TCS Daily


Defining Binladenism

By Josh Manchester - July 17, 2006 12:00 AM

The ideology of Al Qaeda can be refuted, but only if it is clearly defined. Defining and refuting binladenism today would serve us by helping capture terrorists and foiling attacks: Al Qaeda is alive and well, but the recruits who seek it are motivated by the ideology that defines it, and the societies which produce those recruits are less likely to do so if they can offer some rigorous debate as to why binladenism is an affront to Islam.

Could an attempt to define "binladenism" apart from Islam bear fruit? Could Osama's own statements be used to show a contrast to the Koran and the central doctrines of Islam? Is there evidence that the basis of a doctrine of liberty exists within Islam, and that binladenism is opposed to it?

Michael Novak, the religion scholar, writes of ways to find freedom in Islam in his book, The Universal Hunger for Liberty. "Any religion that promises reward or punishment after death for actions performed during life, as Islam does, embodies a theory of liberty, even if that theory is tacit and undeveloped. ... Every woman and man reflects; each chooses; each one on reflection repents or approves of some of those past choices. These preconditions of a theory of liberty are universal."

In strategic terms, starting a conversation that defines binladenism would exploit the ideological success of the war in Iraq. Such an "offensive" move could cleave the Muslim world ideologically in our favor and introduce new memes into the war of ideas that rages largely unknown to non-Muslim westerners.

Indeed, there are signs that a serious debate is ongoing in the Muslim world over binladenism. Omar of Iraq the Model reports on the progress of the ideological war within Iraq. After analyzing more than 500 comments on a BBC Arabic site about the current Israeli campaign in Gaza, he draws this conclusion:

About three dozen comments were made by Iraqis both inside Iraq and in exile and all these comments were supportive of Israel or at least against Hamas as far as the topic is concerned except for only three comments; that's a 10:1 ratio while as you probably have guessed, the opposite ratio is true about the comments by the rest of Arabs...

But what really makes me feel optimistic about this new Iraqi way of thinking is that it shows how Iraqis are beginning to distinguish between terrorism and rightful acts of resistance not only in Iraq but also on a global level and are showing decreasing tolerance for extremism and this in my opinion is what builds peace in the region or any given region of this world.

A debate is raging in the Muslim world, but the US, rhetorically anyway, has little role in it. The Iraqis have discovered the true intent of our enemies: the subjugation of populations; the repudiation of liberty. Moreover, the Iraqis are discovering the futility of violent extremism. Here's a task for "public diplomacy": help the rest of the Arabs, and Muslims in Europe too, feel the same way as the Iraqis do.

An historical parallel is helpful to understand how this could be done. In President Reagan's first press conference as president, he attempted to define the nature of the Soviet Union and show its amorality in the same breath. "As good Marxist-Leninists, the Soviet leaders have openly and publicly declared that the only morality they recognize is that which will further their cause, which is world revolution." Reagan was showing that the Soviet Union had an amoral core, that it was opposed to the conception of religious morality as many people experience it. More importantly, his efforts to define his enemy were sustained and unyielding.

U.S. News and World Report recently put out a brief update on the status of our ideological war, suggesting we are falling short:

The White House's National Security Council has convened yet another interagency committee to develop a strategy aimed at marginalizing extremists ... this is at least the fourth attempt at coordinating federal efforts on infowar. But critics say the effort is typical of [Undersecretary of State Karen] Hughes's quick-hit, political campaign-like approach to what is a years-long ideological struggle.

Instead of a "quick-hit, political campaign-like approach" to public diplomacy, the US should gird itself for a long struggle of ideas and all of the conversations and debates that struggle will entail. The catch is that those in the Muslim world who agree with the West's rebuttal of binladenism might leave their loyalties open to question. How to encourage and shape the debate while not poisoning it with our very participation? This is our dilemma.

Josh Manchester is a TCS Daily contributing writer.
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46 Comments

Are terrorists Emersonian?
I heard an interesting exchange on Fox News today. One of the talking heads said that for the Hezbollah terrorists, it didn't matter if they won or lost, so long as they participated. I thought, "How Emersonian!". I can just imagine that the Islamofascist version of Walt Whitman is sitting around in South Lebanon right now smoking weed and writing poetry for the ages.

I think the Fox News contributor was right. The outcome of this conflict matters to Israelis living in fear of the rockets. It matters to the Lebanese, watching the infrastructure of their country being blown to pieces. It probably matters to Iran and Syria, who do their regional bidding through surrogates because they are (rightly) too chicken to start a war against Israel themselves. But to the Shiite terrorists, it's all about participating. Same with bin Laden, the 9/11 hijackers, etc.

The key is to make participation a losing proposition for them. Right now, it's a winner, as they don't value their own lives any more than they value their victims' lives. The Karen Hughes approach is, in fact, a step in the right direction... OUR direction. How about it we take some well known terrorist leader, kidnap him, and videotape him smoking crack with Marion Barry? Or having sex with Paris Hilton? Or playing cards with Bill Bennet? Drop a whole bunch of DVDs and brand new DVD Players (always good to involve the Chinese) on various Shiite strongholds and see what develops. Yeah, I know, "disproportionate"...

It's almost like a religion
"Binladenism" is pretty simple stuff, and can indeed be described independently of any religious connotation. It is better called "Al Qaeda", as this term now refers more to the philosophy than to any actual network of individuals. Any new group following the principles of Al Qaeda can form and call itself Al Qaeda of the Philippines, or Al Qaeda of Denmark. They don't have to have cards issued by Bin Laden himself.

Basically Western industrial civilization has decided it is the best way for all people to live, and so it devotes much of its substance toward military control of the planet. Al Qaeda has decided that Western civilization is inferior to their way, which naturally is commanded by God, so their mission is to defeat the West and live their lives as they deem fit.

I don't think this problem is going away. Just as the Israelis haven't been able to cow the Palestinians into submission by fifty years of massive armed superiority, the West is unlikely to defeat Al Qaeda by force of arms and impose our will on the Islamic Arc. To the extent that we continue to try we will bankrupt ourselves before they submit.

Nonmilitary solutions would IMO be a much more fertile approach. We could even consider allowing them to govern themselves as they best saw fit.

