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Krugman on Iran and 9/11
Posted by: Jon Henke on Monday, October 29, 2007

I tend to agree with Paul Krugman's argument that "Islamofascism" has "no chance of collapsing the United States, let alone taking over the world." However, this is a remarkable claim...
...Iran had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11 — in fact, the Iranian regime was quite helpful to the United States when it went after Al Qaeda and its Taliban allies in Afghanistan.
Here are passages from Chapter 7 of the 9/11 Commission Report.
Assistance from Hezbollah and Iran to al Qaeda

As we mentioned in chapter 2, while in Sudan, senior managers in al Qaeda maintained contacts with Iran and the Iranian-supported worldwide terrorist organization Hezbollah, which is based mainly in southern Lebanon and Beirut. Al Qaeda members received advice and training from Hezbollah.

Intelligence indicates the persistence of contacts between Iranian security officials and senior al Qaeda figures after Bin Ladin's return to Afghanistan. Khallad has said that Iran made a concerted effort to strengthen relations with al Qaeda after the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole, but was rebuffed because Bin Ladin did not want to alienate his supporters in Saudi Arabia. Khallad and other detainees have described the willingness of Iranian officials to facilitate the travel of al Qaeda members through Iran, on their way to and from Afghanistan. For example, Iranian border inspectors would be told not to place telltale stamps in the passports of these travelers. Such arrangements were particularly beneficial to Saudi members of al Qaeda.

Our knowledge of the international travels of the al Qaeda operatives selected for the 9/11 operation remains fragmentary. But we now have evidence suggesting that 8 to 10 of the 14 Saudi "muscle" operatives traveled into or out of Iran between October 2000 and February 2001. [...] KSM and Binalshibh have confirmed that several of the 9/11 hijackers (at least eight, according to Binalshibh) transited Iran on their way to or from Afghanistan, taking advantage of the Iranian practice of not stamping Saudi passports. ... In sum, there is strong evidence that Iran facilitated the transit of al Qaeda members into and out of Afghanistan before 9/11, and that some of these were future 9/11 hijackers.
While we do not know if Iran was aware of the 9/11 plan, it certainly appears that they provided advice and training to al Qaeda through their surrogates in Hezbollah, and they "facilitated" the travel of the actual terrorists who performed 9/11. If that's "nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11", then Paul Krugman has a different definition of "nothing whatsoever" than do I.

One would think the New York Times would be eager to prevent these kinds of outrageous, obvious misrepresentations - or, failing that, to force their columnists to correct them. I suppose we'll see just how tolerant the New York Times is to outright deception in its pages.
 
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"Islamofascism" has "no chance of collapsing the United States, let alone taking over the world."
Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany also had no chance of defeating the US.

 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
If my grasp of history serves me, Cuba "had nothing whatsoever to do with" the Cuban missile crisis.
 
Written By: ChrisB
URL: http://

I tend to agree with Paul Krugman’s argument that "Islamofascism" has "no chance of collapsing the United States, let alone taking over the world." However, this is a remarkable claim...
Pretty interesting argument from Krugman, considering that his own paper caved in to Islamofascist pressure and refused to run the Mohammad cartoons....
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Like much of what I see from Krugman, this piece is a bizarre mix of intelligent insight — Islamofacism is not a mortal threat to the U.S. — and gross errors — like the factual one pointed out already, and the more systemic error of denying the existence of Islamofacism altogether, a conclusion apparently apparently based soley upon the fact that such nomenclature is inconvenient to Krugman’s world view.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
Pretty interesting argument from Krugman, considering that his own paper caved in to Islamofascist pressure and refused to run the Mohammad cartoons....
Yeah, but they could kill him, even if they can’t bring down the US.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
One would think the New York Times would be eager to prevent these kinds of outrageous, obvious misrepresentations.
Ha ha ha. Jon, have you ever read a column by David Brooks? Or Maureen Dowd? You can say anything you want in a Times op-ed (the same is true at the Post). There is no fact accountability on the op-ed pages. Truthiness reigns.

