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Archive for Thursday, September 7, 2006

Troubling theory

September 7, 2006

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To the editor:

Mike Hoeflich's article ("How low will U.S. go?," Journal-World, Aug. 30) would be disturbing had it been written by anyone. The fact that professor Hoeflich is on the KU law faculty is especially troubling. Hoeflich considers the possibility that "there should be no limits to what the United States must do to keep our nation safe after 9-11." He ends by considering - albeit uncomfortably - the possibility that our national survival may depend upon our adopting the means and methods of terrorists proportionate to their acts.

Just as a matter of practicality, there is significant evidence that the "collateral damage" inherent in adopting the tactics of terrorists, such as kidnapping and torture, includes the efficient manufacture of many new terrorists.

The most disturbing aspect of his essay, however, is that he feels the need to move to the "dark side" because "they," who undeniably mean us harm, leave us with no choice. In this he is in reality suggesting that the power of law, of presumption of innocence, of human rights, are no match for the excesses of human depravity and brutality.

He could be right. Our ability to destroy each other may well have evolved more effectively than our ability to live in peace. I suggest, however, that the only moral position is to continue to embrace the ideals which our and other civilized societies have cherished for centuries. To do any less is, as the cliche goes, to admit that the terrorists have indeed "won."

Oliver Finney,

Lawrence

Comments

i_tching 7 years, 7 months ago

"The National Counterterrorism Center maintains a central repository of 325,000 names of international terrorism suspects or people who allegedly aid them, a number that has more than quadrupled since the fall of 2003, according to counterterrorism officials."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/14/AR2006021402125.html

Bush has quadrupled the number of terrorists.

No, this does not make us safer.

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holygrailale 7 years, 7 months ago

See????

What Jamesaust posts is considered, rational argument.

You learn something you didn't know.

You get to view a perspective and interpretation you weren't aware of.

Everyone benefits.

That the "conservatives" on this board would attempt to emulate his methods is my fantasy.

I can hope, can't I?

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Jamesaust 7 years, 7 months ago

"Al Quaeda still have a strong base from which to operate on in Afghanistan and Pakistan, so I would disagree with the sentiment that our job there is done."

I did not say "our job" in Afghanistan was done. I said that the military war against al-Qaeda was complete, regardless of whatever 'insurgency' might exist (largely from the fact that Afghanistan has been neglected and, outside its capital, has few troops at all). Making the rubble bounce is not a productive activity; providing security to villagers is. One is war-making; the other is peace-keeping.

I do not agree that al-Qaeda has a "strong base" in Afghanistan. Indeed, al-Qaeda has been explosively dispossessed of its Afghan base. It has no sovereign cover. It cannot operate openly. It is subject to attack at any moment.

Their leader lives in some cave. They cannot communicate but through internet chatrooms and smuggle audio/video tapes. Money cannot move freely any longer. Despite obvious potential ease, they have not made any attack upon the U.S., here or abroad (leaving aside the Rumsfeld-designed chaos of Iraq). Al-Qaeda isn't even the 'number one' terrorist group in the Mid-East (not even 'number two') - and gets agitated when others appear to be more relevant than they (about as agitated as Kim Il Sung or Tom Cruise get when they are displaced from the frontpage).

Exactly how much more 'dead' is al-Qaeda likely to be until the Zeitgeist of radical Islamicist terrorism passes into the pages of failed modern Middle Eastern themes? I suspect as 'dead' as any response to a traditional conflict (and that's about half of what we've seen so far) can make it. From this point on - phase II - military assistance to locals, intelligence worthy of the name, policework, development, and hearts & minds are what's left. A B-2 bomber with a 'bunker buster bomb' doesn't provide any of those things.

But don't tell the Bush Administration. The last Pentagon threat assessment had a long list of weaponry strangely similar to its wishlist from the Cold War. One cannot run the military into the ground over one (passing) threat at the cost of all the other threats. One cannot simultaneously tee-off ALL our allies and expect their cooperation on keeping terrorism at bay.

To return to the topic here, preparedness is fully congruent with our constitutional order. The balancing is exceedingly minor and, with good faith, could be easily worked out.

To fear, as Hoeflich apparently does, that some great sacrifice is necessary as a remedy to a phenomena that has killed in sum total as many Americans as drown in bathtubs a year is absurd. As one mathematician who worked out the odds discovered, the liklihood that any random American will be killed by terrorist - real liklihood, not Cheney's '1% chance' - is less than that they would be killed by a meteor. In other words, less likely than that they would be shot by the Vice President.

