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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Giving Dubya Some Credit

Even for critics of George Bush’s Big Government brand of conservatism like yours truly, it is fair to accept that this Wall Street Journal author makes a good point:

“But when a professed enemy succeeds as wildly as al Qaeda did on 9/11, and seven years pass without an incident, there are two reasonable conclusions: Either, despite all the trash-talking videos, they have been taking a long, leisurely breather; or, something serious has been done to thwart and disable their operations. Whatever combination of psychology and insanity motivates a terrorist to blow himself up is not within my range of experience, but I’m betting the aggressive measures the president took, and the unequivocal message he sent, might have had something to do with it.”

And:

“Terrorism is now largely off the table in the minds of most Americans. But in gearing up to elect a new president, we are left to wonder how, in spite of numerous failed policies and poor judgement, President Bush’s greatest achievement was denied to him by people who ungratefully availed themselves of the protection that his administration provided.”

Of course, it may be that America has avoided a major attack after 9/11 due to good fortune, or that Islamic terrorists hit their peak on that horrific day and have not been able to muster the co-ordination or resources to do anything so spectacular since. I hope that is right. I think some of the security measures, such as the Patriot Act, have added a further layer of red tape and intrusion without boosting security. But on the face of it, Bush has done something right in helping prevent a further attack on US soil. It is unlikely, however, to be a fact that gets much attention these days. It does not fit with the narrative of Dubya The Texan Idiot that so many supposedly intelligent people like to play at dinner parties.

43 comments to Giving Dubya Some Credit

  • MichaelV

    I’m going to have to go with: the terrorists are not actually that good at big events, and just happened to have a lucky combination of events making them wildly successful on 9/11. They haven’t succeeded since then in anything nearly that big because it’s hard to pull off.

  • I hope that is right.

    Um, why? You seem to be saying you prefer being lucky to being safer.

  • John K

    The Taliban provided sanctuary to AQ where they could run training camps unhindered by anything apart from a couple of cruise missiles which Slick Willie sent their way. The invasion of Afghanistan and destruction of the Taliban regime destroyed all this AQ infrastructure. Bin Liner and his mates may be able to hide out on the North West Frontier, but they can no longer run the recruitment operations (all those young guys from Birmingham who decided to “study Islam” in Afghanistan in the 90’s) and training camps that they could in Afghanistan. In my opinion that is what ensured that AQ was put on the back foot and has been unable to mount another attack on the scale of 9/11.

  • Whatever happened to analysis at the margin?

    All we really needed to prevent 9/11, or “another 9/11″ was greater cockpit security and some better carry-on screening.

    But we instead implemented much more security theater (and civil liberties erosion) with essentially no added benefit.

    In my calculus, that’s a “Fail.”

    P.S. We never captured OBL.

  • I don’t really think it matters if Al-Qaeda’s infrastructure has been damaged so much that they cannot muster another attack like on 9/11. This is how I look at it:

    The ‘War on Terror’ has dealt Al-Qaeda a lethal blow (supposedly, but lets say that is true). So, now Al-Qaeda is no longer a threat. That is fine and dandy, but fighting terrorism is like trying to destroy the ‘cold virus.’ It’s pretty much impossible. It doesn’t matter if Al-Qaeda is withering away to nothing, because there are lots of other terrorist groups that are prevalent in the world.

    For instance, a recent article stated that Hezbollah is a greater threat than Al-Qaeda (that seemed to come out of left field). But, that means that terrorism is not completely eradicated, and thus proves that once you knock out one group there is always someone/something to take its place.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Charlie, I want to be safer of course. But I said I hoped it was the case that terror groups had either hit a peak and failed to regroup. That surely is good news.

  • WalterBoswell

    Maybe they got sucked into believing the Security Theatre too. I mean their only human after all.

  • Nick M

    No.

    Bush was useless about it.

    His “Islam is a religion of peace” schtick was deranged.

    Yeah, and the Nazis were the peaceful and democratically elected government of Germany (democracy is God to the likes of Dubya) and therefore good who alas had their peaceful movement hijacked by a small number of “extremists”.

    There has been a total lack of clarity of purpose about the Great War on Terror. Central to this is the lack of the political will to call Islam for what it is. D’ya think the mullahs respect us for it? Do they hell. They see it as greater evidence of our cultural weakness.

