"Do you expect me to surrender?" No, Mr. Taliban, I expect you to DIE!"
November 20, 2001 5:52 AM   Subscribe

"Do you expect me to surrender?" No, Mr. Taliban, I expect you to DIE!" Allowing terrorists to surrender so they can live to kill another day? No, says Rumsfeld. Bravo. I'm sure the MeFi pacifist club will squeal, but you don't let murders go to have another crack at you.
posted by darren (90 comments total)
 
Right now they're concentrated and relatively easy to take out. If they're permitted to escape, they'll scatter and we'll be fighting them for the next 20 years. They've got to be taken out now.

Rumsfeld's announcement was a good one IMHO. He doesn't have direct control over negotiations, but what he was saying is that if the Taliban do negotiate with the NA to leave Kunduz, the US will bomb them as they leave.

The "foreign guests" currently in Kunduz areal Qaeda; that's what we're in there fighting for, to neutralize them. Their destruction is the goal of this war.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 6:11 AM on November 20, 2001


In world war 2, we gave terms of unconditional sujrrender. Now, it seems if we announce surrender makes only for a quicker or cleaner death, we are going to find few willing to surrender. As a tactic, why not merely announce that surrender is an option. And then go from there. Why do we always send a signal in advance?
posted by Postroad at 6:16 AM on November 20, 2001


Yes, Bravo, darren!! Let's murder these people so they can't hurt our civilised nation again. While we're at it, let's murder all those people who just might, one day attack our civilised nation. Hey, this would be a good time to get rid of all those pinko commies and civil rights protesters that cause our civilised nation so much trouble, let's murder them, too. Oh, hey, what about those NRA people, they got guns and terrorists use guns; let's murder them too.

Are these people going to have any sort of trial (even an american trial would be better than nothing, I suppose) before they DIE? Or is your nation a bit too civilised for that?
posted by fritx at 6:24 AM on November 20, 2001


"Take no prisoners" is a fundamentally stupid policy for Afghanistan. Fighters there have a history of changing sides when the winds change. Now Taliban soldiers have no incentive to defect, thus we may see years of guerrila warfare. Bravo. More Americans will die than need be. Uh oh, that sounds like pacifism. Get a clue.
posted by fleener at 6:27 AM on November 20, 2001


I'm sure the MeFi pacifist club will squeal

Oh, fuck you, troll-boy.
posted by rodii at 6:29 AM on November 20, 2001


As if they would extend such civilities to Americans, were the situation reversed ?!?

They fight with one approach: Atrocity. That they should suddenly turn civil is as ironic as it is cowardly.
posted by BentPenguin at 6:29 AM on November 20, 2001


I don't recall those folks in the World Trade Center getting a trial. These thugs who are the al Queda have committed the crime. Now they have to face the consequences.

As for defectors, all that were going to defect, have defected. Or at least enough of them have to accomplish our purposes.

I say we should try to kill as many as possible as an object lesson to those who would attack U.S. civilians.
posted by CRS at 6:31 AM on November 20, 2001


way to win muslim friends and influence world opinion, rumsfeld.
kill 'em all, and let god sort them out, eh.
posted by asok at 6:32 AM on November 20, 2001


As for defectors, all that were going to defect, have defected.

A baseless and untrue statement. It's untrue because Taliban soldiers have been defecting the whole time, as their particular combat situation becomes fruitless. (I read the news reports.)

Another drawback to our new policy... why on earth would the Taliban surrender now? Surrender and you'll get killed by the Americans anyway.
posted by fleener at 6:37 AM on November 20, 2001


A war where surrender is met with death is not a war, it's a massacre.
posted by fleener at 6:39 AM on November 20, 2001


If we kill the terrorists, then the terrorists have won. Ironically.
posted by j.edwards at 6:42 AM on November 20, 2001


I say we should try to kill as many as possible as an object lesson to those who would attack . . .

People across this entire planet start this sentence in the exact same way. The problem arises when they finish it differently.
posted by iceberg273 at 6:44 AM on November 20, 2001


Hey fritx. No one said we should attack anyone who hasn't already harmed the citizens of our country, just the ones who killed 4,300 innocent civilians. And the impression that I got from the article is not that they'll be killed if they surrender, but if they try to escape to a different country. Rumsfield did say that the US will not take prisoners because they are not equipped to do so. To take prisoners we would have to establish a huge presence of ground troops to support the infrastructure. Instead the Taliban are being allowed to surrender to the Northern Alliance.
posted by d_brown3 at 6:47 AM on November 20, 2001


Of course, this means that the foreign fighters in Kunduz will hold out until the bitter end, since surrender will mean summary justice from Dostum's fighters who are currently sitting outside the city, smoking cigarettes, and smiling while the Americans once more do their dirty work. A pity for the rather large number of civilians caught in the city, but that's war, isn't it, you bloodthirsty bastards?

These thugs who are the al Queda have committed the crime.

If we're playing guilt by the most tenuous association, does that mean that Americans are responsible for any crimes committed by overzealous members of the Northern Alliance? Or are we in the Land of Double Standards again?
posted by holgate at 6:47 AM on November 20, 2001


"I'm sure the MeFi pacifist club will squeal"

that's almost a personal attack. I hope derogatory posts like this won't be posted at Metafilter, but they keep on coming in.

darren, I want you to know that when you diss peoples' beliefs like this, you just make them ignore everything else you ever say. they no longer respect your opinions.
posted by kv at 6:48 AM on November 20, 2001


As if they would extend such civilities to Americans, were the situation reversed ?!?

