Osama bin Laden's Scary Vision of a Grand Muslim Super State





Mr. Cole is Professor of Modern Middle Eastern and South Asian History at the University of Michigan. His website is http://www.juancole.com/.

In order to evaluate the aftermath of September 11, we first must understand that event. What did al-Qaeda intend to achieve? Only if we understand that can we gauge their success or failure.

From the point of view of al-Qaeda, the Muslim world can and should be united into a single country. They believe that it once had this political unity, under the early caliphs. Even as late as the outbreak of World War I, the Ottoman state ruled much of the Middle East, and the Ottoman sultans had begun making claims to be caliphs (Muslim popes) from about 1880. In the below map, blue indicates heavy Muslim populations, green means medium, and yellow means the Muslims are a significant minority.



From al-Qaeda's point of view, the political unity of the Muslim world was deliberately destroyed by a one-two punch. First, Western colonial powers invaded Muslim lands and detached them from the Ottoman Empire or other Muslim states. They ruled them brutally as colonies, reducing the people to little more than slaves serving the economic and political interests of the British, French, Russians, etc. France invaded Algeria in 1830. Great Britain took Egypt in 1882 and Iraq in 1917. Russia took the Emirate of Bukhara and other Central Asian territories in the 1860s and forward. Second, they formed these colonies into Western-style nation-states, often small and weak ones, so that the divisive effects of the colonial conquests have lasted. This illustrates the British Empire and its imposition on much of the Muslim world:



The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was not an unprecedented event from the point of view of Bin Laden and his followers. Far from it. It was only the latest in a long series of Western predations in Muslim lands. The British had conquered Palestine, Jordan and Iraq, and had unilaterally opened Palestine to Jewish immigration, with the colonized Palestinians unable to object. The Russians had taken the Caucasus and Chechnya in the early nineteenth century, and had so brutally repressed the Muslims under their rule that they probably killed hundreds of thousands and expelled even more to the Ottoman Empire (now Turkey).

From al-Qaeda's point of view, the Soviet attempt to absorb Afghanistan was the beginning of the end of the colonial venture. They demonstrated that even a superpower can be forced to withdraw from a Muslim land if sufficient guerrilla pressure is put on it.

Bin Laden sees the Muslim world as continually invaded, divided and weakened by outside forces. Among these is the Americans in Saudi Arabia and the Israelis in geographical Palestine. He repeatedly complained about the occupation of the three holy cities, i.e., Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem.

For al-Qaeda to succeed, it must overthrow the individual nation-states in the Middle East, most of them colonial creations, and unite them into a single, pan-Islamic state. But Ayman al-Zawahiri's organization, al-Jihad al-Islami, had tried very hard to overthrow the Egyptian state, and was always checked. Al-Zawahiri thought it was because of U.S. backing for Egypt. They believed that the U.S. also keeps Israel dominant in the Levant, and backs Saudi Arabia's royal family.

Al-Zawahiri then hit upon the idea of attacking the"far enemy" first. That is, since the United States was propping up the governments of Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, etc., all of which al-Qaeda wanted to overthrow so as to meld them into a single, Islamic super-state, then it would hit the United States first.

The attack on the World Trade Center was exactly analogous to Pearl Harbor. The Japanese generals had to neutralize the U.S. fleet so that they could sweep into Southeast Asia and appropriate Indonesian petroleum. The U.S. was going to cut off imperial Japan from petroleum, and without fuel the Japanese could not maintain their empire in China and Korea. So they pushed the U.S. out of the way and took an alternative source of petroleum away from the Dutch (which then ruled what later became Indonesia).

Likewise, al-Qaeda was attempting to push the United States out of the Middle East so that Egypt, Jordan, Israel and Saudi Arabia would become more vulnerable to overthrow, lacking a superpower patron. Secondarily, the attack was conceived as revenge on the United States and American Jews for supporting Israel and the severe oppression of the Palestinians. Bin Laden wanted to move the timing of the operation up to spring of 2001 so as to"punish" the Israelis for their actions against the Palestinians in the second Intifadah. Khalid Shaikh Muhammad was mainly driven in planning the attack by his rage at Israel over the Palestinian issue. Another goal is to destroy the U.S. economy, so weakening it that it cannot prevent the emergence of the Islamic superpower.

Al-Qaeda wanted to build enthusiasm for the Islamic superstate among the Muslim populace, to convince ordinary Muslims that the U.S. could be defeated and they did not have to accept the small, largely secular, and powerless Middle Eastern states erected in the wake of colonialism. Jordan's population, e.g. is 5.6 million. Tunisia, a former French colony, is 10 million, less than Michigan. Most Muslims have been convinced of the naturalness of the nation-state model and are proud of their new nations, however small and weak. Bin Laden had to do a big demonstration project to convince them that another model is possible.

Bin Laden hoped the U.S. would timidly withdraw from the Middle East. But he appears to have been aware that an aggressive U.S. response to 9/11 was entirely possible. In that case, he had a Plan B: al-Qaeda hoped to draw the U.S. into a debilitating guerrilla war in Afghanistan and do to the U.S. military what they had earlier done to the Soviets. Al-Zawahiri's recent message shows that he still has faith in that strategy.

The U.S. cleverly outfoxed al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, using air power and local Afghan allies (the Northern Alliance) to destroy the Taliban without many American boots on the ground.

Ironically, however, the Bush administration then went on to invade Iraq for no good reason, where Americans faced the kind of wearing guerrilla war they had avoided in Afghanistan.

Al-Qaeda has succeeded in several of its main goals. It had been trying to convince Muslims that the United States wanted to invade Muslim lands, humiliate Muslim men, and rape Muslim women. Most Muslims found this charge hard to accept. The Bush administration's Iraq invasion, along with the Abu Ghuraib prison torture scandal, was perceived by many Muslims to validate Bin Laden's wisdom and foresightedness.

After the Iraq War, Bin Laden is more popular than George W. Bush even in a significantly secular Muslim country such as Turkey. This is a bizarre finding, a weird turn of events. Turks didn't start out with such an attitude. It grew up in reaction against U.S. policies.

It remains to be seen whether the U.S. will be forced out of Iraq the way it was forced out of Iran in 1979. If so, as al-Zawahiri says, that will be a huge victory. A recent opinion poll did find that over 80 percent of Iraqis want an Islamic state. If Iraq goes Islamist, that will be the biggest victory the movement has had since the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan. An Islamist Iraq might well be able ultimately to form a joint state with Syria, starting the process of the formation of the Islamic superstate of which Bin Laden dreams.

If the Muslim world can find a way to combine the sophisticated intellectuals and engineers of Damascus and Cairo with the oil wealth of the Persian Gulf, it could well emerge as a 21st century superpower.

Bin Laden's dream of a united Muslim state under a revived caliphate may well be impossible to accomplish. But with the secular Baath gone, it could be one step closer to reality. If you add to the equation the generalized hatred for U.S. policies (both against the Palestinians and in Iraq) among Muslims, that is a major step forward for al-Qaeda. In Saudi Arabia, al-Qaeda has emerged as a dissident political party. Before it had just been a small group of Bin Laden's personal acolytes in Afghanistan and a handful of other countries.

Although the United States and its Pakistani ally have captured significant numbers of al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a whole new generation of angry young Muslim men has been produced. Al-Qaeda has moved from being a concrete cell-based terrorist organization to being an ideal and a model, for small local groups in Casablanca, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and elsewhere.

The U.S. is not winning the war on terror. Al-Qaeda also has by no means won. But across a whole range of objectives, al-Qaeda has accomplished more of its goals than the U.S. has of its.

comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

There are some minor and major problems with this analysis, (the most serious being the mischaracterization of the campaign against Al Qaeda as a "war on terror") but the general conclusion is certainly valid. I recommend that George W. Bush read it in January on his way out of Washington (whether to Crawford, Texas where he can scowl off camera, or to Baghdad where he and Tony Blair ought to be forced to stay, until every American and British soldier serving there has gone home - affording them many years there to reflect further on their role in this disaster).




Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


"I have quoted bin Laden himself on the goal of creating a caliphate."

Where ? Which comment # ?


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


The view that only westernized Moslems are a threat to the West is indeed "entirely crazy". It is not difficult to "westernize". Billions of people around the globe are doing it, many without wanting to, or even realizing it.

The more recruits Al Qaeda gains, thanks, for example to Cheney and Bush's pathological and endless blundering, the more of them they can send to be "westernized". And then (even you, Mr. Friedman admit) they can be a threat. And it does not therefore follow that "what we do" does not matter.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


"I am tired of restating".

So stop restating. Try instead listening, thinking, and learning how to explain your ideas without resorting to sweeping and unsupported generalizations.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Understatement of the decade.

He has also failed to take over the news media in the U.S (except Fox and AM Idiot Radio), but that has not kept him from holding the faith of his ignorant and duped followers. He went to war in Iraq because he foolishly thought he could get away with it and ride the wave of "mission accomplished" to an election victory in the presidential race this year (which would be his first such electoral victory). That cyncial tactic has obviously failed (mainlhy due to his administration massive blunders) and now this flip-flopper of all flip-floppers is changing his tune yet again. This failed president might make a worthy full-time campaign manager for Allawi, once his blatantly incompetent chokehold over American democracy is released, at the polls next month.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Okay Arnold, I amend my earlier statement to read instead: "How Bush dove willingly into Al Qaeda's trap".

I don't know about any conspiracies, except the PNAC idea of "waiting for a Pearl Harbor incident", which Bush clearly bought into. But, it was no conspiracy that forced the Congress to spinelessly go along, or 2/3 of the U.S. public (at one point at least) to think that Saddam was involved in 9-11. No conspiracy: just fear, ignorance, and mental laziness.

Al Qaeda's "trap" -a discussion of which was widely circulated around the internet shortly after 9-11-01- was that America would elevate the fight against Al Qaeda to the status of a "war", thus recasting those murderous Al Qaeda crooks as "warriors", allowing them to portray their efforts as global war, and thereby assisting them in recruiting new members. Another element of it is the kneejerk macho stupidity of thinking that killing some would-be suicide bombers will "teach their comrades a lesson" and deter them. Death is not much of a deterrent to people who want to die. Finally, the unprovoked and hamhanded invasion and occupation of Iraq was, as Cole notes, about the best thing Osama et. al. (who are dedicated above all to ending non-Moslem occupation of Moslem countries) could have hoped for.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


I note with regret, but not surprise, that you are again in your typical fantasizing mode, Mr. Friedman. Plausible in some cases, perhaps, but in general not well thought through:

1. American contractors and soldiers being slaughtered in Iraq is "the opposite of what al Qa'eda sought" ? That is what the Bushitters would like you to believe, no doubt, but think about it more carefully. What Al Qaeda has clearly ben striving for above all else, is a real, honest-to-badness “jihad”, a holy war against foreign invaders. That dream was handed to them on a golden platter by Chickenhawks Cheney and Bush. While those arrogant cowards in Washington stumble from blunder to blunder and lie to lie, Al Qaeda is gaining new recruits like never before, far faster than anyone -even Ariel Sharon- could possibly pre-emptively murder them.

2. Al Qaeda trying "to create a bigger wedge between the US and Europe" ? What, by kidnapping and beheading civilian contractors and aid workers from America, Britain, France, and Italy alike ? Blowing up the UN and the Red Cross ? Put aside your Bat Y'eor -she is only one analyst, after all, not some all-purpose source of omniscience - and read a good daily newspaper instead. Better yet, read the latest Harpers.

PKC


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


"Don, you mention "Jewish Communists"...Does this have any relevance...?"

No Adam, it does not, except that it relates to a tendency (to which nearly all of us commenters here fall prey here, to a greater or lesser extent, and Don Williams more than most) of resorting to inflammatory language in order to gain attention.

I "wonder" where anyone could have gotten the idea that this was a good way to conduct on-line discussions about public policy issues in a historical context.


Note also my previous (and apparently ignored) comment along these lines (#43765)


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


You have considerable energy, Mr. Friedman (e.g. in comment #43869 above). A little more self-questioning and you might actually go somewhere useful with it.

It would help if you could refrain from the habit (you are certainly not the only one here, and by far not the worst -this is not an "insult" to you, by the way) of implying things about other commenters which distort what they have actually said. For example, I did not claim in my prior comments that you “support” the “war”. If I ever even implied any thing of the sort in any prior remark, I certainly did not do so “ten million” times. I also proposed no “theory” about how the U.S. and Europe react to the Mideast. Having lived for over a decade on both continents, it is obvious to me that there are such differences. I believe they pale by comparison with the differences between the Cheney-Bush administration and prior U.S. governments of the past 50 years (I agree on that point with John Brady Kiesling).

Now for the substance of what concerns THIS comment thread (bin Laden’s and Al Qadea’s goals and motive):

1. How many times has bin Laden used the words to the effect of “re-create the Caliphate”, or “expand the territory of dar al-Islam” ? I am not asking for a complete inventory, but if you are doing your homework at the level your last post implies you are, it should not be hard to provide a few COMPLETE citations from his many statements on Al Jezera, etc. backing up your repeated claim that these are among Osama’s main objectives, and presumably (since you don’t seem to mention this) much more important that getting U.S. troops out of the Mideast.

2. You suggest that Islamic terrorists are only a concern for America if they are “westernized”. I disagree. The Taliban were not “westernized” and they were (or should have been) a concern to the U.S. well before 9-11.

3. I don’t recall you ever mentioning any source other than Bat Yeor. You have read, you say, “about a hundred books” pertaining to “Islamists, their terror movement and the Middle East”. I will not apply a corrective ratio to that number consistent with that which is appropriate for your “ten million” comment above. Mathematical precision is obviously not your style. But what about books about U.S. policy ? After all, the United States is bigger economically and militarily than the whole Mideast put together. And very involved with and in the Mideast. What about Clyde Prestowitz, Shibley Telhami, Richard Clarke ? If you’ve really read, for sake of argument, 100 books already, their 3 books -“Rogue Nation”, “The Stakes” , and “Against All Enemies”, represent a 3% increase in the time you (will) have invested in your research on the subject.

Let us know what you think of these authors and their analyses (after reading them). For my part, I will look at Bat Yeor, when I get a chance, but if she has never spent much time in the United States, I will do so with considerable skepticism about her supposed expertise on U.S.-Europe relations, e.g. how “Europeans react differently than the US”.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

I agree with your last comment, Adam (#43904). As long as we are getting down to the nitty gritty here, perhaps we should continue on to the fundamental issue:

(1) A few important (and "bad" as you put it) people currently in the American government (who also happen to be of a Jewish background) have loyalties (to Israel, to their own pocketbooks, and to their own egos, and not necessarily in that order of priority) greater than any loyalty to American democracy.

(2) Observation (1) is of no meaningful relevance to what other people of other professions, or other degrees of moral scruples, or in other places and times (but who also happen to be Jewish by faith or genealogy) think,want,say or do.

I do not mean to suggest the Judaism is not relevant to the current and historical predicament posed by professor Cole. If Don Williams were talking about Osama's philosophy in relation to the Qu'ran, or West Bank settlements, or what has happened to Christian Palestinians and to Hamas under the Sharon's administration's policies, or whether Al Qaeda was behind the recent Egypt resort bombing, he might then relevantly the current govermment of Israel, and possibly its relation to certain extreme branches of Judaism, into the discussion. By contrast, what the Rosenbergs did or did not do is a subject for an entirely different comment board.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


"...he might then relevantly BRING..."

in the second to last sentence of my last post (#43915)


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

This is an interesting but rather narrow list of books which you provide. I share the concern of the other commenter here that important historical events such as the CIA coup in Iran in '53, Rumsfeld's handshake and Reagan's support for Saddam in the '80s, and the CIA’s underwriting of bin Laden would appear to get very short shrift in such works. How many of those authors are recognized historians as Juan Cole is ?

You have, furthermore, completely ducked my question about Osama wanting to "re-create the Caliphate”, or “expand the territory of dar al-Islam” ? When and where did HE or Al Qaeda ever use such language and how frequently in comparison to their insistent public demands that the U.S. move troops out of the Arabian peninsula and vicinity and its “holy cities” (as Cole notes) ? This is an extremely relevant point, because thanks to the Cheney administration’s colossal blunders, American troops are likely to be in Iraq for a long time.

I am not in any doubt that Islamic fundamentalism is an important and (still) under-addressed problem. Cole has made that point far more authoritatively and persuasively than anyone else here. But Cole also points out that:

”After the Iraq War, Bin Laden is more popular than George W. Bush even in a significantly secular Muslim country such as Turkey. This is a bizarre finding, a weird turn of events. Turks didn't start out with such an attitude. It grew up in reaction against U.S. policies...The U.S. is not winning the war on terror. Al-Qaeda also has by no means won. But across a whole range of objectives, al-Qaeda has accomplished more of its goals than the U.S. has of its.”

Your great output of comments seems to boil down ultimately to an unconvincing diminution of the tremendous role of American blundering in adding strength to Al Qaeda and radical pseudo Islamic terrorism.

One final point to anyone else who may be following this. (Williams ?, Moshe ?) Has anyone else noticed how the 1 billion Moslems in the world (or whatever the exact figure is) never seem to make an appearance on this website ?


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


I am generally familiar with Lewis's work and is he is the only historian of note on your obviously non-objective list. If he never appears on HNN and Daniel Pipes appears fifty times, and you post 100 closed-minded comments here as well, that does not make Juan Cole a "nobody".

What Bernard-Heinrich-Jingleheimer-Levy-Strauss or any other journalist has written about Daniel Pearl is irrelevant to my still-ducked question about whether there is any solid basis in the public statements of Al Qaeda for assigning the "restoration over the Caliphate", a higher priority than removal of American troops from Mideast among either their actual or stated objectives.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


From your vast stock of open-minded knowledge about "Islamists" (whoever precisely the people might be who call themselves by that name) perhaps you might like to enlighten us further, "N", on the issue of whether such extremists, "unless they are Westernized, threaten the Middle East, not the US".

I have suggested that the Taliban were not westernized but ought to have been nevertheless a serious concern to the United States government, and long before Condi Rice and W. Bush had ever found Afghanistan on a map of the world. In your reply to that suggestion, you made the rather odd remark that:

"Those who planned the 9/11 attack on the US were, in fact, Westernized. They lived, you will recall, in Germany."

Please reveal then, from the aforementioned stock of expertise:

1. How many members of the Taliban were ever in Germany playing a significant role in planning the 9/11 attacks ?

2. How many of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were from Afghanistan ?

3. Was the Taliban when it was in power in Afghanistan before October, 2001 able to "hurt" the United States or its interests ?

4. Which major groups in the Islamic world since the 1990s have been less "westernized" than the Taliban ?


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


You are good at talking, Mr. Friedman, but if you would like people to listen, you might try listening more closely to them. Writers who are not historians but who write about history tend not to be very careful about keeping their own biases and agendas out it. Whatever the general case, I don't care much here specifically for what non-historians may have written about the "restoration of the Caliphate" as an Al Qaeda goal. I have no doubt that, as Cole himself points out, above, that some kind of restored empire is a vague dream of most of those Islamic extremists, and that indications thereof are sprinkled throughout the books you read, none of so far, seem to be written by a scholar who is a Moslem

What I want to know, and I ask for at least the Fourth Time:

Can any substantiation for your claim that “the issue for bin Laden is to re-create the Caliphate” be found in actual statements from Al Qaeda spokespeople ? We historians call this a "primary source". I believe (and your repeated evasions or inability to listen do not alter that belief) that this vague vision of a "restored Caliphate" is vastly less important to Al Qaeda's recruiting powers than, for example, the pictures shown regularly on Arab TV of mangled babies pulled from the rubble of buildings blown up by U.S. troops stationed in Iraq. But I do not insist that my belief must be true, I ask for verification from the primary sources, from a self-proclaimed reader of a hundred books on the subject.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


You are now citing primary sources, Mr. Friedman. This is useful and credit should be given as it is due.

Unfortunately, you are still not locating THE primary sources in question: namely the statements OF Osama HIMSELF or his followers, in THEIR words. NOT what a government report said about Osama. NOT what a journalist believes about Al Qaeda's beliefs.

This is important because it is at heart of the underlying issue: whether the "Islamist" movement's (if that is a valid term) millenarian vision of great new Moslem empire (dystopian nonsense, but they probably do believe in it) constitutes the MAIN means by which Al Qaeda, etc. obtain fresh recruits and support. It is clear that stations such as Al Jezerah are key to the recruiting of new suicide terrorists and that Osama et al use it as an outlet for their messages and propaganda. Therefore it is important to know the relative importance of different claims, demands, goals and objectives within those propaganda messages on that and similar news outlets:

e.g. How often do they

(1) rage against the presence of American forces in their "holy" territories

versus

(2) proclaim their goal of "restoring the caliphate"

You cling repeatedly to the 2nd (improbable) theory, Mr, Friedman, (presumably because it is a central message of your narrow-minded, if voluminous, set of books), but still not backing it up with any convincing evidence.

This is basic stuff. No wonder it takes "one hundred" books (all or most evidently expressing variations on the same basic "Great International Moslem Conspiracy" theme). Try trading 20 of those 100 for a subscription to the New York Times, Atlantic Monthly and Economist. Read those for a year, and then come back and tell us about your anti-Moslem journalist library and how it relates to an understanding of current events and policy options in historical perspective


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


Keep naming the names of the guilty, and leave whatever religion they may be betraying out of it.


Dave Livingston - 1/7/2005

The online information & analysis source "Statfor" has claimed from day one our invasion of Iraq that it had a three-fold purpose: 1) to demonstrate to the Islamic world that the U.S. was not the paper tiger that various Islamists claimed it was, 2) to put pressure upon Middle Eastern & related governments to persuade them to rein in militant, anti-Western Islamists' fund-raising & recruiting efforts within their territories, and 3) to preclude Saddam's government's efforts to acquire biological & nuclear weapons.

If they, the various other gov'ts, failed to rein in Islamists, we'd do it for them, meanwhile brushing aside the native gov't. That administration policy appears to have worked in both Syria & in Lybia, where our finger-wagging has served to persuade the gov'ts to fall into line, at least to a degree. In neither situation have we had to employ our armed forces, rather the mere threat & the demonstrated uses of them in Afghanistan & in Iraq have made our points without our needing to fire a single shot at Lybia or Syria. Granted, persuading Syria to pull its armed forces out of Lebanon has't yet come to pass. But it's early days yet in our effort to have it pull them out.

The conflict in Iraq is not a stand-alone war, but rather a campaign in the war against al-qaeda & like Islamist groups. Unfortunately, although the Bush administration had a clear motive for invading Iraq as a step in the war against terrorism, it failed to explain clearly to the American people why it thought it necessary to invade Iraq as a step in the war against Islamist terrorism.


Dave Livingston - 1/7/2005

Mr. Thorin,

"Stratfor" may be in error in its assessment of the situation in Iraq, but as a longtome subscriber to its service I'm well aware that a) its business is the condideration of foriegn policy issues, b) that it has been right on the money in its assessments of some situations abroad that were &/or are of interest to me, why I paid close attention to them.

For instance, "Stratfor" predicted an implosion of the Japanese economy well ahead of the fact, permitting me to bail out of the Japan Fund, a closed-end fund that invests in Japan at a profit instead of at a loss, which would have beenb the case, had I hung onto the shares through the nose-dive of the Japanese economy.

Of course, the Japanese economy went south when the Japanese were bragging that they were showing the world how to best manage an economy--& a lot of folks believed them

"Stratfor" predicted at least a year and a half before the fact that President whatshisface of the Philippines, the movie actor, would not serve out his term of office
& of course he wasn't permitted to do so.

"Stratfor" also let its subscribers know that the invasion of Iraq was a certainy to be accomplished well ahead of the fact, even before the so-called news media, the propaganda wing of the Democratic Party, such as "CBS News," were onto the notion.

In short, in my experience "Statfor" has been accurate in its predictions far more times than it has been in error. But of course, I've not paid that much attention to subjects not of strong personal interest. My interests abroad have largely been limited to places, West Africa, SE Asia, Europe, Australia & Mexico, where I've lived & worked or visited & to which I've taken a strong liking to them &/or their people, as is the case of Mexico, which I've merely visited.



Dr. Georgew Friedman, head of "Stratfor," has built a very capable organization, IMHO. But then, he's a political sciencists rather than an historian, which may be good or it may be unfortunate, eh?


N. Friedman - 10/17/2004

Arnold,

I am not writing to defend US policy. I am writing, instead, to note that such policy is not the cause of the phenomena which the world now faces from the Islamists. Such are very different things. I have - if you were to read my words a bit more carefully - stated that I do not think it proper for the US, or anyone else, to lord it over others.

Which is to say: US policy may or may not be desirable. However, US policy is not the cause for al Qa'eda attacking us. Instead, we are in the way of their plans or, if one wishes to speak a bit more philosophically, we are being dragged into the middle of the civil war.


N. Friedman - 10/17/2004

Don,

I do not support capital punishment.

On the other hand, the person responsible is the person who commits the act. The rest is logical speculation that may or may not be correct.

And, it has nothing at all to do with al Qa'eda, a group which has its actual origins in the Muslim Brotherhood which, in turn - and, here there should be no surpirse - was closely connected to the Nazi party.

I ask you to focus on your Phillipeans example. There, certain Muslims have a dispute. No doubt about that. However, your theory has no logical explanation for why Muslims, not Catholics, have adopted violence. Or, do you think the US was nicer to the majority group in the Philliipeans?

In short, I think your theory is a nonsense theory. It addresses concerns you have but does not correlate very well with what the Islamists are up to.

And again, they seek to create a Caliphate - a super state of sorts -. They hope to, by that means, gain hegemony over the world. They hope, once in power, to apply Islamic law (i.e. Sharia) to problems never envisioned by Mohammed and his followers under circumstances whereby such law can only be applied by radical suppression of dissent. For women, what is proposed is barbaric beyond imagination. For non-Muslims, what is offered is, as in Afghanistan, Dhimmi status including the obligation - as in Nazi Germany - to wear clothing that specially marks that people are not Muslim. I remind you of the destruction of the Buddha Statues - and that speaks acres about the movement -.

What is missing in your argument is causation. The US, you will note, has treated people in South and Central America abominably but that has not, you will also note, caused Hispanics to crash planes into buildings or anything of the sort. And, clearly, the claim against the US by people south of the border is a lot stronger than the claim of the Muslim dominated part of the world.

If you want to get serious, you will study the history of groups like al Qa'eda, you will study the Muslim Brotherhood and people like Qutb and al-Banna, etc. You will find that it the issues in play come primarily from their own history and not from anything the US has done in the US. And recall, Qutb's problem with the US was not its policy, but the fact that it, for example, allowed men and women to dance together.


Don Williams - 10/17/2004

I would also note that society would be inclined to avert its eyes from your acts --to disbelieve factual evidence --if you were the major employer of the area; i.e, owner and President of a company which employed many of the local people and if many local businesses depended upon the wealth of your employees' paychecks.

In which case, your kid might decide that society deserved whatever it got.


Don Williams - 10/17/2004

Actually, my argument is more like the following:
--------------
If you beat your kid severely, sexually abused him, and made his childhood one long horror story, then your kid might very well turn out to be a serial killer one day --consumed with unresolved hatred and totally lacking in any empathy with the society which had allowed his torment to happen.

If your kid then committed horrible acts, an ignorant, unintelligent society would
naturally condemm him as a monster and execute him. If, however, society investigated his life and discovered your deeds, it might decide that you shared much of the blame for your child's acts -- and that it would make more sense in the long run to take care of people like you before you created monsters.

Of course, if you were head of the local establishment and controlled --via wealth -- the local police department and judge, then society would probably never hear of your acts -- would never learn the truth -- and would continue to believe the image you projected of being an upstanding citizen. That might hold true even if one citizen --e.g., myself -- knew what you were like and told a few people of it but was silenced by economic,
political, and physical intimidation.
---------------

Please understand that I am speaking in terms of the analogy/example you introduced above -- I of course do not think you ever would actually commit the acts above and I assume you are a decent human being.


