: Tom Friedman derails this morning.

He’s agreeing with Kerry’s absurd longing for a day when terrorism is a “nuisance.”

Excuse me, I don’t know about you, but I dream of going back to the days when terrorism was just a nuisance in our lives.

Terrorism will never be a nuisance to the people who are still killed and terrorized by these criminals. Is murder just a “nuisance” when the numbers decline? Is tyranny just a “nuisance” when it rules strange little countries instead of big Europe and Russia? Is there an acceptable level of terrorism? Of course not.

And if you long for the days when terrorism was just a nuisance to us then — according to the besainted 9/11 Commission — you long for a day when we were stupid, when we could and should have gone after terrorists and because we didn’t, we made ourselves vulnerable to attack.

Friedman then accuses Bush of politicizing 9/11 and changing America. But he has that reversed, of course.

9/11 changed America, Mr. Friedman. By saying that Bush changed America, you are in essence blaming 9/11 and its aftermath on him. That’s offensive. That is just the kind of divisive behavior you now accuse Bush of. That is politicizing 9/11.

Friedman supported the war in Iraq — hell, created a doctrine to support it, a doctrine he convinced me to support. But now he tries to slink away from that. He doesn’t quite deny it; he just conveniently ignores his active role in this policy. But you can’t back away, Mr. Friedman; the fact that you, in The New York Times, gave liberal justification for getting rid of Saddam and creating a beachhead for Democracy in the Middle East surely was a factor in the White House’s decision to go ahead: Hell, they said, if even a Times liberal agrees….

Kerry and Friedman are both wrong to long for the day when terrorism is merely a “nuisance.” Friedman is wrong to long for a day when terrorism no longer inconveniences him, as he whines in this column. They’re in essence wishing it had never happened so we had never changed. Well, dream on. I, too, wish that Hitler had never happened and that those six million Jews had lived and that Israel were not the excuse for terrorism in the Middle East. I, too, wish that Communism had never taken over the other half of the world and changed our lives and relationships for my generation. I, too, wish that AIDS had never occurred and made sex dangerous. Oh, I could continue this litany forever, couldn’t you? But it won’t change a thing, will it?

9/11 happened. Life changed. To wish it weren’t so will accomplish nothing. Or worse, it will accomplish something: This thinking will make us complacent and vulnerable.

No, I don’t long for the day when terrosim is a nuisance.

I long for the day when terrorism is history.

  • Michael

    To me, it seems much more realistic that terrorism can be managed (made a nuisance) than it being totally eliminated (“history”).

  • Michael

    “They’re in essence wishing it had never happened so we had never changed. Well, dream on. I, too, wish that Hitler had never happened and that those six million Jews had lived and that Israel were not the excuse for terrorism in the Middle East. I, too, wish that Communism had never taken over the other half of the world and changed our lives and relationships for my generation. I, too, wish that AIDS had never occurred and made sex dangerous.”
    I think you’re off the mark here. They’re not wishing it never happened, and your litany is misplaced. They’re merely hoping we reach a point where it doesn’t have to drive every single decision, every single moment of our country’s (future) history. That doesn’t mean they wish it never happened….they just hope it won’t have to happen again.

  • Bush said that we can’t win the war on terror (because it’s never over) and the left pilloried him for it.
    Kerry says that he wants there to be a day when terrorism is merely a nuisance (which is a really poor choice of words – murder is never a “nuisance”) and the right declares a pox on his house.
    The potential for the violent and the catastrophic protestor will always be with us. Terrorists will never be history.
    But the best way to limit their menace is to enable every other person in the world to join the fight against them. The form of government that best enables the next door neighbor of a terrorist to rat them out and foil their plans is democracy.
    The vision of worldwide democracy is the best preventative measure we have.

  • Seppo

    Terrorism is a manifestation of evil intentions to control others, separated from the constraints inherent in the nation-state. Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, Iran, and others show that the nation-state can be hijacked to oppressive and dangerous ends as well.
    Terrorism cannot be “managed” like some low-intrusion cancer, it must be confronted with all of the willpower and might of those who yearn to live free, and to continue civilization for future generations. Accepting “tolerable” terrorism undermines the norms of civilized society and the relationships between peoples and interests that permit innocent people to live productive and reasonably happy lives.
    Nothing less than a total, uncompromising confrontation with the forces of terrorism – and especially the militant fascistic version of Islamism that relies on terrorism to project power – can prevent horrendous calamities to befall the world. A truly enormous casualties attack on the US, Russia, and some other parts of the world could provoke a response that we would all regret, necessary or not.

  • ZF

    This is all about whether we react and react effectively when the terrorists come for some of us, or for our children.
    Friedman should remember that the response of most Europeans when the fascists started coming for the Jews was that it was a nuisance, and not something they supported, but not enough of a nuisance that most of them wanted to do anything about it.
    A nation is a ‘family’, or it isn’t. We are committed to defend all of us, or we are not. Going down the ‘not’ path is a slippery slope, because if defending individuals is just too much trouble, then what will we be able to say when they come for us?
    We have pulled together and defended ourselves repeatedly and successfully for over 200 years. Even at the cost, where necessary, of some temporary (oh horror!) limitations on civil liberties. We can do it again.
    The sickening part about having to make this argument is that it is something we are all going to end up in agreement on if they succeed in killing enough of us, which they plainly intend to do.

  • For once Friedman got it right.
    When Bush told Matt Lauer “I don’t think you can win it [a ‘war on terrorism’], but I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world,” it was a rare moment of honesty from a man whose job has principally been to stay on a carefully crafted message, a messaged of resolve focus-group tested to appeal, but a message that is meaningless in terms of policy. The day will never come in human history where no one uses terror as a political tool. The object is to defeat America’s enemies and contain ongoing risk. Bush obviously knows this, he just says something else in public because it sounds good, and tough, and simple, and it can be reduced to a 15 second sound bite.
    Friedman today just acknowledged the same reality that Bush acknowledged to Lauer, that victory will come in a form that has no armistice at the end, no signatories to peace treaties. It will always involve containment of non-state enemies and that kind of containment requires the involvement of every nation on the global acting in concert on strategy but within their own borders, not the United States occupying or setting up puppet governments in every country on earth The global war on terror needs to be fought first and foremost on diplomatic fronts.
    9/11 didn’t change the essence of mankind or the essence of America any more than Pearl Harbor did. Everyone wishes it didn’t happen. But it did. This is the world we live in. How are we going to make it better for us and our interests? This fantasy that we can militarily impose “freedom” on Arab countries and thereby eliminate Islamic terrorism from the face of the Earth is absurd on its face. Friedman was wrong when he helped advance it and I’m glad to see he’s backtracking now that his mistake has become obvious. Impose freedom through military action? It reminds me of the bit from Take the Money and Run where Virgil Starkwell’s father says “I tried to beat God into him, but did he listen? No.”
    Of course the US victory vs. Islamic terrorism will come as Bush said, when we create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in the Arab world. Of course that means the threat of terrorism will never disappear from the realm of possibility. Of course getting from point a to point b will require a huge diplomatic effort of the kind that George Bush has been hostile towards.

  • I long for the day when Kerry is history, and thankfully, that’s in about three weeks.

  • Beyond all other reasons (well, maybe not the fact that Kerry is above all else nothing but a traitorous lout), the inability of Kerry and the feckless nimrods infecting the liberal wing of the democratic party to open their eyes to reality will ensure Bush’s victory November 2.
    As others have said more elequontly than me, theres not much use arguing over freedom of speech, the continued deterioration of the 4th amendment (which the Democrats are just as guilty of pushing), gay marriage, or the loss of abortion rights if we are all dead.

  • In the real world there is a use of ‘terrorism’ that is continuous, in Spain and in England from groups that have aims to achieve that are not realistic and in the middle east from groups that as in Afghanistan have actually achieved power.
    That these groups should be able to dictate to the free world what they do and how they direct their policies is not a desirable condition.
    For those who simply want Sen. Kerry to lose, maybe that is a desirable condition.
    Not for me.

