Just desserts

There comes to us from Iraq the news that a terrorist group
calling itself Sword of Truth has kidnapped four people from a group
called Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) and has threatened to kill
them unless some demands for the release of certain terrorists from
Iraqi jails are met. What makes this interesting is that CPT exists
to oppose the U.S. occupation; that is, they are in effect (if not by
intention) allies of the terrorists threatening them.

When I first learned this, my first gut reaction was to think “Ha!
Off with their heads!” My second reaction was to feel ashamed of my first
reaction. How have things come to such a pass that I find myself
rooting for terrorists to kill Westerners?

I had to think about that for a while. I’m with the hawk side on
the Iraq war, but reluctantly; I am all too aware of the long-term
risks of violence as a method, even when we adopt it under stress of
necessity and for defensive reasons. One of the risks is that we may
come to love violence and embrace it too readily. Was this happening
to me?

Time for some what-if scenarios and ethical analysis.

There are two features of this mess that make it different
from a “normal” hostage situation. One of these is that I consider
the members of CPT my enemies, because I consider them enemies of my
civilization and my country.

Note that I did not say ‘enemies of my government’. That they
undoubtedly are, but I’m not real fond of my government. I do not in
general feel any desire for its enemies to die, unless they pose a threat
to my civilization and my country. My country is not its government; my
country is my neighbors, and their neighbors, and everybody who identifies
with the American vision of freedom.

“But…” some of you will say, “peace groups like the CPT aren’t
your enemy. Or at least, they don’t intend to be.”

It’s not at all clear to me that groups like the CPT don’t intend
to be enemies of my country. So much of the soi-disant “peace”
movement is run by
unreconstructed Stalinists and Maoists
that these days I tend to
presume any so-called “peace activist” group is just another one of their
fronts. I don’t think that assumption has yet turned out to be
wrong.

But even if that’s a wrong assumption in this case, CPT’s
intentions matter much less to me than their effects. David Duke, Noam
Chomsky, Pat Robertson, and Michael Moore would certainly deny being
enemies of my country, but the effect of their speech and actions is
to suck up to totalitarianisms of all kinds and give aid and comfort
to people like Osama bin Laden who are unequivocally enemies of my
country. That makes them the enemy, too.

(Oh, boy, there’s a fantasy. David Duke, Noam Chomsky, Pat
Robertson, and Michael Moore chopping each other to pieces with
Sword-of-Truth scimitars in a Rabid-Right-vs.-Loony-Left deathmatch.
I wish I could sell tickets.)

This is sufficient to explain why the thought of those four CPT people
being executed doesn’t bother me. In general, I don’t mind when my
enemies kill each other. It saves my friends the trouble — and,
more importantly, relieves us of the moral burden of killing. I suppose
I would consider it a better outcome if the CPT crew killed the terrorists,
who are on the whole more dangerous; and the best outcome of all would
be if CPT and the “Sword of Truth” gang managed to kill each other.
But if only the CPT people get whacked, they’re no loss.

But my gut reaction was stronger than that. The thought that these CPT
people might die didn’t just leave me indifferent, it filled me with
satisfaction. I had to meditate for a while to understand why. I did
finally get it.

I like it when villains or dangerous idiots are killed by their own folly.
That seems just to me. More importantly, it’s how other people learn not
to be that way. It’s evolution in action; it improves the meme pool,
or the gene pool, or both.

This is actually one of my gut reasons for favoring drug legalization,
though I’d never thought it through quite so far before. I don’t think we
have enough selective pressures against idiocy any more; I’d like
idiots to have more chances to kill themselves, ideally before they get
old enough to vote or reproduce. Not because I relish their deaths,
but because I want to live in a future with fewer idiots in it.

(By the way, I’m using “idiot” in its original sense here. To the
ancient Greeks, an “idiot” was a person too closed in on himself to be
a net plus to his neighbors and his society. Distinctions beetween
mental impairments, communicative defects like deaf-muteness, or
insanity were not clear and not considered important; the important
question was whether the ‘idiotes’ (private person) was capable of
discharging the responsibilities of a citizen in the agora.)

If the CPT people aren’t villains, they’re idiots. Idiocy is the
least it takes to ally yourself with terrorists against Western
civilization. — not because the West is the fount of all virtue,
but because, whatever the West’s flaws, Islamofascism is incomparably
worse. The death of those four CPT people would at least diminish by
four the number of dangerous idiots in the world; therefore, it’s a
good thing.

I checked this line of thinking by asking myself how my evaluation
would change if drug intervention (say) could make idiots into
non-idiots. In that case it would still be a good outcome for
villains to off themselves, but there wouldn’t actually be any point
in selecting against idiocy. Idiocy would become like
nearsightedness, a defect too easily correctable to bother being
eugenic about.

I felt much better once I thought all this through. I don’t want
to become the kind of person who takes joy in the death of other
people; but if rooting for a future with fewer idiots in it is wrong,
I don’t want to be right.

108 thoughts on “Just desserts

  1. Pat Robertson? I have to admit, I really don’t follow the doings of Pat Robertson. But unless I have missed something, I am very skeptical of the claim that any of his actions and speeches were intended to give aid and comfort to people like Osama bin Laden.

  2. One of the risks is that we may come to love violence and embrace it too readily. Was this happening to me?

    After savouring the pleasures of “Iraq Gun Porn”? Oh, surely not.

    I like it when villains or dangerous idiots are killed by their own folly. That seems just to me. More importantly, it’s how other people learn not to be that way. It’s evolution in action; it improves the meme pool, or the gene pool, or both.

    Yer forgetting how memes spread. Given Christ’s example, Christians are *supposed* to risk their lives for others.

    This is actually one of my gut reasons for favoring drug legalization, though I’d never thought it through quite so far before. I don’t think we have enough selective pressures against idiocy any more; I’d like idiots to have more chances to kill themselves, ideally before they get old enough to vote or reproduce. Not because I relish their deaths, but because I want to live in a future with fewer idiots in it.

    Relishing their deaths is just a side benefit in this case, then.

  3. Eric – you are just as evil as the terrorists you claim to hate.

    You rejoice in the killing of people who are putting their life at risk because they value human life regardless of what skin colour or alliegance they have.

    You disgust me.

  4. The paradigm you propound here is very troubling. First, to sort one small matter, I wonder if you would have the same reaction (not the same final judgment, but the same initial reaction) if the CPT group weren’t Christians. You’re already on record that Christianity per se is a moral evil and an opponent of Western civilization per se. I myself find it extremely difficult to believe that a bunch of avowed Mennonites, Brethren, and Quakers are actually a Communist front: Stalinism and pacifism don’t mix very well. But let me dismiss that and deal with the case of non-Christian peaceniks.

    You effectively declare a moral equivalence between those who kill, those who support those who kill, and those who would try to prevent you peacefully from killing back. The terrorists are our enemies. Shall we kill them? Certainly. Shall we torture them for tactical goals or no goals at all? Of course. Shall we burn their women and children in the public square? Absolutely, provided world opinion can be kept quiet. There is no atrocity so atrocious that it isn’t far too good for them. They are not human beings to be punished for their bad acts, but vermin to be removed by any means convenient. They and their families and neighbors have no rights any American is bound to respect.

    If civilization is worth anything at all, it defends those who cannot defend themselves. But the CPT team is not entitled to anything of the sort, it seems. They are objective enemies of the Right Side, and must take their chanceswith the murderers of the Wrong Side.

    And where does it stop? 49% of the electorate was sufficiently opposed to Bush to vote for someone else, who *might* have decided the war was a bad idea. Are these, too, enemies of your country? Are they, too, to be imprisoned without trial, tortured, murdered? Naturally. Why, we could bring lions to Madison Square Garden (if we can find any), throw the peaceniks to them, and make a mint off the pay-per-view TV rights. You’ve even provided a title for the reality show: “Just Deserts”.

  5. I hope that your thinking has evolved since writing this. CPT work in Baghdad is soundly rooted in the work of violence reduction. Gene Stoltzfus

  6. > I myself find it extremely difficult to believe that a bunch of avowed
    > Mennonites, Brethren, and Quakers are actually a Communist front:
    > Stalinism and pacifism don’t mix very well.

    As someone who was in college with way too many leftist Mennonites (both students and professors), I’m not so sure of that. I know plenty of people in that crowd who are at least implicitly rooting for the other side — and some who do so explicitly.

    Do they deserve to die for that? No.

    But when you tell someone that fire burns, and they tell you condescendingly that all you have to do is be *kind* and *gentle* to the fire, and then they stick their hand in a fire and get burned, the schadenfreude is overwhelming.

    Sometimes pain is the only way to shatter illusions. No, the CTP folks do not deserve to die. But they do deserve to have their illusions shattered. (Just as I do.)

  7. Richard Stallman also opposes the US occupation. Is he now your enemy, and someone you would like to see die fighting against and killing terrorists?

    http://stallman.org/articles/iraq.html

    Your essay is a hateful endorsement of terrorist murder, followed by clever rationalization of your depravity. Despicable. You have become a moral idiot by consistently blinding yourself to your libertarian principles which would make you reject this war. Starting from that one inconsistency, you’ve logically descended to the point that you wish death on your fellow citizens who oppose the occupation. By that logic, you would enjoy seeing a substantial fraction of the population of the US killed in order to save the country.

    Do you see nothing wrong with that? Cheering for terrorists: how pathetic.

  8. It seems to me the main theme of this entry is summed up:

    I like it when villains or dangerous idiots are killed by their own folly.

    It’s interesting to see commenters take it to mean “I want to kill people who don’t agree with me”. I guess it’s much easier to extrapolate a monstruous straw man and attack that straw man, than to deal with the orignal arguments. (John and James, you know who you are.)

  9. Congratulations for your fine article, Eric!

    Those CPT guys deserve a Darwin award, for sure! Just like those people who went to USSR to help build that wonderful communist paradise, and were sent directly to Siberian hell.

    John: there’s quite a difference between laughing at the stupidity of stupid people who go get themselves killed by barbarians, and being the barbarians that kill them. Actually, Eric and I are the ones who support saving people from the barbarians, whereas you’re the one who supports withdrawing any barrier between the barbarians and their victims.

    And yes, so-called “pacifist” movements have been notoriously founded, funded and manipulated by Stalin’s KGB, and are still heavily influenced by communist propaganda and the people who relayed it. They always lobby for the western democracies to surrender unilaterally to mass-killing dictators celebrated as “liberating” their people. You never see this “pacifist” crowd demonstrate against the dictators’ use of force.

  10. John and James, it seems like you are reading a lot more into Eric’s post than what is actually there. Be careful that your reach doesn’t exceed your grasp.

    As I read it, Eric’s basic point is that stupid or dangerous things should be disincentivized — bad actions should have bad consequences. Shielding people from those bad consequences decreases the potential for learning.

    > 49% of the electorate was sufficiently opposed to Bush to vote for
    > someone else, who *might* have decided the war was a bad idea.
    > Are these, too, enemies of your country?

    I don’t see Eric arguing that anyone who voted for Kerry is allied with Islamofascism. Where are you getting that from?

    > Richard Stallman also opposes the US occupation.

    RMS’s idea (“Let the UN take over Iraq–really take over” ) is ignorant of both history and political/military structure. The UN has neither the mandate nor the will to do something like this. Also, the UN has a deplorable track record of failure when put in charge of nation-building.

    But even though this particular idea is stupid, it doesn’t mean that RMS is allied with Islamofascism. RMS’s argument says to me that his heart is in the right place. RMS is not saying that we should give Iraq to the insurgents, and he’s certainly not making a Michael Moore-style statement that the insurgents should win.

    That’s the line that the Western allies of Islamofascism cross. Saying that our current strategy or tactics are wrong is one thing. Saying that the enemy deserves to win is another.