N. Friedman - 10/17/2004

TO: Don Williams
RE: Still Wrong on several counts, Mr Friedman (#44587) on October 17, 2004 at 11:07 AM


1. "I think if you look at the world as it is, Mr Friedman, instead of accepting Fox News' "Virtual Reality", you will see my point."

I have no idea what you are talking about. I do not watch Fox News and, for that matter, have never even heard of "Virtual Reality" other than in connection with computer technology.

2. "US has used Military force and massive military aid/arms sales to prop up the oil dictatorships of UAE, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. I noted that the Al Qaeda bomb attack in Saudi Arabia last year was specifically directed at the US defense contractor , Vanell Inc, which has trained and provided mercenaries to the Saudi Gestapo for decades."

And, this proves nothing other than al Qa'eda chose a foreign target. You will note that they also bombed Saudi Arabians. What you write merely tells me that you find the US presence troubling. Al Qa'eda may also but that is not proven by the locating the targets of al Qa'eda's barbarity.

3. "I reiterated the points I made in earlier posts. That
the US government overthrew Iran's elected Prime Minister Mossadagh in the 1950s and installed the Shah (and the Shah's Savak torturers) at the request of oil companies."

Before, the issue was Saudi Arabia, a Sunni country. Now you are examing Iran, a Shi'ite country. This is not pertinent evidence.

I do not that the otherthrow of the Mossadagh regime was rather disgracement but I doubt it is a central issue to a Sunni group.

4. "That the US installed and supported (for decades) the dictatorships that looted Indonesia and the Phillipines --condemming the Muslims of those countries to generations of grinding poverty and disease."

The Phillipines is primarily a Catholic country, by my memory. I do not see Phillipino Catholics participating in groups like al Qa'eda. However, I do see a dispute between the Catholics and the Muslims for power in the Phillipines and see how that might cause the Muslims to find some connection with al Qa'eda.

5. "Look at this map of where Al Qaeda cells have been found and where strikes have occurred -- do you start to see a pattern?"

Yes. I see a pattern. It is not the pattern you see, however. I see a group seeking to push its agenda in different parts of the Muslim world. I also see a group that has attempted to fly planes in the Eifel Tower in supposedly Muslim friendly France. So, I think you pattern is delusional.

6. "The bombing in Bali hit Australians who have been strong US allies. The same applies to the bombings in Spain that induced that country to withdraw it's military from Iraq. Egypt was hit because of it's support for the US , purchased by $3 billion/year."

And what about the attempted flying of planes into the Eifel Tower? What pattern does that fit into? Evidently not yours.

7. "As I noted, the US has supported Morocco's seizure of Western Sahara and its offshore oil fields."

So, I guess the sin here is supporting a Muslim's country's efforts to exploit natural resources. On your theory, the sin is merely that the US had something to do with a Muslim country.

8. "None is this is to excuse Al Qaeda -- but I grow annoyed when the White House and its support group makes up a lie and deceives Americans via a massive propaganda apparatus."

I am not a support group for anyone. And I do not spread propaganda. However, the evidence is not quite what you state. In fact, your theory only appears to explain the facts because you overlook much of the evidence.

9. "There is probably a small hard core group in the Muslim world which is our implacable enemy. But there is a far larger group which is forming a resistance to US imperialism and to real grievances."

There are grievances. I do not deny that. However, as with most grievances, there is more than one side to them. Thus, to Muslims, Sudan should be part of Islamdom. And that is a supposed grievance of Muslims. As a result, 2 million people have died in 20 years.

10. "We will never be able to locate and interdict the real enemy if we have 1 billion Muslims in deep anger over unjustificable actions committed by whores in the US government on behalf of special interests who make large campaign donations. Those Muslims do not have to join Al Qaeda -- they merely have to look the other way and fail to report Al Qaeda's existence in their community."

What we have is a civil war of sorts within Islamdom in the face of an existential crisis brought on by the secularization process. Similar problems occured in the West and led to large scale violence. The Islamists are the voice of extreme reaction, in this case, a response to the failure of the secular pan-Arab movement.

11. "PS Your earlier comments re the reasons behind the rise of the Nazis in Germany were also in error. Historians agree that the Germans of the Weimar Republic suffered deep misery in the 1920s -- loss of life savings due to worthless currency, massive and widespread unemployment, starvation , rise of tuberculosis due to malnutrition and poor housing,etc etc etc."

I said nothing which disagreed with the above. What I claimed - which most historians agree with - is that the living standards of Germans collapsed and that the rise of the Nazis found its home in that collapse (and not in poverty) to which the Nazis successly hung the quesiton, "Who did this to me?", and to which they provided an answer, "The Jews and the world they control." Something like that also applies to regions of the Muslim world which is why, in fact, the Jihad is, at this point, so very violent - just as it was in Nazi Germany.

12 "They also note that this was driven by the heavy burden of reparations imposed on Germany by the Versailles Treaty. See Richard Evan's recent book "The Coming of the Third Reich", for example."

I recall that some recent scholarship says that the above is confusion. However, I think you are correct. But again: such fits exactly into the pattern I have argued.

13. "If you look a little deeper, you will notice some bankers --like JP Morgan -- anxious to squeeze Germany in order to make good on war loans to Britain and France in WWI. Keynes --who was involved in the Versailles Treaty negotiations -- had predicted the Weimar disaster as early as 1919 in his famous book "Economic Consequences of the Peace" -- in which he bitterly denounced the stupidity of the massive reparations."

So?

14. "The 5+ million Jews killed in the Holocaust -- and the millions of others who died -- illustrate the evil consequences of letting rich men corrupt our political process."

Nonsense. The six, not five, million deaths were a result of the Nazis and their policies. It is, however, interesting to see that you find a way to blame people other than the perpetrators. It is as if I beat my kids and you blamed society for my failures. How stupid can you be?


Arnold Shcherban - 10/17/2004

Bravo Don,

Unfortunately, many folks are so corrupted intellectually
or/and materially by the US imperial policies (since it has been more or less successful, as far as the internal
socio-economic situation relative to the corresponding one in the countries victimized by it is concerned) that
it makes it almost impossible for them to see the undistorted picture of modern history.
So they would argue with the ones like you up to eternity
despite all and any facts and arguments you might throw into the discussions.
Consequently, until a major economic or military disaster strikes here, in the US, the majority will not care about the millions of victims of the US imperialism, as long, as they are not the US citizens.
Sad situation, but in reality that's what it comes to.


Don Williams - 10/17/2004

1) I think if you look at the world as it is, Mr Friedman, instead of accepting Fox News' "Virtual Reality", you will see my point. In response to your
statement above: "given that the US is not involved in a host of countries involved in the Jihad, the assumption that we are cause cannot possibly be the case "
I noted the following:

a) US has used Military force and massive military aid/arms sales to prop up the oil dictatorships of UAE, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. I noted that the Al Qaeda bomb attack in Saudi Arabia last year was specifically directed at the US defense contractor , Vanell Inc, which has trained and provided mercenaries to the Saudi Gestapo for decades.

b) I reiterated the points I made in earlier posts. That
the US government overthrew Iran's elected Prime Minister Mossadagh in the 1950s and installed the Shah (and the Shah's Savak torturers) at the request of oil companies. That the US installed and supported (for decades) the dictatorships that looted Indonesia and the Phillipines --condemming the Muslims of those countries to generations of grinding poverty and disease.

c) Look at this map of where Al Qaeda cells have been found and where strikes have occurred -- do you start to see a pattern?

d) The bombing in Bali hit Australians who have been strong US allies. The same applies to the bombings in Spain that induced that country to withdraw it's military from Iraq. Egypt was hit because of it's support for the US , purchased by $3 billion/year.

e) As I noted, the US has supported Morocco's seizure of Western Sahara and its offshore oil fields.

f) None is this is to excuse Al Qaeda -- but I grow annoyed when the White House and its support group makes up a lie and deceives Americans via a massive propaganda apparatus.

There is probably a small hard core group in the Muslim world which is our implacable enemy. But there is a far larger group which is forming a resistance to US imperialism and to real grievances.

We will never be able to locate and interdict the real enemy if we have 1 billion Muslims in deep anger over unjustificable actions committed by whores in the US government on behalf of special interests who make large campaign donations. Those Muslims do not have to join Al Qaeda -- they merely have to look the other way and fail to report Al Qaeda's existence in their community.

2) PS Your earlier comments re the reasons behind the rise of the Nazis in Germany were also in error. Historians agree that the Germans of the Weimar Republic suffered deep misery in the 1920s -- loss of life savings due to worthless currency, massive and widespread unemployment, starvation , rise of tuberculosis due to malnutrition and poor housing,etc etc etc.

They also note that this was driven by the heavy burden of reparations imposed on Germany by the Versailles Treaty. See Richard Evan's recent book "The Coming of the Third Reich", for example.

If you look a little deeper, you will notice some bankers --like JP Morgan -- anxious to squeeze Germany in order to make good on war loans to Britain and France in WWI. Keynes --who was involved in the Versailles Treaty negotiations -- had predicted the Weimar disaster as early as 1919 in his famous book "Economic Consequences of the Peace" -- in which he bitterly denounced the stupidity of the massive reparations.

The 5+ million Jews killed in the Holocaust -- and the millions of others who died -- illustrate the evil consequences of letting rich men corrupt our political process.


N. Friedman - 10/16/2004

Don,

Your point? The US is many places. What you write tells me very little.


Don Williams - 10/16/2004

1) The US government is in North Africa --just as it is in Venezuela, Nigeria, Columbia and many other places where
oil deposits --er.. I mean "the war on terror" takes it.

2) Consider how the US is supporting Morrocco in it's seizure of Western Sahara's off shore oil deposits.
See http://www.counterpunch.org/madsen01082003.html


N. Friedman - 10/16/2004

Michael,

Two quick points. One, some military tactics have been more or less halted - like poison gas -. Attacking civilians is outlawed for armies, etc. It ought to be halted for all of our sakes.

Two, my view is that status is the major issue in the Muslim world. It is a worse problem, historically, than money. And the status issue is long in building in the Muslim world. Status based radicalism focuses on the question "Who did this to me?" and, from that point, scapegoats are found. And there is nothing good in that sort of problem. I note: the Muslim world has been poor for a long time - a very long time -, yet the radicalism, Islamism, has only been around since the 1920's and came home to roost big time in the 1990's to now. While poverty has something to do with the issue, such is not the main cause in this case.


N. Friedman - 10/16/2004

Michael,

The last one was a major motive for the Nazis. Bushism or not, status/envy (two heads for the same coin) has historical precedent and is among the worst causes.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/16/2004

1. “I think that there a multitude of reasons why people adopt radical causes. Poverty is certainly one of them. However, status and envy are other reasons and the loss of wealth is a further reason.”

The second [I meant THIRD] line is what concerns me; I’ve heard this many times before and it is nothing more than an, if you will, “Bushism”. “They hate us because they’re jealous of our wealth and freedom” is one statement that I grew tired of about two years ago. For whatever it’s worth, I think that statement is ludicrous.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/16/2004

http://www.statecraft.org


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/16/2004

Mr. Friedman,
For starters, thanks for the reply.

1. “I think that there a multitude of reasons why people adopt radical causes. Poverty is certainly one of them. However, status and envy are other reasons and the loss of wealth is a further reason.”

The second line is what concerns me; I’ve heard this many times before and it is nothing more than an, if you will, “Bushism”. “They hate us because they’re jealous of our wealth and freedom” is one statement that I grew tired of about two years ago. For whatever it’s worth, I think that statement is ludicrous.

2. “My following comment is limited to the portion of your remark which states that terrorism "is nothing more than a military tactic... Technically, the use of mustard gas and nerve gas, etc., are also merely military tactics. Yet, we all condemn such tactics as unacceptable...The problem with terrorism in its current form is that it drags in civilians… I see your position as a serious, serious mistake. Really, an unintentional moral error of the first rank. In world history, disputes are always, in the end, fought on the same moral plain. Which is to say, what is good for the goose will be good for the gander. Unless the scourge of terror directed against civilians is faced down and shown, by overwhelming evidence, to lead nowhere but ruin, the world will, for the next several centuries, face worse and worse terrorism.”

I never said I condoned terrorism, I just assert that it is a military tactic. Which, needless to say, all countries are heavily involved in. They just give it a different name: “counterinsurgency” is one of several (see www.statecraft.org). Dropping an atomic bomb is also a military tactic. As are food blockages, bombings of medicine producing factories, bombings of water plants, bombings of electrical plants, sanctions (usually a predicator to war), etc. These tactics are always indiscriminate and sometimes even targeted directly at the civilians. The world history I am familiar with is full of “Might makes right”, “To the victor goes the spoils”, and “Woe to the defeated”- there are so many examples of unconventional warfare successfully waged I need not go into details. It is true what you say about eventually “disputes are fought on the same moral plain”, but you left out the portion in which the morality bar is lowered substantially. When terrorism was used in Latin America, terrorism was used to fight it (fight “fire” with “fire”- refer again, to www.statecraft.org)


3.) On this point, you are correct. The issue of the use of inexpensive weapons has been rather well documented. You are quite right that they are capable of causing untold misery. See, "A Scourge of Small Arms," by Jeffrey Boutwell and Michael T. Klare, Scientific American, June, 2000.

Thanks, I’ll check it out.


4. “Poverty can spread extremism. No doubt about it. However, poverty does not always cause or spread extremism. Which is to say, it may not be a sufficient cause. And, extremism may have causes which have no poverty associated. I might add that, compared with some portions of Africa, the Muslim world is not all that poor Yet... the Muslim world has a lot of extremism and much of Africa, for all its troubles and all its poverty, much less extremism.”

I did not say it “always does”. Just in this case, I think it is a driving factor.

”I do not think that an injection of money will, in fact, change the basic dynamic of that part of the world. In fact, such assistance, albeit commendable, will likely spur more resentment and, in the end, more terror. Which is to say, the aid will not be understood as help.”

I agree. Pumping “aid” will only make the situation worse (because the “aid” will be used for state terrorism). What would make a difference, I believe, is for corrupt governments to cease from repressing and robbing their people, and for foreign governments to apply the necessary pressure for that to take place. 20/20 had an, in my opinion, excellent segment about the Saudi Royal Family tonight- remember my example of gasoline verses Gatorade? Might I suggest you watch that show… you will see exactly where the money is going.



N. Friedman - 10/16/2004

Michael,

1. "I contend, again, that it is not poverty per se that creates terrorism, but that poverty creates a vacuum where people/groups/sects with certain political/economic/religious agendas (brilliant or mad) can fill, and when they fill these voids so long as they sympathize with the misery and pretend or genuinely desire to help them (being the poor, oppressed populace) they will find willing recruits for their cause simply because it is intertwined with releasing them from their subjugation (perhaps it is my fault for not making it clear).

I think that there a multitude of reasons why people adopt radical causes. Poverty is certainly one of them. However, status and envy are other reasons and the loss of wealth is a further reason.

2. "By third world standards, the Southern Irish are not even poor, though they still use terrorism (which is nothing more than a military tactic- guerilla wars almost always begin with terrorism later moving on to more organized guerilla assaults as their morale, marksmanship, supplies, etc. increases- for example, Vietnam and the Philippines).

My following comment is limited to the portion of your remark which states that terrorism "is nothing more than a military tactic."

Technically, the use of mustard gas and nerve gas, etc., are also merely military tactics. Yet, we all condemn such tactics as unacceptable.

The problem with terrorism in its current form is that it drags in civilians. You will note that early terrorism was directed mostly at leaders - a very different thing than targeting civilians -. I place terrorism - in its current form (e.g. shooting school children in the back) - in the collection of tactics akin to the use of nerve gas and mustard gas and other biological and chemical weapons. Which is to say, such tactics are beyond the pale.

I see your position as a serious, serious mistake. Really, an unintentional moral error of the first rank. In world history, disputes are always, in the end, fought on the same moral plain. Which is to say, what is good for the goose will be good for the gander. Unless the scourge of terror directed against civilians is faced down and shown, by overwhelming evidence, to lead nowhere but ruin, the world will, for the next several centuries, face worse and worse terrorism.

3. "However, if you have thirty or forty U.S. dollars (depending on what country you live in) you can buy surplus AK-47s and all the ingredients you need from a store to formulate explosives (such as a pipe bomb)."

On this point, you are correct. The issue of the use of inexpensive weapons has been rather well documented. You are quite right that they are capable of causing untold misery. See, "A Scourge of Small Arms," by Jeffrey Boutwell and Michael T. Klare, Scientific American, June, 2000.

4. "My whole hypothesis revolves around what spreads extremist ideas, not what spreads 'terrorism'". from: (#44496)

Poverty can spread extremism. No doubt about it. However, poverty does not always cause or spread extremism. Which is to say, it may not be a sufficient cause. And, extremism may have causes which have no poverty associated. I might add that, compared with some portions of Africa, the Muslim world is not all that poor Yet... the Muslim world has a lot of extremism and much of Africa, for all its troubles and all its poverty, much less extremism.

I view Muslim extremism primarily as a question of status, not poverty. One can, for example, hear the true voice of status based resentment in the language of former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in his speech that made the news last year. In that the extremism in the Muslim world seems to come, in large measure, from opinion makers and focuses on the lack of power, relatively speaking, of Islamdom, I class the extremism of that region with the sort of status based extremism of the Nazis. I do not think that an injection of money will, in fact, change the basic dynamic of that part of the world. In fact, such assistance, albeit commendable, will likely spur more resentment and, in the end, more terror. Which is to say, the aid will not be understood as help.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/15/2004

My whole hypothesis revolves around what spreads extremist ideas, not what spreads "terrorism".


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/15/2004

Mr. Friedman,
Fair enough on your point with Chomsky- I'm inclined to dispute, but that matter need not hamper our exchange. I confess that I have not read Walter Lacquer's study that you keep citing, but I must say that I do not see any conflict between his theory, as you describe it, and mine (if I can even call it “mine”). In fact, on more than one occasion I have stated specifically that there was "unreasonable hate towards the United states that any rationale being" can confirm. I contend, again, that it is not poverty per se that creates terrorism, but that poverty creates a vacuum where people/groups/sects with certain political/economic/religious agendas (brilliant or mad) can fill, and when they fill these voids so long as they sympathize with the misery and pretend or genuinely desire to help them (being the poor, oppressed populace) they will find willing recruits for their cause simply because it is intertwined with releasing them from their subjugation (perhaps it is my fault for not making it clear). I agree with you also that terrorism is not such a simple matter. The I.R.A for example, are not fanatical Muslims who wish to establish a caliphate. By third world standards, the Southern Irish are not even poor, though they still use terrorism (which is nothing more than a military tactic- guerilla wars almost always begin with terrorism later moving on to more organized guerilla assaults as their morale, marksmanship, supplies, etc. increases- for example, Vietnam and the Philippines). Their cause, so they say, is to “break away” completely from England and remain independent (Nationalists). Terrorism is typically employed by weaker people/countries against the stronger. There are many reasons for this in which poverty does have some stake. For example, if you do not have a few million dollars you cannot buy F-22’s. However, if you have thirty or forty U.S. dollars (depending on what country you live in) you can buy surplus AK-47s and all the ingredients you need from a store to formulate explosives (such as a pipe bomb). Toss the pipe bomb in a movie theatre or crack off a few rounds into a crowded street and you are utilizing the material available to you in order to create a chaotic atmosphere in order to promote some cause (terrorism). Once more, there are fanatics that have their own agendas, but if the poor populations who are seeking a “Robin Hood” to “lift them from their bootstraps” and perceive even the most horrendous thugs as “freedom fighters” they are likely to enlist, so long as it means elevation from their tribulations.


N. Friedman - 10/15/2004

Michael,

That is a fair point. I note, however, Walter Lacquer's study which shows that, in fact, poverty is not a predictor of terrorism. In fact, there are rather poor countries which have had no terrorism. Moreover, the fact that the US has had something to do with a country or has had nothing to do with a country is not a predictor either. Nor is the fact that outsiders have intervened in a country. I suggest you read his book as it is a rather good one.

I think it can be said that poverty, in some cases, may cause terrorism. However, poverty and foreign exploitation are not predictors of terrorism and, in fact, there has been substantial amounts of terrorism entirely unrelated to either poverty or exploitation.


N. Friedman - 10/15/2004

Michael,

I had a debate, of sorts, with Chomsky. We sent numerous emails back and forth. I based my comments to you on the field where I have substantial knowledge, which is the Arab Israeli dispute.

I recall him writing about a Saudi peace proposal in the 1980's. Something of the sort, you will note, was stated at the UN. I told him that what is said at the UN is for show and may or may not reflect the actual position of the Saudi government. His view was that the public record is the public record such that, in fact, the Saudis made an offer of peace. My view is that the Saudis, at the time, had made a public show which, had the offer been serious, would have cost the King his head.

I have noticed him doing the same thing when he speaks. Which is to say, I heard him on the radio arguing that the UN had passed numerous resolutions onsome topic I cannot, at this point, quite remember when, in fact, he was really saying, since the US had vetoed all of the noted resolutions, that there was majority support on the UN for such proposals.

I reiterate my view that he plays games with words, among other things.

You will note: I have not once posted anything to support Mr. Pipe's theory. I have not mentioned him - except to say I had not presented his theory or to say I had not mentioned him (I do not recall which) -. I recall, on the other hand, writing, by email, to him to criticize some of his theories.

Now, I also said that I have nothing against citing left wing theories. However, I do not consider Professor Chomsky a credible source. Maybe he is but I see the matter otherwise.


N. Friedman - 10/15/2004

Michael,

I am not aware of any "votes" for peace accords in the Arab Israeli dispute. I am aware of the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. I am aware of the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan. I am aware of failed negotiations with Syria. I am aware of failed negotiations with the Palestinians.

I am not aware that any outsiders have much basis to vote on other peoples' problems. But it is easy to tell other people what to do when one has no stake in the matter. Thus, that France tells Israel or the Palestinians something may be interesting but, given the French do not have to live with the results, largely irrelevant.

So far as I know, President Clinton proposed, to bridge the differences between the Palestinians and the Israelis, that the Israelis cede 97% of the West Bank, all of Gaza and part of Jerusalem to the Palestinians and that the Palestinians be granted a land bridge to connect the West Bank and Gaza. I am aware that the offer also included a 30 billion dollar compensation package for the refugees and their offspring. I understand that the Israelis accepted the proposal but that Arafat, against direct advise from, for example, Prince Bandar and President Mubarrak, said only that the proposal was a basis for further negotiations - at a time when Barak's government was crumbling as a result of terror attacks. I also understand that, minor details aside, the Israelis were not going to offer anything substantially different then or, frankly, ever. And, as Prince Bandar said, President Clinton's proposal met all of the red line requirements of the Palestinian's negotiating position.

Had Arafat accepted the offer, his people would be a whole lot better off. They would have a contiguous, viable state - apart from the separation of Gaza and the West Bank - with Jerusalem as its capitol and a generous package to help those wishing to settle in that state. I also understand that Prince Abdullah offered to resettle others who chose not to live in the West Bank or Gaza.

So, I repeat: the Palestinians are their own worst enemies.


N. Friedman - 10/15/2004

Don,

No. I did see your earlier post. The US is not in Beslan. The US is not in Spain. The US is not in numerous countries in North Africa. In Kuwait, whether or not we brought democracy, it was not our failure to bring democracy - unless you buy into Mr. Bush's theory that democracy can be exported - but the Kuwaitis who did little to obtain it.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/15/2004

"My theory is not that poor conditions inflicted upon weaker countries by stronger countries is the cause for acts of MINDLESS AGGRESSIONS, but that they most surely have a very strong influence, and provide hordes of willing recruits."



Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/15/2004

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/3668785.stm


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/15/2004

Disregard post (#44454)-


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/15/2004

Note: the Thailand quote I gave from the CIA worldfactbook leads me to believe things are not so bad in Thailand- as I child I remember the Thai's welcoming Americans with open arms. Therefore, "People in Thailand killed for what?" is like saying "People killed in U.S. for what?".


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/15/2004

Mr. Friedman,
Look at the voting record for finding a peaceful solution. You might be surprised to find that the U.S. and Israel has consistantly voted AGAINST peace accords while the whole world had voted for them.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/15/2004

Mr. Friedman,
I'd rather not engage in ad homninem (as I opted not to do upon mention of Daniel Pipes), but since you brought it up I feel I must respond regarding Chomsky: I think most people really misconstrue his central point (which throughout the forty years of his activism has tried to drive home), and that has to do with hypocrisy and “moral truisms”. As far as his political writings are concerned- I think most of what he has written is very valuable, especially the light he has shed concerning U.S. policy regarding Latin America (not so much the work he has done himself, but the work of others he has built on and gotten out in the “public”- something nobody else has really done). However, you need not to rely exclusively on Chomsky’s writing to verify what he argues, for all you have to do is direct your attention to released U.S. documents concerning “secret” U.S. policy- every year that goes by just adds weight to his argument. Most people, not necessarily you, who I have engaged in conversations concerning Chomsky tell me they either love him, hate him, or have never heard of him. The people who love him quote him as if it were the Gospel, those who hate him have never read anything he's written outside "What Uncle Sam Really Wants" and attack him for being “simplistic”, and those who have never heard of him are CNN/Fox/MSNBC news junkies. Note, however, that what I quoted from Chomsky was purely stating what others have said (I’d rather have you attack the substance opposed to the author). In regards to him playing games with words and facts, to me the opposite is the case- he calls out others for doing exactly what you accuse him of doing, especially “newspeak”- (maybe it is just my credulity). Again, this truly gets off topic, but I am compelled to ask for specific examples of his “word games”. You are probably a very intelligent person, but slandering forty years of political writing with baseless accusations just because you do not like what you hear is academic blasphemy. Chomsky is most certainly not infallible, but I applaud anyone that dedicated to striving to make the world a better place, whether it is a homemaker, grocery store clerk, construction worker, human rights monitor, or even a vocal or soft-spoken professor. Henceforth, if I “drive you away” from my theories, examples, etc. based upon quoting Dr. Chomsky, then so be it. I am here to find solutions and to gain insight, not to defend a record that speaks for itself.

Anyway, you mention Beslan: the U.S. certainly did not have anything to do with those events. Interestingly enough, however, Russian hegemony does. Russian President Boris Yeltsin should not have ordered 40,000 troops to invade it in 1994 and Putan should have kept his grubby hands off Checyhna in 1999- instead, Putin wanted to show Russia he was "strong like bull". Bali- Indonesia has an extremely fascinating history in which the U.S. has played a substantial role. I’m sure U.S. support of General Suharto has absolutely nothing to do with it’s current situation. “Thailand has a free-enterprise economy and welcomes foreign investment. Exports feature textiles and footwear, fishery products, rice, rubber, jewelry, automobiles, computers and electrical appliances. Thailand has recovered from the 1997-98 Asian Financial Crisis and was one of East Asia's best performers in 2002. Increased consumption and investment spending and strong export growth pushed GDP growth up to 6.3% in 2003 despite a sluggish global economy. The highly popular government has pushed an expansionist policy, including major support of village economic development.” http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/th.html
See the pattern? Poor conditions will give rise to these undeniably heinous crimes you mention. My theory is not that poor conditions inflicted upon weaker countries by stronger countries is the cause for acts of mindless aggressions, but that they most surely have a very strong influence, and provide hordes of willing recruits.


Don Williams - 10/15/2004

Did you not see my earlier post? See http://hnn.us/readcomment.php?id=43855#43855


N. Friedman - 10/15/2004

Michael,

Quoting Chomsky to me is to drive me away. I have low regard for him as an political writer. I have heard him speak on the radio and I have corresponded with him (back and forth). If you examine his theories carefully, I think you will find that he plays games with words, with facts, etc. This is not an attack on someone representing the Left wing viewpoint but, instead, an unwillingness to take his scholarship seriously.