That said, Krugman’s statement isn’t even that bad. Yes, there’s some evidence of al Qaeda-Iranian interaction pre-9/11, but there isn’t any evidence that Iran had anything to do with 9/11. Iran did denounce the 9/11 attacks shortly after they occurred, and Krugman is correct that Iran provided valuable assistance in defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan. Iranian-U.S. relations shortly following our invasion of Afghanistan were the best they’d been in years.
 
Written By: Anonymous Liberal
URL: http://www.anonymousliberal.com
"Islamofascism" has "no chance of collapsing the United States, let alone taking over the world."

Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany also had no chance of defeating the US.
Well, in comparison to the fascists trying to subvert Islam, the Nazis and the Japanese were far more powerful and threatening. Fascists using Islam are weak, divided, not even popular amongst their own people, and nothing close to the kind of threat posed by Germany or Japan.

The Times is right that Iran did give help against the Taliban — in fact, Iran almost went to war with the Taliban at one point. As far as "Islamofascism..." I think that the term can be misleading — the fascists are using Islam, but it’s a subversion of Islam, just like "Christian Identity" or "God Hates Fags" reflect fascist subversions of Christianity. It’s not a wrong term, but one that can easily be twisted for propaganda purposes.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I tend to agree...

Downhill from there.
 
Written By: Xanthippas
URL: http://threewisemen.blogspot.com
As far as "Islamofascism..." I think that the term can be misleading — the fascists are using Islam, but it’s a subversion of Islam, just like "Christian Identity" or "God Hates Fags" reflect fascist subversions of Christianity. It’s not a wrong term, but one that can easily be twisted for propaganda purposes.
That’s just political correctness. One can’t not say something just because it "can easily be twisted for propaganda purposes." To do so is to succumb to the fear that words can be hijacked by propagandists. Of course they can, but only if enough people on both sides of the issue credit the theft.

If there were a worldwide movement of Radical Christians blowing up people around the world and determined to impose Biblical rule through state apparatus, then I would have no problem calling the Christofacists. The reality is otherwise.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
I wanted to refute Krugman but couldn’t get past the strawmen, ad hominems and tired lefty talking points.
 
Written By: abw
URL: http://abw.mee.nu
Jon, have you ever read a column by David Brooks? Or Maureen Dowd? You can say anything you want in a Times op-ed (the same is true at the Post). There is no fact accountability on the op-ed pages. Truthiness reigns.
Oh, I agree wholeheartedly. I’ve been documenting Paul Krugman’s deceptions for years, though, so his errors stand out to me.
That said, Krugman’s statement isn’t even that bad.
There are certainly worse deceptions, but excluding the training support offered by Iran’s direct surrogates and the explicit assistance offered by Iranian agents to the actual terrorists behind 9/11 is....well, a version of "nothing whatsoever" that I’d have trouble seeing the NYTimes or Paul Krugman accept from their opponents.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
David, fair point. And I have heard the term "Christian fascists" applied to the right wing, and Chris Hedges even wrote a book analyzing their tactics and arguing it was a form of fascism.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Technically, not many threats could "mortally" threaten the United States. Two big oceans and a large population make that almost impossible.

However, access to nuclear weapons in Pakistan or Iran could make Islamofascism more dangerous than the Soviets. After all, the communists were rational. They weren’t looking forward to the after-life.

The oil supply complicates things, too.

Europe is slightly more at risk due to demographics but even then, its unlikely that Eurabia will really happen.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
More dangerous than the Soviets?!! A nuclear war between the US and the USSR would have been massive, and destroyed most life on the planet. I doubt very much that a rag tag group of extremists, even if they get their hands on a couple nuclear weapons, can get anywhere close to that. Compared to the cold war, the current threat is pretty meager.

The oil supply comment is accurate, I agree that that is dangerous.

As for European Muslims — they are modernizing, they are the hope — they will likely be the force that helps lead to a modernization of Islam. So I think it’s good that the population of Muslims in Europe is increasing. Islam will never go away, right now there is a fight within Islam for its future. The extremists will lose, it’s just a matter of how much damage will be done in the process. Muslims coming to Europe helps increase the pressure for change and modernization.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Interesting quotes, Jon.

