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Book Review: Against All Enemies

By aphrael in Op-Ed
Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 03:46:13 PM EST
Tags: Books (all tags)
Books

When Against All Enemies was published a few weeks ago, it was greeted by a flurry of press and blogsphere discussion, almost entirely focused on the book's criticisms of the Bush administration. Those criticisms are largely contained within the book's final chapter, a chapter that feels grafted on, and which is significantly different in tone from the rest of the book. It's unfortunate that this chapter has become the focus for discussion of the book - a fact which argues that, perhaps, it shouldn't have been included at all.

The majority of the book is a discussion of how the first Bush administration and the Clinton administration gradually came to realize the existence of al Qaeda and tried to figure out what to do about it. The story is framed, at the beginning and the end, by the events of September 11, 2001 (during which Clarke was one of the people primarily responsible for government operations during the hours until President Bush took charge) - but that is simply the framing; the real meat of the book takes place in an earlier time. The time that laid the groundwork for that day.


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This is the story, from my perspective, of how al Qaeda developed and attacked the United States on September 11. It is a story of the CIA and FBI, who came late to realize that there was a threat to the United States and who were unable to stop it even after they agreed that the threat was real and significant. It is also the story of four presidents:
  • Ronald Reagan, who did not retaliate for the murder of 278 United States Marines in Beirut and who violated his own terrorism policy by trading arms for hostages in what came to be the Iran-Contra scandal;
  • George H.W. Bush, who did not retaliate for the Libyan murder of 259 passengers on Pan Am 103; who did not have an official counterterrorism policy; and who left Saddam Hussein in place, requiring the United States to leave a large military presence in Saudi Arabia;
  • Bill Clinton, who identified terrorism as the major post-Cold War threat and acted to improve our counterterrorism capabilities; who (little known to the public) quelled anti-American terrorism by Iraq and Iran and defeated an al Qaeda attempt to dominate Bosnia; but who, weakened by continued political attack, could not get the CIA, the Pentagon, and the FBI to act sufficiently to deal with the threat;
  • George W. Bush, who failed to act prior to September 11 on the threat from al Qaeda despite repeated warnings and then harvested a political windfall for taking obvious yet insufficient steps after the attacks; and who launched an unnecessary and costly war in Iraq that strengthened the fundamentalist, radical Islamic terrorist movement worldwide.

This is, unfortunately, also the story of how America was unable to develop a consensus that the threat was significant and was unable to do all that was necessary to deal with a new threat until that threat actually killed thousands of Americans.

So begins Against All Enemies, the controversial book by Richard Clarke, the former National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure, Protection, and Counterterrorism. Whether you agree with his conclusions or not, this is one of the few must-read books on contemporary national security policy, and one of the most interesting books on public policy, period, since the publication of Hedrick Smith's The Power Game.

Little noticed by most Americans, including in its government, a new international movement began growing during the last two decades. It does not just seek terror for its own sake; that international movement's goal is the creation of a network of governments, imposing on their citizens a minority interpretation of Islam. Some in the movement call for the scope of their campaign to be global domination. The "Caliphate" they seek to create would be a severe and repressive fourteenth-century literalist theocracy. They pursue its creation with gruesome violence and fear.

The story Clarke tells begins with the Reagan administration. It places the Iran-Iraq war in the context of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the continuation of the great power game in central asia, and discusses how the decision to give Stingers to the mujahadeen related to the two. "Even with hindsight, I believe the Reagan administration was right to assist the Afghans and to drain the Soviet Union's resolve," Clarke says, decisively picking sides in what remains a contentious debate. Yet the book also notes the side-effect: "As they sat together in Kabul, Kandahar, and Jalalabad, they mused on what was now happening to the Soviet Union. Among them were the Saudi Usama Bin Laden, the Pakistani Khalid Sheik Muhammad, the Indonesian known as Hambali, and others we did not know then. In the wake of their Afghan defeat (and, the Arabs believed, because of that defeat), the Soviet Union was now unraveling. Some Afghans and Some Arab fighters pondered what you could do with money, and a few good weapons. You could overthrow an infidel government. More important, you could destroy a superpower."

It goes on to discuss the Gulf War, which decisively changed the scope of American military engagement in the Persian Gulf, and pinpoints two mistakes as being critical for the evolution of the politics of the region: the US' failure to continue the war for long enough to destroy the Republican Guard (thereby insuring a need for a continued presence in Saudi Arabia), and the decision to stand by and watch, without preventing, the Iraqi government's murder of the Shiites and the Kurds (thereby engendering distrust among our previous allies, a distrust which remains to this day). But he argues strongly against the "we should have gone to Baghdad" line, pointing out that (a) it would have shattered the coalition, and (b) there was never any such plan in the first place.

Those chapters, however, constitute a background and an introduction to the main subject matter of the book: the Clinton administration's engagement with the growing menace of al Qaeda. That part of the story begins, of course, with the first world trade center bombing, in which the government was able to pin the blame on Omar Abdel Rahman, but was unaware of the larger organization of which Rahman was a part. "Usama bin Laden had formed al Qaeda three years earlier. Not only had no one in the CIA or FBI ever heard of it, apparently they had never heard of bin Laden either. His name never came up in our meetings in 1993 as a suspect in the World Trade Center attack." Similarly, the Clinton administration was unable to connect al Qaeda to the militia that attacked US soldiers in Somalia in 1993 - a connection which it came to understand only in hindsight, much later.

Much of the book is like that - terrorist attacks not understood and not averted because of that lack of understanding. Probably the first success that Clarke describes was the events that followed on the discovery, in January 1995, that Ramzi Yousef was planning to blow up US airplanes in the Pacific - a lucky break, courtesy of the Filipino government, that allowed them to avert a disaster. Much of the story is like that, too - acts of terrorism prevented not because there was a well-executed plan to prevent them, but because someone happened to be in the right place at the right time and understood what was happening.

The book is scathing in its description of the FBI, and only slightly less critical of the CIA. One revealing story describes FBI Director Louis Freeh's response to a Saudi report that they had traced, to Canada, a member of the group responsible for the attack on the Khobar towers: Freeh wanted to confront the guy and solicit his cooperation in exchange for a light sentence, the same way one would go about flipping a low-level mafia boss. They approached him, he agreed, came to the US, and then refused to cooperate - instead seeking political asylum (as protection against extradition to Saudi Arabia)!

The general picture the book presents is of a White House / National Security Advisor staff which, by 1996-1997, understood (more or less) what was happening: that a group of radical islamic terrorists was engaged in a long-term campaign to destroy the United States via terrorism, but which found itself unable to convince the Pentagon, the FBI, or the CIA of the accuracy of its interpretation. Their resistance, combined with traditional bureaucratic infighting, resulted in the creation of an office of counterterrorism - a terrorism czar - which had the responsibility for dealing with terrorism but none of the tools or the authority to get the job done.

That's a fairly critical analysis of what happened in the Clinton administration, but the analysis of the Bush administration is even more critical and contentious - Clarke alleges that the incoming administration basically rejected the conclusions that Clarke and his coworkers had reached, without looking at the evidence, because the political appointees were mostly convinced that the problem was Iraq, and that all of the acts of terrorism which Clarke's office had been fighting had been orchestrated by Iraq. Large-scale terrorism was impossible without state assistance, they believed.

----

In analyzing any book of this sort, there are a couple of questions which need to be considered vis-a-vis the integrity and motivation of the author. Is this book published as a way of scoring points in an old debate? Is it unbiased and accurate, or is it heavily slanted? What are the author's institutional and political biases?

It's fairly clear from the author's employment history and the tone of the start of the book that the author started out as a Reagan-era cold warrior; his political biases on foreign policy appear to lean towards conservative realism. (Unfortunately, he never comes out and directly states his political biases, making it harder than it should be to uncover them). The question of institutional biases is a more difficult one, though: the picture his book paints is explicitly one of the white house staff being in opposition to the FBI and the CIA, his book is highly critical of the intelligence agencies, and he was a white house staffer. Is it possible or likely that he's exaggerating their failures?

It's possible, yes. But one of the things that reduces the likelihood is the disarming forthrightness Clarke has in assessing White House failures: even the Clinton administration - the administration Clarke's book is most sympathetic to - is portrayed as thrashing around, either not getting it or just barely getting it, being a step behind where it should have been. To a great extent, the book is a chronicle of failure - failure at the White House, failure at the CIA, failure at the FBI, failure everywhere. Clarke is quite clear about this, and his willingness to admit where he failed adds punch to his criticism of other people - people who, to a large extent, have still not admitted their failure.

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Poll
Should the Clinton and Bush administrations have done more to prevent terrorism?
o Clinton did enough, Bush should have done more 33%
o Bush did enough, Clinton should have done more 3%
o Neither did enough and should have done more 36%
o Both did enough 4%
o Terrorism isn't a threat, why are you talking about this? 21%

Votes: 83
Results | Other Polls

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o Also by aphrael


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Book Review: Against All Enemies | 203 comments (178 topical, 25 editorial, 7 hidden)
-1, makes serious note of a "blogsphere" (1.10 / 20) (#17)
by Hide The Hamster on Fri Apr 16, 2004 at 08:11:55 PM EST




Free spirits are a liability.

August 8, 2004: "it certainly is" and I had engaged in a homosexual tryst.

Clinton in the middle (1.95 / 24) (#18)
by adimovk5 on Fri Apr 16, 2004 at 10:27:16 PM EST

Bill Clinton, who identified terrorism as the major post-Cold War threat and acted to improve our counterterrorism capabilities; who (little known to the public) quelled anti-American terrorism by Iraq and Iran and defeated an al Qaeda attempt to dominate Bosnia; but who, weakened by continued political attack, could not get the CIA, the Pentagon, and the FBI to act sufficiently to deal with the threat;
Poor Bill Clinton. The shining star. Flanked on each side by incompetent presidents. O, if only he hadn't been attacked so viciously and so unrelentlessly by his enemies. O, if only people had been able to ignore his lack of morals and see beyond his personal life.

How lucky we are that this great unbiased statesman has emerged after his long years of silence to save us from a GWB re-election.



Just checking: (none / 2) (#20)
by mcc on Fri Apr 16, 2004 at 10:53:02 PM EST

I am interpreting your post in this manner: It is sarcastic, and its point is to imply that anything that fails to attack Bill Clinton must be pro-Democrat partisan boostering and/or idealizing his presidency.

Was this how you meant it to be taken? I am just honestly wondering.

---
Aside from that, the absurd meta-wankery of k5er-quoting sigs probably takes the cake. Especially when the quote itself is about k5. -- tsubame
[ Parent ]

Only correct in part (3.00 / 4) (#21)
by adimovk5 on Fri Apr 16, 2004 at 11:17:01 PM EST

anything that fails to attack Bill Clinton must be pro-Democrat partisan boostering and/or idealizing his presidency

Your statement is untrue both in my case and in general. Failure to attack Clinton is not, by default, support of Clinton. However, an attack on Reagon, Bush, and Bush while giving excuses and emphasizing the (little known) successes of Clinton leads me to believe this is a partisan effort.

Our politicians seem unable to guide the country with forethought and wisdom. As a group, they are unable to recognize dangers to the future of this country until they are punched squarely in the nose. Even then, they seem unable to gauge the level of danger so that appropriate action can be taken.

Clinton is as much to blame for our lack of action and inappropriate action as the others. It was not until 9/11 that our government woke to the danger, including the book's author.

[ Parent ]

Perhaps. (none / 2) (#27)
by aphrael on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 12:13:43 PM EST

But the book seems to make the case that Clarke had been awake to the danger and had for years been trying to wake other people up to it, to no success, because everyone thought he was a crazy obsessive focused on one issue that couldn't possibly be as big a deal as he was making it out to be.

[ Parent ]
not Cassandra (2.50 / 4) (#30)
by adimovk5 on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 02:31:47 PM EST

The book could have been an eye-opener and a window into the the inner workings of the government. As such, it would have been a valuable contribution to the public. As it is, it is nothing more than self promotion and an effort to endear himself to the left.

If have a very low opinion of Clarke. Here is why.

Option 1. He is a coward. He knew the danger and and was too concerned about his own career or his own reputation to risk the chance that he might be wrong. Thousands died for his cowardice.

Option 2. He is a fool. He knew the danger and complained often but to all the wrong people. He presented his information over and over to the same people who kept ignoring him. If he was so certain, he should have taken the information to the House or Senate. If that failed, he hould have taken the information to the press. Thousands died for his foolishness.

Option 3. He is greedy. He rose through the ranks as a bureaucrat with personal leftist leanings. (I have no problem with that.) When he reached the top of his profession, he found that he did not have the ear of his boss or his administration. Instead of going public, he decided to write a book and profit instead. Thousands died for his greed.

Option 4. He is a liar. He suspected the danger but had no substantial proof. His allegations were only one of many problems the government was dealing with. There was nothing that made his arguments more plausible. After being denied a promotion to a position he thought he deserved, he decided to take revenge. He wrote an anti-right book (not necessarily pro-left) and proclaimed his own guilty conscience. (America hates finger pointing but loves confessions.) He is inflating his own importance while denegrating four administrations. He is taking advantage of the deaths of thousands.

It is a pity that we have so few statesman today. We need men (and women) who have the courage to step forth and proclaim the truth as they see it. From 1933 to 1940, Winston Churchill was relegated to the proverbial wilderness while he protested against the dangers of Hitler and appeasement. Against government and public he argued for an alliance with France and Russia. When Hitler invaded Norway, Chamberlain was forced to resign and Churchill became Britain's leader. Six years as an outcast.

Where have all the statesmen gone?

[ Parent ]

Evidence for this? :) (none / 2) (#31)
by aphrael on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 02:40:04 PM EST

I take it you are asserting that one of these options must be true. The closest is probably option 4: he suspected the danger but had no substantial proof, and that his allegations were only one of the many problems the government was dealing with.

But I don't see how it follows from that that he's a liar. :) What promotion was he denied? He was the administration's counterterrorism chief for three years, and he asked - and was granted - to be transferred to another position. Where does your claim come from?

Yeah, he wrote an anti-right book, although (as I said) the anti-right portions of it are bizarrely grafted on to what is essentially a criticism of the Clinton administration. How does it follow from that that he is taking advantage of the deaths of thousands?

Is there any way anyone could have written a "this is what we did right, this is what we did wrong" book without, in your eyes, taking advantage of the deaths of thousands?

[ Parent ]

not necessarily my options (none / 1) (#37)
by adimovk5 on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 03:57:51 PM EST

I don't believe one of my options has to be true. I wish I could believe the words of a man who has spent his life in government service. But I don't. The one story that I see as implausible is the one recorded in his book.

Clarke claims he is non-partisan yet contributed publicly to Democrat candidates with no record of Republican contributions. He also has close friends in the Democrat party machine. That is reported in the World News Daily

Claims Clarke is angry about being passed over for promotion pepper the news, mostly on the right. Here is an account from the San Diego Union-Tribune and Reuters.

McClellan said Clarke refused to join daily meetings with senior national security officials and later was turned down for the No. 2 post at the Department of Homeland Security.
I believe he took an essentially non-partisan book and soft pedaled Clinton to assist his friend and Kerry defeat Bush. Clinton's faults are shown as an inability to overcome the opposition of government agencies. Apparently we would have a coherent policy and no al Qaeda problems if people had cooperated with Clinton. The Republicas are portrayed as bumblers who could not see the real problem ahead.

Is there any way anyone could have written a "this is what we did right, this is what we did wrong" book without, in your eyes, taking advantage of the deaths of thousands?

I would be more inclined to believe Clarke only wants the public to know the truth if he donated all the profits to the victims of 9/11.



[ Parent ]

Also, note (none / 1) (#32)
by aphrael on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 02:41:39 PM EST

that he didn't leave the administration until after September 11; to argue that thousands died because he would rather have written a book than try to change things inside the administration is to entirely misunderstand the chronology.

[ Parent ]
chronology (none / 0) (#34)
by adimovk5 on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 03:24:47 PM EST

His chronology starts from the Reagon administration. At any time since then he could have gone public with his case, including after 9/11. Instead he kept quiet other than reports to his bosses. It takes several months to write a book. He left the administration in 2003. When did he start the book? I have no idea. I find it hard to believe that he waited until leaving. It is possible that he didn't start until after 9/11. However, the bios of other authors leads me to believe most first books germinate for years in notes and other rough forms before they become a book.

[ Parent ]
in his preface (none / 0) (#35)
by aphrael on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 03:41:24 PM EST

he claims that he did not start until late 2002 or so. you can take that at face value or not.

Also, note, that during the Clinton administration, he was being listened to, at least by the White House (if you believe his story); it's a reasonable decision to make that he would be more effective at instituting change if he stayed within the administration than without.

Something happened between 2001 and 2002 to change that calculus. His argument is that it was the attitude of the Bush administration that changed it. Your opinion seems to be that it was Clarke's partisanship. Do you have any evidence, other than faith, that it's the latter and not the former?

I have no evidence, of course, that it's the former, other than the general trustworthiness of the other parts of Clarke's book, and the fact that Clarke's allegations about the Bush administration's *process* seem to fit the pattern that emerges from looking at other similar books by former administration officials, as well as what i've heard of the new book by Woodward. Maybe all of them are motivated by partisanship, but it's less likely than that the centerpiece of their common criticism is in fact valid.

[ Parent ]

he is two-faced (none / 0) (#40)
by adimovk5 on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 04:20:45 PM EST

It's likely that he didn't start the actual writing of the book until late 2002. However, the idea "I should write a book" probably started much earlier. He has had a long career of government service.

I believe that his friends, mostly Democrat, convinced him to change the course of his life. Both Democrats and Republicans are sensing a change in public opinion and are trying to sway the change in their favor. It's a cultural war for the hearts and minds of Americans. I think they convinced him to stop giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Whatever it was convinced a long time government servant to leave the government.