I see your basic point. However, I am not convinced. I see people shoot children in the back in Beslan. The US has nothing to do with that event. Yet, the phenomena is rather similar to what comes out of parts of the Muslim world which, whether or not they have a grievance with the US, have people doing basically the same thing. People in Bali are blown up over what grievance? People in Thailand killed over what?

In short, the theory that explains a wide variety of events, of which the US play a part in only a subset, has a cause other than the US.


N. Friedman - 10/15/2004

Michael,

I said the Palestinians perceive their grievance as legitimate. In my way of thinking, that is the be all and end all of the matter. There is, to me, no way to judge the grievance as legitimate or otherwise. In fact, it does not matter whether the grievance is legitimate. What matters is that is how the Palestinians perceive the matter. And what also matters is that the Israelis perceive that they have a legitimate grievance with the Palestinians. Again, that is how they see the dispute.

Now, in my view, the Palestinian grievance is largely of their own making. Which is to say, they have not done very much to help settle the dispute. From the 1930's to the present, they have been their own worst enemy.

Their negotiating position, seeking a Palestinian state yet demanding that Israel accept the few remaining refugees and their millions of children and grandchildren, is counterproductive. I ask you: why on this Earth does there need to be a Palestinian state if Israel, not the Palestinian state, is supposed to take all the refugees and their offspring in? And, would not a Palestinian state not be far more viable if it, not Israel, took the additional people in? The answers to these questions are pretty obvious. In short, the very position advanced is, to be kind, not at all helpful to advancing the cause of a Palestinian state. In short, the Palestinians make their own problems.

Note, I do recognize that those Palestinians who are not Israelis need to have a better deal. That is in the interest of all involved. However, I think an Isareli can legitimately say (as I use the word "legitimate") that the Palestinians mean to wipe out Israel and that, rather than any negotiating intransigence by the Israelis, is the real issue.

And, to an Israelis, such is a legitimate grievance because, in fact, Israelis have died due to the failure of the Palestinians to adopt, from 1936 to this date, a serious negotiating position.


N. Friedman - 10/15/2004

Don,

Perhaps the reason that people, me included, do not all see things your way is that the evidence for your point of view is, in the best case scenario, rather thin.

Rule in the Muslim world, whether or not the US supports the particular government involved, is abyssmal and people all over the Muslim world are involved in Jihadi type groups. Which is to say, you fall for the view that the world merely reacts to the US.

In fact, people all over the world have ambitions and some of them, unfortunately, conflict with those held by Americans. In some instances, there are reactions but, given that the US is not involved in a host of countries involved in the Jihad, the assumption that we are cause cannot possibly be the case.

You confuse a near world-wide phenomena, an awaking of sorts, involving Muslims - albeit not all Muslims - with a local grievance about one particular Muslim government, among many, which, for whatever reason, has contributed to Islamist violence.

In short, you are on the wrong track.


Don Williams - 10/15/2004

1) I'm not defending the Sept 11 attack -- what I'm criticizing is Bush's bald-faced lies to the American people re why the attack occurred.

2)The US company that was the target of the Al Qaeda bomb attack in Saudi Arabia last year has long supplied mercenaries to train the Saudi "National Guard" -- the organization that keeps the citizens of Arabia under the thumb of the small royal family.”

a) See http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0513-06.htm -- a 1996 articles about Vinnell Inc
for a start. Vinnell is a unit of defense giant Northrup Grumman. See this Bloomberg article
at http://quote.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=71000001&;refer=&sid=acbj9fcbq7l8 .
See also this copy of a Times/UK article from last year:
http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0514-06.htm
b) Vinnell is the covert means by which the US government has kept the Saudi kleptocracy in power for decades so that US oil companies could loot the country. The overt means, of course, has been the massive arms sales the US government has made to Saudi Arabia --see ,e.g, http://www.fas.org/asmp/profiles/saudi_arabia.htm .


See this copy of a Boston Herald article for a wider view of why many Saudis have reason to hate the US government , US defense contractors, and US oil companies: http://www.mapcruzin.com/news/bush121601a.htm and
http://www.mapcruzin.com/news/bush121601b.htm

3) So why don't we ever see any of this info on the nightly TV news? Is it because pathetic whores like Tim Russert, Tom Brokaw, and Peter Jennings don't get paid $millions to tell us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?





Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/15/2004

http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/fields/2049.html


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/15/2004

In short, I think the fact that the PEOPLE (not the elites of the society) of Mid Eastern countries (Saudi Arabia, Iraq, etc.) are being robbed of their oil is exactly why they are destitute, which is why they have so many grievances.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/15/2004

Mr. Friedman,

1) ”Which is to say, the phenoma which is striking Saudi Arabia, which sells oil, is also striking (and perhaps on a more widespread and arguably worse basis) Pakistan, which sells no oil. More or less the same can be said for Egypt, which receives substantial aid from the US and sells very, very little oil, and Syria, which receives no aid (so far as I know) from the US and sells no oil. In fact, what has occurred, rather universally, in the Arab and Muslim world is that the living standards have fallen and, in some countries, rather precipitously.”

Living standards tend to fall when countries have sanctions, as is the case with Syria. Note that, when governments have sanctions leveled against them, the populations are now forced to rely MORE on the government. This is what is so interesting about the sanctions against Saddam Huessin- his people had to rely on him even more than ever. As for Egypt and U.S. aid, I would not be the slightest bit surprised if the same U.S. aid is given to Egypt that was for Latin American countries. If you look at the amount of money being poured into the country, then look at the poverty level of the country receiving the aid, and conclude that it is solely the fault of that government you are missing very crucial details. More importantly, you should look at the conditions attached to the aid- for example, money poured into countries like Guatemala were almost entirely for military operations (as specified under the conditions of the aid), which of course, were aimed against landless peasants who got the “crazy” idea that something really did exist called “human rights”... lunacy wasn't it?

As Noam Chomsky has recently restated:

“There is nothing particularly novel about the relation between atrocious human rights violations and US aid. On the contrary, it is a rather consistent correlation. The leading US academic specialist on human rights in Latin America, Lars Schoultz, found in a 1981 study that US aid "has tended to flow disproportionately to Latin American governments which torture their citizens,... to the hemisphere's relatively egregious violators of fundamental human rights." That includes military aid, is independent of need, and runs through the Carter period. In another academic study, Latin Americanist Martha Huggins reviewed data for Latin America suggesting that “the more foreign police aid given [by the US], the more brutal and less democratic the police institutions and their governments become.” Economist Edward Herman found the same correlation between US military aid and state terror worldwide, but also carried out another study that gave a plausible explanation. US aid, he found, correlated closely with improvement in the climate for business operations, as one would expect. And in US dependencies it turns out with fair regularity, and for understandable reasons, that the climate for profitable investment and other business operations is improved by killing union activists, torture and murder of peasants, assassination of priests and human rights activists, and so on. There is, then, a secondary correlation between US aid and egregious human rights violations” http://www.chomsky.info/articles/200412--.htm




2) ”Now the question about the price of oil and its impact on Saudi society may be a rather interesting one. To my knowledge, the Saudis produce nothing, to speak of, other than oil and, with respect to oil, they rely substantially upon outside help to dig it up, etc. -. Which is to say, the political, educational and other benefits which oil might have brought to Saudi Arabia appear not to have occurred.”

This is precisely why I specifically wrote “consumers, oil barons, AND corrupt governments”. In this case, it is mainly the corrupt government of Saudi Arabia, the U.S. government, and the oil barons commanding a racket over the people. In the end, they all are to blame for the preposterous price they sell for oil and the astronomical profits they still rake in. In the end, the people of the country get stiffed.

3) ”Is that the doing of the US? I doubt it. That sounds very much like a cultural/political choice of the Saudi government, pretty much the same choice made by nearly all governments in the Muslim world whether or not friendly with the US. That choice was for the governing class to steal whatever was available and to give back nothing in return. And, such governments nearly all employed classic techniques to deflect dissafection by blaming outsiders for disasterous impact of their actions. Which is to say, they made choices akin to those made by the Romanovs.”

Is it solely the doing of the U.S.? No, it is not. However, just as in almost every single country in Latin America, whenever a government would come to power that began to make substantial progress in land distribution, education, living standards, medical facilities, etc., the U.S. would sponsor “freedom fighters” (who were mostly trained at the School of Americas and convicted of heinous crimes against humanity) to overthrow them and terrorize the populace. The reasons for this are touched upon in the excerpt from Chomsky. It would be likely that U.S. attitude towards Latin America are similar to that which exist today in the "Arab World".


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/15/2004

Mr. Friedman,
I really do not want to get too far off subject, but I must respond. I did not write that you posted the "U.S. is helping the world." I merely explained to you why I wrote "Spoken like a true Roman." What was relevant pertaining to that statement, as I explained, was the following:
"I also explained the Romans construed the "barbarians" misery as their own doing, ignoring the fact that before the Romans came to their land they did well, not great, but well..."

I believe that you insinuate the people living in the Middle East (in particular Palestine, as you constantly refer to) have no "real" or "legitimate" grievances. Which I think is absurd.

You posted:
Re: This is a primary source- straight from his mouth (#44269)
by N. Friedman on October 13, 2004 at 9:35 AM

"I, for one, do not buy into the notion that most of the allegations leveled against us by the Muslims have any real basis in fact. Instead, they are complaints drilled into people's minds by governments which prefer to deflect attention."

It matters not what you "buy into", it matters that, just as one example, 1 million children starved to death because of sanctions- to me, that is a "legitimate" grievance. Not because I see it that way for one country, but because I see it that way for all countries. If one million children starved to death in the U.S. as a result of sanctions you would, in all likelihood, condemn it outright, but it seems that if it happens in Iraq you would contend that it is not "legitimate", merely because it happened in another country.

You also posted:

“Regarding the world and US behavior: Without some amount of order, the world would descend into chaos which, I think, would create a state of war in the Hobbesian sense of the word. While I do not believe in lording it over others, I do recognize that there are real limits, unless we want to make the world an even worse place, to what the US might do to play a less hegemonic role.”

I actually agree with this statement. It is called the United Nations and the United States should cease from undermining it and international law. Did you know that the only country ever to be convicted of international sponsored terrorism was the United States? It almost makes me laugh...


N. Friedman - 10/15/2004

Michael,

I have not said the US is helping the world. My point was and is - and I state it in different terms but the point is basically the same - that nature abhors a vacuum. Which is to say, were the US to withdraw entirely from its role in the world, the end result would be nightmarish wars.

Please pay attention to my above word "entirely." That leaves open the possibility of the US playing a reduced role in the world.

Please also note: I would certainly be pleased if the US did substantially more to help other countries and, keeping the above parameters in mind, stayed out of other peoples' affairs

But, to reiterate: I do recognize that without some world rule maker, the result is, by definition, war. And that would be a rather bad thing. And for the foreseeable future, that means the US must play at least some substantial role in the world.

And lastly, whether or not the US plays a greater or lessor role, comparatively speaking, will have little to do with whether there is terrorism or resentment in the Muslim world. Again, the issue is not grievance but, instead, free floating agression and resentment akin to the Nazis.


N. Friedman - 10/15/2004

And Don,

Do not tell me that planes are flown into US buildings because the US has troops in Saudi Arabia. That insults your readers' intelligence.


N. Friedman - 10/15/2004

Don,

You have given no basis to think that there is much of a grievance which requires planes to be flown into buildings in the US. What, frankly, has the US done to Saudi Arabia, bin Laden's home? And do not tell me, the US gives help the Israel. Such has never been a central issue to bin Landen.


N. Friedman - 10/15/2004

Michael,

Your argument regarding the oil versus Gatorade is quite interesting. I have this brief reply to it. I do not think it has much to do with what is occurring in the Muslim world.

Which is to say, the phenoma which is striking Saudi Arabia, which sells oil, is also striking (and perhaps on a more widespread and arguably worse basis) Pakistan, which sells no oil. More or less the same can be said for Egypt, which receives substantial aid from the US and sells very, very little oil, and Syria, which receives no aid (so far as I know) from the US and sells no oil. In fact, what has occurred, rather universally, in the Arab and Muslim world is that the living standards have fallen and, in some countries, rather precipitously.

Why that is happening is an interesting question. I have no good explanation but note that the answer could not possibly be a simple one. This is because, for example, Pakistan is on the decline while India is on the rise. Neither country sells oil so far as I know. Both countries have rather similar cultures - apart from religion -. Of course, Pakistan is a major, if not the major, backer of the world Jihad against us and Pakistan has a rather unstable political culture.

Perhaps the issue is one of perceived status. In, for example, Muslim mythology, Islam ought to dominate the world yet - as is rather obvious - the West dominates Islam. Which is to say, there may be long standing background resentment that, in the face of a substantial decline in living standards, has trickered unrest. Such, you will note, is somewhat consistent with Professor Lewis' theory that the Muslim world has come to ask, like the Nazi's asked, the resentment question - "Who did this to me?" -

Now the question about the price of oil and its impact on Saudi society may be a rather interesting one. To my knowledge, the Saudis produce nothing, to speak of, other than oil and, with respect to oil, they rely substantially upon outside help to dig it up, etc. -. Which is to say, the political, educational and other benefits which oil might have brought to Saudi Arabia appear not to have occurred.

Is that the doing of the US? I doubt it. That sounds very much like a cultural/political choice of the Saudi government, pretty much the same choice made by nearly all governments in the Muslim world whether or not friendly with the US. That choice was for the governing class to steal whatever was available and to give back nothing in return. And, such governments nearly all employed classic techniques to deflect dissafection by blaming outsiders for disasterous impact of their actions. Which is to say, they made choices akin to those made by the Romanovs.

Now it is true that the US backed Saudi Arabia's government. However, the US also backs Israel's government. Israel, for all its problems, is a thriving country: a growing economy, a first rate military, a fine educational system, a producer of many high quality products and services, etc. South Korea, in which the US plays a very substantial role - more than in Israel (as we have troops there), is following Israel's role. India, which until recently, had little to do with the US, is also following Israel's approach and is rapidly improving. And, so is China yet without any democracy. In short, I do not think that there is an easy explanation for why the Muslim world is in the shape it is in.

As for your superman statement, I do not read my Nietzsche as you do. He did not say that morality is a bad thing. Instead, he said that, intellectually and morally, we must take a stand outside of (cosmic) good and evil. The alternative is to be dragged into the sort of resentment which plagues the Muslim world as it previously plagued Germany. And the result is to look for which side has the more "legitimate" grievance.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/14/2004

Mr. Friedman,
I agree that "legitimate" does indeed have a "moral connotation". Though I will not bother plunging this thread into a philosophical argument, I will add that I apply the same standards across the board (or in this case, globe). Perhaps I am following Kant's argument-though I do not agree with it entirely- but if we do not want to be hypocritical sophists we must not see ourselves as "supermen". If you perceive our forefathers grievances as “legitimate”, which are thoroughly outlined in the Declaration of Independence beginning with either the words HE HAS or FOR (in reference to King George the III), then I am lost to how these are “legitimate” but living in utter ruin because of the foreign polices of other nations is not. Let us examine the price of a gallon of gasoline and a gallon of Gatorade- in my city 87 unleaded gas is about $1.90 per gallon. The price of Gatorade is about $10.17 per gallon (20 oz for $1.59). Ask yourself this question: Which costs more, the refinery and transportation of crude oil into gasoline, or the refinery and transportation of sugar water? Obviously, it should cost much more to refine and transport crude oil (locating an oil well, tapping it, pumping it, chemically processing it, transporting extremely flammable material, etc.) than it does to mix sugar into water and add some electrolytes. Point being, somebody is taking a huge loss at the pump, and it isn’t the consumers, oil barons, or corrupt governments. There is a reason why the people of these countries are poor and one of many is because of exploitation. Legitimate? I sure think so.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/14/2004

"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else." - THEODORE ROOSEVELT, “Lincoln and Free Speech,” The Great Adventure (vol. 19 of The Works of Theodore Roosevelt, national ed.), chapter 7, p. 289 (1926).


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/14/2004


"I am not quite sure you followed what I said. I certainly did not suggest - or mean to suggest - we were "helping" backward people."

I understand. More aimed at you and related to the "spoken like a true Roman" statement is that I also explained the Romans construed the "barbarians" misery as their own doing, ignoring the fact that before the Romans came to their land they did well, not great, but well (most of the ancient writings on Celts is entirely biased- such as Diodorus Siculus, Polybius, and Julius Caesar- the more archeological excavations of ancient Celts there are the more we find that the Roman perception of the Celtic culture was just plain ignorant). Caesar's conquest in the Gaul is a prime example. I use that line often with people I discuss these matters with, merely because they: 1) Think we are helping the world by conquest and 2) Believe their desolation is their own fault (never mind the fact that oppressive governments they live under are only able to subdue revolution because of covert U.S. support- Nicaragua is a sufficient model).


Don Williams - 10/14/2004

In response to a post of mine above citing Bin Ladin's grievances, Mr Friedman ducked the issue by saying:
"Bin Laden had, until he became a Jihadi, among the most privileged lives imaginable. He has no grievance "

A British partisan might have said the same of wealthy
Patriots --Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George Washington -- circa 1776.

I can understand why Republican leaders -- whose principles seem to be ..ah.. market-driven -- might have trouble understanding that someone might be motivated to fight by "duty,honor, country". The idea that today's congressional puppets of a corrupt oligarchy would stand up and pledge their "lives, fortune, and sacred honor" is hilarious.


But I don't understand why some Americans refuse to ask why we are being dragged into this long term disastous costly war. Why they accept Bush's deceitful bullshit that we were attacked because "they hate our freedom". I don't understand why some of our hatred and anger should not be directed at those special interests whose acts abroad provoked the Sept 11 attack ==as well as at those who carried it out.

I also don't understand why they don't question Fox News' faux patriotism -- in which we are expected to support corrupt agendas at enormous costs just because Bush has wrapped shit in the American flag. I support the people and land of this country --not those who sell out this country every day.


N. Friedman - 10/14/2004

Michael,

As an American, I perceive the grievance of the Americans in 1776 to be a legitimate grievance. However, the word "legimate" has a moral connotation. My view, following Nietzsche's argument, is that there are no moral facts, only interpretations. As such, there is no basis to claim that, from some objective stance, any grievance is legitimate. However, as an interested person, I take the grievance as being legitimate.

However, I recall that the British seemed to see the matter quite differently back in the 1770's - Burke aside who recognized that a right (which he, in fact, perceived Britain to have in the dispute) but divorced from interest (and he saw no interest in Britain pushing the tax matter, etc., on the colonies) is folly.


N. Friedman - 10/14/2004

Michael,

I am not quite sure you followed what I said. I certainly did not suggest - or mean to suggest - we were "helping" backward people.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/14/2004

Mr. Friedman,
Question: Would you surmise that the American colonists in 1776 had "legitimate grievances?"


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/14/2004

It was typical of Roman citizens to portray their conquering exploits as "helping" the ignorant, backwards barbarians whose misery was their “own fault”.


N. Friedman - 10/13/2004

Perhaps as a Hobbesian or a Nietzschean. Roman? I know not what you mean.


N. Friedman - 10/13/2004


To: Don Williams
RE: Mr Friedman seems as close-minded as an Al Qaeda cadre (#44278) on October 13, 2004 at 10:28 AM

You write that I question "whether legitimate grievances are driving terrorist recruiting -- even though I noted that a large chunk of the Muslim world lives in deep poverty and oppression as the direct result of US government actions -- see post http://hnn.us/readcomment.php?id=43855#43855 ."

I question whether poverty is a sufficient cause for terrorism. I note that Walter Lacquer's detailed study of the matter showed that poverty is not a predictor of terrorism. I also question whether grievances are the issue for a group like al Qa'eda if, by grievances, you mean that there is a dispute over a specific issue or issues, for example, the border of Israel.

"As I noted, the US government has given Israel $91 billion in past aid, $3 billion/year in current aid, massive transfers of advanced weapons, and has stood by while Israel developed a large number of nuclear bombs with which to threaten her neighbors. Because of US aid,Sharon can continue his aggression and military buildup without being constrained by normal economic forces and the per capita income in Israel is $17,000 per year."

I do not see what aid to Israel has to do with the matter. I think there is a dispute between Israel and the Palestinians. That is a real dispute but, you will note, very few Muslims, other than Palestinians, have shown much interest in dying for that dispute. And that dispute is not the cause for what occured in Luxor, or in Bali, or in Ossetia, or at the Indian Parliament or a host of other places.

I doubt that US aid is the basis for the dispute either. I think that Arab Jewish dispute has roots back at least to 1920's. As has been noted repeatedly by a wide variety of observers, including Arabs, while Muslims may not like Israel, al Qa'eda has paid only the most minimal lip service to the dispute prior to 9/11. In their declaration of war in 1996, al Qa'eda speaks primarily of liberating the two holy places - neither of which are in Israel -.

"Meanwhile, the original owners of Palestine have rotted in refugee camps for decades and scrape by on a per capita income of $1600/year -- deep poverty by any measure. And Mr Friedman questions whether the Muslim world has legitimate grievances. Have the problems in the Muslim states not been caused by dictatorial regimes strongly supported --in some cases, installed -- by the US government?"

I question whether the dispute between the Palestinians and the Israelis is a "legitimate" dispute from the Israeli point of view or from any outside point of view. That is a different thing from suggesting that the Palestinians do not perceive a legitimate grievance. As for your factual contention, the per capita income of the Palestinians is a result of their war, not a cause. Which is to say, the per capita income, pre-Intifadah II was, depending on the year, among the highest in the Muslim world and a substantial fraction of the Israeli per capita income. I recall a figure of 40% although I recall that others have reported 20-30%.

I also question whether, in fact, the dispute in Israel has anything at all to do with what occurred in Ossetia, in Bali, in Luxor, at the Indian Parliament and in a host of other places.

"Neocon propagandists have spread this story about a "Caliphate" being the goal of Bin Ladin. This Pinky-and-The-Brain story ("Tomorrow we conquer the World!") is shown to be utter bullshit when you look at REALITY..."

I am not a neocon. However, the fact is that the stated goal of al Qa'eda is to establish a Caliphate and to play a, if not the, dominant role in the world. I cannot imagine why you would believe that such might not be a goal of such a group.

I also note that the super power status of the US tells me very little, if anything, about the goals of al Qa'eda. At most, such fact tells me that al Qa'eda might perceive the US as, for example, an obstacle to some goal. Now, I do not exclude the possibility that al Qa'eda does have a goal related to the status of the US but, to reiterate, knowing that the US is powerful does not tell me the goals of al Qa'eda.

The question of whether we should be scared of al Qa'eda is another matter. You cite the inherent weakness of countries in the Middle East. My response is that such, again, does not tell me about al Qa'eda's goals. It does tell me about the capability of the cited Arab countries. It also suggests that it is unlikely that al Qa'eda is likely to succeed although that does not mean either that al Qa'eda lacks the will to harm us or that such group, or its fellow travellors, cannot inflict substantial harm on us or that, for example, such group might not also mean to destroy us.

The question regarding the comparison between the US and al Qa'eda is, I think, bizarre. The ideal state thus far conceived by al Qa'eda was Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, a state that brutally suppressed all freedom, impoverished its subjects and confined woman to see the world through complete body covers. If you believe that al Qa'eda is fighting over injustice, such is completely contradicted by the nature of rule the Taliban established. In other words, I think you are in dreamland.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/13/2004

Mr. Friedman,
Spoken like a true Roman.


Don Williams - 10/13/2004

See http://hnn.us/readcomment.php?id=44251#44251


Don Williams - 10/13/2004

Consider some of Mr Friedman's arguments:
1) He questions whether legitimate grievances are driving
terrorist recruiting -- even though I noted that a large chunk of the Muslim world lives in deep poverty and oppression as the direct result of US government actions -- see post http://hnn.us/readcomment.php?id=43855#43855 .

2) As I noted, the US government has given Israel $91 billion in past aid, $3 billion/year in current aid, massive transfers of advanced weapons, and has stood by while Israel developed a large number of nuclear bombs with which to threaten her neighbors. Because of US aid,Sharon can continue his aggression and military buildup without being constrained by normal economic forces and the per capita income in Israel is $17,000 per year.

Meanwhile, the original owners of Palestine have rotted in refugee camps for decades and scrape by on a per capita income of $1600/year -- deep poverty by any measure. And Mr Friedman questions whether the Muslim world has legitimate grievances. Have the problems in the Muslim states not been caused by dictatorial regimes strongly supported --in some cases, installed -- by the US government?

3) Neocon propagandists have spread this story about a "Caliphate" being the goal of Bin Ladin. This Pinky-and-The-Brain story ("Tomorrow we conquer the World!") is shown to be utter bullshit when you look at REALITY:

a) The US government spends more on defense than the next
23 Major Military powers COMBINED --and most of those other major powers are our allies. See
http://www.cdi.org/budget/2004/world-military-spending.cfm

The US defense budget is $400 billion --no wait, $430 billion /year while Syria spends $1 billion and Iraq was spending about $1.4 billion/year. Oh, but we should be scared of the "Caliphate".

b) The US is the only major superpower -- with enough nukes to turn most of the world into radioactive ashes, with major military forces scattered around the world to defend "foreign direct investments". Even Russia and CHina's military force is largely of value in defending their interior --only the US has the power to project massive military force anywhere in the world. But we should be afraid of the "Caliphate"?

4) Mr Friedman's viewpoint is similar to that of an Al Qaeda -- in that he appears indifferent to the great damage that his aggressive policy inflicts upon his own countrymen. But while Al Qaeda cadre are arguably fighting against the deep misery and poverty inflicted on their world by outsiders, the neocons are destroying US
prosperity and wealth for no good reason --other than the enrichment of a few,deceitful elites.

PS For extra points, compare and contrast right wing blog Instapundit and Fox News with the Islamic Madrassas who preach Jihad.


N. Friedman - 10/13/2004

Michael,

Skip my above post. it should have read:

I do not know that it much matters - apart from our little debate - what any one person says. I cannot much imagine anyone seriously contending that the basic aim, its reason for being, of al Qa'eda is not to create a caliphate and, in connection therewith, play a dominant, if not the dominant and controlling, role in the world. Which is to say, the goals are rather unlimited.


N. Friedman - 10/13/2004

Michael,

Regarding your three above posts, I would delete the word "legitimate." There are, no doubt, grievances and they, no doubt, are perceived by someone as "legitimate." However, those on the other side perceive the matter quite differently.

Most Indians I have met do not consider the grievance regarding Kashmir to be all that legitimate. They have a different theory. Whether or not they are right, I think the term "legitimate" suggests that we can take sides.

In the Arab Israeli dispute, Arabs all think the grievance of the Palestinians is "legimitate." Most Israelis see the matter rather differently and believe the Israelis, not the Palestinians, have a "legimitate" grievance.

The Nazis also had grievances which they perceived as "legitimate."

Regarding the world and US behavior: Without some amount of order, the world would descend into chaos which, I think, would create a state of war in the Hobbesian sense of the word. While I do not believe in lording it over others, I do recognize that there are real limits, unless we want to make the world an even worse place, to what the US might do to play a less hegemonic role.

I, for one, do not buy into the notion that most of the allegations leveled against us by the Muslims have any real basis in fact. Instead, they are complaints drilled into people's minds by governments which prefer to deflect attention. Which is to say, the US, for example, does not force any country to keep its people from obtaining an education. Such is home grown idiocy, not something we promote.