  11. Well punctured, Aaron.

    It ought to be superfluous for me to add that I have never advocated torture, nor the burning of women and children in the public square, and that I don’t believe any substantial fraction of my countrymen will ever place themselves in a position where their own moral blindness will set them up to be killed by terrorists, and that my reaction to this incident would be identical if the organization were named “Pagans for Peace”.

    It ought to be superfluous, but it isn’t. It’s a shame John and James have shut down their brains.

  12. Eric,

    I am glad to see someone who so painfully frank. These may not be the easiest moments in our lives, but these are the moments who teach us the most of ourselves and others. Big respect for not looking for cheap righteousness.

    I’d extend a little bit what you written. I’d been having many long talks with friends about such situations. What we generally found is “Life cannot be deflashed – we would make an even bigger mess, so let’s not try to make it perfect, because we will make it worse”.

    There is a general model of many painful conficts. It is the following: there is a school, and there the strong boys are always bullying the weak boys and robbing them of their pocket money. This is was history mostly was. (In this case, it was strong Western colonizers vs. weak third world 100 years ago) And then, a human, liberal teacher appeared who strongly believed in ethical solutions, and he punished the most aggressive of the strong boys, convinced the others to behave ethically and don’t hurt the weak boys, and even convinced some strong boys to protect the weak boys from the others. The bullying and agression just stopped, and everybody was happy. Is it a desirable situation? It truly is.

    The only problem was that the weak boys weren’t morally superior. And this is my biggest problem with all kind of Leftism: it is generally an unspoken, but widely believed truism in the Left that the underdog is usually morally superior. While actually it is not the case. More often, opressed ones bear a strong ressentiment that can make them into intentions and acts morally inferior to the formal opressors. If I knew nothing else of Buddha and Christ but their social status, I’d rather trust the prince over the carpenter as a prince has less reasons to feel ressentiment and generally less reasons to develop bitter envy and neurosis. But even if it’s not the case, there is no one real reason we might think the weaker parties could be morally superior, we can at most logically assume they are morally equivalent.

    And now back to school. As the weak boys are not morally superior, they use the situation to their advantage. They start harassing the strong boys, start demaning their pocket money and when they object, they cry for the teacher: he hurt me! He’s bad! And, sadly, the teacher would usually believe. It’s just so natural to side with the underdog: our natural – and VERY precious, very good – compassion make us so. And whenever the strong boys lose their temper and strike back, they are reprimanded to be a bully again.

    Actually this is what is happening now. The West was kind enough to give up colonialization and grant freedom to the formerly oppressed natives of the third world. No, they have not been forced to do it by rebellions and guerilla wars: they did lose those wars simply because they now wanted to be ethical and humane, and did not want to do the same amount of terror and massacres they did 100 or 200 years before. Just believe me, if the West had not want to become ethical and humane, and would kill a few tens of millions of natives, Iraq would still be a British colony. The West, more or less, lost colonies because it wanted to – or at least did not want to keep them badly enough to behave unethically.

    And the third world, the weak boys, were not grateful, but – at least a part of them – kep attacking the West. And whenever the West strikes back, the idiots are bitching. I can understand you had enough of it.

  13. Matt Cline, you have read me correctly.

    RMS does not cross the line into actual alliance with Islamofascism. CPT and Michael Moore do cross that line. But even so, I don’t consider that a warrant to use violence against them. At most, it relieves me of any requirement to get between them and the fate they have earned.

    My realistic hope is that the Iraqi government will ignore the demands from “Sword of Truth”, the captives will be bloodily executed by their terrorist allies, and the resulting video will be a salutary lesson to other Western idiots. The uglier their death is, the more effective the lesson will be.

    Sigh. Who am I kidding? The Western media will black out the whole story, in obedience to their rule that the U.S (and especially the Bush adminitration) is not allowed to be right about anything.

    And if that sounded like a right-wing rant, I’m still not a conservative, and I find it extremely annoying that the Left keeps trying to push me into becoming one…

  14. Matt Cline says:

    >But even though this particular idea is stupid, it doesn’t mean that RMS is allied with Islamofascism.

    esr said:
    > What makes this interesting is that CPT exists to oppose the U.S. occupation; that is, they are in
    > effect (if not by intention) allies of the terrorists threatening them.

    Eric’s standard is clear: anyone opposing the U.S. occupation is effectively if not intentionally an ally of the terrorists. He adds later that such a person is his enemy, and expands on that to make clear that he would not mind seeing his enemies killed, and even enjoys their death when their own idiocy facilitates or causes it. (I’m trying my best to be faithful in my presentation of ideas I find repugnant.)

    This means that in Eric’s view rms is an ally of the terrorists and an enemy. I should add that he puts me in this category, too.

    Note his categorical and summary judgement. This disallows any consideration of differences of opinion about the occupation, alternate plans, or intentions. He explicitly dispenses with any consideration of intentions by saying that the effects matter more (and then he never considers intentions or opinions any further). Eric says that if you oppose the occupation you’re a terrorist and his enemy, and he’d just as soon see you dead.

    I don’t think I’m reading too much in, nor constructing a strawman: this is how I honestly read the argument. Regardless of any traits we may have in common (libertarian computer programmers, tax-paying American citizens), Eric would be happy if a terrorist killed me, since I oppose the US occupation of Iraq. After all I am an enemy, and my death “saves [his] friends the trouble of killing me”. These would be my “just desserts” (sic — I’ll eat my flaming death with sprinkles on top, I guess).

    Nice.

    I will be glad to be corrected if I’m misreading somehow. I would particularly like to know where I am wrong in understanding the argument.

  15. James, CPT differs from you and RMS in important ways. You and RMS are advocating changes in U.S. policy and tactics, but you aren’t on the ground trying to physically get between U.S. soldiers and the jihadis. Nor are you running around like Michael Moore saying the jihadis should win.

    If you were to go to Tikrit and get yourself killed while trying to human-shield the enemies of our civilization, that wouldn’t bother me. But if a terrorist were to come to the U.S. and kill you, it would bother me, because I don’t like having terrorists whack my neighbors even when I disagree with them.

    Michael Moore is a different case again. If a terrorist were to come to the U.S. and kill him, I would be concerned because I don’t like having terrorists running around in my country, but I would consider it justice. What Moore does goes beyond mere disagreement; he is a partisan of the other side in a way you (or RMS) are not.

    And just to be clear, I think the Coalition troops in Iraq should treat CPT members as enemy combatants according to normal rules of engagement. Since CPT member are (presumptively) unarmed, this means that troops should avoid using lethal force against them unless avoidance jeopardizes the lives of friendlies or compromises the unit’s mission.

  16. James,

    “Richard Stallman also opposes the US occupation.”

    My humble opinion is that it is not a sign of a sense of good taste to ask ESR say anything unfriendly about RMS, just as you wouldn’t ask Nietzsche anything unfriendly about Richard Wagner if you lived in 1880 when their friendship has already ended. You know, when there are two big old hackers, who were once friends, and who deeply admire each other because of their talents, and are fighting for almost the same goals, get forked into two infighting groups due to purely political reasons – you know, FSF vs. OSI is nothing but Commies vs. Social Democrats in Europe in about 1920, it’s purely political, of reformers who not accepting capitalism and of reformers who do. But, the important thing to understand is that these two cultural heroes will always respect each other to an order of magnitude higher, even when they are political opponents, than any kind of casual ally randomly appearing in a comment. Because, in reality, accomplishments count much more than opinions.

    But they have more sense of taste to say it openly.

    This is why it is tasteless to ask too direct questions, in order to force them to say about this things. You might easily get ashamed.

    So my opinion is that these are the things we could best say “none of my business”. Let’s not interfere.

    This is just my humble guess what may be totally stupid, of course.

  17. The American Idiot prattles on. The fascists are revealing themselves all over the US and I find it funny. You have clue 0 ESR and are a dangerous fool.

    I like guns myself, as well as most loud and powerful things, it’s a weakness but they will be needed for the likes of you. I much prefer unarmed combat, it’s way more fun, but you would not last 30 seconds in combat with this 59 year old, it would not be fair.

    Oh well back to the weights. Hmmm I think I’ll play Q4 all day just to let off steam. Nice … I like id.

    PenGun
    Do What Now ??? … Standards and Practices !

  18. Gene, I will believe that CPT is “soundly rooted in the work of violence reduction” when I have evidence that they divide their efforts equally between attempts to stop Coalition troops from killing jihadis and attempts to stop jihadis from killing Coalition troops.

    Would you be willing to hold your breath until that happens? No? I thought not…

  19. > The West was kind enough to give up colonialization
    > and grant freedom to the formerly oppressed natives
    > of the third world.

    That’s a bit of an oversimplification.

    In fact, it’s quite a lot of an oversimplification.

    > Eric’s standard is clear: anyone opposing the U.S. occupation
    > is effectively if not intentionally an ally of the terrorists.

    That is anything but “clear”. More bluntly: where the bloody hell are you getting this from? Eric has not said anything of the sort as I recall.

    Eric has said that the people who give aid and comfort to the enemy are allies of the enemy. How exactly is this controversial? It’s almost a tautology.

    “Opposing the occupation” and “giving aid and comfort to the enemy” are two different things. RMS does the first without doing the second; Michael Moore does them both. I’ve read all of Eric’s posts about the war and as far as I recall he’s been quite consistent about drawing this particular line.

  20. Matt Cline says:
    > > Eric’s standard is clear: anyone opposing the U.S. occupation
    > > is effectively if not intentionally an ally of the terrorists.

    > That is anything but “clear”. More bluntly: where the bloody hell are you getting this from?
    > Eric has not said anything of the sort as I recall.

    Though he has subsequently added to his words so as to alter the thrust somewhat, he
    wrote originally:

    > What makes this interesting is that CPT exists to oppose the U.S. occupation; that is, they are in
    > effect (if not by intention) allies of the terrorists threatening them.

    You’ll note that he adduces a fact: “CPT exists to oppose the U.S. occupation” and then reasons
    from *that fact alone* to a conclusion: “that is, they are in effect (if not by intention) allies of the
    terrorists”. The “that is” is a logical connection; it says that part b follows logically from part a. That is the plain meaning of the English idiom “that is”.

    From the most straightforward, plain-meaning-of-English-words reading of that sentence, it
    appeared that Eric believed that:

    a) an entity opposed the U.S. occupation
    b) therefore, because of item (a) as sufficient evidence, that entity was an ally of the terrorists.

    This chain of reasoning is right there in his rather simple sentence, which I quoted. Study it and tell me where I’m wrong, if you can. Assuming Eric applies this principle consistently, you get my statement of his view.

    I don’t know how he squares that with his later statements. Perhaps he would expand on the
    nature of the opposition and distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable opposition to the occupation, which he glossed over originally. Be that as it may, I think the plain meaning evident in Eric’s original words, from which he as now back-pedalled a bit, are precisely what I attributed to him: “anyone opposing the U.S. occupation is effectively if not intentionally an ally of the terrorists.”

    So, to answer your question, the bloody hell whence I am getting my perspective is Eric’s own words, which you can read and study above. Where the bloody hell are you getting your difficulty in parsing and understanding his plain English? Eric is usually quite clear, and his point certainly came across clearly to me. The most straightforward and literal reading of his words supports my interpretation.

    Subsequently he amended his statement a bit. I find his kinder, gentler second take still repulsive and built on assumptions which I do not have adequate evidence to judge, but not quite as hair-raisiningly bloodthirsty and vicious as his first take, so I have dropped the topic with him.

  21. You’ll note that he adduces a fact: “CPT exists to oppose the U.S. occupation” and then reasons
    from *that fact alone* to a conclusion:

    esr obviously assumed a prior level of knowledge about CPT (and Michael Moore, Pat Robertson, etc) by his audience. This isn’t a court case where all evidence must be established before being used for further conclusions. You’re being disingenuous in insisting on such an evidentiary standard.

  22. I apologize for being less clear than I intended in my original post. I elided fact (c),
    which is that CPT is not simply engaged in an attempt to change U.S. policy by debate but rather on the ground attempting to actively thwart the U.S. war aim of destroying the insurgency.

