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SkepticLance

Terrorist vs Freedom Fighter

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Sure. But two steps forward and one step back is still one step forward. Given the overall course of humanity, mostly peaceful but rarely free, I'll take the last century of global violence and conflict.

 

The world is actually more peaceful today than it ever has been, in fact. Global deaths in warfare have been declining almost uniformly since World War II. Not relevant to the discussion, though.

 

Another interesting possible fact: The weapon that has killed the most people in the last 50 years has been the machete. I read that somewhere at least. Could be completely made up.

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Another interesting possible fact: The weapon that has killed the most people in the last 50 years has been the machete. I read that somewhere at least. Could be completely made up.

 

That might be true. Look at Rwanda. That was the biggest event, but it wasn't the only one.

 

In many parts of the developing world, you can get an AK-47 for a chicken. That's not made up...I came across it on the UN site a few years ago when I was writing a thing on child soldiers. Interesting thing about AK-47s...kids can use them pretty easily and they work when filthy.

 

Sure. But two steps forward and one step back is still one step forward. Given the overall course of humanity, mostly peaceful but rarely free, I'll take the last century of global violence and conflict.

 

Yeah, I'll take any time period that has indoor plumbing, having lived without it for some thankfully not-too-long periods of my life.

 

The violence of the past doesn't absolve us though. The Nazi leadership had to answer for their war crimes. We never answered for ours. I don't think that winning should render absolution. At the very least we should take responsibility for what our countries did.

 

I mention Dresden not just because of Vonnegut, but because it really was a joint crime. Canada, Britain, and the US were all in there like dirty shirts. The experts told them that dropping that number of bombs in such a small area would have devastating consequences for the civilians and the POWs being used as slave labour, but it didn't matter. It was vengeance as much as war.

 

It's been mostly swept under the carpet and it likely wouldn't come up at all if one of the USA's greatest authors hadn't had the misfortune to have been there.

 

What is terrorism though? Night bombings and raids in Afghanistan? I'd say yes. The Taliban aren't the ones responsible for most of those. The US, Canada, Britain, and the Netherlands (although the bombs are generally from the US) are.

 

Blowing up civilians and soldiers with a road-side bomb is terrorism when they do it, but dropping bombs on civilians and soldiers isn't when we do it? Give me a break.

 

Worse than that, it's counter-productive. You how to create a freedom-fighter/terrorist out of a moderate? Kill his family or his friends.

 

We're in Afghanistan because somebody flew a couple of planes into a couple of office towers. In the grand scale of things, the damage wasn't that great. Let's face it, the architecture kind of looked like a couple of strip malls that got really tall, and (with apologies to anybody who suffered a personal loss) the death toll is nothing compared to what we've visited upon the Afghan people.

 

What we're really mad about is that we thought we were untouchable and they showed us we weren't.

 

The Taliban, according to reports from everybody from the Pentagon to my dog, are now gaining strength because we've pissed off so many otherwise moderate Afghans.

 

They thought they had a right to do as they pleased and we are telling them they don't.

 

We're all terrorists, I think. It still looks like all the freedom fighters on both sides are pretty determined to fight freedom too.

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To CDarwin

Re machetes.

I read the same thing. I think it is true. You only have to think of the Hutu's in Rwanda killing a million Tutsi's and their friends. That was done mostly with machetes.

 

To Rev. Your post was quite strident. How excellent! I agree with you.

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To CDarwin

Re machetes.

I read the same thing. I think it is true. You only have to think of the Hutu's in Rwanda killing a million Tutsi's and their friends. That was done mostly with machetes.

 

To Rev. Your post was quite strident. How excellent! I agree with you.

 

And of course the bloodiest conflict since WWII was the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which was tied in with Rwanda. It killed 4 million, and I suppose machetes might have been involved there.

Edited by CDarwin

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Worse than that, it's counter-productive. You how to create a freedom-fighter/terrorist out of a moderate? Kill his family or his friends.

 

You know how to create freedom-fighter/terrorist out of an american war machine? Kill their countrymen, their family or their friends.

 

Both sides are guilty of this. And we're the bigger idiots because we've watched them drag down the west for decades before the war on terror was initiated and still we're going to be right in the middle of this whole stinking mess for decades and decades...

 

But, I think you're taking the sins of the father angle a bit far. We have some measure of responsibility for our past, sure, but punishing our present selves for 60 year old decisions is flat out ridiculous. We need to answer for what we're doing today.

 

We're in Afghanistan because somebody flew a couple of planes into a couple of office towers. In the grand scale of things, the damage wasn't that great. Let's face it, the architecture kind of looked like a couple of strip malls that got really tall, and (with apologies to anybody who suffered a personal loss) the death toll is nothing compared to what we've visited upon the Afghan people.

 

That entire paragraph is an exercise in ignorance and should be insulting to any humanitarian. You're going to turn death tolls into a pity competition?

 

What we're really mad about is that we thought we were untouchable and they showed us we weren't.

 

What's this we? Don't you live in Canada? What we're mad about is this startling simultaneous attack, on citizens and government, that exploited our liberal way of life and shocked us that we would be hated so much to inspire it. I don't think anyone thought we were "untouchable". They bombed the same building 8 years before, in 1993. The Oklahoma City bombing 6 years before took a whole building out with cowshit. I don't think any of us were feeling "untouchable".

 

We're still freaked. Half of us are following Bush's ridiculous notions that fighting wars over there keeps us from getting attacked here, but half of us, I think actually most of us, are not. I knew before and after 9/11 how easy it can be to terrorize america.

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Another interesting possible fact: The weapon that has killed the most people in the last 50 years has been the machete. I read that somewhere at least. Could be completely made up.

 

Only because everyone doesn't have a machine gun or nuke.

 

Blowing up civilians and soldiers with a road-side bomb is terrorism when they do it, but dropping bombs on civilians and soldiers isn't when we do it? Give me a break.

 

Bombing primarily military targets is not a terrorist act, IMO. Yes, civilians may die, but if the primary target is strategic - weapons factory, training camp, etc - and not to terrorize the populace or government into submission, then it isn't terrorism.

 

 

We're in Afghanistan because somebody flew a couple of planes into a couple of office towers. In the grand scale of things, the damage wasn't that great. Let's face it, the architecture kind of looked like a couple of strip malls that got really tall, and (with apologies to anybody who suffered a personal loss) the death toll is nothing compared to what we've visited upon the Afghan people.

 

I've seen something like 4000 civilian deaths? That is not much different than the 9/11 deaths. Also, keep in mind that the idea is to prevent more attacks as well. If you allow people to just get away with shit, pretty soon they come and make you take bowel movements outside.

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Yeah that's malarky. Typical ideological nonsense, and quite objectionable.

 

We've kicked people off these boards for less, though I don't subscribe to that measure.

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Yeah that's malarky. Typical ideological nonsense, and quite objectionable.

 

We've kicked people off these boards for less, though I don't subscribe to that measure.

 

As a moderator, Pangloss, I would hope that you could formulate a better articulated argument than that.

 

What a disrespectful dismissal that was, complete with an implicit threat of ban. Really?

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Bombing primarily military targets is not a terrorist act, IMO. Yes, civilians may die, but if the primary target is strategic - weapons factory, training camp, etc - and not to terrorize the populace or government into submission, then it isn't terrorism.

 

I agree with this, but up to a point. Collateral damage is the despicable nature of war. If you aren't willing to kill babies, then you had better not go to war because you're just about gauranteed to do just that. This is why war is supposed to be terrifying and rare. This is also why many of us take it so seriously we kind of feel like congress ought to at least resemble putting their ass on the line and declare it.

 

But I have to concede that some bombing campaigns were very much terrorism on our part. Carpet bombing militaries that hide amongst their civilians is a polemic issue that will be resolved about the same time we all agree on abortion, but some of this bombing was thinly justifiable. It did appear to be about revenge, and that's not necessarily a pejorative.

 

I'm just a bit humbled to look back and pick out all the mistakes of previous generations, to judge them from my modern perspective, without the context of their exigencies. Particularly when we have learned from those mistakes. After all, we haven't nuked anyone since. We've gone to a lot of trouble to develop laser guided bombs and missles and have cut down on collateral damage quite impressively. The fact we don't really acknowledge that is more a statement of how much we expect from ourselves in this modern age. We've raised the bar.

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You know how to create freedom-fighter/terrorist out of an american war machine? Kill their countrymen, their family or their friends.

 

Both sides are guilty of this. And we're the bigger idiots because we've watched them drag down the west for decades before the war on terror was initiated and still we're going to be right in the middle of this whole stinking mess for decades and decades...

 

But, I think you're taking the sins of the father angle a bit far. We have some measure of responsibility for our past, sure, but punishing our present selves for 60 year old decisions is flat out ridiculous. We need to answer for what we're doing today.

 

There are two parts to this. The first is the rule of law.

 

You can either live by the rule law...which we in the west are mostly responsible for writing...or you can ignore the law. What you can't do, and what we have been doing, is ignore the law but insist that the other side obey it.

 

The second is common sense. You can't just go around pissing people off and expect that there will be no repercussions.

 

In the case of bin Laden and Islamist extremists, it is western actions in the Middle East, especially the US relationship with Saudi Arabia, that were the primary impetus, followed by the issue of Israel's actions in that neighbourhood.

 

Taking responsibility for our actions 60 years ago is not the same as punishing ourselves. it is standing up like responsible adults, admitting our mistakes, and working not to repeat them.

 

That entire paragraph is an exercise in ignorance and should be insulting to any humanitarian. You're going to turn death tolls into a pity competition?

 

Not at all, it's just that vengeance is the real driving force behind Afghanistan, especially in the early days.

 

What could and should have been a limited series of surgical strikes became the bombing of villages. Civilians have been locked up, abused, beaten, shot, and bombed. The current government there is corrupt and it's policies are almost incoherent. The Taliban are regrouping and striking pretty much at will.

 

The aid money that could have changed minds has been sorely lacking. The west is backing warlords that are every bit as bad as the Taliban. Nothing explains our actions unless the war is really about vengeance.

 

What's this we? Don't you live in Canada?

 

I do. There were several Canadians working in those office buildings. It was us who took all your planes when you airspace was closed. We've co-operated with your security measures at a great cost to our sovereignty. We went to Afghanistan with you and are still there.

 

What we're mad about is this startling simultaneous attack, on citizens and government, that exploited our liberal way of life and shocked us that we would be hated so much to inspire it. I don't think anyone thought we were "untouchable". They bombed the same building 8 years before, in 1993. The Oklahoma City bombing 6 years before took a whole building out with cowshit. I don't think any of us were feeling "untouchable".

 

Funny thing about the Oklahoma City bombing...and it wasn't cowshit, it was chemical fertilizer mixed with diesel fuel to make ANFO, something that a lot of farm boys have learned about when clearing rocks and stumps...but that backlash was also predictable and predicted. The perpetrators where charged and brought to trial.

 

The man behind the 1993 bombing of the WTC was also arrested and brought to trial. He committed a criminal act and was treated like a criminal.

 

We're still freaked. Half of us are following Bush's ridiculous notions that fighting wars over there keeps us from getting attacked here, but half of us, I think actually most of us, are not. I knew before and after 9/11 how easy it can be to terrorize america.

 

You might still be freaked. You, like us, have done nothing to address the real problems though. In fact our actions have most likely increased the chances of more attacks.

 

Do you think bin Laden and his pals would be able to recruit people who were well-educated and content with their lives? Not likely. Now look at what's been happening in the Middle East since the end of WWI and ask yourself where the discontentment comes from.

 

The people that they recruit are poorly educated...even those who attend university are also taught religious superstition...and discontent with their lives for any number of reasons.

 

So you treat the terrorists as the criminals they are while working through soft power and diplomacy to educate people and give them something to be content about.

 

This isn't some magical new idea, it's something the Romans did, something the Huns did, and something the successful colonial powers did. It worked and when they quit doing it, they lost.

 

Bombing primarily military targets is not a terrorist act, IMO. Yes, civilians may die, but if the primary target is strategic - weapons factory, training camp, etc - and not to terrorize the populace or government into submission, then it isn't terrorism.

 

What are these primary military targets. A village full of women and children is not a military target even if there is a military presence there. If you were to go in and use small arms so that you can target individuals, that would be one thing. Dropping bombs where you know there are civilians is quite another though.

 

The message that gets sent is that the life of one of your soldiers is worth more than the life of one of their civilians.

 

I've seen something like 4000 civilian deaths? That is not much different than the 9/11 deaths. Also, keep in mind that the idea is to prevent more attacks as well. If you allow people to just get away with shit, pretty soon they come and make you take bowel movements outside.

 

I've heard as high as 15,000 during the initial bombings. We'll likely never know the real number. Al Qaeda destroyed a relatively small area though, and the west had the capacity to deal with it. Not a lot of people lost everything they had in the 911 attacks, and those that did had a safety net.

 

This war has taken away the ability of a lot of people to make a living...to feed themselves and their children. Canada spends ten cents on reconstruction and aid for every every dollar it spends on the war in Afghanistan. I don't know the US figure offhand but I know it's similar to the Canadian one. I also know that much of the aid money that does get spent is tainted by the presence of CIA operatives acting as aid workers.

 

In the end, you are trying to kill an idea with a gun. It's never worked before and it won't work now. You fight ideas with ideas.

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The second is common sense. You can't just go around pissing people off and expect that there will be no repercussions.

 

What I don't understand is why this is always leveled at ourselves and not at the middle east. Like you say, it's common sense. You can't just go around toppling structures that sets records for terror death tolls in people's countries and expect that there will be no repercussions.

 

It goes both ways Rev. It's human nature. Shake your finger at the west all you want, but there's two petulant children fighting here and you're only waving your finger at the rich kid. I guess he's supposed to grin and bear it since he has nice clothes?

 

In the case of bin Laden and Islamist extremists, it is western actions in the Middle East, especially the US relationship with Saudi Arabia, that were the primary impetus, followed by the issue of Israel's actions in that neighbourhood.

 

Yes, I do agree that the middle east is not rational to modern standards and does not merit interaction by the united states. However, I can't get anybody else on board to tell them to **** off. Also, our military presence is justifiably disturbing to them in that region, particularly considering our enthusiasm to interfere.

 

So, I'm kind of torn between the reality that we are behaving as an imperial power and deserve the response we get, and the reality that even if we weren't, they would still treat us with hostility. I don't see any value in dealing with them. It's like insisting the asshole neighbors next door be our friends even though they call us names and hate our guts.

 

Taking responsibility for our actions 60 years ago is not the same as punishing ourselves. it is standing up like responsible adults, admitting our mistakes, and working not to repeat them.

 

I don't agree. I'm probably not the best guy to take your point since I barely agree with the notion of treaties written to last more than one generation. I'm not jumping into the insane inferno that Israel and Palenstine have where the past becomes relevant to the present even though all those people are dead.

 

No, I don't accept that notion that I have to atone for the sins of my father. He can bother with that. I won't. Instead, I will learn from my father's sins, and atone for my own. My children don't answer for me either.

 

Not at all, it's just that vengeance is the real driving force behind Afghanistan, especially in the early days.

 

Well, in the grand scheme of things how bad is it really? I mean, let's face it, Afghanistan is a mountainous desert of a place to live and the death toll is nothing compared to what they suffered by the Russians.

 

Thought you might appreciate that kind of logic, though it made me sick typing it.

 

Do you think bin Laden and his pals would be able to recruit people who were well-educated and content with their lives? Not likely. Now look at what's been happening in the Middle East since the end of WWI and ask yourself where the discontentment comes from.

 

The people that they recruit are poorly educated...even those who attend university are also taught religious superstition...and discontent with their lives for any number of reasons.

 

So you treat the terrorists as the criminals they are while working through soft power and diplomacy to educate people and give them something to be content about.

 

This isn't some magical new idea' date=' it's something the Romans did, something the Huns did, and something the successful colonial powers did. It worked and when they quit doing it, they lost.[/quote']

 

I don't agree 100%. I say it that way, because I don't think it's up to me to fix their country. We expect adults at the adult table. I agree with the notion of the citizenry here to organize and help with these changes, but I don't think it should be the policy of my government to refine the people of another nation. Of course, this also requires the policy of my government to leave them alone, pretty much entirely.

 

I don't agree with "bringing" or "giving" freedom, which is what it's going to take to modernize them, in my opinion. If they want to better their lives, get out of their mess, then they need to show the self resolve to do it - and then help is justified. Until then, help isn't justified until it's requested loud and clear through action. They have to want it. And they don't. They want other things, that doesn't reconcile with what we want them to want.

 

Of course, I'm in a crappy mood right now, so it's possible I'm being a bit intolerant.

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What are these primary military targets. A village full of women and children is not a military target even if there is a military presence there.

 

Yes it is.

 

Obviously we have a difference of opinion here. So be it. But while I respect yours, I think mine is equally valid and defensible.

 

 

The message that gets sent is that the life of one of your soldiers is worth more than the life of one of their civilians.

 

It is.

 

I'm opposed to the war in Iraq, btw. I don't support our reasons for being there, it was bogus and ill conceived. But we're there, and our soldiers' lives are more important than their civilians' lives.

 

Just my two bits, of course.

 

 

I've heard as high as 15,000 during the initial bombings. We'll likely never know the real number. Al Qaeda destroyed a relatively small area though, and the west had the capacity to deal with it. Not a lot of people lost everything they had in the 911 attacks, and those that did had a safety net.

 

This war has taken away the ability of a lot of people to make a living...to feed themselves and their children.

 

Yup. Oh well. There are more important things than life.

 

 

In the end, you are trying to kill an idea with a gun. It's never worked before and it won't work now. You fight ideas with ideas.

 

You also fight ideas with ideas. But ideas don't do you any good if the other guy has a gun and is willing to use it, but you're not.

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So, I think the issue is not so much "what is a military target," but instead, "what is an appropriate way to attack that target?"

 

 

If YOU are my target, I should not blow up your house while your wife, three kids, four cousins, grandparents, and friend from college are all there.

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On this topic Rev has excellent ideas.

 

There is a very simple principle. If you do not want someone to hit you, do not hit him first. If you want to be friends with someone, and be in a position to influence him/her, then approach that person with friendship, and be good to him/her.

 

The exact same applies to nations. If you want another country to be your friend and ally, and listen to you, and be influenced by you, then you have to approach that nation with friendship, and help them.

 

The US administration is too strongly influenced by the military, who like buying and exploding bombs. So many times, the US had the opportunity to go to another country and say : "Can we help?". Instead, they went in boots and all, and started killing people. It is not terribly surprising that the US is hated world wide.

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What I don't understand is why this is always leveled at ourselves and not at the middle east. Like you say, it's common sense. You can't just go around toppling structures that sets records for terror death tolls in people's countries and expect that there will be no repercussions.

 

It goes both ways Rev. It's human nature. Shake your finger at the west all you want, but there's two petulant children fighting here and you're only waving your finger at the rich kid. I guess he's supposed to grin and bear it since he has nice clothes?

 

It's not just one way though. The media doesn't cover much that doesn't directly involve us though, and that direct involvement almost always comes when somebody pushes back against us.

 

The House of Saud has suffered terrorist attacks that have nothing to do with religious extremism, but with their oppressive regime.

 

Egypt has constant problems dealing with the disenfranchised there.

 

There is a huge democratic movement in Iran.

 

You can look around Africa and South America and Eastern Europe for more examples. The Berlin Wall and the Solidarity movement come to mind.

 

Those are all examples of the same thing...people pushing back against repression. Sometimes it's violent and sometimes it's not, but the governments involved tend to think of it as terrorism and their response is generally military.

 

Yes, I do agree that the middle east is not rational to modern standards and does not merit interaction by the united states. However, I can't get anybody else on board to tell them to **** off. Also, our military presence is justifiably disturbing to them in that region, particularly considering our enthusiasm to interfere.

 

So, I'm kind of torn between the reality that we are behaving as an imperial power and deserve the response we get, and the reality that even if we weren't, they would still treat us with hostility. I don't see any value in dealing with them. It's like insisting the asshole neighbors next door be our friends even though they call us names and hate our guts.

 

There are other ways to deal with it though. Look how far China has come in the last three decades or so. That didn't happen because of guns.

 

Likely the single best way to undermine the power of extremism is to spread the wealth around. Create a middle class. Don't imprison people for their ideas. Then the governments have to become less extreme, and the extremists have less access to governing.

 

I don't agree. I'm probably not the best guy to take your point since I barely agree with the notion of treaties written to last more than one generation. I'm not jumping into the insane inferno that Israel and Palenstine have where the past becomes relevant to the present even though all those people are dead.

 

No, I don't accept that notion that I have to atone for the sins of my father. He can bother with that. I won't. Instead, I will learn from my father's sins, and atone for my own. My children don't answer for me either.

 

You don't have to atone for the sins of your father, but you do have to accept and learn from those sins. Instead we repeat them.

 

Think of the Holocaust. Six million or so dead Jews. We knew what was going on, or had an idea, yet we turned away Jewish refugees by the boatload. After the war when people started asking how we let this happen, the politicians said they didn't know what was happening. They did though...those refugees told them.

 

Now look at what happened in Rwanda, or the Congo, or what is presently happening in Sudan. It's the same dynamic. We don't the refugees, have made it more difficult for them to get here. We're making the same mistakes again.

 

Well, in the grand scheme of things how bad is it really? I mean, let's face it, Afghanistan is a mountainous desert of a place to live and the death toll is nothing compared to what they suffered by the Russians.

 

Thought you might appreciate that kind of logic, though it made me sick typing it.

 

You are misinterpreting what I said. My point was that the war on Afghanistan is really about vengeance. It's not about democracy or freedom or protecting ourselves. It's not about women's rights or repression. It's not even about that pipeline they want to build. It's about vengeance.

 

If it was about any of those other things, we would have gone in sooner with aid, education, and peacekeepers. I remember conservatives arguing with me back in the nineties because I was saying that something had to be done about female circumcision, the destruction of the Buddhas and so on...all things linked to religious extremism. The standard reply was that it was not our problem and that such a backward little country was no threat to us and we shouldn't interfere in their culture.

 

We didn't care until they came here. Well, they wouldn't have been able to come here...wouldn't have built up the momentum...if we had done something earlier.

 

I don't agree 100%. I say it that way, because I don't think it's up to me to fix their country. We expect adults at the adult table. I agree with the notion of the citizenry here to organize and help with these changes, but I don't think it should be the policy of my government to refine the people of another nation. Of course, this also requires the policy of my government to leave them alone, pretty much entirely.

 

I don't agree with "bringing" or "giving" freedom, which is what it's going to take to modernize them, in my opinion. If they want to better their lives, get out of their mess, then they need to show the self resolve to do it - and then help is justified. Until then, help isn't justified until it's requested loud and clear through action. They have to want it. And they don't. They want other things, that doesn't reconcile with what we want them to want.

 

Of course, I'm in a crappy mood right now, so it's possible I'm being a bit intolerant.

 

You don't bring or give freedom though...that's what we say we're trying to do with guns right now.

 

You allow the people to take their own freedom. That's done with reasonable protection, aid, and education. You use diplomacy.

 

It's a far better defense policy than waiting until it's too late, then going in with guns blazing.

 

You also have to accept that we are responsible for a lot of the problems...not just the US, but all of the west. It was our policies that caused a lot of what we are dealing with now.

 

Here's a question: What would the Middle East look like right now if we hadn't installed the shah in Iran? What if their democratic experiment was allowed to spread across the area instead?

 

Another question: What would it look like if we hadn't divvied things up after WWI?

 

In both cases, religious extremism hadn't taken hold yet. There were no bin Ladens.

 

Yes it is.

 

Obviously we have a difference of opinion here. So be it. But while I respect yours, I think mine is equally valid and defensible.

 

Ah, so the presence of a few soldiers in Winnipeg (there are still military bases here) would justify destroying the entire city in the case of a war?

 

If a few soldiers headed into your neighbourhood, the enemy would be justified in blowing up your house or dropping a few daisy cutters i the local schoolyard?

 

That's the equivalent of what we're up to in Afghanistan and how the war in Iraq has been fought.

 

It is.

 

I'm opposed to the war in Iraq, btw. I don't support our reasons for being there, it was bogus and ill conceived. But we're there, and our soldiers' lives are more important than their civilians' lives.

 

Why?

 

Our soldiers sign up more or less willingly. They know what they are getting into. The civilians don't have that knowledge or make that choice.

 

You also fight ideas with ideas. But ideas don't do you any good if the other guy has a gun and is willing to use it, but you're not.

 

Oh? What ideas have we instilled in Afghanistan? The idea of installing a corrupt puppet government? The idea of torturing people? The idea of burning crops?

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Ah, so the presence of a few soldiers in Winnipeg (there are still military bases here) would justify destroying the entire city in the case of a war?

 

That's not what I said, I said our soldiers are more important than their citizens. That doesn't mean infinitely more important, it doesn't mean our soldiers don't have to follow the rule of law, and it doesn't mean their citizens aren't entitled to some level of protection. It means more important.

 

 

I'm opposed to the war in Iraq, btw. I don't support our reasons for being there, it was bogus and ill conceived. But we're there, and our soldiers' lives are more important than their civilians' lives.

 

Why?

 

Our soldiers sign up more or less willingly. They know what they are getting into. The civilians don't have that knowledge or make that choice.

 

Irrelevant. The task at hand is not protecting the lives of individual citizens.

 

 

Oh? What ideas have we instilled in Afghanistan? The idea of installing a corrupt puppet government? The idea of torturing people? The idea of burning crops?

 

Nope. The ideas of replacing a totalitarian regime with a freely elected one, justice and freedom for all people (not just men), and growing crops that don't poison and kill innocent people.

 

Don't be silly, you'd have burned those poppy crops too, had you gotten in there by peaceful means, and you know it. Though I do support (and imagine you do as well) the growing of some poppy for medical purposes, and helping those limited numbers of farmers find secure and transparent markets for those goods.

 

And yes, I think your point about spreading ideas without violence, whenever possible, is preferable. But there were no peaceful inroads into Afghanistan, and they directly supported terrorists who attacked our country, so they went down, end of story.

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That's not what I said, I said our soldiers are more important than their citizens. That doesn't mean infinitely more important, it doesn't mean our soldiers don't have to follow the rule of law, and it doesn't mean their citizens aren't entitled to some level of protection. It means more important.

 

Why are they more important at all? Why are their lives more valuable than a civilian's?

 

That's the real purpose of bombs and artillery, to keep the soldiers safe. The flip side of that is that damage to civilians and the infrastructure those civilians depend on is increased.

 

Irrelevant. The task at hand is not protecting the lives of individual citizens.

 

Isn't it? Perhaps that attitude is why occupying armies tend to lose insurgencies.

 

Nope. The ideas of replacing a totalitarian regime with a freely elected one, justice and freedom for all people (not just men), and growing crops that don't poison and kill innocent people.

 

Except that's not what we've done. We've put people in office. We only let our buddies run for office, and the highest office in the land is held by an oil company shill. Corruption is massive. There is no freedom of the press...there are journalists locked up for questioning the

Koran. Women are still badly abused.

 

Don't be silly, you'd have burned those poppy crops too, had you gotten in there by peaceful means, and you know it. Though I do support (and imagine you do as well) the growing of some poppy for medical purposes, and helping those limited numbers of farmers find secure and transparent markets for those goods.

 

Actually, I wouldn't have. I would have paid hard cash for the crop and set up processing facilities to make medicine. The developing world, and the underprivileged in the developed world could use all that that was produced. We don't want that to happen because we can't profit from it.

 

Even without the shortage of opiate-based medicine for poor people, even if the product was going to be heroin, I wouldn't burn the crops that represent the only cash crop available to those people. They aren't the ones with the drug problem after all, Europe and North America are.

 

Again, I'd buy the crop. Then it could be burned or whatever.

 

And yes, I think your point about spreading ideas without violence, whenever possible, is preferable. But there were no peaceful inroads into Afghanistan, and they directly supported terrorists who attacked our country, so they went down, end of story.

 

Except that there were opportunities. We didn't take them and let the situation get way out of hand.

 

We could have gone in when the Russians left, before the Taliban gained too much power. We could have not funded the people we did when the Russians were there, for that matter. We could have invoked the duty to protect long ago and gone in. We could have used pressure through our allies in area.

 

We did none of those things. Doing those things couldn't even be discussed without the people who now claim to be there in the name of democracy and protecting women shouting you down.

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To Rev

 

I am surprised and delighted by the good sense you are putting forward in your posts. I could not agree with you more. Proper treatment of all these nations would have resulted in friends, not enemies.

 

Incidentally, the poppy crop was offered to the US government some time ago - I think over a decade back. It could have been bought for the money paid to farmers, which is peanuts, and either turned into medicine or destroyed. Another opportunity lost.

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Averaging Rev Blair with Bush sounds about right to me. :)

 

As far as terrorism, well I still maintain you can tell a difference between terrorists and freedom fighters. Sure, the side you are on can create a bias, but it will not cloud who they are primarily attacking.

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Why are they more important at all? Why are their lives more valuable than a civilian's?

 

On the whole, in a normal, peaceful environment, they wouldn't be. In that situation they are. If they're too focused on protecting individuals then they're not doing their job. But as I said before, I'm not suggesting our soldiers don't have to follow the rule of law, or that Iraqi citizens aren't entitled to some level of protection.

 

 

That's the real purpose of bombs and artillery, to keep the soldiers safe. The flip side of that is that damage to civilians and the infrastructure those civilians depend on is increased.

 

More or less correct. And exactly how it should be. I didn't pay for their training just to throw them away in close combat just because you think it's more fair to civilians.

 

That having been said, I'm not in favor of indiscriminate bombing. And neither is the military.

 

 

Irrelevant. The task at hand is not protecting the lives of individual citizens.

Isn't it? Perhaps that attitude is why occupying armies tend to lose insurgencies.

 

You're entitled to your opinion, but I would suggest that unsupported generalizations and gross exaggerations like the ones above don't make your case and don't teach us anything. Putting civilian lives ahead of, or on equal footing with, the soldiers, for example, isn't exactly going to win an insurgency either -- not when the insurgents are actually hiding amongst the civilians.

 

 

Actually, I wouldn't have. I would have paid hard cash for the crop and set up processing facilities to make medicine. The developing world, and the underprivileged in the developed world could use all that that was produced. We don't want that to happen because we can't profit from it.

 

By all means, if we can actually absorb that much poppy production, I'm all for it.

 

 

Nope. The ideas of replacing a totalitarian regime with a freely elected one, justice and freedom for all people (not just men), and growing crops that don't poison and kill innocent people.

 

Except that's not what we've done. We've put people in office. We only let our buddies run for office, and the highest office in the land is held by an oil company shill. Corruption is massive. There is no freedom of the press...there are journalists locked up for questioning the

Koran. Women are still badly abused.

 

Karzai is an oil company shill? (Remember, this was regarding Afghanistan.) That's a new one on me, but I'll assume there's at least some story floating around that I just hadn't heard. But obviously your assessment is very debatable. Women are more free, the government was clearly elected and not fostered upon them, and the situation is greatly improved over where it used to be.

 

More to the point: There's no particular reason to think that any of the things you're talking about here could not just as easily happen had Afghanistan traded hands peacefully. Corruption is a possibility everywhere. Clearly your attack is misdirected, because all of the examples you cited could just as easily happen in times of peace.

 

Your argument isn't about Afghanistan or Iraq, it's about making the U.S. wrong. But ultimately the differences between you and I on this issue are ideological and not something we can resolve, so we might as well agree to disagree. To exaggerate both positions to an equal degree, you're okay with people enslaved so long as they're alive, and I'm okay with slaughtering them if that's what it takes to free them. What else is there to say? Why do you keep asking me a question you already know the answer to? :)

Edited by Pangloss

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Why are they more important at all? Why are their lives more valuable than a civilian's?

 

On the whole, in a normal, peaceful environment, they wouldn't be. In that situation they are. If they're too focused on protecting individuals then they're not doing their job.

You still have not addressed the "why" question posed to you by Rev. You have simply reasserted your previous point with no substantiation of it.

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To Pangloss

 

The argument is actually about the best way to approach a particular situation. Military intervention versus humanitarian aid.

 

The invasion of Afghanistan was a mistake. It was understandable bearing in mind the lust for revenge after 9/11, but still a mistake. There was plenty of historical precedent to sound the warning in advance. Britain tried to invade and got its tail whipped. The Soviets tried to invade and got their tail whipped. Then the USA invaded.

 

The USA was smart enough to work with a local faction. However, the lasting victory that was promised has not happened, and the fighting is, if anything, getting worse while the Taliban get stronger. I suspect that the USA is going to get its tail whipped also. In ten years, Afghanistan will be worse off than ever, and the USA will have abandoned them.

 

The invasion of Iraq was a mistake. Before the invasion, there was a nasty bastard who ran the country as his own personal fiefdom and killed people. Some hundreds of thousands died over several decades at his orders. However, he was no threat to the USA or the west as a whole. Women were educated and freer than in most Muslim nations. And Al Qaeda did not get a look in.

 

Today, we have seen over a million die within 5 years as a result of the invasion. We have seen women lose their previous liberty as religious fanatics become more potent. We have seen Iraq become a massive recruiting ground for Al Qaeda. We have seen a massive cost to the USA. There is now a book about this invasion called "the Three Trillion Dollar War". The USA cannot afford that level of cost!

 

Please tell me what benefit, to anyone, these military adventures have gained?

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Lance, I agree with you about Iraq, but not Afghanistan, though I respect your opinion on it. I believe our response was warranted, we enjoyed international cooperation and support, and our effort there is noble and above-board. Progress is slow, but that's normal in any international endeavor (even peaceful ones), and if it wasn't for Iraq we probably wouldn't even be talking about it. Condemnation based on current level of accomplishment is, in my view, premature and unwarranted. Skepticism, certainly. Criticism in certain areas, absolutely yes. Condemnation, no. Doom and gloom predictions like the one you make above, no.

 

But even if it ultimately fails, that doesn't mean it was a mistake. Want a lesson from history? Try this one: Correlation does not imply causation, it is only a hint (you of all people should know this). If one wants to dig deeper, one must set aside ideological partisanship, or never find the true lesson. As to whether this argument is about ideologies:

 

The argument is actually about the best way to approach a particular situation. Military intervention versus humanitarian aid.

 

None of the examples raised here by opponents to military intervention address the issue of whether military intervention can be successful. You're criticizing stuff that could have failed for any number of reasons, and under no circumstances can be attributable to the thing you're attributing it to. How does eventual failure prove that it could never have succeeded in the first place? What does corruption have to do with military intervention? (I know that last one wasn't your example, but you applauded it.)

 

So what's really happening is that you're just passing on popular and politically correct memes that are equally fallible under the "humanitarian aid" approach (as if "humanitarian aid" could have stopped the Taliban anyway). No, this is an argument about ideology, supported with nothing more than straw men.

 

That having been said, I'll say something I've said before here at SFN, and something I often say to die-hard conservative friends: There are worse things in this world than people who place the value of life above freedom. Embrace these people; they work hard and drive society in creative, important ways, and we need them as much as they need us. And sometimes they're not wrong.

 

Which is why I say I respect your (and Rev's) opinions on this subject.

Edited by Pangloss

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I'd have to agree with Pangloss on most of his points about war and soldiers. As to whether or not I'd consider a soldier's life more valuable than a civilian's life, that would depend a lot on circumstances. For example, if a war is going very poorly, and we need every soldier we can get, then soldiers become relatively more valuable compared to civilians. If the soldier's mission is to protect the civilians, then the civilians become relatively more important. And, of course, I'd consider our civilians more valuable then the "enemy" civilians. Absent some unusual circumstances, I'd value our soldiers more then Iraqi/Afghan civilians. Of course, the Iraqi's might not see it that way.

Edited by Mr Skeptic

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More or less correct. And exactly how it should be. I didn't pay for their training just to throw them away in close combat just because you think it's more fair to civilians.

 

That having been said, I'm not in favor of indiscriminate bombing. And neither is the military.

 

So they are more important because some of your tax money was used to train them? I guess that makes my dogs more important than most of the people on the planet, since I use my money to feed them.

 

As for indiscriminate bombing, why was the BBC/Al Jazeera office blown up? Why were so many villages bombed? Why was infrastructure such as power stations and water supply targeted in both Afghanistan and Iraq? Why the use of depleted uranium and daisy cutters in both Afghanistan and Iraq?

 

If the military doesn't believe in indiscriminate bombing, then they better start bringing whoever okayed those things up on charges.

 

You're entitled to your opinion, but I would suggest that unsupported generalizations and gross exaggerations like the ones above don't make your case and don't teach us anything. Putting civilian lives ahead of, or on equal footing with, the soldiers, for example, isn't exactly going to win an insurgency either -- not when the insurgents are actually hiding amongst the civilians.

 

It's not just my opinion though, it is at the base of the "hearts and minds" argument your military has alluded to since at least Vietnam. It's been discussed by policy expert after policy expert.

 

By all means, if we can actually absorb that much poppy production, I'm all for it.

 

Ah, but the major argument against, made by the pharmaceutical companies and their friends in western governments, is that there is a glut of medicinal opiates on the market. In the rich western/northern countries that's true, but in the developing world the opposite is happening, and poor people in the developed world often cannot afford those same medicines at current prices.

 

The pharmaceutical corporations are afraid they'll lose some of their profit margin (there is no patent on morphine) so the poppies aren't being made legal.

 

Karzai is an oil company shill?

 

Yeah, Le Monde reported that two or three years ago. You really should spend more time perusing the international press.

 

You should also realize that he's known as "The Mayor of Kabul" because things are in such a mess that he's afraid to go out and about...a good chunk of the country does not recognize him as their leader, and that's not limited to the Taliban. Hell, he used to be part of the Taliban.

 

Women are more free, the government was clearly elected and not fostered upon them, and the situation is greatly improved over where it used to be.

 

Oh come on. Karzai was hand-picked by NATO. A lot of our warlord buddies were too. Those warlords use their positions to settle old disputes and smuggle heroin. Meanwhile, these old men who are good buddies with Bush and company kicked Malalai Joya out of parliament even though she was duly elected. She spoke out against the warlords, you see.

 

Not a peep from the US and Canada (or Britain, the Netherlands, Poland, etc...) over that.

 

Your argument isn't about Afghanistan or Iraq, it's about making the U.S. wrong. But ultimately the differences between you and I on this issue are ideological and not something we can resolve, so we might as well agree to disagree. To exaggerate both positions to an equal degree, you're okay with people enslaved so long as they're alive, and I'm okay with slaughtering them if that's what it takes to free them. What else is there to say? Why do you keep asking me a question you already know the answer to?

 

There's not much point in freeing somebody if they're dead.

 

My argument is not about making the US wrong either...keep in mind that Canada is one of the few countries also involved in that quagmire in southern Afghanistan.

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