In My Back Yard

Mt. Hood

Terrorism has always seemed so far away from me. It always seemed like something that only happened in areas of the world riddled with political strife. But then 9/11 came and went. I remember being in a state of paranoia and shopping for a good 30.06 hunting rifle afterwards thinking I would hole up on Oregon’s ample public lands when the apocalypse came.

But things got back to normal (however you define that under the Bush administration). We were opening up a serious can of whoop-ass on al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and the general high threat level appeared to be over. I rather thought that Oregon was a place that didn’t show up on anybody’s radar. Not that Oregon is boring or anything; our college football team is #1 in the nation (GO DUCKS!). We’re a very active, outdoorsy kind of state.

But then this happened: Portland Car Bomb Terrorist Plot

A Somalia-born American citizen decided to attempt to blow up a car bomb in downtown Portland during the Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Friday night. His plot was foiled by the FBI and the Oregon Bureau of Investigations, but it illustrates that terrorism can happen anywhere.

Pioneer Courthose Christmas Tree Lighting

For a long time the United States had the protective blanket of two oceans to insulate us from attacks. Globalization has made it much easier these days to carry out an attack anywhere on the planet. How do you fight an enemy that doesn’t wear a different coloured uniform and march en masse to your doorstep? How do you protect yourself from political and religious ideologues who have no problem killing themselves to kill you? Maybe it’s like the Ebola virus. You hope it burns itself out faster than you can be affected by it.

One wonders if we’ll ever get anywhere north of normal. North Korea is freaking out because it appears that its leader is mentally unstable. We Americans are tired of fighting wars and becoming economically unable to sustain them. There are consistently more people in the world who would like to end civilization as we know it and there continues to be no end of creative and cheap ways to accomplish this objective. And now this crap is literally showing up in my back yard.

There’s really little I can do about it. Human beings are doing enough already to bring about their demise: overpopulating, draining resources, polluting the environment. I guess I’ll get up and go about my daily routine until somebody finally destroys the planet. I sincerely hope there are more people like me out there than there are like the kid who wanted to blow up the Christmas tree lighting in Portland. I pray for our better angels. And I guess that’s the one thing I remain thankful for on this holiday weekend. We’re still around to draw better conclusions. Peace to you all.

 

PS. I took the photo of Mt. Hood on appraoch to the PDX airport. Feel free to use it under the Creative Commons license guidelines.


About Mr. Universe

Mr. Universe is a musician/songwriter and an ex-patriot of the south. He currently lives and teaches at a University in the Pacific Northwest. He is a long distance hiker who has hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. He is also an author and woodworker. An outspoken political voice, he takes a decidedly liberal stance in politics.
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82 Responses to In My Back Yard

  1. filistro says:

    What is it with you guys? It’s a hotbed of terrorism down there! Offhand, without even searching, I can think of three memorable events in and around Oregon.

    1.) You had the first airline hijacking in mainland North America.

    2.) You had the first bioterrorism attack> in the western hemisphere

    3.) You were close to one of the most serious terrorism attempts pre-9/11… in which Canada also played a major part.

    And then you have all those ELF and PETA crazies running around out there in the woods… personally I think it’s all the damned rain and fog. After a while people just go a bit nuts. ;-)

  2. Armchair Warlord says:

    There are upwards of 150,000 American soldiers currently overseas fighting to destroy the jihadist death-cult that currently threatens civilization east and west. American troops are also ready on the front lines of Korea, in Europe and worldwide where evil threatens the good and innocent people of the world.

    So there’s your answer. If you want to help I’m sure there’s some worthy troops out there you could send a care package to this Christmas. Apathy sure as hell isn’t going to do anything.

  3. filistro says:

    @AW: There are upwards of 150,000 American soldiers currently overseas fighting to destroy the jihadist death-cult that currently threatens civilization east and west. American troops are also ready on the front lines of Korea, in Europe and worldwide where evil threatens the good and innocent people of the world.

    An admirable sentiment overall, AW… but it isn’t the “troops” who are ferreting out, exposing and preventing all these plots. It’s police, intelligence agents, security personnel, etc.

    Just think how much MORE “homeland security” could be provided for 2 billion dollars a day.

  4. Bart DePalma says:

    How do you fight an enemy that doesn’t wear a different coloured uniform and march en masse to your doorstep?

    Same as we have over the 200 years since we waged war against the Barbary Pirates. Americans are hardly strangers to wars with non-state militaries.

    While the enemy does not have a uniform, you can profile them pretty easily: young males from Islamic countries where AQ has units (primarily Pakistan, Gulf states and Somalia) who attend madrases or radical mosques.

    How do you protect yourself from political and religious ideologues who have no problem killing themselves to kill you?

    You deny them sanctuary and then kill or capture them before they kill you.

    Because AQ no longer has sanctuaries where they can train without their leadership dying in ongoing Predator attacks, the group relies primarily upon recruiting over the internet. This makes it easy for the FBI to pose as AQ on the net and then in person to set up and then arrest recruits like the Somalian man in Oregon.

    The US has been very successful in maintaining domestic security with the one exception being the Army psych Hassan.

  5. dcpetterson says:

    Freedom is dangerous.

    If we are a free country, that means even people who hate us can more freely and sometimes cause damage and death.

    We are either free, or we are safe. We cannot be both.

    And in fact, we cannot be safe even if we are not free. Because totalitarian states breed rebellion.

    So, since we cannot be safe anyway, we might as well also be free.

    Do not lament terrorist attacks on our soil. They prove we are doing it right.

  6. Todd Dugdale says:

    BDP wrote:
    Because AQ no longer has sanctuaries where they can train without their leadership dying in ongoing Predator attacks

    Oh, I thought it was all about girls going to school.
    Hey…are you saying that Obama is doing something right?

    you can profile them pretty easily: young males from Islamic countries where AQ has units (primarily Pakistan, Gulf states and Somalia) who attend madrases or radical mosques.

    The “shoe bomber”, Richard Reid from Wikipedia:
    “Reid, was born a British citizen in Bromley, South London,[2] to Leslie Hughes, who was of white English descent, and Colvin Robin Reid, whose father was a Jamaican immigrant of African descent”.

    Likewise, the “underwear bomber”(Abdulmutallab) was a Nigerian citizen educated in Togo.

    How about the bozo who got into a shootout with the police on his way to attack the Tides Foundation? What was the mosque that McVeigh went to?

  7. Eusebio Dunkle says:

    Terrorism is one cost of freedom … and also a cost of evil imperialist global ambitions that drive regime change, weapons sales, political destabilization, assassination, war crimes, mass murder, false propaganda, resource depletion, and ecological destruction)

  8. dcpetterson says:

    Yes Eusebio Dunkle. I agree.

    The fact is, the problem is not simple. Nor are the solutions. Two things I do know.

    1) Being afraid, and destroying our freedoms because we are afraid, is wrong. Therefore, Bart’s profiling fantasy is wrong.

    2) Acting in the world as if we can throw our might around without consequence will have consequences. We should consider our effect on the rest of the world. Therefore, you are right.

  9. filistro says:

    I’ve had numerous sincere, peace-loving Muslim friends tell me that if Americans (and Canadians) weren’t THERE, their jihadists would not come HERE.

    In other words if Americans would just leave their countries, their cities and especially their holy places, there would be no need for jihad and it would end.

    At 2 billion a week, seems like it would be worth a try. A trillion a year would fund a lot of alternative energy.

  10. Mr. Universe says:

    Not sure who to fear more; terrorists or Bart. That was one Orwellian repply there, Bart.

  11. Todd Dugdale says:

    This is a bit of a “broad brush”, but I think that our nation’s experiment with trying assimilate Somali refugees has failed. Certainly, the effort here in Minneapolis is a failure, in spite of us being highly successful in assimilating Lao, Hmong, Tibetan, Ethiopian, Eritrean, and Guatemalan refugees. Even the local Muslim community is tired of them and is going to fair lengths to distance themselves from the Somalis.

  12. robert verdi says:

    its too bad but get used to it. I remember the first threats of the millennium bombings and shrugged them off, my aunt worked at the Trade Center for the first bombing, heck I remember a plot by terrorists to blow up the tunnels in New York in the early 90′s. Add to that the Fort Dix plan, (I mobilized out of there), the Kennedy airport bombing plan, (those fuel tanks always looked tempting), and of course 9/11. Its a bitch but you just get over it.

  13. robert verdi says:

    fillistro,
    seriously? Should we have left Bosnia and Kosovo out to dry? And what holy sites are we occupying? As for their “cities”, can you illuminate what cities were under occupation before 9/11 or when the first WTC attack occurred in 93? Can your friends explain that?

