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Osama, the truce and what this war is really about

Osama bin Laden made the news last week for the first time since October 2004. In an audio recording released by Arabic news net al-Jazeera, lanky-and-cranky bin Laden graciously offered "a long-term truce with the U.S. military."

Both pundits and bloggers were swift to react to the message, offering in-depth though largely speculative analyses of just what bin Laden's offer might mean: we're winning, they're losing, al-Qaida wants to debunk widespread rumors of bin Laden's recent demise. Theories were rampant.

But it seems like both the al-Qaida founder and a great many of those who offered comment last week missed a couple of essential facts: Nobody cares about Osama bin Laden, and talking about the war on terrorism in terms of winning, losing and truces misses the point entirely.

The conflict with al-Qaida began not on 9/11 but on December 29, 1992, when an explosion ripped through the Gold Mihor Hotel in Aden, Yemen, killing a Yemeni and an Austrian national and injuring many others. The bomb had been intended for the 100-odd U.S. soldiers who had been staying at the hotel, but those troops left for Somalia before the attack could be carried out. The details of the plot behind the bombing have never been uncovered, but the opinion of the State Department is that it was the very first al-Qaida attack.

Between the Aden attack of 1992 and the morning of September 11, 2001, lie nearly nine years of attacks and planned attacks: the aborted Operation Bojinka plot that targeted passenger planes over the Pacific, the Khobar Towers bombing of June 1996 that killed 19 U.S. servicemen and one Saudi citizen, the African embassy bombings in 1998, the various millennium plots including the thwarted bombing of Los Angeles International Airport, the October 2000 attack on the U.S.S. Cole. The list just goes on and on.

But terrorist attacks against U.S. targets didn't begin with al-Qaida. In December 1988, an improvised bomb exploded aboard Pam Am flight 103 while it was in the air over the town of Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 259 passengers and crew and 11 people on the ground. A former Libyan intelligence officer was convicted of murder in 2001 for his part in the plot.

It didn't start there, either. In April 1986, Libyan agents bombed a Berlin disco popular with American troops, killing two U.S. soldiers and a Turkish woman and injuring 230 others. Just days earlier, a Palestinian bomb exploded aboard TWA flight 840 killing four Americans, including a nine-month-old baby.

In October 1985, members of the Palestinian Liberation Front hijacked the cruise ship Achille Lauro, brutally murdering wheelchair-bound retiree Leon Klinghoffer.

On October 23, 1983, Iranian-linked militant group Hezbollah detonated a massive truck bomb outside the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 American servicemen including 220 Marines.

And, of course, radical supporters of the Islamic Republic of Iran held 52 U.S. citizens, and our entire nation, hostage for 444 days between November 4, 1979, and January 20, 1981.

The war on terrorism didn't begin on 9/11; that was just the day that the American people woke up and realized that our nation had been at war for more that twenty years. And it didn't begin with al-Qaida; we had already been under attack for a decade before that organization was founded. So when Osama bin Laden, an influential Johnny-come-lately at best, releases a statement offering the United States a truce, the proper reaction isn't serious consideration or in-depth analysis. It's laughter. Side-splitting, eye-watering laughter. Because the only thing a statement like that demonstrates is that Osama bin Laden doesn't have the first clue what this war is really about.

The war on terrorism is very much a war of bombs and bullets in which soldiers and civilians die. It's also an economic war, a war waged in dollars and cents on dusty ledgers in banks in New York and London and Geneva. But more than any of those things, it's a war of ideas. It's a war that will, when it reaches its eventual conclusion, finally settle the question of what kind of world we're going to live in.

Are we going to live in a world where airplanes fall burning out of the sky and where discotheques explode without warning and where skyscrapers turn into mass graves? That's the question the participants in this war seek to answer. And if we want the answer to be "no" - and we do - we've got no choice at all but to radically change the rules governing a third of the world.

The days of measured responses and Realpolitik are over. On September 11, 2001, we realized that tyranny anywhere poses a direct and immediate threat to freedom everywhere. Because tyranny is the petri dish in which terrorism breeds. On that day, it was the fundamentalist prison of Taliban-ruled Afghanistan that allowed terrorism to fester. When Pan Am flight 103 fell from the skies of Scotland, it was because a Libyan dictator made it happen. When the Marine barracks in Beirut collapsed, it was the work of the Iranian mullahs.

