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May 11, 2004 11:14 AM   Subscribe

Video Seems to Show Beheading of American in response to the Abu Ghraib torture photos. I wonder if Sen. James Inhofe will continue to be "more outraged by the outrage than we are by the treatment." [more inside, via kos]
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly (242 comments total)

 
A video posted Tuesday on an Islamic militant Web site showed a group affiliated with al-Qaida beheading an American contractor in Iraq, saying the death was revenge for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers.

The video showed five men wearing headscarves and black ski masks, standing over a bound man in an orange jumpsuit - similar to a prisoner's uniform - who identified himself as Nick Berg, a U.S. contractor whose body was found on a highway overpass in Baghdad on Saturday.

``My name is Nick Berg, my father's name is Michael, my mother's name is Susan,'' the man said on the video. ``I have a brother and sister, David and Sarah. I live in ... Philadelphia.''

After reading a statement, the men were seen pulling the man to his side and putting a large knife to his neck. A scream sounded as the men cut his head off, shouting ``Allahu Akbar!'' - ``God is great.'' They then held the head out before the camera.

``For the mothers and wives of American soldiers, we tell you that we offered the U.S. administration to exchange this hostage with some of the detainees in Abu Ghraib and they refused,'' one of the men read from a statement.

``So we tell you that the dignity of the Muslim men and women in Abu Ghraib and others is not redeemed except by blood and souls. You will not receive anything from us but coffins after coffins ... slaughtered in this way.''

posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:14 AM on May 11, 2004


If I can quote Rush Limbaugh here, I am sure these Al Qaeda guys are just blowing off some steam. I mean, don't you ever just need to blow off some steam?
posted by xmutex at 11:25 AM on May 11, 2004


Captured mercenaries have always been treated with contempt. It's too bad, but I'm sure he signed a release along with his contract.

I feel bad for his family.

Maybe US will retaliate for this atrocity by sodomizing a few prisoners with electrified whip-handles. Or maybe by making the prisoners do it to each other. Yeah, that oughtta teach 'em.
posted by dfowler at 11:28 AM on May 11, 2004


"So we tell you that the dignity of the Muslim men and women in Abu Ghraib and others is not redeemed except by blood and souls."

These people are completely fucking psychotic.
posted by homunculus at 11:29 AM on May 11, 2004


These people are completely fucking psychotic.

I don't know about fucking psychotic. Sounds to me like they're really pissed off though.
posted by futureproof at 11:33 AM on May 11, 2004


Like Rumsfeld said, the rules of the Geneva Convention are really just sort of like guidelines.

Probably don't apply to mercenaries anyway.

Maybe more troture will teach them a lesson. Or we could send the Marines into Fallujah again since that worked so well last time "teaching them a lesson."

My condolences to all families who have lost loved ones to this war. Too bad they aren't the chicken hawks, likudniks and neocons in charge who started this shit.
posted by nofundy at 11:34 AM on May 11, 2004


A bad situation just got a lot worse. Crap.
posted by mathowie at 11:35 AM on May 11, 2004


One-upmanship is definitely the way to go. Hmm, how to you out-psycho these people. How about we surround baghdad with heads on pikes?

Where's Kurtz when you need him?
posted by malphigian at 11:39 AM on May 11, 2004


Let me see if I understand what you mean by I wonder if Sen. James Inhofe will continue to be "more outraged by the outrage than we are by the treatment." : this savage act against an American "contractor" (back and forward) justifies any torture inflicted by Americans against any prisoner. Is that it? Because we were almost hoping all that talk about bringing down bloody dictators and helping an oppressed people was the last lie we were going to hear about the whole affair. Guess we are still in for a new reason, something about killing all males between 14 and 60 just to be sure no terrorist survives. Eventually we will get to the oil.

On preview, nofundy, the Geneva Conventions certainly apply to mercenaries. I am just not sure Al Qaeda has signed yet.
posted by nkyad at 11:40 AM on May 11, 2004


And "we" are the civil and sane ones?
Carpet bombs, daisy cutters, cruise missles, 1/2 billion dollar bombers, etc. etc. etc. and we can 't seem to pull a strategy out of our ass, follow simple human right guidelines let alone stop giving people reason to take off our heads.

Yeah, they are crazy. How stupid of them not to want our noble help.

The guy is a merc, this is why they are paid big dollars. But we need to understand these people are willing to blow themselves us, they believe in themselves that much. Right now they are continuing to push our button trying to find when we break.

It took 19 soldiers for Pres. Clinton to break, what will it take for Pres. Bush?
posted by fluffycreature at 11:41 AM on May 11, 2004


I'm outraged at Inhofe's outrage at the outrage.
posted by Ty Webb at 11:43 AM on May 11, 2004


One-upmanship is definitely the way to go. Hmm, how to you out-psycho these people. How about we surround baghdad with heads on pikes?

Maybe not. But I'd be lying if I said I was comfortable with the idea of laying down and letting them win this way either.
posted by jonmc at 11:46 AM on May 11, 2004


One-upmanship is definitely the way to go. Hmm, how to you out-psycho these people. How about we surround baghdad with heads on pikes?

I see Tony Blair sending Eddie Izzard to Baghdad to ride around on a moped putting babies on spikes and saying 'ciao.'

But, that's just me.
posted by DragonBoy at 11:46 AM on May 11, 2004


I would just like to take this moment to point out that it might have been a good idea to listen to the millions of people throughout the world who advised that the US not invade Iraq.

But I won't, since I don't want to stir up any trouble.
posted by Outlawyr at 11:46 AM on May 11, 2004


From what little I've read about Nick Berg, it looks like he went to Iraq seeking employment, but didn't actually find any. This post sitting in the google cache (direct link is down) seems to indicate that he wasn't a mercenary, just a guy who inspected communications equipment for a living.
posted by xiffix at 11:49 AM on May 11, 2004


Thanks, outlawyr. Saying "I told ya so," is very helpful.
posted by jonmc at 11:50 AM on May 11, 2004


Hmm, how to you out-psycho these people.

How about we employ the Japanese concept of Wa?

Or would everyone prefer to talk just about death and sex all day?
posted by mcgraw at 11:51 AM on May 11, 2004


He's not a merc, I don't think. Officially, anyway, he seems to have been un- or self-employed. And why was he held for 13 days by the military? What's the FBI connection? Something is weird here. (Besides the general horror, of course.)
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:52 AM on May 11, 2004


One might think that the image of an American being beheaded by Islamic militants would spark outrage against those doing the beheading. Yet on MetaFilter the outrage is inexplicably directed at the U.S. (save for homunculus).

The U.S. has been justifiably criticized for its actions at Abu Ghraib. People didn't look at those pictures and say, "Those fucking Iraqis! Look at what they made our soldiers do!" Yet Islamic militants slice a man's head off, and MetaFilter has two reactions: (1) "Look what the U.S. has caused!", and (2) "Hey, this guy had it coming to him -- after all, he was a mercenary." (or, you know, not).

I no longer believe this war was worth it. But give me a fucking break.
posted by pardonyou? at 11:55 AM on May 11, 2004


That story you linked to is heartbreaking in light of what just happened, xiffic. My heart goes out to his parents.
posted by fletchmuy at 11:56 AM on May 11, 2004


Maybe not. But I'd be lying if I said I was comfortable with the idea of laying down and letting them win this way either.

I see what you're saying, but when youre not fucking comfortable with ANY of it, it's pretty hard to know what to do. Catching the actually individuals respnsible is probably never going to happen, so not "laying down" pretty much means something like what we tried to do in Fallujah -- lay siege to an area, yet more accidental civilians deaths, sow more seeds of hate for the U.S. Giving in and listening to their demands isn't going to make anything better either, of course.

You pretty much can't win as an occupying government, which is why we shouldn't be there in the first place, and why we should be looking for the best possible exit ASAP. That's not an "I Told You So", that's a genuine belief that the best thing the U.S. can do for Iraq is get the hell out of power there (for real, not nominally).
posted by malphigian at 11:56 AM on May 11, 2004


Berg's mother, Suzanne Berg, told AP that her son was in Iraq "as an independent businessman to help rebuild communication antennas".
AP also reports that
Berg, who was in Baghdad from late December to Feb. 1, returned to Iraq in March. He didn't find any work and planned to return home again on March 30, but his daily communications home stopped on March 24. He later told his parents he was jailed by Iraqi officials at a
checkpoint in the northern city of Mosul. On April 5, the Bergs filed a lawsuit in federal court in Philadelphia, contending that their son was being held illegally by the U.S. military. The next day Berg was released. He told his parents he hadn't been mistreated. The Bergs last heard from their son April 9, when he said he would come home by way of Jordan, Turkey or Kuwait. But by then, hostilities in Iraq had escalated.
Suzanne Berg said Tuesday that she was told her son's body would be transported to Kuwait and then to Dover, Del. She said the family had been trying for weeks to learn where their son was but that federal officials had not been helpful. «I went through this with them for weeks,» she said. «I basically ended up doing most of the investigating myself.» April 9, the day Berg went missing, was also the day that seven American contractors working for a subsidiary of Halliburton Corp. and two military men were unaccounted-for after their supply convoy was attacked on the outskirts of Baghdad. Four of the Halliburton workers and one of the military men have since been confirmed dead. Halliburton worker Thomas Hamill escaped his captors May 2 and returned home to Mississippi on Saturday. The other two Halliburton workers and the other soldier remain missing."

(...)
also:
In the video, the speaker threatened both Bush and Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. «As for you Bush ... expect severe days. You and your soldiers will regret the day you stepped into the land of Iraq,» he said. He described Musharraf as «a traitor agent.»


hint: if Musharraf is killed (they've been trying a lot), then the shit will really hit the fan. and all this, all of it, will look like nothing. I shudder to think. God have mercy on us all.

______________


let's try to think this through, if we can, even if this whole thing is beyond horrible.

Berg had been missing since April 9. His body has been found last Saturday, May 8.
the video shows him -- right before his death -- in apparently good conditions.
time of death is key here (forensics can pinpoint it pretty closely). maybe Berg's been murdered days and days ago. maybe not. but if he's been killed, say, last friday or last thursday it means that he's been kept in good conditions, maybe for ransom or a trade (with prisoners). then something catastrophic happened. he could have been sold by his (money-hungry? they could have been, since they kept him alive) kidnappers to a more bloodthirsty faction, and they then slaughtered him.
but maybe the catastrophic event that led to his beheading after weeks of captivity was really the images of torture at Abu Ghraib
posted by matteo at 12:01 PM on May 11, 2004


One might think that the image of an American being beheaded by Islamic militants would spark outrage against those doing the beheading.

Ahh, the sweet smell of straw. For the record: In addition to being outraged at Inhofe's outrage at the outrage, I am also outraged against those doing the beheading.
posted by Ty Webb at 12:03 PM on May 11, 2004


People didn't look at those pictures and say, "Those fucking Iraqis! Look at what they made our soldiers do!"

No, "people" looked at those pictures and said they were nothing more than fratboy pranks, or they were just "blowing off a little steam". Give me a fucking break, indeed.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:03 PM on May 11, 2004


malphigian, I agree that we shouldn't have been there, mainly because it meant going after the wrong people. But what I'm becoming uncomfortble with is that if we pull out now, it sends a message that terrorism works. Decapitate someone and we'll leave your country. Take down a skyscraper and we'll change our policies. I don't like that precedent on a lot of levels.
posted by jonmc at 12:04 PM on May 11, 2004


Pardonyou?
I believe you are looking at the beheading as an isolated incident, where it is not. We came, we saw, we conquered. We screwed up the power, degraded if not tortured the prisoners and it really looks like the US is going to be there for awhile. And good news, summer is coming!
The far right already hates the US, pick any one of the above and I think you have a perfect recipe. We're in a big mess and I hope this stops with one beheading. Doubt it since the US has a track record of running away - and these are now stupid people. They know an election is coming.
posted by fluffycreature at 12:04 PM on May 11, 2004


fratboy pranks
What is considered fratboy pranks? The bar of soap in a pillow party beating a recruit in boot camp. The military is not college and atrocities happen on a daily basis because of rank and group mentality.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:08 PM on May 11, 2004


But what I'm becoming uncomfortble with is that if we pull out now, it sends a message that terrorism works

Well, you might not want to draw conclusions
I'll leave that to yourself
Maybe you're still walking, maybe you're still talking
Maybe you've still got your health.
But every time I hear the news
That old feeling comes back on;
We're waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the damn fools kept yelling to push on.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:09 PM on May 11, 2004


pillow case party beating
posted by thomcatspike at 12:10 PM on May 11, 2004


I guess I'm somewhat torn. I feel bad for the guy and his family and all but.....if he was a mercenary and not a soldier then he was there of his own choice. He choose to enter a war zone where sometimes there are no rules at all.

The occupation and pacification of Iraq is going about as well can be expected given the premise and continued lies. At this point, is it better to pull the knife out completely and remove the US presence entirely or keep the knife in and bring in a world coalition to put down any terrorist activities at all. Either way there will be a whole lot more blood.
posted by fenriq at 12:10 PM on May 11, 2004


Thanks, outlawyr. Saying "I told ya so," is very helpful.

You know, I actually think that "I told you so" can be helpful, in the context of democratic government. If it can be demonstrated that the guy in charge made a mistake, and that the opposition was pointing out the mistake, and the mistake turned out to be really costly, that's a pretty good motivation to vote the guy in charge out and vote the opposition in.

The situation here is, of course, not nearly so cut-and-dry. I'm just pointing out that the "I told you so" attitude can be part of holding a democratic government responsible for its mistakes.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:12 PM on May 11, 2004


I'll risk acting immature:

Thank fucking god some people are aware of the insanity here.

A year ago with the Bali blasts, this site was in mourning. Just once...once, I'd like to see the same respect given to tortured/murdered US soldiers. It's not an admission of approval of the war effort, but simply a show of national solidarity. Just once.
posted by BlueTrain at 12:12 PM on May 11, 2004


armitage shanks, I'm not saying we shouldn't leave neccessarily, just that it's not that cut and dried a decision for me. If that makes me a "big fool" in your eyes than so be it. Guess we won't be exchanging christmas cards.

bring in a world coalition to put down any terrorist activities at all.

That's what we should've been doing in the first place, and yes, somewhere other than in Iraq. I don't think that appeasement of just wishful thinking was a good way to stop terrorism, but if we had a true multinational coalition we coulda forced the terrorists out by cutting off their resources and support, captured them and brought them to justice. We might've been able to do this with a minnimum of unneccesarry bloodshed, thus minimizing retaliation of this sort.

I wonder if we still can't do that somehow. Probably not.
posted by jonmc at 12:21 PM on May 11, 2004


pardonyou: so you think there is a double standard , one for america one for iraq. I think there is one.

I would never expect some american to mistreat and humiliate prisoners , while I would expect that kind of treatement from some iraquis, who are still fresh out of the hands of a brutal dictator ; there are probably many iraquis who disagree with beheading anyone, but probably many more that still see beheading and mistreatement as a very scary fact of life and a common event in a war. I mean they were in Saddam hands till yesterday, they probably have seen much worse and heard much worse.

I don't expect outrage from Iraquis, I expect utter outrage from americans who see that their own military system needs some fixing as it is -impossible- to present yourself as a democratic nation which respect human rights IF you let your military do whatever they want in a prison.

So the outrage against U.S. mistreatements ( which is more then a simple casual despicable error it's a whole failure of system) is welcome as much as the outrage against a bunch of terrorist freaks who think beheading somebody is the solution to anything ; it's the same kind of people who want to fry people in a electric chair or give a letal injection ; motivations are different, but they both believe death is the payback for death, which is utterly insane because this behavior promotes a vicious circle of death that can escalate.
posted by elpapacito at 12:23 PM on May 11, 2004


Dumb fuckers! now we can relax and ignore the torture by saying: see, those people are animals and whol gives a crap what happens to them. Wow. Now we know we did the right thing!
posted by Postroad at 12:24 PM on May 11, 2004


Bring it on?

Sigh...
posted by EmoChild at 12:25 PM on May 11, 2004


Just once.

yeah. and just once, I'd like to see the wrapped-in-the-flag contingent here argue something different than lame straw men.
really. it mustn't be that hard.
this obsession with requiring loyalty oaths or pledges of allegiances really is tired.
tired, tired, tired.
but yeah, if you think it's intellectually honest to depict people here as dancing-on-graves of Americans only because the consequences of badly-planned Iraq Attaq now seem to disturb you, go ahead. enjoy.
posted by matteo at 12:32 PM on May 11, 2004


BlueTrain and pardonyou?'s patriotism impresses me.
posted by mcsweetie at 12:34 PM on May 11, 2004


Both sides spout endlessly about moral justification. Anybody who is over there helping the so-called war effort is a mercenary or a soldier, or a sitting duck, which makes them stupid and worthy of a pat on the back and an "I-told-you-so." If they get killed, blame their leadership, blame who killed them, blame them. Blame us all for allowing the wrong strongman to seize power in our country. Blame the terrorists for dropping the towers; blame McDonalds for exporting terror. Blame, blame, blame.

Hiring people to work in so-called war zones (and I don't mean medics or the press) is hiring mercenaries. We hate mercenaries, with good reason. And now we use them? Shame on us.

But really, why should we play the blame game? Nothing we say here matters -- it's just the internet, it's just a choir to preach to, and we don't even have to be who we say we are or believe what we say here. Step off, train, step off the train. The guy wasn't a soldier, but who cares? Everyone here's fullashit anyway.

I don't even believe what I just typed. But it doesn't matter, because neither do you. I'm done wasting the ether. I hope, so are you.
posted by dfowler at 12:36 PM on May 11, 2004


Just once...once, I'd like to see the same respect given to tortured/murdered US soldiers. It's not an admission of approval of the war effort, but simply a show of national solidarity.

What a load of utterly disingenuous drivel. Btw, you misspelled "socialism" at the end there.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:37 PM on May 11, 2004


Did mercenary get redefined somewhere? Because I always thought it referred to someone who was fighting for the pay of a country not their own, which would doubly disqualify Mr. Berg as he is an American and didn't seem to be, you know, a combatant.

It is a nice loaded word to throw around, though. I'll give you that.
posted by Cyrano at 12:37 PM on May 11, 2004


enjoy.

Speaking of lame straw men...

you think it's intellectually honest

You want intellectual honesty? I despise this war (a feeling that has grown over the past year), but the unending focus on this war by posters on this site, when greater issues exist in the world, is equally despicable. A few posters here (you are one of them) have commandeered this site to quench their insatiable egos, which I find repugnant. My intellectual honestly dictates that I point out such abuse. Now, back to the war...
posted by BlueTrain at 12:38 PM on May 11, 2004


But I thought there was absolutely no connection between Al Quaida and Iraq!!

Another truth exposed.
posted by hama7 at 12:38 PM on May 11, 2004


BlueTrain and pardonyou?'s patriotism impresses me.

and you're pseudo-blase fake jaded snark impresses no one, mcsweetie.

I'd like to see the wrapped-in-the-flag contingent here argue something different than lame straw men.

I thought that's what I was trying to do.
posted by jonmc at 12:40 PM on May 11, 2004


if he was a mercenary and not a soldier then he was there of his own choice. He choose to enter a war zone where sometimes there are no rules at all.

THE STRUGGLE FOR IRAQ: THE HOSTAGES; Freed From Captivity in Iraq, Japanese Return to More Pain
posted by thomcatspike at 12:43 PM on May 11, 2004


I think the people who are helping rebuild Iraq are the good guys.
posted by smackfu at 12:44 PM on May 11, 2004


BlueTrain and pardonyou?'s patriotism impresses me.

If by "patriotism" you mean my merely suggesting that when doling out our outrage we should save some for the people who actually videotaped themselves decapatating this man in order to send some "message," then, uh, thanks.
posted by pardonyou? at 12:45 PM on May 11, 2004


Mercenaries? I love the word but it generally isn't true about our contractors in Iraq.

Most of the contractors we processed on their way to Iraq were going over to do jobs unrelated to security. For instance erecting buildings, teaching school, running the new government, and so on.

Most were ordinary people, too, just trying to make a buck doing what they're good at in a different part of the world.
posted by Edge100x at 12:45 PM on May 11, 2004


I didn't make it clear in my last post, but I was involved with processing contractors for entry into theater. I dealt with a new group of contractors every week for a year, primarily going to Iraq or Kuwait.
posted by Edge100x at 12:47 PM on May 11, 2004


it sends a message that terrorism works

And now we know exactly how to create new terrorists! Just invade their fucking country for no reason!

But I thought there was absolutely no connection between Al Quaida and Iraq!!

