Join 3,497 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Impossible demands, inhuman intent.
October 8, 2004 9:46 AM   Subscribe

Ken Bigley murdered by Iraqi terrorists. The third of his group to be beheaded, his ordeal lasted three weeks, whilst his kidnappers demanded that the British release prisoners they didn't even hold. The poor man did not deserve this.
posted by dash_slot- (79 comments total)

 
One can almost admire the utter skill that these bastards have shown, in playing the nation, and the government, like an orchestra. I don't think they ever intended to release Ken Bigley, who was an engineer in Iraq, was working to restore vital services and clearly wouldn't have been a combatant at any stage.

Maybe, when the Brits & the Yanks leave, only muslims and arabs should pay for, and labour on, the reconstruction of that benighted land.
posted by dash_slot- at 9:55 AM on October 8, 2004


I'd go out on a limb and say no one deserves what happened to him. But, unfortunately, that was the situation he found himself in. Anyone taking a job in Iraq has to be aware of the risks, especially if you're British or American.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 10:00 AM on October 8, 2004


None of them deserved to die in such a horrific fashion. No one deserves to die that way.

This sucks and it sucks more that covering the story gives the terrorists ever more leverage to inflict terror around the world. And the continued attacks on tourists all around the world are going to do nothing but help to isolate nations.

Its time for a man with a plan to take on the war on terror.
posted by fenriq at 10:06 AM on October 8, 2004


That is sad to hear, not a suprise by any means, but sad news.


My condolences to his family
posted by a3matrix at 10:11 AM on October 8, 2004


Its time for a man with a plan to take on the war on terror.

I am ready friends. I alone can lead you to victory!
posted by a3matrix at 10:13 AM on October 8, 2004


I don't know what these lunatics think they accomplishing with these grisly beheading videos. Do they think they are intimidating people? The most recent video (Prior to this one) was circulating around my office like a virus and I must say that in one day I heard more anti-Arab and anti-Muslim invective than I have ever heard here before. All these ghastly murder videos do is solidify the opinions held by those who consider Arabs and Muslims to be nothing more than mindless savages and push fence sitters to the pro-war side.
posted by MikeMc at 10:14 AM on October 8, 2004


This is one post which is actually NOT about the US election, fenriq.
posted by dash_slot- at 10:16 AM on October 8, 2004


Religion sucks.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 10:19 AM on October 8, 2004


The worst news possible for Ken's family. Especially his mother who has been taken to hospital a couple of times during this ordeal.

I wonder how this will impact relations between the UK and the USA. The demand was for Iraqi women prisoners to be released - this was agreed by the Iraqi powers; but stopped from happening by the USA.

On a side note have you noticed that all coalition troops are soldiers, but all Iraqi troops are terrorists?
posted by DrDoberman at 10:20 AM on October 8, 2004


All these ghastly murder videos do is solidify the opinions held by those who consider Arabs and Muslims to be nothing more than mindless savages and push fence sitters to the pro-war side.

Actually, if these acts bring things to the boiling point, that suits them just fine. These are not people looking for understanding and an end to conflict.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:21 AM on October 8, 2004


By "them" I mean these barbarian extremists, obviously, not arabs and muslims as a whole.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:24 AM on October 8, 2004


one can only hope that this kind of depravity greater alienates these bastards from the muslim people in whose name they claim to act.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:25 AM on October 8, 2004


The poor man did not deserve this.

There are no winners in a war, only losers.

How many innocents must die before we say stop the madness?

Whose God is it that demands war and murder?

Could this be defined as a pre-emptive strike?

Could this be a direct result of the "bring it on" statement and mentality?

Is this "mission acomplished?"

Who dares glorify war?
posted by nofundy at 10:27 AM on October 8, 2004


The poor man did not deserve this.

Oh, get bent. No-one cares when thousands of Iraqi civilians get killed, but one guy from here gets it and suddenly it's a tragedy. Boo freakin' hoo. Before you condemn "the terrorists", take a good hard look at the behaviour of both the US and the UK.
posted by reklaw at 10:38 AM on October 8, 2004


So, MikeMc, after someone like Jeffrey Dahmer hits the news, there must be a lot self-hating going on in your office. By fence-sitters, I suppose you mean birds, or others with similarly sized brains.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 10:38 AM on October 8, 2004


reklaw, the two points of view aren't mutually exclusive. Just like its possible to respect the efforts of our soldiers and condemn the war they're fighting in. Many of us have been observing the US's behaviour and its one of the main reasons many of us are calling for a change at the very top.

dash_slot, I beg to differ. Everything related to the war is, in my mind, related to the pending election. We wouldn't be so heavily entrenched in this mess if we'd gone in with a plan.

Every death because of terrorist activities is, by its nature, political.
posted by fenriq at 10:44 AM on October 8, 2004


Reklaw: Yeah, like that time Cheney decapitated an innocent civilian during the debate.

