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The Semi-Invasion Begins: Unconfirmed Reports of American Casualties in a Raid on Kandahar, Undisclosed Targets

October 19, 2001 8:32 PM   Subscribe

The Semi-Invasion Begins: Unconfirmed Reports of American Casualties in a Raid on Kandahar, Undisclosed Targets
Swooping in on helicopter gunships, 100+ American GI's attack Kandahar in a "daring" raid, acknowledged by the Pentagon. They engaged ground troops.

NYT is reporting unconfirmed reports of American casualties, number unknown.

Rumsfeld said that the outcome is not certain, and referred to the Taliban forces as "tough" "survivors".

For comment: why? What about Mazar-e-Sharif? Why? What's a Loya Jirga, and was it held in secret recently?
posted by rschram (75 comments total)

 
I renew my objection.
posted by rschram at 8:35 PM on October 19, 2001


Perhaps you wouldn't object if:

a) you had friends who were in the WTC
b) had friends who were in the Army's SF.
or
c) had friends who were in the offices getting mailed Anthrax postcards.

We have to take responsibility for eliminating this threat against us.

And I wouldn't mock "daring" until you've faced bullets flying against you yourself.
posted by mtstover at 8:53 PM on October 19, 2001


perhaps not, but I still respect his objection. y'know...freedom of thought, and all?
posted by jpoulos at 8:57 PM on October 19, 2001


Well, i guess the taliban was wrong. We do have the courage after all. As for American casualties, it doesn't make any difference to me. In war, men are expendable.
posted by rabbit at 8:59 PM on October 19, 2001


not to mention your post is grossly misleading.
posted by rabbit at 9:04 PM on October 19, 2001


I think anyone called "Rear Admiral Stufflebeem" should avoid association with organizations that have names like "Joint Chiefs of Staff," especially considering the prevailing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" mind-set of our modern military machine. He should also avoid statements such as, "we do not have the kinds of interaction with some elements in the south that I would have to have to see progress." I mean, really.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Good God, that was arousing.
posted by SpaceBass at 9:05 PM on October 19, 2001


Desperately attempting to keep this thread from imploding.

Mazar-e-Sharif is a hinge point on the Taliban front line. If the Northern Alliance take it, it will enhance their morale and diminish the Taliban supporters'. Also, it may split the Taliban forces in the north or at the least disrupt supply lines. Why? Well, it just happened to be there at the time we dropped in, after front lines moving all over hte map the last several years. It's not important to us per se, it's only important insofar as it's a strategic point for our use of the Northern Alliance to destabilize the Taliban.

The Loya Jirga (you have been reading the papers? because this has been explained many, many times) is an ancient traditional high-level tribal council that has some value to Afghans. The intent is to use the tradition of the Loya Jirga to convene an ad hoc constitutional convention and form a coalition government to replace the Taliban. I doubt one has been held yet, certainly not one with attendees from the Pashtun South who would be necessary to any political settlement.

mstover: I'm not sure those were intended as scare quotes around e.g. daring, simply quotes to portray the tone of the piece. Certainly without more context claiming that is "mocking" (see, I'm quoting you) is jumping to conclusions.

by the way: lots of short paragraphs on the front page? bad. hard to navigate. use one short, compact paragraph and add commentary via [more inside].
posted by dhartung at 9:21 PM on October 19, 2001


Justice, not vengence.
posted by Hackworth at 9:30 PM on October 19, 2001


Having possession of Mazar-e-Sharif will also give the Northern Alliance a land route into Uzbekistan, and there's an airport that could be a base inside Afghanistan for US forces.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:38 PM on October 19, 2001


The Loya Jirga ... is an ancient traditional high-level tribal council that has some value to Afghans.

Yeah, my butt, and a Trobriand Kula is just a flea-market. All I know is that "clans" are involved.
posted by rschram at 9:39 PM on October 19, 2001


The point of the war is neither justice nor vengeance. The goal is prevention. We fight not to retaliate or punish, but to keep them from attacking us again.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:46 PM on October 19, 2001


I hope a few casualties does not lessen the resolve of the president. In Somolia, we lost close to two dozen SO troops and the president shut down the mission and had the military come home with its tail between its legs. bin Laden has specifically mentioned this as one of his reasons for believing the US has no heart to fight a war. Many of the guys who were involved with that mission were pissed that a few casualties was reason enough to abort the mission in Somolia. As one Ranger commented, "We're Rangers. What we do is dangerous. We expect to take casualties. Don't send us in if you can't deal with that."