N. Friedman - 10/13/2004

Michael,

I do not know that it much matters - apart from our little debate - what any one person says. I cannot much imagine anyone seriously contending that the basic aim, its reason for being, of al Qa'eda is to create a caliphate and, in connection therewith, play a dominant, if not the dominant and controlling, role in the world. Which is to say, the goals are rather unlimited.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/13/2004

Perhaps I should have posted this as well-

Re: "It's not, etc., etc. (#41505)
by Michael Barnes Thomin on September 9, 2004 at 10:08 PM

"Of course, I am by no way suggesting that there is no unreasonable hate towards the United States. That is quite apparent and any rationale being can make that connection. The question is not about whether there are cells of extremists who wish the complete destruction of the U.S., but rather the question is how do they find so many recruits? The answer, I believe, lays within legitimate grievances of the people who become exploited by empires and therefore seek out any defense, regardless of what that defense might be (American colonists were desperate enough to go to the French… the French!!). This is such a reoccurring theme throughout the history of empires that I need not examine the matter with any great detail. If we answer the majorities of the people’s legitimate oppressions, then I think you will find that the recruiting and support for these thuggish terrorists will fall dramatically, and eventually their enemies will become too numerous and too uncooperative. As Mao Tse Tung wrote in “On Guerrilla Warfare”, “The people are like water and the army is like fish.” If you remove the fish from the water he cannot survive and the only way we can remove the water is by turning it’s tides against the fish. As of now the water is more than willing to give the fish sanctuary and it is because the people see these thugs as addressing their oppression."


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/13/2004

I saw that quote as well. Unfortunately, it does not provide me with Usama said "Current goal is to establish a pan-Islamic Caliphate throughout the world..." at this date, in this interview, etc. Nonetheless, add them all together and it has tight seams.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/13/2004

"The classic case is 9/11. Were there limited demands, the attack, if it came at all, would have come in conjunction with specific demands and a claim of responsibility. None came at the time. None has really come since. Instead, we are left guessing - and note our debate - about the nature of their cause, with you going back and forth to some extent."

There is a reason for this... it is called "secret policy" and the Fox News Channel.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/13/2004

Regarding:

"You thesis is that the Islamists have limited aims - at least if I understand you - that can be resolved by meeting their somehow arguably just demands. I, for one, think that such is an illusion. They have behaved exactly like a party with unlimited demands."

Mr. Friedman,
This is incorrect. I do not wish to "give in to the demands" of the likes of Usama bin Laden (some demands he presents are the legitimate grievances of the people he is trying to induce to his cause, while some of his demands are farfetched and impossible- Israel is there now and people live on that land, therefore calling for their removal would be intolerable). An Islamic state unified under a caliphate is laughable- there are far too many different nationalities, ethincities, and "branches" of Islam. I do, however, think it would be wise to stop oppressing people across the globe with our hegemony. I will acknowledge the fact that Islamists have much larger aims than I posted in the excerpts, but it must be said that they do not have to make these injustices up, at least for the people they are targeting as potential recruits. These people, I believe, should be left to run their country how they want to run it (right of self-determination is a principle of democracy), which has little at all to do with what Islamists desire- that is, one large unified Islamic state under their interpretations of Islamic law. If it means we should bring a true democracy, not a top-bottom democracy, but a true democracy and then leave without exerting control, than so be it (no more iron fists in velvet gloves).

If the people do not live in utter devastation they will have no reason to side with terrorist organizations. The reason why the twin towers came down is because of “blowback” manipulated by a few small sects that has grown substantially from it, and I think it would be much better to just stop serving, as Ike said, “iron triangles” and elite corporations and start serving the citizens. As I have posted before, there is appeasement (like Neville Chamberlain before World War II allowing Hitler to build a large army and annex Sudentland) and then there is recognizing one’s hypocrisy by stop pursuing dangerous goals that have nothing to do with the will or “greater good” of the people, and everything to do with power and greed. If we help the people in the Middle East we can win their “hearts” and “minds”, but it must be done genuinely. No more puppet regimes, no more proxy armies, no more covert funded coup d’etat’s. These are what got the world in arms against us in the first place. You said yourself that you believe “democracy will spread on it’s own”, but it won’t spread or blossom if it is not authentic.


N. Friedman - 10/13/2004

Michael,

Regarding al Qa'eda: What follows comes from the Terrorism website you quoted from:

**************

Description
Established by Usama Bin Ladin in the late 1980s to bring together Arabs who fought in Afghanistan against the Soviet invasion. Helped finance, recruit, transport, and train Sunni Islamic extremists for the Afghan resistance. Current goal is to establish a pan-Islamic Caliphate throughout the world by working with allied Islamic extremist groups to overthrow regimes it deems "non-Islamic" and expelling Westerners and non-Muslims from Muslim countries. Issued statement under banner of "the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Jews and Crusaders" in February 1998, saying it was the duty of all Muslims to kill US citizens--civilian or military--and their allies everywhere.

*********

http://www.terrorismfiles.org/organisations/al_qaida.html


From the above: "Current goal is to establish a pan-Islamic Caliphate throughout the world..."



N. Friedman - 10/13/2004

Michael,

I think I have read this material previously. For what it is worth, the US has withdrawn from the two holy places - the main demand -. The Jihad goes on.


N. Friedman - 10/12/2004

Michael,

I think we disagree. There are different causes in the world. Some causes are limited in nature and some are not.

The Germans of WWI had rather limited aims. That, of course, did not prevent 20 million people from dying.

By contrast, the Nazi's cause was not limited in nature. They wanted to conquer the world. Many believed, at the time, that the Nazis had rather limited ends that could be met through negotiation. Which is to say, there was the thought that by giving in on matters in which the Nazis seemed, by some argument, to have some justice on their side (e.g. regarding the Sudetens), it was thought the dispute could be resolved - as you suggest -. This, however, was shown to be an illusion as, in fact, the Nazis had unlimited aims.

You thesis is that the Islamists have limited aims - at least if I understand you - that can be resolved by meeting their somehow arguably just demands. I, for one, think that such is an illusion. They have behaved exactly like a party with unlimited demands.

The classic case is 9/11. Were there limited demands, the attack, if it came at all, would have come in conjunction with specific demands and a claim of responsibility. None came at the time. None has really come since. Instead, we are left guessing - and note our debate - about the nature of their cause, with you going back and forth to some extent.

I note, the fact that the Islamists, at least on the surface, appear unlikely to prevail does not mean the cause is limited in nature. And the fact that the Middle East is third-world like is also irrelevant regarding the nature of the Islamists' demands. What is critical is whehter or not any demands can be met or whether, as I suspect, any demands are a mere smoke screen that allow them to carry forward unlimited goals, akin to the Nazis and Czechoslavakia.

Moreover, I think there is a good case to be made that in view of the breadth - not the mere fact - of the Antisemitism in the Muslim world which, at this point, is not limited to the dispute about Israel, we are dealing with a group with unlimited aims. I below re-post a portion I previously quoted from Who Killed Daniel Pearl by Bernard-Henri Lévy in order to explain my point about rhetoric about Jews taking on a life of its own.

Please note that the first speaker below is Mr. Lévy.

*********************************

"If I'm asking you this question, it's only in relation to what you told me: Islam is a religion of peace."

"That's true," he replies, a little more softly.

"Which means that, according to you, Osama is a man of peace?"

"Osama, I repeat, is a good Muslim. He is our brother in Islam. He fears no one but Allah. He may have made mistakes. But when he distinguishes between dar al-islam (the home of peace), which unites all the Muslims of the world, and dar al-harb (the home of war), which encompasses all the rest, he is right; that is our position."

"All right. But the result, in concrete terms, is what? Man of peace or man or war?"

He's irritated again. Again the inquisitive look, a restrained anger in in the voice. Behind the doctor lurks the jihadist.

"War against the infidels is not war, it is a duty. Since the American attack in Saudi Arabia, and then in Afghanistan, it is the duty of the Muslims of the world to support the jihad against America and the Jews."

"Why the Jews?"

"Because they are the true terrorists. And because they lead their crusade on the soil of Palestine and Afghanistan. Zionist agents have infiltrated even here, in Pakistan. Why do you think the government accepts their orders? It should place its confidence in God. But it accepts orders from the Jews."

******

Bernard-Henri Lévy, Who Killed Daniel Pearl?, at 299-300.

Please note the comment about Zionists giving instructions to the Pakistani government, about agents in the country and about Afghanistan.


N. Friedman - 10/12/2004

Michael,

I think you are correct that there is a distinction to be made between rhetoric involving the committed and rhetoric for the yet to be committed (no pun intended).

However, that distinction only goes so far. Which is to say, the committed, who were formerly uncommitted, surely respond to the same sort of rhetoric as the uncommitted . And the leaders are unlikely to change the message to the committed for fear that they might, as a result of some change, become uncommitted.

Thus, while it would be better to have evidence directed to the uncommitted, the sort of evidence directed to the committed tells a considerable amount about the organization's goals and, moreover, about the sort of arguments that are important to those likely to get involved in attacks.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/12/2004

Mr. Friedman,
This will interest both of us:

Excerpted from the Declaration of Jihad by Osama Bin Laden against the US - August 23, 1996, accessed October 12, 2004 from http://www.terrorismfiles.org/individuals/declaration_of_jihad1.html:

“From here, today we begin the work, talking and discussing the
ways of correcting what had happened to the Islamic world in general, and
the Land of the two Holy Places in particular. We wish to study the means
that we could follow to return the situation to its' normal path. And to
return to the people their own rights, particularly after the large
damages and the great aggression on the life and the religion of the
people. An injustice that had affected every section and group of the
people; the civilians, military and security men, government officials and
merchants, the young and the old people as well as schools and university
students. Hundred of thousands of the unemployed graduates, who became the widest section of the society, were also affected.
Injustice had affected the people of the industry and agriculture.
It affected the people of the rural and urban areas. And almost every body
complain about something. The situation at the land of the two Holy places
became like a huge volcano at the verge of eruption that would destroy the
Kufr and the corruption and its' sources. The explosion at Riyadh and
Al-Khobar is a warning of this volcanic eruption emerging as a result of
the sever oppression, suffering, excessive iniquity, humiliation and
poverty.
People are fully concerned about their every day livings; every
body talks about the deterioration of the economy, inflation, ever
increasing debts and jails full of prisoners. Government employees with
limited income talk about debts of ten thousands and hundred thousands of
Saudi Riyals . They complain that the value of the Riyal is greatly and
continuously deteriorating among most of the main currencies. Great
merchants and contractors speak about hundreds and thousands of million
Riyals owed to them by the government. More than three hundred forty
billions of Riyal owed by the government to the people in addition to the
daily accumulated interest, let alone the foreign debt. People wonder
whether we are the largest oil exporting country?! They even believe that
this situation is a curse put on them by Allah for not objecting to the
oppressive and illegitimate behaviour and measures of the ruling regime:
Ignoring the divine Shari'ah law; depriving people of their legitimate
rights; allowing the American to occupy the land of the two Holy Places;
imprisonment, unjustly, of the sincere scholars. The honourable Ulamah
and scholars as well as merchants, economists and eminent people of the
country were all alerted by this disastrous situation…”

He sounds much like Hitler sympathizing with the poor, starving Germans. He knows exactly who his prospective recruits are...

These might interest you (as well as myself):

“…6. Division of the land of the two Holy Places, and annexing of the
northerly part of it by Israel. Dividing the land of the two Holy Places
is an essential demand of the Zionist-Crusader alliance. The existence of
such a large country with its huge resources under the leadership of the
forthcoming Islamic State, by Allah's Grace, represent a serious danger to
the very existence of the Zionist state in Palestine. The Nobel Ka'ba,
-the Qiblah of all Muslims- makes the land of the two Holy Places a symbol for the unity of the Islamic world. Moreover, the presence of the world largest oil reserve makes the land of the two Holy Places an important economical power in the Islamic world. The sons of the two Holy Places are directly related to the life style (Seerah) of their forefathers, the
companions, may Allah be pleased with them. They consider the Seerah of
their forefathers as a source and an example for re-establishing the
greatness of this Ummah and to raise the word of Allah again. Furthermore
the presence of a population of fighters in the south of Yemen, fighting
in the cause of Allah, is a strategic threat to the Zionist-Crusader
alliance in the area. The Prophet (ALLAH'S BLESSING AND SALUTATIONS ON HIM) said: (around twelve thousands will emerge from Aden/Abian helping -the cause of- Allah and His messenger, they are the best, in the time, between me and them) narrated by Ahmad with a correct trustworthy reference…”
“…Today your brothers and sons, the sons of the two Holy Places,
have started their Jihad in the cause of Allah, to expel the occupying
enemy out of the country of the two Holy places. And there is no doubt you
would like to carry out this mission too, in order to re-establish the
greatness of this Ummah and to liberate its' occupied sanctities…”

“…Few days ago the news agencies had reported that the Defence
Secretary of the Crusading Americans had said that "the explosion at
Riyadh and Al-Khobar had taught him one lesson: that is not to withdraw
when attacked by coward terrorists".
“We say to the Defence Secretary that his talk can induce a
grieving mother to laughter! and shows the fears that had enshrined you
all. Where was this false courage of yours when the explosion in Beirut
took place on 1983 AD (1403 A.H). You were turned into scattered pits and
pieces at that time; 241 mainly marines solders were killed. And where
was this courage of yours when two explosions made you to leave Aden in
lees than twenty four hours!
But your most disgraceful case was in Somalia; where- after
vigorous propaganda about the power of the USA and its post cold war
leadership of the new world order- you moved tens of thousands of
international force, including twenty eight thousands American solders
into Somalia. However, when tens of your solders were killed in minor
battles and one American Pilot was dragged in the streets of Mogadishu you left the area carrying disappointment, humiliation, defeat and your dead
with you. Clinton appeared in front of the whole world threatening and
promising revenge , but these threats were merely a preparation for
withdrawal. You have been disgraced by Allah and you withdrew; the extent
of your impotence and weaknesses became very clear. It was a pleasure for the "heart" of every Muslim and a remedy to the "chests" of believing
nations to see you defeated in the three Islamic cities of Beirut , Aden
and Mogadishu…”

Not exactly a primary source, so I'll have to do some more searching to make sure it is legit.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/12/2004

By "article" I mean post.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/12/2004

Mr. Friedman
To answer your question, in my opinion, whether it was known or not really wouldn't make any difference. "Blowback" would happen whether the public knew about it or not. However, there is a reason why the “blowback” term is habitually synonymous with “secret policies”, and that is if the public knew the ACTUAL reasons (hence, it must remain secret) they would denounce it outright and not tolerate it within any context (well, in most contexts anyhow- Tokoyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresdan are all examples where this is put on the "back-burner"). This, I believe, is because most Americans consider themselves a moral people, who reside in an ethical country, with a government of law established upon the foundations of freedom, liberty, and most importantly justice (which I believe for the most part to be true with the exception of government), and doing these operations (whether necessary or not is another topic entirely) contradict these principles they stand for. This is why they must remain secret. Once more, “blowback”, whether known to the populace or not, will happen.

I wrote an article over a month ago that touched on the same topic, here is an excerpt:


"…Third World countries exist for a reason and it is not because the "poor stupid brown people" do not understand how democracy works. The more we delude our senses with this nonsense then the further from reality our minds will be. We can choose to believe our actions are not what they really [are]. But what truly matters are those who chose not to. To quote Calgacus in his heroic speech before confronting the Romans, “To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire; they make a desert and call it peace.” We can chose to fight a war that might very well last until the extinction of the entire species, or we can chose to face genuine injustices that we are or have been responsible for. I for one believe that the latter would be much quicker, cheaper, and shed a lot less blood then the former."

Re: "It's not, etc., etc. (#41506)
by Michael Barnes Thomin on September 9, 2004 at 10:18 PM
“Also note that terrorism is not only a weapon of Muslims... Roman Catholics use it as well (IRA). “

[ Reply ]

Re: "It's not, etc., etc. (#41530)by Vernon Clayson on September 10, 2004 at 11:18 AM
“Michael, I admit the IRA used terrorist methods. However, they have yet to fly any airliners into American buildings, blow up any American embassies or behead any newspeople on television. Perhaps they have held back from this because they have the good will of Ted Kennedy. The Irish Catholics (IRA) are small bananas in any comparison to the Muslim terrorists. Anyway, none of this, including your reference to the Romans, can explain away the fact that the Chechnyan Muslims killed children in the name of their cause. The IRA and the Islamists are wrong in any event, one would think that society should have advanced enough from the time of the Romans to think the best way to gain political advantage is to sit down and discuss matters in a peaceful way, not blow up children. These radical Islamists, whoever their leader, whatever name they go by, are pikers in deceit, fractiousness and mercilessness compared to their beacon, Nobel prize winner Arafat. You insult the IRA, as bad as they were, in comparing them to the Muslim terrorists. “

Re: "It's not, etc., etc. (#41546)
by Michael Barnes Thomin on September 10, 2004 at 2:05 PM
“There is a fundamental difference between our views. I see absolutely no difference in any of these acts- they all aim to maim, kill, and destroy “soft targets”. There is no divergence in whether you kill innocent people for some political or religious cause (most the time they are intertwined) by cutting off their heads or by placing explosives in movie theatres. A terrorist is a terrorist regardless of his/her methodology of implementing their atrocities. I see the suicide bombings of innocent Israelis just as much as a terrorist act as that of death squads in Brazil/Guatemala/Honduras/El Salvador, etc. (in fact, if you look at the veracity of these barbaric acts the death squads were much worse than that of the Chechnyan Muslims- instances such as hanging pregnant women upside-down by their ankles and cutting out their vaginas is but just one of many examples). I also see no difference in a Muslim killing an innocent child in the name of Islam to that of a Conquistador butchering a child in the name of Christianity (read Bartholomew de las Casas). If we wish refrain from being hypocrites, we must apply the same standards to everyone, which includes ourselves.

But this is all beside the central point. The point is the basic question I presented, which is what drives a population to go to these extremist monsters for help and/or recruit for their cause? If you read the Declaration of Jihad by Osama Bin Laden he makes it quite clear why he is doing these gruesome atrocities. Whether you agree with him or not makes no difference. Much of it consists of passages from the Qu’ran, but eventually he refers to his people’s oppressions (which sadly he need not conjure out of thin air).

In regards to your comment to my reference to the Romans, I believe that it explains exactly why children or innocence in general are killed for any cause. It boils down not to the Roman perception of reality, but to that of the oppressed people's reality. Usually, the one's with knives held to their necks, guns held to their foreheads, and heads under the boots have a much clearer picture of what reality indeed is. Calgacus's speech illustrates this- as he says, "they give the lying name of empire; they make a desert and call it peace." We can call our actions whatever we want to; but that does not change what they truly are…”


N. Friedman - 10/12/2004

Michael,

I wonder about the secret part of your definition. Which is to say, were the policy known, would there be no blowback if bad consequences result from a bad (or even a good) policy?


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/12/2004

Mr. Friedman,
Might I add that the term "blowback" used by Chalmers Johnson is not just the typical CIA use of the word (just to make sure we are using the same language- sometimes arguments are formed based on slight differences in definitions). I, as well, used the term "blowback" the same way, like Chalmers Johnson does, as international relations students do.
Excerpted from Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire by Chalmers Johnson
Henry Holt, 2000:pg. 8

"The term "blowback," which officials of the Central Intelligence Agency first invented for their own internal use, is starting to circulate among students of international relations. It refers to the unintended consequences of policies that were kept secret from the American people. What the daily press reports as the malign acts of "terrorists" or "drug lords" or "rogue states" or "illegal arms merchants" often turn out to be blowback from earlier American operations."

"Unintended consequences of polices that were kept secret from the American people" can also denote polices of supporting oppressive dictatorships or secretly bombing countries that 1 out of 50 people couldn't pronounce let alone point out on a map.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/12/2004

"Follow-up:
The manual, as I recall, is almost entirely for training in combat/terrorism. Very little in the manual provided says anything about spreading Islam (though it does use strong language about their oppression by the "Zionists", "Jews", and United States). My guess- that manual is intended almost completely for the alreday committed. I could be wrong, but I am almost convinced of that. However, as a U.S. senator (I do not recall who or what date) once said on the floor during a debate when questioned about frequently changing his mind (sound familiar?) by another senator he replied, "I don't know about you senator, but when the facts change my mind changes.""

In case you missed that post (I saw that your last post was only acouple minutes after mine so you might have been writing while I was finishing it up). To reiterate, there is indeed more reference to the "utlimate" objective (which was only from what I saw the small portion Simon provided from the manual), but it must only be for the already committed. If you can find any more references spread throughout the manual (even small one's) to establishing a united Muslim state then to spread it across the globe than I reconsider. Until then, I must insist that this manual was for those already committed, and not much of a "recruitment tool".


N. Friedman - 10/12/2004

Michael,

Your point is well taken. At the same time, I gather that you agree with me that what appears in manuals tells you something. It is not, as you indicate, the main thing. However, it does appear to be rather consistent with what is said elsewhere and it is certainly evidence about the goals of al Qa'eda.

I continue to advocate that anyone and everyone read Who Killed Daniel Pearl? by Bernard-Henri Lévy - difficult as the book is to digest because the book sometimes appears to be written more about the author's investigation than about his main topic, which is the war within Islamdom - as there is, I think, more to learn about the Islamists in the book than anywhere else.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/12/2004

Follow-up:
The manual, as I recall, is almost entirely for training in combat/terrorism. Very little in the manual provided says anything about spreading Islam (though it does use strong language about their oppression by the "Zionists", "Jews", and United States). My guess- that manual is intended almost completely for the alreday committed. I could be wrong, but I am almost convinced of that. However, as a U.S. senator (I do not recall who or what date) once said on the floor during a debate when questioned about frequently changing his mind (sound familiar?) by another senator he replied, "I don't know about you senator, but when the facts change my mind changes."


N. Friedman - 10/12/2004

Michael,

I take that as a complement. Thank you.

My comments regarding blowback are primarily directed at ranking its importance. I believe I indicated that the theory has at least some value but that it is not sufficient theory. If I did not quite say that, I certainly think that such is the case. If nothing else, the US certainly provided invaluable training that is now being used against the US.

I recall a rather good Atlantic Magazine article on blowback although I do not recall the author.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/12/2004

Mr. Friedman,
Again, he (Simon) provided a manual as the basis for explaining the MAIN (as Peter put it) source of recruitment. I completely disagree with that. As I posted, I think it is indeed a "tool", but it is one of several. If you want to know a good way of implementing propoganda, just study the history of "public relations" or even better go to the utlimate source and read Chapter VI of Mein Kampf (Hitler lays out exactly what he eventually does).


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/12/2004

Mr. Friedman,
Actually, as you noted, I placed this source because it was the actual words from bin Laden. However, I did not intend on proving your theory wrong. On the contrary, the more primary sources I come across and add them together the more I am convinced that this is what he wishes- however, I still think you down-play "blowback" and I still think it is questionable if he intends on using violence to force Islam on the U.S. (definitely to try and "spread" Islam, but that can be done through merely propoganda by implementing the same techniques Jehovah's Witnesses use). I did not, again, mean to suggest your theory was incorrect based solely on the interview alone. Add up all the sources together (primary) and the case seems pretty solid.


Arnold Shcherban - 10/12/2004

Moshe,

I think Mr. Williams position on the concrete issue discussed here is well-balanced.
Neither you or me know him enough to make a conclusion
that he deliberately targeted the implication you ascribed to his comments about the loyalty of American Jews. In my view, he made his point abundantly clear to
rebuff such misinterpretations.
Israel or Jews, as an ehtnic group in whole, don't form
American foreign policy in the Mid-East, but do influence
it to a significant degree, the degree that certainly cannot be ignored in any serious analysis of the US policies in Mid-East.
It has been made 'officially' known that a comparatively tiny Israel, the state with just about half a century of history, has a second most powerful foreign lobby in Washington of all other countries in the world - small or big, new or old!
Just this fact by itself speaks louder than all other arguments in favor or against the Israeli influence on American policies. There is no other more or less logical and factual explanation of this enormous representative dispropotionality than the one stressed above.


Don Williams - 10/12/2004

Here is a copy of the Soviet memos showing the detailed
scientific and design information passed from Los Alamos by the atomic spies:
-------------------------------
Document No. 12
TOP SECRET
Bomb of 'HE' (High Explosive) Type

The conducting of the first explosion of the atomic bomb is expected in July of this year.

Construction of the bomb. The element 94 without any uranium-235 is the active material of this bomb.The so-called initiator, namely a beryllium-polonium source of alpha particles, is inserted into the centre of a ball of plutonium. (The plutonium is surrounded by 50 pounds of tube-alloy,* which is the 'tamper.') All this is placed in an aluminum shell of thickness 11 cm. This aluminum shell in turn is surrounded by a layer of the explosive 'pentalit' or Composition C (Composition B according to other information) with wall thickness 46 cm. The casing of the bomb into which this explosive is inserted has an inner diameter of 140 cm. The total weight of the bomb including the pentalit, the casing, etc. is about 3 tonnes. It is anticipated that the force of the bomb explosion will be equal to the explosive force of 5000 tonnes of TNT. (The efficiency is 5-6%.) The fission count equals 75 x 10exp24.

Stocks of active material
a) Uranium-235. In April of this year it was 25 kilograms of uranium-235. Its output at present is 7.5 kg per month.

Plutonium (element 94). There are 6.5 kg of plutonium in Camp-2. Its preparation is well organized, production plan is over-fulfilled.



* Tube-alloy is the code name for uranium (commercial radium tube-alloy) [added by hand below the world 'uranium' -- ed. note]. It is not known of which type: natural 235 or enriched in a diffusion plant.


The explosion is tentatively expected on 10 July of this year
[Written by hand] Note: Information was put together for oral briefing of Academician Kurchatov.


Document No. 13
TOP SECRET
To Comrade L.P. Beria

Herewith I send a report on the construction of the atomic bomb, designed on the basis of secret-service materials received from the National KGB of the USSR.

Enclosure in 7 pages
Make 4 copies (V.N. Merkulov)
1. Comrade Beria
2. National KGB of the USSR
3-4...
TOP SECRET
General Description of Atomic Bomb

In outer appearance the atomic bomb is a pear-shaped missile with maximum diameter of 127 cm and length of 325 cm including the stabilizer (fins). Total weight is 4500 kg. The bomb consists of the following component parts:

* a) Initiator
* b) Active material
* c) Tamper
* d) Aluminum layer
* e) Explosive
* f) 32 Explosive lenses
* g) Detonating device
* h) Duralumin shell
* i) Armor-steel shell
* j) Stabilizer (fins)

All the above-specified parts of the bomb with the exception of the stabilizer, the detonating device and the outer steel shell are spherical shells inserted one into the other. Thus, for instance, the active material is prepared in the shape of a spherical shell into whose center the initiator is inserted. The ball of active material itself is inserted into the interior of the tamper (moderator), which is itself a spherical shell. The tamper ball is inserted into the interior of another spherical shell made of aluminum, which is surrounded with a spherical layer of explosive.

After the layer of explosive, into which the lenses are inserted, there is a duralumin shell to which the detonating device is attached and on top of which is the bomb's outer casing made from armor steel.
Description of Particular Components of the Bomb

1. Initiator
An initiator of the 'Urchin' type is used in the bomb. It consists of a hollow beryllium sperule on whose inner surface are wedge-shaped grooves. The planes of all the grooves are parallel to one another. The surface of the grooves is covered with a layer of gold of thickness 0.1 mm and a layer of polonium. Inside this spherule is inserted a solid beryllium spherule whose surface is also covered with a layer of gold and polonium.

Dimensions of the 'Urchin'
Outer radius of the hollow beryllium spherule 1.0 cm
Radius of base of wedge-shaped groove 0.40 cm
Radius of apex of wedge-shaped groove 0.609 cm
Radius of the solid beryllium spherule 0.40 cm
Number of wedge-shaped grooves 15
Amount of polonium on the surface of all grooves 30 curies
Amount of polonium on solid spherule 20 curies

The hollow spherule is made of two halves, which are made in a nickel-carbonyl atmosphere, as a result of which a nickel coating is formed on the surface of hte spherule. This coating prevents or at least inhibits the spontaneous decay of polonium.