Re: it's almost like a religion
I agree with the idea of Al Qaeda being more a loose collection of fellow-travellers than a tight-knit co-ordinated force. After all, far better for a group of socially-inadequate fantasists from Leeds to have people believe that they are part of a world-wide conspiracy rather than the fact that they either plotted at home in their bedrooms or failed misearably fighting in Afghanistan.
However, I disagree that Islamism as a political force will last until there is a victor. Just as it hasn't always existed it neither will it. It takes on different forms at different times. In the 60s to late 80s it was a reactionary brake on national liberation movements and radical politics in the West. In France, it was encouraged as a way of distracting Arab youth from joining socialist, orthodox communist or revolutionary movements. In Palastine, Israel encouraged Hamas as a socially conservative couterweight to the PLO. And we all know about the US-Mujahadeen coalition in Afghanistan.
With the end of the Cold War, Nat Lib movements went into decline. One reason being that the absence of an alternative pole to the West led to all alternatives being discredited by the failure of their programmes, betrayal of their supporters and corruption of their leaders. (a similar process took place in the West.)
While the West had a free rein in the rest of the world to intervene as it pleased, the vaccuum of anti-imperialist sentiment was filled by the emerging political Islamic forces. While these don't have anywhere near the mass appeal (or sophistication) of the old radical movements, they do have a limited constituency.
Until new secular movements emerge, political Islam will continue to bob along with the occasional atocity in the West and more focused activity wherever the West has decided to lay its hat.

govern themselves?
When you say that western civilization should allow others to govern themselves, did you mean like the Taliban did? Oh, you'll say that they didn't really govern themselves. Then tell us which country you are referring to that could be used as an example. You might notice that there are some countries that do govern themselves, and are not "militarily controlled", and are doing just fine: taiwan, south korea, japan, singapore, malaysia, new zealand, etc. Also, tell us which places western civilization is controlling militarily.

The many faces of Roy
>"Nonmilitary solutions would IMO be a much more fertile approach. We could even consider allowing them to govern themselves as they best saw fit."

I always find it interesting that liberals are willing to protest the search of library records, saying the pledge of allegiance, tracking terrorist financial transactions, or anything that seems to impact a woman's right to choose but who are eager to legitimize a religion and philosophy that freely stones homosexuals, kill little girls for family honor, believes women to be property, straps explosives on boys, and feels free to kill artists who practise their right to free expression.

As long as they oppose Western society, Roy and his ilk have no problem allowing governments that oppress women, children, and infidels. We can not give up are freedoms to a hostile theocrat like Bush but those little brown people over there don't need freedom and rights like we possess. Does that not strike anyone as a disgusting and racist policy?

Roy follows a familiar leftist pattern of believing that the woes of the world can be laid at American feet. Our imposition of democracy on the Germans and Japanese worked very well considering that most believed them incapable of understanding anything but an iron fist. The same thing needs to occur in the Middle East. Islam needs to find a modern form of worship that recognizes individual freedoms and individual responsibilities. Self-governance? Sure. If they create systems that give human rights to women and minorities. Until then they are a medieval governments that obviously can't govern themselves.

Although I would like to hear Roy's "non-military" solutions. Considering the fact that most of the trouble stems from "non-military" solutions, I am sure they are just as enjoyable as his inability to see his own hypocracy.

Hypocrisy indeed!
'We can not give up are [sic] freedoms to a hostile theocrat like Bush but those little brown people over there don't need freedom and rights like we possess. Does that not strike anyone as a disgusting and racist policy?'

Concluded with 'Our imposition of democracy on the Germans and Japanese worked very well considering that most believed them incapable of understanding anything but an iron fist. The same thing needs to occur in the Middle East. Islam needs to find a modern form of worship that recognizes individual freedoms and individual responsibilities. Self-governance? Sure. If they create systems that give human rights to women and minorities. Until then they are a medieval governments that obviously can't govern themselves.'
This srikes me as racist and as disgusting an attitude and policy as the words you put in Roy's mouth.
Imposition of democracy? Nice turn of phrase! Does that mean imposing your views on the people of the Middle East? How many votes were cast for the Tlaloc party? The forcible imposition of an outsider's views will not create democracy. Particularly as democracy under the tutelage of Western-sponsored bodies is a perversion of the concept of it, these days. Anyone who sees democracy as something that can be dictated to by outside bodies (EU, UN, US) and describes the electorate as 'a mob' when they make the 'wrong' decisions isn't worthy of calling themselves a democrat.
It took hundreds of years of struggle before women gained the vote, ethnic minorities achieved civil rights, gay people gained equality, colonies achieved political independence etc and here us johnny-come-lateleys are telling the rest of the world to pick up the pace!
Clearly only the people of the Middle East can decide their own future ... preferably without being first bombed back into the Stone Age.

Freedom is so out of style
>"The forcible imposition of an outsider's views will not create democracy."

Same thing was said about those barbaric Germans and Japanese. They seem to done quite well with the concept and made it their own. History has proven your statement to be a lie.

>"Particularly as democracy under the tutelage of Western-sponsored bodies is a perversion of the concept of it, these days."

I reckon you are one of those "You only think you're free" types. If you don't think we are free, live in Iran for a month and tell me what freedom is all about.

>"It took hundreds of years of struggle before women gained the vote, ethnic minorities achieved civil rights, gay people gained equality, colonies achieved political independence etc and here us johnny-come-lateleys are telling the rest of the world to pick up the pace!"

So since we took a long time to correct our own systems and declare human rights to be universal we should accept the fact that those who abuse human rights should not be stopped since our ancestors acted like them? Interesting logic, if it can be called logic, since I am sure that a woman living in Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, or Gaza doesn't wish to enjoy them like we do. She can find her own way... or be killed in the street for dishonoring her family.

So yes, we have a total right to force other governments to respect the rights of their citizens. Is that not what the UN was created to do? It is your ignorant way of thinking that has totally crippled it.

The people of the Middle East can decide their own fate and future. That is exactly what isn't occuring right now. The Lebanese have been held down by the Syrians and Iranians. The Iranians have been held down by the Mullahs. The list goes on and it doesn't help that the oppression is mandated by Allah himself.

The Iraqis were held down by a tyrant and now have the ability to decide their own future. As have the Afghan people. Will they slide back into oppression? Maybe. But at least they have chance and they seem to be taking it.

For some reason it has become out of style to endorse freedom for the Middle East.

BTW: You are not a "johnny-come-lately" if you are one of the first ones to do something. In this case, the Middle East tyrannies are the "johnny-come-lately's".

War is the answer
I personally would not care to live in a fundamentalist theocracy, whether in Iran or in Alabama. And I'll readily acknowledge that these religious primitives raise their children in a fashion that stunts their intelligence, while they keep their women like animals. But I think there's a practical matter at work here, and that is that there is something in the human spirit that refuses to bow down to an alien overlord.

So my thinking is that no matter how long we keep troops in these countries, they're going to hate us and bring us to grief. Therefore the smart person would leave now. We're not going to get them to go along with us or our way of life. Ever.

They obviously have to work through this stage. In the mean time we can offer liberal immigration quotas for human rights refugees, like Afghan women.

I defy you to look at the past humdred years of human activity and tell me that "most of the trouble" stems from non-military solutions. Even today, while nuclear, chemical and biological warfare takes approximately zero lives each year, small arms in the hands of national armies, police forces, militias and independence movements take around 200,000 lives each year. It's war, not peace, that poses the greatest problem.