Interesting, also, what you elide:
[...] KSM and Binalshibh have confirmed that several of the 9/11 hijackers (at least eight, according to Binalshibh) transited Iran on their way to or from Afghanistan, taking advantage of the Iranian practice of not stamping Saudi passports. They deny any other reason for the hijackers’ travel to Iran. They also deny any relationship between the hijackers and Hezbollah.126

[...]

We have found no evidence that Iran or Hezbollah was aware of the planning for what later became the 9/11 attack.
These would seem to also be relevant observations.

And KSM and Binalshibh having been properly waterboarded and all, they must have been incapable of lying, right?
 
Written By: Gary Farber
URL: http://amygdalagf.blogspot.com
Islamofacism is not a mortal threat to the U.S.
I can think of over 3000 reasons why that statement is full of crap.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
Technically, not many threats could "mortally" threaten the United States. Two big oceans and a large population make that almost impossible.
True enough, but I wasn’t referring specifically to invasion and occupation.
However, access to nuclear weapons in Pakistan or Iran could make Islamofascism more dangerous than the Soviets. After all, the communists were rational. They weren’t looking forward to the after-life. The oil supply complicates things, too.
I agree somewhat. Yes, the USSR was a state and Islamofacism is stateless and religion-driven, therefore, the Isalmofacists are less amenable to detente and fears of mutual destruction. That’s the bad news. But neither Pakistan nor Iran is an Islamofacist state, which is the good news. The primary goal of American foreign policy (fvor now) must be to ensure that the Islmaofacists become increasingly marginalized by mainstream Islam.

 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
Islamofacism is not a mortal threat to the U.S.
I can think of over 3000 reasons why that statement is full of crap.
Three thousand deaths — terrible as that is — do not constitute a mortal threat to the U.S.

 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
These would seem to also be relevant observations.
Indeed. The report also says even those al Qaeda members probably were not aware of the plan at the time. I’ll leave it to you to judge whether ignorance of specific plans renders into "nothingness" Iran’s general support for al Qaeda.

In any event, I specifically wrote that "we do not know if Iran was aware of the 9/11 plan".
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
I can think of over 3000 reasons why that statement is full of crap.
I can think of hundreds of reasons why white separatist groups, survivalist groups or neo-nazi groups pose an equivalent threat to the United States.

The danger from the Middle East and/or Islamofascism is that non-State actors will acquire nuclear weapons. That is a very legitimate threat, and one against which we should guard. However, it should be noted that the acquisition of nuclear weapons by non-State groups will almost certainly be traceable back to the States responsible, so it is still possible to deal with this in a rational realpolitik way. (I would also note that we were quite certain that the Soviets were not rational actors at the time; it is only hindsight that makes you think of them as simpler foes)

The danger from Iranian acquisition is mostly that they will use the nuclear shield to extend their sphere of influence within that region, and expand the range of activity in which they can engage without fear of military reprisal.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
The danger from the Middle East and/or Islamofascism is that non-State actors will acquire nuclear weapons. That is a very legitimate threat, and one against which we should guard. However, it should be noted that the acquisition of nuclear weapons by non-State groups will almost certainly be traceable back to the States responsible, so it is still possible to deal with this in a rational realpolitik way.
In terms of the current threat, that’s accurate. I wonder, though, looking at the decades of violence in parts of Africa, what will happen if groups twenty or thirty years from now, even aided by states, get weapons and have no interest in maintaining the system or their place in it. I think that will ultimately be a greater threat than anything we’re facing today.

The danger from Iranian acquisition is mostly that they will use the nuclear shield to extend their sphere of influence within that region, and expand the range of activity in which they can engage without fear of military reprisal.


Exactly. I doubt anyone in the Administration truly believes Iran would be insane enough to simply attack Israel if they had nuclear weapons. But they would be a regional power in the most important region in the world, especially if oil production doesn’t increase with demand, thus raising prices and creating a competition for access to existing supplies. A powerful Iran indepedendent of the US would thwart American efforts to be the dominant power in the region, and create openings for Russia and China (which is why they court Iran, and undercut US efforts at the UN). That is true Realpolitik and so far the Iranians are playing the game smarter than the US, though they’ve shown signs at times (especially Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric) of over confidence.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Scott, when he says ’more dangerous than the Soviets’ he’s being very specific:

The Soviet Union, as an entity, was infinitely more dangerous than Islamofascism because of it’s conventional military capability. The Kremlin could have easily blown us to smitherines (which would only have facilitated us blowing them up, and the roaches winning).