For anyone interested in what the SO guys really do, read the book Blackhawk Down. It's a nearly minute by minute account of the failed mission in Somolia based on interviews with the men who were involved with the mission. Special Forces, Delta, and Ranger units made a raid expecting to find and capture the local warlord. It turned out to be bad intel and then things went from unfortunate to tragic. At that same time it shows the amazing courage under fire and the willingness of men to risk their lives, not to save a fellow soldier but to keep the body a chopper pilot from falling into the hands of the enemy.

"Surrender is not a Ranger word, I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country." (portion of the Ranger Creed).

The book is being made into a film by Jerry Bruckheimer but knowing Bruckheimer's tendency to over sensationalize, the book is probably going to be a far more accurate account.
posted by billman at 9:47 PM on October 19, 2001


AP is reporting that the Pentagon believes there were two American casualties.
posted by rschram at 9:56 PM on October 19, 2001


The word 'casualties' is a bit misleading. I know it means they were killed, but killed by accident, killed by friendly fire and killed by enemy fire are different things.
Americans killed by accident are not so blood-stirring since it can happen (and does plenty) outside of war.
posted by dness2 at 10:29 PM on October 19, 2001


The goal is prevention

I don't buy that for a second. People want blood. They can say it's for prevention, but stopping bin Laden won't stop terrorism, and I doubt it will stop anti-American sentiment overseas. In fact, I think it will do just the opposite, it will give them fuel to feed their hatred. All we are doing is buying back into the vicious circle by treating the symptoms and not the disease.
posted by Hackworth at 10:35 PM on October 19, 2001


The author of Blackhawk Down did a 17-minute segment on This American Life (real audio link, it's Act Three in that show). It's a non-Bruckheimer account of the mission.
posted by gluechunk at 10:36 PM on October 19, 2001


The word 'casualties' is a bit misleading. They died in a helicopter crash in PK, some sources saying on the return from the mission. So it's misleading (because I was reading really fast, a mistake I make often), but it's still sad, and in my mind, caused by our war.

(Dhartung, Loya Jirgas have been around awhile, and they are meetings for building consensus of who can lead otherwise highly autonomous groups (the "clans") so I guess I owe you one butt. The only question is, if the US is being so daring, are they going to a big push now, because they have finally worked out something to replace the Taleban?)
posted by rschram at 10:36 PM on October 19, 2001


From the NYT article: "It would be unwise to think that the outcome is determined," Mr. Rumsfeld said. "It's not."

He called the Taliban forces "tough" and "survivors," and he added: "It is going to be a lot easier, in my view, to try to persuade a number of them to oppose the Taliban and to oppose Al Qaeda and to help defeat them, than it is to in fact defeat them."


What is ole' Rummy doing? Giving a pep talk? Sure AIN't a good way to rally the troops, or the American people! Is Rummy ACTUALLY admitting that the primitive Taliban/al-Qaeda forces can match the might of the American armed forces? And even if he believed it, WHY say it? Is "persuasion" the new game plan instead of "smoke 'em out and kill 'em?"

I strongly disagree, Mr. Rumsfeld. The outcome is determined, whether you believe it or not. We will prevail, only for the simple reason that We Must!
posted by Rastafari at 10:41 PM on October 19, 2001


dness2:

Casualties doesn't mean deaths. A casualty could include someone shredded by a land mine, a broken leg due to a fall from the chopper or capture by a sneaky Taliban member who was hiding under a rock coloured turban.

However, a casualty usually means the individual, for whatever reason, is no longer available to fight.
posted by pandaharma at 10:42 PM on October 19, 2001


Hackworth: ... They can say it's for prevention, but stopping bin Laden won't stop terrorism, and I doubt it will stop anti-American sentiment overseas. In fact, I think it will do just the opposite, it will give them fuel to feed their hatred. All we are doing is buying back into the vicious circle by treating the symptoms and not the disease

What do you suggest we do, let bin Laden/al Qaeda go unpunished? And should we REALLY care about anti-American sentiments overseas? How about THEY fucking care about what WE think for a change?
posted by Rastafari at 10:47 PM on October 19, 2001


Wow, so many people to address in one post :-)

1. By definition, "casualties" are those killed or wounded. Though I think they would hesitate to call one a casualty unless they were seriously wounded, it does not necessarily mean dead.

2. The goal is prevention. Hackworth, I actually agree with that. Granted, revenge will make Bush, Powell, and Rumsfelf into gods, to break up the organization, an organization where power in centralized (execution is decentralized in cells), will put a serious damper on this particular group to carry out further terrorist attacks. Additionally, I would speculate that a major disruption, while creating anti-American feelings, is preventative in the sense that most un-skilled terrorists are caught way before they can cause any harm. Won't stop them but it does disrupt the highly skilled groups enough that we might actually be able to catch them while they regroup. I'm not talking about bin Laden (technically, he's already dead. it's simply a formality at this point), I'm talking about the followers who have the will but not the skill to mastermind a plot of complexity and scale without the technical and financial backing of a bin Laden type person.

