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Arundhati Roy on the tragedy.
October 1, 2001 7:58 AM   Subscribe

Arundhati Roy on the tragedy. The most eloquent and thoughtful essay I've read so far. Coincidentally, about the only good journamlism I've encountered on the subject has been from British and French press.
posted by mmarcos (51 comments total)

 
Although I would agree with you that the best material I've come across was from Europe rather than the US this is hardly a good example of it.

This isn't journalism, it's an opinion piece.
posted by revbrian at 8:20 AM on October 1, 2001


Yet another pro-terrorist, anti-America article from the Guardian. Shocking.
posted by owillis at 8:23 AM on October 1, 2001


Coincidentally, I didn't make any connection between Roy's opinion piece and the good journalism coming from overseas. Roy's opinion piece happens to be printed on The Guardian site.
posted by mmarcos at 8:26 AM on October 1, 2001


THOUGHTFUL? What the author is saying is; hey, you guys had it coming to you because of your leaders mistakes, so let's just call it even. These people were slaughtered! Their only crime, according to your elequent essay, was the fact that they chose to work at the what your author calls the symbol of American economic oppression. Do not equate good journalism with something that agrees with your position.
posted by Oxydude at 8:30 AM on October 1, 2001


I thought one anti-american WTC thread was enough for one day.
posted by revbrian at 8:32 AM on October 1, 2001


I have to say, I don't agree with mmarcos' assessment of the piece. I think everything Roy says has been said before, most often in the Guardian. She makes some very silly points, such as the reason the Statue of Liberty wasn't attacked rather than the WTC being because the terrorists were hitting out at the government, not the values of freedom and democracy. Isn't it more likely because there were 50,000 people in the WTC and probably about 20 in the Statue of Liberty?

She also says no-one will ever know the terrorist's motivations but has a pretty good guess herself, on no evidence whatsoever. I think its about time journalists stopped assuming their own grievances with America are the same as the attackers'.
posted by Summer at 8:34 AM on October 1, 2001


Thank you very much for this post mmarcos. I hope people at least think about it, because I don't see anything pro-terrorist or anti-American in it.
posted by ginz at 8:34 AM on October 1, 2001


Anyone else notive that the people posting this garbage and those who agree with it are people who have long and distinguished Mefi track records like "1 link and 6 comments" and no email adresses?
posted by revbrian at 8:37 AM on October 1, 2001


I find it amusing that the best critique people can come up with in response to these provoking, eloquent articles is that they are "anti-American."

How about addressing the essay's issues? Debating the substance, thinking beyond the construct so conveniently packaged and presented to us by Bush, et al., and faithfully delivered by an obedient media?

I for one believe that the writings of people like Roy (and many others of late) have prompted serious debate in the country, the consequences of which are that the Bush administration (at least the hawks Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz) has had to think long and hard about grabbing their pistols and go off blazing into the night.
posted by mapalm at 8:41 AM on October 1, 2001


revbrian:

mapalm
posted by mapalm at 8:43 AM on October 1, 2001


there is ONE american as "objective" as europeans (french, british) tho, and it's michael moore - go see his site, that's worth it !!!
now about you americans feeling that this is anti-american, you're off topic : if you had thought (i mean, used your brain not your guts or anything else to ACTUALLY think), you'd realize that TRUTH can't be anti anything, and that's good, even if it hurts, to recognize it.
What's more, it's not a surprise if french & english are the more realistic/cynical, it's just because they have and still are suffering from terrorism, long before you even KNEW what this is.
posted by aureliano buendia at 8:56 AM on October 1, 2001


An opinion piece is just that, aureliano, opinion. It contains truth, but according to that person. It is by nature anti or pro something. I'm not American but this piece reeks of anti-americanism to me because it presumes so much. It presumes to know what the attackers were thinking. It's not based on fact, it's based on supposition and that supposition is tainted by the author's bias. There is middle ground between sneering anti-americanism as shown so often by the Guardian and blind, wounded patriotism. I think that's where the truth lies.
posted by Summer at 9:03 AM on October 1, 2001


Oh and another thing, the reason the French/British are more realistic/cynical is because it didn't happen to us.
posted by Summer at 9:07 AM on October 1, 2001


Just what in the essay is pro-terrorist or anti-American? Indeed, Roy makes assumptions about the terrorists; these assumptions are no more nor less justifiable than any other journalist's or writer's because they're based on conjecture, some history and some relevant evidence. No substantial amount of proven evidence about the terrorists has been released so everyone is working on *a lot of assumptions*. She then develops a background history of US foreign policy and suggests it is a key element of the motivation. In the article, she's remarkably clear when she suggests that the hate towards the US is not at the American people but at US govt foreign policies.

