Mechanical

Musing on the Devil

Due to a technical problem at work, I've a bit of downtime right now and I find myself thinking a bit about Osama bin Laden. Some people claim that he's just a bogeyman the government uses to frighten us with but that's not true. I remember 9/11 and in bin Laden's last speech, he admitted his involvement. The man is a murderer. A butcher. He is quite willing to see innocents die to further his cause. He should be captured and brought before a court to be tried for his crimes.

I pretty much have the same view of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc. These are evil men who are willing to see innocent people die to further their cause. Few people, however, self-identify as evil. I doubt that any of these men are particularly gleeful when a janitor in a building is crushed under the rubble. In their zealotry, though, they feel this is necessary. But what are their arguments? Bush and his handlers have repeatedly said "weapons of mass destruction", though there was no serious evidence of them before our attack. They described Saddam and bin Laden as working together, but anyone who's familiar with bin Laden's hatred of both corruption and secular governments in the Middle East knows this is laughable. He loathed Saddam. Bush talks about Saddam being a "bad man", but even today, there are plenty of horrifying dictators and butchers that we strongly support. Finally, Bush falls back on simplistic attacks worthy of playground taunts: "terrorists hate freedom."

Do they? bin Laden, in his last speech, raised an interesting question. If they hate freedom so much, why didn't they attack Sweden? I find it gut-wrenchingly painful that the most intelligent questions about world politics are being raised by a mass murderer. Why don't they attack Sweden? Why don't they attack Denmark? They're easier targets and would generate a lot of publicity. What the hell do these terrorists want?

What they want is what the people in the Middle East have been wanting for a long time: for the rest of the world to stop meddling in their affairs. Palestinians are tired of seeing their children shot with bullets we've paid for. Iraqis know we "liberated" them from the man we supported. Iranians were so fed up with the man we put in power that they overthrew him.

bin Laden and others are not focusing a lot of energy on freedom-loving nations such as Sweden because Sweden isn't trying to kill them. Lockerbie, bombed discotheques in Germany and 9/11 are reactions. But we're the good guys, right?

Frankly, I don't know what we can do now. The chickenhawks in the White House don't give a damn. They are doing God's work, but that god is Loki. They are nice and secure in their mansions and lament over their Chianti at how little we "little people" know. But in a way, they also have no way out. If we were to end our support of Israel, I suspect disaster would follow. Pull out of Iraq? I think we'd be facing an Iranian-Iraqi alliance. Ironically, I suspect our violence is stabilizing the region. Is there some way we can serious de-escalate the situation? Not with our current leadership. Of course, I see no one in America's political future with the ability to change this situation. In fact, there's nothing in our country which can allow such a change to transpire without a serious shift in attitude of the US public. And that, my friends, is why 9/11 happened. There are plenty of political groups the world over who've found that talking to brick walls is less effective than knocking them down.

Want to end terrorism? Stop killing them. Put pressure on Israel. Let Israel know they'll no longer get a free pass in the UN Security Council. Iraq? Get rid of Halliburton. Start by hiring as many local contractors as you can. They're less likely to blow up something they built themselves. Iran? Start talking with them instead of at them. It's tough for us to tell them to give up their nuclear program when we're unwilling to give up ours.

And while we're at it, let's support faith-based missile defense systems.
ummm
didnt they assasinate van gogh's great nephew for making a truth showing movie about how muslim men treat women?? maybe that happened in denmark??
I think what the U.S. is doign is giving "terrorist countries and non terrorist countries a common enemy and that is the U.S. itself. the united states government is slowly alienating itself from stong allies like canada....with the closing of the borders and the lumber lawsuits the number of people support here in canada is very very low....and we are not the only country....I think they play a dangerous game and that Bush is making some very bad desicions
> And while we're at it, let's support faith-based missile defense systems.

Yes!
I have to say, that's one of the most level-headed and rational pieces of discourse on the topic of terrorists I've yet seen. The "playground taunts" bit was brilliant, and yet simultaneously very, very sad indeed.
This is such mind boggling left wing simplistic nonsense I can scarcely believe you wrote it.
Simplistic? In many respects, yes. This was a very short bit of writing. Left wing? Perhaps, though I've spoken with a number of conservatives who agree with many of the things I've said. As for nonsense, what part(s) do you feel are nonsense? And can you back up that claim?
"but even today, there are plenty of horrifying dictators and butchers that we strongly support."

Which ones? And what should we do about them? Remove them? Oh, wait.

"If they hate freedom so much, why didn't they attack Sweden?"

This one I almost got beat up, but then I yelled, "Look! A baby squirrel!". He turned his head and I ran while he was distracted. I can't believe he fell for it!

"I find it gut-wrenchingly painful that the most intelligent questions about world politics are being raised by a mass murderer."

You need to lookup the definition of "RED HERRING" my friend. This has nothing to do with anything. It also completely ignores the reasons for their choice of target.

"What they want is what the people in the Middle East have been wanting for a long time: for the rest of the world to stop meddling in their affairs."