  • ed

    Oh and don’t forget Snowcroft! The Bush family man was the first to hearken back to those days when terrorism was mealy a nuisance.

  • Terrorism is a tactic, not an ideology. Maybe you are making reference to a specific ideology, in which case say so. Trying to defeat a tactic makes no sense.

  • Angelos

    I’ve lived around terrorism since the 80s, when they kept blowing up TWAs out of Egypt. Of course, they all landed in Athens, so Greece got painted with the “dangerous” label, but it was the lack of security in Cairo Airport that let the bombs on.
    Terrorism has been with us forever, and will be with us forever. All we can do is try to beef up our domestic intelligence agancies, ideally taking the politics out of them, so we can try to prevent/preempt large-scale attacks here in the States.
    Overseas, nothing we can do. Whichever way you lean with your vote, don’t kid yourselves that your man has anything to do with attacks on Americans, Jews, and other infidels abroad.
    I’d be more concerned about the poor state of our military in Iraq, the non-existent state of our military in Afghanistan, and the apparent inability of our administration to see that there’s a problem.

  • We’ve got 40,000 deaths a year from motor accidents — that’s a nuisance of sorts, isn’t it, since we don’t pay much attention?
    As frightening as it is, the risk to any individual of being blown up by a terrorist attack is miniscule, compared with all the other risks we face, from car accidents to global warming.
    Moreover, as spectacular as 9/11 was, it was the work of a small handful of determined thugs, not the grand vision of some large empire or civilization, which is what Cheney wants us to believe.
    Take a look at what Ben Barber has been saying:

  • Lee

    Terrorism is a method, not even an ideology.
    To suggest only no terrorism=safety ignores a) we haven’t eliminated war (and terrorism is part of 4th generation warfare); and b) all manner of things put humans in danger, so safety is always relative and NEVER assured. (Humans die of many things.)
    What may be at stake is a way of living, with a sense of safety and confidence. I have to ask, as a NY’er, will overkill now change that some of we felt pre-9/11 was false?
    The immediate and short-term personal safety of most Americans against Islamicist jihadists can be more readily accomplished through agressive homeland defense than in the fighting of foreign wars. While the War in Afghanistan was just and necessary. In Iraq, it is a stretch to say this conflict has furthered US interests, at hoem or abroad.
    Engagement as in Afghanistan and for the longer term will continue to be just and necessary for the REALPOLITIK that’s played out since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, through two World Wars (Churchil et. al. CREATED Iraq) and the Cold War. The 80’s Afgahn conflict was a proxy war (not for the Afghans) but for the US and the now blessedly defucnt USSR. At that time, the US, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan funded a nascent Al Quaeda and similar groups.
    It seems true that “what AQ and other Islamicist jihadists want” is the destruction of the US at least as SuperPower (and killing its citizens is a good way to start) and the overthrow of non-theocratic regimes throughout the Islamic world and Europe. UBL’s 1995 fatwa foretold AQ would do all in its ability to harm Westerners, Jews and anyone else who got its way, on the Arabian Penninsula and elsewhere.
    So why did US policy permit the spread of these jihadists to Iraq? Why are there only about 10K US soldiers in Afghanistan and mostly only protecting Kabul?

  • Matthew Goggins

    Jeff: Amen.
    Laservisor: One question for you. If Joey Jihad had an armed nuclear bomb sitting under Grand Central Station, would he push the button?
    If you said anything other than “Absolutely not!”, then your motor accident analogy completely falls apart.

  • Cooper

    to get to a point where terrorism is history would be either a utopia or a living hell with most of the freedoms we enjoy taken away
    A world where terrorism was impossible would be a world where the state could never be overthrown – a totalitarian nightmare

  • pragmatist

    It has been frequently speculated that:
    “Trying to defeat a tactic makes no sense.”
    I would suggest those holding that opinion do
    some research into military history. The
    rationale for all changes in military techniques
    has been EXACTLY that. Continually it has
    been to ‘defeat a tactic’.
    A good place to start is to why Churchill pushed
    the use of armor in WWI. It was to ‘defeat the
    tactic’ of defensive trenches.
    I find it quite amusing that those without
    a clue about history love to lecture us about
    what is or is not possible. Each and every
    day vast amounts of effort, thought and money
    are expended in determining better ways
    to ‘defeat a tactic’.
    I suppose it is easier to say that nothing
    can be done than actually spending some effort
    figuring out how to solve a problem. Or even
    allowing those who know better to determine
    a solution.

  • Jesse

    Terrorism will never be history. Murder will never be history. Theft will never be history. Rape will never be history. It’s nice to think we’re striving towards a society where these things will no longer exist, but it will simply never happen.
    I agree that Kerry could have used a better word than ‘nuisance,’ but what he was trying to say is that we should strive for the day where terrorism is not on page 1 of every newspaper every day, and not something that people automatically think of every time they board a plane.

  • alcibiades

    I think this is just another classic example of Thomas Friedman’s intellectual dishonesty. The guy just has a horror of Republicans in office, to the extent that, were the same war being prosecuted in the same way with the same outcome at this point by a Democrat in office, I fully believe his “candid” assessment of the situation would be the opposite. The pattern he would be spotting in the brush would be one of success, not wrongheaded failure. In that, of course, he differs little from the MSM as a whole. We have seen the proof of that again just last weekend in Afghanistan, whose election was largely uncovered because there was no facile way to turn it into a disaster for GWB.
    The reason Friedman has to talk himself into disowning support for the war at this point is because support for it would look like support for Bush over Kerry; and for him, that is a bridge too far. He isn’t ever going to force himself to a position so inimical to his core self [which amounts to nothing more than the “complicated” notion of Democrats good, Republicans bad]. So instead, he’d prefer the intellectual dishonesty of a complete backdown on a position he once held dear, and then as a way to contain the insuperable contradiction, blame the whole thing on Bush in a puerile and dishonest intellectual slip. When really what is going on here is Friedman’s desire to support the Democrat contender at all costs is simply overriding his vaunted and proud support for the war and for the vision behind it in terms of progress in the world.
    Friedman’s willing to put all of that on the shelf because his baseline is always pro-democrat, even when it forces his ongoing analysis of the world into abeyance.
    There’s the integral difference between him and, say, Roger L. Simon, who had the courage of his convictions and was willing to give up an entire lifetime of idiomatic, reflexive pro-democrat response when the facts on the world stage no longer supported that viewpoint. Friedman doesn’t have that courage. So he makes the dishonest intellectual argument on something he once held dear, because for him personally, adding any support at all to the Republican candidate is even more painful. He would rather retreat on all his principles about the WOT.
    He dresses it up in slippery language to confuse himself as well as his readers, but that is what it comes down to.

  • Franky

    “I long for the day when terrorism is history”.
    Care to give us some idea of just how that will be possible?
    “Terrorism will never be a nuisance to the people who are still killed and terrorized by these criminals.”
    As someone rightly pointed out, what about car accidents? Should we declare a war on cars? It seems a lot more likely we could win that one, because you know, cars are at least tangible.

  • Well, everyone here has delivered the appropriate slap of reality this post deserved.
    Let me just point out that, in terms of reducing the fear of terrorism to a nuisance again, George W. Bush is not up to the job.

  • Kat

    Islamic terrorism has never been a mere nuisance. It is bloody well time we saw it for what it is–sick and dangerous.

  • billg

    I’ll vote, for the second time, against Bush because I’m convinced he and his supporters would protect us from terrorism by altering this country beyond recognition or redemption. I still have faith in democracy, a faith I don’t believe is shared by Bush, Cheney, et al.

  • I really like you and this blog, Jeff — so I was taken aback by this post which is a departure from what I perceive to be your reasoned analysis.
    Given your caution, I guess the answer must be yes to all three, but Re: Kerry/Friedman (K/F), do you really believe that:
    1) K/F consider terrorist acts to be nuisances -or- wish for a victory over terrorism such that the forward thrust of the war on terrorism has a more minimal impact on our rhetorical and actual lives?
    2) K/F blame 9/11 on Bush?
    3) The history/nuisance distinction is meaningful enough to support your volcanic outrage?