Given Islamist theocracies in the majority of Muslim countries, we could expect to see them outgrow it within two to three generations. Look what happened to Communism.

If the military approach were to be effective, and to have the power to convince people their religion was wrong, I'd be with you. But that's just a crock. All it does is make them hate us.

Do I mean like the Taliban?
Yes, that's exactly what I mean. If you haven't noticed, the Taliban are back. And they're tanned, rested and ready. They are quite prepared to outlast us, whether it takes ten years or twenty, and to take over as the last plane is leaving the tarmac. That being the case, why don't we just leave now?

They are an absolutely terrible government, and very unpopular in Afghanistan. So as soon as the Afghan people have had a chance to rest up from the war they will overthrow them with no help from anyone, and install a government they like better. But if we choose to stay, the only people in the country who will cooperate with us are those types that join occupation governments in any country. And we'll have to stay for the next hundred years to prop them up. Afghanistan is not worth the investment.

With or without our help, Afghanistan is never going to become a Taiwan. But the more we prolong their progress the longer it will take them to get through the stage of being ruled by the mullahs and get back to the kind of independent and progressive government they had under Zahir Shah, in the fifties and sixties.

What history teaches us
I hesitate to butt into a discussion that I think is going well without me, but feel I should point out that the situation of Japan and Germany in 1945 was quite a lot different than the one in Iraq in 2006.

The Japanese and the Germans were defeated peoples, who had banked everything on an offensive push to rule the world, and lost. They were helpless and expected to be destroyed by the conquerors. Imagine their surprise when instead we helped them get on their feet and estanblish democratic governments.

Iraqis are not only not defeated, they're not even a unified people. They're a gaggle of warring tribes that stand ready to kill anyone who tries to tell them how to live their lives. That's how they ended up being ruled by one of the world's most ruthless dictators-- no one else would be up to the job.

We'll keep trying to feed them the democratic medicine for a few more years yet. But eventually we'll get the idea that they will never let us tell them how they should live. And then we'll go home.

The historic precedent is not Japan and Germany, but Vietnam. They were ruled by the French, then the Japanese, then the French again and then the Americans. They outlasted everyone, because they were trying harder.

Peace, love, and dopes
>"But I think there's a practical matter at work here, and that is that there is something in the human spirit that refuses to bow down to an alien overlord."

This "practical" attitude is the reason I stated that most of the strife in the last century was caused by non-military means. It is the attitude that tyranny is just something we need to live with or something that those primitives will outgrow.

>"So my thinking is that no matter how long we keep troops in these countries, they're going to hate us and bring us to grief. Therefore the smart person would leave now. We're not going to get them to go along with us or our way of life. Ever."

And your thinking would be wrong. The smart person stays and finishes the job of building a government that the people can support. The stupid person leaves a half-built government prey to outside and internal forces and then says "Hey, you can come live with us if you want!"

Never did anyone say they were going to be Americans and live our way of life. What was said is that they would have a government that reflected its people. The three elections and rapidly solidifying government are proof of the people's desire to live free. Your belief to the contrary tells me that you buy whole-heartedly into the US as Evil Empire concept. But we knew that.

>"I defy you to look at the past humdred years of human activity and tell me that "most of the trouble" stems from non-military solutions. Even today, while nuclear, chemical and biological warfare takes approximately zero lives each year, small arms in the hands of national armies, police forces, militias and independence movements take around 200,000 lives each year. It's war, not peace, that poses the greatest problem."

Defy as you wish. How many wars have started because of the desire for peace? Vietnam is a great example. Gulf War II came about because Bush Sr. listened to the global community and left Saddam in charge. Allowing tyrants to remain unopposed and accepted at the UN has generated untold misery.

I would also add that those guns are most effective at creating misery when the civilian population is denied them. Just food for thought.

>"Given Islamist theocracies in the majority of Muslim countries, we could expect to see them outgrow it within two to three generations. Look what happened to Communism."

Tell me how you figure this one. Religion has a way of renewing itself far better than the atheism of Communism. 2-3 generations is quite the wishful thinking.

Roy's Revisionist History 101
>"Iraqis are not defeated"

Really? I would say that horrible oppression over 4 decades qualifies them for the title of defeated. That and the fact that we walked into Bagdad qualifies as a defeat hands down.

>"The historic precedent is not Japan and Germany, but Vietnam."

What a myth. Perhaps you would care to outline exactly how Vietnam is like Iraq? Because "trying harder" doesn't cut it. Neither the VC nor the North Vietnamese defeated the US, it was the lack of will on our leaders, the lies of the media, and the stupid, loud voices of the leftist anti-war crowd that defeated us. The Vietnamese, the portion that were Communists, just sat back and waited for us to leave.

You would have us repeat the ignorance of your past.

Roy wants the Taliban again.
Wait a minute, there are still some fighting, but they do not control the govn't. Girls are allowed to go to school, work, and don't even have to wear those ridiculous bee-keepers costumes. But if you favour them, that's is what you would condemn the people there to. So you say that if they were left alone, they would rise up against the Taliban, right? Did you notice that they didn't do it before when they also had the chance? Did you also notice that the North Koreans haven't been too successful either? It wasn't the Germans that got rid of the ***** either, right? How much success are the Zimbabweans having at getting rid of their hated dictator? How naive are you to believe that afhanis could get rid of the taliban, or the iraqis Sadam? But you didn't answer my other question; which countries are under western military control as per your previous message. I notice that you don't like to answer questions that point out how wrong your stupid comments are. Looks like most others on this forum notice it too.

Iraq and Vietnam
"The Vietnamese, the portion that were Communists, just sat back and waited for us to leave."

They were a little more pro-active than that. They ground us up through attrition, because they were more invested in forcing a positive outcome than we were. And that wasn't for our lack of enthusiasm or resources to throw at the problem. They were motivated because it was their home and not ours.

That is exactly the position of that plurality of Iraqis who approves of the use of violence against the American occupation. They will grind us down long before we can kill or convert them all. Particularly at the rate we're going.

Oddly, not everyone hated Saddam. He provided services and kept the country going much more successfully than we have been doing these past three years. Even with sanctions designed to keep the place forever poor, his government was more successful than the one we're sponsoring.

And there is so far little in the way of reconstruction, in the eyes of average Iraqis. There is, for instance, no rule of law yet. Under Saddam the streets were orderly. And that is a virtue people in that part of the world, historically used to experiencing villainous pogroms like the one currently unfolding, really appreciate.

So yes, I think our efforts to turn them into the people we would like to have living in Iraq will be doomed to failure-- as were our efforts to turn the Vietnamese into little Americans.