Tyranny anywhere is a threat to freedom everywhere. That's the war we're fighting. And it's bigger than al-Qaida. It's bigger than Iraq and it's bigger than Palestine, and it's sure as hell bigger than Osama bin Laden. It's a war to decide the fate of the entire world. And it's a war we mean to win.

Jeff Harrell blogs at The Shape of Days.


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Comments (34)

OBL knows what this war is ... (Below threshold)
George:

OBL knows what this war is about. He is counting
on many of us not knowing.

The "truce" offer, while to... (Below threshold)
George:

The "truce" offer, while totally dishonest, plants
the seed. Next time we get attacked, the
knuckleheads on the left will cry, "He offered a
truce. Why didn't you take it?"

That's the plan, plain and simple.

Very good read with some gr... (Below threshold)

Very good read with some great points. It would do the left very well to read and understand this.

this is a good post. you'r... (Below threshold)
sean nyc/aa:

this is a good post. you're absolutely right this war is bigger than obl or any individual terrorist. but one major point of contention is how we are conducting the war. our ideas of bringing freedom and democracy, while noble in concept, do not have the desired effect if we are seen as occupiers, hostile to muslim populations (in iraq and the world in general), setting up a democratically elected theocracy, torturing/rendering foreign citizens w/o trials, etc. - which a large percent of the world sees in US actions.
by supporting this policy w/o recognizing how it is actually effecting other people throughout the world is a big mistake. some might say "screw france/germany/etc.", but that won't work in today's world. and it's not just the EU. Russia and China are two huge players in asia(read iran) and they don't seem to be doing very much to help us either. please pull your heads out of the sand and recognize that Bush has not been able to garner international support for this and that is weakening us tremendously.
and while i can see how obl making a truce offer might be funny, we shouldn't see it that way. nor should it be given serious consideration. the man should be irrelevant, discredited at the very least, captured and in solitary or dead even better. as long as he is still seen as an important figure (which apparently he's become a rock star in E Africa/S Asia), it is a failure. and in this war, failure is not something to laugh at.

...our ideas of bringing... (Below threshold)
B Moe:

...our ideas of bringing freedom and democracy, while noble in concept, do not have the desired effect if we are seen as occupiers, hostile to muslim populations (in iraq and the world in general), setting up a democratically elected theocracy, torturing/rendering foreign citizens w/o trials, etc. - which a large percent of the world sees in US actions.

Why do you think our noble efforts are percieved as something else?

Evidence that other countri... (Below threshold)
sean nyc/aa:

Evidence that other countries do perceive this:
-everywhere Bush goes, he is protested.
-countries are removing their troops and others are not filling in to replace them.
-the overwhelming majority of Iraqis who want the US out.
-anti-US sentiment from much of the Muslim world.

Reasons why they percerve this:
-lack of evidence for invasion.
-abu ghraib, black sites, gitmo, torture/rendition in general.
-harboring terrorists in our own country who act to our benefit (luis posada carriles).
-hypocrisy in dealing w/ saudi arabia.
-support of israel (while not wrong, certainly not accepted by many muslims).
-the elephant in the room that no one mentions:OIL

Great piece Jeff! Of cours... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Great piece Jeff! Of course, with the left, it falls on deaf ears. Preventing another 9/11 is what drives current U.S. policy, and taking the fight to the terrorists is going to be seen by many in the world as unjustified aggression by the U.S. Bush's "bring it on" comment was a brilliant move that brought terrorists into Iraq where we could kill them on foreign soil. It's kind of like putting up one of those bug zappers at the far edge of your backyard.

Bush knows that to finish the job the U.S. has to take on Iran. Bush has them on two fronts on the ground and he's letting the EU3 be made fools of so that when the time comes they'll either support the U.S. or get out of the way. If we can elect someone like Rice as the next president, then maybe we can win this thing in the next decade or so. Once the U.S. goads Iran into using nuclear weapons, our anti-ballistic missile technology will keep Iran from doing any real damage, yet give the U.S. the political backing needed to take Iran out militarily. With Iran's defeat, the Arab world will fall in line.

everywhere Bush goes, he... (Below threshold)

everywhere Bush goes, he is protested.

So has every president we've had since Truman. And in this country as well as others. Doesn't mean a damned thing except that everywhere there are malcontents.

countries are removing their troops and others are not filling in to replace them.

Alternative meaning: the job is getting deone and their services are no longer requried.

anti-US sentiment from much of the Muslim world.

