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The problem with retaliation.
September 12, 2001 10:37 AM   Subscribe

The problem with retaliation. "Don't get me wrong. If Bin Laden is indeed behind this, then he should be either killed or put on trial....still, how we go about bringing Bin Laden to justice (assuming, again, that this is his work) will massively influence how safe Americans are in the decades to come." The sanest analysis I've seen so far.
posted by lbergstr (49 comments total)

 
from the article:
Consider an alternative. Bush declares that the Afghan government is morally obliged to turn Bin Laden over and that, if it doesn't, it will risk military attack and occupation—and its leaders will themselves risk being either killed or put on trial for complicity in murder. He asks for support from the international community—including military support from NATO in the event of a war with Afghanistan. And he puts all of this in the proper rhetorical context: He is not just retaliating, but rather setting the kind of precedent that the entire world needs to set as we approach an age when terrorists will have nuclear and biological weapons

I sincerely hope Bush considers this act of diplomacy before launching into Rambo mode.
posted by mathowie at 10:51 AM on September 12, 2001


Links to the columns by Anthony Lewis and William Safire referred to in the article.
posted by scottandrew at 10:56 AM on September 12, 2001


I sincerely hope Bush considers this act of diplomacy before launching into Rambo mode

Really now.

We get to hear this condescending tone every time a Republican is in charge of decision-making.

Goldwater was going to blow us all to hell.
Reagan was going to blow us all to hell.
Bush Sr. was going to start an international war over oil.

Can we put the partisan nonsense on hold?
posted by marknau at 11:05 AM on September 12, 2001


CNN has just reported that the Afghans are "appealing" to the US not to attack it.

Frankly, for once, and not for long, we have the upper hand.

We can reign terror simply by shooting some of our ICBMs (with conventional warheads) at the Afghanis. They're deadly accurate, and already paid for, and unlikely to be used for anything else...

Since we're still nice guys, we should give a few hours notice to clear out of town.

As a follow up, we could have lots of fun telling Teheran the same. For your support and succor you lent to these types, we're giving you 12 hours to clear people out of teheran. And then, nothing.

"Just kidding...this time anyhow"
posted by BentPenguin at 11:06 AM on September 12, 2001


...killing Islamic fundamentalist terrorists (which the perpetrators almost certainly were) can be not just ineffective, but counterproductive...

There are also major problems if we just sit on our asses. We need to put the fear of their God into their hearts, whoever they may be. If we don't take out whoever did this, they will become emboldened to do it again and again and again.

I agree that Bush needs to take a step back before he goes into 'Rambo mode,' but he also needs to attack with utmost prejudice when whoever perpetrated these attacks is unequivocally determined.
posted by catatonic at 11:07 AM on September 12, 2001


The object of the game is to outweigh that downside with an upside: 1) Deter the future financing of these radicals; 2) deter the future hosting of these radicals by state governments; 3) give the mechanism of deterrence the broadest possible base of geopolitical support, and hence the most enduring effect.

I hate that word 'players,' one of our many unfortunate legacies from the 80's; everybody wants to be a player. It's not a game. It's real life. Many many innocent people are seriously dead, and more will be, no doubt, before too long.
posted by LeLiLo at 11:13 AM on September 12, 2001


everybody wants to be a player. It's not a game.

A large part of the article is explaining the situation in terms of "game theory," which has nothing to do with games as you understand them, nor with "playas."
posted by marknau at 11:23 AM on September 12, 2001


Diplomacy? DIPLOMACY?? How utterly naive.

Where has Mathowi been the last 30 years? Perhaps he can tell me the address for the Hamas Consulate in NY or DC...

The reason terrorists get anywhere is cuz they play by a different and far simpler set of rules than the US has.

Let history show the gloves came off on 911 and we started negotiating in their language: Death and Destruction with a healthy disregard for collateral damage

All this is, is a failure to communicate.
posted by BentPenguin at 11:24 AM on September 12, 2001


Can we put the partisan nonsense on hold?

How is hoping that the president considers all his options partisan? Although I guess that "Rambo Mode" crack was a little much.

My hope is that the administration seeks advice from all parties able to offer it - I hope he consults his cabinet, former presidents (including Clinton & Carter) and those experienced in the arena of foreign policy.