Finally, the fact that we were able to conquer an Iraq that offered little or no military resistance is a testimony to the certain knowledge that Saddam had been contained since the end of the Gulf War, and posed zero military threat to anyone.

Under Hitler the trains ran on time
First let me offer some reasons why Iraq is different from Vietnam.

Vietnam, jungle. Iraq, desert. This may seem like a small difference but it is huge militarily.

Vietnam, drafted army with WWII armaments. Iraq, professional, volunteer army with high tech support, armaments, and rapid response.

Vietnam, insurgents supported by uninvaded northern half of country not to mention support from the Chinese and Soviet Union. Iraq, no support except for the trickle of armaments and fighters coming across the borders.

Politics: Vietnam, the Cold War and the Civil Rights movement in the US. Iraq, no superpower support and no civil unrest in the US.

Vietname, a monopoly controled the media which was run by anti-war liberals. Iraq, diverse media outlets and live blogs from the soldiers themselves. This allows for a more accurate picture of the war and makes one wonder about the lies that Cronkite and Co. fed us during Vietnam.

Vietnam, 1 million refugees surged over the border to live in South Vietnam after partition. Later, after we left, hundreds of thousands more attempted to leave. Iraq, those who fled Saddam's oppression return.

But I could go on and on.

But then we come to this:

>"Oddly, not everyone hated Saddam."

Yeah. They were called the Sunnis and they profitted from the oppression heaped on the others. Saddam understood that he needed the Sunnis to keep his power. This statement is appalling in its ignorance. But it gets better!

>"He provided services and kept the country going much more successfully than we have been doing these past three years. Even with sanctions designed to keep the place forever poor, his government was more successful than the one we're sponsoring."

I wish you could tell the tens of thousands killed and found in mass graves how successful Saddam was. Saddam built palaces and paid his cronies while the rest of Iraq starved. Perhaps you longer remember Oil for Food? In Saddam's eyes that was quite successful. For the other 80% of Iraqis, not so much. But wait, it gets even better!

>"And there is so far little in the way of reconstruction, in the eyes of average Iraqis. There is, for instance, no rule of law yet."

Note the total disconnect with reality. There are hot spots but rule of law has been established in over 95% of the country. Roy would have us believe that the Sunni triangle is the whole of Iraq.

>"Under Saddam the streets were orderly. And that is a virtue people in that part of the world, historically used to experiencing villainous pogroms like the one currently unfolding, really appreciate."

This is the most digusting moral equivalency to date from Roy. And that is saying something. The cruel and brutal oppression of Saddam is made softer and kinder because his iron fist made sure the streets were orderly. The streets were also used to hold public executions on a daily basis but that is not the point to Roy. And then he caps it off by calling our liberation a "villainous pogrom".

I am at a loss as to how to properly express the utter lack of moral footing this demonstrates. Roy is the type that would support the worst tyrant as long as they opposed the US. I guess orderly streets under a Stalinist, iron fist are preferable to elections, a constitution, and unrest in some of the Sunni cities.

You hit a new low Roy. You are quite a deplorable person. Fortunately you will see that you are as wrong about Iraq as you were on Hezbollah and Hamas. Please go back to the DailyKos and find better talking points.

Loving the Taliban
I think I went to some pains to say I did not like the Taliban, did not approve of them and did not think they were a positive force. If I didn't convey that, I do so here.

What I said was that they were inevitable. We've devoted every resource toward stamping them out and rebuilding the country in our image-- if you believe the positive reports coming from the State Dept. Yet the Taliban are resurgent and do in fact form the government in an unknown number of regions. Unknown, because we don't even go to those places.

The Karzai government rules the greater Kabul area and about two provinces in the south-- Helmand and I forget the other one. The remainder of the country is up for grabs, with the Tals and the regional warlords contesting one another for control. This is the reality.

And yes, if we go away the warlords and Tals will duke it out again and come up with some kind of power sharing arrangement, or perhaps another one sided military victory such as was awarded to the Tals back at the end of the recent Afghan civil war. Such quiet periods allow the country breathing space, so they can rest up from the more or less constant warfare that seems to be their fate.

If there had been no 9/11 and no invasion, we would have just condemned the Tals and they would have continued to be oppressive for maybe another ten years, until everyone had gotten so sick and tired of their idiotic and incompetent rule that the people would have taken them down. If you haven't noticed, Afghans are pretty intolerant of despots they don't like.

You say "they didn't do it before when they had the chance". But in 1996 the country was exhausted, and there had just been a horrendous massacre in Kabul. 55,000 people slaughtered by the Northern Alliance. The mood of the country was to put an end to the fighting and instead back the iron rule of a bunch of fundamentalist primitives, until they could recover and decide what to do next. That to me, doesn't describe any great opportunity to overthrow the Taliban.

Comparisons with Mugabe's Zimbabwe, Saddam's Iraq or Kim's DPRK are beside the point. Those were all highly organized, established dictatorships. The Tals are none of that, but just the only home grown power that exists currently in Afghanistan.

Your other question
"But you didn't answer my other question; which countries are under western military control as per your previous message. I notice that you don't like to answer questions that point out how wrong your stupid comments are. Looks like most others on this forum notice it too."

If you would be so kind as to restate your other question I'd be happy to address it. I don't recall that you had asked another question, but would be happy to answer all your concerns. My previous comment doesn't appear to me to refer in any way to which countries are "under western military control".

Confused thinking
You seem to be totally turned around, in your attempt to prove the thesis that most wars are being started in the name of opreserving peace.

Our conversation thus far. Me: "I defy you to look at the past hundred years of human activity and tell me that "most of the trouble" stems from non-military solutions. Even today, while nuclear, chemical and biological warfare takes approximately zero lives each year, small arms in the hands of national armies, police forces, militias and independence movements take around 200,000 lives each year. It's war, not peace, that poses the greatest problem."

And your response: "Defy as you wish. How many wars have started because of the desire for peace? Vietnam is a great example. Gulf War II came about because Bush Sr. listened to the global community and left Saddam in charge. Allowing tyrants to remain unopposed and accepted at the UN has generated untold misery."

Let's take Vietnam. We started a war, on the principle that we didn't like the way some totally remote little country's politics were going. This was not in the name of peace, it was a gratuitous engagement in WAR.

Now let's take a place we might actually want to start a war-- the totally abysmal, oppressive failed state of Zimbabwe. We have elected instead to stay out of their affairs. So is there war there?

Answer: NO.

Gulf War One: did it start because anyone was working toward peace? No, Saddam invaded Kuwait and in turn we invaded Iraq. This was not peace but war.

Peace leads to more peace, until someone decides to start something. War just leads to more war. If our rule was more popular in Iraq, for instance, we would not have to keep putting in more troops to try to defend one another while the country continues to fall apart.

