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World War IV
September 3, 2004 6:41 PM   Subscribe

World War IV Every generation has their war to end all wars. Welcome to ours. World War IV: How It Started, What It Means, and Why We Have to Win. [via GlobalSecurity.org]
posted by Meridian (111 comments total)

 
Actually, a bunch of yahoos did a rather simple plane takeover with box cutters and got lucky in killing more people than they planned, and the U.S. govt had all the information it needed and security procedures in place (at least on paper) to stop it. Since then every militant action has been blamed on these yahoos who probably no longer even exist as a group, a convenient excuse for enacting wide-sweeping Big Brother procedures to make the U.S. a police state and make lots of corporations even fatter. The reality is that there is no war. Beating people over the head and calling them your enemy when they could care less about you only helps facilitate hostilities, not end them.
posted by fleener at 7:03 PM on September 3, 2004


Fleener, did you read the article? There is much more history to this than "a bunch of yahoos" hijaking a plane. But whatever your opinions on the validity of calling the war on terror World War IV, simply the fact that naming it as such will give it a life and justification of its own.
posted by Meridian at 7:17 PM on September 3, 2004


Actually, you could have taken five minutes to read the link, jackass. The War on Terror isn't only in response to 9/11.



I think it's pretty clear who the yahoos are in this struggle.
posted by David Dark at 7:20 PM on September 3, 2004


In all fairness, the Napoleonic wars should properly be called World War 0, because they involved so very many of the modern concepts of war and was conducted on such a broad scale. Not just a superb example of land warfare, with Austerlitz still being seen in many quarters as the greatest maneuver battle ever fought; but naval warfare that took place around the world. It was the beginning of the end of the European kings, and the first glimmer of industrial warfare, in which innovation could have turned the strategic balance overnight.

But this "World War IV" is a much greater struggle than what it is currently supposed. I see it as the latest part of a final war between civilization and barbarism. Where civilization has been conquering, subverting, undermining and otherwise absorbing barbaric *peoples* for many years, but relatively peacefully; in this case the barbarians are striking back. In civilization, they see the loss of what they cherish. They are in the untenable position of trying to force us to stop being civilized, because for them, there can no longer be coexistence. They correctly see in us their own destruction.

Unlike the barbarians who conquered Rome, they do not wish to rule Rome, they wish to annihilate it--to make it go away forever--to purge it from consciousness. It is nostalgia gone mad, as ridiculous in its own way as if the Amish tried to impose their ways on us and destroy every trace of life unacceptable to them.

In the final analysis it is cultural Darwinism, the fight to the death between two species over an environmental niche. So should it be called a World War?, or is it the last gasp from parts of the world that do not yet embrace the world civilization, the world community. Who do not know that the war is already over, and barbarism lost.

Importantly, we are left with a big decision: do we deal with it by force of arms, or do we treat it as a police matter? Are these barbarians such individuals that they can only be dealt with one at a time, or do we militarily conflict with them when they assemble into groups?

Remember, that these barbarians are not just Moslems, but anyone who cannot embrace civilization and what it represents. Other religions and cults, tribalism, even some criminal organizations, all have a stake in supporting barbarism. Imagine a "War on Terror" conducted against the Chinese Triad, whose resources run to the billions of dollars, if they turned against Asian or even the US governments?
posted by kablam at 7:20 PM on September 3, 2004


"The sheer audacity of what bin Laden went on to do on September 11 was unquestionably a product of his contempt for American power. [...] the same Islamic militancy that had once conquered and converted large parts of the world by the sword."
More "they hate our way of life" crap. As long as we're told our enemy lacks rational thought or reason, we have no justification in trying to understand their true motives. This "war" will only be won when America decides it actually has to stop and listen to people in the rest of the world, instead of stubbornly letting foriegn policy be dictated by our own personal (usually business) interests.

It's not like a guy wakes up one day and says to himself, "Self, I think I'm going to strap on a few pounds of C4 and go take a bus ride downtown." If someone's willing to kill themselves over an idea, we should probably find out what it is that's bothering them. Because the fact is, as long as someone's willing to kill themselves, there's nothing you can do to stop them. Explosives are just too easy to make.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:27 PM on September 3, 2004


Actually, you could have taken five minutes to read the link, jackass. The War on Terror isn't only in response to 9/11.

If 9/11 hadn't happened, do you seriously think that anyone in the US would give half a shit about terrorism?

The War on Terror isn't a real war. It's like the War on Drugs (ie. stupid).
posted by reklaw at 7:32 PM on September 3, 2004


they're not barbarians...it's just they have a different idea of what the world should be like, just like the Christian fundamentalists in our own country. Making them the "barbaric other" is too easy, and doesn't help.

If someone's willing to kill themselves over an idea, we should probably find out what it is that's bothering them.
Civil has it exactly right. It's the pigheaded simplifying of this that's making it worse, which some of us feel is just what those in power--on both sides--want. God didn't call on Bush to fight them, and God didn't call on Osama to fight us. Cut that shit out, for a start, and we can start to make progress.
posted by amberglow at 7:35 PM on September 3, 2004


This clash of civilizations stuff is bullshit. The US is paying the price of propping up regimes like the Saudi royal family. Middle Eastern terrorism doesn't come from hating the freedoms people have in the west, it's form hating the repression in their own back yards, as supported by the US, and others.

Occam's been feeling lonely lately.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:37 PM on September 3, 2004


If 9/11 hadn't happened, do you seriously think that anyone in the US would give half a shit about terrorism?

If, on June 28, 1914, the Archduke of Austria, Franz Ferdinand, wasn't assassinated, do you think anyone would give half a shit about the activities that led up to the start of World War I?

All wars have their tipping point, possibly a single act that highlights a complex history of growing conflict.
posted by Meridian at 7:41 PM on September 3, 2004


If 9/11 hadn't happened, do you seriously think that anyone in the US would give half a shit about terrorism?

The point, friend, is that if 9/11 hadn't happened, it would have been something else, somewhere else, and some other date would be emblazoned into our minds because of the destruction that was wrought and the response that it caused. But you can't honestly be so ignorant of modern history as to believe that this hasn't been coming to a head for over a quarter of a century now, can you?
posted by David Dark at 7:44 PM on September 3, 2004


WW 3 is also known (more correctly) as the 70-year war.
From 1917 (Bolshevik Revolution) to 1989 (Berlin Wall demolished).
See http://www.jerrypournelle.com/ for more info.
posted by davebarnes at 7:50 PM on September 3, 2004


David Dark, I don't see how that chart supports your point. It looks like terrorism has been declining for a decade or so before we declared war on it.

The article is an interesting perspective, though, and one I'm inclined to consider.
posted by weston at 7:51 PM on September 3, 2004


Wasn't the data behind David Darks's chart comprehensively debunked a couple of months back, after which the Americans admitted that, yeah, they'd fudged?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:00 PM on September 3, 2004


I take it back. I buy the basic idea that the U.S. suffered from being thought a paper tiger, and needed and needs shows of strength, and that basic tenet is worth using in foreign policy. But the more I read this, the more it seems to gloss over details that don't support its case and reveal subtle partisan fients. "The Palestinians under Yasir Arafat, spurning an unprecedentedly generous offer that had been made by the Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak with Clinton’s enthusiastic endorsement, unleashed a new round of terrorism." This is highly simplified, ignores some of the basic problems the Palestinians had with the fate of Jerusalem and right of return, and the provocation the hardliners on both sides were pushing for. This is also only an example.... I'm picking up more of these as I go along.
posted by weston at 8:03 PM on September 3, 2004


Franz Ferdinand's assassination as historical parallel to Sept. 11? Sure, if you want to admit that it was an excuse for incompetent world leaders to fight a stupid war and eventually cause more problems then ever existed before, yeah, they're similar. But not in a good way.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:04 PM on September 3, 2004


No, stav, you're wrong. Shocking, but true.
posted by David Dark at 8:05 PM on September 3, 2004


yup, stav...i did a post about it, but it was about the 2003 numbers. Both 2002 and 2003 were wrong originally.
posted by amberglow at 8:06 PM on September 3, 2004


The article is interesting and does a good job of laying out the reasoning behind the Bush administration's actions. From these same facts, I draw different conclusions. The article never really examine's the potential danger posed by Hussein, but rather just assumes the danger. I did not consider him enough of a threat to go to war. The article does not take into account the costs of the war, not just in lives and dollars, but in turning potential allies into enemies. Further, the article does not adequately explain the urgency for the war. With some time I believe a broader coalition could have been built to topple Hussein. Bush was not willing to wait and arrogantly dismissed the concerns of many of our traditional allies. What difference would a year or two have made? Why start with Iraq? Was it the most dangerous terrorist hotbed? Of course not, but it was the weakest and least well allied of the so called potential threats.
posted by caddis at 8:09 PM on September 3, 2004


Whoa. That's an entire 187588 bytes of crap. Eloquent, well-researched, analytical crap.

After the Ossetia thing ended this morning, I've been thinking a lot about the merits of the hard-liner position. The only conclusion which I reached was that a lot - the majority - of the people who tote that position are viewing things far too simplistically. As does the average member of the tolerance/soft-liner/pacifist spectrum. As, unfortunately, does the average Metafilter poster, at least of the subset which posts in the kind of thread you and I are reading now.

Go read the strategic section of the 9/11 Commission Report, people. It's way wiser than anything I have read on the subject of modern global security.
posted by azazello at 8:10 PM on September 3, 2004


this is one of the old articles: State Dept. Doubles Its Calculation on '03 Terrorism Casualties: In revising its annual "Patterns of Global Terrorism" report, the department listed 625 deaths last year from terror-related causes, down from the 725 in 2002, but well above the 307 originally declared in April. It also reported an increase in total terror attacks, to 208, up from the 190 listed in the original report and the 205 in 2002.
posted by amberglow at 8:14 PM on September 3, 2004


Now I'm confused. David Dark says I'm wrong, with nothing but a sneer to back him up. amberglow says I'm righjt, and links to some further reading to support his statement.

Oh deary me! Who to believe? It's all too complicated -- I'll just have to believe DD, because he said it first, and with such manly confidence! [/metasarcasm]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:15 PM on September 3, 2004


But you can't honestly be so ignorant of modern history as to believe that this hasn't been coming to a head for over a quarter of a century now, can you?