    If the CPT were to treat both sides even-handedly (working just as hard at protecting ordinary Iraqis and Coalition troops from jihadis as they work to protect jihadis from Coalition troops) I would not regard them as the enemy. But I’ve been to their website.
    Their rhetoric is full of omissions and code words that reveal them as Yet Another U.S.-hating Gang of Idiot Radicals. I won’t shoot at them for that, but I won’t get
    upset if their buddies do.

  23. Somebody wrote:

    >I think with this article you said:
    >“If anyone can prove that my values are dangerous to my country, I’ll be happy if he kills me”

    Please try to keep up. The most you can conclude is that if anyone can prove that my values are dangerous to my country, I’ll admit that they are not required to prevent my allies from killing me.

  24. Alright James… you asked for it…

    MORTAL KOMBAT!!!

    (The Semantic Pedantry Edition)

    I’ll grant that ESR conveyed the idea that those who oppose the occupation of Iraq are allies of the terrorists in effect, if not intention. But where did he then state that those who unintentionally but in-effect ally themselves with the terrorists are, as a rule, enemies that he would like to see killed by their own folly?

  25. Folks:
    It would have been real easy to Drop a Nuclear Device on Bagdad and say that one of Saddams weapons of mass destruction had gone off and Killed 8 Million Iraqies. Point is we would have been no better than Saddam or the Terrorists.

    Now some real facts: Were their Weapons of Mass Destruction? YES, there were, but the Inspection team didn’t recognize them because there weren’t modern versions and the inspection team walked right on by them and didn’t know what it was. 18 Nuclear Detonators from 1940 technology and very old Gas Nuclear Materal Reducers were what was being used. Yes only a small Nuclear device could be made each year, but how many do you need to cause real trouble in the neighborhood. Where are the devices? Unkown at this time.

    Some other questions never asked: The inspection teems went down ONE road for 7 miles and found 12 thousand buildings of various sizes, some 700 feet wide and 7,400 feet long filled floor to rafters with all kinds of weapons.

    How long was the road?: 41 miles long.
    What was in the other buildings on that road?: Unkown, the Inspection teem was told to leave by Saddam.
    How many other roads like this in and around Bagdad?: 37, filled with who knows what!!
    How many other roads like these in other cities?: Unknown.
    How many other storage areas like this exist?: Unknown.

    Saddam had 46 years to gather weapons with unlimited Oil Money to buy wholesale all he wanted, get the picture. You do the math, enough to arm every man, woman and child with all the gun and amo you could use in a lifetime!!!

    Item: 89% of the worlds population are Infidels and must be KILLED and BEHEADED according to the “Terrorests Kuran” and of course in the “Name of Allah” just to give it credibility so all will not question it’s authenticity. And that’s So Not Going to Happen, because the so called Infidels will fight back.

    There isn’t a single reason to put a Bomb under a Baby Carrage except that the Terrorests “Like to do It”, just plane and simple. If the terrorests want something, that should state their case. Just to put a whole country back to 1,000 A.D. and hold them under submission just won’t ever happen.

    Inventor.

    How many other storage areas exist for weapons?:

  26. One point – if CPT is really taking sides with the terrorists, why on earth would the jihadis hold their *allies* hostage?

  27. Why would you think an fundamentalism muslim warrior to be honest to his infidel allies, and not just jump to abuse the opportunity? For them, it is a bunch of enemy who is behaving in a particularly stupid way – being infidels, but acting as if being friends of the muslims – which is totally impossible for their way of thinking. It’s the old mistake of thinking everybody else shares the same values. This led to multiculturalism. Ehh…

  28. Tom, that’s a good question. I can’t really guess what’s in the terrorists’ mind, but I do know that they have made it very clear they want the US out of Iraq. CPT wants the US out of Iraq. CPT was in Iraq to get the US out, and these terrorists kidnapped and threatened to behead them for being there.

    No, it doesn’t make sense, but it’s hard to argue with the record.

  29. Shenpen has it right, Thomas. You’re thinking like a civilized person, which is a mistake when trying to model the thought processes of barbarians.

  30. 1) Who wills the end, wills the means. Since there are some 70,000 pages of documentation on torture by U.S. armed forces members, it is fair to conclude (I admit I haven’t read them myself) that torture is not an isolated incident, but a way of carrying on the war. Indiscriminate bombing was likewise a way of carrying on this war as well as the previous Gulf war. Since esr supports the war, *this* war, *this* war as it is *actually* being carried out, he is an “objective friend” of these things, whether he advocates them or not. To deny this is to give him the benefit of a double standard.

    2) I don’t in fact think esr’s willingness to let others be killed implies that he’d be willing to kill them himself, when I’m no longer in the mood of irony. I do think the attempt to erect a principled distinction between James and Moore is arbitrary, to say the least. It is not treason to think or say that this war does not deserve to be further prosecuted.

  31. If the CPT were to treat both sides even-handedly (working just as hard at protecting ordinary Iraqis and Coalition troops from jihadis as they work to protect jihadis from Coalition troops) I would not regard them as the enemy.

    I really wonder how one might do that in an asymmetric warfare situation. Stand on random Baghdad street corners and shout “Noooo!!!” whenever you see shifty people carrying something that looks like a bomb? Strap yourself to the side of an APC holding a quran?

    Eric has said that the people who give aid and comfort to the enemy are allies of the enemy. How exactly is this controversial? It’s almost a tautology.

    The trouble is that pretty much anything other than wholehearted agreement is interpreted as giving aid and comfort by certain parties. The old “you’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists” crap.

  32. Why did anyone bring up torture? It’s not the topic of this post. I am nowhere
    condoning torture.

  33. Eric, the idea behind CPT is that a team member is protecting everyone’s human rights. To put it very starkly, that is exactly why they were captured and their lives endangered: because they are protecting the human rights of soldiers against jihadi attacks. Of course, the fact that they are also protecting the human rights of jihadis against soldiers is why they should be released.

    More than anything this is evidence of the stupidity and/or ignorance of jihadis.
    -russ

  34. >Who wills the end, wills the means

    No. Who wills the end, wills the means he chooses.

    The sadists at Abu Ghraib committed crimes in my name, but that does not mean I am responsible — because I did not order those actions, I did not act politically to push my government to order those actions, I reject those actions, and I am quite willing for the soldiers to be prosecuted as criminals.

    When a civilan cop C protecting the rights of party A beats up a criminal suspect B without A’s knowledge that this will occur or is a likely outcome of arrest, we don’t hold A responsible for B’s injuries. The beating was the cop’s choice. The worst A can be accused of is being an accessory after the fact if he fails to repudiate the action.

    Now, granted, if A is aware that C in particular or cops in general have a habit of beating up subjects and does not support punishing this behavior, then A can be held to have implicitly chosen beatings as a method. But that has no parallel in the debate over secret prisons, at least not until and unless the CIA is shown to be using means I would repudiate.

  35. >I really wonder how one might do that in an asymmetric warfare situation.

    If CPT can’t expend equal effort to protect both sides, their choices are to (a) be considered allies of the jihadis and treated as enemy combatants, or (b) leave the war zone. They don’t get the choice of claiming to be neutral and protecting only jihadis; for that lie I would in fact feel justified in killing them myself.

  36. …but if rooting for a future with fewer idiots in it is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

    Neither do I but I doubt we’ll have to worry about it. Idiocy is its own worst enemy in hard times.

    The gene pool will be cleansed.

  37. And if that sounded like a right-wing rant, I’m still not a conservative, and I find it extremely annoying that the Left keeps trying to push me into becoming one…

    Nobody’s trying to push you into becoming anything, it’s just painful to see someone denying his true nature. Let’s face it, your desire to see the state wither away has been put on hold until victory in the WoT, which is to say forever, so that’s no threat. The polyamory and paganism might make it difficult to sell you as a candidate in some states, but apart from that it’s just garnish. You’re bristling with weaponry, you believe blacks are intellectually inferior and homosexuals are paedophiles, and you’re only in favour of drug legalisation in order to cull the weak. For the GOP, what’s not to like? If they can swallow people as creepy as this you’d slide in there like a well-buttered cucumber.

  38. Fuckin’ a, who pissed in adrian’s wheaties? It wasn’t me, I was pissing in someone else’s.

    And from my perspective, it looks like your just defining ESR to be a conservative because, regardless of what he believes, he doesn’t believe the right things (or at least for the right reasons) vis-a-vis your doctrine — ergo, he’s part of the Cabal of Evil or WETF ya’ll are callin’ it these days.

  39. It wasn’t me, I was pissing in someone else’s.

    Did they notice?

    he’s part of the Cabal of Evil or WETF ya’ll are callin’ it these days.

    Obviously not. But they might take him. I think he’s underestimating the digestive powers of the Republican Party. OTOH, he’d have to rub shoulders with born-agains, and not everyone can do that and remain sane.

  40. I guess Eric is living proof that you can have your cake and eat it too, at least from the comfort of your own keyboard thousands of miles from any “real” action (kind of like the draft dodging chicken hawks in the current administration) — you can be opposed to the state yet its biggest cheerleader in its so-called War on Terror at the same time. Nice if you can get it and people will buy it, and while you’re at it, why not call yourself a libertarian too?

    Call me apathetic or cowardly, but at least I’m honest about talking a lot of crap online about stuff happening a long way away without “really” caring about much outside my own sheltered little world, and more to the point, knowing that’s exactly how it will stay.

  41. It’s actually spelled “just deserts”. And I find your views repugnant.

  42. Caleb, you sayin’ that the folks in the sandbox should be he ones callin’ the shots? I don’t think that’s going to have an outcome you’d desire.

    As for being opposed to the state — you ever heard of the saying “Don’t argue with the weather?” Now, I’m not saying take that literally and go 100% with it, but you gotta have some sense of compromise. In my heart of hearts, I think the state is an invalid institution. I also think that terrorism needs to be stamped out. And as it stands now, the institutions needed to support the latter come from the state. You gotta pick your battles, and, well, I’d rather we defeat terrorism first, and the state second.

    David D. Friedman once said something to the effect of “I don’t want to pay taxes at all, but I’d rather pay them to DC than Moscow. The rates are lower.” This was cold-war era, but the spirit of the statement is still applicable today. I’d rather be worrying about Uncle Sam, and not a Caliphate.

  43. >Caleb, you sayin’ that the folks in the sandbox should be he ones callin’ the shots? I don’t >think that’s going to have an outcome you’d desire.

    Indeed not. In-theater reenlistment rates are astonishingly high, and I’ve seen a news story that said 80% of the grunts on the ground voted for Bush in 2004. Both of the two people I’ve personally talked with who are serving military in Iraq are more pro-war than I am.

    And, by the way, David D. Friedman is a good friend of mine. I’ve never run across that quote before, but damned if it doesn’t sound exactly like him.

  44. I’d rather be worrying about Uncle Sam, and not a Caliphate.

    How do you see this Caliphate thing developing, then? Our host refuses to enlighten me. I can sort of imagine how whoever rules Saudi/Iraq/Kuwait could start to wield some serious influence in a Peak Oil-type scenario, but I’m told that the Invisible Hand of the Market will prevent any such silliness, and coal-to-liquid will keep the SUVs humming along nicely more or less indefinitely. So I can’t help wondering how these guys are going to extend their sinister beardy influence to your shores.

  45. >So I can’t help wondering how these guys are going to extend their sinister beardy >influence to your shores.

    My nightmare starts with a backpack nuke on the Smithsonian mall.

    I don’t think they can rule us. But if we don’t break them, they’re going to kill a lot more of us.

  46. My nightmare starts with a backpack nuke on the Smithsonian mall.

    I don’t think there are that many people who can make one (though their numbers will presumably increase), and those that are are aware that the retribution if one was used would be near-genocidal. Containers are a more serious vulnerability, though I see there are plans afoot to scan them all. I worry more about things like smallpox.