Clarke registered as a Republican in the 2000 Virginia primary to vote for John McCain. There was no Democrat to vote for (Clinton was up for re-election). In 2000, he voted for Gore over Bush. The only reported donations by him to any politician are for Democrats. Each time he maxed out his legal limit. Random Observations His best friend is on the Kerry planning committee.

I'm not saying the Bush administration is honorable. They are politicians just like any other. I am not their supporter. To find the last honorable president you have to travel back to 1789-1797.

[ Parent ]

Why? (none / 0) (#81)
by aphrael on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 12:46:46 PM EST

Ah, but thinking "I should write a book" is hardly sufficient.

I'm interested in why you believe that his friends convinced him to change the course of his life. The book makes a fairly compelling case that it was the behavior of his new colleagues which turned him off to the Republicans and drove him out of the administration.

One of the interesting things in this debate is that most left-leaning people seem to be willing to take Clarke's arguments at face value - including his criticisms of Clinton - but that many right-leaning people dismiss it out of hand and impugn his motives. That's somewhat disturbing.

[ Parent ]

re: not Cassandra (none / 3) (#36)
by Perpetual Newbie on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 03:41:57 PM EST

If have a very low opinion of Clarke. Here is why.

Option 1. He is a coward. He knew the danger and and was too concerned about his own career or his own reputation to risk the chance that he might be wrong. Thousands died for his cowardice.

It's the soft sell. When the hard sell gets you fired, it's better for the people with knowledge but no power to slowly influence the people with power but no knowledge than for all the experts to be replaced with yes-men. Besides, he pressed hard enough on the issue that it did cost him his career. You see that he's not Bush's chief of counterterrorism anymore.
Option 2. He is a fool. He knew the danger and complained often but to all the wrong people. He presented his information over and over to the same people who kept ignoring him. If he was so certain, he should have taken the information to the House or Senate. If that failed, he hould have taken the information to the press. Thousands died for his foolishness.

He tried to arrange a meeting with Bush but was always blocked by the White House. He did take the information to Congress during the hearings in summer 2001 when lots of people said there was probably going to be an al-Qaeda attack in the United States soon. Even in 2001, the press was still more interested in Clinton's blow job than the threat of terrorism, so the hearings weren't widely reported.

Option 3. He is greedy. He rose through the ranks as a bureaucrat with personal leftist leanings. (I have no problem with that.) When he reached the top of his profession, he found that he did not have the ear of his boss or his administration. Instead of going public, he decided to write a book and profit instead. Thousands died for his greed.

Where the fuck do you get off saying that his (supposed) greed in 2003 is the reason nobody listened to him in 2001, calling a Republican hawk a "leftist", or saying that writing and publishing a book isn't going public? This entire paragraph is complete Fox News nonsense.

Option 4. He is a liar. He suspected the danger but had no substantial proof. His allegations were only one of many problems the government was dealing with. There was nothing that made his arguments more plausible. After being denied a promotion to a position he thought he deserved, he decided to take revenge. He wrote an anti-right book (not necessarily pro-left) and proclaimed his own guilty conscience. (America hates finger pointing but loves confessions.) He is inflating his own importance while denegrating four administrations. He is taking advantage of the deaths of thousands.

You've just taken Clarke to the woodshed for not considering the proof substantial enough to lose his job by pressing harder for recognition, and now blame him for the proof not being substantial enough? You can't have it both ways. Clarke's argument isn't "we knew something was coming and Bush didn't do jack shit". it's "we had suspicions something was coming and Bush didn't do jack shit, and it came, and Bush should have done something". And how can you accuse the Administration's top counterterrorism official of "inflating his importance" on counterterrorism?

It is a pity that we have so few statesman today. We need men (and women) who have the courage to step forth and proclaim the truth as they see it.

You've just spent four paragraphs denigrating Richard Clarke for doing exactly that.

From 1933 to 1940, Winston Churchill was relegated to the proverbial wilderness while he protested against the dangers of Hitler and appeasement. Against government and public he argued for an alliance with France and Russia.

Britain was allied with France and had several divisions defending the country when Hitler invaded. Ever heard of Dunkirk? Also, Stalin and Hitler were allies early in the war, co-occupying Poland and massacring their respective enemies in the country.

Where have all the statesmen gone?

Okay, let's make a little list of people brave enough to risk their careers and reputations by opposing the unnecessary invasion of Iraq while there's nuclear bombmaking in Korea and another war to fight against al-Qaeda. I doubt you'll like it, but these are a few of your statesmen:

  • Scott Ritter
  • Al Sharpton
  • Dennis Kuchinich
  • Howard Dean
  • Jesse Jackson
  • Sheila Jackson Lee
  • Jim McDermott
  • Davin Bonoir
  • Jose Serrano
  • John Conyers

There are plenty more, I'm sure.



[ Parent ]
nonsense (none / 1) (#46)
by adimovk5 on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 06:49:26 PM EST

When the hard sell gets you fired
What makes you think he was fired? He was over 50 years old. Maybe he wanted to move on. The article says retired.

That aside, your point on staying is good. However, sometimes it is important to stand on principle. If there was a clear danger, it was his responsibility to make the case known publicly and loudly if needed. Dale Watson was a good example. He used his position to change the organization of the FBI from the time of the first WTC attack. He was ready when 9/11 caused more funds to be released but he didn't wait until then to act.

Clarke was not fired, he resigned after not being promoted in the DHS.

He tried to arrange a meeting with Bush
How many times did he arrange meetings? When were those meetings? And what were their purpose? I have heard that line repeated often but I have yet to see any proof other than Clarke himself.

I haven't heard anything about the summer hearings. Did he have anything specific then? Or was it still just a general threat? Was there anything that could have been done at that point to prevent 9/11?

calling a Republican hawk a "leftist"
Is Clarke a Republican hawk? Where do you get that info from?
writing and publishing a book isn't going public?
Publishing a book is going public. I question the timing. If he was going public as a public service. The time would have been years before when something could have been done to prevent 9/11. That doesn't mean you can't publish after 9/11. An election year just makes the timing suspicious.
You can't have it both ways.
I'm not having it both ways. According to Clarke, the dangers have been present since Reagon. He has been in a powerful position since the Clinton administration. At any time since at least the Clinton administration, he could have went public with the threat posed. But he didn't. Instead he waits until he is no longer a government employee. Now his job isn't at risk. It's safe for him to come out.

He had plenty of opportunities to air his opinions, especially since he was a top counterterrorism official . He did not. In fact, if the administration was ignoring what he believed was a great threat to the security of the coutry and the lives of Americans he had a duty as a top counterterrorism official to go to COngress and the press and make himself heard. He did not. He belongs in the woodshed.

I did not say he was inflating his importance on counterterrorism. I said that he was inflating his importance period. Far more Americans died every year to heart disease (725,000) and accidents (97,000) than had died at the hands of terrorists. He was not the head of an agency or department. He was an advisor. It was not until the creation of the DHS that security became important enough for the top counterterrorism official to be part of the cabinet. If he was so important, why was he ignored?

EXPERIENCE: Nuclear weapons and European security analyst, office of the Secretary of Defense, 1973-1977; senior analyst, Pacific Sierra Research Corp., 1978-1979; senior analyst, State Department, 1979-1985; deputy assistant secretary of state for intelligence, 1985-1989; assistant secretary of state for politico-military affairs, 1989-1992; special assistant to the president, National Security Council, 1992-1998; national coordinator for security, infrastructure protection, and counterterror, 1998-2001; special adviser to the president for cyberspace security, 2001-2003. Currently chairman of Good Harbor Consulting.
Clarke has had the courage to step forth and publish a book during an election year that attacks the current administration while a 9/11 commision is having hearings. Very convenient.

Britain was allied with France
Britain was not allied with France until both declared war on Germany after the fall of Poland. Churchill had advocated an alliance long before that but the government and the public preferred to remain neutral in continental affairs after the end of The Great War. Stalin and Hitler became allies after England and France rejected an alliance with Russia.
little list of people
There are strong arguments against the second Iraqi-American war. The Democratic Party has a long history of being anti-war period. Opposition to the invasion of Iraq does not make a person a statesman. A continued principled stance does. The only person is see on your list that I consider principled is Howard Dean.


[ Parent ]
Britain & France alliance (none / 0) (#82)
by shinshin on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 12:46:46 PM EST

    Britain was not allied with France until both declared war on Germany after the fall of Poland.

What the hell are you talking about? Britain and France were allies throughout World War I and on.

____
We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons --Dick Cheney, Meet the Press, March 16, 2003
[ Parent ]

Civil Service (none / 0) (#110)
by duffbeer703 on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 12:07:17 AM EST

One of the reasons that Civil Service employees accept boring jobs & low pay is that they receive an excellent pension, guaranteed by the taxpayers.

If you read the press release:

Mr. Watson is a 24-year veteran Special Agent who has served continually in counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence roles since 1982. In his current position, he has overseen the investigation of both the September 11 terrorist attacks and the deadly anthrax mailings as well as the refocusing and re-engineering of the FBI's counter-terrorism program.

Police start getting pensions after twenty years of service in most state & federal agencies, but you get the best benefits when you are 55 with 25 years of service.

Whenever you see a Federal or State employee involved in some issue of contention suddenly retire "to work in the private sector" with 19 or 21-24 years in, you know that it wasn't a retirement.

The mentioning of his intention "to work in the private sector" is an additional F-U from the FBI, since 50+ year old government bueracrats plan on playing golf, not work, in retirement.

[ Parent ]

Scott Ritter? (none / 0) (#109)
by duffbeer703 on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 11:59:16 PM EST

Hardly a statesman.

His encounters with his local police departments don't attest to statesmanship:
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=Scott+Ritter%2C+sex+offender

At best he's one more has-been turned commentator.

[ Parent ]

proving pn's point nicely [nt] (none / 0) (#133)
by fenix down on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 12:39:27 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Failure to flap their ears (3.00 / 6) (#41)
by Blarney on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 04:21:27 PM EST

What a mindless stupid argument. That's just what the Administration is saying on TV - it's well-rehearsed, it's consistent, and it doesn't make a damned bit of sense.

All they're saying - and you're, for some reason, echoing - is that Clarke failed by not trying hard enough to pique the interest of the precious people on top. They're like the rulers of Swift's Laputa, unable to see unless their eyes are stroked, unable to hear unless their ears are flapped - it's not enough to tell them what's going on, this is in fact deriliction of duty - a whole song and dance has to be done just to interest their refined diffident sensibilities. This argument doesn't just apply to Clarke - it's an argument about the guilt of every lower-level FBI and CIA agent who had strong suspicions about terrorism but was not listened to.

They're saying "We didn't IGNORE our security apparatus - they just failed to present their information in an appealing manner". Hey, it's no different than blaming a moviemaker or a musician for producing an uninteresting work of art that they didn't buy, right?

But it's wrong too, because they shouldn't need a dog-and-pony show to do their job. Their underlings were under no application to become cranky wackos running around shouting their suspicions at any TV camera they saw in the hopes that their superiors would be watching! The people who worked at the CIA and FBI were not obligated to pull some crazy "Roger and Me" stunt just to be listened to by the precious people on top.

The real duty here was for the Administration to be aware of what their security organizations were doing - to familiarize themselves with the reports generated by these organizations - and if they did not do that, they are to blame and not the people at career-level who actually did their jobs. The buck stops at the top. Not at the bottom.

And yet, here you are, reciting their excuses for them.

[ Parent ]

responsibility (none / 0) (#42)
by adimovk5 on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 04:47:00 PM EST

It is not solely the fault of Richard Clarke that 9/11 happenned or al Qaeda has become so powerful. What is ridiculous is his assertion that there was a clear and present danger and he did everything in his power to convince the administration.

I find it hard to believe that he had been tracking the threat since the Reagon administration and was yet unable to present a compelling case to Bush, et al.

Every official has a responsibility to present the case for the information they have gathered and the opinions they present. It is a failure on his part. He was not up to the task. The president is the leader of a country of almost 300 million people with a 2 trillion dollar budget in a 6 trillion dollar economy. Our country is opposed militarily, politically and economically by enemies foreign and domestic. Every day, the president and his advisors take in information and make decisions. There isn't enough money, time, or other resources to solve every problem. Administration officials must present their case and the President must make decisions.

The failure of 9/11 was a failure from top to bottom. You're right the buck does stop at the top. Bush does bear responsibility for the actions of his administration. We elect our chief executive to have someone responsible. That does not absolve responsibility from the lower levels.



[ Parent ]

To present a compelling case (none / 1) (#50)
by ttfkam on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 07:38:13 PM EST

...one must be given an audience. Or was I imagining the part where he requested a cabinet meeting in January 2001 to discuss Al Qaeda and threats to national security by terrorists? Was it just a hallucination that he finally got it in early September?

Clarke had a clear enough picture of events to advise a certain other president against Al Qaeda. He was sufficiently persuasive to get a certain other president to put resources into the problem. Did he suddenly become less persuasive (even though the evidence was mounting rather than diminishing), did he decide the danger wasn't as dire anymore (while making multiple requests for meetings with the senior staff), or did the new administration simply not give enough credence? For some odd reason, I suspect the latter.

That does not absolve responsibility from the lower levels.

No one said it did. No one. Take a look at this comment thread. Take a look at the articles written about this.

The difference here is that Clarke publicly apologized; He took responsibility. The ones further up the chain, where the buck stops, still maintain that they did nothing wrong and there was no possible way to have seen it coming let alone stop it. When the administration pointedly asked if Iraq had anything to do with it, everyone -- the FBI, the CIA, Clarke, everyone -- told them no. This was information specifically asked for. So what are the chances they would listen closely to information they didn't ask for?

Everything to me points to a failure to receive information, not failure to produce it with sufficient fervor.


If I'm made in God's image then God needs to lay off the corn chips and onion dip. Get some exercise, God! - Tatarigami
[ Parent ]
This is the interesting point of disagreement. (none / 1) (#135)
by aphrael on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 01:24:44 PM EST

I see a career bureaucrat who tried to convince the Bush administration but who wasn't able to because the Bush administration officials' preconcieved notions got in the way.

You see a career bureaucrat who tried to convince the Bush administration but didn't because his case was too weak.

I believe the former is an accurate description because i've now seen numerous books that allege that the Bush administration has a tendency to ignore evidence that conflicts with its preconceived notions; while one or two of them might be sketchy, the number is now large enough that it's more likely that they are reporting something that is true than that they aren't. The stack of evidence is getting larger every day (it seems), and it all supports the argument that preconceived notions getting in the way is soemthing this team is vulnerable to.

Why do you believe the latter?

[ Parent ]

Yes, Cassandra (none / 1) (#77)
by shinshin on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 12:29:34 PM EST

I have a very low opinion of adimovk5. Here is why.

    Option 2. He is a fool. He knew the danger and complained often but to all the wrong people. He presented his information over and over to the same people who kept ignoring him. If he was so certain, he should have taken the information to the House or Senate. If that failed, he hould have taken the information to the press. Thousands died for his foolishness.

Yeah, that "Bin Laden determined to strike in US" memo he gave to the National Security Advisor, who read it to the President of the United States (who was vacationing in his ranch at the time) surely was the "wrong people". He should have given it directly to, say, God, who would have had a month to plan how he might prevent the September 11th attacks. At least God doesn't spend a third of his time on vacation and take an hour long nap every day. Sadly, he didn't, and thousands died for his foolishness.

____
We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons --Dick Cheney, Meet the Press, March 16, 2003
[ Parent ]

From the sound of it (none / 0) (#56)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 08:52:08 PM EST

he was obsessive. Unfortunately (for us) his prophecies finally came true.

People forget that the things Clarke was predicting were the same things we've been hearing about since the early 70's - and after a while it just sounds like "cry wolf" syndrome.

Objectively,  it's not hard to drive America into ruin - the weird thing is that no one's done it yet. I still remember Ben Bova's recipe for crippling the American economy for 12-18 months. All it takes is a 22 rifle and a list of the major electrical substations on the East Coast. Although, these days, I'd probably use two teams, one to hit the north east and one to hit the south west.

Those substations are special order items, with only a few spares on hand a time - so if you knock out enough them, the power will stay out till new ones can be made and shipped from Japan or Korea.

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]

Clinton's personal life (2.45 / 11) (#26)
by GreyGhost on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 06:40:12 AM EST

O, if only people had been able to ignore his lack of morals and see beyond his personal life.

They did, remember? Even after the stupid Republican twats had that impeachment trial?

Admittedly there is a lot to hate in Clinton if you are of a vindictive jealous nature. For one thing I think he has gotten more nooky than any other US President (even Kennedy). He is defnitely one of the smartest Presidents we have ever had (and I mean going back to Thomas Jefferson and John Adams). And in addition to all this - he is one charming motherfucker with great hair who would look like he stepped out of the pages of GQ were it not for the slight pudge he gets from eating too many cheese burgers.

And he earned it all by himself. He did not have a rich daddy to hand him everything in his life. His daddy was coming home drunk and beating him with the belt.



[ Parent ]

smart (none / 1) (#47)
by adimovk5 on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 07:04:52 PM EST

Instead of saying people I should have said Republicans. O, if only Republicans had been able to ignore his lack of morals and see beyond his personal life. Good call.

Do you think Clinton was smarter than FDR? FDR initiated American socialism, guided America out of the Great Depression and into World War 2 victory, and was elected 4 consecutive times. Chances are he would have elected again if not for his death. Most of what the federal government is today is due to FDR.

Clinton is charming and intelligent and a master politician. He will probably be an elder statesman of the Democrats for years to come. I wouldn't be surprised if a future Dem President nominated him for a seat on the Supreme Court. It worked for Taft.

[ Parent ]

Probably not... (none / 1) (#49)
by claes on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 07:25:28 PM EST

He will probably be an elder statesman of the Democrats for years to come.