Oh yes, I see, "coming to a head". You're definitely not just proving that there's always been terrorism, and the War on Terror is a complete over-reaction because of one very high-profile incident, are you? No, definitely not. Thanks for correcting my ignorance.
posted by reklaw at 8:20 PM on September 3, 2004


Oh boy... more of this...

Where civilization has been conquering, subverting, undermining and otherwise absorbing barbaric *peoples* for many years, but relatively peacefully...

So true! Look at the peaceful way the French absorbed Algeria, or the unification of the Indian barbarians by the British, and respect for human dignity was enforced by the US in Latin America.

*checks notes*

Hmm... wait, looks like Algeria was a hideous mess, the British rule in India was barbaric, and the US has been sending in the troops in Latin America for more than a century.

While dividing the world into the West vs. the Rest has a nice, dualistic ring which seems to resonate with humanity's tendenacy towards binary opposites, the historical record does not support this view very well. Seeing militant Islam as being solely and fundamentally opposed to the existence of the West is to ignore completely the historical context in which it developed. And if we're ignoring historical context, why not be honest and set aside the spurious theories and arguments?

This, for some, appears to be a race war ("the fight to the death between two species over an environmental niche"), so perhaps in place of "civilization vs. barbarism," a better rallying cry might be "fuck the wogs."
posted by Coda at 8:21 PM on September 3, 2004


Keyboard warriors. Where would we be without you!

Get some! AAABBBCCC Who needs some of this? EEEFFFGGG

How can you shoot women and children?
Easy, you just don't lead them so much!


Labor day weekend folks. Give it a rest. Have a good weekend, cya Tuesday.
posted by a3matrix at 8:31 PM on September 3, 2004


For what it's worth, here are some of what the horrible, slant-eyedswarthy barbarians have to say about "Why We Fight:"

"Letter to the American People," by Osama bin Laden

Text of Fatwah Urging Jihad Against Americans, by Osama bin Laden

It's not like he hasn't been putting out press releases for the past six years, guys. We're not exactly hurting for historical documents establishing the stated goals of the groups we're currently "at war" with. Sure, it's not the neocon echo chamber of Churchillian guff and sherry-swilling armchair bravado, and yeah, it's probably treason to read that, but at the very least we can then begin to talk rationally about why they hate us.
posted by Coda at 8:33 PM on September 3, 2004


stav, the data in the chart is correct, with the possible exception of the 2002 numbers, which I believe were revised within a 10% error margin. None of the data has been thoroughly debunked nor fudged in any way. amberglow said as much, but would rather agree with your notion than acknowledge that you are, in fact, wrong in every word.
posted by David Dark at 8:37 PM on September 3, 2004


Declaring for months that your dissent and critical discussion of the war is patriotic and not treasonous because you just want to help us win kinda gets blown out of the water when you start denying we are at war, and calling claims to the contrary "stupid."

Fleener, reklaw, your true colors are showing.
posted by techgnollogic at 8:42 PM on September 3, 2004


David, you used the old, incorrect chart. You shouldn't have, because it doesn't help to prove your point. According to that chart, Reagan's terms were the worst for terror, but that's not so, is it? Is that what you wanted to say? Or that terrorism was higher during Bush I than under Clinton, on average? I don't think so.

That chart is meaningless without deathrates and all the other info you need to make an educated conclusion. 2001 according to that chart wasn't so bad at all. The chart says 2000 was worse.
posted by amberglow at 8:48 PM on September 3, 2004


techgnollogic: I never said I was patriotic. Your worldview is so obviously conceited, it obviously didn't even occur to you that I might not be American. How completely idiotic of you... how downright arrogant.

I'm English, and I absolutely believe what Samuel Johnson once said: "patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels". You cunt.
posted by reklaw at 8:54 PM on September 3, 2004


What the hell is techgnollogic on about this time? Chastizing some MeFi posters for not being in line with his conception of the DNC talking points? Well, sorry if we didn't check with our party before speaking, that's not how most poeple do things.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:55 PM on September 3, 2004


War? Cool! When does the rapin' start? We likes us some rapin'.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:58 PM on September 3, 2004


When did I ever even mention America? What the fuck are you talking about?
posted by techgnollogic at 9:03 PM on September 3, 2004


Oh, I see, you were saying that I couldn't be a patriotic Brit if I didn't support the War on Terror, right? You've got me, I've committed high treason. I only hope the Queen will go easy on me.
posted by reklaw at 9:07 PM on September 3, 2004


Go read the strategic section of the 9/11 Commission Report, people. It's way wiser than anything I have read on the subject of modern global security.

Thanks for the heads-up, I hadn't realized it was online. A really interesting read for anyone who is interested:

www.9-11commission.gov/report/
posted by ben-o at 9:11 PM on September 3, 2004


I never said you had to support it. I said you can't say what you said, and at the same time claim to be doing your patriotic duty. If you've never claimed to support the cause, or stand for your nation, or your civilization, then fine, wonderful, you're on the other side. I said you can't say you're just being constructively critical when you deny it's a war, and then I said YOUR true colors were showing. Maybe you were always a traitor, and never claimed otherwise. If so, just know: your side is going to lose.
posted by techgnollogic at 9:12 PM on September 3, 2004


What other side? wtf? Either you're with us or with the terrorists? Bullshit. You can disagree with the action and methods of something without being on the other side of anything.
posted by amberglow at 9:16 PM on September 3, 2004


Fatuousness aside, thank you for posting those documents, Coda. Even after mentally editing out the heavy preponderance of religious freight and concomitant rationalizations for murder, what remains is a fascinating glimpse into a perspective that cannot even be acknowledged in this part of the world without someone immediately screaming "appeaser!". While there is no excuse for the murders of 9/11, I see no reason why we cannot address ourselves to the causes of terrorism as well as fighting the terrorism itself. Not only do I not see any disagreement between the two, I think that kind of magnanimity of spirit is the only way to break the cycle of history that Podhoretz and the whole PNAC mob seem so desperate to perpetuate.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:19 PM on September 3, 2004


Disagreeing with the methods is one thing. Claiming there is no real war going on, as fleener and reklaw did, is something totally different. That's the distinction I'm making, amberglow.

Being with us doesn't mean you have to suck Bush's pinkytoe and love everything he does, but you do need to acknowledge that we are fighting a real war with a real enemy. You can't be on my side of the war if you deny there is one.
posted by techgnollogic at 9:20 PM on September 3, 2004


I said you can't say you're just being constructively critical when you deny it's a war, and then I said YOUR true colors were showing. Maybe you were always a traitor, and never claimed otherwise.

So, having failed to fit me into your little Democrat/Republican system, you're going to call me a traitor... riiight.

You know what? I hate displays of patriotism, simply because it is so often a symptom of the nationalism you exhibit. This does not make me a traitor. It is only in America that liberals have been cowed into flag-waving, mainly due to a large sector of the American population (I believe they are called "swing voters") being really dumb. If someone says to an American lefty "you don't love America", it's easier for them to just say "yes, I do" than to provide any kind of nuanced argument -- no-one listens to nuanced arguments any more, after all.

You are not fighting a real war. There is no real enemy. You are nothing but a deluded nationalist, waving flags like a member of the BNP, looking for some new reds to put under people's beds. And I'm disgusted that the American left will never say anything like this, for fear of its 'electability'.
posted by reklaw at 9:41 PM on September 3, 2004


There is no war going on.

There are transnational groups attempting to effect their political goals via opportunistic acts of violence against civilian centers.

It is your position that there is a war, and that position, if taken as fact, suggests certain reactions - i.e., a military response. Your position, however, rests on the notion of a unified opposition - which isn't true, as Militant Islam is a conceptual grouping of vastly different, fractious subgroups - to a unified West (again, not supported by any recent experience).

This is not World War Two, and terrorism is not something that started on September 11th. So far we've seen a graph showing that terrorism is apparently down as of the past decade, but that's been pointed to by some as evidence that terrorism is "coming to a head." This, as others have pointed out, is utter crap; the continued existence of something is not evidence of its increase, especially when there exists evidence of its decrease.

There is no war. There is simply politics.

On preview:
Exactly, George. One needn't take the religious rhetoric as fact, but it remains that these communications present a largely coherent political worldview that Osama bin Laden and other like-minded individuals operate from. The response of the US has been generated in ignorance (or denial) of this, and as such is wholly inappropriate and - as we've seen - counter-productive.

What has been written off as the frothy ravings of an insane Muslim Hitler includes:
- opposition to US support for Israel, Russian actions in Chechnya, Indian actions in Kashmir, and Israeli actions in Lebanon
- opposition to Western-supported governments in the Middle East
- opposition to then-existing sanctions on Iraq
etc.

These are political demands.
posted by Coda at 9:56 PM on September 3, 2004


Who's directing the fourth one? I thought the third one got bad box office and sold poorly in the DVD market. How come they keep making sequels? I'd rather see Jason versus Freddy versus Alien versus Predator part four. Now that would be a great movie!
posted by ZachsMind at 10:00 PM on September 3, 2004


A Norman Podhoretz screed? Oh, good, I can safely ignore this as another one of his "Israel at all costs" polemics that he's been writing for the last thirty or so years. Maybe even forty. Come on, something with some meat, please! One can only hear so much of traitorous Democrats undermining the glorious dream of an Israeli-dominated Middle East before it gets old. No wonder he had to create his own magazine; he's been writing the same crap for decades.

Oh, and if anyone really wants to turn the actions of a few lunatics into a global conflict with Islam, go right ahead. I'll be over here, not having anything to do with you. Enjoy living your life under such terms! Just try to avoid taking the rest of us out with you. Happy hunting!
posted by solistrato at 10:12 PM on September 3, 2004


I'm English, and I absolutely believe what Samuel Johnson once said: "patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels". You cunt.

1. I absolutely believe that people who blindly quote long-dead people out of habit with absolutely no basis in reality* are scoundrels. Patriotism is a *good* thing, properly felt and applied. Johnson would have been better to preface his statement with the word "False" or "Hollow," neither one of which applies to technollogic, IMO.

* See also: "Those who would sacrifice...liberty...for security..." blah blah blah.

2. Whipping out the C-word -- what a class act! Well, you've certainly made your point and ended all debate, haven't you?!
posted by davidmsc at 10:18 PM on September 3, 2004


davidmsc: Well, how about

"Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism -- how passionately I hate them!" (Albert Einstein)

"Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it." (George Bernard Shaw)

or perhaps

"When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and purity of its heart." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Yes, I think that one makes the most sense. And I'm sorry if my little words offended you.
posted by reklaw at 10:25 PM on September 3, 2004


There is no war. There is simply politics.