After which they can then setup the most oppressive religious oligarchy the world has seen since the Taliban! Woo-hoo! And who is this mysterious "they" anyway? Not the governments of the nations in question, and certainly not the majority of Muslims in the Middle East.

They have no legitimacy. They have no constituency. Why should we care what they think. Why do you insist of think of "them" as a legitimate political group? As a rough analogy, should the Japanese government worry about the KKK?

And what is this "meddling" people keep referring to? Until Iraq, I don't recall forcing our presence into anywhere in the Middle East. Unlike, say, France and the UK.

"Palestinians are tired of seeing their children shot with bullets we've paid for."

Oddly, Israel tends to react violently to groups of people whose first solution to every problem starts with a car bomb, not to mention groups like Hezbollah who have sworn to destroy Israel. Violence begets violence. However, now that Arafat is dead, I hold out hope for Israel/Palestine.

"bin Laden and others are not focusing a lot of energy on freedom-loving nations such as Sweden because Sweden isn't trying to kill them."

So, if we stop trying to kill them, they'll stop being terrorists? Which do you think came first? This is a confused statement.

"Ironically, I suspect our violence is stabilizing the region."

It's only ironic if you don't understand how to deal with dictatorships. You cannot form a meaningful dialogue on peace with a dictatorship (or any sort of oligarchy) because they answer to no one. Bush shows he's willing to drop the hammer and *suddenly* the regions starts to stabilize. Egypt is moving towards true democracy. Jordan is moving from an abolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy (and probably further if the trend continues). Lebanon is throwing off the yoke of Syria (who was all too happy to leave when we started glaring at them) and moving towards democracy. Libya has come clean about past terrorist involvement and is now far more ready to join the rest of the world. Even Saudi Arabia is holding local elections.

And how did this come to pass? It sure didn't have anything to do with a Western European approach to world politics, that's for sure.

"They're less likely to blow up something they built themselves."

This is part of that nonsense I was referring to. Do you seriously think the terrorists give a crap about *which* contractors built some utility building?

But back to the fundamental question that you asked - what do the terrorist want? The answer is - a Taliban style government and/or the destruction of Israel. Even if the US were to pull *completely* out of the Middle East tomorrow and backed every anti-Israel UN resolution put on the table, I know one thing: THESE PEOPLE WILL NOT STOP.

So, how do you stop terrorism? I believe the answer is, ultimately, democracy. When you have a voice, when your opinion suddenly does matter (however slightly) then all that anger, previously stifled by dictatorship, has an outlet. When all the Middle East is a democracy and the Israel/Palestine conflict is resolved, what will the terrorist's argument be then?
Frankly, I'm astonished that you have to ask who the dictators and butchers are that we support today, but I keep forgetting how poorly our "liberal media" is informing people. I need to write a letter to Fox News telling them to shape up!

It wasn't until July of last year that we were finally forced to cut off aid to Uzbekistan under intense international pressure (despite a curious lack of coverage from the "liberal media" in the US). We still call them an important ally in the "War on Terror" despite their use of torture and oppression of political minorities. Turns out their a bunch of right bastards.

Of course, we also shouldn't forget our good friends the Saudis. Sure, they get a little carried away with torture, political oppression and amputations, but at least they know how to keep women in their place.

And how about Pakistan, led by General Pervez Musharraf? He assumed power after leading a coup in 1999. Since then, his rule keeps getting extended for some strange reason. And aside from numerous human rights violations under his rule, how about that joker Abdul Qadeer Khan, the founder of Pakistan's nuclear program and the man credited with creating the "Islamic Nuclear Bomb." He admitted to selling nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea and General Musharraf just pardoned him. How do we respond? We just authorized the sale of fighter jets to Pakistan that had be held up since 1990 because of -- get this -- our concerns about their nuclear program.

So if Iran gets the bomb and sells it to her neighbors are we gonna sell her jets, too?

Realizing that we royally pissed off India, we've decided to stabilize things by offering to sell a bunch of weapons to India if they'll stop squawking. That should calm things down.

Of course, this is nothing new. We supported Saddam for a long time. We cheerfully sold him weapons. The CIA, in their first acknowledged covert operation, orchestrated the overthrow of the democratically elected prime minister of Iran. Mossadegh's now a faint memory, but the legacy of the brutal Shah is still with us. We supported the murderous regime in El Salvador and convinced folks that torture and murder by Sandanistas was OK but torture and murder by the Nicaraguan rebels was not OK.

I could keep going, but you get the idea. The US doesn't give a damn about human rights or democracy. It's all about what's in it for us and our businesses.
After which they can then setup the most oppressive religious oligarchy the world has seen since the Taliban! Woo-hoo! And who is this mysterious "they" anyway? Not the governments of the nations in question, and certainly not the majority of Muslims in the Middle East.

Hey, I never claimed that the government that bin Laden and friends want to set up would be something I admire. He has a long history of fighting for stable, honest governments in that region. Honest governments that will be just as horrific as our erstwhile friends, the Taliban. I have no sympathy for him and his aims.