The initiator works as follows. The shock, directed towards the center, from the explosion of the outer layer of explosive is transmitted through the aluminum layer and tamper, throgugh the layer of active material onto the surface of the hollow beryllium spherule of the initiator. The resulting stresses fracture this spherule along the planes passing through the apex of the wedge-shaped grooves, thus exposing the beryllium of the hollow spherule to the action of the alpha-particles emerging from the polonium coating on the central spherule of the initiator. This produces a neutron flux. The adjacent surfaces of the grooves collide, as a result of which the 'Munroe jet' is generated, which penetrates through the thin layer of polonium and gold into the central spherule, thus putting in contact the polonium on the inner surface of the hollow beryllium spherule with the beryllium of the solid one. This also produces a neutron flux.

The neutron flux produced in the initiator attacks the active material.

2. Active Material

The element plutonium of delta-phase with specific gravity 15.8 is the active material of the atomic bomb. It is made in the shape of a spherical shell consisting of two halves, which just like the outer spherule of the initiator, are compressed in a nickel-carbonyl atmosphere. The outer diameter of the ball is 80-90 mm. The weight of the active material including the initiator is 7.3 - 10.0 kg. Between the hemispheres is a gasket of corrugated gold of thickness 0.1 mm, which protects against penetration of the initiator by high-speed jets moving along the junction plane of the hemispheres of active material. These jets can prematurely activate the initiator.

In one of the hemispheres, there is an opening of diameter 25 mm, which is used to insert the initiator into the centre of the active material, where it is mounted on a special bracket. After inserting the initiator, the opening is closed with a plug, made also of plutonium.

3. Tamper (Moderator)

The tamper is a spherical shell with outer diameter 230 mm, made from uranium metal. There is an opening in the ball for inserting the active material into the interior. The opening is closed with a plug, also made of uranium metal.

The purpose of the tamper (moderator) is that it reduces the amount of active material necessary for making the atomic bomb.

The outer surface of the tamper is covered with a layer of boron, which moderates the thermal neutrons emanating from the radioactive materials of the system and are capable of causing premature detonation.

4. Layer of Aluminum

The aluminum layer surrounding the outer surface of the tamper forms a spherical shell with outer diameter 460 mm, made of two halves with grooves and ridges provided for joining. There is an opening in one of the hemispheres for inserting the active material into the interior of the bomb. The opening is closed with a plug made of aluminum.

The purpose of the aluminum layer is the uniform transfer, directed to the centre, of the shock produced by detonating the outer layer of explosive.

5. Layer of Explosives and Lenses

Around the aluminum layer is placed a layer of explosive, which is formed from 32 specially shaped blocks. The inner centre-facing surface of the blocks is spherical with diameter equal to the outer diameter of the aluminum layer. On the outer surface of the blocks of explosive are special grooves whose shape provides for the insertion into them of 20 hexagon-shaped lenses and 12 pentagon-shaped lenses. A 1/16 inch thick felt pad is placed between the surfaces of the explosive and the lenses perpendicular to the axis of the sphere, and the empty spaces between the radial contact surfaces are filled with blotting paper. The air gaps between the layer of explosive and the lenses should not exceed 1/32 inch, since bigger air gaps can contribute to either the slowing-down or the speeding-up of the detonation depending on the direction of these gaps. The lenses are cast in special molds made from cellulose acetate. Each lens consists of two types of explosive, one fast-detonating and the other slow-detonating. When the lenses are installed in place, the fast-detonating part of each lens touches the layer of explosive.

Each lens is provided with one detonator, which for greater guarantee of simultaneous explosion has two electric primers. There are 64 electric wires in all, partitioned into 4 quadrants with 16 wires in each. A lens is connected to two electric wires but from different quadrants.

6. Duralumin Shell

The layer of explosive and lenses is covered with a duralumin shell, to which a blasting device weighing 180 kg is attached. The inner diameter of the shell is roughly 1400 mm; the weight including the blasting device is about 700 kg.

7. Outer Casing of Armour Steel

8. Stabilizer (fins)

Assembly of Bomb

The ball of uranium is inserted into the interior of the aluminum sphere in such a way that the opening on it fits opposite the opening in the aluminum. The blocks with the lenses are stacked on the outer surface of the aluminum except for one block which is placed over the opening in the aluminum. The lenses are mounted on the duralumin shell, to which the blasting device is also fastened. In that form the bomb is ready for transportation to the place of use. Further assembly is carried out as follows. The initiator is inserted into the interior of the tamper. The plugs are put into place, after which the last block of explosive is superimposed and the openings on the duralumin and steel shells are closed.

Becasue the plutonium and the radioactive materials of the initiator are spontaneously heated to a temperature exceeding that of the surrounding region by 90 degrees Celsius, the bombs are transported to the place of final assembly in special containers equipped with a cooling system.

" " October 1945

Faithfully: Colonel (VASILEVSKII)


N. Friedman - 10/12/2004

To: Michael Barnes Thomin
Re: Another query (#44052) on October 10, 2004 at 5:55 PM

Michael,

I think I have very few disagreements with what you write. However, please note that one key to today's world is that fewer and fewer people are required in order to do worse and worse things. And the fewer involved, the less rational the justification needs to be. Such is, you will note, Walter Lacquer's argument. I think he is likely correct on this point. Such, along with the fact that few are Westernized or, in any event, sophisticated enough to carry out attacks in the US, is the reason I say that the recruitment of 35,000 people is not the main concern.


Don Williams - 10/12/2004

1) Mr Friedman above had asked for documentation supporting my statement that the atomic spies had helped the Soviet Union save 8 years of development time on the Soviet Bomb --and had therefore blocked any possibility of the US government keeping a monopoly on nuclear weapons and forestalling the massive buildup of nuclear weapons during the Cold War, which has threatened not only the US but the human race with extinction.

2) I gave one source but I have since retrieved the book on which my opinion was formed. It is "Bombshell" by Joseph Albright and Marcia Kunstel (1997). The book was based upon information in the Soviet Archives released in the mid 1990s.

3) In Chapter 14, page 127, the authors note that Ted Hall passed on the principle of the "implosion" design --on which the Soviet Bomb was built-- in late 1944 . The authors note:
"This was the germ of one of the seminal inventions of the twentieth century , and the idea was so counterintuitive that Soviet Physicists might have taken a decade to come up with it on their own. Without the implosion principle, it seems likely that the Soviets would have failed in their first desperate attempts to catch up to the Americans on the bomb."

4) A word of explanation may be in order. Basically, it turned out that there were two ways to build atomic weapons. The fundamental problem was that nuclear fission creates heat/energy which blows nuclear material apart before the chain reaction can proceed very far -- resulting in a neglible explosion of very little force.
The problem was to keep nuclear material together for a short time in order to allow a number of atoms to be split. If the material is not kept together , then the neutrons generated from the splitting of one atom escape into space --instead of continuing the chain reaction by striking other atoms.


5) The first approach -- on which the Hiroshima bomb was built -- was simple, so simple in fact that the Hiroshima bomb design was never tested but simply used. Basically , a slug of subcritical uranium U235 was fired down a gun barrel into a subcritical mass of U235. The problem with this approach was the immense difficulty in separating the 1%? of U235 from the 99% of U238 found in uranium ore. Since they are both isotopes of the same element, chemical processes don't work and one is forced to rely on the slight differences in weight. At Paducah Kentucky and Oak Ridge, gaseous uranium hexafloride was forced over and over through miles of pipes containing
powdered nickel in order to separate out a small amount of U235. An immense industrial process requiring massive amounts of electricity -- hence the use of the electrical grid in the TVA area.

6) The second approach was based upon use of plutonium --which is far more easily obtained than U235. Plutonium is generated within a nuclear pile made up of stacks of easily available U238. Plutonium can be separated out from U238 using chemical processes.

The problem is that the simple gun barrel design bomb will not work with plutonium -- the slug reacts with the target before it reaches it and is immediately blown away.

7) Hence, use of plutonium requires a far more difficult design. A hollow sphere of plutonium is surrounded by a
layer of high explosive which is designed in such a way that it compresses the plutonium into a small mass long enough for the chain reaction (splitting of atoms by neutrons generated from the splitting of the preceding generation of atoms.) to procede through several generations of atoms before the energy of the reaction blows the critical mass apart.

8) The implosion bomb was tested at Trinity and was the Fatman bomb dropped on Nagasaki. The first Soviet atomic bomb was a copy of Fatman -- the detailed design of which was given to the Soviets by the atomic spy rings.

The implosion bomb required the solution of several difficult problems:

a) Development of an "initiator " which would generate a large number of neutrons at the start of the chain reaction. The invention was a walnut sized sphere of beryllium enclosing a marble of polonium. Polonium emits lots of alpha rays. When alpha rays strike beryllium, beryllium emits large numbers of neutrons. To prevent this from happening prematurely, the marble of polonium
was coated with gold foil. The difficult problem was ensuring very rapid mixing of the polonium with beryllium when the beryllium sphere --located in the center of the hollow sphere of plutonium -- was crushed by the compression of the plutonium at bomb detonation. The solution was to carve wedge shaped cuts on the interior of the beryllium sphere so that the explosion pressure wave would generate high speed jets of beryllium to cut through the gold foil --similar to the "shaped charge" design in anti-tank warheads.

b) The most difficult problem was probably designing the sphere of explosive around the plutonium in such a way that it would generate a convex compressive wave instead of the normal expanding concave wave. This involved a cone of slow explosive put inside a slab of fast explosive in such a way as to "bend " the shock wave into a wave focused inward. This , in turn, required the developed of extremely high speed detonators (thin wires exploding due to high voltage surge) and very high speed switches to route to electrical firing impulse to 30-40?points on the explosive sphere simultaneously.

c) In order to develop the explosive sphere, it was necessary to detonate many different configurations and determine some way of observing the pattern and extent of compression DURING detonation.
Ted Hall was on the team which developed the hollow explosive sphere via the "Ra La" experiments.

9) The memo giving the detailed design of the implosion bomb to the Soviets was released a few years ago from the Soviet Archives. A copy is here:

10)Later, the implosion bomb was the trigger for the much more powerful hydrogen bombs -- which were also revealed to the Soviets by Klaus Fuchs. Both of these inventions were needed to develop warheads powerful enough to vaporize cities but lightweight enough to be carried on a high speed ICBM.


N. Friedman - 10/12/2004

Michael,

What you have provided is the result of an interview between a Western reporter and bin Laden. As such, interesting as the interview is, it tells me about bin Laden's message to the West - and not about his message to his followers -.

Getting the US out of Saudi Arabia or destroying Israel, etc., may, in fact, be things desired by bin Laden but, it would appear from what he says, for example, to recruits, that he has a far wider agenda. In this regard, consider that Hitler to outsiders said, at one point, words to the effect that it was only necessary for Germany to control Austria and, later, only Czechoslavakia but, clearly, his real aim was to dominate the world.

I suggest to you that bin Laden's political message, couched in the language of his vision of a great recreation of the Muslim empire - stated more broadly to those involved -, cannot reasonably be understood as minimalist in nature. Instead, the maximum vision is far more likely the real thing. Such is entirely consistent with the sort of rhetoric coming out of the Muslim world including for example, from Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who spoke (in his speech to to the Tenth Islamic Summit Conference, Putrajaya, Malaysia, October 16, 2003) of re-uniting the Muslim world.


N. Friedman - 10/12/2004

Michael,

I do not quite think that Peter was asking for genuine primary evidence. Instead, he was seeking to contradict my argument about the Jihad against us. I provided more than enough evidence to justify the argument I made. Now Mr. Simon has submitted more.

I might note that people willing to commit suicide - which is not all that normal or, at least, not all that common a thing to do - or to kill mere civilians likely require continuous or, at the very least, some reinforcement. Which is to say, what is said to these converts and what is said to those not yet converted most likely have a good deal in common. And, surely, the goal for which one is asked to commit suicide or kill people is likely to be rather similar if not identical. Otherwise, the message is likely to be rather confusing. Which is to say: I do not think that people are recruited solely by saying "Let's get revenge" and then, upon being recruited, by saying "Let's recreate an empire."

Which is to say, I disagree with your assertions.


Don Williams - 10/12/2004

The Pakistani scientist Abdul Khan worked for the Pakistani government -- and I think his dissemination of nuclear technology had the approval of the Pakistani government --else he would have been treated far more harshly than he has. Pakistan does not observe the legal niceties of the US government -- yet compare Khan's treatment to that of the Rosenbergs. Recall that Pakistani intelligence was one of the main creators of the Taliban.

By contrast, the three examples I gave above were of men who fought against their own nation --albeit with varying degrees of cause. The Jewish refugees from Germany who worked on the Manhattan project were developing atomic bombs intended to destroy German cities. The American spy rings who gave the Soviet Union the atomic bomb surely realized that Russia might use it on the USA some day.
When Teller developed the hydrogen bomb, he knew
that it might be used to incinderate cities in the Warsaw Pact --i.e,, Hungary --as well as cities in Russia.

Why do you keep shrinking the number of atomic spies?
There were not just two. There were Julius Rosenberg, Ethel Rosenberg, David Greenglass, Klaus Fuchs, Harry Gold, Theodore Hall, Lona Cohen, Morris Cohen, Savile Sax, Ruth Greenglass, and Al Slack --
Nine out of the eleven
spies were Jewish with Al Slack and Lona Cohen being the two gentiles.


While the vast majority of Jewish Americans were loyal to the USA, I think it is relevant to note why these
Eleven people were willing to give a foreign country the power to destroy US cities. Without a doubt,
Communist ideology played a part. But I think the Soviet Union's fight against Hitler -- and the sanctuary
It provided to refugees from the Holocaust played a major role as well. Do you not see the incongruity in
a communist like Julius Rosenberg referring to the 6 million deaths of his "co-religionists"?? as being a strong motivation --
Most communists distained religion and people who professed a faith..


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/11/2004

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/binladen/who/interview.html#video


N. Friedman - 10/11/2004

I do not enjoy restating things to you because you either do not read what I write or you intentionally mistate what I write. Which is to say, if you wish to disagree with me, then address my arguments, not those of people you imagine, usually incorrectly, I stand.


N. Friedman - 10/11/2004

Michael,

I believe, for what it is worth, that Peter did not notice that the government actually claims that bin Laden made the noted claim.

In any event, the same quote appears on FAS. The same quote appears all over the place. Perhaps it is a phoney quote but, for sure, it is commonly made and always attributed to bin Laden. I would have to investigate further to find attribution in a site which translates directly from Arabic.

On the other hand, I have no reason to suspect that the quote is phoney. If I have time, I shall check and see whether a translation service like MEMRI has the quote or a similar one from bin Laden.


Arnold Shcherban - 10/11/2004

Bravo, Don:

The major root of "evil" lies in the US corporate elite, the corrupt political and economical sytem of lobbyism they created at home and perpetuating this system throught the world by all means, bribery, subversion,
mass murders by proxy, and, if all those don't help, direct invasion and installation of puppet regimes.
Therefore, any conflicts, like the Israeli-Palestinian one (being just a the prominent example) actually play
into their hands.
America faces only self-created threats; moreover, they
don't threaten it to the degree as they secrtetly welcomed
by this country's corporate and, consequently, political elite, because the deliberate and great exaggeration of those minor threats for a small number of the US citizens are translated to huge profits to the US elite.
Those threats are not threats to American "national security", and in no conceivable measure threaten the
Western civilization and the way of life, or/and the freedoms and democracy.
The only thing that does threaten to all enumerated above
is the US elite's imperial designs and the external and internal consequences of the latter.
This country supported terror and killing regimes and exercised state terrorism itself(outside of its own territory) over entire post WWII period: beginning with Greece in late 1940s and ending with today's Columbia. But when the opposite side uses the same tactics, mostly as the response to the institutionalized terror, the US goverments traditionally scream foul and murder.



Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 10/11/2004

Don,
There is nothing in your post that I disagree with at all.

My question was simply the brining up of the Rosenberg's. If you want to illustrate how people can spread WMD technology, a far better example would be Pakistan's scientist, Khan (sp) who did exactly what you fear, not a spy from a half-century ago who gave secrets to the enemy, as well as the fact that he was- as you so often seem to bring up- Jewish.


Don Williams - 10/11/2004

than what we've already experienced: 4000+ deaths. 20,000+ wounded --with some losing arms and legs. Several
$Trillion lost that could have greatly improved life for our citizens. A Republican Supreme Court Ruling that a Republican Congress has given a Republican President the right to throw any US Citizen into a concentration camp without a trial by jury.

All of the above will pale if an advanced biological agent is released into the US. Hussein didn't have the knowledge to develop such. But some scientists here and in Europe certainly do.

Unnecessary wars of aggression always bring disaster upon the people starting them. The brownshirts supporting Hitler didn't understand that in 1939. Many middle class Republicans don't get the point today either.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 10/11/2004

Maybe we could focus on facts. Do you dispute that:
a) “With one exception, the members of the two atomic spy rings (Rosenberg group and Cohen group) were Jewish and Communists?”

I do not dispute this, but I would dispute that this has much relevance in the current discussion other than to point out the fact that in the past, 2 American Jews were traitors. The achievement of creating an atomic bomb in the Soviet Union, can be credited primarily to Igor Kurchatov, the scientific director of the nuclear project from 1942 until his death in 1960.

c) “Do you dispute that those two American spy cells gave Stalin the means to deliver a far worse Nuclear Holocaust upon American cities? That if not for their actions, the US might have been able to interdict the Soviet nuclear program and avoid the grave danger we have lived under for 60 years-- that we will still live under if relations with Russia change?”

I do in fact dispute this. You may be correct, but my understanding of the Soviet development of the bomb was that it occurred primarily by Soviet scientists (of course, this is not meant in any way to cheapen the effects of the Rosenberg treason).

d) “Do you dispute my primary point in all three examples I gave -- that small groups of people, angered by great injustice , can make extraordinary impacts? That one billion muslims might include a few of that number?”

I do not dispute this at all, certainly. As I say above, I am simply curious as to what relevance the story has to the current situation.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/11/2004

"One would think a training manual constitutes an instrument through which one maintains, facilitates, and executes the goals of recruitment."

I have a cookbook but it certainly has not changed my profession by making me a chef. I have a copy of the New Testament too, but I am not a Christian either. I was in New Orleans last February and a man with long, dirty brown hair in a trench coat holding a "Jesus is Truth" sign handed me a pamphlet. I discussed religion with him for around thirty minutes and agreed to read his “gospel”. I read it and it had absolutely no effect on me other than give me a few good laughs. The training manuals you refer to are merely tools for those that are already committed. The question is what is the main source of recruitment- I am afraid that a mere manual offers no good explanation.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/11/2004

The source you gave is an incomplete manual. Here is the complete: http://www.fas.org/irp/world/para/aqmanual.pdf


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/11/2004

E.Simon,
All that was ever asked for was a primary source, and what you present I would contend constitutes as a primary source. However, in none of the other threads will you find any reference to this (that I am aware of)document. Nonetheless, it's good enough for me.


E. Simon - 10/11/2004

Does not the DOJ's al Qaeda training manual count? It was located in a computer file of an al Qaeda member's home by police in Manchester England, and introduced as evidence in the trial of an embassy bombing. I am obviously not sufficiently aware of the intimate details concerning the chain of command within these cells, but this should satisfy Mr. Clarke's search for statements from associates of bin Laden's organization. There are quite a few juicy morsels of context, but the one he's looking for, might, it would appear, be satisfied by the following:


"I present this humble effort to these young Moslem men who are pure, believing, and fighting in the cause of Allah. It is my contribution toward paving the road that leads to majestic Allah and establishes a caliphate according to the prophecy."


It is, of course, a translation, and its use could be more metaphorical, rhetorical, inspirational, for propoganda or historical appeal than outright strategy. But I have rarely got the impression that a clear understanding of larger issues animates Mr. Clarke's interests moreso than detail. I'm sure someone will claim it to be a conspiracy, or manufactured. More importantly, however, is the fact that it is first-hand, prima facie(?) evidence. Alas, whatever's being sought by this never-ending thread, I've contributed my share.

http://www.usdoj.gov/ag/manualpart1_1.pdf



The most interesting comment in the thread:

"This is important because it is at heart of the underlying issue: whether the "Islamist" movement's (if that is a valid term) millenarian vision of great new Moslem empire (dystopian nonsense, but they probably do believe in it) constitutes the MAIN means by which Al Qaeda, etc. obtain fresh recruits and support."

One would think a training manual constitutes an instrument through which one maintains, facilitates, and executes the goals of recruitment.

Now who is fried?


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/11/2004

Mr. Friedman,
With all due respect, in defense of Peter, I must say that what you cited is not a primary source. It is merely what the government has said he has claimed. Are you aware of any statements directly from Usama bin Laden that state this? Understand that I am not suggesting this is not his goal, but rather, I am curious to locate the primary source as well.


N. Friedman - 10/10/2004

Peter,

I am tired of restating things to you. You evidently lack the ability to read.


N. Friedman - 10/10/2004

Peter,

This from what I previously sent you in See (#43975):

"Bin Ladin's Organization Al-Qa'ida's goal, in Bin Ladin's words, is to 'unite all Muslims and to establish a government which follows the rule of the Caliphs.'"

You evidently chose not to read what I wrote.


N. Friedman - 10/10/2004

See (#43975)


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/10/2004

Mr. Friedman,

Again, I agree with you for clandestine, large-scale operations there would be a prerequisite of being most surely "westernized". However, there are a few points I need to make:

1) In regards to the whole area encompassing the Middle East, in order to have support of the population they do not need to be “westernized” (terrorists operating in Iraq, for example), but only need to appear sympathetic and offer relief (thy enemy of my enemy is my friend).

2) They do not need to be English speaking (for example, on a news program in Arizona they showed how Arabs were in fact crossing the border, and they also discovered that they were spending time beforehand in Mexico learning the language and culture of Mexicans- which most likely designates they are going to try and pass off as Mexican migrants)

Granted, in the latter point they would have to be able to at least read and write, but they do not have to learn how to through a western University (though it would be easier), or any school in general. It really makes no difference anyway, because as you pointed out, there are more than enough Arabs with knowledge of the western world who push for Al-Qaeda’s agenda. Nonetheless, your point is taken. In consideration of the recruit issue in general, I differ with you in that I believe it is at the root of the problem. If there is as of today, let us just assume 35,000 Al-Qaeda members, once we kill them the game is over. However, this is not how it works. President Bush has on more the one occassion during the Presidential debates stated that "three quarters" or "seventy five" percent key members and associates of Al-Qaeda have been captured or killed. This is a large step in defeating Al-Qaeda, or more importantly radical Islamists, but this does not mean that the positions left open cannot be filled. How do they fill them? Through recruits.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/10/2004

Mr. Friedman,
You make an excellent argument that really challenges my original thoughts on the topic. There are a few articles on www.atimes.com by "Spengler" that offers similar insight which, if you haven’t already, I would recommend taking a look at:

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/FE04Aa01.html

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/FD16Aa02.html

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/FC23Aa01.html

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/EL02Aa01.html

http://www.atimes.com/front/CI22Aa02.html

and especially:

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/EK11Ak01.html

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/FF15Aa01.html

Though Spengler quotes the likes of Dr. Daniel Pipes often (which some would automatically discredit), I think he does at the foundation rock conventional western "wisdom" on the subject. With all that said (which is code for I do in fact read "the other point of view"), I think it would all do us well to actually get a Pew or Gallup poll in order to establish exactly what the majority of Muslims in the Middle East prefer (being whether they despise everything about the west much like Usama and his acolytes wishing for a United Moslem state, or just want to run their own country). As I recall, in 2003 Iraqi protesters chanted, "No to Saddam, No to America, Yes to Islam, Yes to Democracy." I am not aware of any of these polls existing, but if you are then I would be obliged if you could tell me the outcome. As noted before, Mid Eastern countries do have a sense of nationalism, and this is one reason why I call the radical Islamists aim at one Moslem state “outlandish”. For example, just look what happened in Afghanistan after the Russians pulled out… the whole country was thrown into a civil war and the winner just so happened to be the side which was supported, armed, and trained by the U.S. Fast forward a few years and the whole “government” of the Taliban is routed, and it is back to good old tribal fighting (the Northern Alliance is simply tribal warlords). Point being, how on earth can a united Islam come about if it can’t even be done in Afghanistan (uniting Arabic tribes has been very hard to do- in the end, T.E. Lawrence couldn’t even do it)? As Zadel B. Gustafson wrote in Harpers in 1879, “The Afghan may be said to be born with a dagger in his belt, a sword at his side, and a knife between his teeth, and from the moment he can walk alone he is on the watch for known or suspected enemies, and on his own part hesitates at nothing by which he can push himself forward in the race for power or wealth.” Also, look at what the Soviet government actually did to Afghanistan before the U.S. got involved in order to “give them a Vietnam”, which was in some respects successful in modernizing it.
With each car bomb that explodes in Iraq, which kills and maims Iraqi children, the perpetrators of those crimes alienate the populace. I still hold the contention, as of now, that a poor desperate people will seek refuge anywhere it may be, and this is one source where Islamic terrorists can find recruits. True, they certainly do not have to be dirt poor to become part of the Jihad (Usama bin Laden for example), for having oppressive regimes offers these thugs outlets and sanctuary.


N. Friedman - 10/10/2004

David,

I think your point is very well taken.


N. Friedman - 10/10/2004

Michael,

Regarding your point that non-Westernized Muslims can commit terror in the US:

Here is my take. An illiterate person who cannot, without assistance, function in the US and who merely slips over the border is unlikely to commit mega-terror other than to, perhaps, spread a disease. To me, the noted disease scenario is very unlikely as it is contrary to the Jihadi play book thus far employed of attacking symbolic targets and, in the process, adding to the horror by killing innocents.

This is not to suggest that biological or chemical weapons will not be used but, instead, to suggest that a sophisticated plan, trusted to Westernized Muslims, will almost certainly be the approach taken, if such a plan is pursued.

As I have argued previously, I think that the most likely reason why we have not been attacked again is that the 9/11 attack, while stirring up excitement and interest among many Muslims in groups like al Qa'eda, resulted in unacceptable losses to the goals of the terrorists. Specifically, they lost their utopia, Afghanistan, and now they have the US fighting in their neighborhood - even if we have approached the problem in a clumsy manner -. From al Qa'eda's perspective, before they attack again, they now have to consider the possibility that the US will act far more aggressively than it is doing even now. Which is to say, I think that there is, in a certain sense, deterence that comes out of our country's aggressive stance.

I also think, in the end, that the fact that there are more sympathizers and recruits is rather immaterial. Suppose that there are an addition 35,000 Jihadis as a result of some US action. The assumption of your view is that these people can all act at once or at all. The reality, I think, of al Qa'eda-like organizations is careful planning by a small number of people. Or, to put the matter differently, whether they have none or a hundred thousand new recruits, they have more than the manpower necessary to pursue the sort of plans they employ and are likely to employ. Or, to put the matter differently, I do not think the recruit issue to be critical. Of course, my view might be entirely crazy but I note, as Walter Lacquer argues, that the critical factor in terrorism is that it requires fewer and fewer people to do worse and worse things.


N. Friedman - 10/10/2004

Michael,

There is certainly something to your point.

I note, to be a contrarian, that Walter Laquer's book indicates that the causal assocation between poverty and terrorism is, essentially, nil. If you read his book No End to War: Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century, he argues, with a multitude of examples, that the causes of terrorism cannot be tied down to such factors. He makes a rather compelling argument. Of course, he could be entirely wrong.

My sense is that the Islamists are ultra-reactionaries seeking power. I have previously noted their stated goals but, at the core, they seek power and are thus very, very dangerous. Most of them, from what I can discern, are rather well educated. In due course, a Hitler type Islamist will control a power house of a country and, at that point, the world will be in a lot more trouble than it is now.