Where are the pro-terrorist and/or anti-American remarks or ideas? Please point these things out rather than shoot from the hip.

(For those who need it, my email address is now in the MEFI profile to enjoy. And, hey, rev, you underestimated my stats by a magnitude of 4 or 5!. What difference that makes to about discussing the 9/11 tragedy, I'll never know.)
posted by mmarcos at 9:10 AM on October 1, 2001


The tone of the piece is a bit overfed, but Roy's points are clearly stated, if not exactly new. There is simply no denying that the United States government has sown the seeds of violence and hate around the world, for various reasons, some of them valid in the context of the Cold War.

I don't think anyone is silly enough to assert that Roy doesn't empathize with the innocent victims' families, or that Roy is happy this happened. It would indeed be a shame if the U.S. people were not inspired by this tragedy to examine the historic culpability of their own government in terror activities around the world, and instead used this only as a pretext for more sanctimonious posturing, more killing, more hatred.

Also: the term 'anti-American' has been thrown around so carelessly lately, it's taking the place of "fellow traveler." To call someone anti-American is just a way of avoiding their argument and casting aspersions on their character.
posted by Ty Webb at 9:11 AM on October 1, 2001


It's pretty presumptuous to say that the attackers were striking out on the part of the millions of people who have experiened pain at the hands of the US. If it does turn out to be bin Laden behind this all, then they were most definitely NOT lashing out on their behalf, but rather for the narrow purpose of getting the US out of Saudi Arabia so that Islamic fundamentalists can install a ruthless and anti-human regime. While there is no denying that the United States has caused a lot of suffering in the world, and it's true that millions of people don't like us for it, it's ridiculous to say that the attacks were any sort of payback, even in a wishy-washy metaphorical sense.
posted by risenc at 9:11 AM on October 1, 2001


She then develops a background history of US foreign policy and suggests it is a key element of the motivation. In the article, she's remarkably clear when she suggests that the hate towards the US is not at the American people but at US govt foreign policies.

You see, that's my problem. How does she know Bin Liner was sitting there sketching out the history of US foreign policy until his righteous fury could take it no more? Was he really sitting there worrying about bombed Yugoslavian cities? If so, why didn't he bomb London as well? Wouldn't it be better to actually research what he's said and use that as a basis for his motivations?

She transfers her opinion of US policy onto Bin Laden as so many have done, and that suggests she's got scores to settle. That's why I call her anti-american. I don't think it's an over statement. Nationalism and anit-nationalism is what makes the world go round. Just because you can write and can make an argument does't mean you're free from it.
posted by Summer at 9:21 AM on October 1, 2001


Anytime a "journalist" inserts the words "500,000 dead Iraqi children due to US sanctions", they lose all credibility for being fair and honest. It is not the United States fault that so many children has allegedly lost their lives. It is the fault of their own government and the governments and leaders of the other Arab states who stand idle while basic human rights are abridged or denied by their fellow Arabs. But America is a far easier target to hit by the criminally mined or idealistic journalistic, than the cold hard truth.
posted by goona at 9:26 AM on October 1, 2001


I wanted to cross post these comments of mine from the other thread on this topic that was posted today...

This has all been argued out on Mefi countless times since 9-11. The bickering on either side is about as productive as arguing about abortion rights. People have their opinions and they'll stick to them. The US is going to do what our government sees as in our best interests and we assume our adversaries will as well.

Perhaps it is true that the US was not responsive to Bin Laden's postion before 9-11. We sure as hell aren't more likely to care about his cause after, nor should we realistically be expected to.

