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Saying what I have to say about 9/11 and the War on Terror
Posted by: Billy Hollis on Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11 is here. For me, that means I'll be taking some time within a day or two of that date to watch this video.

I don't want to watch it. I know what will happen. Within two minutes, tears will be streaming down my cheeks. I'll be somber and depressed for hours.

But I do it because I believe it's necessary.
There are many that would tell you that this video is the rankest propaganda. It is aimed specifically at our emotions. I suppose in a sense that's true.

Of course, they have no problem with other forms of propaganda. I don't consider Michael Moore's work to be anything else, and if they're honest, neither would they. It's certainly specifically designed to touch emotions.

I think there are differences, of course. First, I think Michael Moore is loose with the truth in his propaganda. But the above video doesn't need to be. It's a simple collage of photos and sounds that all really happened.

Second, it's trying to touch completely different emotions. It's trying to remind us of what we suffered that day at the hands of medieval savages. It's trying to touch our grief and our determination to do our best to prevent such events in the future. It's not trying to get us enraged at our own countrymen over corporate layoffs and gun ownership. It's not trying to make a vicious dictator look like a benign leader, watching over children flying kites. It's not trying to divide us. It's trying to unite us.

But there are many who are not ready to unite. They won't watch that video, or they'll watch it and cynically point out what they consider minor flaws and things left out, and delude themselves into believing that they've found a reason not to take it seriously.

OK. That's their privilege. Even if I don't understand their reasoning, or don't agree with it, they live in a place that allows them to believe whatever they choose.

They can choose, for example, to believe that 9/11 was an isolated incident. They can believe that we retaliated against the organization that was presumably responsible, and that therefore the problem was pretty much solved and we should not have gone further.

They can choose to believe that the bombing in Bali was an isolated incident too. That, coming as it did before the invasion of Iraq, it was just one of those things. Nothing really to get that concerned about. Two hundred people - hey, that's a lot less than 3000, isn't it?

And everything since then? Spain, London, foiled plots in Toronto, Florida, Scotland, Germany, etc.? Oh, well, according to them that's really our own fault, isn't it? Because we went into Iraq, we deserve whatever we get, right? At least that's my understanding of the way they think.

And they can choose to believe that, just as some of them choose to believe that our last presidential election was fixed, and a few even believe that 9/11 was an inside job. I can't stop them from believing varying degrees of what I consider foolishness.

I look at 3000 people killed, and I listen to the terrorists in their own words. And, based on that, here's what I believe. I believe that there are many terrorists who would willingly and enthusiastically set off a nuclear weapon in a American city, if they could acquire one and place it there. I believe there are leaders of countries in the Middle East who would love to see that happen, and would willingly help make it happen if they could escape retaliation. And that if it happened, there are places in the Middle East where crowds would pour into the streets to cheer and celebrate, as they did after 9/11.

I believe that if by extraordinary odds it came to pass than an American president were forced to retaliate by using nuclear weapons somewhere in the Middle East, then he would give the order, and sit in his chair with his head in his hands, weeping for the innocent people he knew would die. And then get up and talk to the press, realizing that as a result of what he was about to say, that he would be condemned in the history books as a mass murderer for a thousand years.

That is what I believe to be the difference between the two sides.

I don't care what religion someone chooses to practice. I don't care how they choose to dress, or what foods they choose to eat or not eat. I don't care who they choose to associate with.

I do care if they choose to name me as their enemy, simply because I don't agree with them. Because their religion has told them that they're supposed to be dominating the world, and I'm in their way, along with a few hundred million others.

I care because I don't want my sons turned into radioactive gas, or have them live in a post-Armageddon society. I don't want them to live in dhimmitude because a group with hearts of stone towards what they consider to be infidels would enthusiastically threaten them with nuclear annihilation if they didn't submit. Submit. Remember that word.

I don't want them to have to be sent in a landing craft with a machine gun in their hands to conquer lands that we do not covet, knowing that at any moment their entire force may be annihilated in a brilliant flash of light.

I don't want them to live in a reasonable facsimile of a police state, in which any random citizen can be targeted by faceless bureaucrats at any time, and in which they censor what they say and where they travel to avoid the attention of law enforcement that have forgotten their original crime-fighting mission because of decades of constant terrorist threats.

Those last two are probably puzzling to any readers who sit on the left side of the political spectrum. I can hear the thoughts in their heads. "But we DID invade Iraq! How could you have supported that?" "Then why aren't you upset about Bush and his NSA monitoring!?!"

And the answer is simple. Because I want to come to something approaching a resolution to our misnamed "War on Terror". Because I realize that standing pat means decades of children being blown to bits in pizza parlors, and people dying of poison gas in subways. I realize that standing pat means the gradual erosion of civil liberties as what was once exceptional becomes knitted into the fabric of society.

I believe that the long term effects of living with a constant terrorist threat are far worse than the effects of 9/11. I believe that the psychic surrender to the forces of terrorism would spell the eventual decline and eclipse of Western Civilization. Or else it would eventually force us into a true existential struggle, which probably means a war that would dwarf World War II in its destruction.

I believe the time to win the struggle against medieval savages is now, while we know we can win and while we expect the price to be reasonably low.

I could be wrong. There were those who thought taking on the threat of global Communism openly was the right approach after World War II. Others believed in containment. The containment strategy was chosen and it worked. It took the lives of about 95,000 American soldiers and sailors in two massive holding actions, but it worked.

However, in this case, I consider the argument for containment to be much worse. Our fanatic enemies don't need functional economies. They can count on oil revenues to fund their dysfunctional societies for the next hundred years.

And when the oil runs out... well, the worst case scenario is that they've managed to exhaust the West with a seemingly never-ending struggle in which the West finances both sides. Then, when the West stops sending money for oil, and the world's economy is a shambles from decades of terrorism resistance, and there's not enough oil to make fertilizer, then the outlook would be grim indeed. You can write your own script, but make sure it includes starvation of tens or hundreds of millions in the Middle East, because that's the one outcome that's virtually certain.

This scenario ought to resonate even better with the left than the right. They're the ones who have been warning us for decades about hunger and starvation. Remember "millions of people are going to starve in the eighties, in spite of any crash programs we embark upon now"? We got through that with technology. Breeding pest resistant, high-yield strains of wheat and rice made much of the third world better fed than ever. But can a society based on superstition and medieval notions of how the world works use technology to solve their problems? I consider it unlikely.

But the left will shrug that off, as they've shrugged off so much else. If feminists can march with medieval fanatics who believe women are property, then there's no limit to the contradictions the left can embrace. If gays can oppose efforts to fight those who would enthusiastically stone gays to death, then they are beyond logic or calculation in forming their political opinions.