Many muslims hate us for well-established reasons that, for some reason, our "liberal media" seems to be doing an awful job of discussing. Try reading BBC. Try reading Al-Jazeera. Try reading the Christian Science Monitor (a newspaper that appears a bit more conservative than it used to be but is still pretty good.) What do we get for our news coverage over here? Fox News brand of yellow-journalism has dominated the ratings and idiots drooling over their TV dinners don't bat an eyelash when the listen to reporters talk about "our troops" and gush about how much they admire the Navy Seals. We don't want information. We want our infotainment. They don't need to objective because we already know we're right! The US is always right! Go USA! Go USA!

Damn. I seem to have hit LJ's post size limit (hence some awkward editing)
"It wasn't until July of last year that we were finally forced to cut off aid to Uzbekistan under intense international pressure (despite a curious lack of coverage from the 'liberal media' in the US)."

Ok, so we eventually did the right thing (despite a curious lack of pressure from the 'liberal media' in the US). What are you complaining about exactly?

"And how about Pakistan, led by General Pervez Musharraf?"

Presumably the coup was tolerated because it enjoyed popular support, and we continue to hope that democracy will be restored. Our own constitution provides for similar circumstances to occur, does it not? But yes, giving them and India jets was dumb.

So, what do you suggest we do? Remove him? Do nothing? No, the best thing we can do is to maintain contact, while trying to pressure him to restore democracy *which is exactly what we're trying to do*.

"The US doesn't give a damn about human rights or democracy. It's all about what's in it for us and our businesses."

You're overreacting. The US would be *ecstatic* if the entire Middle East became democratic and all human rights abuses ended. Do you think that local elections in Saudi Arabia happened by accident? Or that Jordan started moving towards a constitutional monarchy out of the kindness of the King's heart? No. That was the US, breathing down their necks.

The main problem I have is that there are too many folks all too ready to criticize the US for meddling who are then happy to turn around and criticize the US for not getting involved without offering any solutions of their own.

Tell me Curtis, how would YOU deal with the likes of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran if you were made President of the US tomorrow?

Criticizing is easy. Solutions are quite a bit more complex.

PS - Yes, I would love to reduce our dependence on Saudi Oil.
This is not left wing. It's logical right wing thought. The current leadership of the GOP are religious zealots. Republicans should shudder at some of the things this government has done in the past 4 years.

"The current leadership of the GOP are religious zealots. Republicans should shudder at some of the things this government has done in the past 4 years."

Such as? And be sure to tie it into religious zealotry. I wanna hear this.
You're right, zealot is too strong of word; but it does press a button.

The tax cuts while increasing spending is odd for one thing. Why does it seem that Bush is content to spend like a sailor at port? There appears to be little or no cuts in govt areas that help big business (mil), while cuts are made in areas that hamper big business (FDA) or have no tangible business benifits (NASA).

I'm all for cutting taxes, but only after the gov't doesn't need the money.
Yep, yep, yep and yep.

well, except maybe your rebuttal to the "they hate freedom" argument. The reason they haven't attacked Sweden or Denmark could very well be they just can't find them. Those countries are kinda hard to find on a map.

And c'mon, who can hate a Scandinavian, really? They're so hot!

"...support faith-based missile defense systems." -- Say, that would make a pretty sweet bumpersticker!
It's nothing personal. I had to trim my list. It was getting far too unwieldy and I gave precedence to those who I've known the longest. Plus, I don't play video games much any more, so many of your posts are about things I have no knowledge of (which is what many people say about many of my posts, come to think of it.)
Me, I didn't take it personally.

Especially now that I'm seeing what you get for not friends-locking a political rant.

Or is he a friend?
Hey, it's all good. I have environmental debates with my best friend all the time (he's an engineer who works for GM). We're still friends. :)

I don't pick my friends based on their political views, but it's fun to debate sometimes. Hopefully Curtis didn't take this personally. I know he's capable of putting together a better argument than what I saw here, and so I decided to take him to task for his sloppiness. :)
Ah-ha. I see.

That certainly changes the tone quite a bit.

See, all my friends are wimps. I disagree with them on a lot of things, but when I set in on an argument, they back off, rather than discuss it.

I hate that.
During downtime your thoughts wander to politics/world affairs/wars etc.

Hrmm I'm more inclined to think about sex, traveling or new shoes -I guess I am fluff. ;)
refreshment!!!
i agree quite a bit (read: a lot) with you on the subject and it was an interesting short piece to read. as was the debate. i have to say i haven't seen such a good and polite discussion online in along time. it's refreshing from the bitching going on in many forums and such. thanks!

btw; i was also victim of identity theft through my credit card, it turned out alright for me but unfortunately the culprit is still roaming.
I spent a long time today discussing the same idea of a "shift in the attitude of the general public" regarding Peak Oil and other national/global catastrophes. Oi... Awesome post though.