Read "War against Islam".

Not once in the weeks after the world trade center attack in New York were terrorist organisations other than so called Islamic ones mentioned.

What happened to the IRA? What about ETA? Have we stopped counting their steadily rising death tolls? Are we not interested in their source of funds? Lets be honest, this war on terrorism isn't really about that at all. Like the war on drugs a few years back it is about control. It's not that they oppose the slaughtering of innocents, American foreign policy has been responsible for the deaths of at least 500,000 innocent people by the UN's last count. That's half a million people for those of you who were a little stunned by the length of the figure, I know I was. Then there are the British whose enlightened western orientated policies of divide and conquer enslaved nearly a quarter of the globe at one point and have been involved in starting virtually all of today's trouble spots, leading to a rising death toll well into the millions.

So much death for such a tiny little country.

Were we to scale up the idea of terrorists, people who use terror or the threat of terror to achieve political goals otherwise inaccessible,, we would find that the most bloody, cruel, merciless and sadistic regimes in the world are those listed above.

Lets cast our minds back to Vietnam shall we, and then the Gulf War. Perhaps we should remember that in both cases the governments of the west funded and trained the very butchers who later turned on them, now Vietnam is barely recovering from the scars, and Iraqi children die at the rate of 5000 a month. This isn't a statistic, this is genocide.

Now that it is in the West's interest they have turned their sight to a new enemy, a faceless enemy, a world faith of over a billion. Could it be the fact that the fastest growing religion on the planet was going to overtake Christianity in a couple of years in being the largest? Maybe this is inspiring those leaders of the west, who so readily subsribe to democracy, to cull a few of those with an opposing view.

They will hit Afghanistan one of the poorest countries on the planet, then they will turn their attentions to Africa, the poorest continent on earth, and devastate some already decimated little country, and for what? So that they feel a little better about themselves and how powerful they are.

How many people actually believe that Bush and Blair's war on terrorism will actually succeed?

They cannot examine the heart of every muslim man can they? They were asked to produce evidence of their suspicions regarding Bin Laden, and the Taliban said they would produce Osama Bin Laden for them without delay. No evidence came forward, and the week before the evidence was due to be given, the USA suddenly decided to isolate the Taliban and make them victims of their vengeance. Yet still not a shred of evidence has been shown to suggest the man they are after is indeed responsible. If they are using threats of violence to achieve their ends, (which incidentally is a political killing, make no mistake about it..) then aren't they the real terrorists?

An idea worth examining in the light of upcoming events.


A response to custodian, is long overdue. However, seeing the war that erupted between Jurph and I, I will limit my comments to a general devastation of the ethos behind Custodian's pro American stance.

I personally have a great deal of sympathy for Custodian, and admire the work he has done recently in other nodes, especially detailing the killing machinery to be employed in the war against Afghani's elsewhere, his statistics are meticulous as they are chilling, and one must admire his noding ability, if not his morals.

The point he seems unable to grasp, or even approach, is that I am not trying to defend the attack on the World Trade Centre, or indeed Osama bin Laden, or even the Taliban. I wish, just like every other sane person that the perpetrators of the attacks are brought to justice, I also believe that Osama Bin Laden should answer for his alleged crimes against the West in a court of Law, and that the Taliban are an overly harsh regime that has much moderation to achieve before it can be said to rule sensibly, if at all. This central fact, that I am not his enemy, seems to have eluded Custodian, whose main concern seems to be justifying the wholesale slaughter of civilian populations in what is essentially a revenge-catharsis exercise for the West on an innocent population.

He seems to believe very much in a subjectivist viewpoint, citing relativist terminology to escape from central terms in my thesis such as 'justice'. In short I don't believe he accepts that there can be any such thing as justice, or right or wrong, and he seems to be implying that there is no fundamentally true morality in the universe. This is diamatrically opposed to my views as a Muslim, which are that there is Good, and Evil, and that morality is absolute, and to be discovered, not made up. He doesn't seem to understand that relativism has had it's day in philosophical circles, and is now more or less looked upon as a curiousity, very much like the Flat Earth Theory. The one simple argument that achieved this was the fact that every relativist statement has a context, and each context is embedded in the overall context of Reality, so each relativistic position has an absolute value, be that co-ordinate, or moral. The primary concerns of philosophy today are reconciliation of absolute moral imperatives with an increasingly individualistic societal framework, and he might find such an exploration fruitful, and perhaps enlightening.

With a belief in justice, one is able to look clearly and with stability at the actions of the West following the horror of the Sept 11 attacks, and see that there has been much lacking, and much immoral. The Taliban, for all my personal detestation of them, have acted in the proper Islamic way and offered to hand over the accused, Osama Bin Laden on display of evidence to them, presumably the same evidence that was deemed worthy to be shown to virtually every other country involved apart from Afghanistan. He would have been handed over to a neutral country, and that would have been that. Trial taken place, if guilty, he would have been executed, otherwise if innocent, set free. This doesn't sound that unreasonable to me, does it to you? Were he located in the USA that would have happened, or in Germany, or in Italy, but why does Afghanistan not get the same rights of extradition procedure for those within it's borders? It's a mute point now anyway, thousand more innocents will die in the War, and thousands more will become incensed and carry out terrorist attacks against the West. Security measures or not, many more will die, and I find this to be the saddest thing. There is no escape, we pay for the violence of our ancestors. Sadly Custodian seems incapable of apprehending this in his noding of the killing machines, and his irrationalisation of the American position.

Oh, Good lord.

Another anti-Western apologist checks in.

Okay, let's try that again.

Not once in the weeks after the world trade center attack in New York were terrorist organisations other than so called Islamic ones mentioned.

Wrong. First hour, Oklahoma City and Timothy McVeigh were brought up and discussed on CNN.

What happened to the IRA? To the ETA?

