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What are the real causes of terrorism?
January 13, 2004 10:03 AM   Subscribe

What are the real causes of terrorism?
Tired of the "they hate our freedoms" spiel? What are the real causes of terrorism? and are we addressing them or in fact exacerbating them? "... the variable that came up most frequently was not poverty or human-rights abuses, but perceived humiliation. Humiliation emerged at every level of the terrorist groups I studied — leaders and followers."
posted by specialk420 (45 comments total)

 
See here also for Jessica Stern On Terrorism links.
posted by y2karl at 10:15 AM on January 13, 2004


Ideology.

An ideology of reviving an emergent and dominant Muslim culture throughout the world is what all these groups share. I find it odd that the author didn't even posit that as a possibility.

It's not like Al-Qaeda et al have exactly been secretive about their goals and motives. They find the very existence of the West to be abhorant and an abomination.

Can't we take them at face value and believe that that is what motivates them, rather than some perceived 'humiliation'?

Bin Laden has certainly not been economically humiliated by the West. Now, perhaps he is taking advantage of discontent among the poorer classes in predominantly Muslim nations. That just proves how morally bankrupt his point of view is.

At any rate, I think you have to take their ideological position into account when questioning the motives of a group, especially if they are motivated to actually killing people. What do they believe, about themselves and about us?
posted by geekhorde at 10:23 AM on January 13, 2004


They find the very existence of the West to be abhorant and an abomination.

Sure - their misguided leaders make all sorts of extreme statements (although it would be nice if you would provide any reference links rather than what your heard last week on FOX ... ), but what is it that causes young men and women to join terrorist groups and become willing to sacrifice their lives for the cause? because they "hate" the west? because they "hate" the "freedoms" of the west? come on.
posted by specialk420 at 10:28 AM on January 13, 2004


Related: I just started reading Hernando de Soto's book The Other Path, which was essentially a challenge to both the Peruvian government at the time it was written and the Shining Path, a terrorist organization bent on leading a maoist revolution. Apparently they made al Qaeda look pretty amateurish... killed 80,000+ people by conventional means. Anyway, de Soto asserts that given a chance to legitimately and fairly participate in a market economy, they'll choose that rather than blowing people up, and went about helping the government in Peru solve their problems by making it easier for people to do so. It apparently worked. The Shining Path is pretty much eradicated, leader jailed, very few members left, no recent action.

I don't know that this entirely applies to the middle east -- religion is obviously a powerful factor there. But perhaps even there...
posted by weston at 10:35 AM on January 13, 2004


I thought they hated our freedom?

Maybe that's why George Bush is taking all our rights away-- so they won't hate us anymore, and then we'll finally be safe from terrorism like he promised?
posted by keswick at 10:46 AM on January 13, 2004


"hate" the "freedoms" of the west? come on.
Well, actually, yes, in part. Ask these guys how they feel about freedom of movement, employment, etc. for women. You wont find many feminists among the beard and miswak crowd.

To say "the root cause is X" is foolish reductionism. All that said, humiliation is a factor, as are diminished expectations, the bewildering juxtoposition of a glorious past and a pathetic present, globalized media, etc.

How to fix all of these at once? How about starting by putting people, not an ossified "Republican" regime held in power by the secret police, in charge of their societies. DeSoto's argument is another take on "nobody ever washed a rented car." Few Arabs have the means or the incentive to improve their societies. The smart ones leave. Wipe away their uniformly awful governments and this may change.

It isn't an accident that this is exactly the the risky gamble currently being undertaken in Iraq at the behest of "democratic fundamentalists" like Perle and his ilk.
posted by ednopantz at 10:48 AM on January 13, 2004


Just to clear things up: the Paruvian government was anything but democratic and the 40,000-60,000 are those killed by both sides in a civil war. The government side did better than the guerrilas in killing people:

Speaking through a translator at the United Nations, the Commission's president, Salomon Lerner Febres, presented the findings, which will be formally released in August. "We have felt that there is a minimum of 40,000 dead and it might be more than 60,000. That is the ceiling," he said. "We can never know exactly what the maximum number was." ...
...Investigators found that state security forces, not leftist rebels, were responsible for most of the deaths and disappearances. Commissioners say more than 75-percent of the victims come from Peru's poor and indigenous population.


