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(From the diaries -- kos)

Instructions. For Questions 1 and 2, assume you are a violent extremist. In other words, there is some issue (it doesn't really matter what) for which you are willing to take up arms and kill people, even innocent people.

Question 1: What is the first and biggest obstacle between you and victory?

If you answered "People on the other side of my issue," go sit in the corner. That answer is completely wrong. If you assume terrorists think that way, everything they do will seem like total insanity.

The first and biggest obstacle to your victory is that the vast majority of the people who sympathize with your issue are not violent extremists. They may agree with you in principle. They may even sound like violent extremists late at night over their beverage of choice. But when the hammer comes down, they won't be there. There are weeds in the garden and final exams coming up and deadlines at the office. Good luck with that car bombing. Call me next time, maybe things will have settled down by then.

Most people, most of the time, just want to get along. They'll accept a little inconvenience, ignore a few insults, and smile at people they hate if it allows them to get on with their lives. Most people on both sides of your issue just wish the issue would go away. If you're not careful, those apathetic majorities will get together and craft a compromise. And where's your revolution then?

So your first goal as a violent extremist is not to kill your enemies, but to radicalize the apathetic majority on your side of the issue. If everyone becomes a violent extremist, then you (as one of the early violent extremists) are a leader of consequence. Conversely, if a reasonable compromise is worked out, you are a nuisance.

Question 2: In radicalizing your sympathizers, who is your best ally?

No points awarded for "the media" or "sympathetic foreign governments". In radicalizing your apathetic sympathizers, you have no better ally than the violent extremists on the other side . Only they can convince your people that compromise is impossible. Only they can raise your countrymen's level of fear and despair to the point that large numbers are willing to take up arms and follow your lead. A few blown up apartment buildings and dead schoolchildren will get you more recruits than the best revolutionary tracts ever written.

Perversely, this means that you are the best ally of the extremists on the other side. That doesn't mean you love or even talk to each other -- they are, after all, vile and despicable demons. But at this stage in the process your interests align. Both of you want to invert the bell curve, to flatten out that big hump in the middle and drive people to the edges. That's why extremists come in pairs: Caesar and Pompey, the Nazis and the Communists, Sharon and Arafat, Bush and Bin Laden. Each side needs a demonic opposite in order to galvanize its supporters.

Naive observers frequently decry the apparent counter-productivity of extremist attacks. Don't the leaders of Hamas understand that every suicide bombing makes the Israelis that much more determined not to give the Palestinians a state? Don't they realize that the Israeli government will strike back even harder, and inflict even more suffering on the Palestinian people? Of course they do; they're not idiots. The Israeli response is exactly what they're counting on. More airstrikes, more repression, more poverty -- fewer opportunities for normal life to get in the way of the Great Struggle.

The cycle of violence may be vicious, but it is not pointless. Each round of strike-and-counterstrike makes the political center less tenable. The surviving radical leaders on each side energize their respective bases and cement their respective holds on power. The first round of the playoffs is always the two extremes against the center. Only after the center is vanquished will you meet your radical counterparts in the championship round.

Question 3: What is Bin Laden's ultimate goal?

This is an easy one. Bin Laden has been very explicit: He wants a return of the Caliphate. In other words, he wants a re-unified Islamic nation stretching from Indonesia to Morocco, governed by leaders faithful to the Koran.

This goal is quite popular in the Islamic world. The Muslim man-in-the-street knows his history: When the Dar al-Islam was unified, it was the most feared empire in the world. Baghdad, the home of the Caliph, was the center of civilization, leading the world in learning and artistry as well as power. (Europe may well have lost its classical heritage if Muslim libraries hadn't preserved Greek manuscripts through the Dark Ages. Just about any English word beginning with al refers to an Islamic invention: algebra, algorithm, alchemy, and even alcohol -- which was an Arabian process for distilling perfumes long before the West started using it to make hard liquor). Who wouldn't want that back?

Well, for starters, the current rulers of the two dozen or so nations of the Dar al-Islam wouldn't want the Caliphate back. They've got a cushy deal and they know it: They run a very profitable gas station for the West. Keep the people in check, keep the price of oil low enough not to wreck the Western economies, don't piss off the United States badly enough to bring the troops in, and they're set.

These leaders are Bin Laden's near enemies. (That list of near enemies included Saddam Hussein when he was in power.) The far enemy is the power that backs them all up: the United States. (You may look askance at the assertion that the US was backing up Saddam's Iraq. But Saddam became our enemy only when he began to unite other nations (i.e., Kuwait) under his rule. In the Reagan years, when Iran was threatening to extend its boundaries at Iraq's expense, Saddam was our friend.)

Question 4: What is Bin Laden's immediate goal?

If you've been paying attention, you should get this one right: His immediate goal is to radicalize the hundreds of millions of Muslims who sympathize with the vision of a restored Caliphate, but have better things to do with their lives than join the jihad. A particular problem for Bin Laden are all the Muslims who think that they can find an acceptable place for themselves in a world order dominated by the United States.

I won't insult your intelligence by asking you who his best allies are in reaching this goal: President Bush, obviously, and all of the neo-conservatives in the Pentagon who push for the most aggressive response to the terrorist threat. Also the Christian leaders like Franklin (son of Billy) Graham, who regularly denounce Islam in terms that look fabulous on Al Qaeda's equivalent of the locker-room bulletin board. John Ashcroft -- and anyone else who mistreats assimilating Arabs and thereby convinces them that they will never really be welcome in America -- is also an ally.

It doesn't matter how much they hate him or denounce his deeds; anyone who radicalizes Muslims is doing Bin Laden's work for him. President Bush may as well have been reading from an Al Qaeda script when he referred to the War on Terror as a "crusade". Muslims know their history and know exactly what a crusade is: Christians invade and steal your land. People who didn't believe this when they heard it from Bin Laden have now heard it from the Crusader-in-Chief.

Question 5: What was the purpose of 9/11?

No points for "To intimidate the United States into retreating from the Middle East." If the US had immediately decided to wash its hands of the Middle East, a variety of secular gangsters like Mubarak and Musharraf and Hussein would have started fighting it out amongst themselves. The odds were small that an Allah-fearing Caliph would arise from such a struggle. Whether the eventual outcome would have been good or bad for the United States is debatable, but it would have been terrible for Bin Laden.

Like all attacks in the bell-curve-inverting stage, the purpose of 9/11 was to provoke a military response. Prior to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, most Muslims had never seen a direct victim of the United States. Many have claimed that the Israelis are really American proxies, and so the Palestinians are victims of America. (Some have gone so far as to claim that the Serbians were American proxies, but that was always far-fetched.) Proxies, however, can never compete with real live American soldiers. And despite the occasional bombing of Lebanon or Syria or even Iraq, it is hard to paint the Israelis as anything more than a regional threat. Pakistanis and Indonesians may sympathize with the Palestinians in a distant sort of way, but they can't raise a credible fear of Jewish tanks rolling down the streets of Islamabad or Jakarta.

Now, thanks to President Bush and the magic of al-Jazeera, every Muslim with working eyesight has seen Muslim women and children killed or horribly disfigured by Americans. And Americans are everywhere; any one of them might be working for the CIA. American troops and ships and aircraft have a global reach. No matter where in the Dar al-Islam you may be, you could be under American attack in a matter of hours. Those screaming people on TV could be you and your family.

Question 6: What was the point of the Madrid bombing?

Trick question. The point of the Madrid bombing was exactly as it appeared: to intimidate the Spanish into taking their troops out of Iraq. And, by extension, to intimidate all the other members of Bush's coalition.

Bin Laden wants to fight Americans, because America scares his sympathizers and energizes his base. But Spaniards and Poles and Salvadorans just confuse the issue. Also, an allied presence
diminishes American expense and American casualties, both of which are key to Bin Laden's strategy.

Question 7: What is Bin Laden's long-term strategy to defeat the United States?

Some people find it hard to believe that Bin Laden can even imagine that he will defeat the United States, much less that he has a plan to do so. But he believes in miracles, and he began his military career by participating in the defeat of the once-mighty Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

Bin Laden has been very clear about his strategy, which depends on the same principles that won the Soviet/Afghan War. In his taped message of October, 2004 he said (according to an al-Jazeera translation):

All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaida, in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies.

This is in addition to our having experience in using guerrilla warfare and the war of attrition to fight tyrannical superpowers, as we, alongside the mujahidin, bled Russia for 10 years, until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat. All Praise is due to Allah. So we are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy. Allah willing, and nothing is too great for Allah.

In other words, he wants to draw the well paid, lavishly supplied American soldiers into wars on his territory, where he can fight cheaply. The more American troops he can attract, the more expensive the war will be, until even the economy of the United States can no longer support it.

This idea is not new. Abu-Ubayd al-Qurashi wrote in Al-Ansar in December 2002 that Al Qaeda would imitate the Vietnamese strategy of attacking the "center of gravity" of the United States. Then, the center of gravity was American popular opinion, so the real Vietnam War was fought on television. But things have changed:

A conviction has formed among the mujahedin that American public opinion is not the center of gravity in America. ... This time it is clearly apparent that the American economy is the American center of gravity. ... Supporting this penetrating strategic view is that the Disunited States of America are a mixture of nationalities, ethnic groups, and races united only by the "American Dream" or, to put it more correctly, the worship of the dollar, which they openly call "the Almighty Dollar."

Currently, the Iraq and Afghan Wars together are costing the US something like $60-80 billion a year. That's a nasty load and is one reason why our national debt is sky-rocketing, but it is still within the long-term carrying capacity of the American economy. However, this level of effort is not getting the job done in either country. More American troops and American money will ultimately be needed, particularly if Bin Laden can continue to strip away our allies. If he really wants to destroy the American economy, though, Bin Laden must widen the war into additional Middle Eastern countries.

Question 8. Why didn't Al Qaeda attack the United States before the election?

On the evening before the election, I was on a street corner waving a Kerry sign. The next guy over was waving a Bush sign. He put forward the following case: Of course Bin Laden wanted to intimidate us into leaving Iraq, of course he wanted Kerry elected, and of course he would have attacked us prior to the election if he could, but President Bush has so improved our homeland defenses and so wounded al Qaeda that Bin Laden no longer has the ability to launch a major attack inside the United States.

Let's put aside for the moment the thought that Timothy McVeigh was no genius, so you and I could probably launch a major terrorist attack in the US if we were so inclined and sufficiently determined. The sign-waver's logic fails to account for Bin Laden's goals and strategy: While Bin Laden wanted Spain to leave Iraq, he wants us to stay in. He's counting on it. Moreover, President Bush is so hated in the Islamic world that he makes a perfect foil. A Kerry victory would have required a major new propaganda effort -- and maybe another terrorist attack that Kerry would have to respond to.

So President Bush is keeping us safe in the following perverse manner: By following Bin Laden's script so perfectly up to this point, Bush has made another attack unnecessary. Since the purpose of 9/11 was to rile us up, Al Qaeda need not hit us again as long as we stay riled.

Question 9. What can we expect Bin Laden to do next?

As the Iraq War drags on, it is becoming less and less popular. The Afghan War is mostly out of the public view, but to the extent that it also drains American lives and money with no end in sight, it also is losing support among those who are paying attention. The memory of 9/11 is starting to fade, as years without an attack convince more and more Americans that we are safe.

All of these factors threaten Bin Laden's plans. If President Bush is tempted into pulling our troops and TV cameras out of Iraq, Bin Laden loses. He needs the United States to continue playing the Great Satan role, because there are many secular Muslims who still hope to fit into the globalized world economy. He needs an enemy to focus their fear and anger, and only the United States is up to the job.

What's more, if he is going to bankrupt the US economy, he needs a wider war. At this point the US military is stretched thin, so a wider war would require a draft or some other unpopular measure for swelling the ranks. The American public would have to be very, very riled to agree to such a thing.

All of this points in one direction: Another attack on the United States, probably within the next year. Ideally, the trail would lead back to some area where the US doesn't currently have troops, and where there is an attackable enemy. Iran is an obvious choice, if Bin Laden can engineer it. But Syria would work as well, and may be easier to manipulate. Egypt, Pakistan, and/or Saudi Arabia could fill the bill if the attack on the US were coupled with a revolution against the corresponding US-supported government. So, for example, an attack on the US coming from Pakistan could be synchronized with the assassination of President Musharraf to draw American troops into that country.

Where will he attack? The target needs to fulfill two criteria: First, it needs to be justifiable to an Islamic audience. Bin Laden's pre-election message was probably aimed at them rather than us, and was intended to pre-justify the next attack. From an Islamic point of view, Bin Laden has now pleaded with the American electorate to be reasonable, and has been rejected. Any attack that follows will seem all the more justified. Second, the next attack needs to empower Bin Laden's most aggressive enemies in the United States. He wants us to continue striking first and asking questions later.

It is probably hopeless to try to read Bin Laden's mind in enough detail to guess his exact target. (And there is always the worry that we will do his thinking for him or point out something he has overlooked.) Undoubtedly much will depend on the opportunities that most easily present themselves. But one class of targets seems all too obvious: red-state megachurches whose leaders have made virulently anti-Islamic statements. They are relatively undefended. They are the heart of Bush's political power base, and so can be blamed for his policies. They can easily be portrayed as enemies of Islam. And, last but not least, an attack on a church would rile American hawks like nothing else.

Question 10. What can we do?

Obviously, if we have good intelligence and good police work, we can hope to catch attackers before they kill anyone. But this approach is unsatisfying, because Al Qaeda is patient, and will keep sending attackers until one gets through. To the extent that we are able to track down Al Qaeda's leaders, including Bin Laden himself, that also works in our favor. But Al Qaeda is a movement, not the work of one man or even a small inner circle. Its ideas and strategies are widely distributed. If Bin Laden's sword falls, someone will pick it up.

To a certain extent, the logic of reprisal is irresistible. Who can sit quietly while someone repeatedly hits his face, even if he knows the attacker only wants him to strike back? Ignoring one blow just invites the next. America is not a land of Quakers and Mennonites. If attacked, it is inevitable that we will respond.

However, we need not respond with overwhelming force that kills the innocent and guilty alike. It is important that we husband and cultivate the moral capital that an attack will give us, not spend it all (and then some) in an over-reaching reprisal. This was the mistake Bush made in Iraq. The world was on our side -- yes, even France -- when we brought down the Taliban. If we had captured Bin Laden in Tora Bora and declared ourselves satisfied, we could have gained stature, even in much of the Islamic world.

We need to realize that we play to the same audience as Bin Laden: those Muslims trying to choose between the twin dreams of the Caliphate and of finding their own place in the world economy. Anything that persuades them that the world is open to them works in our favor. Anything that closes the door on them works for Bin Laden.

Most of all, we Americans need to keep a leash on our own radicals. They are not working in our interests any more than Bin Laden is working in the interests of ordinary Muslims. The extremists on both sides serve each other, not the people they claim to represent. The cycle of attack-and-reprisal strengthens radicals on both both sides at the expense of those in the middle who just want to live their lives.

In the face of the next attack, be slow to embrace radical, violent, or angry solutions. The center must hold.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 10:57 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good stuff. (3.33)
      A lot of thought went into this, I recommend.

    coup d'etat n : a sudden and decisive change of government illegally or by force

    by greylantern on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 09:15:24 PM PST

    •  thank you (4.00)
      Now that people can recommend diaries, are tip jars still necessary?
      •  Not necessary, but useful (none)
        Mojo expires over time. If you don't get regular infusions, you lose 'trusted user' status.

        By the way, this is one of the best diaries I've ever seen on dKos.

        Global warming is Bush & Cheney's long-term strategy for dealing with the problem of the "blue states".

        by Malacandra on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 09:56:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Many thanks (4.00)
          to you and all the other people who got this onto the Recommended list. I was just checking to see whether it had scrolled out of visibility when I noticed the promotion.
          •  Absolutely outstanding diary . (none)
            I remember a CIA agent, commenting on the impending war in Afghanistan, said that if Bin Laden didn't exist, we'd invent him.

            I wish every thinking American could read this.  
            Thank you

             

            •  Just like (none)
              Emmanuel Goldstein in 1984

              Got a gun, fact I got two. That's OK man, cause I love God -- Pearl Jam

              by Muboshgu on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 11:00:54 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  instead (none)
              Instead we got Zarqawi.

              ..Talk about an orwellian Omni Present Orchestrator of Evil...

              --
              Hongpong.com- Getting that special Babylon feeling

              by HongPong on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 11:52:55 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Him, I think we made up. (none)
                But he sure is magical: first killed, then merely maimed with the loss of leg, and then WHOA, he's whole, and he's beheadin'

                Sorry, I'm very cynical about the amazing Al-Zarqawi.  Seems like we've got a whole bunch of terrorists who've morphed into Saddam.  I mean Al Zarqawi.  
                The point is, we can fight them here or there.  Love how late in the game that rationale came up.  Makes me long for the mushroom-cloud- threatenin' days.  It was all so clear then.

                •  You left out one thing (none)
                  We have to remember that the Pentagon presented the WH with three separate plans to kills Zarqawi before the war and the WH said no.

                  As far as I'm concerned, Condi Rice as good as beheaded hostages herself.

                  •  B word (none)
                    Things that are critical to our understanding are the low tech lessons of Viet Nam and 9/11.  It does not take a ton of money, top scientists or intricate planning to inflict mass casualties. It doesn't take repeated mass casualty to create fear. To feed a fear frenzy, there is no need to pull off another - quoting the terrorists here - "spectacular" event.  

                    So, onto the mythical proportions of Zarqawi, the beheader.  Thanks to us, he owns the beheading brand.  Any beheading, Zarqawi's behind it.  Beheading is very low tech and yet very fear inspiring.  Put those together... well, you see where I'm going.

                    With the terror level flames fanned, especially pre-election, I believe it will take very little in this country for all out panic and terrorist in every pot hole mentality.  

                    •  A Beheading on American Soil (none)
                      Would be just as effective as another 9/11. Imagine a series of kidnappings and televised beheadings right here in our back yard. Easy to accomplish, brutally effective.

                      Our children will go to bed with nightmares about the beheading boogeyman.

                      They allow themselves to be caught with documents implicating a Syrian or Iran connection.

                •  Al-Zarqawi might not exist (none)
                  Both sides have an interest in blaming all the violence in Iraq on him. Bush needs an enemy, but the fundamentalists also need a leader. I think this is why there are so many video tapes of him committing attrocities where we never see his face.
              •  The Scarlet Zarqawi (none)
                They seek him here, they seek him there.
                The US seeks him everywhere.
                Is he in heaven, or in hell,
                That damned elusive Zarqawi-Al?
                •  Rewrite of your little poem (none)
                  Maybe better put:

                  They seek him here, they seek him there.
                  Those yankees seek him everywhere.
                  In heaven, or hell, oh, where is he?
                  That damned elusive Zarqawi?

                  But you know that Al-Zarqawi is really Satan, don't you? You've got to have a really, really big enemy to keep the tension high. Else the sheep will start to notice that they're being shorn.

                  Ed

            •  This was Michael Moore's thesis (none)
              in Fahrenheit 9/11, too-- that bin Laden was "invented" to help Bush get his mojo back.
              •  Got your mojo back (none)
                Remember:  In the wake of that bombing, Bush stated on the campaign trail: "I hope that we can gather enough intelligence to figure out who did the act and take the necessary action... there must be a consequence."[Washington Post, 1/20/02]

                Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz later complains that by the time the new administration is in place, the Cole bombing was "stale." Defense Secretary Rumsfeld also states too much time had passed to respond. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (B)]

            •  uh, like, they can. (4.00)
              you just have to email it to them.

              you know, there ought to be a "email this to a friend" button on stories here. it'd be a good thing.

            •  I'm sending this (none)
              to everyone on my email list.  Excellent diary!  

              "I have come to the conclusion that politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians."~Charles De Gaulle *CHEERS to blogs!*

              by spyral on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 05:57:01 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Great post (3.91)
            This line:

            However, we need not respond with overwhelming force that kills the innocent and guilty alike. It is important that we husband and cultivate the moral capital that an attack will give us, not spend it all (and then some) in an over-reaching reprisal. This was the mistake Bush made in Iraq.

            What is so difficult to understand about this that even a supposedly brilliant and knowledgable chap like Thomas Friedman fails to comprehend.

            A parable for children:

            On September 11, some angry bees flew over and stung us real bad. So with little foresight George went over there and started batting the hive with a big stick. Now angry bees are flying around everywhere.

            At a level even George can understand.

            "I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully." George Bush

            by TocqueDeville on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 11:10:14 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Great post, however... (none)
            This will NEVER happen in today's environment:

            "However, we need not respond with overwhelming force that kills the innocent and guilty alike. It is important that we husband and cultivate the moral capital that an attack will give us, not spend it all (and then some) in an over-reaching reprisal."

            We get attacked again, we're responding with overwhelming force somewhere, unfortunately.

          •  One regret. . . (none)

             That this was not put on kos' front page around mid-September, then picked up and memed like hell all over the SCLM.

             This analysis is spot on and shows more insight (and plain old common sense) then all President Stupids' advisers, the CIA, and the Media Whore "analysists" put together.

             A thousand "4s" for you if I could.

             BenGoshi
            _________________

            "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." T.J.

            by BenGoshi on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 06:11:29 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Ditto on best diary. (none)
          I hope you publish this somewhere outside the blogosphere.  This kind of analysis is desperately needed.

          Nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of nonthought. -- Milan Kundera

          by Dale on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 09:36:19 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Kudos (none)
        Hit the nail right on the head.  This is what I've been telling anyone who would listen for the last year or so.

        Got a gun, fact I got two. That's OK man, cause I love God -- Pearl Jam

        by Muboshgu on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 10:04:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  This is worth sending to any (none)
        reality-based friends.

        Thanks for putting it all together.

        community, empowerment, spirit

        by Newsie8200 on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 08:18:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  This is a brilliiant analysis! (none)
        Could  I persuade you write it in a way suitable for dkosopedia?
      •  Holy Mojo Batman! (none)
        237 4s!  You'll have enough mojo to last until the next Democratic administration!

        Repuritan Party Mandate 2004: Welcome Back to the 1950's!

        by wry twinger on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 11:22:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I agree (none)
      Well done ... I appreciate diaries that are well-written and thoughtful.
    •  Ah, to those who think Bin Laden is doomed to fail (4.00)
      You write:

      Question 7: What is Bin Laden's long-term strategy to defeat the United States?

      Some people find it hard to believe that Bin Laden can even imagine that he will defeat the United States, much less that he has a plan to do so. But he believes in miracles, and he began his military career by participating in the defeat of the once-mighty Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

      =

      May we all be reminded of that A-student lawyer in a white loincloth, South African, who went to his land of origin, wearing sandals, and commenced tossing the British out of India.

      "I don't do quagmires, and my boss doesn't do nuance."

      by SteinL on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 01:15:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  hold on (3.66)
        Without meaning to be pedantic it does rather seem that you just compared Bin Laden to Mahatma Ghandi.....

        That's both wrong and offensive on so many different levels I find it difficult to know where to start.

        Of course I understand your point but it may have been possible (wise?) to make it differently - don't you think?

        •  cut the phony indignation (3.77)
          The comparison is apt. No moral equivalence, just a proper counterexample to the proposition that bin Laden can't possibly believe he will prevail.
          •  No phony indignation here (none)
            It's real.  Comparing Ghandi to bin Laden is like comparing Jesus Christ to Adoplh Hitler, and then justifying it by saying hey, they were both fabulously popular guys in their day who ended up dying for their cause.  It's just gross.  Quit it.
            •  Um...make that "Hitler" (none)
              Must remember: Preview is my friend, preview is my friend....
            •  irrelevant, ethnocentric, sloppy (none)
              The passsage is about why Bin Laden believes he will prevail. He is not likely to describe himself as evil. He is likely to compare himself to successful heros. These sloppy, righteous comments are all jonesing for an easy target for moral indignation, as if the author had espoused bin Laden's position in order to explain it.
          •  Well, um, no. (none)
            The comparison is not apt. Gandhi used non-violence and mass peaceful resistance to win the world's support for his cause. Bin Ladin is using mass violence to piss off the center and motivate the fringes. Two very different things, strategically.

            The Rambling Rover: Politics, society, travel, oh my

            by jonathanjo on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 09:36:01 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I understand what you're saying, but... (none)
            There are several important differences.  Ghandi did not destroy Britain, he liberated India.  He did so using a completely different mechanism, and without deceit.  If he had provoked the British into attacking the Indian people in order to increase opposition to British rule then you would have a comparison.

            As it is, you are presenting a general "one person can change the world" example, of which there are plenty, both good and bad.  In bin Laden's case, it's more of an example of one person can goad the world into changing via people's worst natures.  I think it's important not to lump visionaries like Ghandi in with murderous psychopaths like bin Laden (and Bush, for that matter).

        •  Missed the point (none)

          (S)he was talking about the hubris of the big powers in the game, and how that can be yanked out from under them by insignificant little individuals who decide to rile people up.

          There's no moral equivalence, nor was any implied.

          The phrasing was perhaps unwise only in that too many people reading it are going to get worked up about whether the message is that Ghandi = bin Laden. That wasn't the message. The message is that scruffy individuals who ought to look insignificant, compared to the dominant power, can be surprisingly effective, and should be taken seriously

          "Why, a child of five could figure this out! Someone fetch me a child of five." -Groucho Marx

          by kiwifruit on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 10:37:32 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  To those who feel the US is invincible (none)
        It seems like just yesterday that some wingnut proposed expelling twelve states from the union...

        Not to mention all the chit-chat about blue state secession...