When a woman I know was raped, we didn't expend a whole lot of energy on "why". We did though, on who, what, where and when. We all want peace, but to some of us peace is our goal, not the process by which we get there.
posted by revbrian at 9:28 AM on October 1, 2001


[But America is a far easier target to hit by the criminally mined or idealistic journalistic, than the cold hard truth.]

Not only that, but America is a lot more hospitable of an environment to criticize leaders than most of the places that are causing the problems.
posted by revbrian at 9:30 AM on October 1, 2001


Anytime a "journalist" inserts the words "500,000 dead Iraqi children due to US sanctions", they lose all credibility for being fair and honest. It is not the United States fault that so many children has allegedly lost their lives. It is the fault of their own government and the governments and leaders of the other Arab states who stand idle while basic human rights are abridged or denied by their fellow Arabs. But America is a far easier target to hit by the criminally mined or idealistic journalistic, than the cold hard truth.
posted by goona at 9:30 AM on October 1, 2001


One of the major points all the articles in this vein seem to bring up is the sanctions on Iraq. One the one side we have the fact that every country in the world, except for the US (and maybe Britain), wants the sanctions lifted. We also see that pretty much everyone involved with this issue specifically in the UN has resigned in protest. On the other side we see evidence that Iraq is manipulating the sanctions and killing its own people.

I've asked this before, but can anyone point me to an autoritative answer about what is really happening there? Does anyone know? People throw this 500k dead babies argument around as if its fact, but most comments I've read on MeFi say it's a fiction. Is there solid evidence out there?
posted by cell divide at 9:45 AM on October 1, 2001


I just want to know where this Roy person has been for the past 2 weeks. Manufacturing a war? We don't need to manufacture any war -- if we wanted to, we could already have bombed Afghanistan. Instead Bush and co. have been working hard to build consensus with the rest of the world regarding how to solve this problem.

Most Americans wanted immediate action. They didn't get it. Why? My guess is, for 3 reasons: 1. It wouldn't have worked; 2. It wouldn't have helped Bush (or anyone) politically when the results were broadcast on TV and bin Laden wasn't caught (even though there was wide support, even outside the U.S., for us to just do something out of anger); and 3. We need to keep the rest of the world on our side.

Those same 3 reasons will continue to discourage the U.S. (and NATO, I should add) from starting a war just for war's sake. The Guardian should get a clue; until then it and its "journalists" can go fuck themselves.
posted by mattpfeff at 9:49 AM on October 1, 2001


goona,
you are right that Hussein is primarily responsible for the mass death taking place in his country. But the sanctions regime and its administration do bear some responsibility. Even those who support the continued sanctions admit that they will never result in his ouster from power. The sanctions are supposedly in place to "pressure" the Iraqi people to overthrow him, but Hussein controls all media, all police, all military, and regularly shuffles the leadership so that no one can align against him.

The sanctions remain in place so that the U.S. "doesn't look soft." Personally, i find the starvation of over a million Iraqis unacceptable, not nearly worth it. So the U.S. does bear some moral, if not criminal, responsibility in supporting a sanctions regime in which the effects are well and widely known, and which the stated objective (the removal of Hussein) is known not to be realistic.
posted by Ty Webb at 9:55 AM on October 1, 2001


You know, when I was a little kid, I was taught, and believed, that the US was this beacon of freedom and democracy that existed in order to provide a safe haven for those who couldn't find those things in their homeland, and for their descendents. I was also taught that it was America's duty to promote those same ideals in other parts of the world, and to actively interfere where people's freedoms were threatened. America had been created recently and deliberately, and that convinced me that it was something special. I never thought of my country as just another nation on the map, with just another economy to maintain and just another agenda to pursue, as I now know it to be. In many ways, the idealistic vision I had when I was little holds true, but a glance at our track record, particularly at the anything-and-I-really-do-mean-ANYTHING-but-C-C-Communism approach we've taken over the last 60 years or so, shows that there's much more to it than that, and as a nation we have a few things to be ashamed for. Plenty to be proud of, but our hands aren't as clean as we might've thought.

