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Five years on

September 11th, 2006

Five years after the terrorist attacks on New York, the best that can be said about our situation is that it could be worse. The response from our elected leaders, and particularly the Bush Administration, has been comprehensively bungled, or worse, undermined by the pursuit of private and political advantage, and pre-existing political agendas, at the expense of a concerted attack on those who are trying to kill us. Incompetence and worse has been rife at every level from the tactical (the failure to catch bin Laden when he was surrounded) to the operational (the various stages of the Iraq occupation, starting with a Provisional Administration hired from Republican job message boards) the strategic (the whole Iraq war) and the moral (the many crimes that have blurred the difference between us and the terrorists). All of these things have squandered our resources, while acting as a recruiting banner for our enemies.

The only thing that has prevented things being even worse is the gratuitous bloodthirstiness of our enemies. Brutal attacks in Muslim countries, executions of innocent people shown on video, and the continuous suicide-terror attacks on ordinary people going about their daily business have shown their true nature, and discredited radical Islamism among many who remain deeply hostile to the US and the Bush Administration. As I mentioned a year ago, in countries like Indonesia , the Iraq war has been highly unpopular, but the great achievement of JI has been to make themselves even more unpopular.

The most significant change since last year is that we no longer hear much about “good news from Iraq”, except in the same context as “mission accomplished”, “turning the corner” and similar discredited phrases. A year ago, pro-war opinion was united in the belief that the Mainstream Media were presenting an overly gloomy picture and that the truth could be found in sites like Arthur Chrenkoff’s Good News from Iraq, which cataloged steady improvements on all fronts, from electricity supplies to security. Chrenkoff ceased publication just under a year ago, and handed the baton to Good News from the front, which appears to have given up the struggle around May 2006.

In retrospect, it is obvious that the Mainstream Media have consistently got things wrong, but in the opposite direction to that claimed by the Good News. At every stage, things have gone worse than would have been expected by anyone relying on say, the New York Times, rather than bloggers like Juan Cole It’s been at least a couple of years since Western reporters could safely travel independently anywhere in Iraq, and they’ve been increasingly reliant on the Pentagon for news.

Of course, there are still some, totally cut off from reality like our own Andrew Bolt. In the alternate universe inhabited by Bolt, everything is going swimmingly, and patience is all that is needed.

Recognising that the Iraq venture has been a disastrous failure doesn’t help us that much, since all our options there are awful. But maybe some sort of partition can be managed, enabling the Coalition to declare victory and pull out without leaving too much chaos behind them. Then perhaps, we might focus on our real problems.

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  1. taust
    September 11th, 2006 at 20:47 | #1

    What a jaundiced view of the actions of all sides.

    The west faces several problems:
    1. No effective way to legitimise interference in another sovereign State’s internal affairs. No clear agreement of the actions by the defaulting State that are unacceptable enough to warrant interference; No effective mechanism for making the interference effective.
    2. That there appears to be a link between certain forms of Government and the development of violent direct action groups.
    3. The bangs that can be got by the violent direct action groups for a given number of bucks have increased very significantly.
    4. In managing these problems the clash between rights and between principles is accentuated.
    5. The development of better governance (thus reducing the attractiveness of violent direct action) in the Arabian peninsular depends on destabilising the Saudi Arabian regime and destabilising Iran.
    6. The control of violent direct action groups appears to be difficult without accepting extra-judicial action.
    Similarly the other sides face some problems.
    1. their only effective weapons are not capable (for various reasons) of being reasonably targeted at military targets (the problem that faced the west in the Second World War)
    2. Being small groups in a much larger population they sooner or later have to depend on a mixture of support and terror.
    3. They have a different view of the rights and principles that should govern human interaction from ours (more our problem than theirs).

    They all seem to be doing a reasonable job of muddling through in a responsive way.

    The west so far has not institionalised the ongoing deliberate targeting of non-combatant without reasonable military reasons for doing so.
    The use of brutality and torture by the west appears to be reasonably well controlled.

    The other sides do not appear to have antagonised the people they need to an extent that detracts from their effectiveness as fighting units.
    The other sides appear to be winning the propaganda war, but given our resources this should change.

  2. September 11th, 2006 at 21:03 | #2

    If Clinton and friends (Sandy Bergler et alia) hadn’t let bin Laden get away about a half-dozen times, we wouldn’t have to “capture” him now.

    We can be grateful to Clinton, however, for bombing that aspirin factory.

    Some even believe he killed an Al Qaeda camel.

  3. jquiggin
    September 11th, 2006 at 21:08 | #3

    Why do you hate America, CL ?

  4. Razor
    September 11th, 2006 at 21:59 | #4

    OK JQ – clean slate then – you are POTUS and 9/11 has just occured. What do you do over the next 5 years . . .

    I don’t know what you wouldn’t have done. What would you done to make us all safer? how would you have stopped the Bali bombings (MkI)??

  5. Spiros
    September 11th, 2006 at 22:31 | #5

    “Why do you hate America, CL ?”

    Only criticism of Republican presidents indicates hatred of America. Criticism of Democratic presidents is pro-American, because Democrats are themselves anti-American.

  6. peterd
    September 11th, 2006 at 22:42 | #6

    Taust:
    The “west’s problems”, seen from a different angle:
    (1) The problem here is to overcome the unworthy sense of shame that afflicts the leaders of those western nations that truly consider they have the right to intrude on other nations’ sovereign territory.
    (2) If only they wised up and bought into “our” form of government, aggressive violence against other nations would cease.
    (3) The “bangs per buck” that can be got by American use of its own military technology has escalated hugely in recent decades. Have a look at the “kill ratio” when the Americans are engaged against civilians, or mixtures of civilians and opposing combatants. In Somalia (1991), it was about 50:1 (i.e., 50 dead Somalis per dead American). In Iraq, it appears to be about the same, if we accept that about 100,000 Iraqis have died dince the invasion. Shades of Vietnam: “Look what they’re doing to us (as we go about killing many times more of them)!!”
    (4) What “rights”? What “principles”?
    (5) Why destabilise Saudi and why destabilise Iran? This seems to be just another case of not liking democracy when it produces an outcome the “west” doesn’t like.
    (6) Appears to be a quaint euphemism for the use of torture.

    “The west so far has not institionalised the ongoing deliberate targeting of non-combatant without reasonable military reasons for doing so.”
    How so? The deliberate targeting of non-combatants during World War II (Germany, Japan) was carried out in spite of there being no military justification for such indiscriminate practices. (When the A-bomb was dropped on the centre of Hiroshima, it was known quite well that the industrial areas of the city were located on the periphery.)

    “3. They have a different view of the rights and principles that should govern human interaction from ours (more our problem than theirs).”

    Since “rights” are basically an invention of “the west”, it’s far from clear why “rights” should have any influence on the thinking of the “other side”.

  7. chrisl
    September 11th, 2006 at 22:54 | #7

    Ender : Where are you Crawl out from under your log and share your conspiracy theories…

  8. peterd
    September 11th, 2006 at 23:35 | #8

    I suspect my date for the US/UN intervention in Somalia should be 1993, not 1991 (?).

  9. September 11th, 2006 at 23:46 | #9

    chrisl – “Ender : Where are you Crawl out from under your log and share your conspiracy theories…”

    Sorry to disappoint you ChrisL I do not have conspiracy theories only questions that cannot be answered. If you think you can answer them I am only to willing to post them.

  10. observa
    September 12th, 2006 at 00:32 | #10

    What we do know now is that Sunnis and Shiites hate each others guts at least as much as their respective militants hate ours. We also know once and for all they can’t form reasonably civil democratic societies, either among themselves or with each other. In a sad kind of way that’s progress for we infidels, for while they’ve turned their hatred on each other and to a lesser extent our military, they have not had the wherewithal to seriously attack us on our own soil like Sept11. We can probably leave Iraq to their internicene squabbles reasonably soon. Let Wahabbist Sunni Arabs clash with Shiite Persians in the land of the 2 rivers now for as long as they like. In the meantime it’s important to neutralise any nuclear advantage Iran might seek and persevere against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It’s critically important for us to ensure Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal doesn’t fall into the hands of our sworn enemies. Apart from that Islam can tear itself to pieces for as long as it cares to as far as we infidels are concerned.