Define "much." I seem to recall there used to be a dead certainty in conventional wisdom that no matter what we did in the Middle East, the "Arab street" would rise up to oppose it.

Only things I've seen the "Arab street" rise up to oppose has been Assad's coninued control of Lebanon, and al Qaeda's bombing of a hotel in Jordan.

You're asserting things that are not supported by the evidence -- and in fact the "evidence" you're offering is nothing but assertions.

To put it bluntly, you're projecting.

sean: I'm amused b... (Below threshold)
lurking observer:

sean:

I'm amused by your list of reasons, if only b/c it places Israel quite far towards the bottom.

But, if one were to believe what both the secular and religious leaders claim, the Arab-Israeli issue, far from being at the bottom, is quite up near the top.

After all, Iranian leader Ahmadinejad didn't say he wanted to wipe out western oil companies, he said he wanted to wipe out Israel.

So, presuming that what Arab leaders, religious and secular, say is true, here's the blunt question that you and your compatriots often seem to avoid:

If the only solution to ending terrorism was to abandon Israel to the tender mercies of its neighbors, would you support such a policy?

-the overwhelming majori... (Below threshold)
B Moe:

-the overwhelming majority of Iraqis who want the US out.

That is utter bullshit, those surveys were discredited as soon as they came out.


Reasons why they percerve this:
-lack of evidence for invasion.
-abu ghraib, black sites, gitmo, torture/rendition in general.

So the Democrat's propaganda is working?

-the elephant in the room that no one mentions:OIL

THEY HAVE OIL OVER THERE! WHY WASN'T I TOLD?

sean,If, in order ... (Below threshold)
lowmal:

sean,

If, in order to advance our democratic objectives, we are are seen by some as "occupiers", then so be it.. What else do you propose we do to bring about change?? Use harsh language??

As far as being seen as "hostile to muslim poulations" (no matter if it's motivated by politics or force), our very existence, ideas, and culture are deemed inherently hostile by these people..

As to the fact that Russia and China do not offer much help to our cause, well, I've got a newsflash for you: Russia and China have been our ideological enemies for the better part of a century.. To assume otherwise is folly..

You are right.. President Bush is protested most everywhere he goes, internationally and domestically.. I am thankful we have a President who has the fortitude to make important decisions based on convictions and national interest, and not one who will be weakened decisively by polls and protests.. If the people in these nations put their energy into protesting the decisions made by their own morally and politically corrupt governments, many would find their lot in life progressing toward an improved state..

Governments have removed their troops from Iraq not only because of pressure from their citizens, but also because they know the US will somehow compensate for their leave.. It's not much different from how it's been since the Cold War started.. Many in Europe, if not all (save Britain), have not had to spend squat on their military and national defense because they've let the broad shoulders of the US protect them..

"the overwhelming majority of Iraqis who want the US out."

True, but in the latest poll of Iraqis (I think it was done by ABC about a month ago), 70% of them think it would be catastrophic for the security of Irag if the US were to leave now.. Of course they would want US troops to leave, but, they realize that a certain stable atmosphere must be in place before that could occur..

"-anti-US sentiment from much of the Muslim world."

This really should go without saying, but, the muslim world (particullarly in the middle east) has had nothing but anti-US sentiment for as long as I can remember.. Your statement makes it sound as if this hatred started because of our involment in Iraq/Afganistan.. That is just silly.. Look no further that the litany of attacks and hostilities that have occured against us over the last 30 years.. The middle east was a mess WAY before these past few years..

"abu ghraib, black sites, gitmo, torture/rendition in general."

While there may have been isolated intances of questionable treatment of our enemies, much of this was completely over-hyped by a Democratic party (and it's Bush-hating media sidekick) whose sole purpose, it seems, is to politically bleed this president into a state of paralysis.. If you think these kind of instances haven't occured under every administation in our history, then I must visit your planet someday..

As for the "oil factor", If we really wanted to overtake oil rich nations, we could do it in a heartbeat.. (If you think that we've used even 5% of our military might in this conflict, you are delusional..) I think it's safe to say that if oil were a main facet of Bush's diabolical scheme, wouldn't it have just been easier to BUY more oil? I mean, if he's in such good graces with the Saudi's, our gas prices should be cheap as dirt!! Right??

Sheesh...