3. Rastafari, Rummy is doing what any good football coach would do. "This is a tough team. They are going to fight us all the way. We have to execute. We have to drive. We have to want it more than they do." Even if it's an NFL team playing a second string high school team, you make sure that your people have a challenge to rise up to. You don't want your troops or the folks back home thinking all we have to do is flash a US flag and the Taliban is going to surrender. In fact, even if the Taliban were armed with slingshots and rocks, you want your forces to roll in there with a force, fury and destruction that would make them think Allah himself had rolled into town. Thinking the enemy is weak is what gets good soldiers killed. -- Besides, based on recent reports, the Taliban doesn't even have radio or telephone capabilities anymore. This is just getting the boys fired up to go kick some ass.
posted by billman at 11:11 PM on October 19, 2001


And should we REALLY care about anti-American sentiments overseas? How about THEY fucking care about what WE think for a change?

Good god, that's the type of foreign policy that's gotten us into this mess in the first place. Yes, we should care, and care a lot, because it's what they think that results in the type of religious dogma that justifies terriost acts. The world doesn't belong to America. Do you even know why they attacked us?

Quite frankly, I think your mindset is only adding backing to my statements about bloodlust above. Death will not solve our long-term problems. Punishments not withstanding, we have problems that have wider breadth than Afghanistan.
posted by Hackworth at 11:12 PM on October 19, 2001


Mtstover: why would somone with friends in the special forces want a war? It would make them more likely to die, and I don't think needing to take Cipro for a week or two is worth spilling the blood of afghans.

Not that I'm agains the war, just that your arguments are stupid.
posted by delmoi at 11:34 PM on October 19, 2001


Prevention. Can anyone think of any terrorist organisation that's been stopped by violence?
posted by andrew cooke at 11:41 PM on October 19, 2001


pandaharma and billman: you're absolutely right that casualties in a military definition means killed or wounded. However, I don't think I've ever seen the word used journalistically to mean anything but dead. My point was that newspapers have a habit of mentioning a casualty count without getting very specific about the method the casualties occured. Accidental casualities we expect not to be able to avoid; combat casualties we avoid as much as possible.
posted by dness2 at 11:43 PM on October 19, 2001


It seems our soldiers are meeting defeat at the hands of their own incompetence. Again.

Kill the other guys, guys.

And yes, I hope we don't wuss out like we've been doing since Vietnam.
posted by owillis at 11:46 PM on October 19, 2001


Well, on the other hand owillis, it doesn't mean the casualties were incompetent by getting killed.

Helicopters crash by no great fault of the pilot too.

I think I read there were over a 100 'casualties' of the Gulf War by car crash. This kind of stuff happens in training, exercises, civilian life and support missions.
posted by dness2 at 11:52 PM on October 19, 2001



Can anyone think of any terrorist organisation that's been stopped by violence?


You think some guy turning up dead in Turkey is going to make it into USA Today? A terrorist operative disappears, who's going to report him missing? I happen to believe we've been spared terrorism in the US due to the CIA and other anti-terrorism forces who have conducted missions that won't become declassified until your grandchildren apply for social security. I've seen terrorist attacks in Europe and believe me, we were not spared for lack of want. Some other force was playing a pretty big role in terms of the fact that we escaped most of the 20th century without a major foreign terrorist attack
posted by billman at 12:11 AM on October 20, 2001


Stephen, if the goal's prevention, then why is every other American saying "We're gonna kick the Taliban's butt"? Sounds like blood-lust to me.
posted by skylar at 1:15 AM on October 20, 2001


Sounds like blood-lust to me

Or... normal human emotion! Shock!!
posted by owillis at 1:21 AM on October 20, 2001


"Or... normal human emotion! Shock!!"


That still doesn't justify it. There are lots of human emotions that are not appropriate at certain times. The trick is to know how to react to your emotions rather than blindly folow them.
posted by Hackworth at 1:27 AM on October 20, 2001


That still doesn't justify it.

I wasnt saying the emotion justified the attack. The poster asked why people were saying "we're gonna kick the Taliban's butt". That particular reaction is a perfectly logical response to getting collectively kicked in the gut.

Who's blindly following emotion? We asked the Taleban to turn over Osama - they said no, after we waited for a month.