    I don’t think they can rule us. But if we don’t break them, they’re going to kill a lot more of us.

    Leaving them alone might reduce their motivation, though. And before you break out the Munich comparisons, remember it’s us that are currently occupying a chunk of them.

  47. >those that are are aware that the retribution if one was used would be near-genocidal.

    Indeed. One of the reasons I support the present war is that killing 50K of the jihadis now may keep them from mounting the city-killing attack that will really enrage the U.S.. Because if that happens, millions on millions of Arabs will die and my country will be transformed by its rage into something I won’t like.

    >Leaving them alone might reduce their motivation,

    No sale. We tried “leaving them alone” for decades. What we got for our forbearance started with the cold-blooded murder of Leon Klinghoffer and escalated to 9/11.

    These are not civilized people, Adrian. They’re barbarians — howling fanatics with a world view so close to psychopathology that I still find it difficult to comprehend even after having studied Islamic history for 31 years. Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, OBL’s mentor, once wrote of infidels: “There can no dialogue with them, save by the sword and the rifle.” Mainstream Salafists and Wahhabis and Deobandis really believe this!. It’s not just posturing.

    Being “reasonable” with barbarians like these doesn’t work; you have to make them fear you, and if you can’t make them fear enough you have to kill them as you would put down a rabid animal. I wish it wasn’t that way, but it is.

  48. Pete: I’m saying that I get sick of the armchair heroes who wouldn’t actually dream of going anywhere near where there’s some action. What I would also say, but didn’t in this case, was that I don’t believe anyone should be calling the shots over anyone else. I don’t believe in democracy or any other form of coercive government, whether it’s a tyranny of one, a few or the masses. That’s another issue though.

    Also, yes, maybe compromise is ultimately necessary. I don’t personally think so, but I can’t say I’m right for sure. I just think that once (so called) libertarians get into such politicking, they’re playing exactly the same game as the politicians and political parties they supposedly oppose. Likewise, once they start granting this concession or that concession to the state, it’s pretty hard to then turn around and start arguing against the state and for some sort of individual centred system. Furthermore, once they trade this moral high ground away, they lose anything worthwhile they may have stood for. After all, why would someone want to buy into some minor, ineffectual form of Republicanism? Why not just be a Republican and be done with it?

    Also, I don’t believe this whole argument of a Caliphate. I do indeed have major problems with Islam as a religion and/or culture, but then I also have problems with Christianity. At the end of the day though, the overwhelming majority of the west (with the exception of the U.S., and even large parts of that) is primarily secular humanist, not religious and it’s not about to become really religious in any form any time soon. The real threat comes from being out bred, not conquered, by Islam and even then, I think that may take a while to happen for us in the New World.

    The problem becomes that so long as people (including so-called libertarians) are arguing that they’d rather be ruled by D.C. (or any other western capital) than some foreign enemy, two things will happen. The first is that the local tyranny will wage a perpetual War on Whatever (Terror, Drugs, Poverty, you name it). It’s not in the interests of governments to solve problems, but only to be perceived to be attempting to solve problems. At the end of the day, if they solved problems they’d be out of their jobs, unless they discovered new problems that needed to be fought.

    The second thing that will happen, of course, is that so long as we’re being enticed to fight some foreign enemy, either directly or by proxy, we’ll never actually get around dealing with our local governments. So yeah, you guys can be all for reducing government, but you’ll never actually have to mean that because you’ll never actually get around to it because there will always be something more pressing to deal with. Hook, line and sinker.

    esr: Give me a break. Let’s look at what actually kills people in the west. More people die from lifestyle related causes (eg. smoking, poor eating, etc.) or from motor accidents or a whole host of industrial, recreational and domestic accidents. You’re all for advocating an incredibly costly war in Iraq because that’s necessary and good, yet I bet if anyone (eg. anyone on the left) started advocating fighting a War on Heart Disease and Childhood Obesity that “brought good eating habits to western populaces whilst fighting the Tobacco and Fast Food Company Insurgencies” you’d think they were either out of their minds or directly trying to threaten the western right to free choice and a free market model.

    Let’s put this in perspective. When the state is pulling some international stunt of civilising the savages or protecting national interests, you’re all for it. When it’s pulling some Euro-land stunt of trying to push some liberal/environmentalist/Euro-fag agenda on people, you’re up in arms. As Russ Nelson has said, try some internal consistency via anarcho-capitalist principles. Your hypocrisy astounds me.

  49. Wait, there are Westerners protesting the war who are doing so from within Iraq? Didn’t that stop with the “human shields” from when this war was gearing up?

    I find it hard to believe that there are people within Iraq whose opinion of the situation can be swayed by protesters who essentially followed them there. But, Christians can believe some wacky things…

    It does illustrate the futility of Islamic terrorism. They don’t seem to strike at targets that actually hinder their enemies’ ability to fight.

  50. >look at what actually kills people in the west.

    You can’t sensibly compare deaths that happen because of bad lifestyle choices to death the hands of some jihadi. Everyone has a right to go to hell in their own way, and a right not to be blown to hell for somebody else’s way.

  51. >civilising the savages

    Actually, as far as I was concerned, the savages were not a serious problem as long as they stuck to murdering and raping and mutilating each other. I don’t advocate “civilizing the savages” out of ideological capitulation to statism, I advocate it post-9/11 out of an elementary desire to survive. We must either civilize them or kill them, because otherwise they are going to kill us.

    If it takes cooperating with government to do that, I know better than you that it’s a devil’s bargain — but the alternative is worse.

    Same goes for U.S. national interests. I don’t fundamentally give a crap for what the U.S. government thinks its interests are, except insofar as those are proxies for the survival of myself and my neighbors.

    You’re confusing me with a conservative again. Don’t.

  52. One of the reasons I support the present war is that killing 50K of the jihadis now may keep them from mounting the city-killing attack that will really enrage the U.S.

    A stitch in time saves nine, eh? Sounds like an investment proposal. It may also just create 250k new ones in the process, increasing the chance that a few of them will devote ten years of their lives to planning something spectacular.

    No sale. We tried “leaving them alone” for decades. What we got for our forbearance started with the cold-blooded murder of Leon Klinghoffer and escalated to 9/11.

    They don’t appear to have felt very left alone. Ever since the Ottomans fell and people realised there was oil out there, interference by first Britain and France and later America has been the order of the day, including insuring some fairly shifty royal families against the exigencies of democracy. And Klinghoffer’s murder, however barbarous, really deserves to be placed more in the context of the Palestinian struggle against Israel than a generalised struggle of Islam against the West. I know it’s fashionable in the US to regard Israel as something other than a colonial project, but the Euros invented colonialism, and we know it when we see it.

    These are not civilized people, Adrian. They’re barbarians — howling fanatics with a world view so close to psychopathology that I still find it difficult to comprehend even after having studied Islamic history for 31 years. Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, OBL’s mentor, once wrote of infidels: “There can no dialogue with them, save by the sword and the rifle.” Mainstream Salafists and Wahhabis and Deobandis really believe this!. It’s not just posturing.

    They are a minority nevertheless, and they would be dealt with by other elements of their societies if there weren’t an element of truth in their perception of the relationship between the West and Islam.

  53. “You can’t sensibly compare deaths that happen because of bad lifestyle choices to death the hands of some jihadi. Everyone has a right to go to hell in their own way, and a right not to be blown to hell for somebody else’s way.”

    Does that include not wanting the government to tax you and then use your money to fight a war you don’t want? My point was along the lines of what Russ Nelson was saying here: http://blog.russnelson.com/politics/yes-i-can-blame-them.html

    How is that different from the government taxing you and then doing something else “in your interests”? If the government taxes you and then throws the money at some left wing cause you don’t like (whether it’s good for you or not is not the point) it’s exactly the same as the government taxing you and then throwing money at a right wing cause I don’t like (actually, I probably don’t like either cause). Likewise, whether the government suspends or infringes on civil liberties to promote a left wing agenda or a right wing agenda is not the point, it’s the fact that the government is doing it at all.

    Either you’re for the government running our lives for us or you’re not. If you are, then this whole so-called War on Terror is an inefficient farce and the money can be better spent if we’re trying to save lives. If you’re not for government running our lives, then you’re not and that’s pretty straight-forward. Yet it seems to me that both sides of politics whine incessantly about illegitimacy when government is serving someone else’s agenda, yet are either strangely silent or vocal advocates when government is promoting their own agenda. It just sounds like more of the same to me — people trying to have their cake and eat it too.

    “If it takes cooperating with government to do that, I know better than you that it’s a devil’s bargain — but the alternative is worse.

    Same goes for U.S. national interests. I don’t fundamentally give a crap for what the U.S. government thinks its interests are, except insofar as those are proxies for the survival of myself and my neighbors.”

    So, once again, you’re making decisions for other people here. How is that libertarian, and how is it fundamentally different in principle (forget the details for a second) to anything liberals and other assorted left-wingers want to do?

    It seems like you’re confusing yourself with a libertarian again. Don’t.

  54. Of course there’s “an element of truth in their perception of the relationship between the West and Islam.” They’re doing exactly what the Q’uran tells them to do — kill all the unbelievers who won’t convert.

    You’re also right that the hard-core nutcases are a minority. The reason they aren’t “dealt with by other elements of their society” is than in Islamic terms, they’re correct. They have all the best arguments. There is no principled interpretation of the Q’uran and Hadith from which to base a position of tolerance. The last school of Islamic law to try to do that (the Mu’tazilites) got massacred thirteen centuries ago.

    Islamic apologists sometimes claim otherwise when addressing Westerners, but they’re lying. Specifically, they’re applying a doctrine called “taqqiyya” under which it correct to lie to infidels in order to weaken their resistance to jihad.

    So when you say “If we leave them alone, they’ll leave us alone”, you’re wrong. You’re projecting a Western attitude and world-view onto them in a laughably naive way. Islam doesn’t work that way, any more than Communism or revolutionary Fascism did. All three world views require their adherents to subdue or kill the unbeliever. And even Muslims for whom that is only a theoretical obligation won’t stop the ones who want to put it into bloody practice.

    Which means that, as much as we might like to live and let live, we can’t. As we got reminded on 9/11, it only takes one side to make war. The other side’s choice is then limited to fighting or losing.

  55. Specifically, they’re applying a doctrine called “taqqiyya” under which it correct to lie to infidels in order to weaken their resistance to jihad.

    Surely they need another (possibly recursive) doctrine to lie about that in turn.

    So when you say “If we leave them alone, they’ll leave us alone”, you’re wrong.

    Rather than fluffybunny liberal multicultural hugs all round, by “leave them alone” I mean “aggressively pursue energy independence so that we can work towards being able to quarantine them if necessary”. Europe has special problems, but as well as colonialism they also invented pogroms, which could easily be revived given sufficient provocation.

    And even Muslims for whom that is only a theoretical obligation won’t stop the ones who want to put it into bloody practice.

    Most Muslim regimes are just far too insecure about the extent to which they’ve pimped themselves out to the West to really crack down on the hardliners, who represent integrity and incorruptibility to a lot of ordinary Muslims. Iran is the exception, of course – sadly the American government’s a prisoner of its own rhetoric there.

    As we got reminded on 9/11, it only takes one side to make war.

    That wasn’t war, whatever your brother says. War involves the military, not holes in the safety systems of the transportion infrastructure. You’ve taken it far too personally.

  56. Anybody remember that talk show host fired for saying “mainstream Islam is a terrorist organization” (http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=45887)?

    “If the Boy Scouts of America had 1,000 scout troops, and 10 of them practiced suicide bombings, then the BSA would be considered a terrorist organization. If the BSA refused to kick out those 10 troops, that would make the case even stronger. If people defending terror repeatedly turned to the Boy Scout handbook and found language that justified and defended murder – and the scoutmasters in charge simply said ‘Could be’ – the Boy Scouts would have driven out of America long ago.”