  • Matthew Goggins

    Attention all snarky defenders of Senator Kerry and Mr. Friedman.
    We are fighting Islamist terrorists.
    We can keep them off-balance and on the defensive by attacking regimes that help them.
    We can defeat them by establishing democracy and freedom in the Middle East and elsewhere in the Islamic world.
    President Bush gets it. Senator Kerry says he gets it, except when he says he doesn’t. I suspect he understands the concept, but doesn’t believe in it.
    Please vote for Bush, it’s a secret ballot, no one will ever have to know!

  • People like Kerry and Friedman (who up until now I thought was pretty reasonable about terrorism and the mid-east) won’t acknowledge the true threat of terrorism until it’s their own throat being slit.

  • Robert S.

    Kerry (and Friedman) was simply addressing the unfortunate reality, that it’s impossible to *totally* stmap out terrorism. Terrorism is not represented a single person or place that can be destroyed and then forgotten about. It’s a cancer which can be managed, but unfortunately one can never be sure it won’t return, whether on a small or large scale. It can’t be stamped out. It’s always going to be at least/at best a nuisance. It’s that simple. That’s what Kerry meant. So quit with the rhetoric. For future posts, simply refer to this one for any necessary rebuttal.
    Next, an actually important issue please?

  • BULLY FOR YOU JEFF! – And again, bully for you. (Needs said twice.)
    But let’s quit calling this a “war on terrorism” …which, given the use of the phrase, Bush was correct (in a nuanced fashion …heh) in saying “will never end”. Because using that catch-all term “terrorism” at once says too little, and far too much, about US policy.
    And OF COURSE no one is ever going to “win” any so-called ephemeral “war on terrorism”, anymore then anyone is ever going to win a “war on murder” …because terrorist acts are committed by individuals …but the war we’re actually fighting certainly can be won.
    Tactical “victory” in detail can be effected by a single terrorist act (i.e., any isolated terrorist act can be effective in the tactical, battle-field sense). But strategic victory in theatre ALWAYS requires large-scale organizational support, and implies either passive or active state sponsorship.
    1. EVERY LARGE ORGANIZATION REQUIRES MASSIVE FISCAL INVESTMENTS IN INFRASTRUCTURE …and infrastructure implies concrete “things” – physical assets – that are neither ephemeral, nor diaphanously amorphous.
    To put it bluntly, you can blow the physical assets of any organization to hell-and-gone through the use of military action …and thus deny the organization the benefit of the use of such assets. And …if you deny the organization the use of enough of its infrastructure, you will destroy the ability of the organization to act as an effective corporate entity.
    The unstated implication of the infrastructure proposition is the de facto requirement of state support or sponsorship of said large-scale organization’s infrastructure requirements.
    2. PHYSICAL INFRASTRUCTURE CAN BE DESTROYED BY PREEMPTIVE ACTION …but preemptive destruction of physical assets can ONLY be effected through military action …for non-preemptive response (and hence an ineffectual response, when you’re discussing the curtailment of the effectiveness of terrorist organizations) you have a choice of techniques: take your choice of diplomacy, law enforcement procedures, limited military acts etc.
    3. ONLY LARGE-SCALE ORGANIZATIONS ARE CAPABLE OF STRATEGIC VICTORY …this assertion should be obvious, but you’re not going to understand why it should be obvious if you draw a blank on the mention of Sun Tzu or Clauswitz.
    (…and your “opinion” at that point, frankly isn’t worth your public expression of it: you wanna discuss tactics and strategy on any kind of serious level, you need to have more then a passing acquintance with the subject …and a grounding in military history helps, too.)
    The implication of these three propositions, coupled to the determined exploitation of our strategic goal, will eventually result in a cessation of organized tactical actions by Islamofascist organizations: we will have “won” the war. Which leads to …
    4. THE EFFECTIVE USE OF PREEMPTIVE MILITARY RESPONSE WILL RESULT IN STRATEGIC VICTORY …and will ultimately destroy Al Qaeda and any other Islamofascist organization in those terrorist-supporting nation-states on which we focus our efforts.
    …sheesh, I’d think it would be bloody obvious that you have to use an army to win a war.
    WWIV (re: Norman Podhoretz …link requires Adobe Reader) is about preempting the state support of organized Islamofascism …and THAT [pre-emptive] military policy coupled with a policy of careful nurturing newly birthed democracies is definitely going to result in a well-defined point-of-cessation of large-scale military action; it’s just patently absurd to suggest otherwise.
    NOTE: The establishment and nurturance of emerging democracies in conquered terrorist states IS A RADICAL CHANGE from previous US policy, and this new US policy is in stark contrast to the immorality of the current European/United Nation policy of support for utterly despicable despotic thugocracies …doesn’t anyone remember the previous morally bankrupt policy that resulted in statements like “Yeah, he may be an oppressive murderous a**hole dictator, but he’s OUR oppressive murderous a**hole dictator”?
    In essence, this is a repudiation of the worst portion of Henry Kissinger-ian realpolitik …about damn time. And I don’t understand why the moral absolutists of the utopian Left aren’t just giddy with excited approval about it, either.
    So long as we maintain the historically effective response of preemption as public policy (and preemption has been the primary US policy for most of its history …it’s just ahistorical to suggest that preemption is some kind of “new” Bush policy), Al Qaeda (and any other terrorist organization) is toast.
    But IF we go down the ineffectual “nuanced-summit” route of Senator Kerry, which is grounded in the WWIII concept of deterrencewe’re toast. If your policy is to “respond” to ANY act, by definition you are incapable of “preventing” the act.
    You can’t have it both ways. Take your pick.

  • pianoman

    Great post. Friedman is like you, IMHO – a Democrat caught between the 9/11 realities and their distrust of the GOP….

  • Privacy Watch


  • Andy

    What nobody asks is “HOW MANY Dead Americans Every Year is the Acceptable Level for a President?”
    How many of us do they get to kill to be a “nuisance”?
    The Clinton average was about one a week for eight years.
    *EVERYBODY* knows that the military can only hold back terror long enough for a political solution. If there is no political solution terror will continue. If there is no military opposition there will be no political opposition. But the military alone cannot ever defeat terrorism.
    Or maybe not everyone knows it.

  • plunge

    Sorry Jarvis, but you’re just off the mark on this one. Terrorism is a tactic: it will never be “history.” Hell, sometimes terrorism is even justified in times of extreme conflict, like Hiroshima (and don’t give me that “it’s not terrorism if the group responsible is legally incorporated as a nation!” nonsense). We will never be entirely rid of nutcases. In fact, as the ability of an average person to create and use WMDs increases with modern technology, things are undeniably going to get worse. That’s why I believe that security and stability are far far more important than ever before: that’s what 9/11 demonstrated. That’s what I agree with Jarvis on. But it simply doesn’t follow from that that Iraq was the correct next move on the chessboard. It was a strategic blunder.
    “We can keep them off-balance and on the defensive by attacking regimes that help them.”
    The problem is, we picked the wrong country for our second demonstration to make this strategy work. It didn’t off-balance the terrorists at all: hell Osama PROPHSIZED that it would happen: it’s even part of their century long plan to defeat us. They were ready to take advantage of it, and indeed they’d BEEN ready for it for almost a decade! Our resources would have been much better spent confronting Iran while putting pressure on Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Kuwait, and others to reform. Afghanistan should have been our project for democracy for the next little while.
    “We can defeat them by establishing democracy and freedom in the Middle East and elsewhere in the Islamic world.”
    I agree, but it doesn’t then follow that we’re heading in the right direction to accomplish that goal. Afghanistan was an obvious great start: a failed state that was out of control. But Iraq at this point looks like a strategic misstep.

  • Pete

    Kerry is getting hammered here for the use of the unfortunate word “Nuisance”. I believe that he wants us to enter a time where we can deal with terrorism by using the police force of every nation.
    I think that’s a laudable goal. But unfortuantely for him (and all of us), the only way to do that is to go to war with every nation that supports terrorism. I’m not sure he understands that. But I’m glad that Bush does.