The fact that the Muslim world is rather poor, rather illiterate and rather resentful may be, as you suggest, an advantage for a Hitler type leader. Then again, the poor of these countries, unlike in Germany, lack basic literacy and skills which, I would think, make it rather difficult for the Hitler type leader to conduct the sort of war conducted by Hitler. Thus, the likely impact of Islamists in power is, as the US politicians say, Jihadis with weapons of mass destruction.

On the other hand, I do not think there is any sort of aid that will fundamental alter the course of events in the Muslim world. Which is to say, the US was rather generous, all things considered, with respect to Kosovo but that bought the US essentially no brownie points. That is, to me, strong evidence that, contrary to what some other people write, the issue is not what we do. As Bernard Henry Levy's says, to such people, the US is not a country but an idea - one that needs to be fought -. Perhaps the fact that they need help from us - and this would be true for economic aid and the like - is perceived by the Islamists as a further humiliation.

I suspect that you will say that I am moving back and forth between Islamists and the typical Muslim. My sense is that the educated class dominates the cultures of these countries to the extent that they shape opinion. That class is dominated by the Islamists - although that is not a statement suggesting the percentage of people who are Islamists but, instead, the degree to which they dominate what is thought by the average people. -

There is one point of economics which I think is actually important. Specifically, the living standards in that part of the world have been falling rather dramatically. The statistics for Saudi Arabia are rather startling (i.e. about a 2/3 drop in per capita [I cannot remember is it is GDP or GNP) over the course of a decade). That fact, I think, correlates rather well with what occured in Germany before the Nazis seized power. My suspicion is that aid and assistance will have essentially no impact on changing the basic dynamic, which is to say, steep decline in the living standards of average people.

With that in mind, while I think your thesis is interesting and very intelligent, I do not agree with it. Of course, I could be 100% wrong.

Lastly, the notion that meeting their demands might end the Jihad is, to me, moronic (and I am not suggesting this is your opinion). It seems to me that the withdraw of the USSR from Afghanistan gave the Islamists the confidence to push on with their goals. It made them bolder than they had been earlier. Which is to say, power is intoxicating and forcing a superpower to do things is very intoxicating.


david levy - 10/10/2004

As to Bin Laden's vision--or, Al-Zawahiri's, I suggest anyone interested read Sayyid Qutb's Milestones. You can read an online copy at the young muslims website.

Basically, Qutb believes mankind is in a state of decline because of an artificial divide between church/mosque and state. God is the only sovereign, and everywhere, including all so-called Muslim societies, this sovereignty has been usurped by man. These societies Qutb labelled Jahiliyya(a concept he borrowed from 13th c. radical Ibn Tamiyyah, a man also admired by bin Laden and Zawahiri) An indeed, he perceived the entire world as being Jahiliyya.

In Jahiliyya society, man is slave to false idols, be it democracy, dictatorship, "human-rights," etc. because these systems are earthly, un-divine. It is a duty incumbent on every believing Muslim to free mankind from these false idols to the correct form of government based on Sharia.

Once Sharia is implemented, man will be free to choose his own path, provided: he does not make his desires his God and does not submit to false sovereigns. The practical implications for this, of course, is no democracy, religion aside from Islam, or dancing, drinking, etc.

bin Laden and his ilk are, if we look at the larger picture, Qutb's "vanguards." These true believers are supposed to disperse themselves throughout the world, both in so-called Muslim societies as well as the west, east, etc. and attract other believers. When the time is right they are supposed to overthrow their government and install a sharia system. Indeed, Qutb is Leninist in Islamic clothing.

This, partially, is what makes bin Laden's vision attractive to some Muslims. People like Qutb use universally recognizable symbols, stories, etc. to peddle their brand of fanaticism. Of course, the masses at large also have many grievances that make them susceptible to such extremism. (Unfortunately, so do many other cultures etc. who don't resort to such terror, but such is a different issue.)

Qutb and his brand of ideologues don't criticize specific western foreign policy in their diatribes. Rather, they criticize the essence of the West and East , and frame the struggle as zero-sum. The end of the struggle can only come, as bin Laden has said, is for the world to convert to true Islam.

Lastly, the line from Qutb to bin Laden and Zawahiri is direct, through Abdullah Azzam, Laden's teacher in Saudi Arabia, and Muhammad Qutb, who I believe came into contact with Zawahiri.

This is the nature of the threat we face, and its as if we willfully turn a blind eye to it, because it is to stark and uncompromising.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/10/2004

Re: Perhaps not falling ? (#44009)
by Michael Barnes Thomin on October 10, 2004 at 2:06 AM
Mr. Friedman,
We are almost on the same topic, which is not what Hitler's cause was, but how Hitler got his people behind the cause. The answer is that after WWI the conditions were so poor for the population that they looked towards anybody, even an ex-soldier suffering from mustard-gas poisoning turned starving artist nobody, to make their situation better. Hence, if the majority of Arabs do not have harsh grievances they will have no reason to go with Usama bid Laden's outlandish not to mention berserk cause, just as if in Germany post WWI, if German's were not starving by the thousands (right after the war was over there was still a blockage on food- over 700,000 died as a result) and were not faced with ridiculous war debt (before WWI one U.S. dollar equaled six Duetchmarks- in 1923, one U.S. dollar was quoted at 4.2 trillion marks and one U.S. penny was quoted at 42 billion!) they would not have had a reason to follow a psychotic with a sick and twisted agenda.


[ Reply ]

Re: Perhaps not falling ? (#44010)
by Michael Barnes Thomin on October 10, 2004 at 2:11 AM
Both my posts are missing a portion:

As noted before, my question is how does radical Islam spread? I believe it is besause of the same reasons why any radical political, religious, or economic ideas spread and it is directly correlated to the conditions of the population (usually very poor countries shy away from capitalism and op for communism). Thus, if we help the population (sort of like a bona fide Marshall Plan for the Mid East) radical Islam can be contained, just as Communism was.



Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/10/2004

Mr. Friedman,
My apologies on the Hitler remark, I should have explained in this post instead of leading you to draw some conclusion on a vague reference. I did, however, explain in another post in response to your reply.


N. Friedman - 10/10/2004

Michael,

You make some good points that I shall have to consider. For now, I note your comment that "My other point was that the terrorists who attacked on 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia and Jordan… two U.S. client states with oppressive regimes." The 9/11 hijackers all, so far as I know, lived in Europe for years. Most were born in Saudi Arabia although, if I correctly recall, there were also Egyptians and, as you suggest, a Jordanian involved. But again, they lived in Europe.

You might explain your Hitler comment a bit more so that I can follow what you have in mind.


N. Friedman - 10/10/2004

Mr. Clarke,

Were you to bother reading what I posted, you would see that I have quoted bin Laden himself on the goal of creating a caliphate. That is as far as I plan to go with you on that topic.

I am, at this point, tired of reading you misconstrue - and, at this point, I think intentionally - what I have posted. For example, I have not said or suggested that there is a great international Moslem conspiracy. That is in your head.

You previously thought it important that I read a book on the topic. I mentioned that I have read very widely on the topic and now you tell me to cite you first hand sources. Frankly, do your own research.

For what it is worth, I certainly do not deny that bin Laden wants the US out of Saudi Arabia. He has said as much. And I do not deny that such demands help create recruits. You will note, if you read some of my posts, that I distinguished between recruits which, in my view, are a major danger to the US and those who are not. You evidently have misconstrued what I posted.

Were you to know something even remote about the topic in question, you might realize that all of the writers I cited, other than Bat Ye'or - an expatriate Egyptian, now a British citizen living in Switzerland - and, arguably, Mr. Spencer, are rather fond of Islam. I am sorry that you are not well read on Islamdom. I am. And I am rather fascinated by Islam so, it appears, you misunderstand me as well. And, frankly, you learn a lot more from books than from reading what non-expert - usually, largely ignorant - reporters have to say.

As for the reading advice, I already read The NY Times and The Atlantic. I do not like the Economist. I also read a half dozen other papers regularly. None is as useful as a well researched book. You might consider trying one of the books I suggested. It would open up your closed, at this point, empty mind.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/10/2004

Both my posts are missing a portion:

As noted before, my question is how does radical Islam spread? I believe it is besause of the same reasons why any radical political, religious, or economic ideas spread and it is directly correlated to the conditions of the population (usually very poor countries shy away from capitalism and op for communism). Thus, if we help the population (sort of like a bona fide Marshall Plan for the Mid East) radical Islam can be contained, just as Communism was.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/10/2004

Mr. Friedman,
We are almost on the same topic, which is not what Hitler's cause was, but how Hitler got his people behind the cause. The answer is that after WWI the conditions were so poor for the population that they looked towards anybody, even an ex-soldier suffering from mustard-gas poisoning turned starving artist nobody, to make their situation better. Hence, if the majority of Arabs do not have harsh grievances they will have no reason to go with Usama bid Laden's outlandish not to mention berserk cause, just as if in Germany post WWI, if German's were not starving by the thousands (right after the war was over there was still a blockage on food- over 700,000 died as a result) and were not faced with ridiculous war debt (before WWI one U.S. dollar equaled six Duetchmarks- in 1923, one U.S. dollar was quoted at 4.2 trillion marks and one U.S. penny was quoted at 42 billion!) they would not have had a reason to follow a psychotic with a sick and twisted agenda.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/10/2004

Mr. Friedman,
We are almost on the same topic, which is not what Hitler's cause was, but how Hitler got his people behind the cause. The answer is that after WWI the conditions were so poor for the population that they looked towards anybody, even an ex-soldier suffering from mustard-gas poisoning turned starving artist nobody, to make their situation better. Hence, if the majority of Arabs do not have harsh grievances they will have no reason to go with Usama bid Laden's outlandish not to mention berserk cause, just as if in Germany post WWI, if German's were not starving by the thousands (right after the war was over there was still a blockage on food- over 700,000 died as a result) and were not faced with ridiculous war debt (before WWI one U.S. dollar equaled six Duetchmarks- in 1923, one U.S. dollar was quoted at 4.2 trillion marks and one U.S. penny was quoted at 42 billion!) they would not have had a reason to follow a psychotic with a sick and twisted agenda.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/10/2004

Mr. Friedman,
I understand your perspective on what we have been discussing, and I agree with you that, as the most elementary tactician can conclude, it would be a great benefit to have an "operative" who could move freely, fluidly, and convincingly within an enemies society (too bad we don't have more of these). This is precisely what spies specialize in. Nonetheless, I believe that what the government hired company showed, is that:

1) It is easy to enter the U.S. without going through an airport, obtaining a visa or greencard, etc.
2) It is easy to get a “dirty bomb” in the U.S.
3 )It is quite easy to have a vehicle at their disposal once in the U.S.

Once these goals are accomplished, as the mock “operatives” did not once, but twice without detection, all they would have to do is drive into a city (really wouldn’t matter what city, because as we are all well aware, the goal of terrorism is to create a sense of instability, chaos, and vulnerability amongst the population in a society, usually accomplished by killing "soft targets"). My point was is that through this method, they would not need to be “westernized”. My other point was that the terrorists who attacked on 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia and Jordan… two U.S. client states with oppressive regimes. I do not think there is any doubt that fanatical Moslems are out there, but I question how they get so many willing recruits (this is really what my main concerns and studies revolve around). My thesis is that they get them the same way Hitler was able to get his...


N. Friedman - 10/10/2004

In order to plan and carry out a sophisticated attack, the persons involved need to be able to move about the US and need to have the sophistication necessary to prepare and carry out the plan. Without such persons, there would be no real sophisticated attacks.

With that in mind, there is a very, very substantial advantage in choosing people who are Westernized in the sense that they can better blend into our culture and in that they are more likely to have the educational sophistication to plan and carry out a complicated operation. Further, non-Westernized persons who, for example, stake out a building, are far more likely to stick out like a sore thumb.

There may be some Westernized Muslims raised in Saudi Arabia. That is a good point. They, however, are likely the exception.

Again, there is a real reason why the hijackers picked were those who had spent substantial amounts of time living in Europe. It is because such people could better blend into the US and because such people can better plan and carry out sophisticated plans.


N. Friedman - 10/10/2004

Michael,

To Shi'a, Sunnis have committed apostacy. To the Sunnis, the Shi'a have committed apostacy. It is mutual.


N. Friedman - 10/10/2004

Michael,

I think we are, by and large, merely in the way. Which is to say, the Nazis had issues with the French and Polish, etc., but none of them were the real reason for the Nazis to start WWII.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/10/2004

"Crucially, majority rule in Iraq means Shi'a rule. Shi'a rule is an anethema to most of the region because, to Sunnis, the Shi'a are guilty of apostasy. Apostasy is, in Islam, an unforgivable sin and worse than being a Christian or a Jew. Which is to say, the US can only lose in Iraq since we are, by supporting democracy, siding with those who have committed apostasy."

Correct me if I am wrong, but was it not the Sunni who assisted the British in their imperial endeavors? I believe it was the Hashemite monarchy under King Faysal, who was not from Mesopotamia (Iraq) and was a Sunni, who corroborated with the British by being used to put down the revolt of the Shi’a in 1920. Thus, if what you say is true than the Sunni are also guilty of apostasy and actually created the current situation. I guess no culture is immune to amnesia.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/9/2004

"3. I do not claim that the Taliban are a non-issue. I said that those who can hurt the US are Westernized Muslims. I stand by that. I believe it to be a fact. If you really believe that a non-Westernized Muslim from the hills of Afghanistan can function as a Jihadi in the US, then I think you have lost your common sense. That said, the actual role of the Taliban was 2 part. One, they permitted Afghanistan to be used as a base for training Jihadis (and not just for Jihad against the US) and, Two, their country was held up to Muslims as an ideal Islamist state."

In fact, if a non-westernized Muslim was able to get into Mexico they could easily hit targets within the United States. On two different occasions a company was hired to cross the Mexican/U.S. border- three "operatives" walked right across the border openly carrying a bag with the international symbol of radiation hazard and biomedical hazard. They crossed with no opposition and met, successfully, at a rendezvous point, where they had arranged to be picked up by a vehicle- this too was successfully completed. We now know many different guerilla groups in South America have been contacted by supposedly al-Quida members (these guerillas, again, are a direct result of U.S. sponsorship of state terrorism all throughout the last half century), who could very well administer terrorists assistance into the United States. As was proven by the “operatives” on a mock mission, all they would have to do is cross an imaginary underprotected line, met at a rendezvous, drive into any city, and detonate their “dirty bomb” (or the countless other weapons at their disposal). As long as they wore “westernized” attire they could strike the U.S. without even having to speak the English language. In short, they do not have to be "westernized" to inflict damage, though it would be greater to their advantage. I would argue, however, that the terrorists that attacked the World Trade Center and Pentagon, though lived in Gemany for a period of time, also lived in "westernized" Middle Eastern countries with oppressive governments backed up by or installed by the United States. Most of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/9/2004

Mr. Friedman,
But would you agree that because of supporting oppressive regimes it pits both factions against us? Or, at the very least, it would motivate those who in "normal" circumstances would seek a peaceful Islam to side with the version of radical Islam?


N. Friedman - 10/9/2004

Peter,

You asked for substantiation of my claim that bin Laden seeks to recreate the caliphate. In fact, he has so stated.

Read this:

***********************

TEXT: U.S. GOVERNMENT FACTSHEET ON USAMA BIN LADIN
(Saudi advocates destruction of United States)
(The following U.S. government factsheet was distributed by the Defense Department August 20, 1998.)


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Usama Bin Ladin

..... //

Bin Ladin's Organization Al-Qa'ida's goal, in Bin Ladin's words, is to "unite all Muslims and to establish a government which follows the rule of the Caliphs." Bin Ladin has stated that the only way to establish the Caliphate is by force. Al-Qa'ida's goal, therefore, is to overthrow nearly all Muslim governments, which Bin Ladin views as "corrupt," to drive Western influence from those countries, and eventually to abolish state boundaries.

******************


Peter, read the following from FAS:

********************

al-Qa'ida (The Base)
Qa‘idat al-Jihad
Islamic Army for the Liberation of the Holy Places
World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders
Islamic Salvation Foundation
Usama bin Laden Network

Al-Qa'ida is multi-national, with members from numerous countries and with a worldwide presence. Senior leaders in the organization are also senior leaders in other terrorist organizations, including those designated by the Department of State as foreign terrorist organizations, such as the Egyptian al-Gama'at al-Islamiyya and the Egyptian al-Jihad. Al-Qa'ida seeks a global radicalization of existing Islamic groups and the creation of radical Islamic groups where none exist.

Al-Qa'ida supports Muslim fighters in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, Tajikistan, Somalia, Yemen, and Kosovo. It also trains members of terrorist organizations from such diverse countries as the Philippines, Algeria, and Eritrea.

Al-Qa'ida's goal is to "unite all Muslims and to establish a government which follows the rule of the Caliphs." Bin Laden has stated that the only way to establish the Caliphate is by force. Al-Qa'ida's goal, therefore, is to overthrow nearly all Muslim governments, which are viewed as corrupt, to drive Western influence from those countries, and eventually to abolish state boundaries.

http://www.fas.org/irp/world/para/ladin.htm

*****************

Now, Peter, read this from CNN's interview of Bernard Haykel:

***************

CNN: Why does bin Laden talk about "80 years?"

HAYKEL: The reference to 80 years, I believe, pertained to the end of the Ottoman caliphate in 1924. This happened in the Muslim year 1342, and we are now in the Muslim year 1422, and it is exactly 80 years to the month that the caliphate was abolished. I believe it is a reference to his vision of re-creating the caliphate, and uniting the Muslim world under a single and unified political and spiritual leadership. The caliphate refers to the spiritual and political leadership of the Muslim world.

http://www.cnn.com/2001/COMMUNITY/10/11/inv.haykel.cnna/

**********************

Evidently, bin Laden has said pretty much exactly what I claimed. Go figure.


N. Friedman - 10/9/2004

Peter,

I claim no vast stock of knowledge.

1. I never claimed that the Taliban were Westernized. That is in your head. I claimed that the people involved in the 9/11 attack lived in Germany. That is a fact. I also note that the Westernized Jihadist are the ones who can, in fact, fit sufficiently into our societies that they can, in fact, commit terror attacks of substance in the US. If you do not understand that, you are rather dense.

2. The origin of the 9/11 terrorists was in the Arab world. However, the planners were all Westernized Muslims. That is a fact.

3. I do not claim that the Taliban are a non-issue. I said that those who can hurt the US are Westernized Muslims. I stand by that. I believe it to be a fact. If you really believe that a non-Westernized Muslim from the hills of Afghanistan can function as a Jihadi in the US, then I think you have lost your common sense. That said, the actual role of the Taliban was 2 part. One, they permitted Afghanistan to be used as a base for training Jihadis (and not just for Jihad against the US) and, Two, their country was held up to Muslims as an ideal Islamist state.

4. Your comment is based on a misunderstanding of my comment. I do not claim that the Taliban is Westernized.


N. Friedman - 10/9/2004

Peter,

For the millionth time, such is substantiated in Levy's book. Try reading what I wrote.


N. Friedman - 10/9/2004

Peter,

"I am generally familiar with Lewis's work and is he is the only historian of note on your obviously non-objective list. If he never appears on HNN and Daniel Pipes appears fifty times, and you post 100 closed-minded comments here as well, that does not make Juan Cole a "nobody".

"What Bernard-Heinrich-Jingleheimer-Levy-Strauss or any other journalist has written about Daniel Pearl is irrelevant to my still-ducked question about whether there is any solid basis in the public statements of Al Qaeda for assigning the "restoration over the Caliphate", a higher priority than removal of American troops from Mideast among either their actual or stated objectives."

I suggest you read the chapter of Levy's book regard Pir Mubarak Shah Gilani, emir to bin Laden. I note that Levy is rather famous - in fact, extremely famous - in France. I think the term journalist does not quite capture Mr. Levy's talents. I suggest that if you have the stomach to read his rather strangely written book on Pearl, you will be forced to re-think - whether or not you come ultimately to the same conclusions you have now - your position.

You will note the portion of Levy's book which describes Gilani's map of the world now and his projected map in 20 years. You will note the camps that Gilani has set up in the US to bring the Jihad to the US.

You will also note the position of the Jihadis that war against the US is not even war. It is a duty.

If one wishes to have any discussion about the Muslim world, one needs to know a lot, not something, about Lewis. Lewis may or may not be correct, but there is no one who knows more about that part of the world than he does.

Levy, you will note, spent a year in Pakistan and his book Who Killed Daniel Pearl? is not primarily a book about Pearl's death, although the issue is the backdrop, but instead an exploration of the Jihad.

I have no idea why you bring Daniel Pipes up. I did not. He has his own thesis. Note, people on all sides of the dispute, for example, Professor Esposito - another real scholar -, build on Lewis' work, not the other way around. To say, as you did, that you are generally familiar with his work is to say you know nothing about the topic. Perhaps you are familiar with Daniel Pipes' characterure of Lewis and not the real Lewis.

I note, for what it is worth, that Lewis warned for years about al Qa'eda, at the very time when scholars like Cole and Esposito were saying that Islamism and al Qa'eda were likely not dangerous to us.

As for Akbar, he is also a very substantial scholar. He, you will note, is an Indian Muslim. His book provides an excellent overview of the history of Islam and the dispute it has with the West. His book is valuable because it provides considerable insight on how Muslims, not Westerners, understand their own history and on the role of Jihad in that history.

I have yet, however, to understand why you deem it important to demean the work of a variety of scholars I cite since I cited people with a very wide variety of points of view.

You say something that, frankly, amazes me. You speak of my list as being non-objective. What on Earth does that mean? Do you have an "objective" list of scholars.

In any event, I was answering your question. You challenged whether I have read anything. I told you have read around 100 books on the subject. I listed a number of them. The books I listed covered the gamut of opinion, from left, like Ms. Abdo, to far right, like Mr. Spencer - and that is why I chose the list I posted -. Ms. Abdo, you will note, is a devotee of Professor Esposito - and, if I recall correctly, his student -.



N. Friedman - 10/9/2004

Michael,

"Let me put it another way- would you agree that the reason why al Qa'eda gets so much support for their cause is because of 'blowback'?"


No. I do not. I think it plays a role.

I think the major issue, as argued by Bernard-Henri Levy, is that the US is caught up in a war within Islamdom. That war has its roots primarily in the history of Islam. And the war pits those who believe in a more gentle Islam against those who believe that Islam can be restored to its former glory as the world's dominant force. If you read the Antisemitic speech by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, you will see the basis for the various positions as he lays out the long history - essentially verbatim of what Professor Lewis has been writing for more than a decade - of the decline of Islamdom. And you will see that the blowback theory, while interesting, is not a sufficient explanation for very much.


N. Friedman - 10/9/2004

Michael,

"I do not intend on backing you into a position, but from what I gather it seems to me you believe that the U.S. government's direct propping up and support for brutal dictatorships in the Middle East has nothing at all to do with the current situation. Is this correct? "

No. I did not say that. I said that the primary issue is not revenge. Read my original post of the subject. And the main issues are largely internal to Islamdom and the role that many Muslims believe they should play in the world, namely, they should control the world. As Bernard-Henri Levy argues in Who Killed Daniel Pearl?, we have been dragged into a war within Islam. And that war is between those who think Islam can restore the caliphate and the dominant place of Islam in the world and those who believe in a more gentle Islam.


N. Friedman - 10/9/2004

To Peter K. Clarke on October 9, 2004 at 3:35 AM

1. "How many of those authors are recognized historians as Juan Cole is ?"

Professor Lewis is considered the world's foremost authority on the Muslim world. Mr. Cole is a nobody. While Mr. Lewis has been severely criticized by Said, Lewis retains his reputation from many, many decades of work. You might read some of his books.

"You have, furthermore, completely ducked my question about Osama wanting to "re-create the Caliphate”, or “expand the territory of dar al-Islam” ?"

Read Who Killed Daniel Pearl?, by Bernard-Henri Levy. Then we can talk. You will see that such is, in fact, the position of the Jihadis of which al Qa'eda plays a role.


3. "I am not in any doubt that Islamic fundamentalism is an important and (still) under-addressed problem....

No. The issue is not Islamic fundamentalism. Nearly all Muslims are. The issue is Islamism, a political creed that is a particular version of Islam.


4. "Your great output of comments seems to boil down ultimately to an unconvincing diminution of the tremendous role of American blundering in adding strength to Al Qaeda and radical pseudo Islamic terrorism."

I have not said that the US played no role. I said that the cause of the Jihad against us has most of its roots in desires of Muslims. And those desires include restoration of the perceived place of Islamdom as the, not a, dominant force in the world. Such, you will note, is the view of Professor Lewis - whom, if you actually knew anything about the topic you are writing on, you would have read (and either agreed with or disagreed with him when he) - argues that the issue is actually centuries in the building and not nerely a matter of recent vintage. And, you might realize - from a variety of sources) that the group has its origins in the Muslim Brotherhood which, you will note, came into being before the US played any role in the Middle East.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/9/2004

Let me put it another way- would you agree that the reason why al Qa'eda gets so much support for their cause is because of "blowback"?


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/9/2004

I do not intend on backing you into a position, but from what I gather it seems to me you believe that the U.S. government's direct propping up and support for brutal dictatorships in the Middle East has nothing at all to do with the current situation. Is this correct?


N. Friedman - 10/9/2004

Dear Michael,

I am well aware of the noted books. I understand the blowback theory. I believe there is something to that theory.

However, the US being attacked for different reasons. You may wish to consider that groups like al Qa'eda have their origin in the Muslim Brotherhood which, in turn, was a reaction not to the US at all. I reiterate that we are attacked because these groups mean to somehow dominate the world, not to take revenge on us.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/9/2004

Mr. Friedman,
Again, might I suggest reading William Blum's book "Killing Hope" or "Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire" by Chalmers Johnson. There is a large factor that drives people to these fanatical monsters and, I believe, it has to do with the oppression these people have had to endure. Remember, post WWI German's were willing to go along with anything as long as it was better than where they were...


N. Friedman - 10/9/2004

TO: Peter K. Clarke
Re: Perhaps not falling ? (#43911) on October 8, 2004 at 2:43 PM

"1. How many times has bin Laden used the words to the effect of “re-create the Caliphate”, or “expand the territory of dar al-Islam” ?"

If you read Who Killed Daniel Pearl? by Bernard-Henri Lévy you would see that such are rather standard Jihadi assertions although not employing the exact language.

"2. You suggest that Islamic terrorists are only a concern for America if they are “westernized”. I disagree. The Taliban were not “westernized” and they were (or should have been) a concern to the U.S. well before 9-11."

Those who planned the 9/11 attack on the US were, in fact, Westernized. They lived, you will recall, in Germany. There is a reason for that. They could more easily mix into a Western environment than the illiterate Arabs of the Middle East. And that was my point. The people who can hurt the US in the US are Westernized Muslims.

"3. I don’t recall you ever mentioning any source other than Bat Yeor. You have read, you say, “about a hundred books” pertaining to “Islamists, their terror movement and the Middle East”.

Here is a start. My first book on the topic that interests me is Bernard Lewis' classic The Political Language of Islam. Another excellent book is Shade of Swords, by M.J. Akbar. Of further interest to me is A Portrait of Egypt by Mary Ann Weaver. I also recommend No God but God: Egypt and the Triumph of Islam, by Geneive Abdo. You might consider reading Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World's Fastest Growing Faith, by Robert Spencer although I disagree with Spencer's thesis. You might try reading Why America Slept : The Failure to Prevent 9/11, by GERALD L. POSNER. Is that a sufficient start for you? Last but not least, probably the most important book about the Jihad and the most compelling argument agaist the Iraq war is Who Killed Daniel Pearl?. by Bernard-Henri Lévy.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/8/2004

Check out http://www.thememoryhole.com


Don Williams - 10/8/2004

http://hcs.harvard.edu/~jus/0302/schwartz.pdf


Don Williams - 10/8/2004

Re Mr Moshe's statement: "The implication of some of the posts that I have been reading is, to be quite explicit, that many Jews in the administration, in the government, and in society in general, have a greater loyalty to Israel than to the United States"

I have, from the beginning , noted that the US is being harmed by the actions of a few wealthy men. I have explicitly noted that our malign policies are not being forced by America's 6 million Jews -- neither their votes nor their wealth are sufficient to attract Bush. Most of them are as ignorant of what is going on as is the rest of our TV viewers.

