic infrastructure with inordinately high colateral damage.

Now this is excatly the point I've been trying to make to several people over the last few days, summed up in a nice little info packet. The Sudan bombing along with the bombing of the Chinese Embassy have made me sound like a broken record. Of course most Americans have no clue that such events have occured. I guess that's because there was no 24X7 news coverage of the bombings. From an outsiders point of view American media comes across as a bunch of hipocrites and it is extremely annoying.

[ Parent ]

thought experiment (4.00 / 2) (#101)
by beebutterfly on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 11:59:55 PM EST

This is not meant as a troll. Just a little empathy with the likes of bin Laden:

Saudi Arabia is the land of the two most holy places of Islam. If you were to really believe that the presence of U.S. troops (i.e. from a non-Muslim state) in Saudi Arabia is an affront to God, then you'd have to take the position that the U.S. government is the perpetrator of evil acts against God. But, the U.S. government is democratically elected, which means that the people of the U.S. must be supporting their government's policies. This might make them directly responsible in your mind for their government's actions. Which must mean you'd consider U.S. civilians as culpable as any other U.S. citizen.

The attack on WTC was not, according to this line of thought, an attack on innocents, but instead righteous action, a Jihad, against evil-doers.

Of course, there were plenty of Muslims and non-U.S. citizens in the towers and in the planes. Equally obviously, the argument is a difficult one to properly empathize with, but it's interesting to note that it forms the mirror opposite of the argument against bombing Afghanistan indiscriminately, namely that the vast, vast majority of the people of Afghanistan appear to be the victims, not supporters, of the Taliban.

Float and Sting!
[ Parent ]
practical evidence (4.00 / 2) (#106)
by garbanzo on Sun Sep 23, 2001 at 11:18:50 PM EST

Pardon me for finding bin Laden and Al Quaeda hard to empathize with. Their punishment does not seem to me to fit the crime they imagine committed. I freely admit my biases in this matter as an American.

But as a practical matter, if the presence of non-Muslims is an affront worth killing over, why were the petroleum engineers tolerated for so many years before the soldiers got there? I had a couple of colleagues (I was a tech writer at the time) go to work in Riyadh for a year--a great deal because the money was good and if you stayed out of the US for a full year, you payed no income taxes. They wrote manuals to teach workers how to run petroleum production equipment. This would have been in the late 80's and they returned without being threatened.

I don't have any historical documentation, but it seems to me that the oil boom in Arabia goes back to at least the 40's or 50's, with, one assumes, non-Muslims coming in to drill and build and trade on a regular basis. How did Islam, apparently, tolerate this affront until the arrival of soldiers?

The attack on the WTC, based on this evidence, is vicious terrorism directed against anyone who does business with the House of Saud, dressed in a thin and patchy veil of religious fervor.



sure, it's all fun and games--until someone puts an eye out

[ Parent ]
non-muslim troops (3.00 / 1) (#116)
by beebutterfly on Mon Sep 24, 2001 at 11:21:27 PM EST

I believe the objection is to non-Muslim armies, not just non-Muslims.

It would seem that the presence of non-Muslims civilians in Saudi Arabia is not at all a problem for Islam (even under the most strict interpretation).

For example, Jesus is regarded as a Prophet in Islam, just not the Son of God. Even Muhammad was "just" a Prophet conveying God's word. This must surely mean that non-Muslims as such in Arabia are no problem at all. Toleration of Christians didn't stop the Crusades from happening, of course, but whose fault all that was must be rather hard to disentangle now!

Come to think of it, aside from the last 55 years or so, one could certainly argue that Muslim states have treated Jews within their borders much more tolerantly than Christian states---think Inquisitions and the Holocaust for example...

Certainly, Osama bin Laden uses religion for his own ends. But don't all religious people do that? That Islam is used to do horrible things doesn't mean that one can't take seriously the ways in which Islam is so used. The problem is, in my opinion, finding ways to get some sense of a middle ground.

Maybe not with bin Laden, though.
Float and Sting!
[ Parent ]
Quite simple... (4.11 / 9) (#36)
by Danse on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 11:23:55 AM EST

It's an action, and a subjective one at that if we get into the whole terrorism-verses-freedom-fighter debate.

If we're funding and/or training them, they're freedom fighters. Otherwise they're terrorists.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
actually (3.28 / 7) (#60)
by alprazolam on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 03:32:34 PM EST

since we funded and trained bin Laden and the other fundamentalists in Afghanistan (among other places), I think the definition of freedom fighter is "somebody who is fighting communist governments".

[ Parent ]
He set the bar wrongly (3.90 / 20) (#18)
by StrontiumDog on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 07:54:44 AM EST

Third, he established the bar and set it high: "Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated."

This excerpt exemplifies the reason why I find political speeches such as the one made by Bush (nothing personal, George W.) to be almost devoid of content.

Terrorism is not an ideology like fascism or communism. It's a modus operandi. It's like saying "the war will not end until every violent group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated". (When that "end" is reached, what's to prevent me from stepping on a plane, flying to the US, and punching some poor hotdog vendor in the mouth?)

In addition, this "global reach" thing: The US doesn't have many neighbours. Anybody pissed off at the US either has to fly to the US and perpetrate some atrocity there, or find a US target abroad and perpetrate that atrocity on location. Either way, any external terrorist attack on the US is going to be "of global reach".

Convenient wimpout clause, by the way. It allows the US to whip up international support for its own antiterrorist activities, while conveniently freeing the US from involvement in the battles against the "localized" activities of the ETA (Spain), IRA (N.I.), Tamil Tigers (Sri lanka), Abu Shayyaf (Phillipines) or Chechnya (Russia).

"War on terror". "Terrorist group of global reach". "Found, stopped, defeated". Unachievable, undefineable, misleading.

What about *your* bar? (3.60 / 5) (#32)
by tmoertel on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 10:21:48 AM EST

Perhaps you are the one who sets the bar wrongly. Did you really expect perfection? Did you honestly expect Bush -- or any human -- to give precise definitions for something as nebulous as terrorism? Did you honestly expect that any realistic anti-terrorism campaign would come wrapped in a clean, easily quantifiable package that survives scrutiny from every angle?