If ever there was a time to ignore party lines, this is it.
posted by aladfar at 11:29 AM on September 12, 2001


Going to have to go with Bent Penguin on this one. Whether they are considered martyrs or not, the suffering felt as retaliation for this attack should be broad and liberal in application. The cowardly responses of the Clinton administration may have made some martyrs, but more than anything it demonstrated that we would not make them suffer the way the had made us to suffer.

Additionally, shouldn't the free nations of the world start using their advanced assets like Delta Force, GSG-9, SAS, etc. to proactively hunt down, assassinate, harasss and eliminate terrorists rather than wait for them to attack us? Thoughts?
posted by O Boingo at 11:32 AM on September 12, 2001


Should we kill all people who have deep tans too, or just the ones who were born with darker skin? (Just checking before I run down the street with a machete.)
posted by sylloge at 11:34 AM on September 12, 2001


Can we put the partisan nonsense on hold?

Going to have to go with Bent Penguin on this one. Whether they are considered martyrs or not, the suffering felt as retaliation for this attack should be broad and liberal in application

Jesus.

This isn't politics, it's an attempt at sanity and intelligence. I keep hearing "Let's bomb everyone, blanket the middle east with aggresion, that'll show them." Now if we do that, will you feel better tonight? Will you feel safe that you've squashed out all terrorist activities by launching a quick attack (especially given how light our evidence is against anyone)?

Let's say for the sake of argument that it was Bin Laden. Tomorrow, we nuke wherever he is. Is it over? Did it teach anyone a lesson? Will his followers or admirers stop because they don't want to die? What kind of solution is appropriate? Is it really that simple?

And the "Rambo" comment wasn't over the top, everywhere I turn I see congressmen (from both parties) and presidential aids using the word "War" as often as possible. Newspapers are covered in giant headlines declaring war on an unknown enemy. Yes the events of yesterday were certainly horrific, and on a level never before seen, but we have little idea or evidence who the enemy really was.

Bush could get support from many nations if he followed the advice in the slate column, whereas a quick missile attack will further break down foreign relations and distance us from our global neighbors.
posted by mathowie at 11:44 AM on September 12, 2001


I find the level of blood-thirsty-ness shocking, in both many community sites on the web and from government officials. I would like to direct everyone to read a quote that noahgrey has put on his page: "an eye for an eye and the world is blind" gandhi.

The appeal here is not for complete passivity, but for temperance in the face of these trials. The United States should not behave in a rash manner. If we merely lash out at the first target we find, what prevents them from lashing back out at us? It's a very simple principle to think before you act and I pray that the US is able to do that.

Striking back is not the only solution. It may be the one we need, but it is not the only way.
posted by rob at 11:45 AM on September 12, 2001


Sylloge, what are you talking about? We should figure out who did it first. I am sure you were attempting to be ironic, but it is not obvious to whom you were responding.
posted by O Boingo at 11:45 AM on September 12, 2001


It's my opinion that nothing will stop this kind of terrorism except a profound change in the belief system of the terrorists. For whatever reason, certain groups have decided that the destruction of the West is a cause worth dying for. And to tell the truth, I'm not interested in no-win arguments about global capitalism, American arrogance or religious zealotry. To simply point to one as the root cause is ridiculously shortsighted. The world is more complex than what you see on CNN and read in the papers.

If we bomb them outright, they will hate us.
If we impose sanctions so their children starve, they will hate us.
If we turn the other cheek, they will still hate us.

Regardless of what action (or inaction) we take, they will continue to hate us as long as they believe we are an enemy.

This problem will not be solved solely with missle strikes. In fact, I would bet that the masterminds of this event are counting on US retaliation: another opportunity to paint us as the evil empire, another opportunity to gather more eager recruits.

This is a problem that will take equal parts brain and brawn to solve in the long run. Assuming we do find the perpetrators and bomb them back to the Stone Age, we can't simply walk away saying "well, that's that! No more terrorism!"

We need to find a way to dismantle the terrorist psychology. Anyone up for some social engineering for the good of the world?
posted by scottandrew at 11:51 AM on September 12, 2001


We need to put the fear of their God into their hearts.

from what I understand of Wright's argument, part of the problem is that the fear of God is already in their hearts.

When you're dealing with people who don't mind death—who in a sense even welcome it—your arsenal of negative reinforcement shrinks considerably.

the individuals in the countries that everyone is talking about - Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Palestine, etc. - don't have the same access to education & information that people in "the West" do, and often live in very difficult material conditions. the more that we are seen as hurting them irrationally, the more we are encouraging them to participate in irrational & dangerous organizations.