        -I'd rather vote for the horse's face

        by Darth Cheney on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 09:05:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Recommended (none)
      Great Story.  I published a similar one today.
      The Terrorist in George Bush

      To his virtues be very kind, to his vices, very blind. moralquestionsblog.com

      by Descrates on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 06:06:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  ack! (none)
      Please change "moslem" to Muslim, as moslem is a slur.

    coup d'etat n : a sudden and decisive change of government illegally or by force

    by greylantern on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 09:23:48 PM PST

    •  no its not (none)
      its in the Qur'an, as translated by Muhammad Faraaq-i-azam Malik.

      Just wanted to point it out.

    •  checking (3.75)
      On brainyencyclopedia.com I managed to find this:

      Until recently the word was usually spelled Moslem; that spelling is now discouraged. Many English-language writers used to call Muslims "Mohamedans" or "Mohametans", meaning "followers of Mohammed", but this terminology is considered incorrect and insulting, because it is taken to imply that they worship the prophet Muhammad, contrary to the fundamental principles of Islam itself.

      So the spelling is "discouraged", but they don't say why. Maybe it's a transliteration issue, like Peking/Beijing?

      •  Honestly (none)
          I couldn't tell you.  All I know is that I've had Muslim friends offended at the use of the term "moslem."  I didn't ask about it, but I've made a point not to use it.

        coup d'etat n : a sudden and decisive change of government illegally or by force

        by greylantern on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 10:42:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No difference (none)
          It's the same word, just romanised differently. Like the difference between Mao Tse-tung and Mao Zedong.
          •  Ok, (none)
            Thank you.

            coup d'etat n : a sudden and decisive change of government illegally or by force

            by greylantern on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 11:24:29 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Osama or Usama? n/t (none)

            Support your right to keep and arm bears.

            by doorguy on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 11:43:47 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Oy vey (3.66)
            I know nothing about Arabic or Chinese, but I do speak some Russian and can read Cyrillic without a problem.

            I'm also a fan of some international sports in which Russian athletes are prominent, such as figure skating.

            There are some Russian athlete's surnames that I can tell you five or six transliterations that I myself have seen!

            And in the world of international sports, where competitions happen world-wide, you sometimes get some strange transliterations because they're being transliterated into languages other than English, and some dumb reporter for AP just copied what was on the scoreboard. I once saw the great Belarussian gymnast Vitali Shcherbo's surname written as Chtcherbo. Must have been competing in France that week :-). And his female compatriot, Svetlana Boginskaya--well, in the 92 Olympics (in Spain) it was routinely written as Boguinskaia. I also once saw Boghinskaia--I can only guess that came from Romanian!

            Then there's laziness. That clump of letters at the beginning of Shcherbo's name--shch--is often written as sch. The problem is, when you write it as sch, it gets pronounced as sh which is wrong. That shch is one letter in Cyrillic. It gets pronounced like that--shch. It's the same letter in the middle of Khrushchev's name. But shch looks strange to English speakers, especially at the beginning like in Shcherbo, so an h gets dropped.

            Unlike the Chinese, who tried to codify this and issued directives, the Russians--especially the athletes whose names get mangled--are notoriously lackadasical and accomodating about it. As long as we get in the neighborhood, they don't care. I remember a story I once heard about a female Russian figure skater whose name was routinely mispronounced, and in a wink-wink sort of way. When she questioned someone about it, she was told that the mispronounciation of the first syllable of her surname produced a slang word in English, and she was told what that word meant. Apparently, she completely cracked up when she heard this, and I've heard she still laughs if you mispronounce her name in that manner. Her name? Irina Slutskaya. (It's pronounced SLOOT-ska-ya) :-)

            "If there's a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child."--Barack Obama

            by ChurchofBruce on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 07:33:33 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Pronouncing foreign names (none)
              ... has never been an American strong suit. In the Viet Nam era, I heard so many mispronunciations of "Nguyen" -- that initial "ng" gets us every time -- that I wanted to scream.

              I knew a man from Kenya back in college. His name was Ndoto (I understand the Ndotos are "big" in Kenya politics to this day). I think I was one of very few in school who could get that initial "nd" sound.

              And when I go to the lunch counter and order "yeero," the guy behind the counter* says, "huh?" till I repeat it as "jie-ro" (spelled "gyro").

              Insular, ignorant folks we are, and I'm probably as insular as any, but at least I can pronounce many foreign names.

              Ed

              * except the Greek ones, who usually give me a little bit more on my order.

              •  It's not an American thing. (none)
                Well, not specifically, though maybe with our lower exposure to foreign languages we're worse about it.  

                Languages have certain sound combinations that are permitted and some of them are more permissive (or just have different ones) than others.  If you never encounter a group of sounds right next to eachother then it takes a little bit of effort to say them together.  Especially if some of the sounds don't exist in your language at all!

                This is one of the reasons Japanese speakers often seem to have thick accents.  Their language has no consonant clusters, so English words that have three consontants in a row right at the beginning like "street" are very difficult.  Also, many non-native speakers of English have trouble with "r" because unlike most languages it's an approximate (i.e., "squishy") rather than trilled.  Very few languages have that kind of "r".  I think I heard that Albanian has it but I know of no others.  Similarly, other languages have sounds that are very difficult for native speakers of English.

      •  moslem (none)
        is just the way egyptians say it.  It's just a pronunciation thing.  No biggy.

        If you want to say it right, it's like this:  "moos lim"  That's two o's not three, and you need to pause slightly on the "s".

        more annoying that "moslem", is the pronounciation "muzlum".
        Just so you know.

  •  Thank you (none)
    I've been trying to finish 'Imperial Hubris' at the gym this week and couldn't get engaged enough.

    This brief summary is easier on the eyes and mind.

    Bush/Cheney '04: Don't change horsemen in the middle of an apocalypse!

    by PhoenixRising on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 09:33:06 PM PST

  •  The Power of Nightmares (none)
    If you want to see a really good documentary about how this extremist-extremist interaction plays out, you should watch The Power of Nightmares, a BBC documentary about the radical islamist militants and the neocons.
    •  Right on... (none)
      the documentary is very much to pericles' point: the convergenge between radical Islam and the American neo-cons.
    •  Except its view of Leo Strauss... (none)
      ...and the importance of Straussianism is, at the very least, overblown.  

      The equation <Leo Strauss = Sayyid Qutb> makes for good theater, but really doesn't hold water.

      Start doing the things you think should be done, and start being what you think society should become. -Adam Michnik.

      by GreenSooner on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 05:15:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Best . Diary. Ever (4.00)
    And, it deserves even wider circulation than just here.

    Op ed?  Newsweek?

    Just freaking brilliant.  So, like what do you in your day job?  If telling that is a problem DON'T ANSWER!

    You can't always tell the truth because you don't always know the truth - but you can ALWAYS be honest.

    by mattman on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 10:18:50 PM PST

    •  I concur! (4.00)
      Pericles -
      As I read through this I thought, this is really worth publication. I urge you to submit a version somewhere. At least try Alternet.  (Click on my nick and go to my profile for my email if you want ideas on places/how to submit if you've never done it.) This is a nice, clear, well-thought-out explanation.  OK, wingnuts won't get it, but it can certainly help the rest of us.

      The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.
      - Thomas Paine

      by hyperstation on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 04:05:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Beautiful (none)
      This is the first time I copied a diary into a word document immediately for long term review. My jumbled, liquid thoughts on bin laden just came in contact with ice nine.
    •  I agree (none)
      Everyone needs to read this. It has lessons for us all.
  •  Thanks (4.00)
    For all of us getting wrapped up in moral values, soul-searching, party-remaking and all that other stuff that has sprung out of the election, it's nice to get a little perspective on some of the things we should be thinking about concerning the enemies we're up against.  Despite the constant reassurances and platitudes from both sides, this is one issue that isn't going away anytime soon.  

    We can only hope that we can think rationally about these issues sometime in the future.  I could see a writing such as this one getting nowhere if you tried to bring it up in common political discourse in this country right now.  I'm not sure if I should feel sad or be scared because of that.

  •  Deep (4.00)
    Rich. Thoughtful. Thought-provoking. Rigorous. Engaging. Sober.

    You get the idea - I really like and appreciate this piece.

    "It's not about how much time we have left. It's about what we do with it."

    •  Heartwarming? (none)
      I love this diary.  Your comment made me laugh for personal, nostalgic reasons. When my daughter was little, if she really wanted to see a movie, she'd give me her 6 year-old version of the ads, which usually went: "It's the heartwarming tale of..."  

      So, Pericles IS blogdom, I suppose.

  •  Excellent! (none)
    Nothing more to say!!
  •  Excellent article... (none)
    but I think it ascribes a little too much evil geniosity to bin Laden. Yes, he wants to radicalise his base, and yes, he wants ultimately to bring about a "war of civilisations" between the US and Islam, but he just doesn't have that much control over the situation.  For example, I don't think he expected Bush to attack Iraq - that was a success beyond his wildest dreams.

    At the same time, there's no question that Bush is playing into bin Laden's hands.  Partly this is stupidity, and part is that he shares the same goal - Bush too wants a 'war of civilisations"...

    The only answer is restraint.  America must refuse to do what bin Laden wants them to do, and avoid widening the war.  Unfortunately, I think that's beyond you.  And for that, we're all going to suffer...

    Idiot/Savant
    No Right Turn - New Zealand's second-best liberal blog

    •  He's right (3.66)
      This isnt an invention of Al Qaeda or the PLO etc etc etc. What he has posted is a restatement of the ideas and methods behind terrorism and guerilla warfare. Che Guevara was the uncontested master of guerilla warfare. And Terrorism goes back over a millenia.

      The purpose of the leader of a terrorist or guerilla movement isnt to become a Castro or Arafat. It is to achieve his goals against what using any other tactic would be impossible. And there are plenty of good examples even today.

      The chechens resorted to terrorism once the world turned its lazy gaze away from Russian atrocities. It quickly refocused the eyes of the world on what Russian is doing in Chechnya. The PLO is an organisation who's ideal is the "reformation" of a state that never existed supported by governments who have kicked those people and that movement out of their nations. In the US the radical right has been using terrorism openly since the sixties all over the US and that tactic has been successful. Before McVeigh the mainstream US didnt take the far right seriously. At this moment the far right controls all three branches of the federal government.

      The Democratic party needs to adopt its own moral and values principles (clawed) My other Drunken ravings

      by cdreid on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 11:13:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  this is what the Russian radicals did in 1881 (none)
        when they assassinated the moderate Tzar Alexander II and pushed his successors into retaliation and crackdown, because the last thing they wanted was a government willing to bend and negotiate compromises and institute reforms.

        "Don't be a janitor on the Death Star!" - Grey Lady Bast (change @ for AT to email)

        by bellatrys on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 08:01:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Bush attacking Iraq was well advertised (4.00)
      Anyone paying the slightest attention to Neoconservative ambitions knew they would attack Iraq given the slightest pretext.  They've been documenting exactly this for some years before 9/11, and making their plans widely known. See the Project for a New American Century website if you have any doubt.

      Bin Laden only needed to do a minor amount of research to have a high degree of certainty of an attack on Iraq. Remember, Bush doesn't do "nuance".

      "Those who betray the trust...are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors." - George HW Bush

      by DavidW in SF on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 11:54:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Can Americans ever understand how self- (4.00)
      destructive reprisal policies are?  

      Not only has Abu Ghraib destroyed our reputation, but the damage is ongoing.  The Culture page of Aljazeera reports on the theater circuit in Jordan.  

      When we reward the perpetrators of evil for their actions we invoke our own destruction.  

      •  Just to play the devil's advocate... (none)
        One of the diary's arguments was that it we moderated out policies OBL would have to get us "riled up" again by another attack -- we in a backwards way supports the "fight them over their instead of fighting them over here" logic.

        Not to say that Pericles isn't correct in his analysis -- but it makes it harder to formulate a progressive response.  

        •  problem is (none)
          most of the world is coming to think that we are the devil.

          I fear that the only way to internationalize the anti-extremism effort (its not a war, and it's not against terror, nor even terrorism) will be to suffer another attack and then not take reprisals.

          We have to become the victim and stop being the aggressor before others will help. And without other helping us, we will fail. Not that we can't "win" militarily, but as pericles is pointing out, the win must be ideological, and you don't win an ideological war by yourself (witness the election).

          We have to win the potential terrorist to seeing that violence does not work. Killing him does not work, because his death will give rise to others. We have to change his mind.

  •  Yes. (none)
    I whole-heartedly agree with everything I've read so far. It's about 1:51am and I still have to write a paper for class at 9:30am, so I can't procrastinate long.

    Great work. Recommended.

  •  Damn (none)
    impressive.  Thanks.  A lot.

    "Conservatism makes no poetry, breathes no prayer, has no invention; it is all memory." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

    by reef the dog on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 10:48:42 PM PST

  •  Just all around excellent, so ... (4.00)
    ...straightforward and clear and dead on the money. Every American who hasn't yet figured it out - and that is the majority - should read this in its entirety.

    The best line in this very good Diary is the last one. I am, sorry to say, not very sanguine that the nation will be in any mood to follow that advice, and we know how the NeoImps will spin it.

    Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy.

    by Meteor Blades on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 10:48:49 PM PST

  •  Thank you, Kos, this is truly (none)
    worthy of front page status.  

    And thank you for creating this amazing place.

  •  Kos, here's your Guest Blogger (4.00)
    I recommend Pericles.

    "The problems of today will not be solved by the same thinking that produced the problems in the first place" - Albert Einstein

    by galiel on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 10:58:00 PM PST

  •  Oh, Oh, So Brilliant. (4.00)
    Well done, pericles, an excellent, intelligent, incisive and insightful breakdown.

    The only quibble I have is the nature of the next target.

    Were I directing the battle or determining the targets for Al Qaeda, I would target Houston.

    Houston is the economic heart of one of the Reddest of Red States. It is home to the President, and home to some of the heaviest concentrations of Fundamentalist Crusaders.

    It is also one of the most important economic centers in terms of Oil and Chemical industries.

    New Orleans is another one.

    The only way to ensure a free press is to own one

    by RedDan on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 11:02:57 PM PST

    •  Tx. Monthly & the Houston scenario (none)
      Texas Monthly has a long, terrific, detailed article on what a Houston attack could look like.

      To be technical, the scenario involves an attack in the petrochemical-production areas a bit outside the city, but it's damned ugly.

      Alas, Texas Monthly is extremely tight with their content so no link.

      I ain't got no damn job. Need a writer/editor/Web guy? robert.hough@gmail.com. Have brain, will travel.

      by rghojai on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 11:44:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  wow. spectacular diary. (4.00)
      haven't read the texas monthly article mentioned above, but it makes perfect sense as a target.  it wouldn't take a whole lot of effort to make one nasty explosion- this is basically what 'failed to adequately secure chemical plants' referred to- only at a more spectacular level than blowing up some power plant in rural pennsylvania.

        just from an economic standpoint:
      -houston one of 5 largest u.s. ports
      -18 of top 100 companies headquartered there, including most of the oil majors
      -population roughly 5 million metro

      extremely vulnerable to chemical or biological attack for two other reasons: climate (hot, humid, not windy, clay-rich soil), and transportation/mobility- mass transit system new, unpopular; traffic can be horrific.  

      basically, what happens in houston stays in houston.  for a long time.  beyond that- rock, paper, scissors between dirty bomb, chemical plant complex, or refinery.

      plausible.

    •  eeeee (none)

      yknow, I hadn't really thought this through, but you're very right. But...not to do their thinking for them, I think there's a much more likely target. You see, the chem and oil refineries are in thinly populated, heavily industrialized areas (where you can't go outside for weeks at a time due to air quality...but I digress). There are well-established emergency plans for that whole area. Even a massive explosion there would take out maybe a few hundred people, and those people would mostly be minority working-class folks - not really Bush's base.

      No, the better and scarier target is the Medical Center. It's very densely built up; tens of thousands stay and work there on any given day, from indigent grandmothers to hotshot surgeons. It's a major economic engine for Houston. There's a large children's hospital and a world-famous cancer research facility. There are churches scattered throughout. There's a secular university next door (my alma mater, and George P. Bush's too) - nothing better for terrifying and enraging middle class types than pictures of dead college kids (shudder). Rice also has the James Baker Institute of Foreign Policy - not quite a nest of neoimperialism, but I imagine Mr. Baker isn't real popular in the Muslim world right now either.

      Though Houston itself is generally Democratic and such an attack would probably kill more Democrats than Bush supporters, it would still be close enough to scare and anger the crusader types who live in the deep-red burbs.

      But maybe I'm just being paranoid and projecting my fear onto the places I love.

      •  Interesting thought, though... (none)
        ...one point the author made (in great detail) was that there is real potential for poisonous gasses to be released, that these gasses would kill many, many people well beyond the attack area.

        It really is a good, heavily researched article. Hope you can scare up a copy. Dunno where you are, but Texas Monthly gets around. I found a copy in a California bookstore.

        I ain't got no damn job. Need a writer/editor/Web guy? robert.hough@gmail.com. Have brain, will travel.

        by rghojai on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 12:47:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  A megachurch is an interesting choice... (none)
        ...I was always thinking a large shopping mall, myself.

        Or the World Series or Super Bowl.

        It could be a million things-that's the (scary) point.

      •  not the Medical Center (none)
        That would work if the point were just to kill a lot of people. But I don't think Bin Laden is the stone cold killer our media makes him out to be. Not that he isn't a killer, but he needs to maintain his image among his followers. Targeting sick people -- and  the healers who attend them -- would be hard to justify.

        The 9/11 attacks, in addition to killing a lot of people, were highly symbolic. The WTC represented America's financial dominance and the Pentagon our military dominance.

        The oil/chemical plant idea makes more sense than the Medical Center. It draws attention to oil as America's real interest in the Middle East, and strikes at our economy.

        •  Another target that (3.50)
          a smart, economically savvy terrorist might pick would be the lock and dam system that currently prevents the Mississippi River from switching courses and flowing into the Atchafalaya River basin...

          Such a switch would be devastating to the US economy and the infrastructure of much of the South.

          The only way to ensure a free press is to own one

          by RedDan on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 06:12:17 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Their Preferred Targets (none)
          Remember - we're being demonized by the process. Everything done is done best if it helps draw focus on our "inferior moral values" or our attempts at financial or military dominance.

          Their alternative is to attempt to maximize our response. In the mind of much of the Arab Street, they're already justified in attacking, since our rape of Iraq has been so overly violent. Thus, attacking the American family at play (Disney? Six Flags?) would enflame the hearts of Americans. (likely would take all of 6 minutes to get both houses of congress to enact draft legislation if that happened)

          vote early - vote often

          by wystler on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 11:21:52 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  The most important thing (none)
      Is that it would have to look good on TV, and ideally be watched to burn by the entire country for several days straight, just like last time.
    •  prolly not a church (none)

      I have some doubts that he'd attack a church too. but yeah, this is one awesome diary. well done!

      I just think that average Muslims would be as pissed about someone attacking people praying in a church as average westerners are pissed at the concept of the US attacking a Mosque.

      Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people... it is true that most stupid people are conservative - John Stuart Mill

      by Sarkasba on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 06:23:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Except for about (none)
        half of our benighted nation, who thinks that blowing up mosques is hunky dory.

        The only way to ensure a free press is to own one

        by RedDan on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 06:47:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  not moderates (none)

          I think if you pressed people on it, you'd find that only the extremists would approve.

          What I was getting at is, bin Laden could not appeal to Muslim moderates by bombing a church anymore than Bush could appeal to Christian moderates by bombing a mosque.

          In either case, they would be appealing only to extremists in such an attack. They would lose support among moderates.

          Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people... it is true that most stupid people are conservative - John Stuart Mill

          by Sarkasba on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 06:55:53 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Lots of targets (none)
      There are thousands of potential terrorist targets in the U.S. and elsewhere. I can see how churches would get people very angry, and help Bush, but Bush no longer needs bin Laden's help. Major cities are probably still at least as likely to get hit.

      The other thing to keep in mind is that bin Laden and al Zawahiri (the real leader) aren't just trying to provoke a response. They also want people to see them as fearless martyrs, using God's will to beat an enemy that rationally is far more powerful than they are.

      Bin Laden boasted about this in his election ad last month, when he said that America had to spend a million dollars for every one spent by al Queda. We also see it demonstrated in some of their attacks: the rubber dinghy vs. the  battleship, or five men with razorblades against the Pentagon.

    •  Idaho National Engineering and Enviro Lab (none)
      It's a longshot as a target, since it's not a population center, but it is a nuclear facility, not far from a major national attraction (Yellowstone), and it's in as red a state as you're going to find. Not that hard to get to, either. And very few people around to notice you.
    •  New Orleans? (none)
      Huh? The next major hurricane will submerge it. What international cartels are run out of New Orleans? Or is it all those paganesque, pyramid-like above-ground crypts?

      The Rambling Rover: Politics, society, travel, oh my

      by jonathanjo on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 09:50:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  NO (none)
      it won't be in a red state. They're already enraged. It'll be in a blue state to try and swing those of us who are advocating a more rational approach.
      •  I thought the same thing (none)
        I tend to worry because my wife works in the Bechtel Building in SF.  What would happen to us peace-loving Bay Area folks if we got hit?  We'd probably flip out with rage and visions of vengeance.

        It's not something I like to think contemplate.

  •  What an awesome article (3.71)
    Without sounding condescending I must admit that I m worried about America. After 9/11 I don't think many Americans took time out to ask themselves how things had gotten to such a state. I think the Israelis suffer from the same problems. Neither nations have stopped to ask themselves why exactly it is that there are groups of people that are willing to die just to hurt them. For years the American public has been shielded from the impact US foreign policy has on the world and so I think they were not ready for the eventuality that 9/11 was. If the American public had been aware of the growing anit American sentiment in the Middle East things may have panned out differently.

    I really don't mean to paint everyone with the same brush but there is a need for Americans to appreciate how their decisions impact on the rest of the world. Now this is quite unfair as it would force you to consider the rest of us during elections rather than the hings that should be really important to you like healthcare jobs etc. Unfortunately this is the burden of being the worlds only superpower. No longer is being a superpower only about being the strongest it now also has to be about being the most understanding, most empathetic. Bin Laden is hell bent on showing the Muslim world that America is their enemy. Unfortunately so far from a Muslim perspective that is exactly what you guys are becoming. This war on terror will not be won on battlefields but in minds ( sorry for that corny line it seemed to fit).

  •  Recommended and foured up the yin yang (none)
    You have said eloquently what I have been so frustratingly unable to convey since Bush first started pushing an Iraq attack.  I knew then that anti-Americanism would reach a fever pitch, that insurgents would pour in, that they would be happy to bleed us slowly and not let us get out.  I keep wondering how an idiotic, uninformed person like myself could know that, while the powers that be didn't.  We've beed duped - and not just by George Dubyus Bush.

    It was also my fervent wish, as I squeezed soul energy into a Kerry win, that he too understands this.  I have never heard a hint that he does.

    I am copying this to word.  I'd love to get this to less welcoming corners of my world, if you don't mind.

    •  Fly, little one! (4.00)
      I want this to get as many readers as possible. Send it anywhere you want.
      •  Now linked from my blog. (none)

        The Rambling Rover: Politics, society, travel, oh my

        by jonathanjo on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 09:55:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'll take you up on that one (none)
        Linking is one thing, but would you mind if I quoted all or part in my livejournal?  (Full credit and original link will be provided.)

        Meanwhile, I join the rest of the commenters in urging you to submit this for publication.

        "Our struggle is not with some monarch named George who inherited the crown. Although it often seems that way."

        by erinya on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 11:09:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  With your permission (none)
        I would like to post this on my little  corner of the blogosphere independant of dailykos. It's the fourt reincarnation of my blog sinc eI started keeping one after 9/11, so it is a little on the "lite" side. I hope to have more cogent/satircal content under my own banner, but I do have people reading it.

        "My case is alter'd, I must work for my living." Moll Cut-Purse, The Roaring Girl - 1612, England's First Actress

        by theRoaringGirl on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 02:14:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The most likely target: airlines again (none)
    If al-Qaeda wants to wreck the American economy, the most effective and 'spectacular' way to do it would be to attack the airline industry again. Assuming we've actually done something in the past three years to prevent hijackings, they could do it either by sneaking suicide bombers onboard like Richard Reid tried to or the Chechen women successfully did in Russia; or by using man-portable antiaircraft missiles, like they tried against El Al in Kenya. Another 9/11-style would almost certainly kill the entire domestic airline industry.

    Mr. President, are you paying attention???

    •  Most likely target guesses (none)
      make up one of those economics games the Dept of Defense hoped to play with its terrorism futures market two years ago.

      In Orange County, Fla., the recently-reelected Rethug sheriff, who imposed dawn-to-dusk curfews two days before the last two Florida hurricanes struck, and the recently-reelected reThug congressman both laid claim to Disney World as a primary target.

      They were lobbying for a bigger take of the Homeland Security funding, and the story was reported heavily on the Clear Channel stations (which is about half of all stations around here).

      This essay makes much more sense of that than I was able to on my own. Big wow.

      Support your right to keep and arm bears.

      by doorguy on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 11:52:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent Work! (4.00)
    Not much for me to add, so i'll let Yeats do the work.

    "Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity"

    The universal themes of human existence, hundreds of years of history to draw on, why must the people that so desperately need to see the truth here be so very blind?

  •  You beat me. (none)
    I made a similar, but more muddled and far less developed analysis a few days ago. Thank you.
  •  #6 (none)
    i dont think OBL did madrid.  i think it was the black ops {ie the mossad)  loonies trying to swing the election back to the conservatives.  but unlike the US, the spanish showed that they could see thru the bullshit.  the country wanted their government gone long before the bombing.
    •  Spanish hated Aznar (none)
      long before he was voted out.  In fact, in my travels, I couldn't find a single person who supported him.  It was common in Barcelona to see banners from highrises (summer 2003) saying (I kid you not) "Aznar = Bush = Hitler".  In the rest of Northern Spain, sentiment was not far different.