Should the fact that humans cannot adequately define and communicate the precise nature of difficult, nebulous things prevent us from struggling with such things for the betterment of human-kind? Should we write no line of code before the software requirements are exhaustive and provably correct? Should we start no road trip without knowing which hotel room we will rest in at the end of the day?

The best we can hope for is to begin each monumental human endeavor by starting off in the right direction. Bush did that. His definition was imprecise, his goal was idealistic, and his plan was unquantifiable. Nevertheless, the right direction was established -- and communicated to the satisfaction of an overwhelming majority of Americans.

If you feel that Bush didn't set the bar rightly, perhaps it is because you hold him to impossible standards. Would you have been satisfied by anything he might have said?

--
My blog | LectroTest

[ Disagree? Reply. ]


[ Parent ]
So glad you asked (4.25 / 8) (#43)
by StrontiumDog on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 12:53:34 PM EST

Perhaps you are the one who sets the bar wrongly. Did you really expect perfection? Did you honestly expect Bush -- or any human -- to give precise definitions for something as nebulous as terrorism? Did you honestly expect that any realistic anti-terrorism campaign would come wrapped in a clean, easily quantifiable package that survives scrutiny from every angle?

Yes.

I expect all that. You see, we already have a notion of how high the bar should be set.

We in the West have worked for centuries to achieve what we call a "legal system". We have worked fucking hard for it, it has cost us plenty, and we're proud of it. It is not perfect, but it is one of the most important things diffferentiating the West from all these Third World hellhole countries we so love to demonize. Among the pillars of this legal system are the following concepts:

  • As precise a definition of what constitutes a particular crime as possible. This prevents people being arrested for such nebulous crimes as "aggravated jiggerypokery", "second degree hocuspocusism", or "terrorism".
  • Separation of the executive and legislative branch of the judiciary. This has the very fortunate consequence that the judge can't make up the definition of a crime as he goes.
  • Independence of the judiciary. The victim may not play judge and jury. In this case the US plays victim, cop, judge, jury and executioner. (As do many other countries; this is not a US-only foible). This is one of the reasons whining US and Euro "liberals" would like to see international arbitration courts play a more important role in global politics.
  • Burden of proof/innocent until proven otherwise. This is on the accuser. By refusing to supply any proof whatsoever of Bin Laden's guilt and by condemning Afghanistan by association if they refuse to deliver Bin Laden, the US is walking flatfooted over this rule.
And when a terrorist attack leads to these fine principles being urinated on left and right by the so-called "defenders of our freedoms", yes I get fucking pissed off.

[ Parent ]
Common error (2.66 / 6) (#47)
by wiredog on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 01:23:47 PM EST

You, and others, are treating a military matter that will be settled with soldiers as if it were a legal matter that will be settled by police. Once the airplanes hit the WTC it became a military matter.

If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle
[ Parent ]
Error according to who (3.16 / 6) (#51)
by truth versus death on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 01:56:59 PM EST

As I recall the police (and firefighters) were the first on the scene. And were the only ones who died in the line of duty. The military didn't show up until afterwards.

What is the standard you use to claim this is a military matter as opposed to an issue of national importance to be resolved by the courts and law? Is it because we have to seek revenge?

"any erection implies consent"-fae
[ Trim your Bush ]
[ Parent ]
International Attack (2.83 / 6) (#53)
by Fenian on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 02:11:18 PM EST

It seems clear that this was an international attack. That alone seems to make it a military matter. Add to that the sheer number of dead and you're talking about something that goes far beyond a simple homocide case. Yes, the police and fire-fighters were the first on the scene. That's because they were closest and had the best access. We in the US do not keep heavily armed military troops quartered in every neighborhood like the Brits do (becoming "did" finally) in Northern Ireland. So the first qualified people to hit the scene were civilians. If you use that as the benchmark to decide between civilian and military matters, then think about if another country had hit the WTC with cruise missiles instead. Now that seems like it is obviously a military matter. How is this different?

[ Parent ]
Attack; But by whom? (2.80 / 5) (#61)
by truth versus death on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 03:36:59 PM EST

How is this different?

The WTC wasn't hit with cruise missiles by another country.

"any erection implies consent"-fae
[ Trim your Bush ]
[ Parent ]
President gets to decide (2.75 / 4) (#89)
by malikcoates on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 11:23:22 AM EST

One thing to note is that Congress passed a resolution authorizing the use of force. As President, Bush has the authority to make almost anything a military issue for a limited time. The support of Congress makes it loud and clear that this is a military situation.

[ Parent ]
How does he decide (3.00 / 4) (#95)
by truth versus death on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 02:24:18 PM EST

But what basis should President Bush use to decide this? Or, what issues were relevent to the Congress coming to its conclusion to allow Bush the use of force? Is there any standard to this?

"any erection implies consent"-fae
[ Trim your Bush ]
[ Parent ]
A practical answer. (3.50 / 4) (#100)
by wiredog on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 08:53:10 PM EST

The NYPD has no jurisdiction in Afghanistan. Neither does the FBI. So, practically, the police can't handle the mission. So it goes to the military by default. And there does have to be a response. If only to make it clear that flying airliners into buildings is not to be done.

If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle
[ Parent ]
Terrorism as crime, etc. (4.20 / 5) (#55)
by StephenFuqua on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 02:17:11 PM EST

Speaking with my roommate last night after the speech (which, as an Austinite who is not overly fond of GW I found suprisingly re-assuring), we came to some interesting conclusions:

  • Being as the government is defining this as war and not police action, a subtle difference comes into play: when at war, we do not try and convict the enemy before rendering "judgement". We just shoot. This is not about bringing a criminal to trial (i.e. Lockerbie terrorists, McVeigh, Noriega), this is war. Or at least so it has been proclaimed by the administration.
  • Personally, I'd like to see this case go before the International Criminal Court, where evidence could be presented to the world and a just conclusion would hopefully be rendered on behalf of the US and all other countries affected by terrorism. This to me is most representative of our Democratic ideals. However, the ICC is really just too fresh to handle a case of this magnitude, besides the fact that Americans are at this point unwilling to hand over such authority to an international organization.
  • Given the mindset we are dealing with, there is basically little chance that bin Laden would be captured anyway.
  • There are two major camps to this issue: one says bomb the hell out of "them" (doesn't matter who "they" are), the other says change foreign policy to reflect and recognize the (often legitimate) complaints of those who despise the US. Until the last couple of days, I was completely in the latter. But I now think that we must strike a balance between the two. Changing foreign policy will take many years, and the response we are looking for will take even longer. In the meatime, this vision will not keep bin Laden or others from striking again. In order to safeguard our lives and liberties now, we must do something now. And I hope and pray that the solutions proposed and draw up by the President and his Administration will appropriately address this.