    Why is it that mainstream Muslims don’t renounce terrorist acts? The Council on American-Islamic Relations has never condemned attacks from Hamas or Hezbollah. It took three months before they would denounce al Quaida for 9/11. Why?

    Could it be that bin Laden is trying to become the Caliphate, that Muslims recognize this, and that they don’t know if they should support him (http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=6)? That seems like a good reason to me to be concerned about their American Idol talent search for a new Caliph.

    And what should we do? Make sure that Muslims realize bin Laden ain’t never gonna be Caliphate, and that no terrorist organization, not Hamas, not Hezbollah, not al Quaida, and not Zarqaui’s is ever going to have the ability to set up a Caliph by attacking the US. They can go after France all they want, but these colors don’t run.

  57. Why is it that mainstream Muslims don’t renounce terrorist acts? The Council on American-Islamic Relations has never condemned attacks from Hamas or Hezbollah.

    Despite the efforts of AIPAC, not everyone sees Israel’s Right To Expropriate Palestinian Land as being in the same league as Americans’ right not to have planes flown into their skyscrapers.

    Could it be that bin Laden is trying to become the Caliphate, that Muslims recognize this, and that they don’t know if they should support him (http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=6)?

    Bit of a long shot against a superpower with the hegemonic reach of the US, wouldn’t you say? IMO the Caliphate is the Muslim equivalent of ‘blue-sky thinking’, a sort of “wouldn’t it be nice if…?” game. Most of the activist/terrorist contingent are actually concentrating on more achievable goals.

    And what should we do? Make sure that Muslims realize bin Laden ain’t never gonna be Caliphate, and that no terrorist organization, not Hamas, not Hezbollah, not al Quaida, and not Zarqaui’s is ever going to have the ability to set up a Caliph by attacking the US.

    Good, good. How?

    They can go after France all they want, but these colors don’t run.

    I’m so impressed with yer manly rhetoric.

  58. /* Despite the efforts of AIPAC, not everyone sees Israel’s Right To Expropriate Palestinian Land as being in the same league as Americans’ right not to have planes flown into their skyscrapers.
    */

    It may suprise you that Israel has a better claim to that land than the Palestinians. First, the land within Israel’s 1948 borders was all purchased by Jewish settlers. The land outside the 1948 borders was taken as part Israel’s defense during wars with Arab countries. The Palestinians have as much right to that land as the Mexican government has to Western US.

    However, if the Palestinians had a leg to stand on, it seems that they ought to be going after soldiers or politicians and not targeting old ladies, little babies, or other noncombatants. CAIR claims it exists in order to be diplomats, but it has *never* renounced Hamas or Hezbollah for intentionally targeting buses because buses have more babies onboard than soldiers, and it took three months to get around to renouncing al Quaida for 9/11. That isn’t usually how diplomats work.

    /* IMO the Caliphate is the Muslim equivalent of ‘blue-sky thinking’, a sort of “wouldn’t it be nice if…?” game. Most of the activist/terrorist contingent are actually concentrating on more achievable goals.
    */

    That’s a nice opinion. What are those goals? Given the chance at Camp David, Palestinians didn’t take a two-state solution, because they didn’t want to live with a Jewish state anywhere in the Middle East. Of course, if Gaza is any indication, the PA is incapable of running a state. Is shipping Jews back to Europe (as suggested by Iran) an acheivable goal?

    There is a silver lining. The attack in Jordan killed Muslims, and Muslims killing Muslims is to be avoided at all costs ( http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/politics/khalifa.html#disobedience “Ghazali believed that a bad Khalifa should be borne to avoid the possible killing of Muslims.”). That attack may cause mainstream Islam to rethink whether bin Laden could be Caliph.

    /* [me]: And what should we do? Make sure that Muslims realize bin Laden ain’t never gonna be Caliphate, …

    [Ken]: Good, good. How?
    */

    “When motivated by the conviction that Allah guides their arm, suicidal bravery is routine. On the other hand, when the fortunes of a cause decline past a certain point, Arabs tend to consider the will of Allah to be manifest and abruptly abandon it.” ( http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=87 ).

    /* I’m so impressed with yer manly rhetoric.
    */

    I’m currently living in the South. It seems to rub off some.

  59. It may suprise you that Israel has a better claim to that land than the Palestinians. First, the land within Israel’s 1948 borders was all purchased by Jewish settlers.

    I’m sure the Israelis will be gratified to hear that you believe that all of it was. But many Palestinians left their still-personally-owned homes in 1948 in fear of being massacred, only to have it claimed that the confiscation of their land was ‘balanced’ by land abandoned by Jews who subsequently fled Arab countries as a result of the Palestinian expulsion. Some braver Israeli historians have been describing this as ethnic cleansing for a while now. And this idea that you can buy a bunch of land in another country and then have every right to declare independence is kind of weird, too.

    The land outside the 1948 borders was taken as part Israel’s defense during wars with Arab countries.

    Or offense, in the case of the West Bank.

    The Palestinians have as much right to that land as the Mexican government has to Western US.

    It’s not the Mexican *government* you want to worry about.

    That’s a nice opinion. What are those goals?

    Search me, I’m not one of them. “Evolving”, I imagine.

    Is shipping Jews back to Europe (as suggested by Iran) an acheivable goal?

    I don’t think that guy speaks for Iran particularly. He sounds like he’s got a *lot* of enemies.

    The Israelis are apparently talking about attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities in March, because they’ll be taking delivery of some difficult Russian AA system or something. Might be advisable not to be too long on real estate at that point.

    “When motivated by the conviction that Allah guides their arm, suicidal bravery is routine. On the other hand, when the fortunes of a cause decline past a certain point, Arabs tend to consider the will of Allah to be manifest and abruptly abandon it.”

    Very wise of them. But I wonder when that point will actually be reached in Iraq and the other theatres where Islamic terrorism is operating. And why am I “Ken” all of a sudden?

  60. How do you see this Caliphate thing developing, then? Our host refuses to enlighten me.

    Because, AFAICS, we gots plenty o’ peeps “on our side” who are A-OK with us gettin’ blown to frothy shit by Islamic fascists. And if we listen to them, that’s probably what’s gonna happen.

    Basically, there’s two kinds of logic to handling a guy who’s got a gun stuffed in your face. One is to submit, and try to assess what social conditions caused this man to turn to robbery, and what Corporate Cocksucker (TM) you need to stick it to to keep this from happening again.

    The other way is to take advantage of the fact that action beats reaction and deflect the gun, bash the punk’s face until your knuckles break, then smash his face on your knee, then stomp on his face with your foot, then drag his sorry ass across the street and smash his face in your car door, then slam his cock in your trunk and drive home with him face down, then cut his face off and save it as a mask for halloween, then eat his brains directly out of his skull, then hang his corpse from a lamp post with a sign saying “Crime doesn’t pay.”

    I guess it’s just a matter of taste, really.

  61. Caleb: you’re response is well thought out, but they knocked down the Twin Towers. It’s a matter of priorities, the perfect is the enemy of the good, yadda yadda. I’m just not inclined to sit around tinkering with the disassembly of the state while we’re getting blown up. Maybe you have a higher threshold than I do for this — two nuked cities, a couple nerve gas attacks, and you might say “OK, FTS. It’s time to kick ass and chew bubble gum, and I’m all out of bubble gum.” This is just another application of the principle of revealed preference, I suppose.

    Something to think about: I’m at a local park, and there’s a bunch of kids playing. Suddenly, a gunman appears and prepares to open fire on the crowd. I’m next to a small house with a rifle by the door. However, it is known to me that the owner of that rifle has expressly forbidden the use of it by any one for any purpose. I refuse to follow pure anarcho-capitalism in this situation — I’m not going to idly watch children get shot. I’ll snatch that rifle, property rights be damned, and put a round through the assailant’s brain box. And if that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.

  62. Basically, there’s two kinds of logic to handling a guy who’s got a gun stuffed in your face.

    Where’s this “gun”? All I see is speculation about “guns” that someone might have, one day. Or not. Maybe Saddam hid his in Assad’s underwear.

    The other way is to take advantage of the fact that action beats reaction and deflect the gun, bash the punk’s face until your knuckles break, then smash his face on your knee, then stomp on his face with your foot, then drag his sorry ass across the street and smash his face in your car door, then slam his cock in your trunk and drive home with him face down, then cut his face off and save it as a mask for halloween, then eat his brains directly out of his skull, then hang his corpse from a lamp post with a sign saying “Crime doesn’t pay.”

    What a rich fantasy life you have.

  63. >I’m just not inclined to sit around tinkering with the disassembly of the state while we’re getting blown up.

    Well put. Too many libertarians think their idealism somehow entitles them to a pass from reality.

    >What a rich fantasy life you have.

    I’ll take his fantasy over the surrender-is-good fantasy, or the if-we-just-reasoned-with-them fantasy, or the it’s-all-Bush’s-fault fantasy. At least in Pete’s fantasy the bad guys get some of what they like to hand out.

  64. I’ll take his fantasy over the surrender-is-good fantasy, or the if-we-just-reasoned-with-them fantasy, or the it’s-all-Bush’s-fault fantasy.

    Eight more strawmen and you’d have a soccer team. And don’t forget the turning-random-groups-of-middle-easterners-into-Jeffersonian-democrats-at-gunpoint fantasy. That’s one for the ages, that is.

  65. Best step lightly about the Jeffersonian-democrats “fantasy”, Adrian. Early estimates of the turnout in the Iraqi elections are pushing 85%. You might have to eat that fantasy yet. In fact, I’m increasingly confident that you will.

  66. Oh, I have no doubt they’ll *vote*. It’s where they go with it afterwards that I’m interested in.

  67. Sorry about the Ken thing. The odd part, of course, is that there was never a Ken in this discussion. I was posting comments on three blogs at the time, so it must have been related to that.

    /* [me] It may suprise you that Israel has a better claim to that land than the Palestinians. First, the land within Israel’s 1948 borders was all purchased by Jewish settlers.

    [adrian10] I’m sure the Israelis will be gratified to hear that you believe that all of it was. But many Palestinians left their still-personally-owned homes in 1948 in fear of being massacred, only to have it claimed that the confiscation of their land was ‘balanced’ by land abandoned by Jews who subsequently fled Arab countries as a result of the Palestinian expulsion.
    */

    I’ll have to study this. The pro-Palestinian source I got this from (a library book that I can’t remember the name of, but it did claim that there was never an Arab pogrom — see http://www.ornery.org/essays/warwatch/2002-04-29-1.html for info on an Arab pogrom), did concede that the Israeli settlers, although not exactly welcomed, did buy their land. The borders were created by that lovely UN. The interesting fact is that for a thousand years or so Arabs lived next to Jews just fine, because they were all poor together. It was only the immigration of wealthy, modern, European Jews that caused all the trouble, because they left Palestinians behind.

    /* And this idea that you can buy a bunch of land in another country and then have every right to declare independence is kind of weird, too.
    */

    Well, it was the UN that declared Israel’s legal independence under international law. The Jewish settlers bought the land, which set the borders, but the declaration come from the UN. Odd, of course, that the UN works so hard to undo its previous decision.

    /* [me] The land outside the 1948 borders was taken as part Israel’s defense during wars with Arab countries.

    [adrian10] Or offense, in the case of the West Bank.
    */

    Why was there an offense? It was a pre-emptive strike to improve the ability of a defense. I know this sounds odd, but if you look at a map of 1948 Israel, and think about putting a wall around it, you’ll realize that a meandering border is impossible to defend. By taking more land, Israel was able to form a shorter border, and thereby improve its defense. Land taken in war is, under international law, yours. It’s like Spain, the US, the Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico and the Phillipines. Or, as I said earler, the Western US and Mexico.

    Of course, it’s a bloody way to get land, but it’s also why a map of Europe looks the way it does ( http://www.ornery.org/essays/warwatch/2002-04-22-1.html ).