We're going in to get him and his buddies. Seems simple enough to me.
posted by owillis at 1:35 AM on October 20, 2001


It's a real shame that the post itself wasn't discussed as often as the pro/anti-war sentiments that have been repeated a thousand times in previous threads.
posted by revbrian at 4:21 AM on October 20, 2001


"Seems simple enough to me."

It's only simple because your grossly disinformed.
there is a world full of people out there pissed off at the USA because of opinions strikingly similar to yours... many of them are desperate. how desperate are you?
posted by slappy at 4:54 AM on October 20, 2001


Hackworth: Do you even know why they attacked us?

Let's see: Because
1. We support Israel/Palestinian are suffering;
2. We have troops in Saudi Arabia/Egypt/Yemen (other Muslim countries)
3. US sanctions/suffering of Iraqi children;
4. Because they are CRAZY-ASS terrorists who like to kill and maim innocent civilians.

Did I miss anything? It seems to me if you want to appease these people, you have to meet all their demands, on their terms, and then some. So tell me, Hack, what do you suggest: alter our relationship with Israel to their detriment/ side with the Palestinians -- who themselves carry out terroristic acts against innocent people as "justification" for their cause. Do you really want to live by their terms?

I haven't heard you suggest any solutions, other than "we must listen to them/otherwise more bloodshed/death /vengeance is not the answer blah, blah, blah". Grow up. Do you really think we should deal with bin Laden and the Taliban? What do you think that will get us? What if we had taken that approach with Hitler during the late 30's? Would that have stopped their mistreatment of the Jews? Do you think there is ANY difference between the Taliban/bin Laden and the Nazis? What IS you approach/solution of their act of killing 5000+ innocent people? Please tell us bloodthirsty people!
posted by Rastafari at 5:32 AM on October 20, 2001


The book is being made into a film by Jerry Bruckheimer but knowing Bruckheimer's tendency to over sensationalize, the book is probably going to be a far more accurate account.

Directed by Ridley Scott, so probably less sensationalistic than you'd fear. It's being edited in London right now.
posted by holgate at 5:38 AM on October 20, 2001


Oh, and Godwin.
posted by holgate at 5:40 AM on October 20, 2001


that's because you are grossly disinformed.

The majority of the people out there who hate the U.S.A are the misinformed ones. Many of them are uneducated and illiterate and absent of basic human logic. Not to mention, the situations going on in the countries which have animosity towards us is proof enough for me that we've made the right decisions. Let them not like us. We can't please everyone, and we should not cater to stupidity.

I have to laugh when people like Ralph Nader say "we shouldn't have this war we should have had a police action". It really shows that he has no clue what is going on. Bin Laden commands several thousand troops. We're not chasing bank robbers here.

Fighting Bin Laden's troops and the taliban army in Afghanistan on the ground will be better for U.S. relations in the middle east in the long term. We will have earned their respect.

Taliban Commander Says Americans Too Soft to Face Rigors of Afghanistan

"I tell you the Soviets were a brave enemy and their soldiers could withstand tough conditions. The Americans are creatures of comfort. They will not be able to sustain the harsh conditions that await them."
posted by rabbit at 6:10 AM on October 20, 2001


....this thread is like living life in permanent rewind.
posted by aramaic at 6:25 AM on October 20, 2001


"The majority of the people out there who hate the U.S.A are the misinformed ones. Many of them are uneducated and illiterate and absent of basic human logic"

yes alot of people on the face of the earth are illiterate, and without the means of aquiring much (if any) "formal" education.

As far as basic human logic is concerned, I don't follow you on that one. I assume Basic would be something fundamental, you know something that forms as a "base". The word human generalizes us all as the human race. Logic is reasoning, which more or less depends on your interpretation of reality. The problem with logic is that it is treated as a science. And science is
interpretive also. Scientists objectify principles involving the systematized observation of and experiment with phenomena, but generally fail to include feelings, opinions, personal idiosyncrasy. The scientists role has been that of an alien observer if you like, not connected to the phenomenon. So simply put you could say that science is not an exact science.

What I'm getting at is logic is subjective to the interpretor. the fact that you state "the people out there who hate the U.S.A" are "absent" of logic implies denial of significance or worth as human beings.

all humans have an equal value in my opinion. How about you?
posted by slappy at 7:22 AM on October 20, 2001


Slappy, if you think that "logic is subjective to the interpreter" then you need to study more about logic. The whole point of logic is that it is intended to be as objective and universal as it possibly can be.

"Logic is reasoning, which more or less depends on your interpretation of reality." Say what? That doesn't describe the logic I studied in college. Logic is a form of mathematics, and it is just as objective and precise as arithmetic.