Exactly.

Patriotism is a *good* thing, properly felt and applied.

No, patriotism is inherently divisive and, therefore, inherently bad. A nation (like an individual) is only worth defending insofar as it supports and embodies ideals worth defending. Take those away and it's just an arbitrary, heterogeneous grouping of people.

You want to shake your flag and feel all warm and fuzzy inside, be my guest. But it's the self-delusional act of a fool with little concept of the complexities of what really goes on in the world.
posted by rushmc at 10:34 PM on September 3, 2004


The point of the graph was to demonstrate that America has been trying to avoid War with Terrorists since the early 80's, Terrorists who have repeatedly attacked our citizens, our ambassadors, our soldiers, our peace activists, our politicians and our foreign interests. 9/11 was the straw that broke the camel's back, nothing more, nothing less. Quite a straw, that, but let's don't ignore the heaping burden under which the great beast had already been straining.

Oh, wait, the number of terrorist attacks is down, you say, in the past decade. Well, zippity-fucking-doo-dah, less attacks don't translate to less deaths. In an age where millions can be wiped out in the blink of an eye, forgive me if I don't share your blind optimism, Coda.

reklaw, you don't have to be American to denounce terror attacks on America and admit that it's an act of War, not an act of Protest.
posted by David Dark at 10:40 PM on September 3, 2004


It is only in America that liberals have been cowed into flag-waving, mainly due to a large sector of the American population (I believe they are called "swing voters") being really dumb. If someone says to an American lefty "you don't love America", it's easier for them to just say "yes, I do" than to provide any kind of nuanced argument .

All American liberals, please take note: It it reklaw, not I, who claims that liberals are lying when they say they love this country. It is reklaw, not I, who says that liberals are cowed into insincere flag waving. It is reklaw, not I, who says that liberals cower from telling their true feelings for fear of inelectability by really really dumb swing voters.

Just so you know who's questioning your national pride...
posted by techgnollogic at 10:42 PM on September 3, 2004


"Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it." (George Bernard Shaw)

My conviction that this country is superior to all other countries doesn't stem from my birthplace, but from my deeply held belief that freedom doesn't belong to me, nor is it bestowed upon me by a 225 year old document, but it is a right that all humans deserve. Democracies are better forms of government than theocracies or dictatorships. I'm certain I'd feel this way even if I had been born in Iraq, Great Britain, or Zimbabwe.
posted by David Dark at 10:46 PM on September 3, 2004


Coda, from your romantic revolutionary hero's letter:
(1) The first thing that we are calling you to is Islam.

(a) The religion of the Unification of God; of freedom from associating partners with Him, and rejection of this; of complete love of Him, the Exalted; of complete submission to His Laws; and of the discarding of all the opinions, orders, theories and religions which contradict with the religion He sent down to His Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Islam is the religion of all the prophets, and makes no distinction between them - peace be upon them all.

It is to this religion that we call you; the seal of all the previous religions. It is the religion of Unification of God, sincerity, the best of manners, righteousness, mercy, honour, purity, and piety. It is the religion of showing kindness to others, establishing justice between them, granting them their rights, and defending the oppressed and the persecuted. It is the religion of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil with the hand, tongue and heart. It is the religion of Jihad in the way of Allah so that Allah's Word and religion reign Supreme. And it is the religion of unity and agreement on the obedience to Allah, and total equality between all people, without regarding their colour, sex, or language.

(b) It is the religion whose book - the Quran - will remained preserved and unchanged, after the other Divine books and messages have been changed. The Quran is the miracle until the Day of Judgment. Allah has challenged anyone to bring a book like the Quran or even ten verses like it.

(2) The second thing we call you to, is to stop your oppression, lies, immorality and debauchery that has spread among you.

(a) We call you to be a people of manners, principles, honour, and purity; to reject the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling's, and trading with interest.

We call you to all of this that you may be freed from that which you have become caught up in; that you may be freed from the deceptive lies that you are a great nation, that your leaders spread amongst you to conceal from you the despicable state to which you have reached.

(b) It is saddening to tell you that you are the worst civilization witnessed by the history of mankind:

(i) You are the nation who, rather than ruling by the Shariah of Allah in its Constitution and Laws, choose to invent your own laws as you will and desire. You separate religion from your policies, contradicting the pure nature which affirms Absolute Authority to the Lord and your Creator. You flee from the embarrassing question posed to you: How is it possible for Allah the Almighty to create His creation, grant them power over all the creatures and land, grant them all the amenities of life, and then deny them that which they are most in need of: knowledge of the laws which govern their lives?

(ii) You are the nation that permits Usury, which has been forbidden by all the religions. Yet you build your economy and investments on Usury. As a result of this, in all its different forms and guises, the Jews have taken control of your economy, through which they have then taken control of your media, and now control all aspects of your life making you their servants and achieving their aims at your expense; precisely what Benjamin Franklin warned you against.

(iii) You are a nation that permits the production, trading and usage of intoxicants. You also permit drugs, and only forbid the trade of them, even though your nation is the largest consumer of them.

(iv) You are a nation that permits acts of immorality, and you consider them to be pillars of personal freedom. You have continued to sink down this abyss from level to level until incest has spread amongst you, in the face of which neither your sense of honour nor your laws object.

Who can forget your President Clinton's immoral acts committed in the official Oval office? After that you did not even bring him to account, other than that he 'made a mistake', after which everything passed with no punishment. Is there a worse kind of event for which your name will go down in history and remembered by nations?

(v) You are a nation that permits gambling in its all forms. The companies practice this as well, resulting in the investments becoming active and the criminals becoming rich.

(vi) You are a nation that exploits women like consumer products or advertising tools calling upon customers to purchase them. You use women to serve passengers, visitors, and strangers to increase your profit margins. You then rant that you support the liberation of women.

(vii) You are a nation that practices the trade of sex in all its forms, directly and indirectly. Giant corporations and establishments are established on this, under the name of art, entertainment, tourism and freedom, and other deceptive names you attribute to it.

(viii) And because of all this, you have been described in history as a nation that spreads diseases that were unknown to man in the past. Go ahead and boast to the nations of man, that you brought them AIDS as a Satanic American Invention.
Sit down at the bargaining table, old chap. Good luck! And remember, these demands are non-negotiable. And don't worry, all that "clash of civilizations" crap is bullshit. These guys are really just looking for a good old-fashioned Western-style diplomatic meeting.

Just watch your neck when they stand behind you, m'kay?
posted by David Dark at 10:50 PM on September 3, 2004


This thread got heated pretty quickly. Maybe we should all take a break and save our vitriol for the next "its not a war" war; WW5 The West vs China, the battle for Taiwan.
posted by Meridian at 12:03 AM on September 4, 2004


You can't be on my side of the war if you deny there is one.

For my part, at least, I'm not on your side, chuckles.

Or anyone else's for that matter.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:44 AM on September 4, 2004


Paradoxically, by destroying Nation States, dignity, resistance and solidarity are built anew. There are no ties stronger, more solid, than those which exist between different groups: between homosexuals, between lesbians, between young people, between migrants. This war, then, goes on to also attack those who are different. That is what those campaigns are owing to, so strong in Europe and in the United States, against the different, because they are dark, speak another language or have another culture. The means of cultivating xenophobia in what remains of the Nation States is to make threats: "These Turkish migrants want to take away your job." "These Mexican immigrants came to rape, they came to steal, they came to sow bad habits." Nation States - or the few of them that remain - delegate to those new citizens of the world - computers - the role of getting rid of those immigrants. And that is when groups like the Ku Klux Klan proliferate, or persons of such probity as Berlusconi reach power. They all build their campaigns based on xenophobia. Hate for the different, persecution against anything that is different, is worldwide. But the resistance of anything that is different is also worldwide. Faced with that aggression, these differences are multiplied, they are solidified. This is how it is, I am not going to characterize it as good or bad, that is how it is happening.
...
Afterwards came the Fourth World War, which destroyed everything from before, because the world is no longer the same, and the same strategy cannot be applied. The concept of "total war" was developed further: it is not only a war on all fronts, it is a war which can be anywhere, a total war in which the entire world is at stake. "Total war" means: at any moment, in any place, under any circumstances. The idea of fighting for one place in particular no longer exists. Now the fight can take place at any moment. There is no longer the concept of escalation of the conflict with threats, the taking of positions and attempts to reposition oneself. At any moment and in any circumstances, a conflict can arise. It can be domestic problem, it can be a dictator and everything which the last wars of the last five years have been, from Kosovo to the Persian Gulf War. The entire military routine of the Cold War has, thus, been destroyed.
The Fourth World War - November 20, 1999.
posted by euphorb at 12:54 AM on September 4, 2004


euphorb

That was a good article you linked to, but:

The Fourth World War... globalization... what we call "neoliberalism"... is destroying humanity as globalization is universalizing the market, and everything human which opposes the logic of the market is an enemy and must be destroyed.

I believe 1985 called, William Gibson wants his cyberpunk vision back.

(Good read otherwise.)
posted by Meridian at 2:33 AM on September 4, 2004


I'd like to interrupt this debate to announce that David Dark is an asshole.

You may now return to your discussion.
posted by jpoulos at 5:28 AM on September 4, 2004


I don't understand why this discussion centers on whether or not we are in a fourth world war, or even a war at all. Wars are labeled for reasons largely arbitrary, and world wars more so. I would think the more productive question would be: why should we call it a war? What do we gain from thinking of it as a fourth world war, and what do we lose? Certainly most would agree that unlike previous wars, the so-called war on terror finds its agon asymmetrical, with nation-states only firmly positioned on one side or the other. And everyone can agree that, given the chart posted early in this thread, that terrorism (assuming we have a uniform definition of it, or at least agree on the report's definition) has been ongoing for decades, and yet only now have we begun to label it a new/fourth world war. So who gains and what do we gain from doing so? And what do we lose, in terms of perspective, in terms of the potential for solvency, in terms of future descriptions of conflict? I'm just saying we might be more productive to focus on those questions rather than the it's a war/it's not a war dynamic.

Oh, and I agree with jpoulos. David Dark - definitely an asshole.
posted by hank_14 at 7:44 AM on September 4, 2004


This thread got heated pretty quickly.