Nothing. Show the U.S. credible evidence that they were behind this attack and then make this statement. Oh, and if it was the IRA, I'd advise moving, first, from looking at your homenode. Denigrating a 'lack of evidence' with spurious and undocumented assertions doesn't help you.

...America's foreign policy has been responsible for the deaths of at least 500,000 innocent people...

I'd love a reference. I'm not doubting you, mind; that number if anything sounds a bit small to me. However, what's your point? Those who have killed more are more guilty, and we should let people keep slaughtering until the books are balanced? I would also ask you to remember that in fact American blood and treasure has been spent more than once to defend lands and people not even ours; innocents died in those wars too. Whose 'fault' was it? The Americans or those nations which had started the wars? Let's at least be clear about which 'evil American foreign policies' we're discussing.

Were we to scale up the idea of terrorists, people who use terror or the threat of terror to achieve political goals otherwise inaccessible,, we would find that the most bloody, cruel, merciless and sadistic regimes in the world are those listed above.

Um, what is your point? I fail to see how 'scaling up' the idea of terrorists logically leads us to the conclusions you've made. If you'd like to first argue that terrorism is equivalent to the nasty things at the end of your sentence, maybe...oh, but wait, these terrorists are smaller so they're clean, right?

Lets cast our minds back to Vietnam shall we, and then the Gulf War. Perhaps we should remember that in both cases the governments of the west funded and trained the very butchers who later turned on them, now Vietnam is barely recovering from the scars, and Iraqi children die at the rate of 5000 a month. This isn't a statistic, this is genocide.

Okay, let's do that thing. Vietnam. Everyone loves this example. Note, however, that whatever your thoughts on the U.S.'s actions there, the U.S. paid, in blood, tears, humiliation, and extremely divisive internal political and social upheaval for a number of years. Furthermore, the U.S. lost a goodly number of young men and women killed in that action, and their surviving brethren, far from being held up as 'heroes,' had to withstand being shat upon by their own (misguided, but that's my opinion) countrymen upon their return. Finally, the opposing team won that round. They then proceeded to invade Cambodia plus a few other neighbors and carry out some fairly nasty political reeducation along the way.

Moving on to The Gulf War. Yup, we funded Iraq and built up Hussein's military. I would remind you that at the time we were doing this, Hussein's opponent was resorting to mass human wave attacks (mostly unarmed) in order to try to dislodge Iraq's military from its positions in a sovereign state declared war, which you seem to have decided is OK if everyone acknowledges it. Furthermore, why not go back a bit farther - we in fact armed the other side in that as well, if a tad earlier. My point here is that while the U.S. makes a shitload of mistakes in the meddling it does, it takes that same amount of shit whether it gets involved or not. Should the U.S. have intervened to stop the human wave attacks against prepared automatic weapon positions? Hm. Vietnam is not recovering from the scars of 'The American War.' Vietnam is recovering from the economic and social policies of the government that won that war, and from its later conflicts with China, Laos, Cambodia and the like, as well as the collapse of its superpower patron. At the moment, in fact, both Vietnam and the U.S. seem quite eager to resume trade in order to reap what benefits can come from that. I'm sure they appreciate you continuing to fight their war for them.

Oh, my favorite. "This isn't a statistic..." Um, actually, I'm sorry, but it is. It's also meaningless. Thousands of American babies, British babies, Rwandan babies, Canadian babies, Russian babies and Vietnamese babies die per year. In the US (at least), thousands a month. Furthermore, unless the Iraqis are cooperative enough to actually die off at the nice round rate of 5k/month, that number has been rounded and averaged - which makes it (cough) a statistic. Remember the truism? "There are lies, damn lies, and..."

Now that it is in the West's interest they have turned their sight to a new enemy, a faceless enemy, a world faith of over a billion. Could it be the fact that the fastest growing religion on the planet was going to overtake Christianity in a couple of years in being the largest? Maybe this is inspiring those leaders of the west, who so readily subsribe to democracy, to cull a few of those with an opposing view.

Ah. Of course, a faceless enemy. This is why bin Laden's fairly ugly mug is all over every piece of media in the U.S. at the moment. Sure. Oh, and we've declared war on Muslims! Good heavens, they must be shipping all the American Muslims off to Manzanar Mk. II...oh, wait. They're not. Your disconnected descriptions of 'a faceless enemy' and 'a world faith of over a billion' aren't relevant. If the U.S. had actually declared war on Islam, believe me, things would not be nearly so peaceful, and in fact would likely include an internal insurrection in the U.S. In point of fact, however, even Mr. Bush and company (and it pains me to say this, I hate all their asses) have been pretty damn careful to specifically identify our enemies. Lest you forget, this crisis has had the unexpected but not unwelcome side-effect of perhaps finally pushing the West and Iran to make up; Iran saw its first visit from a British Foreign Minister since the Shah fell as a result. Oh, but wait, Iran doesn't count, it's secular, and not Muslim, anyway...what? Oh. Sorry.

Um, sure, it could be the fact that Islam is going to overtake Christianity. What could be? What's your point? That they're (gasp) worried? I have news for you, Christianity has never been the most peopled faith around, unless you are describing regions. Perhaps you mean in terms of influence? I dunno, people seem to bitch far more about us Jews (except us Jews. We bitch about the Lubavitchers). Next point: Who has said that Islam is an opposing view to democracy? Um...(resounding silence)...right. You have. Er, as mentioned before, we're quite happy to talk to the government of Iran which is (gasp!) Muslim and, by their claims, a democracy. We're also quite happy to talk to Pervez Musharraf, whose government can in no way be called a democracy. I won't even go into the Former SSRs.

They will hit Afghanistan one of the poorest countries on the planet, then they will turn their attentions to Africa, the poorest continent on earth, and devastate some already decimated little country, and for what? So that they feel a little better about themselves and how powerful they are.