  14. filistro says:

    Robert…

    August 23, 1996 Several months after being expelled from the Sudan, bin Laden issues his “Declaration of War Against the Americans Who Occupy the Land of the Two Holy Mosques.” It reads, in part:

    “Muslims burn with anger at America. For its own good, America should leave [Saudi Arabia.] … There is no more important duty than pushing the American enemy out of the holy land. … The presence of the USA Crusader military forces on land, sea and air of the states of the Islamic Gulf is the greatest danger threatening the largest oil reserve in the world. The existence of these forces in the area will provoke the people of the country and induces aggression on their religion, feelings and prides and pushes them to take up armed struggle against the invaders occupying the land. … Due to the imbalance of power between our armed forces and the enemy forces, a suitable means of fighting must be adopted, i.e. using fast-moving, light forces that work under complete secrecy. In other words, to initiate a guerrilla war, where the sons of the nation, and not the military forces, take part in it.”

    It’s not like the dude wasn’t making his position very, very clear. He made dozens of declarations like this, growing increasingly more specific throughout the 90′s, that Americans had to leave Saudi Arabia (which is where Mecca and the Two Holy Mosques are located) or eventually face the consequences on their own soil.

  15. Todd Dugdale says:

    robert verdi wrote:
    And what holy sites are we occupying?

    It’s not an issue of occupation. It’s the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia, which ended in 2003. filistro did not use the term “occupation”.

    From the BBC:
    “Ever since the 1991 Gulf war, the US has had about 5,000 troops stationed in Saudi Arabia – a figure that rose to 10,000 during the recent conflict in Iraq.”

    “Saudi Arabia is home to some of Islam’s holiest sites and the deployment of US forces there was seen as a historic betrayal by many Islamists, notably Osama Bin Laden.”

    filistro is correct that the presence of American troops in the Saudi kingdom was a stated reason by Al- Qaeda for the 9/11 attacks.

    Since we withdrew all of our troops from Saudi Arabia in early 2003, I wonder if this makes The Decider a “surrender monkey”.

    As for their “cities”, can you illuminate what cities were under occupation before 9/11 or when the first WTC attack occurred in 93?

    Again, it’s not an occupation. We had troops there from 1990 to 2003.

    “The U.S. has rejected the characterization of its presence as an “occupation”, noting that the government of Saudi Arabia consented to the presence of troops. Many in the U.S., the Arab world and elsewhere saw the presence of U.S. troops as supporting the House of Saud, the rule of which is controversial.”

    See also here: “According to CNN’s Peter Bergen, author of a forthcoming book on Bin Laden, Holy War, Inc., Bin Laden is most enraged by the American military presence in Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden was incensed when the Saudis invited U.S. troops to their defense after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Bin Laden—like many Muslims—considers the continued presence of these armed infidels in Saudi Arabia the greatest possible desecration of the holy land. That is why he sponsored bombings of the American military facilities in Saudi Arabia, why he has tried to destabilize the Saudi government, and why the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed on Aug. 7, 1998—eight years to the day after the first American troops were dispatched to Saudi Arabia.”

  16. dcpetterson says:

    But of course, America should do what it wants. No one should tell us what to do. If we want to have troops in Saudi Arabia, we should. If some two-bit would-be Islamic militant terrorist tells us to leave, we definitely should stay. Caving in to the demands of anyone else is, well, unmanly. And we need to have a manly president who clears brush in Texas. And a Vice Pres who is a hot woman who shoots wolves from helicopters. That is the Right Wing Way. Anything less is socialist and authoritarian.

  17. Todd Dugdale says:

    dc wrote:
    If some two-bit would-be Islamic militant terrorist tells us to leave, we definitely should stay.

    That is what I don’t understand about the withdrawal. I mean the whole (idiotic) idea with Iraq was to draw the terrorists out and kill them — fight them there so that you don’t have to fight them here. If we really wanted to provoke the terrorists into attacking us, why wouldn’t we have stayed in Saudi Arabia and fought them there?

    Saudi Arabia had far more connection to the 9/11 attacks than Iraq did, after all.

    Maybe Saudi Arabia declined to host the Final Battle Between Civilisations, and Iraq was in no position to decline the “honour”.

    Could it really be that The Decider bowed to the wishes of a foreign king and withdrew from the field in a battle that we were “winning”? Would Bart not have criticised this decision, and thus become a “traitor”? How could such a “surrender monkey” have won re-election when we ‘know’ that real America despises this kind of thing?

  18. Bart DePalma says:

    Here we go with the blame America first drivel.

    Go listen to these fascists’ own speeches in the National Geographic Inside 9/11 program. This is pure first the Middle East and then the world rhetoric. These people believe they are in a multi generational war to establish a worldwide Islmaic caliphate.

    http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/series/inside-911

  19. Armchair Warlord says:

    @filistro

    Why do you think there haven’t been any big, organized attacks in the US a-la 9/11 since we went to war nearly a decade ago? I think the record speaks for itself when it comes to Al Qaeda as an organization actually doing something outside of… really, Pakistan nowadays. And it’s not for lack of trying. ;)

  20. Michael Weiss says:

    Armchair Warlord,

    Why do you think there haven’t been any big, organized attacks in the US a-la 9/11 since we went to war nearly a decade ago? I think the record speaks for itself

    This is a classic case of post hoc ergo propter hoc. The record has little to do with the actions the US has taken since the fall of 2001. Don’t ask me how I know.

  21. dcpetterson says:

    @Bart
    Here we go with the blame America first drivel.

    Here we go with the right wing misrepresent what everyone else says drivel.

  22. dcpetterson says:

    @Armchair Warlord
    Why do you think there haven’t been any big, organized attacks in the US a-la 9/11 since we went to war nearly a decade ago?

    I don’t know. Do you? Supply proof.

  23. Armchair Warlord says:

    @Mike

    “No, you’re wrong!”

    Seriously? That’s all you have to say? Pathetic, and what’s worse is that you’re being disingenuous and you know it.

    Try again.

  24. Armchair Warlord says:

    @dc

    Please – you’re being disingenuous. Do liberals suddenly become idiots when the War on Terror (a war which they should, by dint of being liberals, fully support) comes up?

    I think it has something to do with the fact that Al Qaeda no longer has the ability to plan, fund and coordinate complex attacks, that they have been driven from their safe havens and hunted wherever they go, that their allies are under constant assault and that their evil ideology is thoroughly discredited.

    Of course this is all a work in progress but if you want a quantitative answer start with drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Most of them have been targeted against AQ’s foreign attack network.

  25. Mr. Universe says:

    Why do you think there haven’t been any big, organized attacks in the US a-la 9/11 since we went to war nearly a decade ago?

    Fair question, Mule. Three reasons.

    1. We seriously whipped some ass in Afghanistan and crippled the Taliban’s and al Qaeda’s ability to take action (we did not; however, cripple their desire to do so).

    2. Heightened security and intel may have actually done its job.

    3. al Queda had indicated that they get the biggest terror bang for the buck out of these small scale failed operations (see the previous TSA article).

    Was this an effective strategy? Maybe. The ramifications of our interference into the middle east will likely play itself out for decades to come.

  26. Mr. Universe says:

    By the way, if you haven’t read Sun Tzu’s book, The Art of War, I reccomend it. al Queda is taking a page right out of it hoping that we manage to defeat ourselves economically and politically. And it is happening.

  27. Armchair Warlord says:

    @Mr. U

    I can assure you, I’m not Mule.

    To respond to your points three and four because we seem to be in agreement on one and two…

    3. This is the kind of propaganda you put out when your operation fails. The kind of pathetic, failed operations AQ and co. run in the west nowadays only make them look like idiots and, worse, amateurs.

    4. This “bleed until bankruptcy” strategy of theirs is doomed to failure and I wonder why people take such an obvious piece of propaganda seriously – we have the economic resources to fight the war at this level until the end of time. A little bit of entitlement reform would pay for the war forever. As for the political will… well, if the scales fell from the Left’s eyes regarding the true evil we face and they got on board we wouldn’t have a problem.

    Why should liberals support the War on Terror? Simple – imagine every progressive principle that you can have. Now imagine an ideology that is diametrically opposed to every single one of them. Now imagine that those holding it are willing and eager to commit absolutely any atrocity imaginable to further their aims. That is the false jihad of the death-cult Al Qaeda and their allies.

  28. dcpetterson says:

    Armchair Warlord

    al Qaeda did not like us for 8 years under Clinton. al Qaeda did not like us for 2 years under Obama. After less than 8 months under Bush, they killed more than 3000 people on American soil.

    Explain to me why there haven’t been any big, organized attacks in the US a-la 9/11 since we went to war nearly a decade ago. except under a Republican President.