    /* The Israelis are apparently talking about attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities in March, because they’ll be taking delivery of some difficult Russian AA system or something. Might be advisable not to be too long on real estate at that point.
    */

    They did a good enough job against Iraq in the ’80s. Civilization didn’t end then either.

  68. I have to join the first commentator in confusion as to why Pat Robertson is included there; I don’t necessarily agree with the guy, but his basic stance is very right-wing, which is to say that in this particular issue, the War on Terror, I would think he opposes the CPT (if he’s aware of them) as well.

    Someone may have mentioned this already… but hopefully if the CPT hostages survive the ordeal, they will rethink some of their previously-held positions about the insurgents terrorists and their cause…

  69. Why was there an offense? It was a pre-emptive strike to improve the ability of a defense. I know this sounds odd, but if you look at a map of 1948 Israel, and think about putting a wall around it, you’ll realize that a meandering border is impossible to defend. By taking more land, Israel was able to form a shorter border, and thereby improve its defense.

    So if you have a defensive excuse offense is really defense? I see.

    Land taken in war is, under international law, yours.

    When a treaty’s been signed by the loser giving up all title to the land, sure. I suspect that may not have happened here.

    They did a good enough job against Iraq in the ’80s. Civilization didn’t end then either.

    It’s not civilisation so much as the American housing bubble. Also, the Iranians seem to have taken quite a lot of notes on what happened to Osirak, and the Iraqis couldn’t close the Straits of Hormuz. But let’s hope you’re right!

  70. Adrian: please clarify your solution to the problem of terrorism.

    Get a sense of proportion about it. See the Russ Nelson blog post Caleb’s linked to upthread, for example. Put serious money into energy alternatives instead of pissing it away in Iraq, so we can reduce our dependence on the Middle East. Reducing our need to interfere there will make us less vulnerable and them less irritable, as well as enabling us to stop prating about democracy while supporting a bunch of kings, which looks bad. Stop saying things like “Caleb: you’re response is well thought out, but they knocked down the Twin Towers” – it shows you’re so in thrall to the symbolism of the act that you’ve bought into the idea of declaring war on an abstract noun. Try to imagine considering 9/11 as a spectacular *crime*, rather than an act of war.

    Course, all of this will probably sound like “surrender” given your colourful imagery about what you’d like to do to someone who’s (apparently) “got a gun stuffed in your face”. I think emotional sunk costs are even harder to write off than financial ones for a lot of people.

  71. Way to go, adrian10, for bringing a dose of much-needed honesty to the wolves in sheep’s clothing that tend to frequent these parts… who think the only solution for American violence and treachery is more of the same.

    Understanding the HEGEMONIC praxis of American foreign policy is step number one in understanding the root cause of “Islamofascist” terrorism.

  72. Adrian: Filtering out your personal attacks, I infer your solution to the problem of terrorism to be:

    Get a sense of proportion about it. See the Russ Nelson blog post Caleb’s linked to upthread, for example. Put serious money into energy alternatives instead of pissing it away in Iraq, so we can reduce our dependence on the Middle East. Reducing our need to interfere there will make us less vulnerable and them less irritable, as well as enabling us to stop prating about democracy while supporting a bunch of kings, which looks bad.

    As I see it, your first argument is, in essence, that the threat of terrorism is sufficiently small that it can be ignored. This is based on the assumption that the damage wrought by terrorism will remain relatively constant. This is obviously not true. To completely ignore terrorism would be to fully comply with it. If you comply with criminals, you decrease the risk associated with the profession of crime, and increase the supply of criminals (of which terrorists are a subset). You cannot “safely ignore terrorism” any more than you can “safely ignore crime.” It is clear that some measure of defense is necessary to keep terrorism at bay.

    What is not clear is what the nature of that defense should be. Ideally, we would want to spend just as much on fighting terrorism as it would cost us to ignore it. The difficulty is assessing what the cost of ignoring it actually would be, and how much it actually costs us to utilize a particular method of defense. The principle of revealed preference indicates, to me at least, that this question will never be objectively resolved.

    I believe Russ Nelson comes from an anarcho-capitalist perspective, as do I and ESR. We all agree (at least tenuosly) that the appropriate defensive measures would best be provided by the free market. In fact, we tend to feel this way about all things. But we do not live in an anarcho-capitalist society, so in practice, we compromise. If an orphanage were to catch fire, I don’t think you’d find any of us objecting to the local emergency response time rescuing the children because we object to the forcible redistribution of funds from our wallets to state insitutions. Terrorism is a similar situation, in that we are faced with a problem which our society currently handles through state institutions, and for which there is not a viabled free market alternative. I think it’s fair to disagree about whether or not pursuing our current strategy against terrorism is worth the cost, but to argue that it is unjust to fund this pursuit with “stolen” money is to implicitly argue that firemen should ignore burning orphanages.

    In short, the un-justifying of this war because it is funded through taxpayer dollars is a moot point. All that matters is how much you think this war costs us vis-a-vis how much you think this war saves us. Unless, of course, you want to argue about morals: we should turn the other cheek, war is not the answer, etc. To which I offer: bleat louder. That helps to take the attention off me.

    This all ties into your argument about pursuing alternative energy, in that you feel that will provide a more favorable cost benefit ratio than our current course of action. This is an intriguing possibility, but my own research into the matter has convinced me that it is not the case. However, perhaps I have missed something. Could you create a nice writeup introducing me to your strategy?

  73. Hey, biggity-biggity-bitch boy. (i.e., Jeff). Get it right — I ain’t in sheep’s clothing, and I ain’t a wolf. For reference, your bleating indicates that you are a member of the species bovidae ovis. The terrorists, on the other hand, are the wolves. See exhibit a: http://www.4th25.com/video/nepaleseexecutions.wmv

    (BTW — Abu Grahib? Ja, STFU NOOB!!!11ONE)

    But what am I? I, mon ami am a sheep dog. I cause you psychological discomfort, because my presence reminds you that there is evil in this world. The knife in my pocket, the gun under my pillow — it’s all an unpleasant reminder that you are unprepared to defend your life and your loved ones from the forces of evi. In fact, that phrase “forces of evil” maddens you.

    But do me a favor — bleat a little more softly. My friends in blue and green could do without the distraction while they bust their ass to make sure you and yours are safe.

    “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

    — George Orwell

  74. I read that Whittle essay, too. Get over yourself. With financial ties to both the bin Laden family and Saudi royalty, the Shrub administration is hardly a staunch and stalwart enemy of the terrorists. You don’t cause me any psychological discomfort — the hegemonic and profiteering practices of the current junta wrapped in the big lie that it’s all about defense from the barbarians at the gates does.

  75. Adrian: Filtering out your personal attacks,

    There’s some people around here who *really* need to grow some skin. When I said “Try to imagine considering 9/11 as a spectacular *crime*”, was that a personal attack? I meant it when I said you were in thrall to the symbolism, you’ve inflated an audacious but very one-off use of complacent airline security into a freaking paradigm shift.

    I’m not saying terrorism should be ignored. There are clearly some people out there who would like very much to lay some more spectacular crap on us, and the chances of their finding a way to do so are likely to increase over time. But the best way to see that they lose support in their home countries would be to encourage the development of autonomy in some slightly less self-interested ways than is being done in Iraq, where the American government seems to be more up for a pliable client state which will host bases indefinitely than a real democracy which could go its own way. What’s more, real democracy in most of the Middle East is going to have an Islamic flavour, and it would be good to find ways to deal with that, without getting all peecee about stuff like women’s rights simply to get up their noses either.

    Is this surrender? Are you happy with trying to militarily intimidate the region into guaranteeing us the oil we need at a price which suits our economy rather than theirs, for as long as we feel necessary? Because AFAICT that’s what you’re proposing.

    If an orphanage were to catch fire, I don’t think you’d find any of us objecting to the local emergency response time rescuing the children because we object to the forcible redistribution of funds from our wallets to state insitutions. Terrorism is a similar situation, in that we are faced with a problem which our society currently handles through state institutions, and for which there is not a viabled free market alternative.

    This is kind of a stretch. You seem to be grabbing orphanages for the emotional appeal, but they sound like state institutions – ‘under’ anarchy, children would just be adopted as far as I can imagine, unless they were ugly in which case Spartan methods might make a comeback. Terrorism also generally strikes me as a response to state actions, and would be kind of pointless in any notional post-state era, merely leading to a quick pogrom against any disaffected minority dumb enough to try it. I also don’t think terrorists are a subset of criminals – they certainly get involved in crime, like the IRA, but criminals can mainly be understood as economic actors, whereas if anyone’s got an economic analysis that covers terrorism I’d like to see it.

    I think it’s fair to disagree about whether or not pursuing our current strategy against terrorism is worth the cost, but to argue that it is unjust to fund this pursuit with “stolen” money is to implicitly argue that firemen should ignore burning orphanages.

    Wasn’t my argument. I just reckon the current strategy against terrorism is really a strategy to provoke everlasting terrorism, war being the health of the state and all that.

    Unless, of course, you want to argue about morals: we should turn the other cheek, war is not the answer, etc.

    Did I do a John Lennon imitation somewhere? War is the answer when you get attacked by a *state*, sho’nuff.

    This all ties into your argument about pursuing alternative energy, in that you feel that will provide a more favorable cost benefit ratio than our current course of action. This is an intriguing possibility, but my own research into the matter has convinced me that it is not the case.

    Do you think the “reduction” in the oil price caused by having what Iraqi production has been available on line has made up for the 200 billion invested? Sounds like a pretty big cost-benefit ratio to me, though you may be factoring in homeland terrorist acts possibly avoided by keeping the jihadis busy elsewhere, taking us deep into fuzzy number territory.

    However, perhaps I have missed something. Could you create a nice writeup introducing me to your strategy?

    Interesting, er, “tone” there. I’m afraid the funding for my own personal think-tank hasn’t come through yet. Are you leading up to saying that if I haven’t got a detailed plan for you to pick holes in then I should just shut up and let Bush get on with the fine job he’s doing of rooting out beardiness wherever it may lurk? Going to have to disappoint you there.

    The knife in my pocket, the gun under my pillow — it’s all an unpleasant reminder that you are unprepared to defend your life and your loved ones from the forces of evi(l).

    If you’ve yet to use them in anger you’re still kind of in the wannabe category, though. I’ve got a great climbing axe on the wall myself, which I found in an abandoned shed near here. Of course, home invasion burglaries being a little rare in this part of Japan, it’s probably going to stay where it is.

  76. Jeff: Grossman, not Whittle. Sorry, I win.

    Adrian: it seems like you argued everything except for my argument. What follows is your thesis, as near as I can figure it, and my rebuttal:

    Wasn’t my argument. I just reckon the current strategy against terrorism is really a strategy to provoke everlasting terrorism, war being the health of the state and all that.

    If it wasn’t your argument, then you shouldn’t have invoked Russ Nelson’s post, wherein he posed that argument. Moving on: why will this provoke everlasting terrorism? Afghanistan has improved, Iraq has improved — terrorism is losing the vital sponsorship of states. It follows that our current strategy will reduce terrorism. What did I miss?

  77. Russ didn’t say anything in that post about the WoT being a deliberate strategy to keep terrorism going, though he may well have done elsewhere – he says “(the authorities) know what they are doing”, that’s all. His point seemed to be that working towards energy independence would be more productive than sending the US military out to beat on people, which I agree with.

    Anyway, I’m glad you feel safer. But Afghanistan is just out of the news, the poppy crop is said to be very good indeed, and the President is basically Mayor of Kabul. Iraq is AFAICT waiting to see what the results of the negotiations following the election will be. If the Shia and Kurds don’t succumb to the arm-twisting that’s doubtless going on behind the scenes and condescend to share a fair chunk of oil revenue with the Sunnis, we’re likely back to civil war. And then there’s the Iran situation, which looks like it could overtake everything else. But hey, if everything’s mellow and peacable in a year I’ll concede that you’re right, no matter how much Eric smirks.