  11. still working it out
    September 12th, 2006 at 00:37 | #11

    “you are POTUS and 9/11 has just occured. What do you do over the next 5 years . . .”

    I’d get my ambassadors to visit with just about every serious islamic leader with credibility in the eyes of muslims in every country with significant muslim populations, including western ones. I would order the ambassadors to negotiate anti Al-Quaeda fatwa’s. In the climate after 9/11 I am pretty sure you could have gotten them from at least the majority Islamic religous scholars, provided you were willing to go about it in a serious respectful way and take your time about it. Don’t forget there were spontaneous anti-terrorism demonstrations in Tehran at the time. Even today not many islamic religious leaders condone suicide bombing.

    Al-Quaeda is based on a belief that it is the true defender of the Islamic countries and traditions. They take the scholarly tradition in Islam very seriously and use that fact to enhance their own legitimacy and public support. Al-Quaeda’s achillies heel is that their method of suicide bombing against innocent civilians is on very shaky ground from a religous point of view. In order to justify it they had to go through some quite convoluted reasoning to get support from even relatively minor religous scholars.

    If pretty much the entire Islamic scholarly/religious leadership lined up against them it would have destroyed Al-Quaeda’s legitimacy almost overnight. There would probably be some kind of debate lasting a few weeks, but it would have been like a 3rd rate union hack trying to simultaneously take on John Howard, Bob Hawke and Gough Whitlam. At the time Bin Laden simply lacked the credibilty and political/religious weight to have a hope of winning that fight and I’m sure he knew it. Today, unfortunately, things are different. By the end of 2002 Al-Quaeda could have been a spent force with little support.

    I don’t think any US president would have done this. It probably would have been politically impossible for various domestic reasons. But if someone like Clinton had really tried I think they could have pulled it off.

    Of course I would be doing all the other stuff. Domestic security. Physically going after the terrorists and probably would have invaded Afghanistan as well, and I am not even sure trying to politically isolate Al-Quaeda would have been my primary focus. But its what my instinct would be to do. Its just common sense to isolate your enemy politically, and with 5 years of hindsight i think it would have worked.

    I am sure alot of people think this is fantasy stuff, and the “Islamofacist” crowd probably find the idea of a debate within islam absurd almost by definition. But at the end of the day even Bush’s strategy in the GWOT is a political one. His is to bring democracy to the middle east and “win hearts and minds”, whatever that means. I just think that you could have acheived 100 times more simply by exploiting the goodwill America had on September 12th 2001 and aiming it at Al-Quaeda’s inherent religous weaknesses.

  12. jquiggin
    September 12th, 2006 at 06:44 | #12

    “you are POTUS and 9/11 has just occured. What do you do over the next 5 years . . .�

    I would have done what Bush did (at least publicly) for the first few months. The divergence would have started about the time the Taliban fled Kabul.

    I would have put more US troops in to go after OBL and Mullah Omar, invited other countries in for peacekeeping and spent a lot more money on reconstruction.

    Then, with luck, bin Laden would have been caught and at a minimum, the Afghan exercise would have had a chance of working.

    In the Middle East, I would have pushed harder and earlier for Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza and spent more money to help moderate Palestinians.

    Finally, I would have done the hearts and minds stuff as suggested by SWIO instead of throwing US weight around and encouraging the kinds of rhetoric we saw from the warbloggers, Fox News and similar.

    BTW, as you can check from the blog since 2002. this isn’t wisdom of hindsight stuff. These are the policies I’ve been advocating all along.

  13. taust
    September 12th, 2006 at 07:41 | #13

    What would Al-Quaeda done in response to your strategy?

    When would you post the photo’s of some senior western representative shaking hands with some senior opponent in the course of the diplomatic actions?

    Which other countries would assist in the endeavour?

  14. observa
    September 12th, 2006 at 09:46 | #14

    “I would have put more US troops in to go after OBL and Mullah Omar,”

    With all due respect John you would have faced the problem of invading much of Pakistan to do so and one wonders if that would have been any more productive than being in Iraq now. As well you would have faced the full force of foreign Jihadists in support of Pakistan and Afghanistan that the Coalition have experienced in Iraq to date. As it stands now, you have to face the rather unpleasant truth that Coalition troops can leave Iraqis to it almost immediately, whereas that’s not true in Afghanistan, in terms of the likely consequences. (AQ in Iraq would have their hands full with the Shiites whereas the Taliban and their cheer squads wouldn’t) Of course it’s highly likely that this Default Plan B, was envisaged as the most probable downside of invading Iraq, in the event that the ultimate prize was politically unachievable. Personally I think Bush and Blair are about to withdraw from Iraq(6-12 months) and leave the problem on Iran’s doorstep. I have a feeling that’s not something Tehran will relish, particularly now that Israel has called its Hezbollah bluff in Lebanon. With an Iranian backed Shiite majority in Iraq, threatening a Sunni minority there, Sunni Arabs across the ME will be amenable to the Anglos or their proxy Israel taking out Iran’s nuclear facilities. Oh they’ll tut-tut appropriately in public, but quietly praise Allah for helping their true Muslims.

    I notice Hamas and Fatah are good buddies again and forming a coalition govt of national unity. What’s the matter boys? Oil money from Saddam a bit thin on the ground these days?

  15. gordon
    September 12th, 2006 at 09:48 | #15

    I am, predictably, with SWIO. There are Islamic States in the world. They aren’t going to be magically transformed into foreign versions of Celebration (the Disney-run gated residential community in Florida – all picket fences and SUVs) overnight. Nor are they (or “we”) all similar, so the “them and us” dichotomy is pretty bogus anyway. “We” all have to live with “them”, though “we” don’t have to admire or even like “them”. Ditto for “them” in regard to “us”. “We” do have to understand “them” enough to bargain with “them” over trade, immigration and other issues which affect both “them” and “us”.

    So let’s stop referring to foreigners as “our enemies”. That doesn’t help to develop a workable bargaining relationship. And if the short of memory complain that such a strategy is impossible in the aftermath of the World Trade Centre destruction, I suggest that some time reading a little more deeply about the sad history of Great Power intervention in the Middle East and what is now Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran would show that the WTC casualties were minor in comparison with the damage that has been inflicted on that part of the world.

  16. observa
    September 12th, 2006 at 09:54 | #16

    “In the Middle East, I would have pushed harder and earlier for Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza and spent more money to help moderate Palestinians.”

    Like Arafat’s wife. Hah!

  17. September 12th, 2006 at 10:21 | #17

    I am sure alot of people think this is fantasy stuff.

    Especially Muslims probably.

    Why do you hate America, CL?

    I don’t, John. You do – that’s why you write these faux-reasonable little essayettes that are shot through with Bush Derangement Syndrome and historical invention.

    Your obsession with the “catastophe” of Iraq is a case in point. We’re talking about a politico-military campaign that has lasted about as long as ONE Australian parliamentary term. Kim Beazley hasn’t published an IR blueprint in that time. The good accomplished in Iraq has been astonishing and it has come despite the Western left’s moral support for Saddam Hussein – whose policies of state terrorism and mass murder they like to think of as “stability”.

    The Democrats threaten the broadcast licence of a network that tells the truth about the lead-up to 9/11 but they aren’t quite as censorious about nominating a 9/11 conspiracy theorist for a seat in Congress.

    They hate America.

    I find it interesting, John, that you scoff at the Saddam connection to terrorism (a scepticism demolished for all time by Hitchens last night on the ABC) but you jump at the connection with Israel. How irrelevant that is has been demonstrated by Hezbollah and Hamas – which both escalated their terror attacks on Israel despite withdrawals.

  18. September 12th, 2006 at 10:53 | #18

    While true saddam should have been toppled, it is irresponsible how the american administration approached it.

    With all its think-tanks they probably should have predicted an Iraq full of militants loyal to saddam and that any democratic process would bring Shias, the majority, to the leadership. The result would be civil war between a group with weapons who have ruled the country for centuries (albeit being the minority) and a group who are here to do the right thing.

    So does Islam feature as a party in this civil conflict (like one blogger here suggested) ?

    Why should Islam even be mentioned. It is a conflict caused by the ill desires of a group with weapons left behind by the saddam regime. You cannot say saddam was a ruler because he was a muslim. Rather, he claimed to be so because he was the ruler, since this is what keeps him in the position.