  29. dcpetterson says:

    Why should liberals support the War on Terror? Simple – imagine every progressive principle that you can have. Now imagine an ideology that is diametrically opposed to every single one of them. Now imagine that those holding it are willing and eager to commit absolutely any atrocity imaginable to further their aims.

    Ah. So, we should treat Teapers as the mortal enemy of America? Is that what you are suggesting?

  30. Armchair Warlord says:

    @dc

    You seem to have taken leave of your senses. I know it’s late right now. Get some sleep and come back again tomorrow.

  31. dcpetterson says:

    Armchair Warlord, you decline to address my questions. Noted.

  32. robert verdi says:

    filistro,
    Bin Laden arguing we were occupying the Arabian peninsula is not evidence we were occupying the cities of Medina and Mecca. No Government should take the pronouncements of Bin Laden as fact and follow his wishes.

  33. shortchain says:

    robert,

    If you are truly going to defeat an enemy on the philosophical playing field, not merely try and crush them in open warfare — which, as AQ cravenly declines to fight open battles anymore except through pawns, is the only way they’re going to be defeated — you need to understand their motivations.

    The particular faith they practice is so very close to the faith of the vast majority of Saudi’s that a hair from the beard of the prophet cannot separate the two. Mind you, in any vast ocean of people, there are the devout, and then there are the sane — but there are enough believers in Saudi Arabia to make the sane ones keep their sanity under wraps. At any rate, it is a tenet of Wahhabism that the Arabian Peninsula is the land that Allah gave to the faithful. It is their holy land. Not merely the cities of Mecca and Medina, but the entire area. The presence on this sacred ground of the feet of infidels is an affront, a desecration.

    That’s all of Wahhabi, not merely AQ. Where AQ takes it a notch farther is in considering the royal family of Saudi Arabia complicit in this desecration. That’s who they want to topple (and by topple, I mean, quite literally, that heads will roll). They regard the USA as propping up this evil regime, hence the desire to suck the USA into a war with Islam, which, in the view of AQ, will cause the masses in Saudi Arabia to rise up and overthrow the House of Saud, creating a new caliphate which will restore Islam to its proper glory, last seen in the 12th century, as the center of light and learning for the entire world.

    Oh, and by the way, I’m not sure how sincere we can take the protestations of ACW. I’m getting a strong whiff of mule droppings. I’m pretty sure somebody either rode a mule through here or maybe they just had mule-doodles on their jack-boots as they marched like a good little storm-trooper through.

  34. robert verdi says:

    Shortchain,
    At any time the Saudi Government, (the greatest advocates of the Wahhabi sect in history) could have told us to leave.

  35. shortchain says:

    robert,

    What part of “that’s how AQ and the Saudi’s differ” did you find difficult to comprehend? Of course, the support of the Saudi royal family for Wahhabi has nothing to do with the fact that, in Wahhabi teaching, the Saudi royal family rules by divine right, but …the Saudi royal family, that is to say the Saudi government, seems to have regarded Saddam Hussein as a very slightly more threatening enemy than having infidel troops on Arabian soil. But not by much, which is why the presence was brief. I’m sure the fact that the American military had to leave Saudi Arabia factored into the decision to invade Iraq, thus securing bases from which to operate for the foreseeable future — at least in the minds of neocons.

    But you have to understand this: the presence of infidel troops on sacred ground was a big deal in Saudi Arabia. Without that understanding, you simply don’t have a clue as to what the fuss was about.

  36. Bart DePalma says:

    Why do you think there haven’t been any big, organized attacks in the US a-la 9/11 since we went to war nearly a decade ago?

    Three reasons:

    1) We are denying AQ sanctuary to organize, supply and train.

    2) We have cut off most of AQ’s financing. Part of this was AQ’s fault when it declared war on Saudi. This is a little reported turning point.

    3) AQ discredited itself in Iraq as as a champion of Islam after its mass murder bombing campaign slaughtering Iraqi civilians buy the thousand. This started with murdering an Iraqi wedding party in Jordan. Polling showed that AQ’s standing in the Muslim countries collapsed during this time and intelligence reported that recruiting collapsed.

  37. robert verdi says:

    shortchain,
    Because people perceive it to be true does not make it true and it certainly doesn’t justify terror terror attacks. The US was not occupying the Holy cities and the mass delusion among some (one would hope marginal) portions of the Islamic community doesn’t change that. Let me be precise, we can factor mass insanity such as seen in Bin Laden’s pronouncements into our decisions, but we cannot solely base our policies on them. Hell, a lot of Germans felt they had been “stabbed in the back” at the end of WWI, that still didn’t make it true no matter how many subscribe to it.

  38. shortchain says:

    robert,

    When it comes to beliefs, “it is what it is” — and ignoring or discounting what people believe, no matter how delusional or self-defeating, gets us nowhere.

    Gosh, I don’t recall suggesting that we should base our policies “solely” on what anybody said.

    On the other hand, how did ignoring or discounting the “stabbed in the back” meme work out in postWWI in Germany?

    Again: if you want to defeat a philosophy or belief (as opposed to a tactic, like “terror”), you figure out a way to take away or discredit its underpinnings. But you have to understand what they are in order to do that effectively.

  39. Eusebio Dunkle says:

    @Todd Dugdale
    There have been some successes with Somali refugees. For instance, we have the makings of a permanent service employee slave class as local employers depressed wages that can only accommodate desperate refugees =]

    “We did the Cole and we wanted the United States to react. And if they reacted, they are going to invade Afghanistan and that’s what we want … . Then we will start holy war against the Americans, exactly like the Soviets.”
    — Mohammed Atef, military commander of Al Qaeda, in November of 2000

    Sounds like Al Qaeda has accomplished their goal. Meanwhile our 60yr off-the-rails foreign policy (exemplified by our own far right cowboys) argue this worthless contradictory blather with nary a peep (relatively) about(YAWN this is getting stale) our trampled rights, international war crimes, mounting debt, and national disgrace. IF as you embrace the claim that the whole world is a battlefield, I do not think you will like who I claim as my enemy.

    Start Fantasy. Let the ensuing Wikileaks release of our foreign cables reveal the cowardly, power hungry, islamophobic, contemptuous approach to the world and its leaders. It will be a great joy to watch the US lose the respect and deference it no longer deserves. Let the world and the US citizens, in a very public way, come to terms with the perversion that is my country. Finally, we’ll be FREE to start again from scratch. End Fantasy. Another whitewash, back to the downward spiral. Thankfully, there are enough domestic problems to yet sink this ship.

    Tootles

  40. Michael Weiss says:

    Armchair Warlord,

    Seriously? That’s all you have to say? Pathetic, and what’s worse is that you’re being disingenuous and you know it.

    Sometimes people know things that they either aren’t supposed to know, or they know things that they aren’t at liberty to share.

    The military action in Afganistan has pushed the action into other places. The Taliban activity has pushed into Pakistan, but the al Qaeda activities have gone elsewhere. A lot of it has moved to Yemen.

    There’s something you should consider. The airliner attacks of 2001 took eight years to put together. As I noted in a previous article, the US has been fighting that war in the decade hence, just as the US had been fighting the previous one for the better part of the prior decade.

    In the spring of 2001, you had no clue that members of al Qaeda were training to turn airliners into missiles. You probably never even considered that it would be attempted, let alone successfully. Similarly, the next attack won’t be the type of attack you’re thinking of.

    Military action in Afghanistan and Iraq has not helped the cause. Domestic vigilance by civilians has, though.

  41. Michael Weiss says:

    robert verdi,

    Because people perceive it to be true does not make it true and it certainly doesn’t justify terror terror attacks.

    Justify it to whom and in what way? If you’re asking whether I think they were right in attacking, the answer is “no.” But those who did the attacking sincerely believed that they were justified.

    The US was not occupying the Holy cities and the mass delusion among some (one would hope marginal) portions of the Islamic community doesn’t change that.

    Yet they feel the same way. It’s sort of like how so many Americans are upset about an Islamic mosque being built two blocks away from the World Trade Center. It’s not at the WTC, but from the reactions you’d think that they were going to replace Freedom Tower with a monument to Islam.

    Let me be precise, we can factor mass insanity such as seen in Bin Laden’s pronouncements into our decisions, but we cannot solely base our policies on them.

    No, we can’t. Nor should we ignore them and then act surprised when the reaction is negative.

  42. Mainer says:

    We as a nation have had this screwed up from almost the git go. With far too many family and friends in uniform the misuse of the military for any level of adventurism just sets me off. We got blindsided with 9/11, w shouldn’t have been but we were. I still think our initial response in Afghanistan was correct and done reasonably well. Then the neoconns saw the situation as an opportunity to push their own agenda over doing that which was needed to be done for our and other Western nations security.