I'd agree pretty strongly with his final conclusion - we can't really stop this force (fanatical religious terrorism), but we can greatly influence the environment in which it operates.
posted by epersonae at 11:56 AM on September 12, 2001


I would like to see the congress prepare articles of war against terrorists, not nations. It seems that the majority of the worlds powers would join us in a venture to eradicate terrorists around the world, whether they are engaged in terror against us or others.

Terrorists are waging war around the world, we should meet them on that ground and defeat them.
posted by revbrian at 12:04 PM on September 12, 2001


thank you, scottandrew, for articulating my vague anxiety about this whole thing into something very clear - if very, very depressing.
posted by epersonae at 12:05 PM on September 12, 2001


It was the "Rambo mode" line that set me off, yes. And I seem to have over-reacted.

Our government is pretty good about considering options and ramifications before acting. Yes, they don't always get it right. They aren't omniscient. Utopia is not an option.

Now, of course people are going to be screaming for blood. The idiot masses throughout time want to pull out the guillotine to solve most problems. The genius of representative government is that it puts a layer between the howling mob and the instruments of power.

On the other hand, the hand-wringing non-intervention crowd who think we can make problems magically go away are equally unhelpful.

All that said, I am left in a position where I don't know the proper course, because I don't have enough information. Nor does anyone else who is not privy to top-level executive meetings.

So far, I see a government that is collecting facts while talking tough. That's probably exactly the right thing to do.
posted by marknau at 12:07 PM on September 12, 2001


Nice post, scottandrew. But you lost me a little at the end. Do you think it is at all possible to "dismantle the terrorist psychology?" It seems a wild idea, but one that seems worth discussing.

How would that work?
posted by marknau at 12:09 PM on September 12, 2001


I'd be surprised if there's anyone in the world who is not aware that the U.S. has the power to kill more or less arbitrary numbers of people and render arbitrary spaces of land uninhabitable.

What's flattening Afghanistan going to do? Prove that the U.S. has lots of money and high-tech gadgets? Prove that the U.S. is just as happy to kill random people as any of the terrorists it is supposedly retaliating against? Prove that the U.S. really doesn't give a damn about human life outside its own borders?

Yeah, that's going to stop the terrorists.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:10 PM on September 12, 2001


>Sylloge, what are you talking about? We should figure out who did it first. I am sure you were attempting to be ironic, but it is not obvious to whom you were responding.

Well, you and BentPenguin for two. He wrote:
Let history show the gloves came off on 911 and we started negotiating in their language: Death and Destruction with a healthy disregard for collateral damage. [BP's emphasis]
If you think it might be a good idea to figure out who is responsible first, then maybe you don't really agree with BP (who I'm assuming is just out for as high a death count as possible and it doesn't really matter if we end up killing a few thousand or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people who just happen to look and act sufficiently different from us).
posted by sylloge at 12:10 PM on September 12, 2001


We need to find a way to dismantle the terrorist psychology. Anyone up for some social engineering for the good of the world?

An excellent statment and question. Can anyone dismantle a beleif system that is as ingrained in someones everyday life? A beleif system handed down through generations? Could someone change yours?
posted by bjgeiger at 12:11 PM on September 12, 2001


the individuals in the countries that everyone is talking about - Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Palestine, etc. - don't have the same access to education & information that people in "the West" do, and often live in very difficult material conditions. the more that we are seen as hurting them irrationally, the more we are encouraging them to participate in irrational & dangerous organizations.

epersonae hits it right on the nail. More on how this works on SDB's site.
posted by lia at 12:13 PM on September 12, 2001


Let us fight back.


Trust in the resiliance of America's people.

Celebrate our diversity, equality, and unity.

Embrace those who would have you dead.

Believe in the innate humanity of humans.

Grieve for the already-dead, and the soon-to-be-judged.

Live free.



That is how we shall fight terrorism.
posted by Ptrin at 12:22 PM on September 12, 2001


Nice article you linked to, lia. It is very well reasoned, but I think the author vastly overestimates the effectiveness of appeasment.

And if the goal of the terrorists is the destruction of Israel and the spread of Islam to all corners of the world, how does one appease?
posted by marknau at 12:22 PM on September 12, 2001


Rob: Striking back is not the only solution. It may be the one we need, but it is not the only way.