'Cause there's really no distinction between the two, right?
posted by leotrotsky at 10:45 AM on October 8, 2004


All these ghastly murder videos do is solidify the opinions held by those who consider Arabs and Muslims to be nothing more than mindless savages and push fence sitters to the pro-war side

But that's the point of terror -- they want their actions to breed hatred for them, to keep the fight going. That's the part that sucks and why it feels like we're being played, and right into their trap. I see this stuff and I think "shit, bomb those fuckers" but that breeds more hatred in the region, and more kidnappings, and beheadings, and it's a cycle that continues.
posted by mathowie at 10:48 AM on October 8, 2004


Just like its possible to respect the efforts of our soldiers and condemn the war they're fighting in.

I can't believe so many people have bought into the "support the troops but not the war" bullshit. The Republicans accuse you of being unpatriotic, and what do you do? Come up with a stupid little explanation, wave American flags and hope for the best.

I don't support the troops. I'm sick of people getting all upset about the deaths of our "brave men and women in uniform". No-one made them join the military. If I don't support the war, why should I support the damn troops? They knew what they were getting into; I have no sympathy whatsoever. The same goes for contractors, journalists etc. who were fool enough to go to Iraq.

This is, perhaps, an extreme reaction. I just hate seeing headlines like "Ken Bigley murdered by Iraqi terrorists" when you contrast them with the way Iraqi innocents are written-off as mostly unnewsworthy.
posted by reklaw at 10:56 AM on October 8, 2004


Props to reklaw for having the balls.
posted by jpoulos at 11:14 AM on October 8, 2004


"shit, bomb those fuckers" but that breeds more hatred in the region, and more kidnappings, and beheadings, and it's a cycle that continues

exactly. it's very, very tough shit to deal with people who cherish the very thought of blowing themselves up (if at all possible, inside of a plane that's crashing into an American skyscaprer or, say, right next to a nuclear device in the middle of a Manhattan street, rush-hour). how do you stop the Mohammed Attas, with the death penalty? that'll scare them off for sure.

the very point of terror is to drag the rest of the region down. the poorer people get, the angrier they'll become. it's a simple equation. and of course, Bush is playing right into their hands. bomb them, torture them (especially if they're just car thieves, like the Abu Ghraib victims of American torturers), instead of fixing electricity and sewers: Al Qaeda likes that a lot.
it's a paradox, yeah. the current policymakers can't really deal with such complexity.
shock and awe as many Muslims as you can. it'll really help.
posted by matteo at 11:14 AM on October 8, 2004


'Cause there's really no distinction between the two, right?

Yes, putting an innocent person in a cage and torturing them for weeks and then photographing them before killing them is worse than mowing them down in the street from an Apache helicopter. (But is it worse than putting someone in a cage and torturing them for weeks and then photographing them before killing them? I'm not so sure.)

Seriously, though, if we have to start comparing atrocities to see which side is worse, we've already lost.
posted by jpoulos at 11:19 AM on October 8, 2004


Has anyone figured out why the Dutch raided his brother's house?
posted by euphorb at 11:20 AM on October 8, 2004


Oh, get bent. No-one cares when thousands of Iraqi civilians get killed, but one guy from here gets it and suddenly it's a tragedy. Boo freakin' hoo.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Empathy.

Props to reklaw for having the balls.

The balls to perpetuate the cycle?
posted by pardonyou? at 11:20 AM on October 8, 2004


I can't believe so many people have bought into the "support the troops but not the war" bullshit.

How about this: I don't support the war because I do support the troops. I recognize that at this point in history, a strong military is still what could be called a neccessary evil. So, I do admire the resolve of people willing to risk their lives to protect their fellow citizens.

I don't support the war, because this war does not protect our fellow citizens nor bring terrorists to justice. Does that break it down clear enough for ya, sparky?

As far Bigley's death goes. Yes, it's unneccessary and brutal, and I'd say that no matter who it happened to. Nobody deserves to be used as bargaining chip or murdered in such a brutal fashion.

I see this stuff and I think "shit, bomb those fuckers" but that breeds more hatred in the region, and more kidnappings, and beheadings, and it's a cycle that continues.

I hear you loud and clear.

Seriously, though, if we have to start comparing atrocities to see which side is worse, we've already lost.

Sometimes, I think that the storing up of grudges over atrocities to be avenged is the entire history of warfare in a nutshell, sad to say.
posted by jonmc at 11:23 AM on October 8, 2004


reklaw, I didn't buy into the "support the troops but condemn the war", its how I feel. Sorry if that offends you but, well, tough shit.

You can feel free to denigrate people who are putting thier lives on the line. I think it makes you an incredible prick but hey, so what? What do you care what I think?

So you'd be happy if every Iraqi death was given front page news coverage here? You are aware that the media covers what it thinks will play best to its audience and it looks like they've decided that beheadings are more newsworthy than Iraqis dying to try and free their nation.