  • billg

    >>”We can defeat them by establishing democracy and freedom in the Middle East and elsewhere in the Islamic world.”
    That sure sounds good, but it is faulty logic. Democracy didn’t stop the IRA. Democracy hasn’t stopped Basque terrorism. Democracy didn’t stop Oklahoma City, nor did it stop John Brown (good motives, but a terrorist by modern definitions). For good look at widespread U.S. terrorism, look at Kansas a few years before the Civil War.
    Democracy counters terror only if you believe that terror is generated by the suppression of legitimate rights and the failure to remedy legitimate grievances. (This is the “They have no option but to use terror” notion.) If that’s true, why isn’t every undemocratic regime populated entirely by terrorists?
    It is civilized politics that terrorists reject, whether democratic or otherwise. Terror spawned in the Middle East will continue even if the entire region is democratized because democracy will not bring the goals of the terrorists any closer.

  • Kat


  • so by your logic mr. jarvis i presume you’re also breathlessly working towards the eradication of murder?
    of course you aren’t. terrorism as a tactic will never be completely eliminated, just like murder. you can work to reduce the amount of murders, and you can work to reduce the amount of terrorism, but if you think that one day either will be “history,” you’re a fool.

  • Kenna Amos

    If you mean Friedman falls over the edge into madness, then, yes, he did derail this morning.
    What’s really frightening about what he wrote, at least for me, is this:

    That’s why Mr. Kerry was actually touching something many Americans are worried about-that this war on terrorism is transforming us and our society, when it was supposed to be about uprooting the terrorists and transforming their societies.

    That’s the type of navel-gazing, misinformed, head-up-the-rear-end tripe that’s as dangerous as the terrorists.
    How very typically American and liberal: We can go merrily along and the world will conform to us, lost out there in the Bozone Layer.
    Neither Friedman nor Kerry understand–or at least have the tesiticularity to admit–that the issue of terror is one that may be for us for a very long time. It will take far more resources than any of us can conceive.
    And it will take an absolute shift in how we view an enemy, its tactics, its willingness and commitment to its end and what resolve and sacrifice may be involved on the part of civilization that will not only stand against the enemy, but is committed to triumph over it.
    But this kind of adolescent dreaming from Friedman et. al. won’t ever get us there:

    I want a president who can one day restore Sept. 11th to its rightful place on the calendar: as the day after Sept. 10th and before Sept. 12th. I do not want it to become a day that defines us. Because ultimately Sept. 11th is about them-the bad guys-not about us.

    IF Friedman had been writing in 1944 about Dec. 7, 1941, would he also have said that Pearl Harbor was just another day?
    What the fellow has written is absurd. And he’s untruthful. If 9/11 does not define us now, at least in a new way of being vigilant and protective of ourselves, then what he said is this: I want to return to 9/10 and stop the calendar then.
    He cannot have it both ways.

  • Gary

    While I’m sure that many believe that we’ll never be able to win this war, which is a real war despite what Mr. Holbrooke says, I don’t share that view. In the late 1970’s & early 1980’s, elites said that containing the USSR was the best we could hope for. They were wrong. The truth is that, using their personal mindset, that was the best that could be hoped for. Along comes an idealist named Reagan & the landscape changed. He knew that the USSR was evil & said so. He knew that the Soviet economy couldn’t support both guns & butter. Above all else, he knew that people worldwide yearned to be free & his policies reflected that. The realists of the world ridiculed him but he won.
    Now President Bush is the idealist & Kerry’s the pragmatist/realist. Bush also knows that people worldwide yearn for their freedom. President Bush knows that for the people of the middle east to realize that freedom & for us to actually be safe, we need to change cultures from totalitarian regimes into democracies that respect human rights. That means opposing those that hate us & would rather kill us than anything else.
    My bottom line is this: I’m confident that, given the time, President Bush will keep us heading in that direction, though I won’t say that we’ll win that war before his 2nd term in office expires. I’m not at all confident of that with Sen. Kerry.

  • Jon H

    On a national scale, terrorism was a nuisance when it was the Unabomber, or the Atlanta Olympics guy.
    Those didn’t cause national alerts, or the loss of civil liberties.
    For the people killed and injured, it was a tragedy. But not much more than would have been the case had the cause been, say, a drunk driver.
    I wouldn’t mind being able to get back to that point.
    Wanting to get back to that point doesn’t imply that one would declare it to be the case, ignoring external reality. That actually seems to be the Bush approach – declare that he’s not concerned about Osama Bin Laden (I guess Bush thinks Osama’s just a nuisance) and move on to Iraq, which isn’t actually related.
    A way to get back to that point would be to actually *deal* with Al Qaeda, wouldn’t it?

  • Jon H

    brandon davis writes: “1. EVERY LARGE ORGANIZATION REQUIRES MASSIVE FISCAL INVESTMENTS IN INFRASTRUCTURE …and infrastructure implies concrete “things” – physical assets – that are neither ephemeral, nor diaphanously amorphous.”
    Wrong. Just look at the file trading networks which the music labels are worried about.
    Large ad-hoc organization, very low fiscal investment in infrastructure by participants, big claimed losses by the labels. All it takes is a cheap computer, free software, and cheap net access. The expensive parts of the infrastructure are owned by commercial interests which sell access cheap.
    Your thesis is very much stuck in the 70s. State support is no longer necessary in this era.
    And when the US isn’t bothering to guard high-tech equipment from Iraq’s nuclear program, it’s easy for stateless actors to acquire such materiel on the black market.

  • Jon H

    Pete writes: “I think that’s a laudable goal. But unfortuantely for him (and all of us), the only way to do that is to go to war with every nation that supports terrorism. I’m not sure he understands that. But I’m glad that Bush does.”
    So when will Bush be launching an invasion of the US?
    We’re currently harboring the MEK, an Iranian terrorist group which has attacked and killed Americans, and which was involved in the takeover of the embassy in Tehran.
    They were kicked out of Iran by the Ayatollah’s people, and have launched attacks against Iran, from bases in Iraq.
    But they’re still terrorists, who have attacked Americans, even if they are nominally convenient allies. Would we team up with Osama bin Laden if he were attacking Iran?

  • Franky

    I would like to join Jon H’s call for the invasion of the US, though I’ll be a little more specific. Miami is harboring terrorists whose terrorism against Cuba must not be allowed to stand. Death to Terrorism!
    I say we begin with some bombing raids by our airforce. Of course, innoocents will be killed, but I’m sure the mothers of dead children will understand why we’re doing it and greet us with roses. In fact I won’t be surprised if in one year’s time there will be a square in Little Havana named after George Bush.