Making a series of fuzzy-headed non-sequiter observations isn't a proof of your point of view. (Perhaps another reason you should study logic, so as to learn how to formulate an argument?)

I believe that all humans have equal value. But that doesn't mean that all of their opinions are equally valid. Some people are actually wrong. If someone tells me that it's his opinion that the sun rises in the west, well, he's entitled to that opinion but it doesn't make it so.

I just decided that logic is wrong and I'm going to believe in something else. Hey, why did my computer just stop wor
posted by Steven Den Beste at 7:54 AM on October 20, 2001


Steven I'm not going to dignify your response. Except to say that I'm sorry. I cannot help you.
posted by slappy at 8:29 AM on October 20, 2001


joulos: perhaps not, but I still respect his objection. y'know...freedom of thought, and all?

How's this: I respect his RIGHT to said objection, but I do not respect his objection. Difference?

And justice = vengeance, tempered by civility as appropriate for the circumstance.

What happens in a criminal trial? Vengeance, but we call it justice because it is administered via a set of rules/laws and civil codes. Against international terrorists (who have chosen to NOT live according to our rules & civil codes), a different type of vengeance will be administered, but to call it "justice" is still appropriate.
posted by davidmsc at 8:58 AM on October 20, 2001


Sounds like blood-lust to me.

We're going to pound St. Louis in Sunday's game. Boston beats up Chicago. The Duck's clobber the Kings. Etc., etc.

Does this mean that our entire sporting industry is based on blood lust and not team loyalty? It's just an expression, dude.
posted by billman at 9:02 AM on October 20, 2001


How about THEY fucking care about what WE think for a change?

Give me a break.
posted by cmacleod at 9:09 AM on October 20, 2001


It's only simple because your grossly disinformed.
there is a world full of people out there pissed off at the USA because of opinions strikingly similar to yours... many of them are desperate. how desperate are you?


Listen, people will always hate us, period. You need to get used to that. If we handed out thousand dollar bills to every person on earth, we would have people hate us for imposing our values on others. If we mind our own business, we will have people who blame us for their suffering. Every choice we make as a nation, leaves one party or another pissed.

I would also like to point out that many in the Muslim world hate us because they get their news from state or religious run news sources that tell people we are evil. I forget which paper it was but I read one news story which discussed the fact that the editor of an Arabic newspaper wrote and OpEd piece on his dream about killing the Israeli prime minister. In graphic detail he describes shooting him and then kicking his head in. This isn's some whacko writing in, it's the friggin Editor of the newspaper. How impartial do you think the news from that source is?

While I don't think we should just ignore other's feelings, we do need to learn to live with the fact that people will hate us. For whatever reason, however justified people will hate us. Sorry. Not that I'm making any sort of direct comparison to US foreign policy but you notice that they killed Jesus, Ghandi, MLK, . . . the list goes on and on. Being kind and gentle, or even right, makes no differene to some people. If you stand in their way, they want you eliminated. Since we're the biggest kid on the block and we have many, many interest we seek to protect, there's a good chance that we're going to piss someone off.
posted by billman at 9:18 AM on October 20, 2001


Give me a break.

Here you go.
posted by Rastafari at 9:28 AM on October 20, 2001


A plug for frontline's coverage of the action in somalia. Probably as good as the book, but with pictures.

Also, the Taliban says they hit the copter that crashed (in Afghanistan) and that it then flew to pakistan and crashed. Anybody buy this version of the story more than 'oh, it crashed in dust kicked up by the rotorwash'?
posted by daver at 10:16 AM on October 20, 2001


Steven I'm not going to dignify your response. Except to say that I'm sorry. I cannot help you.

Here, Slappy... see number two. Don't come into a discussion forum, dump out a block of text stating your point, and then take that kind of condescending and dismissive attitude towards someone who actually engages you in dialogue. Height of rhetorical cowardice, really...
posted by letourneau at 10:25 AM on October 20, 2001


Anybody buy this version of the story more than 'oh, it crashed in dust kicked up by the rotorwash'?