Maybe you should write a letter to the editor?

By the way, you know that not one single soldier in Iraq had no other choice but the military? Damn, it must be cool to be you. Many people's best bet for a better life is the military, what that says about the cost of education is another thread entirely.

My sentiment isn't based on Republican rhetoric, its based on recognizing that the soldiers in Iraq are in a shitty situation, many of them hate it, many will be hurt, some will die. I can and do empathize with their situation and condemn the actions that have led to them being in it. That pisses you off? Whatever.

On Preview: jonmc, Sometimes, I think that the storing up of grudges over atrocities to be avenged is the entire history of warfare in a nutshell, sad to say. this rings very true to me. Well said.
posted by fenriq at 11:27 AM on October 8, 2004


what jonmc and mathowie, among others, said.

i can't help but hope that if there is a god, allah, jesus, buddha, krishna, horus, goddess, benevolent extra terrestrials, santa claus or whatever, he-she-it-they step in and straightens this shit out and helps us to live in peace and stop killing each other....

any minute now, o savior, feel free to step in....

any minute....still waiting....

no? no help coming? we humans have to figure it out ourselves? well, we're fucked.
posted by lord_wolf at 11:43 AM on October 8, 2004


IMO, reklaw made a good point, but badly, about the media coverage of this compared to other newsworthy stories. In the UK Ken Bigley has been the top news story for much of the past few weeks. At the same time fenriq is also right to say that that this is down to media choice.

All it has really achieved is that he was killed later than the other hostages, causing him and his family more pain and anguish by dragging out the inevitable.

Personally, i don't support "the troops" or the war, but I do have symapthy for the people who are "the troops" and for anyone and everyone else involved in a very shitty situation
posted by devon at 11:47 AM on October 8, 2004


Seriously, though, if we have to start comparing atrocities to see which side is worse, we've already lost.

A-men.
posted by namespan at 11:49 AM on October 8, 2004


Did anyone ever see the Futurama where Bender became a God? At one point he realized he couldn't help his people no matter what he did, so he just let them kill each other off.
posted by cell divide at 11:49 AM on October 8, 2004


cell divide: what a lot of people don't realize about religion is that it's all about choice, what your choices turn you into, and the impact those choices have on others in the world.

I think the onion is spot on that the terrorists will be surprised to have found themselves in hell. Not only have they turned themselves into monsters who can casually ignore a mans pleas for life, make his last days miserable, appropriating his suffering to advance their own cause, but the impact is, as mathowie said, to tempt the rest of us into "shit, let's bomb those fuckers." Seriously, after watching Nick Berg's video I was ready to let the neocons turn the Middle East into a glass parking lot -- if this is the contest they want, then let's go massive, no mercy, no humanity, wipe this entire blight of a so called civilization that produces these monsters from the earth so the rest of us can live in peace. But frankly, everything I've learned from my religion tells me this won't work either... because to make that choice would be to let the same abyss in that's already consumed them. Hell if I know what to do, but I know that's not it.
posted by namespan at 12:00 PM on October 8, 2004


So, MikeMc, after someone like Jeffrey Dahmer hits the news, there must be a lot self-hating going on in your office. By fence-sitters, I suppose you mean birds, or others with similarly sized brains.

I think you know better than that, Dahmer was an abberation but these terroists are "Them". "They" are so far removed from "us" that they are much easier to villify than the the guy next door (my location being Milwaukee the Dahmer reference brings a whole new meaning to "The guy next door"). Or am I mistaken and you are implying that those who oppose us in Iraq are all mentally deranged serial killers?

As for fence sitters, well, let's just say that there are people I know that I haven't heard express an opinion pro or con about the war until now and the opinion I'm hearing is "Bomb the Fuckers!"
posted by MikeMc at 12:02 PM on October 8, 2004


On a side note have you noticed that all coalition troops are soldiers, but all Iraqi troops are terrorists?

Yep, just like all Iraqi civilian casualties are victims of terrorists, and similar to how a country should be included a as a member of a coalition that invaded it.

As for supporting the troops, I am against the war, and against sending our military into a desert without giving them water, against sending them into a combat zone without giving them body armor and armored vehicles, and against asking them to risk their lives for a lie. I'm against the president saying we have to attack someone because we know they have weapons, then saying they have weapons programs, then saying "what's the difference?" (And now we know they didn't even have weapons programs, just wet dreams.) Michael Moore was eloquent about supporting the troops at the end of Fahrenheit 9/11 (my emphasis):
I've always been amazed that the very people forced to live in the worst parts of town, go to the worst schools, and who have it the hardest are always the first to step up, to defend us. They serve so that we don't have to. They offer to give up their lives so that we can be free. It is remarkably their gift to us. And all they ask for in return is that we never send them into harm's way unless it is absolutely necessary. Will they ever trust us again?
posted by kirkaracha at 12:10 PM on October 8, 2004


You can feel free to denigrate people who are putting thier lives on the line.