  • Jon H –
    Wrong. Just look at the file trading networks which the music labels are worried about.
    Are you seriously suggesting that the the untold billions of dollars invested in the physical infrastructure of the Internet (the fibre, the cabling, the servers, the switches, etc.) even in a limited regional area is “cheap”? Or defensible from physical disruption (think: bombs …or EMT)?
    Perhaps you have misunderstood the concept as discussed? – Because there’s certainly nothing “cheap” or “diaphanous” or “ephemeral” about communications infrastructure.
    Your example of file trading networks is hardly an appropriate analogy …the labels aren’t soverign states, and swappers aren’t terrorist organizations, and the Internet infrastructure isn’t free and is incredibly vulnerable.
    As far as being “…stuck in the 70s. State support is no longer necessary in this era.”
    Huh? what does the era have to do with it? Do you think the necessity for buildings and roads, food and weapons has changed?
    Think! – No filing cabinets. No office space. No buildings. No training camps. No water. No electrical power. No banking. No hospitals. No ammo dumps. No blah-blah-blah.
    Where and how do you store TONS of perishables? – Even terrorists need the occasional meal.
    Do you think a terrorist training camp with thousands of people can exist in a vacuum?
    Do you think such an organization with strategic goals would be operationally effective in any sense against a trained, well-equipped national army?
    Such a position would be extraordinarily difficult to rationally argue the case for.
    As for “stateless actors” acquiring nucleur material on the black market …How is the initial contact made? Where does the money come from? How do you effect large funds transfers? How do you effect payment? No banking? No necessity for communications? What about effective operational security?
    Uh-uh. If advanced weapons acquisition was half as easy as you appear to be suggesting, St. Louis would have been dusted two years ago. (And as St. Louis is still there, perhaps this requires a little more “infrastructure” then your assertion suggests, eh?)
    Are you perhaps confusing large terrorist organizations, capable of achieving strategic goals, with individual terrorists carrying out isolated terrorist acts (and whether those individuals are acting independently or at the direction of larger entities is irrelevant to the issue of large organizations logistical needs)?
    Did you perhaps think I was discussing McVeigh rather then Al Qaeda? Are YOU discussing guerilla operations, rather then strategic operational necessities?
    My post wasn’t about – nor was I addressing – individual acts of terrorism (which will never be preemptible in the military sense). The point of the post was that the “war on terror” is really the “war on the state sponsors of organized Islamofascism”.
    To reiterate, large organizations, particularly those capable of even minimal global reach, have logistical REQUIREMENTS that presuppose state support. State support whether passive or active is an absolute necessity for ANY large scale organization.

  • JEL

    Prostitution (debatably) and drug use (assuredly) are ‘victimless’ crimes, that’s why they are nuisances. When you develop a victimless terrorism you may be able to ‘return to the days of nuisance’.

  • Peg C.

    Jeff, thank you for your clarity on this. Lately you have occasionally seemed to go wobbly. The crux of this for me is to realize that knowing we can never achieve something should not stop us from striving for it. Slavery can never be totally eradicated; does that mean we should not strive to eradicate it? There are countless evils in this world that we cannot eliminate but we should continue to strive to do so. One can never be perfect but one should strive for perfection. What else drives human beings to do and be our best?
    Believing we cannot win the war on terror does not mean we give up and stay home and wait to be destroyed. As long as people exercise free will, terrorism will be a possibility and a reality, because it is the product of a facet of human nature. You can change behavior, not nature, which the pomo-transi-multiculti left refuse to acknowledge.
    The way to sufficiently “win” the WOT (if we can) is relentlessly to punish the terrorists. There is no other way and no other option. Before 9/11, we were no safer than we are now but we were ignorant and complacent. Our consciences have been raised and we can’t go back. You are exactly right that to wish for 9/10 is to wish for ignorance and a false sense of security. It’s like wishing for the safety of 1938 in 1944.
    Ultimately, Kerry betrays the truth: that the Dems are powerless when reality hits us in the face. They are admitting it. We have to get to a place where we can forget about security and concentrate on the domestic concerns that are their strength. They know they cannot win as long as security concerns override all else, and they are correct. I believe that their methods of dealing with security threats here and in the world make our future less safe and their retaking of the reigns of power that much less likely. They are incapable of perceiving this.

  • Terrorism never was a nuisance in the past, so its MISLEADING for Kerry to suggest so. I speak from experience, as the family member of a terror victim, from the bombing of Pan Am 103. And anyone who suggests that it either was or can be a nuisance again is a frank partisan (Friedman) or an uncaring idiot.

  • Vicar

    Brandon Davis – you make interesting thought-out arguments, but your use of the term islamofacist seems to detract from your posts.
    I think your ideas about stripping away the entire infrastructure from the terrorists is unrealistic – moreso as they are difficult to identify and differentiate from our ‘allies.’ As noted above, the US engages in terrorism as well – as we did in Iraq prior to invading through our rebellious agents.
    I don’t think all this dialogue on the use of the word nuisance, taken way out of context, is all that helpful to policy debate either. Us and them is no more clear today than during Vietnam.

  • There is no reason to kill another person because they have a religion we don’t like.
    Mormons aren’t likely to convert to Catholicism, and they are convinced wearing uncomfortable underwear makes them less prone to sexual behavior.
    So what? If you don’t work at a Marriott Motel, you may never know about this.

  • Kat

    {There is no reason to kill another person because they have a religion we don’t like.} Tell THAT to your muslim friends. Their religion tells them to kill us–if it comes to kill or be killed, I’d rather see them killed than us.

  • sbw

    You don’t set out to kill some one whose religion you don’t like. You set out to gather together those who believe in peaceful problem resolution and, only if necessary, protect yourself from those who don’t.

  • isopod

    I would like to see Friedman explain to African Americans that there is a “nuisance level” of lynchings that they should be prepared to put up with and in fact be grateful for.

  • Oak Leaf

    First time to your site and I like it. I came over from polipundit.
    Friedman states,
    “but I dream of going back to the days when terrorism was just a nuisance in our lives.”
    Yah, and I dream of going back to the time I was a 21 year old college senior too !!!! It’s a pipe dream.

  • Robert Brown

    I think one could make a logical argument that we should have done nothing in response to 9/11 other that beef up our defenses a bit and perhaps file a complaint with the U.N. Even if we had to accept the

  • Matthew Goggins

    You don’t think it’s clear who the good guys and bad guys are.
    The good guys are us. Sometimes we do the wrong thing, but we’re still the good guys.
    The bad guys are the Sunnis who are bombing innocent people, and the Islamist terrorists, many of whom are from outside Iraq, who are likewise bombing and beheading innocent people.
    Allawi is also a good guy. We’re working with his government to kill or otherwise stop the bad guys.
    Elsewhere, the supporters of Islamist terror, such as the Iranian mullahs, are also bad guys.
    As a general rule, those who target civilians for killing are bad guys, those who don’t are good guys. This rule actually works very effectively in distinguishing good guys from bad guys anywhere from the Middle East to the Pacific rim and beyond.

  • Lee

    it is extremely sad for the state of the nation that many seem to believe that electoral victory for one aprty or another at the Executive will mean either victory or disaster for the nation, nothing in between.
    Let us remeber that the current Executive was elected with a foreign policy platform of international DIS-engagement, except for trade. That changed post 9/11, as it should have.
    I do not know for certain– and it impossible for me to see how anyone else can– that an adminsitration from the opposition party has proven one thing or another about their approach to our NEW realization of threat, when they have not held the Executive.
    I do know that a Homeland Security agency was initially opposed by this adminstration, as was the 9/11 Commission.
    I do know that pressure from the populace and the federal legislature changed that view.
    I do know that the war in Iraq is a mess; and it hasn’t been handled by any of the approaches that war theorists here have suggested. (This isn’t any more an example of Clausewitz’s approach than was tried– to great failure– by Bismark.)
    The trouble I have with the idea of trying to defeat terrorism or the tactic of terrorism everywhere is precisely that it exists in so many places that there is no way US military forces alone or with tiny coalitions can defeat it everywhere. The fact that the Pres. and Sen. Kerry both say they can not guarantee there won’t be another attack on the homeland is ample evidence that our current siuaion requires more than sloganeering about party ideology.

  • There is no reason to kill another person because they have a religion we don’t like.
    Go into the tribal areas of Pakistan, into the mosques of Saudi Arabia, find the Millionaire mullahs of Iran or the many Saudi-funded mosques in America and Britain and explain this to them.