Another truth exposed.


Troll alert!

Used to be there was no connection between Saddam and Al Quaida. There definitely WAS a connection between our Northern Iraq buddies and Al Quaida. And our Pakistan buddies, and Bush's Saudi Arabia buddies, etc.

Come on hama7, you know better than to post such crap.
posted by nofundy at 12:48 PM on May 11, 2004


But I thought there was absolutely no connection between Al Quaida and Iraq!!

There wasn't, at least until the secular government was overthrown, radicalizing the populace and creating porous borders. The perfect climate for both home-grown and imported Al Qaeda cells, courtesy of the US government. Those of us who opposed the invasion predicted this would happen; our predictions, sadly, have come to pass.

Does anyone remember that at one point last year, the administration was actually floating the idea that the reason we really invaded Iraq was to draw terrorists in to fight our soldiers rather than attack civilians elsewhere? Have they stopped using that one?
posted by mr_roboto at 12:49 PM on May 11, 2004


But I thought there was absolutely no connection between Al Quaida and Iraq!!

Actually, hama7, I believe the link was between Al Qaida and Saddam Hussein's government.

People have been saying for months since his government fell that Al Qaida would now be flooding into Iraq because of the "honey pot." The Bush administration itself has used that as a reason why the war was a "good thing" because it focused Al Qaida's resources in one place where we could stop them. Sure didn't stop that, did it?

Oh, and we told contractors to come to Iraq to help rebuild it and build antennas and stuff. While we were happy because Al Qaida was pouring into Iraq, 'cause of the honey pot.

I guess Mr. Berg got to see the honey pot in action. How very, very sad his family. :(
posted by tittergrrl at 12:52 PM on May 11, 2004


I'm absolutely disgusted with this war.
posted by pyramid termite at 12:52 PM on May 11, 2004


FOR his family.
posted by tittergrrl at 12:53 PM on May 11, 2004


But I thought there was absolutely no connection between Al Quaida and Iraq!!

There is now, numbnuts. GWB facilitated it.
posted by psmealey at 12:54 PM on May 11, 2004


The operative word is "was", hama7. Remember, "Uniter, not a Divider".

Another truth exposed.
posted by Wulfgar! at 12:57 PM on May 11, 2004


I am outraged by the beheading but the beheading isn't going to retroactively justify the actions in Iraq. It doesn't retroactively justify the torture on the part of Americans. The torture of Iraqi's also doesn't justify the beheading.

It's a fucked up situation that's going to keep getting more and more fucked up.
posted by substrate at 12:58 PM on May 11, 2004


The whole situation would be much better if the US soldiers in those jailhouse photos were naked, too.
posted by dfowler at 1:02 PM on May 11, 2004


I believe the link was between Al Qaida and Saddam Hussein's government.

Oh, really? You don't say!

"As it becomes increasingly clear that al-Qaida was responsible for the horrific attacks in Madrid, one question keeps popping up: If there's no link between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq, why did al-Qaida blow up those trains?" -Jonah Goldberg
posted by hama7 at 1:06 PM on May 11, 2004


Calling him a mercenary is pointless, and more importantly incorrect, from what I've read. My point in posting this isn't that this is ____'s fault, but that it seems we really are engaged in some sort of sadistic clash of cultures, even though I honestly believe that's not what Bush wanted.

"As it becomes increasingly clear that al-Qaida was responsible for the horrific attacks in Madrid, one question keeps popping up: If there's no link between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq, why did al-Qaida blow up those trains?" -Jonah Goldberg


Um, because they're crazy apocalyptic assholes who like to murder westerners?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 1:08 PM on May 11, 2004


if we pull out now, it sends a message that terrorism works

1. i'm not sure you're really a terrorist when you're fighting against someone who recently invaded your country.

2. what made you think terrorism doesn't work? everything is a compromise - it's a question of costs.
posted by andrew cooke at 1:11 PM on May 11, 2004


Ignatious, thank you for articulating my point of view better than I seem to be able to myself. If there were more people like you and Ethereal Bligh in the anti-war movement, I'd be marching as we speak.
posted by jonmc at 1:12 PM on May 11, 2004


Lets see if I'm clear on this:

The beheading proves that there was a link between al Qaida and the Iraqi governement, hence it justifies a claim of going to war in Iraq, which lead to prisoners being taken, and to those prisoners being tortured by American service personel (like a frat prank, haha), which results in the beheading which proves the point.

Does that about sum up your ridiculous stance, hama7?
posted by Wulfgar! at 1:13 PM on May 11, 2004


Does that about sum up your ridiculous stance, hama7?

Posting two WorldNetDaily links sums up his ridiculous stance.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:17 PM on May 11, 2004


enjoy.

Speaking of lame straw men...


heh. nice try. mine is not a straw man -- it's a fact: you enjoy so much pointing out other people's lack of patriotism/decency/you-name-it. most of your comments in war threads are meta-comments about people's behavior. so much for egos

but the unending focus on this war by posters on this site, when greater issues exist in the world

yeah, of course, "greater issues". WWIII is a footnote. the real issue is that Windows XP sucks, I agree.
this comment is so telling.
and anyway, blast my "ego" all you want. but you posted much more political/war stuff on the front page than me. way more. in less time.
posted by matteo at 1:17 PM on May 11, 2004


"As it becomes increasingly clear that al-Qaida was responsible for the horrific attacks in Madrid, one question keeps popping up: If there's no link between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq, why did al-Qaida blow up those trains?" -Jonah Goldberg

One of the main reasons why Al Qaida was formed was to combat westerner influence in the Islamic world, starting with the creation of United States military bases in Saudi Arabia. The invasion/war/occupation of Iraq just exacerbated things, and opened the playing field.
posted by tittergrrl at 1:22 PM on May 11, 2004


Islam -- a Religion of Peace
posted by Rob1855 at 1:25 PM on May 11, 2004


and you're pseudo-blase fake jaded snark impresses no one, mcsweetie.

DAMN! you are one straight-shooter.
posted by mcsweetie at 1:30 PM on May 11, 2004


Will people stop bringing up the "Religion of Peace" bullshit? Every major religion calls itself a religion of Peace, yet does fucked up things. It's called human nature.

I'm sure there isn't anyone anywhere who is right now screaming "An eye for an eye! An eye for an eye!", right?
posted by tittergrrl at 1:36 PM on May 11, 2004


If there were more people like you and Ethereal Bligh in the anti-war movement, I'd be marching as we speak.

Damn it, jon, have you still not figured out that you are in direct control of that? You can increase the ranks by one at any moment, homes.

In any case, it can no longer be properly stated that I am "in the antiwar movement." Pretty much the day that Baghdad fell, I thought the central message became "bring the troops home now," and the whole reason I opposed the war beforehand was that doing so would be impossible. But believe me, that point of view was still welcome and understood. And if we end up cutting and running after a few more years of zero progress, they'll all look like fucking geniuses.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 1:37 PM on May 11, 2004


Oh, I didn't want to sound jerky en toto, just at first. feel free to mentally insert appropriate emoticons.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 1:38 PM on May 11, 2004


"As it becomes increasingly clear that al-Qaida was responsible for the horrific attacks in Madrid, one question keeps popping up: If there's no link between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq, why did al-Qaida blow up those trains?" -Jonah Goldberg

Also because, as Osama bin Laden apparently said, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella expelled the Moors from Spain over 500 years ago -- and he and his fellow wingnuts are still pissed off about it.
posted by chuq at 1:38 PM on May 11, 2004


"As it becomes increasingly clear that al-Qaida was responsible for the horrific attacks in Madrid, one question keeps popping up: If there's no link between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq, why did al-Qaida blow up those trains?" -Jonah Goldberg

It is my understanding that in the radical Islamic circles, since Islam is the one "true" religion which will overcome all, there is much now to be pissed off about. From the USA as a secular nation leading the world, to the invasion of Iraq, to "western" influences in the Islamic world, adhering to the faith means not being at the top of the pillar. If you see it through this lens, the Madrid bombing makes sense, in that, Spain was a Islamic strong hold for many centuries, only to be retaken by the Catholics. The bombing was a strike to the country, less about being pissed about the US breaking up the Saddam & al-Qaida ties, than striking back at the infidel for attacking Islam.

This by no means is meant at forgiving those who bombed Madrid, or who murdered this civilian, but to break the cycle, a certain amount of perspective is needed. Unfortunately, many don't have the perspective, or don't want to gain it.
posted by plemeljr at 1:40 PM on May 11, 2004


Oh, and what chuq and US ambassador Tom Schieffer said.
posted by plemeljr at 1:41 PM on May 11, 2004


Damn it, jon, have you still not figured out that you are in direct control of that? You can increase the ranks by one at any moment, homes.

Well, at the last meetup, I discussed that with a few people. As I've said before, the other demos I've observed here in the city were filled with too many extremists for me to feel comfortable marching with. But I mentioned to a fellow MeFite that if I could find some group of people I felt comfortable with, I'd join in whatever happens at the convention. If anyone knows a group that would have the likes of me, lemme know.
posted by jonmc at 1:46 PM on May 11, 2004


"As it becomes increasingly clear that al-Qaida was responsible for the horrific attacks in Madrid, one question keeps popping up: If there's no link between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq, why did al-Qaida blow up those trains?" -Jonah Goldberg

hama7, you know that argument is absolutely fallacious.

Yesterday, I was walking down the street and I had the sneaking suspicion that these two guys who were pretending to be total strangers were about to gang up and mug me, so I turned around and started wailing on the one guy who was walking behind me, and then the other guy yells from across the street, "Hey, lay off him!" but I just kept kicking because I knew he was planning to mug me, and so then the second runs across the street and pops me one right in the jaw.

See, officer? I told you they were co-conspirators! If you say they are complete strangers, as they claim to be, why did the second guy break my jaw?
posted by rafter at 1:47 PM on May 11, 2004


Waling, of course, though I was none happy either.
posted by rafter at 1:48 PM on May 11, 2004


From the "Religion of Peace" link:

CAIR CONDEMNS MURDER OF AMERICAN IN IRAQ

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 5/11/04) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today condemned the murder of an American civilian in Iraq by a group claiming links to Al-Qaeda... In its statement, the Washington-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group said: "We condemn this cold-blooded murder and repudiate all those who commit such acts of mindless violence in the name of religion. We call on people of all faiths and cultures to work together for peace and reconciliation, not war and destruction." CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 26 regional offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada.
posted by laz-e-boy at 1:48 PM on May 11, 2004


May his parents and family never see the video. May Bush, Cheney, and anyone else involved in continuing this war see it at least once.
posted by whoshotwho at 2:12 PM on May 11, 2004


Do people like Hama7 actually exist, or is he just some evil virus that floats around Mefi.
posted by Outlawyr at 2:15 PM on May 11, 2004


hama, as an independent who thinks that there is indeed a habit of over-reacting here on the left--and who has noticed more than one attempt by you to state something relatively balanced get completely misinterpreted by others--I gotta say...if you're going to link to "evidence" to try and convince reasonable folks, you've got to find more credible sources than Jonah Goldberg and a site that sells stuff like this.
posted by LairBob at 2:18 PM on May 11, 2004


Every waste of flesh we catch over there should have their mouths stuffed with bacon and be shot in the back of the head.

Go see Allah with pork breath, fuck-o.
posted by Hugh2d2 at 2:22 PM on May 11, 2004


I'm sure there isn't anyone anywhere who is right now screaming "An eye for an eye! An eye for an eye!", right?

You know, that wikipedia link misses the fact that it's also present within Islamic jurisprudence as the principle of "Qisas". If someone is unjustly physically harmed/killed, the family/individual has a recourse to inflict a like punishment upon his/her attacker.

Islam is not a religion of peace - it contains the recourse for violence as a last resort. It regulates this too by indicating that the death of a single innocent is analagous to the death of mankind.

But in the end any ideology can be interpreted any way you like.

I feel sorry for this guy's family.

I also feel sorry for Hugh2d2's comments.
posted by Mossy at 2:35 PM on May 11, 2004


Then again, he'll be a national figure for a little while and definitely the most interesting thing at his next reunion.

Who's actually seen the video?

And yes, I regret using the term mercenary, it is incorrect.
posted by fenriq at 2:46 PM on May 11, 2004


Don't feel sorry Mossy. I don't
posted by Hugh2d2 at 2:48 PM on May 11, 2004


Do people like Hugh2d2 actually exist, or is he just some evil . . . oh, never mind
posted by Outlawyr at 2:52 PM on May 11, 2004


Liberals shouldn't feel the need to rise in anger when the "Religion of Peace" jab is bandied about. It isn't targeted at them ... it's actually an attack by the far right on the not-so-far-right, because it mocks Bush's statement soon after 9/11 that Islam was not to be blamed since it was "the religion of peace."

The far right is deeply suspicious of Bush's zeal for the war because of his, and his family's, very close ties to the Saudis and Kuwaitis, not to mention Bush's very careful cultivation of the Pakistanis. The occasional mild criticism of Ariel Sharon, despite offering Israel more support than any past President Democrat or Republican, is taken as yet more evidence of Bush's squishiness. Bush I and his aides were not known to be partciularly comfortable with Jews in America, or Israeli politicians either.

I know it's hard to imagine on MeFi, but there are many people who think Bush is too moderate!

(on preview -- maybe Hugh2d is one of them??)
posted by MattD at 2:56 PM on May 11, 2004


I know it's hard to imagine on MeFi, but there are many people who think Bush is too moderate!

i think the word you were looking for was illiterate
posted by Peter H at 3:07 PM on May 11, 2004


Actually MattD, a lot of those people who think Bush is 'too moderate' were also against the War in Iraq, because it's a waste of American lives. I guess it depends on which far-right factions you're talking about... the isolationists or the world-beaters?

In any case this is a very sad day and it does reinforce why the world needs to defeat extremism-- these people murdered someone for being in the wrong place at the wrong time and ascribed a religious and political reason to it. No one besides an extremist would argue that this was a good thing, and it does reinforce why the world needs to win the war on terror.

It does not, however, do anything for the reasons to fight in Iraq, other then Iraqis need to live in a place where stuff like this doesn't happen.

As for tough guys like Hugh, time to get moving! Get on over there and wreak havoc, you rule!
posted by chaz at 3:08 PM on May 11, 2004


The People of the Other Village

hate the people of this village
and would nail our hats
to our heads for refusing in their presence to remove them
or staple our hands to our foreheads
for refusing to salute them
if we did not hurt them first: mail them packages of rats,
mix their flour at night with broken glass.
We do this, they do that.
They peel the larynx from one of our brothers’ throats.
We devein one of their sisters.
The quicksand pits they built were good.
Our amputation teams were better.
We trained some birds to steal their wheat.
They sent to us exploding ambassadors of peace.
They do this, we do that.
We canceled our sheep imports.
They no longer bought our blankets.
We mocked their greatest poet
and when that had no effect
we parodied the way they dance
which did cause pain, so they, in turn, said our God
was leprous, hairless.
We do this, they do that.
Ten thousand (10,000) years, ten thousand
(10,000) brutal, beautiful years.


-- Thomas Lux
posted by ronv at 3:09 PM on May 11, 2004


I've seen the video. It's pretty horrifying - the screaming has stayed with me longer than the images. I've got the link to the website, but I'm not sure I should post it. Never mind the obvious reasons not to, the site is overloaded and you probably won't be able to get through anyway.
posted by ascullion at 3:23 PM on May 11, 2004


If I can avoid the rest of this and get back to the FPP quote from Inhofe... I was quite disgusted by his tone in the hearing [transcript at NYT]:

Now -- oh, one other thing. All the idea about these pictures. I would suggest to you any pictures -- and I think maybe we should get direction from this committee, Mr. Chairman, that if pictures are authorized to be disseminated among the public, that for every picture of abuse or alleged abuse of prisoners, we have pictures of mass graves, pictures of children being executed, pictures of the four Americans in Baghdad that were burned and their bodies were mutilated and dismembered in public. Let's get the whole picture.

So Inhofe wants the US to put together a kind of media relations kit, with photos of each side's nastiness conveniently arrayed side-by-side, to get people ruminating about if and how the US crimes have anything at all in common with the Hussein regime's? If this is his goal, maybe some more pictures will surface of what Taguba reports: sodomizing detainees, having sex with detainees, siccing a dog on detainees, and threatening detainees with grisly deaths. What a horrible excuse for a Senator—I can't believe how many public statements were made, on the very occasion of officially confronting these abuses, telling us that we all need to think about how Bill Clinton, John Kerry, etc., deserve the blame of the moment.

Inhofe is a "religious" man (his comment on issues between Israel and the Palestinians was, God Appeared to Abraham and said: "I am giving you this land," the West Bank. This is not a political battle at all. It is a contest over whether or not the word of God is true.) I would just like to say that here is a sure candidate for any hell that chooses its inmates by looking for absolutely degraded and wicked standards of morality. (But what's new?)
posted by Zurishaddai at 3:33 PM on May 11, 2004


Oh, and I'm sure my aforementioned devil will prepare a nice place for Hugh2d2:

Every waste of flesh we catch over there should have their mouths stuffed with bacon and be shot in the back of the head. Go see Allah with pork breath, fuck-o.

I can't help but ask, even if this is one of the worst trolls ever: does this apply to the many in the Abu Ghraib prison who, by the US military's own accounting, are not remotely involved in the insurgency (according to much reporting, there are plenty of innocents caught up in security sweeps willy-nilly)? Or when you use bigotted language like "waste of flesh," does that imply a judicial process to determine who is subhuman enough that we should be happy to treat him in a way that brutalizes ourselves?
posted by Zurishaddai at 3:46 PM on May 11, 2004


Like Rumsfeld said, the rules of the Geneva Convention are really just sort of like guidelines.

Probably don't apply to mercenaries anyway.


Sometimes I just have to shake my head at the comments around here. Throwing around the word "mercenary", then insinuating that they somehow "deserve what they get". It makes me sick.

Berg went there to try to help build the infrastructure of the country. Last time I checked that in no way met the definition of "mercenary". I don't give a shit whether you agree with the war in Iraq or not -- why the f**k do so many anti-war people try to portray everyone working in Iraq as "mercenaries"? This would be the same contingent seems to think that, when killed, these people deserve no outrage at their murder, and no pity. I just don't get it.
posted by greengrl at 3:55 PM on May 11, 2004


that for every picture of abuse or alleged abuse of prisoners, we have pictures of mass graves, pictures of children being executed,

there you go. moral equivalency! Bush = Saddam. and from a US Senator!!! I am shocked!
also, Inhofe has his Iraqi geography wrong -- it was Falluja, not Baghdad. but you know, whatever. it's a faraway place full of infidel foreigners, why bother with details.


It is a contest over whether or not the word of God is true

that's what Bin Laden says!
posted by matteo at 3:56 PM on May 11, 2004


Hmm, how to you out-psycho these people.

Time to call in the Crips. Empty a few supermax prisons into Baghdad, and implement a healthy incentive program.

See also, outsourcing that actually helps the American People(tm).
posted by Fupped Duck at 3:58 PM on May 11, 2004


Quite typical -- after days of mouth-frothing hysteria about the Iraqi prisoner abuse, horrible as it is, this brutal slaying only evokes further anger at the US and the "mercenary" who "got himself murdered."

The hypocrisy here stinks to high heaven, but I guess no one cares when the vast majority loves the smell.
posted by Krrrlson at 3:59 PM on May 11, 2004


Nick Berg's family blames the US government -- in part -- for his son's death, because they detained him in Iraq for 13 days without cause, releasing him at the onset of the kidnappings and violence, over a week after he had planned to leave Iraq. During his detention in Iraq, Nick Berg wasn't allowed to make phone calls or to contact a lawyer.

The videotape contained a statement from the kidnappers:
"As for you Bush, dog of the Christians, anticipate violence and difficult days. You and your soldiers will regret the day you stepped foot in Iraq and dared to violate Muslims .... As for you, mothers and wives of American soldiers, we tell you that we offered the American administration to exchange this prisoner for some prisoners in Abu Ghraib, but they refused. We tell you that the honor of Muslim men and women in Abu Ghraib and other (prisons) are more noble than blood and lives. And you will only get shroud after shroud and coffin after coffin slaughtered in this manner."

The video is available for download from this site in small or large .wmv versions. It's easily one of the most horiffic things I have ever seen.

I understand the rationale for not negotiating with terrorists... however, are these people truely terrorists, or are they Iraqi resistance forces who will accept help wherever they can get it? Under what circumstances would an exchange of prisoners be acceptable in such cases -- could they be released to a third-party, for instance? Has the torture and killing of Iraqi prisoners opened the door to a series of reprisal killings, fundamentally making contractors working in Iraq less safe than in the past? That remains to be seen.

