DM: The reason that Osama is still alive is that our very own CIA taught him survivalist training in Afghanistan, when the occupying force of the time were the Soviets. The reason that we are occupying Iraq is because we were stupid enough to arm Saddam years ago against the Iranians, and provide him with the ways and means to produce chemical and biological weapons. We sow our own harvest, when we leave seeds of violence in foreign fields, and we then reap the whirlwind of our foreign policies.
SH: I’m bunching Danny’s original comments together by topic, which simplifies the response.
1.I can think of other reasons why Osama is still alive:
i) We can’t corner him in Afghanistan because he can always escape across the border to Pakistan.
Short of invading Pakistan, which is impractical, we’re left to play a cat-and-mouse game with Osama when he has a backdoor.
ii) When we go after Osama, we’re going into the heart of the Muslims world. He has plenty of fellow Muslims to give him refuge.
2.Cold war policy-makers played the hand they were dealt. The threat varies from one generation to another. Each generation has its own task of risk-management.
Moving on to Danny’s major contention:
Does violence beget violence?
I made a comment about the movie Munich, and how it awakened me to the futility of retribution as a means to peace:
I suppose I see this cycle of violence as cruel in its unending circularity.
How many people think this doesn't just motivate the crazies further, and encourage their efforts to acquire serious weapons, as well as make those with access to such weapons more likely to sympathize with them and give them over?
But as we occupy foreign lands, and as Israel bombs civilians (Qana), the thread only increases. No risk is being "managed" here, fuel is only being added to the fires.
We simply cannot apply such force to terrorists, because in so doing, we invariably destroy a large number of civilians, and we turn every moderate family member of a "martyr" into willing holy war combatants in so doing. For every one we kill, we make 4 more.
What I said is that this violence is circular and unending, not that the current or present supply of willing participants in said violence is unending.
And that's the idea here--that if we make them fear, they'll not attack? No. They do not fear DEATH. How can you make someone who does not fear death fear your "overwhelming force"?
I support the right to exist of both Israel and Palestine. I also strongly oppose the policies of both. So long as each side undermines the possibility of peace by responding to violence with violence, the cycle of poverty and martyrdom will continue there.
If their hate will not dissipate even when we all sit down to talk about our basic rights to life, and our mutual commitment to ensure basic human rights and needs are protected, then perhaps at least the hate the breeds violence will. One thing is for certain -- tyranny and fear never produced a cowering populace for long: the USA, the French Revolution, and numerous civil wars are historical testimony to that fact. And the fear breeds a certain desperation which naturally dispenses violence out of survival instinct. If fear were just an emotion in a vacuum, then we would prefer it over hate. But when hate and fear combine into desperation, then violence is inevitable, and it will never end until neither side fears for their own life.
Steve's motto appears to be, "oderint dum metuant": let them hate so long as they fear (originally from Caligula). Unfortunately, fear only fuels desperate violence.
SH: Several problems here.
1.It’s true that when you fight back you may anger your adversary. Is the alternative to give up without a fight? To roll over and play dead?
2.Danny is assuming that there’s a practical alternative to self-defense.
If his alternative could work, it would work. Obviously the political will is lacking on one side or another.
3. Fear is often a very effective deterrent. Why don’t many more Americans commit many more crimes? Fear of the consequences.
Why don’t Muslim countries that hate America attack America? Fear of the consequences.
4. Suicide bombers are not afraid to die, but only a fraction of the Muslim population are suicide bombers. As I said before, most Muslims do not nurse a death-wish.
5. Both Israel and the US are only using a fraction of the force at their disposal. For example, both countries have the nuclear card.
6. In addition, it isn’t necessarily a case of us v. the Muslim world.
The Muslim world is, itself, a seething cauldron of mutual hatreds. It isn’t hard to set Muslims at each other’s throats.
Suppose we were confronted with two hostile Islamic states. Suppose the CIA were to arrange the assassination of one Muslim head-of-state, but made it look like the other Muslim country put out the hit.
We could then sit back and watch the two countries proceed to annihilate each other.
7. In fact, the CIA used to do that sort of thing during the Cold War. The problem is that many Americans have gotten soft.
The very success of past strategies has lulled many Americans into the illusory sense that we don’t need to be so ruthless.
More so with the Eurocrats, who were basking under our protective penumbra for all those years.
Well, maybe we don’t need to be as ruthless. That remains to be seen.
But what many Americans—not to mention the Eurocrats—can’t bring themselves to appreciate is that we may be up against an utterly implacable and mortal enemy for which nothing short of total war will do.
Many Americans who lived through WWII as well as the Cold War understood that.
But many of the younger generation, as the beneficiary of our past victories, are idealistic to a fault.
This also goes back to the draft-age Americans of the Vietnam era.
8.Danny talks about “tyranny” and “desperation.” What does this have reference to?
Sounds like he’s transferring the Palestinian propaganda to Iraq and Lebanon.
9.It may be that our attempt to democratize Iraq will fail. And what will that prove?
It will prove that Bush was too starry-eyed—when he should have been more cynical and calculating, like the Cold Warriors of the past.