Funny how being a soldier and going to war for the US/UK makes you brave and brilliant, while being a suicide bomber willing to die for your beliefs makes you inhuman scum. How does that work again?

you know that not one single soldier in Iraq had no other choice but the military... Many people's best bet for a better life is the military

If they're getting killed, it wasn't exactly their "best bet", was it? And they knew they were damn likely to get killed... it is the military, after all.

Seriously, after watching Nick Berg's video I was ready to let the neocons turn the Middle East into a glass parking lot

You're not alone... and that's what really fucking gets me. America is killing God-knows-how-many innocent Iraqis every single day. When "the terrorists" respond in kind (albeit on a much smaller scale), suddenly everyone's all morally indignant. How dare those damn A-rabs kill white people! They're monsters!

America has far more blood on its hands than they will ever have.
posted by reklaw at 12:17 PM on October 8, 2004


One thing to remember is that most of these terrorists former careers were as mafia-like criminals. Their regard for human life has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with being depraved criminals. Religion gives them a united cause and a cover for their sick acts. Reports from many of the hostages who have been released have said that the main demand was money. That doesn't seem to be the case with this group in particular, but when you look at all of the kidnappings and other acts, you begin to see a pattern of wanton criminality that mixes with religion and nationalism. It's a very scary picture and a very scary place to be...

While this poor man and the others before him are the most visible victims in the West, we should also remember that the true victims of this criminal campaign (and the wider war) are the Iraqis. Innocent Iraqis are being killed by the dozens every single day, either by American bullets and bombs or by terrorist knives, guns and bombs. They are truly caught in the middle of a horrible situation, and they aren't there by choice, these events are happening on their door step.
posted by cell divide at 12:32 PM on October 8, 2004


America has far more blood on its hands than they will ever have.

Your profile says you reside in England. Glass houses, my freind.
posted by jonmc at 12:32 PM on October 8, 2004


reklaw, the terrorist strapping himself up with C4 with the intent of killing as many innocents as possible is a very, very different animal than a soldier.

Terrorists don't give a damn who they kill, they just care about killing as many people that aren't them as possible.

Soldiers do care, they're not supposed to kill non-combatants (i.e. innocents or not yet enlisted types) though it does happen. The reason I get upset at the latest terrorist atrocity is because they do intentionally target those with the least ability to defend themselves. Terrorists are, by their nature, cowards who hide in the shadows and use people as human bomb delivery devices. Terrorists respect no life.

Do I really need to continue?
posted by fenriq at 12:39 PM on October 8, 2004


Your profile says you reside in England. Glass houses, my freind.

Yeah, fair point. I should have said "The 'Coalition' has far more blood on its hands..."
posted by reklaw at 12:40 PM on October 8, 2004


between 6 and 15 thousand people die a *day* due to starvation. that's multiple, preventable, 911 disasters per day. what is the moral position of holding this man's death as more important than these other thousands?
posted by n9 at 12:43 PM on October 8, 2004



posted by dhoyt at 12:44 PM on October 8, 2004


fenriq:

Terrorists kill innocent people. Soldiers kill innocent people. Am I supposed to believe that the difference between 'heroes' and 'monsters' lies solely in what their intentions were like?

Putting aside the dubious idea that a soldier would never deliberately kill an innocent, the outcome is still exactly the same. Soldiers and terrorists two sides of the same coin -- as bad as each other.
posted by reklaw at 12:45 PM on October 8, 2004


NTM, If you've been reading the same MeFi the rest of us have, you'll see plenty of moral indignance over the death of Iraqi civilians. Are we only allowed to feel rage at atrocities for one side?

On preview: I see your point,n9, but isn't that getting into the "comparing atrocities," thing that jpoulos mentioned. I assure you that a reasonable person can be angered and disgusted at both global starvation and a brutal execution.

reklaw, your rhetoric is getting dangerously out of control and deliberately polarizing and obnoxious. Now, if you want to say that legitamite military aims often spill over into terroristic results, then maybe you'd have a leg to stand on. A soldiers job is to defend the security of his nation and fellow citizens*. A terrorists aim is to use violence to instill fear and hatred to further peolitical goals.

*I am under no delusions that that's the reasoning behind the Iraq war, but reklaw's speaking in broad generalities, then so am I.
posted by jonmc at 12:51 PM on October 8, 2004


jonmc, just to play devil's advocate: in other words, armies use violence to get what they want, and terrorists use violence to get what they want. They just attack different people sometimes.

Do you think if the people that murdered this unfortunate man had tanks and F-16s, they would be holding engineers hostage? Or would they just be blasting people from the sky and from the turrets?

It seems to me that the biggest difference between the terrorist and the soldier is the amount of money the masterminds behind them have to spend.