    And I am surprised from the ill-will of one member of the blog here who suggested that Iraqi’s should kill each other. Is this the message from the west?

  19. September 12th, 2006 at 12:10 | #19

    Observa said: “What we do know now is that Sunnis and Shiites hate each others guts”

    Err, we knew that in the 1980′s mate. It was one of the more compelling reasons for not removing Saddam without a watertight plan of what to do next.

  20. jquiggin
    September 12th, 2006 at 12:15 | #20

    “With all due respect John you would have faced the problem of invading much of Pakistan to do so ”

    On the contrary, both OBL and Omar were in Afghanistan and Bush let them get away

  21. jquiggin
    September 12th, 2006 at 12:16 | #21

    “The Democrats … hate America.”

    Since the majority of Americans currently support the Democrats, and oppose the Iraq war, it looks as if America-hatred is a pretty big problem.

  22. observa
    September 12th, 2006 at 12:36 | #22

    “On the contrary, both OBL and Omar were in Afghanistan and Bush let them get away”

    As I recall Bush wasn’t in Afghanistan at the time to prevent them getting away.

  23. Bring Back EP at LP
    September 12th, 2006 at 12:38 | #23

    the recent US Senate committee report ( with CIA agreement) essentially said the same thing the 9/11 report. No link between Hussein and AQ. Indeed they go further that the 9/11 report in showing up how much distrust and animosity there was.

    CL has never liked such reports as this which is why he ignores them in his fantasy.
    Criticise bush and you hate America.

  24. September 12th, 2006 at 12:50 | #24

    The link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda was originally made by Richard Clarke. OBL was allowed to escape by the Clintnon administration – one of whose officials helpfully telegraphed plans to drop a bomb on him.

  25. James Farrell
    September 12th, 2006 at 12:51 | #25

    I wonder if CL and I saw the same interview with Christopher Hitchens. He reminded us yet again that Abboud Yassin the chemical maker found safe haven in Iraq, and asked us to take his word for it that the Senate Intelligence Committee report-in-progress puts faith in discredited CIA sources. Was there anything more? Certainly nothing he said had the effect of demolishing my scepiticism for all time.

  26. jquiggin
    September 12th, 2006 at 13:08 | #26

    “As I recall Bush wasn’t in Afghanistan at the time to prevent them getting away.”

    A good point. And he wasn’t in Vietnam either, so I guess Al Gore and John Kerry can take the blame for that one.

  27. observa
    September 12th, 2006 at 13:26 | #27

    Homer,
    Hitchens has some overall complaints about nice Senate office jocks and their 20/20 hindsight reports to management at Lateline here http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2006/s1738468.htm
    Personally I have little time for those who believe in the Department for Perfect Outcomes being hypercritical of who missed the opportunity to take out Osama or who let him slip out of their grasp. US Presidents have to be as careful about shooting innocents in railway stations as they do about nailing the villains with missile strikes. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t sometimes. Let’s just say we can all have the odd Ned Kelly problem for a while but sooner or later we’ll get the bastards.

    Hitchen’s overall point is one about attacking these bastards with some serious slum clearance. The benefits of slum clearance is not really the issue of disagreement here, but more about which slums were important or a priority. That’s the only argument over Iraq or Afghanistan, although the naysayers on Iraq often have other slums they’d like us to prioritise, like Sudan for instance. For many us 9/11 made the choice easy.

  28. Arthur
    September 12th, 2006 at 13:48 | #28

    “a scepticism demolished for all time by Hitchens last night on the ABC…”

    Not just “demolished” but “demolished for all time”. Good heavens! And what would he have done to our poor scepticism if he were given the “great deal of time” that he required to do a job on such a “half-baked and unfinished piece of work”.

    Personally, my scepticism will be on very shaky ground when I read the critiques which tell how the Senate Commitee report “spells people’s names wrong”.

    I think you give Christopher Hitchens too much credit. The fact that he criticizes the CIA as the source of the information (basing his criticism primarily on the CIAs other failures) does nothing to bolster the connection between Sadaam and OBL.

  29. September 12th, 2006 at 13:49 | #29

    I disagreed with the invasion of Iraq. However I don’t think an early exit makes any sence. A failed state in Iraq would aid the enemy, just as a failed state in Afghanistan did. If a partitian can avoid failure then bring it on. However I doubt that it is so simple. Even when Saddam ran the place the USA had to provide air cover for the Kurds. It may be possible to fashion a tolerable retreat but an outright exit does not seem plausible.

  30. September 12th, 2006 at 14:01 | #30

    I saw Hitchens on Lateline as well. Hitchens’ ‘demolition’ of the Senate Committee’s debunking of the Saddam-Osama link was just Hitchens asserting that the report would be taken apart in a few days.

    Apparently in CL’s world wishes really are horses.

  31. observa
    September 12th, 2006 at 15:12 | #31

    Here’s one of the spinoffs of removing Saddam and his funding of terrorist organisations like Hamas http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,20398098-401,00.html?from=public_rss

  32. taust
    September 12th, 2006 at 15:32 | #32

    Petard
    1. The “west’s problems�, seen from a different angle:
    (1) The problem here is to overcome the unworthy sense of shame that afflicts the leaders of those western nations that truly consider they have the right to intrude on other nations’ sovereign territory.
    You are quite right that the sense of shame of those who believe that the rights of nations can be abrogated at will over such tragedies as the Balkans, Sudan, and Rwanda etc is high.

    (2) If only they wised up and bought into “our� form of government, aggressive violence against other nations would cease.
    No they need to develop a form of government that is suitable for them and does not lead to violent direct action groups that terrorise their populations. All the leaders of AQ have been more effective at damaging their own than in damaging the West.

    (3) The “bangs per buck� that can be got by American use of its own military technology has escalated hugely in recent decades. Have a look at the “kill ratio� when the Americans are engaged against civilians, or mixtures of civilians and opposing combatants. In Somalia (1991), it was about 50:1 (i.e., 50 dead Somalis per dead American). In Iraq, it appears to be about the same, if we accept that about 100,000 Iraqis have died dince the invasion. Shades of Vietnam: “Look what they’re doing to us (as we go about killing many times more of them)!!�
    Agreed but unimportant. Once you have 10000 nuclear warheads the cost of the next falling by 50% does not matter.
    But the ready availability and cheapness of effective weapons to violent direct action groups compared to say 100 or 50 years ago does mean that with limited resources they can now access some very frightening fire power.

    (4) What “rights�? What “principles�?
    I was thinking of the principle that you should not be punished except through due process and the principle that you should not be subject to violence, the right to free expression of ideas the principle that you should not kill and the right not to be killed.

  33. Bring Back EP at LP
    September 12th, 2006 at 16:07 | #33

    Observa,
    Hussein gave money to families of suicide bombers. Last time I looked this money went into accommodation.
    Unless Hamas is now into property development Your statement is untrue.

    Palestine is apparently the only place in the world where more people are killed by a country ( Israel) then by terrorists, much more.

  34. fatfingers
    September 12th, 2006 at 16:21 | #34

    CL: despite the Western left’s moral support for Saddam Hussein – whose policies of state terrorism and mass murder they like to think of as “stabilityâ€?.

    You are mistaking the Western left for the Western right.

  35. taust
    September 12th, 2006 at 17:14 | #35

    fatfinger
    the western left gorged on the gulag’s

  36. fatfingers
    September 12th, 2006 at 18:03 | #36

    Saddam had gulags? Wonders never cease.

  37. taust
    September 12th, 2006 at 19:50 | #37

    fatfingers do you know what Gulags were and where?

    If you were a member of the left i would think you were writing yet another history.

  38. rog
    September 12th, 2006 at 19:57 | #38

    Iraq has been interesting in that the Left continue to support Saddam as President yet draw attention to links “proving” Bush support of Saddam as evidence of a conspiracy.

    I dont think the Left have any idea at all, they are consumed by the various GWB/neocon conspiracy theories to the point of madness.

  39. observa
    September 12th, 2006 at 20:07 | #39

    “Hussein gave money to families of suicide bombers. Last time I looked this money went into accommodation.
    Unless Hamas is now into property development Your statement is untrue.”

    What can I say to that logic? Am I off scott free if I pay rewards for killing people into say trust accounts? It’s certainly an interesting outlook on proceeds of crime and following up money trails, for all sorts of crooks and bankrupts.