Pretty turned around
You show yourself to be so wilfully oblivious to the true situation in Iraq it's hard to know where to start. The country is absolutely not 95% peaceful. In the south it's in the grips of an Iranian-style Shiite theocracy, with security run by fundamentalist death squads. From Basra up to Baghdad, about a thousand Sunnis are being tortured and murdered each month with total impunity. There is no one around willing or able to stop it.

Let's compare that total with Saddam's rule. Anyone would admit he was a monster, and during his rule the typical estimate was 200,000 killed by his Mukhabarat. Over 25 years. That would make 8,000 innocent Iraqis being murdered each year of his rule.

But right now a thousand are being murdered each month, or 12,000 every year-- half again as many innocent Iraqis. So does that mean we're doing better, or worse, than Saddam?

BTW those mass graves you refer to were never found. They'bve uncovered several thousand bodies to date, but nothing like what they expected. Still, I would stand by the estimates I've cited above.

We do not engage in the villainous pogrom I referred to, as you must realize. We are merely presiding over a situation where the Iraqi government tolerates this pogrom on the part of religious militias that either pose as police or are themselves the police. Certainly they all have the uniforms, the weapons and the vehicles of the police. So whose fault is the carnage? Saddam's?

For bringing up such unpleasant realities, you call me a deplorable person. I think if you actually read what I'm writing you'll find that I support neither the toll Saddam took on the country nor the toll that's being taken now. All I said was that under most parameters, life was better under Saddam.

Order in the streets is very, very important. Right now the violent crime is astronomical there, which it was not under Saddam. Add to the death toll from factional strife the fact that it's nearly impossible to conduct busines without hiring bodyguards, being subject to shakefdowns and kidnappings, etc. Life is not as good there as it was before, even though life under Saddam was abominable. All the above is highly verifiable.

Sir, have you no decency?
>"For bringing up such unpleasant realities, you call me a deplorable person."

Actually you are deplorable for creating your own reality from scratch. It certainly isn't the reality reported by the troops or the reality as seen by the Iraqis who support the operations there.

While I am sure that you can find examples of Iraqi police abusing others or taking revenge and you can also find religiously motivated slayings, saying they tolerated, or that they are somehow approved, by the US or the Iraqi government is deplorable.

Since Saddam liked to keep meticulous files we can see just how many people he has executed over his long and twisted reign of terror. 200,000 isn't even the start. I am awaiting the final tally when the job of counting them is completed. How is that for verification?

Believing that tyranny is okay since it keeps order and law is quite deplorable. So I think I will keep my opinion of you since you are deserving of it.

Confused thinking cured by group hug
I assumed peace meant non-military means. It would seem that your definition is different and suits your argument as you wish it.

>"Let's take Vietnam. We started a war, on the principle that we didn't like the way some totally remote little country's politics were going. This was not in the name of peace, it was a gratuitous engagement in WAR."

Actually we started it to prevent the spread of Communism and considering the body count attributed to Communism that was not an invalid or immoral reason.

>"Now let's take a place we might actually want to start a war-- the totally abysmal, oppressive failed state of Zimbabwe. We have elected instead to stay out of their affairs. So is there war there?"

The answer is No as you say. There is "peace" there. Not to mention oppression, starvation, and ethnic strife. Do I take it that you are supportive of a military solution to that oppression? I know I am. Or are you just one of those who say "Why here and not there?"

>"Peace leads to more peace, until someone decides to start something. War just leads to more war. If our rule was more popular in Iraq, for instance, we would not have to keep putting in more troops to try to defend one another while the country continues to fall apart."

Oft time peace leads to war if you ignore or appease those who have no intention to be peaceful. WWII and Chamberlain is a good example. Hitler and Stalin's peace treaty. Oil for Food. Letting Sudan off the hook allows us to live in peace with them but it also allows them to commit genocide.

Sure, Roy, war never solves anything does it? Only Communism, Nazism, imperialism, genocide, and totalitarianism. But that's nothing when compared to the law and order imposed by those who practise those concepts.

So then, war is always the answer?
If I'm understanding your meaning correctly, you're saying you think one can preserve the peace by starting a war. How exactly is this possible?

There are moments when there is such a significant danger one has no alternative but to fight. Hitler's Germany was such an instance. The Kaiser's Germany was not.

Allowing for bad intel we got from people like Reinhard Gehlen, it appears now that the USSR was an insignificant offensive menace back in the 50's and 60's. Their participation in the arms race was largely a consequence of our initiation of an anti-Soviet arms buildup. Fascinating how easy it would have been for two defensively oriented nations to blunder into a hot war with one another, with nukes yet. It nearly happened in 1962, thanks to fear on both sides.

We have never, ever started a war with an eye toward stopping genocide. We have studiously avoided such involvements in Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur and all the other little hell holes that have popped up. We have also engineered one genocide, in Indonesia, and conducted what amounts to one in Vietnam. Then of course there's the American Indian.

I'm not endorsing appeasement. One should always keep one's powder dry, for that rare occasion when an actual enemy comes at us. But I don't see that we had any valid reason to fear invasions by North Korea, North Vietnam or the Soviet Union. Much less was Saddam likely to have come thundering across the Potomac with his gunsights set on the Capitol.

Bring your own logic to bear on the question
I don't make the news, I just report it. And I don't endorse the conclusions as being desirable outcomes, I just admit they are what they are.

The fact, as reported by all reputable news gathering agencies, is that three Iraqis are dying today from sectarian violence of the worst sort, for every two that used to die from Saddam's security apparatus. And that the perpetrators are acting under cover of their employment as security officers of the current government, which we back.

You may be unhappy with that statistic. I personally am very unhappy about it. But disliking it won't make it go away. That is the reality over there right now.

I do not believe that tyranny is okay. And I have never on these pages endorsed tyranny. I think a horrible, undeserved death is the same whether it is at the hands of Saddam's police, Shiite death squads, IDF missiles or Hezbollah rockets. Political murders are in every case evil and wrong.

Elsewhere you noted that Hezbollah bears responsibility for the deaths of Lebanese noncombatants because they put a train of events into motion that resulted in those deaths, albeit at the hands of others. And I concurred.

Now I'm saying that when the US knocked over the applecart by overthrowing Saddam's government and replacing it with chaos, we set into motion a train of events that has resulted in the atrocious tortures and killings of one thousand Iraqis each and every month. With no relief yet in sight. So to that degree I believe we bear some responsibility.

Or does the equation, for you, only work one way?

why do you insist on binary thinking
with you it's got to be either

a) peace is always the answer

or

b) war is always the answer

Sometimes peace is the answer, sometimes war is. It depends on the nature of your adversary.

If your adversary is willing to sit down and talk in good faith, then it's stupid not to give peace a try.

