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Just A Few Thoughts On Tuesday's Events.

Fri Sep 14, 2001 5:30 pm

Firstly, I want to express my deepest condolences and sympathies with the People of New York, Washington, and with the families on board the 4 airliners.

From what we have heard, the passengers of UA 93, which eventually went down in rural Pennsylvania, knew about the attacks on New York, and knew that they were headed for a similar fate. The men aboard the flight voted to attempt to overpower the hijackers, knowing that they might have a miniscule chance of surviving, but that at best they would at least thwart the attack on whatever target their captors had in mind. I suppose, once we will have the evidence, it is during the ensuing struggle that control of the plane was lost. Those people aboard that flight, I feel, died as heros. They refused to die without a fight, and fought not only to save their own skins (which they certainly knew were almost certainly lost), but also to save those at whatever their intended target was.

Those aboard the other planes probably had little idea of what was going on, other than a hijacking. As hijackings are usually survivable simply by waiting, nobody can fault them for not having tried (as far as we know) the desperate gamble that occured on UA 93.

New York has never been my favorite town. I visited it a couple of times in the "Bad Old Days" before Guliani came to clean it up (I've heard he has done a tremendous job). But the solidarity and compassion shown by New Yorkers (of all people) seen around the world is a testimony to the deep character of the City, its people and its leadership. It is certainly a city that now, much more than before, I wish to visit, not to gawk at the remains of the WTC, but to see and meet the people that have risen up to this occasion.

President Bush so far has done the right things. He has let local authorites deal with the immediate aftermath, while he did his job rallying world support. His predecessor probably would have been in NYC the same day or the next for a photo-opportunity, getting in the way and causing security and other forces to have to stop the vital jobs they had to search for survivors and maintain order so that they could look after the security of a "tourist". Bush was right in waiting for a few days.

Right now, the Bush Administration has recieved pledges of outright support from most countries, and from others, more ambiguous statements. As Colin Powell said, "This is when we will find out who our friends are." For all of its horrors, this occasion marks an unprecidented opportunity to go after terrorism "root and branch". History will not look kindly at the world's leaders today if they let the opportunity slip by.

This attack has changed the way Terrorism has been seen by everyone. Gone are the days when the worst that could happen was a few dozen casualties - bad enough, but still a relatively small issue mainly limited to areas immediately surrounding an area of strife. Terrorism has now escalated to the level equivalent to an organized attack by a nation-state against another.

The rules, until now, have been to combat terrorism on a "civilized" basis - i.e. surgical strikes only. Knowing the civilized world's weakness in the face of possible civilian casualties, terrorists have used this to their advantage, and have hidden from retribution within non-combative (but often highly sympathetic) populations, while planning their next, even greater attack.

This attack must cause these rules to be changed. Make those populations wherin terrorists hide know that proximity to terrorists makes them targets that will not be forgone due to their presence. Let them know that they have a choice if they know terrorists live in their area - either move away (clearing the field of fire) or inform on the terrorists, allowing a more surgical strike, reducing the probability of collateral damage.

If we try to conduct this investigation according to the "old rules", we will not find the instigators of this attack, and we will not be able to stop them from planning and executing the next attack. It is quite clear that whoever launched this attack has been reading Tom Clancy's books, taking this attack almost directly from those pages. Other such pages describe a terrorist attack using a crude nuclear device, and we know that Bin Ladin has been trying to get his hands on such materials, and that these materials are, if not easily available, are still available.

If the investigation shows that Bin Ladin was indeed the instigator of this attack, Afganistan should be issued an ultimatum: Hand him over, or your nation will be considered as an active accomplice to an attack on another country's territory and civilian population, thus a legitimate object of a declaration of war by the U.S.A. against Afganistan. The bombing will stop only when the Taliban has enough and hands Bin Ladin over, or when there is nobody left to hand anyone over.

If extremist elements in other countries (like Syria, Palestine, Pakistan) start to jump up and down screaming "Jihad", the U.S. should call on those countries to make good on their promises for support. Either they qwell these elements internally, for the good of mankind, or be considered as further accomplices, and subject to the same treatment.

Make no mistake. War has been declared on the USA. By the invokation of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, the rest of NATO has stated that in effect, an act of war has been committed against them all, and will lend all needed force, military or otherwise. Other nations outside of NATO have made similar pledges.

Could this be a precursor to WWIII? Perhaps. But war is not always evil. The U.S. shied away for over 2 years while Hitler rampaged across Europe - Had the U.S. jumped in earlier in the game perhaps Hitler would never have gone so far as he did. In the end, WWII WAS a battle of ggod against evil, and can you imagine the world today if the Axis had won by default, because the rest of the world did not have the stomach to fight them? And we certainly could not have beaten them had we kept to the current standard of "surgical strikes only".