A government official recently announced that 30% of all foriegn contractors have left Iraq. If horrific, barbaric executions become commonplace, I think it's safe to say that those numbers aren't going down anytime soon.
posted by insomnia_lj at 4:01 PM on May 11, 2004


Feed the trolls ... bacon! And somebody get Krrrlson some deoderant.
posted by Wulfgar! at 4:03 PM on May 11, 2004


To be fair, Green and Krrl, I think that people mistakenly thought that Berg was conducing military operations under a private security position-- I would ask them to clarifiy their position, I also think it's lame to call everyone working in Iraq a mercenery, but I will give them the benefit of the doubt because I think they were just mistaken... but it's up to them.
posted by chaz at 4:12 PM on May 11, 2004


Chaz, I've seen it in many other places, including Kos' site. It seems to me like there is no distinction being made by those who may be carrying on security and interrogation operations, and those who are simply working on the rebuilding of the country.

If those posting here were not clear that Berg was the latter, then I apologize for my harsh comments; if they were making no distinction, then I think they're full of shit.

Not to be blunt, or anything...
posted by greengrl at 4:19 PM on May 11, 2004


What Hugh2d2 said.
posted by shoos at 4:20 PM on May 11, 2004


"It seems to me like there is no distinction being made by between those who may be carrying on security and interrogation operations..."

argh.
posted by greengrl at 4:21 PM on May 11, 2004


Minus the bacon.
posted by shoos at 4:22 PM on May 11, 2004


The beheading is horrible. The killing (with or without torture) of every Iraqi is horrible as well. The killing of every American is horrible as well.

Soldiers wear different uniforms to tell themselves apart. And which army is currently occupying which country after invading which country after justifying that invasion with which lies?

And let us all know exactly when it became OK for the United States to operate at the moral level of "terrorists." That's exactly what many of us have been complaining about for some time.

Every waste of flesh we catch over there should have their mouths stuffed with bacon and be shot in the back of the head.
Go see Allah with pork breath, fuck-o.
posted by Hugh2d2 at 2:22 PM PST on May 11

Sometimes I just have to shake my head at the comments around here. Throwing around the word "mercenary", then insinuating that they somehow "deserve what they get". It makes me sick.
posted by greengrl at 3:55 PM PST on May 11


Oh, we got ya, greengrl. Someone confusing "mercenaries" with "contractors" makes you sick, but someone calling for "every waste of flesh we catch over there" to be shot and their religious beliefs mocked doesn't raise a green eyebrow, eh?

I think we were discussing hypocrisy, were we not?

And hugh, I think you and many of our troops in Iraq would fit in real well with some of Al Qaeda's troops. As someone once said, you just can't tell the "evildoers" without a program.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 4:44 PM on May 11, 2004


Fuckin' a. They kill us, we kill them, and al Qaeda gets the clash of civilizations that they wanted. We now have our own Palestine.

That flypaper theory is working out just great.

Hey, did anyone notice that the Pres. of Chetchnya got killed? Perhaps by a bomb that had been put in the concrete some three months before, when the stadium was being renovated? How good is the security at the Olympic construction site in Greece again?

We should be hunting down and killing the members of terrorist organizations, not fucking around trying to impose democracy in Iraq. Who actually thinks that, even if a democracy were to come out of this, that it would somehow turn into goodwill for the United States. Democracy does not equal "we all get along now." Tim McVeigh was a citizen of a god-damned democracy, and look how he turned out.
posted by moonbiter at 4:59 PM on May 11, 2004


Oh, we got ya, greengrl. Someone confusing "mercenaries" with "contractors" makes you sick, but someone calling for "every waste of flesh we catch over there" to be shot and their religious beliefs mocked doesn't raise a green eyebrow, eh?

Wow. Foldy can read minds now, I guess. That greengrl decided not to feed a troll must mean that her heart is not quite full enough of the Caring For All Mankind® to his satisfaction (And don't forget those scare quotes!) Remember, everyone, always make certain to address the points Foldy feels most important or face his wrath! ~sheesh~

Or to be less snippy, F&M, caring about one statement doesn't preclude caring about another, but please be kind enough to let everyone else decide for themselves which one they will comment on at any given time.

And "green eyebrow?" I would think you'd be above twisiting someone's username to make your point, F&M. That's just so grade school.
posted by Cyrano at 5:13 PM on May 11, 2004


fubar
posted by larry_darrell at 5:36 PM on May 11, 2004


Generally I don't feed trolls, but I'll make an exception in your case, Fold_and_Mutilate. I didn't bother to comment on the post you quoted, because I thought that it was very clear to everyone here that the person who wrote it was a troll, or a loon, or quite possibly both.

Thanks, Cyrano. I appreciate your $0.02.
posted by greengrl at 5:36 PM on May 11, 2004


Just once...once, I'd like to see the same respect given to tortured/murdered US soldiers. It's not an admission of approval of the war effort, but simply a show of national solidarity.

Funny, when Ted Koppel did this last week he was accused of giving comfort to the enemy.
posted by briank at 5:39 PM on May 11, 2004


My prayers go out to his family. RIP.
posted by Oxydude at 5:54 PM on May 11, 2004


I didn't watch the Daniel Pearl video and I won't watch this one. Many things need to stay private, and this is one of them.
posted by PrinceValium at 5:58 PM on May 11, 2004


"only evokes further anger at the US"

heh.
remember the time we explained to you the self-evident difference (that you didn't seem to grasp) between being against, say, Israel's present _government_ and being against _all Jews_? the difference between anti-Israeli-right-wing and anti-semite?
OK.

it's almost the same thing now: it's not anger _at the US_, it's anger at those who (on fake evidence and for dubious reasons) attacked Iraq with no postwar plan and created this mess (and possibly started WWIII), needlessly destroying so many lives, American and non-American.
it's anger at a few certain all-powerful people, not more than half a dozen people really. not anger "at the US".
see?

I'm sure you'll figure that out sooner or later. it's not that hard, really.

me? I'm not even angry, at this point. I'm more worried than anything else. and scared for this world, mostly.
I feel like my parents would have felt in '62 had Kennedy listened to the insane hawks like LeMay and bombed Cuban missile sites, and Khruschev was about to blow up the world in 5,4,3,2,1...

these days, I sometimes feel like LeMay's ghost is in charge of US foreign policy. but maybe I'm just low on sugar, or something. I'll have an apple, watch FOXNews maybe.

(and as pointed out already, poor Nick Berg's family is blaming the US government, too)

but yeah, I feel for you, if I were a hawk maybe I'd be tempted to blame the anti-war people for this mess, too. if I had the chutzpah of course.
but maybe I'd be too ashamed to keep lecturing people, at this point. I don't know.
posted by matteo at 6:02 PM on May 11, 2004


Go see Allah with pork breath, fuck-o.

This is a common posting on many conservative forums. We're living in a box at Metafilter with the majority of posters being liberally minded. Open you eyes, read some of the conservative sites, this is actually tame compared to some things I have seen.
posted by SuzySmith at 6:04 PM on May 11, 2004


Generally I don't feed trolls, but I'll make an exception in your case, Fold_and_Mutilate.

I've found that if you read foldy's posts in the voice of Lucy Van Pelt, they become much more palatable and entertaining.

Seriously, f&m, did it ever occur to you that people could be angered by both idiotic attitudes like huh2d2's and the careless dismissal of Nick Berg as a "mercenary."? Or is that too complex for you to process? Or is it just too much fun to jump down somebody's throat to assert your own righteousness?

This may stun you, foldy, but a lot of the time I actually agree with some of your ideas. But the bile, and hatred, and meanness with which you express them makes me wish I didn't. Starting tp see the damage you're doing to your own cause?
posted by jonmc at 6:14 PM on May 11, 2004


Since people still seem to be under the misaprehension that this guy was a merc, I thought I'd clear the air:

"Berg was a small-business owner who went to Iraq independent of any organization to help rebuild communication antennas, his family said Tuesday. Friends and family said he was a "free spirit" who wanted to help others — working in Ghana, in one example — and that his going to Iraq fit with that ideology. They said he supported the Iraqi war and the Bush administration.

Berg attended Cornell University, Drexel University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Oklahoma, where he got involved in rigging electronics equipment while working for the maintenance department, his father said. He helped set up equipment at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia in 2000.

While at Cornell, he traveled to Ghana to teach villagers how to make bricks out of minimal material. His father said Berg returned from Ghana with only the clothes on his back and emaciated because he gave away most of his food.

Michael Berg said his son saw his trip to Iraq as an adventure in line with his desire to help others."


Sounds like an idealistic, naive young kid to me. Wanted to do some good, bought into the line that the Iraqi's were welcoming us with "open arms" and took the first plane over to try and help.

Really, really sad.

I'm not going to comment on the rest of this bullshit I've read in this thread. I know I've said some mean-spirited things towards Republicans in the past that I'm starting to regret as I see them come true. He did not deserve to die like that. This whole fucking debacle is so fucking heartbreaking.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:41 PM on May 11, 2004


Twenty six fucking years old.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:42 PM on May 11, 2004


Looks like I need to explain myself.

I'm not ultra conservative. I'm not ultra liberal. I did not support the Shrub in his march to war. I think every American life lost in Iraq is on the hands of GW & Co.

(pssst... hey George Junior... it's the Saudi's you should have attacked, not the Iraqi's!)

These Iraqi "insurgents" have no respect for human life, they are convinced actions like this will be rewarded in the "next life". How do you fix that? Bacon.

The Iraqi's don't want us there and neither do I.
posted by Hugh2d2 at 6:57 PM on May 11, 2004


.
posted by danOstuporStar at 7:02 PM on May 11, 2004


Ahh, so they should all be rounded up, humiliated and killed? Eh, it's a take on things.. One that will kick in the cycle even more, but meh..

Having just seen the video I will say one thing: disgusting.

Allah (swt) will give them what they deserve at least..
posted by Mossy at 7:02 PM on May 11, 2004


Intriguingly, they seem to be having a bit of a go at the Islamic scholars (whom I very much doubt would approve of this barbarism):

Excerpt of speech in the video:

"Is there still an excuse for the seated-one? And how can a free Muslim sleep close-eyed whilst seeing Islam being slaughtered, and he sees the bleeding of honour, and the images of shame, and the news of satanic abuse on the people of Islaam, men and women, in the prison of Abu Ghrayb. So where is the jealousy, and where is the zeal, and where is the anger for the religion of Allah? And where is the jealousy over the honour of the Muslims, and where is the revenge taken for the honour of the Muslim males and females in the prisons of the Crusaders.

As for you, O scholars of Islam, then to Allah we complain (about you), do you not see that Allah has established the evidence on you by way of the youth of Islam who humiliated the most paramount of powers in history, and broke its nose and destroyed its arrogance?

Has the time not come for you to learn from them the meanings of tawwakul (reliance on Allah), and to seek guidance from their actions lessons in sacrifice and forebearance, until when will you remain like the women, not knowing better than to wail, and not knowing a path except the path of screaming and crying?

So this (i.e. the scholar) appeals to the free-men of this world, and the other seeks tawwasul (intercession) from Kofi Anan, and a third calls for help from 'Amr Moosa, and a fourth calls for peaceful demonstrations, as though they have not heard of the saying of the Most High: "O Messenger, arouse the believes on fighting" (Surat al-Anfal 8:65).

Are you not fed up (lit. full up) of the Jihad of the conferences and the battles of giving sermons, has the time for you not come to lift the sword with which the master of the Messengers was sent with?

And we hope, that you will not place yourself in a dillemma (after seeing) what we will do, as you usually do to please the Americans.

For the Messenger, sallallahu 'alayhi wa salam - and he is the master of the merciful ones - has commanded with the slaughtering of some of the prisoners of Badr, and killed them with all patience. And in him, we have an example and a good model.

As for you, O dog of the Romans, Bush, then have tidings of what will displease you, and await with the assistance of Allah for hard days, and you will regret - you, and your soldiers - the day you set foot on the soil of Iraq."
posted by Mossy at 7:06 PM on May 11, 2004


remember the time we explained to you the self-evident difference (that you didn't seem to grasp) between being against, say, Israel's present _government_ and being against _all Jews_? the difference between anti-Israeli-right-wing and anti-semite?

Assuming for the moment that you (we?) *did* offer me an explanation rather than sarcastic, demeaning jabs, then perhaps you'll remember the time I explained to you how often true anti-Semites hide behind Israel bashing.

I'll accept your "self-evident" distinction in good faith when the good people of the world stop pushing anti-Semitic agenda under the aegis of anti-Israeli arguments. Until then, the difference is far from "self-evident."


it's almost the same thing now: it's not anger _at the US_, it's anger at those who (on fake evidence and for dubious reasons) attacked Iraq with no postwar plan and created this mess (and possibly started WWIII), needlessly destroying so many lives, American and non-American.
it's anger at a few certain all-powerful people, not more than half a dozen people really. not anger "at the US".
see?


I guess you've got nothing against the part of the population that supported and continues to support this dirty half-dozen? For the sake of your credibility, I would certainly hope not. I, for one, was alluding to the fact that so many here *equate* that half-dozen with "the US." If you need to challenge someone's semantics, go challenge theirs. And by the way, my above comment re Israel and anti-Semitism stands here too.
posted by Krrrlson at 7:07 PM on May 11, 2004


I have friends who are contractors working in Iraq, and yet I think they're valid targets for Iraqis trying to remove the Coalition from their country... which is to say that they are as valid of a target as anyone else working to help the Ccoalition.

Really, it's hard for me to see the goals of the United States in Iraq to be entirely valid. The majority of Iraqis don't want us there... so why are we there?! To bring democracy and freedom. With a government whose foundation is hopelessly slanted to the advantage of the United States and their interests. Catch-22.

Infact, my friend has been having similar thoughts himself, ever since he discovered what one of the countries he works for -- CACI -- does over in Iraq, and did, in the case of Abu Ghraib. He badly wants to help the Iraqis, but he's not at all certain that he's not a party to the whole mess.

To think that you have to be an armed guard to question whether you're part of the problem or part of the solution is naive. In any case, the reality is the reality -- soldiers, "mercenaries", contractors, reporters, humanitarian aid workers, Iraqi collaborators, and anyone who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time are *ALL* valid targets... and not just for the Iraqi resistance either, but for the U.S. as well.

I didn't see a whole lot of mourning for those Iraqi families who had their houses and apartments levelled by tank rounds in Fallujah when snipers used their rooftops, with or without their knowledge. Innocent women and children who deserved every bit as much mourning as anyone else, and who arguably didn't *DO* anything to deserve their fate.

Truth is, both sides have been horrifically brutal, inhumane, and indiscriminate, period. Saying "my shit smells better than your shit" really doesn't matter much when it's *still* shit, and blood for blood for blood for blood for blood won't do a single thing to elevate the human condition, "liberate" Iraqis, give them hope for a better future, or help resolve the matter.

What we face in Iraq is a terminal disease... a slow bleeding, festering wound in the gut. The number of Iraqis who hate us has reached a level where "resistance"/"terrorism" can not expect to end so long as the U.S. are still there. We have created our own Palestine, indeed.

It's time for our country to step back a bit and work towards a secession of hostilities and removal of U.S. troops from Iraq's major cities, trying to leave on the best of terms as possible, and ideally with a plan in place for elections with international monitoring. The solution to this conflict is through negotiation, not more bloodshed.
posted by insomnia_lj at 7:08 PM on May 11, 2004


No one in war has respect for human life. That is why war is hell.
posted by moonbiter at 7:08 PM on May 11, 2004


but yeah, I feel for you, if I were a hawk maybe I'd be tempted to blame the anti-war people for this mess, too. if I had the chutzpah of course.
but maybe I'd be too ashamed to keep lecturing people, at this point. I don't know.


You know me like the palm of your hand, matteo. I am *clearly* a hawk and *obviously* "blaming the anti-war people for this mess." Your last comment is, as is often the case, dishonest and libelous.

But yes, I am lecturing. And the response is all too predictable.
posted by Krrrlson at 7:12 PM on May 11, 2004


I can't believe what I am reading here. This is a lot of knee-jerk reactionism by a bunch of folks who refuse to acknowledge even basic facts, because of their war stance biases.

People.... This is a human being. No one deserves to be taken down by eight guys and beheaded. This is the same group of people that were so outraged by the Iraqi prisoner abuse photos? Somewhere along the line some of you really lost perspective.
posted by xammerboy at 7:17 PM on May 11, 2004


Your last comment is, as is often the case, dishonest and libelous.

heh. such a lecturer, Krrrlson.


Your self-righteous rhetoric has always been full of shit matteo... like so many these days, you've figured out that being a loud hypocrite works well, as long as you are louder than the other hypocrites. Sure, the Arab haters and the imperialists are here. You, conversely, hate a vast portion (if not the entirety) of Jews and Americans, as evidence by the plethora of insulting, one-sided ravings you've posted on Mefi to date. Arguing with you is pointless - only your own body parts, unexpectedly separated from each other by terrorist explosives, can ever serve to shake your hypocrisy. At least if you cared enough to ever act in support of your militant bullshit. By then, however, it will be too late - and another raving hippie will take your place to disrespect *your* corpse by hoisting it up on the battlements of his political agenda.

posted by Krrrlson at 5:13 PM PST on March 14


posted by matteo at 7:31 PM on May 11, 2004


insomnia_lj, why did you link to the video?

jesus.

would you link to it if it was someone in your family?

people boycott mcdonalds, can't we fucking boycott snuff films? this is only going to get worse and worse.


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.


(Yeats)
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 7:58 PM on May 11, 2004




Why do they hate our freedom?
posted by turbanhead at 8:13 PM on May 11, 2004


First of all, I want to thank Mossy for wading into what can be quite a mire of vitriol and providing in this (and other posts) a measured illumination and contextualization of current events as seen by him/her.

Also, I was wondering this earlier: how many Americans have more than a fleeting familiarity with the 1400 year history of Islam and Christianity and their relations throughout Europe, Asia and Africa? Do you think that a deeper knowledge of this would help our country understand things in more complexity? I am not saying that to know more would necessarily make one sympathetic to any side, just more able to think about the situations in greater depth and breadth...and who should do that? I wish in fact that certain of the better US media would do this (those that don't immediately assume a Judeo-Christian supremacy for one.)

It just seems to me at least that many people I talk about these things with just have no information about anything pre-1960, and for the most part their understandings of history and politics extend only as far as the US.
posted by ltracey at 8:17 PM on May 11, 2004


"insomnia_lj, why did you link to the video?"

Because I have also linked in the past to pictures of those falling from skyscrapers in the WTC, to those who were tortured and killed by Saddam, and to those who were tortured and killed by the U.S.

Because I believe that our government makes the true cost of the war more palatable by sanitizing it, thereby leading to more people being killed.

Because I still have the right to do so, in the same way that you still have the right not to watch, and I don't want to encourage an America which deprives its citizens of the right to do so. The best way to protect such a right is to exercise it.

If it were someone in my family, I would be too shocked and grief stricken to link to the article. I would feel the incredible futility of it all, and be doing my best to not respond in anger -- both at the terrorists, and at the U.S., who set the stage for his death and refused to exchange prisoners. I would be thinking of my family and our loss. The last thing I would be thinking about is posting to my weblog or to MeFi.

That said, if someone told me the reasons I told you why they linked to the death of someone in my family, I would accept them, especially if it was done in a respectful manner.

What we've seen is the unnecessary taking of a human life in a bloody, butcherous manner. It's surely an act of murder... but that sin is hardly restricted to the enemy. We should all feel pain, disgust, and outrage, not only at the sins of the enemy, but of our own country. We should all do our part to see to it that the killing stops... as soon as possible.
posted by insomnia_lj at 8:22 PM on May 11, 2004


Hardly anyone "deserves" to be killed over anything. And this is surely horrible, as horrible as anything I've read about recently. But how many Iraqis, who may have been innocent, died in prison? Didn't I read it was something like 15 or so? Every person who has died in this war was a human being. Seeing the outrage only one side is provincial, and unacceptable given the idea (not stated originally) that we started the war mainly as way of helping Iraqis.
posted by raysmj at 8:27 PM on May 11, 2004


There is an awful lot of "outrage" here on this post, and I'd call a lot of it political posturing.

Outrage that people here are not more outraged over the beheading of an American contractor in Iraq ?

OK, fine.....but that amounts to political posturing of it is not balanced - if not here then at least in past comments on previous threads - by outrage over other pointless deaths :

Even if one were a bloodthirsty xenophobe screaming for the death of all Iraqis, support of American troops would still dictate a certain amount of outrage over US troops killed and horribly wounded due to a lack of armored Humvees, body armor, and other critically necessary equipment.