When I mention that some wealthy men are Jewish, it is to point out that their devotion to Israel is influencing their actions. Israel, after all, is founded on the basis of the Jewish religion --not withstanding that some Jews think creation of Israel was a bad idea.

Of course, many Jews do not agree with Richard Perle -- but that distinction would be easier to make if American Jewish organizations spoke up more loudly against malign manipulations of the Neocons.

The other instance where I mentioned Jewish connections is in reference to the kooky biblical arguments some evanglical
ministers are making for unquestioning support of Israeli aggression.

We have lost 4000+ dead, $1 Trillion in wealth, and are on the way to spending another $1 Trillion in the "war on terror". Those trillions are being stolen from our Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds -- millions of baby boomers will die years before their time because poor medical care will not catch cancers,etc . The time is long past for me to give a damm about sensitive feelings and political correctness.


Don Williams - 10/8/2004

eom


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/8/2004

Mr. Livingston,
I did not intend on degrading Stratfor's predictions or capabilities. I merely disagree with their assessment of the situation in Iraq, and am shocked that they only gave those three, as I persume them to be (which by no means is the Gospel truth), flawed reasons. I do not, however, question their abilities as an intelligence-gathering agency nor did I mean to demean their collective analyses. Perhaps I should not have made the “bucket with gapping holes” comment, but I stalwartly disagree with their judgment of Iraq.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/8/2004

Adam,

1) "As for the “group of people” in question, many people seem to believe that these folks support Israel over the United States. The reality is that these people support Israel part in parcel with their interests in extending the control and influence of the United States.”

I partially agree. Some of them are going along with the “cabals” whose primary loyalty and interests lay snuggly with the Israeli Likud party (perhaps I should have specified earlier).


2) “In other words, they do not see this war as supporting Israel for Israel’s sake, but supporting Israel for the sake of American interests, which is to promote pro-US governments in the region, and protect those governments that are currently pro-US government."

Again, I partially agree. There are some in the Bush administration who are neo-conservative (at least the people in the administration with power, such as Dick Cheney) that have interests with Israel chiefly for the benefit of, I wouldn’t necessarily say the people of the United States, but definitely the United States (read the “Baker Report” or “Cheney Report”). If you have read "A Clean Break" than I simply am at a loss for why you still hold the contention that there was not a group of people pushing the White House to invade Iraq (though they had their own reasons as well) with mainly Israel in minds, such as Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser and the likes. Not all Neo-cons are Jewish, but those who are just so happen to put Israel before the U.S. I cannot emphasize this enough, if you read “A Clean Break”, it will show you beyond any doubt that what they desire is less reliance on the U.S. and the first step was taking out Iraq. The title “A Clean Break” is literal- it means a clean break from U.S. policies or actions that they feel impedes their objectives.


Don Williams - 10/8/2004

Robert and Michael Meeropol , the sons of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg have published letters written by the Rosenbergs while in prison under the title "We are Your Sons" .

Page 159 of that book has a letter from Julius to Manny Bloch -- an excerpt:
----------
"During the course of my testimony, I stated in court that I believed the Russians carried the brunt of the war and that the allies should open a second front. This didn't go well with the court but if a second front had been opened sooner the Nazis would not have had time to exterminate 6,000,000 Jewish people and millions of other victims of fascism. At Page 1079 of the trial record I gave the following testimony, 'and in discussing the merits of other forms of governments, I discussed that with my friends on the basis of the performance of what they accomplished, and I felt that the Soviet Government has improved the lot of the underdog there, has made a lot of progress in eliminating illiteracy, has done a lot of reconstruction work and built up a lot of resources, and at the same time I felt that they contributed a major share in destroying the Hitler beast who killed 6,000,000 of my co-religionists, and I feel emotional about that thing."

----------------------

"Jewish" does not refer just to a religion --it also refers to a strong social bond. When Robert Hannsen was exposed as a Soviet spy, did any Catholic groups rise up in his defense? How does that compare with the American groups trying to defend Jonathan Pollard?

I do acknowledge that there is a wide spectrum of opinion among American Jews both re Pollard and re support for Sharon and Likud. I acknowledge that many Jewish Americans made plain that they thought life imprisonment for Pollard was justified --but many did not. See
http://www.historynewsnetwork.org/articles/article.html?id=796


Maybe we could focus on facts. Do you dispute that:
a) With one exception, the members of the two atomic spy rings (Rosenberg group and Cohen group) were Jewish
and Communists?

b) Do you dispute that one motivation for their delivery of the atomic bomb design to the Soviet Union was that the Soviet Union had lost several million men trying to destroy the Nazis while the UN government did little. That the Soviet Union had provided sanctuary to large numbers of Holocaust refugees --whereas the US government turned them away from our shores?

c) Do you dispute that those two American spy cells gave Stalin the means to deliver a far worse Nuclear Holocaust upon American cities? That if not for their actions, the US might have been able to interdict the Soviet nuclear program and avoid the grave danger we have lived under for 60 years-- that we will still live under if relations with Russia change?

d) Do you dispute my primary point in all three examples I gave -- that small groups of people, angered by great injustice , can make extraordinary impacts? That one billion muslims might include a few of that number?


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 10/8/2004

Mr. Barnes,
1) “If the "old and very dangerous" posts are linking the connection to a group of people who desired to overthrow the Iraq government to effectively cut off Syria for the sake of Israel, then I disagree.”

The implication of some of the posts that I have been reading is, to be quite explicit, that many Jews in the administration, in the government, and in society in general, have a greater loyalty to Israel than to the United States. My insinuation goes no further than this, and does not seek to deny the very obvious pro-Israel block within this administration.

As for the “group of people” in question, many people seem to believe that these folks support Israel over the United States. The reality is that these people support Israel part in parcel with their interests in extending the control and influence of the United States. In other words, they do not see this war as supporting Israel for Israel’s sake, but supporting Israel for the sake of American interests, which is to promote pro-US governments in the region, and protect those governments that are currently pro-US government.

Incidentally, my own opinion is that this war has been bad for Israel and bad for the United States. Bad for Israel because it generated such contempt for the only power who could have brokered a peace between Israel and the United States, as well as take attention away from real threats to Israeli security. Bad for the US for a host of reasons I need not delve into at this point unless asked.

2) “there was a long list of reasons for attacking Iraq, but none of them had anything to do with democracy.”

I believe we are in complete agreement on this issue.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/8/2004

Adam,
If the "old and very dangerous" posts are linking the connection to a group of people who desired to overthrow the Iraq government to effectively cut off Syria for the sake of Israel, then I disagree. It is well known and and nobody tries to hide it. Again, there was a long list of reasons for attacking Iraq, but none of them had anything to do with democracy.


N. Friedman - 10/8/2004

Michael,

"Note that the German/Middle Eastern relationship existed long before the rise of the Nazi party. This is particularly true when you look at the ties between the Ottoman Empire swaying away from the "old" European powers during the late 19th century and opening up economic channels to the newly formed nation of Germany (such as the project of the Berlin to Baghdad railway built in 1899). Just thought I would remind all about this in case this post is headed where I think it is."

I am not sure I know for sure what you have in mind when you say "Just thought I would remind all about this in case this post is headed where I think it is."

I think I was headed where I headed, which was only the point I made.

That said, there is, in fact, an issue regarding the Palestinian Arab connection with the Nazis, not to mention a connection between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Nazis and the Arab nationalists and the Nazis. However, that was not where I was headed.

I place the Palestinian Arab's opposition to migration of Jewish immigrants around the time of WWII on the same plane as opposition to granting refuge to Jews in Europe was. Which is to say, it is the same major stain on the Palestinian Arabs that it is on Brits (in refusing refuge in Britain) and most of the rest of Europe. I do not see how it matters that the Arabs have a long connection with the Germans. Such does not make their opposition any less of a moral stain. And the events in the Europe were certainly no secret to the Palestinian Arabs.

But again, I was really not headed towards the above or any other remark.


N. Friedman - 10/8/2004

Dear Michael,

Thank you for your very interesting observation. You write:

"I'm not quite sure I understand your reasoning. Should not one of the foremost goals to 'fight terrorism' be to 'drive a wedge' between ordinary Arab Muslims and terrorists? If you do believe this to be a positive outcome of the war with Iraq (driving the 'wedge'), then why do you 'not support' the war?"


I agree that one possible stategy - not the only possibility - might be to try to drive a wedge between the ordinary Arab Muslim and the terrorist. However, the problem with the Iraq war as a vehicle to pursue that strategy is that the war also drives a wedge between the US and the region. I shall explain below.

Crucially, majority rule in Iraq means Shi'a rule. Shi'a rule is an anethema to most of the region because, to Sunnis, the Shi'a are guilty of apostasy. Apostasy is, in Islam, an unforgivable sin and worse than being a Christian or a Jew. Which is to say, the US can only lose in Iraq since we are, by supporting democracy, siding with those who have committed apostasy.

Less importantly but, nonetheless important, the privileged/ruling classes throughout the Middle East have every reason to fight us to protect their privileges. After all, democracy in Iraq will, as it has elsewhere, spread like an infection. While that is a potentially good thing, the privileged/ruling classes will and likely are doing everything in their power, both in terms of propaganda aimed at their own people and money and armaments to the insurgents, to protect their privileges. And that, in the end, means further scapegoating the US.

Lastly and also crucially, Iraq is really, from what I can discern, three countries and thus three mutually hostile groups. We are caught in the middle of what amounts to a civil war. We cannot win such a war. People are being killed in a futile cause.

In short, all of the indicators are stacked against the Iraq war having a successful conclusion. (a) we are perceived by the region to, in effect, be siding with those committing apostasy, (b) we have the privileged classes of the region up in arms against us and (c) we are caught in the middle of a civil war.

What we should be doing, were the above factors the only ones, is dividing the country up into three countries. However, because such would create problems for the Turks, we cannot even do that.

In short, we have signed onto a loser war.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 10/8/2004

Peter,
I did notice your previous comments, and they are almost universally on topic, intelligent, and thoughtful.

However, when I read some other posters on this threat in particular, I cannot help but notice the discussion turning to topics that, if I didn't know any better, were merely some rehashing of very old and very dangerous predjudices.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/8/2004

I wrote:

"Don- I am well aware of U.S. foreign policy post World War II. You are right in your assertion that so-called "democracies" have been established in the past by the U.S. government (CIA is merely their arm) all throughout Asia, Latin America, or anywhere they could attempt to trump up charges of the "Grand Communist Conspiracy". This is why I made it clear to distinguish between a "Top to Bottom" democracy and a "Bottom to Top" democracy (the former being nothing more than a “puppet” government, the latter being a true democracy). However, no offense is intended, but I did not ask you about what is happening, I asked you would you agree, hypothetically, that if a bona fide democracy (bottom-top democracy) is being installed in Iraq, would it be a step in the right direction? Meaning, if it is a government that works for the people and not for the U.S. or any other entity outside its borders (or inside for that matter). I should add that I am not attempting to make the argument that this is what is happening. All I aim to do is to discover a viable solution, or if this is not a viable solution, why not (all are more than welcome to answer this)?"

I neglected to read the title of your response (which of course, answered my question).


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/8/2004

Mr. Friedman,
You posted:
"The recruits in Iraq - a war I do not support, for the ten millionth time, but for very different reasons, no doubt, from the reasons why you do not support the war - create havoc in the Middle East but, in the end, they will drive a wedge between ordinary Arab Muslims and the terrorists. At least that is my view."

I'm not quite sure I understand your reasoning. Should not one of the foremost goals to "fight terrorism" be to "drive a wedge" between ordinary Arab Muslims and terrorists? If you do believe this to be a positive outcome of the war with Iraq (driving the "wedge"), then why do you "not support" the war?


N. Friedman - 10/8/2004

Don,

"Re the Soviet Union eventually making the bomb, the estimates I have seen indicate that it could have taken them up to more eight years."

To what estimates are you referring?

Kip Thorne had a rather different view in his book Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy. Thorne said that the Soviets had solved most of the basic problems of building a bomb early on. The problems they had difficulty with, which were the same ones which plagued the US, led to a list of possible solutions. The US developed essentially the same list. However, the US ranked the possible solutions in a different order so that it was basically an accident that we developed the bomb first.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/8/2004

Interesting book on the web at http://www.statecraft.org

Also read William Blum's "Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II"


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/8/2004

Don- I am well aware of U.S. foreign policy post World War II. You are right in your assertion that so-called "democracies" have been established in the past by the U.S. government (CIA is merely their arm) all throughout Asia, Latin America, or anywhere they could attempt to trump up charges of the "Grand Communist Conspiracy". This is why I made it clear to distinguish between a "Top to Bottom" democracy and a "Bottom to Top" democracy (the former being nothing more than a “puppet” government, the latter being a true democracy). However, no offense is intended, but I did not ask you about what is happening, I asked you would you agree, hypothetically, that if a bona fide democracy (bottom-top democracy) is being installed in Iraq, would it be a step in the right direction? Meaning, if it is a government that works for the people and not for the U.S. or any other entity outside its borders (or inside for that matter). I should add that I am not attempting to make the argument that this is what is happening. All I aim to do is to discover a viable solution, or if this is not a viable solution, why not (all are more than welcome to answer this)?


N. Friedman - 10/8/2004

Peter,

Throwing insults does not help your argument. I have employed reasonable speculation regarding facts I know to be the case. I may or may not be correct. However, I do not make things up.

1. "While those arrogant cowards in Washington stumble from blunder to blunder and lie to lie, Al Qaeda is gaining new recruits like never before, far faster than anyone -even Ariel Sharon- could possibly pre-emptively murder them."

Arrogant, yes.

Recruits, maybe so. I think such is, however, rather irrelevant to the issue of terrorism against the US as such recruits, unless they are Westernized, threaten the Middle East, not the US.

The recruits that matter are Westernized Muslims like Mohammed Atta, Omar Sheik, etc. The 9/11 terrorists were, in fact, Westernized. Such Westernized people are capable of committing serious acts of terror in the US because they understand and can move within our culture.

The recruits in Iraq - a war I do not support, for the ten millionth time, but for very different reasons, no doubt, from the reasons why you do not support the war - create havoc in the Middle East but, in the end, they will drive a wedge between ordinary Arab Muslims and the terrorists. At least that is my view.

Again, the issue for bin Laden is to re-create the Caliphate, to spread the faith, to expand the territory of dar al-Islam (i.e. House of Peace) by Jihad, to reinstitute rule according to Islamic law and to dominate, in the manner of hegemony, or conquer the world. The war in Iraq has not helped him do any of those things any more than it has helped the US to cool down the Middle East.

2. Al Qaeda trying "to create a bigger wedge between the US and Europe" ?

Indeed. Remember al Qa'eda's offer to spare Europe from terror is Europe stopped supporting the US? I guess you missed it. Perhaps we read different papers. Or, perhaps, you might try reading some more books.

As far as reading, I have been reading every book I can get my hands on regarding the Islamists, their terror movement and the Middle East - at this point, about a hundred books on the subject thus far (and from every point of view)-. I never suggested that Ms. Bat Ye'or was the be all and end all. However, her analysis well explains why, in fact, the Europeans react differently than the US to matters involving the Middle East. And, on that point, her theory is a lot better than yours.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/8/2004

"The Soviets allowed some 250,000 refugees in. Spain also allowed some refugees in as did Portugal. A great many were allowed in or forced their way in to what is now Israel despite the efforts of some Palestinian Arabs who conspired with the Nazis."

Note that the German/Middle Eastern relationship existed long before the rise of the Nazi party. This is particularly true when you look at the ties between the Ottoman Empire swaying away from the "old" European powers during the late 19th century and opening up economic channels to the newly formed nation of Germany (such as the project of the Berlin to Baghdad railway built in 1899). Just thought I would remind all about this in case this post is headed where I think it is.


N. Friedman - 10/8/2004

Don,

"The real issue is not even what Bin Ladin's thinks. The real issue is what actions/events/grievances are motivating Muslims to support him --even to the point of giving their lives."

Bin Laden had, until he became a Jihadi, among the most privileged lives imaginable. He has no grievance. What you are reading is propaganda. What attracts people to his cause is that he evokes the tradition of the Jihad and the glory of Islam when it was a real empire.

I suggest you read Who Killed Daniel Pearl? by Bernard-Henri Lévy. I offer a discussion between an Islamist school functionary and Bernard-Henri Lévy that occurred at Jame'a Uloom ul-Islameya Binori Town (the Islamic University of Binori Town) in Karachi, Pakistan. Lévy speaks first.

********

"If I'm asking you this question, it's only in relation to what you told me: Islam is a religion of peace."

"That's true," he replies, a little more softly.

"Which means that, according to you, Osama is a man of peace?"

"Osama, I repeat, is a good Muslim. He is our brother in Islam. He fears no one but Allah. He may have made mistakes. But when he distinguishes between dar al-islam (the home of peace), which unites all the Muslims of the world, and dar al-harb (the home of war), which encompasses all the rest, he is right; that is our position."

"All right. But the result, in concrete terms, is what? Man of peace or man or war?"

He's irritated again. Again the inquisitive look, a restrained anger in in the voice. Behind the doctor lurks the jihadist.

"War against the infidels is not war, it is a duty. Since the American attack in Saudi Arabia, and then in Afghanistan, it is the duty of the Muslims of the world to support the jihad against America and the Jews."

"Why the Jews?"

"Because they are the true terrorists. And because they lead their crusade on the soil of Palestine and Afghanistan. Zionist agents have infiltrated even here, in Pakistan. Why do you think the government accepts their orders? It should place its confidence in God. But it accepts orders from the Jews."

******

Bernard-Henri Lévy, Who Killed Daniel Pearl?, at 299-300.


There is no grievance. There is, at most, merely the pretense of a grievance.

Note: "War against the infidels is not war, it is a duty." That is their real position and not the alleged grievance that Jews give orders to Pakistan, a country where there are no Jews to speak of.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 10/8/2004

Don,
Do you mean to suggest that the fate and policies of the Democratic Party have been shaped by “the stupid gun control jihad of New York Senator Chuck Schumer,” who, of course, must be connected to some Jewish-related organization so that we may find the “real” culprits, right?

Your post then launches into an attack on this organization based on the fact that it has members who are conservatives, and that it is funded by a group of billionaires.

What exactly do these contributors, and through them this organization, and through it Senator Schummer have to do with the Democratic party and what does that have to do with rural citizens?


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 10/8/2004

Don,
I notce you mention "Jewish Communists." Does this have any relevance, given the fact that you do not mention the religion of anyone else in your post?


Don Williams - 10/8/2004

George Bush's claim to be promoting "democracy" in Iraq might have more credibility if his brother had promoted
democracy in Florida.

One of CIA's core skills is rigging elections and bribing political leaders. During the Cold War, the US government promoted "democracy" as a propaganda ploy and for tactical benefits -- not due to any strong committment to real democratic values.

That's why Bush has dragged his feet for almost 2 years on the issue of elections --it takes time to rig them.
Anyone recall the news stories of CIA officers running around northern Afghanistan with suitcases of US currency, buying the support of local warlords?

I've mentioned this before, but I will repeat myself.
From the Muslim viewpoint, look at where Al Qaeda is and why it is supported. In Indonesia, the US government installed Suharto in the 1960s and gave him a list of 100,000 communist cadres to kill. We then stood around while Suharto's family stole everything not nailed down and plunged the people of Indonesia into perpetual ,severe poverty. We did the same thing in the Phillipines, supporting dictator and kleptomananic Marcos.
In the 1950s, we overthrew the lawfully elected Prime Minister of Iran (Mossadagh) and installed the Shah on the Peacock Throne. We then ignored the murders and tortures of the Shah's SAVAK because the Shah gave our oil companies some lucrative concessions.

Ask the people of Kuwait how much "democracy" -- and how much of their country's oil revenues -- they have enjoyed since they were "liberated" by George H Bush and Dick CHeney. Why do you think that the UAE, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia are among the few countries in the world which refuse to give the United Nations and World Bank basic statistical data on income distributions. Try finding a Gini Coefficient for those countries. Yet the US has propped up those oil dictatorships for decades.

While at Halliburton, the "service" that Dick Cheney provided to the oil companies was influencing the oil dictators of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. Enormous oil deposits have been found in the Caspian Sea in the past decade -- and Cheney has been in the thick of it. See
http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0142/gray.php ,
http://www.thedubyareport.com/oilwar.html ,
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/1998/int/980629/cover_story.caspian_blac7.html



Houston wants US military protection of its investments there , especially since Russia and Iran think the oil belongs to them. Now, under the guise of a "war on terror", a chain of US military bases are being constructed in the Caspian Sea area -- and troops are being moved from Europe to that region. See the UK Guardian article at
http://www.commondreams.org/views03/1020-02.htm
and http://www.spacewar.com/2004/040313170458.vmh3amnp.html

You can find this information in European papers and in
Specialized US Business journals --which are not heavily censored because of the potential for adverse business impacts.

But you'll never hear a goddam word of these business agendas in the news media seen by most US citizens.. The world knows that the US is not a democracy -- but rather is a deeply corrupt, hypocritical oligarchy. They know that US citizens are deliberately kept in a state of deep ignorance and conned every week by the men who own the TV networks and major newspapers.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/8/2004

Although, I should say I was incorrect in using the word "large grass root".


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/8/2004

Don-
I agree. However, suppose that this time the U.S. does intend on allowing for a real democracy to grow in Iraq, in which the government of this "new" Iraq would act in the benefit of it's people and not to the benefit of foreign countries for foreign interests (a bottom-top democracy opposed to a top-bottom democracy). Would you then agree that invading Iraq was indeed a step in the right (though a first step) direction in regards to quelling any more hostilities of that nature (by "that nature" I mean Muslim support/actions of terrorism)?


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/7/2004

"Following the U.S. government's refusal to permit the passengers to disembark, the "St. Louis" sailed back to Europe on June 6, 1939. Jewish organizations (particularly the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee) negotiated with European governments to allow the passengers to be admitted to Great Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. Many of the passengers in continental Europe later found themselves under Nazi rule."

It is just another one of those ironies in history... All the countries that granted these German Jews entrance (I wonder why the article does not mention Spain or Russia) would, in a matter of months, be placed under the boot of Hitler's Nazism anyway. Furthermore, five years later to the exact day and month (June 6), the very country that turned them away which sealed their fate to begin with would be landing on the beaches of Normandy to "free" them (among other things).


Don Williams - 10/7/2004

An excerpt from his November 2001 interview published in Pakistani newspaper DAWN (http://www.dawn.com/2001/11/10/top1.htm )

-----------------
"Osama BIN LADIN:
The American people should remember that they pay taxes to their government, they elect their president, their government manufactures arms and gives them to Israel and Israel uses them to massacre Palestinians. The American Congress endorses all government measures and this proves that the entire America is responsible for the atrocities perpetrated against Muslims. The entire America, because they elect the Congress.

I ask the American people to force their government to give up anti-Muslim policies. The American people had risen against their government's war in Vietnam. They must do the same today. The American people should stop the massacre of Muslims by their government.

Interviewer HM: Can it be said that you are against the American government, not the American people ?

OSB: Yes! We are carrying on the mission of our Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him). The mission is to spread the word of God, not to indulge massacring people. We ourselves are the target of killings, destruction and atrocities. We are only defending ourselves. This is defensive Jihad. We want to defend our people and our land. That is why I say that if we don't get security, the Americans, too would not get security.

This is a simple formula that even an American child can understand. This is the formula of live and let live."
-------------
The real issue is not even what Bin Ladin's thinks. The real issue is what actions/events/grievances are motivating Muslims to support him --even to the point of giving their lives.


Don Williams - 10/7/2004

Re the Soviet Union eventually making the bomb, the estimates I have seen indicate that it could have taken them up to more eight years.

The power of the US relative to the rest of the world was at it's peak at the end of World War II. It's economy was roaring full blast --while the economies of Europe and the Soviet Union were in ruins. The Soviets had lost several million men on the Eastern Front -- I believe US losses were around 200,000.

If the USA had had a little more time --say a year or two --in which to create 20 bombs to replace the two used on Japan, it might very well have been able to ban possession of atomic weapons by any other nations --and to make that ban stick. The atomic spies ensured that the US government never got the time it needed to gain the upper hand and establish global hegemony.

The interesting question is whether the Rosenbergs,et al did the people of the US a big favor. Admittedly, that idea was hard to entertain during the nuclear terror of the Cold War. But when the Roman Republic gained global domination, it collapsed into a military dictatorship.
The wealthy elite enjoyed the profits of empire while the costs --in blood and taxes -- were born by a middle class impoverished by the flood of cheap foreign labor and imports.

Democracy proved too unwieldy to manage a far flung empire so it was replaced by Augustus's corporate management. Unfortunately, The benign Augustus was followed by the horrors of Caligula, Nero, and Domitian.


Don Williams - 10/7/2004

1) See, e.g. the entry about the passenger ship "St Louis" at the Holocaust Museum's online site: http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/index.php?ModuleId=10005267

An excerpt:
"Sailing so close to Florida that they could see the lights of Miami, passengers on the "St. Louis" cabled President Franklin D. Roosevelt asking for refuge. Roosevelt never answered the cable. The State Department and the White House had already decided not to let them enter the United States. A State Department telegram sent to a passenger stated that the passengers must "await their turns on the waiting list and then qualify for and obtain immigration visas before they may be admissible into the United States." American diplomats in Havana asked the Cuban government to admit the passengers on a "humanitarian" basis.

Quotas set out in the 1924 Immigration Act strictly limited the number of immigrants who could be admitted to the United States each year. In 1939, the annual combined German-Austrian immigration quota was 27,370 and was quickly filled. In fact, there was a waiting list of at least several years. Visas could have been granted to the passengers only by denying them to the thousands of German Jews who had already applied for them. President Roosevelt could have issued an executive order to admit additional refugees, but chose not to do so for a variety of political reasons.

American public opinion, although ostensibly sympathetic to the plight of refugees and critical of Hitler's policies, still favored immigration restrictions. The Great Depression had left millions of Americans unemployed and fearful of economic competition for the scarce few jobs available. It also fueled antisemitism, xenophobia, nativism, and isolationism. A Fortune Magazine poll at the time indicated that 83 percent of Americans opposed relaxing restrictions on immigration.

Few politicians were willing to challenge the mood of the nation. At about the same time that the "St. Louis" passengers were seeking a haven, the Wagner-Rogers bill, which would have permitted the admission of 20,000 Jewish children from Germany outside the existing quota, was allowed to die in committee. On the Wagner-Rogers bill and the admittance of the "St. Louis" passengers, President Roosevelt remained silent. Following the U.S. government's refusal to permit the passengers to disembark, the "St. Louis" sailed back to Europe on June 6, 1939."


N. Friedman - 10/7/2004

Don,

Al Qa'eda hit the US to further its political aims, not for revenge.

The political aims are no great mystery. They seek to re-create the Caliphate, to spread their faith, to expand the territory of dar al-Islam (i.e. House of Peace) by Jihad, to reinstitute rule according to Islamic law and to dominate, in the manner of hegemony, or conquer the world.

In order to achieve such ends, they need to take control of resources of, for example, a country like Saudi Arabia and/or the nuclear military hardware of, for example, Pakistan. With such power in hand, they would be a long way toward achieving their goal.