    I do not care what one wants to call this mess we are in. But the one thing I do believe is that we have to stop calling it any kind of war. To be seen waging W A R is only playing into the hands of the extreamists. From the very first response in Afghanistan it should have been refered to as some level of police action to round up, root out and kill if necessary criminals, thugs, evil doers…….we had the justification to refer to them in the most base terms and shape the debate in the Muslim world and to deny the sociopaths that drove 9/11 the one thing they needed and that was any level of sociatal leg to stand on.

    We can not win this as a war on any thing. It has to be fought more with brains than brawn. But this will never work when our elected leaders are more interested in photo ops than in winning. Winning in the context of what we are involved in is not going to involve the capitulation of a nation state, no victory prades, no grand armies clearing the field of all before it. This is an effort that will take years, an effort that will take all the brains and cunning we can muster and the leadership capacity to tone down the smack talk and get on with the mission at hand.

    Where this is going to take all the intelligence we can muster and the connections with people of many nations and their intelligence assets and then the resolve to send brave men and women on a very selective basis to continue to thin the herd of extreamists. We have the brave men and women, we and our friends and allies have the intelligence assets, still not every thing we might want but better than before, and they are paying dividens. But unless and until we can take away the extreamists best recruiting tool of allowing them to frame this as a WAR we will never have any sort of win regardless of how we wish to define it.

    Determine who they are, find them, kill or capture them and if captured try them as the common criminals they are. To do any thing else just plays into their hands. But as long as this mess is considred just one more political football to be kicked around we are good and truely screwed.

  43. Max says:

    If Bart actually KNEW his history instead of constantly trying to rewrite it in terms of his own ideology, he would know how WRONG his first comment to this post was!

    In FACT, the Barbary Wars were TWO wars fought against STATES. First, against Tripoli (remember the Marine’s Hymn?) in 1804-05 and then against Algeria in 1815.

    STATE-sponsored piracy (terrorism) that allowed for, FIRST, diplomatic NEGOTIATION, which failed, and the the use of military action AGAINST a STATE, not at all the asymmetric battlefield we currently find ourselves fighting upon.

    I know I’ve been away a few months, but at least SOME THINGS don’t change!

    Best Wishes Bart, I’m back! Better get your game on!

  44. Bart DePalma says:

    Max:

    Get your history straight before you attempt to correct mine. Smelly feet don’t taste very good on the way down.

    The Barbary Wars were against non-state pirates protected by local kingdoms of the Ottoman Empire – the Sultanate of Morocco and Tripoli. Neither were nation states and the pirates were not a state navy.

    Our military campaign was directed primarily against the pirates and secondarily against the port cities to rescue American sailors being held as slaves because our small fleet only possessed an even smaller contingent of Marines.

    In any case, this was only the first of dozens of American campaigns against non-state militaries including the Indian Wars, the Moro insurgency in the Philippines, the various “Banana Wars” in the Caribbean and Central America, Vietnam and Iraq. Those are only the major official wars and do not include the covert black ops since WWII.

  45. Todd Dugdale says:

    robert verdi wrote:
    Bin Laden arguing we were occupying the Arabian peninsula is not evidence we were occupying the cities of Medina and Mecca.

    Nobody here is saying that we were “occupying” anything in Saudi Arabia. You were the first to use that word, and I made it clear at that point that filistro never used that word. You are missing the point, repeatedly and at length.

    These are documented points:
    We did have troops there; up to 10k of them.
    The time period of their presence coincides with the emergence of Al-Qaeda as a threat.
    Al-Qaeda has said that the motivation for their attacks was the presence of American troops.

    Whether or not you consider the presence of American troops to be a valid justification for terrorist attacks really does not matter in a discussion over the motivation of Al-Qaeda. Unless, of course, you are high up in the ranks of Al-Qaeda.

    In the end, I doubt that anyone in Al-Qaeda is interested in running their propaganda points by you in a focus group. You are not their target audience. In point of fact, however, the idea of infidel American troops propping up an unpopular dictator and defiling the Holy Land proved to be an effective recruitment tool.

    We are talking about propaganda here, and propaganda does not have to be unequivocally true to be effective. Examples: death panels, secret Muslim, socialist usurper, hyperinflation, FEMA death camps, etc.

    Furthermore, I hardly think it was helpful in dispelling this AQ propaganda when a certain moron named Tom Tancredo proposed that we bomb the holy sites of Mecca to show the Muslims that we mean business.

    Let me be precise, we can factor mass insanity such as seen in Bin Laden’s pronouncements into our decisions, but we cannot solely base our policies on them.

    Who is proposing “solely” basing our policies on AQ propaganda?
    For me, the issue raises interesting questions:

    - why were we militarily backing up an un-elected king in our efforts to restore democracy to the Middle East?
    - did we “abandon the field in a battle that we were winning” at the behest of a foreign Islamic king?
    - was the presence of American troops on Saudi soil more of a recruitment tool or a deterrent to Al-Qaeda?

    Hell, a lot of Germans felt they had been “stabbed in the back” at the end of WWI, that still didn’t make it true no matter how many subscribe to it.

    Yes, I’m sure if we had just explained to them that they had it all wrong, the entire war could have been avoided. Pity that.
    How can you cite an example like that and completely miss the point that people’s actions are very often based on what they believe to be true and not some sort of Absolute Truth that you are privy to?

    You may think that some casual gesture is not a provocation to a fistfight, but if some other guy does see it as a provocation then invoking Absolute Truth will not likely sway him. You have to decide if making the casual gesture is worth getting into a fistfight or not.
    What are the “benefits” of provoking the other guy? It may or may not be worth it, but simply pretending the casual gesture isn’t “really” provocative is probably the most pointless course to take. That seems to be the course that you are taking in this discussion.

    What were the benefits to the US in having troops in Saudi Arabia? And if there were benefits, then why did we leave in 2003?

  46. Todd Dugdale says:

    Mainer wrote:
    We can not win this as a war on any thing.

    That’s absolutely true. We are not fighting an enemy who has a capitol, or an industrial infrastructure, or even conscription. There are no “front lines”; there are just scattered battles.

    It’s as much of a “war” as the police action against auto theft. Is there a capital city of car thieves that we can bomb into submission? Can we capture the “leaders” of the auto theft movement? Is there territory that car thieves hold that we can capture? What are the other rogue nations funding the car thieves, and can we bomb them into submission?

    I know: let’s send the military in to invade and occupy a city. Then, all of the car thieves will flock to that city to fight our military and we win. If we don’t do this, the car thieves will take over that city and use it as a base of operation. Everyone knows that car thieves are always looking for a city that they can control, and they love fighting.
    Wasn’t that the logic of the “fight them there” rhetoric?

    From the very first response in Afghanistan it should have been referred to as some level of police action to round up, root out and kill if necessary criminals, thugs, evil doers

    Absolutely right. That doesn’t poll well with the “Our God can beat up Their God” crowd, however.

  47. filistro says:

    I think Michael’s point about the proposed Islamic centre in NYC is excellent… and a perfect analogy for what Todd is trying hard to explain.

    Isn’t human nature fascinating? The very same people who look on that “Mosque at Ground Zero” as a gross provocation are simply unable to see how radical Islamists might be provoked to fury and violence by the presence of American troops in THEIR sacred areas.

    When your entire approach to foreign policy consists of “it’s right because we’re doing it… and we know it’s right because we never do anything wrong,”…. well you are bound to get yourselves into the occasional sticky situation.

    But that’s okay, because it will always be the other guy’s fault, since you never do anything wrong. And anybody who points out clear evidence to the contrary is guilty of “Blame America First” kind of thinking.

    How restful to live in a knee-jerk black-and-white world devoid of introspection, self-examination or critical analysis. One need never think at all… just retrieve and regurgitate the appropriate aphorism for any situation.

  48. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Bart, Bart, Bart. You haven’t learned a THING since I’ve been gone.

    Fact: On Jefferson’s inauguration as president in 1801, Yusuf Karamanli, the Pasha (or Bashaw) of Tripoli, demanded $225,000 from the new administration. (In 1800, Federal revenues totaled a little over $10 million.) Putting his long-held beliefs into practice, Jefferson refused the demand. Consequently, in May 1801, the Pasha declared war on the United States, not through any formal written documents but in the customary Barbary manner of cutting down the flagstaff in front of the U.S. Consulate. Algiers and Tunis did not follow their ally in Tripoli. Bart, That’s a nation-state.