Except for his poor choice in spouses, I'd agree with you. As I've said before, so many people hate Hillary so much that he will never enter that rarefied stratosphere of "elder statesmen" inhabited by Jimmy Carter, the late Dick Nixon, and, I guess, Gerald Ford (what IS he up to now-a-days?).

-- claes

[ Parent ]

FDR's opportunity (none / 0) (#69)
by rusty on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 07:26:23 AM EST

FDR is unique in the opportunity for real change he had, coming into office during the Depression. After Hoover's floundering, FDR had a mandate to do basically anything he wanted, because it he could hardly make things any worse. He jumped all over it, and I'm not taking anything away from his ability to actually implement policies. But he did have a kind of carte blanche on policy that I don't think any president before or since had.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Lincoln would have had it (none / 0) (#84)
by aphrael on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 01:31:08 PM EST

and (Andrew) Johnson did, too, to an extent, except that he wasn't willing to go far enough and so lost the initiative.

[ Parent ]
True about Lincoln (none / 0) (#124)
by rusty on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 09:10:23 AM EST

I must admit to knowing pretty much nothing about Andrew Johnson, so I'll take your word for it. :-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Reconstruction (none / 0) (#132)
by aphrael on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 12:37:38 PM EST

Johnson would have had carte blanche to impose any set of harsh terms on the South that he wanted; they would have been supported by the Congress and the South would have been too exhausted to fight back.

However, he was a Southerner, and a Democrat, and thought that policy should be lenient; and this pissed the Congress off, which is why they took control of the situation from him and almost ousted him.

[ Parent ]

You're kidding, right? (none / 0) (#55)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 08:47:30 PM EST

What, exactly, where Clinton's great accomplishments?

he balanced the budget on top of  a stock bubble and left just in time to blame the following recession on his successor. Hardly a Jeffersonian achievement.

And as far as terrorism goes, being the guy who suffered the first two major incidents of domestic terrorism is hardly a claim to pride, is it?

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]

Hahahahaha (none / 0) (#60)
by GreyGhost on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 09:58:34 PM EST

Bush has been in office for exactly three years and Republicans are still blaming the shitty economy on Clinton. Give me a break. Your boy Bush is a LOSER.

As far as Clinton being soft on terrorism - well I think I'll trust Clarke's opinion on the subject a little more than your dumbass ranting.



[ Parent ]

Economy (none / 3) (#65)
by kurioszyn on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 03:54:56 AM EST

"are still blaming the shitty economy on Clinton."

It is not shitty at all.
Frankly, it is better than it was during majority of Clinton time in office.


[ Parent ]

How so? (none / 0) (#86)
by aphrael on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 02:00:17 PM EST

Unemployment is higher than it was for most of Clinton's term. What measure are you using? (I agree, btw, that it isn't 'shitty'; this is a pretty mild recession as such things go. But to argue that things are better now than they were during most of Clinton's presidency is, as far as i can tell, to ignore all economic indicators).

[ Parent ]
Clinton (none / 0) (#87)
by kurioszyn on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 02:15:37 PM EST

Check this CNN article ..
http://www.cnn.com/US/9607/05/jobless/

5.6 Unemployment rate halfway thru Clinton presidency.

This is the rate we have now.


[ Parent ]

which demonstrates (none / 0) (#88)
by aphrael on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 02:20:50 PM EST

that things are no worse now than they were then. Hardly supporting evidence for a claim that things are better. :)

In any event, i'm in California - and things are definitely worse now than they were then, in this state at least. It's probably a regional phenomenon, to be sure.

[ Parent ]

which annhiliates (none / 0) (#107)
by duffbeer703 on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 11:45:05 PM EST

Any notion of presidential culpability with regard to economic conditions.

Do you think that Carter choose to inflict stagflation upon us?

[ Parent ]

Choose? (none / 0) (#131)
by aphrael on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 12:36:20 PM EST

Of course not. On the other hand, his policies - and his political appointments - had a great deal to do with the fact that it happened. The way he reacted to the oil embargo, for example, made matters worse, not better.

[ Parent ]
But look at trends (none / 0) (#149)
by big fat idiot on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 11:00:17 PM EST

At this stage in the Clinton presidency, unemployment had a historical downward trend from its peak. That downward trend continued through almost all of the two consecutive terms of the Clinton administration. Unemployment under the Bush administration is only just starting its downward trend. It remains to be seen if it will continue heading downward.

I would also be curious to see other numbers. How does real income fare? The number of people earning college degrees? Home purchases? In a vacuum of other numbers, the unemployment rate is essentially meaningless.

[ Parent ]

stock bubble (none / 0) (#62)
by cronian on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 11:50:51 PM EST

What's so wrong with having stock bubbles? The bubble was caused because the internet a great new opportunity. Some companies were fraudalent, and some got overvalued, but business, and communication were revolutionized.

However, Bush has been working to destroy many of those companies. Bush has pushed for a lot of new regulation, which have hurt internet companies. Bush's administration has restricted immigration, instituted proectionist tarrifs, vastly increased government spending, and made FCC regulations that have hampered internet growth in the United States. Government intrusion has been so bad that, India has been be able to become much more competitive with the United States.

We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
[ Parent ]
FCC regulations? (none / 0) (#68)
by rusty on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 07:23:04 AM EST

I'm pretty soldily in the internet industry, and I'm unaware of any FCC regulations regarding the internet. It wouldn't make any sense for the FCC to regulate the net. It's not running over the airwaves (the leased public property) which the FCC was created to manage -- there's no public interest in it.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
the only thing I can think of (none / 0) (#92)
by Wah on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 04:31:14 PM EST

..is fighting to let the cable companies keep their pipes close.  

Well, and there's also allowing the convergence and verticle monopolies to develop (although the AOL/TW collapse pushed that back by 15 years).  Heck, Powell is actively encouraging such a scenario.  Read his 'vision' for the future of media, and you see the entire spectrum dominated by an 'economically efficient' three or four companies.
--
'The Matrix' is a better interpretation of quantum mechanics than Copenhagen.
[ Parent ]

nothing (none / 0) (#106)
by duffbeer703 on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 11:42:50 PM EST

Stock bubbles are economic forces at work.

Clinton couldn't and didn't do much to cause or avert it.

If you honestly think that the president influences economic trends, you should consider re-attending high school.

[ Parent ]

Bad word choice. (none / 0) (#130)
by aphrael on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 12:35:26 PM EST

Of course the president influences economic trends. He doesn't control them, but he does exert influence.

[ Parent ]
Less than one may think (none / 0) (#136)
by duffbeer703 on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 02:00:30 PM EST

From 1998-2000, Clinton would have had trouble getting congressional approval to his taking a dump in the White House bathroom.

How exactly was he influencing the economy?

If anything, his inability to do anything substantive improved the economy.

[ Parent ]

"Shining star" I hope that was sarcasm. (none / 1) (#105)
by duffbeer703 on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 11:40:16 PM EST

Bill Clinton is a brillant man and consummate politician, but a mediocre president.

[ Parent ]
The Shining (none / 2) (#187)
by thelizman on Fri Apr 23, 2004 at 02:35:27 PM EST

The only thing shining about clinton is the first knob after it gets polished, either by white house interns, or the latest in a string of naive country girls ol' Slick Willy manages to corner and molest.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Did attacking Clinton make us vulnerable to 9/11? (none / 0) (#196)
by tgibbs on Mon Apr 26, 2004 at 02:21:50 PM EST

O, if only he hadn't been attacked so viciously and so unrelentlessly by his enemies. O, if only people had been able to ignore his lack of morals and see beyond his personal life.

Certainly, a case could be made that the incessant attacks of the right wing on Clinton for "crimes" that had nothing to do with his job as President may well have created the crucial distraction that allowed 9/11 to happen. Perhaps the 9/11 commission should consider whether Presidents should be protected from being required to give testimony during their terms of office on matters unrelated to national policy and governance.

[ Parent ]

Serious omission from the book (3.00 / 8) (#22)
by decaf_dude on Fri Apr 16, 2004 at 11:33:13 PM EST

He completely fails to mention Bush I initial statement on Iraqi invasion of Kuwait: "We have no stance on Arab-Arab conflict". Saddam bitched about Kuwait's slant drilling but nobody listened. To say the invasion came as a surprise (which Clarke does in this book) is at best an omission and at worst an attempt to rewrite history.

How quickly did we forget that it took Maggie Thatcher to rouse Uncle Sam to war...


--
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=89158&cid=7713039


Not Bush I (none / 0) (#57)
by ttfkam on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 09:46:10 PM EST

Iraq got that message from a relatively minor bureaucrat, not President Bush nor any in his cabinet.  You are right about the slant drilling though.

If I'm made in God's image then God needs to lay off the corn chips and onion dip. Get some exercise, God! - Tatarigami
[ Parent ]
Messenger is irrelevant (none / 1) (#76)
by decaf_dude on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 11:43:32 AM EST

Would you not think that if this minor bureaucrat was speaking his own opinion and not that of the Administration that the Administration wouldn't have rebuked or disowned the statement?

Saddam had no reason to believe his little adventure was going to invoke such response because the people running the US at the time were his staunch allies in the preceeding years and condoned (in fact, enabled him) to commit attrocities on Iranians and the Kurds. Why would he think that a country that not only supplied him with satellite imagery, intelligence, bio-checmical agents and other weaponry but also actively participated in his previous aggression (US warships were actively sinking Iranian fleet, shooting Iranian aircraft down, and have even re-registered his tankers under the US flag so as to legally provide them US naval escort) would object, even without the explicit approval I mentioned earlier?


--
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=89158&cid=7713039


[ Parent ]
And why would Saddam have believed... (none / 2) (#114)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 01:38:00 AM EST

...the US would tolerate an attack on a country whose ships had been sailing under US flags less than a year prior? A country under wide criticism from the rest of the Arab League for abusing its close relations with the US and refusing to negotiate a reduction in oil production?

Glaspie's communication with the Iraqi regime was in no way a green light for Iraq to do as it pleased with Kuwait, but a refusal on the part of the US to get involved in a long standing and baseless dispute over the exact location of the Iraq-Kuwait border. That Saddam thought he could get away with a full scale invasion and occupation is just further evidence of the man's pathological megalomania.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Lebanon? (none / 0) (#154)
by flo on Tue Apr 20, 2004 at 09:22:08 AM EST

At the time Saddam invaded Kuwait, he (thought he) was America's best buddy in the region. Remember also that less than a decade earlier, America's other best buddy, Israel, invaded Lebanon with impunity. I guess Saddam figured the USA would let him get away with his little adventures.
---------
"Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
[ Parent ]
LOL! (none / 0) (#157)
by cr8dle2grave on Tue Apr 20, 2004 at 12:27:19 PM EST

Kuwait: Stubbornly refused to participate in a price fixing scheme intended to line the pockets of Iraq.

Lebanon: Collapsed in upon itself in a swirling vortex of ethnic, tribal, sectarian, and ideological rivalries allowing a joint Syrian-Iranian proxy army to operate against Israel under cover of anarchy.

Yeah, Saddam might just have been deluded enough to find such a assanine comparison compelling.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Don't forget (none / 0) (#203)
by decaf_dude on Wed May 26, 2004 at 10:33:04 AM EST

Iraqi oil tankers were sailing under US flag during Iraq/Iran war because Iranians were becoming too successful in sinking them. With US flags on their tankers, convoys were provided full US Navy protection and any Iranians fighter jet getting even close would be shot down.

One day an overzealous US Navy commander "mistook" an Iranian airliner for a bomber and shot it down, killing everyone on board. Soon after, Iran and Iraq signed a peace treaty, and Iranian officials unofficially stated Iran could defeat Iraq militarily, but to defeat US (which was at this point actively involved, including SpecOps missions inside Iran) would require too high a price they weren't willing to pay.


--
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=89158&cid=7713039


[ Parent ]
A question about the slant drilling (none / 0) (#101)
by RyoCokey on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 11:26:52 PM EST

I know that Kuwait and Iraq originally took it to OPEC to try to establish whether the slant drilling actually took place. Anyone know whether Kuwait really did drill under Iraq or not? I could never find any conclusions.



The troops returning home are worried. "We've lost the peace," men tell you. "We can't make it stick
[
Parent ]
Serious Omission from Reality (none / 0) (#186)
by thelizman on Fri Apr 23, 2004 at 02:25:32 PM EST

He...fails to mention Bush I
Who is "Bush I"? Is that a anglicized spelling of some chinese person named I-Bux?
initial statement on Iraqi invasion of Kuwait: "We have no stance on Arab-Arab conflict".
I think you're confused. It was US Ambassador April Glaspie who stated "We have no opinions on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait," prior to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
Saddam bitched about Kuwait's slant drilling but nobody listened. To say the invasion came as a surprise (which Clarke does in this book) is at best an omission and at worst an attempt to rewrite history.
Indeed. Intelligence analysts had known for a long time that Saddam's goal was to control Persian Gulf oil traffic in order to build a pan-Arab superstate ruled by his Baath party (and, of course, himself). The failed war with Iran prevented him from taking control of the Iranian flank of the Gulf, so Hussein had to settle for incrementally taking the Saudi Gulf-side oil fields, followed by Qatar, UAE, and lastly Yemen. To say that we didn't expect an invasion is as rediculous as saying Saddam was suprised that the world jumped all over him in the first Gulf War.
How quickly did we forget that it took Maggie Thatcher to rouse Uncle Sam to war...
That bitch is fucking hot, is she single yet?
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Serious Omission in Education (none / 0) (#190)
by decaf_dude on Fri Apr 23, 2004 at 04:22:34 PM EST

Who is "Bush I"? Is that a anglicized spelling of some chinese person named I-Bux?

Bush I, where "I" is a Roman "1"; read "Bush the First".

I think you're confused. It was US Ambassador April Glaspie who stated "We have no opinions on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait," prior to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

I hate myself for doing this, but I truly feel compelled: 4 entries found for ambassador:

  1. A diplomatic official of the highest rank appointed and accredited as representative in residence by one government or sovereign to another, usually for a specific length of time.
  2. A diplomatic official heading his or her country's permanent mission to certain international organizations, such as the United Nations.
  3. An authorized messenger or representative.
  4. An unofficial representative: ambassadors of goodwill.
Nuff Said!

That bitch is fucking hot, is she single yet?

Lemme guess: you're a Family Guy fan and your favorite character is Cleveland?


--
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=89158&cid=7713039


[ Parent ]
On Accusations of Education... (none / 1) (#191)
by thelizman on Fri Apr 23, 2004 at 08:57:19 PM EST

Bush I, where "I" is a Roman "1"; read "Bush the First".
But he's not Bush the first. He's George H W Bush. The current President is George W Bush - there is not Jr., II, or other subscript attached to his name.
I hate myself for doing this, but I truly feel compelled: 4 entries found for ambassador: <snip> Nuff Said!
Your claim was that President George W Bush made this statement. He is not the ambassador, he is the President. And you go the quote wrong anyway.

So in general, if you're going to attack someone else's education, you might want to do some research and make sure you know what you're talking about - you clearly don't.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Distinguishing between the two. (none / 0) (#200)
by aphrael on Tue Apr 27, 2004 at 01:58:47 PM EST

Saying 'George HW Bush' and 'George W Bush' all of the time is cumbersome - and it doesn't flow off the tongue all that well. Saying 'the former president' and 'the president' is better, but it doesn't work for people who don't usually rely on formal language.

The two best ways i've heard this done are 'W' and 'HW', which irritates many conservatives, and 'Bush Sr and Bush Jr', which irritates many conservatives. But you guys need to realize: it's not disrespect per se. It's just the end result of a simple and easy way of distinguishing between two people who have remarkably similar names.

[ Parent ]

Lazy Tongues (none / 0) (#201)
by thelizman on Fri Apr 30, 2004 at 07:47:22 PM EST

Saying 'George HW Bush' and 'George W Bush' all of the time is cumbersome - and it doesn't flow off the tongue all that well. Saying 'the former president' and 'the president' is better, but it doesn't work for people who don't usually rely on formal language.
It's not about formal language or informal language, its about actually saying the correct thing. You can still be lazy in your speech without being deceitful.
The two best ways i've heard this done are 'W' and 'HW', which irritates many conservatives
News to me. Most of us love to refer to "dubya" as "dubya". We also refer to Bush 40 and Bush 42 (40th president and 42nd Presidents respectively). You can even buy official "W 2004" gear at W's campaign website.
and 'Bush Sr and Bush Jr', which irritates many conservatives. But you guys need to realize: it's not disrespect per se. It's just the end result of a simple and easy way of distinguishing between two people who have remarkably similar names.
It's not so much the disrespect, just the inaccuracy born of lazyness. For instance, in this last case, "Sr." and "Jr." aren't correct either - that only applys when they have the same names.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
perhaps it would be good to get a review of (2.33 / 6) (#38)
by modmans2ndcoming on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 04:13:37 PM EST

some books from the right?

I mean, when you surround yourself with one side of things, you tend to think that way, at least with a balance of opinions, we will at the very least see what they think.

Perhaps. (none / 1) (#39)
by aphrael on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 04:19:16 PM EST

I spend a lot of time hanging out on right-wing blogs, so i'm getting it from the other side, too. Most of what I see is an insistence that liberals will denounce Bush no matter what he does, so none of the criticism is valid - or that criticisms of Bush such as those in this book are politically motivated. I haven't seen a coherent policy rebuttal.

My reading list for the next several weeks consists largely of stuff on a different subject - some on the angolan civil war, a lot on the middle ages (a perennial favorite of mine). I doubt i'll get back to this subject until Woodward's book arrives, unless I get bored and go trolling through the 9-11 commission staff reports.

[ Parent ]

well, a blog and news sites are hardly books (none / 1) (#43)
by modmans2ndcoming on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 05:38:57 PM EST

if you can stomach it, try Sean Hannity's new book, or G. Gordon Liddy's

[ Parent ]
erm. (none / 1) (#44)
by aphrael on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 05:49:22 PM EST

no. but thanks for the advice.