They attacked the US because they expected to be able push the US to leave the Middle East so that al Qa'eda's movement/party might more easily take control of a country. The plan, self-evidently, failed. Which is to say, they lost one country to the West. Such was not supposed to happen.

Then, the US moved its forces to the Middle East. While the Iraq war is, on its own terms, idiotic, our presence does the opposite of what al Qa'eda sought. Which is to say, it forces them to employ the same tactics at home that they prefer to use against us. And that, in turn, may not help us in Iraq but it hurts al Qa'eda at home in, for example, Saudi Arabia because no one likes their own people to be massacred.

They have, if my analysis is correct, stopped attacking the US directly because it did not help their cause. Instead, their new tactic is to try to create a bigger wedge between the US and Europe. Bush has done much to help them in that cause but, then again, the Europeans, particularly the French, have done just as much damage by actively blocking, rather than merely disagreeing with, the war in Iraq. Moreover, European interests are, as Bat Ye'or has shown, trapped in a manner which forces them to side with the Arabs so that, in fact, the dispute between the US and Europe is rather inevitable.


N. Friedman - 10/7/2004

Don,

1. "When victims of Hitler's hatred came to these shores, the US government turned them away -- only the Soviet Union welcomed refugees from the Holocaust.'

The Soviets allowed some 250,000 refugees in. Spain also allowed some refugees in as did Portugal. A great many were allowed in or forced their way in to what is now Israel despite the efforts of some Palestinian Arabs who conspired with the Nazis. A few, but not that many, found their way to the US. Which is to say, the Soviets were not quite alone.

2. "I recall how a small group of Jewish Communists then gave the Soviet Union the detailed design of the atomic bomb --because they had concluded that the nature of the US government was such that it would destroy the world if it had a monopoly on atomic weapons."

There were efforts at espionage. However, the USSR actually had its own scientists who were following, basically, the very same basic path as was followed in the US. Have you not heard of Lev Landau or Yakov Zel'dovich? They are two of the world's great 20th Century scientists and, no doubt, the Soviet Union would, with or without spies, have built the bomb.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/7/2004

My reference to evangelicals was more aimed at the premise that some of them literarily desire for Christ to return (as it is written), and the way this is supposed to happen involves Israel's role and the destruction of the temple. People like Pat Robertson are quite frank on this point. However, I did not intend to imply that all evangelicals are diehard supporters of Israel because of this frame of thought, just as I do not suggest that all Jews wanted a war with Iraq in order to mount attacks against Syria. I simply mean that it is a driving factor and there is a voting base that pushes for this agenda (or at least a handful of powerful people).

“According to evangelicals, the vast majority of them are very supportive of Israel for religious reasons. "The president certainly knows that and may be influenced by the same things," Mouw says”-
http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0317/p01s01-uspo.htm


“American evangelist Pat Robertson warned U.S. President Bush that he would risk losing the support of evangelical Christians if he changed his position supporting Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem”- http://news.findlaw.com/ap_stories/i/1107/10-5-2004/20041005043003_35.html

“Bush political adviser Karl Rove speaks often of the 4 million evangelical voters who didn't turn out in the 2000 race…”- http://www.christiansciencemonitor.com/2004/0809/p01s02-uspo.html

“Even if they don't take the Book of Revelation as literal truth, most evangelicals have been reared on tales and debates about the End Times.”-
http://msnbc.msn.com/id/4988491/site/newsweek/

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/jesus/


“The Rev. Jerry Falwell said yesterday that evangelical Christians, after nearly 25 years of increasing political activism, now control the Republican Party and the fate of President Bush in the November election.”- http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20040925/news_1n25christ.html

"Evangelical Christians represent a core constituency for the president, strongly backing him in the 2000 election."- http://www.advocate.com/new_news.asp?ID=11644&;sd=03/12/04

P.S.- I've lived in the "Bible Belt" for about twelve years now.


Don Williams - 10/7/2004

For decades, blue collar union workers --including many blue collar rural citizens --have been the mainstay of the Democratic Party because the Party protected them from the predatory labor policies of the Republican plutocracy.

But that has changed. This traditional base of the Democrats has been needlessly alienated from the Party by the stupid gun control jihad of New York Senator Chuck Schumer, (formerly a Representative from Brooklyn).

Up until 1994 , the powerful NRA largely split it's donations and support evenly between the two parties. But in reaction to Schumer's push for gun control laws (Assault Rifle Ban of 1994,etc.) , the NRA has been giving roughly 90% of it's donations to Republicans in recent elections. A major reason why Republicans have won every national election since 1994.

Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer has done more to damage the Democratic Party than any Republican could ever have dreamed of doing -- and has made the Democrats even more dependent upon the support of a few wealthy financiers.

What is interesting is that alleged leftist Senator Schumer belongs to a strongly pro-Israel organization called "Foundation for the Defense of Democracies" -- see http://www.defenddemocracy.org/ .

Which is hilariously funny when you realize that FDD's other major members are such luminaries as Neocons Richard Perle, Bill Kristol, Moral Majority leader Gary Bauer, and Charles Krauthammer. See http://www.defenddemocracy.org/biographies/biographies.htm
FDD's "Distinguished Advisor" is Newt Gingrich --which shows that they at least have a sense of humor.

FDD's President is National Review's Clifford D May.

FDD's first vice-president was Nir Boms, formerly the academic liaison for the Israeli Embassy in Washington and someone who has served in the Israeli Defense Forces.
See http://www.amconmag.com/11_17_03/article1.html . He seems to have left after being mentioned in the cited article and here on HNN.

The American Conservative article also notes where FDD's funding comes from:
==================
"What makes all of this possible is the support the foundation receives from its billionaire backers. Its nearly $3 million annual budget comes from 27 major donors, most of whom are members of “the Study Group”—also sometimes called the “Mega Group” because of their sizeable contributions—a semi-formal organization of major Jewish philanthropists who meet twice a year to discuss joint projects.

The group’s membership includes, among others, U.S. Healthcare founder Leonard Abramson, New York financier Michael Steinhardt, Seagrams patriarch and Jewish World Congress president Edgar S. Bronfman Sr. and his brother Charles, and Lynn Schusterman, widow of Oklahoma oilman Charles Schusterman. Some of the group’s projects have been establishing and funding Birthright Israel, which provides Jewish youths with free travel to the Holy Land; a synagogue restoration program called STAR (Synagogue Transformation and Renewal); and the renovation and re-invigoration of Hillel, the Jewish campus chaplaincy. More than a few of these projects have generated controversy among some American Jews, who see this small group of mega-donors exercising considerable influence over Jewish-American affairs. But for all the debate that has attended some of these projects, none before has been as overtly political as Emet or FDD. "


Don Williams - 10/7/2004

eom


Don Williams - 10/7/2004

Having grown up in the rural South, I am well aware that southern Christianity has more than it's fair share of con artists and charlatans --the more prominent of which occasionly self-destruct on national TV.

It is the vile propaganda of preachers like John Hagee in
San Antonio TX that is the problem, not the rank and file membership of the Christian churches. The BBC article I cited showed how rural citizens are being indoctrinated
to accept Bush's pandering to Sharon. This is a message that is being pushed from the top downward -- not a grassroots movement. The idea that this campaign is Christian is as ludicrous as Tom Delay and George Bush's claims to be Christian.

Bush's political movement essentially follows the strategy that Adolf Hitler used: focus on appealing to rural , lower middle class conservatives because they have limited access to information. Manipulate them by playing upon their loyalty to country, their patriotism, their religion, and their values.

One reason Bush is successful is because the leadership of the US Democratic Party is as incompetent, corrupt, and as indifferent to the rural population as the Social Democrats were in the Weimar Republic. Al Gore, for example, lost West Virginia, a historically Democratic state, because he obviously did not give a shit about the thousands of coal miners thrown out of work by his environmental program.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/7/2004

I should have also noted the common interest's that evangilical Christian's have in regards to Israel. As we all well know, King George the W is an evangilical (he has a large grass root base in the evangilical vote).


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/7/2004

"If that is the case, and it was hard to glean one overall message in the posts you offered, the facts do not back this up. From the Israeli perspective, Iraq has not been their major concern for many years, but Iran and Syria are the real threats."

Mr. Mosche,
I'm afraid that Richard Perle would disagree. If you had bothered to read my post to Mr. Livingston, you would notice a quote I placed right from The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies report entitled, "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing a Realm" (Richard Perle was the Study Group Leader for this report). Here is the quote again:

“Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.”

And so, it is clear that though you are correct in your contention that Syria is the ultimate aim for Israel, you must now see that Iraq was part of the larger scheme. In effect, it was the first step to a calculated move. Hence, the pieces of the puzzle fit quite nicely.

In case others overlayered my post here it is again:

Mr. Livingston,
There are many historical facts and logical analyses that indicate the so-called “neo-cons” or “neo-Jacobins” (which has somehow morphed into a code word for “Jew”) had a heavy hand and agenda for going to war with Iraq. Granted, Stratfor’s assessment of the U.S. invasion of Iraq does hold a rather large bucket of water, but it fails to mention the other motives behind the curtain of secrecy. One of the many other and equally driving factors that is so blatantly clear was CONTROL of MidEast oil, but also to have a large military complex in order to “stabilize” the region. As for the “Jewish” conspiracy, I find it fascinating that the obvious fact in which Israel has a powerful lobby (not to mention spies) in Washington can be brushed aside as having no influence in the decision-making arena of U.S. politics. It should be noted, however, that not all neo-conservatives (whom ironically are neither new nor conservative) are Jewish, but it just so happens that a few that are have high seats in the current Presidential administration. Hardly does this constitute a “Jewish Conspiracy”, but rather a plan to secure Israel by using the U.S. as in instrument in an already volatile situation. Indeed, both the U.S. and Israel had common intrests in removing Saddam from power. This is not to insinuate that Israel has a chokehold or even profound influence on U.S. policy (foreign or domestic), but rather that there is, at the bare minimum, apparent persuasion.
It’s not that it is a “Jewish” conspiracy (for academics the word “conspiracy” is the equivalent to a four letter word used by the layman), but rather, among various other reasons for war, there is valid suspicion to believe there are supplementary causes that we choose to ignore. Could it be that the Neo-Cons pressured a President to go to war for causes outside U.S. interests? Only history will be able to determine this answer. However, it would do us all well to refrain from pulling the wool over our eyes just because we do not like what we see. For the sake of history, we should not forget the now infamous report prepared by The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies with the title“A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing a Realm” presented in 1996… to quote from it:

“Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.”

There were many motives behind this war, but freeing some poor sand people who somehow cannot grasp the concept of “liberty”, “freedom”, or “democracy” defies rationality and historical truth. The history of warfare is a testament to the undeniable maxim, which clearly shows that wars are fought for many reasons, and many times those reasons are hidden from the populace. As Groucho Marx once said, “Who are you going to believe- me or your own eyes?”

In regards to your comment which reads:

“That administration policy appears to have worked in both Syria & in Lybia, where our finger-wagging has served to persuade the gov'ts to fall into line…”

As far back as May of 1999 Libya had initiated, on its on behalf, talks with Washington (ironically under Clinton) in which they were then willing to give up their nuclear ambitions (it appears that the sanctions had actually worked quite well). As for Syria… well, again, only history can tell, but if Iraq is any indication of what we will see in the future then I am afraid we are in for a very, very long, and drawn-out war.

Several intelligence analysts were claiming before this war was actually waged, that an invasion of Iraq would increase the amount of worldwide terror and become a breeding ground for more recruits. A few months ago Colin Powell had admitted publicly that a report, which claimed terrorism had declined, was indeed grossly inaccurate. As it turned out, not only had terrorism increased, it was at its highest level then it has ever been since it has been tracked (was this false report done for political purposes or was it an honest mistake…?)

If indeed this war’s purpose was only aimed at disrupting terrorism then it has most surely been a “colossal error of judgment”. We are currently living in an extraordinary period of history and it is now more than ever before imperative for the United States to find another “course”.
The options of “what do we do now?” have become steeped into such a narrow pit of despair and violence that there very well might not be any other outcome except those two words that are synonymous with the histories of empires… Rise and Fall. I can only now just hope that we somehow work this all out and not have to live in perpetual fear, but that would be a huge leap out of the textbooks of history.


Don Williams - 10/7/2004

When I think about the hatred that Bush and Cheney are stirring up against the US, I do not worry about Al Qaeda,
Hamas, Iraqi Sunnis,etc.

Rather , I recall Hitler's contempt for the weakness of Europe's Jews --the casual way in which he unjustly scapegoated them for his personal political goals. And I recall how a few of those helpless Jews found allies and were about to turn Berlin into a pile of radioactive ashes --up until Hitler brought things to a conclusion by blowing his brains out. Anyone recall the names Einstein, Szilard, Oppenheimer?

I recall how the corruption of the US government brought on the Great Depression. The US government not only inflicted enormous amounts of unnecessary misery upon its own citizens -- the Great Depression also directly propelled Hitler to power. When victims of Hitler's hatred came to these shores, the US government turned them away -- only the Soviet Union welcomed refugees from the Holocaust.

I recall how a small group of Jewish Communists then gave the Soviet Union the detailed design of the atomic bomb --because they had concluded that the nature of the US government was such that it would destroy the world if it had a monopoly on atomic weapons.
Anyone recall the names Rosenberg? Harry Gold? David Greenglass? Klaus Fuchs? Theodore Hall? Morris and Lona Cohen?

The Soviets invaded Hungary and treated it with contempt.
But a Hungarian created the Hydrogen bomb and for 40 years the Soviet Union lived under the threat of bombs 200 times more powerful than the ones dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Anyone recall the name Edward Teller? His work on Star Wars? He's not around any more but neither is the Soviet Union.

I do not worry about terrorists. What worries me is the idea of thousands of unknown Arab geniuses out there -- some of them immigrants with EU citizenship -- who are quietly working on research in advanced fields. Recombiant DNA, for example. Quiet mild men
who are beginning to
grow very angry at
the behavior of an arrogant US President -- a President
who is far less intelligent than they are.


Don Williams - 10/7/2004

1) In 1998, Bin Ladin gave several interviews to US TV networks in which he gave THREE reasons why Muslims should go to war against the US : (a) US support of Israel's killing/persecution of Palestinians (b) Tens? of thousands of Iraqi deaths in the 1990s because of US embargo ( US had bombed Iraqi water supplies in Desert Storm and then blocked import of water purification chemicals --resulting in epidemics from drinking polluted water ) (c) US military occupation of Saudi Arabia.
(Note: The last item has been reported in the US News media as a religious taboo --which is utter bullshit. The US has given major military support to the Saudi dictatorship for decades so that US oil companies could get steal the Arabs birthright --and their only hope for a future --in exchange for kickbacks to the small royal family. The Al Qaeda bombing attack in Saudi Arabia last year hit the US company which has supplied mercenaries for 30 years to train the Saudi "National Guard" -- more accurately described as the Saudi Gestapo.


2) Bin Ladin's 1998 remarks are a matter of record -- but the lying whores in the US news media completely forgot them in the course of their propaganda campaign after Sept 11.

In November 2001, Bin Ladin stated in an interview --published in a Pakistani paper -- that the Sept 11 attack was a response to US sales of advanced weapons to Israel.
Bush sold Sharon 53 F16s fighters in June 2001, a few months prior to Sept 11.

For details and citations to information sources, see
the post I put up a year ago at
http://hnn.us/comments/18765.html


Don Williams - 10/7/2004


I was very clear in the my posts (to which I linked above) that Israeli billionaire
Haim Saban's Middle East policy center at Brookings
called strongly for Hussein's disposal.

I was also clear
that the vast majority of America's 6 million Jews have neither the votes nor the money to twist US politics in the manner in which it is being distorted, that many of them, in any event, do not support Israel's right wing, and that the influence is coming from a relatively small number of men who are enormously wealthy.

The fact that Haim Saban is Jewish and Israeli is relevent when we ask why he is pushing the policy he is pushing -- but it is a fallacy to argue that all Jews necessarily agree with him.

That are other Jewish billionaires in the US who make political donations but on behalf of social causes --not Middle Eastern policy -- and who show no signs of trying to control US Middle Eastern policy.

There are even some strong Zionists and defenders of Sharon who are not Jewish -- as I noted, Canadian Conrad Black has employed Richard Perle for years and has used his power as owner to override his own columnists when they criticize Israel.

Normally , in politics, there is a countervailing force which keeps things from being distorted to an extreme. In this case, however, the political donations of Arab Americans--especially those with ties to the Palestinians -- are trival compared to what the Israel lobby can mount.

Bill Clinton certainly understood where the Democrats' money comes from --but he drew a line at how far he would compromise US national security in order to pander to some donors. He pressured the Israeli government to make peace with the Palestinians and he allied himself mainly with Israel's moderate and left wing supporters of peace.

Bush, by contrast, has taken a far more biased approach -- 100 percent in favor of Sharon and Likud's aggression with no questions asked. Bush has gone to an extreme, even though it is greatly harming US national security, because that is the only way he can court long time Democratic supporters away from the Democratic party.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 10/7/2004

Don,
Would it be correct to say that you believe Bush went to war in order to curry favor with Jews by protecting Israel? If that is the case, and it was hard to glean one overall message in the posts you offered, the facts do not back this up. From the Israeli perspective, Iraq has not been their major concern for many years, but Iran and Syria are the real threats. From the American Jewish perspective, since Jews opposed the war in Iraq in greater proportions than the general public, it obviously makes no sense to invade in order to curry favor with them.


Don Williams - 10/7/2004

See http://hnn.us/readcomment.php?id=43412#43412 and
http://hnn.us/readcomment.php?id=43481#43481


Arnold Shcherban - 10/5/2004

On that I agree with you wholeheartedly, Peter.
Thanks, for a short exchange.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/5/2004

I would like to withdraw my statement that Stratfor's "assessment holds a rather large bucket of water"... It might be a large bucket, but it has gapping holes and the water gushes out when put to practical use (it doesn't hold much water afterall).


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/5/2004

Mr. Livingston,
There are many historical facts and logical analyses that indicate the so-called “neo-cons” or “neo-Jacobins” (which has somehow morphed into a code word for “Jew”) had a heavy hand and agenda for going to war with Iraq. Granted, Stratfor’s assessment of the U.S. invasion of Iraq does hold a rather large bucket of water, but it fails to mention the other motives behind the curtain of secrecy. One of the many other and equally driving factors that is so blatantly clear was CONTROL of MidEast oil, but also to have a large military complex in order to “stabilize” the region. As for the “Jewish” conspiracy, I find it fascinating that the obvious fact in which Israel has a powerful lobby (not to mention spies) in Washington can be brushed aside as having no influence in the decision-making arena of U.S. politics. It should be noted, however, that not all neo-conservatives (whom ironically are neither new nor conservative) are Jewish, but it just so happens that a few that are have high seats in the current Presidential administration. Hardly does this constitute a “Jewish Conspiracy”, but rather a plan to secure Israel by using the U.S. as in instrument in an already volatile situation. Indeed, both the U.S. and Israel had common intrests in removing Saddam from power. This is not to insinuate that Israel has a chokehold or even profound influence on U.S. policy (foreign or domestic), but rather that there is, at the bare minimum, apparent persuasion.
It’s not that it is a “Jewish” conspiracy (for academics the word “conspiracy” is the equivalent to a four letter word used by the layman), but rather, among various other reasons for war, there is valid suspicion to believe there are supplementary causes that we choose to ignore. Could it be that the Neo-Cons pressured a President to go to war for causes outside U.S. interests? Only history will be able to determine this answer. However, it would do us all well to refrain from pulling the wool over our eyes just because we do not like what we see. For the sake of history, we should not forget the now infamous report prepared by The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies with the title“A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing a Realm” presented in 1996… to quote from it:

“Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.”

There were many motives behind this war, but freeing some poor sand people who somehow cannot grasp the concept of “liberty”, “freedom”, or “democracy” defies rationality and historical truth. The history of warfare is a testament to the undeniable maxim, which clearly shows that wars are fought for many reasons, and many times those reasons are hidden from the populace. As Groucho Marx once said, “Who are you going to believe- me or your own eyes?”

In regards to your comment which reads:

“That administration policy appears to have worked in both Syria & in Lybia, where our finger-wagging has served to persuade the gov'ts to fall into line…”

As far back as May of 1999 Libya had initiated, on its on behalf, talks with Washington (ironically under Clinton) in which they were then willing to give up their nuclear ambitions (it appears that the sanctions had actually worked quite well). As for Syria… well, again, only history can tell, but if Iraq is any indication of what we will see in the future then I am afraid we are in for a very, very long, and drawn-out war.

Several intelligence analysts were claiming before this war was actually waged, that an invasion of Iraq would increase the amount of worldwide terror and become a breeding ground for more recruits. A few months ago Colin Powell had admitted publicly that a report, which claimed terrorism had declined, was indeed grossly inaccurate. As it turned out, not only had terrorism increased, it was at its highest level then it has ever been since it has been tracked (was this false report done for political purposes or was it an honest mistake…?)

If indeed this war’s purpose was only aimed at disrupting terrorism then it has most surely been a “colossal error of judgment”. We are currently living in an extraordinary period of history and it is now more than ever before imperative for the United States to find another “course”.
The options of “what do we do now?” have become steeped into such a narrow pit of despair and violence that there very well might not be any other outcome except those two words that are synonymous with the histories of empires… Rise and Fall. I can only now just hope that we somehow work this all out and not have to live in perpetual fear, but that would be a huge leap out of the textbooks of history.


Arnold Shcherban - 10/4/2004

Though I'm not a supporter of the Jewish conspiracy theory on the Iraq war on two factual reasons:
first of all, it is well known that Israel complained to the US and UK more on Syria and Saudi Arabia than on Iraq, and second, that the US foreign policy in the region has been and still is dictated primarily by Arab oil.
Now, as far as the notion of the article's title is concerned, is completely false: Bush administration didn't fall in anyone's trap, the Iraq war, as many should have realized by now from the well-known pertaining facts started to plan for war with Iraq, and pre-emptive strategy, in general, as soon, as it took the White House office.
9/11 events just added oil to already existed flame of
belligerency with the purpose to establish ultimate American control and dominance in the strategically esentially important Mid-East region.
Promotion democracy and freedom is the traditional disguise of the American imperialism. 9/11 added another one - war against "international terrorism".
Terrorism has never been "international" and it is not now. There have always been terrorist groups and individual terrorists acted on very specific national, or religious, or ideological reasons, not "international" one. Take any infamous terrorist activity: Catholics in Nothern Ireland, Basks separatists in Spain, Red Brigades in Italy, Kashmir separatists in Pakistan, Palestinians in Palestine and Israel, etc. and you can easily pin-point one major cause they fight for (it is not to say that some of them use the cause in their personal interests).
Al-Qaeda is not an exception: it started as the anti-Soviet occupation force, supported by the US, despite
its obvious criminal and murderous methods already then.
However, it cooperated with the US only on the idea of
selecting one "evil" to defeat another (the fact by the way was also known to the US officials already then).
Osama Bin Laden himself started not as the Soviet hater,
but as the US hater, whose main purpose was to fight
US "imperialistic" presence and economic dominance in the Muslim world, and first of all, in his native Saudi Arabia.
Noone so naive to assert that there are no supporters of Bin-Laden among Philipine insurgents, Indonesian terrorists groups, or Chechen terrorists. Niether anyone can assert that some govermental officials and private rich individuals in some Muslim states would not and don't provide finacial aid to those groups.
But to assert that the is some international terrorist conspiracy against the Western democracy and civilization (very popular idea nowadays) that has be dealt with by the world-spread anti-terrorist War, is a very dangerous distortion of the facts.
I don't know if someone notice, but somehow we never hear
that any Al-Qaeda terrorist acted among Kashmir separatists. Wonder why?


Arnold Shcherban - 10/4/2004

I would like to add something concerning general methodo-
logical approach of the article.
By placing the full weight of the blame on the imperialism and colonialism of the western European states and Tsar's/Soviet Russia in Mid-East it totally
skips the discussion of the major US imperialistic involvement in this region of the world, beginning with
Iran in 1953 and later, Lebanese events in 1970s, and unconditional financial and military aid to Israel unprecented in the US history by its magnitude towards such a small country, despite Israeli continued occupation of Arab territories, annexation of Jerusalem, building Jewish settlements on the occupied lands and after Israel acquired huge nuclear arsenal making it sovereignity and national security practically untouchable by any adversarial Muslim state (being by the way clearly demonstrated by all its wars against separate Muslim states or their coalitions even without usage of nuclear capability).
The absense of such an analysis and discussion of the double standard American political and economical games with Saddam's Iraq, before Iraq-Kuwait military conflict, the US silence on Turkish genocide against Kurds that killed not two thousand, but ten times more of them than Saddam did, and its wide support and sponsorship of the anti-popular reactionary and autoritarian regimes in the region makes the answer to the question why Muslims, in general, and, Al-Qaeda, in particular hates America more than mentioned others (especially Great Britain), which allegedly more than anyone else responsible for the current situation of the Mid-East, completely illegible.

There is one more inaccuracy in the article: Soviets never try to or absorbed Afghanistan, they illegally invaded it with the purpose to replace one Marxist leader with another, and sqaushing the, as they considered it to be, 'contra-revolutionary' insurgency on the South, sponsored by Pakistan and the US. This is actually confirmed by the coresponding documents declassified by Kremlin and the Ministry of Defense.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 10/4/2004

I dispute some of the assumptions of this article. For example, I believe sufficient analysis has been done demonstrating that bin Laden had no real interest in Palestinian issues until recently, when he realized it would gain him support. Furthermore, the author neglects to address the American military victory in Afghanistan and the turnaround of Pakistan as major victories in our war against A-Q. I would argue that even getting the international community to agree that terrorism is a major threat that needs to be addressed is a victory onto itself.

However, those are but minor points. The major thesis of this article is, in my opinion, completely correct and accurate, which is that the invasion of Iraq has done nothing but strengthen A-Q. The author is right to mention the surge of support among Muslim Arabs for terrorists, combined with a hatred towards the US that is unprecedented, EVEN in that part of the world.

I would like to take this opportunity to mention a few additional reasons why this war has been such a strategic failure for us and why it is so necessary to change the leadership in this country in November:

- Going into Iraq caused us to divert resources from Afghanistan when Afghanistan was not yet stable or secure

- According to government analysts, Iraq is likely to be a haven for terrorists and will result in a tenuous stability at best (civil war at worst) which will destabilize the region and may lead to a theocratic government worse than Saddam.

- The war in Iraq has all but destroyed American credibility among our “allies” in Western Europe. While conservatives dismiss this as a concern, they fail to realize that we will need these countries to provide troops, expertise, money, and domestic cooperation in order to effectively fight a war on A-Q, especially in the event of another military conflict.

- The Iraq was has so bogged down our military and has proven to be so politically divisive and economically costly, it has severely hindered our ability to respond elsewhere to the many real threats that exist today.


Stephen Davis - 10/4/2004

Good point--Israel is probably more important to Juan Cole than Osama Bin Laden. Cole has been trying hard to promote a "Jewish conspiracy" theory of the war in Iraq. So, of course, he mentions Israel whether relevent or not.


N. Friedman - 10/4/2004

I am not an advocate for the Iraq War. I think that democracy will spread itself if at all.

I do note, however, that quite a number of scholars of Muslimdom think that the Iraq war is a necessary war and that the Cole view is shortsighted. For what it is worth, Arab News reported, long ago, that al Qa'eda's interest in Israel is essentially nil as Israel.

Also, I think far more important than the Arab countries is Pakistan which, frankly, is the heart of the Jihad. Pakistan's ISI is in the hands, in large part, of the Jihad such that ISI members and al Qa'eda members are sometimes one and the same. In addition, the country's nuclear department is run by a number of Jihadi sympathizers.

Subscribe to our mailing list