Ah. Being one of the poorest countries on the planet seems to have imbued Afghanistan with a special shield. Wait a minute, I thought we were discussing whether or not the leading party in Afghanistan had in fact sponsored a highly lethal act of violence against the U.S., not relative GNPs. Ooops, must be wrong. Besides, most of the actual hijackers appear to have been relatively well-off middle-class types with a penchant for vitriolic rhetoric. Oh, and then we'll '...turn our attention to Africa!' Good, some people have been bitching forever that we don't pay enough attention to Africa. Most of them seem to live there. Wait, you meant 'turn their attention to' as in 'bomb?' Possible, I grant you. However, the last time the U.S. went to Africa in force had nothing to do (originally) with bombing people. In fact, the U.S. spent money and stores like water to build roads, bridges, shelter, and more for a country that was so far down the international status ladder that it was being defined negatively, as 'a place in the international system where chaos reigns outside the borders of other nations.' Why did we? Because CNN spent time covering starving African children, and the U.S. polity (not the brightest bunch in the world, us) decided 'Something must be done!'

Sure, it went wrong. We hadn't counted on the venality of various groups in-country, and hadn't counted on the resistance to constructive change that was so easily mobilized. When a people has grown up knowing only deprivation, hate and bitterness, it is the easiest task in the world to point at a rich, thoughtless, selfish (yup, we are, all that and more) nation and say 'it's their fault!' when you need a handy mob. We went in with noble intentions; we stumbled, some of our people got dead and we killed a large number trying to retrieve them and in anger after the fact. Yes. But I would remind you that the original 'turning of attention to Africa' happened not because we needed to bomb someone, but because U.S. and foreign citizens were quietly appalled at what was going on there.

Oh, sure, it's to feel better about ourselves. Try reading Blackhawk Down, or talking to the families of the Rangers who died in Mogadishu that night. Try talking to President Clinton, who was handed a shitty situation by his predecessor and spent gobs of time trying to extricate himself and the nation. Ask any of the military who took part. Oh, sure, it was to make us feel better and powerful.

They cannot examine the heart of every muslim man can they?

Sure, if we had enough CAT scanners. (Sorry, couldn't resist). Why would they want to?

They were asked to produce evidence of their suspicions regarding Bin Laden, and the Taliban said they would produce Osama Bin Laden for them without delay. No evidence came forward, and the week before the evidence was due to be given, the USA suddenly decided to isolate the Taliban and make them victims of their vengeance. Yet still not a shred of evidence has been shown to suggest the man they are after is indeed responsible. If they are using threats of violence to achieve their ends, (which incidentally is a political killing, make no mistake about it..) then aren't they the real terrorists?

I'm not even going to try, here. If your picture of reality is this distorted, well, I wish you luck and strong glasses. Evidence has been accumulating, from video of the suspected hijackers boarding the planes and their identification to materials found in the U.S. and elsewhere, telephone calls made amongst members of Al-Qaeda, money transferred, and the like. Has the U.S. divulged all of it? Nope. I would remind you, however, that apparently the evidence is sufficient to convince the governments of Pakistan and Iran, both of whom had the closest ties to the Taliban of any other state. The Taliban just weren't too popular on the international list, man. Even among Islamic nations (coughIRANcough) their relations seemed to center mostly around exchanges of artillery fire. How, then, is their isolation our sudden fault and workings?

Threats of violence? Yup, because it's preferable to make threats than to actually use violence. At least, I thought so. I may be wrong. In any case, the U.S. is not intentionally targeting civilian populations; if we were, we wouldn't be dropping fairly huge quantities of relief supplies in areas outside the cities in an attempt to get them to evacuate. Look, every day we don't bomb them is another day they could be using to at least make credible demands for proof and a forum. It's quite clear (to me, at least) that the Taliban aren't interested in proof of the U.S. allegations; if they were, threatening not only the U.S. but their Muslim neighbors with Jihad sure looks funny.

Um, as to your final point, no, the threat of violence to achieve your end doesn't make you a terrorist. If bin Laden and company had phoned up and said "Look, get out of the Middle East or we attack New York," they're not yet terrorists. Once something happens at their behest that kills non-military Americans and others, then they're terrorists. I'm even prepared to give you Khobar Towers and the U.S.S. Cole as actual military targets; but how do you describe an office building which contains - wait for it - no military or governmental foreign policy decisionmaking bodies, PLUS several thousand foreign nationals, many of whom are Muslims themselves? As a military target? Nope.

Last time I checked, Afghanistan was it's own country with the freedom to choose it's own laws on the basis of its own value system, and not a far flung protectorate of the American empire. You DO believe in freedom don't you? What about the right of others not to believe in your kind of freedom? What about their right to choose their own laws, their own punishments, and to be sovereign in their own country? Or do you object to the fact that Muslims can run a country on this earth without the permission of the US. of A? Freedom is the right to allow others their own choice, as well as making yours. Terrorism is coercing others to accept what you want, and presuming them guilty because it is convenient.

If you could show me this 'American Empire' that everyone seems to love mentioning, I'd love to see it. I've been wanting a nice comfy colony or three for some time. Let's see. Well, Afghanistan certainly is its own country with the freedom to choose its own laws. In fact, they've been choosing a set which are fairly repugnant to the U.S. sense of values for some time now, and I don't seem to recall crusades being launched over that. In fact, the most ardent supporter of the opposition to the Taliban isn't the U.S. but (wait for it) Russia! Have they suddenly become a key component of an American Empire? Try that one on Putin and company; I'll keep an ear peeled over on this side of the ocean for the belly laugh you'll get.