    Fact: The turning point in the war came with the Battle of Derna (April–May 1805). Ex-consul William Eaton, who went by the rank of general, and US Marine First Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon led a mixed force of eight United States Marines[17] and 500 Greek, Arab, and Berber mercenaries on a march across the desert from Alexandria, Egypt to assault and to capture the Tripolitan city of Derna. This is the first time in history that the United States flag was raised in victory on foreign soil. This action was memorialized in a line from the Marines’ Hymn—”the shores of Tripoli.” Bart, That’s a nation-state.

    Fact: Wearied of the blockade and raids, and now under threat of a continued advance on Tripoli proper and a scheme to restore his deposed older brother Hamet Karamanli as ruler, Yussif Karamanli signed a treaty ending hostilities on June 4, 1805 Bart, That’s the action of a nation-state.

    Fact: Initiating the Second Barbary War, Umar ben Muhammad, Dey of Algiers, the “Omar Bashaw” of the 1815 treaty, expelled the US consul general Tobias Lear and declared war on the United States Bart, That’s the action of a nation-state.

    Fact: On March 3, 1815, the US Congress authorized deployment of naval power against Algiers (a nation-state), and a force of ten ships was dispatched under the command of Commodores Stephen Decatur, Jr. and William Bainbridge. Bart, That’s action against a nation-state.

    Fact: On 27 August 1816, following a round of failed negotiations, the fleet delivered a punishing nine-hour bombardment of Algiers. The attack immobilized many of the Dey’s corsairs and shore batteries, forcing him to accept a peace offer of the same terms as he had rejected the day before. Exmouth warned that if they were not accepted he would continue the action. The Dey accepted the terms, not realising that they were a bluff as the fleet had already fired off all of its ammunition.
    A treaty was signed on September 24, 1816.
    Bart, That’s the action of a nation-state.

    The pirates were acting as an extension of a nations government. United States actions against those GOVERNMENTS, and thus the nations they ruled and the pirates who acted on their behalf, ended the incidents. Again, these incidents DO NOT represent the asymmetrical “warfare” of today.

    Bart, you may rationalize and make up things as you will, and set your beliefs and ideology on those made up postulates. The rest of us will live in the real world.

    Best

    (citations from Wikipedia: “First Barbary War” and “Second Barbary War”.)

  49. Eusebio Dunkle says:

    Food for thought:

    I’m losing count of how many of these recent terror plot preventions have actually just been the entrapment of some poor, disaffected fool by the US government. As with previous plots how likely was this “terror plot” without the money, support, and pressure of our own US government [acting as evil foreign terrorists]? Is this a serious attempt to stop terrorists?

    At what point do we consider these plots completely fabricated?

  50. Bart DePalma says:

    Max:

    Nation states are independent countries, not ill policed backwaters of an empire run by warlords and pirates. The Barbary States were the functional equivalent of the tribal regions of Pakistan.

  51. shortchain says:

    Bart,

    Precisely what is the definitive distinction between a “nation” and a polity run by a warlord? Since the citations Max gave us indicate that said polities were, apparently, capable of signing treaties with nations, that would presumptively indicate that, to the people they signed treaties with, i. e., the USA, they were nations.

  52. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Real world, Bart. Join us in the real world. See Shortchain’s reply.

    Your OPINION does NOT dictate.

    Best

  53. Todd Dugdale says:

    BDP wrote:
    2) We have cut off most of AQ’s financing. Part of this was AQ’s fault when it declared war on Saudi. This is a little reported turning point.

    It sounds like the Wikileaks documents are going to disprove this “turning point”. The major donors to Al-Qaeda are Saudis.

    From NYT:
    Saudi donors remain the chief financiers of Sunni militant groups like Al Qaeda, and the tiny Persian Gulf state of Qatar, a generous host to the American military for years, was the “worst in the region” in counterterrorism efforts, according to a State Department cable last December.”

    Well, at least the unpopular, un-elected Saudi king is still our friend. And it seems as if the dictatorship of Qatar is on our side, FWIW.

    “On February 24, 2010, Qatar and Iran signed a defense co-operation agreement in which the two countries stressed the need to expand their defense cooperation”
    Okay…so this is “victory”?

  54. Bart DePalma says:

    shortchain says: “Precisely what is the definitive distinction between a “nation” and a polity run by a warlord?”

    A warlord can run a nation, but the Barbary States were NOT a nation. They were part of the Ottoman Empire, which allowed them to run wild.

    Since the citations Max gave us indicate that said polities were, apparently, capable of signing treaties with nations, that would presumptively indicate that, to the people they signed treaties with, i. e., the USA, they were nations.

    There is nothing preventing a nation from entering into agreements with sub-national groups. See the United States and the Indians or Israel and the PLO.

  55. robert verdi says:

    TD wrote, “Absolute Truth that you are privy to?”
    Yeah there are some whether you believe it or not. And the irrational beliefs of others does not legitimize their terrorism and crimes, be it the Nazi’s or Islamic terrorists. By the way we had a presence at the invitation of the Saudi government until 2003 because our policy in regards to Saddam was containment, after his removal that policy ended.

  56. Todd Dugdale says:

    BDP wrote:
    They were part of the Ottoman Empire
    So they were part of an empire, meaning they were under a government, and our country had consulates there…but they aren’t really a country?

    That really clears things up.

  57. shortchain says:

    Bart,

    So you can’t say what the difference is? I didn’t think so. That makes everything you said so much empty rhetoric.

    Oh, and BTW, the fiction at the time was that the “Indian nations” were nations. That’s why there were treaties. Your dishonesty in making distinctions based only on whether it supports — or, as in this case, fails to support — your argument is duly noted yet again.

  58. shortchain says:

    I’d like to focus on something Eusebio said that bears emphasis. This west-coast “terrorist” was a 19-year old who may have had a great desire to commit dreadful acts, but, absent significant help from people a lot more capable than he appears to be, couldn’t do very much.

    Meanwhile, here in Minnesota, a 17-year old stole his parent’s car, broke into their cabin and stole a gun, and went on a rampage in Iowa, killing two women in cold blood. And he would have killed more, but for an alert observer who put the police on him before he could.

    What are the similarities between these two? They’re both damaged, broken in the brain. Perhaps one is broken by religion, but broken is broken. There were clear warning signs in both cases.

    What is the difference between these two individuals? The 17-year old is white, suburban, and actually killed people. The warning signs were ignored in his case. Nobody in law enforcement took an interest, apparently, until he snapped. We don’t know enough about the 19-year old yet to say much beyond that he was Somali-born and Muslim, but we have no evidence that he killed anybody.

  59. Todd Dugdale says:

    robert verdi wrote:
    Yeah there are some whether you believe it or not.
    Yeah, way to keep on missing the point.

    And the irrational beliefs of others does not legitimize their terrorism and crimes,
    …because everyone here is saying that Al-Qaeda had every right to attack us, is that it?
    What is this bizarre condition you suffer from where examining the motives of someone else’s actions is somehow equivalent to cheering for them in every possible way?
    Is it jingoism? I’m going to assume it’s jingoism, and not some kind of comprehension deficiency.

    Look, you aren’t even providing a “straw man” argument here. You’re pointing at the spot where the straw man used to be last week and beating at that.

    By the way we had a presence at the invitation of the Saudi government until 2003 because our policy in regards to Saddam was containment, after his removal that policy ended.

    By the way, the “Saudi government” is a king.
    Just because an unpopular, foreign, Islamic king invites us somewhere doesn’t mean that we have to go, or that it’s smart, or that there won’t be negative consequences.
    It also doesn’t mean that people within his kingdom will be thrilled about his decision.
    It doesn’t mean that it won’t be interpreted as a provocation.
    It doesn’t mean that people will accept our actions on good faith because you think we are “the good guys”.

    Suppose you woke up tomorrow and a platoon of Saudi soldiers are camped out on your block. They say, “Obama invited us here”. Would you jump for joy because your leader approved this? Would it matter to you if the Saudi soldiers really, honestly considered themselves “the good guys”?

  60. dcpetterson says:

    @Todd Dugdale

    You don’t understand the right wing argument.

    You’re trying to compare the United States to other countries. Don’t do that.

    We’re right. They’re wrong. Everyone knows that. Even them. They do what they do because they’re evil. We get to do whatever we want because we’re good.

    Don’t try to understand them. That’s weak. They’re evil. That’s all you need to know.

    Is that more clear?

    Wingers don’t think very hard and are not very deep.

  61. Todd Dugdale says:

    dcpetterson wrote:
    We’re right. They’re wrong. Everyone knows that. Even them. They do what they do because they’re evil. We get to do whatever we want because we’re good.

    That’s pretty much it. It also is a pretty accurate summary of Al-Qaeda’s thinking.

    Wingers don’t think very hard and are not very deep.

    Got it. Thinking bad. Cheering good. Clap louder, traitor.