RE: International Approbati... (Below threshold)
MikeO:

RE: International Approbation

Until the tut-tutting "International Community" secures for their populaces the blessings of liberty that we in the U.S. enjoy and achieve levels of economic success and military power even half that of the U.S., their bleatings can safely be ignored as nothing more than petty jealousy.

They will not improve their personal freedoms or economic/military performance until they abandon the failed statist policies of the last 80 years.

They will resent us so long as the U.S. outperforms them in every meaningful measure.

They will not love us so long as they resent us.

If they will not respect us out of love, then we must command their respect through fear. Oderint dum metuant.

Acting on the international stage among the community of nations on this earth is not a friendly pickup game of hoops with your coworkers at lunchtime. It is a game of naked self-interest and playing for keeps.

The benevolence of the U.S. has been singular in the history of civilization on this planet. How other countries relate to us is up to them: Their actions. Their attitudes. Their choices to make.

An even bigger thought: And... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

An even bigger thought: And we have even really started discussing what the hell to do about Iran.

the emergence of osama prov... (Below threshold)
billy:

the emergence of osama proves two things.
1.

the bush administration could not keep us safe on 9/11 like clinton / gore did for 8 years.

and
2.

the administration is incompetent because they cannot bring him to justice like any real leader would do.

strike 3 for the gop, see you later or maybe you can all move to iran with the other terrorist/ religious fundamentalists.

billy:Your views a... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

billy:

Your views are uneducated, factless, intellectually bankrupt and not rooted in any realm of real, honest and thoughtful discourse.

In short, get off the computer before Mommy and Daddy discovered that you've found their password.

So has every president w... (Below threshold)
sean nyc/aa:

So has every president we've had since Truman

true, but Bush certainly attracts quite a bit more than most previous presidents.

the job is getting deone and their services are no longer requried

read the post above - attacks are increasing. despite what Cheney thought a couple of months ago, it doesn't seem like the insurgency is in its last throes.

If the only solution to ending terrorism was to abandon Israel to the tender mercies of its neighbors, would you support such a policy?

answer your own hypothetical.

That is utter bullshit, those surveys were discredited as soon as they came out.

the survey was in Time (or ABC according to lowmal), two major news organizations with serious resources. who is the debunker?

What else do you propose we do to bring about change??

-decrease our dependence on foreign oil to reduce the influence of saudi arabia and iran, first economically then politically. Our support of the saudi regime is hypocrisy of the greatest degree.
-not come up with excuses for torture and disregard of international law.
-better accounting of money being used for reconstruction.
These are just a few of the things that can be presently employed. There are others, not to mention different approaches for mistakes made along the way.

If we really wanted to overtake oil rich nations, we could do it in a heartbeat.

Only if we wanted to admit we were an empire.

if he's in such good graces with the Saudi's, our gas prices should be cheap as dirt!!

what about American oil companies? they could ignore the price-gouging OPEC countries and offer oil at a lower price, but that's not how markets work.

...it doesn't seem like ... (Below threshold)

...it doesn't seem like the insurgency is in its last throes.

How many real enemies have you ever fought? In both my experience and my observation, those on the verge of losing redouble their efforts, even while losing effectiveness.

Which is precisely what this post is arguing.

In both my experience an... (Below threshold)

In both my experience and my observation, those on the verge of losing redouble their efforts, even while losing effectiveness.

Which, if I may say, explains the troll swarms that often greet posts like this.

"In both my experience a... (Below threshold)
B Moe:

"In both my experience and my observation, those on the verge of losing redouble their efforts, even while losing effectiveness."

Exactly, and it is also a fine old Islamic tradition to offer a truce at such a point. A truce that is honored just long enough to rest, regroup and reload.

From a post this morning - ... (Below threshold)
nick:

From a post this morning - nice going Bush and Co. Are all you rabid Bush supporters going to sign-up and go to the middle east since the war is such a great cause? Doubtful.

The Army has become a "thin green line" that could snap unless relief comes soon, according to a study for the Pentagon.

Andrew Krepinevich, a retired Army officer who wrote the report under a Pentagon contract, concluded that the Army cannot sustain the pace of troop deployments to Iraq long enough to break the back of the insurgency. He also suggested that the Pentagon's decision, announced in December, to begin reducing the force in Iraq this year was driven in part by a realization that the Army was overextended.

As evidence, Krepinevich points to the Army's 2005 recruiting slump — missing its recruiting goal for the first time since 1999 — and its decision to offer much bigger enlistment bonuses and other incentives.