I do, indeed, believe in freedom. I don't see your point. Oh, wait: What about the right of others not to believe in your kind of freedom? What about it? Has that been infringed anywhere? Every time anything in the world hiccups, there are groups of people burning flags and effigies of the United States on prime time television. By your reading, we should be out there bombing the living daylights out of everyone that disagrees with us, especially that flagrantly. Whoop - we're not? Hm. Their right to choose their own laws, their own punishments, and to be sovereign in their own country? Oh, that's a fun one. Let me see. The Taliban seem to have written their own laws for Afghanistan. bin Laden and company seem to have no trouble writing their own set when they need to. Has that brought down the donut-laden ass of Imperial America on them? Nope. Now, when they start destroying people and property inside our sovereign country, well, then, that's different. Sorry, you can't have it both ways. Before 9/11, we weren't snooping around caves in Afghanistan looking for Mr. bin Laden. Why? Because he was, in fact, in a different sovereign nation and hadn't really violated ours.

Let me clue you in on something, though - sovereignty isn't a guaranteed right that you get because you whine about it. Nope nope. You gotta fight for it. We did. We fought to keep ours several times as well. In order to keep your own sovereignty, part of the duties and responsibilities include making sure your own mess doesn't spill over into other sovereign countries, lest they get annoyed. Well, surprise! They have every right to sovereignty. I have every right by those lights to enforce my version of 'the rules' inside my country. Running back to Afghanistan and crying 'sovereign nation!' really doesn't matter much worth shit if the group claiming that responsibility has declared its complete unwillingness to engage in any of the protocols that the rest of us do (with varying degrees of reluctance) when our people bump up against other nations' people. Extradition; INTERPOL, reciprocal agreements, these are all part of it. Sure, in many cases the criminal can be safely sheltered because their activities don't threaten the 'sovereign government' that is sheltering them. Well, if you and the Taliban thought that knocking down the World Trade Center and trying for the Pentagon wouldn't cause the other 'sovereign nations' to come calling, I'd love to know what you're smoking and where you got it.

Do we object to the notion that Muslims can run a country? That's a good question. Apparently not so much as we object to *how* some of them are being run. We are, in fact, apparently going to go to our client state Israel with the notion that the Palestinians need a state, and not a rump state, for themselves. Oh, yes, that sounds like we don't think they should. How about Indonesia? While we may watch with concern what goes on there, have you seriously seen any U.S. attempt to remove the Islamic leadership from control? Hell no. We worry about it losing control.

As to your fairly convenient and pithy definition of freedom, I'll give that a pass. All I'll say is that if that is what you think freedom is, I have a nice Point of Light in a New World Order to sell you. For that matter, where was the choice of the Pakistani, British, Canadian and other nationals who were in 1 and 2 WTC that day? They apparently were denied theirs by their attackers. If our freedom isn't important to them, then why should we give a flying fuck at a rolling donut about theirs?

I'll skip the Irish issue while freely admitting that I don't have the firsthand experience or in-depth information that would lead me to argue it.

Here's a fun one! Ahhh, good then you agree that the Taliban has a perfectly legitimate right to declare war on America? After all that is what America is doing to Afghans now isn't she? Or are the news reports all lying?

Sure, the Taliban have a perfect right to declare war on America. Never said they didn't. What they don't have is the right to declare war, inflict casualties, and then run away from the game and scream that it isn't fair. Sorry. If they want to declare war, fine; don't come whining and puling when they figure out how much war can hurt. That's what it's about. Breaking things and killing people. They did just that. Fine; now it's our turn. I would direct your attention to a book called Man, the State and War by Mr. Kenneth Waltz; specifically, to the part that explains the anarchic nature of the international system. There is no overarching provider of order, there. It's anarchy, man. Power matters. You are free to do whatever you like; you are also required to accept the consequences of doing so.

Okay! Here's a gem of an argument! Let's dive in for the final piece!

Let me also not mince words, the writer of this paragraph is obviously lacking a grasp on reality. Snort. Whatever. Reality, my friend, is what you make it; and won't come running to support you because you happen to invoke it. "...he is someone who has no idea about the Afghan people, the nature of Islam, the nature of modern warfare, the nature of political exhange, the nature of terrorist activities, or the nature of any sort of argument approaching cogency, let alone truth. Ooh, them's fightin' words! Larn me! Larn me, I wanna know!

Let me put it like this: War is Evil. BZZZT. War is war. It's a event, a state of mind, a legal condition, an event. Evil is an interpretation. ...and Afghanistan is a graveyard for any invading army. Then why are you so upset that we're going to go in there? Shouldn't you be egging us on if you hate us that much? The Afghans aren't the terrorists... Um, sure. Semantics are fun, aren't they? Who cares who's the terrorist if we're in a fullscale shooting war? ...and they have nothing to lose ...then they shouldn't care. We, on the other hand, DO have things to lose, and losing them tends to make us really, really pissed. ...Islam commands all people to defend their homes Obviously, except for anyone who lived near the lower part of Manhattan- ...and their country from unjustified attack by an outside force, like the USA. Look, no matter how many times you assert that it's unjustified, it won't change the fact that that's a subjective term. Maybe it's not justified to them, but apparently bombing the WTC is. So we've agreed to disagree on that whole notion. They're welcome to defend themselves. Nobody has said that they should just lay down in the street. If they want to, that's their concern. Of course, even a step like agreeing to have bin Laden tried in another country (even Indonesia) would do them well; but they haven't suggested that, now, have they? Oh well. Modern warfare like missile attacks wont work in Afghanistan, they have tried and failed. Heh. Really? Okay, I'll even give you that one. Guess what? That ain't the only toy we got to play with. We just don't play with the others unless we get really severely provoked. Good morning! Thank you for playing, would you like a nice copy of the home game? Remember Clinton? Politics is such that America, now it is committed to finding a scapegoat, a symbol for it's vengeance and anger, won't let go until that symbol is destroyed, regardless of the moral and ethical implications. See, now you're confusing me again. I thought you just said we wouldn't be able to destroy that symbol. Surely you don't mind if we give it a shot and bloody our noses, then? Oh, wait, moral and ethical implications. One phrase for you old chap: Ultima Ratio Regum. The 'great game' between sovereign states never turns on those points. If it did, Iran and Afghanistan wouldn't have been able to kill many thousands of each others' peoples in border skirmishes.