[ Parent ]
but, you are not exposing yourself to the (none / 0) (#51)
by modmans2ndcoming on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 08:04:52 PM EST

people who are on the right who can at least put two sentences together.

[ Parent ]
tacitus can. :) (none / 1) (#54)
by aphrael on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 08:20:48 PM EST



[ Parent ]
SH book (none / 0) (#53)
by DAldredge on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 08:18:58 PM EST

How many times in SH book does he try to sell you his next one? I mean he mentions his damn book about every 3.2 minutes on his radio show.

The word is American, not USian.
American \A*mer"i*can\, n. A native of America; -- originally applied to the aboriginal inhabitants, but now applied to the descendants of Europeans born in America, and especially to the citizens of the US
[ Parent ]
Clarke is from the "left"!? (3.00 / 5) (#48)
by anonymous cowerd on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 07:12:09 PM EST

Listen, just because he has some harsh things to say about a Republican president, does that mean Richard Clarke is a leftist? Go on! Look at his career, for crying out loud! If Richard Clarke is on the "left" then the "center" and the "right" are so far on the fringe they fall right off the map.

Yours WDK - WKiernan@ij.net

Give me a woman that loves beer and I'll conquer the world - Kaiser Wilhelm
[ Parent ]

no, if anyting he is a centrist (none / 0) (#52)
by modmans2ndcoming on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 08:07:32 PM EST

but I was making a comment that was aimed at the larger picture of what book reviews around here are.

[ Parent ]
If he's a centrist in the US (none / 2) (#58)
by ShadowNode on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 09:48:18 PM EST

Then he's probably still on the radical fringes of the right from an outside perspective.

[ Parent ]
where did liberal media come from in that? (none / 0) (#63)
by modmans2ndcoming on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 02:03:25 AM EST

besides, the media is not liberal any more, it is very mixed.

you have the very liberal CNN, the right of right of center Fox news, and the right of left of center MSNBC

for networks...

well all the morning programs are infected with liberals... Katie Curick is the worst offender, she can't even hide her facial expressions let alone her tone of voice when she talks about a political topic she disagrees with intensely.

for evening news, they are very journalistic, though politicly liberal, the anchors do a very good job of imitating Walter Chronchite.

News papers, well, you have in the big markets about an even split. NY Times, LA Times, Washington Post, all liberal and barely hide it...it is so bad, that some times editorial opinion slides off into the National news section. but then there is the New York Post, and the Boston Glob and the Wall Street Journal who are just to the right of things.

talk radio is a no contest... conservatism in the media got its start there, is it any wonder that it is so prevalent?

as far as books go, well the publishing industry is pretty good at letting anyone who can make them a buck out a book, so you get everything  and the kitchen sink.

but Magazines, they tend to be a wee bit more liberal. save for the weekly standard, the rest of the big names in monthly news , Time, Newsweek, The New Yorker, are liberal.

so, like I said, it is pretty much a wash, and with such a diversity in the media and so much access to it, I think it would be hard for someone not to get an opposing view, unless one tried to by avoiding those news sources.

[ Parent ]

.sig /nt (none / 1) (#67)
by ShadowNode on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 04:02:39 AM EST



[ Parent ]
ah... :-) (none / 0) (#73)
by modmans2ndcoming on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 10:37:08 AM EST

you need to put a few more BR tags in front of your sig.

[ Parent ]
or a -- (none / 0) (#80)
by aphrael on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 12:43:23 PM EST

like this: -- [sig]

[ Parent ]
well, he's somewhat of a Democrat (none / 1) (#116)
by Delirium on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 01:56:16 AM EST

Whether he's "left" or "right" isn't so much the issue, as that in this book he's pretty clearly at least somewhat biased towards the Democratic Party and against the Republican Party, which is more a partisan issue than an ideological issue. Even in aphrael's short excerpt you can see that, as the only criticism of a Democrat there—President Clinton—is tempered by an excuse for his inaction. Reading through more of the book just gives a feeling that, while he attacks both sides, he's more willing to excuse Democratic inaction than Republican inaction, and basically interprets things in a slant favorable to the Democratic Party. Not way off the deep end, but with a moderate amount of bias.

[ Parent ]
More telling (none / 0) (#127)
by CENGEL3 on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 11:55:32 AM EST

I don't know if I'd call Clarke a "leftist", if he is, he is a very moderate one. However, he is a Democrat, even though he tries to claim otherwise. It not uncommon for proffesional bearucrats, especialy ones with specialized skills, to work for administrations of the other party. This goes on in Washington more then most people think. Just because a new party comes into office doesn't mean that the tens of thousands of officials that make the government work automaticaly get the boot overnight. My freinds cousin ran as a Dem candidate for the local legislature and he is working for Tom Ridge right now.

More telling then who he worked for is who he donated to. This is a matter of public record with the FEC. His donations have always gone to democratic candidates. At least thats what Newsmax reported. I'll understand if you don't want to take thier word for it.... but the information is public record, should be easy enough to verify it. I'm too lazy to check myself.

[ Parent ]

he's currently a registered Republican (none / 0) (#158)
by jbuck on Tue Apr 20, 2004 at 03:17:19 PM EST

That is, he registered Republican so he could vote for John McCain in the 2000 Republican primary in Virginia. He later voted for Al Gore in the general, but he's still officially a registered Republican as far as I can tell. To be fair, at this point it looks like he's clearly leaning Democrat. But he seems further to the right than most Democrats on a number of issues.

[ Parent ]
Well read some... (none / 1) (#61)
by GreyGhost on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 10:11:41 PM EST

And write up a review.



[ Parent ]

some books from the right? (none / 0) (#199)
by tgibbs on Mon Apr 26, 2004 at 09:45:49 PM EST

It's hard to keep track these days. By previous standards, Clarke was pretty right wing. During the Clinton administration, John Ashcroft attacked him for pushing to require a government back door on encrypted communications to better investigate terrorist threats. Really, the only remotely liberal thing in his book is that he is critical of Bush.

But right wing doesn't mean what it used to. Remember when the right wingers were the ones who wanted to balance the budget?

[ Parent ]

Nitpicking (3.00 / 8) (#64)
by edg176 on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 02:11:19 AM EST

I'm glad someone wrote up "Against All Enemies."  I just finished reading it.   To be clear,  I strongly agree with Clarke that the Bush administration's response to terrorism has been nothing short of ridiculous.

However, I find it amusing that so many Democrats have been quick to embrace Clarke.  Sure, he says some things that are unflattering to Bush.  But Clarke spends some time slamming the ACLU as interfering in his efforts to implement counter-terrorism efforts.  OF course, he also slams the NRA as well for opposing some bombmaking legislation.

What I feel is most damning is that when Clarke discusses the Clinton administration's efforts during the Yugoslavian civil war.  Clarke mentions that "the United States did begin to act against the jihadist presence in Bosnia." (Clarke 138).  But he does not at all respond to allegations that the Clinton administration turned a blind eye to the assistance of Iranian extremists.  Clarke admits that in Bosnia Al Qaeda "gain[ed] further experience and burrow[ed] deeper into Western Europe (Clarke 140).  At spiked-online there is a review of a study on the Yugoslav civil war that details these allegations.  Quoting from the study (via the spiked article)

"As Wiebes documents in his book, Talbott and Lake then discussed the issue with President Clinton on board Air Force One on 27 April 1994 - and 'it was then decided to give a green light to the arms supplies from Iran to Croatia'"

I think this is important because it shows how the Clinton adminstration allowed Islamic fundamentalists a gateway into Europe.  Clarke must have known about this, since he was an integral part of the NSC.  Had Clinton simply had the guts to openly take the side of the Bosnian Muslims and allow the weapon shipments in the clear, he could have prevented the influx of Islamic extremists into Europe.  But, he did not do that because Clinton did not think long term.

In a larger sense,  my criticism of Clarke and the U.S. national security apparatus in general is that they miss the big picture. Namely, that the crisis management approach to foreign policy is what got us in this damn mess to begin with.  Clarke admits that he is a "crisis manager," and while that is important, we as a nation do not seem to have the institutional ability to plan long term to avert those crises in the first place.  

Democrats may be pleased with Clarke because he gives them plenty of strong facts to criticize Bush.  However, those same Democrats should recognize that the problem is larger than Bush, but is with the entire U.S. foreign policy and defense aparatus.  For example, over the last 20 years the U.S. has spent billions in defense dollars to secure the oil in the Middle East.  Yet, the U.S. has spent very little finding ways to ease or end our dependence on one of the most unstable places on the face of the earth.


Clarke (none / 1) (#66)
by kurioszyn on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 03:56:37 AM EST

"To be clear,  I strongly agree with Clarke that the Bush administration's response to terrorism has been nothing short of ridiculous."

What would be the correct way to handle this sort of crisis ?


[ Parent ]

precisely (none / 1) (#139)
by wrax on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 03:27:52 PM EST

In fact, as much as I don't like a lot of Bush's policies, I find that he is doing something which the US should have done a long time ago, stand up to the people who would destroy the US.
--------------------

I don't know whats worse, the fact that people actually write this crap or the fact that people actually vote it up.
[ Parent ]

Well and good (none / 0) (#164)
by revscat on Wed Apr 21, 2004 at 10:45:27 AM EST

That's well and good, and honestly I cannot see a Democratic president behaving differently post-9/11 with one huge exception: Iraq. A) Iraq was not a player in the terrorism scene, unlike Afghanistan and Libya, b) Iraq posed no threat to the US. I would guess that were Gore president that he would have continued the sanctions regime, perhaps thrown his weight behind getting the inspectors back in. But that is all speculation.

The biggest mistake in the Bush administration's thinking is that they believe not only can the military solve all problems, but that "soft power" such as diplomacy and multilateral agreements are inherently harmful to US interests and should therefore be unequivocably shunned. It appears that they equate compromise with weakness. This is the major issue I have with this administration insofar as foreign policy is concerned: a show of brtue strength can only get you so much before it becomes counterproductive.


- Rev.
Libertarianism is like communism: both look great on paper.
[ Parent ]

Absolutely (none / 2) (#78)
by aphrael on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 12:42:47 PM EST

However, those same Democrats should recognize that the problem is larger than Bush, but is with the entire U.S. foreign policy and defense aparatus

Oh, absolutely. Bush is worse than usual, if Clarke is to be believed, but the entire government needs to be examined. I'd like to see the US adopt an office of auditor general, like Canada does; that might help some, but it wouldn't be a panacaea.

For example, over the last 20 years the U.S. has spent billions in defense dollars to secure the oil in the Middle East. Yet, the U.S. has spent very little finding ways to ease or end our dependence on one of the most unstable places on the face of the earth.

Ironic that you would bring this up as an example of something that Democrats don't realize: the only reason we spend any money on alternative energy sources at all is because certain Democrats keep insisting on it.

[ Parent ]

Democrats & the Oil industry (none / 0) (#103)
by duffbeer703 on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 11:33:04 PM EST

Ironic that you would bring this up as an example of something that Democrats don't realize: the only reason we spend any money on alternative energy sources at all is because certain Democrats keep insisting on it.

The entire US Federal political system is funded by oilmen.

Even LBJ, liberal of liberals, was a tool of the energy industry. His biggest patron was Brown & Root (Now a division of Halliburton).

[ Parent ]

Alternative Energy (none / 1) (#159)
by edg176 on Tue Apr 20, 2004 at 03:42:40 PM EST

Ironic that you would bring this up as an example of something that Democrats don't realize: the only reason we spend any money on alternative energy sources at all is because certain Democrats keep insisting on it.

To the extent that Democrats have pushed for alternative energy sources to oil, I give them credit.  But ultimately, if the goal is to end dependence on foreign oil, the U.S. has only one real choice as I see it, which is nuclear.  And Democrats have not exactly been big boosters of the nuclear industry.  First let me make it clear that I think our petroleum economy presents a major risk to our national security.  First of all, as I mentioned up-thread, it makes us dependant on unstable areas of the world to keep the price low.  Yes, most of our oil used domestically does not come from the Middle East or Russia but from Venezuala.  Still it is the supplies of the Middle East that keep the price down worldwide.

Next, and potentially far more serious is global warming.  Even the Pentagon thinks global warming is a serious threat.  Although I acknowledge that there are some scientists who disagree about global warming, one thing is clear-- we understand that CO2 is a greenhouse gas.  If we make a mistake about whether we as a species are causing global warming, the consequences will be catastrophic and difficult to remediate.  

We burn most of our oil as transportation fuel, while the rest is in power production.  What are our options?  Coal, Solar, Nuclear.  Hydrogen, while an intersting means of storing energy for transportation use, still must be made with another energy source.  

Coal: has the virtue of being available domestically.  Still, burning coal emits greenhouse gases.

Solar:  There are a couple of different types of solar--photovoltaic and biomass.  Photovoltaic cells do not have the yields to replace fossil fuels, even after decades of research.  As far as a I know, that will continue to be the case.

Biomass uses the stored energy of the sun.  In the USA that's ethanol made from plants. But, it is not clear how efficient the process is, considering that we must still expend significant resources to cultivate the grain.  Crucially, grain production requires nitrogen fertilizer, made from, you guessed it, oil.

Nuclear:  Domestically avaiable fuel.  No air pollution.  Waste is toxic for centuries.  Political hot potato.  Could conceivably meet the entire electrial needs of the United States.

Looking at it realistically, nuclear power is the only way that the U.S. could replace the petroleum economy.  The waste problems are serious, but look at it this way--we don't have a lot of good choices.  Faced with the choices between the ocassional nuclear accident and widespread climate change and foreign wars, nuclear doesn't seem like such a bad choice.  Conservation is not going to make up for the fact that as our lives are increasingly digitalized the amount of power we need will necessarily increase.  France generates the majority of its electricity from nuclear power, a move they made when they pulled out of North Africa.  

The largest problem as I see it is in implementation.  Although the Republicans pay lips service to the idea of nuclear power, they are blinded by their worship of the invisible hand and the free market.  To be feasiable and acceptable to the American people, we'd need a nuclear program that was administered as a nation wide public utility.  Consistent reactor designs, safety crew training and security would be essential to convincing the American people that nuclear power was safe.   Furthermore, simply switching power generation would not be enough.  The government can't simply confiscate all cars.  Instead, we would need to phase in a national gas tax, which would a)get people out of cars b) give funding for alternatives.  Again, we'd need a nationally co-ordinated program to build public transit and more crucially, public transit friendly communities.  There is a precedent for this--the Eisenhower administration's highway building program directlys stimulated the growth of the suburbs.  

What I've just described would be a national technological undertaking bigger than anything we've ever done--it's a combination of the federal highway program and the race to the moon.  But I think only a nationally co-ordinated and funded research program is up to the task.

[ Parent ]

Pearl Harbor vs 9/11, Coincidence and Surprise (3.00 / 17) (#70)
by OldCoder on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 08:21:01 AM EST

I recently finished reading "Pearl Harbor" by Roberta Wohlstetter, written in 1962. The book makes clear that it was very easy for the various Pearl Harbor commissions to blame Admiral Kimmel and General Short (the highest officers in Hawaii), but that the situation really was more difficult than it first appeared. Warnings that were obvious in hindsight were really quite vague when viewed in context.

In the Pearl Harbor case, it was the Army and Navy that weren't talking to each other, and it was Washington vs "The Field" that misunderstood each others situation very severely. For example, the Washington DC newspapers were an excellent source of background information that, crucially, were unavailable to Kimmel and Short way out in Hawaii. Every time that the Hawaii garrison got new equipment it carefully sent it out west to Midway or the Phillipines where they thought that Japan might actually attack. "Everybody knew" that Japan was about to attack in the Vietnam/Thailand area. Or was about to attack the Soviet Union. Most importantly, Washington "Knew" that the Pearl Harbor was invulnerable because the whole fleet was based there. Japan would act further west.

The Bush and Clinton administrations expected al Queda to attack overseas.

Every time in 1940 or 1941 the political situation heated up, the Americans on Hawaii carefully tightened up security against "Sabotage", what we would now call terrorism, by the local Japanese. Patroling the seas was not a big priority &mdash they thought in December that the Japanese fleet was in home waters. Eventually the attack reinforced the lesson that state warfare was a greater danger than sabotage (terrorism).

Strikingly, many of the security professionals in 2001 simply did not take terrorism very seriously, as a mass killing would require high technology (germs or radioactivity) that NGO's like al Queda simply did not possess. The actual technology behind the mass deaths of 9/11 was not understood by al Quaeda or the US. Al Queda thought the airplanes might knock down the towers with their speed. Nobody guessed the airplane fuel would do the job. Hijacking was a well-known problem, and people thought they understood it.

Wohlstetter wrote in 1962, and complained that there were still important details being kept secret at that time, 21 years after the fact. (I would love to find an update).

Huge mistakes can be easily missed. Nine hours after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese attacked the Phillipines and achieved total surprise. Hardly anybody investigated this. We don't know what big facts we are missing in the 9/11 situation.

But enormous differences are important. The attack on Pearl Harbor was an act by a State that rationally evaluated its means and goals and came to the conclusion that an attack would succeed. The attack on 9/11 makes no sense at all from a military point of view. Even if the 9/11 attack would have cowed the US, there was no way that al Queda could take advantage of the situation. The US was always going to ensure it had access to mideast oil by one means or another.

The attack on 9/11 might have been a sort of publicity stunt to encourage the faithful to rally around al Queda. The Taliban assumed they could hold Afghanistan against all attacks. But the example of al Queda on the run and the Taliban out of power is working against al Queda.

The attack on Pearl Harbor simply missed vital oil reserves for the Pacific Fleet that were stored in plain sight above ground — destroying them would have been a big blow to the US. Coincidentally, al Queda did not understand the power of the fuel in the airplanes.