  • Gary

    Robert Brown says “People are not logical, however, and would never allow this calculation. I am sure (well, pretty sure) Kerry did not mean this, but rather was trying to say the same thing that the Bush administration has been saying: the war on terrorism can not be

  • I think the idea that we can go back to having terrorism be just a nuisance — without defeating the terrorists — really implies that we’ve done something which causes the terrorists to do this, and if we can just change it, they’ll leave us alone. So 9/11 really was our fault.
    I think this is absurd — but I think that’s what’s underlying these arguments. See here:

  • Vicar

    Islamist terrorism is motivated by Islamic laws. Shariah (Islamic) laws allow slavery, the death penalty for apostasy. These laws also encourage the current genocidal jihad.
    Kat – good god you’re scared.
    The same thing has been said and in some cases still is said about Christrianity. I will debate a lot of issues, and concede weak points, but I cannot and will not damn an entire religion (especially one that worships the same god as Christianity) for the acts of some of its members. Remember the IRA?
    Brilliant economic arguments about cars vs. terrorism. Many emotionally charged issues fail public debate when put into economically comparable terms – but the logic is sound. Perhaps we could wipe out terror…perhaps people would feel safer if we militantly enforced a 25 mph speed limit or outlawed cars. The only difference, a major one, is intent. We get much madder about someone that means to kill us than an accident, and madder about a drunk driver than someone who misjudges a turn.
    Unfortunately, much debate about political issues in this country descends into rhetoric and emotional appeals. These issues are complex enough w/o losing messages in the fray of poor communication.
    Mat Goggins – I like your proposed good/bad distinction.
    Lee – made good points. We seem to put a lot of faith into this one branch of the government, when once upon a time the exec was only supposed to carry out the laws made by the legislative. For all the shuffling at the top, the vast majority of the military, intelligence, and entire government doesn’t change during an administration shift.

  • Kat

    Vicar–Don’t attribute quotes to me that I never made. However, I do agree with Mary.

  • Vicar –
    “…but your use of the term islamofacist seems to detract from your posts.”
    Perhaps you misunderstand the term “Islamofascist” as referring to all Muslims? – It doesn’t, of course. Islamofascism refers to Islamic terrorist organizations whose political agenda is a direct descendent of Germany’s National Socialist Workers Party (Nazis) and Italy’s Fascist Party of the 1930’s.
    The Islamofascist combination of political fascism, anti-Semitism, and a particularly distorted and virulent corruption of Islamic Sharia makes for an extremely poisonous brew of human evil.
    The use of the term is appropriate and an accurate description of their political screed.
    (You don’t mention it, but I will note that the term doesn’t, obviously, describe the political motivations of the North Koreans.)
    “I think your ideas about stripping away the entire infrastructure from the terrorists is unrealistic”
    You would be right …if that was what I had tried to argue. It wasn’t.
    The necessity of infrastructure for any large organization shows …
    1. that it is relatively easy to identify the geopolitical location of large terrorist organizations due to typical large organization dependence upon infrastructure (to meet organizational logistical requirements) …and,
    2. easily identifiable state sponsors are a necessity for the safe harbor of large terrorist organizations.
    To wit. Large terrorist organizations are locatable in the geopolitical sense. And denying them safe harbor will destroy their strategic operational effectiveness.
    However, the main thrust of my argument is based upon the observation that the “war on terrorism” as we are actually waging it in the military sense, is more acurately described as a “war on the state sponsors of Islamofascism”. And that this more precise terminology to describe the war – against the state sponsors of Islamofascism – is both …
    1. winnable in the traditional strategic sense, and
    2. will have a final precise ending in time.
    Those who would – foolishly – argue that a war on terrorism isn’t winnable, haven’t looked beyond the terminology of “war on terror”, to examine what the practice of the stated policy is.
    (I don’t think anyone means to set up a straw man argument – i.e., you can’t “win” the “war on terror” because terrorism is a tactic …all of which is terminologically correct – but that fallacy is the rather lazy result of not analyzing what we’re actually doing, rather then what we only say we’re doing.)
    US policy since 9/11 is to depose any regime that gives safe harbor to Islamofascist organizations. This policy has resulted in actions that are PRIMARILY military in operation. The military tactical operations will cease when the last of the state sponsors (think: Axis of Evil), is deposed (whether through direct military action, or through regime/policy changes).
    …the more interesting discussion is what the coming order of battle will be btw.

  • Islamist terrorism is motivated by Islamic laws. Shariah (Islamic) laws allow slavery, the death penalty for apostasy. These laws also encourage the current genocidal jihad.
    Kat – good god you’re scared.

    Vicar – Before making accusations (and before accusing the wrong people) it

  • Vicar

    brandon davis – thanx for the clarification.
    Mary – again, you can pull the quotes out of the text just as you can from old and new Christian testament, but the practice is a different thing indeed. Yes there are jerks and even legions of jerks in that religion – and do the crusades ring a bell? Aren’t there nutty groups who literally interpret other doctrines to the detriment of others? Again – it’s hard to justify hating an entire religion, especially from a country based on freedom of religion.

  • Vicar –
    Umm, it does no one any good to proffer as seriously relevant religious practices or events of several hundred years ago, and seem to suggest that those are current issues …it’s …wacky.
    The Crusades and the Inquisition are Simply Not Relevant to modern Christianity (trust me, even the fundamentalist Pentecostals aren’t interested in donning hairshirts and marching off to free Jerusalem from the Saracens, and even the Jesuits have abandoned the rack) except to historians …and no degree of rhetoric is going to convince anyone (except OBL and his ilk) that their introduction to a rational discussion about current events is anything other then artifice.
    …and not even good artifice.
    Our – if by “our” you mean the US – social acceptance of “nutty groups” these days operates mostly at the level of tolerable awareness …the fraternity goof-offs perception …in other words, thanks, but “no thanks”.
    As far as your referral to “detrimental doctrinal iterpretation” being relevant, I suppose it depends upon what you mean by “detrimental” …
    …if you’re referring to passionate dispute: So? – Your point being? (MY point being, who cares.)
    …if you’re referring to suicide bombers: yeah, we need to do something about this “nutty group”.
    NO ONE is suggesting we “hate” an entire region.
    But NO ONE should suggest that we blind ourselves to the FACT that this particular little evil piece of human socio-political detritus originates from a very easily identified place on the planet.
    It is absurd to attempt to turn our entirely legitimate concern with the geopolitical locus of this cancerous infection of ancient evil into some kind of exercise in political correctness.
    It’s not about “hate ’em all” …it’s about what we’re doing, and going to do, to excise this latest eruption of that old evil.

  • Vicar

    Well I agree we have to do something about the group that is committing acts of terrorism, any group. There is no room for tolerating terrorism, and I do not suggest that by calling them a nutty group. I also call health-clinic bombers nutty groups. That’s not to say they shouldn’t be met with strong force. I get the impression that some people are suggesting we wipe out all muslims – and if that is the case, I do not agree.
    I refer to the history of Christianity to show that any religion can be twisted, and that none survives a close analytical view. It’s not meant to be a blow by blow comparison, just a point that no religion is going to have a spotless history. Perhaps in 2k years people will find it hard to believe that the Muslim faith was used as an excuse for violence. I don’t think it’s fair to pretend that Christianity as it is practiced now is somehow impervious to it’s flaws in practice through history.
    I’m all for fighting and defending, but I also want to make sure who we fight is clearly an enemy.

  • Lee

    brandon wrote: “US policy since 9/11 is to depose any regime that gives safe harbor to Islamofascist organizations [. . . ] …the more interesting discussion is what the coming order of battle will be btw.”
    That last should hardly be “by the way” since by the defintion you suggest Iran, Syria and possibly Saudi Arabia also “qualify” — as would some number of Latin American countries.
    If we focus just on Zarqawi whom we beleive was in northern Iraq before the Iraq War, then there is some legitimacy to the view that Hussein was “harboring” terrorists. (His 25K gifts to suicide bombers represent other support, not harboring, the word on which you suggest the policy turns.)
    Meanwhile, Iraq demonstrates that merely deposing a regime does not end the problem; arguably, it exaccerbates the immediate danger troops and US citizens face there and elsewhere.
    So while we are committed to high troop levels in Iraq for some indefinite term, how exactly can there be any further order of battle — if the other things the current Pres. has promised in the Pres. campaign are not lies, i.e. no draft, a deficit cut in half in 5 years, etc.?
    I would agree with the proposition that what we’re doing is different from what we say we’re doing in the WOT; but what you’re suggesting doesn’t square with current personnel and financial resources or public promises.