Politicians rarely say sorry, especially not when they get things wrong. The terrorists are well prepared, well equipped, masters at hiding themselves, and dispersing, and impossible to distinguish from normal people, simply because they are normal people. They don't wander around with AK-47's slung over their shoulders with "terrorist" written across their backs. The weapons are in dumps hidden far far away, perhaps abroad, and the people walk around and blend into society like everyone else. When arguing it is beneficial to deal with the main thrust of the opposing speaker, as it strengthens one's cause. In this case Jurph has ignored the simple and effective statement of fact that America has shown no evidence of Osama Bin Laden's guilt, and when pressed has assumed a threatening posture to the Taliban who would be happy to avert war and help them, which they cannot do without any evidence whatsoever. It would be an political death sentence for Osama bin Laden, and that is against Islam. Unless this central fact is dealt with, any shouts about revenge, or retaliation and war are premature at best, and irresponsible lies at worst. Take your pick.

Oh boy. Who cares if politicians say they're sorry? The terrorists are well-prepared, invincible, have twelve-inch penises, yadda. You've said all that. Look, if the terrorists are this fierce, why on earth do you seem to be so worried about us going after them? Oh, and for your information, the photographs of bin Laden and his courtiers/family seem to indicate that they do, in fact, go around with AK-47's slung over their shoulders. I haven't seen any T-shirts reading 'TERRORIST,' but if they called up that firm that makes the cool-ass blue and yellow 'FBI', 'U.S. MARSHAL' and 'ATF' windbreakers, I bet they could get a deal on some! Moving on, if their weapons are in dumps far away, why is it so bad if we try to bomb those? We wouldn't hurt anybody, by your argument. As for your repeated allegation that America has shown no evidence, BZZZT, we've dealt with that. Those Taliban who would be happy to 'avert war and help them'? How? By calling for Jihad against Pakistan, the US, Iran, Uzbekistan, and several others, including those nations who have stated that the U.S. can't even use their airspace? Uh-huh. Tell me another one. It would be a political death sentence for bin Laden. Well, that's better than a real one, no? Besides, you want me to believe that Mr. bin Laden's political career should outweigh 6,000+ dead American and international civilians? Whatever. Wait, it gets better: Now you're arguing that anything against bin Laden is 'against Islam.' Schyeah. Tell that to the Islamic governments that are trying like hell to disavow any connection; tell it to the American Muslims who have expressed their horror, disapproval and complete lack of support for the man. Ask the imams around the world if bin Laden speaks for them. Tell it to (God forbid) our President, who is (belatedly and weakly, admittedly) trying to demonstrate the falsity of this statement by visiting mosques and having Muslim leaders both American and foreign to the White House.

On third thought, don't even bother. Just climb back onto your high horse and continue ranting. That's fine by me, see, because by my system that's your right! Rant all you want. I'll even carry a gun to defend your right to do so, if you're an American. If you're not, I'll support you in other ways. Just please, for your sake, don't start tossing bombs or airliners at my countrymen, or defending those who have likely done so. In that case, your high horse makes you a great silhouette target; just hooooooold still...


Update:

See, Jaez, we have this problem. I am not trying to explain or support any of this to you, really, but to use your arguments as a foil for expository statements on what is, yes, my view of the way things work. You, on the other hand, seem to feel that I am 'obviously' ...let's see, I count 'insane,' 'a curiousity' and 'unable to understand.' Mmm.

Okay.

I don't really care. Let me restate my primary point, which appears to have flown past you. While it's all well and good to explain that philosophers have dismissed me and my ilk, and that we have much to learn, I should like to remind you of one small fact which may render us irrelevant to modern philosophical discussion, but (I would argue) then renders such discussion irrelevant:

We have the guns.

I can hear the laughter now. "Force doesn't solve anything!" "Might doesn't make right!" ...and all the other platitudes mouthed throughout history. Jump shot: none of that matters. That is what I'm trying to say, not that we're 'right' or the Taliban are 'wrong' in a relativist or absolutist sense. See, if you want to worry about that, that's fine. I offer an explanation for why recent events are likely to bring down high-energy and cluster-munitioned responses from the declared targets (us) upon the declared actors (them).

Gravity bombs know diddly about philosophy, save for those in Dark Star. Have fun rendering me an obsolete curiosity; just understand that saying that the positions and viewpoints I hold are 'obsolete' and 'insane' does not make it any less likely that high explosive may rain down on various places and people who may have been involved. If you think it does, well, I'm sorry, and I do hope you enjoy your version of reality for as long as you're able, because sooner or later you'll be standing underneath some of that high explosive, be it labelled 'Made in U.S.A.' or 'Stolen from Czechoslovakia.' At that point, I wish you luck.

A war declared by President George W. Bush shortly after the destruction of the two WTC buildings on September the eleventh 2001, this declaration sparked much controversy (see above writeups), and was backed by statements from Bush along the lines of saying "(this was an)attack not just on America but on all people who love democracy"

This statement and statements like it, were a call to rally the American people around the flag of war, in the same way that every President, Prime Minister and Monarch has done before.

To date only the al-Qaeda and the Taleban have been targets. The Al-Qaeda network due to the alleged evidence against it for carrying out terrorist attacks including, possibly, the attack on 9/11. The Taleban has come under fire for harbouring a known terrorist by the name of Osama bin Laden (or Usama Ben Laden and many other variations).

Public opinion is split about the war. There are those that think attacking a country for harbouring a terrorist is ridiculous. And that nobody fired upon Britain when they harboured General Augusto Pinochet for a while, even though many countries wanted to bring him to trial. This opinion goes so far as to state that perhaps America's love of democracy only applies when it wants it to. And that the US Government (and by implication, the US people (since the government represents the people)) backed Pinochet in Chile, helping to depose the democratically elected president. The nay-sayers also point to Nicaragua, Angola, East Timor and El Salvador. Their point being that America has imposed its world views on other countries, and that now that those countries (or at least some of the citizens of those countries) wish to fight back a little.

