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The Day After The Next 9/11
Posted: 23 May 2005 03:33 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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Hello Sam, et al:

I've read (and seen on TV) a great deal about you and your book.  Your provocative ideas have cut through the fog of religious nonsense.  Religious dogmas permeate so much of contemporary life, and now they threatens us with fundamentalist terrorism and numerous encroachments on basic human rights. 

I am waiting for a copy of your book to arrive, so I can examine your ideas in detail.  But already, it is apparent to me that you have a great deal of courage—both intellectual courage and personal courage—to say the things that you are saying in public. 

Unfortunately, the history of religious fundamentalists has been one of brutal retaliation against those they disagree with. 

And the history of religious moderates has been to turn a blind eye to the dishonesty of all religions.  When a religious idea has no evidence to support it, the moderates ignore both reality and reason.  They make the specious argument: well, how can you prove something didn't happen? 

Even when physical evidence proves a fraud—for example, the fake Shroud of Turin, the phony miracles at Lourdes or the 'cures' of Benny Hinn—the religious moderates refuse to denounce the deceptions and the fanatics that deceive. 

In the case of Islamic terrorism, where are all those 'peaceful' Moslems and their legions of 'moderate' clerics— denouncing, exposing, excommunicating, prosecuting and even executing the Islamic suicide bomber-recruits and terrorists who hijacked their religion and now commit countless crimes in its name? 

The terrorists blow up markets filled with women and children, pizza parlours filled with innocent non-combattants, UN offices filled with humanitarian workers, or even Iraqi police stations filled with young police recruits?  The silence of the moderates is deafening.  Their failure to resist is complicity.  In the name of religious tolerance, the silent majority of religious moderates looks the other way and attributes the violence to multi-culturalism.  They have merely appeased the orthodox and the Wahabis for a moment—while the cancer of religious extremism has metasticized in much of the world (including the US.)

If you, Sam, are correct—that the possibility of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of religious terrorists is now increasing dramatically—then we have only a little bit of time, perhaps only a few decades, until catastrophes far greater than 9/11 begin to occur on US soil. Consequently, we must now face two questions:

(1) what can we do to halt the progress of religious extremism that now targets anyone and everyone who rejects their religious ideas?

(2) what will we do when the first of these catastrophes occurs? 

With regard to #1, there are only two possibilities: (a) either change the terrorists' ideas; or (b) combat the terrorists and all who support them. Personally, I don't think there is much chance of ever changing the minds of bin Laden, al-Zawahiri, Zarqawi, Ayatollah Khamenei, the Wahabis of Saudi Arabia, Hamas in Lebanon, Mullah Omar, al Sadr, and countless others.  What little we can do now, however, is wage a war of ideas, reason and factual evidence to discredit the extremists and all aggressive Islamic dogmas in the eyes of the moderates, and thus drain their popular support.

With regard to #2, I have yet to read an informed, rational, serious discussion of the simple question: What will happen on the day after?  What will the US do on the morning after a dirty bomb explodes in Manhattan—and we have no clear evidence exactly who was responsible?  What will happen the day when people in San Francisco begin dropping like flies after some unoberserved terrorist releases a cannister of anthrax spores at a 49ers game? 

Will we do what we did in Afghanistan?: hand over the job of retaliation to an ignorant mob and let all of the members of al Qaida disperse and escape—with bin Laden and al-Zawahiri still free and active today, almost 4 years later. 

Western civilization compells us to retaliate only against the guilty.  But what will we do when we don't know who the guilty are?  Or more important—where the guilty are located?  The terrorists are dispersed throughout the Muslim world.  They are actively hidden from view by the complacent Muslim majority of moderates.  And all it takes is a handfull of terrorists, a small amount of money, and a love of death to wipe out a huge number of people.

Three thousand American victims on 9/11 may be a small number in comparison to the next attack.  When several hundred thousand Americans are killed in Chicago by a suitcase nuclear weapon smuggled by a Chechnyan al Quaida cell out of Uzbekestan in a shipping container through the St. Lawrence Seaway, what will we do next?  Will the glue of Western civilization dissolve?  Will we bomb the hahj?  There are more than a billion Moselms—and not one of them has forgotten the Crusades.

