View Full Version : The newly declared War On Terrorism

09-18-2001, 06:06 PM
Do you think this will be as successful as The War On Drugs?

09-18-2001, 09:01 PM
If properly implemented it should do far better than that. How much better remains to be seen.

The reason it HAS to do better than the war on drugs is because there is too much money being made by people in the drug trade who are doing business. Terrorism, on the other hand, costs money rather than makes money.

09-18-2001, 10:51 PM
If we ended the "war on drugs" and diverted all its funds and resources to the war on terrorism, we will have at least succeeded in ending the disasterous "war on drugs."

09-19-2001, 02:52 AM
I don't know, M. From what I'm hearing, fighting these terrorist networks may prove to be just as frustrating as fighting the drug networks. Though I certainly don't understand much about them (yet), they apparently consist of extensive webs of "cells" or other entities scattered throughout many countries, and function in ways that are probably foreign to most of us. For example, I heard some expert on NPR explain that they often function *without* central leadership, through some model he didn't really get into. It is difficult to monitor their communications in part because they are set up such that some cells are out of touch with others, or only one member of a cell may be in touch with others cells, etc., so the lines of communication are minimized in number. BTW, this was compared to, and sounded somewhat similar to, models used by drug networks.

I heard as well (can't recall the source) that these networks run through generations, so that killing existing active terrorists may mean only their replacement before long with younger counterparts.

I'm sure we could do some damage to terrorist organizations, but is it at all realistic to think we can come close to eliminating them? I have some doubt. I fear trying forcefully to wipe out these networks may only slow them down temporarily, while further fueling their hate, and ultimately leading to more deaths. I'm not sure this is true, but it seems like a real possibility.

Thus, with regard to minimizing the future loss of life, even putting aside any moral considerations, and looking at it purely as a strategic matter, I'm wondering if much more consideration should be given to nonviolent strategies. I don't know, but this is what I'm thinking about.

A counter-argument might be that a lack of forceful violent response will only make others comfortable with the idea of aiming their own terrorist activities at us in the future. So does this mean we're damned if we do, damned if we don't? I'm not sure, but I think what it may mean is that our immediate, relatively short term response to these events will have little to do with the long term elimination of terrorism. That will depend on diplomacy and open discussion of the kinds of policy issues Chris Alger and others are talking about. Such grappling with underlying social/political causes would seem to be the only thing with serious potential to minimize terrorism in the future.

Let me be clear that I have no commitment to being "right" on this. What I've said is just the way it looks to me today. I just want to see the full range of options and philosophies kept alive in public discussion for fear of jumping too quickly at one approach which may have very grim consequences. Unfortunately, I'm not so sure our leaders want the same thing.

09-19-2001, 03:59 AM
Well, it is a very complex issue.

I'm not saying the war against terrorism will necessarily be successful in a major way, or that it will be easy. It will be at least quite difficult. However, the comparison I was trying to make is that the war on drugs is for all practical purposes IMPOSSIBLE to win because of the economic rewards involved. Terrorists may have many reasons for what they do, but they don't all get rich by being terrorists, whereas virtually all drug dealers do get rich (if they survive long enough). So there are economic forces fueling the drug trade, and I believe these forces are pretty much unstoppable. Also, there are far more drug dealers in the world than there are terrorists.

The Palestinian issue needs to be resolved; whether it can be, and how, is another question. It is one main source of terrorist pressure.

Another main source is the basic conflict between strict Islam, or strict interpretation of the Koran (I'm not sure which here), and the consumer society of the Western world. We aren't going to stop broadcasting TV shows, we aren't going to stop playing rock music, and we aren't going to force our women to dress to hide everything. As long as Muslim elements think this is evil and that we are thereby hurting their society as well as our own, we have an irreconcilable conflict (similar to what Mason pointed out in another post).

U.S. policy can be, and has been, a source of friction too, but except for the worst cases of the past, I don't think the U.S. is doing much now that could bring a great deal of legitimate criticism. It is also somewhat ironic that many of the countries who have large populations which don't like us for our ways of doing business or politics are themselves far from ideal in how they treat people. In fact many of them probably have pretty poor human rights records. What I'm saying here is that if they don't like us it doesn't necessarily mean its all our fault; some of it may be, but there will always be those who don't like so-and-so.

Finally, as in the irreconcilable conflict above (consumer society vs. strict Islam), there is just no answer other than to hope that the youth of these countries grows gradually more open-minded. Religious rule has historically been very inflexible so this may take a long time.