Look, I want to have a serious conversation with those who oppose the Iraq War about what we need to do. I want to see something resembling a united front to face this problem. Perpetual division yields the worst of all worlds - a society paralyzed by a terrorist threat and drifting towards a police state plus an existential threat that grows relatively stronger with each passing decade as the West weakens economically and emotionally.

But all I can get, at least based on blog discussions I see, is "Bush lied, people died" and "We should never have invaded Iraq" and "Iraq is a shambles". I don't grant those positions, but if I were to stipulate every single one of them for the purposes of argument and ask "OK, fine, so what do we do now?", I hear only one tangible answer: "Pull out now!" They may couch it in fine sounding rhetoric, but that's what it always comes down to.

That's not a solution. That just puts the problem off, and leads to that dreary, decades-long struggle in which the chances of the West lessen with each passing year. That struggle that may at any time flare into nuclear Armageddon, in which even the winners are losers.

Look, I think a pull out now would cause the death of at least a hundred thousand Iraqis, and would embolden the terrorists to return their focus to us. But, even if I'm wrong, pulling out clearly does not solve any of the problems associated with terrorism.

The left would like to think it does. They are fond of saying, with no supporting evidence at all, that every time we kill a terrorist, it causes two more to spring up. Given the face/shame culture that pervades the Middle East, I believe exactly the opposite is true. I believe that standing up to the fanatics and showing strength gains enough grudging respect to lessen the likelihood of new terrorists. I believe that, given that we pulled out of Saudi Arabia and that did not mollify the fanatics in the least, that the idea that we give them what they want and they play nice is the worst form of wishful thinking. I believe the left has proven their lack of predictive power in this area, because of their incessant warnings about the "Arab street" when we went into Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Iraqis may be on the brink of a civil war, but it's not because of us - it's because the factions have been fighting one another for centuries and have a hard time getting over it, and because Iran is doing everything they can to stir one up. And those forces that favor civil war would get much worse if we left, as the members of society who are trying to form something stable - not just the politicians, but the merchants and professional class - would close up shop and bug out.

And they would be completely rational in that assessment. They have been told all their lives that Americans are weak and have no staying power. They saw what happened in the first Gulf War, and how many Kurds were killed by Saddam after we encouraged them to oppose him and then left them to their own devices. A pull out would cement that image of weak Americans in the Middle Eastern mind, and disproving it would take twice as long next time, if there ever was a next time. (It is taking so long this time because of actions from Reagan in Beirut to Clinton in Somalia, with the common thread being that Americans can be intimidated into withdrawing if only the violence can continue long enough.)

In fact, it is my opinion that a pull-out of Iraq would be followed by a dramatic turn for the worse in the one effort that no one disputes has gone well - Afghanistan. The fanatics, heartened and emboldened by their perception of kicking the Americans out of Iraq, would no doubt mount an effort to oppose NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The next step is all too predictable. The left would again begin inserting "quagmire" into every other essay and comment they make, and start the drumbeat for why we need to pull out of Afghanistan. They'd just haul out the stuff they wrote about Iraq, do a couple of search-and-replace operations to change names, and there would be their rationale for giving up in Afghanistan too.

Does that sound plausible to you? Because I don't see the left facing a tougher row to hoe in Afghanistan, and all of a sudden turning into pragmatic stay-the-coursers.

If you think that sounds about right, then the basic problem we face is exposed for all to see. The left doesn't care about winning this conflict. They've talked themselves into believing that it's not that big a threat ("They won't use a nuclear device. If they do, I'll stand corrected." - actual comment from a Qando commenter) They have come to a deeply felt conclusion - that George Bush is a bigger enemy than anything else in the world.

You can see it in everything they write. Heck, some of them can't even say his name - they substitute an asterisk for it. Or they indulge in some weird variety of Tourette's Syndrome by spewing some variety of Chimpy McBushHitler. Or is Dubya HitlerChimp?

They hang out at Democratic Underground and Hit and Run. They gang up on anyone who dares venture opposing views, eventually forcing such a person to realize the futility of arguing with them, and then settle back in a self-satisfied glow for having once again defeated the forces of evil as they see it.

There are a few that understand that such usage marks them as so inured in their opinions that discussion with anyone who does not agree is pointless. There is still something that reveals what they really think. If you oppose them on the property strategy of the War on Terror, they will accuse you of being in the tank for Bush.

It doesn't matter if you've criticized Bush on many matters over the years. It doesn't matter that the there are people, such as Christopher Hitchins and Dennis Miller, that were once considerd to be on the left, and now agree with Bush on this issue (in many cases disagreeing with him on everything else).

They just can't bring themselves to separate the War on Terror from their War on Bush. Many of them can't even find one thing that they agree with Bush on. He can spend $40 billion a year on a socialist-inspired program to give seniors prescription drugs, and the left can only carp that he's not doing a dozen other things they want. He can sign a bill that limits free-speech in exactly the way a leftist special interest group wanted when they astro-turfed the issue into a "crisis", and they yawn and shift to talking about public funding of elections to remove all private money. (There's a great idea for promoting freedom - let the government decide who the legitimate candidates are and disallow the rest from spending any money.)

I realized this when I talked foreign policy with a left-leaning friend in the computer industry. He's a bright young man, and a great speaker, and a nice guy to be around. Yet when he starts talking about the Middle East, he changes characters completely, to the point that I wouldn't be surprised by foaming at the mouth.

I sat with him in a cafe in Reading, outside London, one spring day a couple of years ago. He had just blasted Bush's Iraq policies, and was starting in on other Bush policies. In an attempt to bring the discussion to some common ground, I said "Wait a minute. Every single thing Bush does can't be wrong."

His reply was immediate and automatic. "Yes, it can!"

This is the point at which I realize further discussion is worse than pointless. I don't stand a chance of getting my point of view across to this fellow as long as he's seething over Bush. If I try I'll just engender ill will toward me. Even if I can tell him a half dozen things I don't like about Bush, supporting him on one single issue makes me a fool in his eyes.

Look, folks, Bush is going to be our president for the next year and a half. He's stated his direction. I don't claim it's unpatriotic to oppose Bush's policies. I do claim that it's childish and counter-productive to allow an obsession with a politician you don't like to drive the debate on every important issue of the day.

I issued a challenge to another leftist commenter after the usual Bushbot accusation. I offered to name one thing I liked about Clinton and one thing I didn't like about Bush. Then he would name one thing he liked about Bush and one he didn't like about Clinton. Continue until one of us couldn't come up with anything.