I am not asking: what SHOULD we do?  I am asking: WHAT WILL WE DO after the next terrorist attack, with massive loss of life and untold destruction.  In the Cold War, both the US and the Soviet Union knew exactly what would happen in the event of a pre-emptive attack: mutually-assured destruction. And when all is said and done, MAD worked.  We got through that horrendous era and the pseudo-religion of Communism.

But today, no one has any idea what will happen if a major terrorist attack occurs in the US.  We are dealing with a religious enemy who rejects all aspects of Western reason.  There is no MAD. 

If Sam Harris is correct in his prediction, the possibility of such a terrorist attack by Moslem extremists is neither far-fetched nor hypothetical.  If we are helpless to control the spread of terrorism in the Muslim world, are we also helpless to retaliate against the terrorists after they attack us again?

Regards,
Mark Starr

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Posted: 23 May 2005 08:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Hi Mark,

You ask a lot of good questions. Since it is doubtful that Sam will take the time to respond to you personally, I’ll take a shot at it.

First, you ask, “where are the moderates of the Muslim world?” Most of them have been living in fear of retaliation—especially in the Muslim world. However, since 9/11, we have begun to see some signs of movement on their part, and it is imperative of us to back them up —with force of arms, if necessary. “You idiots, said the elected president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai (who is, of course, the real target of the fanatical rioters): You burned down the library in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, which contained, among other treasures, 200 Qurans. You misguided fools, says Grand Ayatollah Sistani (one of whose chief assistants was murdered in cold blood last week by a Salafist assassin): Even if you kill me, I forgive you in advance. This dignity and bearing and patience—and not hysterical self-pity and frenzy—is the Muslim style that is worth defending and explaining, and it is also the side on which we have ranged ourselves. Nothing to apologize for in that.”

A lot of the change is actually beginning to come from Muslims in the West, like the   Free Muslims Coalition and the writers Irshad Manji and   Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf .  It’s found among the Muslim leaders who issued a fatwa permitting and encouraging American Muslims to participate in the liberation of Afghanistan , and from the Spanish clerics who issued a fatwa basically declaring jihad against Bin Ladenism .

The effort will probably have to be led by Western Muslims, who are uniquely qualified to debunk the lies spread about Western civilization in the Muslim world.

I also think that your either/or choice is a false one. We can, and should, do both of those things at the same time.

The dilemma you raise concerning future 9/11s is a thorny one. I think the only solution—and it is admittedly imperfect and might actually fail—is to reshape the Middle East’s entire network of power relations. I am afraid that if, say, a nuclear 9/11 occurs, it will mean total war against the Muslim world, of the sort that was waged in WW2… which is exactly what the extremists want, as they believe this will purge the earth of infidels and allow the Master Faith to claim its rightful place in the sun.

To avoid that future, we have to fight smaller wars now, at the times and places of our choosing. In the end, I do not believe there is any other choice.

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Posted: 23 May 2005 11:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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What Islam needs is the Reformation and Enlightment they never underwent. In The Sins of Scripture : Exposing the Bible’s Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love by Bishop John Shelby Spong, he speaks from the heart regarding what he feels must be done with his beloved Christianity. His ideas can and MUST be implemented en masse in the Muslim world to the Koran.

Unfortunately such a reformation might take generations, and the question is, do we have the time? Further, as long as the power of oil money keeps the despots in power, the continued oppression of modern ideas will endure. Islam in its current form is the “opium of the masses” allowing the oil spigots to keep pouring money into the pockets of the rulers.

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Posted: 24 May 2005 07:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Juhubu says Islam needs reform and enlightenment.  GVI says some Muslims in the West are beginning to protest the jihad against infidels.  Maybe in a thousand years, the Muslims will rid themselves of their aggressive theology—but don’t count on it.  In the meantime, the world will have suffered countless attacks of Islamic terrorism—some with weapons of mass destruction.