This is instructive: there is no terrorism more effective than state terrorism.
posted by talos at 10:50 AM on January 13, 2004


that's ... Peruvian government
posted by talos at 10:51 AM on January 13, 2004


Maybe that's why George Bush is taking all our rights away-- so they won't hate us anymore

Exactly.
posted by homunculus at 11:04 AM on January 13, 2004


geekhorde, I don't think that "ideology" answers the question. Ideology isn't a cause as much as a stepping-stone between cause and effect. The question is why do they have that ideology? What makes a teenager have an idealogy that he feels so strongly about he's willing to kill himself and others for it? What makes a nation or a people be willing to at least tolerate such an ideology?
posted by callmejay at 11:04 AM on January 13, 2004


How about starting by putting people, not an ossified "Republican" regime held in power by the secret police, in charge of their societies.

You would think our leaders would learn a little something from past mistakes ... you'd think.
posted by specialk420 at 11:05 AM on January 13, 2004


You would think our leaders would learn a little something from past mistakes ... you'd think.

Or you would think that the real world involves compromise and that sometimes dragons get slain one at a time.

But the whole thread is just an excuse for Bush-bashing and the usal mefi wanking anyway.
posted by ednopantz at 11:18 AM on January 13, 2004


For your convenience:

How America Created a Terrorist Haven

Of course, we should be glad that the Iraq war was swifter than even its proponents had expected, and that a vicious tyrant was removed from power. But the aftermath has been another story. America has created — not through malevolence but through negligence — precisely the situation the Bush administration has described as a breeding ground for terrorists: a state unable to control its borders or provide for its citizens' rudimentary needs.

As the administration made clear in its national security strategy released last September, weak states are as threatening to American security as strong ones. Yet its inability to get basic services and legitimate governments up and running in post-war Afghanistan and Iraq — and its pursuant reluctance to see a connection between those failures and escalating anti-American violence — leave one wondering if it read its own report.


Pakistan's Jihad Culture

Pakistan is a weak state, and government policies are making it weaker still. Its disastrous economy, exacerbated by a series of corrupt leaders, is at the root of many of its problems. Yet despite its poverty, Pakistan is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on weapons instead of schools and public health. Ironically, the government's "cost-saving" measures are even more troubling. In trying to save money in the short run by using irregulars in Kashmir and relying on madrasahs to educate its youth, Pakistan is pursuing a path that is likely to be disastrous in the long run, allowing a culture of violence to take root.

Well, that was written in 2000.

Talking With Terrorists

reason: How important is it to understand the motivations and dynamics of these groups?

Stern: It is important because we want to understand the potential appeal of this ideology. I don’t think we’re ever going to persuade hardened terrorists to change their minds by changing our policies -- not that I’m recommending changing our policies in response to terrorist complaints. But we can have a very significant impact on those who would become sympathizers.

If you look at the popularity of the U.S. in the Arab world, it’s frightening how low it’s gotten. For terrorist groups to succeed in Morocco and Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, they need support. You can’t have the terrorists themselves and nobody else; there is a [necessary] support base. We need to understand the message they’re trying to sell. We need to undermine that message.

posted by y2karl at 11:26 AM on January 13, 2004


Or you would think that the real world involves compromise and that sometimes dragons get slain one at a time.

Except for the fact that the secret police is being resurrected under our direction, with our support, and with our finances. Don't you think the reintroduction of "secret police" in Iraq and neighbors spying on neighbors at the CPA/US government's behest/payroll is going to breed resentment and vis a vis terrorism?

But the whole thread is just an excuse for Bush-bashing and the usual mefi wanking anyway

Typical response for any criticism of the current administration and it's policies by it's supporters.

I hope someone you care about is not included in those injured by terrorism possibly incited by the bush administrations irresponsible approach to the world someday.
posted by specialk420 at 12:06 PM on January 13, 2004


I see an interesting parallel between the causes of the American Civil War and the causes of the current violence originating in the Middle East. My primary observation: the basic question of whether certain people are citizens or property has much less to do with either conflict than most would like to think. Also, democracy was not enough to keep fundamentally opposed interests in America from fighting an appallingly bloody war -- why would it be enough in the Middle East?
posted by Ptrin at 12:21 PM on January 13, 2004


Don't you think the reintroduction of "secret police" in Iraq and neighbors spying on neighbors at the CPA/US government's behest/payroll is going to breed resentment and vis a vis terrorism?

so, your saying iraq should not have a secret police?

even Iceland has a intelligence unit (funded by america)
posted by clavdivs at 12:34 PM on January 13, 2004


Except for the fact that the secret police is being resurrected under our direction, with our support, and with our finances. Don't you think the reintroduction of "secret police" in Iraq and neighbors spying on neighbors at the CPA/US government's behest/payroll is going to breed resentment and vis a vis terrorism?