I think it is important to make a distinction between Islam, even strict Islam, and terrorism. The ratio of terrorists to Muslims is undoubtedly very low. We don't want to alienate those Muslims who are not terrorists yet we must stop terrorism. I don't think you can really negotiate much with terrorists or hope that appeasement will work. Once they cross the line to become terrorists they are no longer willing to reason the situation out with you, IMO.

I think a broader interchange and dialog and atmosphere of mutual respect with the Muslim world would be very helpful. However, the more reasonable amongst them will surely understand if we do not tolerate terrorism against us, any more than they would accept it against them.

I think the free world is large and strong, and the moderate Islamic world is sizable too; we may even get some support from the moderate Islamic world in the fight against terrorism. Surely as crazy as the world is, it isn't mostly crazy; most Muslims aren't terrorists, and most of the world will be glad to see a joint international stance against terrorism.

Some of our policies, or what seem to be our policies, may well have caused much resentment in parts of the world from time to time. It seems to me to be stretching it to jump from this to the conclusion that we have CAUSED terrorism, however.

09-19-2001, 05:53 AM
I liked your post except for two minor points:

",..whereas virtually all drug dealers do get rich."

I really think this is an exaggeration, at least for the drug dealers at the bottom of the rung who actually distribute the drugs on the street to the users. When I was was a teen, the 7 or 8 drug dealers I knew of in or around my neighborhood were anything but rich. In between their time spent in jail, they seemed to just be getting by (some better than others, but nothing spectacular).

",..but they don't all get rich by being terrorists."

Monetarily rich no, but from what I hear their big payoff comes after they die(deferred gratification).

09-19-2001, 08:57 AM
There are some good points above. But a major difference will be the desire to win the war. As a nation, we want drugs. But we don't want terrorism. So without draconian laws, there will be a market for drugs here.

We don't really want to win the "war on drugs." And that is OK, because to win it, we would have to do totally abhorrent things. Right now, we are willing to incarcerate people for long stretches and pay a lot of money to do it. But we are not willing to do what other places have done to actually win the "war." If we publically executed 12 year olds for smoking 1 joint, like Singapore does, I bet we would see less drug use. Seeing a few classmates executed in the schoolyard or public square would have a chilling effect on children who would use drugs. When we executed parents and left some orphans, those kids would probably not rush right out to buy drugs. But we will not do this of course. Nor should we. We are seeing the first signs of mainstream politicians questioning our drug policy. This will continue.

We may find at some point that winning the war on terrorism will require us to do horrible things. At that point we will have to decide. But we have barely started on the path where we will have to make that decision, so we'll see.

09-19-2001, 09:13 AM
John Smith's article in today's Las Vegas Review Journal. All you poker players should have the Review Journal bookmarked anyway, but what he revealed is that we gave the Taliban $43 million recently because they did a good job crushing opium poppy production. D'oh. :-(

Maybe this war on terrorism will strip the funding from this kind of stuff.

09-19-2001, 09:22 AM
The war on terrorism is consistent with the constitutionally authorized primary role of the federal government to protect American life, liberty, and property. In contrast, the war on drugs involves the unconstitutional abrogation of individual liberty by the government justified by the belief that adults should not be free to decide for themselves what to put into their bodies.

09-19-2001, 09:27 AM

09-19-2001, 12:41 PM
I first wrote "serious drug dealers" but then removed it. I probably should have left it in.

The point about the terrorists not getting rich is not intended to be regarding their ultimate expected rewards; rather, it is about financing continued activities.Also, the fact that the rewards of the drug trade attract people from all walks of life and cultures, whereas the "Paradise reward" for terrorism probably only attracts certain Muslims (and perhaps a very few others).

09-19-2001, 05:54 PM

09-19-2001, 08:00 PM
"Do you think this will be as successful as The War On Drugs? "


What do you mean by successful? Do you mean that if we capture and/or execute Bin Laden if he is a perpetrator then I say that's success. If we find quite a few of those that provided aid and comfort to the murderers and take appropriate action aginst them then I call that a success. Your sarcasticly posed question intimates that we should do nothing. Maybe that's how you measure your successes by thinking instead of acting. I don't and I am willing to give my government the support it needs to try, at least try, to be successful.


09-19-2001, 10:31 PM

09-20-2001, 01:28 AM
No, terrorists don't usually get rich, but they do seem extremely highly motivated to do what they do.

