View Full Version : Revenge not the answer (longish)

09-12-2001, 12:39 PM
I know many people are talking about retribution and revenge for the people that committed the terrorist acts yesterday. While I am sure this will happen I hope we realize that this will not solve the problem. The problem is much deeper than hunting down a terrorist. Let's just suppose that bin Laden is responsible and that the U.S. invades Afghanistan and captures and kills bin Laden.

Then What? Does terrorism stop? Is the world a safe place? Do we all live happily ever after?

The obvious answer to the last three questions in NO.

I think Hetron has touched on the problem below when he criticizes U.S. foreign policy. This macro issue is the problem. Whether we understand it or not, the U.S. is HATED by millions and millions of people around the world. Why is this the case? I think that the inconsistencies in U.S. foreign policy that Hetron mentions are a major reason. Also the perception (real or imagined, it doesn't matter) of the arrogant way the U.S. carries out it's foreign policy. In laymen's term the U.S. has to be more of a "team player" in international affairs rather than trying to dictate. An example that Canadians are well aware of is the U.S. attitude towards trade agreements. How many times has the WTO or some other organization told the U.S. that they can't do something because it violates a trade agreement and the U.S. basically says "screw you" and does it anyway. In the big picture the price of lumber or something like that is not a big deal but it is just an example of why many people were celebrating in the streets of Palestine yesterday.

Some people also talk about revenge or punishment as a deterrent. All I would say is that the high-jackers were willing to commit suicide so I don't think this will a deterent in any way whatsoever.

So we can find bin Laden, we can kill him and it will make us feel better for now. For what it's worth, I think we should find bin Laden and kill him (assuming he's shown to be responsible). But if that's all the U.S. does then these problems will occur again. Unless there are fundamental changes to the way the U.S. handles itself in the international community then I think we will be talking about some other terrorist in five years from now and nothing else will have changed.

09-12-2001, 12:59 PM
Very goods points. But it isn't going to happen. Note that Bush talked about God being on our side and a struggle between good and evil. Note also that he said all of our forces "around the world" were in a state of alert. No thought is being given to the fact that those forces are in any way responsible for the "blowback."

We frequently hear commentators talk about how Israel is not wimpish and deals with terrorism quickly and resolutely. But Israel's policy has not made it less susceptible to terrorism. One could argue the opposite much more easily.

The supply side of the equation will be very difficult to counter. I agree with you that equal attention should be paid to the demand side.

I also hope that we take not just a military response. If, for example, Ben Laden is discovered to be the culprit, and he is being harbored by the lovely Afghani regime, we should do all we can to economically punish that regime, which is universally reviled with good reason.

09-12-2001, 03:05 PM
i think the point is that men like Bin Laden are not soldiers or leaders, they are Fanatics. Granted, his followers are fanatics (any suicide bomber, in my mind, is a fanatac), but if you kill the head fanatic, you can sometimes kill his ideas too. I don't think in Bin Laden's case it will be that simple, but this operation was obviously incredibly planned, and by removing the man with the means to plan such attacks, you can help prevent future attacks. another man who comes to mind is Adolf Hitler...

Someone made a point above, basically saying a variation of "An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind." I don't think you can wipe out terrorism in the form of car bombs or suicide bombers, which any psycho fanatic can accomplish, but you can certainly wipe out instances of our own passenger planes being used as objects of terror against us.

in short, few people are capable of attack of the magnitude we have just suffered - if we (the US) kill those people, we reduce the likelihood of such events.

live from New York,


09-12-2001, 03:25 PM
A large part of U.S. inconsistencies and hated foreign policies is due to the Cold War and to our efforts to strengthen U.S. allies and sympathizers. Now that this is over, I would think a gradual leveling off should occur, though the benefits as far as world perception should take a long time to materialize.

09-12-2001, 03:37 PM
But a lot of the hatred comes from our policies vis-a-vis Israel and the Palestinians, and this will not see a graudal leveling off. Also, the United States maintains military forces around the world, despite the end of the cold war.