That, however, is not a political attack talking point popular with those who lambaste those opposed to the US occupation of Iraq.

It may have been mentioned before on Metafilter - but I can't recall when - that US troops are dying for the lack of basic equipment while Halliburton and other corporations vacuum up fat profits in Iraq.

Save some outrage for that.

Save, also, some outrage - both at bloodthirsty Islamic extremism and the US behavior at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere which fed Al Qaida's extremist ranks - for the future innocent victims of terrorist attacks.

The finest PR firm in the world could scarcely have contrived amore brutally effective recruiting campaign for Al Qaida than the growing debacle in Iraq.

Save some outrage for that.

Oh and - if you have any left over at that point, unless you think, somehow, that the Iraqis are somehow less than human, spare some of your outrage as well for Iraqi civilian casualties. Iraqis are fully human, I assure you - though I would be tempted to question the humanity of those who would deny that fact.

____________________________________________

Hugh2d2 - I wouldn't assume that this conversation is private. Assume that your words could have some sort of impact on the situation in Iraq. So - do you think they are helpful ? Will they reduce Iraqi anger or help the US to establish an Iraqi Democracy ?

I have to assume that you're unaware (but now no longer) that - according to the Red Cross - 90% of those at the Abu Ghraib prison as of last year were innocent.

Your suggestion - of summary execution - has been tried at many times, in many places and - I can assure you - unless the US reverts to Medieval methods of subjugation ( mass slaughter to set examples, and a theatre of the horrific - heads on pikes ) your summary executions will merely feed Iraqi insurrection. And this, in turn, will result in more summary executions of Iraqis and more deaths of US troops.

Also, what insomnia_lj and raysmj just said.
posted by troutfishing at 8:44 PM on May 11, 2004


Because I still have the right to do so, in the same way that you still have the right not to watch, and I don't want to encourage an America which deprives its citizens of the right to do so. The best way to protect such a right is to exercise it.

I respect where you're coming from politically, and you state your position well. It probably wasn't wise of me to drag in the family; I would simply have a different reaction than you, but that's neither here nor there.

But while I agree that it's important to show the horrors of war/terrorism, don't you think that this particular case is fundamentally different? A death staged, filmed, and produced for maximum propaganda impact? When does the line of documenting the horror cross over into pornographizing it? Don't we become accomplices when we actively propagate the horror?

Maybe not. I will admit that I just don't know, but my gut tells me this one is different than any of the other examples you provided.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 8:56 PM on May 11, 2004


This is the only time in my life I've agreed with news networks choosing not to show gratuitous footage. Having seen the video, every time I see the still image my stomach lurches.

Of course, we should remember that plenty of Americans - and even more Iraqis - have died just as horrifying deaths since this began.
posted by ascullion at 9:09 PM on May 11, 2004


It's a good counter-argument matteo... tiredly linking to one old post again and again. Really saves you the trouble of having to think.
posted by Krrrlson at 9:09 PM on May 11, 2004


One might think that the image of an American being beheaded by Islamic militants would spark outrage against those doing the beheading. Yet on MetaFilter the outrage is inexplicably directed at the U.S. (save for homunculus).

The inhumanity and awful sadness surrounding the beheading absolutely speaks for itself. I can't watch the whole video and I can't even watch part of it or read the story without tearing up, and thinking about what kind of monsters decided to use the death of an innocent young man as a message.

The fact that several horrible actions on the part of my country, though, provided any moral camoflauge to protect those monsters makes it worse.
posted by weston at 9:40 PM on May 11, 2004


When something really awful like this happens, it brings out strong reactions. Everyone in this thread is right, and that's the problem.
posted by cell divide at 10:12 PM on May 11, 2004


"People.... This is a human being. No one deserves to be taken down by eight guys and beheaded. "

You should read some of the left anti-war/anti-bush sites including the Daily ("screw 'em") Kos.

The same people who are outraged if someone has a dangerous job in the US at a factory dismisses the beheading of this guy with a "he knew the risks, he took the job" air. It's really quite amazing to see the gymnastics.

Basically, it's like playing the "six degrees" game for them... take any problem anywhere in the world and try and drop the blame on the US and/or Bush in as few steps as possible.

No outrage for these animals with the knife cutting the head off - they are justifiably "pissed" - but any action by a US soldier they don't like is an outrage.

The torture of those prisoners was horrible, but you'll pardon me if I also manage to find a little anger for the animals who beheaded this guy.

But hey, "screw 'em" - right Kos?
posted by soulhuntre at 10:17 PM on May 11, 2004


You know who else blames the U.S. Govt. for Berg's death? Berg's own father.
posted by raysmj at 10:27 PM on May 11, 2004


I daresay a lot of the perspective on MeFi is based on the fact that the USA is the aggressor nation in this case.

Were the tables turned and Canada had invaded the USA, you'd find that most MeFi folk would be just as hostile toward the invaders, and sympathetic to the defenders.

OF COURSE there would be guerilla forces in the USA that would commit brutal attacks on the invading Canucks. It would be daft to imagine it could be otherwise.

OF COURSE the world would expect the Canadians to respect international laws and treaties, and would be upset if some idiot unit were to start torturing Americans.

OF COURSE the world would figure it's "just desserts" when a gang of Americans grabs some dumbass Quebecois tourist in the Florida war zone and chops his head off.

Invader and invaded: different teams that get to play by different rules. The invader has to behave like a gentleman. The invaded gets to fight dirty. That's the ugly reality of modern warfare.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:42 PM on May 11, 2004


"while I agree that it's important to show the horrors of war/terrorism, don't you think that this particular case is fundamentally different? A death staged, filmed, and produced for maximum propaganda impact?"

By that argument, it would arguably be worse to share the political message that they had than the video itself.

Frankly, the video backfires as a propaganda tool, in that it chiefly serves to justify aggression against those who did this terrible and brutal act, in almost exactly the same way that the pictures of U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners did.

Ultimately, if they had one message for Americans that they *DID* effectively communicate, it is this -- violence begets violence. If that message was their intent, I must reluctantly agree with the kidnappers on that point.

Do we become accomplices to terrorism when we propagate the horror? Depends on the message. Lots of people propagated the horror of 9/11 on their weblogs. Were they accomplices... or did they simply share with others the sense of outrage against senseless violence?

I think also it depends on who you are calling "we". We, as Americans? We as human beings who share this planet? We as supporters of freedom of speech and freedom of ideas? We as supporters of the war? We as those who oppose it? We who seek a middle path -- reconstruction, but a less militant, less American-dominated path? We as supporters of our country's policies -- right or wrong? Which "we" are you talking about?

I categorically deny that I have any obligation to support the policies of the United States that I don't believe in, or to support a war effort I don't believe in. I think that people are intelligent enough to view this horrific video as it is and perhaps take from it something of the horror and revulsion of the death of a single, unique, human being... to take from it the idea that Nick Berg didn't deserve this, and that we shouldn't view death so cheaply and casually.

The real horror here is a depiction of a needless, senseless, brutal, inhumane death, as we are reduced to the level of slaughered animals. We're worth so much more though... at least we should be, if we value ourselves as such.

No great civilization has thrived by diminishing the value of the individual. Let's hope our civilization doesn't fall into such a trap.
posted by insomnia_lj at 10:48 PM on May 11, 2004


"You should read some of the left anti-war/anti-bush sites including the Daily ("screw 'em") Kos."

I just read Daily Kos, looking for something that the owner of the site posted which would be worthy of such criticism, but saw nothing from his posts today where he indicates that the killing of Nick Berg was in some way justified. Can you point out any such statement?
posted by insomnia_lj at 10:58 PM on May 11, 2004


insomnia_lj : What we've seen is the unnecessary taking of a human life in a bloody, butcherous manner. It's surely an act of murder... but that sin is hardly restricted to the enemy. We should all feel pain, disgust, and outrage, not only at the sins of the enemy, but of our own country. We should all do our part to see to it that the killing stops... as soon as possible.

Well, yeah. Well said. But it's way too late for that now, I think. I'm afraid the blood's only just begun to flow.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:59 PM on May 11, 2004


"Frankly, the video backfires as a propaganda tool..."

insomnia_lj, I suspect it worked just fine as a propaganda tool, since it was almost certainly aimed at angry people elsewhere in the Islamic world.

I don't have access to any of the Arabic cable stations here, but I'd be willing to bet that they are showing this video back-to-back with the Abu Ghraib images.

"Look
They torture us
We cut their heads off
They torture us
We cut their heads off"

And so on.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 12:24 AM on May 12, 2004



Were there two cameramen in the room?

Or did they call "cut" and reshoot from a different angle?

There's at least two "cuts" during the action. Why?

And why why why can't these monkeys operate a freakin’ video camera? Why is the quality so shiteful? Reminds me of the Daniel Pearl video in its crappiness.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:46 AM on May 12, 2004


The American who had his head sawed off was apparently an idealist, who thought he could help rebuild some portion of Iraq's technical infrastructure.

He was also an unemployed man from Pennsylvania, over in Iraq without a relationship with any existing contractors(that's why he was arrested by the American forces).

Upon being released from American custody he was apparently abducted within a short period of time.

He had been intending to leave Iraq before he was arrested because he couldn't find work with the contractors in Iraq.

Al Qaeda butchered him on tape and put it out in the internet.

Yamamoto said after Pearl Harbor “I fear all we have done is awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.".

Al Qaeda wants that sleeping giant to awaken and move against the Middle East, because Bin Laden wants a war between the US and Islam.

Bin Laden is running his own Southern Strategy against the US, and our politics, media, and institutions as they exist today are apparently required to react exactly as Bin Laden planned.

Our enemy is very, very, very smart.

And we are, right now, losing any theoretical War On Terror, however you measure it.

One element of the partisan carping states "We are at war!". Well, if we are actually at war, we are going to have to get a five gallon bucket smarter about how we go about it, because so far all we have done is stick our dick into a quagmire that sucks down resources without addressing the actual fucking problem of the terrorists that will try to saw our collective necks off.

In other words, this 9-11 = invade Iraq bullshit has been a crime against the national security of the good old US of A, and the sooner we face that, the sooner we can address our actual problems. The guy whose name is attached to the videotape was allegedly in Kurdish territory before the war, known to be allied with Al Qaeda, and left there by the US military by order of the Executive branch because it gave credibility to the AQ and Saddam theory, even though Saddam had no control over that area because the US was defending the Kurds from Saddam's military.

Please, I implore you, if you are all for killing those terrorist bastards, then tell your representative government to get out of the shit it's gotten itself into and start chasing those murderous sons of bitches and killing them.

Because, seriously, a guy left alone for political reasons just sawed the head off an American on video.
posted by dglynn at 12:52 AM on May 12, 2004


"Please, I implore you, if you are all for killing those terrorist bastards, then tell your representative government to get out of the shit it's gotten itself into and start chasing those murderous sons of bitches and killing them."

A strong position in the Middle East as a base for these activities (a Pacific Iraq) is a really, really good start. The losses so far have been strategically light and out gains strategically good.

The only definition by which we can be considered "losing" this war is a political/popularity one. By an measure of strategic military success we are winning nicely.

"looking for something that the owner of the site posted which would be worthy of such criticism"

Here is a quote from Kos...

"That said, I feel nothing over the death of mercenaries. They aren't in Iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them."

Our boy Kos has a typically broad definition of the word "mercenary" of course - so when it is tossed around so blithely in this case, coupled with they sentiment from the early posts here that they "knew the risks" well... there you are.

You're right though, Kos has been pretty moderate about this killing aside from (of course) blaming it on the "neocons". Not because I suspect his views have changed, but simply because he figured out the extremism was hurting his anyone but Bush agenda.

I'm curious, if it's OK to decapitate this guy because "It's too bad, but I'm sure he signed a release along with his contract." (see early in this thread) then I wonder if someone who takes a shot at a US soldier has similarly waved any claim to decent treatment?

The difference? Almost everyone I know in the US is appalled at the torture of Iraqi prisoners... but large portions of the Middle East make a habit of this sort of thing.

"Because, seriously, a guy left alone for political reasons just sawed the head off an American on video."

And if we has wasted that bastard back then the left would have been yelling and screaming about how evil we are. There was a time a little while back when I was considering voting for Kerry becuase Bush is a little out there for me and other Republicans I know... but the constant deluge of extreme rhetoric from the left has reminded me how much damage they can and will do if they win.

It's a reall problem.
posted by soulhuntre at 1:16 AM on May 12, 2004


... gains strategically good.

It is not good strategy to multiply the number of enemies you have.
posted by moonbiter at 1:23 AM on May 12, 2004


The video was being shown - with video masking over the goriest parts - on regular TV news stations in Europe. Whether or not one can watch it in the US is a moral and political decision peculiar to the US and its administration's policies governing news. I don't remember many European news outlets running the Danny Pearl video in full.

Rumsfeld, as Bush's spokesman, helped to frame the present war in Iraq as part of a war on Terror, rather than as the personal revenge of the Bush family and the Halliburton mugging of an oil rich country plagued by a rotten dictator.

What should have been a liberation force now targets civilians because terrorists come from a civilian background. Small surprise, then, that real terrorists are better at playing that game than our National Guards are. The torture videos of Abu Ghraib were not intended for release. The killing of Nick Berg was a propaganda act very much intended for release. One aspect of terror is knowing how to effectively control PR.

And from Zbigniew Brzezinski's speech in October 2003:

War on terrorism defines the central preoccupation of the United States in the world today, and it does reflect in my view a rather narrow and extremist vision of foreign policy of the world's first superpower, of a great democracy, with genuinely idealistic traditions

It deals with abstractions. It theologizes the challenge. It doesn't point directly at the problem. It talks about a broad phenomenon, terrorism, as the enemy overlooking the fact that terrorism is a technique for killing people. That doesn't tell us who the enemy is. It's as if we said that World War II was not against the Nazis but against blitzkrieg. We need to ask who is the enemy, and the enemies are terrorists

posted by zaelic at 1:35 AM on May 12, 2004


The difference? Almost everyone I know in the US is appalled at the torture of Iraqi prisoners... but large portions of the Middle East make a habit of this sort of thing.

As, apparently, do large portions of America. Pissing into the wind just gets your own shoes wet.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:35 AM on May 12, 2004


And if we has wasted that bastard back then the left would have been yelling and screaming about how evil we are.

If by "back then" you mean 2003, I doubt that Democratic Senators and Congressman would be running the "opposed killing Al Qaeda terrorists" campaign this fall. I suspect the Left you are speaking of has about as much to do with actual policy as the Right's militias and tax refusers.

I thought the war on terror meant killing terrorists? Why didn't we kill this one when he was sitting in territory ostensibly controlled by allies?

By the way, I mean our Kurdish allies, not the terrorists(including the fat rat) sitting in territories ostensibly controlled by our allies the Pakistanis(who happen to sell nuclear technology to the highest bidder).

It's a reall problem.

No shit, Sherlock. Any chance that the people controlling all the branches of government are going to address it anytime soon?
posted by dglynn at 1:41 AM on May 12, 2004


...NBC News has learned that long before the war the Bush administration had several chances to wipe out his terrorist operation and perhaps kill Zarqawi himself — but never pulled the trigger.In June 2002, U.S. officials say intelligence had revealed that Zarqawi and members of al-Qaida had set up a weapons lab at Kirma, in northern Iraq, producing deadly ricin and cyanide.

The Pentagon quickly drafted plans to attack the camp with cruise missiles and airstrikes and sent it to the White House, where, according to U.S. government sources, the plan was debated to death in the National Security Council.

Military officials insist their case for attacking Zarqawi’s operation was airtight, but the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.
posted by zaelic at 2:16 AM on May 12, 2004


For those who read the words "decapitated" or "chopped off" and build a clean-cut hollywood style image in their minds of someone being quickly executed guillotine-style have no fucking idea.

A much more accurate account should mention how they pinned him to the ground face down, grabbed a handful of his hair for leverage, and then spent a whole fucking MINUTE cutting and sawing THROUGH his neck with a large knife, while Berg screeched in horror for as long as was physically possible.

Take that image with you before you participate in any discussion on this subject.
posted by joquarky at 2:32 AM on May 12, 2004


I guess I'm the only one who found the editing rather odd.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 2:50 AM on May 12, 2004


"No shit, Sherlock. Any chance that the people controlling all the branches of government are going to address it anytime soon?"

Well, since the problem I was discussing was the quandry of voting for Kerry or Bush, I would say that they are doing something about it - they are taking care of business (albeit not well) while Kerry supportes blame the US governemtn or anyone except the animals that sawed thsi guys head off.
posted by soulhuntre at 2:59 AM on May 12, 2004


Soulhuntre, I don't think what you did was right. Dragging a Daily Kos quote from over a month ago relating to his attitudes regarding mercenaries into this thread is a particularly odious slam under the circumstances.

Did Kos ever say that everyone who goes to Iraq is a mercenary? No. Did he call Nick Berg a mercenary? No. What he did say on his site regarding the attack was that it was "horrific", "tragic", and that it made him "want to throw up".

If you disagree with his politics, fine... but don't start putting words in his mouth. The conclusions he draws from the attack are different than yours, but the feelings are the same.
posted by insomnia_lj at 8:21 AM on May 12, 2004


Kerry supporters blame the US government or anyone except the animals that sawed this guys head off

And some Bush supporters are saying they "feel nothing but revulsion and disgust for Berg's [anti-war] father, whose face I would spit on if I had the opportunity." (seen on Free Republic). There's ugliness from the extreme members of both sides, but I'm not sure you're interested in that.

I have absolutely no doubt that if asked, your average American, Democrat or Republican, would express horror at the tragic death of Nick Berg and anger at the people who committed it... heck, your average person anywhere in the world thinks the same thing.
posted by jess at 8:23 AM on May 12, 2004


while Kerry supportes blame the US governemtn or anyone except the animals that sawed thsi guys head off.

can I get a link for that one?
posted by mcsweetie at 8:27 AM on May 12, 2004


Iraqis respond to Berg's murder.
posted by Wulfgar! at 8:32 AM on May 12, 2004


er, actually did you mean "kerry supports" or "kerry supporters?" I guess it doesn't matter since a link for the first doesn't exist and the second is pretty indefensible.
posted by mcsweetie at 8:36 AM on May 12, 2004


"insomnia_lj, I suspect it worked just fine as a propaganda tool, since it was almost certainly aimed at angry people elsewhere in the Islamic world.

I don't have access to any of the Arabic cable stations here, but I'd be willing to bet that they are showing this video back-to-back with the Abu Ghraib images."


Actually, I read an article that said that Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, the big two satellite networks, only aired edited snippets of the video.

"The news story itself is strong enough .... To show the actual beheading is out of the realm of decency." -- Al Jazeera spokesman.

I think you've been listening to too much Bush administration propaganda about how irresponsible the major Arab news stations are. Really, they can be pretty cowed at times, in part because they don't want to be kicked out of Iraq. Take a look at the questions Bush was asked on Al Arabiya. Softball pitches, really...
posted by insomnia_lj at 8:40 AM on May 12, 2004


Andrew Sullivan has some interesting commentary. He thinks these guys have hurt their own cause, just as we have hurt ours with the prison abuse scandal. Rather than "add to the shame of Abu Ghraib," this lessens our shame by comparison. These guys are "as alien to true Islam as the KKK was to the Gospels."
posted by caddis at 8:45 AM on May 12, 2004


"That said, I feel nothing over the death of mercenaries. They aren't in Iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them."

Our boy Kos has a typically broad definition of the word "mercenary" of course - so when it is tossed around so blithely in this case, coupled with they sentiment from the early posts here that they "knew the risks" well... there you are.


Soulhuntre:
You're full of shit. You are deliberately excerpting and linking to Kos' comments from a while back about a different situation, and you even acknowledge it. He was referring to the Fallujah contractors, who were in fact mercenaries, not Berg, as you imply. To say that he has a broad definition of "mercenary" is either groundless or intellectually dishonest, as you note that he has not had the same reaction to the murder of someone who is not a mercenary. Look, just because Berg isn't a mercenary doesn't mean they don't exist. He's also not a photographer or a mennonite, but they still exist.

But you know what? I've got to commend for loosing your strawman dogs on someone who isn't even a member of Metafilter. Sneaky.

but the constant deluge of extreme rhetoric from the left has reminded me how much damage they can and will do if they win.

Yes. Enjoy your moderate militant theocracy.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 8:57 AM on May 12, 2004


"Were there two cameramen in the room?