  • Jon H

    brandon davis writes:
    “Are you seriously suggesting that the the untold billions of dollars invested in the physical infrastructure of the Internet (the fibre, the cabling, the servers, the switches, etc.) even in a limited regional area is “cheap”? Or defensible from physical disruption (think: bombs …or EMT)?”
    The point is that terrorists, like file swappers, can make use of pre-existing infrastructure which was not created for their use, which exists independent of the presence of terrorists to use it.
    File swappers don’t need to lay cable. They don’t need a government around to lay cable specifically for the file swappers. The cable is laid for other reasons, and file swappers simply use it.
    Likewise, terrorists don’t require the construction of special-purpose dedicated infrastructure. They can just latch on to what everyone else is using.
    “Perhaps you have misunderstood the concept as discussed? – Because there’s certainly nothing “cheap” or “diaphanous” or “ephemeral” about communications infrastructure.”
    No, you’re not getting it. The infrastructure exists independently of who uses it. Cellphone networks are not built to serve the needs of terrorists, yet they provide a cheap, powerful tool which terrorists can use, without needing *any* state sponsorship *of terrorists*.
    The point is that the terrorists don’t need specially constructed infrastructure.
    (But, I would certainly call disposable pre-paid cellphones “ephemeral” and “cheap”. The part of the infrastructure the terrorists need to provide, the part that connects to the preexisting links is, in fact, cheap.)
    “Your example of file trading networks is hardly an appropriate analogy …the labels aren’t soverign states, and swappers aren’t terrorist organizations, and the Internet infrastructure isn’t free and is incredibly vulnerable.”
    You’re missing the point. Before the internet, music piracy on the scale of that done over filesharing networks really *would* have required huge investments in infrastructure and equipment. CD pressing equipment, warehouses, shipping, finances, distribution networks.
    Now, none of that is needed. Physical items aren’t being traded, just bits, which reduces the costs required to participate almost to zero. (If you already owned a computer, and had a fast net connection, then the added cost to join file sharing networks is zero.) And there certainly isn’t a government department in charge of setting up infrastructure specifically for file sharing.
    With regards to terrorism, the point is that they can use the same telecommunications infrastructure for exchanging data, for organizing attacks, for obtaining equipment they need. They don’t need state participation to access this infrastructure. They don’t need the state to even be aware of their use of the infrastructure.
    Yes, the state often has a hand in setting up the infrastructure, or regulating it. But does that make the US a state sponsor of terrorism if an Al Qaeda operative in Albany uses email? Of course not.
    “Huh? what does the era have to do with it? Do you think the necessity for buildings and roads, food and weapons has changed?”
    Al Qaeda members drove on US roads. Did that make the US a state sponsor of Al Qaeda?
    No. The roads were not created for Al Qaeda. Why *would* a government be building roads for a terrorist organization? It kinda goes against the whole mode of operation of a terrorist group. Food and weapons are cheap. “Buildings” are cheap, all you need is an apartment. Terrorists don’t use bunkers. That kind of defeats the purpose of being a terrorist. If you’re setting up a cell in Virginia, or Hamburg, it would attract rather a lot of attention if you start building a reinforced concrete bunker.
    “Think! – No filing cabinets.”
    Hard drives.
    “No office space”
    Internet cafes. Apartments.
    “No buildings.”
    The Unabomber had a shack in Montana. Did that make him state-sponsored?
    “No training camps.”
    Doesn’t take much to make a training camp. Haven’t there been some terrorist training camps in the US?
    “No water.”
    Do you think the water company asks if you’re a terrorist? It usually comes with your apartment.
    “No electrical power.”
    Same here.
    “No banking. No hospitals.”
    Er, Al Qaeda operatives used banks in the US. Were they sponsored by the US? An (unidentified) Al Qaeda agent would be treated if he had, say, a burst appendix. Would that make the US a state sponsor?
    “No ammo dumps. No blah-blah-blah.”
    Did Tim McVeigh need one? Did the US government provide one? Did the UK provide the IRA with ammo dumps?
    “Where and how do you store TONS of perishables? – Even terrorists need the occasional meal.”
    Taco Bell handles that. Why would, say, the Hamburg Al Qaeda cell, have a massive stock of food?
    “Did you perhaps think I was discussing McVeigh rather then Al Qaeda? Are YOU discussing guerilla operations, rather then strategic operational necessities?”
    You seem to be forgetting that Al Qaeda operatives functioned in the United States, Hamburg, England, and other locations outside of training camps.
    I’m frankly not sure how much training was required for 9/11 which could only have been done at the type of camp you’re concerned about. All they needed was simple hand to hand combat training, which can be done anywhere, and flight training, which they obtained from commercial sources.

  • Vicar –
    May I suggest that you may mean “there is no room for toleration of ANY group that espouses terrorism as an acceptable political practice” as being closer to the intent of your assertion?
    The geopolitical problem is that the enlightened tenets of moderate Islam are being dismantled piece-by-piece by the fundamentalist sect of Wahhabists (btw you’re more of a target if you’re a Sufist, then if you’re a Christian, in Wahhabi enclaves), who are in turn fostering in their midst the festering sore of Islamofascism.
    There appears to be, from even sympathetic observers, a real problem with this particular branch of Islam …as evidenced by the actions of certain well-educated, wealthy young adherents of Wahhabist doctrine who not-so-long-ago decided that the cares of this world were less preferable then sharing immediate eternal amorous bliss with nubile houris in Heaven …while simultaneously extending the invitation to participate to reluctant Westerners in planes and tall buildings.
    Houston? – We Have A Problem Here.
    …but one does tire of hearing statements that seem to resemble those of Christian-o-phobics ranting that “the real problem is that rabid fundamentalists are putting gay atheists to the stake”.

  • Where I live a black man accused of raping a white woman was dragged through the town and the courthouse was burned down, along with the business section of the black community.
    that is terrorism
    I don’t defend it, and I don’t condone it.
    I recognize that we need to see terrorism as a
    ‘bad thing’ and not endorse it.
    Slavery was condoned by Christianity.
    It propped up the Roman world.
    It is present in Asian societies, where our manufacturing jobs are outsourced.
    Shall we gather by the river, and not buy those things made in slavery? I can do that.

  • Kat

    Ruth, slavery is STILL condoned by islam.

  • Jon H –
    Ah. I can see by issues you raise (in your counterpoint) that I was correct in previously asking you: “Are YOU discussing guerilla operations, rather then strategic operational necessities?”
    I was rather sure by the …umm …quaint flippancy of your first post that you didn’t quite see the point I’d originally made. (In my defence, one is after all, never totally sure whether someone else is merely trolling.)
    Your response and clarification indicates a decided focus on the operational imperatives of individual terrorists (whether singly, or in cells).
    I certainly don’t disagree with you on the operational imperatives of the individual terrorist at the tactical level …at least, I don’t feel like responding point-to-point to you is necessary, as in the whole, your reasoning is reasonably accurate, and the examples are “good ’nuff”.
    Simply put …individual acts of terrorism may be tactically effective (as I previously posted …and I don’t think you gave nearly enough initial thought to the implications of that assertion) , but individual acts of terrorism are insufficient to achieve strategic goals.
    At the strategic level, the individual act, the cell becomes ineffective. You need an army to fight an army.
    The stated strategic goal of Al Qaeda is not blowing up a few thousand Westerners, or taking out a few city blocks …but the destruction of the United States (and, of course, Israel) and the establishment of the Caliphate. They Seek To Play On A Global Scale.
    If ever it was true you need an army to fight an army …wouldn’t you agree this is a pertinent example of that truism?
    The body of your argument is simply irrelevant to a discussion of large terrorist organizations, capable of achieving strategic goals.
    You – inadvertently – make the point of why your response is irrelevant yourself …because …making use of existing infrastructure doesn’t obviate the need to have to make use of the existing infrastructure, eh?
    War is all about logistics, too.
    That! after all, is the point.

  • Kat:
    And economic slavery is still condoned by you and me, if we continue to buy its products.