Another argument for 24 hour model airplane & military memorabila stores.
posted by y2karl at 8:08 AM on September 4, 2004


While I agree with reklaw and Coda, I have a much more pragmatic reason for refusing to sign on to this notion that it's a war. Because war is a means to power for some and this one would have the convenient property that it will not end. At the very least it will be a pretext for making the "USA-PATRIOT" act permanent, and that is something they must not be allowed to do. Bush himself got caught saying that he didn't think it could be won (not that he ever knows what he's talking about, his coaching just failed him there). A war against someone that only the government can define, where only the government can tell us how it's going, when the secretive government controls all access to information about who the enemies are, in which the government engages in military adventures that create more enemies abroad and divides the citizenry at home into right thinkers and wrong thinkers...

To paraphrase Meridian, 1984 called. George Orwell would like his dystopian vision back.

Rather than treat it as a war, which would doom it to the same endless self-perpetuating failure as every other non-war we've termed a war, we should treat it as what it is: crime. Crime to be investigated in cooperation with the other affected parties, crime whose perpetrators are to be found and brought to trial, and whose origins are to sought out and addressed by whatever means is necessary. That may involve military action, or it may involve ending our support for despots and rogue nations that we happen to like. Orgiastic military catharsis doesn't solve problems, it creates them. Terrorism need not be a Hydra, but the "war" approach favored by the administration and the PNAC bunch is guaranteed to make it one.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:56 AM on September 4, 2004


The Writer of the article is called the godfather of the (neo-con) movement by disinfopedia.

Should I really bother to read that article? His talking points have been mulled over again and again. I try hard to balance my reading between the "right" and the "left", but reading the same shit once again just ain't worth it.

(And I don't seem to be the only one this thread that hasn't read the article in question.)

World War IV is a distraction. It's a simplification to rally the people. In a world of hour-to-hour smears thoughtful analysis can't be represented.

I, for one, would welcome the end of the nation state. It's about time.
posted by hoskala at 8:57 AM on September 4, 2004


Coda, from your romantic revolutionary hero's letter:

That's both pretty low, and about as likely a piece of evidence for a "clash of civilizations" as the Unabomer's manifesto is evidence for an epic struggle between nature and technology.
I call it "World War 7," now give me a grant...
posted by inksyndicate at 8:58 AM on September 4, 2004


David Dark: Coda, from your romantic revolutionary hero's letter...

You seem to be confusing me with someone who supports Osama bin Laden. I suggest you purchase your rhetoric from somewhere besides "Crazy Bob's Bargain Strawmen and Insinuations Barn." There is no poster of Che on my bedroom wall; I am not the Old Left; and your argumentative style is frankly cheap.

Yes, one can look at Osama bin Laden as a fundamentalist. This is an accurate depiction of him, and the vast majority of his rhetoric is religious. While stopping there and bellowing about civilizations clashing does suit your argument, it does not fully examine the historical record. Starting with bin Laden's "Letter to the American People" fails to take into account his various pre-9/11 fatwas and edicts. In his 1998 fatwa against Americans, bin Laden holds the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia, U.S. agression against Iraq, and U.S.'s support of Israel as key points in his rationale against America.

Again, these are political goals.

After misrepresenting my politics and my positions, you then adopt a worldly, avuncular tone, expressing sarcastic disbelief in my naivety in seeing bin Laden as a political figure:

These guys are really just looking for a good old-fashioned Western-style diplomatic meeting.

You're jumping the gun, David. I didn't propose anything, and you forgot to take the price tag off your strawman before throwing it into the thread for a beating.

Rhetorical question time: which of us is more naive - the one who sees terrorists as political figures, or the one who sees the world as locked in an apocalyptic struggle between civilization and barbarism?

(Spoiler: the barbarians win. But there weren't any civilized folks to begin with, so we all saw it coming. The good news? At least they like dogs.)
posted by Coda at 9:03 AM on September 4, 2004


How can you say that our delusional belief that "there is a war on" is what makes us think a military response is necessary, and then turn around and say you don't support Osama Bin Laden?

You're arguing that we should not be fighting back against the terrorists, and then claiming that you don't support them.

The funny part is, you're dumb enough to profess all this while competing for naivety. Was your question rhetorical because you're in a race to the bottom?

You may not realize it, or you may not want to acknowlege it, but whether you're doing it because you're stupid, or because you're malevolent, you're definitely on OBL's side.
posted by techgnollogic at 9:56 AM on September 4, 2004


Bin Laden and co. would like nothing more than to have the West declare war on them, and you idiots are rushing to please him. Good luck with that. Hope you feel just as patriotic as the Arab who blows himself up to kill you one of these days, rather than ignoring two stupid leaders who want war and actually seeing what's bothering people.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:11 AM on September 4, 2004


Ok, division of labor time: You pet the terrorist and see what's bothering him, I'll shoot him before he blows us both up, ok?
posted by techgnollogic at 10:13 AM on September 4, 2004


techgnollogic don't make yourself look any stupider. I mean how about ignoring vast pronouncements of 'war between civilizations' and look at what is affecting people's lives in other countries that would make them want to join a terrorist organization.

Is that too much nuance for you?
posted by Space Coyote at 10:17 AM on September 4, 2004


That's part of why we are liberating muslim countries, because of what is affecting those people's lives and turning them into homicide bombers and death-bound jihadis. It ain't American foreign policy.
posted by techgnollogic at 10:24 AM on September 4, 2004


LIberating, huh?

Only a third of the Iraqi people now believe that the American-led occupation of their country is doing more good than harm, and a solid majority support an immediate military pullout even though they fear that could put them in greater danger

Don't cheapen the word 'liberate' like zell miller did. When the allies helped liberate Europe, if you took a survey a year later I don't think two thirds of them would say the liberation did more harm than good. The US is fucking up, whether they meant it as a liberation or not, it's certainly turned into a nasty occupation. Good intentions, even if they were there at some point, aren't worth a lot.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:33 AM on September 4, 2004


Folks, I hate to lapse into religious rhetoric here, but this is how the world ends. It ends as the nationalism of Podhoretz - and apparently techgnollogic and David Dark - is permitted to run amok, it is wars and rumors of wars in all corners of the globe (as per the poster on the site, Iraq and Iran and North Korea and Syria and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and Yemen and China and lord knows where else).

Does the right have no concept of the fact that we cannot go gallivanting across the globe in this manner, destroying any we choose in our unassailable righteous crusade without creating an entire new crop of foes, former allies, who ultimately conclude - and rightly, if all of this transpires - that we are a greater threat to world security than the "barbarians?"

In "saving" the lives of "freedom loving" people everywhere, how many are we prepared to kill?

Had this sort of mindset prevailed during the Cold War, there would have BEEN no Cold War, there would have been direct military confrontation with the Soviet Union and the attendant millions dead... and those in favor of it would have explained it away as necessary in order to avert catastrophe, just as they are arguing now.
posted by kgasmart at 10:36 AM on September 4, 2004


Now you're not free unless you like the United States? What?!?
posted by techgnollogic at 10:36 AM on September 4, 2004


techgnollogic, are you contending that iraqis are "free" now? Define free.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:40 AM on September 4, 2004


this is how the world ends. . .it is wars and rumors of wars in all corners of the globe

Whoops!

In fact, the number killed in battle has fallen to its lowest point in the post-World War II period, dipping below 20,000 a year by one measure. Peacemaking missions, meantime, are growing in number.

''International engagement is blossoming,'' said American scholar Monty G. Marshall. ''There's been an enormous amount of activity to try to end these conflicts.''

For months the battle reports and casualty tolls from Iraq and Afghanistan have put war in the headlines, but Swedish and Canadian non-governmental groups tracking armed conflict globally find a general decline in numbers from peaks in the 1990s.

posted by techgnollogic at 10:40 AM on September 4, 2004


I don't contend that their natural human freedoms have all been achieved yet, but feeling free to answer to a pollster what you really feel about the foreign power that has 150,000 troops in your country is a promising start.
posted by techgnollogic at 10:43 AM on September 4, 2004


Being free to answer a pollster while you have no running water? Yep. Definitely worth it.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:45 AM on September 4, 2004


All of this is, of course, a distraction from the fact that the US is only there to steal oil.

If the terrorists hated freedom so much why didn't they attack The Netherlands? As far as freedom goes, they're the ones who seem to have it in spades.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:46 AM on September 4, 2004


If the terrorists hated freedom so much why didn't they attack The Netherlands? As far as freedom goes, they're the ones who seem to have it in spades.

Because in their view it is the U.S. that is the great Great Satan, due as much to our seeming omnipotence as our "deprivation."

Actually, read those passages again from bin Laden's manifestoes and it looks real similar to what our homegrown fundies say:

We call you to be a people of manners, principles, honour, and purity; to reject the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling's, and trading with interest.

Hell, I think that was on the agenda at the recent Americans for Christian Traditions In Our Nation breakfast.
posted by kgasmart at 10:52 AM on September 4, 2004


Juan Cole on our penchant for misreading those to whom we would bequeath "freedom":

For most Britishers and Americans, the Iraq misadventure is all about them (i.e. about the UK and the US). The Iraqis quite frequently get lost in the mix. As someone who lived 10 years in the Muslim world and speaks Arabic, I am interested in what the Iraq policy of the Bush administration means for Iraqis and for the region as a whole. So far, the picture is very mixed, with advances in civil liberties (mainly of a theoretical sort) but enormous setbacks in the realm of security (mainly of a practical sort). The American infatuation with small government and privatization of everything is not shared by Iraqis (there is good recent opinion polling on this, by the way). They think a government is there to take care of them. So Bremer's fixation on Polish style shock therapy was a very poor match for the country he ruled, and by May 2004 the favorability rating among Iraqis of his administration was 12%.
posted by kgasmart at 10:58 AM on September 4, 2004


As I read this thread and witness the sheer lunacy of some of its writers, I understand why there are terrorist acts and Iraqi wars going on.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:59 AM on September 4, 2004


You may not realize it, or you may not want to acknowlege it, but whether you're doing it because you're stupid, or because you're malevolent, you're definitely on OBL's side.

Metafilter: definitely on OBL's side.

I'm trying really hard not to break out the h1 tags here. Techgnollogic, pass the beer bong.
posted by Ptrin at 11:10 AM on September 4, 2004


*sigh*

tech, you're an ass.