Or did they call "cut" and reshoot from a different angle?

There's at least two "cuts" during the action. Why?"


I was puzzled by that too. There are clearly two different timestamps that are shown, and shots from two different angles. It appears to me there was one stationary camera (which records the first four minutes and change) and a handheld camera that is used at the end, and there is an edit or two from one back to the other.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:24 AM on May 12, 2004


The Pentagon quickly drafted plans to attack the camp with cruise missiles and airstrikes and sent it to the White House, where, according to U.S. government sources, the plan was debated to death in the National Security Council.

I thought y'all were in favor of debating military action to death. Otherwise it becomes the unilateral action of a Nazi state, or something?


You're full of shit. You are deliberately excerpting and linking to Kos' comments from a while back about a different situation, and you even acknowledge it. He was referring to the Fallujah contractors, who were in fact mercenaries, not Berg, as you imply.

That makes two of you then. You are misrepresenting his comments now. Where is that implication you speak of? You're not stupid, and I'm pretty sure you can read, so I am fairly certain it is you who is being intellectually dishonest. And, as you said, full of shit.

The radical nature of comments on Kos' site is well known, and it is no more than the LGF of the left. But I guess it's taboo to point that out here.

As I said before, the hypocrisy in here is astounding. People scream and bitch for hours about *any* fault of the American government or military, yet four brutally murdered and mutilated people fail to evoke much of a response beyond "they signed a release, tough luck" or "poor murderous mob, how angry they must be." And after this, the same people accuse someone of sanitizing the horror? Bullshit!


I think you've been listening to too much Bush administration propaganda about how irresponsible the major Arab news stations are.

Who needs propaganda when you can read their fucking website. Wool, meet eyes.
posted by Krrrlson at 9:28 AM on May 12, 2004


Iraqi terrorists don't claim to represent me, and they aren't doing it on my dime.

Talking about other sites isn't "taboo" here, it's irrelevant. Since neither Kos nor Rush Limbaugh (for example) is a member here, to ascribe either of their opinions to posters here--unless those posters say "I agree with Kos!" or "I agree with Rush!"

Lynndie England, Donald Rumsfeld, et al. are my employees, and thus I have some personal stake in their behavior. I feel that by talking about the issues around the US conduct of the war, US citizens have an opportunity to shape their nation's public policy and expectations.

My outrage at the senseless murder of Nick Berg, however, isn't likely to change the morals or behavior of terrorists.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:39 AM on May 12, 2004


That makes two of you then. You are misrepresenting his comments now. Where is that implication you speak of? You're not stupid, and I'm pretty sure you can read, so I am fairly certain it is you who is being intellectually dishonest. And, as you said, full of shit.


Soulhuntre linked to the old, inflammatory comment and then said that the only reason Kos isn't now using similar language is because he's afraid of the reaction. He wrote that. I didn't imagine it. I think that his argument is illogical. Here's why:

Why does soulhuntre think that Kos would prefer to use such language again? Because he thinks Kos uses the word mercenary too loosely.

What is his evidence? An irrelevant comment from the past about an actual mercenary.

Do you not see the circular reasoning here? Kos is willing to call anyone a mercenary, because he once called an acutal mercenary a mercenary. That is like saying that you might eat my car because you once ate a pancake.

Why is it hypocritical for me to point out that soulnutre's line of reasoning is fallcious in the interest of scoring points against a 3rd-party strawman who isn't even on Metafilter? Am I full of shit for pointing out that someone else is being silly? You can think I'm wrong, or that he's right, but to equate his spurious argument with my branding of it as such is absurd.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 9:41 AM on May 12, 2004


Krrrlson, a few thoughts on what you call hypocrisy (and I know you aren't referring to me, but I had some thoughts).

1. It's a good thing when people criticize their own government when that government makes mistakes or commits crimes. It means people care.

2. As for people "scream and bitch for hours about *any* fault of the American Government and Military", where do you get that from? People were/are screaming about torture, murder (the reports coming out of Abu Ghraib describe at least two confirmed homicides, with 14 more suspected), etc. not *any* fault. These are serious faults, and thank God we live in a country where we can criticize them.

3. Do you really think anyone should be making comparisons between the US Military and a band of terrorists? Have your standards for our country really fallen that low? I really can't wrap my head around the idea that there is any comparison between the two groups... I can only conclude that the only way in your mind that you can make the military look good is to compare them to terrorists, which seems to me to be pretty awful.

4. I really don't see anyone saying poor murderous mob. What I see is, at the worst, people saying disgusting murderous mob, but this never would have happened if Bush hadn't gone to war. And, terrible murderous mob, but it's a war zone and these kind of things are common.

It seems like you're attributing things to people that were not said on this site. This is a site of smart people with different opinions, but I really don't think anyone is excusing the horrible murder that was on that tape. At the very worst, they are saying that the real blame lies higher up then just the men themselves. If you want to debate that, I'll join you and be on your side... but when you start talking about hypocrisy because people hold their government to a higher standard than pyschotic fanatic murdering terrorists, you have completely lost me and probably anyone else who's not gone over the edge.
posted by chaz at 9:49 AM on May 12, 2004


soulnutre

That was a typo, not some attempt at humor. Sorry.

posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:07 AM on May 12, 2004


From the Reuters article:
Issa al-Khalidi, a 65-year-old pensioner sitting in one of the oldest coffeehouses in Adhamiya, also condemned the killing but looked around nervously as he did.

"It's a brutal, inhuman act. As Muslims our religion prohibits us from committing such acts," he said.


This is what it means to be a moderate in the Middle East. Condemn an atrocity, look around nervously. After all, a stronger-willed man might hear and question your loyalty.

Moderates are on the terrorists' side. By passively deferring to their clerics, mullahs, faces of tyrants on placards, they implicitly support extremist terrorism (the ideas at least, if not the acts). And then they have the gall to argue "our religion prohibits us from committing such acts". Fucking hypocrites! Your "brothers" are reading from the same book and coming to the opposite conclusion. And they're taking heads! If a Muslim thinks that such acts violate their law, then why not a holy war against the psycho Islamic fascists? Why not a mass demonstration against their actions? How dare you call those savages "martyrs"?

Please also do not forget what happened: Nick Berg was leading a thinking, feeling, meaningful human life, until some soulless, illiterate, dirty sheep (robots even, taking up the the cause advanced by their leaders, their clerics, and their culture, ended it.


Every waste of flesh we catch over there should have their mouths stuffed with bacon and be shot in the back of the head.

Go see Allah with pork breath, fuck-o.
posted by Hugh2d2 at 2:22 PM PST on May 11


Maybe one day, in 5, 10, or 20 years, the western world will finally come to the conclusion that what we really need is bacon. The bacon of justice. Give a terrorist a trial, prove that he is guilty, that he acted in the name of Allah, that he really is the soulless ignorant fuck we thought he was. Then, make sure bacon is involved in their execution.

posted by MarkO at 10:50 AM on May 12, 2004


Moderates are on the terrorists' side. By passively deferring to their clerics, mullahs, faces of tyrants on placards, they implicitly support extremist terrorism (the ideas at least, if not the acts). And then they have the gall to argue "our religion prohibits us from committing such acts". Fucking hypocrites! Your "brothers" are reading from the same book and coming to the opposite conclusion. And they're taking heads! If a Muslim thinks that such acts violate their law, then why not a holy war against the psycho Islamic fascists? Why not a mass demonstration against their actions? How dare you call those savages "martyrs"?

Did you notice the contempt the murderers had for Islamic clerics? That they are complaining to God about them? It shows just how outside the bounds these people are. And as for why Muslims in Iraq aren't fighting a jihad against these people, well, [b]they're in a war zone[/b]. You might as well ask peaceful folk in US inner cities to fight a jihad against gangs in their neighborhood. You'd get the same response.
posted by laz-e-boy at 11:09 AM on May 12, 2004


...until some soulless, illiterate, dirty sheep (robots even, taking up the the cause advanced by their leaders, their clerics, and their culture, ended it.

Be careful about underestimating your enemy. Al-Zarqawi might be a brutal, barbaric fuck, but it's probably a mistake to paint him as an illiterate animal, or an automaton. He's managed to survive for this long, and, at least according to the US government, he exercises considerable authority.

These guys have a strategy, and this execution is part of it. That's why they filmed it; that's why it was posted on the web.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:10 AM on May 12, 2004


well, [b]they're in a war zone[/b].

D'oh! Metafilter is not UBB... Metafilter is not UBB...
posted by laz-e-boy at 11:15 AM on May 12, 2004


"Why does soulhuntre think that Kos would prefer to use such language again? Because he thinks Kos uses the word mercenary too loosely.

What is his evidence? An irrelevant comment from the past about an actual mercenary."


I didn't "dredge" up the Kos comment and try and pass it off as anythign but what it was. The early posts in this thread were perfectly keeping with Kos's view. They spoke of the beheaded American as a "mercinary" and expressed the feelings that he "knew the risks". As such, I foudn the link to Kos entirely relevant when discussing that attitude.

Nor is the comment uncharacteristic of Kos's attitudes. In fact it is his current moderate tone that is out of place - and thats only because he will get more milage out of it that way - having learned that callously sawing "screw 'em" to murdered Americans isn't working for him.

It's a bit of a stretch to take a misperception (that I attempted to "pass off" those comments as current) and then accuse me "admitting!" that thats not true when I mentioned the context to specifically avoid the idea that I was "passing" them off :)

"Why does soulhuntre think that Kos would prefer to use such language again? Because he thinks Kos uses the word mercenary too loosely."

Because I think Kos is actively pleased on some level every time a setback happens in Iraq. I believe he (and many on the left, including some on Metafilter) feel the only way to achieve their goals (a pull out and a Bush defeat) is to paint this all in the most negative possible light.

"What is his evidence? An irrelevant comment from the past about an actual mercenary."

My "evidence" for my opinion is the totality of Kos comments int he past. Presumably you have opinions on what someone would say about some event based on his past comments and your evaluation of him?

Anyway, the posting of Kos's comment was not about him, it was about the attitude expressed by the early posters in this thread right here on Mefi, and how they were similar to the comment made by Kos.

"er, actually did you mean "kerry supports" or "kerry supporters?" I guess it doesn't matter since a link for the first doesn't exist and the second is pretty indefensible."

You're right, and I apologize. It would be overly broad to say "Kerry Supporters" and it wasn't accurate. I dropped a few words between brain and hands.

Obviously the subset of people I am discussing (rabid anti-Bush/anti-war folks who will find a way to pin any event world wide) are almost entirely Kerry supporters - but equally obviously they don't represent the entirety or even majority of Kerry's support.

That was a typo, not some attempt at humor. Sorry

No problem, typos I understand all too well.

Besides, the common attacks based on my name are "solehuntre" and "soulhoundre" :)
posted by soulhuntre at 11:15 AM on May 12, 2004


Obviously the subset of people I am discussing (rabid anti-Bush/anti-war folks who will find a way to pin any event world wide) are almost entirely Kerry supporters.

I think the especially rabid anti-war faction tends to support Nader. Remember, he's pulling at least 5% in national polls.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:40 AM on May 12, 2004




I think the especially rabid anti-war faction tends to support Nader. Remember, he's pulling at least 5% in national polls.

I'm sorry, but given the common understanding of the adjective "rabid" - agressive posture, foaming at the mouth in preparation for attack, blinded by rage - that descriptor is better suited for those for the war.
posted by laz-e-boy at 12:11 PM on May 12, 2004


I believe... many on the left... feel the only way to achieve their goals (a pull out and a Bush defeat) is to paint this all in the most negative possible light.

Paint this all in a negative light?!? Innocent civilians are being inadvertently killed (by both sides), there is photographic evidence of systematic abuse of prisoners (by both sides), and young people are having their heads sawed off and the video released on the internet. Just how much 'painting' does any human being have to do to make this look pretty freaking negative?
posted by jess at 12:23 PM on May 12, 2004


Nor is the comment uncharacteristic of Kos's attitudes. In fact it is his current moderate tone that is out of place - and thats only because he will get more milage out of it that way - having learned that callously sawing "screw 'em" to murdered Americans isn't working for him.

It is not uncharacteristic of his attitudes about mercenaries. Yes, his reaction to dead mercenaries is a lot more casual than is normal (and a lot more active than mine. While I feel for any life that ends prematurely, when compared to my sadness for fallen soldiers, fallen mercs barely register, but I don't feel a need to rant about it, in all honesty). But you are again trying to conflate his previous statements about mercenaries with what you construe to be his feelings about any dead American. That was illogical the first time, and now it seems that you are simultaneously denying and extending that charge. You seem to think that his opinion of people who are demonstrably mercenaries automatically applies to anyone that anyone else calls a mercenary, however incorrectly. More to the point, you do so depsite his comments to the contrary on the specific issue at hand.

As to the people calling Berg a mercenary in this thread, as I said before, they are being ridiculous and are demonstrably wrong on a point of fact. So why not criticize them directly rather than trying to construct a narrative about your divination of an irrelevant third party's thoughts? It smacks of trying to smear everyone who doesn't support Bush with some "radical leftist" brush. That may have been a great tactic a year ago when public support for both Bush and the war were through the roof, but at this point those employing that tactic risk burying themselves under a pile of overblown rhetoric, a la Pat Buchanon at the GOP convention. At some point, you'll end up saying (in effect) that a majority of Americans hate America, and then you will be a wacko.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 12:57 PM on May 12, 2004


"...As I said before, the hypocrisy in here is astounding. People scream and bitch for hours about *any* fault of the American government or military, yet four brutally murdered and mutilated people fail to evoke much of a response beyond "they signed a release, tough luck" or "poor murderous mob, how angry they must be." And after this, the same people accuse someone of sanitizing the horror? Bullshit!" (krrrlson)

And, as I said, "US troops are dying for the lack of basic equipment while Halliburton and other corporations vacuum up fat profits in Iraq.

Save some outrage for that. "

But - as for the seige of Fallujah in response to the brutal killing of the four American contractors there - the Red Cross estimates civilian deaths of about 350 from the American seige. This seems disproportionate to me. Of course, it's war/occupation.

Well, it's an idiotic war/occupation, and one US troops should not be required to fight.
posted by troutfishing at 1:11 PM on May 12, 2004


Be careful about underestimating your enemy. Al-Zarqawi might be a brutal, barbaric fuck, but it's probably a mistake to paint him as an illiterate animal, or an automaton. He's managed to survive for this long, and, at least according to the US government, he exercises considerable authority.

After the coordinated attack with 4 planes on 9/11, it would be foolish to think that our enemies operate without planning, intelligence, or authority. But I would argue that only a minority of Islamic terrorists are intelligent or exercise authority--and those are the leaders like Al-Zarqawi. The rest of them are just willing human missiles.

I would even go as far as saying that the terrorist leaders are not willing to die for their country, their religion, or anything else; only their followers are. Thus, a consistent, heavy-handed hard line should still work against these groups. Israel's assasination of Ahmed Yassin, for instance, was a good first step, and they should continue to take out anyone who takes his place.
posted by MarkO at 1:59 PM on May 12, 2004


Israel's assasination of Ahmed Yassin, for instance, was a good first step

Good God, how can you think that? History had shown, again and again and again (not least in my home country of Northern Ireland), that everytime you create a maytyr, you extend the life of a conflict. Open your eyes.
posted by ascullion at 2:07 PM on May 12, 2004


Good G-d, you are a delluded pathetic coward.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:10 PM on May 12, 2004


Paris - care to elaborate on that ?

"Thus, a consistent, heavy-handed hard line should still work against these groups." - MarkO, you forgot the magic qualifier there : "- provided that hard line is applied intelligently."

"Do you want to know how to eliminate terrorism? I'll tell you. In fact, I'll tell you about something that no one else knows. Something that has never been written about. You will be amazed, but it is true. Listen." ....The speaker knew what he was talking about. Just a few years before, he had been a terrorist—a senior commander of al-Fatah.....The speaker was now a brigadier general in one of the Palestine Authority's myriad security and intelligence services.....the general's job was hunting down and rooting out terrorists. He was the archetypal poacher turned gamekeeper. His nemeses were neither the Jews nor their Zionist benefactors but his brother Palestinians: men who, unlike him, had refused to swear allegiance to al Rais ("the head," as Arafat is often known among Palestinians) and the governing Palestine Authority.....

"Arafat and the PLO," the general said, "had a big problem in the 1970s. We had a group called the Black September Organization. It was the most elite unit we had. The members were suicidal—not in the sense of religious terrorists who surrender their lives to ascend to heaven but in the sense that we could send them anywhere to do anything and they were prepared to lay down their lives to do it. No question. No hesitation. They were absolutely dedicated and absolutely ruthless."

Black September was at the time among the most feared terrorist organizations in the world. It had been formed as a deniable and completely covert special-operations unit of al-Fatah by Arafat and his closest lieutenants.... Black September perpetrated one of the most audacious acts of terrorism in history: the seizure of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games. That incident is widely credited as the premier example of terrorism's power to rocket a cause from obscurity to renown......

The problem, however, was that Black September had served its purpose. The PLO and its chairman had the recognition and acceptance they craved. Indeed, any continuation of these terrorist activities, ironically, now threatened to undermine all that had been achieved. In short, Black September was, suddenly, not a deniable asset but a potential liability. Thus, according to my host, Arafat ordered Abu Iyad "to turn Black September off."......

Finally they hit upon an idea. Why not simply marry them off? In other words, why not find a way to give these men—the most dedicated, competent, and implacable fighters in the entire PLO—a reason to live rather than to die? Having failed to come up with any viable alternatives, the two men put their plan in motion......

They traveled to Palestinian refugee camps, to PLO offices and associated organizations, and to the capitals of all Middle Eastern countries with large Palestinian communities. Systematically identifying the most attractive young Palestinian women they could find, they put before these women what they hoped would be an irresistible proposition: Your fatherland needs you. Will you accept a critical mission of the utmost importance to the Palestinian people? Will you come to Beirut, for a reason to be disclosed upon your arrival, but one decreed by no higher authority than Chairman Arafat himself? How could a true patriot refuse?

So approximately a hundred of these beautiful young women were brought to Beirut. There, in a sort of PLO version of a college mixer, boy met girl, boy fell in love with girl, boy would, it was hoped, marry girl. There was an additional incentive, designed to facilitate not just amorous connections but long-lasting relationships. The hundred or so Black Septemberists were told that if they married these women, they would be paid $3,000; given an apartment in Beirut with a gas stove, a refrigerator, and a television; and employed by the PLO in some nonviolent capacity. Any of these couples that had a baby within a year would be rewarded with an additional $5,000.

.....as the general recounted, without exception the Black Septemberists fell in love, got married, settled down, and in most cases started a family. To make sure that none ever strayed, the two men devised a test. Periodically, the former terrorists would be handed legitimate passports and asked to go to the organization's offices in Geneva or Paris or some other city on genuine nonviolent PLO business. But, the general explained, not one of them would agree to travel abroad, for fear of being arrested and losing all that they had—that is, being deprived of their wives and children. "And so," my host told me, "that is how we shut down Black September and eliminated terrorism. It is the only successful case that I know of." "

Most of us have good minds here. I think that it is our responsibility to use them.
posted by troutfishing at 2:23 PM on May 12, 2004


I didn't watch the Daniel Pearl video and I won't watch this one. Many things need to stay private, and this is one of them.

sums my stance up nicely as well.

---

Israel's assasination of Ahmed Yassin, for instance, was a good first step

Good God, how can you think that? History had shown, again and again and again (not least in my home country of Northern Ireland), that everytime you create a maytyr, you extend the life of a conflict. Open your eyes.


n. ireland is my home country too, and ascullion is right. imagine what the repercussions would have been if say, martin mcguinness or ian paisley had been killed. i don't even want to think about it. especially if mcguinness had been killed by a missile from a british helicopter. scary thoughts.
posted by knapah at 2:36 PM on May 12, 2004


trout, OBL has 4 wives and 16 children. Taming the savages with women may have worked with Black September, but it is not a workable solution to jihad -- I think you might be confusing political terrorism with religious terrorism, two very different animals that are not likely to have similar solutions. I seriously doubt Al-Qaeda can be paid off to settle into nice little nuclear families.
posted by David Dark at 3:25 PM on May 12, 2004


I have to agree with David... most of the people attacking Americans in Iraq would probably stop if the country was stable and they had a job, a family, 3 squares, etc. This doesn't apply to the Al Qaedas (in the video and elsewhere) who are on a different planet.
posted by chaz at 3:28 PM on May 12, 2004


Hell, I'm pretty sure most people in Iraq aren't attacking Americans at all, and are in fact wishing the violence would end.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:33 PM on May 12, 2004


ascullion and knapah, keep in mind that the IRA was a political terrorist organization, with stated goals that they were trying to achieve by bombing their way to a negotiating table. They historically tried to avoid civilian casualties whenever possible; in fact, their deadliest bombing ever, at Omagh, took 29 lives. You didn't hear the IRA crying, "You love life, we love death!" or see them putting out snuff films as propaganda for their cause. I don't think you can draw enough parallels between the IRA and Al-Qaeda to suggest that they should be handled in similar manners.
posted by David Dark at 3:38 PM on May 12, 2004


most of the people attacking Americans in Iraq would probably stop if the country was stable and they had a job, a family, 3 squares, etc.