You mention the role of oil—as if that was the root cause of Islamic terrorism.  Let’s take Saudi Arabia as an example.  This is the country that just this week was ranked dead last among all countries for its barbaric treatment of women.  They’ve got more oil than anyone.  They’ve got Mecca and Medina.  They also have the Wahabis—a cult within Islam that actively exports jihad throughout the Muslim world.  Let’s say we withdrew all military support for the corrupt House of Saud, and that repressive monarchy fell.  Whom do you think would come to power—whether by force or by free democratic elections of the male population?  You would see a repressive jihadist Islamic theocracy that would make Iran look like Neverland.  The Wahabis would welcome bin Laden and Zawahiri home as the conquering heroes.  And then al Quaida would have the wealth of Saudi Arabia’s oil and its military to play with.

The root cause of terrorism is not oil, it is religion—specifically Islam.  It is the Koran.  Waiting for Muslims to reform Islam is like waiting for Godot.  The question is: what can the US—and our erstwhile allies—do to protect ourselves now.  There is no point in discussing pie-in-the-sky solutions such as educating the Muslim world, fighting world poverty, or engaging the jihadists in dialogue.  It is not going to happen.  For Muslims, the Crusades occurred yesterday.  They will always be impervious to any attempts from the West to enlighten or reform them.  I don’t think we have the time to wait for internal reforms to percolate up from the East.

So the question remains: what WILL the US and the West do to protect themselves against Islamic terrorists armed with weapons of mass destruction?  Does anyone believe that what we are doing today will be sufficient to deter future massive attacks?  The question of ‘what SHOULD we do?’ will become moot the day after the first Islamic attack on US soil with a weapon of mass destruction.  The American public will undoubtedly demand immediate massive retaliation, and the American government will undoubtedly comply.  What I am asking is: what will happen?  No one is even discussing a scenario that is now staring us in the face.

Regards,
Mark Starr

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Posted: 24 May 2005 08:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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[quote author=“Mark Starr”]Waiting for Muslims to reform Islam is like waiting for Godot.  The question is: what can the US—and our erstwhile allies—do to protect ourselves now. We don’t have to wait for the reform of Islam. It is going on right now; polls indicate that the radicals you are talking about are actually in the minority, even though they are backed up by states. We can, and are, forcing the process along with our foreign policy, and have sponsored or supported a number of projects to further the reformation. As for protecting ourselves right now, we are doing that, too.

There is no point in discussing pie-in-the-sky solutions such as educating the Muslim world, fighting world poverty, or engaging the jihadists in dialogue.  It is not going to happen.  For Muslims, the Crusades occurred yesterday.  They will always be impervious to any attempts from the West to enlighten or reform them.  I don’t think we have the time to wait for internal reforms to percolate up from the East.

Muslims do not all think alike. The phenomenon of jihadist fascism is a result of an intra-Muslim civil war (which they started) between the radical but well-heeled minority and the apparently modern majority who want to live in harmony with the modern world. It is imperative of us to take sides in that civil war, and to support the side of the liberals. Which we have now done.

So the question remains: what WILL the US and the West do to protect themselves against Islamic terrorists armed with weapons of mass destruction?

Exactly what we’re doing right now.

Does anyone believe that what we are doing today will be sufficient to deter future massive attacks?

Let’s reverse the question—what do you think should be done that isn’t getting done?

The question of ‘what SHOULD we do?’ will become moot the day after the first Islamic attack on US soil with a weapon of mass destruction.

Agreed.

The American public will undoubtedly demand immediate massive retaliation, and the American government will undoubtedly comply.  What I am asking is: what will happen?  No one is even discussing a scenario that is now staring us in the face.

No one knows what will happen; it depends heavily on who the American leaders on the watch are, how devastating the attack is, whether it can be traced to specific parties, and numerous other things. All we can do is try to prevent that scenario today, in a way that is consistent with our values as a society, but still unapologetically ruthless when it needs to be. Which is, in fact, what we are doing. What more do you want?