      What gets me is that the American media made it seem like some kind of surprise that Aznar was defeated and that the withdrawl of Spanish troops was because of the bombing.  It wasn't.  The withdrawl of the troops was part of Zapatero's platform for election.  He had promised to withdraw them long before the bombing had occurred.

  •  jkjk (4.00)
    If I was Osama, all I'd do is just hide out and be the boogyman for the next 10 years, watching the U.S. self-destruct.  Then after that I make my move.    And since that I punked the U.S. with a ragtag group of dudes, the rest of the world doesn't see the U.S. as undefeatable so I'm sure I've set some other wheels in motion as well.  All I need to do is play the U.S. against itself and the world, and I may just come out somewhere near where I want to be. If I get blasted or caught, they'll be 100 others to take my place and that's not including the possibility of non-Islamic groups wanting to get in the ball game against big bad America.

    Street smarts is now giving intellectualism a run for its money. (meaning poor oppressed folk can finally hit back at the west)

    •  asa (none)
      my point being that we need to address some of the causes of terrorism if we every hope to be rid of it.
    •  Why attack? (none)
      Right now the US has blown whatever good will foreign nations had towards our country.

      Another AQ attack risks the US regaining lost allies. If AQ strategy is to bankrupt the US then they are best to leave us isolated and sit and watch it events unravel as you suggest.

      If AQ felt the compulsion to attack sooner, they would strike military & economic targets (with minimal civialian casualties). This approach would not necessarily drive our allies back to supporting us without reservations      

         

  •  Thats fine by me (none)
    I am an optimist and I know that things will change for the better. I don't think anyone besides the fundamentalist groups really want to destroy America. That is impossible because the "idea" of America is one which many people around the world still hope to experience. It is still early days and I know America will grow into its new role. I don't think individual Americans yet understand the amount of influence they can exert on the world. I mean things like boycotting blood diamonds or demanding better work place conditions in Asian factories are brilliant now but can you imagine how awesome they would be if everyone in the US understood the impact they could have? The journos are right this current war on terror is a generational one however the current phases are only teething problems and eventually the war will be waged differently by fighting the real factors that lead to dispair poverty and fundamentalism around the world, namely political repression, corruption and unfair economic trade issues.
  •  Outstanding writing (none)
    Dead on and totally depressing because the people of this country don't have the faintest idea about this. Our extremists need this war just as bad as their's do.

    Great work pericles. There's nothing I love more than reading every line knowing what comes next but still being enthralled by it.

  •  Who wants to bet (none)
    that some asshat moron over at RedState or LGF or Freep or InstaDunderhead reports this thread to the FBI in an attempt to get dailyKos shut down?

    Gimme some odds on when this entry hits the Freep-o-sphere, anyone?

    10 minutes?

    5 hours?

    2 days?

    The only way to ensure a free press is to own one

    by RedDan on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 11:36:22 PM PST

  •  Emailed this to a cop friend (none)
    Expect he'll enjoy your effort

    (extreme outside chance that you'll get a knock on your door, i suppose ... "How do you know this ...?")

    vote early - vote often

    by wystler on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 11:38:54 PM PST

  •  I'm wondering.... (none)
    why I have yet to see anything that's addressing the who Palestinian issue.  That seems to be the big rock in the shoe here.  There's no mention of our foreign policies that have helped create this situation.  

    The perspective I've observed here(as well as the right-leaning blogs) when it comes to the "war on terror" seems to be a pretty reactionary one focused on getting Osama.  You take him out, we're still gonna have one big mess and with a martyr to boot.

  •  Good stuff (none)
    Folks, that's how you write a damn diary. Quality work.
  •  Targets (none)
    It is probably hopeless to try to read Bin Laden's mind in enough detail to guess his exact target.  But one class of targets seems all too obvious: red-state megachurches whose leaders have made virulently anti-Islamic statements. They are relatively undefended. They are the heart of Bush's political power base, and so can be blamed for his policies. They can easily be portrayed as enemies of Islam. And, last but not least, an attack on a church would rile American hawks like nothing else.

    I don't think so, and you made the point yourself:

    The first and biggest obstacle to your victory is that the vast majority of the people who sympathize with your issue are not violent extremists.

    The wingers in those churches are our extremists. He wouldn't get much sympathy these days by incinerating a mega-church in Mississippi or Alabama. I dare-say, some of the more rabid among us (Garafalo, et al) might consider it good riddance.  No, the more likely targets will be in the bluest of the blue states---San Francisco comes to mind.  

    Just a thought...

    I believe that it was right to impeach Bill Clinton for lying but not George Bush because the lives of our soldiers are not as important as a ____ ___.

    by San Francisco Liberal on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 11:53:32 PM PST

    •  lkj (none)
      I'd put my money on Texas since everybody knows that G.W. can fly off the handle pretty fast which would make him lash out in a way that would benefit OBL.
        And since Texias it's a red state too(as well as GW's state), it would break the back of him being able to protect the "red states"   If they did something to the blue states, it would't get as much of a rise from the conservatives now that the "loyalty" lines have been drawn after this last election.  
      •  MEMRI claims Osama said it would be a red state (none)
        http://www.memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=sa&ID=SA1404

        Basically, they translated a word most people translated as "each country" instead as "each US state", as in "each state that stands with Bush" makes itself a target, as opposed to "each country".  (The exact quote is "Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or Al-Qa'ida. Your security is in your own hands, and any U.S. state that does not toy with our security automatically guarantees its own security.")

        These guys are fairly right wing, so I dunno how much stock to take in this.  This definetely is a pro-Bush article-"Osama wants Kerry to win, so vote for Bush" is the unsaid message behind it.

    •  Targets and Methods (none)
      I think the analysis from Pericles was basically right, they are going to damage economically until we are forced to leave.

      The question is: what targets both draw our attention, and serve that goal?  Also, Al Qaeda attacks are rarely in isolation: like 9/11 and the Spain attacks, they are coordinated efforts.

      So, what do you hit?  Well, there are some governmental targets that come instantly to mind:

      • The White House: Preferably when Bush isn't there but his family is.  We may not be fond of the economic policies of the administration, but it is an organizational nerve center of the country and striking it would cause severe economic damage.  Plus, it would be a strong enough symbolic attack to cause a strong, potentially irrational, reaction-exactly what bin Laden wants.
      • The Capitol.  Same as the White House, only you could actually kill most of the inhabitants without losing your Bush bogeyman.
      • The Pentagon is out, its simply not enough of a power center and didn't burn down well enough.

      Economic targets are less protected.  Red state targets include extractive/energy producing targets, blue state targets are mostly nerve centers.
      • Hoover Dam - Drains aquifers, takes out a major portion of the SW power grid, floods homes.  Rebuilding would be hugely expensive, but necessary.
      • Nuclear reactors - lots of 'em around, and security hasn't tightened.
      • New York - May be a bit safer, the best targets for one type of attack have been taken.  Grand Central Station would be a devastating place to launch a bio-weapons type attack.  Electronic Exchanges have reduced the value of targets like the NYSE, however.
      • Chicago - Sears tower is a possibility, but seems like too much of a re-run on a 2nd ranked target.

      Finally, just as its important to think about targets, its important to think about methods.  Al Queda hasn't really done too many re-runs, they are too smart for that.  They can get access to substantial funds.  So, what will the weapon of choice be?

      It won't be airplanes again, at least not in the same way.  The goal will be a bigger attack, not a re-run, and the trick would never work again.  9/11 succeeded because there was in a sense a deal with terrorists on a plane, or a least a believable promise: cooperate and no-one gets hurt.  Anybody produces a box-cutter on a plane nowadays will get his ass kicked even if he has a bomb to back him up.

      Big, conventional weapons might be a method.  If so, it will likely be multiple large truck bombs - potentially using HMX and RDX  stolen from Iraq for all you irony fans.

      WMD would be an obvious choice.  It builds Bush's case for a forceful response, and could be spectacular enough to up the ante from 9/11.

      • Chemical: These have never been truly effective, and while a properly placed nerve agent in the right place could kill a lot of people, the history of them doesn't indicate a likelihood of success.
      • Biological: Again, the history of creating true mass damage is limited.  An engineered virus so far seems more the stuff of fiction than fact, but it could happen.
      • Nuclear: This is the big, big, big one.  Unfortunately, sources abound.  Pakistan has some, and A.Q. Khan has shown a willingness to deal: if ones already gone, it could be in NYC waiting for the word.  North Korea probably wouldn't let one go unless it was completely untraceable.  The old Soviet Nukes are the big fear, and with the money bin Laden could bring to the table he could potentially bribe the right people.  The borders of the country remain porous, you could get one or more through.  Big damage, big chaos, with the only drawback being it might actually be enough to get the rest of the world back on our side.

      This is scary stuff, but we have to think it through.  It could have a devastating two prong effect: the end of the lives of many of our fellow citizens and friends, and the end to the open society that America represents, given our current leadership.

      And, the attempt will happen.  We're just not serious enough about stopping it: our ports and nuclear reactors remain in many ways at pre-9/11 security levels, Russian nukes are still out there, and Iran and North Korea are closer to or have already joined club A-bomb.

      •  big targets are a waste (none)
        those 2 jackasses snipering in DC did more damage to the psychology of people living in multiple states than we here in the midwest give them credit for. Had the 19 hijackers gone to 19 major cities and snipered folks outside malls, our economy would have dropped even lower. so although al queda probably like the big visuals like falling towers, it's also in their best interests to scare the shit out of us by poisoning water plants, bombing prisons, and killing innocent civilians near gas stations.

        Weaker at home, Hated abroad www.dumpw.org

        by jsepeta on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 07:28:26 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Hoover Dam (none)
        Never mind the symbolic damage, or the impact on the regional power grid.

        There are at least 2MM people who would become very thirsty, very quickly, if something were to happen to Lake Mead.

        Any disruption in the aqueduct system of the interior West would be deadly.

        The casualties in Vegas alone would be horrendous.

        Terrorists smell weakness - That's why they attacked when Bush was president

        by cskendrick on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 08:44:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  If Al Qaeda wanted to kill 2 birds with 1 stone... (none)
        ...a choice target would be the  Kentucky Dam and the Barkley Dam on the Tennesee River. The Tennesse River runs through "red" states, and the dams provide are well known as large suppliers of cheap electricity to the South. If Al Qaeda hit those two, not only would it slight Bush by pointing out that he failed to protect his own "red" states, but would collapse the regional economy as well as do enormous amounts of damage through flooding. If they pulled that off, Al Qaeda would have hit the trifecta.

        The Kentucky Dam was built during the New Deal, it's what helped revitalize the South and pull the country out of the Depression. If it was destroyed, it'll probably send us into one.

        Amateurs talk strategery, professionals talk logistics

        by Young Freud on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 09:10:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Restoring the Caliphate (none)
    Restoring the Caliphate. Let's say this is a possibility. It would likely offer the Muslim world a place in the world economy. So if you are a believer that a new Caliphate is acchievable, it offers you much hope, more than the West does.

    Know all your enemies. We know who are enemies are.

    by BrooklynBoy on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 11:56:50 PM PST

  •  A little too much credit (4.00)
    First, this is a great post.  It paints a good overall picture, but I do think it gives Bin Laden too much credit.

    1.  The twin towers weren't supposed to fall.  If those towers were damaged and burned, we wouldn't be looking at the world we see today.

    2.  Bin Laden was shocked by how quickly the taliban folded in Afghanistan and was probably expecting the americans to go in half-hearted like at Somalia.  He was injured while fleeing and had he stayed a few more days, he would probably be dead by now.

    3.  He couldn't have foreseen how stupid the Bushies would be to move on to Iraq so quickly.  Although I'm sure he approved of the move.

    4.  His ultimate goal may be the return of the Caliphate, but his medium-term goal is to make dealing with the middle east too costly for america.  He thinks we are weak.  He thinks that if we are bled enough we'll just pack up and leave.  I know that this is Bush's argument for Iraq, but I think it is a valid argument in terms of the middle east in general.

    5.  Bin Laden, like Bush, is probably on the wrong side of history.  The increase in religiousity in the middle-east and the "culture of death" were created and glorified by the soviet occupation of Afghanistan and the invasion and occupation of Lebanon.  Chechnya and Bosnia served as the final straw for many muslims who were shocked to see that being white wasn't enough to save you in an increasingly oppressive climate.  Rather than the begining of an islamic revolution, I believe what we are seeing is its last gasp.  We won't stand extremists running our lives any longer than they will.  Both sets of extremists will fight it out until modern people on both side slap their wrists and send them into the corner.  We just have to hope to minimize the damage that they do in the process.
    •  further back than that? (none)
      '5.   Bin Laden, like Bush, is probably on the wrong side of history.  The increase in religiousity in the middle-east and the "culture of death" were created and glorified by the soviet occupation of Afghanistan and the invasion and occupation of Lebanon.  Chechnya and Bosnia served as the final straw for many muslims who were shocked to see that being white wasn't enough to save you in an increasingly oppressive climate.  Rather than the begining of an islamic revolution, I believe what we are seeing is its last gasp.  We won't stand extremists running our lives any longer than they will.  Both sets of extremists will fight it out until modern people on both side slap their wrists and send them into the corner.  We just have to hope to minimize the damage that they do in the process.'

        i'd make the case that in places like afghanistan, people have always been pretty far out in their religiosity.  some people (a guy named soucek at princeton, for one, i think ahmed rashid as well) have postulated that the rise of islamic fundamentalism in central asia in the 80s and 90s was a backlash to soviet repression of religion in the muslim republics...
        but if you look back beyond that, you find that it was a frontier between religions since long before the rise of islam- and the brand of religion practiced in that part of the world has always been comparatively extremist, whether it be islam, christianity, or zoroastrianism.  
        now, what i'm saying is not that they're all a bunch of hopeless barbarians and always have been, and we shouldn't expect things to change- but i would argue that we're not seeing the last gasps of the islamic revolution.  four years ago, i might have agreed with you- especially in the more traditional center of the caliphate, where iraq was largely secular and iran's islamic revolution seemed to be moving towards moderation.  even then, it's worth noting, the taliban was gaining strength and afghanistan and pakistan was becoming increasingly fundamentalist, while the fallout from the breakup of the USSR was still settling.  even in the 90's, the frontier or fringe areas grew more radical while the center moved towards moderation.
        among the effects of the iraq invasion is the revitalization of that gasping islamic revolution.  that's what mr. pericles is talking about when he speaks of radicalizing the center, and it looks like it's in progress- not just the iraqi insurrection, but look at iranian politics the last few years.

      scary stuff.

      •  True... (none)
        i'd make the case that in places like afghanistan, people have always been pretty far out in their religiosity.

        I think what we see in Afghanistan is a different story.  The Taliban was never a movement.  They are a militia.  

        The movement that we are seeing I believe, is a mix of wahhaby-ism and the the fringes of what is left of the muslim brotherhood.  They joined forces in Afghanistan and got good results.  When the Shia in lebanon started blowing themselves up, they adopted the practice as well.  The real Al-Qaeda types are engineers and doctors, not warlords.  They have been promising a lot, and so far, they have delivered zero.  People will tire of them eventually and send them packing.  Hopefully their movement will die along with the extremist movements here.

    •  Lebanon. Northern Ireland. (none)
      The only way running sores like that ever heal is when the middle folks on both sides figure out point 1: that both sets of extremists are their enemies. This generally doesn't happen until so much blood has been shed that everyone even slightly sane is sick of it.

      When the middle folks try to negotiate a compromise, the first thing that always happens is that the extremists on both sides up the level of violence.

      Massacre is not a family value.

      by Canadian Reader on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 12:39:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I almost agree, but... (none)
      Brilliant essay, and your criticism is worthy of it, but...

      1. If 9/11 had been optimally successful, results might have been much more significant, one guess is that the White House was a target. Their "gain" - the spectacular, made-for-TV imagery that they produced - is significant, but what if they'd hit the White House? Wouldn't that have effected the mobilization just as much?

      2. Surely bin Laden didn't expect to draw the U.S. into a minimalist war analogous to the Soviet experience. That equation depended on a huge, strategic and ongoing infusion of American capital and equipment, did it not? Could pan-Muslim capital and equipment - war materiel - ever replace our contribution level back in the '80's?

      3. Absolutely.

      4. Agree also, except that you're really offering two definitions of the same thing, more Caliphate and less U.S. seem inseparable to me.
      He might have thought that "if we are bled enough we'll just pack up and leave" in the beginning, that's reasonable, but it seems now he would be thinking he's closer to the whole tamale. There are several severe issues facing this country, not the least of which is $50 oil, devalued currency, a military draft and future terrorist incidents, real or imagined, perpetrated by an enemy that has multiplied and diversified hugely, in large part due to the horrible success (#2) of his initial operation.

      5. Absolutely. The trouble is, they are both on the same wrong side, and the rest of the world is on our side. And the last half of your argument seems wishful to me. "We won't stand extremists running our lives any longer than they will." How long did they stand it in Afghanistan when the Taliban was in charge, Iraq when the Ba'athists were in charge, etc., etc., and how long have the reins of our own govt. been in the hands of extremists?

      Support your right to keep and arm bears.

      by doorguy on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 12:41:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wishful Thinking (none)
        And the last half of your argument seems wishful to me.

        Hand me the rose-colored glasses.  Maybe the wishful thinking is all that keeps us sane. :)  I came to the realization recently that was seperates Red and Blue America in terms on terrorism is the concept of participation.  Red American wants a big man with a big gun to keep the bad men away.  They are so afraid of death that they are willing to follow madmen off a cliff.  I think Blue America has the sense that it wants to participate in its own survival.  We want to talk through our options, our goals and means, and try to come to a solution.

        So when i say that I think extremists will fade away, it is wishful thinking.  But it also a way to participate in your own survival by offering a way out.  The answer isn't simply for the muslim world to toss out Bin Laden, or America to toss out the Neocons.  We have to actually choose an alternate direction.  So, I just want to be constantly keeping that door open, hoping we can walk through it.

        •  I'm optimistic, long term (none)
          For Red Americans, "inclusiveness" means everybody puts on Red American blinders and proceeds, for Blue Americans, it means everybody wears blinders but we reach a consensus before proceeding. Given the natural tendency of human beings to reject another's blinders (perhaps more pronounced among Blue Americans, but universal nevertheless), our precedence seems inevitable, if eventual. We can include them and survive, they won't ever include us unless they are forced to by, like, a Constitution or something.

          Support your right to keep and arm bears.

          by doorguy on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 03:09:11 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  too costly (none)
      All the talk about costs, bankruptcy, and weakness makes me think OBL is planning to attack our our energy supply.  The oil market has been pretty tight this last year and in a lot of ways our entire economy and war effort depend on it.  Attacks at port facilities, refineries, or on pipelines around the world would have a very big impact on us.  Pipelines are notoriously hard to protect, and relatively easy to shut down.  Iran, Russia, Georgia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Nigeria, Angola, Sudan, Venezuela, and Alaska are all vulnerable.  Next June when the seasonal demand peaks would be a time of relative weakness.  

      I don't know what the solution is.  Our energy supply is fragile and scarce.  We need it to be more robust.  

      Of course this is coming from a geologist who owns aluminum foil.

      I don't know if OBL wants us to actually leave the middle east.  I think he may just want to weaken our economy so much that we lose our "super power" status and ability to throw our weight around.  The Sudan, Syria, and Iran would be able to openly thumb their noses at us and it would be hard for us to keep giving 6 billion/year to israel.  

      Even without another attack -- Bush may turn the US into a bankrupt and toothless paper tiger.  Billions on a fictional missile defense program, billions in tax cuts, billions on laser guided bombs for Fallujah, billions for the transition to privatized social security accounts, billions for a manned mission to mars, billions for churches providing child care/baptisms.  

    •  Drinking Bush's Kool-Aid (none)
      Yeah, bin Laden just wants us to leave, so we can't leave, or that would give him what he wants.  So we always have to do the opposite of what bin Laden wants.  We have no choice (whoops, where did my freedom go?).

      He wants the US out of the middle east in the sense that the US is what's propping up all the aristocrats in all the little kingdoms.  I'm sure bin Laden is happy to have US targets instead of Saudi ones, 'cuz he'd piss off his Saudi backers if he started attacking there.

    •  And OBL said (none)
      he never expected more than 20 minutes before the US responded. If we believe that it may mean he expected the planes intercepted before hitting, since the crew would presumably be able to alert the ground to the hijacking.

      Also, this partnership of the extremes was blatant in 2000 in Israel, when Sharon's gang provoked another round of intifada just before the election.  I think around that time was the moment I stepped into that alternate star-trek-universe where spock has a goatee.

    •  Twin Towers and Bush in Iraq (none)
      I agree that the towers falling were pure luck for Bin Laden, as was Bush invading Iraq.
      You really can't blame Osama for thinking he has God on his side, no?
      But it doesn't rebut the points in the article. First, Bin Laden probably had more attacks planned had not the Twin Towers been so successful. He got it done with the first hit, but he had to start somewhere.
      Second, Osama has made only one big stategic mistake; thinking he could do to us in Afghanistan what he did to the Soviets. Sadly, Bush bailed him out of that by going into Iraq. Otherwise his stategy has been impeccable, and in line with Pericles analysis.
      He has just been a whole lot luckier than he had a right to expect.
      Again, you can't blame him for thinking God is on his side.

      I considered leaving the country, but I don't want to become a victim of our foreign policy.

      by AWhitneyBrown on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 06:46:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I agree, generally (none)
      Pericles wrote a great essay, the QA format is really well suited.

      but I think he does give Bin Laden too much credit.

      According to Peter Bergen who has interviewed Bin Laden several times, the man is barely aware of the outside world.

      This article makes it sound like he's got better grasp of world public opinion and western policies than most University Professors in the west, Left or Right.

      For the kind of understanding that you give him credit for, one must have a super-wide network of constant informants, A central hub of communications, excellent and up to date access to all the world's press, a deep and cultural understanding of the west, access to polling data, a sophisticated PR operation.

      I'm not saying he's not capable of these things, but to do them without tipping his location, would have to be beyond genius. I mean billions of dollars in sattelites and surveilance equipment should be able to find something if it's this complex. I know he's devout, determined and maybe even cunning, but genius? I'm not sure.

      Let's not forget that his so-called success agains the USSR had most to do with one thing: American supplied shoulder mounted stinger missles.

      One thing that was missing from your analysis is US interest.

      I'm not beyond believing that Bin Laden is not being pursued on purpose to serve Bush's political needs. Anything is possible from the likes of Dick Cheney.

      Let's not forget that the Afghan Oil Pipeline was built in late 2001 before a single school or hospital. Let's not forget that Bush had his eyes on Saddam before he even knew what Al Qaeda was.

      •  Not all that big a deal (none)
        Osama bin Laden was educated in the West so it's not as if he's ignorant as to what makes it tick.  All he needs is someone---doesn't have to be he himself---with a PC and an Internet connection to follow the papers (not to mention blogosphere) to see what's up in the outside world.  We're not talking a high level of necessary sophistication here, and all without tipping his location one whit.  Ten years ago, you'd be right.  But what if OBL reads Daily Kos?  There's absolutely nothing preventing it, you know.
  •  Excellent, excellent diary (4.00)
    Any chance of submitting it to a magazine like "Harper's" or "The New Yorker"? You could probably get it in Z Magazine (Chomsky, Herman, et al.), or CommonDreams, but you really need a much wider audience of those who are not of the choir. I'd shoot for "Harper's" or especially "The New Yorker" or "The Atlantic Monthly". Really.

    Good good stuff. This diary explains exactly why I believe that we will never be able to achieve anything remotely resembling "success" in Iraq now that Bush has been re-elected.

    "Those who betray the trust...are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors." - George HW Bush

    by DavidW in SF on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 12:11:04 AM PST

    •  I second that emotion (none)
      ...and I also humbly suggest that those of us who are on those informal email lists that make up the secret conventional wisdom in this country should submit this to them, stat.

      We keep talking about needing a narrative - I think this is it, folks. We just need a little more polishing, a couple of phrases - perhaps a metaphor concerning the blood of martyrs and the tree of terrorism...with apologies to Thomas Jefferson, who I think got it slightly wrong anyway.

  •  One more thing... (none)
    Kos -- thanks for promoting this to the front page. I think you might have a new "guest blogger" in the wings.

    "Those who betray the trust...are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors." - George HW Bush

    by DavidW in SF on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 12:14:16 AM PST

  •  Turn the Other Cheek? (4.00)
    To a certain extent, the logic of reprisal is irresistible. Who can sit quietly while someone repeatedly hits his face, even if he knows the attacker only wants him to strike back? Ignoring one blow just invites the next. America is not a land of Quakers and Mennonites. If attacked, it is inevitable that we will respond.
    It's true that we had to respond to 9/11 militarily, but as you correctly state, we should have done so in a much craftier way.

    Imagine how much damage we would have done to bin Laden's message if we routed the Taliban from Afghanistan with 100,000 troops, and then kept them there to win the peace while we dumped $500 billion into developing the country. The benefits sure as hell outweight the cost. In ten years it would probably be another Taiwan or South Korea, and the "pernicious influence of the West" would have created a shining beacon of economic success in the Middle East, showing Muslims everywhere that an Arab nation can fully succeed in Democratic, regulated capitalism. Instead, we have a country in chaos, and an Iraq spiraling further and further into Vietnam.

    If you ask me, we lost Iraq the day Al Jazeera broadcast the Abu Ghraib photos. From then on, the insurgency never had any lack of recruiting tools.