They used to have all that, and we took it away from them.

If this wasn't Iraqis that did this, it soon will be--We're not doing anything right there. I betcha Bush does more Sharon-style retaliation (like we tried in Fallujah), and just makes it worse.
posted by amberglow at 3:40 PM on May 12, 2004


Amberglow: you smart.
posted by zaelic at 4:10 PM on May 12, 2004


David,

The IRA weren't responsible for the Omagh bomb. And my comparison was between NI/UK and Palestine/Israel, not the IRA and al-Qaeda.

However, all terrorist groups need support - and if you, and the USA, continue to delude yourselves that al-Qaeda doesn't generate that support due to basic social, economic and political inequalties, then we'll never get any closer to resolving this.
posted by ascullion at 4:24 PM on May 12, 2004


and if you, and the USA, continue to delude yourselves that al-Qaeda doesn't generate that support due to basic social, economic and political inequalities, then we'll never get any closer to resolving this.

I'm sorry, but you misunderstand. This isn't about resolution; it's about killing the fuckers who would do these awful things. The animals, the inhuman monsters, the robots, the sheep, the thugs (aren't we creative enough to call them something else with each new outrage of emotional justification?). They're illiterate, they're medieval, they're poopy smelling and they don't have flush toilets. They kill people horrifically (am I the only one on MetaFilter to have seen the video of "insurgents" being cut in half by a minigun?) They're not us, and they deserve payback. They don't deserve a life or job or stability ... they're ... they're ... not us!!! We need to kill them all. Hang 'em, gut 'em, rape 'em with barbed wire, nuke 'em, shoot 'em down in the fuckin' street and stuff their mouths with bacon. And kill all those who would support them, and all those who would find one shred of sympathy for them. We will win when all those who could hurt US are dead. That is peace.

(I actually read that on several different websites today. I won't link them here, but a brief cruise around the Internet will educate any about those who "share" the view of Cheney, Rumsfeld, and our leader who would "Bring them on" and "Stay the course". Just my opinion, but that's complete cowardice, and worse, it doesn't solve the fucking problem.)
posted by Wulfgar! at 5:20 PM on May 12, 2004


This is what it means to be a moderate in the Middle East. Condemn an atrocity, look around nervously. After all, a stronger-willed man might hear and question your loyalty.

You mean the loyalty of moderates is being questioned outside the United States as well?
posted by juiceCake at 6:29 PM on May 12, 2004


Touché!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:03 PM on May 12, 2004


Jebuz Wulf, you scared me for a minute there...don't do that...it makes me jittery.

ascullion and troutfishing make good points. But it is also a valid observation to note that there is a difference between political jihad and religious jihad. AQ are fundies, just like Bush is a fundie, just like the Taliban were/are fundies. There really isn't a rational way to approach people who think that they're getting orders from the invisible sky guy.

The murder of Mr. Berg was an atrocious horrific act, committed by zealous thugs. But it has no more bearing on the rest of Islam, or Iraqis than does the acts of the zealot American thugs who committed atrocities bear on the citizens of the U.S.

In other words, bombing the shit out of innocent Iraqis is as senseless as it would be to bomb West Virginia in response to the Abu Ghraib torture acts.

You mean the loyalty of moderates is being questioned outside the United States as well?

No kidding. Sheesh, it's a nervous time to be against the regime, ain't it?
posted by dejah420 at 7:10 PM on May 12, 2004


You mean the loyalty of moderates is being questioned outside the United States as well?

No kidding. Sheesh, it's a nervous time to be against the regime, ain't it?


That'll be the first thing we change after the elections. It's repulsive--and truly anti-American.
posted by amberglow at 7:23 PM on May 12, 2004


what's this stuff about his father being on a freeper enemies list?
posted by amberglow at 8:35 PM on May 12, 2004


"In other words, bombing the shit out of innocent Iraqis is as senseless as it would be to bomb West Virginia in response to the Abu Ghraib torture acts."

You say that as if it were a bad idea...
posted by five fresh fish at 8:53 PM on May 12, 2004


You know, it's funny that nobody has mentioned yet that Al-Zarqawi and his lot aren't even Iraqi. They're not even part of the freedom/resistance/saddam-loyalist/insurget groups that have dotted up all around Iraq. If I can remember correctly what I've read, they just popped in from Jordan to take advantage of the situation..

It's a shame the Iraqis will get caught in the reprisals, I feel sorry for them.

Everyone loves a fatwa and I agree whole heartedly with this one.
posted by Mossy at 9:03 PM on May 12, 2004


The IRA weren't responsible for the Omagh bomb.

Sorry, I didn't know that. Maybe you could explain it to me? Anyway, Israel/Palestine is not a better analogy, as the Palestinians have repeatedly shown that they, too, have no interest in negotiation or compromise.

and if you, and the USA, continue to delude yourselves that al-Qaeda doesn't generate that support due to basic social, economic and political inequalties. . .

What? OBL and his cronies are spoiled rich kids born with silver spoons in their mouths, and the only people who want to continue to enforce social, economic and political inequalities on the masses are OBL and his cronies, themselves, through their fundamentalist doctrine and bastardization of religion.


If this wasn't Iraqis that did this

No need for the "if". The militant Islamic website said Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a top ally of al-Qaida leader Usama bin Ladin, was the man with the knife: "The statement in the video was signed off with Zarqawi's name and dated 11 May."

Some more of his handiwork.

An intercepted letter he penned.

Al Qaeda was in Iraq before the war, they are still there now, and the only reason they are sending out desperation videotapes of themselves murdering Americans is because they know if democracy in Iraq succeeds, it's a colossal victory for the War on Terror and means the future will be very grim for them.
posted by David Dark at 9:32 PM on May 12, 2004


Al Qaeda was in Iraq before the war

In American controlled territory.

they are still there now

In American "controlled" territory.

nd the only reason they are sending out desperation[!] videotapes of themselves murdering Americans is because they know if democracy in Iraq succeeds, it's a colossal victory for the War on Terror and means the future will be very grim for them.

That's why they made the deperation attacks on the World Trade Center, because if everyone lives in a democracy then everyone will get along! They hate freedom!
posted by moonbiter at 9:57 PM on May 12, 2004


I think that his argument is illogical.

I believe the term was "full of shit," no?

What is his evidence? An irrelevant comment from the past about an actual mercenary.

Irrelevant? After reading about incredibly brutal murders and mutilations of human beings by a savage mob, all the man could say was: "Screw 'em." I daresay that says something about his character and mindset. And keep calling them mercenaries if it helps you feel better. Perhaps you can also start referring to the humiliated Iraqi prisoners as "criminals" and "Baathists."


chaz--

1. It's a good thing when people criticize their own government when that government makes mistakes or commits crimes. It means people care.

It most certainly is. However, spouting one-sided hate-filled rhetoric is neither constructive nor caring. That is the kind of commentary I have a problem with.

As for people "scream and bitch for hours about *any* fault of the American Government and Military", where do you get that from?

I was not referring to the prisoner abuse. I'm sure you've been watching the Bush and US policy related threads around here.

3. Do you really think anyone should be making comparisons between the US Military and a band of terrorists? Have your standards for our country really fallen that low?

Just for the record, I am not American, and your conclusion is faulty. I do not seek to compare the US military to terrorists. I take offense at those who use every excuse to whitewash the actions of terrorist thugs, say by continuously referring to their crimes as "responses" and otherwise lending them justification. No matter what the terrorists do, the military should not allow prisoner abuse. No matter what internal problems the military is facing right now, the actions of terrorists are unjustifiable.

I really don't see anyone saying poor murderous mob. What I see is, at the worst, people saying disgusting murderous mob, but this never would have happened if Bush hadn't gone to war. And, terrible murderous mob, but it's a war zone and these kind of things are common.

Do you see the derision and hatred leveled at the victims for being "mercenaries?" The disrespect of brutally slaughtered civilians? Amid the loud condemnations of Bush, the failure of most to condemn the murderers as well?

It seems like you're attributing things to people that were not said on this site. This is a site of smart people with different opinions, but I really don't think anyone is excusing the horrible murder that was on that tape. At the very worst, they are saying that the real blame lies higher up then just the men themselves.


This is a site *with* smart people, but sadly, few different opinions as far as US politics and foreign policy are concerned. If the only problem here were people holding the US to a higher standard, I'd shut the hell up and thank them for watching out for America and its principles. Sadly, I see a malicious double standard that pardons terror and would tie the hands of those who fight it. I see people whose anti-Bush agenda has grown so large that it obscures their vision of most anything else. This can be seen all too clearly on MeFi, so I don't know if your selective reading is accidental or intentional.

As far as blame is concerned, I find it absurd to explain away this latest murder as a "response" to the prisoner abuse incidents. Do you honestly believe that those lunatics would have kept that young man alive had the prisoner abuse not occurred?
posted by Krrrlson at 10:29 PM on May 12, 2004


A public release from Nick Berg's alma mater:

It is with deepest regret that I write to inform you that Nick Berg, brutally murdered in Iraq, was one of our former undergraduate students; he studied civil engineering at Cornell from 1996 to 1998.

College constituents who knew Nick remember him as an outstanding student and a caring individual with a passion for helping people. During his years at Cornell, he arranged his class schedule to spend a semester in Uganda, studying abroad and putting his education to work in local construction projects to develop appropriate technologies.

Nick was a regular on the dean's list, and his engaging personality made him a favorite of faculty, staff, and students. We extend our sincere condolences to Nick's family and friends and assure them that the Cornell Engineering family shares not only their grief but also their memories of an exceptional young man.

posted by Krrrlson at 10:30 PM on May 12, 2004


I think that his argument is illogical.

I believe the term was "full of shit," no?


Yes, that was the word that I used. But since an argument is not a container that exists in 3 dimensions, it was implied that "full of shit" was figurative. My apologies for that.

What is his evidence? An irrelevant comment from the past about an actual mercenary.

Irrelevant? After reading about incredibly brutal murders and mutilations of human beings by a savage mob, all the man could say was: "Screw 'em." I daresay that says something about his character and mindset.

OK. You can say that if you want, but why does it make it relevant? Let's say Kos is the worst, most hateful guy in the world. Does that mean it is OK to parse his statements out of context, and to ignore more relevant statements (he addressed Berg's murder, and in no way implied that he thought Berg a mercenary) in favor of twisting past, irrelevant statements? It reminds me of OJ Simpson and Saddam Hussein: framing a guilty guy. If Kos is such a dick, then one should either make the blanket case that he's a dick, or make specific cases based on relevant statements.

And keep calling them mercenaries if it helps you feel better. Perhaps you can also start referring to the humiliated Iraqi prisoners as "criminals" and "Baathists."

Who do you mean by them? If you are implying that I think Berg is a mercenary, than you are willfully ignoring two comments that I made in this thread in which I criticized people for making that assertion with exactly no evidence and in the face of enormous evidence to the contrary, which is really rather goofy.

If you are not talking about Berg, are you implying that mercenaries don't exist? That they are not being employed by the US in Iraq right now? That they don't, in fact, comprise the second-largest armed force currently on the ground in Iraq (beating out even Britain in terms of man- and firepower)?

What can you be talking about? Do you mean the four specific contractors in Fallujah? Are you one that expects me to believe that they were driving around armed with machine guns during the day guarding a food convoy which escaped any harm and magically disappeared exactly concurrent to the attack?

Again, your refutations of my criticism of Soulhuntre are just illustrating that you buy into the same idea: that one's criticisms of mercenaries will necessarily be applied to non-mercenaries, as all those who criticize mercenaries have a strong propensity to affix the label wildly and irresponsible to any civilian in a war zone. You can say that if you want, but you have no evidence, unless you want to state that Kos and me (the two people at whom you are leveling that charge) have secret identities as other people posting in this thread. It is illogical and downright weird, a sentiment that I thought was well-expressed by my erudite and artful wordsmithery: "full of shit." Sorry, but that's what it smells like to me.

One more stab:
Let's say that I'm horribly racist. I always call black people "darkies," and go out of my way to actively discriminate against them. The logic of soulhuntre/krrlson, with Ignatius the Racist playing the role of Kos the Merc Hater, would basically state that upon hearing of the murder of Phil Hartman I would leap with glee and yell "One more darkie down! Screw 'em!"

Even if I were that big an asshole (which I may be, just in ways that would be less pleasing to Henry Huxley/David Duke), I would still be more discriminating about it. Hell, discriminating is the whole point of irrational hatred (which I assume you are accusing Kos of harboring).
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:12 PM on May 12, 2004


Sadly, I see a malicious double standard that pardons terror and would tie the hands of those who fight it.

By begging for the employment of tactics that are actually effective?

Henry Ford, why do you hate horses-and-buggies so much?

Let's not forget that Iraq's ties to organized terrorism (save Saddams "tribute" to the families of suicide bombers) before the war consisted of one guy who lived in an American-controlled part of the country and who we declined to apprehend. One year after the war, that man is personally videotaping himself mudering American civilians. We have lost 700 soldiers. So, basically, we have to trade 700 American lives for the shot at one terrorist, if this is truly part of the "War on Terror." The fucking Dead Terrorist Ratio was more in our favor on 9/11, damn it! You can not possibly believe that the war in Iraq is an effective means of combatting non-state terrorism directed against the US. And all the while we pissed away time and resources that could have been spent busting up al Qaeda and friends and improving homeland security beyond making sure that antiwar activists are double frisked before boarding commercial airliners.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:23 PM on May 12, 2004


You can not possibly believe that the war in Iraq is an effective means of combatting non-state terrorism directed against the US.

Yes. Yes, I do. But I'm also thinking about forests while you're concentrating on trees.

And all the while we pissed away time and resources that could have been spent busting up al Qaeda and friends

check

and improving homeland security

check

beyond making sure that antiwar activists are double frisked before boarding commercial airliners.

That's it for you? Shit, they go through my bag and make me take off my shoes.

And I'm not even an antiwar activist.
posted by David Dark at 12:00 AM on May 13, 2004


That's it for you?

It's not me.

Oh, and you're right about homeland security being improved. I'm glad that we made that tough decision to use DHS to round up those terrorist quorum busting Democratic state legislators from Texas instead of securing chemical plants or devising a more effective port-screening scheme.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 12:09 AM on May 13, 2004


Yes, that was the word that I used. But since an argument is not a container that exists in 3 dimensions, it was implied that "full of shit" was figurative. My apologies for that.

I'll try to remember that the next time you trip over yourself in your rush to declare my comments rude and dishonest.

OK. You can say that if you want, but why does it make it relevant?

If you can't find the definition of relevant on your own, I won't do it for you. The remarks were on topic and supported the view of Kos that was presented. In other news, this part of the argument has degenerated into an inane exchange of technicalities, and I am done with it.

If you are implying that I think Berg is a mercenary...

I am neither implying that, nor objecting to the fact that the mercenaries exist. I am appalled that people here and elsewhere would consistently use the fact that they were mercenaries to play down the horror of their murder. Your paranoid demands for "evidence against you" are misdirected, unless you are one of said people.

By begging for the employment of tactics that are actually effective?

I mostly hear "down with Bush the devil" and "hail anybody-but-Bush, our savior" as soon as any discussion on effective tactics begins around here. Rather than talking about what should be done about so-called homeland security, which I honestly fear still sucks monkey balls, and how to effectively crush global terrorist networks now that they exist, I see rabid hatred and globs of blame without a shred of constructivism, drowning out the few people on this site (who hail from both the right and the left, by the way) who actually have useful comments to make. Incidentally, I'd like to think you are part of this latter group, but don't deny the existence of a large and loud former.

Note also that I never tied the war in Iraq to terror, though I tend to agree with DD's comment about trees and forests.
posted by Krrrlson at 12:30 AM on May 13, 2004


Yes. Yes, I do. But I'm also thinking about forests while you're concentrating on trees.

I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay.
I sleep all night. I work all day....Facetious, absolutely but I could not help myself considering the pomposity of DD's statement.

The killing of Mr Berg in cold blood is absolutely abhorrent, and completely chills my blood. I think that knapah and ascullion make very valid points, making martyrs of terrorists is not an effective way of drawing the venom of any organisiation prepared to go to any lengths to acheive its goals.
posted by johnnyboy at 2:13 AM on May 13, 2004


David Dark - the Omagh bombing was carried out by a group called the Real IRA, a dissident splinter group opposed to the peace process which has broken away from the IRA 'proper' because of the IRA ceasefire. The 'Real IRA' is not the same as the IRA.

There is a full explanation here.
posted by plep at 3:13 AM on May 13, 2004


the only reason they are sending out desperation videotapes of themselves murdering Americans is because they know if democracy in Iraq succeeds, it's a colossal victory for the War on Terror

And the prospects of that happening have gone which way, recently? And if democracy fails, the failure of the War on Terror is equally colossal?

Actually, Dave, I think you're comment is wrong but serves to iluminate the nature of this particular asymmetry: democracy in Iraq, even less likely now, will have little or no impact on global terrorism. Conversely, its failure will provide enormous stimulation to it. That is why it was folly to engage in this fiasco.
posted by RichLyon at 8:18 AM on May 13, 2004


Some people aren't so sure any more. Looking at the vid, I'd have to agree with several of these points - where was the blood? The first incision was at the front of the head, at the jugular..
posted by Mossy at 10:17 AM on May 13, 2004


I think it's important to start out saying that no man, whatever his job, deserves to be murdered in any way, let alone to have his head cut off. Murderers in general, and these murderers specifically, are already dead to their own humanity. The fact that this world is capable of producing such things is a tragedy. This is a video that I have not intention in watching, I've had enough of man's inhumanity to his fellow man for one lifetime.

None of this means that every victim is automatically a hero, or "innocent". The mercenaries in Fallujah certainly were not innocent, but, as I already stated, did not deserve what they got.

Berg was NOT a mercenary. It's difficult to know how innocent he was as well. However, he was NOT an aid worker, he was a would-be war-profiteer. Aid workers provide food, medicine, water, you know things that the Iraqis need to LIVE. They are the only heros in that insane situation. War-profiteers sell their expertise or goods to secure OIL, to create infrastructure for the occupying armies, to make profit. Their patron saint is Dick Cheney. Berg fixed antennas for money? Does that qualify him as an aid-worker? No.

Even so, he did not deserve to die the way he did. Nobody deserves what he got. Not Saddam, not Rumsfeld, not Osama, not Bush.
posted by sic at 10:24 AM on May 13, 2004


The video could be a fake, obviously, but that al-Jazeera article isn't up to much. The reason bloggers are doubting the video is that very few will have seen the original, as the web site hosting it became unavailable very quickly. What most people online have seen is a reencoded and edited version of the video as played out on news agencies - that's certainly what's available on ogrish.com. Once you reencode a low quality internet video file, you're going to miss most of the detail.
posted by ascullion at 10:31 AM on May 13, 2004


the Omagh bombing was carried out by a group called the Real IRA, a dissident splinter group opposed to the peace process which has broken away from the IRA 'proper' because of the IRA ceasefire. The 'Real IRA' is not the same as the IRA.

I'm aware of the splinter group, and you're splitting hairs. The Real IRA was started by several leaders of the Provisional IRA, consists entirely of former IRA members, and retained the name 'IRA' for themselves. I'd look at it more like there are now two factions of the IRA. But it doesn't matter, either way. . . the point is and always was that Omagh was the deadliest bombing by either the IRA/Real IRA, and after 29 were killed they apologised for the bombing. This is nothing like Islamic jihad, and shouldn't be used as a proper comparison. To be sure, prior to 9/11, history had shown again and again and again that if your plane was hijacked, you do what you're told and you'll likely survive. Things change.

And the prospects of that happening have gone which way, recently?

Well, let's see. Fallujah is quiet, Sadr is on his last leg, 46 of 55 of the most wanted individuals from the former regime have been captured or killed. Eight Ministries have already been transferred power and local elections have been held. Iraqis were in the streets last week to protest Sadr and his militia, and an Iraqi group has even taken up arms in the South to fight against him. This is all very good news for democratic progress. There's a lot more good news, but let's compare this short list with your list of bad news.

