Skip

the United States has blundered into the 9/11 snare with one overreaction after another.
September 12, 2010 4:59 PM   Subscribe


 
Could bin Laden, in his wildest imaginings, have hoped to provoke greater chaos? It is past time to reflect on what our enemy sought, and still seeks, to accomplish -- and how we have accommodated him.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:02 PM on September 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


Scathing. Go Ted.
posted by ReeMonster at 5:03 PM on September 12, 2010


*clap* *clap*

Hope for change?
posted by rough ashlar at 5:08 PM on September 12, 2010


Surely, this was a great editorial.
posted by cavalier at 5:11 PM on September 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


"All we have to do is send two mujaheddin . . . to raise a small piece of cloth on which is written 'al-Qaeda' in order to make the generals race there, to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses."

It may suit the more panicky fearmongers in our midst to see bin Laden as alternately a fanatical oaf and a demonic mastermind, but there's no denying he's canny, and this quote shows he's got the measure of our security-obsessed bureaucracies.
posted by chimaera at 5:14 PM on September 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


The greatest harm we did was that in order to maintain our sense of safety we kept in power those people most willing to strip us of our rights, and to venture into foreign intrigues while allowing home-grown robber-barons to commandeer the economy, both stripping us of our treasure. We have lost our freedom and our security, as Thomas Jefferson warned.
posted by Mental Wimp at 5:17 PM on September 12, 2010 [14 favorites]


What depresses me more than anything is how many of us yelled this out over and over again at the time and it made no difference. The people willing to actually act made the difference. They got shit done and had their way. And now we nice, smart, sensible, moral people sit here on the web applauding someone saying it nine years later and far too late, and when we're not doing that we're off spending hours arguing about precisely how inexcusable it is to call someone a mouth-breather.

We get what we deserve. Boy, do we get it.
posted by Decani at 5:19 PM on September 12, 2010 [33 favorites]


When did Ted Koppel start hating freedom?
posted by felix betachat at 5:21 PM on September 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


SLOE.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 5:27 PM on September 12, 2010


The Bush administration's initial response was just about right

That is arguable. Treating 9/11 attack as a criminal act of terrorism and not instead declaring war on a vague concept might have actually netted Bin Laden and sustained the spirit of good will and cooperation from the international community.
posted by sswiller at 5:30 PM on September 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


One of the most intriguing things I've ever learned about the 9/11 attacks:
In a September 2002 interview conducted by documentary-maker Yosri Fouda, an al Jazeera journalist, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh stated that the fourth hijacked plane was heading for the United States Capitol, not for the White House. They further stated that al-Qaeda initially planned to fly hijacked jets into nuclear installations rather than the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, but it was decided not to attack nuclear power plants "for the moment" because of fears it could "get out of control"
I shudder to think what our response would have been like had there been four busted nuclear plants leaking radiation all over the Eastern Seaboard. And I wonder what it says about us that al-Qaeda purposefully toned down their attacks so that we wouldn't overreact.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:32 PM on September 12, 2010 [15 favorites]


God I miss Ted Koppel.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 5:33 PM on September 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? — Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! — All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth in their military chest; with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

- Abraham Lincoln, The Lyceum Address, 1838

Terrorism cannot conquer a nation. That is not its goal. The aim of the terrorist is to make a nation insane - insane with grief, with worry, with fear and anger - and profit from the inevitable overreaction, both against its perceived enemies and its own citizens.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 5:33 PM on September 12, 2010 [38 favorites]



So where was Ted when shrub was running for reelection?
posted by notreally at 5:34 PM on September 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


But the insidious thing about terrorism is that there is no such thing as absolute security.

I just wish people would remember this. All of this death, destruction, destabilization and money wasted in Iraq and Afghanistan for some illusion of security, or maybe just the appearance of action for security's sake. Just like the sentiment in the DFW article linked in the other thread, that at times people may die because of our openness (to be honest, I'm shocked that more hasn't happened, this country is still pretty wide open), and that may be the price we have to pay.
posted by Red Loop at 5:37 PM on September 12, 2010


Daniel Dravot: You are going to become soldiers. A soldier does not think. He only obeys. Do you really think that if a soldier thought twice he'd give his life for queen and country? Not bloody likely.
Him there, with the 5-and-a-half hat size, has the makings of a bloody hero!
posted by vapidave at 5:41 PM on September 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I shudder to think what our response would have been like had there been four busted nuclear plants leaking radiation all over the Eastern Seaboard.

It's simple, and it doesn't take a huge leap of imagination to go from "terrorists flew planes into a bunch of nuclear power stations, now the nearby areas glow in the dark" to "they attacked us with nuclear weapons" (glossing over the fact that they weren't actual nuclear bombs).

The response to such could easily have been the deployment of our own nuclear arsenal -- but only if we really had a good, singular target.
posted by chimaera at 5:45 PM on September 12, 2010


So where was Ted when shrub was running for reelection?

See, but even Shrub wasn't as bad as the current crop of Republicans, or the current reinvented crop of Republicans like Newt. At least, in words, he wasn't willing to blame all of Islam for 9/11.