Say what!? Are you arguing for a civil solution over an effective one? Civility got us an emboldened enemy, a big pile of rubble, and thousands dead with vermin in the middle east dancing in the streets.

When you're dealing with people who don't mind death—who in a sense even welcome it—your arsenal of negative reinforcement shrinks considerably.

I disagree. The suicidal bomber will gladly give his life. But harm his mother or sister, and you'll see its another matter altogether. Which is why the Israelis bulldoze the family house within hours of a suicidal bomb attack. And the palestinians complain this is unhuman...so you know its effective.

"an eye for an eye and the world is blind"
So whatever happened to good old Gandhi anyhow? Oh, yeah...they killed him (and MLK too). A noble stance is not necessarilly effective.

I heard a middle east scholar on TV this morning say that anti Israeli and and US sentiment in arab states enjoys broad support and gives the terrorists a wide mandate for this sort of stuff. Note that the Saudis have yet to issue a public statement. Same goes for Syria.

I keep hearing Islamic scholars say that thisis unislamic behavior, prohibited by the Koran. So what? Every fanatic bends the Koran to their own view. Thats why we call them fanatics.

When moderate arabs suffer for this, they too will seek an end to state sponsored terrorism. Think I'm wrong? Iran President Khatami released a statement this morning denouncing this act. Why? Cuz they're all worried. Why are they worried? Cuz the know the US now enjoys broad support for stunning retaliation. And they're quite rightly concerned.

Carpet Bomb Kabul
Terrorize all states sponsoring terrorism and do it fast before the window of popular (global) support closes

And for cryin out loud, get rid of all the SUVs. How unpatriotic.
posted by BentPenguin at 12:28 PM on September 12, 2001


When moderate arabs suffer for this...
...you'll see moderates turn into fanatics.
posted by lbergstr at 12:45 PM on September 12, 2001


I'm torn, as I think are many, on this issue -- less so morally than for the sake of our own security. As much as this may have been an upping of the ante, absolutely demolishing whatever country originated this attack could well raise it again, to the level where the oft-mentioned biological/chemical/baby nukes are permissible.

I'm hoping they are not already and am choosing to support that belief by interpreting the targets chosen yesterday as having been selected more for there symbolic value than for the amount of people within. This is a choice, and I realize one could choose otherwise.

Similary, a part of me wishes we could adopt the exact opposite policy: "if you attack us and we find out where you're from we will wipe your entire nation off the map. Period." Mutually Assured Destruction worked before. Perhaps it could work again. Unlikely.

Really, I just don't know. Every answer seems fraught with peril.
posted by Sinner at 12:49 PM on September 12, 2001


"The suicidal bomber will gladly give his life. But harm his mother or sister, and you'll see its another matter altogether. "
That's terrorism.
posted by Doug at 12:51 PM on September 12, 2001


...the Israelis bulldoze the family house within hours of a suicidal bomb attack. And the palestinians complain this is unhuman...so you know its effective.

Yes, it's done so much to prevent further bombings.
posted by harmful at 12:53 PM on September 12, 2001


Speaking of that Gandhi quote, which I've heard and read over and over again since yesterday, everyone can still end up blind even if only one person is gouging eyes.

This is not so much a disagreement with this particular maxim or philosophy as a disagreement with the idea that any matter this complex can be resolved by means of sound-bites and aphorisms.
posted by Sinner at 1:01 PM on September 12, 2001


doesn't it seem likely (or at least possible) that whoever did this KNEW full well that there would be some sort of violent reprisal? couldn't it be that that is exactly what they want?

just as radical demonstrators goad the police into action, using their women and children as bait, so that damning pictures can be published for all to see.

this tactic has worked well on Israel, who now have a huge PR problem internationally, precisely because they are "tough on terrorism". if the U.S. is drawn into the Middle East even further, is that the same problem that we will end up with? will our retaliation drive new recruits into terrorist groups' arms?

in that case, even more innocent people everywhere will be the victims.

is that really what we want?
posted by mjane at 1:05 PM on September 12, 2001


Does anyone else find it disturbing that members of this thread are saying that we should perpetrate violence and destruction upon numbers of foreign citizens on the behalf of the terrorists that they may or may not endorse when in fact that is the same thing that just happened to our own country in New York and Washington? (If this is a forgone conclusion for you, please just ignore the remainder of my post).