Of course, that's a generalization that doesn't take into account that to become a terrorist you have to sign up willingly for missions whose only intent is to kill innocents. I doubt many of the soldiers in Iraq would have signed up the mission if that's what it was. So on an individual level, I think you definitely can say there is a HUGE difference between your average soldier and your average terrorist. But on the broad level, the difference has more to do with money then with morals, maybe.
posted by cell divide at 12:59 PM on October 8, 2004


I don't disgree, cell divide. I'm just getting a bit disgusted at reklaw's histrionics. The post noted that a man had died brutally and needlessly. Does that mean that everytime we mourn such a thing, we have to preface it by stating that we also mourn anyone else who dies needlessly? I assumed that was understood.
posted by jonmc at 1:03 PM on October 8, 2004


Soldiers and terrorists two sides of the same coin -- as bad as each other.

Make me (hell, the world) a promise, reklaw, and vow to never ever get yourself elected into any position of power from which you can disseminate like that one. The world does not need that kind of severe relativism.
posted by dhoyt at 1:12 PM on October 8, 2004


Soldiers and terrorists two sides of the same coin -- as bad as each other.

Make me (hell, the world) a promise, reklaw, and vow to never ever get yourself elected into any position of power from which you can disseminate ideas like that one. The world does not need that kind of severe relativism.
posted by dhoyt at 1:12 PM on October 8, 2004


:(

I hate JRun.
posted by dhoyt at 1:13 PM on October 8, 2004


what is the moral position of holding this man's death as more important than these other thousands?

Well, none. But who, exactly, was doing that? Surely not dash_slot, who merely pointed out the obvious that this man did not deserve his grotesque fate, and that those who slaughtered him were barbaric. That fact is neither strengthened nor lessened by comparison to any other act of barbarism, or any other tragedy.
posted by pardonyou? at 1:18 PM on October 8, 2004


To kinda change the subject, hooray and thank God for the brother. He stepped up when the British government didn't (or couldn't? i'm pissed at them for not offering money secretly or something, or using their (stronger than our) diplomatic power to try to save this guy). He called the whole world and never gave up--i hope we all have people like that in our lives should we find ourselves in this horrible situation. He should get a medal or something.

We really need to ask why hostages from other countries are being set free--italians and indonesians and koreans, etc... (are they getting paid? getting what they demand?), and US and Brit hostages are being beheaded. If our people are the bigger prize, there are reasons why. That won't be stopping as long as we're there.

cell: that futurama was wonderful--one of their best. When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all.
posted by amberglow at 1:23 PM on October 8, 2004


I just love how reklaw and his ilk always try and justify these types of brutal actions by islamofascist terrorists.

Get it through your head: There's evil people in the world. And sometimes, you have to kill them.

That is all.
posted by darren at 1:34 PM on October 8, 2004


On a side note have you noticed that all coalition troops are soldiers, but all Iraqi troops are terrorists?

That is the reason the damned mission was accomplished so quickly.

If you are at war, then the people you are fighting are the enemy. They are soldiers who's rights are controled by the Geneva Convention. They are 'legally' fighting, if you like.

By declaring the war over, you turn all enemy combatants into terrorists and rebels who you can treat however the hell you like. They become animals you can herd and fatten or slaughter however the hell you like.


NB I'm answering the question that was asked. I'm not implying that Bigley's killers were justified, nor that they are ex-members of Sadam's army.


For what it's worth, I think most people out there are willingly placing their lives on the line for a huge pay check, however I'm pretty sure that I read somewhere that Bigley was out there earning an insanely low wage - something like £60 a day - for what was effectively a labourors job. I'll have to see if I can find that reference.
posted by twine42 at 1:35 PM on October 8, 2004


This is interesting:

Blair’s reaction to his death was not based on human sympathy. His policy towards Iraq has already cost countless lives, amongst the coalition forces and especially the Iraqi population. In September 2002, Blair accepted that Britain would have to “pay the blood price” for its ‘special relationship’ with the US. With so much blood on his hands already, therefore, why was he shaken by this single casualty?

The truth is that Blair’s last, desperate gambit against exposure and censure had gone disastrously wrong, and its cynicism could not be more clear. Blair’s immediate concession of a judicial inquiry was bowing to the inevitable. It might just buy him the time he needs to ride out the crisis.


From July 2003.
posted by tapeguy at 1:42 PM on October 8, 2004


I'd just like to say how appalling I find some of the responses in this thread, particularly reklaw's comments. I'd sigh and call it moral relativism or equivocation, only in this case it's not--because he explicitly says that the American and UK armed forces have more blood on their hands than terrorist groups, and thus there isn't even equivalency, just blame and hate and it's all your fault, your fault, your fault. It's sick in any context, but in a thread ostensibly mourning the murder of an innocent man, it's ghoulish.