As if the most advanced nation on earth sets it's agenda by the standards of the inhabitants of one of the least advanced ?!?

Bizarre punctuation added for rhetorical effect.
posted by vbfg at 6:51 AM on November 20, 2001


I used to play RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons. I was with a group who all wanted to play bad guys. Eight characters, all evil (except for my Chaotic Good insane character who thought he was dreaming. Long story) including an "Anti-Paladin" and a Chaotic Evil assassin. These guys were fun to hang out with.

The assassin liked going up to actual "Paladin" Lawful Good characters. Here was the drill. He'd attack the Paladin from behind. Get him for a few hit points, then when the Paladin turned around the assassin would fall to his knees and beg for mercy. Being a Paladin, the character had to grant the assassin mercy. He'd turn back around and the assassin would attack him again. Eventually the NPC Paladin would tire of this and actually start really fighting, but this allowed the assassin to lower the Paladin's hit points enough to make it more of an even fight for the rest of us, who invariably would get thrown into the fracas.

Now the first time the Chaotic Evil Assassin met the Lawful Evil Paladin player character, they didn't know each other's alignments. So when the assassin tried to backstab him, the Lawful Evil Anti-Paladin turned around to see the assassin fall to his knees begging for mercy, and proceeded to clean his clock. They became fast friends soon after that.

I had a point, but I forget what it was.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:52 AM on November 20, 2001


Having read through the thread so far, I still say: Yep, OBL could sure use some killing.

It would be nice if we could arrest him, put him on trial, and send him to the Marion, Illinois Federal Penitentiary one cell down from Manuel Noriega, but that's just not a likely scenario. And in any case, he's got to be stopped. If slapping him firmly on both wrists were 100% likely to get the message across, I'd be all for it.

But this guy's essentially declared war on us -- all of us, not just uniformed combatants -- and couldn't care less about rules of engagement, if 9/11 is any example. So let's stop him by any means necessary, and if that means kill him, that's unpleasant and unmerciful, but it's Realpolitik, baby.
posted by alumshubby at 6:57 AM on November 20, 2001


I had a point, but I forget what it was.

For 20 bonus points, answer the following:

In the Current Situation, who or what is represented by:
a) the NPC Lawful Good Paladin?
b) the Lawful Evil Anti-Paladin?
c) the Chaotic Evil Assassin?
d) the friendship between the Assassin and the Anti-Paladin?
e) begging for mercy?
f) hit points?
g) ZachsMind
posted by iceberg273 at 7:00 AM on November 20, 2001


As if they would extend such civilities to Americans, were the situation reversed

so, because they wouldn't, we shouldn't? i thought we were supposed to be better than everyone else.
posted by tolkhan at 7:02 AM on November 20, 2001


What do you mean, "so they can kill another day?" Did not the first World Trade Center bombers receive a fair and lengthy trial? During which they were locked up? I read many of those transcripts. It turned out the the US Government, despite popular opinion, had a weak case, though the defendants were convicted in the end.

And that's my response now: we have only pressed charges against these people. We have a list of grievances that have yet to be turned into convictions by the process of law. Until that day, until our judicial system (and not military law) has been applied to these people, they remain suspects. They should be caught alive and prosecuted, either before US courts or before a Hague tribunal (seeing as how most of the World Trade Center victims were not American, as warmongers such as CRS prefer to forget). I would like closure, by accumulating as much certainty as possible—via facts and laws, not by opinion polls and willfully ignorant rabble rousing—that these are the guilty party. I'd like us to be able to prove it to the rest of the world. This cannot be done if these men die after capture or surrender.

I can't believe that you who are now crying for the unconditional death of others will be able to live with yourselves when the blood rage has passed, when we as a nation are called into account for our violations of rights during this conflict, both against citizens and non-citizens alike, and against combattants and non-combattants alike; when the current administration and its blind supporters are called into account for its avoidance of the constitution, of using the current conflict as an excuse to press unrelated conservative issues; and when the next generation of terrorists seeks revenge.

Even if I was for this type of war we are leading, and I am most certainly not, pending victory or no, I would refuse to ally myself with the majority of pro-war members of Metafilter. They are largely an ignorant lot, given over to unguarded emotion, bad logic, bandwagonism, jingoism, fealty to authority, a presumption of righteousness, and, above all, weakness of character. They don't even discuss intelligently, logically and fairly here; how could they be expected to support a properly conducted war?
posted by Mo Nickels at 7:05 AM on November 20, 2001


As if the most advanced nation on earth sets it's agenda by the standards of the inhabitants of one of the least advanced ?!?

Ahhh, we have moral superiority. This arrogance is exactly why most people on earth hate Americans.
posted by fleener at 7:08 AM on November 20, 2001


I had a point, but I forget what it was.

That it's nonsensical and logically indefensible to extrapolate from role playing games to real life situations?
posted by anapestic at 7:09 AM on November 20, 2001


Ahhh, we have moral superiority. This arrogance is exactly why most people on earth hate Americans.