There are plenty of people, though, who either aren't aware or don't care about our past transgressions, or worse yet, believe them to be just. Pres. Bush going on air and saying we were attacked because of the freedoms we enjoy certainly doesn't help that, and I'm glad every journalist outside the US and their mother has taken up the task of providing a counterpoint to that. Unfortunately, these editorials will probably not be read by those who most need to read them.
posted by MonkeyMeat at 9:59 AM on October 1, 2001


Sorry I haven't been a Mefi member for long, but I'm going to give my $.02 anyway.

The essay was a mite overblown in spots but did focus on an important issue. The American government's actions around the world have helped untold millions of people in the past 20 years. In certain places, our government's actions have also hurt, maimed or killed millions of people.

We haven't overly concerned ourselves with that. Witness the lack of reaction to Madeline Albright's comment about the death of some 500,000 Iraqi children.

Many Americans, then and today, only respond: "Blame Saddam for those dead children. The Iraquis brought it on themselves." Thousands of Serb women and children, killed by errant U.S. bombs? "Blame Milosevic."

Thousands of innocents have been slain, on American soil this time. "Blame --"

I hope we will hunt down and kill the people responsible. I also hope that we are done pretending that only foreigners can tragically suffer for their governments' errors, despite their innocence.

Of course the victims did not "deserve" what happened, any more than any of the civilians accidentally killed by American arms -- or under American support of despots -- "deserved" death.

But it defies history and logic to argue the U.S. did not play any part in fertilizing the swamp of anti-U.S. hatred that spawned the killers.

Some of the things that inspire Arabs to hate us we cannot, or should not, change. Other things the U.S. can, and should, try harder on.

Wiping out the killers is only swatting the mosquito. I'll repeat the metaphor I've used before: The U.S. has to take on the harder, larger task of draining the swamp of hate, or we'll be swatting mosquitos forver.
posted by sacre_bleu at 10:27 AM on October 1, 2001


[I'll repeat the metaphor I've used before: The U.S. has to take on the harder, larger task of draining the swamp of hate, or we'll be swatting mosquitos forver.]

If by this you mean destroying hostile governments and replacing them with representative democracy I'm all for it.
posted by revbrian at 10:40 AM on October 1, 2001


revbrian, that is not an anti-american thread. It is a question.

For the record, any sympathetic writing that attempt to justify the action of September 11, or suggest that America brought it on itself is IMHO totally ill place, and wrong.

I would also agree that it is wrong to suggest that we should try to understand that incident. That plays into the terrorists hands. The question that I was asking was different to that.
posted by Wet Friday at 10:44 AM on October 1, 2001


What I object to in all of these "American policies sowed the seeds of September 11" pieces is the notion that the Atta et al were angry - their rage, as Roy says, so enormous that it could not be translated in any other way than to fly jets into buildings and take the lives of thousands of people who had fuck all to do with military policy.

Bullshit.

These terrorists weren't angry - these people had no great political motivation - they were insane, they were so completely given over to whatever particular breed of fanaticism they embraced, that logical responses such as anger were long since gone.

More to the point, if indeed it is the policies of the American government to which the terrorists objected - why not aim all the planes at D.C., for god's sake? What does the WTC have to do with juntas in Guatemala, and sanctions in Iraq?

Why not aim three planes at the Pentagon and a few more at the Capitol and the White House? What could possibly have sent a stronger signal than the destruction of our government?

I wake every morning hoping the apologists all over the world who see so very, very clearly that it is somehow America's fault 6000 people are now dead would get a damn clue.
posted by gsh at 10:53 AM on October 1, 2001


what a suprise! asok arrives to muddy the waters.

cell divide 'I've asked this before, but can anyone point me to an autoritative answer about what is really happening there? Does anyone know? People throw this 500k dead babies argument around as if its fact, but most comments I've read on MeFi say it's a fiction. Is there solid evidence out there?'
the figures are calculated comparing infant mortality before and after sanctions were placed on iraq. having gone through them myself, i found a much higher statistical probability than is expressed in the 500k figure, i.e. THAT IS A LOW ESTIMATE by my calculations. i can't find the link to the raw data now, but here is another set of inhuman statistics to paw over.

mapalm has a point:

How about addressing the essay's issues? Debating the substance, thinking beyond the construct so conveniently packaged and presented to us by Bush, et al., and faithfully delivered by an obedient media?

although, i gasped the name 'bin laden' before the second plane hit the WTC, i have yet to hear/see any evidence that he was involved directly in this attack. i look forward to debating it,when/if it appears, until then i shall not be commenting on usr/bin/laden's motivation. there are plenty of other possibilities.

what i hear from the mainstream press/government 'official sources' is fear inducing heresay, designed to promulgate panic and terror.
recording of bin laden saying 'we got the targets' - unlikely
bin laden has own communication satellites - false
we are all under threat - no moreso than on the 10th of sept 2001

i have been called anti-american so many times that i have lost count. never, not once, ever, has a 'pro-american' provided evidence that what i say is anti-american or a link or argument to disprove the facts i use in my arguments.
they are so used to being able to end conversations with the 'anti-american' jibe. this pathetic attempt at name calling rings rather hollow.

how should i respond? perhaps i should sink to the level of name calling? would that be likely to result in a mature, rational discussion?

we live in a world without absolutes. a fuzzy world, deal with it.
posted by asok at 10:55 AM on October 1, 2001


[If by this you mean destroying hostile governments and replacing them with representative democracy I'm all for it.]

"Destroying hostile governments"? I'm curious who you would place on your target list.

From the limited amount the public knows about the doers of 9.11, most seem to have come from countries like Saudi Arabia, who are officially friends.
posted by sacre_bleu at 10:58 AM on October 1, 2001


gsh makes a good point in that these people were not so much terrorists as cult members.

For example, take the case of Charles Manson. Sure he had some reasons why his followers killed Sharon Tate. He hated Hollywood and all it stood for. And maybe Hollywood did have some problems and some contemptible values. Those values existed with our without Manson, just as our foreign policy exists with or without Bin Ladin. But we didn't go around asking why Manson murdered those people, and we didn't call him a terrorist.

I happen to believe that we have made mistakes in our foreign policy, but I think that has nothing to do with Bin Laden and his cult. I also happen to think that there are terror groups out there who have a legitimate complaint and legit goals, even if their methods are abhorrant. In this case, however, I don't think anyone can make that point. And you'll notice they don't, they bring up a laundry list of issues that they might have written about weeks before the attack.
posted by cell divide at 11:29 AM on October 1, 2001


[I'm curious who you would place on your target list.]

Any country knowingly harboring or aiding these groups.
posted by revbrian at 12:38 PM on October 1, 2001


[Any country knowingly harboring or aiding these groups.]

So in addition to the usual suspects (Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Algeria), you wish the U.S. to invade, subdue, and install governments in Israel, Lebanon, Colombia, Saudi Arabia and Peru?

Each of them harbors citizens who provide support and financing for terrorists, the State Dept. says, yet they have refused to put a stop to it.

Whew. You think when all the shooting is over, and all those terrorists and terrorist supporters are dead, then the U.S. will at last be safe?
posted by sacre_bleu at 1:24 PM on October 1, 2001


"SONTAG AWARD NOMINEE: "But who is Osama bin Laden really? Let me rephrase that. What is Osama bin Laden? He's America's family secret. He is the American president's dark doppelgänger. The savage twin of all that purports to be beautiful and civilised. He has been sculpted from the spare rib of a world laid to waste by America's foreign policy: its gunboat diplomacy, its nuclear arsenal, its vulgarly stated policy of "full-spectrum dominance", its chilling disregard for non-American lives, its barbarous military interventions, its support for despotic and dictatorial regimes, its merciless economic agenda that has munched through the economies of poor countries like a cloud of locusts. Its marauding multinationals who are taking over the air we breathe, the ground we stand on, the water we drink, the thoughts we think. Now that the family secret has been spilled, the twins are blurring into one another and gradually becoming interchangeable." - Arundhati Roy, The Guardian. I have seen no more eloquent statement of the fusion of anti-globalization and Islamo-fascism that is now resurgent. This is what the far left is becoming. And this is what so many in the mainstream left refuse to take on."

