War Post

I usually refrain from discussing the Iraq War here for several reasons. First, I am ambivalent about the war; despite some revisionist history after inception, many people (including me) thought there were WMD's, and a genuine threat. Second, a 'solution', if it exists, is certainly larger than a bunch of people screaming at each other on weblogs. Third, following on the heels of the second, most discussions I have seen online revert to the two sides calling each other names and accusing each other of all sorts of heinous motives and beliefs. That's not really my style, at least most of the time.

I did, however, enjoy this piece. While I did not agree with everything that Blankley said in the piece, I thought this observation squared in large part with what I do think:

These people — perhaps two-thirds of Europeans and 30 percent to 40 percent of Americans — believe the terrorists can be dealt with merely with law enforcement just as previous European 20th-century terrorists had been. People who hold this view are likely to wrongly see George W. Bush, Tony Blair and people, such as me, who agree with them as exploiting the fear of terrorists for crass political advantage.

Thus, much of the ferocious controversy over electronic intercepts, Guantanamo, CIA renditions, semi-secret foreign-based CIA prisons, coerced interrogation methods and the Patriot Act provisions is a product of not seeing a sufficient threat to national security to justify such tough wartime intrusions into civil liberties.

If we can't agree on the nature and magnitude of the threat, we aren't likely to be able to agree on the means of protecting ourselves from it.

Until we can convince the other half that we face an existential threat from radical Islam, virulent political strife in Washington will continue to delay the start of designing and implementing an effective, united national defense.

In other words, if one believes the terrorist threat to be real and significant, it is much easier to accept some of the means to counter it. On the other hand, those who believe the threat is overblown, tend to view counter-terrorism efforts as scare tactics and indicative of some unstated, nefarious purpose.


Anonymous said...

Fact - More US citizens have been killed falling off ladders this year than by terrorists in the last 200 years

Fact - You are more likely to win the lottery - twice - than you are to be killed or wounded by a terrorist.

Maybe it was my background in Nuclear Weapons/Nuclear Reactors, but I never bought into the WMD argument. Moreover, the idea that Saddam Insane was harboring or anyway connected to Osama Bin Laden was laughable (dictators do not usually associate with ANYONE that could threaten thier authority). In fact, Saddam had a unique answer to terrorism in his country - he would kill you, your family, your friends and any neighbors you had to insure that next time, someone would come forward. Saddam was amazingly capable when it came to routing out terrorists and killing them.

So... I did not buy the reasons spoon fed us to be in this war. I do not buy the reasons that are given for keeping us there - at a multi-trillon dollar price tag. Regardless of what we do at this point, there will be a bloody civil war. Saddam was only able to maintain control because he was ruthless enough. That country is a theological and cultural timebomb and we stepped right into the middle of it.

As far as the excesses of Bush Co and thier complete destruction of the simple rights ennumerated in the Constitution - GeeGuy, I am utter floored at you. As a lawyer, you have a better understanding of those Constitutional rights than most. The idea of Habeas Corpus, the idea of the 4th and 5th amendment - all these have been trampled on without thought or backward glance.

I can't remember who said it but "those that would give up thier liberty for a false sense of security deserve neither". Bush is a criminal. Plain and simple. The Supreme Court has ruled it, the international community has proved it and we, as a country are ignoring it. Sad...


GeeGuy said...

Moorcat, I don't know how you can be floored by anything in this post. I really didn't offer an opinion one way or another.

I do think, though, that Blankley's point is legitimate. The more one considers terrorism a threat, the less worried they are about the alleged abuses.

And, to the extent your comment can be said to assert that our Constitutional right to habeus corpus should extend to non-citizen enemies, well, I think you're wrong.

(P.S. Could I have a cite to that ladder statistic? I don't necessarily doubt it, but I would like to see it for myself.)

GeeGuy said...

I am also curious about your assessment of the threat of a terrorist, nuclear attack on a US or other western city.

Anonymous said...

I will have to get back to you with the cite for the ladder statistic - I looked it up for a post on Pragmatic_revolt and the cite is there somewhere. I will have to find it. If I remember correctly, the number is around 18,000 a year but I will find it to be sure.

As far as the second question, it has little to do with the post, but I can certainly answer it.

The bottom line is that the threat of a terrorist group setting off a nuclear device in America is less than in Europe or Isreal, but a possibility nonetheless.

Without writing a desertation on the subject, in short, too many devices have been lost when the Soviet Union broke up to think that it is impossible for a terrorist group to get thier hands on one. The Russian have no idea where these devices are or even how many are missing. These devices are probably low yeild tactical devices (though the possibility exists that 1 - 3 larger strategic devices are also missing according a report compiled by NATO in the late 90's. I will try to see if I can find the report.

Anyway, due to the maintenence requirements of these devices (they were twitchy at the best of times and required constant maintenence), these devices, by themselves are probably not operable. Unfortunately, the technology to turn one of these devices into a working bomb is easily available, as is the knowledge on how to do it.

Tom Clancy wrote a book called "The sum of all fears". It is a work of fiction, but take it from me - I worked on Ballistic Missle Subs for over 8 years as a reactor Operator and I have a pretty good working knowledge of what makes a nuclear device tick. The ease with which Clancy's bad guys reworded thier device is not all that far off.

To bring this back to the topic at hand, Bush Co's authoritarian tactics and disregard of both our Constitution and International Law would not prevent a device like this from being set off if the Terrorist organization wanted to do it. There would be no international calls or emails to intercept. The number of people who knew anything about it until it was all over with would be less than five.

The short version is that there is little we could do to stop this from happening. It helps a little that we have tightened our borders somewhat but you notice it hasn't slowed down the drug runners...

You can stop holding your breath, though. If (and it is still a big if for many reasons I haven't gone into here...) a Muslim Terrorist organization did get a working device, it wouldn't be used on us. As pretty a target as we are, 1) Isreal is a hell of a lot better target 2) Isreal doesn't have the nuclear capability of turning the entire Middle East into a glass parking lot - we do.

I know that I haven't answered your question completely but I didn't want to take up too much of your blog space. I will have to do a post on my own blog about this one of these days.