"You really begin to wonder just how much stress and strain there is on the Army, how much longer it can continue," he said in an interview. He added that the Army is still a highly effective fighting force and is implementing a plan that will expand the number of combat brigades available for rotations to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The 136-page report represents a more sobering picture of the Army's condition than military officials offer in public. While not released publicly, a copy of the report was provided in response to an Associated Press inquiry.

Illustrating his level of concern about strain on the Army, Krepinevich titled one of his report's chapters, "The Thin Green Line."

He wrote that the Army is "in a race against time" to adjust to the demands of war "or risk `breaking' the force in the form of a catastrophic decline" in recruitment and re-enlistment.

Col. Lewis Boone, spokesman for Army Forces Command, which is responsible for providing troops to war commanders, said it would be "a very extreme characterization" to call the Army broken. He said his organization has been able to fulfill every request for troops that it has received from field commanders.

The Krepinevich assessment is the latest in the debate over whether the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have worn out the Army, how the strains can be eased and whether the U.S. military is too burdened to defeat other threats.

Rep. John Murtha (news, bio, voting record), the Pennsylvania Democrat and Vietnam veteran, created a political storm last fall when he called for an early exit from Iraq, arguing that the Army was "broken, worn out" and fueling the insurgency by its mere presence. Administration officials have hotly contested that view.

George Joulwan, a retired four-star Army general and former NATO commander, agrees the Army is stretched thin.

"Whether they're broken or not, I think I would say if we don't change the way we're doing business, they're in danger of being fractured and broken, and I would agree with that," Joulwan told CNN last month.

Krepinevich did not conclude that U.S. forces should quit Iraq now, but said it may be possible to reduce troop levels below 100,000 by the end of the year. There now are about 136,000, Pentagon officials said Tuesday.

For an Army of about 500,000 soldiers — not counting the thousands of National Guard and Reserve soldiers now on active duty — the commitment of 100,000 or so to Iraq might not seem an excessive burden. But because the war has lasted longer than expected, the Army has had to regularly rotate fresh units in while maintaining its normal training efforts and reorganizing the force from top to bottom.

Krepinevich's analysis, while consistent with the conclusions of some outside the Bush administration, is in stark contrast with the public statements of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and senior Army officials.

Army Secretary Francis Harvey, for example, opened a Pentagon news conference last week by denying the Army was in trouble. "Today's Army is the most capable, best-trained, best-equipped and most experienced force our nation has fielded in well over a decade," he said, adding that recruiting has picked up.

Rumsfeld has argued that the experience of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan has made the Army stronger, not weaker.

"The Army is probably as strong and capable as it ever has been in the history of this country," he said in an appearance at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington on Dec. 5. "They are more experienced, more capable, better equipped than ever before."

Krepinevich said in the interview that he understands why Pentagon officials do not state publicly that they are being forced to reduce troop levels in Iraq because of stress on the Army. "That gives too much encouragement to the enemy," he said, even if a number of signs, such as a recruiting slump, point in that direction.

Krepinevich is executive director of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a nonprofit policy research institute.

He said he concluded that even Army leaders are not sure how much longer they can keep up the unusually high pace of combat tours in Iraq before they trigger an institutional crisis. Some major Army divisions are serving their second yearlong tours in Iraq, and some smaller units have served three times.

Michael O'Hanlon, a military expert at the private Brookings Institution, said in a recent interview that "it's a judgment call" whether the risk of breaking the Army is great enough to warrant expanding its size.

"I say yes. But it's a judgment call, because so far the Army isn't broken," O'Hanlon said.


countries are removing thei... (Below threshold)
gloria:

countries are removing their troops and others are not filling in to replace them.

Alternative meaning: the job is getting deone and their services are no longer requried. Posted by McGehee

McGehee, what evidence are you offering that "the job is getting done"? You sound like Dick Cheney.

Historians, looking back at... (Below threshold)
jeff:

Historians, looking back at the hash that his administration has made of his war in Iraq, his response to Hurricane Katrina and his Medicare drug plan, will have to grapple with how one president could so cosmically botch so many big things -- particularly when most of them were the president's own initiatives.

From Harol Myerson in today's Washington Post. Couldn't have said it better myself.