I think someone should start a website that lists all of the bogus information from the Taliban. Just off the top of my head, I remember a claim of shooting down 4 US attack aircraft. To date, no pictures, information, or proof has been submitted. The Taliban claims there are no breaks in the Taliban position but one of its highest ranking diplomats fled with the help of Pakastani intellegence agents and is in Rome meeting with the king that the Taliban denounces. Early in the air strikes, the Taliban claimed to have captured 3 US special forces soldiers and 2 Afghani agents. To date, no pictures, names, or other proof has been presented. Relief workers say that 10 people were killed in a village, the Taliban's official report is 70.
posted by billman at 10:38 AM on October 20, 2001


"I haven't heard you suggest any solutions"

That's because there are no easy solutions to a problem like this. I don't think war is right, but I don't think sactioned terrorism is right either. Do you think you have all the answers either? No one does. I sure as hell don't think we are going to solve anything with another war though. As I said above, I think our problems go farther than just bin Laden. We as a country need to re-evaluate our position in the world, we can't keeping acting like we run everything they way we do. And just beacuse I think killing isn't the answer does not mean I think their acts are justified either. Since when is not liking death such a vice?


"Do you think there is ANY difference between the Taliban/bin Laden and the Nazis?"

I'm not even going to answer that.
posted by Hackworth at 10:46 AM on October 20, 2001


(Per all the discussion in MeTa, etc., I'm trying to keep WTC/terror/war-related links to a minimum, so I'm posting this link here instead of on the front page.)

AP/The New York Times is reporting that seven pounds of C4 were found unclaimed in a Philadelphia bus terminal storage locker.
posted by Sinner at 11:02 AM on October 20, 2001


Slappy, here is my response to you.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 11:08 AM on October 20, 2001


Logic is a form of mathematics, and it is just as objective and precise as arithmetic.

But it's undeniably a discipline, a techné. Otherwise Russell and Whitehead wouldn't have spent so long proving that 1 + 1 = 2. Which means it's human only to the extent that it was formulated by humans, and so logically cannot be "basic". "Basic human logic" is like "basic human calculus" or "basic human quantum physics": the qualifications make it self-contradictory.
posted by holgate at 11:09 AM on October 20, 2001


we can't keeping acting like we run everything they way we do

Why? We do. At first it was because of our overzealous attempts to stop communism but now, it's because every time two groups of people get into a pissing contest, the US is asked to step in and resolve it. If we do nothing, we have half the world howling that the US needs to get involved and once we get involved, we have half the world saying we should mind our own business.

Saying that the US should stop acting like we run everything is like a police officer walking into a bar fight and trying to gain order by going around and trying to understand each party's point of view. It doesn't work that way. We have two instruments in foreign policy, the carrot and the stick. Before Sept. 11, we were afraid to use either. Extending the carrot to one person meant that everyone else got upset. Using the stick brought universal condemnation. Sept. 11, unshackled the US to use both the carrot and the stick as it sees fit. Fortunately, the carrot seems very appealing to many world leaders.

Also, I've brought this up elsewhere and it was touched upon in previous posts on this subject but bears repeating. Those who hate us are a small minority. The difference is that they have guns and are willing to murder anyone who gets in their way. People like Anwar Sadat have lost their lives by defying the minorities in their countries. The president of Yemen has been trying to reach out to the US by making it harder for terrorists to operate in his country. His reward has been death threats from religious leaders within his own country. The so-called fundamentalist Muslims have an agenda. The religious leaders are like political leaders and they gain small, but very fanatical followings. The difference between them and let's say a Pat Robertson is that they have guns and kill people when leaders do something they don't like. They declare Jihads and start telling poor, uneducated people seeking religious comfort that to please Allah they must grab their guns and race out into the streets demanding whatever it is the leader has on his political agenda. Of course they hate us. They have never been exposed to unbiased media. They have never read a newspaper or seen a television program that isn't run by the state. They go to places of worship that are run by people trying to grab political power by using their following as an instrument of terror against their own political leaders.

And let's just talk about hate for a moment. I think more French hate Americans than do Iraqis (mostly because we butcher the French language and culture). I've seen reports on Westerners who live in Iraq right now who say that the average Iraqi on the street is very kind to them and is very interested in hearing about their country. They may disagree with the government policy but they love meeting foreigners. Again, it's these small bands of fundamentalists who organize rallies and invite the media who hate us, not Joe or Jane Iraqi. Which in and of itself should seem amazing considering the fact that all forms of media are controlled by Saddam and don't paint a very favorable picture of the West.

So, in short, we either have a responsibilty to play international cop in places that can't police themselves or we don't. If we do, then theu nderstanding of cultures and such should be mutual. They should understand us and we should understand them. We may then disagree but it does not give one side the right dismiss the thoughts of the other. If not, then to hell with 'em, we'll let them kill themselves and anybody else they please until they're knocking on our boarders and then we'll simply defend ourselves. I'm more on the mutual understanding side.
posted by billman at 11:37 AM on October 20, 2001


They can say it's for prevention, but stopping bin Laden won't stop terrorism, and I doubt it will stop anti-American sentiment overseas.