How can you say that our delusional belief that "there is a war on" is what makes us think a military response is necessary, and then turn around and say you don't support Osama Bin Laden?

You're arguing that we should not be fighting back against the terrorists, and then claiming that you don't support them.


I guess I'll have to spell it out for you - I don't believe that a military response is required because I believe there are other, better responses which do not fall on either side of your "bomb the wogs vs. cower and appease" dichotomy. I do not consider 9/11 to be a declaration or act of war; I consider it to be a crime of horrific scale.

Therefore, a military reaction like the one in which we're currently hip-deepwould be inappropriate. An international police effort would be much more effective in finding criminals than would large-scale land invasions. You'll note, hopefully, that this is a response which has as its end goal the effective cessation of Al Qaeda's terrorist activities and does not resemble "petting the terrorist."

To me, your "us vs. them" mentality is indicative of either a bankrupt imagination or alterior political motives. As I am a kind man, I will afford you the benefit of the doubt and assume you are a closet fascist rather than someone who cannot imagine any other action than the one we are taking.

I would rather believe you to be a simple pervert than someone so wholly incapable of believing that others do not share your articles of faith. I say articles of faith because your insistence that "we are at war" seems to be completely independent of any external fact, and offers psychological comfort rather than explanatory power.

In short, your complete lack of reflexivity with regard to your assessment of the current state of affairs is asnine, and your insistence that others blindly follow your betters is truly bone-chilling.
posted by Coda at 11:29 AM on September 4, 2004


franz ferdinand sucks. what a boring fucking band.
posted by Satapher at 11:43 AM on September 4, 2004


what Coda said--perfectly.
posted by amberglow at 11:48 AM on September 4, 2004


Oh, wait, the number of terrorist attacks is down, you say, in the past decade. Well, zippity-fucking-doo-dah, less attacks don't translate to less deaths. In an age where millions can be wiped out in the blink of an eye, forgive me if I don't share your blind optimism, Coda.

While your point about a single terrorist attack being able to wipe out many, many people is true, it's sortof disingenuous to post a graph that doesn't support your case and then say the numbers don't matter.

Just say that because of modern means available, one terrorist attack can be way too many.
posted by weston at 11:50 AM on September 4, 2004


So who gains and what do we gain from doing so?

I think hank has the right question and gets straight to the point. This question has a very simple, if terrifying answer: collateral damage. No one can know how many of the people killed in the past and coming months of this WAR will be those who are not the ENEMY, and have nothing to do with the ENEMY, save share a religion. By changing the nomenclature from terrorist criminals to ENEMY in WAR, we can allow for standard tactics and losses among civilians, collateral damage. Free fire zone, if you will.

Now watch in amazement as David and his ilk scream emotionally about the civilians that are targeted by ISLAMOFACISTS ... we must think of the children, after all. However, I would point out that that logic lends itself quite nicely to the slippery slope of bombing south central LA as part of the WAR ON DRUGS/CRIME.
posted by Wulfgar! at 12:00 PM on September 4, 2004


You continue to deny the very reality of war and ignore the religious edicts in bin Laden's statements (by far the bulk of both documents). You prefer instead to focus on a short list of past grievances so you can erroneously describe them as "political goals", when they are no such thing. He lists a few grievances to justify his declaration of War, just as Thomas Jefferson, before declaring the independence of the colonies, wrote out a list of grievances against King George. But to suggest that King George could have erased years of conflict and hostility with a few deft diplomatic moves and thereby avoided the Revolutionary war would be preposterous. And it is equally preposterous to suggest a similar notion of Terrorists. There are no political demands that can be separated from the religious demands, and there are no compromises available to satisfy the religious demands laid out in the fatwa.

There is no war going on.

Insanity. Calling Afghanistan, Iraq, and even the sweeping arrests of terrorist cells across the US and Europe anything but War is infantile. Calling it "politics" -- well, that's simply madness. Coda, surely you'll agree that Afghanistan and Iraq are War zones -- if not, how would you characterize them? I'm also interested in what color you think the sky is, if you're willing to divulge your opinion on an equally debatable topic.

I do not consider 9/11 to be a declaration or act of war; I consider it to be a crime of horrific scale.


Your position is noted, and laughable. "There is no war, only politics," you wrote, even while posting two letters written by Osama bin Laden which say just the opposite. The one you linked twice, " 'Text of Fatwah Urging Jihad Against Americans,' by Osama bin Laden" contradicts your position in its very title, you ninny.

What is a Fatwah, Coda? What does Jihad mean?

You propose that a declaration of War be ignored, and that a military response to an attack under that declaration of War is inappropriate. Do you remember Tora Bora, Coda, the fort built inside a mountain in Afghanistan that was bombed by airstrikes before being stormed by Special Forces groups? Tora Bora, the headquarters and hideout of Al-Qaeda, fully stocked with weapons, armor, and artillery? Let me think about the wisdom of sending a police force into the mountains to take on an army. Hmmmm. . . Yeah, if it were me, I think I would try getting a warrant from non-existent courts to enforce laws that weren't written in a country that had no police to deliver it in the first place. Fantastic plan, Coda, first-rate, really. Analytical skill to amaze the masses. What are you doing stuck on this website, you should be writing global policy, you genius.
posted by David Dark at 12:22 PM on September 4, 2004


surely you'll agree that Afghanistan and Iraq are War zones

They are war zones - because we made them so. Afghanistan made sense. Iraq made sense only in the context of this greater "World War IV"; if this isn't World War IV, then the Iraq invasion represents an extrarodinary waste of time and resources, not to mention lives.

But in the current issue of the Atlantic, just arrived yesterday (sorry, no link), James Fallowes argues in "Bush's Lost Year" that top level officials within the Pentagaon and intellgence services say Iraq has made us less safe and not more; that we in effect took our eye off the ball in order to pursue World War IV when it likely would have been far more effective to go after the Islamists rather than attempting to change the face of the entire Islamic world.

The truth is that you desperately need this to be World War IV to justify your enthusiasm for using American military might in a more sweeping and ambitious - and thus dangerous - manner than it has ever been used. You insist these are risks that must be taken in order to prevent a repeat of September 11 from ever happening again - yet the series of wars you propose are more likely to increase the chances of another September 11 until they are completed, and it may be a generation, or more, until they are completed.

I don't doubt your motivation - you want this to be a safer world for Americans, and for everyone else. But the neoconservatives never seem to think that their plans are anything but a sure bet that must be placed. We "knew" what was going to happen in post-war Iraq - only it turns out, we knew nothing. And then the first impulse is to blame the "fifth columnists" in the media (or on this board).

Consider, rather, that failure was guaranteed from the start because as much as you wanted the Iraqis to embrace freedom in the manner Americans would, Iraqis are not Americans. And it is more than our religion which separates us; the cultural and historical divides are far greater than anyone ever acknowledged. From Day One, we expected Iraqis to respond to their "liberation" like someone in Dayton or Indianapolis might. When they didn't, we got pissed off.

But what makes you think Syrians or Iranians are going to be any more appreciative?
posted by kgasmart at 12:40 PM on September 4, 2004


America produces the most sophisticated war propaganda in the history of the world.
posted by stbalbach at 12:40 PM on September 4, 2004


... the sweeping arrests of terrorist cells across the US and Europe anything but War is infantile.

Funny how that's working out, isn't it? The Justice Department asked a judge Tuesday to throw out the convictions of a suspected terror cell in Detroit because of prosecutorial misconduct, reversing course in a case the Bush administration once hailed as a major victory in the war on terrorism.
posted by amberglow at 12:48 PM on September 4, 2004


Waiting for a point, amberglow, if you can muster one.
posted by David Dark at 12:53 PM on September 4, 2004


I think kgasmart has covered the "things are blowing up and therefore it is a war" argument. We chose our response - badly. David seems to feel that historical events are inevitable, that the Revolutionary War would have happened with or without King George, and that the West and the East would come to war with or without us. This, I submit, is hogwash - historical events are the outcome of the actions of historical agents. They do not take place in a vacuum, despite your protests. There is a context for everything, and attempting to understand the Revolutionary War outside of the sociopolitical context in which it took place is useless.

Likewise, trying to understand September 11th within the framework of some grand, ahistorical, inevitable scheme is not history, it is religion. If you feel that interpreting the events of the past four years through the lens of your eschatalogical beliefs, feel free. I propose that this is an abolutely crap way of generating policy.

As to the meaning of fatwa, it comes from the Semitic root ptw, and is a legal opinion from an Islamic scholar. Jihad, as was your point, is war. Let us move, however, from the title, to the actual text of the letter, which you may or may not have read.

It is bin Laden's opinion (he's not an official Islamic scholar, as authors of fatwas must be, but nonetheless) that it is legal under Shariah (Islamic law) to kill American civilians and military personnel, based on their collective past actions (i.e., perceived attacks on Islam and the Middle East). This is the text of the letter, backed up by various quotations from the Fiqh, or Islamic jurisprudence.

What I find most interesting, however, is your total disregard for their stated reasons for jihad. You are saying, in essence, that what they say - regardless of content - should be ignored, because... why?

There are no political demands that can be separated from the religious demands, and there are no compromises available to satisfy the religious demands laid out in the fatwa.

Oh, you seem to be basing this on your say-so. Sorry, David, no can do. Too circular. Not enough evidence. Yeah, they're religious, yeah, they're violent, but we haven't started bombing the Bible Belt as the retaliation in the War On Pro-Lifers. There's plenty of pro-lifers in there, and some of them have declared war on the government, bombed abortion clinics, shot doctors, etc. So why not send in the Marines?

Well, because pro-lifers who bomb clinics aren't soldiers or warriors, despite their delusions. If they declare war on the government, it doesn't mean that the government should start firing missles. Likewise, if some Islamic religious crazies attack us, this doesn't mean that a war is on. It means that there are some people in desperate need of a trial. As inksyndicate points out, the Unabomber's manifesto and acts of violence did not precipitate a War On Luddism, it prompted an FBI investigation.

Yes, you're probably saying, but the bad guys were in Afghanistan. We can't send the FBI to Afghanistan. And you'd be right. We'd need some kind of international effort to track down and isolate them, to dry up their monetary support, to squeeze their logistical networks. Hmm... that sounds more like an international police effort than a military operation. I mean, does the military have missles which target bank accounts?