While al Queda was practically coddled, and some might say they were almost encouraged to attack the US, Japan was dealt with harshly. Japan seized naval and air bases in French Indochina (in Vietnam!) in July of 1941. Five days later, the US retaliated and blocked export of oil and cotton products to Japan. I believe that oil exports from Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) was also embargoed. Japan reacted by deciding it was being strangled. Sometimes war may be inevitable.

--
By reading this signature, you have agreed.
Copyright © 2003 OldCoder

Rationality (3.00 / 19) (#74)
by Znork on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 11:03:59 AM EST

"The attack on 9/11 makes no sense at all from a military point of view. Even if the 9/11 attack would have cowed the US, there was no way that al Queda could take advantage of the situation. The US was always going to ensure it had access to mideast oil by one means or another."

I think you mistake Al Qaeda for an organization with ordinary military aspirations. They're not out to 'defeat' a 'military'. There is no way they can ever defeat the US military.

You have to consider their mindset, their capability, and their goals before you evalute their strategy in terms of military sense.

Al Qaedas primary goal has been stated as getting the US to disengage from the Mideast. Now, they do not have the capability to do that with conventional means.

Instead they have to turn to exploiting the weaknesses inherent in the political structures of wealthy nations depending on population support. That weakness is not a weakness of resolve on the part of the political leadership. The weakness is the very wealth of the nations; the unwillingness of the population to sustain long term low grade warfare in terms of monetary cost and bloodshed for nebulous goals.

That means they have to fight a war of attrition, where the goal is to get the enemy to spend as much resources as possible, for as little gain as possible, while at the same time ensuring the organizations survival.

As 'believers' they have the resolve to fight for generations, as long as they can generate a stream of recruits. Remember that 'getting killed' is not a loss, as long as they're replaced.

Al Qaeda is not a 'military organization' with the goals of taking and holding real estate. They're a mental virus, dealing in mindsets, resolve, belief and psychological warfare.

That gives them a time frame and mindset that for many western voters is incomprehensible.

Now, consider that pre 9/11 expenditures in terms of wealth, comfort and bloodshed of the US mideast presence were not near enough the point where the US population would get weary of funding it, economically or socially, any time soon. Now draw up a strategy tree for reaching the Al Qaeda goal, and reconsider the 'military' sense of the assymetric warfare strategy of 9/11, from their point of view.

Consider every possible response by the US administration and compare with the goal fulfillment degree of 'sapping resources', 'increasing discomfort for US population' and 'generating members'. And remember again, that 'getting killed' does not count as a loss as long as there's a positive influx in total membership.

Having thought it through myself from their twisted point of view, I cannot see any possible response that would not count as a win. I can think of some that would not mean the total Jackpot strike they generated, but no responses that would not be a win in one way or another.

Which means it makes eminent military sense.

"The attack on 9/11 might have been a sort of publicity stunt to encourage the faithful to rally around al Queda."

And to goad their enemy into a situation where they spend huge amounts of wealth, and to discourage the US population.

"The Taliban assumed they could hold Afghanistan against all attacks."

The Taliban assumed no such thing; they were pretty much falling over themselves to be accomodating in the last weeks before the attack was launched (As far as their idea of 'being accomodating' went. Remember, yet another mindset there.).

"But the example of al Qaeda on the run and the Taliban out of power is working against al Queda."

'Holding Afghanistan' was not necessarily a primary goal for Al Qaeda, however much it was for the Taliban. Recruiting a lot of Taliban into their organization would be a win. Using the revitalized opium trade as a source of revenue (that hurts the western nations in yet another way) would also count as a win.

"While al Queda was practically coddled, and some might say they were almost encouraged to attack the US, Japan was dealt with harshly."

Japan was a military enemy. You could set up military goals to defeat it. You can destroy their support. You can occupy the territory.

Al Qaeda isnt a military enemy. The US's very own weapons might as well be carrying warheads labelled 'Al Qaeda Virus', for all the good they do. Each weapon fired represents a piece of lost wealth for the US population, and each person killed by it potentially has relatives who'll sign up to join Al Qaeda.

They can be temporarily weakened, disorganized and impaired in their purely military activities with conventional means, but they'll quite likely emerge stronger and closer to their goals. Truly inflicting real losses on them is very hard, and requires very different strategies.

As in an ordinary war, you need to attack their weaknesses, not their strengths.

Intelligence is supremely important, but here you'll also have to consider what constitues a win for them. Huge expenditures and causing discomfort for the US population means a win for Al Qaeda.

The only 'win' situations against them is when you, quitely, nail members of the organization, cause them to be less efficient through distrust or betrayal, or decrease their popular support, thus causing non-replaced and non-replacable losses in the organization.

Strategies to deal with terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda need to be developed with those goals in mind.

[ Parent ]

Surprising level of understanding (3.00 / 7) (#79)
by decaf_dude on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 12:43:12 PM EST

At the risk of sounding patronising, I haven't seen such an insightful analysis of the terrorism problem in a while, not on a public forum anyway.

As the problem in Israel/Palestine clearly demonstrated for years, killing a terrorist only gives us warm fuzzies that we're doing something against this threat, but in reality only exacerbates the problem. Bin Laden's choice of name for his movement, Al Qaeda - The Foundation in Arabic, should have clued us all in. He's not very important personally, and neither are his contemporaries. Instead, he's developing a mindset, an ideology, but he holds no firm hierarchy in the terrorist world. His main weapon against the US is the US itself. He drew the exact response he wanted: every Muslim child killed by a US (or an Israeli) soldier gives him more credibility and oodles of recruits.

He has no territory to defend, no economy to maintain, no population to protect. Thus, usual military methods are not only ineffective, they're counter-productive.

Do you think US won any hearts and minds of Palestinians when Bush explictly approved Israel's murderous tactics and wholesale theft of land? Whose message do you reckon rings more true to an average Muslim youth in the Middle East: Bush's statement that he's not against Muslims but against terrorists (given his record so far), or Bin Laden's that US is the arch-enemy that will do anything to further oppress the Muslims?

I'm the first guy to jump on Bush's clear lack of understanding and vision (or even basic intellectual curiosity, but that's a different story...), but quite honestly I don't think any one of the current politicians in the West would have done any better. Hitting terrorists is the exact swatting of flies Bush is apparently tired of. What we really need to do is prevent disenchanted Muslims youths from becoming terrorists in the first place. We must erradicate the injustice, or perception thereof where it doesn't truly exist, which nurtures the future terrorists of the world.

We must stop proving Bin Ladens of the world right.


--
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=89158&cid=7713039


[ Parent ]
Spain and Indonesia (none / 2) (#91)
by cam on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 03:24:03 PM EST

but quite honestly I don't think any one of the current politicians in the West would have done any better.

The Indonesia police caught the Bali bombers and put them up on trial. The Spanish police cornered the train bombers who then blew themselves up. Neither of those incidents required a political intervention. The police just did their job.

Bin Laden was hiding in Afghanistan and the Taliban wouldnt turn him over to be brought to justice. Going in to Afghanistan was irrational, doing it with a small number of troops that allowed Bin Laden to escape was not bright. Since then it has been the Pakistani police that have been rounding up more Al Queda than the US military has, or will.

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

True, but that's not what meant (none / 2) (#93)
by decaf_dude on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 04:40:06 PM EST

Police action (and perhaps even limited military involvement where necessary) against existing terrorists is certainly a valid course of action.

However, what I was referring to is more analogous to fire-fighting strategies employed in the modern world: yes, you do have to extinguish existing fires before they engulf the whole world, but your main goal should be creating an environment where fires don't start in the first place, or at least not as often or on a large scale.

When I state that Bush's anti-terrorism policy is an abysmal failure, I'm not saying that he isn't killing enough terrorists; instead I'm saying that he not only isn't doing anything to eradicate the opression and the injustice that nurtures terrorism, but in fact he exacerbates the problem by giving explicit support to and actively participating in the aforementioned opression and injustice.


--
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=89158&cid=7713039


[ Parent ]
Think as an imperialist (none / 1) (#98)
by duffbeer703 on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 11:05:46 PM EST

That is what the western world is right now with respect to the middle east.

What we really need to do is prevent disenchanted Muslims youths from becoming terrorists in the first place. We must erradicate the injustice, or perception thereof where it doesn't truly exist, which nurtures the future terrorists of the world.

There is no "Big Brothers / Big Sisters" program that is going to nurture Muslim youth. Nor is there a Muslim Pope who can guide young Muslims along a pro-western path.

The injustice that you speak of is not simply a matter of the west oppressing the hapless Arabs. It is a complicated web of money and power (which the West is a party to) which assures that the "nobility" of the Arab world receives the riches, while the rest receive the scraps.

The facts are these:
 - Al-Queda style fundamentalists want a new world order that does not include Western democracy
 - We exchange billions of dollars for oil pumped out of the ground daily with people who share Al-Queda's worldview.
 - We cannot stop the oil/cash flow.

We are witnessing the beginnings of a war between civilizations. Think in terms of the "Thirty Years War" or the "Hundred Years War" in Europe.

How will "we" (as in the West) win?

Smash that civlization into pieces.

Is the solution morally righteous? No. But 2,000+ years of Western history should prepare you to accept that fact.

[ Parent ]

How to fight viral meningitis? (2.85 / 7) (#85)
by mami on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 01:57:18 PM EST

The weakness is the very wealth of the nations; the unwillingness of the population to sustain long term low grade warfare in terms of monetary cost and bloodshed for nebulous goals.

Al Qaeda is not a 'military organization' with the goals of taking and holding real estate. They're a mental virus, dealing in mindsets, resolve, belief and psychological warfare.

Excellent comment. I think it's tragic that the psychological make-up of President Bush has actually helped al-Queda beautifully to spread the exact virus al-Queda tried to spread in the vulnerable mindsets of a wealthy American population, which is not used to be threatened from the outside on their own soil with low-level, non-technical weapons that can't be physically located.

Causing fear and hurt the dignity of Americans, not used to suffer brutality and abuse by twisted mindsets of extremists of foreign cultures they don't understand, was one goal in al-Queda's psychological warfare.

Even if their hits of the WTC hadn't been successful, to symbolically try to attack exactly that what Americans most love and cherish in their own culture, democracy and capitalism, was one of the most "evil and brilliant strategy" Osama could have come up with and made his attempt worthwhile trying.

As Brzezinski said in an interview the actual chance of being in a military sense successful with al-Queda's attack on the WTC, may have been 5%, one of the reasons why most probably nobody took the threat serious enough.

Osama himself didn't expect how successful the attack would be. He achieved his goal to spread his virus in unexpected ways.

He didn't expect both towers to come down. As OldCoder said, nobody was aware that the fuel of the planes would do the job, al-Queda never expected they could finish so completely. Osama was taped being chucklingt happily that the attack "went much better than he had ever expected". Both towers were completely distroyed. He didn't believe they would.

The fact that the longterm consequence to the WTC attack ended up being a conventional military invasion of Iraq, only helped al-Queda to spread the virus further. It beautifully achieves everything a mindset of an Osama could dream of.

The mighty military, high-tech power is getting symbollically hit in a soft and subtle but effective way like any chronic illness caused by an invisible virus.

Cheap low tech weapons like hostage taking, collaborating media, suicide bombings with simple weapons within civilians causing the American Armed Forces to be confronted with self-doubt causing, moral dilemmas and stress, are effective to ridicule the effectiveness of the US Armed Forces high-tech weaponry and draws money and moral from the Americans.

It dawns that "the enemy" can't be fought successfully the way President Bush has ordered. What a feast for Osama. Osama's enemy is self-destructing himself slowly but surely.

May be the US Armed Forces need to borrow some ideas of fighting terrorism from the medical sciences. How do you fight a viral infection, chronic ones and acute outbreaks, especially dangerous ones like viral meningitis?

[ Parent ]

Tragic? (none / 1) (#99)
by duffbeer703 on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 11:09:10 PM EST

<blockquote>I think it's tragic that the psychological make-up of President Bush has actually helped al-Queda beautifully to spread the exact virus al-Queda tried to spread in the vulnerable mindsets of a wealthy American population, which is not used to be threatened from the outside on their own soil with low-level, non-technical weapons that can't be physically located.</blockquote>

I think that it is a great thing. The level of decadence and wealth in America among certain classes has created a sort of virtual reality/tunnel vision which threatens the nation as a whole.

Look at the political correctness, insane legal practices and irrational business environment that exists in the US.

It needs to be shaken up. People will die, but the ultimate result will be a stronger and more resiliant democracy.

[ Parent ]

Symbolism (none / 2) (#153)
by flo on Tue Apr 20, 2004 at 09:09:48 AM EST

Anybody may see whatever symbolism he likes in an event (such as 9/11), so there is no "correct" symbolism to attach to such an event. However, some come more naturally than others.

The Western media has largely succeeded in persuading us Westerners in seeing the attacks on the World Trade Center as an attack on freedom, democracy, civilization, goodness, etc. This symbolism is much easier to bring across when we forget to mention that the Pentagon was also attacked.

One should keep in mind, however, that the symbolism seen by most of the 3rd world, and therefor Al Qaeda's target audience, is quite difference. To them, the World Trade Center symbolises agressive global capitalism, indeed, the WTO is the organisation that big multi-national conglomerates turn to when they need to overcome local consumer and labor protection laws in 3rd world states. The Pentagon, obviously, symbolises America's military, which has bombed or invaded countless 3rd world nations since WW2. Together, these two buildings symbolise the American military industrial complex, which is very unpopular in the 3rd world.

Now let the flames role in. You may disagree with the above symbolism, but this is what most people in the 3rd world see. And it is this symbolism that matters when trying to understand their opinions and actions.
---------
"Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
[ Parent ]
I agree (none / 1) (#171)
by mami on Wed Apr 21, 2004 at 03:59:35 PM EST

completely, in case your comment was a response to mine. But I think you misunderstood my comment.

The point I was trying to make is that the Iraq war itself helped islamist militants to spread their hatred against the US and incite more terrorist activities.

But the Iraq war was not sold as achieving an increase in terrorist activities, but a decrease. I have the feeling either you misunderstood my comment or we talking about different things.

[ Parent ]

We are in complete agreement (none / 0) (#174)
by flo on Wed Apr 21, 2004 at 07:18:06 PM EST

My comment was only inspired by your mention of the WTC as a symbol of democracy and capitalism - for Americans. I agree, but wanted to add the other major symbolic interpretation of the WTC (and pentagon), as seen by the 3rd world and Al Qaeda.

What you say about Iraq is completely true.

If I may be allowed one more remark on your comment, I think that you might be overstating the role of Osama bin Laden. He is no more than a figure-head for Al Qaeda, much like Bush is a figure-head for the USA. Probably neither of them actually pulls any significant strings. In fact, it's quite likely that bin Laden is dead (of kidney failure, or perhaps buried in the rubble of some bunker). But that doesn't matter, Al Qaeda is more of a meme than an organisation in the usual sense. Their communications are probably not sufficient for Osama to call the shots, even if he's still alive. But he doesn't need to. The meme spreads anyway, infesting the minds of religious nuts and the disenfranchised. Anybody can build a bomb on his own, blow up something, and be a member of Al Qaeda, without any contact with "card-carrying" Al Qaeda members. I still think it's possible that Osama didn't know any details of 911 in advance. It doesn't make any difference.

What's most ironic is that both the Bush regime and Al Qaeda want to personify Al Qaeda in bin Laden as far as possible. And both want the world to believe that bin Laden is still alive, and remains uncaught.
---------
"Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
[ Parent ]
What I wanted to add (none / 0) (#175)
by flo on Wed Apr 21, 2004 at 07:24:27 PM EST

An analogy from the wonderful world of software: Al Qaeda is an Open Source terrorism movement. And here the USA plays the role of Microsoft.

But most people will feel that the roles of good guy/bad guy are reversed...
---------
"Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
[ Parent ]
ah nah, now you force it a bit too much :-) (n/t) (none / 0) (#178)
by mami on Wed Apr 21, 2004 at 11:07:34 PM EST



[ Parent ]
I agree very much, it's a feature of (none / 0) (#177)
by mami on Wed Apr 21, 2004 at 11:06:31 PM EST

extreme conservative Republicans of the President's style and kind to search for an enemy theme and then personify the enemy in a symbol figure. It helps in directing hate in a direction of their choice and control, whose hate you are able to incite toward what target by means of propaganda.

It's practiced by many shallow media talking heads all the time. They all search for an evil person of the past to compare their targetted and attacked subject to. Who and what is not as evil as Stalin and Hitler these days?

That's specially important, if in fact you have an enemy like terrorism, which is more a spiritual enemy of a mindset, who can't be attributed to a specific country, religion or hierarchial structured group. Personalizing the enemy is just a way to manage hate inciting speech towards a more specific, hands-on target.

Anyone can change his mindset from one day to the other and join a group of people, who are dissatisfied with any kind of political problem locally and are up on their way to plan a terrorist attack. One group's successful attacks can easily cause the next group, unrelated to the first one, to try it out too. In that sense, as Znork said, it's a contageious, spreadable virus, which can't be identified.

But if you want to be a good doctor and want to give you sick patient some hope for a cure of the disease, you pretend to know the disease causing substance and have the medication against that substance.

Problem is, it's just not true for most viral contageous infections.

[ Parent ]

the big picture (none / 0) (#95)
by gdanjo on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 10:21:22 PM EST

The only 'win' situations against them is when you, quitely, nail members of the organization, cause them to be less efficient through distrust or betrayal, or decrease their popular support, thus causing non-replaced and non-replacable losses in the organization.
But these strategies will also make the surviving portion of Al Qaida more powerful, by the mechanics of evolution - those that survive are the "fittest", best adapted, and least likely to be susceptable to future betrayal and distrust. Just like when we overuse antibiotics, we create better germs.