He ignored it, of course, despite multiple offers. Because, in his heart, he knows that he can't name a single thing about Bush he likes. If he actually started looking at some of Bush's big-government, big-spending, left-inspired actions, he'd realize that Bush is just another politician, not dramatically better or worse than others. And then he might actually have to come up with real reasons why particular Bush positions are wrong, and we can't have that. It would deviate too much from the leftist "narrative".

That kind of exchange should be the source of trying to discuss the most important issues of the day. Understanding the good and bad points of people and issues. Trying to do cost-benefit thinking, knowing that some actions carry risk, but might still be worth the risk. Realizing that some situations have no clean, clear solutions, and that the best we do is choose the least bad solution we can find. And that sometimes that least bad solution is war. That just because some of us come to that reluctant conclusion that war is indeed the answer in a particular case, it doesn't mean we're chickenhawks or slobbering, veins-in-our-teeth Neanderthals that just want war for the sake of war.

There's another video I watch, though not every year. Perhaps every six or eight years, I pull out a series called "World at War". It's the best single video summary of WWII that I know of. Unvarnished, using footage shot during the war, covering every dreary battle and summarizing the causualties, the outcome, and its impact on the big picture of the war.

I watched it with my sons a year and a half ago. I made them watch it, in fact.

My older son, who plays the game Civilization a lot, became interested in it because of the strategic exposition. That's fine, as long as he gets the rest. And in our discussions it was clear he did. (If you're unfamiliar with the game, the Civilization series is about building a society from the Stone Age to the modern era. Conflict and negotiation with other societies are an integral part of the game.)

He immediately understood some things that today's left does not. Probably because he's done simulations of a society threatened by one or more enemies, he has at least a matchstick sketch understanding of the ebb and flow of conflict.

At one point the narrator, Sir Lawrence Olivier, begins to discuss some choices made by England and France early in the conflict. As soon as he heard what they had decided to do, and certainly with no prompting from me, he said "That's stupid. That will just make Germany more likely to attack."

He was right, of course. Now, many of left deny the parallels between WWII and our current conflict, and there are indeed many differences. But there are constants as well, unchanging principles that guide any conflict, from Sun Tzu's era to the present.

And one of them is this: There is no known case of long-term prevention of a major conflict by giving an aggressive opponent something they demand with nothing but the opponent's assurances about the future. The early Europeans even had a saying about it: "Don't start giving Danegeld, or you'll never get rid of the Danes".

It didn't work in WWII, and that made the idea unthinkable until Israel starting offering to give up land for peace in recent decades. That hasn't worked either.

Negotiation can work, of course. Conflict with the Soviet Union was avoided when they gave in to our demand that they remove missiles from Cuba. But we were not the aggressor in that case, and refusing to accept such an aggressive move was a completely appropriate response.

But negotiation and appeasement are different. Pulling out of Iraq immediately and leaving the Middle East to their own devices would be a form of appeasement, and just like other forms, it would fail in the long term. It would tell Iran that they are free to do anything they like up within their own borders, and we'll do nothing about it. It would also tell them that they can continue funding insurgencies and terrorist cliques outside their borders, and we wouldn't do anything about that either.

Heck, they're doing it right now in Iraq, and unless there are some serious behind-the-scenes actions we don't know about, Iran is getting away with it cold. And one of the reasons they are doing it is that they have calculated that political opposition in the US will stop the Bush adminstration from taking any serious efforts to stop them. Since they appear to be completely correct about that, there's nothing wrong with their strategy.

Where does all this leave me? Well, I've been discussing this issue for over five years now, in various fora on the Internet. I've tried to be mostly reasonable with those who disagreed, though I've slipped into anger at times, and frustration with what I view as leftist denial of reality at others. I've tailed off on the discussion in the last year or two, as I've seen most of the anti-war contingent crystallize into mindless opposition of Bush.

I've read Marx and Foucoult, and for a while I've been trying to understand the nuances of Islam better. I think I have the broad outlines down. It doesn't take that much to get a handle really, if you look at what Muslims actually do instead of what they say.

There are Muslim moderates, of course. Some of them are on our side in Iraq right now, trying to build a stable society that is not a theocracy or a dictatorship. I salute and support them. The outcome in Iraq will to a great extent depend on whether there are enough of those moderates, and whether they have the will to stand up to murdering fanatics.

But there's another broad swath of Muslims in the Middle East who must be judged by their riotous celebrations on 9/11, by their willingness to eradicate Israel, by their belief in ridiculous conspiracy theories about 9/11 being an inside job, by their honor killings, by their treatment of raped women, and by their general support for barbarians who behead reporters. Any rational or objective view of the problem must note that these people exist, and that there are lots of them. And I would hope any rational person would hope for a world in which they don't have power.

That's what I want. I want to see moderates and secular Arabs dominate Middle Eastern society. I realize that some will consider that colonialist or even imperialist. That's fine with me. It's still what I want, because I believe based on the last five hundred years of history that a society based on the Enlightenment is better for almost everyone concerned than a society based on a medieval system of morals and ethics.

The way to get such a society is to find a way for those moderate and secular portions of the population to create a stable, open society. That's clearly not easy. During one discussion just before the Iraq invasion, I read one comment that our effort would take years, but would be worth it. My response was that he was wrong. It would take decades. But it would still be worth it.

But I don't think it's impossible. Some skeptics say it is. They claim that the culture of the Middle East just isn't compatible with open, democratic societies. Putting aside whether that's a racist evaluation, it isn't backed up by the facts. There are mostly Muslim countries such as Turkey in which a democratic, open government has had a long term experience.

Looking at history, forcing such a society upon a country can work too. It worked with Japan, a militaristic, semi-feudalistic society. Many differences there, of course, but similarities too.

Not impossible, then. But tough. And the most desperately needed resource for it to work is time. Time for members of a society to learn how to be citizens instead of subjects. Time for them to learn not to be scared of all authority. Time for them to learn how to politic. In particular, time for them to learn that they can lose in the political arena this time, but work harder and win the next time. Or perhaps even more importantly, they can win at first, and lose later, and they have to be prepared to accept that. Time for them to understand that when they lose, the first reaction should not be to get out the guns and "make things right".

Time to accept that the butcher may be Sunni, but he still kills meat properly for Shiites, so they can be his customers. Time to learn that in business decisions, the religion of the other party should not be the first consideration, or even the tenth.