Finally, despite the above, I do still feel uneasy about our actions and wish that we could do everything by the rule of law, as the conservaties particularly like to talk about it. There was something else, but too many phone calls at work to get through this and remember everything I wanted to say...



[ Parent ]
The sad reality (3.57 / 7) (#58)
by tmoertel on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 02:33:39 PM EST

StrontiumDog wrote:
We in the West have worked for centuries to achieve what we call a "legal system". [Examples of "pillars of the legal system" omitted.] And when a terrorist attack leads to these fine principles being urinated on left and right by the so-called "defenders of our freedoms", yes I get fucking pissed off.
How, then, would you apply the Western legal system to resolve state-sponsored terrorism? If the rulers of a state not only claim as legal but also support terrorism, how do you put those rulers on the stand? If you find them guilty, how do you remove them from power?

Conflicts between nations are sadly beyond the Western legal system. No international body is strong enough to enforce summons let alone carry out sentences like removing a ruling body from power for its crimes against humanity. Such actions must by necessity be military.

This is sad, but it is also the reality. In light of it, please consider adjusting your bar.

--
My blog | LectroTest

[ Disagree? Reply. ]


[ Parent ]
A terrorist (3.47 / 17) (#19)
by boxed on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 07:57:39 AM EST

A terrorist is a person with power and a will to do harm. The only way Bush can make due on his promise is to do one of the following:
  • Kill all persons. (Removing free will from people chemically or sergically will do.)
  • Remove all power to do any damage. (Removing all limbs from all persons seems to be what is neccessary.)
  • Remove the will to do harm. (This seems the most plausable solution, huge amounts of sedatives will probably do).
This is EXACTLY like the war on drugs. It's a war you cannot win except by wiping out life itself.

A terrorist is more than that... (3.20 / 5) (#40)
by TheCaptain on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 12:17:05 PM EST

People who can or will do harm are one thing. A terrorist is another. If we were out to make sure that no one could or would do harm we'd be disbanding every military on the planet, and taking away our rights to bear arms while we're at it. (Lets go all the way and declaw every cat too...furry little terrorists.) Reality check time...seriously. If you want to make that arguement at least give a REASONABLE definition of a terrorist, because that one is kinda weak.

Where to draw the line is a very fair question, but if you even you might want to try asking it WITHOUT the flaming troll...you'll accomplish more...assuming you actually care to accomplish anything other than inciting alot of other readers.

[ Parent ]
a terrorist is exactly that, all it takes is C4 (2.60 / 5) (#66)
by boxed on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 05:35:34 PM EST

A bunch of explosives in hand and my definition of a terrorist stands. Remember Timothy McVeigh? Don't ever forget.

[ Parent ]
Again....it's not nearly that simple.... (4.00 / 1) (#120)
by TheCaptain on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 09:14:22 PM EST

because if holding an explosive makes you a terrorist, I'd like to know how in the hell demolitions will get done now. C4 is another story however, as I am not sure private industry has access to it, but I honestly don't know.

If you care to come up with a common sense example I'll debate it, but these examples are so weak it's sick. We are ALLOWED to have guns in this country (I think those would qualify under your "power to do damage" classification)...in a few towns it's practically required by law actually. We are ALLOWED to have explosives to some extent, and to a pretty reasonable extent in the case of demolitions etc. If you think the government is trying to take away the demolitions industry, or our right to bear arms...your freaking kidding yourself. Heck...Republicans are generally the ones who are FOR our right to bear arms.

Seriously...these examples so far are pretty weak.

[ Parent ]
No. (1.35 / 20) (#24)
by pallex on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 08:34:35 AM EST

He`s an idiot. He can`t even talk. He`s not in charge, anyway. So debating whether he `rose to the occasion` is pointless.

Fantastic! (2.00 / 5) (#57)
by datarat on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 02:29:35 PM EST

What a fantastic, pointless, opinionated non-response that was!
-datarat "An optimist believes we live in the best of all possible worlds. A pessimist is afraid it's true"
[ Parent ]
What's A Terrorist (3.37 / 8) (#44)
by tudlio on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 12:58:03 PM EST

Salon has a good article from a UK resident that suggests that terrorism is a type of action, not a type of person. If the author is right, than the basis of Bush's plan of action is dangerously flawed.




insert self-deprecatory humor here
bad article (3.80 / 5) (#46)
by core10k on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 01:17:22 PM EST

We've learned that terrorism demands a special kind of war, which is more like Sim City than a first-person shooter like Unreal.

Once I read this line, it was impossible for me to take the author seriously.



[ Parent ]
Maybe (2.50 / 2) (#68)
by craigtubby on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 06:51:09 PM EST

Looks like he was trying to get across to the "quake" players - the article does have some good point but is meandering and badly written.

Going on about the "3 lessons we have learned about terrorism" and then 2 paragraphs later saying "another lesson we have learned ....".

It needs rewriteing, to be more structured and focused. I think it deserves a -1 .... oh its not on Kurshin.

try to make ends meet, you're a slave to money, then you die.

* Webpage *
[ Parent ]

What kind of person would commit this kind... (3.20 / 5) (#117)
by marlowe on Mon Sep 24, 2001 at 11:38:26 PM EST

of action? It's the attempt to draw the distintion that's flawed here.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
...He certainly did. (2.70 / 10) (#50)
by WombatControl on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 01:47:08 PM EST

This was not the same George W. Bush that I voted for.

This was a George W. Bush that is many ways a greater man than the George W. Bush I voted for. Those who constantly critize him as being an ineloquent and badly spoken man really can't claim that this was anything but a brilliantly written and well delivered speech.

To those who say that we can't distinguish who the terrorists are, we sure as hell can. They are those who seek to topple civilization and instate barbarism. (Okay, so granted that includes a lot of college professors, European pseudo-intellectuals, and latte-sipping types, but they aren't likely to blow people up for their rediculous beliefs.) To those who say we can't defeat these people; we defeated Japanese militarism, Nazism, and Communist totalitarianism. We can defeat terrorism as an ideology as well.