--Andrew Sullivan. He gives "Sontag Awards" to writers that manage to be both ultra-pretentious and utterly contemptible at the same time, especially in the name of terrorist appeasement.
posted by aaron at 1:48 PM on October 1, 2001



I'd like to see Roy and Robert Fisk try to take on the dreaded Ann Coulter and Steve Dunleavy of the NY Post in a WWF Smackdown![tm]. My money's on Dunleavy. Booyah!
posted by gimonca at 2:09 PM on October 1, 2001


following revbrian

some of the links i have found so far to webpages of groups on the state.gov
'Foreign Terrorist Organizations as of October 8, 1999'
list.
these people speak:

LTTE

We are not warmongers who love violence. We want a permanent, stable and honourable peace.... One day, when our enemy knocks at our doors for peace, we will extend the hand of friendship."

pkk

The USA, which took over the role as global policeman from Great Britain following the Second World War, understood that the era of classical colonialism was over. Therefore, the USA concentrated on a new form of colonialism. This based itself on seemingly political solutions, and sought to break the revolutionary aspects of the national liberation movements by means of special war regimes.

khkc go off on one

http://www.oneworld.org/ni/issue321/shining.htmhaving a bad time
'Then in 1982 the Government, headed by Fernando Belaúnde Terry, played straight into Sendero’s hands by unleashing bloody repression in Ayacucho, Huancavelica and Apurímac.'

gia

'A military council was installed to rule. Within five days the country was plunged into a civil war which has claimed 90,000 lives and polarized Algeria’s disparate population. The conflict has pitted the army and police against a shadowy insurgency led by the Groupe Islamique Armée (GIA). '

check 'em out!
posted by asok at 2:38 PM on October 1, 2001


And STILL we await data refuting what Roy says,
instead of mere name-calling.

Shall we tabulate within the thread?

"Anti-american"
"pro-terrorist"
"Sontag Award Winner"
"terrorist appeaser"
"ultra-pretentious"
"utterly contemptible"
"1 link 6 comments and no email address"

[That last one takes the cake...a complete refutation of horrid anti-americanism in just eight words, all based on mefi posting history and email status...classic logic]

Here's a suggestion: tie your knees firmly together. Maybe they will stop shaking oh so badly and jerking oh so convulsively when we read such "anti-american" material. We mustn't upset ourselves. We must unite. We mustn't stop and think.

Anyone have any spare flags?
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 2:48 PM on October 1, 2001


The only thing in Afghanistan that could possibly count as collateral value is its citizenry. (Among them, half a million maimed orphans.There are accounts of hobbling stampedes that occur when artificial limbs are airdropped into remote, inaccessible villages).

That makes me shiver.
posted by Mo Nickels at 3:05 PM on October 1, 2001


Might I ask why, when someone attempts to discern the motives of the terrorists and concludes that it might be because of U.S. foreign policy, the analyst is automatically "anti-American"?

Patroitism, like any other dogmatic mode of thought, short-circuits reason. *sigh*
posted by solistrato at 3:36 PM on October 1, 2001


[And STILL we await data refuting what Roy says, instead of mere name-calling. ]

Has it occured to you that we don't care why these people did this? Osama Bin Laden (whether you believe he was part of the two WTC attacks, USS Cole, or embassy bombings) is on videotape saying it is the duty of all Muslims to kill americans (pg5233). He says there is no difference between civilians, women or children. This is a man that publically declared war on the US in 1997 (pg5226).

I don't care WHY he says that. I say we meet him on his terms. America should say back "Ok, we hear ya. You want to kill us all. We will accept your terms of battle, and we will in turn kill Bin Laden and anyone who supports him in SELF DEFENSE.

Before 9-11 I had no interest whatsoever in harming anyone in the world, and I still have none except in defense of ourselves, our freedoms, and our nation. Obviously there are those who have said they are out to get us, we should eliminate them before they make good on that threat.

What is your problem with that?
posted by revbrian at 4:34 PM on October 1, 2001


These terrorists weren't angry - these people had no great political motivation - they were insane, they were so completely given over to whatever particular breed of fanaticism they embraced, that logical responses such as anger were long since gone.