    Visit the PagodaBlog for hackneyed totally original political and philosophic commentary.

    by Juppon Gatana on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 12:14:37 AM PST

    •  Refer to point 1. (none)
      There is no "we". Bush wants the Middle East in chaos and full of terrorists, because his power depends on there being an enemy to frighten Americans.

      His goals are not your goals. He wants to erase the American middle. On November 2, we saw how well he had already succeeded in this.

      Massacre is not a family value.

      by Canadian Reader on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 12:49:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I Don't Think So (none)
        Maybe Rove is up to that, but I think Bush is too emotionally unstable and functioning on a precarious social level to actually calculate something that cold. He is living in a world of self-delusion, seclusion, yes-men, warped "Christianity," and untreated alcoholism, yes, but I don't think he possesses the capacity to willfully create a state of war so as to scare people in to voting for him. If he consciously realized that he was doing something of that nature, I honestly think he would have an complete nervous breakdown, because even he recognizes how wrong that is from any moral perspective. That's not to say some of his handlers (Cheney included) don't have more devious schemes in play.

        Visit the PagodaBlog for hackneyed totally original political and philosophic commentary.

        by Juppon Gatana on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 12:57:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, usually I try to say (none)
          "the Bush administration," for that very reason. He may be being manipulated by extremists; however, I'm not entirely sure he isn't doing it knowingly. On alternate Thursdays, I remember how he was his Dad's political enforcer. And I think his "moral perspective" basically boils down to rationalizing anything he wants as being moral. He has probably convinced himself that that's God's voice speaking, but I don't see that I'm thereby obliged to consider him even slightly moral. And I'm pretty sure that as long as he can tell himself he is "fighting evil," he isn't going to be disturbed by any little trifles like being completely in the wrong.

          But what the heck, it doesn't much matter who in the administration is doing it, does it? Their actions have been very consistent. I've been putting it down to a staggering level of incompetence, but when their every action is so exactly designed to reinforce extremism on both sides, there comes a time when incompetence will no longer serve to explain the data.

          I think, after the attack on Fallujah this week, it is no longer possible to think they are just idiots, reacting to violence with more violence. They wanted to whack the hornets' nest. They've been whacking it repeatedly. They are bin Laden's opposite number. They need terrorists to exist.

          Massacre is not a family value.

          by Canadian Reader on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 01:20:28 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Very, very apt (none)
            I think his "moral perspective" basically boils down to rationalizing anything he wants as being moral.

            If only we'd have thought of that one earlier.  The ends always, always justify the means with this man.  And not knowing what the real ends are is perhaps the most frightening thing of all.

            We must cultivate our garden.

            by daria g on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 03:13:01 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  I believe Bush *would* create a war (none)
          I remember an article in which Bush was described, back in the 80s, as deeply impressed by the stature Thatcher earned from the war in the Philipines.

          I firmly believe that Bush, in his own muddled way, is a big believer in political advantages of war.

        •  Iraq... (none)
          Something just jelled in my mind...

          There's evidence that Bush & Co were spoiling for a war with Iraq even before 9/11 (motivated possibly by the need to turn Bush into a war-time president after the dubious '00 election).  9/11 came along and gave them an even better war -- but the Neocons couldn't shift gears enough so we've got two wars -- the one they planned, and the one that was handed to them by OBL.

    •  This was my argument as well (none)
      What a difference if we had instead done an altruistic Marshall Plan for Afghanistan rather than our Martial Plan for Iraq.

      "Those who betray the trust...are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors." - George HW Bush

      by DavidW in SF on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 09:37:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  An excellent analysis (none)
    and the result of what happens when someone intelligent thinks about the issues for a little while. I think the most compelling statement about terrorism, that you wove into your diary brilliantly, is precisely that the terrorist's goal is never outright victory - he knows he can't win outright, that's why he's a terrorist. Instead he goads his more powerful enemy into an overreaction that causes them to lose the moral high ground, and from there, everything else. This is exactly the goal of the intifada as well.

    As to Bin Laden's next move, I don't really know, but I have a couple of ideas that make some sense to me. One as to the target, the second relating to the framed source.

    I've been thinking for a while that if destroying the US economy is the object, then better than a single large attack would be several small and easy to pull off ones. If you recall, the 6 or however many people that were killed by anthrax send the whole country into a tizzy and people were afraid to open their mail for weeks. On a similar scale, what bin Laden will do with the help of his sleeper cells is attack random parts of the country at random intervals and scare the shit out of everyone.

    Probably he will target some specific industries to concentrate the power of his attack. Perhaps something along the lines of poisoning water systems, or food in grocery stores and fast food restaurants. Acouple of bombs in malls and restaurants. These attacks don't have to kill more than a handful of people apiece and are probably scarily easy to pull off against the right targets. If our chemical and nuclear plants aren't defended, imagine what else is vulnerable.

    The joint effect of these attacks will be to scare consumers OUT of shopping. And the US economy will come to a standstill.

    As for who bin Laden might try to frame, I think Pakistan is a good bet like you say, but I would also put some money on the Saudis. Osama hates the Saudis and if he could cause a strain in the Saudi-US relationship, that could also hurt the US economy. If the US even thinks of retaliating against the Saudis, then bin Laden wets himself with glee, because that's the war for the holy land he's craving. I don't know if we can win the war in Iraq or not, but I know for sure we could never win a war for Saudi Arabia.

    I don't know what strategy exactly is best for combatting these possibilities. One upside, however, might be that Americans finally decide that they need to start sacrificing for their freedoms and standing up and upholding their principles. Maybe I'm dreaming, and maybe we've got the wrong leadership in place for that to happen no matter what happens to us, but what America needs above all else is to stand firmly behind its principles - not do the opposite like we have been in invading Iraq under false pretenses and eviscerating the constitution in the name of security.

    Anyways, great post, and I hope there will be follow-ups.

    •  My dark thoughts as well (none)
      I don't want to go into the specific techniques I would use as a terrorist, but they are similar to your musings. The premise of lots of random attacks (think the Washington sniper attacks multiplied by 100) is a big theme.

      It's a dark gedanken experiment to sit around and figure out how to inflict the most mayhem with maximum efficiency; this is too easy to ponder.

      So long as we are fragile biological organisms, we will be subject to manipulation by terrorism.

      The Universe is a big place ... perhaps the biggest. -Kilgore Trout

      by fugitive on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 07:09:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Personally... (none)
        I think the scariest thing would be suicide bombers going off in Anytown, U.S.A.'s all around the country.  Remember how freaked out people were when Oklahoma City happened -- a supposed terrorist attack in the heartland.  I'm a little surprised that we have not had (knocking loudly on my wooden desk) suicide bombers in the U.S. yet.  Having lived through the D.C. sniper shootings, I can tell you how horrific it was to think that, at any time, you could die.

        If a suicide bombing happened in a red state, there would be swift retribution against Muslims or brown-skinned people (who would stand out in most red states) -- which would work to the extremists' advantage because it would tend to radicalize people who are moderate sympathizers.

        I don't know that a hit in a blue state would automatically cause us to support Bush in his escalation of the "crusades" (on the assumption that this is what the extremists want) -- it might just be taken as vindication that Bush's policies don't work.

        Bush's 51-48 majority win is not a run away victory. It's like Auburn beating Alabama by a field goal in overtime, set up by a bad call.

        by teehsu on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 11:22:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  me too (none)
          Yeah, that's been my thought for a while -- something like, a dozen or two dozen suicide bombers in a dozen or two dozen malls on the day after Thanksgiving.
        •  Wait... (none)
          ...how was Oklahoma City a "supposed" terrorist attack?  Just because it was done by a white guy doesn't mean it was any less of a terrorist attack.  Although obviously our War On Terrorism seems to exclude wingnuts like The Army of God... because they only kill women and gynecologists, so who cares?
  •  I'm a nonbeliever (none)
    I don't believe there are terrorists lurking around every corner. And I live a mile from Ground Zero.

    The Bush administration has instilled such a paranoia in our nation, that even our most liberal Democratic Congressmen and women have swallowed the myth that we can be attacked at any moment and have willingly given up our human rights and voted for war in Iraq.

    Certainly, paranoia is understandable, given what happened on 9/11. But I believe we need to focus on concrete issues and not on what supposedly lurks in the shadows. We cannot be distracted from our greater mission to create a just and peaceful nation that operates out of rational and moral principles and not out of blatant expediency and self-interest or emotionally driven speculation.

    Let's be aware of media and GOP manipulation; this is precisely how the Bushies want us to occupy ourselves, to distract us from the deeper issues that face us.

    •  thank god - the species exists (none)
      The myth of a well organised global network of terrorists is more ludicrous and more damaging than any of the fairy tales they cooked up about WMD.

      repeat after me

      "There is no threat"

      •  Fearpolitik (none)
        The Bush White House is not reality-based, or even faith-based, but fear-based. Everyone and everything is a potential terrorist threat. Basic American values like the presumption of innocence and the rule of evidence are ignored. Our democracy is rapidly vanishing into the shadows of our deepest fears.

        After reading the comments attached to this diary, I'm as worried now about the Democrats as I am about the Republicans.

  •  Disagree on one point (2.00)
    I dc think Al Qaeda's prime objective is to destroy America.  I do think this differentiates them from even the Tamil Tigers.  Our eradication is the solution.  It would not end with the establishment of the Caliphate.  

    Bin Laden's analysis is also wrong in that it entirely possible that if circumstance became sufficiently dire, we would overturn Youngstown Steel and Tube and Uncle Sam would force production.

    Google Vamik Volkan and Otto Kernberg, M.D.

    Cold blooded analysis: the first intifada succeeded because with the Palestinians throwing stones that were able to appear to be the weaker party being set upon by a bully.  Note they threw stones.  This precludes the degree of violent reprisal necessary to win against them.

    The second time around they threw more than stones and have not fared as well.  And the wall, strictly tactically speaking, could work for the Israelis.

    Though the legitimacy of Israel's existence is as challenged in American and European circles to a degree unequaled in my memory.

    Sun Tzu warned never to dip your sword in salt.  The Palestinians are the salt.

  •  keep in mind, first and foremost (3.50)
    terrorism does not seek to defeat an enemy, the IRA didn't want to defeat london.  the only thing they seek is legitimacy.

    bush gave it to 'em when he invaded iraq.

    great fucking post.

  •  One of our allies dealt successfullywith terrorism (none)
    England & Israel both suffer(ed) intense, localized terrorism from a subjugated population.  One of them successfully dealt with the problem, but of course it is the other one we borrow methods and tactics from.  I am Irish 3rd generation, and my mom a peaceful person, but she described the IRA as legitimite as late as the 80s.  The problems were solved by following the rule of law rather than retaliation, and by enforcing the law on both sides.  Without legitimate courts and treating it as a law enforcement problem the British would still be being bombed, and Ireland would not be a success story.  Israel doesn't seem to be following a successful path, of indiscriminate retaliation, group punishment for individual wrong, and offering no hope of a solution.
    •  would it be awful i said that satan worshipping (2.50)
      blow job receiving communist bill clinton helped out a little with the IRA thing?

      bad bad man.

    •  Ireland a success story? (none)
      Not entirely. While it is much more stable than it was ten years ago, the situation is starting to deteriorate again. People on both sides of the divide seem to be getting more and more paranoid about each other, and they're turning to the more extremist and less cooperative parties like Sinn Fein and the DUP to represent them; these parties have strictly self-serving agendas, even if they don't openly admit it, and although their increasing power and influence isn't quite at the same level as the peak in the early 80s, things are starting to slide back to a place I'd really rather not return to.

      Having said that, the way the Good Friday Agreement was reached was a much more successful route to "peace" than any previous attempts, and is probably a better blueprint for other places than the gung-ho "blow-the-shit-out-of-them-till-they-give-up" strategy that seems to be prevalent in current disputes. We just need to recognise that again here in Northern Ireland too, then maybe we can get back on track with our devolved government.

  •  Brilliant! (none)
    Quite a long story, but worth every word, every sentence to read. Brilliant analysis! Thanks!
  •  Excellent. Here's more evidence (none)
    Here's more evidence that you're right on, from the tragedy in Russia:

     A suspect in the bloody school siege that left more than 330 people dead, nearly half of them children, said Monday the hostage-takers were ordered to seize the school to "start a war across the Caucasus."

    Appearing on Russian state television, the unidentified man said the attack was ordered by Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov and Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev.

    Full article here

    It's clear to anyone really paying attention that over-reaction is the only likely desired result of terrorirst. Otherwise, what did people think, that they wanted to literally destroy us one building at a time?

    No, the only logical goal was getting a huge open conflict going. And this administration was played like an enraged bull by a child with a stick.

    Some action in Afghanistan was clearly neccesary in my opinion. Iraq however was a tragic blunder. When I read that we are now viewed in some parts of the world as on a moral level with the terrorists- this is a tragedy beyond measure.

  •  BTW for those interested (none)
    Chomsky has been saying much the same thing for a long time, here's a recent one:

    Article

  •  Osama is waging a "Cold War" on us!!! (4.00)
    Last I checked, the "Reagan Republicans" claim that the Gipper's toppled the Soviet Union by getting them into an arms race, destroying their economy.   They love to take credit for  bankrupting the Soviets.

    So, I'd imagine that every Republican should agree that Osama is winning the Cold War with the US.  He's managed to get us to spend $200B on Iraq, $20 Afganistan (?)  Billions on Homeland security etc.

    Perhaps we shouldn't fall into the same trap?

    There are two kinds of people in the world--those who divide others into groups, and the rest of us.

    by Beagle123 on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 01:52:37 AM PST

    •  Osama (none)
      Osama is irrelevant.  At least as far as the US government  is concerned.  
    •  I don't think the problem is him outwitting us (none)
      But rather that our government totally understands his purpose and goals... and doesn't care!  Because while it does destroy our economy and kill our people, it also has one other purpose: it lines the pockets of corporations to a degree never before imagined.  And the people in charge of country don't give one iota of thought to anything other than that.  Bin Laden's plans and our overreactions both work in the favor of the corrupt men in power, so it's really only us, the people of America, and them, the people of each of the places we bomb, that suffer.
    •  Reality Check (none)
      Fabulous post and thread, first of all.  I echo the belief that this should be spread far and wide.  Can we get it published?

      Secondly, this parallel to OBL and Reagan would require that Repubs understand irony and history.  Clearly they're 0 for 2.

  •  The chicken or the egg? (none)
    The first response to Pericles from anyone with a sense of conspiracy theory is to ask -- who did whom the first favor? After all, as someone pointed out, our extremists have been waiting for an excuse to break ground on their "Project for a New American Century." Also, that the US would go into Iraq unilaterally was no sure bet for Bin Laden. The security council may have endorsed the invasion and then, if the whole western world came along (and the Europeans may still get dragged into this) economic warfare is surely a lost cause, as the US economy would most likely get bolstered by the universal demand for military industry--further reason to ponder who the instigator is.  Another curious aspect of 9/11 missing from Pericles' thoughts is the international significance of the World Trade Center. It's almost as if the terrorists had the foolish plan to draw in the entire world. I don't understand Bin Laden's motives. Pericles' scenario is plausible but I don't think it's a good plan. We have a global economy and therefore, even as it stands with the so-called "coalition of the willing," you can't  bankrupt the US without bringing the nations who invest in and market to the US to their knees as well. When that starts to happen..."hello Allies and,oh yeah, you too, Comrades!" The biggest risk to the US economy is cooperation among oil producing nations and the most likely ones to join hands would be the Arabs. Therefore the West has been subverting that cause for a century. I don't think Bin Laden stands a chance at creating a unified Arab nation. US forces are guarding oil fields in Iraq and Saudia Arabia right now. As for dead soldiers, at a thousand a year, it will be another 57 years before we've caught up with Vietnam. And this time we really get something out of it. Didn't you know that's how Cheney thinks? The distribution of the world's oil could be managed peaceably, somehow, I'm sure. I demonstrate, vote, write and speak against this war. It's wrong for many reasons. But it's not likely that Bin Laden has tricked us into creating our own demise, if that's any consolation.
    •  Don't think chicken or egg is consequential (none)
      and maybe that's your point? Not sure either that OBL would have gambled that we'd invade Iraq, although a telephone call to any of his many relatives working inside the US oil/industry structure would have given him what he needed. Maybe he got Iraq for free.

      As to the World Trade Center, whether he figured on drawing most of the world into this or not, his impact goes way beyond traditional Muslim communities. I visited Mexico last year and 35 times a day someone said "Osama" behind my back (I have a big beard and I'm older). He's a hero-type to many people who feel connections via oppression, perhaps, more than religion or ethnicity.

      Support your right to keep and arm bears.

      by doorguy on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 03:25:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  " that the US would go into Iraq..." (none)
      When Bush was elected I (and many others) predicted he would invade Iraq. I guessed the Fall of 2003 so he wouldn't repeat his Daddy's problem of peaking too early. Even without 9/11 it would not have taken all that much to trigger.
  •  er, psychology of terrorist (none)
    As a disclaimer, I only read the first section. Nevertheless, it appears you are of the opinion that the best way to deal with terrorism may not be brute force. Terrorism is, at its root, a social justice issue, but we still have to deal with the terrorist in the street by police action.

    A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. -Emerson

    by fitzov rules on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 02:10:27 AM PST

    •  read (none)
      Read the whole thing, or at least the last section.  The author aruges for controlled and appropriate response.
      •  read (none)
        It's just too damn long for someone who I don't even know. If it were in the New York Times or the Post I might.

        A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. -Emerson

        by fitzov rules on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 03:52:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Really? (none)
      Do you really think opening a soup kitchen in Kandahar would have stopped 9/11?  Some folks cannot be negotiated with.

      Everybody talks about John Edwards' energy, intellect and charisma -- Bill Clinton

      by philgoblue on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 08:28:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Tch. Rote repetition of a talking point? (none)
        "Opening a soup kitchen in Kandahar," I take to be your specific image, standing in for a general policy of promoting good relations with moderates in the Muslim world, and enlisting their help to go after Muslim extremists. Or, at least, to discourage them from using violence, via social condemnation from their peers, the most effective restraint known to humanity.

        Put that way, it doesn't sound so silly, does it? In fact, it is the only strategy that has any chance at all of ultimate success.

        By saying "Some folks cannot be negotiated with," you are conflating the moderates and the extremists, and pretending that they are the same people. Well, yes, if Bush and bin Laden have their way, the moderates will all turn into extremists. But talking as if this is already the case makes you part of the problem.

        Massacre is not a family value.

        by Canadian Reader on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 10:11:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Huh? (none)
          Conflating?  By some "folks" I MEAN Al Qaeda.  So, don't read what's not there into my posts, make wild assumptions, and then call me the problem.  
          Seems you've got the problem of "conflating" people who understand that we've got to wage a war with Al Qaeda with Bush and "conflating" humanitarian aid to the Taliban with "good relations with the Muslim moderates."  Physician cure thyself!

          The original post said we've got to fight Militant Islamic Fundamentalism with "social justice."  Of course, we've got to do a much better job in the middle-east (I've posted on that under "A Real War on Wahhabism"), but we've got to fight Al Qaeda (people who love the massacres you mention in your sig) with bullets!

          Everybody talks about John Edwards' energy, intellect and charisma -- Bill Clinton

          by philgoblue on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 09:29:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  social justice (none)
        Opening up a soup kitchen is only another band-aid. The idea behind social justice (of the kind I am speaking of, anyway) is to find the causes of a phenomenon (in this case a deep hatred for America and terrorist actions as a result) and to do something about the problem that way. It is an alternative to the "eye for an eye" sort of justice.

        A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. -Emerson

        by fitzov rules on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 03:56:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  As a disclaimer, (none)
      I too only read the first 8.84% of your post. Nevertheless, you seemed to be saying, "er, psychology of terrorist As". I'm not sure I agree.
  •  Same problem at home in the US (3.66)
    The same dynamic is seen within the radical right at home.

    They explain to their sympathizers that their "rights" are being trampled when a pharmacist can't refuse to fill a birth control prescription.  The more extreme left elements slam the "protesters" and make them feel more persecuted (which is the goal of the radical right -- if you're not persecuted, you're not doing God's work).

    Anti-abortion activists wind up doing the same thing.  Rather than everyone joining in a compromise to say "no one wants abortions, make them safe, legal, and RARE", the Right polarizes the discussion into those that "love abortion" and those that hate it.

    Dems need a coherent view that speaks peace and prosperity, in terms the middle class will understand.  THOSE are the important values, NOT the extremist ones.

    •  This is absolutely true (none)
      And the radical right is adept at turning words that ought to be neutral - e.g., "activist" or "values" - into either something derogatory for anyone else or something positive only for them.  They deride "activist judges" but we don't hear them complaining about "activist pharmacists." And they obviously are laying claim to the only good "values."

      You are correct when you say that Democrats need to communicate a clear vision that appeals to the majority (rather than, presumably, trying to battle these extremist claims with complicated explanations on a one-off basis).  And I don't think that that vision will be impossible to come by - it just needs to be crystallized.  I have hope!  

  •  Thanks Pericles (none)
    However I would like to make  couple of points.  American  armed forces are very good at duffing up thrid rate nations. Panama, Iraq, Serbia. They would never (so far) dare to take on the peer group of  the EU, Russia, China, Japan (at least directly) at whom this sort of militarism is secretly directed.  The Arabs are a cypher for the neocons.

    Luckily Russia has most of the remaining oil and is willing to trade honestly with Europe and Japan. Japan and China essentially  lends all the money the US will borrow.  The Euro is about to become the reserve currency.  At this level US actions  in the ME take on the aspect of a cranky teenager who needs to clean up his room.    Eventually the conservative forces unleashed by Bin Laden and by Bush will collapse.

    •  And in the process David slays Goliath (none)
      Thank you Pericles - Your diary was brilliantly laid out and very
      well argued. It is accessible and persuasive, and with the
      addition of descriptive allegory, it would have won us this
      election. I truly wish Kerry had been willing to take on this
      narrative. This deserves far more circulation.

      McAdder, unfortunately, after what I fear will be another
      Al'Quaeda attack, and another episode of the Bush Crusade, I think
      the other nations will have all the more reason to see a rogue
      United States as a threat. If your argument was that the rest of
      the world has the levers to force the US to the ground, then I
      agree with you.  

      As far as the Neocon plans with regard to the other Major
      Powers... If they are thinking (and I am not sure that they have),
      then they must see that their actions will have consequences. I am
      guessing that they are either relying on the fact that we are
      their largest market, and anything that hurts us also will hurt
      them - Or that by taking over the Middle East, they believe they
      can make the other 'minor' powers irrelevant. I tend to think that
      neither of these are true.

      Back to Pericles...
      I am sure that Bin Laden is absolutely amazed at the effectiveness
      of his strategy so far... Everything that he has hoped for has
      come to pass, if in a bit roundabout way.

      I think it is true that Bin Laden thought to provoke a
      disproportionate response to his original attack. He originally
      thought to provoke the US to attack Afghanistan through
      Islamic Pakistan, and so incite the Muslim world.

      The US invasion of Iraq is success beyond his wildest dreams - The
      US attacks a secular Middle East country, rife with oil, confirms
      the image of a Christian monster ready to rape 'our' nations and
      'our' women (and men!), intent only on its insatiable gluttony.

      One thing that Pericles didn't go into is the rationale on the
      Bush administration side of this equation.

      I still wonder if the strategy of the administration is a cynical
      implementation of the philosophies of Leo Strauss, or if they
      really do believe the Dominionist idea that this is the lead up to
      the End Days, and that Bin Laden portends the clash of
      civilizations that leads toward Armageddon.

      Either way, I begin to wonder what we can do to stop the effect of
      this feedback loop that we have worked ourselves into. I don't
      know for sure, but I think it starts with articles like Pericles'.
      Thank you again.

  •  Brilliant (none)
    You just said the same thing that my Study of Terrorism professor has been saying all sememster.
  •  Excellent Diary!!! (none)
    This is one of the most well thought out descriptions and explanations I have seen.
    However, something I find interesting, is that not only are we feeding Bin Ladens goals in the middle east, he is feeding the Neo-Cons goals here at home as well. For instance, they want to get rid of our great social programs since there isn't anything they hate so much as the American citizen with rights. They also wish to enrich theirselves and the wealthy of America. As a result, both the Neo-cons and Bin Laden have shared goals in crashing the American economy. In many ways, it almost seems "too convenient" to me, especially when you consider we had more than enough information to prevent the 9-11-2001 attacks.

    I guess what I am trying to say is, it seems less to me like an action-reaction situation and more like they are using each other to each achieve their own goals. I'm not saying their in a conspiracy together, because I don't believe that. I just can't help thinking there is something we are missing. Like, is it possible that Saudi Royal family is playing both ends against the middle? I mean, they wanted Iraq gone because they considered Saddam a threat and a roadblock to spreading radical islam.

    Or did Osama work them into that angle, because I am not sure how Osama is playing Saudi Arabia, other than we know they payed him not to attack, but he still wants to overthrow them. Imagine the scenario where they, AQ, over throws Saudi Arabia, then marches into Iraq. They would control all of that oil and as a result of our actions, probably will anyway in Iraq.

    I also find it hard to believe they don't have nukes. I mean, we know Pakistan developed them and many people in the program and in Pakistan were sympathetic to the Taliban. If they nuked New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles they would be able to really incur our wrath. That would galvanize the right wing Christians into an open holy war on all Muslims, it would remove alot of the Neo-Cons opposition in the U.S., since those three locals are where the most Dems are, and it would give Bush a blank check to do whatever he likes. He would have a mandate then.