"Funny how being a soldier and going to war for the US/UK makes you brave and brilliant, while being a suicide bomber willing to die for your beliefs makes you inhuman scum. How does that work again?" -- reklaw

I just had to quote that again, because it's worse than any parody that any evil neo-con right-wing war-blogging meanie could ever, ever come up with. You know how those jihadist snuff videos make on-the-fence people turn hawkish? This kind of vile shit makes people stop participating on MetaFilter war-on-terrorism threads, and/or run off to Little Green Footballs.
posted by Asparagirl at 2:14 PM on October 8, 2004


So where has reklaw been for all those obituary posts here on mefi? Cause, you know, that was only one little bitty person...
posted by Stauf at 2:23 PM on October 8, 2004


Aspara, our presence there is causing all this stuff, you know. We invaded and are now occupying Iraq, and are killing them daily, in numbers much greater than they're killing us. I'd be taking up arms against us too, if i were Iraqi. Many of the people here would be. If it was the US that was invaded and being occupied, it'd be the same, and there'd be hostage-taking and killing too.

I don't know why you're ignoring that. They're not subhuman beasts, although it seems important for you to think so.
posted by amberglow at 2:36 PM on October 8, 2004


I think people are going far too overboard regarding reklaw's comments. You have to be able to get out of your shoes and see things from the other side occasionally. You might not like what s/he is saying, but it's a valid point. You are only viewing terrorism through your own comfortable positions.

Our troops are killing innocent civilians, knowingly. Just as it only takes a few terrorists to kidnap someone and behead them, it only takes a handful of bad soldiers to kill innocent people. If you are going to generalize about the terrorists ("Blow the fuckers up."), then you might as well generalize about all soldiers.

I saw reklaw challenging that attitude, rightfully so.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 2:37 PM on October 8, 2004


At the risk of sounding naive, this is very sad. Horrible. And despite reklaw's unfeeling and simplistic posts, let me assure strangeleftydoublethink that nobody I know of is sitting comfortably in their positions on this mess.
posted by banjotwang at 2:48 PM on October 8, 2004


"They're not subhuman beasts, although it seems important for you to think so."

Who's the "they" in that sentence, the "insurgents" who set off bombs that deliberately target Iraqi children who are waiting in line to get candy, who blow up police stations, who fire rockets while sheltered inside mosques, who target churches with truck bombs on Sunday mornings, who try to kill any chance for a democracy in their country to get off the ground, who shoot Nepalese aid workers and leave their bodies in ditches, who blow up the UN's feeble attempt to come in and provide aid, and so on and so on?

Yes, such people are subhuman beasts--I would have thought that was self-evident. I can't believe you'd think that were you put in the shoes of an ordinary Iraqi--and the "insurgents" are not the ordinary Iraqi, they're a small percentage, mainly formerly-powerful Sunni's and Ba'athists, and they're quite often not even Iraqi's at all--you'd do a whit of that. To think that kidnapping and beheading innocent people is the logical response to having your long-time dictator deposed is, well, nuts. And to presume such a thing of the Iraqi's is a kind of racism, a "what can you expect from those types" response. It ignores the >90% of the country that are instead, say, running for office in January's national elections, or building the first-ever sewage plants, or setting up schools--peaceful, creative attempts to construct a new society instead of causing chaos.
posted by Asparagirl at 2:58 PM on October 8, 2004


The US does have more blood on it's hands, from everything I've read.

We've killed 13,000 Iraqi civilians.

Someone tell me that terrorists have killed more people since 9-11 than America.
posted by sonofsamiam at 3:03 PM on October 8, 2004


The "insurgents" see themselves as soldiers engaged in a war against an occupying force. They see U.S. soldiers as inhuman beasts.

There are a ton of different groups competing for power in Iraq. They do not all deserve to be lumped into one group. Their methods differ.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 3:22 PM on October 8, 2004


I have a problem with using the blanket term terrorist to refer to all of the anti-coalition forces in Iraq.

My impression is that most of the people opposing the US in Iraq are people who are pissed off that their country was invaded on false premises, and a large percentage of those are former Iraqi army who were left with weapons but without jobs. There have also been suggestions (which we've discussed previously) that the Iraqis planned to melt into the cities and engage in guerilla warfare instead of confronting the coalition forces openly. There are certainly some terrorists operating in Iraq (most of whom I believe entered the country after the invasion), but I think they represent a minority of the coalition's opposition.

(I don't have a problem with using "terrorist" to refer to the people who are beheading hostages, because that's clearly an act of terrorism.)
posted by kirkaracha at 3:29 PM on October 8, 2004


I agree, kirkaracha. Now all we have to do is understand that a terrorist doesn't identify as a terrorist. It is our way of defining that person and the line gets pretty thin at times, depending upon the situation.

The War on Terrorism, like the War on Drugs, is a useless term, and was used to get the U.S. involved in Iraq. Now the word is overused, as evidenced by most Bush speeches.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 3:39 PM on October 8, 2004


"Aspara, our presence there is causing all this stuff, you know.