However, he points to the most important point that separates the two and makes one a more dangerous enemy than the other: the Russian psychology is one of ’defending the Rodina.’ That is their main goal. Why do you think Pooty-poot is having a cow over the Shield? It places Russia at a strategical DEFENSIVE disadvantage by nullifying MAD (which, by the way, is still very much alive and well in the minds of the Russians).

With Islamofascism, the differences as keen: we are not fighting a nation state we can easily incinerate, but rather faceless groups of people who blend into crowds and use women and children as shields. The Russians would never have DREAMED to give any of their bombs to anyone else (even in Cuba they had Russians arming and maintaining the missiles, NOT Cubans). As for states like Iran and Syria, there are very, very few people even in academia who don’t think they are capable of passing off a nuke to terrorist groups they’re funding to do their dirty work for them, especially if they hide their weapon programs behind ’peaceful energy purposes in this secret underground cave which is defended against bombing and spying’.

Hell, the reason China didn’t want NoKo to get nukes was because they knew 1. the guy’s off his rockers and 2. he’s WILLING to sell the technology to anyone willing to pay in hard currency (Syria).

Yes, the Soviet Union posed a more serious conventional threat...but we’re no longer fighting conventional wars.

Fact is, Islamofascism can do more damage world wide than the Soviet Union ever could have, because with the Russians it was an all or nothing situation...with the terrorists? Not so much.
 
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
With Islamofascism, the differences as keen: we are not fighting a nation state we can easily incinerate, but rather faceless groups of people who blend into crowds and use women and children as shields.
A very small ruthless group of people, who don’t have much popular support and unless you really stretch your imagination, can do only very limited damage. Most of the damage they could do is actually in the Mideast to disrupt our oil supplies. Also, note that we are not the main enemy of Islamic extremists. This battle is mostly for the soul of Islam, they aren’t out to try to conquer and convert us. We’re involved because of oil, and how our need for oil has drawn us into partnerships with various regimes there, and brings in western influences. They thus see us as representing a force pushing for change in the Muslim world, and that makes us a secondary enemy, one they would hope to expel from the region.

Also, Syria is a Baathist state and clearly would have little desire to help Islamic extremists. Iran is a Shi’ite state, and would not want to help Sunni extremists, at least not to the point of giving them a nuclear weapon! Also, I suspect Iran is far more like the USSR than you realize. The Soviets had communism, the Iranians are a theocracy, but the Iranians have a clear goal of being a regional power. Finally, the likelihood of a nuclear weapon being given to a terrorist group by a state (again, unlikely — we are developing the capacity to trace the source of nuclear weapons, which adds to our deterrent capacity) is just as great as a mistake causing an exchange in the Cold War.

Ultimately, at some point some terrorist group representing some cause probably will detonate a small nuclear device somewhere in the world. That will do a lot of harm, but they still can’t destroy the system.

BTW, we almost did have a hot war with Russia during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Soviet general on the field was ready to use the nuclear missiles available if the US were to attack Cuba. At one point the consensus in the Kennedy Administration was to attack — to use this as an excuse for ’regime change.’ Bobby Kennedy harshly objected, saying that he didn’t want his brother to be seen as an "American Tojo," invading and replacing the government of a small state just because we had the power to attack. Turns out that was good, because if the Soviets had responded as they intended, we’d have had a large nuclear war.

The Soviet leadership, by the way, was horrified afterwards by how close they claim, and yanked control of nuclear missiles from field commanders and centered it in the Kremlin from then on — even Submarine commanders no longer had control over the decision to fire, it had to come from the Kremlin. That meant that after 1962 "hot war" did become far less likely — though not impossible.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
A very small ruthless group of people, who don’t have much popular support and unless you really stretch your imagination, can do only very limited damage.
That’s true, as long as they don’t have access to nuclear weapons, or effective bio-weapons. Let’s not underestimate the effect of even a single nuclear attack on a major U.S. city. You only need to recall the massive economic effect of 9/11, a non-nuclear attack that killed "only" 3000 people. A nuclear weapon going off in NYC or LA, or almost any major U.S. city, would have an enormous impact on the U.S. A simultaneous attack on different targets using 4 or 5 weapons could be crippling.