  62. dcpetterson says:

    That’s pretty much it. It also is a pretty accurate summary of Al-Qaeda’s thinking.

    I’ve noticed the difference between al Qaeda and America’s right wing is primarily geographical.

  63. robert verdi,

    And the irrational beliefs of others does not legitimize their terrorism and crimes, be it the Nazi’s or Islamic terrorists.

    Completely beside the point. Nobody here was suggesting that it’s “legitimized” by the presence of the US in Saudi Arabia. Rather, the point is that, like the “Ground Zero mosque,” people can respond irrationally, and it’s important to decide if that response, regardless of the rationality of it, is worth the benefits.

    By the way we had a presence at the invitation of the Saudi government until 2003 because our policy in regards to Saddam was containment, after his removal that policy ended.

    Not that the House of Saud is that popular among the populace of the Arabian Peninsula.

  64. Mainer says:

    And yet again we spend hours chasing one of the Bartsters strawmen and lose sight of actual issues. From 9/11 until now we have seen a major morphing of the terrorist world. On 9/11 and for a brief time afterward the big bear in the woods was Bin Ladin and his Al-Qaeda. There were other millitant Islamic groups of course and Al-Qaeda may not have even been the biggest but with one act they became considered the major player. This has persisted in the minds of many to this day when the truth is probably more likely that they have major influence over some elements of the terrorist world and help set the tone but the state department now lists some 2 dozen major groups worldwide.

    U.S. State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations
    Abu Sayyaf, Philippines
    Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, Gaza Strip and West Bank
    Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, Egypt (also known as The Islamic Group)
    Al-Qaeda, worldwide
    Al-Shabaab, Somalia
    Ansar al-Islam, Iraq
    Armed Islamic Group (GIA), Algeria
    Jamaat Ansar al-Sunna, Iraq
    East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), China
    Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Egypt
    Great Eastern Islamic Raiders’ Front (IBDA-C), Turkey
    Hamas, Gaza Strip and West Bank
    Harkat-ul-Mujahideen al-Alami, Pakistan
    Hezbollah, Lebanon
    Islamic Movement of Central Asia, Central Asia
    Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Uzbekistan
    Jaish-e-Mohammed, Pakistan and Kashmir
    Jemaah Islamiyah, Indonesia
    Lashkar-e-Taiba, Pakistan and Kashmir
    Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Pakistan
    Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Philippines
    Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group, Morocco and Europe
    Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Gaza Strip and West Bank
    Tawhid and Jihad (Al-Qaeda in the Land between the Two Rivers), Iraq

    Now keep in mind that for each of these there is probably 2 or 3 major splinter groups and likely a number of others all vieing for position. Much of the effort by these groups today can be found on the internet as each major and minor group try to show that they are the ones carrying the fight and the most worthy of support and financing. Note though how many actually control land or could be considered states or states within states. I would venture no more than a handful at best.

    So with all of this decentralization has come a race to be more militant more out there to gain attention. Individuals like the one that started this article may have become entranced with the internet ideology of any of them. It is this morphing of the various movements and their dispersed nature that makes this effort to control the spread of such groups and ultimately to protect ourselves so many faceted.

    So declare war on who? Where? To what end? Use of conventional forces is not what is ever going to pull this out for us. We either win this as a battle of minds and propaganda or we lose it. All the smack talk in the world isn’t going to carry the day. I like the concept of winning as much as any one but plase tell me how we define a win against a dispersed, morphing ideology? Our best bet is to reduce the attraction to, the support for and the capability of these groups. All the saber rattling and chest thumping aint going to cut it. As long as the worlds Muslims only hear the braying of the Barts among us we will never move even one step closer to a resolution and most likely will only lose ground.

    I doubt most of these jingomeisters will ever understand this. So we are left with the ones screaming the loudest for a win being the ones most likely to cause us to lose in the long run.

  65. Bart DePalma says:

    Mainer:

    There are two flavors of Islamic terror groups: (1) Sunni aligned with to sharing al Qaeda’s war against the West, and (2) Shia controlled by or aligned with Iran and sharing Iran’s goals.

    It is hardly impossible to keep track of these couple dozen groups, most of whom have less manpower than a single Army battalion. We must have al Qaeda pretty well penetrated if we are killing off their leadership on a regular basis.

    You do not declare war on this Islamic terror movement. You treat them as pirates, which all civilized nations treat as enemies and attack on contact.

    You win as we did against pirates in the nineteenth century by hunting them down over decades until the terrorists are dead or in prison and terrorism loses its appeal to recruits.

    The US will be engaged in nation building for the medium term so we can hand off passive security to the locals. Then the war becomes a special ops affair.

    Insisting on victory rather than ransom or appeasement is hardly smack talking. Taking the war to the enemy has been the policy of the United States for most of our history starting with the Barbary Wars. That is why our nation has been a relative oasis of peace for over a century.

  66. Bart DePalma says:

    BD: “2) We have cut off most of AQ’s financing. Part of this was AQ’s fault when it declared war on Saudi. This is a little reported turning point.”

    Todd Dugdale says: It sounds like the Wikileaks documents are going to disprove this “turning point”. The major donors to Al-Qaeda are Saudis.

    This is hardly news. That is why AQ made a serious strategic mistake waging war on Saudi. The money flow has slowed down to a trickle.

    AQ has a habit of ripping the hands off the people that feed them. AQ did this again by waging war against the Sunni Iraqis who were providing them with sanctuary.

    “On February 24, 2010, Qatar and Iran signed a defense co-operation agreement in which the two countries stressed the need to expand their defense cooperation”
    Okay…so this is “victory”?

    We conservatives have been warning the country this would happen if we did not act against Iran.

    Iran has and continues to attack the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan and Israel in the homeland. We do nothing in return and prevent Israel from acting.

    Iran is probably months to a couple years from testing their first nuke. The diplomatic approach has been a farcical failure.

    If we do not lift a finger against Iran to defend our own troops or carry through with our promise to keep Iran from getting nukes, why should the Gulf States believe we will lift a finger to defend them against Iranian nuclear threats?

  67. Bart DePalma says:

    While I am on a roll, why the hell aren’t we acting against Wikileaks?

    Find out who these assholes are, find out who their families are, dig up all the dirt there is to find, very publicly destroy the reputation of the dirtiest (if possible the Aussie leader) and then blackmail the rest to disclose their sources and cease and desist. If necessary, press harder.

    Prosecute the American sources and put them in prison for decades. Make sure their prison time is very hard and make sure the intelligence and diplomatic communities are aware of this.

    End of problem.

  68. Armchair Warlord says:

    @dc

    Your points are so idiotic they’re not worth responding to. Anyone with any knowledge of the war can see that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    @Mike

    We have followed Al Qaeda wherever they have attempted to flee to – hence our recent military activities in Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere. Support operations in Iraq, counterinsurgency in Afghanistan, foreign internal defense in Yemen and the Philippines and counterterrorist operations in Pakistan and Somalia all act together to bring down the entire global jihadist war effort, of which Al Qaeda is merely the tip of the spear.

    The rest of your post in response to me is a rambling mess. The only real assertion I can dig out is that military activity worldwide against jihadists has not degraded their capabilities at all, which is not just wrong but idiotic. I don’t need to respond to that.

    We are continually and actively gathering intelligence on developing terrorist plots to prevent future attacks, so the “next attack” will by definition have to be something that slips through the filter. On the other hand this filter let four airliners through on 9/11 and is catching unconnected lone wolves nowadays so you can have confidence that we are much safer from terrorism now.

    And I very much doubt you have access of any kind to classified information. If you do and are offering analysis based on it then you are breaking the law. Now, classified information in the public domain is generally considered fair game, but there’s nothing from WikiLeaks that will prove your assertions. Specifics or GTFO.

    I also notice some discussion about the roots of jihadism – the reason these people act as they do is because they want to conquer the world in the name of their death-cult masquerading as Islam. It’s really the simple – there are many fellow-travelers of theirs (most of whom have blinded themselves to their true evil) that can be swayed but the true believers in their false jihad must be destroyed.

  69. shortchain says:

    Bart,

    Oh, sure, let’s let nothing like the rule of law, justice, or even common decency stand in the way of eliminating those who would publish the truth about how the Bush administration lied its way into a war and mis-handled the aftermath.

    “End of problem” — no, sir, it would be just the beginning of another cascade of problems.

    Oh, and by the way, the military is not always the answer. Some problems cannot be solved. The Russians got the bomb and, last time I checked, they still have it — and now, thanks to idiots like Kyl, nobody from the USA can go check to see if they’re not selling them on the black market. While idiots like you obsess over Iran, which has for almost ten years now been “a few months to a few years” away from getting the bomb.