  • Mary – again, you can pull the quotes out of the text just as you can from old and new Christian testament, but the practice is a different thing indeed
    The laws I listed are not pulled from the Koran – they are the basis of the current legal system being practiced in Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Sudan.
    Genocide, slavery and the sentence of death for the crime of apostasy are the law in these countries. These laws allow them to chop hands, hang people from cranes, slaughter thousands of people for the crime of being black and export terrorism.
    The nations that follow these laws have already been at war with us for years. We’re just starting to notice.

  • Lee –
    Oops. Almost missed your post.
    “…by the definition (sp) you suggest Iran, Syria and possibly Saudi Arabia”
    Actually, I think you missed the “order” (as in order of battle). I would argue for Syria, and then SA. Who knows though? – Events on the ground will dictate some of the choices (maybe fewer than you’d ordinarily suppose).
    I think it highly likely (maybe an order of probability in the 95% plus range that there are SOps in country) we’re already “in” Iran, but that the young Iranian dissidents will find their task requires far less overt support then the warlords of the Northern Alliance.
    Iran is ripe for a popular revolution, (which is quite likely to be democratic, at this point) and it’s unlikely that the mullahs would be able to effect the Tiananmen Response (especially given the covert aid I’m sure we are – and will be – quite happily providing). They’re toast.
    The more interesting question here is whether the Israelis will take out the nuclear threat before the new Persian government is able to dismantle the program.
    Syria …yeah. If they don’t rot first.
    SA …eh, who knows which direction the Kingdom will take. They may choose the Reformation. (I don’t have a ANY tolerance for Islamofascism, but I have a GREAT DEAL of respect for the wily Arab traders.)
    (NOTE: MOST of my responses that involve predictions presuppose a sane US electorate response to the November election.)
    “If we focus just on Zarqawi whom we beleive was in northern Iraq before the Iraq War, then there is some legitimacy to the view that Hussein was “harboring” terrorists.”
    Abu Nidal. Salman Pax. The Prague meetings …frankly, I find it hard to credit the “some legitimacy” view as adequate. But to argue the point would make me seem like a conspiracist, so I’ll abjure the temptation to do so.
    “(His 25K gifts to suicide bombers represent other support, not harboring, the word on which you suggest the policy turns.)
    This is less defensible. If I pay for foreign operatives (spies), am I not still culpable? Suicide bombers? Particularly in this case? If you wish to view it from the “safe harbor” perspective, take the aspect of “safe harbor” meaning culpable (i.e., as a form of safe harbor).
    “Iraq demonstrates that merely deposing a regime does not end the problem”
    Huh? Do you think that a year-and-a-half is sufficient to make such a hind-sight assertion? Keep close watch …and just ignore the effin’ MSM.
    “…it exacerbates (sp) the immediate danger troops and US citizens face there and elsewhere”
    Troops? – War is what “troops” do. “Facing danger” is an occupational hazard for the military. The military doesn’t see it your way, at all. Neither do I. — US Citizens, elsewhere? – Yeah, that’s why downtown Chicago is radioactive rubble? Uh-uh. Nothing since 9/11 …do you really think a Gore administration would have been as adept at keeping Al Qaeda as operationally ineffective? You want immediate danger? – Try a California freeway at 8AM. Or Detroit, anytime.
    “So while we are committed to high troop levels in Iraq for some indefinite term”
    I am usually speechless with the lack of sophistication that statements like this reveal: 150,000 troops in country is “high troop levels”? Approximately 10 divisions? Compared to what? When? A little military history is in order, perhaps? – For instance, Viet Nam was, what, a million-and-a-half in-country? What is V Corps in Germany – about 50,000 combatants plus support?
    …okay, but I know the point you’re really trying to make, and that your real focus is on “indefinite term”.
    So. Try, umm, two more years or so, with decreasing amounts of combat personnel directly involved with in-country activities; most US personnel will be concerned with training and bringing Iraqi Army and other misc. security forces cadres up to speed. The Iraqis are competent, and educated. They need our help right now, but MUCH LESS THEN AFGHANISTAN, they don’t need us forever, or long. (Basing period will be whatever they’ll allow …we want their cooperation for semi-permanent basing in the region; we’ll ask for it, not demand it.)
    Again …ignore the MSM. Statements like that are indicative of the lack of quality in your primary information source; just because you’re being fed bad intel, doesn’t mean you can’t find a different restaurant.
    “…how exactly can there be any further order of battle — if…lies”
    How? – Because the current administration isn’t living with a 9/10 worldview – and unlike the preference his opponent has consistently revealed during his entire public life – they plan tactically for strategic victory. In a nutshell. No plan? – No victory. You only react, you lose.
    And. I don’t think throwing unfounded accusations about “lies” results in common ground for rational discussion; isn’t the example before you of the prevalence of the insanely wild conspiracies that two-thirds (at least) of the Middle East seem to unquestioningly accept as reality enough to give you pause? – Do you really want to wallow in the fever swamps of urban myths, and believe falsehoods that only make you look like a modern caricature of the Kallikaks?
    Okay. Maybe your whole post wasn’t a lead-in to a troll. So I’ll respond with ONE specific example:
    Draft? – How …wierd.
    A Democrat (arguably an outright Marxist) Congressman from New York (Rangle) proposes that we bring back the draft (NOT to meet manpower needs btw), and introduces a draft bill to the House …and you blame Bush?
    The Republicans – seeing what’s going on here: that Democrats are pushing what should be obvious is a non-starter at fearful and gullible demographic groups in an election year – bring the bill to the floor for a vote, where the DEMOCRAT WHO INTRODUCED THE BILL DIDN’T VOTE FOR THE DAMN THING, and it goes down by 402-2 …and you think Bush lies?
    First. The US Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force don’t want your sorry a**, if you don’t want to serve. The modern military is composed of highly trained, dedicated professionals; the best fighting machine the WORLD has ever seen (the drive to Baghdad will be a text book study for the next 2,000 years in military colleges …and that’s not hype …we still study Sun Tzu for gawd’s sake) …and they don’t want to waste their incredibly valuable resources and limited time training slackers.
    Second. The world has changed. The battlefield has changed. We no longer consider it efficacious to send massed groups of armed men out to slaughter other massed groups of equally armed men in Flander’s Field (with apologies to those brave men who lie in that hallowed ground). Like Jon H has previously intimated, the focus is on smarter, lighter, DEADLIER. To achieve an effective fighting force under present conditions may not take any more valour or courage, but it sure as bloody hell takes a lot more dedication, and training. And more then 2 bloody years of service to be a useful member of that fighting machine (again, with apologies to all those brave draftees who have honourably served).
    It would be moronic policy to re-institute the draft, given the foreseeable demands that we’re likely to make on the Services for the next 50-100 years or so. Worse, a draft wouldn’t even be effective in the short term: it would take YEARS to ramp up for the Services to be able to absorb a large force of draftees. Years longer then the military focus part of the war will last, at least.
    And if YOU personally have bought into that despicable election-year ploy by the Dem’s, you would be correct to assume you have publicly revealed an embarrassing amount of gullibility for a so-called “informed” adult citizen (if you are over the age of 22-3), or just plain ignorance (ignorance isn’t stupidity and IS repairable …you need to get out more, and read-read-read). No other choices
    And you stand corrected.
    …my apologies to anyone else “listening”.
    “…but what you’re suggesting doesn’t square with current personnel and financial resources or public promises.”
    So. The implication being that I make this stuff up?
    I. Simply. Disagree. With. You.
    I have access to the same resources as you, and I don’t see a foundational basis for your conclusion at all. I may be extrapolating somewhat, and using judicious reasoning to understand and collate what I’m reading (and hearing), but the source material for my suppositions is publicly transparent …and I don’t see your conclusion as “following” at all.
    I DO see as a high probability that your information sources appear to be extremely limited; too limited for you to draw valid conclusions with. To “fix” that, I’d refer you back to the screedy rant above.

  • Eileen

    In addition to the book Mary referred to, here is a most informative site on the nature and face of terror:
    Please note, in particular, the Editors’ overview regarding the definition of ‘Islamists’. Based on my reading, the likelihood we will relegate this war to nuisance value any time soon is sheer folly.