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Posted: 24 May 2005 03:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Today, there are approximately 1.2 billion Muslims.  So when you state that the radicals are only a minority, you mean there are somewhere between 1 and 599,999,999 Muslim radicals.  And, as you note, some of the terrorists are supported by states—for example, Iran.  How long will it be before Iran is slipping nuclear weapons under the table to anonymous terrorists who can wreak mass destruction—while Iran claims, with a straight face, that its hands are clean?

By the way, unlike Christians who are descreasing in numbers, the number of Muslims is growing worldwide.  As an infidel myself, I don’t like the odds.  Especially when I read the following in the Koran (and associated texts)—which is still, in its entirety, the holy book for ALL 1.2 billion Muslims, both extremists and moderates:

Slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush. (Koran 9:5)
 
I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers. Smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger tips of them.  (Koran 8:12)

The unbelievers among the People of the Book and the pagans shall burn for ever in the fire of Hell. They are the vilest of all creatures.  (Koran 98:1-8)

A Muslim may not be killed if he kills a non-Muslim. (Al Bukhari Vol 9:50)

Fight against those who believe not in Allah, and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth [Islam], until they are subdued. (Surat At-Taubah 9:29)

Whoever changes his Islamic religion, kill him.  Sahih Al-Bukhari (9:57)

O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. They are friends one to another. He among you who taketh them for friends is (one) of them.” [al-Ma’idah 5:51.11]

Fight against those who believe not in Allah, and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth [Islam], until they are subdued. Surat At-Taubah 9:29

Allah plots against unbelievers. (The Morning Star: 15)

Allah has cursed them (the Jews) on account of their unbelief. (Koran 2:88)

Mohammed said, “The last hour will not come before the Muslims fight the Jews, and the Muslims kill them.” (Mishkat Al Masabih Sh.M. Ashraf pp.147, 721, 810-11, 1130)

...surely the unbelievers are your open enemy. [4:101]

O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness; and know that Allah is with those who guard (against evil). [9.123]

As I understand Sam Harris’ argument, religious moderates (and that includes Muslim moderates) are just as much of a threat to civilization as the religious fundamentalists—because religious moderates have given the fundamentalists a pass in the name of tolerance.  The moderates have given Islamic clerics a pass on the aggressive, intolerant religious texts that form the basis of Islam.  And the moderates have failed to criticized and oppose the Islamists in their midst. 

In the case of Islamic terrorists, the charge is much more specific.  It is the religious moderates who—through their silence and inaction—are hiding the terrorists from view and from capture. 

Nowhere is this more apparent than in Palestine, where the population hides terrorists who strap bombs to children who blow up pizza parlours.  Or in Iraq, where the Sunni population hides the terrorists who blow up crowded food markets and (today) a girls’ junior high school.  Where is the outraged condemnation of ALL 1.2 billion Muslims for such barbaric stupidity? 

Muslims can whip themselves into a frenzy at a moment’s notice and kill each other over a news report of a Koran being flushed down a toilet.  They can beat their bodies with thorns until blood flows in annual religious processions.  They can pray five times daily to Mecca.  Millions of Muslims make the hahj each year.  But, evidently, all 1.2 billion Muslims cannot state unequivocally and publically that terrorist attacks are wrong.  More important, 1.2 billion Muslims have failed to reveal and punish the terrorists hidden among them.

It seems to me that your optimism over attempts of a handful of Muslims in the West to reform Islam from its Medieval aggressivity is misguided.  However welcome these paltry efforts may be, they don’t amount to a hill of beans.  When I see millions of Muslims demonstrating in the streets after every terrorist bombing; when Muslims in every Islamic state start turning in terrorists to the police; when the Islamic courts begin to try and execute Islamic terrorists— then and only then will I acknowledge any evidence of Islamic reform.  I am not holding my breath.

Regards,
Mark Starr

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Posted: 25 May 2005 05:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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[quote author=“Mark Starr”]
With regard to #2, I have yet to read an informed, rational, serious discussion of the simple question: What will happen on the day after?  What will the US do on the morning after a dirty bomb explodes in Manhattan—and we have no clear evidence exactly who was responsible?  What will happen the day when people in San Francisco begin dropping like flies after some unoberserved terrorist releases a cannister of anthrax spores at a 49ers game? 