There will always be those who critize what America does for no more than because it is America. Luckily, those people are few and far between. As for the rest of the world, we stand with Bush in saying that freedom and fear have always been at war, and we also know that God is most definately not neutral in this conflict.



He Is Risen (3.00 / 6) (#62)
by malikcoates on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 04:48:11 PM EST

No wait, that's God.

And who is this woman, Tara, that Bush wants to fight?

But seriously I'm no fan of Bush... at least not president Bush, but I think he gave a great speech. It it's been almost 2 weeks and it still brings tears to my eyes to think of all those lives taken from us too soon. to think of the family and friends of people who were lost is too much for me.

I think that Bush is the right guy to do what needs to be done now. I hope that no more innocents on either side die. My heart goes out to all of our men and women that will be on the front lines of this. I feel more proud to be an American right now, than ever before.

Talk is cheap (2.71 / 7) (#65)
by sakusha on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 05:04:22 PM EST

It's easy to give a dramatic speech when you've got good speechwriters and a week of jingoistic media hype.
What impressed me most about Bush's speech was the obvious battle of facial muscles, trying to suppress the famous smirk. He was only partly successful.
But the MOST revealing moment came after the speech, when he was walking through the crowd. He went up to the Supreme Court and kissed Sandra Day O'Connor. Then as me moved down the line, he saw Justice Ginsberg, recoiled a half-step with a look of horror on his face, and turned to shake hands with Scalia.

I was pleasantly surprised. (3.60 / 5) (#67)
by watchmaker on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 05:46:25 PM EST

Politically I lean towards the republican side of the spectrum. But I have an intense dislike of Dubya. As I heard someone recently say on NPR, I expect my president to be more intelligent than me, and right now we have one with lower verbal skills than my five year old.

Overall I was pleasantly surprised at the speech. It was clear, concise, and full of exactly the kind of nationalistic chest-beating that a country in mourning needs. At difficult times the human psyche doesn't want to hear anything but positive we're-all-in-this-together rhetoric, and that's OK.

FDR gave us "A day which will live in infamy". Churchill rallied the brits with "Our Finest Hour". An america largely born of television and sound bites needed a catchphrase. Immediately after bush had finished I told my wife that I had heard the catchphrase...

We will not tire. We will not falter. We will not fail.

Less than thirty seconds later the talking head anchoring whichever network I was watching (at this point, they're all the same.) asked historian Stephen Ambrose his thoughts. Ambrose said basically the same thing. America needed a catchphrase. And he mentioned the phrase I picked out, as well as one other...

Whether we bring the terrorists to justice, or justice to the terrorists, the end result will be the same

It should be fairly obvious that Bush had little to do with the grammatical structure of the speech. If he had, I'm sure he would have introduced the new cabinet position "The Secretary of Homeboy Defensification."

It's unclear how much of the content came from him either. The clarity of sentiment and focused message just flat seems above what I perceive his abilities to be. It's no secret that presidents use speech writers. "Ask not what you can do for your country..." is attributed to JFK, but he didnt write it, his brother Bobby and Pierre Salinger wrote that.

The point is, it doesnt matter. Based on my own personal feelings about the abilities of my president, I'm glad he is wise enough to delegate. And at this stage, it's all about perception. Americans want to know that the GOVERNMENT is on top of things, and they want the President to say pleasant things. Nobody expects the president to have all this skills required in this endeavor. It's almost painful for me to say nice things about him, but, aside from the smirk and the fact that someone forgot to tell him that the word TERROR had an R on the end, it was exactly the speech this country needed.

About "with us or against us" (4.37 / 8) (#70)
by claesh1 on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 07:56:25 PM EST

Let me tell you how I, as a swede, reacts to the phrase "you are either with us or against us". I find it very worrying and let me tell you why.

First of all, let us agree on that Sweden is one of the "friendly countries" that Bush has been speaking about and to, for example when he was here in June. But... Suppose someone that is currently in Sweden is suspected for participating in the attacks. The US asks the swedish police to arrest him and give him out. Now, as far as I know, Swedish authorities have a policy not to give anyone out if they risk death penalty in the country that asks them to be given out. And I guess it is fair to say that this is a fate that can be expected for some terrorists that participated in the recent attacks. Now, how should I interpret the phrase "you are either with us or against us"? Although as a country we share your goals, we do not share all your means to accomplish them. Will the US force swedish authorities with military threat to have this individual given out? Is such a policy enough to make my country an enemy of the US? What can we then expect US reactions to be? Should I expect bombs be dropped here as well?

To me this phrase sounds like an order to the whole world: "do EXACTLY as we tell you, or else..." It sounds aggressive against exactly everyone, it smells mafia, it smells bullying, it sounds arrogant. Perhaps many now will tell me that this message in reality is directed only against certain rouge states, but how should I know? If that is not what the US means, then Bush should be more clear.

Death Penalty and Arrogance (3.60 / 5) (#71)
by malikcoates on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 08:36:17 PM EST

If the only hold up is the death penalty, it's not a problem. In America the prosecution decides what penalty will be sought against a criminal. The highest prosecutor in the land is John Ashcroft. This man answers to Bush.

Bush says he would use every means at his disposal to get these people. I feel he's being very clear that he will also make compromises when he has to.

Bush basically has two tools. A carrot and a stick. If he tries to use the stick to solve every problem he will not only lose the support of the world... but also that of the American public. And I don't think he's that dumb.

As for arrogance... I thought it was a pretty arrogant thing to say. Bush always has been pretty arrogant, one of the many reasons I didn't vote for him. But when you're talking 1000's of peoples lives I think you have to look past the guys personal traits. A non-arrogant interpretation of what he said might be "Any country that's helping terrorists out is hostile to the U.S. I'm not saying what the U.S. will do to hostile states, but it won't be good."

[ Parent ]

You are probably right (3.33 / 3) (#79)
by claesh1 on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 03:58:30 AM EST

Neither do I think that this in reality will be a problem. But - the problem is that from my position in the world, it is harder to tell. We don't know american politics and culture as well as americans do, and interpreting the message becomes harder. It is indeed a very sharp message. And it should be sharp, make no mistake (to use a phrase Bush seems to like). But it should not be as sharp against everyone, because then it smells bullying. And this will work against the US in the long run.