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as_I_live_and_breathe 7 years, 7 months ago

Posted by Das_Ubermime (anonymous) on September 7, 2006 at 2:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"How come the USA is expected to play nice but nobody else has to?"

If everybody else jumped off of a cliff, would you as well? Maybe we should play nice simply because it is the right thing to do...


WHAT? Don' t quite get the connection between jumping off a cliff and standing your ground and fighting back???

That's the sort of thing you tell your 13 year old when you don't want them to smoke. Not what you tell them what to do when a sexual preditor tries to rape them.

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as_I_live_and_breathe 7 years, 7 months ago

Posted by holygrailale (anonymous) on September 7, 2006 at 12:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

as_I_live_and_breathe:

If we become energy-independent of the Middle East, radical Islam will fall to the importance of shower ring styles.


TOTAL AGREEMENT. LET EAT SAND WITH OIL ON TOP.

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as_I_live_and_breathe 7 years, 7 months ago

Posted by tony88 (anonymous) on September 7, 2006 at 1:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"Sorry, I'm not interested in being like them....ever"

So that is why you are willing to assume their terrorist tactics... so you will never be like them... ever?


I don''t think we here in the US are to the point of strapping bombs on our kids and sending them into weddings, discos and busses are we? Do we kidnap journalist and whack thier heads of on live tv?

Going to war is completely different than what they are doing.

I don't want to worship allah 5 times a day. don't want to wear a beard or a burka, don't want to deny my children education and be subservient to any man. Don't want to be a muslim.....

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Das_Ubermime 7 years, 7 months ago

Jamesaust,

I completely agree with you that neither Afghanistan nor Iraq represent traditional conflicts (though the region in which Al Quaeda operate is perhaps not as confined as you portray). However, saying that the 'phase I military operations' are over in Afghanistan seems a bit like counting your chickens before they hatch. I do not agree with the fearmongering which this current administration and its supporters engage in, but I also think that being dismissive of terrorist groups can lead to danger. Al Quaeda still have a strong base from which to operate on in Afghanistan and Pakistan, so I would disagree with the sentiment that our job there is done.

There is a delicate balance in this situation between paranoia and preparedness. Where this balance should fall is, I believe, the source of our disagreement.

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holygrailale 7 years, 7 months ago

logicsound04:

Agreed. I don't think al Qaida is dead because one leader has been killed and one captured.

I think we have generated many more "terrorists" than we have eliminated.

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logicsound04 7 years, 7 months ago

I would only like to point out that the survival of America and the adoption of terrorist tactics are mutually exclusive.

There is no rule that says the only way to defeat the terrorists is to kill them all. In fact, I would tend to think that killing terrorists only breeds more terrorists. Think about them like gray hairs.

The opening scene in Team America is a great example of this logic. For those of you that haven't seen, the American police go to France on a report of a terrorist plot. They kill all the terrorists, but in doing so, destroy the Louve and the Eiffel Tower as well as most of Paris. Somehow, the French didn't seem to pleased that the terrorists had been killed.

Now apply that to the middle east. Not only are we bringing what little infrastructure and wealth they have down around their ears. In fact, this situation is even worse, because now we are killing their own people on top of destroying their home. Now I'm not saying that all middle easterners are terrorists or that they are all friends with terrorists. I am saying, however, that I bet the distinction between "terrorists" and "normal people" is a lot less clear at ground zero than it is to Bush and Chaney sitting in their ivory tower with their hawkish buzzwords.

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conservativeman 7 years, 7 months ago

I got censored for posting a quote from Abe Lincoln?

You guys are so pathetic!

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ASBESTOS 7 years, 7 months ago

"I firmly believe that if the USA would get OUT of the Middle East and other parts of Asia, we wouldn't be on the terrorists' radar screen."

We did get out, during the Clinton administration, even tried to get the Palestinians and Isreal to the peace table. Pulled the chair out for Arafat and he would not sit in it.

No, President Clinton and his State Department gave the olive branch to alot of countries. He did give it a good try, and an honest one. THe problem is, most countries are gonna hate the US and Attack us just because WE are US.

No matter what we do, they will find fault.

We send and HAVE sent LOTS of money to these stupid pukes, we have TRIED to be nice, they REFUSE to acknowledge it.

SO if they won't take a hand shake, give them the bird.