 
Written By: David C.
URL: http://
A very small ruthless group of people, who don’t have much popular support and unless you really stretch your imagination, can do only very limited damage.
forgive me, Erb, but I don’t have to stretch my imagination, only my memory to 2001 (and 2000 before that, and 1998 before that, and 1993 before that).

The fact is they only need to ’get lucky’ once. 9/11 was accomplished by 19 hijackers with four airplanes.

Now, consider how easy it is for someone to cross into the US illegally. Then consider, with the sponsorship of a state, how easy it is to smuggle in the components to assemble a nuclear bomb in the US. Then picture how easy it would be to drive it somewhere, leave it there, run away, and detonate it.

Sorry, doesn’t require much a stretch there, Erb.
Also, note that we are not the main enemy of Islamic extremists.
coulda fooled me. so you mean all this time they HAVEN’T been chanting ’Death to America’ while burning effigies of President Bush?

Who was it, then? Jackie Gleason?
This battle is mostly for the soul of Islam, they aren’t out to try to conquer and convert us. We’re involved because of oil, and how our need for oil has drawn us into partnerships with various regimes there, and brings in western influences. They thus see us as representing a force pushing for change in the Muslim world, and that makes us a secondary enemy, one they would hope to expel from the region.
This was the case....maybe 20 years ago. Today? Not so much.

The US represents ’The Big Satan’ to them: it is (in their minds) their moral and religious obligation to obliterate us: that is the common factor amongst all the sects in Islamofascism. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and ask ’em.
Also, Syria is a Baathist state and clearly would have little desire to help Islamic extremists.
Right, so that little fiasco with Lebanon was what, exactly? And their ties to Hezbollah...let’s just ignore that, too, right?

Now you’re being willfully ignorant.
Iran is a Shi’ite state, and would not want to help Sunni extremists, at least not to the point of giving them a nuclear weapon! Also, I suspect Iran is far more like the USSR than you realize. The Soviets had communism, the Iranians are a theocracy, but the Iranians have a clear goal of being a regional power. Finally, the likelihood of a nuclear weapon being given to a terrorist group by a state (again, unlikely — we are developing the capacity to trace the source of nuclear weapons, which adds to our deterrent capacity) is just as great as a mistake causing an exchange in the Cold War.
Right...except Iran was simultaneously training and aiding Al Queda, a Sunni terrorist group. ’The enemy of my enemy is my friend.’ And while they might not give nukes to Al Queda, they would to Hezbollah.

Again, you are trying to paint the psychology of the two to be similar when the truth is the exact opposite. Russia would never consider giving top weapons to other groups in which they have limited control. Iran has already proven to have to problems in doing so in Iraq and Israel.
Ultimately, at some point some terrorist group representing some cause probably will detonate a small nuclear device somewhere in the world. That will do a lot of harm, but they still can’t destroy the system.
oh?

Do you really believe so? Systems have fallen on much weaker scenarios, Erb. Any High School student could cite a least three cases. I would be surprised to hear sophomoric statements from Freshmen Poli Sci students, but this is absurd coming from you.
The Soviet leadership, by the way, was horrified afterwards by how close they claim, and yanked control of nuclear missiles from field commanders and centered it in the Kremlin from then on — even Submarine commanders no longer had control over the decision to fire, it had to come from the Kremlin.
did you ever read their reasons as to why? It had all to do with how close the RODINA came to being destroyed. Again: it was an irrational situation which completely left the Soviets shaken by it. It was, in fact, the only situation in which the Soviets didn’t act...well, Soviet.
 
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
Reading the Hive’s take on Islamic terrorism, one could get the impression that no one had anything to do with 9/11.
 
Written By: Bilwick
URL: http://
If you let them tell it, it was 19 complete strangers who all wanted to take over the plane at the same time, fought themselves, and incompetently hit three buildings and a field in Pennsylvania.
 