Making that judgement would require a whole lot more information than a single Telegraph piece sourced entirely to people not familiar with the program in question. Will it resemble the Baathist special security service or an American community policing effort? The hysterical headlines make assumptions based on next to zero information, none of it from people who are actually directing the program—something of a problem in predicting its future direction and scope.

I call it the usual wanking because it involves posting polemical links discussing complex issues and drawing the most simplistic conclusions from it.
posted by ednopantz at 12:39 PM on January 13, 2004


I have long resented this misleading and xenophobic line that they hate us because they hate freedom. I believe that those in positions of power know that it's a lie. The real reasons for terrorism are complex, and complexity doesn't sell wars.

The people who are profiting from this war want the American public to believe that it comes down to Pepsi and Jesus versus burkas and the lash. Hogwash. We're using Israel and our army to control and wreak havoc in their home region. Of course they're humiliated by it.

Ending "terror" requires that we develop energy self-sufficiency. If we do that, we can let go of Israel. The bottom line is that until we stop fucking with them, they're going to continue to hate us. File that under D for duh.
posted by squirrel at 12:42 PM on January 13, 2004


fucking with them, is that a precise 'terrorism' term?

I call it the usual wanking because it involves posting polemical links discussing complex issues and drawing the most simplistic conclusions from it.

agreed.
posted by clavdivs at 12:58 PM on January 13, 2004


Well, if you feel humiliated, you should try to improve yourself. And of course, nothing, including "humiliation", can justify terrorist acts; it would be just as wrong as offering excuses and even apologizing to serial killers or something like that. When all is said and done, sensible people shouldn't blame themselves-- as the "humiliation" excuse implies-- for other peoples' failures and historical underachievement.

I detect a cowardly, Stockholm- syndrome cop-out in these attempts to "humanize" criminals like terrorists and such. Blaming the victim is one of the most prominent leftist vices, and only criminals would benefit from it.

"I see an interesting parallel between the causes of the American Civil War and the causes of the current violence originating in the Middle East."

That's wrong, since the Civil War was fought locally for different definitions of freedom, whereas terrorism coming from the Middle East is steeped in hatred, religious fanaticism and totalitarian plans.
posted by 111 at 1:32 PM on January 13, 2004


Humiliation huh? We'll be able to test the hypothesis after the 2004 election by seeing whether we have a new batch of Democratic Party terrorists.
posted by quercus at 1:50 PM on January 13, 2004


agreed (111) on the civil war analogy. not a good one.
but i would not say steeped in these things you said. It lends a certain label i cannot agree with. It is evident in political structures and how they combat internal problems concerning "extremists". my reasoning is if the middle east is steeped in hatred, religious fanaticism and totalitarian plans. then there would be a level of violence seen around the world of an almost unprecedented scale. why?, because all these countries would be singularly united to defeat "the west".

so something like this would seem to bring 10,000 bombings a day around the world (excluding american bombs) the biggest oil embargo since the 70's. new alliances. shipping disrupted, economic chaos, 5.00$ a gallon gas (if that). inflation up 20% in days. markets close. solders in almost total mobilization.
there would be enough misery and chaos for everyone and then add these things.

still leaves the problem, part of it is ourselves, one must admit that before anything really happens to end it.
posted by clavdivs at 2:17 PM on January 13, 2004


I don't know why we try to understand terrorists. It's us or them, and I prefer that it be them.

RELEASE THE HOUNDS!
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:37 PM on January 13, 2004


Posted by DeLong at 03:08 PM | Permanent

Origins of Bush Mideast Policy

I have reached page 72 of The Price of Loyalty, and for the first time in the book George W. Bush expresses a substantive opinion about something:
p. 71 ff: President Bush echoed this view: "We're gong to correct the imbalances of the previous administration on the Mideast conflict. We're going to tilt it back toward Israel. And we're going to be consistent. Clinton overreached, and it all fell apart. That's why we're in trouble," Bush said. "If the two sides don't want peace, there's no way we can force them." Then the President halted. "Anybody here ever met [Ariel] Sharon?" After a moment, Powell sort of raised his hand. Yes, he had. "I'm not going to go by past reputations when it comes to Sharon," Bush said. "I'm going to take him at face value. We'll work out a relationship based on how things go." He'd met Sharon briefly, Bush said, when they had flown over Israel in a helicopter on a visit in December 1998. "Just saw him that one time. We flew over the Palestinian camps," Bush said sourly. "Looked real bad down there. I don't see much we can do over there at this point. I think it's time to pull out of that situation."