"Krepinevich said in the... (Below threshold)
B Moe:

"Krepinevich said in the interview that he understands why Pentagon officials do not state publicly that they are being forced to reduce troop levels in Iraq because of stress on the Army. "That gives too much encouragement to the enemy," he said, even if a number of signs, such as a recruiting slump, point in that direction."

Fortunately the left is all too willing to encourage the enemy, but don't you dare call them traitors.

B Moe:You've got t... (Below threshold)
nick:

B Moe:

You've got to be kidding me. As if the insurgents don't realize this already. According to your philosophy, everyone should just be quiet and do as Daddy Bush and Daddy Cheney say, right? No wonder things are such a mess.

I suppose you'll be signing up for an Iraq tour to combat us "traitors"....? Or are you just another Republican chickenhawk? There seem to be so many of them.

A nice bit of perspective, ... (Below threshold)
James:

A nice bit of perspective, but it doesn't go back NEARLY far enough.

It would be good to keep in mind that terror is a tactic. It is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Therefore, it would be good to think a bit about what ends ObL and company desire. If anyone bothers to read any of his public writings, and looks beneath the surface of anti-American, anti-Semitic rhetoric, it's pretty obvious that the goal is the entire world subjugated to Islam. If one bothers also to read the Koran (the 9th book has some interesting things to say about truces) and the Hadith, one finds that neither the goal nor the tactic are new.

This war began in the year 622 (if I remember correctly) when a band of the followers of Mohammed ambushed and robbed a Mecca-bound caravan and returned to Medina to massacre some Jews. If they've stopped in the intervening years, it was only (as a previous poster remarked) to regroup and reload.

This is a comment on the to... (Below threshold)
David Benini:

This is a comment on the top-of-page blog. FOUR parts.

PART ONE
Different view -
How about: we USA as a country (=government) stop tearing 'round the world to "fix" the wrongs "for Liberty" [chin up].
I don't see it legal to bust in on a person who wants to own a dober-mann and destroy his house because I believe the dog one day will bite me. There are different solutions.

And most of the world that hates the USA hates the USA because of what the USA does in the first place. We (=our bad government=our sick culture) are the offenders, not the wronged. Chile, Viet-Nam, Korea, Beirut, Grenada, Iraq, Africa... what is our business there? None. CIA all over the world? We're poking the sleeping dogs... No, we're poking a smily, tail-waving dog. And every child learns after a while if you harass a cute pet long enough it will bite you. Period.

So perhaps all this hatred on the US is justified? No, violence is not good, we can choose different means of replying to wrongs instead of shooting someone (an animal responds with instinct for survival, we humans have intelligence - we CHOOSE).
Perhaps violence on the US is understandable? Yes, because I understand frustration at being treated badly. If we (=government) CHOOSED to reduce stress in the world instead of CHOOSING to nurture it there would be no frustration, ergo no violence.
____
[cont.]

PART TWOIn the follo... (Below threshold)
David Benini:

PART TWO
In the following posts I read after I got to this point I realized Sean has equally rendered the same scenario. I will expand on that.

- Israel is an artificial nation created ex nihilo in 1948 on the basis of history of one culture/people, created taking away land from another culture/people. Solution: create Palestina AND Israel. The world must face the fact that a past decision was wrong, and what one does when one realizes this (dressing in shorts during a snowfall) is change somehting to face the ACTUALITY of NOW, and not continously think of the past (get some long, warm pants on, and maybe a jacket too).

- OIL. Someone here wrote "what about American oil companies? they could ignore the price-gouging OPEC countries and offer oil at a lower price, but that's not how markets work". Well, actually, markets work in a non-respectful matter altogether (I refer to asking more money for something that someone wants badly or that many want at the same time - I believe there to be a different way, but it's an entirely different debate).
The oil companies charge money and ask for money through oil. They need access to oil. To do that they pay. They'd like not to. "So how about meddling with what happens over there so that we could have access to oil not through local governments? Or (as with Saudis and Kuwaitians) supporting them: I give to you, you give to me. The others who aren't "nice" to me - I get rid of"
[e.g. the comment by *MikeO at January 23, 2006 03:06 PM* about "If they will not respect us out of love, then we must command their respect through fear. / It is a game of naked self-interest and playing for keeps./ The benevolence of the U.S. has been singular in the history of civilization on this planet";
and the comment by *lowmal at January 23, 2006 01:37 PM*: "If we really wanted to overtake oil rich nations, we could do it in a heartbeat" ---
Is this what can be called human respect, relation and mutual sharing? Without even calling upon the so-called "American values"...]