The bigger picture here is the question of which survival strategy is likely to be the most successful? In nature, you have the lions as the kings of their domains, but the hyena is able to hold it's own against the lion, no matter that it is smaller and weaker.

The west's mentality is big is powerful - and the assumption is that the bigger you get, the more powerful you get, which, like all things that exist in this world, is being challenged.

The bottom line is this: when you have nothing to lose, then you are at a strategical advantage. The west's best policy in this situation would be to give them something to lose - allow them to become rich and prosperous. Otherwise, we need to leave them alone.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Correct diagnosis, wrong prescription (none / 0) (#100)
by duffbeer703 on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 11:23:25 PM EST

We do need to "give them something to lose".

But we are dealing with people here not germs or insects. People crave power and influence.

Leaving Al-Queda alone is the equivilant of ignoring a bully. The attacks just get worse... observe the string of Al-Queda inspired events from the '93 WTC bombing to 9/11 for an illustration.

So what have we done so far?

1. Turned Afghanistan on it's head:

Afghanistan is no longer a secure place to operate and train Al-Queda memebers. The leadership is presumably sheltering in the Afghan/Paki frontier, which is a no-man's land.

2. Cut the leadership off from conventional communication:

Al-Queda cannot make use of cellphones, sat terminals or readily accessible email services. Cassette tapes delivered by courier are slow & less reliable.

3. Turned Iraq on it's head:

Iraq is now in a state of anarchy, like a more violent version of 19th Century China. You have the US and Allied armies, Western contractors and mercenaries, Iranian backed mujadeen, private and local militias and Al-Queda types operating there.

Iraq is Al-Queda's grand opportunity. Here they have a chance to influence the creation of a new Caliphate in the birthplace of civilization AND attack the Western infidel.

Iraq is clearly a Al-Queda focal point, since the Madrid bombing were timed to get Spain out of Iraq.

A certain point is reached in a movement where the shadowy, underworld "cell" infrastructure needs to be abandoned in favor of a more traditional (and more vulnerable) command structure. When that structure is established, you now have something to bargin with, attack, or undermine.

Remember that neither Bush nor his staff are idiots, and everything that you see on US Television is carefully orchestrated for your consumption.

[ Parent ]

same (none / 1) (#113)
by gdanjo on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 12:51:14 AM EST

But we are dealing with people here not germs or insects. People crave power and influence.
You know, the irony is that people do not generally crave power, if they have all that they need. Norway does not crave power, Greenland does not crave power; it is only the people that have been pushed to the edge of existence that crave power, not only to return to a normal state, but to make sure that it never happens again. France and Israel are but two examples of countries that are determined to never be defeated again.

Iraq is Al-Queda's grand opportunity. Here they have a chance to influence the creation of a new Caliphate in the birthplace of civilization AND attack the Western infidel.
What makes this opportunity "grand"? Because it's the best one available now. And when it is removed, the next grand opportunity will be the next-best choice.

Everything seems like it's the "last chance" for defeat, not because it is, but because we need that kind of resolve to go the last mile.

But this resolve is blind. And the question is, when will it stop? After Iraq is subdued, what next? Whatever argument you put forth can be applied to Iraq, so when will enough be enough? Are we aiming for perfect security? "Not one more death"?

These are all unatainable goals, and they all seem to perpetuate the status quo. What we need is a change, not the same thing over and over again, no matter how rational doing the same thing may seem.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Power (none / 0) (#123)
by duffbeer703 on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 09:01:02 AM EST

Norway as a nation may not crave power abroad, but Norwegian politicians certainly crave power.

All politicians crave power. Those who claim not to are liars.

I describe Al-Queda's opportunity in Iraq as "grand" because it is their first real step towards their goal -- a single Islamic state. You can only gain so much power by blowing things up; eventually you must translate your perceived power into something more real.

Al-Queda is not an organization with their backs to the wall fighting for survival. They are a powerful foe seeking revolutionary change.

[ Parent ]

power (none / 1) (#145)
by gdanjo on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 08:07:49 PM EST

Norway as a nation may not crave power abroad, but Norwegian politicians certainly crave power.

All politicians crave power. Those who claim not to are liars.

Politicians are just a subset of people. People, in general, do not crave power. It may seem as though they do because powerful people are the ones that self-promote, and exagerate their influence on the world - hence, they are the most visible and we generalise about the greater population from them.

I describe Al-Queda's opportunity in Iraq as "grand" because it is their first real step towards their goal -- a single Islamic state. You can only gain so much power by blowing things up; eventually you must translate your perceived power into something more real.
You're not thinking outside the sphere; changing from an amorphous organisation to a "real" one is a view that we in the west see as the ultimate goal - but if they ever did that then we would immediately wipe the floor with them.

Our reality is not theirs. Turning power into "something real" is a goal of the west - it is not a universal rule.

Al-Queda is not an organization with their backs to the wall fighting for survival. They are a powerful foe seeking revolutionary change.
No, but the people who join Al-Qaeda belong to a people with their backs to the wall - perceived or otherwise.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Leave them alone? (none / 0) (#104)
by cdguru on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 11:37:00 PM EST

I don't think you understand the terrorism situation. We are dealing with an assymetrical conflict where each side refuses to acknowledge the other as a viable force.

To me, this is best seen as a conflict between a housewife and a roach infestation from the core of the apartment building. We are currently at the point of stomping on all the roaches we see. Easily an obvious solution but unfortunately it is a useless waste of time. We aren't attacking the real problem here. That is about where the roach analogy falls apart, because unlike roaches if we do not deal with this in a serious way the apartment (the west) will become uninhabitable. These folks view us as roaches also, and you do not negotiate with roaches - you just wipe them out.

For the US to implement some of the "leave them alone" strategies we would need to do some extremely unpalatable things. Starting with removing Jews from Israel and discarding any possible Biblical connection there might be in people's minds to the "Holy Land". We would have to find a way to deal with the Arab/Muslim populations in Western Europe and the US - these people are and would remain a big question-mark. The train bombers in Spain appeared to be predominatly locals Muslims.

Yes, I believe stomping on roaches isn't an effective strategy, but it at least keeps the level of violence in the world down to a low level until we come up with a better strategy. I do not believe for a second that we can ignore the threat posed by Muslim terrorists and think we can ever peacefully coexist with them as equals. They know we are not their equals - we are infidels. We also know they are not our equals - they are disorganized savages (e.g. public mutilations, etc.) and they are heathens. Oh, and let's not hear any of that "just leave religion out of it" nonsense. They aren't going to, so we can't assume we can either.

[ Parent ]

ego (none / 0) (#112)
by gdanjo on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 12:42:39 AM EST

Yes, I believe stomping on roaches isn't an effective strategy, but it at least keeps the level of violence in the world down to a low level until we come up with a better strategy. [...]
Your analogy reveals your feelings towards "them." I could use a "rape" analogy to the behaviour of the US towards other countries, but I don't because I do not believe all USians are rapists. Just because an analogy fits, doesn't mean you should use it - it reveals too much of your internal feelings.

I do not believe for a second that we can ignore the threat posed by Muslim terrorists and think we can ever peacefully coexist with them as equals. They know we are not their equals - we are infidels. We also know they are not our equals - they are disorganized savages (e.g. public mutilations, etc.) and they are heathens. Oh, and let's not hear any of that "just leave religion out of it" nonsense. They aren't going to, so we can't assume we can either.
Eye-for-an-eye seems, on the surface, to be a fantastic strategy - especially when you have an incredible variety and quantity of "eye gougers." I'm saying that it's not a good strategy, because we are the ones with more to lose.

Remember this: the fact that they are human beings means that they have power over us, because we have defined ourselves as champions of human rights. When taken to it's extreme, the two choices we have is: a) declare that our "enemy" is not a human being, in which case we can "squish" them all we like; or b) allow them the dignity to participate in the world and benefit from it as we do, or leave them to their own devices.

This is an unpalatable choice, and especially for a country that defines itself by it's strength. It requires deflation of the ego, which is probably the most difficult task for the US as far as I can tell. But if this doesn't happen, you have to realise that they are now at an advantage - with nothing to lose, they are in a similar situation as all "fallen people" have been in the past, and are primed for a "truimph" that they will sing about for generations to come.

All because of our refusal to deflate our ego.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

The problem being... (none / 1) (#119)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 02:09:33 AM EST

The west's best policy in this situation would be to give them something to lose - allow them to become rich and prosperous.

The indigent and oppressed conditions under which most of the Arab populus lives is not a consequence of the West, but rather is primarily the result of internal Arab policies and power struggles. Ultimate responsibility for the Arab condition is properly assigned to the Arabs themselves.

The belief that we have it in our power to "fix" the Middle East is exactly the thinking that lead to the recent US occupation of Iraq. Prosperity and broad political enfranchisement will only truly arrive in the Arab world by means of collective Arab effort.  

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
yep (none / 0) (#120)
by gdanjo on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 02:25:07 AM EST

The indigent and oppressed conditions under which most of the Arab populus lives is not a consequence of the West, but rather is primarily the result of internal Arab policies and power struggles. Ultimate responsibility for the Arab condition is properly assigned to the Arabs themselves.
Precisely, which is why I say "Otherwise, we need to leave them alone." as the next sentence right after the quote you cite.

The belief that we have it in our power to "fix" the Middle East is exactly the thinking that lead to the recent US occupation of Iraq. Prosperity and broad political enfranchisement will only truly arrive in the Arab world by means of collective Arab effort.
No, the thinking that lead to the recent occupation of Iraq is not that they could "fix" the middle east, but that they could oust Saddam. Justifications of this - that they are "fixing" the middle east - are secondary to this goal. And this primary goal is of most benefit to us, the West, not to the middle east.

The problem is that once you become involved, you not only take on the burden of what you are there to achieve, but you also take on the burden of your failure, and in this failure are perceived as perpetuating the current situation - whether justified or not. The middle east hears america's roar loud and clear in the world, they understand the power that US has, they understand her influence, her compassion, her striving to "free" the world, and yet it seems that most of the world benefits from this, except them.

If you're going to act like the world police, don't complain when people expect you to act like the world police. Otherwise, leave it alone - self-healing always leads to the best outcome ('cause there's no-one else to blame).

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Unfortunately, just leaving them alone... (none / 1) (#134)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 01:16:40 PM EST

...is easily said, but nearly impossible to accomplish in practice because the peoples of the Middle East have had the grave misfortune of being located directly above the world's richest petroleum reserves. Not purchasing their oil isn't a viable option in the short to medium term, and so we must contend with the fact that no matter whom we trade with, our economic engagement with the region will invariably be perceived as an act of interference by those not in control of the reserves.

There is also another variety of interference which we, the West, are in no position to adjust or alter as it issues from the example provided by our very existence. The example of the West--our wealth, our strength, our productivity, our values, and, yes, our freedoms too--is a powerful factor in the current social, political, and economic transformations which are determining the future development of the Middle East.

Surely you've noticed that they can often seem almost pathologically preoccupied with the nature of their relation to the West? Every major political and social movement in the Middle East over the last eighty years has been defined principally by its position regarding the West: Kamalism, Nasserism, Ba'ath, and Islamism. The historical collision of the Middle East and the West, a cultural and political convergence which has been markedly unequal in terms of power and dependence relations, has engendered a considerable degree of anxiety surrounding their ability, or rather their inability, to mediate the consequences and exercise control over the nature and extent of our influence.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
preoccupation (none / 0) (#152)
by gdanjo on Tue Apr 20, 2004 at 08:28:37 AM EST

...is easily said, but nearly impossible to accomplish in practice because the peoples of the Middle East have had the grave misfortune of being located directly above the world's richest petroleum reserves. Not purchasing their oil isn't a viable option in the short to medium term, and so we must contend with the fact that no matter whom we trade with, our economic engagement with the region will invariably be perceived as an act of interference by those not in control of the reserves.
What you describe here is a form of a catch-22 - whereas catch-22 is "you're damned if you do, and damned if you don't", what you describe above is "we've done it once, so now we must continue to do it". It's the logical opposite, if you like, since in the first instance the difficulty arises at the beginning, and in the second instance the difficulty arises once the "ball is rolling." Now that we are addicted to oil, we cannot possibly stop exploiting those that have it. If this type of argument is allowed, then we open up a pandora's box of dodgy rationalisations. (incidently, this argument is not too dissimilar to that which allows cigarettes to be sold - they have been sold for ages, so we can't change it. If we knew a product caused cancer before it was sold, would we allow it to be sold? The answer is no, no matter what your argument for smoking is (freedom to choose, etc.)).

Surely you've noticed that they can often seem almost pathologically preoccupied with the nature of their relation to the West? [...]
The west has a pathological preoccupation with itself. While you may think that the rest of the world has a preoccupation with the west, the truth is far from it. Most people want to just get on with their life. Understand that TV has an amplifying effect on what's really important in the world, just like movies are "emotional" amplifyers - neither of them represent reality accurately.

It seems like the rest of the world has a preoccupation with the US, but really they don't. It's just the power-hungry that have this preoccupation, and their natural target is that which is perceived to be most powerful.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

No (none / 0) (#156)
by cr8dle2grave on Tue Apr 20, 2004 at 12:18:17 PM EST

What you describe here is a form of a catch-22 - whereas catch-22 is "you're damned if you do, and damned if you don't", what you describe above is "we've done it once, so now we must continue to do it".

No, it would be catch-22 and exploitation isn't necessarily an factor. They have it, they sell it, we and everyone else in the world are obliged to purchase it. Petroleum is the fundamental building block of the global economy and, even in the most optimistic view, a viable alternative is at least 50 years out.

The west has a pathological preoccupation with itself.

Patronizing me won't get you any closer to making a cogent argument. Middle Eastern preoccupation with the West is well documented and a much discussed political phenomena. As I said, it has been the central issue defining their internal political factionalization. And you talk to me of the emotional distortions caused by television? What ever are you talking about? The point should be non-controversial no matter which side of the ideological divide you're coming from. It is discussed in detail by Lewis, Said, Ajami, Pipes (those are only the names which might ring bell for you). The Arab world's encounter with Western modernity--whether you construe the structural inequality of that meeting in terms of imperialism or otherwise--has been its defining political and social event of the last century.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
events (none / 0) (#161)
by gdanjo on Tue Apr 20, 2004 at 08:02:54 PM EST

No, it would be catch-22 and exploitation isn't necessarily an factor. They have it, they sell it, we and everyone else in the world are obliged to purchase it. Petroleum is the fundamental building block of the global economy and, even in the most optimistic view, a viable alternative is at least 50 years out.
Right, but my point was that to allow such an argument is to open a pandora's box of dodgy rationalisation.

For example, we could invade any country we want, state that the invasion was a mistake, but justify occupation by brining up the fact that, now that we're in, we can't get out - so we shouldn't try.

Patronizing me won't get you any closer to making a cogent argument. [...]
Do you deny that the west is self-obsessed? I'm not making a judgement on whether it's a good thing or not, but we are self-obsessed.

Middle Eastern preoccupation with the West is well documented and a much discussed political phenomena. As I said, it has been the central issue defining their internal political factionalization. And you talk to me of the emotional distortions caused by television? What ever are you talking about? [...]
My point is that, "on the ground" around the world, people could give two fucks about the US, the world, Al-Qaeda and all the shit that comes with it. We see it as a big deal because we watch a lot of TV which distorts the real picture.

I'll repeat: TV is not reality. Go to any country which you feel has an obsession of the west, live among the people for a few years, and you'll see that talking about the US and politics is like us talking about the movies. It passes the time.

Those that do care about them talking about the west is the west. We are pathologically self-obsessed and paranoid that others are trying to take away what we have - and terrorists/"political" movements take full advantage of this paranoia.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

I suspect we are talking at cross purposes (none / 0) (#166)
by cr8dle2grave on Wed Apr 21, 2004 at 10:59:28 AM EST

Right, but my point was that to allow such an argument is to open a pandora's box of dodgy rationalisation.

For example, we could invade any country we want, state that the invasion was a mistake, but justify occupation by brining up the fact that, now that we're in, we can't get out - so we shouldn't try.

Huh? I don't follow. I wasn't making an argument in favor of the recent invasion. My argument was:


  1. The West is necessarily a major consumer of petroleum and, as a consequence of this inelastic demand, it is therefore compelled by necessity to enter into a singularly significant economic relationship with those Persian Gulf states which collectively control the global petroleum market.

  2. The West is compelled by necessity to remain within that relationship--an engagement which exhibits many inherent power inequalities favoring the West--in which it exercises an enormous influence upon the political and social world of the Middle East.

  3. It is of a high probability that this influence will be perceived as a pernicious, unwelcome, and alien interference by those who are disposed to see themselves as marginalized by the West's effects upon the region.

You had previously argued, and I concurred in large degree, that terrorism is caused in part by the fact that the West is viewed, correctly or not, by Middle Eastern populations as being the cause of their poverty and disenfranchisement. We seemed to be in agreement with one another that disengagement or "just leaving them alone" was the surest way of alleviating those conditions which give rise to anti-Western (and more specifically anti-American) terrorism.

I then made the argument I just reiterated above in pursuit of the point that disengagement was an impossibility, and that we are therefore necessarily obliged to confront and manage the phenomenon of anti-Western terrorism by means other than disengagement. We must find a means of mediating the enmity which we are unable to avoid incurring.

Do you intend by calling my argument a "Pandora's box" to question the necessity of our requirement for petroleum? If so, I'd really really like to hear your plan for how we might accomplish such, without thereby causing a catastrophic economic collapse of global scope?

The story of Pandora's box isn't a warning against opening the box, but notice that box has already been opened. The human world we find ourselves in didn't arise on the back of perfect ideals and it is decidedly beyond our ken to remake it as if it did.

Do you deny that the west is self-obsessed? I'm not making a judgement on whether it's a good thing or not, but we are self-obsessed.