And that was it, according to O'Neill and several other people in the room. The Arab-Israeli conflict was a mess, and the United States would disengage. The combatants would have to work it out on their own. Powell said such a move might be hasty. He remarked on the violence in the West Bank and Gaza and on its roots. He stressed that a pullback by the United States would unleash Sharon and the Israeli army. "The consequences of that could be dire," he said, "especially for the Palestinians."

Bush shrugged. "Maybe that's the best way to get things back in balance." Powell looked startled. "Sometimes a show of strength by one side can really clarify things," Bush said...
It is worthy noting that this is the only moment recounted in the entire book in which George W. Bush makes a substantive argument for a policy.

posted by y2karl at 4:20 PM on January 13, 2004


I don't know why we try to understand terrorists. It's us or them, and I prefer that it be them.

For the same reason we try to understand viruses, bacteria, cancer, etc.

In fact, that's sortof a sharp epistemoligical dividing line, I think, between neocon and more liberal doctrines. One says terrorists are just evil people. The other says that terrorism is a sociological virus inhabiting human hosts. I think there's a certain amount of validity to both viewpoints, the later metaphor is one I just like more, probably because it suggests courses of action beyond blowing stuff/people up.
posted by weston at 6:53 PM on January 13, 2004


callmejay wrote:

"geekhorde, I don't think that "ideology" answers the question. Ideology isn't a cause as much as a stepping-stone between cause and effect. The question is why do they have that ideology? What makes a teenager have an idealogy that he feels so strongly about he's willing to kill himself and others for it? What makes a nation or a people be willing to at least tolerate such an ideology?"

Well, my response would be why does anyone have the ideology that they have? In my experience, I strongly suspect that people believe what they want to believe irrationally, and then try to rationalise their beliefs. I think that's a failure of all humans.

It just seems to me that some ideologies, some memes, if you will, are more particularly dangerous than others.

Not that our memes in the West aren't dangerous. Yes, we throw our weight around in economic and cultural terms. We've installed regimes to suit our needs. The willingness to do that is very dangerous as well. I'm not saying we're blameless. Far from it.

But I think that if you start looking for 'root causes' that go beyond what people believe about how the world should be, then you get into chicken and egg territory.

Look at it this way. Is Al-Qaeda hell bent on killing Americans (and whoever is standing in the way) because the Americans screwed over the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan in the 80s (Where Bin Laden worked with the CIA)? Or is it more fundamentally connected to their Wahhabist sect's belief in the moral bankruptcy of the West because we are not a strict Islamic society?

I guess a little from column A, a little from column B, but I think the latter has more weight. That's what they declare their motivating factor to be. Since they publicly declared war on the West, for our many un-Islamic decadent and sinful ways, we've been hit with terrorist attacks.

I suppose the real question is how much support for their position is there in the Muslim world.

How serious a threat is this?

I take it seriously. When someone says they're going to come over and burn down my house, I don't call a counselor and say they need help (even though they might), I call the cops.
posted by geekhorde at 9:11 PM on January 13, 2004


As for their ideology, here is Osama Bin Laden's Fatwa from 1998.
posted by geekhorde at 9:20 PM on January 13, 2004


On a sidenote:

Hussein Warned Iraqis to Beware Outside Fighters, Document Says

Officials said Mr. Hussein apparently believed that the foreign Arabs, eager for a holy war against the West, had a different agenda from the Baathists, who were eager for their own return to power in Baghdad. As a result, he wanted his supporters to be careful about becoming close allies with the jihadists, officials familiar with the document said.

A new, classified intelligence report circulating within the United States government describes the document and its contents, according to administration officials who asked not to be identified. The officials said they had no evidence that the document found with Mr. Hussein was a fabrication.

posted by y2karl at 9:48 PM on January 13, 2004


In fact, that's sortof a sharp epistemoligical dividing line, I think, between neocon and more liberal doctrines. One says terrorists are just evil people. The other says that terrorism is a sociological virus inhabiting human hosts.

I see the neocon position as more complex than this: it may be that they think they're really interested in nation building and innoculating an arena by military might.

That said, I also see the imperialist side.