    All I know is there is something else we are missing. There's just way too much coincidence for my tastes. When you look at alot of the money on Osama's side, it leads back to Saudi Arabia. When you look at alot of the money on the neo-cons side, it leads back to Saudi Arabia. It's just I know we never get the whole truth on this stuff about either side.

    Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it. -Tom Paine

    by Alumbrados on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 03:44:27 AM PST

    •  Agreed (none)
      What we are seeing is a worldwide battle against liberal politics.  One coming from a Republican Military Industrial  Complex the other from ME thoecracy.
    •  A lot has been written about (none)
      how the regimes in the area use fanatical religion focused on foreigner-hatred as a tool to keep the subjects distracted from their real problems. I doubt whether it getting out of control like this was in the plan, but it's an outcome of something intentional.

      It's the old opiate of the masses idea, but the opium pipe caught fire.

      The original intent was placation and distraction though. That's pretty much what extreme religion is always about, theirs or ours, it's a way of rallying the masses, of controlling them. "God" is the perfect empty signifier, he can say anything you want him to.

  •  ironically (4.00)
    i was kind of numbly reading the first 2 sections with my first cup of coffee..ironically at first i thought you were writing about the radicalization of the progressives in this country.

    excellent sythesis. thanks for sharing it here. more and more i am convinced the the cauldron of worldviews is bubbling to the boiling-over point. not just radical islam and fundamentalist christianity, but now our side will also find itself ingited to action by the right's curtailing of our freedom.

  •  Absolute power is the ability to do nothing (none)
    Violence could be defined as a sudden unexpected change as for example a violent change in direction. Whether or not that change is a solution depends on what happens next.

    If you find it too radical to say that any solution is better than a compromise which solves nothing and that anger can be motivational in which case its a lot better than apathy then where does that leave you in terms of taking action?

    The gist of this article seems to be that political power is the ability to persuade and that due to things like cognitive dissonance people can't be persuaded to move too far too fast.

    I would propose that sometimes you need to give the sleepyheads a push and wake them up to get them moving. Is that rasdical? I don't think so.
    What happens when push comes to shove? Then we get into man's inhumanity to man and our tendency to be control freaks.

    This article says:
    "Just about any English word beginning with al refers to an Islamic invention: algebra, algorithm, alchemy, and even alcohol -- which was an Arabian process for distilling perfumes long before the West started using it to make hard liquor)."

    al or el is a semitic root for power, authority, lord, or god as in the god El, El Shaddai, Baal, Allah (litterally the power [al] of the god lah [iah, yah]

    As to the rest of the article about Osam bin Ladins intentions, he intends to be the next leader of the Arab world replacing Arafat. to accomplish this he needs to do nothing.

    •  Uh, no... (none)
      al in Arabic just means "the."  Allah -> Al-Llah -> The God.  There may be other "al"s (I don't know), but I'm quite sure that the "al" here is just "the."
      •  I. Common Semitic basic form *il-, god. (none)
        Most people think they know what they believe in when it comes to god but right wing christians who think their Bible is literally true and Arab fundamentalists both have more in common with the people of the Old Testament than they think.

        El (god): Ēl is a northwest Semitic word and name translated into English as either 'god' or 'God' or left untranslated as El, depending on the context. The Hebrew form appears in Latin letters in Standard Hebrew transcription as El and in Tiberian Hebrew transcription as Ēl.

        Linguistic forms and meanings
        Cognate forms are found throughout the Semitic languages with the exception of the ancient Ge'ez language of Ethiopia. Forms include Ugaritic 'il, pl. 'lm; Phoenician 'l pl. 'lm, Hebrew 'ēl, pl. 'elîm; Aramaic 'l, Arabic 'il; Akkadian ilu, pl. ilāti. The original meaning may have been 'strength, power'. In northwest Semitic usage 'l was both a generic word of any 'god' and the special name or title of a particular god who was distinguished from other gods as being the god, or even in our modern sense God. Ēl is listed at the head of many pantheons. But because the word sometimes refers to a god other than the great god Ēl it is often difficult to be certain whether Ēl followed by another name means the great god Ēl with a particular epithet applied or refers to another god entirely. For example, in the Ugaritic texts 'il mlk is understood to mean 'Ēl the King' but 'il hd means 'the god Hadad'. We know this only from context.

        In Ugaritic an alternate plural form meaning 'gods' is 'ilhm, equivalent to Hebrew 'elōhîm 'gods'. But in Hebrew this word is also used for singular 'God' or 'god', is indeed by the most normal word for 'god' or 'God' in the singular (as well as for 'gods').

        The stem 'l is found prominently in the earliest strata of east Semitic, northwest Semitic and south Semitic groups. Personal names including the stem 'l are found with similar patterns both in Amorite and South Arabic which indicates that probably already in Proto-Semitic 'l was both a generic term for 'god' and the common name or title of a single particular 'god' or 'God'.

        [edit]
        Ēl among the Amorites
        Amorite inscriptions from Zinčirli refer to numerous gods, sometimes by name, sometimes by title, especially by such titles as ilabrat 'god of the people'(?), il abīka 'god of your father', il abīni 'god of our father' and so forth. Various family gods are recorded, divine names listed as belong to a particular family or clan, sometimes by title and sometimes by name, including the name Il 'god'. In Amorite personal names the most common divine elements are Il ('God'), Hadad/Adad, and Dagan. It is likely that Il is also very often the god called in Akkadian texts Amurru or Il Amurru.

        [edit]
        Ēl in Ugarit
        Three pantheon lists found at Ugarit begin with the four gods 'il-'ib (which according to Cross [1973; p. 14] is the name of a generic kind of deity, perhaps the divine ancestor of the people), Ēl, Dagnu (that is Dagon), and Ba'l Ṣapān (that is the god Haddu or Hadad). Though Ugarit had a large temple dedicated to Dagon and another to Hadad, there was no temple dedicated to Ēl.

        Ēl is called again and again Tôru `Ēl 'Bull Ēl' or 'the bull god'. He is bātnyu binwāti 'Creator of creatures', 'abū banī 'ili 'father of the gods', and `abū `adami 'father of man'. He is qāniyunu `ôlam creator eternal (the epithet `ôlam appearing in Hebrew form in the Hebrew name of God 'ēl `ôlam 'God Eternal' in Genesis 21.23). He is ḥātikuka your patriarch. Ēl is the grey-bearded ancient one, full of wisdom, malku 'king', 'abū šamīma 'father of years', 'ēl gibbōr 'Ēl the warrior'. He is also named lṭpn of unknown meaning, variously rendered as Latpan, Latipan, or Lutpani.

        The mysterious Ugaritic text "Shachar and Shalim" tells how (perhaps near the beginning of all things) Ēl came to shores of the sea and saw two woman who bobbed up and down. Ēl was sexually aroused and took the two with him, killed a bird by throwing a staff at it and roasted it over a fire. He asked the women to tell him when the bird is fully cooked, and to then address him either as husband or as father, for he would thenceforward behave to them as they call him. They salute him as husband. He lies with them and they gave birth to Shachar 'Dawn' and Shalim 'Dusk'. Again Ēl lies with his wives and the wives give birth to the gracious gods, cleavers of the sea, children of the sea. The names of these wives are not explicitly provided, but some confusing rubrics at the beginning of the account mention the goddess Athirat who is otherwise Ēl's chief wife and the goddess Rahmay 'Merciful', otherwise unknown.

        In the Ugaritic Ba`al cycle Ēl is introduced dwelling on (or in) Mount Lel (Lel possibly meaning 'Night') at the fountains of the two rivers at the spring of the two deeps. He dwells in a tent according to some interpretations of the text which may explain why he had no temple in Ugarit. As to the rivers and the spring of the two deeps, these might refer real streams, or to the mythological sources of the salt water ocean and the fresh water souces under the earth, or to the waters above the heavens and the waters beneath the earth.

        In the episode of the "Palace of Ba`al", the god Ba`al/Hadad invites the "70 sons of Athirat" to a feast in his new palace. Presumably these sons have been fathered on Athirat by Ēl in following passages they seem be the gods ('ilm) in general or at least a large portion of them. The only sons of Ēl named individually in the Ugartitic texts are Yamm 'Sea', Mot 'Death', and `Ashtar, who may be the chief and leader of most of the sons of Ēl. Ba`al/Hadad is a few times called Ēl's son rather than the son of Dagan as he is normally called, probably because Ēl is in the position of a clan-father to all the gods.

        The fragmentary text RS 24.258 describes a banquet to which Ēl invites the other gods and then disgraces himself by becoming outrageously drunk and passing out after confronting an otherwise unknown Hubbay, "he with the horns and tail". The text ends with an incanation for the cure of some disease, possibly hangover.

        [edit]
        Ēl in Proto-Sinaitic, Phoenician, Aramaic, and Hittite texts
        A proto-Sinaitic mine inscription from Mount Sinai reads 'ld`lm understood to be vocalized as 'il dū `ôlmi, 'Ēl Eternal' or 'God Eternal'.

        The Egyptian god Ptah is given the title dū gitti 'Lord of Gath' in a prism from Lachish which has on its opposite face the name of Amenhotep II (c. 1435-1420 BCE) The title dū gitti is also found in Serābitṭ text 353. Cross (1973, p. 19) points out that Ptah is ofen called the lord (or one) of eternity and thinks it may be this identification of Ēl with Ptah that lead to the epithet 'olam 'eternal' being applied to Ēl so early and so consistantly. (However in the Ugaritic texts Ptah is seemingly identified instead with the craftsman god Kothar-wa-Khasis.)

        A Phoenician inscribed amulet of the 7th century BCE from Arslan Tash may refer to Ēl. Rosenthal (1969, p. 658) translated the text:

        An eternal bond has been established for us. Ashshur has established (it) for us, and all the divine beings and the majority of the group of all the holy ones, through the bond of heaven and earth for ever', ...

        However the text is translated by Cross (1973, p. 17):

        The Eternal One (`Olam) has made a covenant oath with us,
        Asherah has made (a pact) with us.
        And all the sons of El,
        And the great council of all the Holy Ones.
        With oaths of Heaven and Ancient Earth.

        In some inscriptions the name 'Ēl qōne 'arṣ 'Ēl creator of Earth' appears, even including a late inscription at Leptis Magna in Tripolitania dating to 2nd century CE (KAI. 129). In Hittite texts the expression becomes the single name Ilkunirsa, this Ilkunirsa appearing as the husband of Asherdu (Asherah) and father of 77 or 88 sons.

        In an Hurrian hymn to Ēl (published in Ugaritica V, text RS 24.278) he is called 'il brt and 'il dn which Cross (p.39) takes as 'Ēl of the covenant' and 'Ēl the judge' respectively.

        See Ba`al Hammon for the possiblity that Ēl was identical with Ba`al Hammon who was worshipped as the supreme god in Carthage.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_(god)

        ENTRY: l DEFINITION: God.
           I. Common Semitic basic form *il-, god. 1a. Azazel, from Hebrew czzl, perhaps corrupt for czaz-l, God has been strong (personal name); b. bethel, from Hebrew bêt l, house of God; c. Daniel, from Hebrew dnl, dnyl, my judge (is) God (alternatively, God has judged); d. Ezekiel, from Hebrew yezql, God has strengthened; e. Gabriel, from Hebrew gabrîl, my strong one (is) God (see gpr); f. Ishmael, from Hebrew yimcl, God has heard (see mc); g. Israel, from Hebrew yirl, God has striven, God has saved; h. Joel, from Hebrew yôl, Yahweh (is) God; i. Michael, from Hebrew mîkl, who (is) like God?; j. Nathanael, from Hebrew ntanl, God has given (see ntn); k. Raphael, from Hebrew rpl, God has healed (rp, he has healed; see rp); l. Samuel, from Hebrew mûl, name of God (alternatively, the name (is) God; see m); m. schlemiel, perhaps from Hebrew personal name lmîl, my well-being (is) God. a-m all from Hebrew l, God; n. Elijah, from Hebrew lîyhû, my God (is) Yahweh, from lî, my God, from l (see above) + -î, my; o. Elisha, from Hebrew lîc, God (is) salvation, from l, shortened form of l, God (see above; -îc, salvation; see wc); p. Elizabeth, from Hebrew lîebac, my God (is) an oath, from lî, reduced form of lî, my God (see above; -ebac, oath; see bc); q. Lazarus, from Hebrew elczr, God has helped, from el, reduced form of l, God (see above; czr, he has helped; see cr). 2a. Babylon, from Akkadian bb ili, gate of the god, from ilu, god; b. Babel, from Hebrew bbel, from Akkadian bb ili, Babylon (see above). 3. Enlil, from Sumerian refashioning of Semitic *ilil, probably "god of gods," reduplication of *il-.
          II. Central Semitic extended form ilh-, god. 1. Elohim, from Hebrew lhîm, God, plural (used as singular) of lah, god. 2a. Allah, from Arabic allh, the god, God, from al-, the + ilh, god; b. ayatollah, from Arabic yatu llh, sign of God; c. Bahaullah, from Arabic bahu llh, splendor of God; d. olé, from Spanish, perhaps from Arabic wa-llh, by God!. b-d all from Arabic llh, elided form of allh (see above).

        http://www.bartleby.com/61/roots/S9.html

        You aren't wrong in what you say but I think you might be conflating Arabic with its Semitic Roots and using definition II.

        The Arabic word for god Allah might be read as the The, or the Definitive article, the Being or the power of God. It is written formally with the hamza carried on top of the alif in a special form called the hamzatu-l-waSl or connecting hamza. At the beginning of a sentence it would be written above the alif like a normal hamza but if it comes in the middle of a phrase the hamzatu-l-waSl is written above the alif as a kind of small loop but is not pronounced, it is elided or drops out.

        In the Arabic word for god we get the suffix lah which is essentially the same as iah or yah as in Yahwah or in Egyptian yw (the gods)

        In the word algebra we get a different version
        with becoming rather than being emphasised ie; to do algebra is to become strong mighty forceful as a god.

        gpr.
        DEFINITION: To be(come) strong, prevail, work. West Semitic variant (assimilated) form gbr. 1. Gabriel, from Hebrew gabrîl, my strong one (is) God, from gabrî, my strong one, from gabr-, presuffixal form of geber, strong one, man, from gbar, to be strong (l, god; see l). 2. algebra, from Arabic al-jabr, the might, force, restoration, from jabara, to force, restore, set (bones).

        In ancient languages even where there are alphabetic phonemes the consonants are usually given and the vowels implied. For example in afroasiatic middle egyptian there is no definitive article but there is a vertical stroke which means the thing itself |yw and a moon god whose name is iah while wa is the number one and w is used for plurals. In ancient Hebrew the definitive article is ha and the name of the sun god yah.

        |Iah, Yahwah, Allah, Baal, il, al and el are essentially the same thing meaning the power, the force, the strength, the lord, the authority the god, the essence of the thing itself.

  •  The upcoming danger (4.00)
    Is the triple threat of Pakistan, (ex)-Saudi Arabia, and Sudan.

    I think these three states will eventually be the core of a radicalized entente, all with strengths of one sort or another in their local sphere, all with enemies in their local sphere.

    They do not have to be tightly coordinated, just make themselves available every so often.

    Imagine Pakistan on a modernization binge, with Saudi assistance; there have been allegations of an oil-for-nuclear tech deal in the works. Cheap oil would subsidize military expenditures. India is unlikely to become vulnerable to Pakistani attack, but there are other threats...and the government in Islamabad will not always be General Musharraf.

    Imagine the Saudis using Sudanese janissaries to prop up their increasingly-unpopular regime -- or extend it northwards. The Saudis have oil, but little or no legitimacy, and the once-limitless subsidization of the idle Saudi subject's life is over, thanks to a combination of rapid population growth and conspicuous self-indulgence on the part of the Saudi royals. Either the royals ramp up their radicalization, which will not avail them of frustrated material expectations, or the royals will fall, replaced in all likelihood by a group that will have Qaidi leanings, if not Al-Qaida itself.

    Imagine the Sudanese getting a hold of some funding from across the Red Sea, and going on a tear across Africa, perhaps linking up with Sharia militia in northern Nigeria, at which point not only the Persian Gulf but the Gulf of Guinea's oil reserves are threatened.

    And the limit of American power projection is proximity to the ocean and forward bases.

    Interior Africa poses a daunting strategic challenge, should radical Islam gain a foothold there.

    People wonder what could be worse.

    Oh, it can and will get far worse.

    We are so unprepared, in means or in temperament, to fight the war prepared for us by our enemies.

    The only question is -- will we step aside and reconsider our path, proceed heedless into the trap and fall to ruin, or change in the ways required to win...and lose our souls?

    We have considerable difficulty pacifying Iraq, a country that, I am told every day, is very happy to have us on their side.

    Perhaps there truly is a violent minority, supplemented by interlopers, that is causing all the hardship in Iraq.

    If so, we are going to have far greater difficulty wrestling with entire nation-states that are neither our friends, nor nearly so feeble as the insurgents purportedly are in Iraq.

    Terrorists smell weakness - That's why they attacked when Bush was president

    by cskendrick on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 04:55:44 AM PST

    •  good point (none)
      A feeble terrorist group = 10,000 US casualties in 18 months. what if you have 100% hostility.  The logic of the neocons beggars belief.
      •  The litmus test (none)
        Desertions and betrayals within the ranks of the new Iraqi security forces.

        I cannot imagine how low morale must be in that organization.

        How can they possibly have esprit de corps, when any one of their number may literally blow up in their faces?

        Terrorists smell weakness - That's why they attacked when Bush was president

        by cskendrick on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 05:20:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Bush/Bin laden (none)
    Excellent Diary - and why do not our leaders know this, and act accordingly?  You'll find plenty of bloggers who can understand your reasoning - But even if we can understand it, and we do not send our sons off to fight in a murderous war, Bush can and will act violently.
    Will you please send your diary off to those in the government with power?  It is frustrating (to say the least) to watch our country act insanely.
    •  Your leaders do know this. (none)
      They are acting accordingly. It's just that their goals are not your goals.

      ...Unless you were meaning leaders of the Democratic party. But they do not have power. Not enough.

      Massacre is not a family value.

      by Canadian Reader on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 10:23:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Let them have their caliphate (none)
    and let the red states have their jesus land.  Why not withdraw completely from the islamic world?  Oil?  For what we are paying in blood and treasure.. we would do better to find alternative to oil... relying on other sources in the interim and forcing americans to severely curtail the oil consumption.

    What would the caliphate economy look like?  Could they export oil without western technology?  If so fine... the west could trade for oil... but not insert oursleves into their worls.  I have no problem with that.  Oh... Israel...

    Well that is a pebble in their shoe.  Unless the world wants to fight over this lettle piece of real estate for ever... I suggest that the entire nation of Israel be relocated our of the "holy land"... but if die hards want to stay there... let them do so at their own peril. If evangelicals want to maintain a connection to their holy sites... let their churches financially support whatever must be done to acheive that... keep US foreign policy out of religeous matters.

    If arabs or muslimns want to leave the caliphate... we can accept them, but ehy must live according to western values... if they don't like that... they should stay in the caliphate.

    The same applies to the red states.  If people can't respect others... then better to separate than kill for such nonsense.  Separation is painfull... but not as much as all the death and destruction that these wars cause.

    Let's have two worlds... a round and flat one... and just get on with it.

  •  that wasn't bad, (none)
    but it's unfortunate you chose the example of a possible terrorist target you did. for one thing, it wouldn't, as you might suppose, be acceptable to the muslim public to attack a church, regardless of the religion practiced there.

    but more importantly, i think people will be rightly suspicious about the selection. what are you saying with that? given that it's not a choice consistent with the argument you'd made until then (the need to maintain the sympathy of muslims by attacking "justifiable" targets), one has to wonder. (or maybe not, but rest assured, grandma will wonder when she gets a copy in your newsletter.)

    i would hope that it is simply that you had forgotten the argument about justifiability in the eyes of the muslim public and tried to think of the most outrageous possible target.

    •  Was gonna say that... (none)
      I was going to say that there is no way that AQ would attack a church but then I remembered that they did, in fact, attack several churches in Pakistan.

      That said, I don't think they would attack US  churches as that would be a poor use of whatever limited resources they have in the US.  

  •  One Thing Missing From Answer #10 (3.69)
    This is a brilliant diary, Pericles. But you somehow fail to give your concluding question -- What can we do? -- its most concrete and clear answer.

    We need to get out of Iraq.  Now.  I understood -- though disagreed with -- the ABB strategy of simultaneously claiming that we can't get off Iraq and that Kerry did not vote in favor of the war.  But, with the election behind us, those opposed to the war on Iraq have to put the Demo Koolaid down, put our thinking caps back on, and return to staunch and consistent opposition to this inhumane, illegal, and destabilizing war.  

    As Pericles might say, if you read his post, you should have no problem understanding the strategic reasons why we need to get out Iraq right now, but if you want an argument on tactical/operational lines, check out this guest editorial on Juan Cole's Informed Comment blog by  William R. Polk.

    Start doing the things you think should be done, and start being what you think society should become. -Adam Michnik.

    by GreenSooner on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 05:24:30 AM PST

    •  Why A "Super-Troll" Rating, gdesignr? (4.00)
      I'm really interested in knowing.

      This is not about my mojo. It is about censoring my views about the war in Iraq (which is, after all, what Super-Troll ratings are all about).

      Which part of my above statement is so unacceptable as to deserve to be erased from peoples' screens?

      1. The view that we should get out of Iraq.

      2. The view that John Kerry was not calling for us to get out of Iraq.

      3. The notion that Kerry voted for this war.

      4. The idea that the war on Iraq is illegal, inhumane, and destabilizing.

      5. William Polk's guest editorial.

      Let's be clear. Kerry was better than Bush. Even on Iraq.  But Kerry at the very least took the view that, now that we're in the war, we need to stay the course (i.e. not leave).  And his vote for the IWR can reasonably be seen as a vote for the use of force (his explanation -- that Pres. Bush said at the time that the IWR was about keeping the peace -- is politically clever, but requires faith in Dubya's word that by the fall of 2002 was already completely implausible).  Youy can reasonably disagree with these views, but that they should the object of attempted censorship on dKos says volumes about where we are politically in this country today.

      Start doing the things you think should be done, and start being what you think society should become. -Adam Michnik.

      by GreenSooner on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 05:37:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  A 4 of support for you (none)
        Just to stick it to the local inquisitors. :)

        Terrorists smell weakness - That's why they attacked when Bush was president

        by cskendrick on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 06:49:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  misuse of super-troll rating/support of Iraq exit (none)
        Trolls seek to disrupt the conversation.  GreenSooner's comment is pertinent to what should be done now.

        If there is something that needs to be done...such as get out of Iraq...the time to do it is immediately.  Of course there are complications in leaving, there are complications for staying too.  Does anybody really think that the elections in January are going to provide sufficient cover for a graceful exit?  Won't happen.

      •  A 4 of support (none)
        Because censorship of reasonable men is not an American value.
        •  This is OT... (none)
          ...but thanks for your pseudo-troll-like signature link, Proud and Free.  Democratic support for INDUCE and other anti-public domain legislature is a disgrace, and progressives should be pressuring them to change their position.  As has been pointed out elsewhere, intellectual property issues are actually one area where the GOP is marginally (and I stress "marginally") better, so it's a tiny silver lining around the dark cloud of this month's elections.

          Start doing the things you think should be done, and start being what you think society should become. -Adam Michnik.

          by GreenSooner on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 09:27:38 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  My signature isn't a troll (none)
            I give more money each year to the EFF than I do the Democratic party. I believe electronic freedoms are vital and that Democrats are hurting us horribly, horribly, on this issue.

            But I also understand how our two party system works. So I'm staying blue, and trying to help steer the ship. Hence my sig.

            •  Calm down! I said PSEUDO-troll-LIKE (none)
              And I was really thanking you for it.  Honest.  Your sig caught my attention, I followed it, and it reminded me how awful Boxer and too many Dems have been on this issue. That's valuable, especially when we all (myself included, though vis a vis a different party) sometimes have the tendency not to see important faults in the party we back.

              As a Green, I also appreciate all you loyally blue folks who put up with me.  I have less faith than you do in your ability to get Dems to do the right thing on this issue, but if you manage, more power to you.  I'm grateful for your trying to do so!

              Start doing the things you think should be done, and start being what you think society should become. -Adam Michnik.

              by GreenSooner on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 01:47:41 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Good analysis (none)
    This is a good analysis of the situation.

    Given what you think, and what you suspect will happen in the future, what should we do?

    To some extent we need to keep people in the bell, and not let them get drawn to either side.  Ultimately we need to somehow remove the power of both sides.

    Any suggestions or thoughts on how to stop the cycle of violence when the power structure here is in favor of it?

  •  Don't know if that's right about Madrid (none)
    There was an excellent, detailed article in either Harper's or the New Yorker (sorry don't have it now) about the Madrid bombing investigation. It seems that some terrorist elements involved may have been planning it from even before 9/11 as al Queda wannabees. If my memory is not mistaken, they also discovered other bombs planted even after the election and after the new government had announced the pullback from Iraq. It put the lie to the "influence the election" motive, and also supports your other thesis, that terrorist bombings have larger strategic purposes. But I don't know if it supports your idea that the withdrawal of forces from Iraq was the main objective.
  •  Oil (none)
    Wonderful Diary entry.

    Now, I think the economy is the likely target of a Bin Laden attack, however I don't want to ascribe masterful powers to him anymore than I want togive them to Karl Rove or Karen Hughes.  I think the attack the churches to bring us into war and adraft is a little too Rube Goldberg.  It's like calling for a bank shot, when a straight shot will do.  

    Wouldn't an attack at a Saudi oil terminal be simpler and more effective?  

    Or something cyber that would hurt the credit cards and the big banks?