Will we do what we did in Afghanistan?: hand over the job of retaliation to an ignorant mob and let all of the members of al Qaida disperse and escape—with bin Laden and al-Zawahiri still free and active today, almost 4 years later. 

Western civilization compells us to retaliate only against the guilty.  But what will we do when we don’t know who the guilty are?  Or more important—where the guilty are located?  The terrorists are dispersed throughout the Muslim world.  They are actively hidden from view by the complacent Muslim majority of moderates.  And all it takes is a handfull of terrorists, a small amount of money, and a love of death to wipe out a huge number of people.

Three thousand American victims on 9/11 may be a small number in comparison to the next attack.  When several hundred thousand Americans are killed in Chicago by a suitcase nuclear weapon smuggled by a Chechnyan al Quaida cell out of Uzbekestan in a shipping container through the St. Lawrence Seaway, what will we do next?  Will the glue of Western civilization dissolve?  Will we bomb the hahj?  There are more than a billion Moselms—and not one of them has forgotten the Crusades.

I am not asking: what SHOULD we do?  I am asking: WHAT WILL WE DO after the next terrorist attack, with massive loss of life and untold destruction.  In the Cold War, both the US and the Soviet Union knew exactly what would happen in the event of a pre-emptive attack: mutually-assured destruction. And when all is said and done, MAD worked.  We got through that horrendous era and the pseudo-religion of Communism.

But today, no one has any idea what will happen if a major terrorist attack occurs in the US.  We are dealing with a religious enemy who rejects all aspects of Western reason.  There is no MAD. 

If Sam Harris is correct in his prediction, the possibility of such a terrorist attack by Moslem extremists is neither far-fetched nor hypothetical.  If we are helpless to control the spread of terrorism in the Muslim world, are we also helpless to retaliate against the terrorists after they attack us again?
Mark Starr

I don’t know the answer to this question nor, I suspect, do GWB, Dick Chaney or Don Rumsfeld.  Even if they did, they (or any other responsible US administration) would not be inclined to specify what it would be.

Even though the popular myth is that, throughout the cold war, our WMD policy was Massive Assured Destruction (MAD), in fact, since early in the first Nixon administration the US policy has been “Flexible Response”.

This policy recognized the possibility of conventional, nuclear or other WMD attacks that were less than all out massive assaults on all of our population centers, and military/economic base aimed at the total physical destruction of the US.  It was realized that the National Command Authorities (NCA) needed more flexibility than just “pushing the button” and destroying the world.

The general concept was to be prepared to respond “proportionally” to any attack with the intent of clearly demonstrating to any aggressor that further escalation of the conflict would be foolhardy and lead to their ultimate defeat and/or destruction.

Of course, this policy was predicated on the idea that potential adversaries would be rational and motivated to avoid the demise of themselves and/or their societies.  Clearly, those assumptions may be invalid for Islamic terrorists who view martyrdom as their sacred duty. 

As a result, the military and diplomatic community was directed to prepare a wide range of response options that could be made available to the NCA in the event of such (less than massive) attacks either on US soil or US vital interests abroad.

The point is that, since the late 60’s or early 70’s, the US national security community has devoted a lot of thought, planning, and preparation for such contingencies.  These plans have typically been reviewed and updated at least annually based upon updated assessments of potential threats, the capabilities of new weapon systems, the world situation, etc.  Of course, any of these plans would probably have to be updated and adapted to the actual circumstances of a specific incident before being executable by the NCA. 

There is no doubt in my mind that the events of 9/11 have resulted in significant re-thinking of potential response options and the preparation of many new contingency plans.

I think that what we would actually do will depend on many factors that are unknowable at this time.  These include but are not necessarily limited to the following:
• The nature and results of the attack.
• Our confidence in identifying and locating the perpetrators and/or sponsors of the attack.
• Our ability and confidence in identifying the source(s) of the WMD
• The world situation and our relationships with various allies and adversaries at the time.
• The personalities and core beliefs of the key administration leaders at the time of the attack.
• The reaction of the American people and (to a much lesser extent) the rest of the world.
• The military and diplomatic assessment of the likely outcomes and/or consequences of each of the options.