And geekhorde, you're right too... except it's important to call in the counselors and sociologists as well as the cops if a bunch of guys in an area suddenly decide to become arsonists.
posted by namespan at 10:52 PM on January 13, 2004


When looking at the neocon line, it is important to remember that it initially had nothing to do with terrorism at all, and certainly nothing to do with fixing shit in the middle east. The goal was American military hegemony and dominance over Earth and space, pure and simple. There is next to nothing in Rebuilding America's Defenses about terrorism, though many of its proposals have been grafted verbatim onto terrorism-related rationales.

To suggest that they give a hoot about nation building, or that they recognize any "arena" other than the entire universe, which is sole property of the United States, is to swallow their line.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:52 PM on January 13, 2004


Ignatius, I give some credence to that point, but sometimes I can't help but think that generally human beings have some sort of rationale for things and think "global hegemony can't just be for fun... can it?"

So I flip flop back and forth between thinking the neocons really are a bunch of people who just enjoy or otherwise profit from the game, and thinking that they're serving some sort of ideology they see as a higher good...
posted by namespan at 12:19 AM on January 14, 2004


The goal was American military hegemony and dominance over Earth and space, pure and simple.....To suggest that they give a hoot about nation building, or that they recognize any "arena" other than the entire universe, which is sole property of the United States, is to swallow their line.

Because conservatives are pure evil, right? And you say that the neocons have a simpleminded view of terrorists. Irony abounds.
posted by jonmc at 6:41 AM on January 14, 2004


That's your simpleminded reduction, not his, jonmc. Not irony, stupidity. And, yes, it abounds.
posted by squirrel at 10:45 AM on January 14, 2004


What are the real causes of terrorism?

It doesn't matter because there is only one way to stop it, and that involves putting terrorists out of our misery.

There's another more disturbing reality:

"Terrorism has been encouraged by not only the lack of deterrence and the lack of a tough stand on terrorism, but also by the effective promotion of it through the advancement of terrorist groups causes - such as inviting Arafat to speak at the United Nations after numerous plane hijackings and the ordered murder of American diplomats." - a review of the Alan Dershowitz book Why Terrorism Works.

Excerpt here.
posted by hama7 at 10:52 AM on January 14, 2004


That curious species, the modern American leftist, notoriously open to all kinds of "dissent" except when it dissents with their own.

Not to mention, your razor-sharp dissection of my criticism is to term me "stupid." Very erudite of you.

C'mon. What I was pointing out is that ignatious and others are (somewhat correctly) fond of pointing out that conservatives are simpleminded for believing that terrorism arism only from sheer bloody-minded hatred and a desire for conquest. Then, he turns around and claims that the only thing motivating conservatives is a desire to control the world. If you can't see the irony there, it's only because you don't want to.
posted by jonmc at 10:55 AM on January 14, 2004


Actually the only way to stop, or at least reduce, terrorism is to hope to build the confidence of the social base from which they draw their support and create a situation where it is in the group's interest to engage directly with the state rather than support or lend comfort to the terrorist group (tacitly or otherwise)*. This is broadly what has happened in Northern Ireland, and I certainly feel safer, although I'll feel a lot more so when Ian Paisley dies.**

It generally involves talking to terrorists and finding one who can, hopefully, be bought. It's also a situation with no clear "winners". Hopefully, everyone wins a bit.

Thatcher was fond of saying "We do not talk to terrorists", but a cursory glance at history demonstrates that we always talk to terrorists, and if people could put more effort into identifying which terrorists we will ending up talking to we could start negotiations earlier and limit the casualties.

Another effective method is waiting for them to die or join the bourgeoisie (as with Baader-Meinhof or the Black Panthers), but that's hardly a reliable method. Normalisation is the best way.

You can't defeat a terrorist group, unless you have the ability to exterminate the society from which that group is drawn and the will to do so. I certainly hope that isn't the case with our governments.

*It might be instructive, also, to observe the relationship between the terrorists that arise in our own countries and their "constituencies". For example, there are a lot of people who share Timothy McVeigh's core beliefs, but not very many of them have blown anything up.

**The continued respiration of the Rev. Ian Paisley is solid proof of the non-existence of God. If there was a God, that vicious fucker would have have passed on to his just desserts years ago.
posted by Grangousier at 11:53 AM on January 14, 2004


Then, he turns around and claims that the only thing motivating conservatives is a desire to control the world.

Perhaps you could explain how attempting to maintain overwhelming military superiority over every other nation in the world is is not attempting to maintain de facto hegemony over the world...
posted by y2karl at 1:36 PM on January 14, 2004


Officials said Mr. Hussein apparently believed that the foreign Arabs, eager for a holy war against the West, had a different agenda from the Baathists, who were eager for their own return to power in Baghdad

Right.