Wait, wait... so if we kill them, they'll like us?
posted by transient at 7:10 AM on November 20, 2001


No one told me there was gonna be a pop quiz, dammit.

As for prosecution, conviction, and fair trials, when you get into war mode that's pretty much an afterthought. If your reason for being behind this war is to see these guys get a fair trial and then see them boiled in oil, give it up.

The people really responsible for the WTC/Pentagon tragedy are DEAD. They were the guys who took over the planes and crashed them into the buildings. Osama had nothing directly to do with that. You are not even going to find proof that he ever ordered anyone to do that. It's not how he works.

Charles Manson never actually killed anybody. He told some girls that he wished someone dead, and they killed them for him. Same thing's happening here. Osama Bin Laden is encouraging people to kill people, and ethically it's as if the blood were on his hands, but legally he's just inciting people to riot. He's just a blowhard.

If that's a crime, I'm in big trouble.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:10 AM on November 20, 2001


From the linked article: The alternative appears to be a battle in which fanatical foreign fundamentalists might take a heavy toll on the city’s 200,000-plus inhabitants as well as on the Alliance forces.

Civilians are only innocent when western eh?
posted by talos at 7:16 AM on November 20, 2001


And the impression that I got from the article is not that they'll be killed if they surrender, but if they try to escape to a different country. Rumsfield did say that the US will not take prisoners because they are not equipped to do so. To take prisoners we would have to establish a huge presence of ground troops to support the infrastructure. Instead the Taliban are being allowed to surrender to the Northern Alliance.

Which, if you read the papers, you see that the Northern Alliance is executing surrendered and captured Taliban soldiers. There were pictures in the paper, stories in all media, and reports on the BBC. In fact, there are reports of mass suicide by Taliban soldiers because they fear the torture and type of death the Northern Alliance is subjecting captured or surrendered soldiers to. It's the reason that the Northern Alliance was not permitted by the US-led effort to take Kabul.
posted by Mo Nickels at 7:18 AM on November 20, 2001


If we don't engage in total war, then we will suffer a relapse, just like a tuberculosis patient who fails to take a full course of antibiotics.

I will sleep in perfect peace if we succeed in killing off the Taliban and the al Qeda network. After the events of 9/11, I can't imagine anyone having any ethical "quandary" about this.
posted by mooncrow at 7:23 AM on November 20, 2001


[squeal on]
What ever happened to that whole "bring them to justice" part that came before the option of "bring justice to them"? You know, Darren, one can prevent someone from killing again without stooping to their level, unless you get off on the idea of justice=death.
[squeal off]
posted by holycola at 7:27 AM on November 20, 2001


What was that whole Geneva Convention thing a few years back all about again?
posted by syscom at 7:32 AM on November 20, 2001


I don't know, what does the Geneva Convention say about fake surrenderers?
posted by whuppy at 7:35 AM on November 20, 2001


I would like to see a full trial as well, Mo Nickels. By an independent and well respected legal body (quite a tough requisition, I know). Tell you what - if they find him not guilty, you can kill him anyway if that makes the rest of you happy. But I'd really like to know the facts. I tried doing a search the other day for evidence connecting the Hamburg terrorist cell to Al Qaida. What little evidence I did find was pathetic. The fact is, if some other terrorist outfit was involved in the 9/11 attacks, even as a collaborator, we're likely never going to know. Because the only effort that has gone into investigating the WTC operation, has basically been a fix-up job to keep the media and public happy. The British police call this tactic "trawling", and have gotten their fingers burnt numerous times. After fixing up a murderer/child molester/terrorist and putting them away, the real culprit strikes again, and again, and again. Through not following the proper investigative guidelines, they put more people in danger.

From a pragmatic point of view, I can see the benefit of killing someone because they might be guilty. Many leaders have used this tactic over the years to great effect. But to not find out if and how they were guilty, using the vast and sophisticated judicial machinary at our disposal, is plain stupid.
posted by dlewis at 7:35 AM on November 20, 2001


Guys, and gals, read the article closely. All of it. Then read the transcript of the actual Rumsfeld press conference, and the context in which the Times' quote of Rumsfeld occurred.

Rumsfield is not saying the Taliban fighters in Konduz should not be allowed to surrender, and certainly not that they should be slaughtered even if they want to surrender. He is simply saying that the US is not the appropriate party to negotiate their surrender, nor are there enough US troops on the ground to accept and control large numbers of prisoners of war. He states that negotiations for surrender are taking place between the Taliban forces and the 'opposition forces', presumably the Northern Alliance.

He is also saying, as the Times article indicates, that the US would find unacceptable any solution that would allow Taliban leaders or troops safe passage to other countries. If they surrender, they must lay down their weapons and become prisoners of war, hardly an unreasonable demand.

This entire thread is unnecessary.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 7:35 AM on November 20, 2001


I can't imagine anyone having any ethical "quandary" about this.

That's because your ethics are selfish (based on what happens to you personally). They're not as affected when bad things happen to people you don't care about. Other people are more firm in their beliefs.