Hackworth: For the billionth time, we're not going in there simply to snatch bin Laden out of his hole. We're not going to hang this one man from the gallows in town square and say, "See! We've stopped terrorism! There he is! That's terrorism, swinging from the noose, and now it's dead! Terrorism is dead, praise Jesus/Allah/Yahweh! Yee Haw!"

Al Qaeda is the enemy. The entire terrorist organization. There are thousands of members. Bin Laden is their leader. The Taliban supports them. They have declared war on us. You, me, our wives and children, our fathers and grandfathers. We're going after all of them.

Wiping out al Qaeda is preventative. You can call it anything else you want to: vengeance, bloodlust, justice, whatever. But they don't just wake up one morning and say, "I think I'll go topple some towers today. Anybody wanna come with me?" It takes time to plan, prepare, and execute. And right now, they're planning the next attack on democratic society. Therefore, killing them first is preventative. And while it might not wipe out terrorism as a meme, it will put a big dent in the terrorist actions that are carried out successfully.

I don't think war is right, but I don't think sactioned terrorism is right either.

Well, thank you for that whopping response and brilliant solution. This issue, for most Americans, is not one that lends itself to being divided into the two categories of "right" and "wrong." Sometimes war is right, even though you may generally feel that war is wrong. Sanctioned terrorism, on the other hand, is always wrong. And responding to sanctioned terrorism with a "Gee, I guess I should open my eyes and take a look at the point you're trying to make" gives positive reinforcement to terrorist acts and sets a precedent for others to follow. Suddenly every loser with a beef will write a letter and blow up a building to get their point across.

Since when is not liking death such a vice?

These terrorists deserve to die for crimes against humanity. But since they aren't American citizens and aren't willing to give themselves up to authorities, it's a little hard to get them into a court of law for proper trial and sentencing. I mean, bin Laden's been on the top of the FBI's list for a decade - I don't want him to still be there in another decade. Besides, he's the leader of an army at war with the US. We don't have to try him. He's already sentenced himself and all of his followers.
posted by David Dark at 11:55 AM on October 20, 2001


My response to the pacifists who would have us sit and twiddle our thumbs.
posted by owillis at 12:33 PM on October 20, 2001


I hate to burst your bubble and drop the logic bomb on you slappy, but Steven Den Beste is right. Come back when you've figured out what logic really is. Don't dignify his points with a response if you don't want to, but he's still correct.
posted by tomorama at 1:03 PM on October 20, 2001


Great cartoon owillis.

Right Click > Save Picture As...
posted by tomorama at 1:16 PM on October 20, 2001


tomorama: I hate to burst your bubble, but did the syllogism exist before the Greeks? Did calculus exist before Newton and Leibniz? The "formal" in "formal logic" should give you a clue.

But I'm with billman here: if the current situation pokes holes through the curtain of ignorance and misunderstanding between both sides, then perhaps some good will come out of it.
posted by holgate at 1:29 PM on October 20, 2001


Mathematics the way we know it may have been brought into terms by people, but I do beleive that the language of the universe and certain truths existed in their own form before we defined it in human terms. Grey areas exist, but I can't accept the idea that there are no goods and bads and rights and wrongs that hold true regardless of opinion. Logic is objective but not subjective.
posted by tomorama at 1:42 PM on October 20, 2001


Slappy: your metaphysics about the "equal value of all humans" pales when you consider that

there's a hole in New York with five thousand bodies in it.

As far as I'm concerned, as an American citizen, that's the last god damned hole in a city I'm going to allow anybody to get away with. If that means killing people who have the temerity to defend those responsible, who take up arms to prevent them coming to justice, so be it. That is their choice, not ours. We are going to exercise our responsibility, equally, to the human beings who are dead, in seeking justice, and the human beings who live still, that they may continue to do so. That goal is probably impossible to achieve in any other manner. We have the legal right. The United Nations charter permits actions of self-defense. The Taliban are not a recognized sovereign government to any nation except Pakistan. They have flouted international law for over two years. The man (and his cohorts) whom we seek has been indicted under United States law since 1999. The United Nations has demanded that Afghanistan's de facto leadership turn over the indicted for trial, and they have not. The United Nations has implemented sanctions, and they have laughed at us. While laughing they continued to plan the most heinous mass murder in history, reaching levels of cold-blooded calculation heretofore seen chiefly in overblown Hollywood films. If we do not act quickly, they will plan more, because they will not achieve their aim. We are not abandoning Israel (though we may well find a two-state solution), and we are not leaving Saudi Arabia. Those are non-negotiable items. Since the situation they desire will not happen, they will continue to justify violence, and they will probably try harder to kill more people next time.