Even in the Pentagon attack there is no indication that anyone of international note in American Defense or Capitalism was hurt - at least, no one that would be a "target." Furthermore, anyone could have learned that President Bush was on vacation and thus was not available to be killed anywhere in the vicinity of Washington DC. Surely the terrorists involved would explain to us that the vast majority of the people they killed in New York and DC were complicit with our policies of Western Domination & Capitalism simply by working in those buildings and that is why their deaths could be rationalized. Furthermore, this was not about death, but about demoralization, making their power felt, and altering our way of life.

We have all been made vastly aware that hundreds of our friends and neighbors worked inside of WTC and were not explicit supporters of any evil in America or on Wall Street. In the eyes of terrorists, yesterday's casualties *were* collateral damage, and for us to argue for "immediate and swift" action or "carpet bombing" makes us the terrorists, regardless of the retribution we are seeking.

To say that we are going to harm countries who support terrorists simply because they find an amount of sympathy in those locations ignores that we will be killing friends, neighbors, and most importantly innocent bystanders. All of this not because of death, but because we want to demoralize, make our power felt, and alter their way of life. Obviously we need to react in a more comprehensive fashion not in the scope of our violence, but in its focus.

Here's a project for you: tonight call everyone in your personal phonebook until you find someone who has friends who worked in the WTC, and ask them about how the bottom dropped out of their stomach yesterday. Have them tell you all about it.

Then come back and tell me more about collateral damage.
posted by krisis at 1:07 PM on September 12, 2001


There's a reason I usually don't post comments - I feel like I'm too young, too inexperienced, to naive to have anything worthwhile to contribute.

But this is what I am most scared of. This was the first thought that came to my mind when I heard the news yesterday. That this is going to be war, because people will demand revenge.

Now, maybe I don't know much about these kinds of things.. But think about it: If we start a war, this kind of thing (and worse) starts happening all over. On a regular basis. And because it's war, it's justified - so you can't complain. Do you really want that?

All I fear is our fear - because, in the words of a great master, "Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering."

Is there any need whatsoever to add to the suffering this world already sees?
posted by po at 1:22 PM on September 12, 2001


Well...We could always just give 'em our lunch money. Then maybe they'd like us.

I think the last time I saw the 'embrace those who would have you dead' philosophy work, the guy who proposed it was nailed up to a stick. It didn't work for him.

And I rarely ever take advice from a green puppet with Grover's voice spouting lines from George Lucas. I don't consider Yoda, The Power Rangers, Poppa Smurf or Maximus Prime (as Truck nor Gorilla) as the basis for a workable philosphical dogma.

So. If we don't do Anything, they bomb us. If we nab bin Laden, they bomb us. If we bomb them, they bomb us. Apart from surrendering and offering to sooth their burning hemmeroids on demand, what is this amazing solution for world peace that everyone is hiding?

Much clouded, is the future... yessss..
posted by Perigee at 1:41 PM on September 12, 2001


BentPenguin:
They did kill both Gandhi and Martin Luther King. They both stood for principles of passive resistance and they both ended up being killed by the people they were fighting. Shocking, sad, and true.

(1) Both were great men and accomplished much in their respective lives. If you study Martin Luther King you will see that -- with help of the whole civil rights movement -- he moved this country (the United States) to fix inhumane acts that were pressed upon our citizens.

While at first glance this seems to be pretty irrelevant to the matter at hand, it is very much a good point. Both of these leaders lead their countries to massive social change. I agree with Scott Andrew that there is a certain terrorist mentality that needs to be fixed to actually achieve any real accomplishments. Scott (and others here) have done well to paint the picture that the damage that has been is so much broader than the lives lost and damaged by these planes.

It is shocking that newscasters would even show certain small numbers of Palestinians responding in a joyous way because of the people here who see them will automatically assume that all Palestinians feel this way (they don't). And from this these people will automatically assume that dropping some bombs will solve this crisis. We are at war with terrorism. But a large part of our battle can not be fought with guns and bombs. This war is a battle of global social change. No weapon of war ever developed has been capable of winning such a campaign.

(2) I agree that leaders of religious faiths closely tied to several terrorists have been trying to separate themselves from the actions of these terrorists. But I support them. Many Americans and people around the world have misconceptions about the Islamic and other religions in conjunction with the things they see on the news. "The world is more complex than what you see on CNN and read in the papers" (Scott Andrew).