    Or the Capital Building if he wants to "posterize" us?

    I guess I see the current center of gravity in America as corporate and not religious.

    Enjoy every sandwich-Warren

    by barr on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 05:29:44 AM PST

  •  Top notch Op-Ed! (none)

    Wow! I only got to question #4 in my pre-work reading, but I'm quite impressed. Take that CBS! No journalism in blogs my eye.

    Excellent work Pericles. Someone give this guy a regular slot on the front page!

    "Being Irish he possessed an abiding sense of tragedy which sustained him through brief episodes of joy."
    - W. B. Yeats

    by cman on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 05:33:24 AM PST

  •  Could it be closer to home? (none)
    Excellent.
    One issue though.... Quite possibly we are fighting a extremist war as we speak in our own country. The Right against the Left - our bases are increasing, and as it is pointed out the centre is dissapearing. Can we use these same tactics against the Neocons + Christian Right?
    Escalate it so there is no middle ground. Simply because that is what is happening, but we have to be aware of it to use it to our benefit.
    •  What is our/their goal? (none)
      This strategy works if what you want is separation of ideals.  I don't think that matches democratic ideals.  It may however match the ideals of fundamentalists in our country.

      If you think the Neocons + Christian right has adopted this strategy to some extent, we have the same problem of fighting radicalizing political extremism.   Developing and presenting a clear democratic message in opposition to the right will not foster cooperation, it will provide a target to focus upon.  What we need to do is to be reasonable with the middle and marginalize the radicals.  

  •  Set higher standards for conduct (none)
    The Bush Administration has set incredibly low standards for conduct, both moral and diplomatic.  Al Qaeda must be treated like a troubled teenager, first you must not reward their cries for attention with anger or resistance (it is what they want, it feeds their need for attention-getting).  You must set a standard in the world, that their behavior is morally reprehensible, and the countries or communities that harbor such people are as much to blame as the terrorists themselves.  Spanking doesn't work, but taking away the things that give them strength does.  We lost this election, and with it, the potential voice of a leader who reaches out to the world, and calls upon them to raise their standards for conduct.  It is too easy to be the bully, since we don't have very high standards as a country anyway...allowing war criminals, torturers, and huge corporations to act lawlessly, or at least immorally at will.  We will never defeat bin Laden with these people at the helm, and it will take some real character in the White House to even scratch the surface, although I fear it is already too late.  As a people, America has spoken.  We are divided on what we consider to be high moral standards.  We are divided on how we should carry out our military strategy, we are divided on how our corporations should be run and monitored.  In essence, we have two sides that are leading us into the pit of violence, one side that is too quick to act/that acts without thinking, and the other which is so caught up on the thought process that it neglects the issues at hand.  We are not secure, we are not financially solvent and we have no moral standing in the world anymore.  The next four years do not bode well for our way of life...
  •  Many Thanks! (none)
    You synthesize much!  Very lucid and persuasive.

    Since the Repugs have a corner on god, I say Dog help us!

  •  bin Laden won't be caught by Bush (none)
    I've posted this comment before, but I really have to press it further.  Osama bin Laden is the son and brother of people who are very close to our president.  No matter what he did, he has blood ties to his family...look at anyone in the United States that won't say that even though they don't believe their child/sibling is behaving properly, they are still family and you will do whatever it takes to keep them safe.  Bush will never do away with Osama.  He can't, because doing so would invite reprisal from his political donors and Saudi friends...

    I just find it hard to believe that the bin Laden family wants their family member to die.  There is always hope for him, he is family.

    •  Hear, hear (none)
      This is the only explanation I've bene able to come up with for Osama's continued freedom, also. Why don't we hear more about this?

      Oh, it's because it's too much like that first part of Fahrenheit 9/11, you know, the Saudi and tin-foil hat stuff where Moore "went out of bounds".

      You know, the yahoos love a good conspiracy, and we haven't pushed this storyline at all because, as usual, we're too busy being 'responsible' so we can be 'taken seriously' by the MSM--who doesn't give a rat's ass about us anyway.

      Great article, this, if there is a potent terror network out there. It is just as likely that bin Laden and his cronies are really and truly bogeymen who 'got nothin'' in New York parlance. 9/11 was possible only because of the incompetence in the White House and the power of the airline lobby.

      http://dark1p.blogspot.com

  •  two comments... (none)
    1) re: the economic downfall of the US....

    OBL isn't going to bleed us based on the cost of war.  He is going to bleed us based on the cost of oil.  The world is currently pumping oil out of the ground, and using it as fast as we extract it.  Any significant disruption in world oil supplies will cause havoc in the US economy, and there are dozens of "choke points" in the production, distribution, and refining infrastructure that could bring this about.

    (For instance, 12% of US oil imports come from two oil terminals 20 miles off the coast of Louisiana.  Take out one of these platforms---by something as simple as ramming a supertanker into it, then maybe blowing it sky high by using some of that HMX that was stolen from Al Qaqaa to ignite the oil that is spilling from the tanker---would devastate the US economy.)

    2) re: targets.  In addition to targeting the US oil economy, I think that the likeliest place for an attack is not right-wing churches, but shopping malls.  (Remember, we are talking about a HOLY war here, and Jesus is a prophet in Islam---its highly unlikely that churches will be a target.)  If the goal is to bleed the american economy dry, what better place to do it than the center of US consumer culture?   What happens to the American economy when going to the Mall becomes as much of a hassle as going to the airport?  

    •  RE: Targets (none)
      Any target that they attack will need to be something that has international visibility.  Something that people in the rest of the world would recognize, a symbol that UBL can use to play to his base.

      "An adventure is just something that sucks until its over."

      by LiberalRakkasan on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 06:01:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  it's shopping season (none)
      interesting point re: shopping malls targets, and don't forget that the holidays are the make-or-break component of every retailers annual results. if they have a bad holiday season, they have a bad year.

      if a terrorist attacks a shopping center, anywhere, before the holidays, it will put a major damper on spending at malls. remember the trend toward "nesting" and family time post-9/11 when everyone stayed home playing board games instead of taking trips or going to restaurants? i fear that a shopping mall attack before the holidays would have everyone re-thinking the meaing of the season and making agreements within families that "let's skip the gifts and just be together this year"

      and the retailers wouldn't stand for that.

      •  Just a rumor (none)
        would do almost as much damage. They don't even have to plan an attack. All they have to do is get a bunch of people blogging in Arabic about how they heard that shopping malls were going to be targeted just before Christmas. It costs them nothing.
  •  Its the ideology, stupid! (none)
    I wish that I could say that to Bush.

    UBL understands our center of gravity, and he knows how to attack it.

    Their center of gravity is ideology.  As long as they can get people to buy into their ideas, they can keep fighting.  And we keep playing into their hands because our policy makers are so momumentally stupid.  We keep doing things that keep pissing them off, and we don't even know it.  Anyone remember the disastrous new flag that we unvieled for Iraq a few months back?

    "An adventure is just something that sucks until its over."

    by LiberalRakkasan on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 05:59:52 AM PST

  •  History and some perspectives (4.00)
    First off, excellent post - onw of your best.

    I recall speaking with one of my Russian friends earlier this year (I think) the very first time there was a beheading.  I was very upset - naturally - because I had made the mistake of clicking a link with I thought was the full tape and could stop if before...well you get the picture, it wasn't the full tape.

    What he said to me, and I remember being surprised by his detachment from it and hearing that the unedited tape had been shown all over Europe and Russia on the news, was that this was just something America would have to get used to.  The Russians saw it all the time with the Chechens beheading people.  It became something that was pretty much part of their daily lives.  There was nothing in his reaction of shock or outrage, just sort of an "oh well, another one."

    At the time, that really bothered me.  What bothers me more now is that has become the reaction here, slowly but surely.  Another beheading.  Another hostage.  Ten more boys and girls killed.  Another day, another photo of a young marine who won't be coming home.

    Death and destruction have quickly become as commonplace in our news as corn flakes for breakfast.

    This is something of a repeat of history.  America has, for example, assumed its oceans could keep them out of World War II.  Isolationism failed, there, also, with Pearl Harbor.  On the metaphor of assuming we were immune to foreign threats alone, there is a parallel between then and 9/11.

    What is different is the seeming inability of this administration to learn from its mistakes.  The number of times huge troops go in, raid a city, leave it, and have to go back in illustrates this.  I would argue UBL has us right where he wants us and may not even need another attack.

    With our troops bogged down in Iraq, weekly hostage-takings, beheadings, he has set the stage.  Especially since it is looking less and less likely for elections in Jan.  Iraq is a giant meat-grinder which is chewing up our military and our morality as well as our economy.  Thanks to Bush's re-election, our so-called moral authority will shrink to zero in the next term.

    Another attack would re-energize Americans, re-convince them of the war's moral authority.  The only person who would get fallout from this is the now-departed AG Ashcroft, with his hubris shining so bright in that quote.  All BL has to do is stay the course.  He said it as clear as day in his speech - they broke the Soviets with a war of attrition.  If it expands into Syria and Iran, it will not come as a response to something here at home - it will come as a response to "porous borders" and helping to secure Iraq from insurgents coming in from those countries so they can have free and fair elections.

    Bush played right into his hands.  That's part of the reason Bush won the election and didn't need any help from UBL to do it - neither Kerry nor Nader could have come up with a graceful exit strategy because there isn't one.  And now, with go-it-alone Bush at the helm, the chance of success in Iraq is pretty much gone.  We're there until we run out of troops to throw in the grinder, or give up and withdraw.  Either scenario will break the back of America's military might in the eyes of the world, if not in point of fact.

    By 2008, we will have been militarily engaged in Iraq for five years. It was ten years, give or take, before the Vietnam pullout had to happen due to public pressure and other factors.  Americans then saw just a little bit of the war on their televisions an hour a day.  With twenty-four hour news, and the internet, how do you think this country will feel after five years of this?

    -doug

    •  Death with our cornflakes (none)
      Was what eventually got us out of Vietnam.  People got tired of it.  But, I don't think we're anywhere near that point now.

      "An adventure is just something that sucks until its over."

      by LiberalRakkasan on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 06:05:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think you're right (none)
        The vast majority of the Murkan public is still in video-game mode on Iraq.  I think it's going to take a combination of a draft and the flood of mutilated dischargees that will inevitably follow to get us to that point.  Like it or not, for the MSM dead Iraqis don't count.  Only dead Murkans.
    •  Future justice (none)
      You write that death and destruction have become as commonplace in our news as corn flakes for breakfast. But only in the sense that it is sanitized and packaged into something pallatable. Most people will not take the trouble to seek out photographs of what is happening in Iraq right now. Images of children writhing in pain with lost limbs or faces blown off -- these would tear the public's heart out and make it white with rage. Yet these images exist, this is occurring right now as we read this diary, and these photos will serve as a permanent record of our nation's war crimes today.

      To bomb a hospital because they will record civilians deaths (viewed as "propaganda" by one of our senior officials) is beyond outrageous. Nuremberg exposed the peculiar mind of the racist mass murderer, and someday American's contemporary face of immorality will be exposed as well.  

  •  9/11...desperation? (4.00)
    Great diary, I just have one thing to add.

    9/11 was a HUGE risk taken by Bin Laden. Considering how much it horrified people, the scale of the attacks could have easily backfired on him.

    With the proper leadership, the Bush admin had of acted in a way that would have minimized the propaganda effects you mentioned, then Bin Laden would be REALLY margainalized.

    End of story.

    Would 9/11 had have happened if Gore were president? Bin Laden isn't stupid.

    Here's a thesis. It was Bush's personality traits that made such a spectacular attack worth making for Bin Laden.

    Interesting idea.

    This is our story...

    by Karmakin on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 06:06:10 AM PST

    •  Huge risk, dividends much higher than expected (none)
      The question of would 9/11 have happened if Gore were president is one that's been debated since cows have had udders - the most obvious answer is, probably not, for no reason other than continuity of government carried over from Clinton would have made it much more difficult.  Nothing to do with Bush except there was an all-new cabinet in place, and apparently they wake up in the morning so to speak as well as I do.

      I don't see how the scale of attacks could not have provoked the response that was intended - he wanted us to counter-attack. And I doubt he had few if any doubts that one of the places on the short list was Iraq.  He probably gamed this all out, and knowing Bush was into Iraq probably made that easier.  

      Gore might have been tougher because, if he followed Clinton's lead, the response would have been surgical rather than massive (though in either case, Afghanistan was going down).  UBL is a lot of things, but he is obviously not stupid.  He just would have made adjustments accordingly to meet his goals.

      I think you underestimate how marginalized the Americans were in Bin Laden's corner of supporters before Iraq.  All our reaction did was serve to marginalize us even further, and that's what it continues to do.

      -doug

    •  What Bin Laden guessed (none)
      Is that Bush was a rash hothead who would rush troops into the valley of the shadow of death without compunction.

      It probably appalled and amazed him that he could be stupified into inaction by cognitive dissonance.

      This introduced an advantage over America -- an incompetent, psychologically flawed president with -- and a wild card --Bush would not be subject to a rational decisionmaking model.

      And, once sufficiently recovered to make decisions for himself, that Bush would rush to make the original bad ones as quickly as he could muster the resources to do so. That meant invading Iraq, which was the last place in all of Islam that bin Laden had influence or control over events.

      I suspect the American invasion of Iraq was at once a dream come true for bin Laden, and the worst nightmare. America, lashing out at the wrong target, killing at last count 100,000 innocents in the bargain. Prime recruitment fodder.

      On the other hand, Al-Qaida had no footprint in Iraq. Little passed between Hussein and OBL,scarce more than nodding in recognition of the common threat of police among rival gang members in the midst of a blood feud. Nothing between in their rivalry for mastery of Islam changed.

      The worst-case scenario for Al-Qaida would be the nonzero probability that the audacious project in Iraq would work. This looks like a low probability scenario at the moment, but it remains on the table.

      Fearing this success scenario, back when it seems more likely than now, I think Al-Qaida struggled since the March 2003 invasion to make inroads in Iraq, to gain influence, to make its presence felt there, to do anything and everything to make Iraq that much sadder and miserable and expensive an  experience in Iraq...and take advantage of  breakdown in American control once that war became too expensive...or other nonelective wars came a-calling.

      This might be taken as "well, there you have it!" evidence of longstanding collusion between Hussein and bin Laden. That would be specious.

      What is important is that via the recent video, Al-Qaida has announced that it remains our worst enemy, and is now ready to capitalize on our operations in Iraq.

      Bin Laden would not have issued the video unless he felt that he was again in possession of influence over events.

      I'd take the Zarqawi pledge of allegiance to be credible, and less a ploy for American electoral consumption (a plant by the GOP) than a message to the Islamic world that Al-Qaida was offering itself as a friend of the Iraqis against the occupation.

      That's how I think they see it.

      And half of any conflict is how the other guy approaches the contest.

      And if Al-Qaida is now in fact our primary foe in Iraq, they would not have declared themselves openly unless they had sufficient local support for their efforts, support than most likely extends far beyond Fallujah.

      And I believe Sec. Rumsfeld has already hedged his bet on this very topic.

      Terrorists smell weakness - That's why they attacked when Bush was president

      by cskendrick on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 07:15:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Gore and 9-11 (none)
      I'm convinced that 9-11 would not have happened on Gore's watch---not because bin Laden would not have tried, but because Gore would have "kept his eye on the ball."

      Bureaucracies respond to the priorities that emanate from the top.  Preventing a terrorist attack on US soil was not even among Ashcroft's top six priorities for the Justice Department (Ashcroft was more concerned with stopping "medical marijuana" use than with stopping terrorism.)  The NSA, DoD, and CIA were more concerned with coming up for a justification for Star Wars (why do you think we worked so hard to piss off North Korea?).  The rest of the administration was obsessed with fat-cat tax cuts.  

      Without the leadership from the top---without the President asking questions about terrorism, and DEMANDING answers---9/11 was inevitable.  

  •  As I was Saying..... (none)
    But one class of targets seems all too obvious: red-state megachurches whose leaders have made virulently anti-Islamic statements. They are relatively undefended. They are the heart of Bush's political power base, and so can be blamed for his policies. They can easily be portrayed as enemies of Islam. And, last but not least, an attack on a church would rile American hawks like nothing else.

    Are there Al Qaeda targets in Jesusland?

    •  a blue state megachurch (none)
      That's my fear.

      A blue state attack would radicalize Americans more effectively and shift moderates to support the next Bush crusade. The red states have presumably bought in already (all do respect to my red state Dem friends).

      9/11 was in a blue state.

    •  Hollywood (none)
      The other thing conservative Muslims rail against is creeping western pornographic culture.  Hollywood is the source.  In addition, Hollywood is the key to getting the Democrats on board with the crusade.

      Hitting Hollywood will radicalize middle America.  

      Lakers game.

  •  Excellent (none)
    And I am so happy to see "The purpose of 911 was to rile us up" in black and white.

    Neither the current Administration nor the general populace has clue 1 about terrorism.  I'm glad someone here does.

    PS: If one follows the logic that the greatest terrorist/extremists' allies are the extremists on the other side, then Arafat's death creates a huge problem for Sharon.

    In a democratic society some are guilty, but all are responsible. -Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

    by a gilas girl on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 06:15:48 AM PST

  •  well-written (none)

    Now this is a global test

    great jorb!

    Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people... it is true that most stupid people are conservative - John Stuart Mill

    by Sarkasba on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 06:27:17 AM PST

  •  Fine work... (none)
    I am very impressed with your effort here.Thank you. It is clear you have been working for some time on this and it gives us a lot to think about.

    I'm curious? Perhaps someone can give an answer to this: Is is possible, given Bin Laden's desire to weaken our economy by forcing us to expend so much military energy around the world, and his desire to have all the Islamic world witness our troops kicking in the doors of peoples homes, In a certain sense doesn't it make sense to have a smaller, more mobile military that relies heavily on technology?

    Please don't miss understand me, I am not a big fan of Neocon, Rummy and Co. However, as I was reading this post I began thinking about what an effective military response might be it such a world as this. Albeit, the curent mess we are in is being poorly managed. I wonder what it would look like with more effective management?

    It appears to me the answer to our problem is to find bin Laden and wipe him out. It seem ironic to me, however, that the Rumsfeld doctrine is very well suited to this task: a small well trained fighting force acting quickly and decisively based on the best available intelligence. Unfortunately, this doctrine is being applied in a more conventional military manner. That is, we are taking this light well trained unit and applying the principles of traditional military strategy to it. Of course, the out come of this application of the Rumsfeld Doctrine has been a mess.

    Man, I wish they had someone competent in charge of this. I just don't see anyone in the current administration having the capasity, and who knows, maybe even the desire, to change course at this time. This does not bode well for our country.

    Better ask questions before you shoot, The seed of betrail is such bitter fruit.

    by rawls on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 06:29:18 AM PST

  •  add me to the chorus (none)
    Really, really great. Hands down, best thing I have ever read on kos.
  •  Altruism (4.00)
    So, if they're responsible for algebra and alchemy and alcohol, are they also to blame for Alabama? If so, they can have it back.

    -- Want to make a difference? Join the taskforce! --

    by fwiffo on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 06:32:48 AM PST

    •  a contest (none)
      Who can come up with the best bogus Arabic derivation of Alabama?
      •  Al Ab Umma (none)
        pejorative, taking the Arabic root umm, meaning mother, and the Latin ab, meaning without.

        Thus, Al Abama = without a mother.

        Shukran jaziylan. :)

        Terrorists smell weakness - That's why they attacked when Bush was president

        by cskendrick on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 08:38:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  More to Arabic than Al Words (none)
        Actually, the Arabic language has two classes of words, depending on the type of consonant.

        They're called Sun and Moon letters (for those familiar with astronomy -- the word nunation, describing the precession of the Moon's orbit around the Earth also has a grammatical usage - it's when the Arabic nun, the Arabic letter "n", is added to the end of a sentence as an indefinite article (ex. the difference between walad, boy, and waladin, a boy.

        Back to Sun and Moon letters: This is important when the noun is definite, for our old friend "Al" is just that, the Arabic version of "the".

        However, Al either likes you, or he doesn't. Al's a moonlighter; he likes the Moon letters.

        However, he doesn't make day calls, so if you are a word that begins one of the following (transliterated!) letters, the Sun letters, he won't show up at all:

        This'll get you started.

        Point being - Not all Arabic words are "Als".

        From the link

        Shams - Sun
        Rajul - Man
        Naar - Fire
        Sahr - Magic

        etc, etc.

        My fave -

        Zhiraafa - Giraffe :)

        Terrorists smell weakness - That's why they attacked when Bush was president

        by cskendrick on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 12:47:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Additionally (none)
    It is obvious we are being squeezed from both sides.  The war is on us, as well.   We are being treated as the enemy, and this happened immediately after 9/11.
    Why is this?  Why are we the domestic target?  Accused of even treason?  

    Is it a smokescreen?  The immediate claims against Democrats, liberals and the usual suspects, came shortly after 9/11, when scrutiny of foreign policy came into play.  The cry went out immediately and we came under fire.  

    First of all, it was claimed after 9/11 that our foreign policy "drove the terrorists". This came from our side.   I disagree. It may have contributed to the rhetoric of the other side, but I think the early claims that seemed to somehow excuse the terrorists totally missed the point.  

    Examination of foreign policy should have occured, but that does not explain for the movement that occurred under our noses for years that fueled the attacks.  There were American White Supremacists also training at Al Quaida camps.  Timothy McVae is from the same cloth as Al Quaida, and domestic terrorism has the same enemy. Liberalism.

       I believe this to be part of the same movement, Al Quaida was allowed to flourish and prosper even was admired among militia members for years.

     It made no sense at all to me that a multi-millionaire (UBL) would rather spend his time and energy helping people train for terrorism if he really wanted to help his people develop.  Wouldn't he be more in favor of development programs, and working to get AID, and investment?  

    I do not believe we can easily explain the pattern of events upon US foreign policy, that is misleading and brings us off target.
    Case in point:  Why "outsource" the job of capturing Usama Bin Laden?  Because US forces are bound by  our own military laws to take him as a prisoner and bring him to justice.  This would allow him to testify.   Using foreign troops increases the likelihood that Usama would be killed, not taken prisoner.  

    My take was then, and has been that NY was a prime target for haters of liberalism, globalism, social tolerance,  to create instability, and radicalize Americans.  Usama Bin Laden, the principle actor is still at large.  WHY is that?

    All the things that do not make sense make perfect sense.  We just need to connect the dots.

    It makes sense that if you wanted to put radical policy into place in America you need something big.  You need to radicalize Americans.  New Yorkers were attacked once by the terrorists, now they are attacked by their own countrymen.  This is despicable, and intolerable.  

    •  This goes way way back (none)
      UBL is simply riding the wave that started back with European colonialism.  What is going on in the Middle East is the collision of American hubris/lack of knowledge of history with the latest incarnation of an Arab state.  It was inevitably going to come down to violence if we did not have a Commander-in-Chief that had an understanding of history.

      I admit myself I still don't have a very good grasp of Middle-Eastern history.  I saw a documentary dealing with Nasser and the Pan-Arab state.  To a large extent, Western powers and Soviet powers treated the Arab nations more like chess pieces than countries, and the Pan-Arab state collapsed.  What got me most though was footage of the people mourning his death - it looked like a scene from Evita.  And yet I had never even heard of Gamel Abdel Nasser.  We've all heard of Sadat and that whole thing.

      The basic gist is - the entire region - including Africa - has had issues of its own for centuries, and in every case the only influence of the West and Soviet powers is to make things worse.  Creating Israel in 1948 is another example of a poorly conceived solution which still, 56 years later, is paying dividends in blood because of how it was done.

      Wrong as it may seem, America is still paying for Cold-War policies - Iraq being an example.  Both us and the Soviets had a chess-board foreign policy with little regard for whom we were supporting, so long as it got us closer to checkmating the opponent.  Fifty years of chessboard foreign policy.

      All UBL has to do is tap into the anger that has - naturally - created.  Arab-Israeli peace talks will never work, and he knows that.  All he has to do is keep pointing out the constant negative results of Western influence, contrast it with the time when Islam had its own empire, and sound wise doing it.  He claims to believe  he overstepped with 9/11 - he said as much in the tape, though that was more likely a less-than-subtle attempt to rally moderate muslims to his side.  He's not stupid.  He's got everyone right where he wants them.

      History just repeats itself.  Once again, we've got all fours and our head stuck in the mother of all tarbabies.

      -doug

  •  Brilliant piece of writing. (none)
    This should be published with paper and ink somewhere.

    I considered leaving the country, but I don't want to become a victim of our foreign policy.

    by AWhitneyBrown on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 06:38:23 AM PST

  •  There's a little place in the Caribbean... (none)
    called Trinidad and Tobago which supplies most of the Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) that the US imports.  Not a huge amount, but a big chunk of the supply to the Northeast.

    The infrastructure is poorly guarded.  And then there is an Islamist group which tried to overthrow the government in 1990 called the Jamaat al Muslimeen.  Funded by Libya, their members received military training in Sudan in the 1980s and 90s.  The current government owes the Muslimeen for their current electoral victory (voter mobilization + voter intimidation), and most people in the country are too afraid of them to challenge them.

    You want an easy way to disrupt the US economy?  In winter?  Oh, and did I mention that the FBI was looking for  Adnan el-Shukrijumah in Trinidad?  He visited the country several times, and was believed to have travelled on a (forged?) Trinidad and Tobago passport.

    Sure, it wouldn't achieve the goal of sparking another attack (although the US might feel the need to re-occupy the bases it had in Trinidad during Worl War II), but it would give you the economic chaos you want.  And you can bet that an American military presence 7 miles off the coast of Venezuela would really piss of Chavez.