Np, our presence is supplying opportunity. They hated us before. They were killing us before. They came to our country (terrorists) to kill us before we ever set foot in Iraq.

"We invaded and are now occupying Iraq, and are killing them daily, in numbers much greater than they're killing us. I'd be taking up arms against us too, if i were Iraqi. Many of the people here would be. If it was the US that was invaded and being occupied, it'd be the same, and there'd be hostage-taking and killing too."

If someone invaded my country and I was a free person I sure would take up arms against them. If someone came into my country and freed me from a dictator who routinely raped and killed the citizenry and ruled through murder and fear then no, I would not fight against them.

Thats the thing people seem to be forgetting. I don't think most Iraqi's really are upset that we freed them from Saddam... and if there are people there who genuinely support the concept of a brutal dictator enough to take up arms against those who deposed them then I am all for wiping them out as well.

Of course the whole purpose of terrorists is to make striking back at them impossible without collateral casualties. That human shield is their strength. They can cause any atrocity they wish but any error or innocent casualty they can pin on the conventional opponent is screamed from the rooftops.

They count on you losing heart. They depend on you giving up so they can hit you again, and again and again.

The only answer seems to be to accept the collateral loses, kill as many terrorists as you can find and raise the standard of living for those you are defending till they can imagine something other than hatred and fear.
posted by soulhuntre at 3:40 PM on October 8, 2004


That's a great foreign policy, soulhuntre. Should work once we're down to the last four or five people on Earth.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 3:51 PM on October 8, 2004


Thats the thing people seem to be forgetting.

They must be getting distracted by all the dead civilians.

The only answer seems to be to accept the collateral loses, kill as many terrorists as you can find and raise the standard of living for those you are defending till they can imagine something other than hatred and fear.

I guess "collateral loses" aren't factored into the calculation for the standard of living.

We are killing those poor people. We have killed more innocent people than all the terrorists in the world.

IT. IS. NOT. RIGHT.
posted by sonofsamiam at 3:52 PM on October 8, 2004


the "insurgents" who set off bombs that deliberately target Iraqi children who are waiting in line to get candy,

Perhaps he meant the US soldiers who were delibarately giving sweets to Iraqi children in order to use them as human shields? (Remember just like the human shields the west condemned Saddam for using in the first Gulf War?)

If someone invaded my country and I was a free person I sure would take up arms against them. If someone came into my country and freed me from a dictator who routinely raped and killed the citizenry and ruled through murder and fear then no, I would not fight against them.

How about if someone came into your country, killed dictator then set themselves up as new dictator via puppet government?
posted by biffa at 3:57 PM on October 8, 2004


To think that kidnapping and beheading innocent people is the logical response to having your long-time dictator deposed is, well, nuts.

Respectfully, Asparagirl, framing it in those terms is intellectually dishonest to the point of being absurd. It's also dangerous, because then you get to a situation where, let's say the terrorists doing the beheading had their innocent families blown up by US bombs... and generally resent their country being invaded and taken over. Does that then excuse their actions, because they have a more 'logical' reason to fight against the occupiers? Your statement seems to imply that beheading is "illogical" because of an assumption that what America does is good for Iraqis, regardless of what eggs get broken along the way, not morally wrong under any standard.

You also conveniently do not list what is far and away the #1 activity of the insurgency, which is attacking US and US-aligned forces. This is also intellectually dishonest and dangerous for all who want Iraq to be a peaceful country-- I'll tell you why. If your only focus on the insurgency is as a terror movement, you misrepresent both the feelings of Iraqis and the nature of the anti-US forces. Doing so means you will never be able to confront head on the real problems of the country, and will only be chasing after phantoms and ideas which conform to a larger worldview. It makes it virtually impossible to genuinely deal with the situation in Iraq, as you are locked in the "terror/foreign fighter/al qaeda/ mentality. This creates a situation where enemies of the occupation immediately become sub-human supporters of terrorism, with internal allies few and far between. It gives cover to operations which kill and maim civilians, under the banner of defeating the concept of terror and thus defending America, Israel, Europe, etc. But it doesn't do much for the Iraqis themselves.

I don't disagree with you that the majority of people fighting the coalition are the last people who should be looked to as any sort of freedom fighter. But at the same time an inability to be intellecually honest about the plethora of reasons for the insurgency, the complex views of the average Iraqi, the lack of real progress being made by the US in Iraq, and the difference between global and local terror is a weakness that will only bring more death and destruction to the Iraqi people, who really have been put in an impossible situation-- and not just by the terrorists. Failure to recognize that will doom efforts to pacify Iraq.
posted by cell divide at 4:04 PM on October 8, 2004


Thanks, cell divide. That's what I would have said if I were able.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 4:08 PM on October 8, 2004


Iraqi posterboys? Subhuman beasts?