I've been saying that for a while, too. Sane people don't fly planes into buildings, and America needs to realize that the enemy we're fighting doesn't think the way we do. You can't stop terrorists by dropping bombs on them; you'll just justify their rage. You can't just take away their weapons; they'll turn to boxcutters and airplanes. This is not and cannot be thought of as a war that can be fought under the same old rules.

It's ridiculous to say that America is to blame for these attacks, or to insinuate that we had this coming to us. But we should not be so blithe as to think that our enemies' insanity absolves America of its guilt for decades of bad foreign policy decisions which, yes, have propped up dictatorial regimes, yes, put American economic interests ahead of human rights, and yes, turned a blind eye towards the sufferings of people living in abject poverty all over the third world. It's also frighteningly naive to try to separate the terrorists' hatred from the socioeconomic conditions in which it festered and grew into this monstrosity.

I just want to add--I'm starting to get a little creeped out at how easily some people throw around the word "un-American" around here. We have evolved past McCarthyism. Differences in opinion and the right to debate them are at the very core of the American political system. All of us, hawks and peaceniks alike, are trying to figure out the best way to protect the US from future terrorist attacks. If you disagree with the other side, take issue with their arguments. Patriotism is no excuse to dismiss anyone else's point of view just because you think they're "un-American."
posted by shylock at 4:34 PM on October 1, 2001


[Might I ask why, when someone attempts to discern the motives of the terrorists and concludes that it might be because of U.S. foreign policy, the analyst is automatically "anti-American"? ]

Because regardless of their motivation they have declared war on us and wish our destruction. Anyone who supports those who are engaged in our destruction is obviously not on our side.

Let's assume for a minute we go your route. We withdraw from the middle east as Bin Laden demands. These demands are certain not to be the last but for the purpose of this excercise we'll pretend they are.

What happens? Isreal gets run over. Couple million people die there (Isreal has nuclear weapons, so maybe more than a few million). What isn't destroyed becomes a regime like that of the taliban. Women and children starve, those that have food to eat are refused medical care and schooling. Millions more die.

Is it not the moral choice to thwart those casualties if at all possible? Had I known about the attrocious conditions in Afghanistan before I would have supported invading the country on humanitarian grounds alone. Wouldn't you? Or is it that you don't care if millions starve, as long as we don't accidentally bomb a couple of them?
posted by revbrian at 4:42 PM on October 1, 2001


I'm sorry, but Osama bin Laden is a bloody millionaire who was raised in a wealthy family. If that man has known once nanosecond of oppression and 'western hegemony', I'll eat my hat.
posted by gsh at 5:20 PM on October 1, 2001


revbrian, there's a wide gulf indeed between the U.S.'s latter-day Mideast policies and withdrawing from the Mideast.

My suggestion, and I'm hardly alone, is that the once the U.S. wipes out bin Laden et al, it should turn its attention to things it can do to improve our image and reputation among the majority of Arabs, Muslims, etc. -- those who can be reasoned with.

I'm no expert, but based on my reading and interviewing, it seems like most of the Arabic world can be convinced. They are ready to believe that, despite what the fringe mullahs have been telling them, the U.S. actually does not encourage the serving of Muslim babies as hors d'oeuvres, respects their faith, means what it says about truth and justice, and can actually see the point in mobilizing its muscle for poor Arabs who are living under despotic regimes.

Of course, the U.S. would have to exert itself in a powerful yet subtle way, which has not exactly been our forte. But it's worth it if, in the long run, it gives the Arab moderates solid reasons to hang with the U.S. rather than go over to the mad-eyed boys in the streets of Islamabad waving photos of the Sears Tower and shouting, "This one is mine."
posted by sacre_bleu at 6:10 PM on October 1, 2001


President Bush can no more "rid the world of evil-doers" than he can stock it with saints.

Beautiful.

If it comes to a choice between being an ignorant knee-jerk bigot proudly proclaiming that I don't want to understand and being "anti-American," I'll proudly take "anti-American" every time.
posted by rushmc at 7:05 PM on October 1, 2001


We withdraw from the middle east as Bin Laden demands... What happens? ... Isreal gets run over. ... What isn't destroyed becomes a regime like that of the taliban. Women and children starve, those that have food to eat are refused medical care and schooling.