In fact, I've been totally surprised by how much anti-Muslim hate has been stirred up in only one month by a bunch of really insignificant matters. No one cared about the "ground zero mosque" in July. An idiot burning Korans in Florida? Who cares? They're like $10.

But all it apparently takes is a couple of tweets and some idiotic rhetoric on a talk show, and the whole country is fucking gangbusters for all-out war against a billion people over something that happened 9 years ago. I don't really understand it.
posted by fungible at 5:51 PM on September 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


What would be the result of running a plane into a nuclear plant? Seriously. It's not like that would turn a plant into an atomic bomb, exactly.
posted by raysmj at 5:54 PM on September 12, 2010


One of the low points of the last nine years must be Homeland Security actually, seriously contemplating putting electric dog collars on airline passengers, and that the right-wing element cheered this idea on as a sensible reaction to terrorism.

The success of Bin Laden's mission is all but assured at this point, even if the Taliban are on the run, but he can't take all the credit for turning this once-great country turn into a nation of cowards, scared of our own shadows.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:57 PM on September 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Indeed. One of the few good things I'll say about George W. Bush was he emphasized the fact that the country's beef was with extremists rather than a global religion, viz:

* “I’ve made it clear, Madam President, that the war against terrorism is not a war against Muslims, nor is it a war against Arabs. It’s a war against evil people who conduct crimes against innocent people.” — Remarks by President George W. Bush and President Megawati of Indonesia The Oval Office, Washington, D.C. September 19, 2001
* “The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war.” — Remarks by the President at Islamic Center of Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C. September 17, 2001
* “All of us here today understand this: We do not fight Islam, we fight against evil.” — Remarks by President George W. Bush to the Warsaw Conference on Combating Terrorism November 6, 2001
* “I have assured His Majesty that our war is against evil, not against Islam. There are thousands of Muslims who proudly call themselves Americans, and they know what I know — that the Muslim faith is based upon peace and love and compassion. The exact opposite of the teachings of the al Qaeda organization, which is based upon evil and hate and destruction.” — Remarks by President George W. Bush and His Majesty King Abdullah of Jordan The Oval Office, Washington, D.C. September 28, 2001
* “Islam is a vibrant faith. Millions of our fellow citizens are Muslim. We respect the faith. We honor its traditions. Our enemy does not. Our enemy doesn’t follow the great traditions of Islam. They’ve hijacked a great religion.” – Remarks by President George W. Bush on U.S. Humanitarian Aid to Afghanistan Presidential Hall, Dwight David Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Washington, D.C. October 11, 2002

(from here)
posted by Bromius at 5:57 PM on September 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Wait a minute, he's right, It was a trap. Cheney, we have to get out of here... In the next scene it is revealed that Cheney was a robot and was working for the other side.
posted by humanfont at 6:02 PM on September 12, 2010


What would happen if a plane crashed into a nuclear plant? From the Council on Foreign Relations. Quick answer: No one knows. So ... my guess is the interview Wikipedia cites as some authoritative source was designed to scare the crap out of certain authorities (who according to this same article are freaked out about it already). Crash a plane into a building that most educated people in the U.S. and maybe even the world could identify, see large death toll and immediate effect generally vs. crashing a plane into a nuclear power plant, maybe have have some small amount of radiation get out, maybe large, maybe none? No brainer as to the choice there.
posted by raysmj at 6:06 PM on September 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Surely, this was a great editorial.

Would have been a lot better coming from him and his ilk about eight years ago.
posted by fatbird at 6:07 PM on September 12, 2010 [8 favorites]


Thanks for the timely info, Ted, we'll get right on that.

Sigh.
posted by zoogleplex at 6:30 PM on September 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


In the next scene it is revealed that Cheney was a robot and was working for the other side.

That's not the first time that theory has been posited . . .
posted by KingEdRa at 6:36 PM on September 12, 2010


How many muajhadeen does it take to make the generals race there, to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses?

Two!

Is this thing on?

posted by drjimmy11 at 6:37 PM on September 12, 2010


Reminds me of all the hand-wringing about Rwanda - ten years after it all happened.

Mr. Koppel is right. The good news is that this genie can indeed be stuffed back into its bottle. It's not too late to restore our dignity as a truly free nation. Are we willing, as a country, to suffer the inevitable attacks, and to weather the storms without becoming what we hate?

Hey wait, didn't David Foster Wallace ask that same question in a recent FPP? And wasn't he castigated by some MeFites for not being enough of a deep thinker? /sigh
posted by Xoebe at 6:48 PM on September 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


No shit, Sherlock.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:52 PM on September 12, 2010


No Ted, Sherloppel.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:20 PM on September 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


But the political climate of the moment overcame whatever flaccid opposition there was to invading Iraq

Flaccid, huh? That's not quite what I remember. Oh good, Wikipedia remembers too (emphasis added):

The February 15, 2003, worldwide protests drew millions of people across the world. It is generally estimated that over 3 million people marched in Rome, between one and two million in London, more than 600,000 in Madrid, 300,000 in Berlin, as well as in Damascus, Paris, New York, Oslo, Stockholm, Brussels, Johannesburg, Montreal - more than 600 cities in all, worldwide. This demonstration was listed by the 2004 Guinness Book of Records as the largest mass protest movement in history.
posted by scottreynen at 7:42 PM on September 12, 2010 [9 favorites]


What would happen if a plane crashed into a nuclear plant? From the Council on Foreign Relations. Quick answer: No one knows.