    I don’t reckon the sponsorship of states is necessarily all that vital for the way terrorism is going, either. Do you reckon Saddam’s retirement bonus for Palestinian suicide bombers had that many takers? Groups within states will suffice. Failed states make handy marshalling areas, too. The problem is that there’s now a group of people not affiliated with any one state who are willing to take a *very* long view about acquiring the means to do us harm, and they undoubtedly want to swing something a lot worse than 9/11 for dramatic purposes. Continuing the “current strategy” (Invading Syria? Massive cruise missile strikes against Iranian hardened sites?) won’t stop them. They’ll just quietly get on with doing degrees in engineering or molecular biology, waiting for their opportunities. And the chaos which the current strategy will unleash if it continues will make their work much easier even as it confirms their belief in the righteousness of their cause.

  78. Pete: I think your response (and philosophy regarding this whole so-called War on Terror) is quite over done. Just because we’re not advocating an all out war of “The West versus the Rest” doesn’t mean that those of us opposed to this WoT are advocating complete surrender. The world is full of shades of grey, and as has been mentioned already, the current U.S. administration is hardly some lily white champion of freedom anyway. The hypocrisy in who it deals with is plain to see to anyone and everyone, which is part of the problem.

    The best way to solve the problem of terror and fanatics of any kind is to stop fuelling their fire. Improve the lot of the average guy via free trade and bring him up into the middle class (or close to it) and it simply won’t be in his interests to promote war, terror or any other sort of destruction because he’ll have too much to lose. Likewise, by distancing ourselves from despotic regimes and the products or services they have to offer, we distance ourselves from the problem too.

    I know all of this sounds terribly idealistic, but plenty of nations around the world (some western, some not) have been fighting terrorism for a long time. Get some perspective and get over the idea that 9/11 is somehow the only terrorist attack to have ever occurred and that it’s somehow carte blanche to play world cowboy. Did Britain invade Turkey (and have a hitlist of unconnected “bad guys” to follow up with) when one of its banks was attacked two years ago? Did Australia go and bomb the crap out of Indonesia (and Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, etc. just for good measure) because its embassy was attacked or a whole lot of tourists died in some night club by some suicide bombers? I know they’re both intimately involved in the War on Terror, which is more than enough for me, but at least they had some perspective not to want to go and unleash hellfire. Generally, the nations that have dealt more successfully with terrorism have generally found that going into some place and occupying it, running it by proxy or turning it into a war zone rarely solves much. Sure, that approach looks like you’re doing something and it satiates the immediate public desire for revenge, but these problems get solved by a few hundred or thousand specialists, not in some pissing contest that costs billions and involves hundreds of thousands.

    Finally, I just get sick of the so-called “libertarians” or “anarcho-capitalists” being the biggest cheerleaders for the state. If you want to run your own War on Terror with your own group of friends privately, then fine — do that and deal with all it entails — but don’t try to rope me into it under some statist propaganda. Be honest with yourself and stop trying to have your cake and eat it too.

  79. Caleb,

    Neither Britain nor Australia have the sheer firepower, the pure unfettered potential for coercion, that the United States does.

    When all you have is a hammer, everything starts looking like a nail…

  80. I ususally take the weekend off. While this post will seem off-topic, it really is on topic:

    /* [me] Why was there an offense? It was a pre-emptive strike to improve the ability of a defense. …

    [adrian10] So if you have a defensive excuse offense is really defense? I see.
    */

    When the tanks are rolling toward your borders, then yes.

    /* [me] Land taken in war is, under international law, yours.

    [adrian10] When a treaty’s been signed by the loser giving up all title to the land, sure. I suspect that may not have happened here.
    */

    It did. Gaza, the West Bank, and other “occupied territories” were nabbed by Israel in the Six Day War, *and* the Six Day War was ended with a normal ceasefire/peace treaty ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six-Day_War#Conclusion_of_conflict_and_post-war_situation — no, you don’t have to accept Wikipedia, but it’s hard to deny that a ceasefire/peace treaty was signed).

  81. Adrian: sorry, I didn’t read what I quoted of yours properly, specifically as it pertains to intent.

    As for the rest: this is out of hand for the comments section of Eric’s blog. I’m working on a posting for my blog which will continue this. In the interest of productive debate, I’d appreciate it if my opponents would post the following:

    a) Why do you think the current anti-terrorism strategy pursued by the USA and the Coalition hurts us more than it helps us?

    b) What approach to handling terrorism do you think helps us more than it hurts us?

    I know this feels redundant, but this way, there’s no way I can misinterpret your previous comments — this rules out the (usually inevitable) first round of debate, wherein positions are clarified.

  82. Jeff: Well, aside from the lack of public support, Britain could still throw its weight around a little, certainly with a country like Turkey. Australia, on the other hand, couldn’t do squat, which is why I think it should be more like New Zealand with regards to foreign policy.

  83. Pete: Here’s an excellent article on just why all you so-called libertarians who support the War on Terror are way off mark, certainly as libertarians. http://www.ncc-1776.org/tle2005/tle348-20051218-03.html

    In response to your questions though, here’s my response:

    a) For several reasons. Firstly it’s about as subtle as a sledgehammer and it antagonises a lot of the people it’s supposed to be helping. It’s quite possibly one of the best terror recruiting tools there is.

    Secondly, it costs a lot of taxpayer money.

    Thirdly, it allows the insidious creep of the state ever more into the lives of ordinary citizens (see that article above). You know, you’ve got to lose freedom to fight for freedom… That old oxymoron.

    b) First and foremost, dismantling government and going completely free market. That’s a solution not just to The War on Terror but pretty much every other state concocted War on Whatever, such as the War on Drugs.

    At least get some politicians who are accountable. Show me a politician anywhere who is. When was the last time any politician in the west really had to bear the brunt of his insane fiscal policy, rampant abuse of civil liberties or military adventurism? The last I heard, most of them retired very much alive and with bank balances even more healthy. The same can’t be said for many of the people they supposedly “served”.

    Realising that the state is not about to be dismantled any time soon though, here are some other ideas:

    1. Encourage free trade. I mean real free trade, not what masquerades as it now. Getting people out of poverty is the single best way to make people far more moderate politically and religiously. The middle class have too much to lose to want to be extreme and they don’t tend to like people who want to threaten that for them. Without at least tacit support or the turning of a blind eye by the local populace, terrorists literally would have nowhere to run or hide.

    2. Stop supporting foreign dictators that are “on your side” whilst talking all this rhetoric about getting rid of foreign dictators you don’t like. Some consistency might make the moral high ground actually look moral.

    3. Make Islamic extremists and that whole arse-backwards part of the world completely irrelevant by investing heavily in R&D in, and then a transition to, alternative energy sources. Of course, this could be handled really well by the private sector if only big business and big government weren’t so intimately involved. Yeah, if only.

    4. Rather than sending in thousands and thousands of troops and lots of really expensive whiz-bang machines with minimal training and ability to deal with the real terror networks (something that causes a problem along the lines of my first two points under a) above), you could pour all of that military spending into training a few thousand really effective special ops and intelligence agents and still have a bundle of money left over. Republicans and their ilk are supposedly all for tax cuts; there’s a pretty big opportunity for a pretty big tax cut right there.

    5. Related to 1-4 is the notion of letting go of this notion of empire/world watchdog/national interests or whatever else you want to call it. There’s a really good reason why Canada, New Zealand or Finland aren’t high up on the “to do” list of international terrorists. They all have pretty high standards of living and they’re pretty safe, chilled out places, despite having problems with rampant socialism themselves. Don’t give me the “they can enjoy that because America is protecting them” line. That’s simply not true.

    Those are a start anyway.

  84. Caleb, did you read my previous comment explaining why rigorously opposing any state action leads to undesirable conclusions? AFAICS, that is 80% of what the linked-to article argues, and I believe I have rebutted it effectively. I want to make sure I’m not missing anything.

    The rest poses some moral questions which I have not yet addressed, but will do so later.

  85. It did. Gaza, the West Bank, and other “occupied territories” were nabbed by Israel in the Six Day War, *and* the Six Day War was ended with a normal ceasefire/peace treaty ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six-Day_War#Conclusion_of_conflict_and_post-war_situation — no, you don’t have to accept Wikipedia, but it’s hard to deny that a ceasefire/peace treaty was signed).

    Fine, but who signed for the Palestinians? What body had any right to give up their claims for them? Jordan?

  86. /* [adrian10] Fine, but who signed for the Palestinians? What body had any right to give up their claims for them? Jordan?
    */

    Since Palestine did not exist as a country, the people signing for the Palestinians were the leaders of the countries that had owned the territory. That’s what you’d expect under international law. Otherwise the Civil War could not have ended without signatures from every American Indian chief in the affected areas of the country.

    Egypt signed over Gaza and Sinai, and Jordan signed over the West Bank. Israel has left Gaza and Sinai, and has offered to leave the West Bank if the Palestinians promise to police the terrorists based there. If the terrorists *only* want a free West Bank, I can’t see why the PLO refuses to make any promises in that regard.

    Unless the terrorists would keep attacking Israel even as Israel was meeting their demands. Why would that be?

  87. Pete: I did read the response to which you refer. However, I don’t think you rebutted anything successfully because there was a glaring internal inconsistency. In the same paragraph you both claimed to follow anarcho-capitalism and then went on to champion the state. You can’t have it both ways. I know you’re trying to be realistic, and in that sense you are perhaps right (whether you are right or wrong on this is not what interests me since I’m not really a libertarian myself). I’m just curious as to how or why you want to argue that you’re a libertarian and then argue for the state at every turn. Is it that calling oneself a libertarian adds some sort of uber-cool, underground mystique?

    On the matter of that article, the whole point of that article is that if you give government an inch it will take a mile. It’s the thin edge of the wedge and all of that nonsense of having to give up freedom to fight for it. It reminds me of people who claim to be pro-free speech but then say something like, “…but that goes too far. It’s indecent.” Next thing, they’re complaining when censorship comes and has a go at something they like but others don’t.

    Don’t try to justify the necessity of the War on Terror being run by the government and then complain about the left when they have power again and want to run their own pet projects such as attacking the 2nd, PC bullshit, revisionist/racist/sexist history that all white males are the devil incarnate, environmental scare campaigns or expanding welfare to name but a few. At the core of it, it’s all the same, whether it comes from the left or the right. It’s all about someone else telling you what to do because they know what’s good for you and you don’t. Yet you make excuses when the right do that.

    In particular, that article argued that the times of greatest government expansion are war times, and that it’s therefore in the government’s interests to be fighting a war on something on someone, and to either continue it indefinitely, or start a new one. You didn’t refute that at all.

  88. Caleb: in large part, you’re arguing past me.

    Beginning with the libertarian thing: you appear to have an immovable definition of a libertarian as, essentially, an anarcho-capitalist who is utterly convinced of the superiority of his system, and refuses to live in an un-anarcho-capitalistic way whatsoever — despite the fact that in popular circles, it refers to someone who believes in minimalist government, not anarchy. Very well. I have no wish to argue with you over this. I’m now a “Heinlein Conservative.” Hope that’s cool with you.

    Moving on:

    I’m aware that governments like to grow, and especially so during war. This is why I’d like to eliminate government, if possible, and avoid war, if possible. But if eliminating government isn’t possible, I’ll focus on containing it. And if war is necessary, I’ll focus on preventing a loss in liberty at home. I define war as being necessary when the cost we will suffer from not waging war exceed the costs we will suffer from waging war. These costs are monetary and otherwise — i.e., reduced freedom. There is no logical inconsistency here, and please provide any quotes wherein I “champion the state.”

    Your pro-free-speech analogy is poor. You must first define to what extent an individual is pro-free-speech before you can determine if a given action on their behalf is hypocrisy. If someone is pro-free-speech so long as it is not both deceitful and causes severe economic harm to another party, then there are circumstances in which their position that someone has “gone too far” produces no logical inconsistency whatsoever.

    I can’t really make sense of your next paragraph. Are arguing that all actions by the state are equal? Please clarify.