What you say? You care about your neighbors? Sorry, no. By neighbors I mean other countries and we have more than amply demonstrated that we (Americans) don't care about our neighbors unless "strategic interests" are at stake. We as a country do not operate on ethics. If we did we would have helped Afghanistan recover after arming them to the teeth in a war with the Soviet Union. In that situation we were only concerned about Communism and maintaining our own status in the world, not what happened to the Afghan people.
posted by fleener at 7:40 AM on November 20, 2001


The facts as I have heard them reported -- the Taliban troops in Kunduz will lay down their arms provided that those among their midst with foreign passports are allowed to leave for their (supposedly) native lands. Oh yeah, and they want to be let back in there, and by there I mean many of the countries who have ignored internal opposition so as to support the US effort against El-Qaeda.

Anyone who falls for this deserves the "sucker" monicker. These are people who have sworn to fight not only America and all Americans, civilians or military, but many have also sworn to defeat the governments of their countries of origin. So for a very little victory in Afghanistan we would trade what little stability there is left in the rest of the region. Yeah, real smart. Also let's not forget that many leading el-Qaeda figures are not Afghani at all -- OBL is himself a Saudi-born Yemeni -- and as such this deal would only mean exporting Taliban-inspired radicals to the four corners of the arab world.

Often during this crisis I am reminded of how good a thing it is that Hitler did not come to prominence in our day -- to judge from what I read here and on Plastic it is obvious that it is impossible for the West to form any sort of truly united front against any enemy, no matter how evil or how explicit their plans for world destruction. Today you only need to couch these aspirations under the guise of some religion in order for them to gain respectability.
posted by clevershark at 7:45 AM on November 20, 2001


You, darren, are an asshole.
posted by jpoulos at 7:49 AM on November 20, 2001


fleener: Selfish, enlightened self-interest, tomayto, tomahto.
posted by whuppy at 7:50 AM on November 20, 2001


what Slithy_Tove said. (except the "thread is unnecessary" part)

there are 30,000 taliban troops in Konduz. the problem of getting these people into custody without letting any slip through the cracks and without futher harm to the 200,000 civilians is an extremely delicate one. what to do with them should that task be accomplished has no easy answers either

but darren suggesting Rumsfeld wants the 30,000 massacred is not only inaccurate, it creates unnecessary obstacles to discussing these problems rationally. why destroy your own thread to satisfy some bloodlust wetdream?

surely there are precedents for such massive collections of prisoners of war. posters bringing up the geneva convention are on the right track. if the u.s. is unwilling to do what it takes to gather up the captured taliban (which in my opinion is allowing a UN led peace-keeping force to take the lead) then i guess Dubya has been lying to us all along about doing whatever is necessary to take out terrorists. things like this and bush's insistence on military tribunals are eroding any sense of justice this war had at the beginning.
posted by danOstuporStar at 8:01 AM on November 20, 2001


Syscom, the Geneva Convention explicitly states that it only applies in wars where both sides are signatories. The Taliban are not, nor are al Qaeda.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 8:13 AM on November 20, 2001


Kunduz delenda est.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 8:14 AM on November 20, 2001


I don't exactly see how ~30 US troops (the "hundreds" are in the South, chasing OBL) are capable of taking 30,000 prisoners. We did that in the Gulf War, but we had thousands of ground troops backed up by armor and air support. Here we have pockets of advisers. It's not the same thing.

I don't see anyone in this thread distinguishing between "the Taliban" and "al Qaeda". The Times article isn't clear, either. The reports on the radio this morning made very clear that the Northern Alliance is stretching out the siege even longer to allow chances for Afghan Taliban to surrender/switch sides. They've sworn to massacre non-Afghan Taliban, and that's where the problem is. We don't want them to just kill them, but we certainly don't want them to be let go. If they're fighting, we're going to kill them in fighting. But any "safe passage" terms for the foreign fighters are unacceptable.

Here is an illuminating passage:

Q: But there are allegedly these negotiations. There are calls for perhaps the U.N. coming in and intervening. You would not be in favor of either the negotiations or the U.N. coming in to intervene in that particular fight? Is that --

Rumsfeld: Well, I'm not in a position to have really an opinion on it. The -- you know, the U.N. is going to do what it wants to do, but my -- any idea that those people in that town who have been fighting so viciously and who refuse to surrender should end up in some sort of a negotiation which would allow them to leave the country and go off and destabilize other countries and engage in terrorist attacks on the United States is something that I would certainly do everything I could to prevent.

Q: So you would like it to be a fight to the death in that particular --

Rumsfeld: Oh, no! They could surrender.

Q: Then what happens to them?

Rumsfeld: Well, one would hope they did not get let go into another country or even free in that country. They ought to be impounded. I mean, they're people who have done terrible things.
[emphasis mine]

In other words, the official US position is that if the remaining Taliban or al Qaeda do not fight to the death, they should be peaceably arrested and dealt with by the justice system of the local government. (The Northern Alliance has indicated that the penalty for "terrorists" is death.)

A biased and inflammatory news article sparks a biased and inflammatory thread. Color me astonished.
posted by dhartung at 8:17 AM on November 20, 2001


Syscom, the Geneva Convention explicitly states that it only applies in wars where both sides are signatories.

Then let the party begin. That "defending our way of life" thing sure is more complex than you'd think.
posted by holgate at 8:21 AM on November 20, 2001


Civilians are only innocent when western eh?

Bingo, talos, and everyone else is "collateral damage." Give the man a stuffed giraffe and a souvenir Uncle Sam hat.
posted by Sapphireblue at 8:22 AM on November 20, 2001


A biased and inflammatory news article sparks a biased and inflammatory thread. Color me astonished.