The only part of our response to September 11th which has been a complete and total failure in disrupting terrorist organizations has been the military aspect - the War, if you will, in the War on Terror.

Ok, that's enough feeding the trolls. Oh, wait - David, don't call people ninnies. That's just fucking silly. Act your age.
posted by Coda at 2:44 PM on September 4, 2004


If this whole terrorist crappy 'war' thing is secretly an attempt by the 'civilized' world to steal oil from the 'barbarian' muslim 'third world' countries, we are the worst fucking thieves in the history of mankind. I've heard/read better debates and arguments about the futility or necessity of war in IRC channels for fans of Martin Landau's left nut. Can we all agree on a few things:

1. Not a one of us knows all the facts about this supposed war on terror and we never will.
2. Not a one of us knows better than those in power how to properly do anything to prevent or end this stupidity.
3. Not a one of us sounds remotely intelligent when we're arguing about this topic online or offline.
4. The people in power don't know what they're doing either.

There. Finally. We find some common ground.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:41 PM on September 4, 2004


Goddamn, you warbirds are crazy mofos. There's something broken in your heads.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:36 PM on September 4, 2004


Thank you, Coda, for your lucidity, and the effort taken in arguing to some of the more, er, certain folks in this thread that the sky is, in fact, blue.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:56 PM on September 4, 2004


Coda, that is an eloquent, precise rebuttal. Read by any thinking individual it states clearly and unequivocally why there is no such thing as a "war on terror," and indeed why military action is a futile and inappropriate response.

How sad, then, that there are people who are utterly incapable of understanding it. It would be nice to think that it's just the big words or that you were just too subtle, but I suspect that even if the key idea were expressed in a single word in fifty foot letters of flame, they'd still be incapable of understanding it.

It puzzles hell out of me. I benevolantly assume these people are intelligent people, but they somehow fail to grasp the truth of what you say. How can this be? What is missing from this message that would finally break through to their thinking mind and set the spark of understanding?

Perhaps I assume too much. Perhaps they are so attached to their irrational or religious ideas that they must reject even facts? Perhaps their lust for blood or supremacy blinds them to sensible thought?

Or perhaps the message really has been made as clear and communicative as possible, and they are just stupid, dull people. I daren't think that perhaps they are evil people, for they can only then be brought to understanding by their own terms of bloodshed, and I don't think fragging one's own fellow citizen is a viable solution.

I've veered wildly off track here. It's getting a bit too meta: if we could understand how the hell someone could say something like
"How can you say that our delusional belief that "there is a war on" is what makes us think a military response is necessary, and then turn around and say you don't support Osama Bin Laden?"
then we would know how to talk some sense in them. But we can't, and we won't.

It's a lost cause, boys, all hands went down with their ship.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:55 PM on September 4, 2004


I think kgasmart has covered the "things are blowing up and therefore it is a war" argument.

He admitted that there is a war, and I can only assume that you have changed your opinion to his since you've deferred to him here. So we've gotten past one of your most obtuse arguments, which is progress. Congratulations on recognizing your error.

David seems to feel that historical events are inevitable, that the Revolutionary War would have happened with or without King George, and that the West and the East would come to war with or without us.

No, you've built quite a strawman for yourself, but I'm afraid I never stated that historical events are inevitable -- you completely fabricated that argument. What I stated was that there is a tipping point to events. For the Revolutionary War, that tipping point was crossed before Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, and upon receiving that document, King George had two choices: one, he could surrender the colonies without a fight, or two, he could send more troops across the Atlantic and attempt to secure them again. He chose the latter, and hence history was introduced to the Revolutionary War. He could have chosen to give them up without a fight, but of course he didn't. What he understood was that the time for diplomacy had passed and he could no longer retain his claim without a struggle. He could not have written a kind letter and asked forgiveness of the colonists with a, "Oh, pretty please can I make it up to you?" That would be ignoring the sociopolitical contexts of the surrounding events. I never suggested that the events surrounding the Revolutionary War took place in a vaccuum, I'm arguing just the opposite -- that after the years of hostility and friction between King George and the colonists, peaceful diplomacy to settle their differences was, I'm sure, only a possibility in the heads of delusional pacifists. It wasn't going to happen, precisely because reality doesn't occur inside a vacuum. The current war also has a sociopolitical context, which is why I included the graph in my very first comment. None of these things happen in a vacuum, and the only argument that relies upon that condition is yours, while you continue to cling to the fragile framework that Osama can be appeased if only we'd take the time to read his grievances. Your vacuum is all that allows you to remain in a pacifist fantasyland.

Likewise, trying to understand September 11th within the framework of some grand, ahistorical, inevitable scheme is not history, it is religion. If you feel that interpreting the events of the past four years through the lens of your eschatalogical beliefs, feel free. I propose that this is an abolutely crap way of generating policy.

Where exactly did this strawman come from? I carry no eschatalogical beliefs, you ninny. This isn't the end of the world, and there is no apocalypse on the horizon. It's a war, like the ones that have come before it, like the ones that are likely to come after it. Get a grip on yourself and deal with practicalities, if you would. And I'd appreciate it, if in the future, you would respond to my comments and not your incoherent imaginings of a non-existent debate.

I'm glad you know what fatwa and jihad are now, I'm sure it helped in your realization that when a large army has declared holy war and you have to send troops overseas to respond to the threat, there is in fact a war going on. And, oooh, Sharia, bonus points for you, overachiever. Now all you have to do is read up on Hussein Ali and the culture of shahuda within the Shi'ite sect of Islam and we may actually be on a level playing field. I'm glad you're not one of those, "If someone is willing to blow themselves up over an idea, maybe we should fight a more sensitive war" idiots. Oh, wait, you are one of those guys, aren't you? Well, you're learning, kid. You'll get there soon, I'm sure. Please hurry, my forehead is getting sore from banging it against your wall of ignorance.

What I find most interesting, however, is your total disregard for their stated reasons for jihad. You are saying, in essence, that what they say - regardless of content - should be ignored, because... why?


It's insignificant, for starters. Do I think that America can make up for the Roman crusades of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries? Nope. Do I think that America should deliver Israel into the hands of of the Arab world? Nope. Do I believe that a madman living in a cave in Afghanistan should dictate whether the Saudi Royal family chooses to allow American troops on its soil? I don't think so. Why should I? What right does he have, aside from an eschatological one, which we agree is a delusion not worth considering?

Let's talk about what I find most interesting, Coda. I find it extremely interesting that you completely disregard anything and everything they say that refers to Sharia, even though it is by far the most prominent subject in their statements. You are saying, in essence, that what they say should be ignored unless it is political -- because the religious aspects of their aims are insignificant. Why?

As to your childish analogies to pro-lifers and Luddites, show me a graph that documents the number of international attacks on abortion clinics or attacks perpetrated by Luddites, and we'll compare notes. Until then, sorry, Coda, not enough evidence, you can do better. Keep trying.

Yes, you're probably saying, but the bad guys were in Afghanistan. We can't send the FBI to Afghanistan. And you'd be right. We'd need some kind of international effort to track down and isolate them, to dry up their monetary support, to squeeze their logistical networks. Hmm... that sounds more like an international police effort than a military operation. I mean, does the military have missles which target bank accounts?

Yes, they actually do. What you describe is exactly the effort that has been implemented. An international effort to track down and isolate them was begun, using troops, as it should be, since they were holed up in a nearly impenetrable fortress, there was no other way. Measures to dry up their monetary support was implemented immediately. Paper trails were established and accounts were frozen. There is an international police effort at work to handle that aspect, as well as the continued legwork involved in tracking down and arresting suspects imbedded in cities across the globe, in case you haven't noticed. There are multiple fronts on which to wage this war, but I still haven't gotten your opinion, or anyone's for that matter, on the Tora Bora problem. If that wasn't a necessary military operation, how should it have been addressed?

And no, the military aspect of the War on Terror has not been a failure. I'm sure a scholar of your nature has done an exhaustive analysis, but humor me. In terms of objectives, strategy, tactics, and logistics, how is it that you've reached your overall judgment of failure? I look forward to reading it.

Oh, and Coda -- don't call people asses if you think namecalling is fucking silly. I guarantee you're older than I am, so if anyone needs to be told to act his age, it's you.
posted by David Dark at 10:36 PM on September 4, 2004


fish, you always were a sucker.

Have we all forgotten about a little group called the Taleban? Without a military operation, they'd still be in power in Afghanistan, protecting Al-Qaeda's base of operations. Civil liberties for the Afghanis aside, explain to me how that's better than a free and democratic Afghanistan which acts as an ally against terror groups -- and why that military operation was a futile and inappropriate response.

Ahem.
posted by David Dark at 11:09 PM on September 4, 2004


Ahem.

Place your bets.
posted by homunculus at 11:50 PM on September 4, 2004


i had a really awesome time breathing today
posted by Satapher at 2:28 AM on September 5, 2004


Right, having lost my last post, I'll just say I think you are very wrong about Afghanistan David Dark. In the words of one of the few people who may have been able to deliver Osam Bin Laden:

'he predicted that once the small coterie of Taliban leaders fell, the entire regime would collapse. He had warned his US allies not to bomb, but rather to wage a campaign of psychological pressure. "If they leave things up to us, it will only be a few months [before the Taliban are toppled]," he said. Days before the US launched the first air strikes, he warned that civilian casualties would only steel Pashtun support for the Taliban.'

Violence does not solve many problems. It is the willful ignorance of this fact that has defined US overseas engagment fo the past 50 years.
posted by asok at 7:42 AM on September 5, 2004


surely you'll agree that Afghanistan and Iraq are War zones -- if not, how would you characterize them?

I believe the word you're looking for here is "invasion." If I go into my neighbor's home and attack him, it's deemed a "home invasion," not a "home war."

2. Not a one of us knows better than those in power how to properly do anything to prevent or end this stupidity.

I think that's demonstrably false. Most anyone other than those currently in power would have not only known how to prevent this stupidity, they would have not taken the steps necessary to initiate it. You seem to argue that foolishness is dispensed to all in equal measure, and I strongly disagree.
posted by rushmc at 7:47 AM on September 5, 2004


See, this is where I have to start concluding that you're just plain stupid, David Dark.

You're going to use the Taliban as an example? The Taliban that the USA supported? The Taliban that numbered well under 10 000 people, yet required ten billion dollars a year in military action and killed as many civilians as Taliban? The Taliban that wasn't engaged in terrorist activities against the USA?!