What transpired in most of this thread, for all its insults, I was ready to call a vigorous and entrenched disagreement. But this is racist crap. You want us to believe that the whole Middle East would be like Taliban Afghanistan without the U.S.? Has the U.S. been running, not only Egypt and Saudi Arabia, but Syria, Iraq, and Iran, thus keeping them free of the Taliban? And by the way, if you want to keep foaming at the mouth about the Middle East, can you at least learn to spell Israel?

By the way, the fact that Israel is (pretty low) on bin Ladin's laundry list of things for al-Qa`ida to destroy in the coming apocalypse doesn't somehow make U.S.-funded Israeli policies right. And as long as millions of sane moderates have that legitimate grievance against us, we can't be surprised if the extreme movements prove impossible to eradicate, even while our armed forces are doing their best to destroy the Sept. 11 perpetrators and all their network (with my approval--I live in Berkeley, where we have "free speech" radio that really broadcasts e.g. pro-Milosevic propaganda to prove that everything the U.S. does is motivated by evil, and this has long since cured me of any tendency towards rabid anti-Americanism of the Le monde diplomatique or The Nation variety).

By the way, recommended for those who appreciate complexity in discussions of Israel (and by implication U.S. Mideast policy): the NYT Magazine has a great article consisting of selected e-mails from an American rabbi who moved to Jerusalem over the past few years (from before the most recent intifada to after Sept. 11) and who went through the inevitable moral sickness at the same time as he and his family grew anesthetized to Israeli-Palestinian violence and politically radicalized.
posted by Zurishaddai at 2:22 AM on October 2, 2001


[...it should turn its attention to things it can do to improve our image and reputation among the majority of Arabs, Muslims, etc. -- those who can be reasoned with.]

I've said in previous threads that we should help Afghanistan become a democracy, and provide them with massive aid to rebuild their infrastructure. Why would you think I'm against this?

[the whole Middle East would be like Taliban Afghanistan without the U.S.? ]

That's what many of these groups wish pal. We've heard them say it time and again. When good people stand by and let the fanatics run things this is what happens. Maybe the vast majority of the people in the mideast are not in a position to do anything about it, we are. The vast majority of germans in 1937 weren't fascists either. Look where appeasement got them.

[can you at least learn to spell Israel?]

I kneel to your superior intellect, you ass.
posted by revbrian at 3:18 AM on October 2, 2001


many of these groups wish pal ... When good people stand by and let the fanatics run things this is what happens

Well, the fact is that "these groups" aren't running the show in any of the big Arab nations. I agree with you, revbrian, that seeing now stable nations thrown into chaos and brought under the power of such extremists is something we should do everything to avoid. But some of the most self-righteous war rhetoric is as likely to accomplish that ugly scenario as caving to bin Ladin by vacating the Middle East (which no one has supported except maybe Bush in some campaign speeches). Fortunately, the Bush Administration isn't ranting (or apparently strategizing) in tune with all the pundits selling the line that I hear you offering, revbrian.

Sorry my comment about your "Isreal" was over-harsh. My brain drew a false link between you and dagny's ironic and idiotic quip that Isreal is the civilized world's only outpost in the Middle East. But in all seriousness, I do think there's a pretty unsavory overlap between pundits who
  • before were uncaring, ignorant, or facile about the vital questions of Mideast policy
  • now reassure us that we don't really need to know anything except that we're mad as hell.
I hope we can all agree that we should be asking the questions and looking at our choices' consequences just as hard now as ever.
posted by Zurishaddai at 3:37 AM on October 2, 2001



posted by Zurishaddai at 3:39 AM on October 2, 2001


[I hope we can all agree that we should be asking the questions and looking at our choices' consequences just as hard now as ever.]

Absolutely! I really think it is in America's (and the entire world's) best interest so un-fuck the third world. By this I mean... The majority of the people there live in poverty due to the incompetence or outright oppression by their governments and a lack of infrastructure. Europe and America can help them solve this and avoid the situations that foster these fanatics.
posted by revbrian at 4:31 AM on October 2, 2001


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