    Finally, you say: “The US will be engaged in nation building for the medium term so we can hand off passive security to the locals. Then the war becomes a special ops affair.”

    There was a time when “nation building” was a bugaboo of the right. If that’s really the end desired, I don’t know, but the prospect of special ops teams roving the countryside of I don’t know how many countries, calling in predator strikes or who knows what, really doesn’t make me all warm and cozy. Why don’t you just call them death squads, like they had in Central America? And didn’t that produce wonders for political stability down there?

    I’m opposed to my government having the power of assassination without due process in any nation — because you just know it will only be a matter of time before that comes home.

    You have very odd ideas on “limited government” — to say the least.

    Or maybe you’ve just taken to drinking your Sunday supper.

  70. filistro says:

    2,300 years ago Sun Tzu, warned, “If you know yourself but not your enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.”

    Funny how some folks never learn.

    But then it all comes down to something we’ve often discussed here… the relative size of your US and your THEM. If your US only expands to your own family and the folks at the Tea Party meeting, while THEM includes your neighbors, your countrymen and everybody else, it’s no wonder that people like “Black Ops Bart” are incapable of seeing a distant enemy as anything more than a bunch of bugs to be squashed.

    Which is why this group of armchair warriors are fated to suffer one embarrassing defeat after another until they finally yield the battle to smarter people who know that the path to victory lies in guile and cunning… never in brute force.

  71. Mr. Universe says:

    It’s official. We’ve now been in Afghanistan longer than the former Soviets. Not only do we not learn from our own mistakes, but we fail to learn from other’s as well.

  72. Bart,

    why the hell aren’t we acting against Wikileaks?

    Not sure who “we” is; I’m busy doing other things. What are you doing?

    Oh, you mean the government. I’d say it’s because they can’t. This is a group that is extremely tech-savvy.

    OBTW, a real Libertarian would be opposed to foreign intervention. Just saying.

  73. Armchair,

    We have followed Al Qaeda wherever they have attempted to flee to – hence our recent military activities in Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere.

    Yes, we have. It appears you believe this has helped the US. Looks more like a wash to me. Some facets get disrupted, while others strengthen.

    Support operations in Iraq, counterinsurgency in Afghanistan, foreign internal defense in Yemen and the Philippines and counterterrorist operations in Pakistan and Somalia all act together to bring down the entire global jihadist war effort, of which Al Qaeda is merely the tip of the spear.

    In a sense that’s true, but it’s less centralized than your text would suggest. For the time being, their goals are close enough that they help each other out to a degree. But it’s not a top-town organization. It’s actually very similar to the way that computer hacker organizations work.

    The only real assertion I can dig out is that military activity worldwide against jihadists has not degraded their capabilities at all

    That’s not quite what I meant to say. What I mean to say is that the degradation is in the “last war” areas. The US intelligence community may well be aware of the method of the next big attack, but they can’t get any traction on prevention, because the prevention organization is still designed to fight the last war. This is the same issue that allowed for the hijacked-planes-become-missiles attack in 2001. The intelligence community knew it was coming, but that didn’t stop it.

    this filter let four airliners through on 9/11 and is catching unconnected lone wolves nowadays so you can have confidence that we are much safer from terrorism now.

    Had we been attacked by “lone wolves” in 2001, I’d agree with that statement. We weren’t. Next time we won’t, either. It’s worth noting that the lone wolves didn’t start appearing at the current rate until after 2001. Why do you think that is?

    And I very much doubt you have access of any kind to classified information. If you do and are offering analysis based on it then you are breaking the law. Now, classified information in the public domain is generally considered fair game, but there’s nothing from WikiLeaks that will prove your assertions. Specifics or GTFO.

    There’s plenty I won’t share that is not classified. “Not classified” is not equivalent to “public domain.” Just because I know stuff that I’m not going to share doesn’t mean it’s classified information. Broaden your mental horizons. I’ve been as specific as I will get on this topic. You don’t have to like it, but I’m not really interested in making you happy, particularly at the expense of people I genuinely care about.

    I also notice some discussion about the roots of jihadism – the reason these people act as they do is because they want to conquer the world in the name of their death-cult masquerading as Islam.

    It amazes me to hear people reducing groups of people, with all of the complexities that entails, to “simple” statements such as these. The motivations are extremely variable. I hear Democrats doing this to Republicans. I hear Republicans doing this to the Democrats. I see both on this very board. It’s intellectually lazy.

  74. dcpetterson says:

    OBTW, a real Libertarian would be opposed to foreign intervention. Just saying.

    A real Libertarian would actually support Wikileaks, no? Wouldn’t most Libertarians feel that government has no business keeping secrets from We the People?

  75. Bart DePalma says:

    BD: why the hell aren’t we acting against Wikileaks?

    shortchain says: “Oh, sure, let’s let nothing like the rule of law, justice, or even common decency stand in the way of eliminating those who would publish the truth about how the Bush administration lied its way into a war and mis-handled the aftermath.”

    Hero, disclosing top secret documents is a crime, Wikileaks is attacking the United States and currently trashing the Obama Administration’s relations with the world. Treat them like the outlaws they are.

    Michael Weiss says: OBTW, a real Libertarian would be opposed to foreign intervention. Just saying.

    Foreign policy is where I parted ways with the libertarians in college. Libertarianism relies upon the rule of law enforced by a limited democratic government. You do not have this internationally and have to act accordingly to advance your own interests. I went through this awhile back at the old 538.com. Must have been before you arrived.

  76. Eusebio Dunkle says:

    @shortchain,

    What an excellent comparison! Thank you

  77. shortchain says:

    Bart,

    Yes, they’re “attacking” the US government by exposing their secrets and lies. And you propose to allow, nay INSIST, that THE GOVERNMENT employ guilt-by-association to attack their families, their children, employing blackmail, threats of physical violence, whatever..

    What a “libertarian” you are.

    Odd how, when you don’t like what the government does, they’re separate from “the people” but, in this case, the government is “US”.

    What a horseshit example of logical consistency you are.

  78. dcpetterson says:

    @Bart
    Foreign policy is where I parted ways with the libertarians in college.

    And every other issue is where you have parted with them since.

  79. Armchair Warlord says:

    @Mike

    Yes, we have. It appears you believe this has helped the US. Looks more like a wash to me. Some facets get disrupted, while others strengthen.

    Name an area where jihadists have been strengthened by concerted American military actions against them. They have been destroyed in Iraq, are in the process of being destroyed in Afghanistan, Yemen and the Philippines, are being disrupted in Pakistan and managed in Somalia and the Sahara. Of course it’s natural that the enemy will flee when he is attacked and set up shop elsewhere, but each time he must flee to a more remote area and his “shop” is less threatening.

    One should never make the mistake of equating our clumsy efforts in the early years of the war (especially in Iraq) with the much more refined way we operate nowadays. Often the most effective weapons are the least visible.

    In a sense that’s true, but it’s less centralized than your text would suggest. For the time being, their goals are close enough that they help each other out to a degree. But it’s not a top-town organization. It’s actually very similar to the way that computer hacker organizations work.

    I didn’t mean to imply that the global jihadist war effort is centrally directed – to be sure large parts of it are in some way shape or form but Al Qaeda is most dangerous not so much by actually giving direction to subordinate organizations as by inspiring would-be jihadists (such as this wannabe bomber in Portland) to action through its large and sophisticated media operation. I suggest checking Dr. Brachman’s blog and the Long War Journal’s articles on the overarching jihadist cause and Al Qaeda’s place in it for finer details.

    That’s not quite what I meant to say. What I mean to say is that the degradation is in the “last war” areas. The US intelligence community may well be aware of the method of the next big attack, but they can’t get any traction on prevention, because the prevention organization is still designed to fight the last war. This is the same issue that allowed for the hijacked-planes-become-missiles attack in 2001. The intelligence community knew it was coming, but that didn’t stop it.

    Ah, but in this case and countless others we have anticipated completely different attack vectors and snuffed them out. Similarly, many homeland security provisions have nothing to do with aviation. While there is plenty of value in locking the door even after the dog has left so to speak (the enemy will attack you the same way twice if you let them), your assertion is obviously untrue.

    Had we been attacked by “lone wolves” in 2001, I’d agree with that statement. We weren’t. Next time we won’t, either. It’s worth noting that the lone wolves didn’t start appearing at the current rate until after 2001. Why do you think that is?

    I note that the most deadly act of terrorism in the US pre-9/11 was the Oklahoma City bombing, the work of a lone wolf terrorist. The point is that there are many kinds of threats and we are tracking this fact.