[ Parent ]
Simple answer. (3.00 / 3) (#75)
by Apuleius on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 01:26:59 AM EST

The US would make an exemption for those suspects, and not seek the death penalty, or Sweden would make an exemption for those suspects, and hand them over anyway. A coin may be involved. But this would take less than 10 minutes.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Not as simple as that. (3.66 / 3) (#80)
by claesh1 on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 04:11:36 AM EST

Your second solution, that Sweden would make an exemption, is hardly a solution. At least I, and probably most people around here oppose the death penalty based on the principle that noone has the right to end a human life. Even death penalty during wartime is forbidden in our constitution.

An exemption would be interpreted that US will is above swedish constitution, and that military threat from the US against a friendly state was the force behind this.

Now, I don't believe either this is what Bush meant or would do, so in reality it is not a problem. But that does not prevent many people to react strongly on Bush's choice of words.

[ Parent ]

Extradition and neutrality (5.00 / 1) (#121)
by nrobert2 on Wed Sep 26, 2001 at 12:39:02 PM EST

I am not sure Bush said anything about extradition... I think he said "harbor." If other nations "harbor" known terrorists, they are against us. This does not mean they have to turn terrorists over to the U.S., it means they do not welcome terrorists "as guest" within their their borders.

[ Parent ]
More... (3.25 / 4) (#87)
by tiago3 on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 09:58:55 AM EST

What worries me most in those words is best illustrated in Pakistan. I may be completely wrong but the feeling I got from some extracts of speeches by its President, is that these same words were used to get Pakistan's involved in an issue that had (apparently) little to do with it. When I say little, I mean that Pakistan had not been directly involved. Don't get me wrong... This matter involves the whole world. Terrorism is a global issue.

Still, the same could be said about WWII. As an example, Portugal (or its dictator at the time), an ally in WWI, most likely felt that it could not risk to be involved again, since it would give the Spanish dictator Franco (an Hitler sympathiser) the argument he was waiting for to invade the country (some argue that the Portuguese dictator was himself a Hitler sympathiser... I wouldn't be surprised at all). Other European countries also remained neutral. Yet, the allies did not say, "either you're with us or you are with Hitler." So far, we have respected a country's right to remain neutral. Sometimes, we have realised that pushing a country to side "with us" could prove counter-productive.

If the involvement of Pakistan results, as many fear, in a coup by those who believe that the country should be supporting the Taliban instead of the US, then it could prove to be a huge and very dangerous setback. Those words could seriously backfire.

[ Parent ]
In this war... (4.00 / 1) (#107)
by physicsgod on Mon Sep 24, 2001 at 02:32:59 AM EST

There's no such thing as neutral. If you don't harbor terrorists (following the traditional definition of neutral) you're on the US side, even if you don't take any active involvement outside your borders. If you do harbor terrorists I can't see how you can claim neutrality, so you're against the US.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
For, or not for! There is no neutral! (3.00 / 1) (#122)
by wnight on Wed Sep 26, 2001 at 02:09:18 PM EST

Perhaps you simply refuse to turn over a potential terrorist without proper evidence. Especially when the country asking seems to be willing to trump up charges and use the death penalty.

It's not like anyone has photos of the terrorists, and Osama with them, and Osama ordering (or aiding) them in their mission.

It's all conjecture. His only proven link to this, so far, is his dislike of the USA which he has spoken on. Does this mean that if I speak against the US for their foreign policy, that I am automatically a terrorist? Will you advocate bombing Canada if they refuse to turn me over to you to stand trial for my heinous crime and be executed when the state-sponsorer trial finds me guilty?


[ Parent ]
Or, using reality. (none / 0) (#126)
by physicsgod on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 12:27:38 AM EST

It could be all the evidence is gleaned from classified sources. Anyway I just saw a bit on the news tonight where a former member of bin Laden's terrorist group identified one of the highjackers as a "classmate" of his from the training camps. If the link between 9/11 and bin Laden is based on agents or intercepts I'd think five or six times before giving it to anyone in Afganistan. Anyway, he's already been indicted in the embassy bombings and it's an accepted part of international law that if one nation is attacked and the nation of the attacker cannot or will not do anything about it the attacked nation can take care of things themselves.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
The right to confont your accuser (none / 0) (#127)
by wnight on Tue Oct 16, 2001 at 04:28:39 PM EST

If we tell criminals the methods the police use to catch them, it aids the criminals. But we still give them this information at trial. It's the difference between presenting evidence and hearsay.

We do hide some things, like the identities of informants, but we let the accused hear their testimony.


[ Parent ]
European Convention on Human Rights (3.50 / 2) (#109)
by AndrewH on Mon Sep 24, 2001 at 08:12:39 AM EST

What you are saying about Sweden is likely to apply to any European country where the rule of law holds. Extradition to face the death penalty in the United States has been ruled to be torture contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights in its original form; Protocol 6, which explicitly outlaws the death penalty, only strengthens this.
John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr — where are you now that we need you?
[ Parent ]
Extradition (3.60 / 5) (#72)
by Pseudonym on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 12:20:52 AM EST

One thing that annoyed me was that Bush refused to hand over any evidence to Afghanistan as to why they think bin Laden was involved in the attacks.

If this was any other country, there would need to be due process. You would have to go to a court in that land and provide evidence that the person had a case to answer in the country seeking extradition. When the Taliban asks for even less than this, why does Bush refuse?



sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
Does not take much. (4.00 / 5) (#74)
by Apuleius on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 01:25:16 AM EST

Extradition is an international arrest warrant. It requires a bit more evidence than an arrest warrant, but not much more. If Bush had given the Taliban the evidence they were asking for, they would have had the opportunity to figure out how and by whom intelligence is being gathered by the United States. Agents and informants would have been killed. Bush's refusal to play this game shows he is not the moron he is constantly described as.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Unbelievable (3.50 / 4) (#82)
by bgarcia on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 05:32:40 AM EST

One thing that annoyed me was that Bush refused to hand over any evidence to Afghanistan as to why they think bin Laden was involved in the attacks.
And has it ever occurred to you that what has been found is evidence that the Afghan government itself has helped to sponser these terrorists?

Given that Bush has told the Taliban that they would "share the fate" of the terrorists, I think it's quite obvious that they have.