So, the answer is that I don’t know what we would do.  However, I am pretty sure that a lot of thought and planning have been done in trying to think through the potential options.

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Posted: 25 May 2005 06:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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I would hope we would “turn the other cheek” as the wise man once said = p

Sometimes the best way to win the war is not to fight it in the first place.

I realize I am talking to testoerone here, but, we put the entire US military after Osama, and we still dont have him, meanwhile, the “political astuteness” of our approach is yet to pay us any dividends with increased safety, and might not for years to come.
History will render the verdict on our actions.

While 1000s of Americans killed would be a very bad thing, and I live in a potential easy target city so I personally am at risk, I think the moral high ground would NOT be retalitory attacks against unidentified enemies and innocent civilians.

We had a TON of world sympathy on our side after 9/11, which we pretty much squandered with an act of agression.  The same type of thing handled much differently would probably result in the guilty being caught and punished, and increased safety at home.

This is why it is critical to keep extremests and apocalyptic thinkers away from the button.

I can’t do much about the Islamic fundamentalists but discuss with some of them via the internet.

I can do something about our own fundamentalists who are just as dangerous and try to keep them out of power.

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Posted: 25 May 2005 07:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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[quote author=“Iisbliss”]I would hope we would “turn the other cheek” as the wise man once said = p

Sometimes the best way to win the war is not to fight it in the first place.

Of course, “Doing Nothing” is always a potential option just as is taking the “Global Test” and seeking protection from the UN (if it still exists after a nuclear strike on NYC).

However, I am pretty sure that any US President who selected such options would quickly be impeached.

[quote author=“Iisbliss”]While 1000s of Americans killed would be a very bad thing, and I live in a potential easy target city so I personally am at risk, I think the moral high ground would NOT be retalitory attacks against unidentified enemies and innocent civilians.

A WMD attack on NYC or other major population center could easily result in millions of deaths…….not 1000s.  You may want to consider moving to a more rural community.

I am pretty sure that we would try to show “restraint” and attempt to keep innocent civilian casualties to something less than 10 times the number of Americans killed.

[quote author=“Iisbliss”]We had a TON of world sympathy on our side after 9/11, which we pretty much squandered with an act of agression.  The same type of thing handled much differently would probably result in the guilty being caught and punished, and increased safety at home.

Is that the same “world sympathy” that saw millions of Muslims dancing in the street after 9/11 calling for our destruction? 

Is that the same pursuit of the guilty that the Taliban exercised in Afghanistan by protecting Osama?
[quote author=“Iisbliss”]I can do something about our own fundamentalists who are just as dangerous and try to keep them out of power.

Not doing a very good job are you?

P.S.  It is no doubt the realization of the agonizing and unpalatable choices that would have to be made in the event of a WMD attack on the US that has resulted in the so called “Bush Doctrine” of preemption.

[ Edited: 25 May 2005 01:57 PM by ]
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Posted: 25 May 2005 07:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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[quote author=“Iisbliss”]I would hope we would “turn the other cheek” as the wise man once said = p

Sometimes the best way to win the war is not to fight it in the first place.


You do realize, I hope (!?), that options exist other than what we’ve actually done, and doing nothing.

I also recommend you discontinue talking to testosterone. It’s an inanimate, unintelligent chemical compound, so I’d be a bit concerned about the desire to talk to it in the first place.

You have some good points to make, but you’ve seriously compromised your credibility by using an obvious false dichotomy and by trying to “spoil the well” implying that objection to your position = testosterone talking for your critic.

Byron

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Posted: 25 May 2005 08:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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I feel greatly reassured to know that “a lot of thought and planning have been done in trying to think through the potential options”—even though no one, including CA, has the slightest clue what those options are.

So lets look at the questions that I posed from another angle.  Let’s examine how we reacted to 9/11—and then, with the wisdom of highsight, I will ask: did we respond to 9/11 effectively?