    ‘I never put it in his hot little hand yer Honour, honest!’

    ‘Very well then, case dismissed!’

  40. observa
    September 12th, 2006 at 20:16 | #40

    By the way Homer why did Saddam promise prospective Palestinian suicide bombers who sought Paradise that he’d look after their families here on earth? Yes, yes I know! That’s the nice secular sort of guy he was.

  41. Smiley
    September 12th, 2006 at 20:16 | #41

    “despite the Western left’s moral support for Saddam Hussein”

    That’s funny. I thought I saw Donald Rumsfeld shaking Hussein’s hand in that footage from the early 80s. But maybe you think he wasn’t a butcher then.

    I wonder what Rumsfeld (and the political right) said after the gassing of the Kurds! Here’s a clue.

    http://www.bowlingforcolumbine.com/library/wonderful/iraq.php

  42. jquiggin
    September 12th, 2006 at 20:53 | #42

    “That’s funny. I thought I saw Donald Rumsfeld shaking Hussein’s hand in that footage from the early 80s.”

    Republicans nowadays get their history from the Disney version. In forthcoming episodes, it will be shown that Bill Clinton cleverly impersonated Rumsfeld to set up this famous shot, while Reagan’s aid to Saddam was secretly orchestrated by Jimmy Carter. Meanwhile, back in this universe …

  43. Hal9000
    September 12th, 2006 at 22:03 | #43

    “By the way Homer why did Saddam promise prospective Palestinian suicide bombers who sought Paradise that he’d look after their families here on earth? Yes, yes I know! That’s the nice secular sort of guy he was.”

    The reason was to compensate families for the demolition of their houses, which was at the time an automatic outcome under Israel’s collective punishment policies. The effect of Israel’s demolitions was to foster the sort of hatred that recruits suicide bombing, while the small amounts sent from Baghdad made Hussein into some sort of hero among disenfranchised and enraged Arabs everywhere, for very little investment. Compare and contrast the recent upsurge in support for the Party of God in Lebanon with its policy of handing out $10K cash grants to people whose houses have been destroyed by the recent war.

    BTW, the Pape Dying to Win study shows that the majority of Palestinian suicide bombers were motivated by secular and not religious factors. Still, I’m sure it gives you comfort to believe them all to be religious fanatics.

  44. rog
    September 12th, 2006 at 22:25 | #44

    It was only post invasion that the Democrats changed their tune, they had previously stated on numerous occasions that Saddam supported terrorists, had WMD and posed a threat that needed to be stopped.

  45. rog
    September 12th, 2006 at 22:32 | #45

    ..or maybe Clinton lied (again).

  46. taust
    September 12th, 2006 at 22:42 | #46

    How many members of the immediate family of leaders of Hamas etc etc have been suicide bombers?

    How many suicide bombers came from poor families for whom the ‘pension’ earned by suicide is money to live on?

    This is not to imply that the suicide bombers are highly motivated.

  47. taust
    September 12th, 2006 at 22:50 | #47

    How does a medium term scenario of Saudi Arabia and Iran being the two regional powers left standing. Iran having the southern part of Iraq

    Then what happens?

    French and Italian troops become a peace keeping force?
    Only if NATO wants more troops to help with the heavy lifting in Afghanistan.

  48. September 13th, 2006 at 01:28 | #48

    Here is my account of what went wrong in Iraq. The article is called “Wilful Insubordination”.

    http://www.libertarian.org.au/blog/readArticle.jsp?articleID=9412291

    Extract:-

    When one nation launches a war on another it is ultimately an act of subjugation. Even if the objective was to liberate the people of the foreign nation it is not possible to achieve such an objective through war until the enemy is subdued. Following World War II the allies could help rebuild Germany and Japan only because Germany and Japan had capitulated and accepted subjugation. They acknowledged defeat and accepted that the other party had dominated. However having just subjugated a foreign nation via the hard power of military might, peace depends on the rapid construction of notional legitimacy and the formation of new loyalties. Open defiance by previously respected leaders is a serious threat to establishing new legitimacy. This is why the Romans made a habit of executing the leaders of conqured nations. It is why the Dali Lama in exile causes the Chinese Government so much grief in Tibet.

  49. fatfingers
    September 13th, 2006 at 02:31 | #49

    taust, since you obviously don’t know, gulag is an acronym of Glavnoe Upravlenie Lagerei, and they were Russian forced labour camps for (mostly) political prisoners. SH was a bad, bad man, but he didn’t have gulags.

    And returning to the actual point, ie it was the right (not the left) who supported SH: he was an integral part of the anti-communist drive by the US right throughout the 1960s and ’70s, he was supported as a secular and Western-oriented bulwark against revolutionary Iran, he was given billions of dollars to keep him from forming an attachment to the USSR, he was favoured by Reagan, and he was praised by Donald Rumsfeld.

    You lose.

  50. September 13th, 2006 at 10:38 | #50

    The left has continued to support Saddam Hussein. Its principals believe he was “unlawfully” removed from power, that he should still be President of Iraq and that his mass murder was a small price to pay for “stability”.

    He is now in jail charged with war crimes and genocide.

    The Republicans won.

  51. Ernestine Gross
    September 13th, 2006 at 11:00 | #51

    Terje, How does the ‘wilful insubordination’ on part of Claus von Stauffenberg fit into your model?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claus_Schenk_von_Stauffenberg

  52. Andrew
    September 13th, 2006 at 11:41 | #52

    Paul Kelly in today’s Australian I think finds the right middle ground. The Iraq war was a bad mistake – with the worst outcome being the division it has created within the West. We’ve taken our eye off the common enemy and are too busy squabbling amongst ourselves. Whether that be left v right or US v Europe.

    Bush / Rumsfeld et al are dangerous…. they’ve made a complete hash of the war on terror. But unfortunately the left now seems to be playing the man rather than the ball. I’ve also heard it been described as ‘Moral Relativsim’….. we seem to be losing our moral compass.

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,20400672-12250,00.html

    The end passage sums up –

    “The West remains confused and divided about the nature of this conflict and how to respond. It is polarised between the radical conservative reaction typified by Bush and Tony Blair and the mind-set of denial typified by their progressive opponents. The West has succeeded in the mechanics of tighter security, intelligence and policing. But it has failed in the battle of ideas, the proof being the ongoing recruitment to jihadist ranks in its own societies.

    Bin Laden has won a dividend he never expected. This is the divide between Bush-Blair-Howard executive governments and their progressive critics, whose final denial is their refusal to admit they are part of the problem.”

  53. September 13th, 2006 at 12:04 | #53

    Great editorial in The Australian today [LINK] on how the War on Terrorism is being won and al-Qa’ida is increasingly being degraded. On Iraq:

    It is much harder to fault the White House mindset behind the invasion: that Hussein’s regime, even if lacking weapons of mass destruction, posed a risk the world could not afford to take. Would Iraq under Saddam have used nuclear weapons if it had them? Making the case on the ABC’s Lateline program on Monday that as an incubator for al-Qa’ida and a refuge for its terrorists on the run, Iraq posed a serious world threat, US commentator Christopher Hitchens underscored this possibility. Taken together with what we now know about Pakistani nuclear scientist AQ Khan’s role in spreading atomic weapons technology to rogue states, a plot by Iraq-based terrorists to detonate the dirty “Islamic bomb” bin Laden has called for in a Western city could not be discounted.

    [...]

    Five years on from 9/11, the view from the cave of an ageing and possibly sick bin Laden is not of victory but of his plans for a caliphate stretching across the Islamic world disintegrating.

    “Bush / Rumsfeld et al are dangerous.”

    Indeed.

  54. September 13th, 2006 at 12:36 | #54

    C.L – “Making the case on the ABC’s Lateline program on Monday that as an incubator for al-Qa’ida and a refuge for its terrorists on the run, Iraq posed a serious world threat, US commentator Christopher Hitchens underscored this possibility.”

    Taken from the article this is factually wrong. Iraq was never an incubator for al-Qa’ida at all. It became this AFTER the invasion and SH was removed. As a secular state, before the invasion, Osama Bin Laden was viewed as a threat to SH and Iraq and was in opposition to the regime. SH repeatedly rebuffed contacts with Bin Laden.