(3) I have hoped and prayed these past two days for civility. I have prayed that we are able to solve these problems in a way that is right. I think, BentPenguin, that you have perhaps misinterpreted what I am saying. First, I was just pointing out that the article above suggests that we should not just fall back to a plan of striking down our enemies. Second I was expressing my opinion that I think we need to take care of the people that are currently reeling from all that has happened; we need to tend to our wounds and figuring out what happened before we can arrive at a decision.

This whole fight is going to be a long and arduous task and I feel – it is my opinion that we will not arrive a complete solution through military action. Depending on what the investigations discover, military action may be necessary. I personally can not see the future to be able to tell, and I will not absolutely dissolve the usefulness of outright military aggression. I just hope that everyone can not discount other courses of action.

(and po, i think you have a good point. you shouldn't feel too young and naive to contribute your point of view).
posted by rob at 1:52 PM on September 12, 2001


Can anyone dismantle a beleif system that is as ingrained in someones everyday life? A beleif system handed down through generations? Could someone change yours?

I don't honestly know for sure, but it does seem to happen on a small scale. People change churches, move to integrated schools and neighborhoods, leave gangs and separatist/racist group, etc. I'm not so naive to think that we could change the world on such a large scale in a short period of time. It may take years or even decades, and a substantial commitment of people willing reach out. We'd have to look to ten, twenty, maybe one hundred years from now. We're talking about a looooong term goal, which is hard to fathom when so many are demanding justice now, vengeance now.

It would certainly take a lot of education to undo blind faith and zealotry. I have to guess that the terrorist that is willing to die for the sake of his ideals has no clue about Western ideology other than what his leaders tell him. And it's inconceivable to us that there are people who would give their lives for their beliefs; it just doesn't happen in complacent America anymore. I think the onus is also on ourselves to better understand their ideology. Half-baked assumptions and stereotypes don't count as truth.

I'm not advocating that we all work together to build a Utopian, hold-hands-and-sing-Kumbya world. We certainly can't roll over and bare our soft underbelly when things like this happen. But let's flip po's Yoda reference: Hate comes from fear. Where does fear come from? Ignorance? It's my opinion that we, as a nation who has seen nothing but prosperity for a decade and more, are generally pretty ignorant of the world, as are the terrorists.

How do we show them we are not an enemy while remaining strong? Help me think it out.
posted by scottandrew at 2:20 PM on September 12, 2001


"Terrorize all states sponsoring terrorism and do it fast before the window of popular (global) support closes"

So that would mean us too right since we'd be terrorising also...

"I keep hearing Islamic scholars say that thisis unislamic behavior, prohibited by the Koran. So what? Every fanatic bends the Koran to their own view. Thats why we call them fanatics. "

I think they're saying that so idiots don't assume that all Muslims advocate this sort of behaviour and therefore retaliate against us, even if we're not likeminded with these fanatics.. Oh, wait...that's already happened.

And I find your comment about 'moderate arabs' suffering for this sickening to say the least.
posted by Saima at 2:30 PM on September 12, 2001


Certainly some kind of change in beliefs is the only thing that's ever going to really prevent more bloodshed; the problem is that this is an extremely difficult, long-term proposition. In the meantime, the very fact that this terrible attack has succeeded encourages more attacks. Failure to respond in some strong, meaningful way encourages more attacks.

I believe we have to do something, and do it now. I hope that it will not come down to bombing; as has been mentioned here and elsewhere, bombing only justifies these terrorists in their own minds and in the minds of those that harbor them. It brings about civilian casualties which can then be pointed to as hypocrisy on our part.