Unless we act to stop it now.

It's an ugly choice, but it's our only option.
posted by dhartung at 3:06 PM on October 20, 2001


Dan - well said. For the past month+ (post-9/11) you've been one of the few left leaning voices I've read with some freakin' common sense.
posted by owillis at 3:49 PM on October 20, 2001


... and we are not leaving Saudi Arabia ...
Even if the Saudis ask you too?

Good comment and I doubt many Americans would disagree with your first few sentences.
posted by cmacleod at 6:40 PM on October 20, 2001


It is to weep.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:16 PM on October 20, 2001


"Don't come into a discussion forum, dump out a block of text stating your point, and then take that kind of condescending and dismissive attitude towards someone who actually engages you in dialogue. Height of rhetorical cowardice, really..."

You're entitled to sit there and type in anything... I dismiss intellectual intimidation. It's a waste of time. Steven could have contributed a critical perspective to my "block of text " (as you so eloquantly put it) without slanderous remarks. Just as you yourself choose to respond as a hositle and judgemental neocolonial. So did he at that point. Neither of you intimidate me, and because of *your* rudeness, now any impressions you might have made are as inconsequential as my response(s).
judge me as condescending. it takes one to know one.
posted by slappy at 3:18 AM on October 21, 2001


Slappy, this is a critical perspective on your block of text.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 3:44 AM on October 21, 2001


dhartung: Well said. I wholehearedly agree.
posted by tomorama at 8:23 AM on October 21, 2001


wholeheartedly. d'oh.
posted by tomorama at 8:26 AM on October 21, 2001


Just as you yourself choose to respond as a hositle and judgemental neocolonial.

When we see this kind of gibberish being deployed, the only conclusion to be reached is that we've utterly left the realm of rational discussion... so I respond: Nuh-uh! You are! "Neocolonial," feh! Ad hominem much?
posted by letourneau at 10:51 AM on October 21, 2001


slappy is a bullshitter, or a troll. Further engagement will be a waste of time.
posted by dhartung at 12:19 PM on October 21, 2001


Letourneaut, slappy's every comment in this thread has been a departure from rational discussion. The very first was an ad hominem wrapped in a red herring against Oliver. The second was some gibberish about "science is not an exact science" with the outrageous non-sequitur that "logic is subjective to the interpretor". There's no argument there, it's ludicrously off-topic, and it ends in an appeal to emotion and the rhetorical device made famous in the question, "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?" Slappy's a bullshitter, a troll, and an artful question-dodger, not worthy of further engagement.
posted by dhartung at 12:25 PM on October 21, 2001


'slappy' indeed.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:46 PM on October 21, 2001


thanks for your patronage

I'm going to give you some advise. Subjectivism is a legitimate branch of philosophy. Insulting my person does nothing to advance your points of contention.

conquerors of nature. feh.

I am not what you describe. Post modernist. It might taste great with milk.You can tell your friends 'slappy likes it'. But I decline the spoon feeding. That is your imposed ignorance. Not mine.
As quantum mechanics allow for subjectivity in mathematics, logic can have the capacity to contain relativity in respect to the social sciences.

I can comprehend the genuine fear for loss of life and terroristic activity which confronts the USA (and much of the free world). The government *must* react accordingly, and (in contrast to your well articulated insights Steven) I have no aversion to critical thoughts or arguments on ideological perspectives, or any other fundamental (politicaly speaking of course) requirements that constitute the practice of public debate in our society.
However I will not accept (as factual) individuals telling me that the US government will react objectively. As if the whole of human intelligence and reasoning is yours alone to ration off as the proveyors of truth.
posted by slappy at 10:01 PM on October 21, 2001


Sigh. Slappy, quantum mechanics doesn't permit subjectivity in mathematics, because mathematics exists independent of QM. QM uses mathematics but mathematics doesn't use QM, and in any case QM itself doesn't permit subjectivity. You may be incorrectly interpreting the use of the term "observer" in certain contexts; the problem is that a physicist doesn't mean an intelligence by that. A measurement instrument is an observer, for example. More to the point, once something is observed, everything observing it will observe it the same way. It isn't different to different observers.

Likewise, logic has no relativity or subjectivity. Logic is a branch of mathematics which permits no fuzziness. It doesn't apply to everything, but when used on the things it applies to, there is no subjectivity or relativity about it.

I don't recall claiming that the US government will react objectively. I'm not even sure that the term makes sense applied to political situations.

(By the way, for someone who objects to be insulted, you're certainly free with the insults in your own writing.)
posted by Steven Den Beste at 10:28 PM on October 21, 2001


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