And if democracy fails, the failure of the War on Terror is equally colossal?

Yes, it would be. But it looks like that won't happen.
posted by David Dark at 10:50 AM on May 13, 2004


I don't know, Krrrlson. I only see about 2-5 people on a site of thousands who are rabidly anti-Bush. I think that's a pretty good ratio.
posted by chaz at 11:23 AM on May 13, 2004


There's a lot more good news, but let's compare this short list with your list of bad news.

Here's more for the short list: 34 soldiers already killed so far in may
posted by amberglow at 11:31 AM on May 13, 2004


"Paint this all in a negative light?!? Innocent civilians..."

Actually I said "the most negative possible light". There is a difference you know.


"But you are again trying to conflate his previous statements about mercenaries with what you construe to be his feelings about any dead American."

I never said any such thing. I never implied any such thing. Your blinders are your own.

"That was illogical the first time, and now it seems that you are simultaneously denying and extending that charge. "

You will be consistently confronted with his paradox as long as you insist in believing I said something I did not. It will always be in conflict with what I actually say. There isn't much hope pfd resolving this conflict in your interpretation.

I think deep down Kos is horrified as a human but also strangely pleased as a political activist every time he hears of another dead American - not because he wishes them dead but because he sees their deaths as a sad necessity that can be used to force a withdrawal.

I think Kos and others would be actively upset if things started going well in Iraq.

"They used to have all that, and we took it away from them."

Do people really believe that Iraq had a nice, peaceful and well run little place? That there was no dissent? No torture? No horror? No state terror and secret police killing their own people? Do people really think we invaded paradise?

"No kidding. Sheesh, it's a nervous time to be against the regime, ain't it?"

Yeah, really. I mean imagine what would happen if a large number of people started criticizing the government freely with almost no fear of reprisal on an open forum. Imagine if there were popular and freely run websites dedicated to criticizing government... oh wait, there are.

Imaging then if the evil government in the US would allow for open debate and criticism of policy on national media like TV and radio. IF every problem and scandal could be repeated and covered endlessly.... oh wait, it is.

Imagine if the actions of the President were openly questioned and probed by other government members on national media in live coverage... oh wait, it is.

Remind me again how this government is stifling dissenting opinions in a widespread or systematic way? Thats not to say abuse isn't happening - the Patriot Act sucks - but any implication that dissent in the US is stiffled is simply untenable.
posted by soulhuntre at 11:38 AM on May 13, 2004


I don't know, Krrrlson. I only see about 2-5 people on a site of thousands who are rabidly anti-Bush. I think that's a pretty good ratio.

Firstly we differ in our definition of rabid, and second, let's cut down that "thousands" number to the much smaller number of people who actively participate in political discussions here.
posted by Krrrlson at 12:00 PM on May 13, 2004


"They used to have all that, and we took it away from them."

Do people really believe that Iraq had a nice, peaceful and well run little place? That there was no dissent? No torture? No horror? No state terror and secret police killing their own people? Do people really think we invaded paradise?

Who said it was paradise? We were talking about jobs and food and homes. (not to mention electricity and running water, etc)

And every time a senior adminstration official or their mouthpieces has said that criticism and dissent helps the terrorists and harms our soldiers, and are not welcome during a war are all the reminder you need, soulhuntre. Were you not listening when they repeatedly said that, over and over? That's pretty much the definition of trying to stifle (and threatening, too). It doesn't have to be that people are rounded up, altho some would have liked that. There are many ways to stifle, including cutting off access to reporters who questioned things.
posted by amberglow at 12:01 PM on May 13, 2004




Ignatius J Reilly said: "But you are again trying to conflate his previous statements about mercenaries with what you construe to be his feelings about any dead American."

soulhuntre said: "I never said any such thing. I never implied any such thing. Your blinders are your own."

Rereading this comment, it sure seems as if you're associating Kos' "screw 'em" comment (made in reference to the mercenaries killed in Fallujah) with the beheading of Berg.

Remind me again how this government is stifling dissenting opinions in a widespread or systematic way?

By accusing dissenters of being un-American. By banning the publication of pictures of soldiers' coffins. By not being completely forthright about reasons for going to war in the first place. By raising a stink about the names of soldiers being read on a late-night TV program. By outing undercover CIA agents when they're married to dissenters. By refusing to release additional prison abuse photos.

We live in a country we should all be proud of and those currently responsible for running it are acting like we have a lot to be ashamed about. The best way to stifle dissent is to hide all the dirty details. This government and its apologists have done whatever they can to hide the truth, mislead the public, and paint its opponents as un-American. It isn't imprisoning and executing dissenters, but it is almost as powerful in forwarding an agenda because it's transparent.
posted by turaho at 12:41 PM on May 13, 2004


Krrrl,

Hmm, well perhaps 2-5 out of hundreds? I am curious who you consider to be rabidly anti-Bush, meaning they hate Bush for who he is, not for what he does, and can never praise him for anything, people who are immune to logic and whose opinions are simple and black and white, and in your words "drown out" the few good posters on the site . Do you feel comfortable naming names?

I think this is a great site and I get a lot out of it, and I really am missing what you describe as "the large and loud" group which is full of hatred and lacks any intelligent comments. I really feel like it's the opposite, that it's the small numbers (very small) who are rabid, and the rest are impassioned but reasonable, on both sides.
posted by chaz at 12:54 PM on May 13, 2004


David,

You clearly weren't aware of the splinter group, otherwise you wouldn't have written such nonsense. The Real IRA did not consist entirely of former IRA members, the situation was significantly more complicated than that.

Agreed that there's little in common between Irish terrorism and al-Qaeda - but I never suggested that there was. You're deliberately obscuring the debate in order to reinforce the idea that everyone subscribes to Osama's logic is a crazy fundamentalist. It's not that simple, and the only reason you, and others of your ilk, try to reinforce the idea that it is, is in order to justify and obscure the crazy fucked-up selfish things your part of the world is responsible for.

And before you start, I know my part of the world is responsible for some crazy shit.

the point is and always was that Omagh was the deadliest bombing by either the IRA/Real IRA, and after 29 were killed they apologised for the bombing

By the way - what you've written there is deeply insulting to a lot of people. The fact that they apologised when the political mood turned against them in no way mitigated what they did - have some respect.
posted by ascullion at 12:58 PM on May 13, 2004


"Rereading this comment, it sure seems as if you're associating Kos' "screw 'em" comment (made in reference to the mercenaries killed in Fallujah) with the beheading of Berg."

Ah, I can see the problem. My comment was possibly less than clear in the chain of association, especially if your looking to disagree. That post made a few connections in a row... a->b->c - not a->c.

1) I discussed the attitude that mercenaries are not deserving of sympathy (as evidenced by "screw em").
2) I discussed the hypocrisy of being upset when someone takes a dangerous job in the US and is hurt (obviously the companies fault) with this attitude about "mercenaries".
3) I discussed that this hypocrisy stems from a urge to attack Bush.
4) I discussed that such people were not expressing anything like what I feel is appropriate horror at the beheading.
5) I echoed Kos's words as applicable to the attitude that mercenaries were free game.

It would seem that the problem is at 3->4 where I discussed the attitude of those >who referred to Nick as a mercenary and dismissed his murder<. They have an attitude of mercenaries (or those they feel are mercenaries) consistent with Kos's.

It does not follow that I meant that Kos called him a merc', simply that people with an attitude consistent with his regarding merc's were dismissing the beheading.
posted by soulhuntre at 2:36 PM on May 13, 2004


You clearly weren't aware of the splinter group, otherwise you wouldn't have written such nonsense.

I linked to a report that clearly stated the splinter group's existence and their claiming of the Omagh bombing. How is that evidence that I wasn't aware of the splinter group? I'd say it's pretty strong evidence to the contrary. Again, I call the Real IRA a faction of the IRA, founded by a minority leadership and consisting of IRA members. If it's significantly more complicated than that, a more detailed explanation than 'the situation was significantly more complicated than that' is required. And links would be nice.

Agreed that there's little in common between Irish terrorism and al-Qaeda - but I never suggested that there was.

Not just Al-Qaeda. There's little in common between Irish terrorism and any form of religious jihad, and there's little in common between Irish terrorism and Palestinian terrorism. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Irish terrorism is girl stuff compared to Islamic terrorism. And what you're suggesting is that lessons learned on how to deal with an Irish terrorist organization should be applied to dealing with Islamic terrorist organizations. They're apples and oranges.


The fact that they apologised when the political mood turned against them in no way mitigated what they did - have some respect.


Your words, not mine. I never said that the apology mitigated anything, and why do you have to attack me with baseless accusations? I am not being disrespectful to anyone in any way; I simply made the observation that they apologised, which is not something that religious jihadists would ever do. Jihadists also wouldn't give repeated warnings to try and get people away from the target. Osama bin laden wants to kill as many Westerners as he possibly can, as God has instructed him to do. The IRA or any of the splinter groups it fathers will never be as ruthless as any Islamic fundamentalist group, whose actions are deliberately aimed at producing maximum carnage.

You're deliberately obscuring the debate in order to reinforce the idea that everyone subscribes to Osama's logic is a crazy fundamentalist. It's not that simple

Everyone who subscribes to Osama's logic is a crazy fundamentalist. Explain to me how it's not that simple, using more than the words 'it's not that simple'. Complicate it for me.

Here, start with this. These guys subscribe to Osama's logic. In your city. Defend them.
"As far as I'm concerned, when they bomb London, the bigger the better," says Abdul Haq, the social worker. "I know it's going to happen because Sheikh bin Laden said so. Like Bali, like Turkey, like Madrid - I pray for it, I look forward to the day."

"Pass the brown sauce, brother," says Abu Malaahim, the IT specialist, devouring his chicken and chips.

"I agree with you, brother," says Abu Yusuf, the earnest-looking financial adviser sitting opposite. "I would like to see the Mujahideen coming into London and killing thousands, whether with nuclear weapons or germ warfare. And if they need a safehouse, they can stay in mine - and if they need some fertiliser [for a bomb], I'll tell them where to get it."
posted by David Dark at 2:56 PM on May 13, 2004


And every time a senior adminstration official or their mouthpieces has said that criticism and dissent helps the terrorists and harms our soldiers, and are not welcome during a war are all the reminder you need, soulhuntre. Were you not listening when they repeatedly said that, over and over?

So you'd like the administration to shut the fuck up and let you exercise your free speech, is that it?
posted by David Dark at 3:08 PM on May 13, 2004


So you'd like the administration to shut the fuck up and let you exercise your free speech, is that it?

No, little David, I would like them to quit blaming everybody else for their own fuck ups. We have free speech, guaranteed by law. They work for us, not vice versa. Is that clear enough for you?
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:28 PM on May 13, 2004


What Wulfgar said. You might like those McCarthyite tactics but most people don't.
posted by amberglow at 4:00 PM on May 13, 2004


This is all very good news for democratic progress.

And it all predates holiday snaps broadcast on Arab TV of trailer trash from Alabama kicking to death people lifted at random from the streets, 90% of whom Red Cross have gone on record as saying they believe have no connection with terrorism.

Whatever progress you believe is being achieved, "democratic" hardly describes it. Again, perhaps not having lived with the threat of decades of apparently intransigent IRA terrorism accounts for your optimism that all of this will somehow go away once the US's stooges assume power.
posted by RichLyon at 4:02 PM on May 13, 2004


David,

what you're suggesting is that lessons learned on how to deal with an Irish terrorist organization should be applied to dealing with Islamic terrorist organizations

I'm going to say it for the THIRD time - that's not what I said. What I said is there in blue and white above, go back and read it. I'm not raking over this again, but try to read what's there, rather than what you want to be there.

Irish terrorism is girl stuff compared to Islamic terrorism

Girl stuff? Nice use of language. This should show you that the Real IRA was comprised of more than just members of the Provisional IRA.

They're apples and oranges

No no no. Convince yourself this isn't true all you like, but both the IRA and al-Qaeda had/have support because of percieved injustices committed upon one community by another. Of course, in NI they weren't percieved - we could debate the rights and wrongs of western foreign policy all night.

Everyone who subscribes to Osama's logic is a crazy fundamentalist. Explain to me how it's not that simple, using more than the words 'it's not that simple'. Complicate it for me.

David, I'm not your tutor, how much time do you think I have? All I'm trying to tell you is that life isn't as black and white as you'd like it to be. Do some balanced reading and you'll see that. I'm not going to force your nose into the books like an exasperated parent at exam time.

I'll say this though - I don't want terrorists to strike London, or anywhere. But I understand where those people quoted on thisislondon are coming from. Frankly, it's no less wrong for a terrorist to strike London than it is for my government to illegally invade Iraq, obfuscating the truth to do so, and killing hundreds with no justification as a result.

Oh, and - don't ever believe anything you read on This Is London - it's about as trustworthy as the Bush administration (or Blair's Government, if you like).
posted by ascullion at 5:03 PM on May 13, 2004


Hmm, well perhaps 2-5 out of hundreds? I am curious who you consider to be rabidly anti-Bush, meaning they hate Bush for who he is, not for what he does, and can never praise him for anything, people who are immune to logic and whose opinions are simple and black and white, and in your words "drown out" the few good posters on the site . Do you feel comfortable naming names?

I personally feel perfectly comfortable naming names, but I don't want to be dragged out to MeTa. Of the most egregious and unrelenting, about 10 or so come to mind, with many more lesser offenders behind them. The worse the case however, the more frequently it posts on MeFi, threadjacking by sheer volume and loudness.

I really feel like it's the opposite, that it's the small numbers (very small) who are rabid, and the rest are impassioned but reasonable, on both sides.

I guarantee you that if we *were* to name names, many people you would call "impassioned" would qualify as rabid in my book. Our argument is subjective and pointless.



You're deliberately obscuring the debate in order to reinforce the idea that everyone subscribes to Osama's logic is a crazy fundamentalist.

Don't let reality's door hit your ass on the way out.
posted by Krrrlson at 7:49 PM on May 13, 2004


Don't let reality's door hit your ass on the way out.#

Sorry, but.. what?
posted by ascullion at 10:14 PM on May 13, 2004


I'm going to say it for the THIRD time - that's not what I said.

Here, ascallion, let's take a closer look.

History had shown, again and again and again (not least in my home country of Northern Ireland), that everytime you create a maytyr, you extend the life of a conflict.

I interpret that to mean that we can't make progress against a terrorist organization by killing its leaders. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's how it reads. If that's not what you meant, you should have chosen different words and/or syntax. The only specific region you cite as an example is Northern Ireland, including it as an important part of your historic equation, but your blanket statement is general, and you do in fact apply it without restriction. "Everytime", not sometimes or once in a while or in my experience. . . every time. Creating a martyr could mean arresting or jailing, but I assume you mean killing, since the comment stemmed from another about Yassin. So it reads as though you're saying killing terrorist leaders can not be considered as a viable solution to terrorism, and possibly neither can arresting/jailing which also creates a martyr, which leaves only negotiation and/or appeasement, which is what "worked" in your homeland of NI. So I said:

what you're suggesting is that lessons learned on how to deal with an Irish terrorist organization should be applied to dealing with Islamic terrorist organizations

A fair summary, from my perspective. Perhaps I'm wrong, and if so, I only ask that you elaborate, as perhaps your words aren't as crystal clear as you assume they are.

Girl stuff? Nice use of language.

But I am understood, which apparently is more than you can claim.

This should show you that the Real IRA was comprised of more than just members of the Provisional IRA.
RIRA structure

Following his departure from the PIRA, the ex-QMG went on to form the RIRA with an embryo structure along PIRA lines. The new group is said to have an Army Executive and an Army Council, with the ex-QMG as so-called chief of staff (CoS). He was joined by other senior PIRA figures, including some members of the General Headquarters Staff, which comes below the Army Council in the PIRA chain of command.

RIRA build-up, strength, location of key members, capability

The indications are that the RIRA's main strength is in the Irish Republic and that it has taken over sizeable elements of the PIRA's Southern Command. It recruited up to 30 experienced operators from the PIRA ranks, mainly in the Republic but also in some areas north of the Border, especially South Armagh, as well as a number of 'foot soldiers'. In addition, it embarked on a clandestine campaign to enroll new young recruits previously uninvolved in paramilitary activity.

The RIRA CoS who, with some of his close aides, is based in north Co Louth, succeeded in recruiting some of the PIRA's top bomb-makers, including a Dublin tradesman in his thirties known as 'The Engineer'. This man has been a prime garda suspect for the manufacture of the Omagh bomb - and also for the London bombs that devastated The City financial district (1993) and Canary Wharf (1996). . . . Other important recruits were the former head of a PIRA bomb-making unit in Monaghan and an experienced bomb-maker from Drumintee, South Armagh. The enrolment of such men meant that the RIRA had a vital bomb-making capability. These men have the skill to make home-made explosives (HME), to prepare bombs and to assemble a range of mortars.

Other key figures who joined the RIRA included the Dublin-based former chief of the PIRA Southern Command, a Belfast man who was sacked after a dispute with PIRA leaders about two years ago. Two important figures in the Munster region who tended local arms dumps also defected. One was the QMG in the Fermoy region of Co Cork; the other was the QMG in the West Limerick area. The RIRA boss also recruited a senior PIRA figure in Cork city. An entire PIRA unit in Tipperary is said to have gone over to the RIRA with its arms.

The RIRA is believed to have some members in the south Donegal and north Leitrim region. The organisation is also believed to have enrolled former PIRA members or sympathisers in counties Kildare, Wexford, Laois, Louth and in the greater Dublin area. Many members of the Dublin Brigade of the PIRA are said to have gone over to the RIRA.

North of the Border, the RIRA CoS recruited at least two senior PIRA men in the South Armagh area, as well as other support. Some analysts believe that after the gardai foiled a number of RIRA operations, the group moved its main bomb- making factory from the Louth-Monaghan area of the Republic across the border to South Armagh, a traditional hotbed of Republican support. The RIRA is also believed to have some members in the Newry area of Co Down as well as the Omagh area. There are some members in Belfast, but the RIRA has apparently made little attempt to recruit in that city or in Derry; Republicans in both centres have mostly remained loyal to the PIRA leadership and the Adams/McGuinness peace process strategy.

One of the RIRA chief's top aides is a Co Louth-based man who was formerly head of the PIRA in Newry. This man, now in his forties, served time in Northern Ireland for a variety of terrorist offences. He is suspected of being one of the gang who killed three RUC constables in Newry in 1986.
That is pretty clear, isn't it? I bolded the part that supports your argument, and left plain the parts that support mine. The reverse seemed like showing off. The RIRA's leadership is composed entirely of ex-PIRA leadership. They have some "new young recruits previously uninvolved in paramilitary activity," so that makes the situation somehow very complicated?

David, I'm not your tutor, how much time do you think I have? All I'm trying to tell you is that life isn't as black and white as you'd like it to be. Do some balanced reading and you'll see that. I'm not going to force your nose into the books like an exasperated parent at exam time.

How much time do you think you'd need? What a pompous evasion. I didn't ask you to teach me anything, I simply asked you to back up your opinion with further logical analysis. If you're not interested, I'm not surprised, but that's one of the weakest dodges I've ever seen. Silence would have been stronger.

Frankly, it's no less wrong for a terrorist to strike London than it is for my government to illegally invade Iraq, obfuscating the truth to do so, and killing hundreds with no justification as a result.

Only if you believe that terrorists and dictators have a god-given right to suppress their minority populations and actively engage in ethnic cleansing and genocide. Maybe you do, I can't tell. I happen to believe that all men are created equal and have a right to voice their opinions, choose their leaders, and engage in free speech and thought without being taken to a mass grave in a single file line and shot through the skull. And maybe this is why we disagree so fervently. . . perhaps ours is a fundamental difference in belief systems. I believe that liberal democracies are a better and more representative government than theocracies or dictatorships. I believe that every human being on the planet should live without fear of being denied their basic rights, not just those people who were lucky enough to be born under flags that guarantee those rights for them. And I believe that any authority figure that seeks to deny those people their rights through brute force and intimidation (often coupled with deifying themselves and their doctrine while sewing hatred of all opposing ideas into the collective subconscious of their culture) should be shown the error of their ways, through diplomacy when possible, and through force when necessary. If we don't agree on that, we won't agree on anything.
posted by David Dark at 11:58 PM on May 13, 2004


The RIRA's leadership is composed entirely of ex-PIRA leadership. They have some "new young recruits previously uninvolved in paramilitary activity," so that makes the situation somehow very complicated?