I think the diplomacy option the article suggests is a good idea; if the threat fails, we then back it up with force -- but not bombs. Bombs are not selective. What if we sent in some of our special forces, and hit just those we know to be terrorists? No avoidable collateral damage. That would give them nothing to use against us... who can argue against removing those that you have proof have done you harm?
posted by e^2 at 3:11 PM on September 12, 2001


Missile attacks won't cut it with me or an angry American public. Suppose it's bin Laden? Then Afghanistan must pay the price for harboring his organization. This means an invasion of that country to destroy bil Laden and his organization. A long-term occupation of Afghanistan would not be neccessary nor prudent, but a serious and severe use of force is needed to prevent future attacks by bin Laden and to put the fear of God into any other groups who are considering attacking the United States.
posted by shackbar at 3:20 PM on September 12, 2001


Missile attacks won't cut it with me or an angry American public. Suppose it's bin Laden? Then Afghanistan must pay the price for harboring his organization. This means an invasion of that country to destroy bil Laden and his organization. A long-term occupation of Afghanistan would not be neccessary nor prudent, but a serious and severe use of force is needed to prevent future attacks by bin Laden and to put the fear of God into any other groups who are considering attacking the United States.
posted by shackbar at 3:40 PM on September 12, 2001


Hopefully it won't come to that. Hopefully, international pressure and the looming threat of strike will cause the Taliban to cough up bin Laden or whoever did this. When the terrorists are suddenly faced with being served up on a platter by the nation that once harbored them, that should have some effect on future actions.

I agree that bin Laden should be a target. Even if he himself did not orchestrate the event, removing him (and his money, I hear he's a millionaire) from the stage should put a serious crimp in future terrorist operations.

Then it's just a matter of making sure someone worse doesn't rise to fill his shoes.
posted by scottandrew at 3:52 PM on September 12, 2001


I think it will, in the end, be necessary to ferret out bin Laden's entire organization. If you miss some of his associates while taking him out, you give them an excellent motivation for revenge, and if he is at all savvy about concealing his assets, his associates may well have access to funding and other resources long after he is gone.
posted by kindall at 4:06 PM on September 12, 2001


SHAKBAR, clearly you do not seem to understand that a massive violent reprisal by the United States on ANYONE will only serve to lend credence to the Terrorist's Anti-American worldview [ which, more importantly, will draw more desperate people into terrorist circles ]. For a power oriented terrorist group, every uncontrolable loss at the hands of their more powerful enemey is a propaganda victory and every uncontrolable victory is a loss.

We as a nation need to support a two stated settlement between Israel and Palestine, in accord with the broad international consensus.

We need to stop funneling arms to dictatorships while simultaneously demanding the same through diplomatic alliances such as the UN and NATO.

If we are going to call ourselves the defenders of freedom and goodness we better start acting like it before we demand the same of starving third generation Palestinian refugees and CIA trained terrorists in Afghanistan.
posted by ProfLinusPauling at 4:08 PM on September 12, 2001


I wish people would stop posting things that indicate that they don't have a goddamn clue as to who is doing this and why. Scream for blood all you want; that sort of primitive crap didn't work in Vietnam and it won't work now. We need to be smarter to deal with this.

Bin Laden is in part the creation of the CIA, funded and armed by the US during the Afghanistan war in the 1980s. He wants Americans out of Saudi Arabia; no "non-believers" in the holy land. He has actually declared war against the USA, many years ago. He really sees this as a war, like Vietnam, and thinks he can beat the US in the same way the Vietcong beat the US military.

The attacks are not the work of the Iranian government; they have there own problems: conflicts between a democratically elected reformist president and the religious establishment. Someone said "take out Tehran." That's stupid.

It could be Iraq, although it strikes me a the height of stupidity for them to do something like this. Same goes for Libya and North Korea. The Sudan and Afghanistan, by themselves, couldn't do this and probably wouldn't want to. It is very unlikely to be Palestinians; they have tend to do focussed, limited attacks.
posted by tranquileye at 4:27 PM on September 12, 2001


Perhaps we should just cut off all their legs. Yes. And hands, too.
posted by dopamine at 6:12 PM on September 12, 2001


"We need to find a way to dismantle the terrorist psychology."

Right on, Scott. How? And where do I sign up?

(Incidentally, the RELATIVE civility and rational discourse in this thread, so far - while debating a tough topic - by comparison to some of the others I've read, is heartening.)
posted by mirla at 6:44 PM on September 12, 2001


I think it's interesting how people who were relativists and vigorously fought the concept of absolute morality can all of the sudden now appeal to it.

After all, what happened was "wrong", period, without a doubt, no matter what psychology the terrorists had, no matter what religion they were apart of.

It makes you wonder if "right" and "wrong" are independent from what we think.

"You have heard that it was said, `Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..."

It is indeed true, humility will be our best solution to the evil human hearts, and retaliation will do nothing but make things worse.
posted by aaronshaf at 5:30 AM on September 14, 2001


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