And I believe that when evidence was found of bin Laden's involvement in terrorist activities in the past, the evidence *was* brought to the attention of the Afghan government, and was ignored.

We're past the point of taking one man to trial and shoving him into the electric chair. Over 6000 innocent people have died in this brutal attack.

This is a war. Not an arrest.

[ Parent ]

War Crimes (3.00 / 4) (#83)
by EraseMe on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 07:28:21 AM EST

What I find interesting is that no one in the Bush administration has accussed the Taliban of anything worse than "harboring" terrorists. They always suggest bin Laden is a mastermind of an amorphous "network" of terrorists. And lately, they've been floating the Saddam theory. But no mention of the Taliban.

Which leads me to believe that the Taliban weren't directly involved in the 9/11 attack, and didn't know about it ahead of time.

So it's not unreasonable that they should ask for evidence. Or at least, for goodness sakes, that evidence be presented to some UN body. We should be uncomfortable with how Bush is trying to short-circuit the role of the UN in all this.

And it's not an act of war. Countries commit acts of war. People commit war crimes. And how do we punish war criminals? In the courts.

[ Parent ]
protected war criminals (4.00 / 2) (#102)
by bgarcia on Sun Sep 23, 2001 at 07:55:54 AM EST

And it's not an act of war. Countries commit acts of war. People commit war crimes. And how do we punish war criminals? In the courts.
And what happens when you can't just go in and capture the war criminal? Did we just go in and try to capture Hitler & Mussolini?

No, because they had the protection of their country's armies. So we had to fight a war.

And that is exactly the case here. If the Taliban were to simply hand bin Laden and his accomplices over, then we would not invade. But they will not, and they've said that they'd fight the U.S. if it tries to invade the country to capture him, and so we're down to the last choice: war.

[ Parent ]

War Not Only Remaining Option (3.00 / 2) (#105)
by EraseMe on Sun Sep 23, 2001 at 10:57:08 PM EST

The Taliban have, in their own way, tried to give up. They offered to extradite bin Laden to an Islamic country. The Bush administration rejected that out of hand. I thought that was both puzzling and irresponisible.

I can't think of a single other Islamic country that wouldn't be happy to execute bin Laden.

Why didn't we accept the offer? Wouldn't we like to avoid a war, if possible?

Our posture towards the Taliban has been as if they were responsible for the 9/11 attacks. But since no one has ever suggested they were, I suspect they weren't. And that means it is irresponsible of us to refuse to negotiate with them.

[ Parent ]
The facts (4.00 / 2) (#111)
by bgarcia on Mon Sep 24, 2001 at 08:20:30 AM EST

The Taliban have, in their own way, tried to give up. They offered to extradite bin Laden to an Islamic country.
In exchange for a lifting of U.N. sanctions and international recognition as Afghanistan's legitimate government. It was a ridiculous offer, and was rightly rejected.
The Bush administration rejected that out of hand. I thought that was both puzzling and irresponisible.
How many times have the Taliban refused to turn over bin Laden in the past, even after being shown evidence of his involvement in terrorist activity?

Also, why doesn't the Taliban hand over bin Laden to an Islamic country to stand trial of their own accord??? If they are so interested in the truth and justice, then why should they not take this action unilaterally??

Wouldn't we like to avoid a war, if possible?
Not if it means leaving America open to more terrorist attacks.

And no, limiting American freedoms is not an acceptable alternative.

it is irresponsible of us to refuse to negotiate with them.
Don't you read any news?

We've already tried negotiating with them. Pakistan had been negotiating with the Taliban on the U.S.'s behalf, and the Taliban refused to turn him over, calling him a "guest".

You know, I think you have this preconceived notion that the Republicans in charge of the US Executive Branch are a bunch of war-mongering cowboys. You should go back, re-read all the news and statements about this subject, but this time imagine that someone you actually *like* was the president (Gore? Kennedy? Brown? Keyes?) and then see if you can read anything positive into the statements and actions that the U.S. has taken.

[ Parent ]

War on random thing (3.25 / 4) (#85)
by Pseudonym on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 08:49:53 AM EST

This is a war. Not an arrest.

If that's so, the US should declare war on Afghanistan and stop pretending that it's possible to have a war against all evil people.

I realise that this is standard operating procedure. When the US declares war on something vague (be it drugs or terrorism), things like rights and laws normally do go out the window. I don't have to like it.



sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
war on those who attack us. (4.00 / 2) (#103)
by bgarcia on Sun Sep 23, 2001 at 08:04:48 AM EST

If that's so, the US should declare war on Afghanistan and stop pretending that it's possible to have a war against all evil people.
They're giving Afghanistan one last chance to cooperate. Then I think you will see war declared against the Taliban.

As far as declaring war "against all evil people", I think they're leaving the door open to attack others in the area who may end up harboring some of the related terrorists. Such as Iraq.

I realise that this is standard operating procedure. When the US declares war on something vague (be it drugs or terrorism), things like rights and laws normally do go out the window. I don't have to like it.
Look, you'll get no argument from me that the so-called "war on drugs" was stupid, ineffective, and a complete waste of time and resources.

And I am also disgusted by some of the laws I see being passed in the near future limiting citizen's rights in the name of false security.

But I honestly believe that this war is different. No, it's not against a single government. It will probably be fought in several countries. The U.S. is probably still tracking down leads, attempting to figure out how wide-ranging this network is. And that's why they haven't prematurely narrowed it down to particular countries.

This isn't like Pearl Harbor, where the U.S. knew exactly who had hit them. We're still trying to figure out exactly who we need to fight back against.

[ Parent ]

Even worse (2.66 / 3) (#92)
by Nickus on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 01:20:15 PM EST

Defense Minister Powell said the other day that there were plenty of proof against bin Laden before the attacks. He referred to the attacks on American embassy in Africa.
To me this seems more like that they don't really know who to blame and therefore took bin Laden as the scapegoat while they are looking for the right guy. Perhaps it is bin Laden but they can't really go out and bomb a country on those grounds.