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
Systems have fallen on much weaker scenarios, Erb.
The only way our system could fall from that sort of thing is if we have an irrational over-reaction. I have more faith in our system than you do — how exactly do you see it making the system "fall"?

9-11 accomplished very limited damage in the US, and so far they’ve not been able in six years to do anything else. That is evidence of their weakness. I’m sure at some point some group of rag tag extremists will pull something off again. But good counter-terrorism and a refusal to fall into some kind of paranoid fear will assure we can have a competent, effective strategy.

Also, you are simply wrong in thinking we’re their main enemy or that they somehow want to destroy the west. They chant ’death to America’ as an opposition to our policies there. We are the big Satan because they believe we bring outside influences into the Islamic world. But the battle is within Islam for the soul of Islam. To the extent we treat Islam as the enemy or engage in more actions that kill innocents and try to control the region, the more we play into the hands of what currently is a small, unpopular group of extremists. This is about Islam in transformation, and they are the reactionaries wanting to prevent change. Let’s not let fear and paranoia cause us to play into their hands, OK?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
That’s true, as long as they don’t have access to nuclear weapons, or effective bio-weapons. Let’s not underestimate the effect of even a single nuclear attack on a major U.S. city. You only need to recall the massive economic effect of 9/11, a non-nuclear attack that killed "only" 3000 people. A nuclear weapon going off in NYC or LA, or almost any major U.S. city, would have an enormous impact on the U.S. A simultaneous attack on different targets using 4 or 5 weapons could be crippling.
BTW, if you haven’t read "Blind Spot" by Tim Naftali, I recommend it, it’s a superb history of post-war counter-terrorism, with excellent documentation of the actions especially of US policy since the eighties.

First, the economic impact of 9-11 was relatively minor. The stock market bubble had already burst by that point and many were expecting a far harsher recession. Instead, it was a mild recession, driven in part by the growing housing bubble. Now that has burst and we are facing a far more difficult economic situation than after 9-11. 9-11 hit some industries, but overall had a short term effect with a quick bounce back.

Second, one can imagine a lot of scenarios, and you have to distinguish first between probable and possible. But the key in avoiding even bad possible scenarios is to define a good counter-terrorism strategy. I would argue that the Iraq war actually hurts our ability to stop the kind of attack you describe because we’re involved in internal sectarian conflicts that do not focus on the actual terror organizations. While they may set up shop in Iraq with local and regional recruits, fighting them there doesn’t make us any safer — and may make it easier for them to recruit world wide. It also takes away money and people from counter-terrorism efforts (especially Arabic speakers).

Much of what the Administration has done is good counter-terrorism. Most aspects of the Patriot Act, increases in electronic surveillance, and empowering of the CIA (along with better cooperation within agencies) has made a huge difference. The focus has to be on the terror organizations, however. When people start going on about some "long war" with "Islamofascism" it seems not only a bit over the top, but it risks turning an effort to defeat small extremist groups into some kind of culture war — which ironically is what the small extremist groups hope for. If they can get it to be Islam vs. the West, they’ll have a better chance to win over young Muslims to their cause. Since, as Iraq shows, we have trouble militarily controlling even a small weak country, we’re not going to win any war.

So patient counter-terrorist efforts, actions designed to improve relations with the region (to assure average Muslims don’t get seduced by the dark side), and recognition that spreading democracy and western ideals is counter productive if done by military force or coercion, is important. Terrorism is a 21st century problem. It will be used by a variety of groups — and it may be a different kind of terror organization with a different motivating cause that gets their hands on nuclear weapons. So we have to keep the focus on specific counter terrorism.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Dr. Erb,
First, the economic impact of 9-11 was relatively minor.
That’s highly debatable. The total shutdown of all U.S. air-travel as a result of 9/11, although temporary, was in itself a massive economic disruption. Obviously the U.S. is a large resiliant economy, and the attack had mostly short-term economic consequences. At any rate, my main point was that the magnitude of damage caused by one or more nuclear strikes would be geometrically greater.
I would argue that the Iraq war actually hurts our ability to stop the kind of attack you describe because we’re involved in internal sectarian conflicts that do not focus on the actual terror organizations. While they may set up shop in Iraq with local and regional recruits, fighting them there doesn’t make us any safer — and may make it easier for them to recruit world wide. It also takes away money and people from counter-terrorism efforts (especially Arabic speakers).
That’s a whole other argument which also involves a lot of hindsight. I disagree with most of it, but it is kind of off-topic and a rehashing of the whole Iraq War debate, which really doesn’t matter any more — since we can’t take the whole thing back.
When people start going on about some "long war" with "Islamofascism" it seems not only a bit over the top, but it risks turning an effort to defeat small extremist groups into some kind of culture war — which ironically is what the small extremist groups hope for. If they can get it to be Islam vs. the West, they’ll have a better chance to win over young Muslims to their cause.
Although I agree that some people are over the top with the Islam vs. the West theme, I think you are going too far the other way and minimizing the threat. Radical Islam/Islamism is far more popular than you seem to acknowledge. Yes, it is only a minority of Muslims, but it enjoys considerable support, even among Muslims in the West — and far more support in majority Muslim countries. Look at the recent polls taken among Muslim Britons, and in various Muslim states.