The rules must change. People will die. But if done with the utmost conviction, this period may well be the last time we see terrorists attacking from behind unassailable protective walls, thus bringing their own existance to an end. The result of a intense, no-holds-barred fight now will ensure protection from increasingly destructive acts of terror. If we don't make a clear signal that terrorism will no longer be fought with one hand tied behind our backs, we will see this kind of attack more and more often.

I'm sure that there are hundreds of terrorists around the world right now, thinking, "I never thought it could be done - let's start planning our strike just like that one (or even bigger) right now!". Imagine what potential targets there are. A 747 right into the stadium during the Superbowl. Buckingham Palace. Parliament buildings in dozens of countries. The towers in Seattle or Toronto. Plenty of targets.

The only thing you should feel when shooting a terrorist: Recoil.
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RE: Just A Few Thoughts On Tuesday's Events.

Fri Sep 14, 2001 6:25 pm

Again, I agree completely with you Cfalk, those words were very well said.
My respected users list was updated accordingly.

Ivailo Sokolov
SOF - Bulgaria
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RE: Just A Few Thoughts On Tuesday's Events.

Fri Sep 14, 2001 6:32 pm

Quite a lot of this post was intelligent and thoughtful. But I disagree with quite a lot, too.

Point 1: The Taliban regime is a government. They came to power, if my memory serves me right, in a violent revolutionary takeover. They suppress their own population (especially women) with utter harshness and violence. It would be all the more atrocious to unleash the rage of the USA against that very same suppressed population. The terrorists need to be found, and killed. (Although I still prefer the idea of a proper trial, where the terrorists are captured and tried on American soil, instead of just being bombed into oblivion). If the Taliban government is a big obstruction, then they might have to be taken out. But not the civilian population....

Point 2: I do not think other Arab nations will shout "Jihad". Some individuals and extremists within other countries may do. But this must not be taken as an act of their entire nation. As long as no other Arab nation officially declares war on the USA, their complaints must not be taken as excuse to attack them.

Point 3: The idea of striking more widespread may sound nice in theory, but is incredibly unfair in practice. Because if applied, it will only be applied to those nations that happen to be unpopular in the USA anyway. To those nations, whose people are already being villainised by the news: Muslims. Does anyone seriously think such a policy would ever be applied to Northern Ireland, or specific regions of Spain? No. And therefore all this talk about not bothering to protect civilians leads to a highly prejudiced situation, where the real victims are not the terrorists, but any Muslim civilian.

Point 4: War IS always evil. By invading other nations, hitler did start a war, and it was an evil war by any standards. Be it the concentration camps on the one hand, or the specific targeting of civilian homes on the other hand, this war was evil. This attack on the USA a few days ago was not the declaration of war by any nation. It was the act of a minority, of an extremist religious terrorist group. It was a declaration of war by a group of criminals. Suggesting this is a war in the traditional sense is incorrect. If the drug mafia in a civilized nation attacked its competitors by killing civilians in the competitor's home area, would that be an act of war by the home nation of the drug mafia? No. Whatever the pictures spread over the TV try to suggest, the minority of people willing to kill, or support the killing of, innocent civilians, is not significantly bigger in Islam than in any other relgious group.

Point 5: Terrorism will never end. It is as old as war itself. Be it called "assassination" or "freedom fighting", it has been around for long. And during this century, it has exponentially grown like all other things, grown with technology, grown at the same rate as violence. It will never be possible to extinguihs it forever. It is a good thing to hunt down terrorists and kill them, but there will always be replacements popping up. And if a full war against a mostly innocent civilian population is waged, this will only make terrorists martyrs, and it will only raise the support for these killers within the population, it will only aide their recruitment, and it will only increase the problem.

Bottom line: Kill those guilty. But do not start killing everyone else around them.



PS: I live in London, a city traditionally known to be the home to exile dictators, terrorists and quite a few scumbags. Just because I happen to live in an area surrounded by embassies that may (or may not) at some times contain or protect terrorists does not make me a supporter of them. I'd be pretty pissed if a missile hits me on the way home from college as I walk in front of one of the many Arab embassies in the area, just because someone suspects they might be "harbouring terrorists". War on terrorism is fine. Just make sure you capture and kill ONLY the terrorists.

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RE: Just A Few Thoughts On Tuesday's Events.

Fri Sep 14, 2001 7:19 pm


I appreciate your point of view. It is the result of the values that you and I (along with members of every civilized country) have grown up with. Believe me, they are not values which can, or should, be thrown away lightly.

If it is possible for those responsible to be specifically targeted and stuck, great. Unfortunately, given where these people are, it means ground forces, and I'm sure the Russians can tell the U.S. all about how much the Afgans enjoy having foreign troops in their country.