    The problem with al-Qa’ida is that the US wants to view it as a heirachical organisation with leaders and a chain of command. In this view then al-Qa’ida is being degraded. However al-Qa’ida is not organised like this – it is system of independant cells with only loose ties to a central command. The only way to deal with this sort of organisation is to reduce support for the operating cells and ignore the ‘high’ command. Large scale military operations only recruit more cell members through resentment.

  55. rog
    September 13th, 2006 at 12:37 | #55

    The divisions in the west are slowly dissolving as countries new to the EU throw off the shackles of socialism and embrace freedom.

    Even Sweden is feeling the draughts of change.

  56. jquiggin
    September 13th, 2006 at 13:32 | #56

    “The left has continued to support Saddam Hussein.”

    An interesting linguistic difference.

    For the left “support” means “supply with money and weapons to be used against his own people”, as the Republicans did in the 1980s, or “assist in ripping off his population”, as AWB did with the connivance of the Aust government, and the continuing support of their cheer squad. So, we think it’s the right that supported Saddam.

    For the war lobby it means, “not be willing to kill tens or hundreds of thousands of innoncent people in the pursuit of a (belated) vendetta against”, and its in this sense that they claim that the left supported Saddam.

  57. September 13th, 2006 at 13:55 | #57

    …this is factually wrong. Iraq was never an incubator for al-Qa’ida at all.

    The 9/11 Report:

    On November 4, 1998, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York unsealed its indictment of Bin Ladin, charging him with conspiracy to attack U.S. defense installations. The indictment also charged that al Qaeda had allied itself with Sudan, Iran, and Hezbollah. The original sealed indictment had added that al Qaeda had “reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq.” This passage led [Richard] Clarke, who for years had read intelligence reports on Iraqi-Sudanese cooperation on chemical weapons, to speculate to Berger that a large Iraqi presence at chemical facilities in Khartoum was “probably a direct result of the Iraq-Al Qida agreement.” Clarke added that VX precursor traces found near al Shifa were the “exact formula used by Iraq.”

    [...]

    [Richard] Clarke was nervous about such a mission because he continued to fear that Bin Ladin might leave for someplace less accessible. He wrote Deputy National Security Advisor Donald Kerrick that one reliable source reported Bin Ladin’s having met with Iraqi officials, who “may have offered him asylum.” Other intelligence sources said that some Taliban leaders, though not Mullah Omar, had urged Bin Ladin to go to Iraq. If Bin Ladin actually moved to Iraq, wrote Clarke, his network would be at Saddam Hussein’s service, and it would be “virtually impossible” to find him.

    Re the bombing of the al Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum, Sudan:

    The senior intelligence officials who briefed reporters [after the attack] laid out the collaboration. “We knew there were fuzzy ties between [bin Laden] and the plant but strong ties between him and Sudan and strong ties between the plant and Sudan and strong ties between the plant and Iraq.”

    Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering, one of those in the small circle of Clinton advisers involved in planning the strikes, briefed foreign reporters on August 25, 1998. He was asked about the connection directly and answered carefully.

    Q: Ambassador Pickering, do you know of any connection between the so-called pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum and the Iraqi government in regard to production of precursors of VX?

    PICKERING: Yeah, I would like to consult my notes just to be sure that what I have to say is stated clearly and correctly. We see evidence that we think is quite clear on contacts between Sudan and Iraq. In fact, al Shifa officials, early in the company’s history, we believe were in touch with Iraqi individuals associated with Iraq’s VX program.

    The Saddam-al Qaeda connection was made by the Clinton Administration. This is an historical fact that cannot be disputed except by eccentrics.

  58. September 13th, 2006 at 14:10 | #58

    EG,

    Stauffenberg and his kind were clearly a threat to Hitler. Hitler would have been mad to forgive such bold insubordination, more so in the midst of war. So it fits neatly with my article. No doubt Stauffenberg was smart enough to appreciate this and was very brave in his attempt to blow up Hitler.

    Subjegating other people to your will through force is clearly a moral mindfield. However if you decide to invade a nation and are prepared to exercise violence against innocent individuals in the process (ie war) then it would be expected that you intend winning. As such you should seek to kill or disarm and capture enemy soldiers (ie physical submission). When it comes to enemy leaders the goal should be to kill them or else gain both physical and psychological submission. If they do not admit defeat, if they openly deny that you have prevailed, if they do not tell their followers that it is time to end hostilities and submit to the mercy of the victor then they are in effect still waging war with you. If you wish to win the peace then you should not be prepared to accept such a challenge to your legitamacy.

    Regards,
    Terje.

    p.s. I hate war, but if it is to be had then the goal should be victory.

    p.p.s. Some of my relatives on mums side were part of the Norweigen resistance and later died in Nazi hands.

  59. Bring Back EP at LP
    September 13th, 2006 at 14:18 | #59

    Observa,

    you claimed Saddam financed Hamas. He didn’t. He gave money to the families of those idiots who went and killed innocent Israelis.

    There is a great difference.

    CL, what was the conclusion from the 9/11 report on the links between Saddam and AQ you know the unanimous conclusion from representatives of the CIA. FBI etal?

  60. September 13th, 2006 at 14:58 | #60

    Homer, take it up with Richard Clarke and the other Clinton administration officials who believed in the connection. (Indeed, they bombed al Shifa partly because they thought a bin Laden-owned factory was making chemical weapons for Saddam Hussein).

    For my part, the connection is irrelevant anyway. Regime change in Iraq was important in its own right. That’s why the Clinton administration made regime change official American policy. (Though, as also demonstrated in their many flopped atttempts to capture bin Laden, they didn’t have the guts to do anything about it).

    Famously, Bill had his mind on other things!

  61. September 13th, 2006 at 15:22 | #61

    C.L – “The Saddam-al Qaeda connection was made by the Clinton Administration. This is an historical fact that cannot be disputed except by eccentrics.”

    Seems like everything can be blamed on Clinton – convenient. However you cannot fix what you do not acknowledge.

    Not sure what 9/11 report you are reading however this article sums it up:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A47812-2004Jun16.html
    ” But the report of the commission’s staff, based on its access to all relevant classified information, said that there had been contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda but no cooperation. In yesterday’s hearing of the panel, formally known as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, a senior FBI official and a senior CIA analyst concurred with the finding.

    The staff report said that bin Laden “explored possible cooperation with Iraq” while in Sudan through 1996, but that “Iraq apparently never responded” to a bin Laden request for help in 1994. The commission cited reports of contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda after bin Laden went to Afghanistan in 1996, adding, “but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship. Two senior bin Laden associates have adamantly denied that any ties existed between al Qaeda and Iraq. We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States.” ”

    and finally this group of eccentrics, the US senate intelligence comittee concluded:

    “According to the report, postwar findings indicate that Saddam “was distrustful of al-Qaida and viewed Islamic extremists as a threat to his regime.”

    It said al-Zarqawi was in Baghdad from May until late November 2002. But “postwar information indicates that Saddam Hussein attempted, unsuccessfully, to locate and capture al-Zarqawi and that the regime did not have a relationship with, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi.”

    In June 2004, Bush defended Vice President
    Dick Cheney’s assertion that Saddam had “long-established ties” with al-Qaida. “Zarqawi is the best evidence of connection to al-Qaida affiliates and al-Qaida,” the president said.

    The report concludes that postwar findings do not support a 2002 intelligence report that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program, possessed biological weapons or had ever developed mobile facilities for producing biological warfare agents.

    “The report is a devastating indictment of the Bush-Cheney administration’s unrelenting, misleading and deceptive attempts to convince the American people that Saddam Hussein was linked with al-Qaida,” said Sen. Carl Levin (news, bio, voting record), D-Mich., a member of the committee. “

  62. Andrew
    September 13th, 2006 at 15:37 | #62

    Ender – ““The report is a devastating indictment of the Bush-Cheney administration’s unrelenting, misleading and deceptive attempts to convince the American people that Saddam Hussein was linked with al-Qaida,â€? said Sen. Carl Levin (news, bio, voting record), D-Mich., a member of the committee. “

    Wow – A democrat criticising the Bush-Cheney administration – how unusual!!!

  63. September 13th, 2006 at 15:45 | #63

    The connection was made by the Clinton administration.