On the issue of the conflict between strict Islam/interpretation of the Koran and our Western lifestyle: Would these terrorists still wage their jihad on the U.S. if our own

lifestyle here, in our own country, were the only issue? I don't know.

But I'm guessing they wouldn't. As I understand it, based

in part on what I heard Bin Laden say in an old interview (but I am

certainly very under-informed and may be very wrong), their primary

complaints center on Israel/Palestine, our support of and military presence in various

Middle Eastern countries, and, I'm sure, such related things as our

sanctions against Iraq. But I'm really pretty under-informed here.

On the question of whether the U.S. is today engaged in anything which deserves much criticism: Let me first say that I agree with your basic view that we did not *cause* terrorism, but from what I understand we are engaged in some things, things that go underreported, which most of us would deplore if we really knew about them. Some of these would be among the complaints of these terrorists - I think. The sanctions against Iraq, as a result of which I hear assertions that countless civilians are suffering terribly, might be one. Again, I'm not well informed on this, but here's a quote from Amnesty International, from the mid '90s, which I saw in an article in my searching the Net for info on this stuff:

"Throughout the world, on any given day, a man, woman, or child is likely to be displaced, tortured, killed, or 'disappeared', at the hands of governments or armed political groups. More often than not,the United States shares the blame."

I agree of course that other countries have are vulnerable to even more criticism for their policies, many *much* more so.

I don't know if you can negotiate with terrorists or not. In some cases I doubt you can. But I would think it would vary.

I'm hoping to write a post pretty soon with a lot of questions on these issues. But in a nutshell I feel compelled to pursue two thoughts right now:

1) The practical issue: The U.S. appears to be rushing pretty quickly into something which could so easily turn out to be very regrettable, and ultimately quite hellish. We may even be playing into these guys' hands, as they had to know there was a good chance we'd react just as we are, and may have been trying to provoke just that. As powerful and well equipped as we are, I'm not at all comfortable about where we may be heading in fighting these guys in Afghanistan. Also, it's got to be basically impossible to predict what sort of sequences of political reactions our actions will cause. Chaos theory comes to mind. Scary.

2) The broader moral issue: I was a kid in grade school during the bulk of the Viet Nam war. Then and for most of my life since, I've heard lots of thinking educated folks express sympathy with the very simple idea that humankind ought to strive to find alternatives to war. Now, I know this probably comes off as naive, but why cannot this be a time to try something historically different, to try a nonviolent approach to a problem the response to which would typically and historically be war?

09-20-2001, 05:29 AM
",..why cannot this be a time to try something historically different, to try a nonviolent approach to a problem the response to which would typically and historically be war?"

That would be an absolute breath of fresh air, well put.

09-20-2001, 08:26 AM
I agree that the U.S. should weigh options carefully and not rush into anything prematurely.

I think a possible solution for the Palestinian problem should be worked on--very seriously. Almost surely an ideal solution cannot be reached for this thorny issue, but just maybe a workable solution can be.

I am not sure about the specifics of the sanctions on Iraq--perhaps they should be lifted, I really don't know.

The irreconciliable differences between Western culture and strict Islam, by themselves, perhaps wouldn't cause holy war or terrorism...though I submit that the other root differences and problems don't have to cause terrorism, either.

I don't think we can make the Islamic world entirely happy with us no matter what we do. I think we should work to live in peace and harmony to whatever extent is possible. I think we should also make it clear we won't tolerate terrorist attacks upon us.

What do you think about SammyB's point that Khadafy used to be quite a problem, but he has been awfully quiet since the bombing of his residence? And that Khomeini released the hostages upon Reagan being sworn into office? I doubt these are coincidences. Even terrorist-supporting leaders have some respect for strength and danger.

In sum: Work towards peace, work hard to arrive at solutions to the most pressing problems...but we cannot, IMO, stand by or offer an olive branch to those who attack us so terribly. I really think they need to be eliminated for two reasons: so they can't do it again, and so other terrorists leaders realize they are jeopardizing their organizations by such actions. They might not care if they, as individuals, die in their holy struggle, but they will care if their organizations are badly hurt. Likewise, heads of state must realize that they can no longer harbor aggressive terrorists, and that the rules have changed...that they will be in jeopardy too if they continue to do so. I really don't think we can allow the continued existence of terrorists and their organizations to the degree that they now flourish. It's not like they are just a political entity with opposing views. They are sworn to destroy us, and that is where we have to draw the line, IMO. They also generally target the weakest, most innocent and defenseless elements of their enemies in an effort to cause terror, and that is morally despicable, IMO.