If your adversary has a history of using the time spent talking to rebuild his arsenal so that he can attack you again, then peace is a losing proposition. For you at least.

I could not agree more
You know, I agree with you totally. In fact, that was the substance of my last comment. There are times when indeed one has to go to war to resist aggression.

Positing that peace is invariably the answer was not my original contention. If you go back to the start of the thread you'll find I was responding to Tlaloc, who I felt was saying that war was always the answer. And I debated that point with him.

And you say "If your adversary has a history of using the time spent talking to rebuild his arsenal so that he can attack you again, then peace is a losing proposition."

And again I would agree. But let me ask you this. In 1949 did North Korea attack us? In 1965 did North Vietnam attack us? In 2001 did Iraq attack us? Your rule is misapplied when we keep encountering situations where the US unilaterally attacks some poor, distant land where no one has any intention of attacking us.

And so, rather than advocate our continuing to wage war on the weak and helpless, I would advocate that peace brings better results. As your mother I'm sure told you, you can gather more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.

No Subject
>"Now I'm saying that when the US knocked over the applecart by overthrowing Saddam's government and replacing it with chaos, we set into motion a train of events that has resulted in the atrocious tortures and killings of one thousand Iraqis each and every month. With no relief yet in sight. So to that degree I believe we bear some responsibility."

Whereas you would walk away from the apple cart I would stay and help fix it.

The death toll is something that Iraqis are bearing optimistically and is the product of decades of repressed resentment. You throw out the number of 1,000 Iraqis being killed per month. That is a lie unless you count the combatants that oppose the rule of the people.

Your belief that the Iraqis suffered less under Saddam is not only wrong-headed, it is a complete fabrication based on your belief that wide-scale torture is rampant and government sponsored death squads rule the country.

We absolutely bear the responsibility for repairing Iraq and current efforts are working. If you can't see beyond what Chomsky-ish perspective that is your problem, not mine.

Oh yes! That is exactly what I am saying!
That is quite a bit of revisionism Roy. Good job.

War is not the only answer but it has accomplished a great deal of good as much as it has accomplished a great deal of evil.

I believe in stopping a war before it gets to our shores and you believe that you need to wait until the enemies foot touches US soil. Your lack of a grasp on reality tells me that no matter how much of a threat something becomes (Soviet nukes for example) you will find an interesting book or website that will tell you how it was overplayed and the product of American imperialism.

A tyrant can always count you Roy.

news
you don't make the news, that's true.
you just report it, that's false.

You only report the news that fits your agenda, you ignore all of the news that doesn't.

The reputable news sources show that the death rate is half what it was under Saddam. The difference is that before it was caused by the govt. Today it is caused by people who want to return the former govt to power, over turning the govt that was selected by, and supported by the people.

That's a very big difference, one that you casually dismiss.

You endorse tyranny over and over again. You do it every time you praise the alleged stability of tyrannists.

The "chaos" in Iraq exists mostly inside your own imagination. The people of Iraq see problems that are being solved. They also have the hope of a bright future, a hope they did not have under Saddam. You would condemn them to the depths of tyranny, all for the sake of your fragile status quo.

not that I have been able to detect.
...

history
In 1949 N. Korea attacked an ally of ours. N. Korea was also backed by an enemy of ours.

In 1965, N. Vietnam attacked an ally of ours. N. Vietnam was also backed by an enemy of ours.

In 2001, Iraq was attacking us, through proxies.

None of these instances that you list, did the US act unilaterally. Why do you insist on repeating old lies?

The US is not, and never has waged war on the weak and the helpless. That's what the regimes we were fighting were doing.

you're wrong.
I really doubt roy will support war, even after it has reached our soil.
He'll find some reason to whine that it is all our fault.

Correction
That figure of a thousand civilian deaths each month has been out there in so many reports I do not believe you haven't read it. But it is out of date.

In June the tally of civilian executions and deaths from IED explosions across Iraq stands at 3,149. One hundred innocent people each day, counting only those who show up on the streets each morning, hog tied and butchered, and those blown up in the traffic.

We've been there as long as we were in World War Two. Certainly we know enough now to believe the Iraqis themselves, who overwhelmingly tell interviewers things won't begin to get better untl we're gone. But of course that's another thing you will not have read.

I suspect you might be the kind of person who thinks the MSM screws everything up, so you never bother to read them. Pity, you could learn some things.

You might want to stop ranting about my beliefs and get up to speed about what is known. I keep my opinions out of things unless I clearly mark them as opinion. The numbers on Saddam's death toll and the current death toll are established facts. If you can read, 3,149 is 3,149 whether your name is Chomsky or Cheney.

Every day there are detailed reports in the paper. Read them. Wide scale torture is rampant, as anyone who actually follows the news is aware, and death squads do in fact rule that part of the country from Baghdad down to Basra.

It boggles the mind
The amazing thing is that you actually believe Saddam intended to invade the United States, as did Ho Chi Minh before we landed in Vietnam. I can only marvel at such a captive mind.

With the Soviet Union there were years when it was really hard to tell whether they might want to get preemptive and drive across West Germany. So it's hard to say that NATO was a bad idea-- they were afraid enough of our nukes to make a bunch of their own.

But as for all those little pissant countries we stepped on so casually, they were never threats to us. And you've convinced me you actually believe they were. Just like Venezuela, I suppose.

Those are the facts
The June figures have just been released. 3,148 Iraqi citizens were either found executed on the streets or were blown up in IED events. This figure does not include combatants or insurgents. One hundred each day.

Saddam only approached this kind of death toll twice-- during the Anfal campaign and after we pulled the troops out of the Gulf War, and he came back in to slaughter the Shiites.

nice misuse of statistics
Comparing the worst month currently to the lowest periods under Saddam.

I kneel in the face of your willingness to lie and distort to make your point.

Statistics
Under Saddam the background rate was fairly low, with two great spikes-- the Anfal campaign in 1988 and the slaughter of the Shiites in 1991-92. Since then the rate of killing dropped off to nearly zero, for the simple reason that by then all his opponents were dead.

Since March, 2003 the rate has gone in the other direction. If you track US casualties you'll find that the rate of Iraqi civilian deaths tracks them closely, in an upward arc.

Since the December election and the interminable wait before a new government was formed, a new form of death became widespread. Sectarian tortures, mutilations and kidnappings, performed by men in police uniforms carrying police weapons and driving police cars. These have all been Shiite on Sunni acts of violence. There have of course been sporadic retaliatory bombings.

Beginning January, 2006 the rate has been holding steady at 1,000 per month across the country. But now it is increasing. I was shocked to find the June total was 3,149.

But that's only what a scholar would find if he actually looked closely at the available material, or what a television viewerr would see if he turned on the evening news. And I know you have a different goal-- just to prove me wrong without having to offer any proof.