    The Washington Post’s seriousness can be judged by its coverage of the Valerie Plame “scandal” – a topic on which they’ve had to admit they were totally, comprehensively wrong.

    Democrats have conveniently changed their minds about a lot of things in recent years.

    “The community of nations may see more and more of the very kind of threat Iraq poses now: a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction, ready to use them or provide them to terrorists. If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow.”

    – Bill Clinton in 1998

    “Iraq does pose a serious threat to the stability of the Persian Gulf and we should organize an international coalition to eliminate his access to weapons of mass destruction. Iraq’s search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to completely deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power.”

    – Al Gore, 2002

    “In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security.”

    – Hillary Clinton, October 10, 2002

    “I am absolutely convinced that there are weapons…I saw evidence back in 1998 when we would see the inspectors being barred from gaining entry into a warehouse for three hours with trucks rolling up and then moving those trucks out.”

    – Clinton’s Secretary of Defense William Cohen in April of 2003

    “He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983.”

    – Sandy ["Underpants"] Berger, Clinton National Security Adviser, Feb, 18, 1998

    “As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I am keenly aware that the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons is an issue of grave importance to all nations. Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process.”

    – Nancy Pelosi, December 16, 1998

    “Saddam’s goal … is to achieve the lifting of U.N. sanctions while retaining and enhancing Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs. We cannot, we must not and we will not let him succeed.”

    – Madeline Albright, 1998

    “I share the administration’s goals in dealing with Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction.”

    – Dick Gephardt in September of 2002

    “We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction.”

    – Ted Kennedy, September 27, 2002

    “I will be voting to give the president of the United States the authority to use force – if necessary – to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security.”

    – John F. Kerry, Oct 2002

    “We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandates of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them.”

    – Carl Levin, Sept 19, 2002

  64. September 13th, 2006 at 15:49 | #64

    Andrew = “Wow – A democrat criticising the Bush-Cheney administration – how unusual!!!”

    Gee – a conservative ignoring the facts and homing in on petty party politics – how unusual!!!!!

  65. Andrew
    September 13th, 2006 at 16:43 | #65

    Ender, yup…. got me…… sorry, I’ve just been caught doing exactly what I was complaining about above – playing the man and not the ball. Just couldn’t resist.
    Actually – I don’t disagree with anything you say….. Iraq has been a complete c#@k-up from go to whoa (if there is a whoa that is). The neo-cons were just looking for an excuse for regime change and 9/11 was a pretty good excuse.
    However – none of that changes the fact that 9/11 happened, and we in the West need to pull together to beat the threat from radical Islam. As Paul stated in the Australian today – the first step is to stop denying there is a threat. That doesn’t mean blindly following Bush/Rumfeld into their next folly – but it does mean acknowledging the reality of the threat and to stop pussy footing around the fact that this is an Islamic problem. It seems to me that moderate Muslims need to do a lot more to stamp out extremism in their ranks.

  66. September 13th, 2006 at 17:15 | #66

    The neo-cons were just looking for an excuse for regime change and 9/11 was a pretty good excuse.

    Regime change in Iraq became policy under Bill Clinton.

  67. rog
    September 13th, 2006 at 19:07 | #67

    Regime change is a “bad thing?”

    Like in the Congo, the West sits back and congratulates itself for not imposing any “regime change” but on “global warming” demands instant action

  68. September 13th, 2006 at 20:10 | #68

    Ahh quotes.Let’s have a look again at Kerry from a September 2002 op-ed

    Regime change in Iraq is a worthy goal. But regime change by itself is not a justification for going to war. Absent a Qaeda connection, overthrowing Saddam Hussein — the ultimate weapons-inspection enforcement mechanism — should be the last step, not the first. Those who think that the inspection process is merely a waste of time should be reminded that legitimacy in the conduct of war, among our people and our allies, is not a waste, but an essential foundation of success.

  69. September 13th, 2006 at 20:44 | #69

    Andrew – “However – none of that changes the fact that 9/11 happened, and we in the West need to pull together to beat the threat from radical Islam. As Paul stated in the Australian today – the first step is to stop denying there is a threat.”

    What is the threat from radical Islam? What about the threat from radical christianity? That scares me as much as radical Islam.

    The threat from radical Islam is reasonably easy to solve – stop occupying their lands and repressing the people there. However while this society needs oil this is not going to happen.

  70. September 13th, 2006 at 21:01 | #70

    Ah, quotes.

    Perhaps the words that Kerry will have the hardest time explaining today are those he uttered three days after Hussein was captured. [Howard] Dean, who had emerged as Kerry’s strongest challenger for the Democratic nomination, said that while Hussein’s capture was good news, it had not “made America any safer.”

    Kerry seized on the statement, telling students at Drake University, “Those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein, and those who believe we are not safer with his capture, don’t have the judgment to be president or the credibility to be elected president.”

    - San Francisco Chronicle, 23 December 2004.

    Quite so.

  71. September 13th, 2006 at 23:06 | #71

    And with Saddam captured and the corner turned, nine months later September 20th

    Today, because of George Bush’s policy in Iraq, the world is a more dangerous place for America and Americans.

    and we all lived happily ever after.

  72. jquiggin
    September 14th, 2006 at 09:20 | #72

    No disagreement from me on the fact that Saddam’s capture was good news or that Kerry is prone to vacillation.

    Still, given the mess Bush and the Republicans have made of things, I’d prefer to take the optimistic view that America can get things right in the end, a view not shared, apparently by most of the Australian right, whose line nowadays is that however bad Bush may be, the Democrats are even worse.

  73. Andrew
    September 14th, 2006 at 09:58 | #73

    Ender ‘What is the threat from radical Islam?”…. oh… my goodness!!!
    If we can’t even acknowledge that there is a threat from radical Islam then I’m not sure there is much point in debating anything else.

    It’s a bit like the climate change issue – until people stop being denialist that there is a problem it is very hard to come up with solutions. That to me has been the real disaster from Iraq – it’s been an incredibly divisive issue in the West at a time when we need to be united.

    Oh – and yes, I wholeheartedly agree that radical christianity is a problem as well.

  74. gordon
    September 14th, 2006 at 10:19 | #74

    Tom Englehardt, an apparently pretty well-known American antiwar blogger, sums up some salient facts here.

  75. milano803
    September 14th, 2006 at 11:26 | #75

    Andrew, the nature of the western world pretty much precludes it being united on much. There are always going to be petty jealousies and political realities that end up with the west being divided. Because we are free to disagree on any and everything, you can be sure that we always will. For that most part, that’s a good thing, I don’t want the west to move lockstep like the ME does, directed around by despots. It’s mesier no doubt. But still preferable.

  76. September 14th, 2006 at 11:59 | #76

    Andrew – “If we can’t even acknowledge that there is a threat from radical Islam then I’m not sure there is much point in debating anything else.”

    I can tell you the threat from climate change. It is the threat of major disruption to our food growing system, increased natural disasters, mass exctinctions from warming and displacement of people due to sea level rises. All real and potentially disasterous.

    I was not denying the threat from radical Islam I was asking you to list the threat that radical Islam poses to Western society. This is because although I have heard the rhetoric that radical islam poses a major threat I have never seen anyone list what the dangers are that can threaten the foundations of western civilisation. I would like you or someone else to list them or point me to a reference where someone explains the threat so I can learn what they are.

    Most of the radical islam threat that is normally mentioned is regional and in response to actions in a particular country and are no more a threat to the whole of Western society than the IRA bombing campaign in the nineties, the Red Brigade of the seventies or the current conflict in Sri Lanka where suicide bombing was first used.

  77. milano803
    September 14th, 2006 at 12:16 | #77

    What region of the world is not being negatively affected by radical islam?