    As to your last point: I didn’t refute it because I didn’t disagree with it.

    I’d like to make one observation about a difference I perceive between the two of us. You are an absolutist. If someone says they like freedom of speech, you insist that that person insists on absolute freedom of speech at all times, period. If someone says they like the absence of government, you insist that that person insists on the complete absence of government at all time period. Please tell me:

    1) Is this correct?

    2) If yes, why do you feel this way?

    3) What absolutes do you hold yourself to, if applicable?

    I am not an absolutist, and I believe that, thus far, our debate has entirely been a matter of us butting heads on this fundamental disagreement. Ergo, I seek clarification.

  89. Since Palestine did not exist as a country, the people signing for the Palestinians were the leaders of the countries that had owned the territory. That’s what you’d expect under international law. Otherwise the Civil War could not have ended without signatures from every American Indian chief in the affected areas of the country.

    I meant who signed for the Palestinians who fled Israel in 1948 after Deir Yassin and sundry other acts of overenthusiasm? Obviously the West Bank was Jordan’s responsibility.

  90. Pete: Which popular circles are we talking about here? I would say the popular definition of a libertarian is, “huh? A what?” For those who know of or about libertarians though, the definition is probably “a bunch of completely unrealistic gun-toting wackos who want to legalise drugs and don’t want to pay tax because they’re stingy”. I would say though that amongst libertarians, certainly the ones I’ve encountered, they tend much more towards being anarchists than minimalists. Generally, the reason seems to be for both practical and ideological reasons. They typically argue that practically, there’s no way to keep a minimalist system minimal. Ideologically, they argue that a minimalist system still has to use some level of force, especially in order to finance itself, the initiation of force being something libertarians don’t seem to like. Maybe that is a very hardline view I have, and maybe the sorts of libertarians I’ve read on the internet are the more extreme kind. Maybe you’re right that most are minimalists, although it still seems grossly problematic as a definition then based upon both the practical and ideological considerations above.

    Moving on:

    Surely though a libertarian has to believe that eliminating government is possible, which is yet another reason I don’t call myself a libertarian — I actually believe the vast majority of people don’t want to be free and actually fear and despise that, and as such, will always prevent it from happening. When I say that as a libertarian, surely you have to believe in the possibility of eliminating government, here I’m not talking about being completely blind to various possibilities, but more the kind of acknowledgement that whilst it’s possible that government may always exist, ultimately it won’t happen. Otherwise, it seems like having a bet each way, just to be safe. I don’t have a problem with that if that’s your thing. After all, it doesn’t affect me really. I’m just saying there is at least one absolute involved (ultimately, you’re either free or you’re not, just like you’re either pregnant or you’re not) and there’s a mutual exclusivity.

    You ask me where you champion the state? You did so in the very paragraph where you asked me by taking a “the lesser of two evils” approach. I’m not saying this is as bad as someone who actively does the dirty work of the state, I’m just saying that short of refusing to comply with the state at all, we’re all supporting the state, which is why I don’t call myself a libertarian. Working with(in) the system or choosing the lesser of two evils is all part of the problem as long as people work with(in) the system, there will always be a system to work with(in).

    Of course, from another angle, I don’t believe this War on Terror is necessary because it costs taxpayers a tremendous amount, and I don’t think the return on that is worth it. I think you’re buying into the whole program, but then you think I’m buying into some other program.

    With pro-freedom of speech, you’re either pro or you’re anti. How do you define decitful (and why not let the truth or truthful parties speak for itself/themselves)? How do you define severe economic harm? What’s severe and what’s only moderate or even minor? While we’re at it, if it can cause someone economic harm, why not some other form of harm? Trying to moderate free speech based on any of these is like trying to built a house on shifting sands.

    Obviously, I’m not trying to say that all actions by the state are equal. Obviously I’d rather only lose a finger than an arm, but actually, I’d rather lose neither. What I’m disputing is the right for the state to intervene in anyone’s life. In order to differentiate between needing money for a war and needing money for a welfare program, you need to essentially say that one is right and wrong, and then government is enforcing morality. That’s really problematic for the sorts of practical and ideological reasons I outlined right at the start when discussing minimalism.

    Fair enough regarding government’s expansion during war time, but that begs the question of how you propose to end government, if at all.

    Regarding your observation of me being an absolutist, you’re correct in some ways. Generally, I’m not an absolutist. I think I’m probably fairly undecided about a lot of things political, philosophical and religious (which still never stopped me from arguing about them though).

    As to the two points you mentioned though, I think you’re right that I am, however, I think it’s probably to do with semantic reasons and I’m often really picky about those. For example, it’s like talking about being half omniscient or half pregnant. It’s bound up in the definitions that these are absolutes.

    Why do I feel this way? A couple of possibilities, other than it being correct, are that I’m really uptight, or that I don’t like all the double-speak of politics. Maybe it’s always been this way, but it seems to be a major problem with where the west has been at for the better part of the past century in an intellectual sense. You don’t strike me as being like that (not that I’d know, and not that you’d probably care), it’s just that it seems common for a lot of people to profess some membership or adherence to this or that, but there seems to be a real underlying insincerity to a lot of what passes as our modern culture, but maybe that’s just the human condition.

    Maybe I’m just really cynical.

    As to what absolutes I hold myself to, I’d say we’re talking about a pretty deep survey of the/my human condition and I would say I don’t know really, or that I’m deeply cynical and/or nihilistic when you get right down to it, although in other ways I’m optimistic, and others still, pragmatic. I’m not just dodging the question. Maybe it would be nice to be certain about things, and maybe a lot of people really are, but I don’t have that, so I sort of run with whatever I come up with for want of a better reason.

    At one level, I would say on many things, I’ve never really been in the position where I’ve had to make an ethical decision, so I honestly can’t say, for instance, “I’d never murder someone”, or even truly why it is an ethical decision and one choice is good or another bad. On others, I’ve changed my mind or made rash decisions or deliberately acted against my own principles for some other sort of gain. I’ve been good and bad, honest and dishonest like most of the human race, and I keep making the same mistakes. It doesn’t make them right of course, it just means that I’m pretty typical really. I don’t profess to be an incredibly moral person, or even just moral, although in one sense, we’re all act upon some sort of morality (I’m just not sure what mine is). I’d say I don’t know much about anything really, least of all myself.

    I don’t know if any of that was what you were looking for or even if it made much sense.

  91. /* I meant who signed for the Palestinians who fled Israel in 1948 after Deir Yassin and sundry other acts of overenthusiasm?
    */

    Deir Yassin took place twenty years before Egypt tried to invade Israel, so the issue wasn’t at play.

    If we’re going to paw through dirty laundry, then this thread will never end.

  92. Getting back to the topic, I consider Eric’s take on Christian Peacemaker Teams very wrong in at least two senses. First, CPT does work to prevent violence in Iraq, specifically by supporting and encouraging non-violent problem solving by Iraqis and Muslims. CPT has fostered non-violent peacemaking in the Muslim community. I don’t know what “code” you think you have read on the CPT web site, but the idea that CPT condones, or accepts, violence on behalf of some “Jihad” simply does not hold water. CPT does make no bones about supporting the innocent Iraqis caught in the middle of the war; of the work they do which you complain “hinders” coalition forces, most consists of documenting errors and abuses (including the abuses at abu Ghraib) committed by the coalition.But your argument has an even deeper flaw, one which both invalidates the thrust of your argument, and raises questions about your committment to individual freedom. CPT members do not go to Iraq based on a misguided sense of exemption from violence. CPT has, from the beginning, accepted the risks of doing peace work. We generally call a willingness to accept a serious risk for something you believe in courage, and most societies understand the need to value it, even in their enemies, because in the long run a society cannot survive without courage. But if you sneer at the courage of people who oppose your ideology or your government, then you effectively make government the arbitrator of morality, able to relieve you of any obligation to respect what most people, through most of history, have regarded as a virtue. That position makes you more of a thrall to government than anything I can think of. And you didn’t have to take that position. You could have taken the honourable, non-statist high road, accepted that courage merits honour, even in someone you oppose, You could have made mst of the arguments about the danger you consider a Jihad poses to your country, leaving out only the unworthy bile you have sprayed at a great many very brave men and women.

  93. /* CPT has, from the beginning, accepted the risks of doing peace work.
    */

    But then said “If it weren’t for Bush, we wouldn’t have been here, and our guys wouldn’t have been kidnapped.”

    But, by the same token, if it weren’t for Saddam, or for CPT’s way of doing business, or even the pilot that flew the people over, or for CPT’s people deciding to go down that street, then this wouldn’t have happened. Why single out Bush?

  94. > But then said “If it weren’t for Bush, we wouldn’t have been here, and our guys
    > wouldn’t have been kidnapped.”

    My main point relates to exactly that distinction: questions of personal honour and virtue, versus political judgement. You have every right to disagree with the judgement that holds George Bush’s policies responsible for the need for a CPT presence in Baghdad. That has nothing to do with the reality that, whoever they hold responsible for the problems in Iraq, the members of CPT who go there understand the risks very well, and they accept those risks in order to serve. That makes them brave and self-sacrificing, whatever you may think of their politics.

    Put it another way: I view the Vietnam war as a tragic error: in the words of Brigadier Telford Taylor, I consider it an “American tragedy”. But if anyone ever spray-painted “Darwin in action” on the Canadian Vietnam Veteran’s memorial in Windsor, I’d line up with a donation to clean and restore it. Because whatever my political judgement, that memorial represents honourable people, doing their best for a cause they believed in. I recognise an obligation to separate my political judgements from my recognition of courage and sacrifice.

    If you cannot recognise the virtues of people whose political beliefs you reject, how can you accept that people show virtues outside of political considerations? And if you do not accept that, how can you believe that people have a moral existence outside considerations of “public policy” (i.e. the state). And if you don’t believe that people have a moral existence outside the state, how can you call yourself a libertarian.

    And, once again, please note that I don’t expect anyone to agree with the positions of CPT. You can express absolute disagreement, while retaining the ability to recognise courage in those you disagree with.

  95. John Spragge: Moral and physical courage aren’t virtues that in any way exempt the CPT from moral criticism. Members of the Waffen-SS had them too, but we don’t allow that to obscure the fact that they were on the wrong side.

  96. Ok, let’s leave out the extraneous issues raised by your example, and focus on one closer to your home: the Confederate Army. I assume you think fighting to preserve chattel slavery put them on the “wrong” side, and I’ll also bet you wouldn’t go around spray-painting “Darwin in action” on memorials to the Confederate dead. That doesn’t mean you can’t criticise, but it does mean you have to come up with cogent criticisms, which both recognise the dignity in those you criticise, while making a compelling case that they have acted wrongly, or that their solutions will not work. If you have such criticisms, bring them on.

  97. Wow!! What a string.

    Am new here. Have a couple of comments.

    Why strap a label on? I’m a maleist. I’m a breathingist. I’m a breatho-Maleist. Where’s the sense of play or humor around here?

    Also, I think we have once again forgotten that fifteen of the nineteen *freedom-travelers* were from Saudi Arabia. And none were from Iraq or Afghanistan. So if Bobby hits Billy and then in retribution Billy hits Calvin, is that helpful?

    Am sleeping just fine these days; and I find a lot of things humorous; many things in life make me smile these days. If anyone comes along and says that I have a soldier to thank for my moments of mirth, well, they are only right in the sense that if a soldier kills me, then I will no longer laugh. So does that mean that that soldier is making me laugh, or creating laughter in my life? Not hardly. I enjoy life despite the efforts of terrorists who are independent; I enjoy life in spite of terrorists who work for this or that government.

    So I went out to my car and the window was broken. Someone had thrown a rock through my windshield. I picked up that rock and cursed at it and now I’m keeping it. That’s right: I’m not releasing it. At least I’ve taken one rock out of circulation. Only fools think that that rock will ever bust my window again! I’ve got it under lock and key!!

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