Saddam grew up as a cadre in the highly ideological and dogmatic Baath party structure. His speeches, from the time he entered government in 1968 until today, have had a consistent ideological, pseudo-intellectual character, even if in the past decade a layer of Islamist rhetoric has been added. From his first declarations to his last, he has always presented the Arabs as the master race, whose history and accomplishments are glorious. He has always had a mystical belief in self-purification through violence, the notion that the soul is elevated through warfare and killing. And most important, he has always been committed to the life of relentless struggle, of ever-widening wars and confrontations, of perpetual revolution, which undermines all objective truth, all stability, all possibility of rest and peace. He has believed all this in the name of some of final and transcendent conquest for himself and the Arab nation.



posted by clavdivs at 1:46 PM on January 14, 2004


Perhaps you could explain how attempting to maintain overwhelming military superiority over every other nation in the world is is not attempting to maintain de facto hegemony over the world...

could you provide links that the rest of the world does not have more military equipment then the U.S.
or a link on how the U.S. could withstand an invasion from every military in the world.
posted by clavdivs at 1:55 PM on January 14, 2004


Grangousier: Very nicely put - I like your take on the 'non existence of god' (I've always thought that Paisley purporting to be a Christian must be some sort of sick practical joke that got out of control)
posted by daveg at 2:46 PM on January 14, 2004


maintain de facto hegemony over the world...

I would ask that you consider the alternative, but since you are actively wishing for failure by the United States in any situation, especially militarily, please consider this:

Peace Through Strength.
posted by hama7 at 3:00 PM on January 14, 2004


Or : Peace Through Strength.
posted by hama7 at 3:02 PM on January 14, 2004


Ha, the former Mr. John Q. Incomprehensible has become Mr. Precise Terminology, I see.

Well, pardon my sloppy phrasing--my intention was certainly not to imply we intend to be able to or could hold off the whole world militarily--just that we have no serious military rivals.

The U.S. spends more in total monetary amount on procuring weapons than the seven or eight nations next in order combined. Do you need a link for that sentence?

The PNAC position papers--those are your neo-cons, and do you need a link for that assertion, by the way?--explicitly stats their desire to see the U.S. maintain this overwhelming military superiority in perpetuity--now, do you really need a link for that sentence?

Maintenance of an overwheming military superiority is arguably tantamount to maintaining hegemony--true or false? Now, do you need a link for that sentence?


hama7, I do not think attempting to maintain overwhelming militarily superiority in conventional and nuclear forces to the next ten potential rivals is the same as maintaining an adequate defense. We don't need another carrier group to stop airliners from crashing into skyscrapers. More multi-billion dollar nuclear submarines will not diminish the potential for attacks from suicide bombers in American shopping malls. An untested ballistic missile defense system, no matter how many billions of dollars we spend, will not stop a tactical nuclear device hidden in a cargo container on a ship from being detonated in an American harbor. We could spend far less on unneeded military weapons systems, put our money to wiser uses and be much safer than we are now.

Empire is out for us. We just don't have the manpower to run the world--it can be argued, I think, that we currently don't even have enough troops to defeat and occupy Syria by ourselves, let alone North Korea.
posted by y2karl at 3:18 PM on January 14, 2004


hama7: did you know Reagan and Bush 40 both thought de Soto was on to something? The importance of providing real opportunities to people an not proping up authoritarian regimes so that people can have participation in a market economy really shouldn't be an antithetical concept to a hard right guy like yourself. Yes, it necessary to demonstrate you're not a paper tiger. No, there is not only "one way" to deal with the problem, and real solutions go beyond blowing things/people up.
posted by weston at 7:10 PM on January 14, 2004


Empire is out for us. We just don't have the manpower to run the world

agreed. History has proven no one state or empire has ever had the man power to control the whole world. Of course the whole world had a different meaning in 14 A.D. then post world war two.

it can be argued, I think, that we currently don't even have enough troops to defeat and occupy Syria by ourselves, let alone North Korea.

well it is a hypothetical argument at best. Your model is Syria.
Would we have the manpower to occupy them say if for some reason? (having a hard time thinking of one except if Syria went mad and...say dumped WMD on one of their "enemies")
Yes, we would.

overwheming military superiority.
having superiority, one hopes "overwheming" is an congruent aspect.
posted by clavdivs at 9:53 AM on January 15, 2004


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