    There’s plenty I won’t share that is not classified. “Not classified” is not equivalent to “public domain.” Just because I know stuff that I’m not going to share doesn’t mean it’s classified information. Broaden your mental horizons. I’ve been as specific as I will get on this topic. You don’t have to like it, but I’m not really interested in making you happy, particularly at the expense of people I genuinely care about.

    Cryptic, but I respect that.

    It amazes me to hear people reducing groups of people, with all of the complexities that entails, to “simple” statements such as these. The motivations are extremely variable. I hear Democrats doing this to Republicans. I hear Republicans doing this to the Democrats. I see both on this very board. It’s intellectually lazy.

    Ah contraire – I was only speaking about their leadership, the true believers in jihad that fuel the fire and inspire the others onwards. Of course people come to their beliefs in various ways but the simple fact of the matter is that these people want to destroy all civilization that they do not personally approve of and the scary thing is Bin Laden, Zawahiri and all the other big names of jihad had a choice in the matter – they weren’t brainwashed in some Pakistani madrassa.

    I understand where you are coming from because I used to hold similar beliefs. But following the news from Iraq as the war unfolded, I realized a few things. Certainly there are a lot of shades of gray in the world – but pure, blackest evil also exists and must be destroyed. An awful lot of Al Qaeda is drenched in it. The recognition of good and evil in a complex world is not intellectually lazy in the slightest – in fact it requires a wider worldview than one that rejects the concepts.

  80. Michael Weiss says:

    AW,

    Name an area where jihadists have been strengthened by concerted American military actions against them.

    Recruiting. It’s much easier to recruit people to fight against someone whose military is active in their very country than against someone who theoretically might show up someday.

    One should never make the mistake of equating our clumsy efforts in the early years of the war (especially in Iraq) with the much more refined way we operate nowadays. Often the most effective weapons are the least visible.

    Yes, we are better at ops than we were several years ago. We are still losing in the areas that will matter most in the long run.

    Al Qaeda is most dangerous not so much by actually giving direction to subordinate organizations as by inspiring would-be jihadists (such as this wannabe bomber in Portland) to action through its large and sophisticated media operation.

    I agree, but not for the same reasons as you. Inspiring these would-be jihadists is an issue, to be sure. But I think its most dangerous upshot is that it causes us to be distracted by swarms of gnats, which makes it easier for the big stuff to happen under our noses.

    Ah, but in this case and countless others we have anticipated completely different attack vectors and snuffed them out.

    Not completely different ones. The ones of which I’m aware that were discovered and are truly new vectors were discovered by accident, and not by the intelligentsia. Those are the most dangerous. In the field of computer security, I call those “secure by accident.”

    The problem with being secure by accident is that we have to be lucky 100% of the time. They only need to be lucky once.

    Similarly, many homeland security provisions have nothing to do with aviation. While there is plenty of value in locking the door even after the dog has left so to speak (the enemy will attack you the same way twice if you let them), your assertion is obviously untrue.

    I didn’t mean to imply that aviation is the only vector being covered. I mean that we look at the fundamental methods of expected attacks from the same perspective as we have in the past.

    I note that the most deadly act of terrorism in the US pre-9/11 was the Oklahoma City bombing, the work of a lone wolf terrorist.

    Sure, but that wasn’t what I asked. Why is the rate of such schemes rising?

    I was only speaking about their leadership, the true believers in jihad that fuel the fire and inspire the others onwards.

    I seriously doubt that these people (the leaders of these jihadist organizations) care much about religion, other than its use as a tool to make other people do their bidding. You can tell by watching how they do what they do. The same thing happens all over the place. It looks much more like an issue of power and politics to me. That’s why they “chose” this route. It’s very effective.

    Is it “pure, blackest evil” that causes them to do this? I don’t think that their motivations are substantially different from that of Dick Cheney’s. They just have a different hand to play, so they play it differently. I don’t really care what the words are that one wishes to apply to this sort of motivation.

  81. Armchair Warlord says:

    Mike,

    Recruiting. It’s much easier to recruit people to fight against someone whose military is active in their very country than against someone who theoretically might show up someday.

    Not really. Recruiting is much easier when you have unrestricted access to the population as opposed to contested or nonexistent access. Furthermore you characterize loyalties in the areas we’re dealing with as nationalist rather than tribal/religious.

    Yes, we are better at ops than we were several years ago. We are still losing in the areas that will matter most in the long run.

    The jihadist meme is dying, not strengthening – potential sympathizers have deserted them in droves after they showed themselves to be monsters in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. The United States has never been stronger and more influential.

    I agree, but not for the same reasons as you. Inspiring these would-be jihadists is an issue, to be sure. But I think its most dangerous upshot is that it causes us to be distracted by swarms of gnats, which makes it easier for the big stuff to happen under our noses.

    I’m afraid I don’t get your drift – for the record, we’re tracking China, Iran and North Korea too. And Russia and all the other national actors.

    Not completely different ones. The ones of which I’m aware that were discovered and are truly new vectors were discovered by accident, and not by the intelligentsia. Those are the most dangerous. In the field of computer security, I call those “secure by accident.”

    I am afraid that lacking specifics this is very difficult to respond to beyond noting that no organization can plan to attack a vulnerability nobody knows exists. I also note that aggressive intelligence-gathering efforts will find out what attack vectors potential enemies plan to use, allowing us to defeat the attack. Passive security is really the absolute last line of defense as it is obviously prohibitively difficult to secure every potential target.

    Sure, but that wasn’t what I asked. Why is the rate of such schemes rising?

    Al Qaeda actively tries to radicalize vulnerable Western Muslims and turn them into terrorists – their very effective propaganda campaign has been showing effects lately. We are as always working on countering it through both surveillance and outreach – one benefit of them doing business with relatively naive people over the internet is that we can put a man in the middle as happened in Portland.

    Is it “pure, blackest evil” that causes them to do this? I don’t think that their motivations are substantially different from that of Dick Cheney’s.

    It’s a question of degree. Their intent is more extreme than anything envisioned by Hitler, Stalin or Mao. Dick Cheney may not be a great guy but he doesn’t deserve that comparison.

  82. Armchair,

    Recruiting is much easier when you have unrestricted access to the population as opposed to contested or nonexistent access.

    Of course. But the access restrictions aren’t that great. And they’re countered by increased motivation on the part of recruitees.

    Furthermore you characterize loyalties in the areas we’re dealing with as nationalist rather than tribal/religious.

    Point taken. I was using some verbal shorthand, there. Depending on which country we’re talking about, it can be more nationalist or more tribal or more religious. It’s not hard, though, for the recruiters to characterize the behavior of the US as crusadism.

    The jihadist meme is dying, not strengthening – potential sympathizers have deserted them in droves after they showed themselves to be monsters in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. The United States has never been stronger and more influential.

    Wow. Where to begin on that. OK, yes, there are places where the general citizenry isn’t happy with the terror organization. On the other hand, joining the organization gives them power, which is useful for a number of reasons.

    To say that the US has never been stronger or more influential, though, is pure delusion. Or are you intending to imply something more restrictive than the words suggest?

    I’m afraid I don’t get your drift – for the record, we’re tracking China, Iran and North Korea too. And Russia and all the other national actors.

    No, you don’t get my drift. The choice is between depth and breadth. You can’t have both. We’re going for breadth, and that’s costing us depth in the areas that are going to be the next battlegrounds. It’s normal human behavior to do that, by the way. It’s just that the people working on the next attacks are aware of this and exploiting it. In many ways, it’s less about being especially smart or coordinated about what they’re doing, and more about watching for the latent weaknesses that develop.

    I am afraid that lacking specifics this is very difficult to respond to beyond noting that no organization can plan to attack a vulnerability nobody knows exists.

    I understand that I’m putting you at a disadvantage here. What I’m trying to communicate is not that the vulnerabilities are unknown to everyone, because of course those who exploit a vulnerability are aware of it. However, the victims of such attacks often are unaware that they are vulnerable. Or a study is commissioned, vulnerabilities are found, recommendations are made, the cost of addressing them is calculated, and then the proposal sits on a shelf. Are you aware of how often this is happening today?

    Al Qaeda actively tries to radicalize vulnerable Western Muslims and turn them into terrorists – their very effective propaganda campaign has been showing effects lately.

    In other words, recruiting is up. That’s what I said before. And the same sort of thing happens in the same sorts of ways in other countries, especially if those countries are more Muslim to begin with, and especially especially if they are poorly-educated.

    It’s a question of degree. Their intent is more extreme than anything envisioned by Hitler, Stalin or Mao. Dick Cheney may not be a great guy but he doesn’t deserve that comparison.

    I doubt that the intent is any different among any of those names (including Cheney). The methods are different, which leads to different stated goals. But the core motivations don’t look different to me. They all come from the same fundamental set of ideals.

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