The against people have pointed to Japan, where after the U.S imposed heavy sanctions upon them, Japan attacked Pearl Harbour. And in the resulting war, 250,000 innocent Japanese civilians were killed. The arguement basically being, if you push a country, they are liable to push back. The origins of this push contest spread back to before America existed.

The for people argue that whilst war is bad, it is necessary. The perpetrators of 9/11 must be brought to justice and made an example of, so that future terrorists will think twice. And since the Taleban regime are not assisting (indeed are being contrary) America, America should go in and get him. Just like a scaled up police incident. If you are harbouring a murderer in your house the police will ask for him to leave. If they don't leave then they come and get him. And if you try and stop them, then they do bad things to you.

They counter argue, that although America may have done bad things, and may have a terrible foreign policy, that doesn't change the facts as they are right now. And that regardless of foreign policy, Afghanistan trade with the rest of the world, and so should be prepared to live by simple global rules. Don't fuck with America, is probably on there somewhere.

As this node is written, the war on terrorism is centrally focused on the acquistion of Bin Laden and his associates for questioning. America has bombed Afghanistan, and is currently sending in ground troups. Also, reports of Anthrax being used as a biological weapon/deterrent are being heard throughout America.

No doubt this war will have many unexpected twists and turns and will be a long, unpleasant road.

Update December 2002:
al-Qaeda are still the prime target in the war. However, as was predicted shortly after its declaration, the cry "This action is all part of the war against terrorism" has been used by several governments to justify what could be defined as dubious acts.

Update February 2003:
Although no direct evidence has been forthcoming - Iraq is now in the firing line of the War against Terrorism. The second gulf war has a vein of the war against terrorism, although the links are tenuous. It seems that instead of pushing the idea of terrorism on this issue (the public aren't convinced), the governments in question (Britain and USA) are seeking new angles (perhaps a war against Weapons of Mass Destruction?). Update July 2005:
Well the Iraq situation continues, and terrorism has struck London (7/7 and the failed attempt a couple of weeks later) and Egypt. The matter has been significantly confused by sister/cousin groups of al-Qaeda which seem to be claiming responsibility for various acts.

American Interventionism from 2001:
The Trouble in Securing Peace Through War

by sekicho

As John Ikenberry so aptly stated, the United States is at the center of a world of its own making. It has always considered itself to be the central power of the Free World, and the world's foremost opponent of authoritarianism. Indeed, when the Soviet Union finally collapsed, and the age-old Cold War was finally over, it seemed to many as though America was the "city on a hill" it had always wanted to become, and that it would lead Western liberal democracy into an eon of Pax Americana. National defense became a peripheral issue in politics, and the military became a tool for protecting energy supplies and humanitarian concerns. However, since the events of September 11, when twenty men in four civil airliners shattered the national security of a state boasting the planet's most capable military force, the administration of George W. Bush has taken to heart the idea that "the best defense is a good offense," and its interventionist policy today is cause for alarm.

Samuel Huntington argues that the United States sees itself as a "benevolent hegemon," bringing the light of American virtue to the darkest corners of the earth, but that this idea is contradictory to reality. Many Americans forget that only a few days before September 11, the US delegation had walked out of a United Nations conference on racism, in opposition to an international call for an examination of Israel's record vis a vis the Palestinians. Before that, they had supported regimes obviously in conflict with American values, backing communist China's admission into the WTO and supporting dictatorships in Latin America and Africa. In short, the United States has only supported egalitarianism and liberal democracy when it has been in the United States' best interest: it has bent other states' well-being to suit its own needs. This oft-malignant "benevolent hegemony" does not endear the United States to other states, and it was, indeed, one of the principal causes of the 9/11 attacks that claimed so many American lives.

According to Josef Joffe, international power does not have to come at the expense of international standing. Britain between 1588 and 1914 had a role in Europe similar to America's role in the modern world: a strong industrial base, a powerful and versatile military force, and a penchant for isolationism when no clear external threat presented itself. When Britain mustered its power against a growing hegemon on the Continent, it would do so through swift diplomacy, saving its military might for its most dangerous enemies—the Napoleons and Hitlers. Yet British forces would deploy, fight, and go home, which kept them from inciting extended grudges with other countries. The United States, on the other hand, has its men and women on the ground in Britain, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and a long list of other locales that haven't seen a serious war in years. These bases and personnel largely exist to project America's unilateral decisions across the globe, not to defend against any specific external threat. While Britain was seen as an interstatal balancer, America is seen as an international conquistador: as Huntington noted, two-thirds of the world sees the United States as the single greatest threat to its many societies.

Huntington also noted that the societies feeling this threat from American hegemony are all outside of "the West," the core of Ikenberry's peaceful "liberal democratic order" that emerged in the wake of World War II and continued after the end of the Cold War. Ever since the mujaheddin's war against the Soviets in Afghanistan, the Islamic world has been mobilized to the same extent as the Western liberal democratic world: they have stood behind their brethren from Indonesia to Bosnia, and have defended Saddam Hussein as "our bloody tyrant" in the face of American intervention. Indeed, al-Qaeda, who fired the first shots of the War on Terror and continue to be America's biggest enemy in the shadows, describe themselves as "holy warriors" against a "Judeo-Christian alliance" that threatens their well-being.