    Here’s a partial list of the threat of radical islam:
    1) the Bali restaurant bombing that killed Australians and Indonesians
    2) the 1972 Olympics slaughter of the Israeli olympic team
    3) the USS Cole bombing
    4) the 1996 WTC bombing
    5) the slaughter of Theo Van Gogh on the street
    6) The 7/7 London bombing
    7) the recent plan to highjack 10 planes in London
    8) 9/11
    9) The recent murder of a senior shite cleric outside an Iraqi mosque
    10) The attempted destruction of Danish embassies as well as the killings over some cartoons
    11) the murder of Sergio Viera de Mello, the Brazilian UN envoy
    12) the attempt to blow up the Parliament in New Delhi
    13) the destruction of the Golden Dome in Samara
    14) synagogue bombings in Tunisia
    15) synagogue bombings in Turkey
    16) synagogue bombings in Morocco
    17) the slaughter of Daniel Pearl and numerous other journalists and civilians, all filmed for later enjoyment
    18) the recent conversions at swordpoint to islam of two western reporters/cameraman, also filmed
    19) 3/11 in Spain

  78. Andrew
    September 14th, 2006 at 13:04 | #78

    Ender,

    I would have thought the list was pretty obvious….. but to name a few;

    9/11
    Bali I
    Bali II
    Madrid
    London
    Jakarta
    Jordan
    Mumbai (perhaps?)

    You misunderstand my point perhaps….. I am not saying that radical Islam is ‘threat to the whole of Western society’… our society is way too resilient to be defeated by a ragtag group of islamist extremists.

    But radical Islam is a real and present danger that if not contained will result in more bloodshed – and perhaps close to home. Do you really believe that if given the opportunity, a cell of JI wouldn’t create carnage in an Australian city?

    My point is that the Iraq debacle has distracted the West from more coherantly dealing with this issue – we are too busy trying to score political points with other (see Liz Jackson’s interview with JH on Four Corners)
    http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/content/2006/s1738199.htm

    Milano – yes good point, in many ways the capacity of the West to have these internal divides and debates is ultimately one of its great strengths – and probably the ultimate reason why we’ll win any ‘clash of civilisation’ with Islam, but it certainly doesn’t help in the short term with the immediate battle with Islamic extremism.

  79. September 14th, 2006 at 13:06 | #79

    milano803 – “What region of the world is not being negatively affected by radical islam?”

    Yes these things are terrible however how does it affect the foundations of Western Civilisation? The worst damage that has been done to democracy has been done by ourselves with new terrorist laws.

  80. milano803
    September 14th, 2006 at 13:24 | #80

    It affects all civilization, not just western. No area of the globe is safe from radical islam, including the ME.

  81. milano803
    September 14th, 2006 at 13:31 | #81

    Andrew, yes I agree, in the short term it slows down an effective response to islamic terror. But the interesting thing to me is that had Al Gore won in 2000 or Kerry in 2004, I think they would have taken very similar actions to what Bush has taken. If for no other reason than the ONE thing the US public won’t stand for is inactivity in the face of known danger. The argument that Clinton should have done more, while true, ignores the fact that Clinton, like Bush in early 2001, didn’t have the information that would have allowed him, had he been inclined, to take stronger actions than he did. Should he have had that info? Certainly. But he didn’t.

    But Gore and subsequently Kerry, could not have ignored the known as of 9/11 danger. While they take shots at Bush for his actions, they would have had to do the same things. What would they tell the US public? We’re not going to do anything about Saddam? After 9/11? At that point, the danger from the ME, the entire ME, came into stark evidence.

  82. September 14th, 2006 at 14:22 | #82

    milano803 – “It affects all civilization, not just western. No area of the globe is safe from radical islam, including the ME.”

    Yes that is probably true however how does this affect our economy and/or civilisation apart from what we have done ourselves? How does terrorism work to threaten the mechanism of our society? Why is the terrorism threat different now as compared to the threat that say England faced from the IRA? I don’t recall the Poms screaming that the Harrods bombing changed the face of terrorism.

  83. September 14th, 2006 at 14:56 | #83

    Quigging I think I’m starting to like you, you’re so shameless in your employ of logical fallacies.

    I find it interesting how the Fedayeen Saddam trained thousands of foreign Arabs in basic guerilla warfare and terrorist strategies and techniques and shipped them back to their home countries from 1994 up to the invasion, that Saddam slipped money to Palestinian terrorist groups in addition to his gift of 25 grand to the families of “martyrs,” etc., yet Iraq under his rule was not an “incubator” of terrorism. If it was not, then pray tell what is?

  84. milano803
    September 14th, 2006 at 15:04 | #84

    “Yes that is probably true however how does this affect our economy and/or civilisation apart from what we have done ourselves? ”

    I just told you. I gave you an entire list. Not a thing on it, did anyone other than islamic fanatics “do themselves”.

    “Why is the terrorism threat different now as compared to the threat that say England faced from the IRA?”

    It isn’t. It was up to England to do something about terror threats it was facing.

    “I don’t recall the Poms screaming that the Harrods bombing changed the face of terrorism.”

    If you can write this in English, I’ll try to reply.

  85. Andrew
    September 14th, 2006 at 15:04 | #85

    Ender,

    Terrorism does not threaten the ‘mechanism of our society’… we will win this war on terror. But that does not diminish the near term tactical threat from radical islam.

    There is a world of difference between the IRA and radical Islam….. I can’t imagine the IRA blowing up the Empire State Building, a Sydney Ferry, a German hotel or a Pakistani Mosque…. I can see radical Islam doing all that and more if given the chance.

    I find it frustrating and a little scary that a significant minority of Westerners cannot even acknowledge this threat. Is it for fear of providing succour to the real enemy (Bush/Howard et al)? Why can’t we simultaneously hold the view that Islamic extremism needs to be tackled head-on, but that Iraq was/is a complete c#@k-up?

  86. September 14th, 2006 at 15:43 | #86

    Andrew – “But that does not diminish the near term tactical threat from radical islam.”

    And that is what? Also if terrorism does not threaten our society why are we rapidly dismantling our democracies and turning them into police states?

    “There is a world of difference between the IRA and radical Islam….. I can’t imagine the IRA blowing up the Empire State Building, a Sydney Ferry, a German hotel or a Pakistani Mosque…. I can see radical Islam doing all that and more if given the chance.”

    Why is there such a difference? The IRA was, at its height, every bit as ruthless and desperate as any Islamic group. Why do you think that Islamic terrorists will blow up the Empire state building etc??? If for instance we joined a war occupying Northern Island during the eighties and nineties and caused resentment among the Catholic community there could have existed the possiblity that IRA attacks could have happened here.

    I do agree that terrorists in all forms must be dealt with. What I find difficult to deal with is the hysteria surrounding the islamic terrorist boogie men that can apparently and conveniently strike anywhere in the world at anytime. Also the head boogie man despite a huge operation conveniently cannot be found after 5 years of looking.

    “I find it frustrating and a little scary that a significant minority of Westerners cannot even acknowledge this threat.”

    Again to me the threat has been hyped out of all proportion to the acual threat. You have said yourself that “Terrorism does not threaten the ‘mechanism of our society’… we will win this war on terror.” so how is the tactical threat of bomb blast a strategic threat to our civilisation? Also to you, what will be the end of the war on terror? ie: what event will define the surrender or cessation of hostilities in the GWOT? Do we have signing on a battleship or should we pick a train? Who will sign for the terrorists??

  87. September 14th, 2006 at 15:51 | #87

    milano803 – “I just told you. I gave you an entire list. Not a thing on it, did anyone other than islamic fanatics “do themselvesâ€?.”

    You gave a list of attacks that have happened. How did these attacks bring Western civilisation to its knees? Obviously the didn’t so you premise may be incorrect.

    “It isn’t. It was up to England to do something about terror threats it was facing.”

    Yes but they did not respond by invading France.

    “If you can write this in English, I’ll try to reply.”
    OK

    I do not recall that the people of England reacted to the bombing campaign of the IRA by screaming to the world that the nature of terrorism had changed.

  88. Andrew
    September 14th, 2006 at 17:13 | #88

    Ender,

    As I keep saying – Islamic terrorism is not a ‘strategic’ threat to our civilisation. Stop putting words in my mouth. However – it is a tactical threat – you say ‘what is that?’ – but haevn’t we moved on from there? The list of terrorist acts from Milano was more comprehensive than mine.

    “What I find difficult to deal with is the hysteria surrounding the islamic terrorist boogie men that can apparently and conveniently strike anywhere in the world at anytime. Also the head boogie man despite a huge operation conveniently cannot be found after 5 years of looking.”

    So you are one of those conspiracy theorists who think this all just a lot of hyped up nonsense by Bush/Blair/Howard to keep the masses in thrall whilst they implement their right wing domestic agendas? Frankly – I have more faith in my fellow citizens…. they will make their own mind up about the conservative domestic agendas at the polls.