I don't think that THe current Presidents activities are making it worse OR better, as no matter what we do short of getting off the face of the earth and giving them all of our money, and committing sucicide, we simply cannot please the simple minded lowlifes of the world.

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ksmoderate 7 years, 7 months ago

Lunatic Fringe Boy--I mean, conservativeman:

A majority of americans oppose the war. They should be tried and executed as traitors? Imagine this country without more than half of its current population.

I see you're very passionate about your point of view. I know if I felt that STRONGLY about those things, I would spend my time writing to my elected officials demanding that they do something about the situation.

Good luck.

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Jamesaust 7 years, 7 months ago

http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/09/07/southern.women.ap/index.html

'At a watermelon festival in Chickamauga, in the mountains of northwest Georgia, substitute teacher Clydeen Tomanio said she remains committed to the party she's called home for 43 years. "There are some people, and I'm one of them, that believe George Bush was placed where he is by the Lord," Tomanio said. "I don't care how he governs, I will support him. I'm a Republican through and through."'

Conservativeman - you been to any watermelon festivals lately?

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conservativeman 7 years, 7 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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Jamesaust 7 years, 7 months ago

"I don't know the answer to this offhand, but I'm pretty sure that the NATO commander who requested more troops and vehicles to southern Afghanistan would be able to fill you in."

Yes, I hear al-Qaeda has taken a second town! No doubt, the civilians in the capital are fleeing in panic and terrorist attacks in the U.S. are imminent.

Al-Qaeda affiliates, funded by a bumper crop of heroin that the U.S. has allowed to be grown with impunity, will be in the mountains and deserts of Afghansistan for a long time (especially if you (a) have few troops there, (b) spend little on development, (c) don't provide for civil society). Bin Laden will issue message after message trying to remain "relevant." Disaffected Muslims in Spain or Kashmir will no doubt manage to set off bombs from time-to-time and make claims referencing "Hail, Osama."

That hardly means that there's a war requiring a quid pro quo tradeoff of civil liberties versus "our destruction." We managed to spend 40 years living on the brink of utter, final, and complete nuclear anniliation but I don't recall the need to trade away every liberty guaranteed to us in our Republic. Compared to the Soviet Union, which really could "destroy" us, al-Qaeda is a dangerous gnat, incapable of bring down this nation (and probably not even Afghanistan).

No more hype. No more lies. No more fearmongering. The destruction of our world is not coming any day unless we surrender all power to a Protector/King. Desperate measures are not called for. Just ordinary intelligence gathering and normal military assistance to allies (heck, not even the military effort given a decade ago in Kosovo).

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Das_Ubermime 7 years, 7 months ago

"Pray tell General, what al-Qaeda target do YOU want to bomb?"

I don't know the answer to this offhand, but I'm pretty sure that the NATO commander who requested more troops and vehicles to southern Afghanistan would be able to fill you in. Southern Afghanistan... southern Afghanistan... hey, wasn't that the part of Afghanistan that the U.S. was supposed to patrol? Now where do you suppose those troops went?

"How come the USA is expected to play nice but nobody else has to?"

If everybody else jumped off of a cliff, would you as well? Maybe we should play nice simply because it is the right thing to do...

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tony88 7 years, 7 months ago

"Sorry, I'm not interested in being like them....ever"

So that is why you are willing to assume their terrorist tactics... so you will never be like them... ever?

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holygrailale 7 years, 7 months ago

as_I_live_and_breathe:

No one is asking you to be a radical Muslim.

I'll bet a lot of their anger is based upon US intevention in their own affairs in order to secure access to oil.

If we become energy-independent of the Middle East, radical Islam will fall to the importance of shower ring styles.

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as_I_live_and_breathe 7 years, 7 months ago

well, speak out... it sounds good when you say it ... but it falls short of making any real sense to me.

A muslim extremist shot Bobby Kennedy in '68. and it's gone pretty much down hill from there.

How come the USA is expected to play nice but nobody else has to?

"Are we in the Middle East because some Middle Easterners are here? What a foolish thought." ***Why is that any more foolish than you saying Middle Easterners are in the US because We are there? Islamic terrorist are here because they are hell bent on the destruction of anything not them.

"And if some of them left, we would lose a lot of professionals we need in our economy." ****And if we left there now.... A lot of people there would lose their lives. and then... A lot of people every where else will lose theirs.

Radical facist islam is a dangerous, humourless cult. they don't want to play nice. they don't want to be like us, or deal with us or anyone else remotely different than they are. They want total supremecy.