The United States has justified its policies in Afghanistan and Iraq by stating that intervention is necessary to avert potential attacks on the American homeland—yet America's policymakers neglect to notice that it was global intervention that led to attacks on the American homeland. Joffe compares pre-World War I Germany to the modern United States: Otto von Bismarck sought to ensure Germany's security by keeping it allied with the rest of Europe against its natural enemy in the balance of power, France—but his alliance network eventually sparked a continent-wide war when it was attacked in the Balkans, and led to Germany's defeat at the hands of the Allies. America, too, attempts to keep order through its alliances, and specifically through its troop deployments: indeed, President Bush defends an invasion of Iraq by stating that "Iraq possesses ballistic missiles with a likely range of hundreds of miles in a region where more than 135,000 American civilians and service members live and work." When America is engaged on such an extensive global scale in the name of "securing the peace," it only creates more chances to attack and be attacked.

Huntington says that, because of its "global unilateralism," the United States is more likely to become out of step with the rest of the world than withdrawn from the rest of the world. Joffe says that Europe's hegemonists enjoyed "endless war and, finally, defeat," and that "great powers remain great if they promote their interests by serving those of others." America has been stepping on other peoples' interests for too long, and continuing this policy will only result in more, and more violent, attacks on the American people and the American ideal.


international relations
a node your homework / homework your node production

The effects of the fight against terrorism in a domestic and global security context

This essay will offer a brief historical context of the events that triggered the current War against Terrorism. It will then explain what effects the response to terrorism has had, both indirectly and directly. The essay will finally attempt to ascertain whether or not the War on Terrorism has actually made the world a safer place or not. The essay will concentrate on post-September 11th America, as this attack and the subsequent consequences are what is most commonly associated with the war against terrorism.

Brief overview of terrorism

Terrorism is by no means a new concept. As early as 350 years BCE, the Greek historian Xenophon described how psychological warfare had proven effective. The gunpowder plot conceived by Guy Fawkes in 1605 was a famous attempt at an act of terrorism. It has been argued that the Spanish Inquisition and the French Revolution could not have happened without terrorism-style tactics. (TF 2004)

Through the post-world-war II era, terrorism has caused several groups to forcefully inject their monikers into the public consciousness: The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the Irish Republican Army (IRA), Euzkadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA), Hezbollah, the Tamil Tigers and many other organisations have caused notoriety and fear wherever their actions have taken place. Up until the 1990s, the putsches have mostly occurred between neighbouring countries or within the country of the terrorists’ origin.

Although the United States of America had on the whole been spared from terrorism attacks, this changed abruptly in 1993, when the World Trade Centre was bombed for the first time. The attack on the World Trade Centre caused president Bill Clinton to authorise new laws and regulations permitting pre-emptive strikes against possible terrorists in 1995. In the years following this, several attacks were made on US embassies and other buildings with a high density of US citizens on non-US soil. In 1996, Osama Bin Laden declared war against American military personnel in all Arab countries, a situation that gradually escalated until Bin Laden called for a worldwide war in 1998. In the years following this, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) progressively increased the alert levels on Bin Laden, and several new laws designed to deal with terrorism were launched. On September 11th 2001, however, it was tragically proved that the measures were inadequate, when three planes were hi-jacked. Two of these passenger liners crashed into the two World Trade Centre towers, killing nearly 3000 people. (US News & World Report 2004)

Counter-terrorism in the United States of America

After September 2001, the world was a distinctly different place in terms of global security. When the US realised that they were vulnerable, a score of new laws (including the much-discussed Patriot Act and the set-up of the Department for Homeland Security, the first major restructuring in the US government in more than 50 years) and policies were introduced. This has had a profound effect on the way Americans lead their daily lives: The attacks on September 11 exploited the American belief that liberty is one of the most important and most basic of human rights. Post September 11th 2001, the United States has been more than willing to give up a lot of the liberty so deeply ingrained into its culture, in exchange for security – or at least the perception of heightened security. (The Economist 2003)

Many American citizens have claimed that the constant threat of being searched on the streets scares them. Once the Patriot Act was passed, warrants were no longer required, where an association or suspicion of terrorist activity is present. In principle, this is not an issue to law-abiding citizens, but the Patriot Act controversially introduced Guilt by Association, which means that it is possible to be castigated for crimes that one has no direct influence over. This means that if Mr Smith is a good friend of Mr Jones, Mr Charles has Mr Jones in his address book, and Mr Charles is suspected of funding terrorist organisations (even funding a school ran by the Basque ETA would qualify as “funding terrorist organisations”), Mr Smith could theoretically be placed under surveillance. (The Economist 2003)

There is a trade-off between personal liberty and security. Not everybody believes the trade-off made is a defensible sacrifice: Some American civil rights groups have pointed out that acts of terrorism affect a minuscule percentage of a population directly, while a law like the Patriot Act impinges on every single citizen. Some suggest that this means that the counter-terrorism laws have a larger domestic impact on “the American way of life” than the threat of terrorism itself.

Global Counter-Terrorism

After the initial shock of the September 11 attacks wore off, the US military mobilised and attacked Afghanistan, as this was known to be the base of Al Quaida. When the inertia of the war in Afghanistan was starting to fade (without a trace of Osama Bin Laden), the first few steps toward the controversial war in Iraq were made.

The effects of the war in Afghanistan are somewhat unclear – many considered it a valid response to the September 11th attacks, but the 9000 civilians who were killed or seriously injured did not contribute positively to the Arab world view of American military operations. The war in Iraq, however, may have a very different impact. Although there is little doubt that Saddam Hussein was once a ruthless and violent dictator, the three reasons used to go to war were sketchy: The first reason was the fear of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), the second reason was self defence, as it was famously claimed that Iraq could have weapons ready for deployment against British and US troops within 45 minutes. The final reason was humanitarian intervention.