  89. September 14th, 2006 at 18:02 | #89

    Andrew – “As I keep saying – Islamic terrorism is not a ’strategic’ threat to our civilisation”

    So why is it such a huge problem?

    “So you are one of those conspiracy theorists who think this all just a lot of hyped up nonsense by Bush/Blair/Howard to keep the masses in thrall whilst they implement their right wing domestic agendas?”

    Well you have stated that it is not a strategic threat to our civilisation yet this is exactly what Bush/Blair/Howard are saying it is. And a lot of right wing agendas have been enacted in the name of counter terrorism. So why the huge response to a minor tactical threat? You can see where conspiracy theories spring from. I agree that the list of terrorist acts recently is quite long. Terrorism did not start with 9/11 however the hysteria did. Also in the list of terrorist acts 9/11 stands alone and is quite unique again adding fuel to conspiracy theorists.

  90. Dave Surls
    September 15th, 2006 at 10:49 | #90

    “Recognising that the Iraq venture has been a disastrous failure”

    Leftys have no trouble recognizing what a disaster the campaign in Iraq has been…for their Baathist pals and the Baathists’ terrorist proxies (e.g. the late Abu Abbas).

    That’s why they’re constantly whining and sniveling about how horrible the war is.

    For the rest of us, the war has been a smashing success.

  91. September 15th, 2006 at 20:29 | #91

    Dave Surls – “That’s why they’re constantly whining and sniveling about how horrible the war is.”

    Are you there fighting it?

  92. Dave Surls
    September 16th, 2006 at 04:44 | #92

    “Are you there fighting it?”

    Q. What’s that have to do with the subject at hand?

    A. Nothing.

  93. Hal9000
    September 16th, 2006 at 09:41 | #93

    “For the rest of us, the war has been a smashing success.”

    Got any data to back up that whopper? Even among RWDBs, that’s not a claim getting much airplay these days. Certainly the beribboned brass running the war from the front, as opposed to their armchairs, don’t make claims like that any more. Heard ‘mission accomplished’ from George W recently?

    At any event, the terrorists’ game is to make up for their lack of actual firepower by doing things that make the public far more fearful of them than the risk they really represent. This was the IRA’s game, and it is AQ’s game. And the media plays along with it. Why? Because the things that really threaten you and me are mundane things like motor vehicle accidents, heart disease, cancer and, oh yes, the catastrophic effects of climate change. Compared to these genuine threats to life and limb, terrorism is down there statistically with bee stings, lightning strikes and attacks by wild animals. And rather less than attacks by old fashioned criminals like serial killers.

    Now, we could take action to reduce the real risks dramatically, but we don’t because of the inconvenience it would represent. For example, speed limiting all motor vehicles to 30 kmh would save each month more Australian lives than have been lost in all terrorist incidents everywhere in all history. We don’t do that as a society because we are prepared to wear the carnage in exchange for getting around that bit faster.

    It would be perfectly rational for us to make the same choice about, say, airport security. In exchange for the convenience of not having to waste an hour in security checks for each flight (the way we used to), we could be prepared to risk the small but real chance that we’d be blown up. I’m sure it would still be less than the chance of being torn limb from limb in a motor vehicle accident.

    Meanwhile, the resources being devoted to the Iraq war alone would, if spent elsewhere, have significantly reduced any number of genuine threats to the lives of all of us and indeed to western civilisation. Climate change, public health – you name it. Meanwhile this fabulous treasure is being squandered on a war where every statistic demonstrates deepening failure – numbers of casualties, numbers of attacks, remaining areas secure from attacks etc etc.

    It is instructive to compare the GWOT with Britain’s IRA experience. While ever the British responded to the IRA with the kind of military-security tactics we’ve seen so far in the GWOT – preemptive imprisonment, assassinations, massive security clampdowns etc – the IRA campaign intensified, was aimed more at mass murder of civilians and was carried onto mainland Britain (and indeed British installations elsewhere). What brought victory was dialogue and attempts to address genuine grievances and injustices. It is not difficult to imagine what the results would have been if instead the British had invaded and occupied the Irish Republic. Yet that is pretty much what the GWOT tactics have been so far. They have and will continue to exacerbate the risk of terrorist attack for all of us. To paraphrase the old Vietnam protest slogan – fighting a war on terrorism is like ….ing for virginity.

    In conclusion, I’m always bemused by the logic of GWOT armchair warriors as regards terrorist recruitment. It reminds me of logic of the moral alarmists’ view of homosexuality, which is that homosexuality is such an inherently attractive lifestyle that if children even learn about its existence they’ll all become homosexuals. Thus no homosexual should ever be allowed to teach, and all references to the orientation should be censored. Similarly, it seems GWOT warriors would like to censor any discussion about who the terrorists are and what their grievances might be. In their inchoate aims and international reach, AQ most resemble the anarchists whose campaign plagued Europe in the nineteenth century. Hamas, Hizballah and the Iraqi insurgency, meanwhile, look like common or garden nationalist movements – like the LTTE, the IRA or dare I say it the American Minutemen (each of which have or had religious as well as nationalist underpinnings). Still, I imagine it’s unlikely that public debate on the subject should be founded on rational analysis while the ‘Iraq has been a smashing success’ view has some currency.

  94. Dave Surls
    September 16th, 2006 at 11:20 | #94

    “Got any data to back up that whopper?”

    I guess you’ll just have to accept my word that I’m content with the outcome of the military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

  95. September 16th, 2006 at 11:59 | #95

    Dave Surls – “Q. What’s that have to do with the subject at hand?

    A. Nothing. ”

    Its got an enormous amount to with it. Generally people that are most in favour of war are a lot less likely to have actually fought in one.

    There are plenty of chickenhawks that think war is grand as long as someone else does the dying.

  96. Dave Surls
    September 16th, 2006 at 18:25 | #96

    “Its got an enormous amount to with it.”

    Nah, it has nothing to do with how successful the military campaigns have been.

    “There are plenty of chickenhawks that think war is grand as long as someone else does the dying.”

    This is a subject on which which western anti-American leftists are expert, for while there are legions of them who whine and moan about American “agression” and “imperialism” Bush “fascism”, etc., not one of them has the balls to pick arms and fight against the wicked Americans in Afghanistan, Iraq or inside their own countries (most of which have American bases) They’re quite content to let Iraqi guerrillas etc. do the dying…while western leftists handle the bitching and moaning end of things

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I’m glad leftists are too cowardly to take up arms against us. We’d have a much harder time of it, if he had to fight the Baathists, Talibaners, Al Qaida terrorists AND western anti-American left wing loons.

  97. September 16th, 2006 at 19:53 | #97

    Dave Surls – “We’d have a much harder time of it, if he had to fight the Baathists, Talibaners, Al Qaida terrorists AND western anti-American left wing loons.”

    By you non-commital answer you are obviously not among the people actually in combat so I do not know where the ‘we’ comes from.

    So I repeat are you actually one of the people that are putting their life on the line or just another chickenhawk. If you are you are in pretty good coompany – all the prominent neo-cons are exactly that – happy to send boys into action without being prepared to do the same.

    So when you speak of those who consider war a terrible, horrible thing that should only be entered into in the most direst of circumstances as whiners and moaners at least we do not order young men to die in horrible ways for our particular brand of obsession. We also do not risk collateral damage of thousands of civilian deaths. We also did not send a too small force into a large country. We also did not let the irreplaceable treasures from the cradle of civilisation be looted when the oil fields were the first to be secured. We also did not allow through total incometance the armouries of Saddam Hussein to be looted which then became the arms of the insurgency.

  98. Dave Surls
    September 17th, 2006 at 06:58 | #98

    “just another chickenhawk.”

    You’ll never hear the leftist scum make comments like that about supporters of Hezbollah, Al Qaida, the Baathists et al, who aren’t actually taking part in the fighting.

    That’s because the leftist scum aren’t going to call people who are on their side cowards (especially themselves).

  99. jquiggin
    September 17th, 2006 at 09:02 | #99

    I think we’ll call a halt there. Dave, thanks for the insight you’ve given us into the pro-war viewpoint.

  100. September 17th, 2006 at 12:43 | #100

    jq – sorry – I never learn do I?

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