Later there will be time needed for other things. Time to learn that if two young people, one from a Sunni family and one from a Shia family, fall in love and want to get married, then they ought to be allowed to do so, and their families ought to accept it and learn to get along with their inlaws. I know that one is quite a ways out. I've watched the progress of inter-racial marriage in my own lifetime. My grandparents never gave it a second thought because it was so preposterous. My parents would have been mortified if it happened to their children. But my son dated a young lady this summer who was of mixed race, and none of us thought it of any consequence. That barrier has been (mostly) conquered, though it took us well over a hundred years to do it.

But the first step is that the sides can just tolerate each other. That takes years in and of itself. Old grudges die hard. For some things, a generation must die off and another take its place before there's genuine change and not just sullen acceptance.

We can get there. And we don't have to do much of the work. Our casualties in Iraq have dropped to levels that we could sustain indefinitely. Of course no one wants to see soldiers die, but if you ask them, they're ready for the challenge, most of them. I've read accounts in which they are proud to tell you that they believe they are now making the most important accomplishments of their lives. Seeing a community go from squalor, fear, and illiteracy to a functioning society seems to be enough reward in and of itself.

The Iraqis have to do the hard work, though. They have to first learn how to dampen down the violence perpetrated by religious fanatics, themselves fueled by desire for martyrship and supported by fanatical regimes such as Iran. I wish we would do more to help them, such as seriously patrolling the border with Iran. But if we prepared to use violence against Iranians or Syrians coming in, I recognize the risk of escalation into a conflict. I believe that's a small risk and that we're going to have to face up to Iran sooner or later anyway, so I think that's what we should be doing. But at least I understand the motivations of those who want to be cautious.

The Bush administration seems determined to go until the end of the term. But one of Bush's weaknesses is that he's really not very good at communicating the reasons for his actions and his determination. So be it. We fight this conflict with the president we have, not the one we might wish we had.

So here we are, mid-way through a long term project. I'm not surprised by our relative progress to this stage, though no doubt other war supporters are.

In the software world where I work, a project that is 90% done, but then abandoned, becomes effectively worthless the day work stops. I think our Iraq effort is something like that. At some point, their society becomes self-sustaining, and we don't exactly when that is. It's pretty clear they're not there yet. Just how close they are is a matter for debate.

And you know, I'd like to have that debate. I mean really have it. I'd like those who told us all along that the whole thing would never work to really look at the present situation and see if they can see a way it can. After all, some of their predictions were way off. They kept telling us how 10,000 Americans would die in the military invasion. Folks like Jimmy Carter told us Iraq wasn't stable enough for an election. Leftist commentators railed during the multi-party negotiations about how the Iraqis would never come up with a structure all sides could agree on.

And those who favored the effort in Iraq have our own admissions to make. For example, there's no "instant cake mix" equivalent for creating a democratic country, especially in a region that's been dominated by sectarian strife for centuries. We need to face up to the problem of Iran and admit that we have no good options there, only bad ones and worse ones. We need to understand exactly what our military can do in the modern, post-peace-dividend world.

Right now, pro-war folks don't like to talk about such aspects of the Iraq effort. If they do, the anti-war types seize on such admissions the way a coyote seizes a squirrel for lunch, while never, ever admitting that their own understanding and predictions are anything less than perfect, no matter how much evidence is piled in front of them. Heck, we can't even get many of them to believe that the federal government had nothing to do with 9/11. Or that Bush wasn't holding up a plastic turkey at Thanksgiving in Iraq. They've settled into a gooey, viscous state of mind, in which they are so mentally invested in their own conclusions that they don't have the psychic energy to question any of them, even the ones that are preposterous.

That leads to travesties such as yesterday's questioning of General Petraeus. I use the term "questioning" loosely. The questioners didn't really want answers. They just wanted to again assert their own point of view. Given the magnitude of the decisions that need to be made, I consider that... well, sick, I guess. I don't know what other word to use for that state of mind.


I don't often post on Iraq, or the wider war on Terrorism. McQ has done yeoman's work in that area, along with many other bloggers and correspondents, and I have so little of consequence to add that I've not really tried very often.

Besides, both sides are pretty much set at this point. The discussion threads have now settled into the same dreary cycle over and over again. We may see another cycle in the comments for this thread. But it doesn't really matter. Both sides can already predict most of what the other side will say.

Nothing much is going to be settled until the next election. The narrative in the media will continue to oscillate on the news from Iraq. The anti-war Democrats will continue to hate Bush. Bush will continue to stumble along and demonstrate just how bad a president can be at explaining his actions and leading the country.

And a year from now, I'll watch that video again. I hope I'll have reason for more positive thoughts that time around.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Thoughtful post Billy, with much to ponder.
I don’t want them to live in dhimmitude...
I would feel better if more than half of the voting public could even define dhimmitude. I will follow the comments to this post and hope that it prompts serious debate.
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
My only quibble with the video was in the printed section when they said something to the effect that the 8,000 schoolchildren, and others were not responsible for the "policies" which led to the attack. I don’t think policies had much to do with it if you look at the history of Jihadism. Also it shifts the responsibility from the hijackers. Other than that one little quibble I liked it and bookmarked it. Thanks for the link.
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
And a year from now, I’ll watch that video again. I hope I’ll have reason for more positive thoughts that time around
No, you won’t. Too many people are- for whatever reason- slipping back into 9/10 mindsets. It may not even be anti-Bush. It may be due to our successes at stopping follow-up attacks. For all the horror of 9/11, we still really don’t know what it is like to live with the specter of terrorism hovering around us every minute, every day. You go into a NYC pizzeria, you’re safe and secure. You go into a Tel Aviv pizzeria, you’re looking around. Everywhere.

I supported Iraq for a couple main reasons. I believed it was time to take the fight to those who had been targeting us and causing trouble. Say what you will now, but Saddam had been causing trouble for us for years, and was going to be causing more if he ever got his chance. It was a festering boil that we finally lanced, and if there were really no WMD stockpiles, too goddamn bad- he lost on his bluff. Nevermind anything else you want to bring up, it takes 2 to tango and Saddam was dancing with the damn rose in his teeth.

I also believe that the "democracy" aspect of Iraq should be given every chance to work. Because if they can’t get their act together, the next step is going to involve lots of bright flashes in lots of places. And if it comes to that, I would pray our President would have the guts to press the button(s), rather than sit there and swallow the vaporization of a major American city (Iran, I’m looking at you)

I understand that the WoT must always be balanced with civil liberties concerns. Please, lets have those debates. But outing effective, classified programs in the New York Times is not the way to go. The WoT cannot have a classic "law enforcement" approach, because law enforcement applies once the deeds are done. The point of the WoT is to be proactive.