Also, it isn’t wise to underestimate the damage that even a small, well-coordinated group can inflict. And nuclear weapons are a tremendous force multiplier.
So patient counter-terrorist efforts, actions designed to improve relations with the region (to assure average Muslims don’t get seduced by the dark side), and recognition that spreading democracy and western ideals is counter productive if done by military force or coercion, is important.
There is no one-size fits all approach. Sometimes military action may be necessary.
 
Written By: David C.
URL: http://
I can think of over 3000 reasons why that statement is full of crap.
Indifference to the value of American lives aside, most of the responses to my original statement in some part make the false assumption that 9/11 was a fluke.

9/11 wasn’t one attack. It was 4 similar attacks launched simultaneously. Three of the Four targets were struck. They had a 75% success ratio. Could they repeat this exact type of attack ever again? Probably not. Could they have and would they have repeated more attacks on this scale with the US counter attack? Yes.

These groups don’t exist in a vacuum and although they usually aren’t Officially State Sponsored, they couldn’t exist without State indifference and complicity.

Remember, Al Queda had a happy home in Afghanistan with the Taliban. Without them, they would not have had the comfort zone from which to project themselves safely and securely. The Taliban would still be in power right now if we didn’t invade.

Al Queda’s money comes in part from Saudi Arabia. Everyone knows it, but is there any crackdown to prevent it?

What’s left of Bin Laden’s organization was given a safe zone by Pakistan’s leader out of fear of the Islamofascists in his own country.

Its a mistake to believe support for Al Queda’s goals are small and insignificant. Islamofascism runs/influences much more of the Middle East than anyone gives credit.

Finally, they don’t even need an atom bombs. If the Middle East gets united under the thumb of a fascist regime (theocratic or otherwise), they’ll have a weapon that will put all of Europe and much of the US on its knees.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
That’s highly debatable. The total shutdown of all U.S. air-travel as a result of 9/11, although temporary, was in itself a massive economic disruption. Obviously the U.S. is a large resiliant economy, and the attack had mostly short-term economic consequences. At any rate, my main point was that the magnitude of damage caused by one or more nuclear strikes would be geometrically greater.
Your first sentence is undeniable — most things in politics are highly debatable! I agree nuclear blasts would have a greater impact, though I consider the probability of such an event low.
Although I agree that some people are over the top with the Islam vs. the West theme, I think you are going too far the other way and minimizing the threat. Radical Islam/Islamism is far more popular than you seem to acknowledge. Yes, it is only a minority of Muslims, but it enjoys considerable support, even among Muslims in the West — and far more support in majority Muslim countries. Look at the recent polls taken among Muslim Britons, and in various Muslim states.
I’m not sure what polls you mean, but make sure to distinguish between anti-western ideas in terms of opposing western foreign policy and "interventionism," vs. a real support for the kind of radical puritanical extremism of groups like al qaeda. Ultimately, I think al qaeda benefits when it appears to be Islam vs. the West because they get support from people who really disagree with the kind of vision al qaeda types have for Islam.