I feel we must remove the traditional protection terrorists have - the protection of surrounding civilians. We can only do this by letting such civilians know that they are in mortal danger if they harbor terrorists.

The same goes for governments. The Taliban believe that they can protect Bin Ladin by proclaiming their own innocence while protecting their local bad boy. This belief must be shaken - hard.

I am certain that we have not seen the worst terrorist attack. There are others in planning stages, some perhaps already in the execution stage which could make this attack look trivial. This latest attack, I'm sure, has already broadened the horizons and dreams of who-knows how many fanatics. Give them the time to make up their own plans and execute them, and thousands more will die.

The only thing that these people understand is brute force. You must hurt them more than they hurt you.

You are absolutely correct to say that what has transpired was the result of a few nuts, and not a government. However, a government who harbors and protects such people cannot be considered any better than those it protects.

The U.S. government has the duty to protect the interests of their own country. As a "gift" to the world, for the past 56 years the U.S. has also protected the interests of other countries if they were in a position to do so, and if it was within reason. For example, the U.S. has for many years had a huge trade imbalance with China and Japan, which is beneficial for those countries, but harmful to the U.S., however this is tolerated under the premise that "the U.S. can afford it". If the U.S. were totally selfish, the U.S. would be much richer and those two countries much poorer.

In this case, the U.S. (and the other civilized nations) must protect their interests above all else. If, by harboring and aiding terrorists within their borders, some government attacks U.S. interests too harshly (such as the massacre of civilians), it is not an option, but the sworn duty of the U.S. government (and those of its allies) to eliminate the threat, including if it means the total destruction of the offending government, and unless the population of that country makes it known that they wish to form a new, more sensible government (such as happened at the end of WWII), the whole country as well.

Believe it or not, I am not a bloodthirsty individual. In this forum, I criticized Israel for being a bit too indescriminate in their attacks. But given the massive escalation of violence made by terrorists, it must be met by a massive escalation of our own.

It saddens me deeply to say that the events of last tuesday have shown clearly that the values that you and I have grown up with are not only make us powerless to stop or even limit terrorism, but actually encourages them to new horrors, knowing that we will not fight them back effectively.

The only thing you should feel when shooting a terrorist: Recoil.
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RE: Just A Few Thoughts On Tuesday's Events.

Fri Sep 14, 2001 8:08 pm

Today the Economist arrived in my mail, as it does every Friday. This time, I was looking forward to it with anticipation. Finally, some (relatively) reliable news that even provide background.

And, quite frankly, I was shocked by the articles indicating quite how massive the mistakes on behals of the USA are in the matter. I was born in 1982. I never noticed much of the Afghanistan War. But to think that the USA themselves revitalised a belief that had been dormant for hundreds of years, the idea of the Jihad (Holy War), only to pester Russia? And to think that this mistake is now being paid for in the worst way possible.
Wer den Wind saeht, wird Sturm ernten......

Or how about the warnings issued by bin Laden's people, detailling that a "massive, unprecedented attack on the US" was at hand? How could the best-funded intelligence agencies in the world completely underestimate these news? Stepping up airport security to search for potential terrorists would have been the least that should have been expected. And what about airport security within the USA - according to these articles it is literally non-existent compared with international standards, or international flights. That is nothing short of gross negligence...

To be honest, this information certainly surprised me. I have no less sympathy for the victims and the people left behind. But I do feel that bad mistakes have been made by the government - years ago, admittedly, but undeniably mistakes. And so I think to make even worse mistakes is not a good idea at all.
If absolutely necessary (i.e. if the Taliban react with violence and threats when bin Laden is arrested or killed, and his fellow terrorists pursued) I could accept the removal of the Taliban regime as a possible inevitability. But not the removal of the POPULATION of Afghanistan. And not a "war" against Syria or Lebanon or any other country that is not involved.

I still stand by the beliefs I have grown up with. It has always been, still is, and will always be wrong to strike against innocents who just happen to be in the proximity of the guilty. And it would be even more wrong to generalize and declare entire populations, or anyone belonging to a certain religion, as enemies, because of a minority. America is built on many beliefs, including freedom and justice. It would be a sad day to see the latter ignored because of a blind rage.


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RE: Just A Few Thoughts On Tuesday's Events.

Fri Sep 14, 2001 9:57 pm

Well, it's starting to get ugly with the Taliban. I expect there will be another Jihad call going out soon. They have absolutely no intention of handing Bin Ladin over.

Again, I say any government willing to protect such a man is no better themselves, and should be exterminated.

Once all the evidence is in, I would suggest that Bush have the evidence presented at the International Tribunal at the Hague, in order to get an international, legal condemnation.

The only thing you should feel when shooting a terrorist: Recoil.

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