We should be working vigorously towards a peace plan in the Middle East. Yesterday's events point out the importance of doing this. It is a longstanding, difficult and seemingly intractable problem, but not unsolvable. Menachem Begin was a terrorist and signed a peace agreement with Egypt. We see a similar evolution in another ex(?)-terrorist, Arafat People do change and progress can be made.

We should be thinking twice and three times about the enemy of our enemy being our friend. We bear some responsibility for Taliban being in power.

09-12-2001, 03:49 PM
We should definitely be working on solving the Palestinian problem. The only solution I can envision is for them to finally get a little desert homeland like Israel did, which they can then build up. Neighboring states could all contribute a tiny slice of land, perhaps receving monetary compensation from the U.N.. Jeez I better look at a world map;-) Of course that won't solver the contentions over the holy city, but it would solve part of the problem.

09-12-2001, 06:56 PM
Clinteroo your post hit the nail right on the head, and not just because you mentioned my post. The problem IMO is that there still exists in the US a diehard political and military complex, left over from the Cold War, that in no way trusts the UN or any other international body to tell it what to do. They do not want to be "world team players", but will only accept the role of "world leader". The situation in Yugoslavia is a good example. The US wanted to intervene, but when the UN looked unwilling to assemble a force like the one in the Persian Gulf War, they decided to accomplish their goals through NATO instead.

This political and military complex has absolutely no problems breaking international law, or acting in an unprejudiced matter, as long as it is in "the national interests". Unfortunately as we have saw yesterday, some of the actions taken in favor of "the national interest" can come back to haunt us in the form of "blowback".

09-12-2001, 07:08 PM

09-12-2001, 07:42 PM
This situation may demonstrate the folly rather than the necessity of solving the problem of a Palestinian homeland. We have been negotiating with a guy who does not really speak for Palestinians, at least in the way we can deal with heads of true states. Other Arab states have been totally unwilling to give any land to Palestinians, so why should Israel? Israel has ceded land, but certainly has not gotten peace. You could give the Palestinians Manhattan and there would still be terrorists because the terrorist wanted a particular piece of desert scrub in the Holy Land, or claims the U.S. was insulting him by offering New York. We should make the price for harboring terrorists so high the legitimate states who support Palestinians would be forced to intervene and would stop supporting terrorists. Maybe then the Palestinian situation could work itself out. But given the excitement in the streets of the Palestinian controlled portions of the West Bank after the bombing, I think we can figue there won't be peace there for a while.

Andy Fox makes a good point above about Israel being subject to terrorist attacks even after striking back. But the question that must be asked is whether there would have been more attacks if they had been passive and nice. I think they would have been wiped out by now if they didn't hit back hard. For instance, Saddam knew a Scud with a chemical weapon would have led to quick nuclear retaliation by the Israelis. He confined his attaacks to conventional weapons. We will never know how many attacks Israel has stopped through either retaliatory strikes, preemptive attacks, assasinations, or the willingness to use the big weapons. They live in a very bad neighborhood and know something about how to survive in it. Now their neighborhood may be moving over here.

09-12-2001, 10:32 PM
There are surely lots of desert areas that these states might be willing to sell, if not give, to the Palestinians, for funds from the U.N.

It would not solve the whole problem, but wouldn't it help a lot?

I too think that if Israel was not a formidable defender and counterstriker, they would have been wiped out long ago. Also, if the Mossad was not such a top-notch intelligence service over decades, Israel would probably have been wiped out.

09-13-2001, 05:25 PM
I think everyone might be tiptoeing around the biggest point here. Although its a big help to get rid of policies that will make the threat of terrorism surface I think there is something even more important. A number of systems in place to safe guard our country have broke down. You can't have every nation in the world happy with you especially if you have the biggest piece of the proverbial pie. Sometimes to preserve the United States interests we will have to disargee with our allies. I think that we will need to take a look at those systems that are in place and change or improve their function. We need secure airways in a way that will forever prevent this kind of catastrophe. We need to have the man power in the FBI to check out every threat thoroughly. We need to have air traffic controllers who can call a central government office and have fighters dispached when a plane goes so far off course. Our reactions were obviously not fast enough and our FBI didn't know enough to prevent at the second terrorist attack.