But what hope can we have? We haven’t even rebuilt ground zero six years after. They’re so damn stuck on important things, like arguing on the memorial, on which names should appear where, what do the 9/11 families say? We have our tweezers confiscated before we get on the plane, but they can’t focus on the muslim gentleman with the bulging coat- and now we can get sued if we follow "if you see something, say something". Muslim cabbies won’t pick up passengers carrying alcohol and demand a special dispensation, while hate mongers preach in Saudi-funded mosques with no oversight.

Hate to sound maudlin, but I always do on this goddamn day

Written By: shark
URL: http://
I show first year students in a first year seminar the video of 9-11 every semester (at least for the last two years). It’s my own video, starting shortly after the first plane crashed. I put a tape in my VCR, and taped the rest of the day. Due to satellite dish coverage I had, I have a lot of local New York City coverage, which is far more dramatic and personal than the CNN or Fox coverage. It’s interesting to watch the commentators try to come to grips with what they are covering, or even to understand what’s going on. (Fox in New York had some guy say after the second plane crashed ’you have to wonder, with two crashes within minutes of each other, if perhaps, it is possible, that some failure in navigational equipment...’ — at that point I turned the channel out of disgust!)

What is interesting is the student response. Most didn’t see it when it happened, but saw coverage (they were in school). For many it’s shocking to watch the tape in real time, the event has become mythologized that it doesn’t seem real. This brings it back to them — or rather, brings it to them, most of them really didn’t comprehend the events six years ago (they were 12) enough to truly comprehend what happened.

As for your post, I think everyone agrees extremists need to be stopped. The big question is why. Those of us who see the extremists as representing a fringe of Islam which has as its sights overthrowing regimems int he region and winning over the Muslim world to their cause, the danger is that too aggressive a response plays into their hands, and puts us at a strategic disadvantage. Because I don’t think win this militarily. This is nothing like WWII, or even anti-communism. The extremists are over large geographic areas, can hide easily, and move around in ways that aren’t really easily addressed by traditional military means. Yet they gain recruits when violence causes anger, or atrocities are reported (and they are daily on Arab TV — even if most are likely fictional). The question isn’t do we win or not — I have two young boys, both under 5, and like you nothing is more important to me than their future. No political battle or election even comes close to being worth risking a bit of what kind of future they will have.

So the question isn’t should we work to stop terrorism and severely weaken Islamic extremism (or really a kind of fascism using Islam), but how can we do it effectively and with as little cost in human life and human liberty as possible?

The pro-war and anti-war sides yelling at each other, attacking the President, attacking the Senate Majority Leader, attacking Gen. Petraeus, or attacking Senator Webb obfuscates the common cause we all share.

And watching a video of 9-11 can remind us that unity is stronger than division. But unity doesn’t come from each side yelling "agree with me or you’re wrong," but rather engaging in real dialogue.
Written By: Scott Erb
Scott — Saying that the current conflict is "nothing like WII or even anti-communism" is obviously over-reaching. I can think of a six or seven similarities right off the top of my head, and I’m sure you can too if you are willing to put your mind to it. Whether these similarities are crucial to assessing the current conflict with radical Islam is a matter for further discussion, but the point is that those similarities should be discussed not ruled out ahead of time.

Likeise, "...the danger is that too aggressive a response plays into their hands" ignores the fact that an insufficiently aggressive response plays into their hands as well — note bin Laden’s recruitment based on the United States as "a weak horse." We were much less aggressive in all those years leading up to 9-11 and we got 9-11 for it.

We are in a situation where we are faced with bad choices and worse choices. Those who oppose this war repeatedly make the mistake, as it seems you do, of believing that if they can show problems and losses resulting from the Iraq War, they have refuted the Iraq War.

I’m all for stopping terrorism and Islamic extremism with as little cost as possible, but it looks to me like costs at the level of the Iraq War are necessary. You are mistaken if you believe that those of us who support this war are doing so because we haven’t considered less costly approaches.
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
You are mistaken if you believe that those of us who support this war are doing so because we haven’t considered less costly approaches.
Thank you Huxley for putting succinctly the words I would have liked to have been my own. As you said earlier in your comment, there are bad choices and worse choices. How we got here can be debated fiercely until the cows come home but the reality of the situation is here we are. Like it or not, Al Qaeda and Bin Laden wanted this war. He wanted to prove to the world the power of Islam through his vision of it. He sowed the seeds in a world where "insufficiently aggressive response plays into their hands" and I do not have a problem with letting them reap what they have sowed. Raw power and the forceful projection of that power is the only language they understand, so let’s teach them a thing or three.
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
I’m all for stopping terrorism and Islamic extremism with as little cost as possible, but it looks to me like costs at the level of the Iraq War are necessary. You are mistaken if you believe that those of us who support this war are doing so because we haven’t considered less costly approaches.
I believe you, I just don’t share your analysis. I am convinced that the Iraq war has weakened, divided, and hurt the US, while helping create more anti-Americanism abroad and aiding in terrorist recruitment. The question is how best to counter the threat, and to deal with that one has to be very clear on who the enemy is, the impact of actions taken, and the fact that al qaeda and Bin Laden represent a tiny subfaction of Islam, one which cannot defeat us by any stretch of the imagination absent us doing things that actually weaken and hurt ourselves. I believe the Iraq war was one of those things that has severely damaged our national interest and helped the extremists. Now, how do we determine which of our different analyses is most likely to be accurate?

Finally, all that said, we are there now, and so how we leave is important, we can’t go back to 2003 and avoid this debacle (in my opinion a debacle). So we have to choose between a variety of bad options.
Written By: Scott Erb
Sshiell — You’re welcome!

Historically speaking (and inconvenient with Scott’s thesis) force is the only way Muslims have been stopped when they go on their inevitable jihads, whether it was at Tours in 732 or Vienna in 1683 or the various wars the Israelis have had to fight more recently in order to survive.

It’s true that current Muslims don’t have the military capacity of the Nazis or Soviets, but six years ago today they took out the Twin Towers and a portion of the Pentagon armed with box cutters and funded for less than a million dollars.

I see no reason for Muslims to stop attacking us just because we become cautious about radicalizing them with "too aggressive responses." More likely such caution will only embolden them. By bin Laden’s own words, I think we need to impress upon the Muslim world that we are not a "weak horse."

Scott — Yes, we do disagree. To be sure, the Iraq War has had its costs, but I would rather be doing something this direct instead of waiting and talking until radical Muslims manage the next 9-11 ... or worse.
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
On the positive side, if Iraq stabilizes as a viable, decent democracy, it could shift the balance of the entire Middle East away from autocracy and jihad towards constructive coexistence with the rest of the world.

A long shot? Perhaps. But a shot worth taking. Otherwise, as I see it, that area of the world continues to suffer and fester and foster malignancies like al-Qaeda.

And one fine day, like 9-11 six years ago, we will see a major American or Israeli city attacked and tens of thousands of people, maybe even hundreds of thousands, will die. Then there will be the devil to pay and the current costs of the Iraq War will look minuscule.

I believe those are the stakes.
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
Huxley, you can’t compare today’s extremist groups with the old Muslim empires. Moreover, given the violent and bloody history of western expansion and colonialism, such an argument could just as easily be used by Arabs in arguing they have to resist outside interference. The fact is that unless one wants to engage in anti-western or anti-Muslim bigotry (and plenty of people on both sides do), this is a different era with a different kind of context. The context is that the extremists are our enemy, NOT Islam. Moreover, they are a minority in Islam and control no country or large army.

The war will cost over a trillion, achieve very little, and if you believe the testimony of Petraeus and Crocker, success there depends not on our actions, but what the Iraqis do. You also talk about the "Muslim world" as if Islam was our enemy. Islam is one of the world’s great religions and its not going to be defeated. However fascistic extremists can be defeated. But they will only be defeated by other Muslims because we don’t have the capacity to defeat them militarily. In some cases military action may be necessary, but we have to think strategically and not just from the gut. Right now we are aiding their cause, lashing out spending massive amounts of money, dividing our own country (everyone knows how unpopular the war and the President are right now), dividing the West, and achieving...what? A surge that if all goes right will allow the Iraqis to have political reconciliation so we can leave? What does that do against terrorism? How does that counter Bin Laden?

As for Iraq becoming a democracy — my blog today explains in part what’s wrong with that vision. It really was not realistic.

And how does Iraq prevent a future terror attack (note that the damage done to us on 9-11 was tiny compared to the damage we’ve been able to inflict — we’ve done hundreds of times that damage to property, and much more in terms of innocent lives as well). Don’t have a policy driven by fear of what might happen — those policies can become self-fulfilling prophecies since fear leads to unnecessary aggression, which leads to retaliation.

We can protect the West and aid a transition in the Mideast — but if we try to do that primarily from the point of a gun or some big government social engineering experiment through military means we’ll end up doing more harm than good. At least, everything I read pushes me to that conclusion.
Written By: Scott Erb
Huxley, you can’t compare today’s extremist groups with the old Muslim empires.
Why not? They use the same violent, supremacist rhetoric from the same violent, supremacist holy book. Once again, you declare that no comparisons are allowed. Besides, I’m not just talking about extremist groups, but Muslims nations too. We hear the same rhetoric from Iran and it is developing nuclear weapons.

Again, we disagree. While I have no problem with Islam as a purely religious practice, I think Islam as a political ideology is the enemy. Unfortunately, Islam has been a religion and a political ideology since Muhammad. That is going to have to change in this century.
Don’t have a policy driven by fear of what might happen — those policies can become self-fulfilling prophecies since fear leads to unnecessary aggression, which leads to retaliation.
Scott, I’m tired of your telling me what I am allowed to consider. As far as I am concerned, not paying attention to a dire but real threat is a good recipe for allowing it to happen.

By your prescriptions, how is it that more 9-11s are prevented? Say what you will about Bush’s actions, but a large portion of al-Qaeda’s leadership and body are now dead or imprisoned, and outside of Iraq they have staged few succesful attacks. Despite all your handwringing about all the Muslims we are forcing to their side, al-Qaeda doesn’t strike me as a thriving organization these days.

According to al-Qaeda, Iraq is now their central focus. I for one am happy for the US to fight and kill them there. More and more Iraqis are too.
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
Huxley, the empires of the past were based more on politics than religion, and that era is over. What you have here are some fringe extremist groups reacting as well politically — and they don’t control a state or have the hearts and minds of most people. They are trying to prevent globalization from bringing sweeping changes through the Muslim world, and they have almost no chance to succeed — unless we react with fear that gives them a convenient external invading enemy to keep rallying against.

I doubt very much that al qaeda is weaker now than pre-9-11, and your entire argument will collapse if there is a new attack. Moreover, I’ve been reading counter-terrorism experts, reports citing the CIA and the NIE. These look at data gathered by counter-terrorism agencies around the world. You are basing your claim simply on the fact there hasn’t been a major attack in the US in six years? It was eight years between 1993 and 2001. I’ll go with the experts and their analysis; most I read argue that Iraq has really helped al qaeda and the extremists. I’m not sure why you think differently; I’m not sure where you’re getting your evidence other than a vague and general attempt to compare the current era with centuries in the past, which I find very unpersausive.

One thing I know: nobody we’re killing in Iraq would be a threat to us in the US. These are home grown or from neighboring countries, people who would never get a chance to get a visa to come to the US or who wouldn’t be involved with al qaeda if we didn’t attack Iraq. All they need is a small group of well trained terrorists or local sleeper cells (the Dept. of Homeland Security is very concerned about the latter). These people would be somewhere other than Iraq. The main al qaeda leadership is outside Iraq, they’re just using the fact we’ve given them a convenient way to bleed us of men and dollars at no real cost to al qaeda.

Of course, the real victor in Iraq now seems to have been Iran. The good news is that the Iranians hate al qaeda; the bad news is that we are not on the best of terms with Iran, and our military is so overstretched our ability to threaten Iran is limited. Strategically, we’re in a position of weakness now, thanks to Iraq. We can undo that, but we have to change policies.

Finally, Islam will be political and any change will be gradual. We certainly are utterly incapable of forcing it to change, and if we try we’ll be the losers. I don’t want that for my children, so that’s why politically I will do everything I can to try to stop us from taking a militarist and offensive course of action in terms of Mideast policy.
Written By: Scott Erb
*sigh*....and the never-ending carousel spins on and on
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Difficult to watch, but it resets my resolve each time I see it.
Written By: AMR
URL: http://
One thing I know: nobody we’re killing in Iraq would be a threat to us in the US.
No, Scott. You don’t know that. You think that. And given the thousands of terrorists from all over the Middle East that have flocked to Iraq to become martyrs and been granted their wish, it’s virtually certain that some of them would have been a threat under other circumstances. So you are almost certainly flat out wrong about this.

As my favorite logic teacher was fond of saying, "Check your assumptions." You make entirely too many of them, and some of them, like this one, are easily disproven. I understand why you fall into that pattern. Many people in the social sciences are seduced by it. With the right assumptions, you can prove literally anything. But you treat the others here as if your assumptions were laws of nature. They’re not.
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Billy . . . Thanks for the very thoughtful post. I agree with almost all of what you had to say, and especially the part about having rational debates. They seem to be in very short supply lately.
I hadn’t seen this video before, and I too watch some that are along the same lines (this was one of the best) every year for the same reasons. I will never forget or forgive.
You must be kind of a wimp though, crying after a couple of minutes . . . Oh! wait a sec, I forgot I was bawling like a baby after about 30 seconds, never mind.
Written By: Marc
URL: http://
No, Scott. You don’t know that. You think that. And given the thousands of terrorists from all over the Middle East that have flocked to Iraq to become martyrs and been granted their wish, it’s virtually certain that some of them would have been a threat under other circumstances. So you are almost certainly flat out wrong about this.
I’m not sure if I can find a link, but I was listening to a round table on NPR including counter-terrorism experts and this was something they agreed upon — the people fighting for al qaeda in Iraq are very different than the ones who would be trained to attack us, and almost all are simply recruits of convenience who would be doing something very different if not for the Iraq war. The idea we’re getting terrorists to flock to Iraq to fight us is, IMO, laughable.

I’ll look for links if I get a chance, or at least try to find out who was on the panel (this was over a month ago, unfortunately).
Written By: Scott Erb
The idea we’re getting terrorists to flock to Iraq to fight us is, IMO, laughable.
Well, there is the problem in a nutshell - "IMO". You see, Doc, as Huxley said earlier, you allow your "opinion" or "assumptions" to trump all other logic. I got a news flash for you - you are not alone with the opinions or assumptions.

You spend any time in the Middle East? I have - 4 years. Have you spent any time with the common people of the the region? I have. So, do any assumptions I make override any of yours? No. But they cannot be completely discounted as you so easily do with any commentor who disagrees with you.

So, do yourself a favor and cut us a little slack. It is quite possible that, even though we do not have a PhD by our names, we might have an opionion that carries more than water.
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
SShiell, my opinion is based on study, analysis, and reading from the literature of counter-terrorism and the politics of the Mideast. I’ve seen NOTHING to suggest that the people being recruited by al qaeda in Iraq were ’terrorists’ before, or would otherwise be anything threat to the US. If you have something, please provide it.
Written By: Scott Erb
I’ve seen NOTHING to suggest that the people being recruited by al qaeda in Iraq were ’terrorists’ before, or would otherwise be anything threat to the US. If you have something, please provide it.
Yes, I’m sure they were all just peaceful moderates who got inflamed because we went into Iraq...

Scott, I don’t understand what you’re asking for. Some academic citation? How the heck can a "study" be made in the chaos of an insurgency? Are you going to send one of your graduate students over to interview a bunch of Al Qaeda in Iraq operatives. "Um, did you join the insurgency because the evil Americans invaded Iraq or did you have other reasons?"

Did fanatic terrorists exist as our enemies before we invaded Iraq? Well, they sure as heck existed in Tehran in 1979. And Beirut in 1983. And Saudi Arabia after the first Gulf War, in which the fanatics wanted to come after us despite the fact that we saved the Saudis’ corrupt backsides in that operation.

They existed in 1993 and proved it in the first WTC attack. You did remember that one, right? It was in all the papers. Where did those guys come from Scott?

And they sure as dickens existed in 2001! And both groups of terrorists, that attacked us on our soil, came from the Middle East. Surprise! But now, you would claim that the ones we’re fighting in Iraq would just hang around and leave us alone if we had not gone into Iraq. Why in the name of logic and reason do you believe that? Because there are no academic studies proving otherwise? Because it’s just comfortable to believe that?

They’ve already come here from the Middle East and attacked us multiple times. The burden of proof is on you if you assert that they wouldn’t be threatening us absent the Iraq effort. And you have no proof, or even any evidence except the opinion of blowhard academics. I’ll put real incidents in which real people died up against such blather any time.

And why are you trying to defend such hypothetical nonsense anyway? You can’t prove your assertion because we can’t go back and not invade Iraq. You ought be worried about what to do going forward instead of coming up with ridiculous assertions about what would have happened otherwise. Is your desire here to simply win some kind of rhetorical contest that allows you to blissfully believe you were right all along, and thereby avoid engaging the serious question of what to do now?
Written By: Billy Hollis
I’ve seen NOTHING to suggest that the people being recruited by al qaeda in Iraq were ’terrorists’ before, or would otherwise be anything threat to the US. If you have something, please provide it.
As you have said, IMO! Now, for you:
The idea we’re getting terrorists to flock to Iraq to fight us is, IMO, laughable.
Care to back that one up? Or is it, as you say, purely IMO? The point being Erb, we both have *ssholes and we both have opinions. I have experience in the Middle East and you have a PhD.

Erb, are you a reader of science fiction? Try reading something. Isaac Asimov wrote a series of books, the Foundation Trilogy. It is a futuristic view of the demise of a civilization. He described how the main character of the series saw the coming fall - a noted author writing a treatise on the historical importance of an event in the distant past. How he was writing this was "based on study, analysis, and reading from the literature" on the topic but was making no attempt to assess people with real first hand knowledge of the topic at hand. If man’s desire for knowledge was limited to this, then the charachter felt society as he knew it was doomed and it was time to plan for the fall and the resultant recovery.

I’m just saying . . .
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
One thing I know: nobody we’re killing in Iraq would be a threat to us in the US.
This does sound like the sort of nonsense I can imagine a group of experts spouting on NPR and being lapped up by those who oppose the Iraq war as the final wisdom.

Aside from being another obvious over-reach that nobody—absolutely nobody?—fighting our soldiers in Iraq could possibly be a threat to us in the US, conisder that Abdul Rahman Yasin, an Iraqi who participated in the 1993 WTC bombing and fled back to Iraq afterwards, puts the lie to that no one in Iraq could be a threat to the United States.

Remember too that Yasin’s uncle was none other than Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the al-Qaeda leader considered to be the prime architect of the 9-11 attacks.

Members of al-Qaeda believe killing Americans wherever and whenever possible is their duty as Muslims. So, exactly how much of a stretch is it to suppose that some of these people could become involved in attacks on the US?