I agree that a one size fits all approach doesn’t work (that’s in fact a standard argument in the world of counter-terrorism) and that military action is at times necessary. I just worry that if we let our imagination get a way from us and we conflate the possible with the probable, and see the enemies as more powerful than they are, we’ll make errors in judgement which will do more harm than good. Underestimating the threat and over-estimating it are similar kinds of errors. I think ultimately the "winner" of this battle will be determined in the Muslim world and the less involved the West can be in that fight, the better. If only they didn’t have so much oil!
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
how exactly do you see it making the system "fall"?
you can’t see martial law or worse being imposed if there are nuclear blasts in one or more cities across the US? The rioting and race retaliation alone would merit it, and then you get into a VERY scary scenario with many scary alternatives.

Any rational group can quickly succumb to irrationality and downright violence under circumstances.
Also, you are simply wrong in thinking we’re their main enemy or that they somehow want to destroy the west.
incorrect: there is a consensus of Political Scientists who would agree with my statement that radical islam wants to destroy the US and convert us all (forcefully) to Islam, as is their stated Goal.

In fact, if they wanted to drive us out of the Middle East, they would have continued to bomb our interests there, since that has a history of us removing our interests once attacked (as seen in Beirut, for example). Instead, they specifically targeted our Economic, Military and Political Centers to inflict as much damage as they could in one blow.

You’re not very good at analysis, Erb.

Oh, and 9/11 was only a ’minor economic problem’ because of our a. robust economy and b. the massive tax cuts that were implemented. Good thinking and the American spirit saved us. If you think it didn’t have significant effect, or could have been much MUCH worse if the actions that were taken werent, then you should sit down with Dr. Greenspan.
To the extent we treat Islam as the enemy or engage in more actions that kill innocents
and this line kills what little credibility you may have had in this topic.

WE aren’t the ones killing innocents, Erb. The Terrorists are, and WE are not responsible for it.

I resent your attack on our soldiers.
 
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
WE aren’t the ones killing innocents, Erb. The Terrorists are, and WE are not responsible for it.
I think you are a tad defensive here. Of course we’ve killed innocents. And our choice to go to war in Iraq, which was not an attack on Islamic extremism, means we’re responsible for the innocents killed. You can argue it’s necessary or justified, but to try to deny any responsibility is moral cowardness.

You also don’t understand the motives and strategies of the extremist groups, especially if you believe they want to destroy the West and convert us all.

There is a threat, we need a solid counter-terrorism strategy, and we need positive efforts to assure that average Muslims don’t fall for the extremist propaganda (ironically, television stations like Al Jazeera are likely helping more than hurting in that regard).
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I think you are a tad defensive here.
More like ’outraged’. I don’t appreciate elitists slandering our military, nor do I appreciate academic dishonesty.
You also don’t understand the motives and strategies of the extremist groups, especially if you believe they want to destroy the West and convert us all.
The Political Science community at large would disagree with you and say that YOU don’t understand the motives and strategies of the extremist groups. There is, after all, a consensus.

(and lets ignore the fact the stated goals and desires of said groups, since they’ve said as much.)

Fact is, Erb: You are wrong on all accounts.



Again.

 
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
The Political Science community at large would disagree with you
You have absolutely no clue what you’re talking about. Oh, and you’re also objectively wrong about the stated facts and goals — Ahmadinejad, Osama and others have said that if the US leaves the region and doesn’t try to influence politics in the Islamic world, they’ll leave us alone.

Seriously, you need to educate yourself on this.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Ever tried fisking this 9/11 commission cite, Jon?

So we have evidence that Afghanistani operatives bribed Iranian border guards to get out of Iran. By those standards, lax US visa enforcement could equal US government complicity in 9/11....

Oh, and we have one Al-Quieda detainee creating previously unknown stories about "Iranian attempts to improve cooperation with Al-Quieda". I suppose this was while their Taliban protectors were massacring Iranian diplomats at Mazar-Sharif?

At best, you’re nitpicking Krugman on a technicality. If allowing Al-Quieda members transit makes a government complicit in 9/11, then so are half the world’s governments. To have any kind of strong claim, you’d have to demonstrate that, among other things, that Iran knew the affiliation of the Al-Quieda members. Otherwise, it’s just garden-variety border bribery being exploited.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://

 
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