Due to budget cuts, light at end of tunnel will be out. --Unknown
[ Parent ]
Bush speech (1.80 / 10) (#73)
by jglassco on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 12:38:35 AM EST

Dear Mr. Bush, I do believe that you have seriously misplayed the cultural and political strategy for dealing with terrorism activities arising in part within Afghanistan. If you back someone into a corner without a reasonable out, you have lost. We have lost. The American people have lost. A grievous wrong has been committed. When you seek revenge, you must first dig two graves. When you seek justice and legal redress, you create no martyrs and you do not perpetuate the cycle of blood feud. The Taliban leaders, whom the United States trained and funded, offered an olive branch. You did not seize it. You lost. We lost. It may never be proffered again. No attacker in Afghanistan has ever succeeded. No place is more distant on this planet from the United States than Afghanistan. Have you the hubris to tempt fate? Greek tragedy is replete with the corpses of those who tried and failed. Modern military history is replete as well. Osama (Usama) bin Laden and his family funded your first venture in business. You are inextricably entwined with these horrendous events. Where is YOUR mea culpa? Your neglect to confront the Israeli genocide against the Palestinians has exacerbated the problem of terror campaigns against the United States. Secular Israelis embrace peace and coexistence, yet you have left them twisting in the wind. The polarization in Israel is now so strong that it may take a generation to rebuild what you have squandered in a mere 8 months as the illegitimately installed President of the United States. You are a disgrace to the Office of the President. You, your Vice-President, and your entire Cabinet SHOULD resign. You have not the intellectual capacity to deal with the problems before you. Your advisors are ideologically incapable of grasping the essence of the travails that confront a President. You seek to trade on our liberty for the mere semblance of security, and as Benjamin Franklin so presciently noted, those who do so deserve neither liberty nor security. Your proposed Cabinet office of Homeland Security is nothing more than a Fascist plot to deprive citizens of this country from their hard-won, paid-in-blood rights. You took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against ALL enemies, foreign and domestic, yet you have now turn your back on that oath. What does that make you? Are you a Traitor or a Coward?
Save the world, kill Microsoft!
Depends... (3.33 / 3) (#99)
by Mr. Piccolo on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 07:41:49 PM EST

on your definition of "Did", "he" and "rise".

But seriously, there was one thing that troubled me: that "Either you're with us, or you're with the terrorists" quote. All that made me think was: What about Switzerland? Don't they have the right to be neutral in this war just like all the others?


The BBC would like to apologise for the following comment.


About neutrality (3.50 / 2) (#113)
by wiesmann on Mon Sep 24, 2001 at 11:53:31 AM EST

Disclaimer, I'm swiss but not historian..

There is no such thing as a right to neutrality. Neutrality is a choice of foreign policy. Neutrality is simply about not taking sides in a conflict.

A neutral country has no special "right" (whatever that means, international treaties are basically worthless) it can be invaded (like Belgium), or threatened into acting in certain ways (like Switzerland).

Regarding the current crisis, Switzerland will do as usual, that is try to minimize it's implication on either side. Swiss authorities are probably handing out info to the amercians to have them off their backs. Then again they did the same with the Germans. They certainly won't send troops.

Of course, this kind of attitude will not exacly improve the US's image...

[ Parent ]

How small a ``group?'' How small a ``terror?'' (3.33 / 3) (#110)
by leonbrooks on Mon Sep 24, 2001 at 08:14:52 AM EST

It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.

Sorry, but this just rings of the Inquisition. Any individual has potential global reach, and to stop that you have to break up every aircraft, sink every boat, and lock down the materials for making new ones. And that still leaves walking as an option. There is no real terminating clause, so this means that Dubyah's war is forever. Literally ``It will not end'' full-stop.

The pragmatist would realise that it also means this: even if notable headway were being made against true terrorism (which you can bet against fairly safely), the definition of ``terrorist'' would simply be expanded to include anyone doing anything disturbing to Dubyah's peace, as the definition of ``heretic'' was once expanded. Jobs for the boys, tenure for a President and his supporting groups.

And who knows what that could include? Failing to participate in certain community events? Failing to disclose every facet of your private life in closed cross-examination? Wearing ``at risk'' clothing or hair styles? Failing to turn up to church regularly? Using pinko Open Source software that could betray gummint secrets to terrorists? Supporting a terrorist's right to speak? Or to a fair trial? Does any historian here really think of this as a cry of ``wolf?''


-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee

Well.. (5.00 / 1) (#115)
by NovaHeat on Mon Sep 24, 2001 at 07:56:29 PM EST

I'm no fan of Bush... I voted for Gore, and the guy I voted for lost. It happens. Luckily, we seem to have gotten stuck with, for better or worse, a politician who may be a poor speaker but seems to have a level head. I don't think Bush wants to go down in history as the President who led us into Vietnam II. He may be a piss poor speaker, but he isn't stupid, no matter what zealots who hate the man out of hand because he won and their guy didn't say. He has alot of smart men around him, many of whom were in Vietnam, and certainly scores of them who saw (and were likely involved in funding) the Afghani resistance to the U.S.S.R. in the late 1970's. I think Bush knows that going in both guns blazing is a bad idea and won't work.

Unfortunately, I haven't seen much evidence that even threatening the Taliban over Osama bin Laden is warranted. While it's quite possible he is indeed behind all this, it's also possible, based upon what I've seen (or rather, not seen) that he ISN'T behind it. The whole "with us or against us" comment was also pretty damned weak. All in all, though, I'm pleased about our response thus far, but I'm keeping a watchful eye out (as I would have under Clinton or anyone else for that matter). Mainly I'm sick of hearing Bush-haters belch forth kneejerk reactions of fascist leanings and finger pointing every time Bush opens his mouth. He may be a terrible speaker, but if they'd listen, maybe they'd find that he just might have something useful to say.

-----

Rose clouds of flies.

Perhaps a rousing speech overall, but ... (none / 0) (#123)
by Ignis on Wed Sep 26, 2001 at 05:22:24 PM EST

Parts of this speech are simply ridiculous. Worse than ridiculous, in fact, because they misdirect the focus of US anger at the terrorist attacks onto inappropriate targets.

Here's the section I find offensive:

The terrorists practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected by Muslim scholars and the vast majority of Muslim clerics; a fringe movement that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam.

The terrorists' directive commands them to kill Christians and Jews, to kill all Americans and make no distinctions among military and civilians, including women and children. This group and its leader, a person named Osama bin Laden, are linked to many other organizations in different countries, including the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.