It's comforting in war to focus on the enemy's evil acts, and ignore or excuse one's own. It's comforting, but it has little to do with moral understanding. Dead civilians (including a reporter)? Regrettably unavoidable, and certainly not deliberate. Abu Ghraib? A few bad apples. The siege of Fallujah? War is hell, don't you know?

Yes, war is hell. My point is not to compare atrocities (because nobody wins that game) but to point out that, when put under the right pressure (say, watching helpless, innocent people be decapitated before their eyes), anyone is capable of murderous rage. In the West, we can afford proxies to exact revenge for us; other people don't always have that luxury. But vengeance and bloodlust, whatever its form, however indiscriminate or disproportionate, is not subhuman. It is, rather, all too human. And in the case of that soccer player, and this war in general, the line between "hero" and "villain" is faint indeed.

On preview: Good responses from everyone, and faster than I could type. Asparagirl, you might want to read this writeup about how Iraqis view the occupation.
posted by skoosh at 4:29 PM on October 8, 2004


Asparagirl: "Np, our presence is supplying opportunity. They hated us before. They were killing us before. They came to our country (terrorists) to kill us before we ever set foot in Iraq."

They were? I must have missed it when Iraqis were coming to America and killing people... sure you don't mean Saudi Arabians? Or is this just a generic kind of 'terrorist' you were referring to?

I don't much like the way reklaw set forth his case, but the man has a point. With the exception of the Iraqi people who don't really have a choice, can anyone voluntarily in that country stake a claim to 'innocence'?
posted by cedar at 4:45 PM on October 8, 2004


Check your attributions: soulhuntre wrote that, not me.
posted by Asparagirl at 4:55 PM on October 8, 2004


"More than two years ago, I wrote a book with former U.N Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter. The book was short, and to the point: Evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was being wildly exaggerated by George W. Bush and members of his administration. No threat was evidenced. The matter could be handled by weapons inspectors, who had already eviscerated Saddam's stockpile.

This was truth, September 11 or no September 11.

Now: 1,064 American soldiers are dead in Iraq. More than 17,000 American soldiers have been 'medically evacuated' from Iraq, suffering everything from menstruation to missing limbs and faces, if you know how to read between the carefully parsed DoD lines.

More than 20,000 Iraqi civilians - people like you and me, people like you and me, people like you and me, people like you and me, people like you and me - have been killed. Tens of thousands more have been maimed, orphaned, or otherwise struck to the heart.

How many of these will become 'terrorists'?

One of these days, telling the truth will be worth something."

- Walter Pincus, editor, Washington Post.
posted by The God Complex at 5:00 PM on October 8, 2004


I haven't read this whole thread yet, but in respones to some points in sympathy with fighters against what is reasonably (by Iraqi dididents) called the occupation:
Take the French reisistance as a contrast. Did they explode bombs and kill tens of their own children? Dis they hold to ransom engineers engaged in reconstruction? Did they cut off their heads whilst they were still alive?

Is this not qualitatively different? How has the cause of Iraqi resistance advanced by one hostage dying? Will the occupation end earlier because of this?

There is no way that this can be seen as an act of war. Ken Bigley was a non-combatant. Terrorists used justifications which they find in their so-called holy book (yes, Mohammed beheaded captives. No, christians today do not use the Old Testament to justify their actions. No, I do not approve of any text being used to inhumanely kill an unarmed non-combatant.)
posted by dash_slot- at 7:53 PM on October 8, 2004


Yes, such people are subhuman beasts--I would have thought that was self-evident.

No, you deeply stupid person, it isn't true, and it isn't self-evident. They are human -- just as human as you or I -- and until that simple truth gets through to people like you, the killing will never end. They may well be evil or deluded, but they are human. This is what humans do.

This kind of vile shit makes people stop participating on MetaFilter war-on-terrorism threads, and/or run off to Little Green Footballs.

Run along, then.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:46 AM on October 9, 2004


sidenote: Hasn't every poor person who's been beaheded like that worn an orange jumpsuit? What are they trying to say with that orange jumpsuit?
posted by dabitch at 6:47 AM on October 9, 2004


I thought the jumpsuit was a reference to Abu-Graib, but cannot remember whether Daniel Pearl was clad in one.
Then again, that video had blacked out almost everything besides his head...

I think it's the inmate attire, and they're just driving the point home that they can have prisoners too.
posted by Busithoth at 9:56 AM on October 9, 2004


Interestingly enough, I've seen this article about him escaping briefly before beheading.
posted by Busithoth at 10:27 AM on October 9, 2004


While nothing is easier than to denounce the evildoer, nothing is more difficult than to understand him.

- Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky
posted by pots at 2:19 PM on October 9, 2004


The orange jumpsuit is a reference to Guantanamo, IIRC.
posted by jpoulos at 2:57 PM on October 9, 2004


« Older Ceci Nes't Pas Une Satanic Message...  |  SketchCrawl:... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments