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  #41  
Old 09-18-2011, 07:10 PM
whburgess whburgess is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: The Creation of Terrorists (Robert Wright & Scott Atran)

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Originally Posted by AemJeff View Post
The problem I have with this argument is that the information available at the time didn't support the conclusion that nukes were an issue. The "mendacity" was in regard to claiming evidence for an extant nuclear program that not only didn't exist, but the claimed evidence didn't exist. Despite dark mutterings about "mushroom clouds" there wasn't anything supporting the idea that Saddam had a nuclear program.
Mutterings about mushroom clouds weren't the primary focus, hence 'mutterings'. The primary focus was WMD in general. But I take your point here.


Quote:
Saddam's chemical weapons didn't pose any sort of intercontinental threat and there wasn't much support for the belief that he had dangerously weaponized biologicals. But even so, the case they claimed to have was clearly about nukes, and they had nothing but innuendo and suspicion.
It was not my understanding, even at the time, that a nuclear weapon was the primary concern. At the time, I understood the concern exactly as Cheney states it now, that Hussein might pass biological or chemical weapons to terrorists.

Quote:
Not only that, but they picked a foght with the only member of the so-called "Axis of Evil" that didn't have a nuclear program. It was incompetent and mendacious. And ultimately their actions strengthened Iran who was always a worse threat than Saddam, and gave the Norks a pass while they built their own program.
The incompetence looks as you state it. The mendacity, as I see it, could have been justified, morally as well as politically, if the action had been competent both in its viability and its execution. Clearly things did not go as expected, the consequences appear to be disastrous at this point. But in regards to ethics, I give more regard to intentions then I do consequences or competence.

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We're not discussing simple politics, or relatively simple, garden variety mistakes here. They lied their way into a hugely expensive strategic disaster that hurt us domestically and changed the strategic landscape for the worse.
I agree with this some of this, except I think the word 'lie' is not nearly nuanced enough to reflect the situation that the administration was in at that time. I think its a simplistic and politically convenient word, but I don't think it conveys the reality.

Last edited by whburgess; 09-18-2011 at 07:14 PM..
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  #42  
Old 09-18-2011, 07:43 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: The Creation of Terrorists (Robert Wright & Scott Atran)

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Originally Posted by whburgess View Post


I don't think your position on this is unreasonable. But I do completely disagree. My easy comprehension of the decision and acceptance of the stated motivations of the actors does not mitigate, for me, any stupidity or bad consequences of the action.
Fair enough. Perhaps "mysterious" was a poor choice of words. I just mean that Bush and Cheney are complex characters (in the novelist's sense of "character"). Being complex in that way does not preclude being astonishingly shallow. For example, I think there is a kind of pathetic simplicity to the war lies. One or more of the authority figures decided it was good enough to assert with great conviction very dubious speculation: "I think it must be so that Evil Saddam has nukes. My gut tells me it's true, so -- fuck it -- I'll just put it out there as a fact. My guys will defend it, and my belief will trickle down the chain of command like gospel. It will inspire the timid to do the Right Thing. "

If the thought process works like that, it's shallow and stupid (Consequences? I'll deal with those next election, or better yet, never), but it's still complex to the extent that it reflects our underlying values, our leaders' deep character flaws, our response to crisis, our capacity for delusion, and our national "malaise," as Jimmy Carter would put it..


People are fascinated by characters like Dick Cheney or Dick Nixon precisely because they're such damaged liars. When the stakes are high enough, our villains become Shakespearian. The lies rise from Clintonian farce ("Ah did not have sex with that woman") to epic tragedy (the Iraq holocaust).
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  #43  
Old 09-18-2011, 08:19 PM
whburgess whburgess is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: The Creation of Terrorists (Robert Wright & Scott Atran)

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Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
Fair enough. Perhaps "mysterious" was a poor choice of words. I just mean that Bush and Cheney are complex characters (in the novelist's sense of "character"). Being complex in that way does not preclude being astonishingly shallow.
Agree.

Quote:
For example, I think there is a kind of pathetic simplicity to the war lies. One or more of the authority figures decided it was good enough to assert with great conviction very dubious speculation: "I think it must be so that Evil Saddam has nukes. My gut tells me it's true, so -- fuck it -- I'll just put it out there as a fact. My guys will defend it, and my belief will trickle down the chain of command like gospel. It will inspire the timid to do the Right Thing. "
I think what you do here is a very rough caricature that ignores the situation that GWB was in at this point as well as ignores many other factors that I don't care to reiterate here because I think you already know about them, but would rather not consider them. Again, I understand this; the horrors of war can drown out a lot of considerations.


Quote:
People are fascinated by characters like Dick Cheney or Dick Nixon precisely because they're such damaged liars. When the stakes are high enough, our villains become Shakespearian. The lies rise from Clintonian farce ("Ah did not have sex with that woman") to epic tragedy (the Iraq holocaust).
I don't see Cheney or Clinton as villains because there was so much at stake relative to any moral compromises they may have made. I see Nixon more so because there was so little at stake (his own re-election) compared to the moral compromises he made.

I'd point out here also, that while I would come down against your repeated calls in this forum for trying Cheney/Bush for war crimes, I completely understand them. As I understand it, you are not calling for a guilty verdict but for a trial.

I would oppose because I think the costs to the country would dramatically outweigh the benefits of such a trial. However, my solid belief that Bush and Cheney are both very decent human beings is not a factor in how I come down on this. The way I see it, if I, or anyone else, is willing to accept the collateral damage of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of decent human beings in a war, then we certainly should be able to accept the collateral damage of a decent man personally suffering the consequences of his well intentioned, but catastrophic war policies.
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  #44  
Old 09-18-2011, 09:05 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: The Creation of Terrorists (Robert Wright & Scott Atran)

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As I understand it, you are not calling for a guilty verdict but for a trial.
Right, but the defense attorney should definitely reject me during voir dire
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  #45  
Old 09-18-2011, 09:17 PM
pod2 pod2 is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: The Creation of Terrorists (Robert Wright & Scott Atran)

Great diavlog all around, as ledocs and others have said.

It is remarkable that al Qaeda can put out hours of video propaganda about the Bosnian conflicts of the 90s and not mention the fact that NATO/US intervened on the side of Muslim separatists, not on the Serbian side.

It is WAY more remarkable that a well educated, well informed, close observer like RW had not heard of the Taliban's several efforts to open a dialog up and possibly offer OBL up for trial and extradition in the weeks following 9/11. It was reported once on the inside pages of the NYT, but derided by US pundits, and then promptly sent down the memory hole. True, it may have been a ploy, but the US did not even consider it, refusing even the reasonable request that evidence be shown tying OBL to the crimes.

It is also WAY more remarkable that the US punditocracy is virtually unanimous in their assertion that the US bombing of Serbia in 1999 was in response to massive ethnic cleansing, when ALL expulsion of ethnic Albanians into neighboring states happened AFTER NATO bombing began, and was an expected outcome of the bombing (according to Wesley Clark, among others).
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  #46  
Old 09-18-2011, 09:47 PM
chiwhisoxx chiwhisoxx is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: The Creation of Terrorists (Robert Wright & Scott Atran)

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Originally Posted by piscivorous View Post
That coffin was always nailed shut. It was only those whose chose not to see reality who believed otherwise.
this is a bit exaggerated, but I think somewhat on point. I don't necessarily blame Obama making a lot of promises that probably weren't going to happen. Maybe a little bit, but campaigns are campaigns, and he wanted to be elected. But there did seem to be an inordinate number of people who really expected Barack Obama to somehow impose his will upon the political process, and this was profoundly naive. You get this with the people who now pine for Hillary Clinton, who think that just being "stronger" and more of a "fighter" makes a substantial difference in political outcomes. Look, there are things you can quibble with in this regard, but ultimately I'm pretty sure it would have only made a difference at the margins.
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  #47  
Old 09-18-2011, 10:17 PM
Ken Davis Ken Davis is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: The Creation of Terrorists (Robert Wright & Scott Atran)

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Originally Posted by pod2 View Post
Great diavlog all around, as ledocs and others have said.

It is remarkable that al Qaeda can put out hours of video propaganda about the Bosnian conflicts of the 90s and not mention the fact that NATO/US intervened on the side of Muslim separatists, not on the Serbian side.
As I understand it, and I can't cite it at the moment, Middle Eastern Muslims were eager to defend Bosnian Muslims from the git go, and then particularly in Srebrenica, but were repulsed by NATO. It is thought by some that NATO wanted a massacre there in order to sway world opinion against Serbia.

Edit: There were apparently jihadis in Bosnia, but it seems like there was some organization which was forbidden to enter to help. I want to say Saddam Hussein. Calls for more research.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pod2 View Post
It is WAY more remarkable that a well educated, well informed, close observer like RW had not heard of the Taliban's several efforts to open a dialog up and possibly offer OBL up for trial and extradition in the weeks following 9/11. It was reported once on the inside pages of the NYT, but derided by US pundits, and then promptly sent down the memory hole. True, it may have been a ploy, but the US did not even consider it, refusing even the reasonable request that evidence be shown tying OBL to the crimes.

It is also WAY more remarkable that the US punditocracy is virtually unanimous in their assertion that the US bombing of Serbia in 1999 was in response to massive ethnic cleansing, when ALL expulsion of ethnic Albanians into neighboring states happened AFTER NATO bombing began, and was an expected outcome of the bombing (according to Wesley Clark, among others).
My thoughts exactly. I remember even a discussion of the Pashtun tradition of protecting a guest. It must be remembered that though Bin Laden was a Muslim, he was not Pashto. There is no reason to believe that the Taliban would not have tried him had they evidence that he had abused his guest status. Or turned him over to the US, for that matter, as per the Taliban spokesman of the time.

I believe the rationale for the invasion was a calculated show of fury.

Last edited by Ken Davis; 09-18-2011 at 11:59 PM..
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  #48  
Old 09-19-2011, 12:08 AM
T.G.G.P T.G.G.P is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: The Creation of Terrorists (Robert Wright & Scott Atran)

I didn't expect this because I've learned from Atran and don't think Bob has much subject matter expertise, but I found his point out replaceability persuasive.

I watched this right after the John Muller diavlog (I think he did one on nukes before, this was on terrorism) where drone strikes were portrayed as an effective means of preventing al Qaeda proper from accomplishing anything.

The Taliban's offer to turn over Bin Laden was all over the news in 2001. Most people didn't take it that seriously though. Considering how untrustworthy the Pakistani government has been, the skepticism is understandable.

Also surprised Scott Atran says rational actor dynamics don't apply. He was seguing from a discussion of our support for middle eastern autocrats, but even a governing regime like the Taliban reacted fairly rationally in his telling.

I also think Scott's reference to Germany & Japan doesn't help make his argument. What specifically did we do differently? I would say, following Chris Coyne, that we invaded places that already had a very effective central government and cohesive society and so could more easily be reoriented once the government had been utterly defeated in a war.

Some news for Scott Atran: Obama's election did not really improve America's public image in the Middle East, just western europe. It's really "lifelong flaming liberals" like Atran who caught Obama-mania, not salafists. UPDATE: He seems to acknowledge that at the very end.

"A black man suddenly becomes the most powerful person in the history of the world"
Kids in America may be taught about MLK in schools, but the rest of the world is not America. There has not been a comparable campaign against racism and shift in public opinion in the middle east.

Illiterates are not comparable to Silicon Valley denizens.
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  #49  
Old 09-19-2011, 04:36 AM
Parallax Parallax is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: The Creation of Terrorists (Robert Wright & Scott Atran)

Several Points:

1) I am very glad that the US government did not put his faith in Taliban judiciary. When they get Roman Polanski from France I will give this a second thought.

2) Bob's insistence that everything terrorist related has only a demand side amazes me. There is both a demand side (poor young men with a bleak future) and a supply side (evil men using the former). And based on the individual case one should argue which side is more important. But Bob's insistence that is only a demand side problem is almost a mirror image of those who insist it is a supply side problem: " no matter what the blowback is we have to kill him because he might train someone in the future." I was very happy to see that Atran pushed back quite a bit on that front.

3) Comparing cold war with war on terror is not that meaningful. First of all cold war is not the same as the cuban crisis. The cold war started on 1946 with US/Soviet/Iran conflict over Azerbaijan and lasted practically until the Soviet union disintegrated in 1991. And during that 45 year period US did things that Atran might call hysteric:

1. the military interventions in east asia.
2. overthrowing democratic Soviet leaning governments worldwide.
3. constructing the green belt to contain the Soviet union on its southern border.
4. aiding Mujahedin in Afghanistan.

4) The idea of Islam and democracy coexisting should be understood in the context of political islam which itself dates back to mid 1800s when it was started by this guy. But ever since the inception of the idea there was no proper islamic until the 1979 revolution in Iran. However the result has been a complete and total disaster from virtually every angle, even the islamist one: the support for shiism, Iran's state religion, as at all time lows. The young people are less and less religious and the mosques are gradually emptying as their aging attendees slowly die.

But at any rate non-secular democracies where citizen rights are under constant threat are highly unstable. The trend is that the islamist party full of young pious people use democracy like toilet paper. As soon as they get in power they start to systematically eliminate opposition and democratic institutions. The only counterexample so far has been Turkey. The contributing factors in my opinion are the century long secular tradition instilled by Kamal Ataturk and the broad social freedoms that have existed for a long time are hard to curtail. But that has not stopped the occasional outburst from Erdogan against people whose social life is "un-islamic", see for example his battle with alcohol consumption.
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  #50  
Old 09-19-2011, 05:23 PM
Bima Bima is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: The Creation of Terrorists (Robert Wright & Scott Atran)

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Originally Posted by ledocs View Post
Now this was a very interesting dv.

1) Author interview
2) Interview of independent academic, probably with tenure, who does his own research and is beholden to virtually no one
3) Important topic
4) Author not terribly widely known, not on the PBS author-interview circuit.
5) Voice almost certainly worthy of wider attention
6) This kind of dv would, in my opinion, likely win many new repeat visitors to the site, if only they can be wooed for the first time.

This is not intended to be a critical review of what Atran said here or of his book, which I would like to read. I read the Lawrence Wright book with "Inferno" in the title, which was OK. I am in no position to judge Atran's work or his prescriptions.

This is the kind of thing I, at least, would like to see much more of. Another good thing was the "pushback" Atran got from RW.

Highest rating. Two thumbs up.
I agree, best DV in months. I've spent a few hours reading Mr Atran's writings on the internet and he has gained a new reader.
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  #51  
Old 09-19-2011, 06:59 PM
JerseyBoy JerseyBoy is offline
 
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Default The absurdity of liberal internationalists

It is absurd to believe that the Taliban would have turned over Osama bin Laden on threat of international sactions when the Taliban refused to turn him over on threat of international invasion. I know highly educated liberal internationalists believe this sort of thing, but no ordinary person could be such a fool.
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  #52  
Old 09-19-2011, 08:55 PM
pod2 pod2 is offline
 
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Default Re: The absurdity of liberal internationalists

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Originally Posted by JerseyBoy View Post
It is absurd to believe that the Taliban would have turned over Osama bin Laden on threat of international sactions when the Taliban refused to turn him over on threat of international invasion. I know highly educated liberal internationalists believe this sort of thing, but no ordinary person could be such a fool.
I am not convinced that sanctions would have been effective in forcing the Taliban to turn over OBL either.

However, I think it is crazy that the US intellectual class is completely unaware that the Taliban DID offer to try OBL and were open to extraditing him-- if they were provided evidence. (Here's one source; there are many others.) Whether these offers were a sham we will never know, as they were rejected out of hand by the Bush administration. I personally do not think that providing evidence of some kind to the Taliban is a ridiculous demand, particularly if it would have saved thousands of lives-- both Afghan civilians and US/Nato troops. Plus, the international criminal hunt could have still proceeded full force, with probably much more immediate effect.

Again, the Taliban offers may have been a sham, but they were not pursued and are now completely unknown to even the more liberal US elites (like RW, whom I respect immensely, by the way... I love his interviews of any and all kinds).
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  #53  
Old 09-19-2011, 09:10 PM
Sulla the Dictator Sulla the Dictator is offline
 
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Default Re: The absurdity of liberal internationalists

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Originally Posted by pod2 View Post
I am not convinced that sanctions would have been effective in forcing the Taliban to turn over OBL either.

However, I think it is crazy that the US intellectual class is completely unaware that the Taliban DID offer to try OBL and were open to extraditing him-- if they were provided evidence. (Here's one source; there are many others.) Whether these offers were a sham we will never know, as they were rejected out of hand by the Bush administration. I personally do not think that providing evidence of some kind to the Taliban is a ridiculous demand, particularly if it would have saved thousands of lives-- both Afghan civilians and US/Nato troops. Plus, the international criminal hunt could have still proceeded full force, with probably much more immediate effect.

Again, the Taliban offers may have been a sham, but they were not pursued and are now completely unknown to even the more liberal US elites (like RW, whom I respect immensely, by the way... I love his interviews of any and all kinds).
This seems like it would be a problem right away:

The Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) quoted Mullah Zaeff as saying: "If America is not satisfied with our trial of Osama, we are also ready to find another Islamic way of trying him."

But asked whether the Taliban were ready to hand over Bin Laden, he said: "This is a later thing, we cannot take any step that hurts our Islamic or Afghan dignity."


I wouldn't be ok with the Taliban giving Bin Laden a trial.
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  #54  
Old 09-19-2011, 09:32 PM
pod2 pod2 is offline
 
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Default Re: The absurdity of liberal internationalists

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Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator View Post
This seems like it would be a problem right away:

The Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) quoted Mullah Zaeff as saying: "If America is not satisfied with our trial of Osama, we are also ready to find another Islamic way of trying him."

But asked whether the Taliban were ready to hand over Bin Laden, he said: "This is a later thing, we cannot take any step that hurts our Islamic or Afghan dignity."


I wouldn't be ok with the Taliban giving Bin Laden a trial.
A sham trial by the Taliban would not have been acceptable to me either.

However, extradition was a possibility worth pursuing. And my central point is the incredible fact that the Taliban offer to discuss extradition is unknown to most US elites-- even left-of-center R2P-lovin' peaceniks like RW! A genuine propaganda victory.

Last edited by pod2; 09-19-2011 at 09:33 PM.. Reason: that dang missing hyphen
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  #55  
Old 09-20-2011, 02:26 AM
Ken Davis Ken Davis is offline
 
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Default Re: The absurdity of liberal internationalists

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator View Post
This seems like it would be a problem right away:

The Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) quoted Mullah Zaeff as saying: "If America is not satisfied with our trial of Osama, we are also ready to find another Islamic way of trying him."

But asked whether the Taliban were ready to hand over Bin Laden, he said: "This is a later thing, we cannot take any step that hurts our Islamic or Afghan dignity."


I wouldn't be ok with the Taliban giving Bin Laden a trial.
The reason for your apprehension is unclear, given your citations. Might "Islamic" be the key word?

Can you conceive of the possibility of the existence of fundamental ideals of justice in Islamic and Western judicial systems which overlap?
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  #56  
Old 09-20-2011, 02:54 AM
Sulla the Dictator Sulla the Dictator is offline
 
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Default Re: The absurdity of liberal internationalists

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Originally Posted by Ken Davis View Post
The reason for your apprehension is unclear, given your citations. Might "Islamic" be the key word?
Would we not be wise to mistrust the word "Islamic" as it comes from the mouth of a Taliban official? Would you consider a Taliban state to be the final arbiter of what would constitute justice in accordance with "Islamic dignity"?

Furthermore, it is not their place. The only people who would sympathize with a Serbian refusal to hand over the Black Hand to Austrian justice would be nutty Serb ethno-nationalists. I see no reason why the Taliban would have any more right to shield someone responsible for the death of thousands from the United States. And I am shocked to see any sympathy for their wish to do so.

Quote:
Can you conceive of the possibility of the existence of fundamental ideals of justice in Islamic and Western judicial systems which overlap?
Hmmm.....yes. But not in this case. Islamic justice is not relevant. The crime is so terrible, and our injury so great, it is an insult to deny us.
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  #57  
Old 09-20-2011, 07:55 AM
Florian Florian is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: The Creation of Terrorists (Robert Wright & Scott Atran)

Excellent diavlog. I agreed with much of what Atran said about the futility and absurdity of the "war on terror," but his comments near the end of the diavlog, where he says that the only alternative to exterminating your enemy is to make him your friend, struck me as historically inaccurate, and maybe a bit naive?

http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/387...6:58&out=57:23

History is full of wars that never came close to posing such a stark alternative, wars that were waged, unlike Rome's war with Carthage, not with the aim of exterminating the enemy but with the aim of winning territory, markets, colonies. When hostilities ended, enemies did not necessarily become friends. The wars fought by Europeans and Americans up to and including WW I were limited wars in this sense, even when they had ideological motivations (the Napoleonic Wars). The Cold War itself, during which the US and the USSR saw themselves as irreconcilable foes ended without a hot war. Are Americans and Russians now "friends"?

The truly odd thing about the "war on terror" is that it is a pure phantasm. There is not a single country in the Muslim world that could wage war against the United States, yet millions of Americans seem to think that millions of Muslims are their enemies.
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  #58  
Old 09-20-2011, 05:45 PM
Sulla the Dictator Sulla the Dictator is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: The Creation of Terrorists (Robert Wright & Scott Atran)

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Originally Posted by Florian View Post

The truly odd thing about the "war on terror" is that it is a pure phantasm. There is not a single country in the Muslim world that could wage war against the United States, yet millions of Americans seem to think that millions of Muslims are their enemies.
Well, if polling is to be believed, millions of Muslims are not only our enemies, but yours as well. Beyond the cadres of actual bomb or gun toting militants, there are legions of "fellow travelers".
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  #59  
Old 09-20-2011, 05:51 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: The Creation of Terrorists (Robert Wright & Scott Atran)

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Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
Excellent discussion if somewhat demoralizing considering the course of events.
Agreed. Like others have said, this is the kind of diavlog I am really glad to have. I'm going to check out Atran's book, too.
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  #60  
Old 09-21-2011, 05:16 AM
Florian Florian is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: The Creation of Terrorists (Robert Wright & Scott Atran)

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Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator View Post
Well, if polling is to be believed, millions of Muslims are not only our enemies, but yours as well. Beyond the cadres of actual bomb or gun toting militants, there are legions of "fellow travelers".
What polls do you have in mind?
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  #61  
Old 09-21-2011, 01:40 PM
Sulla the Dictator Sulla the Dictator is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: The Creation of Terrorists (Robert Wright & Scott Atran)

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Originally Posted by Florian View Post
What polls do you have in mind?
Would you like me to produce one? Surely you remember the myriad of polls showing levels of support for Al Qaeda or Bin Laden. Anywhere between 12% and 50% of the public of a number of prominent Islamic states at various times would have support for our enemies within those ranges.
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  #62  
Old 09-21-2011, 02:31 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: The Creation of Terrorists (Robert Wright & Scott Atran)

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Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator View Post
Would you like me to produce one? Surely you remember the myriad of polls showing levels of support for Al Qaeda or Bin Laden. Anywhere between 12% and 50% of the public of a number of prominent Islamic states at various times would have support for our enemies within those ranges.
But one question is whether that matters at all. Expressing support in a poll is not the same thing as being ready to commit acts of violence.
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  #63  
Old 09-21-2011, 02:39 PM
Sulla the Dictator Sulla the Dictator is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: The Creation of Terrorists (Robert Wright & Scott Atran)

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Originally Posted by stephanie View Post
But one question is whether that matters at all. Expressing support in a poll is not the same thing as being ready to commit acts of violence.
Of course not, I didn't say it did. A poll does reflect a willingness to offer moral support. To give donations. To keep their mouths shut when they know something. To give shelter or comfort.
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  #64  
Old 09-21-2011, 03:22 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: The Creation of Terrorists (Robert Wright & Scott Atran)

Interesting piece from Atran:

Why War Is Never Really Rational.

It seems to me that it relates to the question of our response post 9/11 (thinking Afghanistan here, not Iraq, and the War on Terror generally) more than the focus on the rational benefits in the diavlog discussion did. That is, of course there was a lot more to it than the perceived benefits -- there was a sense that we had to act. Now, perhaps the better argument is that that's a bad way to think of it -- certainly, I see that argument and I like to think that I would employ a rational "just war" approach -- but I think the idea that it's not at base about rationality is largely true. What that means, I don't know.
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  #65  
Old 09-21-2011, 04:05 PM
whburgess whburgess is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: The Creation of Terrorists (Robert Wright & Scott Atran)

Quote:
Originally Posted by stephanie View Post
Interesting piece from Atran:

Why War Is Never Really Rational.

It seems to me that it relates to the question of our response post 9/11 (thinking Afghanistan here, not Iraq, and the War on Terror generally) more than the focus on the rational benefits in the diavlog discussion did. That is, of course there was a lot more to it than the perceived benefits -- there was a sense that we had to act. Now, perhaps the better argument is that that's a bad way to think of it -- certainly, I see that argument and I like to think that I would employ a rational "just war" approach -- but I think the idea that it's not at base about rationality is largely true. What that means, I don't know.
Great piece. The studies he cites are fascinating.

I agree that war is much more a matter of 'sacred values' then the result of any cost benefit analysis. This is why, for those of us who believe that the willingness to wage war is essential for the survival of essential human values, it's so important to see soldiers as patriots when they fight and heroes when they die then it is to see them as some poor worker in a high hazard occupation who is a victim when they are killed.

I have little doubt that the main motivation in invading Afghanistan was not derived from a cost/benefit analysis. At least in the public support of it. I would like to believe that any administration engages in cost/benefit analysis, and so think that did happen with the Bush administration, at least to some degree. Ironically, I suppose, it seems to me the Iraq invasion was much more a result of (dramatically incompetent) cost/benefit analysis, since the Iraqis were not involved in 9/11. I also think that while Obama couched his selling of the Libyan involvement in 'sacred values' terms, (We're not going to stand by while innocents are slaughtered), I do think they were actually operating from a cost/benefit analysis. Again, because like Iraq, Libya hadn't actually violated us in any way.

I would add here, that the GWOT, Obama style, seems a very good example of cost/benefit analysis. He says little to stir up the 'sacred values' sentiment, while at the same time he is engaged in a massive, behind the scenes drone war, in which drones bases are being built throughout Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and even the Seychelles, for the purposes of basically assassinating any 'Al Queda affiliated' leader or group . Essentially it is a strategy to exterminate, or inhibit, potentially radical elements before they gain a foothold in that volatile region.

Last edited by whburgess; 09-21-2011 at 04:15 PM..
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Old 09-21-2011, 06:28 PM
miceelf miceelf is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: The Creation of Terrorists (Robert Wright & Scott Atran)

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Would you like me to produce one? Surely you remember the myriad of polls showing levels of support for Al Qaeda or Bin Laden. Anywhere between 12% and 50% of the public of a number of prominent Islamic states at various times would have support for our enemies within those ranges.
That's a huge variation there.

18% of Americans oppose interracial marriages. Does that mean that racism is a serious problem in the US?
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Old 09-21-2011, 06:30 PM
miceelf miceelf is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: The Creation of Terrorists (Robert Wright & Scott Atran)

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I would add here, that the GWOT, Obama style, seems a very good example of cost/benefit analysis. He says little to stir up the 'sacred values' sentiment, while at the same time he is engaged in a massive, behind the scenes drone war, in which drones bases are being built throughout Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and even the Seychelles, for the purposes of basically assassinating any 'Al Queda affiliated' leader or group . Essentially it is a strategy to exterminate, or inhibit, potentially radical elements before they gain a foothold in that volatile region.
This seems a really good thing. I also wonder if the lack of the "sacred values" talk from Obama is simply because America has kind of burned out on that kind of thing, given recent events.
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Old 09-21-2011, 06:55 PM
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: The Creation of Terrorists (Robert Wright & Scott Atran)

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Originally Posted by stephanie View Post
Interesting piece from Atran:

Why War Is Never Really Rational.

It seems to me that it relates to the question of our response post 9/11 (thinking Afghanistan here, not Iraq, and the War on Terror generally) more than the focus on the rational benefits in the diavlog discussion did. That is, of course there was a lot more to it than the perceived benefits -- there was a sense that we had to act. Now, perhaps the better argument is that that's a bad way to think of it -- certainly, I see that argument and I like to think that I would employ a rational "just war" approach -- but I think the idea that it's not at base about rationality is largely true. What that means, I don't know.
Great article. It does remind me of our discussion about retaliation/deterrence/safety measures related to the Justice system.
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Old 09-21-2011, 07:29 PM
Sulla the Dictator Sulla the Dictator is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: The Creation of Terrorists (Robert Wright & Scott Atran)

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That's a huge variation there.

18% of Americans oppose interracial marriages. Does that mean that racism is a serious problem in the US?
No. Of course, even if racism were a problem, it would be less dangerous (And thus deserving of the designation of "enemy") than terrorism.
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Old 09-21-2011, 07:30 PM
Sulla the Dictator Sulla the Dictator is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: The Creation of Terrorists (Robert Wright & Scott Atran)

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That's a huge variation there.