And what has come of that the Afghan invasion and subsequent abandonment? The Taliban is once again coming back into power in Afghanistan. The citizens are in dire need of relief services, and are being mainly ignored. The mid-East doesn't think any more highly of the USA. And al Queda is still around.

What a brilliant coup!

What a short-sighted heavy-handed military approach that drove Al Queda operatives to underground safety instead of using intelligence operations to identify and locate the key personnel so they could be efficiently eliminated and the network shut down.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:45 AM on September 5, 2004


Talk about posting after the expiration date. But hey - I'm game.

He admitted that there is a war, and I can only assume that you have changed your opinion to his since you've deferred to him here. So we've gotten past one of your most obtuse arguments, which is progress. Congratulations on recognizing your error.

Equivocation. Your definition of a war seems to rest on the fact that U.S. troops have been deployed. While that is indisputable, what remains to be demonstrated is the following:
  1. The conceptual metaphor of "war" accurately matches the conflict we are in, and is therefore a useful way of structuring our response.
  2. The military action we are seeing is against Terror.
Regarding your historical analysis, I can only say that you seem to be stuck in the "bomb the wogs vs. cower and appease" dichotomy, where the only possible response to a letter of demands is either give them what they ask for or start bombing nearby countries. History, as your King George example ironically illustrates, has a long record of both of these responses failing.

While you say that you do not believe this to be an apocalyptic battle, it's pretty obvious that you see this as a Hegelian struggle between the East and the West. You seem to subscribe to the notion - widely held in these times - that democracy is the only true peacemaker in the world, and that with the full and complete extension of democracy, the world will see a Final Peace. The apocalypse doesn't need to mean the literal end of the world, it can mean its transcendence.

That said, there is one sentence among all the rhetorical cheap shots and condescencion that actually contains the core of your argument, I believe:
...when a large army has declared holy war and you have to send troops overseas to respond to the threat, there is in fact a war going on.

You characterize Al Qaeda as being a "large army." I characterize them as being a group of delusional criminals. From this our disagreement begins, and you jump straight into GOP talking points about a "sensitive war on terror." That's unecessary; I don't believe that structuring our conflict with transnational Islamist terrorists in the form of a traditional, Westphalian war makes any sense.

Al Qaeda is not an army. They are a large-ish, transnational, armed group. They do not have a heirarchical structure (c.f. the Atlantic Monthly article in July about their captured communications), they do not have much in the way of conventional arms, they appear to be as well-armed as their neighbors in whatever country they're in - Kalishnakovs in Afghanistan, box cutters in the U.S.. Treating them like an army is a poor way to stop them.

Regarding my "childish" comparisons to anti-abortion terrorists and the Unabomber, you argue that Al Qaeda is more of a threat. I totally agree, but I think you'd also agree that the U.S. would never begin bombing the Bible Belt to flush out clinic bombers and the like, regardless of how large their numbers became. The key divisor here is that we do not think about the various domestic crazies as being capable of declaring war, therefore war does not structure our interactions with them. The sole fact that a group is large does not, to me, suggest anything besides the fact that the response must be on equal scale; you seem to be suggesting that a quantatative difference on one end necessitates a qualitative difference on the other. I disagree.

The fact that Al Qaeda is Islamic is nothing new. Much has been made of it, and I think it's sufficiently permeated the zeitgeist to the point where mentioning it is redundant. Al Qaeda's religious rhetoric, however, is the only thing attributed to them. Your ignorance of their political context and aims is what I was trying to address by talking about them as poliitical actors. But again, the "bombs vs. cowering" split rears its ugly head, and you can only see this sort of analysis in terms of "give them Israel vs. invade Iraq." You disregard their political goals as impossible, yet point to their demand for Shariah as more than rhetorical. Odd.

five fresh fish has (have?) covered the success of the U.S. military action in Afghanistan pretty well.

With that, I think I'll let the thread die. This has, at the very least, been heated.

And it's not name-calling that I find tiring, it's your overusage of the word "ninny." It makes you sound like a third-rate supervillian on the original Batman series, or the villian's effeminate sidekick (e.g., "No, you ninny! The other lever! Fool!" etc.). That may be the presence you're trying to project, but I doubt it. I liked it better when you started out your first post in this thread by calling someone a jackass.
posted by Coda at 9:39 AM on September 5, 2004


...instead of using intelligence operations to identify and locate the key personnel so they could be efficiently eliminated and the network shut down.

This would have been impossible without a military operation. And I welcome your new conclusion about me, fish, I've felt the same about you for years.

The Taliban is once again coming back into power in Afghanistan. The citizens are in dire need of relief services, and are being mainly ignored. The mid-East doesn't think any more highly of the USA. And al Queda is still around.


The Taleban back into power, eh? That's news. Give me a link. The citizens have needed constant relief for all of modern history, and are receiving more now than they ever have or ever would have. Show me the numbers. The mid-East doesn't think any more highly of the USA, Christ, you are a child, aren't you? Because of course the central base of operations for Al-Qaeda was such a giant fan of the good 'ol US of A before we had to go and screw it up by responding to 9/11. What a load. I shouldn't even respond to such blatantly invented garbage.

Talk about posting after the expiration date.

Quick, explain this before it goes bad. Seriously, wtf are you talking about?

Is there some confusion on the definition of "war", Coda? Is that really the problem here, you've re-invented the word? There is no my definition or your definition, you can't change the definition to fit your whims and fancies, communication depends upon it.

WAR
n.
A state of open, armed, often prolonged conflict carried on between nations, states, or parties.
The period of such conflict.
The techniques and procedures of war; military science.
v.
To wage or carry on warfare.
To be in a state of hostility or rivalry; contend.

Your definition of a war seems to rest on the fact that U.S. troops have been deployed.

My definition. Heh. Not only were they deployed, but they engaged in battle a standing army in the mountains of Afghanistan and then again in Iraq. Yes, that is not my definition of a war, it is what the word means.

what remains to be demonstrated is the following:
1. The conceptual metaphor of "war" accurately matches the conflict we are in, and is therefore a useful way of structuring our response.
2. The military action we are seeing is against Terror.


An odd and short criteria list, but both of these random conditions are satisfied, given the true definition of "war", listed above. Sorry, but I can not bring myself to re-define words in order to support a bad theory, as you seem quite fond of doing.

Regarding your historical analysis, I can only say that you seem to be stuck in the "bomb the wogs vs. cower and appease" dichotomy, where the only possible response to a letter of demands is either give them what they ask for or start bombing nearby countries. History, as your King George example ironically illustrates, has a long record of both of these responses failing.

History's record of success or failure isn't the criteria, here, either. No one had ever successfully invaded Afghanistan before 2001. That's not true anymore. As I've said, 9/11 was a tipping point that demanded we not continue along the old path of bomb and forget.

There were other options that were tried and exhausted, including peaceful diplomacy with the Taleban to get them to allow us in to battle Al-Qaeda, which they refused in their arrogant reliance on historical record. We tried diplomacy for over twelve years with Saddam Hussein. That, too, failed. We tried it your way, repeatedly. It failed every time.

While you say that you do not believe this to be an apocalyptic battle, it's pretty obvious that you see this as a Hegelian struggle between the East and the West.

Maybe you should stop trying so hard to categorize my beliefs and just deal with my arguments. We might actually get somewhere, Christ.

You seem to subscribe to the notion - widely held in these times - that democracy is the only true peacemaker in the world, and that with the full and complete extension of democracy, the world will see a Final Peace. The apocalypse doesn't need to mean the literal end of the world, it can mean its transcendence.


Did I not just make clear that I see this as simply a war, like the ones that have come before and the ones that are likely to come after? If you're going to make me say everything twice, we're going to be here a really long time. Maybe it's you who is holding the eschatological theories, you can't seem to let go of the idea.

You characterize Al Qaeda as being a "large army." I characterize them as being a group of delusional criminals. From this our disagreement begins, and you jump straight into GOP talking points about a "sensitive war on terror." That's unecessary; I don't believe that structuring our conflict with transnational Islamist terrorists in the form of a traditional, Westphalian war makes any sense.

This is the same argument, you're chasing your tail. There was no criminal justice system in place to deal with Al-Qaeda while they were being protected inside Afghanistan's borders by the ruling body. The only way to get to them without the Taleban's consent was to overthrow the Taleban.

Al Qaeda is not an army. They are a large-ish, transnational, armed group. They do not have a heirarchical structure (c.f. the Atlantic Monthly article in July about their captured communications), they do not have much in the way of conventional arms, they appear to be as well-armed as their neighbors in whatever country they're in - Kalishnakovs in Afghanistan, box cutters in the U.S.. Treating them like an army is a poor way to stop them.

Again, more than one front, try to keep up. There is indeed a heirarchical structure, and the base of operations was run like a military base. The individual cells are capable of autonomous operation, and that is indeed more of a criminal infrastructure, which is exactly the way it is being handled. And again, we've been through this already.

Regarding my "childish" comparisons to anti-abortion terrorists and the Unabomber, you argue that Al Qaeda is more of a threat. I totally agree, but I think you'd also agree that the U.S. would never begin bombing the Bible Belt to flush out clinic bombers and the like, regardless of how large their numbers became. The key divisor here is that we do not think about the various domestic crazies as being capable of declaring war, therefore war does not structure our interactions with them. The sole fact that a group is large does not, to me, suggest anything besides the fact that the response must be on equal scale; you seem to be suggesting that a quantatative difference on one end necessitates a qualitative difference on the other. I disagree.

Never say never. If the pro-lifers caused a 3,000+ casualty event and had a force of 20,000+ strong holed up in a fort in the Rocky Mountains outside of Denver, you can bet your ass the Marines would be heading to Denver. Think about it.

The fact that Al Qaeda is Islamic is nothing new. Much has been made of it, and I think it's sufficiently permeated the zeitgeist to the point where mentioning it is redundant. Al Qaeda's religious rhetoric, however, is the only thing attributed to them. Your ignorance of their political context and aims is what I was trying to address by talking about them as poliitical actors. But again, the "bombs vs. cowering" split rears its ugly head, and you can only see this sort of analysis in terms of "give them Israel vs. invade Iraq." You disregard their political goals as impossible, yet point to their demand for Shariah as more than rhetorical. Odd.