  •  Waging War Against the Center (4.00)
    This is the core hypothesis presented here, and it is applicable to American electoral politics.

    Replace bombings with negative attack ads, and you get a similar dynamic -- an extremist movement, delighted to provoke its codependent counterpart into radicalized rhetoric and policy, while the center is flayed to pieces, which are then coopted into either camp.

    Which raises an unsettling notion

    Americans are prone to interpret world events through a peculiar prism.

    It is not beyond question that we are taking a condition of American politics, the condition of bipartisan animus that emerged before 9/11 during the Clinton years, and applying it to world events in the post-9/11 era.

    Now, everything Pericles offers may be quite true.

    But if we are falling into the trap of American particularism -- that our experience is universally applicable elsewhere -- we may be setting ourselves up for a horrible fall.

    pause

    I'm sorry. Did I say 'we'?

    I meant: The Bushies may be setting us all up for a horrible fall.

    Terrorists smell weakness - That's why they attacked when Bush was president

    by cskendrick on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 06:44:05 AM PST

  •  Strange coincidence... (none)
    The word al-Qaeda translates as "the base."
    Bush/Rove's reelection strategy is to energize "the base."

    -- Want to make a difference? Join the taskforce! --

    by fwiffo on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 06:44:46 AM PST

  •  Very good analisis (none)
    through and complete. I strugled to write something similar, but from the American point of view, that is, what is it that the neocons really (tin foil hat time?) and how far ar ethey willing to go to get it. Hopefully I'll have something soon....

    "The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country." ~ Thomas Paine (1737-1809)

    by Ralfast on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 06:45:39 AM PST

  •  Christianic Jihad (none)

    Please pardon the double posting. I've been pondering this idea of a mandate. 51%, of course, is not a mandate. 3.5 million is not a mandate. But since he was down by .5 million last time and saw THAT as a mandate, I suppose he's convinced this time. By voting as "we" did, we did provide a mandate for someone else. That would be Bin Laden and the terrorists. "We" told the Muslim world that we are behind the unprovoked attacks on a sovereign Muslim nation.  I find that to be a bit unsettling. Yesterday I saw a copy of Newsweek. It had a map showing how each county in the country voted. It occurred to me that that information is available worldwide. Bin laden has shown an understanding (to some degree) of how we think. For instance, 911 was chosen for its significance. If (God forbid) they attack again, what would be the point of attacking an area that showed its disgust with Bush and tried to fire him?  If they attacked in a blue state, they would be sending mexed missages. I really don't think the Bush supporters in middle America would be as effected watching on Fox news as some folks 2,000 miles away dealt with digging out from a terrorist blast as they would be if the attack was in the heartland. They've shown the same kind of courage Bush had when he volunteered to guard the Texas border during the war. I ask myself WWTD (what would terrorist do)? An attack in the Bible belt would give them a lot of bang for their buck. The body count would be lower, but you don't need a high body count. Look at Oklahoma City. That woke us up. And how about the greatest terrorist of the past two years? Bush kept us all scared without killing anyone on American soil. Make no mistake I am a pacifist. I would love it if there was never another terrorist attack . It's just that I think there will be. And I think it will occur in a red state.  I believe that when those states voted for W, they painted a big ol' target on their foreheads. Time will tell.
  •  The terrorists don't have to win to win... (4.00)
    The other day I was watching a symposium on George Washington.  One commentator/writer noted that he wasn't that great a military commander....he never won many battles at all, if any!  But his success in the Revolutionary War came when he understood that he didn't have to win.....the British did have to win....and that makes all the difference in the world.  The terrorists don't have to win.....all they have to do is survive to fight another day.  We on the other hand have to win...which we just will not be able to do, at least for a very long time, if at all.
    •  The Mother of All Guerilla Wars (none)
      Inescapably, Bush doesn't get this.  He continually sets himself up for failure.  Take for instance his OBL "dead or alive" moment.  My first reaction was to ask, what if we don't?  We haven't, and look, there's bin Laden the weekend before the election, healthy as ever, telling us to choose wisely on Tuesday.  Clever fellow.  Meanwhile, our team looks like the Keystone Cops.

      Bush clearly understands the reality, as he showed at the debates: 'we have to be right 100% of the time, they only need to suceed once.'  His ineptness as a leader is revealed by his inability to manuver to best advantage.  

  •  An excellent case for a different approach (none)
    This is an excellent analysis.

    By turning the vague and overwhelming "War on Terror" to a several discrete/defined wars on Middle-Eastern nations, the current administration has painted an illusion that this is the kind of battle where overwhelming force is the answer. Thank you for explaining why that's a losing strategy.

    So massive attacks not only kill hundreds of soldiers and thousands of civilians, they energize the al-Qaeda base. Another reason we should be fighting terrorists with a scalpel rather than a baseball bat.

  •  Why didn't Kerry ever say this? (none)
  •  This is amazing work (none)
    But now all my worst ideas about what might really be happening seem the more true. I don't want to die. And I don't want my friends to die in an unwinnable war.

    And George Bush doesn't care. Does anyone even imagine that he might do what needs to be done to avoid turning everyone against us? Of course not. His beliefs cause him to hate Muslims about as much as Bin Laden's cause him to hate Americans.

    I really, really hope that we aren't doomed.

  •  Closer to home (none)
    If our leaders can't solve the problem of gang violence in our neighborhoods, what makes them ready to tackle terrorism in the world?

    Kill one terrorist--you create two more.

    Provide opportunity, recognize humanity, and allow a decent future--you destroy the movement.

    At any rate, it's good to know OBL and GWB have the same goal: to bankrupt our federal government!

    The Unavoter...manifesto coming soon!

    by unavoter on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 07:11:41 AM PST

  •  I still suspect (none)
    I still suspect that the Saudi's and the Bin Laden family made a deal that spared OBL's freedom and life in exchange for no more attacks on American soil. It is really impossible to believe he hasn't been caught for any other reason. This also plays into Bush's goal of needing a boogyman out there to keep us in an endless state of terror.
  •  Relatives of PM Allawi kidnapped. (none)
    Compliments of CNN

    It's a cousin and her daughter-in-law.

    The kidnappers threaten to behead them if their demands, including a retreat from Fallujah, are not met within 48 hours.

    Forecast: Allawi may budge, but the U.S. military will not. It would be far too humiliating.

    Terrorists smell weakness - That's why they attacked when Bush was president

    by cskendrick on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 07:32:01 AM PST

  •  A good read, but I have to disagree (none)
    Some of what you are saying makes sense, but losing your top people and replacing them with new recruits is not a good thing. Losing support of nation states that funneled money, equipment and people to your cause is not a good thing. What  Al Qaeda /  Bin Laden really wanted (IMO) was a continuation of what we did in the past, random air strikes / missile strikes that did virtually nothing to their people, but often had civilian casualties and could be played well in the media. In those cases they lost almost nothing and gained more support. I suspect he was hoping for a large, devastating retaliation from us, but no long-term sustained attack. Now, they may be getting more recruits, but are losing more experienced people and resources, and are going to have a harder time getting support from other nations.
    •  Aren't they gaining experience? <nt> (none)
      •  Some are... (none)
        but if we look at Iraq, the new recruits are taking terrible losses. And the ones that are surviving, while getting experienced, have no where near the experience, connections and support that some of the people who have been captured / killed in this sustained attack on Al Qaeda / terrorism.

        More importantly, if Afghanistan and Iraq do become fairly free countries, with some form of representative governments, then two fairly large supporters of terrorism will have been removed from play. In return, Al Qaeda will have gained many new, but fairly inexperienced recruits, but will have lost many of their long time experienced members, will have lost support from one nation (Afghanistan), and will have a harder time getting support from others (because they don’t want to be attacked by the US). I just don’t see how that can be considered a good thing from their POV.

        •  Goverment != populace (none)
          if Afghanistan and Iraq do become fairly free countries, with some form of representative governments, then two fairly large supporters of terrorism will have been removed from play

          I'll agree that two fairly largge state supporters of terrorism will have been removed from play, but as our recent elections point out, a goverment is not the people.  You can't assume that none of the populace of these two countries won't support al Qaeda just because there is a free and representative government. On the contrary, look what happens when a form of government is imposed on a people (the South Shall Rise Again?, American Revolution, Russian revolution, heck the Taliban in Afghanistan)...

          •  Agreed (none)
            This is true, but consider what they had previously. Before our attack they had both a state that supported them and a populace (no idea how much support they had in the populace). Now, at best, they have just the populace. I dont see how that can be considered anything other than a net loss.

            Plus, I believe, like Bush does, that a representative government will decrease the amount of people living under that governement who are willing to fight for the Bin Ladens of the world. We just need to make sure that once their government is in place, we do not mess with their choices. If they choose to elect someone who does not like the US, so be it.

            But even if I am wrong about that, the fact that they lost an open supporter of their cause is, IMO, a huge loss. They could never have wanted that.

            •  You're talking about Afghanistan, right? (none)
              Right?

              Because, you know, Iraq's former government was an open opponent of their cause. A fierce one, too. So, net/net... with all of Iraq to play in now... I think they're a long way ahead.

              Massacre is not a family value.

              by Canadian Reader on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 10:51:02 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I am talking about both actually... (none)
                Right now, Afghanistan (IMO) was a net loss (a serious one at that) for Al Qaeda.

                Iraq I see as a potential loss also, but perhaps not one as bad as Afghanistan. Previously, Iraq did not support Al Qaeda, but it did not oppose them either. In fact, the 9/11 report shows that there were several attempts at building some kind of co-operation, but nothing ever worked out. There was no collaboration between the two.

                If we succeed (and that is a considerable if) then they will potentially have a government that is hostile to them. If the new government remains neutral, then at best they will have gained recruits (no idea what kind of losses in material or men Al Qaeda has had in Iraq)so a possible slight advantage.

                Iraq is certainly a much more iffy area when it comes to its effects on Al Qaeda specifically. But Iraq was never about Al Qaeda specifically, it was about dealing with the larger war on terror. Iraq and Saddam did support terrorism, just not Al Qaeda specifically. It that scope, the same logic of Afghanistan applies.

                If we succeed, then a state that once sponsered terrorism will no longer sponser terrorism. That, IMO, outweighs the potential gain of new recruits to the various terrorist causes.

                Further, if we succeed it sends a clear message to other nations that might support terrorism. That we are willing to take them out if neccessary.

                As for your comment that Iraq was an open opponent of Al Qaeda, I have not seen that reflected in any of the reports I have read, perhaps you could provide a link to support that assertion. My experience has been that Iraq was basically neutral to Al Qaeda. I am talking actions here. I know that in theory Al Qaeda and Saddam's words and philosophys were opposed somewhat to each other.

                •  Iraq (none)
                  is the best thing that ever happened to Osama bin Laden.  The only secular government in the middle east, the one place he couldn't go has become the greatest recruiting ground in the history of recruiting grounds.  

                  No, losing experienced underlings isn't the ideal, but gaining thousands of blooded troops and battle hardened leaders isn't hurting their cause.

                  "At times, to be silent is to lie."

                  by CK Dexter Haven on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 02:29:24 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Thats a good point... (none)
                    but thats why I am trying to make a distinction here. Afghanistan was all about Al Qaeda. Capturing and killing as many members of Al Qaeda as possible, and removing a huge support system for them.

                    Iraq was about the broader war on terror. Iraq may be a net gain for Al Qaeda (I dont think it will be) but it will be a large net loss for many other terrorist groups and supporters. If we succeed that is.

                    Whatever effect Iraq has on Al Qaeda I think it we be a small positive or negative. If it is a positive gain, I think it will still be much less than what they lost by losing Afghanistan.

                    Iraq was never about Al Qaeda specifically. It was about taking out a state that sponsered terrorism. It was a message to other nations, and a chance to create a free society in the middle of the region that sponsers terrorism.

    •  I disagree (none)
      Bin Laden wants the more moderate Muslims to take to the streets and overthrow their governments in favor of some extreme, radical fundamentalists.  

      While well-trained thungs are needed for the complicated terror attacks they mount against us from time to time, he doesn't need delta force caliber commandos for everything.

      Massive armed revolt requires suprisingly little formal training.  

      •  Right but... (none)
        Bin Laden does want exactly what you are saying, but I think that how we responded in the past was better for that than what we are doing now. In the past he and his people took little damage from our responses, but he got the same result..civilian casualties and media time. But no sustained attack. His support infrastruture remained intact, his people remained intact and he gained support.

        Now he may be gaining popular support, but he is losing people and resources. He is losing countries that supported him or people like him, and other countries are less likely to help / support him.

        •  I am certain... (none)
          that al Qaeda personnel files would reflect a net gain in membership.

          "At times, to be silent is to lie."

          by CK Dexter Haven on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 02:31:15 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  In raw numbers perhaps.. (none)
            but Al Qaeda lost support, resources and training bases when we invaded Afghanistan instead of just lauching some large, but short-term attack.

            What Bin Laden really would have wanted (IMO) would be for us to nuke something. Or level some city or something. What he would want is massive civilian casualties, but no loss of support and resources. Provoke us into ramping up the scale of our retaliation, but keep us from doing any kind of long term attack.

            Instead he lost an entire country that he was using for whatever he wanted.

            I dont think the new raw recruits are worth it.

    •  State vs Private Support (none)
      True that the economic and military powerhouse of AFGHANISTAN was supporting OBL before 9/11.
      Thank god we've deprived him of those state resources.

      The problem, as Kerry had written (and might have pointed out during the election), is that terrorism exists in a global environment. You cannot kill it by invading a country, because it lives in the electronic world of wire transfers and internet communication.

      Funny that the administration censored the 9/11 report chapters dealing with our good friends in Saudi Arabia.  Could it be that bin Laden's greatest strength and support (financial) still flows long after the fall of the Taliban?

      •  Yeah, the Saudi stuff is annoying... (none)
        Not sure what is going on with that. I dont buy into the common theories of the left that Bush is secretly working with / conspiring with the Saudi's to make money / aquire oil, or whatever it is Moore presents.

        I suspect it is more likely that they know that if the Saudi's fall, what would likely replace them would be far, far worse. (Unless we got involved).

        Saudi is providing intel and assistance. Perhaps they are finally getting the idea that the monster they helped create is now coming back to destroy them and that is why the Bush admin is being supportive of them.

        I just dont know enough about the Saudi connection. I dont like them, but also realize that if they are providing valuable information and support, the Bush administration may see the need to protect them.

  •  war games (none)
    An excellent analysis.Thank you.

    Puts me in mind of the message of the movie War Games---the only way to win is not to play.

    Sadly, our country just elected a man who is precisely the kneejerk foil bin Laden needs. They'll use boxcutters and equivalents, while, I fear, this administration could ratchet up to a response of "limited" thermonuclear strikes.

    How do we hold the middle when there is all this rage, division and rancor among ourselves?

  •  Good analysis. (none)
    I had an epiphany the other day. I used to hate it when Bush said they hate us for our freedom. But then I realized, hey, he's right.

    They hate us for our sexual freedom. They hate gay marriage, women who go about uncovered, sex, booze, drugs and porn.
    So when they attack a place like New York, or try to do so in LA, it's a double-win.
    They strike at the center of what they view as our moral corruption, and which we rightly recognize as civilized freedom.
    It does not matter that a place like New York is anti-Bush and anti-war, because they want to a) destroy our corrupt media centers and b) rile up the Bush heartland as an enemy.

    What's interesting is the weird sympathy of views between the ultra-Christian warriors and the ultra-Muslim warriors. They hate each other, but they both hate the licentious freedom of the coastal and urban areas of America. We liberals are stuck between two forces that want to impose their own flavor closed-mindedness on the world.

    We must fight both of them.

    (Of course, I exclude liberal-minded moderate Christians, Muslims and religious folks of all types and those who realize that they must attend to the beam in their own eyes and leave my motes alone.)

    Tax wealth, not work.

    by SpiderHole on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 07:52:44 AM PST

  •  Good analysis (none)
    I agree with much of what Periclies has written.  In particular, I agree that bin Laden's greatest needs now are recruits, either more young men willing to travel the Jihad road, or supporters and sympathizers.  He'll do what seems most productive to that end, and that could well mean attacks on Christian landmarks including the megachurches.  Don't forget that his boys have been shooting up Christian schools and churches in Pakistan for several years, and are now attacking the Iraqi Christians that are hardly part of the US Christian scene.  Attacking Christian institutions is almost guarenteed to provoke Bush to respond -- it is one of his hot buttons that bin Laden can easily push.  

    I also believe Bush is completely committed to military responses, and not to any nuanced approach based on diplomacy or social causes for terrorism's attraction.  If push comes to shove, Bush is not above a nuclear option -- or something close to it with conventional weapons.  His goal is control of resources, and he has little interest in the people and all.  We should never underestimate him.  Rules mean little to him, he is only interested in winning by what ever means necessary.  Given the election results, I think he has legislative support for that approach.  

    The logical alliance against Jihadist Islam would be the US, Russia, Europe, China and India.  They are all threatened in various ways by bin Laden, yet each has interests in reducing the "Superpower" status of the US, not in total, but in degree.  But politically, I don't see any of them likely to find strong domestic support for any alliance with Bush, given current circumstances.  

  •  I agree, and disagree (none)
    Good post, thanks for writing it. I agree with most of it.

    I don't think Binladen will target a megachurch, because the moderate muslims wouldn't be attracted to someone who did such a thing. Look at what he did do; he hit the biggest target in the Jewish capitol of the US when there were very few people in it. He could have waited three hours if he was interested in mass casualties.

    I think he'll sit back and watch as we sink deeper into Iraq. If we ever start to pull out of there he'll do something (here) using some pissed Iraqis (out of the millions we've generated) so that we'll get drawn back in. He may well do something using people from another place, to cause us to widen the war. My bet is that he wants to see Saudi Arabia destabilized more than anything. Not sure how he'd pull that off, but I think that's his main target.

    Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

    by racerx on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 07:57:17 AM PST

    •  attracting moderates does not matter (none)
      I respectfully disagree with racerx's assessment. I don't mean that a terrorist target will be a church, mega or mini, but that any action will be about driving the middle to the edges. Bin Laden is not recruiting so much as harvesting. His future "soldiers" are going to come to him because they are disenfranchised, broke, and disillusioned. Anything that creates an extreme reaction here is also going to create more problems for moderates of all types who want to live cooperatively. I don't think it would take much to cause a massive backlash against Arab-Americans, or even Arab visitors to the US.
      Then dialogue stops.
  •  So A Department of Peace is a stupid idea (4.00)
    That's what I am hearing. Naive and silly.  But I see that this idea would use reflection, understanding and evaluation like this post has done. It is very enlightening.  Leaders in the DOP would actually have understanding that more testosterone is not the answer and would hopefully move us back to sanity.  

    I plan to get more involved with this group of visionaries who are promoting the establishment of the Department of Peace. Call me stupid, but I would rather work for hope than sit in hopelessness and fear.

    •  Jean, (none)
      I always loved this idea.  And, whenever I took those tests to see where I fell on the political scale, I always came out at Dennis Kucinich.

      I had hoped with a Kerry win, Dennis would be appointed to run this new department.

      •  OT (none)
        Department of Peace? What a great idea! That will ensure that there'll be peace. Like, y'know how we used to mess up the environment, but now that we've got an Environmental Protection Agency, that never happens!

        Seriously, don't mean to flame or troll, but from the beginning I've though that that idea was one of the worst to come out of the left lately. It reinforces all the worst stereotypes about Democrats: that their automatic response to any problem is to create more government bureaucracy. If such a department were created, it would provide just another tool for a future Repug administration to misuse for its ends.

        The Rambling Rover: Politics, society, travel, oh my

        by jonathanjo on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 10:32:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  James Watt (none)
          If such a department were created, it would provide just another tool for a future Repug administration to misuse for its ends.

          Reagan appointing Watt as Secretary of the Interior sums up the problem perfectly. The Department of Peace sounds great until you realize that the Secretary of Peace would be Paul Wolfowitz.

  •  Parallels to Europe before WWI (none)
    I'm reading The Proud Tower, by Barbara Tuchman, about the zeitgeist in Europe and the U.S. before World War I. There are some striking parallels--I'm starting to believe in millenial fever.

    At that time the bogeyman was anarchists. Individuals who considered themselves anarchists--who'd read the political writings, but who weren't part of any organized group, weren't receiving marching orders or plans or training from anyone--succeeded in assassinating eight world leaders (and bringing down all kinds of legal recriminations from the various countries).

    The supposed beneficiary of anarchist action was the working class, who would see the example of their fellows, know they are not alone, and rise up themselves.

    The fizzle out was partly due to improved working conditions and increased success at unionizing--blood in the streets holds less appeal when you can get an eight-hour day by petition or picket.

  •  This was fantastic. (none)
    Sobering, and thought-provoking, and a little scary to boot.  Thanks!

    Or in the night, imagining some fear/How easy is a bush supposed a bear! -Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream. Act v. Sc. 1

    by celticshel on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 08:26:57 AM PST

  •  Nailed it. (none)
    This needs to be posted / hosted on an independent site.

    Not that these ideas haven't come forth before, but this is the first time I've seen it expressed so even-tempered and thorough.

  •  Perfect (none)
     Wow... yeah that pretty much sums up the terrorist strategy in a nutshell. No need to say much more, jeez... thats it.

    Has any one noticed the similarities between Bin Laden v. Soviets and Bin Laden V. us? It seems the same principle- draw the empire into the unwinnable guerrila conflict in order to bankrupt- was being used in both?  I guess Bin Laden is like that old football coach who keeps on running the same play. We should have seen it coming, considering we helped orchestrate Afghanistan V. USSR.

  •  attack. (none)
    I recommended, but will be reading again.  My first (sometimes selfish) thoughts:

    Moreover, President Bush is so hated in the Islamic world that he makes a perfect foil. A Kerry victory would have required a major new propaganda effort -- and maybe another terrorist attack that Kerry would have to respond to.

    So President Bush is keeping us safe in the following perverse manner: By following Bin Laden's script so perfectly up to this point, Bush has made another attack unnecessary. Since the purpose of 9/11 was to rile us up, Al Qaeda need not hit us again as long as we stay riled.

    This is pretty discouraging.  Cheney was right?  A Kerry victory would have meant another attack?

    What's more, if he is going to bankrupt the US economy, he needs a wider war.

    ...

    All of this points in one direction: Another attack on the United States, probably within the next year.

    Oh well, either way, another attack.

    But one class of targets seems all too obvious: red-state megachurches whose leaders have made virulently anti-Islamic statements. They are relatively undefended. They are the heart of Bush's political power base, and so can be blamed for his policies. They can easily be portrayed as enemies of Islam.

    Oh great; I'm in a new targeted red state.  

    I guess if Kerry had won, the blue states would be targets.

  •  Best article I've read on the real issues (none)
    underlying the war on terror.

    (my apologies to anyone who's posted similar thoughts)

    Many things I believed intuitively about our mistakes in combating terror, and many other facts introduced/connections made that I was not aware of.

    Jesus Freeze-us, why didn't someone at the DNC put forth this sort of argument during the campaign?

    Instead of letting them mock us with phrases like "global test?"

  •  Question # 9. (none)
    I got a shiver when I read it. What can Bin laden do next to rile the US? I immediatly thought of Iran and the whole nuclear thing.

    We all know Bush wants Iran and that Iran hates the US and Israel. Being buddy buddy with people in Pakistan, Bin Laden can probably easily get his hands on a nuke (or maybe a old Russian one), goto Iran, "aquire" one of thier new missles (or purcahse one from North Korea,) launch it from Iran and nuke Israel. Thus setting up Iran for attacking Israel (just what Bush is waiting for) and making millions of Arabs rejoice over the death of the "evil" Jews. Talk about an issue that would make the (nearly) entire muslim population come together...

    With China and Russia on Irans side (for the most part financialy) and the USA jumping when Israel says jump, I see that as a likely, and most effective scenerio for him to accomplish his goal.

    I really hope that doesn't happen, but after reading this very well written and informative diary, that crossed my mind... As if thinking about another four years of Bush wasn't bad enough to begin with.

    •  I don't see that happening (none)
      The thing is, Israel has nukes of their own, and in that situation would be quite willing to use them. The first one would go to Tehran... the second to Mecca. Syria, Jordan, and Egypt might decide to sit it out, or they might feel constrained to "do something" and get nuked as well.

      It would be over before Bush-league could be snapped out of his brain-freeze and told what to say.

      Hatred is murder (1 John 3:15)

      by dirtroad on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 09:43:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Provoking an Overreaction (none)
    It's not enough for AQ or any other terrorist org to provoke a considered reaction -- most of the world thought we were well within our rights to go after the Taliban after 9/11, after all. Iraq was the overreaction -- we went in with the flimsiest of pretexts, and we lost a lot of respect and sympathy for that.

    Thus, bombing a megachurch or some other target might not be the goal -- a highly visible (but failed) attempt might be. This might be how Osama could pull down the Saudis -- create a false trail leading right back to Riyadh, pack a couple of trucks full of HMX, rig the detonator so it doesn't work, and let the driver get stopped & captured right outside the target. (Driver captured alive is the key here -- he puts them on that false trail.)

    Now killing a few thousand Pharisees won't appeal to the moderate Arabs that Osama wants to push into his camp, but the US going completely ape-$#!+ over a botched attempt -- that ended up killing nobody -- could better achieve the desired effect.

    Fortunately, I don't think that terrorists are that subtle. If they were, they wouldn't be terrorists.

    Hatred is murder (1 John 3:15)

    by dirtroad on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 09:37:46 AM PST

  •  Well done, but... (none)
    your guess that a bin Laden will target a "red-state megachurch" is probably off the mark. Why? Because, while it would move half the country to blind rage, parts of the US would breathe a sigh of relief and assume that they're no longer targets.