Sorry, I'm not interested in being like them....ever>

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Jamesaust 7 years, 7 months ago

"You think the 100,000+ troops we have in Iraq would agree with your statement?"

You're off message. The DNC talkpoints have as bulletpoint #1 "War in Iraq has no connection to War on Terror"

At least get your flavor of b/s straight. When was the last time any troops said they needed one more B-52 in Iraq? Pray tell General, what al-Qaeda target do YOU want to bomb?

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scenebooster 7 years, 7 months ago

"The phase I involving tanks and bombers indeed is a "mission accomplished."

Are you high? You think the 100,000+ troops we have in Iraq would agree with your statement?

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Jamesaust 7 years, 7 months ago

Hoeflich's "But, if the alternative is our own destruction, do they leave us with any choice at all?" is a bit troubling. For those who did not read the original piece, it was exceedingly moderate in tone.

That said, I find little evidence that "our own destruction" is anywhere in the cards. Indeed, I would hazzard to give sufficient credit to the Bush Administration for effectively eliminating al-Qaeda as far as humanly possible and to conclude that the "war on terror" (apparently replaced by W's "Struggle Against Violent Extremism") is as over as it will ever be and that the John Kerry-like 'phase II' maintenance and law enforcement next stage is now arrived (indeed, the logical corollary to a "Struggle" versus a "War"). The phase I involving tanks and bombers indeed is a "mission accomplished."

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tony88 7 years, 7 months ago

"terrorism" is a "political problem"? shortsighted...

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conservativeman 7 years, 7 months ago

Total war!!

Give war a chance.

violence has solved more political problems than non violence. Ask Neville Chamberlain

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scenebooster 7 years, 7 months ago

"and when we ignore the brutal attacks of terroists we get???"

Who said anything about ignoring terrorist tactics?

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Speakout 7 years, 7 months ago

Our presence in the Middle East has spurred the anger of most of the world, as you live and breathe, if you haven't noticed. There were few terrorists in Iraq until we destroyed the country and basically invited them all in to fight us back. We ridded them of Saddam, so what is left? Democracy?

Reading history, as I do, I have found no country that had democracy forced upon them by a foreign power to have lasted. So what can we expect?

By getting out, I mean that we have no fighting troops there, no tanks and guns and a military presence. We should send aid as they request, if we want. They can and have grown their own food until we blew it all up, thinking that was places to make WMD.

Money, ah there is a way to force democracy upon them or at least make them think about elections and fair change of power.

We have totally destroyed a country all in the name of 9/11, which has been shown to be false. The insurgency is a war against the USA, sorry, coalition, and what they want is for us to leave.

Are we in the Middle East because some Middle Easterners are here? What a foolish thought. And if some of them left, we would lose a lot of professionals we need in our economy.

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as_I_live_and_breathe 7 years, 7 months ago

Posted by Speakout (anonymous) on September 7, 2006 at 7:33 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I firmly believe that if the USA would get OUT of the Middle East and other parts of Asia, we wouldn't be on the terrorists' radar screen. ******8 What do you mean by GET OUT? Are you suggesting that we should not send aid? NO food, No doctors, No $$?

If we remove all Americans from those parts of the world, would it be fair to expect all Middle Easterner and Asianto vacate the US?

Isn't there a word for that?

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as_I_live_and_breathe 7 years, 7 months ago

and when we ignore the brutal attacks of terroists we get???

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temperance 7 years, 7 months ago

Great letter! When we adopt the brutal tactics of terrorists, we breed further agression against us & undermine our moral authority.

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Clint Gentry 7 years, 7 months ago

The resort to tactics embraced by the enemy is to admit true defeat to them. If our argument is that they (the terrorists) are immoral, then the acceptance and implementaition of their standards makes us immoral and in doing that, we lose the battle, our identity, and reason for fighting the "war" in the first place.

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Speakout 7 years, 7 months ago

I firmly believe that if the USA would get OUT of the Middle East and other parts of Asia, we wouldn't be on the terrorists' radar screen. What we do to aggravate the situation is supporting Israel and bombing everyone else whenever we feel like it.

So if we stop with our lust for oil in the Middle East, there would be no cause for the terrorists to fight.

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xenophonschild 7 years, 7 months ago

Well said.

It is in times of trial and tribulations that you find out who and what you are. If we are to be the special place, the special country many of us grew up believing, we have to adhere to the values and mores of our laws and traditions.

If our leaders and politicians forget, we need to either remind them or replace them with those who do not.

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