Which political goals are realistically accomplishable, and what gives Al-Qaeda the authority to make these political demands? Still waiting for that one, long-winded sidesteps notwithstanding.

five fresh fish has (have?) covered the success of the U.S. military action in Afghanistan pretty well.

Bad move. I wouldn't trust fish to cover his own ass.

I like ninny. Think of Batman if you wish, it doesn't matter to me. Jackass.
posted by David Dark at 11:20 AM on September 5, 2004


History's record of success or failure isn't the criteria, here, either. No one had ever successfully invaded Afghanistan before 2001. That's not true anymore. As I've said, 9/11 was a tipping point that demanded we not continue along the old path of bomb and forget.

Providing air support for the Northern Alliance is not the same as invading Afghanistan. As for the fight at Tora Boram, well, Osama got away. The Taliban were driven out of Kabul by the Northern Alliance but are still entrenched and now on the attack. Karzai and the NATO forces control the area around Kabul but not Afghanistan. The warlords, with or without our tacit permission, still control broad swatches of rest of the country and fight amongst themselves. That is neither a successful invasion or occupation.

US-backed armies firing blanks

In Afghanistan, the United States, with aid from France, has succeeded in training a new national army of more than 13,000 troops but that is far below the targeted 70,000 soldiers.

Manoel de Almeida e Silva, a spokesman for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, told reporters in August there is a "significant expansion in the size and competence of the Afghan national police force, as well as the Afghan national army".

"This is very important," he said, "but they are not yet there." The spokesman added, "They are not close to reaching their total strength but this is much better than what existed when this phase of Afghan history began two and half years ago."

Pakistan's permanent representative to the UN, ambassador Munir Akram, told the UN Security Council last week that the Afghan national army is still unable to cope with the security challenges in the country.

"The army suffers from what I would call an ethnic deficit and imbalance," he said. "Until the Afghan national army is in a position to provide credible security, the responsibility of providing security in Afghanistan rests with the international forces, in particular, the International Assistance Force [ISAF]."

The ISAF, a multinational force consisting of about 7,300 troops from the European and North American nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), is confined mostly to the Afghan capital of Kabul. By the end of September, when Italian and Spanish battalions join ISAF, total troop strength is expected to rise to 8,300.

In both Afghanistan and Iraq, attrition rates have also been high, with trained soldiers deserting the military to join insurgencies in the two countries.

"The formation of the army [in Afghanistan] is incredibly slow mainly because there is not much incentive to join what is perceived to be the weakest armed faction in the country [except when the United States decided to back it up with fighter planes]," says James Ingalls, founding director of the Afghan Women's Mission who is also working on a book about US policy in Afghanistan.

Ingalls said Washington's tactic of "buying" warlords to fight the Taliban, then awarding them seats in the government, has entrenched their power. "The lack of a countrywide ISAF deployment and the half-hearted attempts at disarmament have only made this dismal situation worse," he told IPS.

The Taliban, a group of Islamic extremists who ruled Afghanistan during 1996-2001, was ousted from power by US forces when they invaded the country in December 2001. Despite the efforts of thousands of US soldiers since then, Taliban forces have not been driven from the country and appear resurgent, claiming responsibility for a car bomb in the capital Kabul on Sunday that killed about a dozen people.

Taliban forces have also warned Afghans to boycott the October 9 presidential election.

[Margaret] Karns said the difficulties in creating a new national army in Afghanistan are also linked to the fundamental lack of security and the limited number of US and NATO troops to deal with warlords and Taliban outside Kabul.

"I am not optimistic, especially about Afghanistan. We and the Europeans have yet to commit enough military and economic resources to Afghanistan to make a difference, and the situation is clearly deteriorating," she added.

In July, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer warned that both Iraq and Afghanistan would surely end up as failed states if the US and the international community did not work together to salvage the two nations. The security situation in both countries was dismal, he said.

"Can we afford two failed states in pivotal regions?" he asked. "It's both undesirable and unacceptable if either Afghanistan or Iraq were to be lost. The international community can't afford to see those countries going up in flames. There would be enormous repercussions for stability, and not only in those regions."


Troops Beheaded and Skinned in west Afghanistan
posted by y2karl at 11:44 AM on September 5, 2004


"Two of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers had a support network in the United States that included agents of the Saudi government, and the Bush administration and FBI blocked a congressional investigation into that relationship, Senator Bob Graham wrote in a book to be released Tuesday."
posted by homunculus at 11:48 AM on September 5, 2004


Fuck, Dark, you are stupid beyond redemption. I will post these links and then make a concerted effort to not respond to you any more. I hate fools, and you're proving yourself to be a fool of the highest order.

Taliban revival
Taliban revival
Taliban revival
Taliban revival
Taliban revival
Taliban insurgency
Taliban insurgency
Taliban insurgency
Taliban insurgency
Taliban insurgency

You are a stupid, uninformed, and malicious asshole, Dark, and wholly beyond redemption. Goodbye.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:59 AM on September 5, 2004


The Holy Empire
Are the above descriptions of the "barbarians" not familiar in the context of the present time? Are they not, almost word for word-except, perhaps, for such things as cannibalism!-the kind of demonizing that the advocate of "they hate us for who we are" use? It is unnecessary to quote other propagandists of the "Western civilization," such as those of the Roman Empire, the British Empire, etc. to prove the point? Suffice it to say that even the most famous, enlightened and respected thinkers of the "Western civilization" could not escape the prevalent and grotesque images of the victims of the empire and glorified pictures of themselves. In the first few chapters of Adam Smith's famous The Wealth of Nations there are, at least, 7 references to the "savages," i.e., the North American Indians, and 15 references to the "civilized" society, i.e., the "Great" Britain.

In the final analysis, the architects and the propagandists of the Holy Empire are doing precisely what has been done for 2500 years by all empires: calling the victims of their aggression "barbarians," "savages," "uncivilized," "undemocratic," etc. to make conquering them easier. But this act of demonizing has certain drawbacks.

First, an empire whose citizens are fed fantasy, and not facts, might be in for a very long and costly war which could destroy the fabric of its society, both economically and socially. The length of the war and its cost could become so intolerable to the citizens of the empire that they might ultimately prefer capitulation to a state of permanent war. What the modern Holy Empire faces is not a few "terrorists" that can be eradicated, but numerous brutalized "barbarians" living on the periphery that are now adopting a unifying ideology. The ideology is cloaked mainly in religion. But this is not unusual; the ideology of the masses often takes a religious form. As Karl Marx once observed, "Religious suffering is at the same time the expression of real suffering and the protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation."
posted by crasspastor at 3:08 PM on September 5, 2004


fish, you hate fools? That must make it difficult to live with yourself, eh? I notice you didn't even attempt to support your other arguments, but that's fine, we can certainly make use of your Taleban links.

So, let me get this straight -- when you said, "The Taleban is once again coming back into power in Afghanistan," you meant they've regrouped and have carried out some bombings against the people in the past couple years, right? I hate to break it to you, but that's not power. I noticed your slew of links were written from a wide range of dates, from June of 2003 to the present day, all promising an imminent, terrible wrath from the all powerful, newly regrouped Taleban. Yet, here we are looking forward to democratic elections next month by 9 million registered voters, a full sixteenth months after the Taleban first regrouped to put a stop to it. They've been at it this long, and you've practically guaranteed their success. You let me know when they actually get back into power in Afghanistan, fish. Until then, my chicken-little-esque fanatic, you are standing on a corner ringing a bell and screaming at the top of your lungs about a future you know nothing about. I'll pass on your brand of "knowledge", thanks.
posted by David Dark at 5:53 PM on September 5, 2004


Until then, my chicken-little-esque fanatic, you are standing on a corner ringing a bell and screaming at the top of your lungs about a future you know nothing about.

Switch hawk with little and the reverse is true.
posted by y2karl at 8:19 PM on September 5, 2004


buuurn
posted by techgnollogic at 9:34 PM on September 5, 2004


Alright. Failing that. Can we at least agree that the sky is blue?

...

Excepting of course at night when it is black...

Or stormy...

...And that this is actually merely our perception of the sky based on visual acuity, but that color is subjective dependent on the individual and someone colorblind would find the sky grey and argue to their death that it is not blue. And from their perspective they would be right.

Oh, the hell with it. Randy Newman was right. Let's just drop the big one now and see what happens.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:04 PM on September 5, 2004


I never said the sky was blue.
posted by David Dark at 2:24 AM on September 6, 2004


Casualties of War: Ideas That Died In Iraq

Preemptive wars, unilateralism, regime change, the neoconservative approach to foreign policy: Just a few months ago, powerful government officials and influential commentators presented these ideas as not just desirable but inevitable choices for a superpower confronted by unprecedented threats. With more than 900 American soldiers dead, 10,000 coalition troops wounded, a military price tag of more than $90 billion, and the main reason for going to war dismissed as a “massive intelligence failure,” these concepts lie buried in the sands of Iraq.

Some of these ideas will not be missed. The reliance on military solutions alone to confront real or presumed security threats proved to be as defective an idea as deep disdain for diplomacy. Murderous chaos in postwar Iraq exposed the limits of U.S. military force, its technical superiority notwithstanding. Meanwhile, diplomacy opened possibilities embraced by once scornful and now desperate U.S. leaders who were forced to eat their words. Hopefully they learned a lesson.

More fundamental, disappointments in Iraq also dealt a blow to a worldview that, for all its references to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, as an epochal event, still hearkens back to the Cold War. Consider the two primary responses to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon: Instead of concentrating all energies and resources to fight the strange, stealthy, and stateless network that perpetrated the attacks, the United States launched military assaults against two nation-states. First, it rightly attacked Afghanistan, a country whose government had been the subject of a friendly takeover by such networks. The second was Iraq, a country with a standing army and a dictator evocative of the Cold War era. Iraq offered a target more suited to the mindset of U.S. leaders and military capabilities than the more complicated terrorist networks operating inside powerful states, including the United States itself.

In other words, facing the prospect of waging a new kind of war against a new kind of opponent, the Bush administration chose instead to fight a familiar enemy whose face and address it knew...

...Of course, U.S. leaders will continue to wax rhapsodic about America’s historical commitment to democracy abroad and how entire peoples are waiting for the United States to help them gain political freedoms. Yet the same leaders remain silent about what they will do in the strong likelihood that rabidly anti-American fundamentalists could come to power in free and fair elections in Muslim countries.

posted by y2karl at 7:35 AM on September 6, 2004


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