I think the free world can probably directly eliminate a good portion of the terrorist leaders and their organizations through pinpoint bombing, and that the heads of state who shield the rest of them can be persuaded to give them up. The world doesn't have to stand for terrorism. Even RUSSIA is considering allowing the U.S. to use their territory as a military springboard for an attack against those responsible for the latest atrocity. With almost the whole world against them, terrorists can indeed be overcome. Even IRAN is taking a stand, I believe.

As I posted recently, I do believe that a solution to the Palestinian problem might be reachable if the Palestinians could have a homeland (even if less than ideal in their eyes because it does not include Jerusalem). Israel was created; why not create a Palestinian state now, too? Land could be purchased from the nearest neighbors(s), perhaps, with U.N. funds.

09-20-2001, 10:06 AM
In high school I was completely opposed to war of any kind.

Pressure on heads of state to turn over terrorists may actually work--even the council of clerics in Afghanistan is now telling bin-Laden to leave. The U.S. may not have to resort to force.

I like the idea of dialogue instead of war, very much. I just happen to think the U.S. has to draw the line when we are brutally attacked, both for immediate reasons and for future reasons.

In poker you cannot become known as a folder or your opponents will be forever taking shots at you. Likewise, for the sake of "future hands", we cannot allow this brutal attack to be without repercussions for those responsible.

09-20-2001, 12:21 PM
"What do you think about SammyB's point that Khadafy used to be quite a problem, but he has been awfully quiet since the bombing of his residence?"

Which killed his 15-month-old daughter. The bombing was in purported retaliation for Libya's responsibility for the bombing, nine days prior, of the La Belle discotheque in West Berlin. The U.S. produced no evidence linking Libya to the crime, and no evidence to my knowledge has ever surfaced. German authorities investigating the crime resolutely denied a Libyan connection. As Boris indicates in a post above, the consensus is that Syrian-based terrorist were responsible, but that Libya was targeted because of it's relative defenselessness and unimportance to U.S. diplomacy. These facts are consistent with the widely-publicized disclosures of a CIA domestic "disinformation" campaign against Libya.

There's no question, however, that Libya sheltered and supported terrorists, as has the United States. According to the CIA's World Factbook 2001, however, "Libyan support for terrorism decreased after UN sanctions were imposed in 1992." The UN sanctions have since been lifted following the handing over of the Lockerbie bombing suspects.[1]

Libya therefore doesn't appear to be a good example of the efficacy of force to combat terrorism as opposed to diplomacy and non-violent coercion.

"And that Khomeini released the hostages upon Reagan being sworn into office?"

As for Reagan and the Iranian hostage crisis, you might want to punch "October Surprise" into a search engine for some interesting views. Even if that particular theory isn't correct, the fact remains that the hostages were only released after extensive negotiations concerning the turnover of Iranian financial assets in the U.S. and U.S. assets in Iran. These negotiations had substantially progressed prior to Reagan's election, and Reagan wasn't about to risk derailing with another bravado act of force.

[1] U.S. sanctions nevertheless remain in effect because, as Sen. Paul Sarbanes pointed out on 7/26/01, "Libya has not fulfilled the requirements to pay compensation to the families of the victims, to accept responsibility for the acts of its intelligence officers and to renounce fully international terrorism." In other words, Libya must be sanctioned for acting like the U.S., which similarly refuses to accept responsibility or pay compensation to the victims of contra terrorists, among others.

09-20-2001, 10:24 PM
There are a lot of tough questions. Mainly, I'd like to see the U.S. keep alive and under discussion some of the options the administration seems largely to be ignoring at this point. When I try to think through some of the things we've discussed in this thread I tend to arrive at certain fundamental logical or philosophical questions. Rather than continue with them right now I want to think about them for at least a few days, after which I hope to post something raising those questions.

In the meantime, I've been collecting a lot of links. Here's one which I've only skimmed, but which looks like it may contain good general info on Middle East issues.


09-21-2001, 01:39 AM
. . . if this was a billiards forum.

09-21-2001, 02:33 AM
After looking at it a little more closely I should say that the website I provided above appears to be pretty pro-Palestine. I want to note that I did not post it to push any bias. I am far too uninformed on these matters to be pro-anything at this point. That said, it does look like it provides some worthwhile analysis, though perhaps best viewed with the foregoing proviso in mind.