In any event, al-Qaeda is an organization like any other, with finite resources and manpower. The more they are involved in Iraq the less they are able to create mischief elsewhere, including the United States.
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
Huxley, the empires of the past were based more on politics than religion, and that era is over. What you have here are some fringe extremist groups reacting as well politically — and they don’t control a state or have the hearts and minds of most people.
Scott - We’ve been over this territory before. In Muhammad’s time, Muslims didn’t have an empire. They were a group of Muslims who believed that their religious duty was to subjugate the world by jihad to the will of Allah. A century later they had conquered about a third of the known world. Today al-Qaeda believes that Muslims have a religious duty to restore the Caliphate by jihad. If you can’t see a relationship here, I don’t know what to say.

Likewise, I’ve pointed out that Bin Laden regularly polls from 2-90% in Muslim countries as a respected world leader . Al-Qaeda is not a fringe phenomenon. Similarly the Taliban did control Afghanistan, Islamic radicals control Iran (where they are trying to acquire nuclear weapons), and Islamic radicals carry much weight in other Islamic countries, as well as mosques all over the world.

Perhpas the experts on NPR tell you otherwise, but I don’t see how you can honestly and repeatedly present radical Islam as a mere Islamic fringe.
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
I love Asimov’s work, and the foundation series — I even bought the German translations because I knew I’d be motivated to read them and practice German.

OK, "Nobody" was going too far, it’s probable that a handful would be able to somehow shift towards being a threat. I still am convinced that the vast majority are recent recruits and people who would have virtually no chance for a visa to the US and in most cases no desire to hurt us. In other words, I reject the idea we’re fighting them there so as not to fight them here.

My degree is irrelevant, I base my opinion on what I read and hear, trying to follow these events closely and read a variety of authors/perspectives. I’m open to other evidence, to be sure, so if you have some I’ll pay attention.
Written By: Scott Erb
I still am convinced that the vast majority are recent recruits and people who would have virtually no chance for a visa to the US and in most cases no desire to hurt us.
Scott — That’s what you believe but what is it based on? Please read the following and remember it.
...we issue the following fatwa to all Muslims:

The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies—civilians and military—is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it...

Bin Laden et al. (1998)
Of course not all Muslims fighting in Iraq are al-Qaeda, though, as I understand it, most of the suicide bombers are. They might not be able to get visas (but why not enter illegally through Mexico?) but I’m sure they would like to hurt Americans in America too. I’m also sure that a fair number of ex-Baathists and Iranian-aligned Shia wouldn’t mind killing Americans in America if it were convenient. There are many Muslims who hate America, who danced in the streets on 9-11, and who mean when it when they chant "Death to America!" They are not some tiny wacko fringe like neo-nazis in the US.

I think there are principled ways to oppose the Iraq War. I think it’s a tough call on which people may reach different conclusions. But I don’t think one can deny the scope of the hatred and threats which substantial number of Muslims have for Americans.
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
Scott — If you are curious about other sources of information, I recommend StrategyPage. Jim Dunnigan and Austin Bay have consistently had the best inside military dope I’ve read since 9-11. Anti-war folks have been screaming about how Iraq is an utter disaster since before the invasion. I read StrategyPage and know better. I wasn’t surprised when Petraeus showed up this week and backed down the anti-war Democrats. Here’s the first couple paragraphs from a recent post on al-Qaeda:
July 1, 2007: Al Qaeda continues to take a beating, but you can ignite a media firestorm just saying that. One of the most irritating things about the war on terror, is trying to keep score. Unlike a conventional war, where you can measure territory won and lost, as well as casualties, the current conflict does not really lend itself to those measurements. But there are things that can be measured.

Al Qaeda operations continue to decline, as the number of al Qaeda members, and leaders killed or captured, goes up. Then there’s al Qaeda media activity. Up until last Fall, 93 percent of al Qaeda Internet announcements were video. Since then, most of them are just audio, and sounding increasingly less confident. There is good reason for that lack of confidence. American and Pakistani attacks (usually with missiles or smart bombs) along the Afghan border in the last two years have killed an increasing number of foreign fighters. DNA tests can tell if someone is from the region, or elsewhere in the world. But that’s not what worries al Qaeda, it’s the increasing amount of accurate information the counter-terror forces are getting. No one is talking, but al Qaeda chatter claims that either the Americans have some wondrous new bit of technology, or Yankee money has corrupted more al Qaeda members to give up information. The Taliban is suffering the same kind of casualties, and coming up with the same paranoid theories. More people in Pakistan and Afghanistan, some of them innocent, are being accused of spying, and killed by the Taliban and al Qaeda. Some of those multi-million dollar rewards for terrorists have been collected. Some openly, some more discretely. There is some reason to be paranoid. ... StrategyPage
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
Huxley — I’ll read strategy page and look into that, thanks for the cite.
Written By: Scott Erb
Thanks for the link Huxley. I was searching Belmont Club, Counterterrorism Blog and Strategy Page for just that sort of citation for the Erb.
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
BTW, the reason I read this blog is to learn more. I really do appreciate links to different sources of information. The courses I teach deal directly with these issues, and it’s my duty to make sure I give students a broad set of perspectives and information. I use links like this to pass on to students and inform my courses, looking especially for information contrary to the point of view I may have. That, for me, is an ethical obligation: a teacher must never try to indoctrinate, and must be fair to almost all points of view.
Written By: Scott Erb
Scott — That’s admirable. There’s quite a lot one can’t get from the news and magazines.

On 9-11 I was a Chomsky leftist wondering how the CIA could have identified Bin Laden so fast and suspecting a conspiracy. Over time I kept researching it and came around to something like a neocon position. The internet was an essential source of information in that journey.

SSchiell — You’re welcome! I know what it’s like to know I read something good a few weeks or months ago and then have trouble finding it.
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
Scott — One last thing. The anti-war movement only looks at the negative effects involved in the Iraq War, e.g. that *some* Muslims will be radicalized into supporting Al-Qaeda. However, the anti-war folks never consider that as Al-Qaeda is forced to fight for territories it wishes to control, it is alienating many Muslims by its terrorism, such as the Sunnis in Anbar. This is one of the key gains of the surge.

Also there have been remarkable demonstrations against al-Qaeda in Morrocco and other Islamic countries. Muslims mostly could not care less if al-Qaeda slaughters infidels like Americans or Jews. Many of them think that’s right. However, if al-Qaeda slaughters Muslims, that’s something else again. They will demonstrate about that.

It seems to me that you greatly overestimate the civility of Muslims towards non-Muslims. We exist in what they call the House of War. At best most of them don’t want to fight us, but that doesn’t mean that they would treat us as equals or care what happens to us.
Written By: huxley
URL: http://

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