I question the relevance of your observation about the West's preoccupation with itself. Or do you mean to argue that the West's self-obsession is somehow an argument against my observation of Middle Eastern preoccupations? If so, please flush it out.

My point is that, "on the ground" around the world, people could give two fucks about the US, the world, Al-Qaeda and all the shit that comes with it.

Those "on the ground" around the world aren't what we were discussing. We were discussing those whose ill will toward the West, and America in particular, is great enough that they are a significant factor in causing the phenomenon of terrorism. Those people under discussion self-evidently give quite a bit more than a paltry two fucks about the world, the West, and America.

Go to any country which you feel has an obsession of the west, live among the people for a few years, and you'll see that talking about the US and politics is like us talking about the movies.

Not even Duchamp would have gone so far as to firebomb a movie theater. You're quite right about most people, but it's not most people who matter here.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
pragmatism (none / 0) (#176)
by gdanjo on Wed Apr 21, 2004 at 10:48:19 PM EST

I think there is some confusion as to where exactly our difference in opinion lies. So before I reply to your post I will give you the conclusion first, so that you understand where I'm coming from.

Basically, I'm against pragmatism as an ideology. I believe that all arguments should be based on a fixed and predictable ideology. This does not mean that I am against practicing pragmatism - on the contrary, it is the best system we have that "ties up the loose ends", so to speak. What I am against is the use of pragmatism as the basis of an argument.

That said, I will now answer all the items in your post:

The West is necessarily a major consumer of petroleum [...]
But the necessity is not a natural one (as in, we need to breathe to live), it is synthetic - it is of our own choosing - and we do have a choice as to whether we continue to make petrolium a necessity or not, and whether we buy petrolium from the middle east.

Whether this choice can be excercised is another matter, which I will ignore for now.

The West is compelled by necessity to remain within that relationship [...]
Pragmatically speaking, yes. But remember that this is a necessity of our own causing - we rely on petrolium to continue to be "the west", because we choose to continue to be "the west" (again, ignore the fact that this choice probably cannot be excercised and so seems to be a necessity - almost by definition).

It is of a high probability that this influence will be perceived as a pernicious, unwelcome, and alien interference by those who are disposed to see themselves as marginalized by the West's effects upon the region.
And the basis of this perception is that we choose to make petrolium the basis of our economy, and we choose the middle east as our supplier. The implication of this perception is that we can also choose not to use petrolium and to disengage with the middle east, but this assumption is, as you say, virtually impossible.

I then made the argument I just reiterated above in pursuit of the point that disengagement was an impossibility, and that we are therefore necessarily obliged to confront and manage the phenomenon of anti-Western terrorism by means other than disengagement. We must find a means of mediating the enmity which we are unable to avoid incurring.
This is where pragmatism kicks in. While we have the choice to be able to use petrolium or not, we cannot excercise this choice - we cannot stop using petrolium and continue to be "the west" at the same time; it is practically impossible.

So pragmatically, you are correct that disengagement is an impossibility, but the argument that leads to this pragmatic conclusion cannot be justified on ideological grounds - and I think you agree with me on this.

Do you intend by calling my argument a "Pandora's box" to question the necessity of our requirement for petroleum? If so, I'd really really like to hear your plan for how we might accomplish such, without thereby causing a catastrophic economic collapse of global scope?
I do not question our necessity for petrolium, what I'm saying is that if we use pragmatism as the basis of our rationalisation then we are effectively allowing arbitrary rationalisations - which means we can rationalise anything. If we can rationalise anything, then we are arational.

And I do not pretend to have a plan on how we might acomplish world peace. What I state is that we should not simply accept the pragmatic requirement for us to engage with the middle east as rationalisation of how we behave towards them. We are shooting ourselves in the foot if we allow such dodgy rationalisation - to others, this type of rationalisation is disengenuous, and amounts to irrationality.

The pandora's box I speak of is in the basis of your argument that pragmatic requirements must take precedent over an ideological basis. If we allow this, then we allow many other dodgy rationalisations: for example, dictators can say that stability is pragmatically more important that freedom as a change in government would case major upheaval (just as the west states that removing our reliance on petrolium would cause massive economic upheavals). In this case, the dictator himself would cause major upheavals if he were removed - it is a self-inflicting prophecy - just as the west's reliance on petrolium is self-inflicted.

Pragmatism should be used as a "band aid" solution until a real, proper, stable solution is found (emerges). When we come to an ideological crossroad, then pragmatism should temporarily fix the situation - but it should not be the basis of rationalisation.

So yes, I agree with you on most of your points, but a) I do not agree with the way you came to these conclusions, and it's implication that we, the west, are rationally justified in doing what we do; and b) I do not agree that when something is impossible, the alternative should be de-facto accepted as reasonable.

Pragmatism is a tool for the perpetuation of the status quo, nothing more.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Well... (none / 0) (#181)
by cr8dle2grave on Thu Apr 22, 2004 at 01:50:10 PM EST

...our disagreement does indeed reach all the way the down to include fundamental issues of ethics, metaphysics, and human agency. Keep an eye on the diary section over the next couple of days for my extended treatment of these issues, but for now I'd like to simply point out that we've not been discussing hoary ideals, but very real circumstances with potentially catastrophic consequences. Advocating impracticable solutions, ones you acknowledge to be impossible to implement, isn't going get us anywhere.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
correctness (none / 0) (#183)
by gdanjo on Thu Apr 22, 2004 at 09:01:18 PM EST

...our disagreement does indeed reach all the way the down to include fundamental issues of ethics, metaphysics, and human agency. Keep an eye on the diary section over the next couple of days for my extended treatment of these issues, but for now I'd like to simply point out that we've not been discussing hoary ideals, but very real circumstances with potentially catastrophic consequences. Advocating impracticable solutions, ones you acknowledge to be impossible to implement, isn't going get us anywhere.
Our disagreements are subtle, but large enough to show itself in the conclusions. They begin at the fundamentals, are forgottent in the intermediate argument, and emerge once again at the conclusions. And one of these conclusions is that advocating impractical solutions isn't going to get us anywhere - I completely disagree. Advocating morally correct solutions, however impractical, all the way to the very end ,is the method by which we "calibrate" our understanding of the situation. Then, when we reach a conclusion that is impossible to implement but is intellectually sound, we bring in pragmatism to see how we can "inch" towards this goal. If we introduce pragmatism too early, then our conclusions will begin to convolute.

But I do look forward to your diary entries. This has been a very interesting discussion.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

See also: (none / 0) (#169)
by rusty on Wed Apr 21, 2004 at 11:32:27 AM EST

Lawrence of Arabia. Bears rather directly on this whole thread, and what happens when the west thinks it can lead the Arab world into western notions of freedom and democracy. Also, surprisingly watchable for a nearly four-hour-long movie.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
I haven't seen LoA since I was but a wee lad... (none / 0) (#170)
by cr8dle2grave on Wed Apr 21, 2004 at 01:00:03 PM EST

...but now that you mention it, it does seem very relevant. I'll have toss it on my netflix queue. Thanks.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Brilliant commentary. (none / 1) (#97)
by duffbeer703 on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 10:55:43 PM EST

You've hit the nail on the head.

Consider how the war on Iraq is an Al-Queda victory already. American troops are for all intents and purposes off of Saudi soil.

The strategy that will ultimately defeat Al-Queda is a risky and unpopular one. In my opinion, the only way to defeat them is to strengthen them.

Right now, you could kill all of the Al-Queda leadership with no effect. Al-Queda really doesn't possess anything beyond a message and a track record. Kill Bin Laden, kill his assistants, hell -- kill every member. Millions of disaffected muslims are waiting to take their place.

Allow them to make gains in Iraq and Palestine -- maybe even Saudi Arabia. Let them loose so they turn against the states that support them. Eventually, they'll need to abandon their cell-based administrative structure for a more traditional one or risk losing control of their newfound empire.

Once they come out of the shadows in search of Empire, they are vulnerable to attack.

This is why I support the Iraq war. While it is publically based on false pretexts, it has become a lightning rod of sorts that draws Islamic fundamentalists out of the woodwork. Its setting the stage for Al-Queda to strengthen, and eventually give us something to shoot at.


[ Parent ]

yes and no (none / 0) (#193)
by speek on Sat Apr 24, 2004 at 12:10:19 PM EST

I agree that getting out of their way would cause Al Queda to self-destruct (kind of like jumping backward when playing low-post defense in basketball when the offensive player was expecting to be able to lean on you). Grand success for Al Queda in the Middle East would be disastrous for their organization - primarily because their goals, once achieved all, will not seem so attractive.

But, I don't think the Iraq war is a good way to get there. It will not give us targets to shoot at unless we lose. As long as we control Iraq officially, our enemy there will be an underground enemy. It won't come out into the light of day unless we're totally getting our asses kicked. And then it's too late. Iraq is wrecked, US military determination is wrecked, and the wrong people are swept into power and we'll have to wait 20 years of leaving them alone before things start to turn around.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

IrRationality (none / 1) (#143)
by OldCoder on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 07:59:13 PM EST

The weakness is the very wealth of the nations; the unwillingness of the population to sustain long term low grade warfare in terms of monetary cost and bloodshed for nebulous goals...
As long as ships and embassies are being bombed, there was little taste for war in the West, which limited its response to cruise missile attacks. Attacking New York and DC considerably increased the willingness of all of western civilization to engage in long term warfare. Even France, Germany and (still) Spain were and are eager to fight against al-Queda. The attacks on America were quite harmful for Islamist movement. People who never gave Islamic radicals a second thought started reading up on it, calling it "Islamofascism" and figuring out how to fight it. Israel is getting a more sympathetic treatment from the US than it got before 9/11.
Consider every possible response by the US administration and compare with the goal fulfillment degree of 'sapping resources', 'increasing discomfort for US population' and 'generating members'. And remember again, that 'getting killed' does not count as a loss as long as there's a positive influx in total membership.

While the war in Iraq is expensive, I doubt bin Laden predicted it would be the result of his attacks on America. The direct anti-terror war, both domestically and internationally, is quite affordable. And the war in Iraq might turn out okay, in time. The two Iraqi centers of resistance are under seige and survive only at the pleasure of the US military. The US population is quite united against al-Queda, even if it is a bit confused about Iraq. The US population underwent a great deal more discomfort in the Second World War, just to name one, than it is ever likely to feel from the war on terror. The more Americans are afraid of getting their airplane hijacked, the more they are willing to go to war against bin Laden.

The idea that Western victories are "Counterproductive" goes against all the lessons of warfare, that a victory has a thousand fathers but defeat is an orphan, that everybody loves a winner, and so on. The US has shown tremendous flexibility in fighting the war in Afghanistan, succeeding way beyond where all the critics and nay-sayers said they would. Remember all the predictions about defeat like the British and Soviets? Smashing your enemies bases and killing/capturing two thirds of its leadership cadre is not good for your enemy.

Al-Queda recruitment might soar if the "Arab street" kept on seeing them win victory after victory, as attack after attack went unanswered, but watching them go down in flames time after time will only cause them to cleverly think up alternative strategies, such as staying home and praying for victory, or going to school to get a good job, or learning to make electronics and cars as skillfully as the South Koreans, or maybe even learning to code up websites that let people download popular music. You know, counter-attacking the way Japan counter-attacked; "The best revenge is living well".

Even if the war in Iraq goes pretty badly and the eventual rulers of Iraq are an anti-American bunch of Ayatollahs aligned to Iran and Syria, the US can win the war against al-Queda and the Islamists. For one thing, their whole enterprise is funded with Western oil money, and there is nothing that really prevents the West from just taking the oil without paying, if it really wants to. I'm sure this is one reason the Saudi Royal Family is so darn friendly to Americans and powerful American families like the Bushes. I'd worry about Oil Sheiks bribing Americans with our own money before I'd worry about terrorism as a long term threat.

--
By reading this signature, you have agreed.
Copyright © 2003 OldCoder
[ Parent ]

I like your comment (none / 0) (#173)
by mami on Wed Apr 21, 2004 at 05:39:10 PM EST

and I think your solution strategies resemble the ones used to fight cancer, auto-immune diseases and viral infections. I think you might have supported Znork's point to be valid without specifically wanting to:
Al Qaeda is not a 'military organization' with the goals of taking and holding real estate. They're a mental virus, dealing in mindsets, resolve, belief and psychological warfare.

Let's compare terrorism to a virus infection, a virus has infects a healthy mindset and turns it into a terrorist mindset.

I think your military or economic solutions to fight terrorism are similar to the treatment a doctor would chose for fighting a disease, in which the immune system of your body (ie. police, military, CIA of the US) can't find a specific marker for the bad cells and the good cells and therefore can't distinguish between them and can't help it but kill and fight both indiscriminately.

I think two treatments are available, smash all cells and hope for the best, ie more good cells survive than bad cells and the balance is restored, or "quarantaine" the infected people or starve the bad cells to death by cutting of the supply lines.

If you say:

... for one thing, their whole enterprise is funded with Western oil money, and there is nothing that really prevents the West from just taking the oil without paying, if it really wants to ...
it sounds exactly to me like a quarantaine of the infected people, or like cutting off the supply lines for the bad cells to survive.

If you say:

... smashing your enemies bases and killing/capturing two thirds of its leadership cadre is not good for your enemy....
that sounds to me like therapy with broad spectrum of antibiotica to kill all cells, good and bad, or like chemo- and radiation therapy.

You risk, like in medicine, to lose the fight, because you might kill so indiscriminately that your police, like in an auto-immune disease, starts to kill the healthy cells faster than the sick cells and you are on a self-destructive path to death, because you even start to kill the very fighter cells of your immune system (ie your own military, police and CIA).

Here's in simple words what your immune system does:

The first job of the immune system is to distinguish between "you" and "non-you," and then react to that distinction. Immune cells are on constant alert looking for a foreign marker- the antigen- that marks bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other substances that invade the body. There is a built-in tolerance for your own cells and tissue so that they are passed over in this vigilance.

What happens when this balance goes wrong and this immune system mistakes the "you" and "non-you"? The system begins to identify tissue or protein or some other part of "you" as an intruder, a foreigner, and the immune cells attack to rid the body of this menace. The whole arsenal of the immune system comes into play, and the body begins to destroy itself, cell by cell. End results can be minor or major.

When you calculate the probability of survival or the probability to win the war against terrorism, it might be just a matter of being a pessimist or an optimist. I am naturally a typical German pessimist, you seem to have the typical American optimist and can-do mindset.

But conclusion of all of it should be that "finding the specific marker" of the bad cells is crucial in fighting against them successfully.

[ Parent ]

Well (none / 0) (#180)
by Lagged2Death on Thu Apr 22, 2004 at 01:47:03 PM EST

Attacking New York and DC considerably increased the willingness of all of western civilization to engage in long term warfare.

It will take 5-10 more years of coalition troops getting blown up every now and again before anyone can say such a thing with any authority. There has not yet been any "long term" in this affair, so a claim about our willingness to endure it "long term" is basically a guess.

While the war in Iraq is expensive, I doubt bin Laden predicted it would be the result of his attacks on America. The direct anti-terror war, both domestically and internationally, is quite affordable.

It's entirely arguable that the invasion of Iraq wasn't the result of 9/11. Either way, though, I think the point stands that 9/11 did cause us discomfort, cost us money, and very likely attracted new recruits to the cause. If those were Bin Laden's goals, then he met them, and our ability or inability to pay isn't relevant to the question.

Starfish automatically creates colorful abstract art for your PC desktop!
[ Parent ]

wow (none / 0) (#172)
by jettero on Wed Apr 21, 2004 at 04:14:51 PM EST

will you please put this in essay form somewhere?

[ Parent ]
Faulty assumption (none / 1) (#188)
by RyoCokey on Fri Apr 23, 2004 at 03:20:26 PM EST

The primary error in your exposition is that they can replace key members easily, so long as popular opinion in the area is with them. This is simply not true. The death of high level members of Al Qaeda represents an almost irrepairable loss to the organization.

To avoid detection and infiltration, Al Qaeda is a nebulous mass of cells. However, to coordinate this mass, you need executives capable of attracting funds, and trusted by both sympathizers and members of Al Qaeda. Regardless of how many arab youth wish to help, the man off the street simply cannot replace these people. With the death of high-level officers, their supporters have trouble channeling either money or weapons to them, as they are left dealing with new faces who may be frauds, double agents, or simply incompetant.

The loose nature also leaves it open to problems with the chain of command, as coordination of cells may quickly become impossible if the higher level operative who knows the identities and contacts is killed. Without a central database and organization to keep track of who is doing what, plans may be foiled simply by the death of an officer.

So in closing, it doesn't matter how much of the "Arab Street" wants to help Al Qaeda if all it's operatives are killed off. Without leaders with ties to governments and money, it is destined to be incapable of anything but low-level attacks.



The troops returning home are worried. "We've lost the peace," men tell you. "We can't make it stick
[
Parent ]
Terrorism is incapable of high level attacks (none / 0) (#189)
by cam on Fri Apr 23, 2004 at 04:21:55 PM EST

Without leaders with ties to governments and money, it is destined to be incapable of anything but low-level attacks.

Terrorism even with the funding of Bin Laden and the backing of the Taliban, only managed to destroy two buildings and take 3000 lives. Compare that to the destruction and lives lost in the RAF bombing Dresden, or the USAF bombing Hiroshima. Terrorism at its most lucky, only managed to kill 3000 people. Tinpot dictators scoff at the effectiveness of terrorism, it cant raise money like a despot can tax, nor can it kill effectively as a dictator who can lay waste to his populace.

Terrorism is whack a mole. As soon as a terrorist indulges themselves in terror, they are instantly known to the police. In the Madrid bombings the Spanish police had them cornered within two weeks, same with Bali and same with Sept 11th. Within a couple of weeks, the US was telling the Taliban, hand him over. As soon as terrorism is conducted it is the death of that terrorist network, simply because the police are more efficient than terrorists are.