    It's more likely that, like the suicide bombers in Israel, al-Qaeda will continue to target the political middle of the country. It's a two-fer: the American Right will take any attack as an opportunity to respond militarily; at the same time, moderates will be increasingly convinced to support "hitting back at the terrorists".

  •  I don't agree (none)
    that this is really the way terrorists think. Just as Sharon doesn't think he is empowering Hamas and Hamas does not think they are empowering Sharon.

    This is what it "Looks Like" to us, moderates, because we assume people are rational. Extremists on both sides look at it very differently. I'm sure muslim radicals are extremely angry with US action in Iraq.

    In general extremists beleive that violence and show of force will make them victorious. They hope to crush the otherside ... "even if it takes a thousand years".

    They also spin the events to their advantage. If Bush had lost, Osama would have said "Look, we we winning !", just as Hamas says they are driving Isreal out of Ghaza.

    While all this US action in Iraq would bring some satisfaction to terrorists .. because it proves that they have always been right about the "evil America", it does not bring them any joy that innocent muslims are getting butchered. Ofcourse they will use the fact for some good PR and excellent recruiting efforts.

    One thing I agree about ... that terrorists want to radicalize the people on their side. It has long been noted that oppressors succeed, only because

    1. Lot of local people cooperate with the opressor

    2. Enough people on the opressed side refuse to take any direct action.

    We see the first part being in action in Iraq. That is why the insurgents heavily target Iraqis who are cooperating with the US.

    As a historical note, this was indeed the basis of Mahatma Gandhi's non-cooperation movement. He realized that a tiny nation (England) could rule over a large country like India only because a large number of Indians cooperated with the British.

    Also, I'm not sure Osama's real goal is the return of the Caliphate. His goal is to kick out the Saudi royal family and replace that with an Islamic republic ... on the lines of Afghanistan.

    •  That's the sad part (none)
      What Pericles is pointing out is that they do not explicitly work together or have each others intersts at heart but they work in symbiosis. They need each other, even if they don't realize it.

      War. War never changes.

      by Tulwath on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 11:06:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tried this on an undecided voter (4.00)
    Hi,

    I spent some time this last cycle trying to understand how an undecided voter could be undecided. She's a boomer, inteligent, well educated, thoughtful, and fairly well informed. I know, many of you will find it difficult to believe that all of these can be true and that she was still undecided. Just let it go for now. She started to read the article got as far as the tactical discussion of Bush and Bin Laden as opposing poles, and stopped dead saying it's unacceptable to compare the two. She's essentially a suburban liberal who was deeply traumatized by 9/11. Because of that Bin Laden is pretty much the personification of evil for her. So, comparing Bush to Bin Laden in any way is the same as saying Bush is evil and for many moderates, that's not acceptable. I think this is an outstanding diary, but if it's going to be used to effectively appeal to folks beyond the base it might be useful to write a second version that reframes the issues in a less personal way in regards to Bush, looking at the actions of the administration rather than at Bush's choices and extremism. Thought this might be useful to know.

    •  Hitler ate sugar (none)
      The personification of evil can easily disrupt logical thought. Even though it might be hard the key is to point out the truth. Probably start with absolving Bush of any responsibility ("He doesn't realize he is helping the terrorists.") and it might be a bit more palatable.

      War. War never changes.

      by Tulwath on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 11:09:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  awesome! (none)
    amazingly well put and readable.

    I'm copying it to the dkosopedia, without objection.

  •  the center must hold but will it? (none)
    We as Democrats are being pressed into talking more about "moral values" and all, and in my opinion in the wrong way to get us to co-opt conservative "values".
    This whole piece was very interesting and a great post.  And I read #10 with the most trepidation.  I have often contemplated the thought of a heartland strike like a school or church to achieve the maximum, scare you to death we're everywhere and anywhere terror.  I most agree with the economic assessment and a strike at a church let say would have both an emotional and economic chilling effect.
    We, as Democrats, can and should discuss more tangible and practical solutions regarding terrorism.  And speak openly about the possibility of such a strike to raise awareness.  The GOP will paint whatever we say as alarmist and who knows, Al-Quaida, is likely playing our party to find leverage to achieve it's own goals.
    But, as a progressive movement, we can find common cause in the necessity to fight against radical terrorism and build trust and harmony with the various religions and cultures throughout the war.  And hopefully we can do this before a devastating strike on an evagelical church further radicalizes American conservatives and Muslum radicals.
  •  Great Analysis (none)
    As pointed out 297 other times, this is a great analysis.

    Here's my cynical addition to #10. I think we've had OBL in our sights since the first. Bush hasn't taken him down because he knows that all our voters will think that's the end of the "war on terrorism". But now that the election is over, maybe we'll decide to reel him in.

    The key thing to do is to reign in our impulses to go after these people. That's hard work, especially with someone in the WH that wants to radicalize the voters for his own gains. But the Democrats must make that the center of their policy. We need to press to get other countries to contribute. Since they are never going to join us in a hot war in Iraq, we need to press them to work on Afghanistan.

    Al Qaeda's strategy on this is far from a done deal. If it depends on ruining our economy, it still has a long way to go. As Pericles would tell you, the Spartans underestimated the wealth of the Athenians. They "won" that war but it took them 23 years. And we don't have to make all the same mistakes. (Although going into Iraq does remind one of Syracuse a little too much, doesn't it?)

    The "western" economy that Al Qaeda will need to take down is not just that of the U.S., it's that of the entire integrated global economy. That's just not going to happen. Even if OBL can send the U.S. packing, they are just going to have to face the Chinese and the Indians and who knows who else before they can claim victory. We aren't the only country that needs their oil. The Muslim world will not be left alone until it is all gone. So in the end, Al Qaeda's goals are hopeless.

    The biggest weapon against terrorism is to make it obvious to them how hopeless their goals really are. Then you limit it to only those who commit violence out of anger. Apparently that would leave bin Laden out.

    Liberal Thinking

    Think, liberally.

    by Liberal Thinking on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 11:39:55 AM PST

  •  What we could also use (none)
    This diary entry is thought provoking and enlightening.

    I would like to see a similar list for developed for the Bush Administration. It's too easy to write them off as "dumb" or "short sighted". The fact is they want to look that way because those criticisms work against the critics (us).

    Bush may not understand the issues, but his small ring of advisors do. They're smart and they have more resources to research long term trends than OBL does. There's a method behind their madness.

  •  Great post (none)
    Hi there Pericles,
    Kudos, this is a really well-thought out piece.  I think this would make choice reading on the pages of WaPo's Outlook or at some left-leaning thought mag like the Atlantic.

    A couple thoughts on tightening it before you do.   Of course you didn't ask me for an editorial review, so feel free to utterly ignore the unsolicited advice.

    The strongest and most original points you make concern the appeal of the Caliph to the Muslim world.  I think I'd spend some time putting flesh onto this concept - how exactly does the message of revival of the Caliph play out in real life for Iraqis in Baghdad, for Syrians, for Pakistanis?  Even one or two choice quotes would really drive the point home.  Similarly, I was impressed by your points about the cycle of attacks and reprisals works to the advantage of those who prefer a radicalized population.

    Your weakest points concern the direct intentions of Osama Bin Laden and Bush.  If you press too hard on the Osama wants Bush to attack {next Middle Eastern} country theme, you run the risk of sounding conspiratorial and idly insulting Bush at once.  In fact, you might want to steer clear of saying what Sharon or Hamas or whomever wants altogether.

    Anyway, thanks again for the deep thinking.

    Cheers,

    Eric

  •  what's the deal with deliberate no-win strategies? (none)
    I'm struck by the similarity between this analysis and Franks' in "What's the matter with Kansas".

    Now the thing is to be UNsuccessful, which keeps the faithful angry and aroused, always the victim.

    As foretold by Orwell of course.

    I suppose in a world where no one knows what "success" would look like anyway, this makes some kind of perverse sense.

    But it is psychologically unhealthy... if not deranged.

  •  The next attack (none)
    If Bin Laden wants to really enrage as many as possible in this country and provoke an extreme response, then the target of the next attack will not be infrastrcuture or institutions, but instead will be our kids. A school hostage and/or explosion situation like that in Beslan would fuel calls to "kill them all" by some who might otherwise remain uncommitted.

    We'd gain international sympathy as we did after 9/11, but our response may once again squander that good will.

    Look what the Beslan attack did in Russia. Putin was able to use it to enact greater limits on freedoms, and in our country would get Patriot Act II passed in an hour. The call for immediate and bloody retribution (justified as it mayd be) would continue the cycle in which we now find ourselves.

    •  Someone above mentioned Disneyland (none)
      If al-Qaeda wanted something else as iconic and devastating as their 9/11 attacks to imprint on the US psyche, and wanted to provoke a huge reaction, Disneyland/Disneyworld would be it. They are not only an American icon, but an enormous corporate worldwide exporter of American culture/commercialism.

      If I were Tom Ridge (or his replacement), I'd definitely be keeping a close watch there.

      "Those who betray the trust...are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors." - George HW Bush

      by DavidW in SF on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 03:38:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's the economy, stupid. (none)
    I wouldn't hang around any fuel terminals in the near future.  Bin laden depends on wrecking the US economy and you can bet your ass he'll do his best to kill two birds with one stone.  Churches make a political statement but their practical effect is nil.  

    Further, if they hit a baptist church then the methodists will arch their eyebrows and mutter things about God's will when they think nobody can hear them.  And vica-versa.  To get the most mileage they need something that hits everybody in the gut.  A terror-precipitated economic crash will do that.

    Jesus H Christ I hope they haven't got a nuke.  

  •  oil (none)
    a brilliant analysis- unusual anywhere!
    bin laden has the key to fighting an asymmetrical war. 19 men with box-cutters have cost us- how much? In lives and loss of "enjoyment of life" as well as dollars. It takes ten thousand marines and thousands of allies and tons of bombs to seize control of fallujah- where it's never been estimated more than a couple of thousand insurgents were based.
    The economy you're right is the key- if only because it matters to the people who run this country! with our economy seeing red, bush is tying his own hands in terms of our available responses. forget the "global test"- wait til we have to go to the saudis and the chinese and ask them if, please, we can have the money for another war!
    Al queda can take their time- the longer we're over there the better. but there are a couple of things you seem to elide...
    bin laden is foremost also determined to topple the "gas-station attendents" in his home-state Suadi Arabia. It's pretty corrupt and shakey as hell.
    from there, how to bring america to its knees? well, how far can you push an suv? Oil is arguably the source of much of the corruption and stagnation in the middle east; it also happens to mostly be in the vicinity of moslems' most holy sites. But for the same reason, we're there to stay. funnelling our dollars into war in iraq is slow economic death; take away "our" oil and it's almost instant.
    Having us in iraq was always gonna play into his hands. what a target, what energising and broadening of his base! but while a democratic, shi'i (and probably iranian) controlled iraq isn't exactly what he's after, shoot ourselves in the foot- it's also not a bad way to get control of much middle-east oil in moslem hands and to exert pressure on the shakey house of saud. iraq was always seen by US statesmen- and the state dept- as a buffer for the saudis. now that buffer is marine-thin.
    a caliphate is almost unthinkable, but we seem to be in a lose/lose pattern. as we say in new zealnd- bugger! Anyone wanna buy a solar trike?
  •  thank you (none)
    Pericles, your entry is intelligent, deep and poignant.  I'm almost in tears.  How ironic that history should have pit these two mighty opposites against each other.  I only hope that our side can choose the path of wisdom.    

    God help us all.

  •  Thank you (none)
    Pericles, for your diary.  It's intelligent, deep and poignant.  I'm almost in tears.  

    It's a bitter irony that history matched up these two mighty opposites, they deserve each other.  I only hope that wisdom will prevail on the other side, since I'm despairing that it can ever prevail on ours.  

  •  brilliant (none)
    I don't know whether to be thrilled or horrified that Pericles seems to understand the international situation we face better than any of the people who are actually running the country.

    I do hope this fantastic piece is published in an ink-and-paper periodical.  Enough influential people read this blog that one of them should be able to make that happen.

    Let us know if you get published so we can buy the magazine!

    Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 07:30:17 PM PST

  •  Your answers mostly wrong (2.75)
    Question 1
    "People on the other side of my issue" is a good answer.  Terrorism is politics.  You don't need a lot of active agents but you do absolutely need popular support.  Ultimately you want to be seen as legitimate politically.  Ultimately it's about hearts and minds.

    Question 2
    Actually "the media" is a good answer.  It's politics.  The media is always important in getting out a political message.  The purpose of terrorism is to get free publicity.  It can help when your opponent is an asshole but that won't always be enough if the media is against you -- as the Democrats just found out I guess....

    Question 3
    Caliphgate.  Correct.

    Question 4
    He stated a year ago his immidiate goal was to use Iraq to gather arms and equipment.

    Question 5
    No.  The purpose of 9-11 was publicity - as with all terrorism.  It was also intended as a bold rallying blow against the puppet master, the "far enemy".  

    Question 6
    I doubt the Madrid bombing was by Osama but it's unlikely that your opinion is correct.  Governments never react to terrorism by being intimidated unless the terrorists are as powerful as the government itself (eg Kosovo, early Israel).  Objective was presumably, as usual, publicity.

    ......

  •  This is brilliant. (none)
    Truly brilliant.
    And so, it seems there is a quite deliberate polarization of the two sides, west and east, as always predicted. The US is the prime and first foe, being the most assailable because of its current theocratic status as a Christian Dominion. And for the East, we have the somewhat still divided but thanks to Bu$hCo quickly aggregating Arab Dominion. It is like a boxing match in which the real winners are not even slightly involved but are making their money nonetheless. Lets give a cheer for the Almighty Corporations! They are, after all, the real winners. Jesus, Allah and all who pray are the damned for they are the f*** off.
    Preserve the center? Yeah, right.
  •  To your speculations about the next attack... (none)
    You say But one class of targets seems all too obvious: red-state megachurches whose leaders have made virulently anti-Islamic statements.

    However, that contradicts your theory that what terrorists want to do most is to undermine the middle ground.  Going after a rabidly anti-Islamic fundie megachurch, particularly one in a red state, would do nothing to the middle ground.  It would be merely one extreme striking against the other, and lots of those who dislike both Islamic and Christian fundamentalism would see it as "not their fight."

    No, despite the analysis in that bastion of journalistic integrity, the New York Post, that bin Ladin meant to send a signal that any state going to Kerry would be protected from further attack, the greatest likelihood would be that to eliminate the middle ground, the next attack against America will hit the blue states once again.  Such an attack will have the advantage, for the terrorist mind, of pushing those currently opposed to Bush and his PNAC fantasies firmly into his corner, ready to follow him into whichever crusade he wishes to declare against any and every part of the Islamic world.

    If I were a betting man (and I'm not, although, if I was, I understand the state department may have a web site where I could place such a wager), I would guess that the next al-Qaeda attack would hit large cities in blue states.  Since NYC and DC have already been hit, that would suggest Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles or San Francisco as the most-likely targets, although Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and Seattle would also seem to be possible locations of concern.  Detroit probably wouldn't be on the list, since there's a sizeable Muslim presence there (and, besides, there's little way for al-Qaeda to cause any more devastation there than the Reagan/BushI/BushII administrations have already brought about).

  •  What about Bali? (none)

    Just another face in the intellectual army

    by lostchromosone45 on Sun Nov 14, 2004 at 04:34:36 AM PST

  •  Bin Laden (none)
    Question 1: What is the first and biggest obstacle between you and victory?
    The biggest obstacle is the size and power of my enemy. Victory means "Death to America". Impossible ultimate objective. Wishful thinking. I would need as big an "army" as I could muster just to hurt my enemy ever so slightly. In addition, this "army" of mine has to be invisible otherwise it be wiped out in the first swift counter strike. The answer: a band of "terrorists" who could blend into the background instantly after every strike at the enemy. Since I cannot kill my enemy, I will make it bleed as much as possible.

    Question 2: In radicalizing your sympathizers, who is your best ally?
    The enemy itself has already created a pool of sympathizers for me. The presence of the "infidel" on Holy ground is resented by me and a host of other Muslims. The unbalanced support of Israel over the Palestine people has also helped my cause. The question is are they willing to die for this cause? Maybe a few. The rest see the problem but don't think it's big enough to die for. It's amazing how far people are willing to be pushed back before they will fight back. Here I have to use my enemy to push them so far that they will be willing to die for our common cause.

    Question 3: What is Bin Laden's ultimate goal?
    That would be to have the followers of the Islamic faith united in a war against the US and Israel. One of Bin Laden's other goals is to rid the Muslim land of the "infidels". That would include death of Israel. I don't really buy the Caliphate theory. It may have been the idea he started with or the idea used to recruit across a wider range of Muslims fractions but is not realistic. Too many ethnic fractions involved and too many power hungry Muslims involved to make this feasible even in his own mind.

    His stated goal remains a Holy Land free from the "infidels". That means no Americans in any Muslim country in the Middle East - period.

    Question 4: What is Bin Laden's immediate goal?
    More of the same. Uniting Muslims to his cause has not been easy. Most would have allowed the status quo to continue almost forever. Most Muslims live in Kingdoms or under Dictators and are not inclined to rile easily. When you are poor and have a family to raise and protect, you don't really have time to join a jihad no matter how justified. Osama would have to be grateful to America for it's heavy-handed attempts to fight back at an invisible enemy. Mr. Bush has done more to recruit his followers than Bin Laden himself could ever do.

    Question 5: What was the purpose of 9/11?
    The purpose could have been a slap in the face of the Super Power in order to make it react in the same predictable way alienating the Muslims further and further. It also demonstrates to his existing and potential followers his reach and power in the face of the "unbeatable" enemy and swells his ranks over a hundred fold.

    Is it possible that he had underestimated how big a blow this would be to America? He did say that America would never feel safe again but would he have ever guessed that Americans would give up a lot of their freedoms for some uncertain security? Could he have foreseen how paranoid it would make all Americans and that ridiculous internal security measurements would be put in place never to be removed even when obsolete? What President would have the guts to reduce these excessive measurements once they were in place and risk the blame should anything happen in the future?

    Question 6: What was the point of the Madrid bombing?
    The elections were looming in Spain and one of the opposition's promises to the electorate was withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq if they came into power. Bin Laden just helped the people make up their minds to what they were inclined to do anyway. It may have served as a warning to the rest of Europe but France and Germany were not in the war anyway.

    The objective of reducing American allies was achieved relatively easily and Bin Laden was shown to have more capability than he perhaps had at this stage of the worldwide manhunt for him.

    Question 7: What is Bin Laden's long-term strategy to defeat the United States?
    The possibility of actually defeating America must have dawned on him at a very late stage. It's possible that the Super Power played into his hands better than he had ever dreamt it would.

    If things continue as they have so far, Bin Laden's enemy would continue to alienate friend and foe alike. There is a limit to how many deaths of innocents the world would continue to observe as spectators before doing something. He might be hoping for an American "useable" nuclear weapon strike in a "war zone" that would wake up the other Muslim countries to what could possibly lie in store for them should America succeed in Iraq.

    He has recently declared that he will destroy America by bankrupting it. We are on the right track enabling him to do just that. Like he said, if he can manage to make us spend a million dollars (or was it billion? - too many zeros for me anyway) for every dollar he spends, he could very well succeed in dealing us a very crippling blow. Yes, there has to be a limit to what the richest country in the world can spend.

    Question 8. Why didn't Al Qaeda attack the United States before the election?
        Very difficult to know exactly why but we sure can speculate.

    First reason is that even though Bin Laden would like to inflict a 9/11 type attack every day and twice on weekends, American homeland is difficult to target due to it's remote location. According to Bin Laden, the attacks that took place took a long time to plan and execute successfully and they had the unwitting assistance of the American President who caused perfectly good intelligence to be ignored while he went on vacation.

    Second reason could be that Bin Laden is a spent force. He is the world's most wanted man and being constantly on the run is not very conducive to planning a major operation. In addition, his source of funds or means to access to his own funds could have dried up.

    Third reason could be that he is waiting for the right moment when it would do most good for his cause. He could be happy with the way things are going right now. America is doing his work for him and he may feel that he can afford to wait for the right time to reignite the fire if and when necessary.

    The fourth reason is not very likely but let me throw it in anyway. Is it possible that he thinks another strike would cause the exact opposite reaction to the one he wants? Right now the country is nicely divided into pro war and anti war groups. Could another strike galvanize the country into a united pro-war force that would entrench America in the Middle East for good? That would not serve Bin Laden's plans at all even though it would mean that he might be able to kill a couple of Americans everyday at his leisure. Would another strike on American soil actually increase the number of American allies in this so called "war on terror"? That is a risk Bin Laden may not be willing t take.

    Question 9. What can we expect Bin Laden to do next?
    I had been expecting an attack on England for a long time now. I would have thought a strike like that was overdue. The reason it has not happened could be any one of the reasons listed above. In addition to that, it's possible that an attack in Britain could bring the full might of Britain into the war in place of the token presence it has in Iraq at the present thus having a counter-productive effect.

    I don't really expect Bin Laden to do anything next. It's all going according to plan and running like a well oiled machine. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
    Question 10. What can we do?
    Learn from Israel. Protect yourself. Secure all entry ports. Protect and secure all industries, chemical plants, water sources, nuclear plants, explosive factories and a million other things I have not listed. Zip it up tight. Then go find and kill Bin Laden. After that remain vigilant and destroy any upcoming Bin Ladens with surgical strikes that take out the target and only the target. Collateral damage is seriously counter-productive.
    For the long term, think of it like this: Bin Laden is out to destroy America and all it stands for right? Now, what would your reaction be if you learnt that somebody out there was hell bent on killing you, your family and anybody associated with your family? How would you react: what would you think and what would you do?

    My solution would be: Everybody into the house and lock the doors. Once secure I would ask myself: Why is somebody trying to kill us? If you know the motivation you have three options: (1) Stay indoors and on guard forever or (2) neutralize the motivation or (3) neutralize the threat. There is no other option.

    We have chosen the third option and made a mess of it. We have created more enemies than we have killed. How does that make us more secure?

    The above does not cater for any Neo-con conspiracy for Iraqi Oil. Throw that in and all bets are off. We would have to sit down and re-calculate because adding Iraq and the Iraqis into the mixture changes more than a couple of things.

    If you have read through my drivel - Thank you and Congratulations!

  •  In my..... (none)
    ...attempt to confine my answers to your questions, I omitted to point out that our attacking Iraq in response to 9/11 was Osama's wet dream come true.
  •  The other Pericles says... (none)
    I would like to say, I was and remain firmly in favor of the war, although this was almost certainly the most persuasive, cogently-argued anti-war piece I've had the opportunity to read.  I've posted a reply to this at my own blog.  (Oddly enough, I also use the handle Pericles on my blog...)  I would be curious to hear your (and any other commenter on here) opinion on this!
    •  WAR ON TERROR!! (none)
      My reply was too long to fit on your blog so here goes.

      I really tried to go through your article trying to see the world from your eyes.

      The whole premise is wrong. Not from your or the US point of view but from the world point of view. Like it or not, if you want to interfere with the world, world opinion still matters. If you think it doesn't, rest of the following is bulls**t and it's ok to stop right here.

      If still interested, let's start from the beginning of your argument:

      a)    The utility of having a democratic government in the middle east:- What the Cheney gives us the right to dictate what kind of government there should be in the Middle East. There are other countries that may think Monarchy or Communism is the answer. But that is not the point. The point is you cannot deliver Democracy by packing it into 2000 lb bombs or even the easy to digest small packets within cluster bombs. Do you believe that the right bombing campaign could convert you to communism?
      b)    Strategic factors impelling us to go to war in Iraq that are related to the larger global War on Terror only in an indirect way:- That is the typical Fox News and Bush explanation. It is so far from the truth, it's not even funny although I would still crack a smile if so many innocents were not paying the price for our stupidity. Let us assume that you are, in fact, serious and are really advocating this as a valid argument: First fact is that there is no "war on terror". It is not possible to have an armed response to terrorism. Who are you going to bomb and kill? To fight terrorism you have to know what terrorism is.

      Terrorism is a creation of the circumstances. If China took us over and our military back was broken, we would all convert to terrorism. When you don't have a corresponding army, when you don't have matching weapons, you use strike and disappear tactics to fight back. That is what we know as terror tactics. The other alternative is to give up and accept defeat. That's something we could do since we are only protecting the Homeland. By contrast, the Muslims are fighting for their Motherland. The implication is worth a study.

      Modern terrorism is a product of our one-sided support of Israel against Palestine people. Have you any idea of how many UN sanctions against Israel they are in violation of? Do you know how many world body approved resolutions against Israel we (the US) have vetoed? Given that terrorists strike and disappear into the general population, can you understand that we are using the wrong tactics to fight them? Why is it so difficult to explain to the "macho" Americans that the gun is not the solution to all of life's problems?

      Terrorism is a shadow or a reflection of whatever it is that is causing people to decide that death is preferable to the alternative. Do you think that these people are willing to die so that they can get the 72 odd virgins waiting for them in their version of heaven? If you do then I can guarantee you watch too much Fox News. To kill terrorism you have to destroy the object that is causing the shadow or reflection. Think this one through and you have won half the battle against terror.

      The rest of your article talks about what we should do and what we should make happen. Those are goals for the world body to pursue. We have the power to push them and we have the power to enforce them, but the authority has to come from the UN to make our actions legal and palatable.

      As far as I know, nobody died and made us King. Weigh the rest of your arguments against that fact.

      For Real News try: http://www.democracynow.org/

      by Kenyan on Sat Nov 20, 2004 at 06:46:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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