More complicated than could fit into your little mind. Given that there's evidence that RIRA bombmakers developed the mobile-phone triggers used to devastating effect in Madrid.
posted by riviera at 12:33 AM on May 14, 2004


And every time a senior adminstration official or their mouthpieces has said that criticism and dissent helps the terrorists and harms our soldiers, and are not welcome during a war are all the reminder you need. . .

So you'd like the administration to shut the fuck up and let you exercise your free speech, is that it?

. . . I would like them to quit blaming everybody else for their own fuck ups.


That's not really the same thing, is it? I'm not sure it even makes sense. For what 'fuck-up' exactly did the administration blame the antiwar folk?

We have free speech, guaranteed by law.

Surely they do as well. An administration is allowed to ask its citizens for support, regardless of whether or not those citizens decide to change their behavior (aka "listen", according to amberglow).

They work for us, not vice versa.

That's right. They work for all of us, not just a "splinter group" of pundits on Metafilter.

What Wulfgar said. You might like those McCarthyite tactics but most people don't.

You don't have to like it, you just have to acknowledge that it's not tantamount to stifling dissent. You're still talking. And talking. And talking. If you were being stifled, we'd notice. If you feel stifled, that's different. That indicates an underlying psychological guilt because you believe on some level that what they say is true. I happen to believe it's true, as well. They are, after all, practically quoting the Constitution:

Article III, Section 3:
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, added after the Civil War, elaborates:
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not accusing anyone of treason, and I don't believe the administration is, either. I'm simply stating that the authors of our government found the issue to be important enough to make it part of the document we base our entire system on. I've talked before about morale being imperative to any military venture, and we all know that our troops don't live in a bubble. They have internet access, telephones, email, blogs. There is something to be said for psychological warfare. When terrorists hear Americans criticizing their own soldiers or justifying terrorism, it gives them comfort. One might even say it aids their cause, strictly from a morale perspective, of course. We are, after all, reading the same internet worldwide, instantaneously. In many ways it's good, but in others, it is clearly detrimental.

Daniel Ingham explains better than I can:
Part of my 11 years in the United States Army was spent serving in a Psychological Operations unit. The primary job of such a unit is quite simple -- use basic principles of human psychology against our enemies in order to lower or eliminate their will to fight. In other words, to destroy their morale.

How do you destroy the enemy's morale and will to fight? It's simple, really.

First, you call into question their mission. Make them question why they are fighting. Make them question whether they are doing the right thing. Soldiers unsure of their mission question their orders and hesitate to act when quick action is most necessary. In combat, you're either quick or you're dead.

Second, call into question their leadership. Make them question their commander's skill and honesty. Make them question the motives of the political figures that made the decision to go to war. Soldiers unsure of their leadership may refuse to follow their orders or take direct action against their leadership. In combat, failure to immediately follow orders usually gets soldiers killed.

Third, make them homesick. Point out how miserable they are; remind them how long they have been away from home; how much their loved ones miss them; accentuate the bad and ignore the good; tell them there is no foreseeable end in site (no, you won't be home by Christmas). Homesick and depressed soldiers are not effective soldiers. Ineffective soldiers often become dead soldiers.

Fourth, make it all about them. Point out that the war is not in their personal best interest. "Hey, you can lose an eye (or worse), doing that." This last step, converting the soldier back into the psychological equivalent of a civilian, is the most deadly. Soldiers who start thinking only of themselves stop acting as members of a team. A soldier concerned only with his own safety stops watching his buddy’s back. Unit cohesiveness breaks down. Desertions and insubordination becomes rampant. Casualties mount higher.

Conversely, the same propaganda that can destroy enemy morale can boost the morale of friendly forces, and vice-versa.
Sound familiar? Some of you should be getting paid for your service. Or, disservice, rather.

Nixon, in his book The Real War (1980):
The War in Vietnam was not lost on the battlefields of Vietnam. It was lost in the halls of Congress, in the boardrooms of corporations, in the executive suites of foundations, and in the editorial rooms of great newspapers and television networks. It was lost in the salons of Georgetown, and the classrooms of great universities. The class that provided the strong leadership that made victory possible in World War I and World War II failed America in one of the crucial battles of World War III—Vietnam.
Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest-ranking intelligence officer ever to defect from the Soviet bloc, said this about Kerry's testimony during the Vietnam War:
The exact sources of that assertion should be tracked down. Kerry also ought to be asked who, exactly, told him any such thing, and what it was, exactly, that they said they did in Vietnam. Statutes of limitation now protect these individuals from prosecution for any such admissions. Or did Senator Kerry merely hear allegations of that sort as hearsay bandied about by members of antiwar groups (much of which has since been discredited)? To me, this assertion sounds exactly like the disinformation line that the Soviets were sowing worldwide throughout the Vietnam era. KGB priority number one at that time was to damage American power, judgment, and credibility. One of its favorite tools was the fabrication of such evidence as photographs and "news reports" about invented American war atrocities. These tales were purveyed in KGB-operated magazines that would then flack them to reputable news organizations. Often enough, they would be picked up. News organizations are notoriously sloppy about verifying their sources. All in all, it was amazingly easy for Soviet-bloc spy organizations to fake many such reports and spread them around the free world.

"As a spy chief and a general in the former Soviet satellite of Romania, I produced the very same vitriol Kerry repeated to the U.S. Congress almost word for word and planted it in leftist movements throughout Europe. KGB chairman Yuri Andropov managed our anti-Vietnam War operation. He often bragged about having damaged the U.S. foreign-policy consensus, poisoned domestic debate in the U.S., and built a credibility gap between America and European public opinion through our disinformation operations. Vietnam was, he once told me, 'our most significant success.'"
I'm not trying to comment on Kerry, but these ideas referring to Vietnam exemplify what I see as a similar situation today, in those who condemn any good news coming out of Iraq as mere propaganda, while any bad news coming out of Iraq is undoubtedly the truth. I find it sad that it is done with such blatantly partisan subjectivity.
posted by David Dark at 1:15 AM on May 14, 2004


David,

In your last post directed at me, you've finally got one thing right

So it reads as though you're saying killing terrorist leaders can not be considered as a viable solution to terrorism

That's exactly what I saying.

In realtion to the IRA/Real IRA - funny how you cut and paste almost all the article, but leave out this bit

Security sources also believe that the RIRA has been liaising and co-ordinating with the two other Republican groups opposed to the peace process: the Continuity IRA (CIRA), a small group with a limited paramilitary capability linked to the fringe Republican Sinn Fein; and the Marxist hardline Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), which called a ceasefire after the Omagh massacre.

Which makes the situation very complicated. Oh well.

I believe that liberal democracies are a better and more representative government than theocracies or dictatorships

I believe that too, but only when those democracies follow policies supported by the majority of the people living within them and don't pursue illegal wars.

I believe that every human being on the planet should live without fear of being denied their basic rights, not just those people who were lucky enough to be born under flags that guarantee those rights for them

As do I - except I believe that EVERY human being should have those rights - including the right not to be bombed illegally by states acting outside the jurisdiction of international law. What about the rights of the 300 Iraqis detained in Abu Ghraib jail until this morning - do you genuinely believe every one of them is a card carrying terrorist? Don't they have the right not to be treated like this?

If we don't agree on that, we won't agree on anything

No fear.
posted by ascullion at 9:06 AM on May 14, 2004


I agree with Dark: killing terrorists is a peachy-keen way to get rid of terrorism. We need to do more of it.

Of course, it also needs to be coupled with other methods. Like dealing with inequalities, addressing some of their concerns, etcetera. That's how you keep the vacuum killing them creates from filling back up. Simple slaughter isn't quite enough. (That's one of Isreal's problems.)

I also agree with Dark: dictators, tyrants, and pricks in general need to be removed from power.

Of course, this needs to be done intelligently and with the cooperation of the global community. Going all cowboy at it, like the US has done in both Afghanistan and Iraq, is the shortest path to completely fucking it up beyond all hope.

As per usual, the middle path is the best path. Going to extremes either way -- killing terrorists without dealing with the root issues or trying to deal with terrorists as equals -- is guaranteed failure.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:37 AM on May 14, 2004


This was a fun thread. I am pleased by the irony of some people letting petty arguments dominate their input into a thread titled 'The Cycle Continues', I feel a surge of love for the filter.

Also, I was reading today that the average (Palestinian) suicide bomber is better educated than the average American/European/other minority world country citizen. Around 50% are educated to degree standard (I think it is something like 15% here in the UK). Poverty, religious fanaticism or mental instability are unlikely to be the cause. Humiliation, a memory of a someone close being humiliated and disenfrancisement are likely causes.
Many Americans may have difficulty understanding the motivation of suicide bombers as materialism is one of the few common features of those who choose not to be suicide bombers.

As this thread is quite long already, I shall post the entire article (ala y2karl) for your delictation. Registration is required to see this otherwise.

The making of a suicide bomber

New Scientist vol 182 issue 2447 - 15 May 2004, page 34


What drives someone to kill themselves while killing others? Psychologists and anthropologists have been studying suicide attacks and have come to some startling conclusions. Michael Bond reports


IN ANY normal circumstances, a 16-year-old schoolboy and a mother of two young children would be symbolic of life and growth. Yet in two cases in the Middle East this year they signified only death and self-destruction.

The mother was Reem Raiyshi, who killed herself and four Israelis in a suicide bombing in Gaza in January, leaving behind a 3-year-old son and 18-month-old daughter. The boy was Hussam Abdu, whose failed attempt to blow himself up at an Israeli army checkpoint near Nablus in March was televised around the world. Raiyshi was the first "martyr mother", but Palestinian terrorist groups insist she will not be the last. And Abdu's case was not exceptional - dozens of Palestinian teenagers have tried to do the same and some have succeeded.

In the face of such unfathomable contradictions it is comforting to imagine that suicide terrorists - even those who are mothers or teenagers - are different to the rest of us. One popular assumption is that they are homicidal or suicidal maniacs; another that they are poor and ignorant with little prospect of a decent future; another that they are driven to act by unbearable political oppression; a fourth that they are religious fanatics, usually Islamic. These notions are widely affirmed by analysts and politicians. They are also wrong on almost every count.

While suicide terrorists invariably come from oppressed communities, recent research by psychologists, anthropologists and others suggests that they fit none of the other common profiles. They are no less rational or sane, no worse educated, no poorer and no more religious than anyone else. "They are like you and me," says Rohan Gunaratna, head of terrorism research at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. What this amounts to is in many ways more alarming than the ubiquitous misperception of the suicide bomber as fanatical. It means that, in the right circumstances, anyone could be one.

Killing yourself while killing your enemy is not a modern idea. It was practised against the Romans in 1st-century Judea by Jewish Zealots, and by the Islamic order of Assassins in the Middle East from the 11th to 14th centuries. Japanese kamikaze pilots changed the course of the second world war (though not in the way they would have hoped) by flying their planes into enemy ships.

The modern era of suicide terrorism started in April 1983 when Hezbollah, under the cover name of Islamic Jihad, attacked the US embassy in Beirut with a truck-bomb, killing 63. The tactic has since been used by dozens of groups around the world, most prolifically by Hamas and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (otherwise know as the Tamil Tigers). Altogether there have been some 500 suicide attacks around the world since 1980.

All this has given academics studying the psychology of suicide bombers and the environments in which they act a wealth of data to draw on. And they are overturning some persistent myths. Take the idea that terrorism is born of poverty and lack of education, the basis of almost all the US's foreign aid programmes. "We fight against poverty because hope is an answer to terror," said President Bush at a UN development conference in Monterrey, Mexico, in 2002.

Yet in a study of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad suicide terrorists from the late 1980s to 2003, Claude Berrebi, an economist at Princeton University, found that only 13 per cent came from a poor background compared with 32 per cent of the Palestinian population in general. In addition, more than half the suicide bombers had entered further education, compared with just 15 per cent of the general population. And in a paper published last year in the Journal of Economic Perspectives (vol 17, no 4, p 119), economist Alan Krueger of Princeton University and the Russell Sage Foundation in New York and Jitka Malecková of the Institute for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, showed that Hezbollah militants who died in action in the 1980s and early 1990s were less likely to be impoverished and more likely to have attended secondary school than others of their age.

What of the idea that suicide terrorists are simply suicidal? Ariel Merari, a psychologist at Tel Aviv University in Israel and perhaps the foremost expert on Middle Eastern terrorism, says he used to believe this. But when he studied the background and circumstances of every suicide bomber in the Middle East since 1983 he came to an unexpected conclusion. "In the majority you find none of the risk factors normally associated with suicide, such as mood disorders or schizophrenia, substance abuse or history of attempted suicides," he says. Scott Atran, an anthropologist at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, agrees. "There is no psychological profile whatsoever for suicide terrorists." There have been highly disturbed suicide bombers - Raiyshi, the mother who blew herself up in Gaza, had been ostracised by her parents and family and was depressed, according to Eyad El Sarraj, chairman of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme - but they are exceptional.

The link with religion is more complicated since most Islamic terrorist groups use religious propaganda, largely the promise of paradise, to prepare recruits for suicide missions. Yet suicide terrorism is in no way exclusive either to religious groups or to Islamic culture. Robert Pape, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, compiled a database of every suicide attack from 1980 to 2001, 188 in all (American Political Science Review, vol 97, p 343). He found no direct connection between suicide attacks and religious fundamentalism. As he points out, the leading perpetrators of suicide terrorism, the Tamil Tigers, are a Marxist-Leninist group whose members are from Hindu families but who are themselves hostile to religion. Merari has shown that 22 of the 31 suicide attacks in Lebanon between 1983 and 1986 were carried out by secular organisations. Moreover, one of the first suicide bombers to attack Israeli forces in the Middle East was Loula Abboud, who defied all the stereotypes: she was a secular, middle-class 19-year-old from a Christian background who blew herself up in front of a group of Israeli soldiers in Lebanon in 1985.

What, then, would lead a sane, rational, educated and comfortably-off person to do something so irrational and extreme? The key, many researchers agree, lies with the organisation that recruits them. In the modern history of suicide terrorism it appears that every mission has been authorised and planned by a resistance group. "Suicide terrorism is an organisational phenomenon," confirms Merari. "An organisation has to decide to embark on it."

The decision to engage in suicide terrorism is political and strategic, Pape says. What is more, the aim is always the same: to coerce a government, through force of popular opinion (apart from a few isolated cases, modern suicide terrorism has only ever been used against democracies), to withdraw from territory the group considers its homeland. That certainly applies to the 9/11 terrorists, who considered the US an occupying presence in the Middle East because of its military bases there and its backing for Israel. It also holds for groups who attack democracies indirectly, by attacking those who support them. The ongoing attacks on police stations in Iraq are an example.

This raises the question: why do some groups resort to suicide terrorism while others do not? Why, for example, did the IRA not use suicide bombers when all the conditions seemed set for it: an occupation, as the IRA saw it, by a democratic government, and a resistance organisation whose members were already bombing civilians and martyring themselves for their cause through hunger strikes? One researcher, who cannot be named, went undercover in Northern Ireland at the height of the conflict by posing as a terrorist from an Islamic group, and asked an IRA commander this question. "He replied that it was against their culture, that their people would turn against them. Hunger strikes were the furthest they could go."

Bruce Hoffman of the research organisation RAND Corporation in Washington DC, who specialises in studying political violence, agrees that culture can play a part in deciding an organisation's strategy. But he warns against seeing suicide terrorism as a phenomenon alien to the west. Both he and Merari insist there is no evidence that westerners are less easily coerced into sacrificing themselves than anyone else.

Yet Gunaratna, who interrogated the "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh captured in Afghanistan in 2001, is not convinced. Lindh told him that he was asked by an Al-Qaida commander if he wanted to become a martyr, and that he had declined. Gunaratna believes this was because he was an American. "The western mindset is very materialistic," he says. "They don't have the same desire, the same culture, for sacrifice. Maybe it's because the west has achieved so much materially. If you are materialistic, you will never make a good suicide terrorist."

Other researchers, however, think it has less to do with culture than with strategy: groups resort to suicide terrorism when conventional terrorist methods are doing little to further their cause, or when their enemy's military strength becomes overwhelming. Atran says that the frequency with which Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have used suicide bombers against Israel correlates directly with the increased use of force by the Israeli army. "It is a classic vicious cycle," he says.

Hoffman has another explanation. The overriding reason for the emergence of suicide terrorism, he says, is almost always rivalry between terrorist groups. He points out that in the Palestinian territories, resistance groups have tended to adopt it only when they are losing political ground to rival groups and feel the need to mark themselves out. Hence Hamas's decision to start using it against Israel in 1993, when the peace process engineered by Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization threatened its central ideology of the obliteration of Israel; and the decision by Velupillai Prabhakaran, leader of the Tamil Tigers, to start using it against the Sri Lankan government in 1987 to establish his group as the pre-eminent force in Tamil separatism. This is also, says Hoffman, the major reason some of the groups have started using women: it is a way of escalating their campaigns.

Organisations are not just responsible for the decision to embark on suicide terrorism; they are also necessary to make bombers go through with the act, Merari says. How does an organisation do it? First it must win popular support for the tactic, which it does by proclaiming it the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of the community. Where a community is being violently oppressed by an occupying power or suffers severe social deprivation, the message is quickly taken up. On the streets of Gaza and in the Tamil towns of northern Sri Lanka, suicide bombers are celebrated on posters and in songs, their deeds glorified in coffee shops and school playgrounds. "It is like the patriotism you find in any country at war," Merari says. "In such an atmosphere many people say, sometimes offhandedly, that they too would like to become a martyr, because the society views that as the ultimate form of patriotism." Certainly Hamas has volunteers knocking down its doors, and the Tamil Tigers did too before they declared a ceasefire in 2001.

But as Merari points out, a person might volunteer in the heat of the moment and change their mind as the day of reckoning approaches. So groups have ways of ensuring that their recruits cannot back out. Almost always they organise them into small bands - or in the case of the Tamil Tigers an academy - and over weeks, months or years put them through intense psychological training to reinforce the idea that they will soon become martyrs for their cause.

With Al-Qaida, Hamas and other Islamic groups, much of this indoctrination is religious. This is how a member of Hamas explained it to UN relief worker Nasra Hassan, who interviewed failed suicide bombers and their families and trainers - 250 people in all - while working in Gaza between 1996 and 1999: "We focus his attention on Paradise, on being in the presence of Allah, on meeting the prophet Muhammad...and on fighting the Israeli occupation and removing it from the Islamic trust that is Palestine."

Often the decisive part is a written or videoed testimony in which the recruit declares his or her commitment to what they are about to do. At this point they become, as Merari puts it, a "living martyr" and it is then almost impossible for them to back out without losing the respect of their peers and their community.

This sense of duty to the community but especially to a brotherhood of peers is, many psychologists agree, the single most important reason why rational people are persuaded to become suicide bombers. "If you are in a small cell of suicide terrorists and they are all dying one by one, and you have made this commitment on a videotape saying goodbye to your family and everyone else, the psychological investment is such that it would be almost impossibly humiliating to pull back," says Atran. It is an old trick: armies use it, he says, to get people to fight for each other. Merari has found this "brotherhood mentality" in everyone he has studied who has willingly killed themselves for a common cause, including the 9/11 bombers, kamikaze pilots and the IRA hunger strikers.

Another question researchers want to answer is this: once a group has decided to deploy suicide terrorists, why do certain people allow themselves to be recruited while others do not? Here the answers are less clear, though there are some clues. The strongest is that recruits are better educated and better-off than most in their community. Krueger and Malecková point out that such people are more likely to be politically motivated, and therefore more prepared to commit themselves completely to a political cause.

Other researchers suggest there could be pointers in an individual's personality. "There are some indications that suicide bombers are more marginal people, more influenced by the social atmosphere and the group," says Merari. "Those who are more independent, or stronger personalities, find it in their power to say no." Gunaratna, who has interviewed many failed bombers, has also found a common vulnerability. "The suicide terrorist is easiest to break because his mind is very fragile. His mindset is very narrow. He has seen only one side of life." El Sarraj says his studies of Palestinian "martyrs" point to something else: a traumatic childhood experience. All of them have experienced helplessness as a child, he says, most especially the humiliation of their father by Israeli soldiers.

Increasingly, however, researchers believe that in the vast majority of cases, individual psychology is not the determining factor. They point to an observation made by Hassan about the "living martyrs" she interviewed in Gaza: "They all seemed to be entirely normal members of their families," she said. All you need, it seems, is a peculiar mix of social, cultural and political conditions for a group to make the decision. After that, it could be anyone, schoolboys and mothers included.'

posted by asok at 12:03 PM on May 18, 2004


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