It seems to me, there are only two criteria of any significance in evaluating the effectiveness of our response to 9/11. 

Did we apprehend and punish those responsible for the attack?  No.

Did we react in such a way that no likeminded terrorists would or could attack us with a weapon of mass destruction in the foreseable future.  No.

After 9/11, thousands in al Qaida, including bin Ladn and Zawahiri, dispersed and escaped.  We took many months to invade Afghanistan with a small force, and then we turned over the job to the ragtag National Alliance and Pakistan’s Taliban-friendly intelligence service.  In 2005, Bin Ladn and Zawahiri are still free and al Qaida is still active—launching smaller terror attacks in Bali, Madrid, etc. while laying plans for another major attack against the US.

While I am delighted that the extremist Taliban were overthrown in Aghanistan, the Taliban are not al Qaida.  Nor was Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.  The threat posed by al Qaida the day after 9/11 is undiminished today.

So, by any rational, objective measurement, we must admit that the US retaliation after 9/11 was an abject failure.  It accomplished nothing of relevance—either to punish those responible, or to deter another major attack by al Qaida.

Have we learned anything at all from the failure of our reponse to 9/11?  Now, with hindsight, what SHOULD we have done on 9/12?  What could we have done—no matter what the cost in dollars and human life—to have diminished the threat of a future terrorist attack with weapons of mass destruction?  Once we have come up with a solution that would have been effective, we can weigh the separate questions of whether the cost in dollars and human life would have been worth the results.

Regards,
Mark Starr

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Posted: 25 May 2005 08:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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I believe that the wealth of Saudi Arabia is a particularly disturbing thing to contemplate.  Why are businesses allowed to pump so much money into an economy that is known to be so terrible with regards to human rights, and is known to finance terrorism?

I think that any solution needs to include financial sanctions.  If businesses had to pay surcharges to deal with Saudi Arabia (levied to offset the cost of dealing with their support of terrorism), Saudi Arabia would be less attractive to do business with.

Implementing such a program would also go a long way towards making us look less hypocritical with regards to human rights.

Our problems are directly related to our willingness to turn our backs on our principles for supposed fiscal pragmatism.  The longer we put off dealing with it, the worse it will be.

Just my .02.

-Matt

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Posted: 25 May 2005 08:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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Ha, what I am arguing against is another fast track reaction.

The fact is, we still don’t have the people responsible for the 9/11 attack.

I would much rather see us instead of doing alot of huffing and puffing and shooting people and doing “pre-emptive” things that were planned YEARS before 9/11, do something to the point of actually getting the people responsible without collateral damage.

Me? I can handle a slow, well-thought out response without shouting for blood in the streets.  I can handle using our allies and world sympathy to have other people help us bring down the entire guilty network. 

I never said to do nothing, I merely said going to war didnt need to be the first response.  Of course the MEN on the board read it as doing NOTHING !! 

If that isn’t a testorone based reaction !! = P
Sooooo BUSTED !!

But point of fact, we can’t do much about what people believe, as Champ has amply proven.

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Posted: 25 May 2005 09:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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[quote author=“Mark Starr”]Where is the outraged condemnation of ALL 1.2 billion Muslims for such barbaric stupidity?

You’re setting the bar way too high, Mark. If you expect every single moderate Muslim on earth to instantly and loudly object to every single act of terrorism, you’ll be perpetually disappointed. Muslims do not all think alike, any more than any other group of people. You are setting a standard that requires all-out, total war. Why don’t you just come out and admit that what you’re seeking here is the elimination of Islam and of Muslims?

More important, 1.2 billion Muslims have failed to reveal and punish the terrorists hidden among them.

Really? How do you know this? We’ve captured many high-ranking Al-Qaeda members since 9/11, and are currently sweeping up a huge chunk of “insurgents” in Iraq. Just who do you think provided us with the intelligence to pull that off?

Again, you are lumping all Muslims together, as if they all think alike. They don’t. And given how dangerous it can be for many of them to openly collaborate with us (at least right now), they are under no obligation to inform you when they are helping us out. Get over it.