18% of Americans oppose interracial marriages. Does that mean that racism is a serious problem in the US?
If 18% of Americans favored the use of extreme violence against blacks until interracial marriage were outlawed, that would be a serious problem.
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Old 09-21-2011, 07:43 PM
whburgess whburgess is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: The Creation of Terrorists (Robert Wright & Scott Atran)

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This seems a really good thing.
Not very liberal of you. But I agree.
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Old 09-21-2011, 08:40 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: The Creation of Terrorists (Robert Wright & Scott Atran)

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I also wonder if the lack of the "sacred values" talk from Obama is simply because America has kind of burned out on that kind of thing, given recent events.
Could be. I also think that there probably is a link between our lack of direct connection, as whb was saying, making it more likely that the focus -- at least at first -- would be on cost/benefit analysis. As soon as you start getting the casualties, though, that's hard to maintain.

Thinking about '01, I think it's perfectly possible to believe that the war in Afghanistan didn't really make sense from a cost-benefit analysis and that there was no way we weren't going to believe we had to fight it, that there was a moral need to do so, even. (I think we should have framed it differently, probably -- I don't think getting into a project of nation building in Afghanistan made sense, even though at the time we saw the problem in terms of a prior one -- the failure to do that post Soviet War in Afghanistan.) But like I said, I'm not terribly sure what I think about this -- I mean, it seems to cast doubt on something like the just war analysis (like Wonderment does) by showing how much the analysis ends up just being used to justify the ends one wants to justify. Yet, I am not convinced that war can never be justified (or is never necessary), even if our analyses of the problem are always going to be less rationally-based than we'd like.
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Old 09-23-2011, 07:15 AM
miceelf miceelf is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: The Creation of Terrorists (Robert Wright & Scott Atran)

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Not very liberal of you. But I agree.
I guess it depends on the definition of liberal.

I am a pragmatist. These days, that makes me a liberal.
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  #74  
Old 09-30-2011, 11:06 AM
Parallax Parallax is offline
 
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Default Awlaki killed by CIA drone

Great news.
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Old 09-30-2011, 01:40 PM
Don Zeko Don Zeko is offline
 
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Default Re: Awlaki killed by CIA drone

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Do we all feel safer today than we did last week? Can anyone argue with a straight face that there was anything resembling due process here?
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Old 09-30-2011, 05:27 PM
Parallax Parallax is offline
 
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Default Re: Awlaki killed by CIA drone

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Do we all feel safer today than we did last week? Can anyone argue with a straight face that there was anything resembling due process here?
I am sure some people do feel safer. And the safety does not need to be direct, killing him sends a signal to others: do not fuck with US. Finally the guy was responsible for the death of civillians as well so killing him was also an act of justice.

Also if US was in a war and one US soldier went to the other side and started firing at US troops and then got killed would we start talking about due process? Awlaki himself did not dispute that he was in war with his country.
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Old 09-30-2011, 05:53 PM
Sulla the Dictator Sulla the Dictator is offline
 
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Default Re: Awlaki killed by CIA drone

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Do we all feel safer today than we did last week? Can anyone argue with a straight face that there was anything resembling due process here?
I've never felt endangered, but I am quite happy with the President's action. He received due process; the President signed an executive order authorizing his assassination.
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Old 09-30-2011, 06:04 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default No due process? Impeach!!!

Dick Cheney.


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I am Barack Obama and I approve this message.
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Old 09-30-2011, 07:01 PM
chiwhisoxx chiwhisoxx is offline
 
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Default Re: Awlaki killed by CIA drone

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Do we all feel safer today than we did last week? Can anyone argue with a straight face that there was anything resembling due process here?
this is a truly awful standard by which to judge these sort of actions
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Old 10-02-2011, 02:21 PM
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Default Re: No due process? Impeach!!!

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Dick Cheney.


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I am Barack Obama and I approve this message.
What due process would you like to have seen? I take it your position is that it was wrong to off this guy because he wasn't accorded due process. And I take it the due process you have in mind is all that is provided to criminals--from second story men to murderers to pick pockets-- in America. And I take it tht you say Obama is a war monger who must be replaced by someone truly progressive. And I take it that since learning Obama is an unprincipled war monger indistinguishable from Bush/Cheney in his war mongering, that he does not have your vote? Am I right or am I right?

Itzik Basman
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