Terrorism, as it stands now, is well dealt with civilly. It is unsustainable, because a terrorist action results in those terrorists and their network being caught or disrupted to the point of being impotent. Despite the tragedy that terrorism can cause, at its most effective it is capable of killing 3000. Nation states are far more dangerous than terrorists can ever dream to be.

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

Nation States indeed... (none / 0) (#192)
by RyoCokey on Fri Apr 23, 2004 at 11:19:30 PM EST

What we've seen in both 9/11 and in Israel has been state-backed terrorism. Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq... all provided funding and shelter to terrorists. Iraq helped provide and/or doctor some of the passports used in the 9/11 attacks. Afghanistan provided both a legal haven and a training ground for Al Qaeda.

As long as states allow terrorists refuge within their borders (i.e. Libya, until recently) and allow them passports, money, or other support, they will have a significantly enhanced ability to cause damage to the civilized world. Such state-sponsored actions cannot be addressed by police/civil action alone.



The troops returning home are worried. "We've lost the peace," men tell you. "We can't make it stick
[
Parent ]
Great Post; Pearl Harbour and Police Work (2.87 / 8) (#75)
by cam on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 11:31:11 AM EST

A few points on the historical side of things;

Most importantly, Washington "Knew" that the Pearl Harbor was invulnerable because the whole fleet was based there. Japan would act further west.

The disruptive technology in the Pacific in WWII was the aricraft carrier. Yamamoto understood it, and fortunately for the allies, Nimitz understood it. In 1941 the only nation that could counter Japan on the ocean was the US. The Royal Navy was tied up in Scapa, the Australia Navy was not an independant force nor was the Dutch naval assets in the Pacific.

The attack on Pearl Harbour was to destroy not only the US capital fleet but to catch the four US aircraft carriers flat footed in the harbour. Halsey had them out in the Pacific, which was good fortune as the US and Japan started out WWII with parity in the aircraft carrier stakes. By wars end, US industry was producing them at the rate of hundred a month.

Huge mistakes can be easily missed. Nine hours after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese attacked the Phillipines and achieved total surprise. Hardly anybody investigated this. We don't know what big facts we are missing in the 9/11 situation

Too often Pearl Harbour is viewed in isolation. At the same moment that Pearl Harbour was bombed, Japan attacked the Malayan Peninsula and the Phillipines. The Malayan pensinsula had British, Indian, Australian and Canadian forces on it. The Phillipines the US Army. Those were the two points of greatest resistance to Japan getting to New Caledonia and cutting Australia off from the US.

Fortunately the Australians rallied in PNG and the USMC in the Solomons, but getting to New Caledonia would have meant that US supplies and forces could not have go to Australia or New Zealand and effectively isolated those two countries as a platform to supply the south and mid-pacific campaigns.

Japan reacted by deciding it was being strangled. Sometimes war may be inevitable.

Japan achieved IIRC with 15 divisions in the mid and south pacific. At all times in the Pacific theatre, Japan kept more divisions in China than anywhere else. IIRC they had 33 divisions in China in 1941. Lucky they didnt bring their full force to bear on the US and Australia in 1941 and 1942.

Another thing, it was well known in Australian Intelligence that the US was going to be attacked. On Dec 8th Timor time (Dec 7th Hawaii time), Australian aircraft patrolling Indonesia and Timor were told that the US was going to be attacked today, when you receive acknowledgement of this all Japanese shipping is fair game.

One book I have has an Australian Lieutenant in the Air Force writing this in his log book. He was a navigator, not a privileged intelligence office. The attack on 9/11 might have been a sort of publicity stunt to encourage the faithful to rally around al Queda. The Taliban assumed they could hold Afghanistan against all attacks. But the example of al Queda on the run and the Taliban out of power is working against al Queda.

I think it was an attempt to get the US to escalate. An individual got a nation state to invade other countries, one rationally, the other irrationally. Unfortunately nation-states view nation-states as their competitors. Bin Laden is an individual with a social network. A civil response is required, not a military response with nation-state backing.

The Spanish caught the bombers pretty quick. Looked like good police work to me. Indonesia also caught the Bali bombers pretty quiclk with police work as well. Much cheaper than invading Iraq on a false pre-text.

As you mentioned in your post, Pearl Harbour and the WTC attacks are two different kettles of fish. One was a military attack on a military target by a militry force. The other was a civil attack on a civil target by individuals. The former requires war. The latter requires police work. Going after terrorists with the military is dumb.

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

9/11 makes perfect sense (none / 3) (#90)
by mymantra on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 03:14:23 PM EST

> The attack on 9/11 makes no sense at all from a
> military point of view.
>
> The attack on 9/11 might have been a sort of
> publicity stunt to encourage the faithful to
> rally around al Queda.

9/11 makes absolutely perfect sense - it's mind boggling that anyone would think it didn't!

If you think 9/11 makes no sense, you are probably blinded by the same biases that have caused the "War on Terror", and especially Iraq, to go so poorly. From an asymmetric combat point of view 9/11 (and Saddam's defense of Iraq) makes perfect sense - a symmetric conflict truly would be suicide. If fact, it's US's symmetric strength that is precisely its biggest weakness!

Further, why would publicity to recruit your side be any less vital militarily (symmetric or assymetric) than having weapons or actual battle victories? Accomplishing the anti-US unity the world currently has is one of the more direct reasons why the US can't find other countries to offer troops (unlike Gulf War 1), which is turn is one the reasons a draft in the near future is so likely. Talk about direct military impact: how long will the USian public put up with body counts when that happens?

Sun Tzu said to "mold your enemy": triggering conditions to create something like the Patriot Act would be an excellent strategy if you felt US pluralism was a threat to your culture and you didn't have an army to invade the US directly. It's like judo or aikito: let your opponent's own body and weight do the work for you.

I suggest you read up on the basics of military strategy:

Sun Tzu's Art of War
Karl von Clausewitz's On War
Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince
Lanchester Theory


[ Parent ]

I look at it this way (none / 0) (#151)
by Fuzzwah on Tue Apr 20, 2004 at 12:41:05 AM EST

Before 9/11 I didn't know who bin Laden was, what al  Queda was and more importantly what their beef with the US was.

Now I know. Those two planes flying into the world trade centre forced more people to open their eyes about the US's international policy than anything before it.

--
The best a human can do is to pick a delusion that helps him get through the day. - God's Debris
[ Parent ]

Robert Stinnett is up to date (none / 3) (#94)
by Norwegian Blue on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 06:07:26 PM EST

Robert Stinnett uses new evidence to conclude about Pearl Harbor that
  • there was a lot of effort to provoke Japan into war.
  • the aim was to get into war with Japan, and thus indirectly with Germany. The real adversary was thought to be Germany.
  • Roosevelt had detailed foreknowledge about the attack on Pearl Harbor but underestimated the effectiveness.
Stinnett makes clear that he understands the logic of the American approach, and that he supports it, considering what the outcome was.

The value of a 'new Pearl Harbor' in rallying support and catalyzing change in the current world situation was recognized by Zbigniew Brzezinski in "The Grand Chessboard" and the notorious PNAC paper of 2000, "Rebuilding America's Defenses" also cites this. It's a fairly basic concept . An aggressive nation would see value in provoking while keeping its guard down. in this view, taking defensive measures becomes an act of restraint.


[ Parent ]

Nonsense (none / 1) (#102)
by duffbeer703 on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 11:28:21 PM EST

All of the Pearl Harbor conspiracy theories are just that -- theories.

If Roosevelt had detailed information regarding the attack, it would have come out far sooner. The Republicans of that era saw FDR as a Ceasar and would stop at nothing to undermine his administration.

FDR was a lover of the sea, and of the great battleships in particular. If for no other reason than to save the ships & harbor, he would have had those battleships leave the harbor if an attack was anticipated.

[ Parent ]

Yet another theory (none / 2) (#108)
by godix on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 11:54:17 PM EST

I've always found logic in the theory that Roosevelt did know an attack was coming and Pearl Harbor was actually prepared for it. Unfortunately they were prepared for a sea attack so all those ships that were lined up waiting to go sick a destroy were just sitting ducks in a row for an air attack.

Actually in many ways 9/11 and Pearl Harbor are very similar. I think in bother cases our leaders knew something was coming but were dead wrong on exactly what it was. So all preparations which were done turned out to be totally useless at best. Both attacks provoked a population which held rather isolationist views to support going out and doing what America should have done years before. And despite the high costs, both in the attack and in our response, the end result is very good if looked at in the long view.

Thank god I'm worth more than SilentChris

[ Parent ]

Provocation (none / 1) (#121)
by Norwegian Blue on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 04:29:58 AM EST

Provocation is taking initiative instead of just hoping passively.
If you read   the Mccollum memo you'll get a nice list of arguments on the why's and the how's to get involved. In some ways, whether Roosevelt actually followed the advice or not does not reduce the validity of the arguments. In practice he made happen almost all of the listed provocations.

I'm not drawing conclusions on the amount of foreknowledge, and by whom, and the intent to provocate , the willfull misunderstandings ,or suppression of defense measures there was before 9/11, but when the day came , everyone was aware of the opportunities it provided.

And about foreknowledge..

I'd think conspiracy theories suffer more from a lack of imagination than from too much imagination. It's possible that Bush did not know much in advance. And it can mean many things. Knowing in advance takes effort, and this effort can leave a paper trail. There can be reasons for 'not wanting to know in detail, just have a general idea'. There is an obvious risk.

[ Parent ]

Other Pearl Harbor factors (none / 2) (#96)
by duffbeer703 on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 10:42:53 PM EST

One of the things that isn't mentioned often with respect to Pearl Harbor is a critical, yet unglamorous one:

Budget.

Remember that the military in Dec 1941 wasn't on a war footing. Roosevelt was concentrating on provoking war with Germany, and the Atlantic Fleet had a priority in assignments of fuel and ammunition, among other things.

When people ask questions like "Why weren't there any sea patrols?", or "Why weren't any fighter planes on alert?" (in the case of 9/11), the real answer often is: "The operational budget didn't allow for those sorts of expenditures."

[ Parent ]

A critical difference (none / 1) (#148)
by big fat idiot on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 10:49:01 PM EST

Pearl Harbor had not been attacked by the Japanese before. The World Trade Center had been attacked by Islamicist terrorists before.

[ Parent ]
Prior Knowledge of 9/11 in the media? (none / 1) (#89)
by jonathan21 on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 03:11:55 PM EST

Various Bush administration types have claimed that no one had thought anyone would crash a plane into a building as an attack.

And yet, on March 4, 2001, SIX MONTHS before September 11, 2001, Fox Television aired the pilot of "The Lone Gunmen," wherein the loveable hackers from the X-Files, in their very own series, stopped a commercial airliner from being crashed into the World Trade Center.

You can see the episode for yourself at this site.

Is this a coincidence?  I want to believe... that it is.  But I do not trust my government when it says that no one conceived of these attacks, and yet a producer like Chris Carter did indeed come up with one.

Judge for yourself.


It's not that nobody thought of it (none / 3) (#126)
by JyZude on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 11:20:48 AM EST

...it's that the whole idea seemed entirely ludicrous. The depravity of a suicide mission to crash a jetliner filled with civilians into a building filled with thousands of other civilians was inconceivable.

Whether or not the Bush administration "thought of it" is not the problem. It's that they didn't think of it ever happening.

It seems to me this whole 9/11 blame-game is missing the real point. The problem is not "intelligence failure", it's understanding why someone would want to commit such a crime, and finding ways to placate, arrest, or otherwise stop these individuals from doing it again.

-----
k5 is not the new Adequacy k thnx bye


[ Parent ]
inconceivable (none / 1) (#160)
by Mindcrym on Tue Apr 20, 2004 at 04:19:26 PM EST

The depravity of a suicide mission to crash a jetliner filled with civilians into a building filled with thousands of other civilians was inconceivable.

I am thinking that word does not mean what you think it means.

From Condi Gets A Reality Check.

CLAIM: "I do not remember any reports to us, a kind of strategic warning, that planes might be used as weapons." [responding to Kean]

FACT: Condoleezza Rice was the top National Security official with President Bush at the July 2001 G-8 summit in Genoa. There, "U.S. officials were warned that Islamic terrorists might attempt to crash an airliner" into the summit, prompting officials to "close the airspace over Genoa and station antiaircraft guns at the city's airport." [Sources: Los Angeles Times, 9/27/01; White House release, 7/22/01]

Apparently Rice did think it could happen otherwise why would she have taken measures to prevent it from happening at the G-8 summit?
  -Mindcrym

[ Parent ]

inconceivable to whom? (none / 0) (#198)
by tgibbs on Mon Apr 26, 2004 at 09:39:38 PM EST

...it's that the whole idea seemed entirely ludicrous. The depravity of a suicide mission to crash a jetliner filled with civilians into a building filled with thousands of other civilians was inconceivable.

One would have to be pretty stupid or utterly ignorant of the history of terrorism to find it inconceivable. The Oklahoma bombing took out a day care center full of children. There had already been one attempt to take down the World Trade Center, which would have resulted in a similar death toll--the passengers in the jets only added marginally.

[ Parent ]

Also Tom Clancy (none / 0) (#147)
by OldCoder on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 08:52:58 PM EST

One of the Tom Clancy novels had a Japanese ultra-nationalist crashing an airliner into the US Capitol during the State of the Union speech, so that virtually the entire list of succession was killed at once, and there was no surviving Congress to replace the President. By chance, of course, the hero, Jack Ryan, was late to the event and survived to become President. Or something like that.

--
By reading this signature, you have agreed.
Copyright © 2003 OldCoder
[ Parent ]
sweet! (none / 0) (#150)
by Mindcrym on Tue Apr 20, 2004 at 12:13:14 AM EST

Thanks for that link.  I don't think I ever saw the pilot although I watched almost the entire series.
  -Mindcrym

[ Parent ]
Foreign Policy Based On Fiction (none / 0) (#184)
by thelizman on Fri Apr 23, 2004 at 02:05:59 PM EST

You don't set your foreign policy based on the imaginative scenarios postulated by pulp fiction writers. Maybe we should - but that's not the point. Just because someone can concieve of doing something doesn't mean its realistic, and the US government does not have the resources or the mandate to proactively investigate a possible terrorist scenario.

When people say that they have no reason to believe such an attack would take place, they are going off of real intelligence and real precedent. With hindsight being 20/20, any fool can look back and connect the dots from publically available sources as to a possible threat of the nature of 9/11, but even then conceiving of it is a daunting leap which isn't necessarily supported by precedent. But even if they had, what could they have done to prevent 9/11? Ban all middle eastern males from boarding domestic flights? What about foreign flights? Shot the planes down, killing hundreds of Americans? What we have to first accept is that 9/11 was an inevitability in a free and open society such as ours, and it will happen again as long as we are free and open.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
pulp fiction scenarios (none / 0) (#195)
by tgibbs on Mon Apr 26, 2004 at 02:13:27 PM EST

You don't set your foreign policy based on the imaginative scenarios postulated by pulp fiction writers. Maybe we should - but that's not the point.

According to Clarke, Clinton did pay attention to the "imaginative scenarios postulated by pulp fiction writers." Then he'd go to the experts and ask, "Could this happen? How do we prevent it?" Unfortunately, the Bush crew seems to have been too caught up with its own imaginative fantasies of hidden Iraqi WMD and secret Iraqi control of Al Qaeda to pay much attention to anybody else's scenarios.

[ Parent ]

Tripe (none / 0) (#197)
by thelizman on Mon Apr 26, 2004 at 06:38:56 PM EST

Check a timeline, would ya?
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
We Played This Game Before (none / 1) (#185)
by thelizman on Fri Apr 23, 2004 at 02:14:02 PM EST

Various and sundry pop culture references exist. I put out "Enemy Within" by Larry Bond. Someone else pointed out some Tom Clancy book ("Executive Orders", I think). Old folks talk about the book/tv show "Black Sunday" about a terrorist plot to fly explosive laden blimps into the crowd at the superbowl. I dont' think anyone who has ever lived in the flightpath of an airport can honestly say that haven't thought about what it'd be like if some asshole landed on their home. Reality dictates, however, that assessing threats is done on the basis of reasonable escalation of previously known attacks, not on the wild imagination of pulp fiction authors.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Comes acress as very credible (none / 3) (#144)
by coljac on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 08:05:54 PM EST

Just finishing the last few pages of Clarke's book.

Clarke comes across as very credible. The number of high-level groups he has been a part of and high-level positions he has held across four administrations is incredible. To suggest that he was somehow "out of the loop" doesn't seem too plausible. He comes across as the type of guy who doesn't suffer fools gladly and so you can imagine his reaction at being told "the President isn't much of a reader" when Bush took office.

In all, I highly recommend this book.



---
Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey

I made this point in a previous article (none / 1) (#165)
by CENGEL3 on Wed Apr 21, 2004 at 10:49:23 AM EST

Lets take a look at what Clarke said in his own words BEFORE he decided to leave the administration and write a book.....

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,115085,00.html

Yes, and? :) (none / 1) (#167)
by aphrael on Wed Apr 21, 2004 at 11:03:48 AM EST

That doesn't contradict anything he said in the book. I repeat: the book is mostly about the Clinton administration.

[ Parent ]
Before and after (none / 0) (#194)
by tgibbs on Mon Apr 26, 2004 at 10:55:34 AM EST

Lets take a look at what Clarke said in his own words BEFORE he decided to leave the administration and write a book...

So what is your point? That while working for the Bush administration, Clarke was obliged to follow orders and report the administration's spin on what was going on, but once he quit in disgust, he is able to say what he really thinks?

It looks like the same is true for other administration officials. Compare what Powell said publicly on the Iraqi war to what his real opinions were as reported in the Woodward book.

[ Parent ]

Book Review: Against All Enemies | 203 comments (178 topical, 25 editorial, 7 hidden)
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