It seems to me that your optimism over attempts of a handful of Muslims in the West to reform Islam from its Medieval aggressivity is misguided.  However welcome these paltry efforts may be, they don’t amount to a hill of beans.  When I see millions of Muslims demonstrating in the streets after every terrorist bombing; when Muslims in every Islamic state start turning in terrorists to the police; when the Islamic courts begin to try and execute Islamic terrorists— then and only then will I acknowledge any evidence of Islamic reform.  I am not holding my breath.

Things like this always start small. Do you think the Reformation happened over night? The Enlightenment? The Scientific Revolution? Get real. We’re at the beginning of the process, and its results are not beyond our influence. Yes, the effort might fail, and that is something about which I wish our leaders would be more sanguine. Islam will have to go through its own series of wars and revolution, just as we did, to truly reform, and our task will be to minimize the damage and apply our weight judiciously.

And one reason you don’t see millions of Muslims demonstrating in the streets against terrorism is that when they do, the media rarely covers it. But it does happen, especially in Iran, Pakistan and Lebanon.

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Posted: 25 May 2005 09:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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[quote author=“Mark Starr”]I feel greatly reassured to know that “a lot of thought and planning have been done in trying to think through the potential options”—even though no one, including CA, has the slightest clue what those options are.

Why don’t you out with it, then, and tell us what you think we should be doing or should have done? Stop asking all these leading questions. Otherwise, I will conclude that you want a genocidal war against all Muslims, and dismiss you as a nut.

While I am delighted that the extremist Taliban were overthrown in Aghanistan, the Taliban are not al Qaida.  Nor was Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.  The threat posed by al Qaida the day after 9/11 is undiminished today.

Says you. But the truth is, we just don’t know for sure, and probably won’t for a long time. We don’t have a magic wand to wave or a crystal ball to consult.

The Taliban was Al-Qaeda was the Taliban. Practically no one disputes that. Iraq is certainly a debateable endeavor, but you have paid no attention to the analysis that brought it about. Which is that the response to terrorism will have to be a long-term and permanent shift in the network of MidEast power relations away from extremism and towards liberal democracy. The change isn’t going to just magically happen, and in affecting it, it makes sense to attack the network at its weakest link, which was Iraq.

What’s your alternative proposal? Total war?

Have we learned anything at all from the failure of our reponse to 9/11?  Now, with hindsight, what SHOULD we have done on 9/12?  What could we have done—no matter what the cost in dollars and human life—to have diminished the threat of a future terrorist attack with weapons of mass destruction?  Once we have come up with a solution that would have been effective, we can weigh the separate questions of whether the cost in dollars and human life would have been worth the results.

Let us know what you wanted us to do, then we can talk.

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Posted: 25 May 2005 09:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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[quote author=“Iisbliss”]I would much rather see us instead of doing alot of huffing and puffing and shooting people and doing “pre-emptive” things that were planned YEARS before 9/11, do something to the point of actually getting the people responsible without collateral damage.

I think you need to seriously face the fact that it can’t be done without collateral damage.

Me? I can handle a slow, well-thought out response without shouting for blood in the streets.  I can handle using our allies and world sympathy to have other people help us bring down the entire guilty network.

You’re speaking in platitudes, though. Give us some specifics. How could your preferred approach be achieved without collateral damage?

I never said to do nothing, I merely said going to war didnt need to be the first response.  Of course the MEN on the board read it as doing NOTHING !! 

If that isn’t a testorone based reaction !! = P
Sooooo BUSTED !!

I’d submit that the biggest testosterone threat comes from the other side, not from us. They have demonstrated both through their actions and their rhetoric that they will not, ever, stop trying to kill as many infidels as possible. There can be no effective nonviolent response to them. It took me years to accept this, but it is objective reality.

In part, their radicalism is more dangerous than “ours” because their culture is (right now) a heck of a lot more macho and male supremacist than ours is. Until that changes, they are a bigger threat to your life and liberty than GWB or the Christian Right ever will be, even on their worst day. And that will have to change through force or the threat of force, just as it did in our culture.

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