There are thousands of these terrorists in more than 60 countries.

They are recruited from their own nations and neighborhoods and brought to camps in places like Afghanistan where they are trained in the tactics of terror. They are sent back to their homes or sent to hide in countries around the world to plot evil and destruction. The leadership of al Qaeda has great influence in Afghanistan and supports the Taliban regime in controlling most of that country. In Afghanistan we see al Qaeda's vision for the world. Afghanistan's people have been brutalized, many are starving and many have fled.

Women are not allowed to attend school. You can be jailed for owning a television. Religion can be practiced only as their leaders dictate. A man can be jailed in Afghanistan if his beard is not long enough. The United States respects the people of Afghanistan -- after all, we are currently its largest source of humanitarian aid -- but we condemn the Taliban regime.

Interesting rhetoric. But this speech conveniently overlooks a few important facts in the cause of creating a tangible enemy. Here are a few examples:
- Not all fundamentalist Muslims are terrorists.
- The religious leaders of fundamentalist sects of Islam do not directly call for the universal murder of all non-Muslims.
- Fundamentalist Muslims account for a significant percentage of the Islamic world; this is hardly a 'fringe' movment.
- The ideals of the terrorist group in question (al Qaeda) are not 100% in synch with the interpreted beliefs of the flavour of fundamentalist Islam which they practice.
- The Taliban was able to assume control of Afghanistan primarily because of the power vaccuum created when western support fled the country after the collapse of the USSR.
- Much of the starvation in Afghanistan is a direct result of the (US-supported) war against the USSR/Afghanistan conflict. It's hard to grow crops in a mountainous reason in the best of times; years of Soviet shelling makes it even tougher.
- Afghanistan is a sovreign nation--albeit a theocracy--and has just as much right to pass laws that violate human rights for religious reasons as the US does in the War on (Some) Drugs.
- US secular beliefs to the contrary, the right to own a television is not guaranteed in the UN Declaration of Human Rights. ;)

The decision to place the above passage directly before the 'we will go kick their arses' part of the speech has very, very troubling consequences. In rhetoric, when you use inflamatory language against a particular group just before you announce your 'call to arms' or declaration of war, you influence your audience to associate that group with the action and the punnishment, whether or not you directly accuse that group of the crime. And that's dangerous, because the last thing the US needs right now is to piss off the rest of the Islamic world.

Did the speech rouse the spirits of many Americans? Surely.
Would any halfway-competent speech by any president have done the same thing, given the circumstances? Probably.
Could Dubya have left the above inflamatory passages out of the speech without reducing the overall quality of the speech and its contribution towards healing the American psyche after a national tragedy? Definitely.

I think you need to read a little more carefully.. (none / 0) (#124)
by Peter Moore on Thu Sep 27, 2001 at 07:09:19 PM EST

You seem to be basing many of your objections on a pretty basic mis-reading of Bush's words. You said:

Interesting rhetoric. But this speech conveniently overlooks a few important facts in the cause of creating a tangible enemy. Here are a few examples:
- Not all fundamentalist Muslims are terrorists.
- The religious leaders of fundamentalist sects of Islam do not directly call for the universal murder of all non-Muslims.
- Fundamentalist Muslims account for a significant
percentage of the Islamic world; this is hardly a 'fringe' movment.
- The ideals of the terrorist group in question (al Qaeda) are not 100% in synch with the interpreted beliefs of the flavour of fundamentalist Islam which they practice.

But Bush only said:

The terrorists practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected by Muslim scholars and the vast majority of Muslim clerics; a fringe movement that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam.

No mention of fundamentalists, only the pervision of Islam that Ben Ladin's followers seem to practice. So what are you objecting to?

And as for:

- Afghanistan is a sovreign nation--albeit a theocracy--and has just as much right to pass laws that violate human rights for religious reasons as the US does in the War on (Some) Drugs.
- US secular beliefs to the contrary, the right to own a television is not guaranteed in the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

Cute sound bite, but irrelevant. Bush said:

Women are not allowed to attend school. You can be jailed for owning a television. Religion can be practiced only as their leaders dictate. A man can be jailed in Afghanistan if his beard is not long enough. The United States respects the people of Afghanistan -- after all, we are currently its largest source of humanitarian aid -- but we condemn the Taliban regime.

No where does he say it's illegal, just deplorable. I find that kind of treatment of people deplorable as well. Don't you?

I don't think much of GW myself. But he has enough real sins that we don't need to streach to find ones that aren't there.

[ Parent ]

Rhetoric is often at odds with facts. (none / 0) (#125)
by Ignis on Thu Sep 27, 2001 at 08:36:15 PM EST

As rhetoric (and modern political speech-writing in particular) has little to do with the actual process of logical proof, I think it's inappropriate to hold it to such standards. Certainly, it is unwarranted to fall too far into the trap of reading between the lines, as that allows for all sorts of hooliganism in rhetorical analysis. But we can certainly judge a speech in context, can we not?

When we look at the sentences immediately preceding and following the 'fringe' line, I don't think it's inappropriate to judge that Dubya's speechwriters are either a)intelligent, and intented the projected audience to unconsciously 'connect the dots', or b)dumb, and unintentionally committed a major faux-pas in the placement of that sentence.

Again, we are not looking at the 1-2-3-therefore-4 causality of a formal logic argument here; we're discussing political rhetoric, and the implied appeal to emotions rather than logic contained therein. The hand-waving apparent in translating 'Islamic fundamentalism' to 'Islamic extremism' is insufficient to assuage the secondary--though no less important--audience of Dubya's speech: the Islamic world.

As for the rights of liberated women, clean-shaven men, and television junkies under the Taliban, I personally find such restrictions of individual freedom abhorent. But my personal preferences in the matter are not the issue. What's at stake here is how the Islamic world views the US, and how the US views the Islamic world. And this de facto cultural imperialism has no place in a speech which has the stated intent of responding to a terrorist crime.

Yes, the human rights violations of the Taliban regime are horrible. But they must be seen in comparison with the human rights violations of many other US-supported (if not -founded) countries in the world. Look at the government death squads in Jordan, the religious police and laws which prevent the creation of political parties in Saudi Arabia, and the political-influenced police torture in Egypt. These are the allies of the US, but with friends like these....

[ Parent ]

Did he not rise? | 127 comments (116 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
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