YouTube Video for reference: small plane versus concrete wall.
posted by vidur at 7:47 PM on September 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


The aim of the terrorist is to make a nation insane - insane with grief, with worry, with fear and anger - and profit from the inevitable overreaction, both against its perceived enemies and its own citizens.

Not all 'terrorists' are smart like that. Some of them just want you to get the fuck out of the Middle East.
posted by klue at 8:31 PM on September 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Bush administration convinced itself that the minds that conspired to turn passenger jets into ballistic missiles might discover the means to arm such "missiles" with chemical, biological or nuclear payloads. This became the existential nightmare that led, in short order, to a progression of unsubstantiated assumptions: that Saddam Hussein had developed weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons; that there was a connection between the Iraqi leader and al-Qaeda.

The Bush administration then exploited the popular sentiments raised by these attacks to push its agenda, frankly stated long before the attacks, to invade Iraq in the service of well-documented political ideologies.

FTFTK.
posted by nanojath at 9:14 PM on September 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


TFA: The goal of any organized terrorist attack is to goad a vastly more powerful enemy into an excessive response.

What a load of cobblers.

I gather the point of this piece is to argue that extending US imperialism in the East is not a great answer to attacks initiated in response to US imperialism in the East, but that doesn't mean that we need to redefine terms into uselessness.

The IRA didn't want 'excessive response', it wanted the Brits out of NI. The PKK doesn't want 'excessive response', it wants the Turkish army to leave Kurdistan. The LTTE certainly didn't want 'excessive response'. People didn't attack the US just because it's so big and, gosh, super.

TFA: Since nations targeted by terrorist groups routinely abandon some of their cherished principles, he may also have foreseen something along the lines of Abu Ghraib, "black sites," extraordinary rendition and even the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

I'm sorry? Forseen? Perhaps he'd actually followed a tiny bit of modern US history, and that of the sort of clients the US has been happy to support for years?

The foresight required to predict the US's responses to the September 11 attacks (not counting the random "Let's just invade a country we've had it in for for a while" one - yep, caught me out there) was such that we on the other side of the world could guess it before our hangovers had faded.

I think, on balance, that it's good this person is making this point, even if they feel they must make it on the back of some sort of USA-as-victim narrative, where the problem with the US is simply its excess of strength and nobility. It's still irksome though.
posted by pompomtom at 9:34 PM on September 12, 2010


I watched the documentary My Trip To Al-Qaeda on HBO earlier today, and one of the points made by Lawrence Wright over the course of that movie is exactly the same. OBL has achieved exactly what he set out to do -- to make the US curtail its freedoms and live in an environment of fear. It's a great documentary, and I recommend it highly. It has flaws, but its content and message reach beyond them to form a pretty clear picture of what is and has been going on in the US vs Al Qaeda situation.

I think, on balance, that it's good this person is making this point, even if they feel they must make it on the back of some sort of USA-as-victim narrative, where the problem with the US is simply its excess of strength and nobility.

My Trip To Al-Qaeda doesn't fall into this, actually. What Wright makes pretty clear is that Bin Laden was in Afghanistan during the war with Russia, and when Russia pulled out and subsequently fell apart, OBL began to buy into his own myth -- that he and his forces brought down a huge global superpower. And he's been living this myth in his struggles against the US. He's convinced that he will again win. And, at least according to Wright, our actions since 9/11 have pretty much played right into his hands.
posted by hippybear at 10:43 PM on September 12, 2010


i'm finding it infuriating and depressing that now, after things have utterly gone to shit for years... that now it's time for the hand-wringing and "oh, look, we did the wrong thing, wasn't that stupid of us". things that people were being accused of treason for saying back when it might have actually mattered.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:17 AM on September 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


So where was Ted when shrub was running for reelection?

The same place where Metafilter is in the post-shrub time WRT many of the same topics.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:30 AM on September 13, 2010


Let's not remember September 11
posted by homunculus at 9:56 AM on September 13, 2010


Quote For The Day
posted by homunculus at 9:57 AM on September 13, 2010


Ted seems to believe in the myth that government exists to serve the people in some way, when he realizes that government exists to serve the power he will realize that the war on terror has been an astounding success not just for the terrorists abroad but also for the terrorists at home, the ones truly served by government.

Keep 'em scared and distracted...
posted by Cosine at 12:13 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


To me, the saddest part of this is in the imagining of the reaction had it been, say, someone on Obama's staff who wrote this.
posted by feloniousmonk at 3:15 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


To me, the saddest part of this is in the imagining of the reaction had it been, say, someone on Obama's staff who wrote this.

The reaction where? Here on the blue or someplace else?
posted by rough ashlar at 10:29 AM on September 17, 2010


« Older Why don't you have a seat over there?   |   I’m in Repent Amarillo No Joke Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post