Well, given Darren's last post on the war, who's surprised?

I'm not entirely sure what people think America should be doing here. The U.S. doesn't control the Northern Alliance -- for the long-term stability of South and Central Asia, it might be better if we did, but we don't. The Northern Alliance is going to do pretty much what it wants to do. One of the tradeoffs of using them in place of a Western ground force is that we can't reign in bad behavior as easily as we might. Does the U.S. retract its air support? Because that's the chief negotiating tool I can think of.

Although I'd like to see every prisoner treated as a prisoner of war (and I'm sure at least some of them have useful information on al-Qaeda that isn't going to get divulged now that they've been executed), given the history -- both in Afghanistan's in general and the Northern Alliance's in particular -- of post-conflict massacres, I'm surprised by how little bloodshed I've read about.
posted by snarkout at 8:28 AM on November 20, 2001


I don't recall those folks in the World Trade Center getting a trial.

Well, we rarely try people for BEING murdered, Einstein.

These thugs who are the al Queda have committed the crime. Now they have to face the consequences.

And the consequences of committing a crime is to be hunted down and killed without due process?

And people wonder why folks are worried about their civil liberties.
posted by terrapin at 8:41 AM on November 20, 2001


Civilians are only innocent when western eh?

Since when are Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters *civilians*?
posted by lizs at 8:50 AM on November 20, 2001


I say we should try to kill as many as possible as an object lesson to those who would attack U.S. civilians.

You would make a *great* stalinist, crs, but a lousy American.
posted by jpoulos at 8:50 AM on November 20, 2001


Since when are Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters *civilians*?

Try going back a sentence and reading the bolded bits, Liz.
posted by snarkout at 8:51 AM on November 20, 2001


dance dance dance around the fire, my friends
the smell of blood is heavy in the air.

i enjoy watching the expressions on your faces,
both the killers and the killed.

This entire thread is unnecessary.

Look, I wrote a poem!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:55 AM on November 20, 2001


Civilians are only innocent when western eh?

geez. since ppl keep bringing this up: the way i read the article, this alternative is NOT being presented at a viable one ... it's an illustration of why our hands are somewhat tied.
posted by danOstuporStar at 9:12 AM on November 20, 2001


Well, we rarely try people for BEING murdered, Einstein.

Let me explain this, and I will try to use small words so that you can understand. The contention was that we shouldn't punish the taliban/al queda without a trial. I said that because those people did not get a trial before al Queda killed them.

And the consequences of committing a crime is to be hunted down and killed without due process?

Due process? Why are they entitled to due process? Are they American citizens? Or are they foreign nationals who attacked innocent U.S. citizens? They chose to associate themselves with terrorists who attacked the U.S. and therefore deserve the punishment we decide to mete out. They don't deserve the protection of the U.S. Constitution, a document that guarantees liberties to a people whom they would destroy.
posted by CRS at 9:24 AM on November 20, 2001


Sorry, jpoulos. I'm terribly upset that you would consider me a Stalinist, especially since I can't recall wanting to inflict such punishment on my own people, impose communism on large parts of the globe, or grow one of those funny mustaches.

However, I do think that any armed group which attempts to destroy my country deserves to be dealt with in a violent and complete manner.

Hell, I'm not even advocating that we kill women & children, just armed men. Looks like you'd give me points for going easy on them.
posted by CRS at 9:29 AM on November 20, 2001


Quite right too, CRS. If American residents don't deserve the protection of the US constitution, and British residents don't deserve the protection of the European Human Rights Act, then I don't see any reason why residents of foreign countries deserve any protection whatsoever.
posted by dlewis at 9:37 AM on November 20, 2001


I will try to use small words so that you can understand.
CRS, there's never a reason to present an argument this way on MetaFilter. This is a remarkably civil forum with remarkable results when people aren't mucking it up with this sort of thing.

From the article:
"It is quite possible that there are future bin Ladens trapped in Konduz. This is not the time to let them go.”

And how will we recognize them exactly?
posted by argybarg at 9:39 AM on November 20, 2001


I said: As if they would extend such civilities to Americans, were the situation reversed ?!?

vbfg replied: As if the most advanced nation on earth sets it's agenda by the standards of the inhabitants of one of the least advanced ?!?

Use history as a guide. We used your most advanced nation approach in the gulf war and showed mercy in not squashing Saddam. What did it accomplish? He shrewdly exploited cultural differences and turned our civil self-restraint into a propaganda coup: "I'm still standing so I won".

Did it earn us respect/gratitude by anyone in the middle east?
Did it teach Saddam not to get so uppity?
Did it reduce his psychopathic aspirations?
In the broadest possible terms, would you lay down your arms first and risk being slayed rather than become a slayer?

Al Qieda and Afghanis are culturally not nearly adverse to killing others and it this cultural offset that is in large part the reason the most advanced nation is in such circumstances in the first place. Al Qieda has been nothing short of shrewd in exploiting this offset thus far.

I prefer peace to violence as much as vbfg. But your position seems not to recognize that pacifism simply won't work in this war.

Deal with it. Its a kill or be killed playing field. Its ugly, it sucks and it can't be helped by taking the higher road. Are you, vbfg, (and all other mefi pacifists) prepared to die for your ideals ?!?
posted by BentPenguin at 10:05 AM on November 20, 2001


robert wright wrote a piece on the evolutionary psychology of retribution i thought was pretty interesting:

...In the view of evolutionary psychologists Martin Daly and Margo Wilson, this sense got so elaborate in our lineage because of language: We are "designed" by natural selection not only to retaliate, but to justify our retaliation to others—whether to recruit allies to our cause or to keep allies of our enemies from intervening. We naturally go around asserting that people and groups of people have done us wrong and therefore should be punished. And arguments of this form have resonance precisely because the retributive instinct is built into everyone. Even pacifists have to consciously resist it from time to time.

...This moment in history. Right now our national dialogue is doing the same kind of double-counting that legal doctrine does. Sometimes our politicians list the practical benefits of retaliating against terrorists, and sometimes they just declare resoundingly that evildoers must be punished. What's more, most of the popular support for retaliation seems to come from the latter source; it is grounded in the intuition that retribution is good in and of itself. President Bush says, "I want justice"—end of sentence—and the American people rise up as one.

So, in large part our policy is being driven not by reflection on the consequences of retribution; it is being driven by an emotion that once served as a good proxy for such reflection, but, in a modern social/technological/political environment, may well not.
posted by kliuless at 10:55 AM on November 20, 2001


BentPenguin: We used your most advanced nation approach in the gulf war and showed mercy in not squashing Saddam.

Uh, leaving Saddam there had nothing to do with mercy in any way. It was about raw self interest on the part of the US and many Arab countries plus Israel, who were literally terrified that a vacuum in Iraq would lead to some other country in the area becoming more powerful than its neighbours - just as Iraq was poised to do if they had stayed in Kuwait.
posted by mikel at 11:09 AM on November 20, 2001


Holgate, the Geneva Convention imposes rather substantial limits on what a nation is permitted to do in war. If one side fights by those rules and the other doesn't, the one that does is at a substantial disadvantage. Where is the virtue in being a principled loser?

This problem was recognized when the Geneva Convention was originally written, and that is why it requires reciprocity; you only get protection from the Geneva convention when you are a signatory. No-one was expected to lose wars by using the Geneva Convention against someone who won't honor it.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 11:25 AM on November 20, 2001



Use history as a guide. We used your most advanced nation approach in the gulf war and showed mercy in not squashing Saddam.


Assisinating Saddam was never an objective of the war and the assisination of heads of state is internationaly forbidden. Doesn't mean attempts haven't been made, but the US had very little interest in capturing and controlling Baghdad.

Obviously there are people ready and willing to take Saddam's place if he's shot, so that means a longer more involved war in taking out ALL his support and supporters and no one wanted that.
posted by skallas at 11:36 AM on November 20, 2001


we have more than amply demonstrated that we (Americans) don't care about our neighbors unless "strategic interests" are at stake

As if the rest of the world was any better at this than us.
posted by owillis at 11:39 AM on November 20, 2001


As if the rest of the world was any better at this than us.

And this justifies American actions how?
posted by Marquis at 11:45 AM on November 20, 2001


As if the rest of the world was any better at this than us.

you can claim moral superiority all you like, but you won't *be* anything but a hypocrite unless your actions really are morally superior.
posted by rebeccablood at 11:49 AM on November 20, 2001


I'm so tired.
posted by speicus at 12:06 PM on November 20, 2001


The bottom line is this. OBL let the genie out of the bottle. As we speak, many other terrorist/freedom fighter/wacko organisations are ready to now follow Al Qieda's stellar example on ow to get the world's attention focused on your cause.

That is, unless it is made painfully obvious to groups as ignorant and psychopathic as the Taliban/Al Qieda that such tactics will exact an even greater and proportional cost to the instigating cause. Our world is not wanting for fanatics, and the larger truth is that society is at the proverbial crossroads.

Show all terror groups that this new means of warfare does not --that it costs them more in the end, or face an onslaught in which armies of fanatics fight wars in which whatever the means is justified in pursuit of their cause.

This is all far beyond theory. Note that in the days following the first reports of Anthrax attacks, 91 Planned Parenthood offices all received bogus anthrax letters. This is but a taste of things to come...
posted by BentPenguin at 12:10 PM on November 20, 2001


you can claim moral superiority all you like, but you won't *be* anything but a hypocrite unless your actions really are morally superior.

Ok, that comment was a bit of a one-off. Here's my argument: every country in the world acts on their own self-interest. Very rarely is something done totally out of the goodness of their hearts, they stand to benefit somehow. The arguments here were of the train of thought was that America was the only country that does this. That was what upset me. Every country does that, that's how it works. Is it right? No, many times I think we should do the right thing, even if there isn't some sort of prize to be gained beyond the satisfaction that we've done the right thing.

Like the current conflict, is one such situation. But one of the elements that led to the current conflict is the attitude of working only when our self-interest was obvious, and I'd like to change that.

But again, to say we are the only country who acts out of our own self-interest is totally false and is the rule rather than exception on the world stage. America gets slammed because we're the big kid on the playground, even though all the kids are fighting.
posted by owillis at 12:41 PM on November 20, 2001


Extra clarification: "that comment was a bit of a one-off" is a reference to my comment and not Rebecca's, which I excerpted.
posted by owillis at 12:47 PM on November 20, 2001


That is, unless it is made painfully obvious to groups as ignorant and psychopathic as the Taliban/Al Qieda that such tactics will exact an even greater and proportional cost to the instigating cause.

Amen!
posted by eas98 at 1:43 PM on November 20, 2001


Owillis, I agree that America should act in its own interests. I agree with that 100%. However I don't think we do that (I'm not talking about the war here, I am in favor of putting Al-Queda and other violent groups out of business permanently). Instead I think we do what is in the best interests of a quick, cheap, fix that benefits various monied interests.

Not that fighting wars is cheap, but democracy could seriously affect the price of oil, if you catch my drift. We've been mucking around doing lots of awful things in the world because we haven't been smart. We've been greedy for short-term profits, and trying to avoid instability at any cost. I propose a more far-sighted, long-term approach to making the world a better place, not the "what do we need right now" undercover CIA approach.
posted by cell divide at 1:50 PM on November 20, 2001


That is, unless it is made painfully obvious to groups as ignorant and psychopathic as the Taliban/Al Qieda that such tactics will exact an even greater and proportional cost to the instigating cause.

So if they're ignorant and pyschopathic, why would they be rational enough to stop what they're doing because they know we'll take them out? Unfortunately this tack has proven time and time again not to work against terrorism.
posted by cell divide at 1:55 PM on November 20, 2001


I propose a more far-sighted, long-term approach to making the world a better place, not the "what do we need right now" undercover CIA approach.

Amen!
posted by dlewis at 1:55 PM on November 20, 2001


Where is the virtue in being a principled loser?

It's a false argument: I don't see any reason why following a set of internationally-accepted principles is going to undermine the military position in this case, even if the opposition isn't signed up. In fact, such an approach might just, y'know, break the good ol' "cycle of violence" in which cities are put to the sword whenever power changed hands in Afghanistan. But Americans have never been that good at the "gracious victor" thing in recent years, and overkill is obviously not enough for some people. So: is it going to be like the liberation of Germany from the east, or the liberation from the west?
posted by holgate at 2:02 PM on November 20, 2001


But Americans have never been that good at the "gracious victor" thing in recent years.

Really holgate, I don't know what you're talking about. :)
posted by dlewis at 2:13 PM on November 20, 2001


That is, unless it is made painfully obvious to groups as ignorant and psychopathic as the Taliban/Al Qieda that such tactics will exact an even greater and proportional cost to the instigating cause.

So if they're ignorant and pyschopathic, why would they be rational enough to stop what they're doing because they know we'll take them out?

Because the one thing a fanatic treasures more than anything else is the sacred cause. If Al Qieda survives this conflict in any way at all, it will have been a success, for it will have gotten their agenda out to the world. It will be a shining example that suicidal large scale terrorism pays a good return on investment, namely making the world listen to a bunch of savages hiding in caves.

Unfortunately this tack has proven time and time again not to work against terrorism

Examples please, since they are in such abundance.

In the meanwhile, try and recall the second time Russians were taken hostage in Lebanon in 1980s.

how about the second time Idi Amin offered a hijacked plane refuge.
posted by BentPenguin at 2:29 PM on November 20, 2001


Just wanted to point out that darren dropped this big stinky turd of a thread here and then ran away, leaving us all to yell at one another. Mission accomplished. Troll 1, MetaFilter 0. :(
posted by rodii at 3:30 PM on November 20, 2001


Examples please, since they are in such abundance.

Um... Israel? Sri Lanka? I don't think that America is the first country in the world to come up with the idea of taking a hardline stance against terrorism, BentPenguin.
posted by dlewis at 3:31 PM on November 20, 2001


So if they're ignorant and pyschopathic, why would they be rational enough to stop what they're doing because they know we'll take them out? Unfortunately this tack has proven time and time again not to work against terrorism.

Really? it's hard to state definitively that deterrence doesn't work when you don't have any way of measuring the number of terrorist attacks that *would* have occured were the U.S. to adopt a policy of less forceful response to terrorist actions. you can only point to the things that occured in spite of forceful response, which don't prove your theory that forceful response, by and large, doesn't work. (There's no controlling variable and no way to know how many attacks *didn't* occur because of current policies).

Al-Qaeda members may be ignorant, but they're not psychopathic, (with the exception perhaps of Mohammed Atef, who *was* apparently a clinically diagnosed psychopath). very few terrorists are. almost every modern day terrorist group has (institutionally) political objectives and although there are certainly individuals in the Al-Qaeda organization that believe they're engaged in a strictly religious conflict, the organization's leadership has a very acute understanding of power politics. There seems to be a big misconception that Al-Qaeda, and groups like it that use suicide bombers, have universally suicidal memberships and that is rarely the case. Most people in the al-Qaeda network are not willing to do anything for the cause.

if your premises about the futility of using expected punishment as a deterrent were correct, there would be few or no Taliban defectors and few or no shifts in alliances, which is not what's happening. The people that are defecting are doing so because they don't believe they're going to win and have decided that survival is more important than fighting the Great Satan. They know that if they continue to fight, we *will* take them out. If it is obvious from the start to terrorists with political ambitions that the endgame is certain destruction for them, most terrorist groups won't engage in 9/11 level violence because it completely ruins their chance to realize those ambitions. most terrorists want to push the envelope with violence but not so much that it results in the kind of retaliation Al-Qaeda is facing now.
posted by lizs at 3:42 PM on November 20, 2001


First of all, a hardline stance worked wonderfully against the Sendero Luminoso in Peru.