Read the material
The Korean Conflict was a civil war, in which we intervened on one side.

Vietnam wasn't even that. We destabilized the south politically in order to disrupt an election in which our analysts predicted a victory for the side that wanted reunification. Then after one of those palace revolts we propped up an exceedingly unpopular and corrupt regime, the Diems. If you actually went to the library and checked out a book on the war you would learn all this.

Saddam, of course, was doing nothing in collusion with our actual enemy, Al Qaeda. However it was quite well known at the time that our ally, Saudi Arabia, had connections at the top level. Yet the Saudis have been enveolped in an aura of silence.

The reasons for the Iraq invasion were to remove them as a focal point for resistance to our plans in the Middle East, to exploit their oil and other resources, to provide a laboratory test case for our ideas of globalization, to give a pipsqueak a chance to prance around and act like a big shot, and to motivate the country to back the current administration out of fear, as sheep follow a strong leader during times of war. This last motivation is probably the most important of all of them.

You seem easy to boggle
>"The amazing thing is that you actually believe Saddam intended to invade the United States, as did Ho Chi Minh before we landed in Vietnam. I can only marvel at such a captive mind."

Where did you get all of that? Saddam was not about to invade the US and I have never claimed such. But was he a threat? Absolutely. As a supporter of terrorism and a holder of WMDs (which did exist and still do) he is exactly the type of dictator that is to be targetted in a War on Terror.

Vietnam was fought to halt the spread of Communism. I know you and your comrades at the time thought it was a great ideology but it proved to have a tremendous body count where ever it is tried.

>"But as for all those little pissant countries we stepped on so casually, they were never threats to us. And you've convinced me you actually believe they were. Just like Venezuela, I suppose."

And you have convinced me of... well nothing really. I find it hard to be convinced by a person who believes that the size of country has anything to do with threat level. Espeically when they are backed by the Soviet machine. Today's, and yesterday's for that matter, technology allows the smallest of countries to be threats. Not to mention that it is within our interests not to allow certain ideologies to blossom into the controling power.

But just chalk it up to American imperialism dictated to us by our ECOs. In your world of moral relativism there is only one true evil in this world and that evil is the USA.

Such a state of mind must be comforting to have since it removes any responsibility or need to make an actual judgement of right and wrong.

No Subject
'Where did you get all of that? Saddam was not about to invade the US and I have never claimed such. But was he a threat? Absolutely. As a supporter of terrorism and a holder of WMDs (which did exist and still do) he is exactly the type of dictator that is to be targetted in a War on Terror.'
As no WMD were found despite an extensive search, and being a supporter of the Palestinian cause amounted to providing money to the families of suicide bombers etc how was he a threat to the US?
1) Provide evidence of where the WMDs were/are.
2) How does the supporting of the Palestinian cause by an isolated leader keen to raise his prestige in the eyes of Arabs throughout the region without actually physically using force constitute a threat?

'Vietnam was fought to halt the spread of Communism. I know you and your comrades at the time thought it was a great ideology but it proved to have a tremendous body count where ever it is tried.'

How many died as a consequence of French imperialism in Indochina?
How many died as a result of the US invasion?
How many died as a result of Vietnamese communists being in power?

'But just chalk it up to American imperialism dictated to us by our ECOs. In your world of moral relativism there is only one true evil in this world and that evil is the USA.

Such a state of mind must be comforting to have since it removes any responsibility or need to make an actual judgement of right and wrong.'

Moral relativism not being relevant, of course, to US and Britain's arming, training and diplomatic support of the Khmer Rouge (allowing them to sit at the UN as Cambodia's diplomatic representatives) as a consequence of the Vietnamese invasion of Camdodia.
'My enemy's enemy is my friend' - such a high-minded moral posture!

No-one is saying that the US is evil. You've added 2 and 2 together and made 73. While you do address the issues (more so than some idiots) it does your cause no favours to deem everyone who disagrees with you as an evil cartoon-like Stalinist. It may be the standard tactic of some blogheads but let's keep to the issues without the abuse.

Don Quixote with nukes
It is a hallmark of America's thrust toward maintaining world primacy that no threat is too small to be considered insignificant. Tiny, impoverished Cuba for instance remains a great threat. Not because they can do anything, mind you. It's because they rebel against our domination. This sort of thing sets a bad example for the other peons.

Thus Vietnam, another poor, agrarian country, had to be taught the lesson that when it comes to democracy, they only have one choice. The American-backed team.

Venezuela and Iran are more targets in the GWOT, not because they have either the capability or the intention of attacking us, but merely because they defy us. They are more bad examples.

America is not the sole repository of evil in the world. The world spins around the axis of an evil system-- that of might invariably making right. America is merely the strongest ape in the jungle. Therefore, attention must invariably focus on her activities. Most particularly when she indulges in elective wars against smaller nations.

You've not focused on the nature of your own judgments. They are not based on any ethics of right or wrong, but justify any amount of meddling in the affairs of others based on advantage.

What has convinced you is the ideological story line that confuses our drive to maintain world primacy with some noble crusade against misguided others in distant lands. Democracy must always win. But it must be our democracy, never theirs.

Thus in the name of democracy we can thwart the will of, for instance, the Afghans in 2002 by overturning their loya jirga backing of old Zahir Shah and indicating it would be much healthier for them to acclaim the American candidate, Karzai. The irony is lost on us that Afghans never got to choose their leader, and that we are now reaping the backlash of our action.

Duly noted is the subsequent ratification of Karzai in the October, 2004 election, where he competed against fifteen unknowns. All opposition candidates joined in an unsuccessful boycott of a race with only one possible victor. Had the initial will of the loya jirga been honored, we could have left immediately or stayed at the request of the new government, allowing the Afghani people to remain in charge of their own destinies.

That would have been too sensible, and would have left them an independent nation, susceptible to all sorts of ideas. So they must remain into the indefinite future, an expensive outpost of empire.

An olive branch
Tlaloc-- Hopefully, this will be a clarification that will begin to make some sense to you. I think I see just how we have been talking past one another.

You're coming from what I would consider to be a Manichean world view. That is, two mighty powers, one absolutely good, the other absolutely evil, locked in a struggle for the fate of the world.

I don't see it. I've been to various places, and people are pretty much people the world over. They all tend to favor their own kind over strangers trying to meddle with them. None think of themselves as being evil. In this, there is little distinction between Americans and Arabs. Or anyone else.

You have picture of me, as I'm not in your camp, as necessarily falling into the other camp. I have every expectation that you see me as being someone rooting for the downfall of America, and the final victory of whoever-- Al Qaeda or somebody. But that's your world. Roy doesn't have a dog in that fight.