[cont.]

PART THREEOf course ... (Below threshold)
David Benini:

PART THREE
Of course not everybody lives the same way, but respect can be experienced by allowing others to do as they wish. And if I don't like what you do in your backyard, it's your backyard in the first place, it's not my business, I won't interfere with it. If I am threatened in my house and life (NOT lifeSTYLE....) I can respond for survival. All else can go through comprehension and acceptance.
Funnily, the US have done, but more importantly still do (i.e. Africa, Saudi Arabia) exactly that which the US purportedly affirm they contrast: 1) allow dictatorships or nurture them (the "fight for Democracy" is not fought on Saudi soil or other highly valuable soil, or in China. We know Chines people aren't free, why don't we go bomb a couple of State Council members' houses, to [chin up] "take Democracy unto the world"); 2) there's enough need domestically, why don't the US fix US (pun intended) first? 3) when atrocities like Abu Ghraib happen, the right attitude is not hide the dirt under the carpet (like other nations equally badly do), but strike down with determination the responsible ones, and move on. Without vengeance, and without guilt. It happened, let's deal with it, let's go [this is a complicated point - it seems people involved in politics in all countries develop an instict towards un-truthfulness - if not outright lying... or is it that the only ones who don't mind doing politics are the ones who can't speak straight? Hmmmm... Angela Merkel, from her first actions as chancellor, sounds like a change - for the better. We can hope]

[cont.]

PART FOURTo sum it u... (Below threshold)
David Benini:

PART FOUR
To sum it up:
Jeff says in his blog:
"Tyranny anywhere is a threat to freedom everywhere. That's the war we're fighting. And it's bigger than al-Qaida. It's bigger than Iraq and it's bigger than Palestine, and it's sure as hell bigger than Osama bin Laden. It's a war to decide the fate of the entire world. And it's a war we mean to win."

Closed view.
What is happening is akin to busting up our neighbor because we don't like how he cuts his grass (how a country is run). If he's got slaves, beats women, and disrespects other people, we can tell him to stop, because the neighborhood doesn't like it; we can call police to intervene (UN); we can gather evidence (pictures or recordings, or show up at unlikely times for a cup of sugar - did anyone do that before the Iraqi 2003 INVASION?) to show to police, but taking matters in our own hands is outlawed. And I can continue to live my own life in the meantime (domestic affairs). I do not need to defend myself if not offended, and I WOULDN'T be offended if I did not attack. We do not see Italy being attacked or German flags burned, or Finnish people being hijacked... how is that? (And do not dismiss easily - Madrid and London were bombed as retaliation for an unjustified attack the two respective countries should not have carried out in the first place without [decent] UN supervision).

Well, happy thinking.
Peace.

Post Scriptum:I li... (Below threshold)
David Benini:

Post Scriptum:

I live in Italy, I didn't spend the night worrying over all these things. 8:26 posting means 14.34 here, but it did take me 3 hours to put all these thoughts together in an ordinate way. Enjoy.

Post Post Scriptum:R... (Below threshold)
David Benini:

Post Post Scriptum:
Rereading I noticed this might cause misunderstanding: the "cute pet" metaphor does not imply terrorists are cute pets, but that tampering with something still for long enough makes it move...

Post Post Post Scriptum:<br... (Below threshold)
David Benini:

Post Post Post Scriptum:
in PART ONE "CHOOSED" should read CHOSE.

Poll: Most think Bush is fa... (Below threshold)
nick:

Poll: Most think Bush is failing second term
President 'looking forward' to congressional campaigning


Friday, January 27, 2006; Posted: 8:22 a.m. EST (13:22 GMT)

President Bush defended his job performance Thursday, pointing to an improved economy.


George W. Bush

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A majority of Americans are more likely to vote for a candidate in November's congressional elections who opposes President Bush, and 58 percent consider his second term a failure so far, according to a poll released Thursday.

Fewer people consider Bush to be honest and trustworthy now than did a year ago, and 53 percent said they believe his administration deliberately misled the public about Iraq's purported weapons program before the U.S. invasion in 2003, the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll found.

Pollsters interviewed 1,006 American adults Friday through Sunday. Most questions in the survey had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. (Poll)

Bush is preparing for his State of the Union address, set for next week, and told reporters Thursday that he is "looking forward" to campaigning for Republicans in November's elections. (Full story)

But the latest poll indicated Americans remain in a pessimistic mood.