Secondly, it appears that the no-surrender policy is being applied only to the non-Afghan members of the Taliban (or Al-Qaeda, to the extent that there's a difference between the two). To the extent that this discourages the policy of spreading instability by encouraging disaffected young males to go to other countries and take up arms, I'm not convinced it's a bad thing.
posted by jaek at 5:10 PM on November 20, 2001


Just wanted to point out that darren dropped this big stinky turd of a thread here and then ran away, leaving us all to yell at one another. Mission accomplished. Troll 1, MetaFilter 0. :(

Gee, Rodii. Sorry I had to work all day today and couldn't get back to the PC. Name callers: 2 (jpoulus and rodii), News link and rational argument 1.
posted by darren at 7:16 PM on November 20, 2001


Was I'm sure the MeFi pacifist club will squeal the rational argument you were referring to?
posted by argybarg at 7:27 PM on November 20, 2001


I thought that was the name-calling...
posted by jpoulos at 8:07 PM on November 20, 2001


I have to admit I'm a wee bit unclear on how calling a group of people a "club" constitutes name-calling.
posted by kindall at 9:19 PM on November 20, 2001


I find term club to be subtly patronizing, bringing connotations of the clubs you used to belong to at school. A club shares an immature and slightly fanatical common interest in something, and gives the impression that members are some what lacking in individuality. You'll hear of football clubs, drinking clubs, book clubs and golf clubs. But you won't hear a political group calling itself a club - at least not outside of school. Subtle insults are often the most riling, as we've seen here.

Squeal, on the other hand, is not hardly as subtle. We all know that only pigs squeal.
posted by dlewis at 2:21 AM on November 21, 2001


"Club" is name-calling, but "asshole" and "turd" aren't?
posted by darren at 3:56 AM on November 21, 2001


Asshole and turd are obviously name calling, Darren. I'm just pointing out why "squealing pacifist club" may have ruffled a few feathers.

Of course .... squealing asshole club would be even worse.
posted by dlewis at 4:54 AM on November 21, 2001


That's it! I'm off to form the MeFi SAC! Anyone else want to join? No club dues!
posted by darren at 5:09 AM on November 21, 2001


Do we get a teeshirt? I'm in!
posted by dlewis at 5:26 AM on November 21, 2001


Good thought. We definately need a Squealing Asshole logo. Any takers?
posted by darren at 4:10 PM on November 21, 2001


Previously on MeFi...
terrapin: Well, we rarely try people for BEING murdered, Einstein.

CRS: Let me explain this, and I will try to use small words so that you can understand. The contention was that we shouldn't punish the taliban/al queda without a trial. I said that because those people did not get a trial before al Queda killed them.

terrapin: And again, I will say that you don't try people who WERE murdered ;) One doesn't try victims.

terrapin: And the consequences of committing a crime is to be hunted down and killed without due process?

CRS: Due process? Why are they entitled to due process? Are they American citizens? Or are they foreign nationals who attacked innocent U.S. citizens? They chose to associate themselves with terrorists who attacked the U.S. and therefore deserve the punishment we decide to mete out. They don't deserve the protection of the U.S. Constitution, a document that guarantees liberties to a people whom they would destroy.

And now the new stuff...
terrapin: There is no use arguing with that "logic." So only American citizens deserve the laws and principles America supposedly holds in the highest regard? Gee, and here I thought one should practice what they preach.

Ok. So if you don't think non-Americans should be afforded the same rights as Americans (or its Constitution), how about this...

President Bush is in violation of the Geneva Conventions (yes, that is plural) as well as the U.S. War Crimes Act of 1996 for a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, (Article 3 (1)(d)) and could be subject to criminal prosecution.

That section reads:

"The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples. "

President Bush's military order is in direct violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention because it violates the right to an independent and impartial day in court so-to-speak.

And a violation of the War Crimes Act can be punished by death.

No need to small words for my sake, CRS. I understand perfectly.
posted by terrapin at 1:30 PM on November 26, 2001


Aaron disagrees (and so do I). The following is all his:

"Article 3 In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties [emphasis mine], each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:"

This is the statement of the conditions where the Article 3(1)(d) apply. This does NOT describe the situation in Afghanistan. We are NOT in violation of the Geneva Conventions in this case. I have not yet heard of any actual violations of said conventions yet. I have heard complaints, but all have been simply misquotes or applying a directive where it does not apply.

Don't try to use this statement, either: "Although one of the Powers in conflict may not be a party to the present Convention, the Powers who are parties thereto shall remain bound by it in their mutual relations. They shall furthermore be bound by the Convention in relation to the said Power, if the latter accepts and applies the provisions thereof." [emphasis mine]
posted by gleemax at 8:28 AM on November 29, 2001


And if it isn't in the best interest of the U.S. then break it or stop paying your dues...

Kinda like missile treaties and the U.N.

Sorry, but argue over wording and semantics all you want, Dubya has made himself judge, juror and executioner, and that is wrong no matter how you interpret it.
posted by terrapin at 2:02 PM on November 29, 2001


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