In terms of international law, the reasons behind the war raised a few eyebrows: The use of force against Iraq was not authorised by existing UN Security Council resolutions. This meant that the Coalition (United States and United Kingdom, primarily) acted on its own initiative, rather than under international cooperation. When the US claimed they were acting in pre-emptive self-defence, they used an application of “self defence” which differed from the prevailing understandings of the self-defence laws. Although these laws may be changed at some time in the near future: Traditionally, for self-defence laws to apply, one would have to wait for a first strike, or immediate threat of an attack. However, with the advent of Chemical, Biological and Nuclear weapons (also known as weapons of mass destruction), “Waiting for a first strike” is no longer a viable option, because such an attack could have devastating consequences. As the UN secretary general Kofi Annan put it in October of 2001: “It is hard to imagine how the tragedy of September 11 could have been worse. Yet the truth is that a single attack involving a nuclear or biological weapon could have killed millions” (MacAskill 2001)

Finally, when the previous two arguments failed, the United States, backed by the British government, claimed that the attack on Iraq had to take place, on the base of humanitarian intervention against Hussein’s regime. However, “humanitarian intervention is not referred to in the UN Charter as being an exception to the general prohibition on the use of force.” (Sifris 2003), and is therefore looked down upon, as the war was eventually started without a UN mandate – and to a mixed response around the world.

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – especially the latter – give the distinct impression that the United States government is not interested in international cooperation; That they will do what they believe is right, regardless of what the rest of the world believes. In June of 2003, Times journalist Thomas Friedman wrote that

"The 'real reason' for this war, which was never stated, was that after 9/11 America needed to hit someone in the Arab-Muslim world. Smashing Saudi Arabia or Syria would have been fine. But we hit Saddam for one simple reason: because we could, and because he deserved it, and because he was right in the heart of that world." (Friedman, quoted in Lemann 2003)

If Friedman is correct, the Arab world has a good reason to be angry. Attacking a country because one can is hardly a good way to make friends. An attack on Iraq effectively showed the US military firepower, which, it seems, was the purpose of the exercise. President George W Bush said, "We have learned that terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength. They are invited by the perception of weakness." (Bush 2003) If this is true, however, why have weaker countries such as Norway not been victims of terrorist attacks? It is worth considering if there may perhaps be a deeper reason for the terrorist attack on the US on September 11th. In an essay entitled Why do they hate us so much, Scott Bidstrup highlights the many hypocrisies and inconsistencies in US foreign policies, and predicts that if the US do not modify their foreign policies, the terrorist attacks will continue:

Our glaring hypocrisy, which is continuing to be an irritant to the rest of the world, will continue to foster terrorist movements around the world. They will continue to attack American as well as foreign interests. They'll use the many examples of our continuing hypocrisy in the recruitment of new suicide bombers, technical experts and subversives. (Bidstrup 2003)

If we accept that Bidstrup is at least scraping the surface of the real problem – that the cause of terrorism is not that the United States is weak, but that the terrorists feel that the only way to get their point across is to take desperate measures – Bush’ attacks on two Arab countries may prove rather dangerous, as a war in neighbouring countries may put the limelight back on America – and the country’s somewhat chequered past – back on the agenda. It may be perceived that, instead of laying low and trying to improve their image, the US goes all-out to remind the Arab world exactly what parts of US policy they dislike, further inflaming the situation and possibly causing further terrorist attacks, rather than preventing them.

The internment of prisoners of war in Camp X-Ray, and later camp Delta in the Guantanamo Bay military base on Cuba has raised further questions, not only from the Arab world, but also from America’s closest ally, Great Britain. When a country enters another country on humanitarian grounds, one cannot ignore the hypocrisy of ignoring the Geneva Convention, in the form of detaining prisoners of war for several years, in bad conditions on a prison camp in Cuba. The recent allegations of torture by British and American soldiers in prisons in Iraq further inflames the situation, and may have caused irreparable further damage to the reputations of the two countries. This may in itself be another incentive to initiating acts of terrorism.

Conclusion

Terrorism has been with us in a large portion of recorded history – from ancient times via the raping and pillaging Vikings to today’s technology-savvy terrorists in their tightly organised cell-structure with ties to organised crime of all types. The fight against terrorism, however, has never been as intense or as serious as it is today.

As the Patriot Act continues to restrain civil liberties in the US, and the British government introduce pilot programmes on mandatory identification card schemes, it seems as if the citizens get no choice: Indeed, it appears we have reached a situation where questioning the logic behind restrictions of liberties is the same as admitting you have something to hide – and under the new legislation, that could conceivably be enough to be put under surveillance. As an Orwellian society emerges, one can only wonder how the new government mandates could be abused.

Although there is no doubt that fighting terrorism is a noble cause, the way America (and their trusty allies) have gone about picking their fights may easily come back to haunt the nations involved; the lack of respect for international agreements for fellow nations is bound to generate a response in one form or another.

While it is easy to criticise the nations fighting terrorism for being uncouth, perhaps even reckless in their choices, it is difficult to offer advice on how the situation could have been improved. Not fighting terrorism is not a politically viable option (a president accepting an attack on his country without responding would not retain his position for long), and until someone manages to come up with a better solution than the one being applied in 2004, it would appear the unease felt with the way terrorism is currently dealt with will remain a necessary evil for the immediate future.

 

Bibliography

S Bidstrup (2003) Why do they hate us so much?
http://www.bidstrup.com/hate.htm

G. Bush (2003) Address of the President to the Nation, September 7 2003
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/09/20030907-1.html

The Economist (March 8, 2003) A question of freedom; Civil liberties and terrorism. The Economist

N. Lemann.(2003) Real Reasons. Article, Sept 22, 2003 p81
New York: The New Yorker

E. MacAskill (2 Oct 2001) Giuliani urges UN action. Article.
London: The Guardian

R Sifris (2003) Operation Iraqi freedom: United States v. Iraq - the legality of the war.
Melbourne Journal of International Law, Oct 2003 v4 i2 p521

TF (Terrorism Files) (2004) The History of Terrorism.
http://www.terrorismfiles.org/encyclopaedia/history_of_terrorism.html

U.S. News & World Report, (April 5, 2004) The Trail of Terror.
US News and World Report vol 136 issue 11, p22

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