Fifty-eight percent of those polled said Bush's second term has been a failure so far, while 38 percent said they consider it a success. A smaller number -- 52 percent -- consider his entire presidency a failure to date, with 46 percent calling it successful. (Complete poll results)

In the latter case, the numbers fall within those two questions' margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Bush defended his performance Thursday, pointing to an improved economy despite higher prices for gasoline, heating oil and natural gas. He said the November elections would be about "peace and prosperity."

"We've got a record, and a good one," he said. "That's what I intend to campaign on and explain to people why I made the decisions I made, and why they're necessary to protect the American people, and why they've been necessary to keep this economy strong -- and why the policies we've got will keep this economy strong in the future."

But 51 percent of those polled said they were more likely to vote for a candidate in congressional elections who opposes Bush, while 40 percent said they were likely to vote for a candidate who backs the president.

Bush's own approval rating remained at 43 percent, unchanged since mid-December, according to results released earlier this week. Another 54 percent disapproved of his job performance, that survey found.

Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed in the latest poll -- 62 percent -- said they were dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States, while 35 percent said they were satisfied.

And 64 percent said things in the United States have gotten worse in the past five years, while 28 percent said things have improved.

For the first time since Bush took office in 2001, a majority of those polled said the president -- who campaigned as "a uniter, not a divider" -- has been a divisive leader. Fifty-four percent called Bush a divider, while 41 percent called him a uniter.

Just over a third -- 34 percent -- said Bush had a clear plan for solving the nation's problems, and 44 percent agreed that he cared about the needs of people like them and shared their values.

A narrow majority of 51 percent said they consider Bush to be a strong and decisive leader, compared with 48 percent who disagreed. Although those totals fall within the margin of sampling error, they mark a decline from a year ago, when 61 percent called the president strong and decisive.

Split on honesty

Americans were divided evenly -- 49-49 -- on the question of Bush's honesty.

The number of those polled who consider Bush trustworthy improved from a November survey, when only 46 percent rated him honest. But the figure is down from a year ago, when 56 percent considered him honest and trustworthy, and only 41 percent disapproved.

Specifically, 53 percent said they believe his administration deliberately misled the public about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, as Bush and other top officials argued on the eve of the March 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Once Hussein was overthrown, U.S. inspectors concluded that Iraq had not kept stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, long-range missiles and a nuclear weapons program, though Iraq had concealed weapons-related research from the United Nations.

U.S. troops are battling a persistent insurgency in Iraq, with two soldiers killed in combat Wednesday, raising the American death toll to 2,238. More than 2,000 of those have died since Bush declared an end to "major combat operations" May 1, 2003.

The war in Iraq topped the list of respondents' concerns going into 2006, with 58 percent calling it extremely important. Terrorism was next with 57 percent, followed by health care with 47 percent, the economy at 46 percent and corruption at 45 percent.

Most of those polled said they believe the United States will have a "significant number" of troops in Iraq for more than a year, with 47 percent believing the U.S. commitment will last one to three years and 33 percent believing the U.S. presence will last longer than that.

Thirty-four percent said they considered economic conditions good and 5 percent excellent, while 41 percent rated the economy fair and 18 percent poor.

Asked which way the economy was headed, 35 percent said they believed it was improving; 54 percent said it was getting worse.

Economic growth has picked up in recent months, and unemployment has declined since 2003. But gasoline prices remain well over $2 a gallon on average, and natural gas and heating oil bills have gone up since 2005. (Full story)

Billy,You are a du... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Billy,

You are a dumbass. First of all Clinton and Gore did not keep us safe. If you recall, the towers were bombed during the Clinton administration. The only difference is the terrorists failed at toppling them. Also, remember the USS Cole. Were they safe?...hmmm guess not...Secondly, during the Clinton administration, they knew who was behind the bombings and did little to find the SOBs and kill them.

Now, I do not agree with everything Bush is doing, but I believe he is taking into his hands what other presidents did not and were afraid to do. The safety of our country and citizens is the responsibility of this president. He is doing what is necessary to find these terrorists and discover their plans before they can act on them.

As far as incompetence, let's look at your boy Clinton. Bottom line, Bush is cleaning up the Clinton administrations faults. That is why Clinton has little to say in regards to Bush's efforts. Because Clinton, knew that he himself, left this country open to terrorists and terrorist activities.




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