Pragmatically, I live in the USA and I love it here. I don't want to do anything that might endanger my cushy life style, or my freedoms. For that reason, if it were someone else on top of the world order, say China, I would be as much against Chinese hegemony and meddling as I am now against those qualities in my own country.

I believe those qualities to be counterproductive. At present, the US is running the world unopposed already. We have no significant enemies. Sure, there are tiny cohorts of rebellious tribals out there in the third world. And once they even came here and executed a single coup, that day in 2001. But there is no serious challenge to our natural supremacy.

However if we continue the way we're going, one must arise. You can't have a force without there being room for a countervailing force. History shows us that mighty powers in time accrue mighty enemies. For that reason, I sincerely believe the best course of action to be an avoidance of unilateral actions, the undermining of a body of world law that binds all nations equally, and our reservation of the right to preemptively attack and occupy any country we feel it is in our best interests to crush. These actions may make some fear us, but they will also make others determine that they must destroy us. So I would hope in time that we evolve into a position of moral leadership. A position, I might point out, that we enjoyed in the minds of most, even most Arabs, until the aftermath of 9/11.

That's it. We're both hoping to see the United States continue as being a decent place to live. We differ, though, on the means by which that goal can be accomplished. None of the above will change your view, and you will be one of the voices clamoring for a war against all who defy us. So be it. I'm friends with all my neighbors, and if I were the president that would not change.

Ask you shall receive!
>"1) Provide evidence of where the WMDs were/are."

Try Minter's book "Disinformation" and you will see how you were lead to believe that no WMDs were found. I highly recommend it since alot of his research comes from official documents and reports from the ground troops.

Here is a list of what has been found so far:
- 1.77 metric tons of enriched uranium
- 1,500 gallons of chemical weapons
- Roadside bomb loaded with sarin gas
- 1,000 pieces of radioactive material
- 17 chemical warheads with some containing cyclosarin, a nerve agent five times more powerful than sarin

But here is some more from other sources:
- The IAEA launched a probe into Iraqi WMD transfers when a Dutch scrap metal company discovered five pounds of yellowcake uranium ore in Rotterdam inside a shipment of scrap metal from Iraq.
- Jordan seized 20 tons of chemical weapons while foiling an al-Qaeda plot to kill 80,000 people. The stockpile they uncovered contained 70 different kinds of chemical agents, including Sarin and VX gas. Where would they get 20 tons of chemical weapons from I wonder?
- Failed IED attacks involving sarin and mustard gas have targeted our troops.
- This is a great one. CMPC-2003-003766-HT.pdf, a document generated by UNMOVIC, details the reconstruction of a factory they believed to be making ricin. Perhaps Hans Brix merely forgot this existed?
- Ex-Iraqi military who say they worked with or oversaw the shipment of WMDs to Syria the help of Russian special forces.
- Go to this link:
http://70.168.46.200/Released%5C07-05-06/CMPC-2003-004346.pdf
This document is from the lady known as "Dr. Germ". This is her analysis of how to spread biological weapons material using an aircraft as the medium, and how far they had advanced on the application. It was written in 2002.
- The files of the Iraqi Intelligence service contain numerous references to moving matierals about hiding documentation and personnel from inspectors. In particular, read Document ISGQ-2004-00224003. It makes references to testing a mass grave site for radiation and then using their connections to CNN to make it seem like the Coalition forces killed them. Although the CNN part is good for pointing out their treason, the testing for radiation is quite curious. As more of the documentation is translated you will see the case for going in grow and grow.

So that's a good start for the WNDs. I believe about 2-5 years down the road, when all the pieces are put together and actually reported, we will see the full extent of the lies and myths that surround the liberals case against action in Iraq.

>"2) How does the supporting of the Palestinian cause by an isolated leader keen to raise his prestige in the eyes of Arabs throughout the region without actually physically using force constitute a threat?"

I assume the point of your ignorant and leading question is to ask what is the evidence that links Saddam to terrorism. Well, let's take a look:

- In 1998 Former Clinton Defense Secretary William Cohen testified that in 1998 Saddam's top nerve gas experts met with several members of al-Qaeda in Baghdad.
- Captured Iraqi documents prove that Saddam trained thousands of radical Islamic terrorists from the region at camps in Iraq over the four years immediately preceding the U.S. invasion. Secret training took place primarily at three camps Samarra, Ramadi, and Salman Pak. The training was directed by elite Iraqi military units. Al Qaeda-affiliated fanatics, such as Algeria's GSPC and the Sudanese Islamic Army, were among the 8,000 or so murderers instructed between 1999 and 2002. Only about 2% of those documents have been translated so look for more to come on this as well.
- Payment incentitives to suicide-bombers. Well documented.
- The official Iraqi state newspaper, run by Uday, on November 14, 2002, published a "List of Honor" that was a list of patriots and government officials. On the list of 600+ names was one Abid Al-Karim Muhamed Aswod whose honor was to be the "intelligence officer responsible for the coordination of activities with the Osama bin Laden group at the Iraqi embassy in Pakistan".

I have more if you want them.

>"No-one is saying that the US is evil. You've added 2 and 2 together and made 73. While you do address the issues (more so than some idiots) it does your cause no favours to deem everyone who disagrees with you as an evil cartoon-like Stalinist."

Have you actually read anything from Roy?

Where to put it...
>"You're coming from what I would consider to be a Manichean world view. That is, two mighty powers, one absolutely good, the other absolutely evil, locked in a struggle for the fate of the world."

You are way off base but this is quite indictitive of how you see those who don't buy your revisionsim, your relativism, your isolationism, and your leftist fantasies. I know you like the US and enjoy living here. I also know you won't stand up for the great things it has done for the world and, quite frankly, I don't believe you are capable of seeing any.

Don't get me wrong, there are several things I would change about the Bush administration and I know that our past is not squeeky clean but I am also of the mind that just because you are the biggest kid on the block does not make you the bully.

I would never take away your ability to believe what you will nor your ability to spew it out on the internet. That doesn't mean I won't counter it. After all, everything needs a "countervailing force".

Let's see...
Cuba - repressive tyranny.
Venezuela - repressive tyranny.
Vietnam - repressive tyranny.
Iran - repressive tyranny.
Afghanistan - liberated and became a democracy.

Yep. What a horrid track record.

In my view, to attain that mythical position of moral leadership you say existed before 9/11, we must oppose tyranny. In your view, the people of those countries will somehow "grow out of it". At least they are being oppressed by people who look like them.

In your world we are to do... what exactly? Oh yes! Nothing.

Roy's priorities
It looks like roy has absolutely no use for other people's freedom.

His primary value is his security, and his safety. If sacrificing other people's freedom enhances his security, than it's something that must be done.

Manichean
It's funny that roy accuses others of dealing in a Manichean world view. Since that is what he has always dealt in.

He's absolutely good, and anyone who disagrees with him is absolutely evil.

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