    Bush should have called Islamism for what it is, as Reagan did about Communism.

    Since those 767s fell out of a clear blue sky on 9/11 we have lost maybe 10,000 people to Islamists and that is just in the West.

    Dubya should have called a spade a spade. Being President, if it means anything, means being prepared to be judged by history and not tomorrow’s media.

    Pull the other one.

  • and therefore good who alas

    and therefore good and alas

    Obviously. I totally rejigged it rapidly.

  • Laird

    The Bush Administration probably deserves credit for there not having been a single significant terrorist “event” in the US since 9-11, and I agree that for the most part this is undoubtedly because of the destruction of Al Qaeda’s infrastructure and training facilities in Afghanistan. However, I posit that many of the new “security” measures implemented within the US (the Patriot Act, security “theater” in airports, passage of the Real ID Act, even the creation of the Orwellian-named Department of Homeland Security) had little or nothing to do with that. Such actions were in fact a gross over-reaction to 9-11, and treated it as an excuse for the expansion of governmental power and a justification for the substantial erosion of our civil liberties.

    Slightly off-topic, perhaps, but I object to the phrase “War on Terror.” Terrorism is a tactic, not an enemy in itself; it is a tool of the weaker party in an asymmetric struggle. Declaring a “war on terror” is tantamount to declaring a “war on bullets,” and makes just as much sense. Furthermore, we haven’t declared “war” on all terrorists (there are plenty of groups which use terrorism as a tactic), merely one specific type of terrorist. We need to start calling this what it truly is: a war on Islamic fundamentalists who use terror as a tool.

  • Stefan

    @Laird

    Yeah, but say that ten times fast. Your marketing sucks.

    I don’t know why people get so upset about the phrase “war on terror.” Everyone knows what we mean when we say “war on terror.” No one in their right mind thinks we mean the “war on bullets” equivalent, because that’s totally absurd. But it’s a relatively short name that gets the point across. You’re just quibbling.

    As an addendum, terrorism is a strategy, not a tactic. Suicide bombing and public/broadcast decapitations are the refused flanks and encirclements (tactics) of a battle plan which attempts to force one’s will on another (strategy).

  • Stefan

    @Laird

    Upon further reflection, bullets are also not a tactic.

  • Slugger

    I find it hard to believe that terrorism has been prevented by any specific actions such as destroying their training camps.
    For one thing, terroristic attacks do not require highly sophisticated strategems. One idiot with a gun or bomb in a crowded square in a city anywhere in the United States would make global headlines with a terror attack.
    For another, there are 10-12 million illegals in the US. Narcotraffickers import tons of product. Yet , Al Qaida can’t sneak in one dude with a hand grenade?
    The only thing that makes sense is that Al Qaida is exceptionally incompetent.
    I’ve told my friends that it is lucky that the US has pissed of people in the Middle East instead of the Irish.

  • Kevin B

    I do give Dubya a lot of credit for the lack of attacks on US soil since 9/11. Not only for the invasion of Afghanistan which, as has been pointed out, destroyed a lot of AQ infrastructure, but also for the invasion of Iraq and the deposing of Saddam.

    These two invasions had two main effects. One is to illustrate to any government tempted to support terrorists that pissing off the yanks could be a losing proposition on their part, and two, providing a locus for action for all the terrorist wannabees that is in their territory rather than ours. Yes, the ‘dicredited’ fly-paper strategy. Seems to have worked though.

    There are tentative signs of a third effect since the ‘surge’ began and that is that AQ and their pals are beginning to look like losers to the wider muslim public. It’s too early to say how profound this effect may be, but clerics as well as politicians are starting to slag off AQ for their tactics, especially killing lots of muslims because they can’t go after the Americans.

    How much of the credit should go to Dubya? Most of it, since he has taken most of the blame.

    As for Hezbollah being more dangerous than AQ these days. Well yes they are, and the reasons for that are that Iran sees America backing off from it’s more aggresive stance under pressure from public opinion and thinks it may be able to get away with pushing things.

    They will probably be wrong, especially if they are relying on a few nukes to help them. America, (and Britain and France), have enough destructive power in a single missile submarine to destroy them and most of the rest of the ME if they push too hard.

  • JerryM

    I have to give Bush et al most of the credit, in spite of searching nuns and granny’s at the airport. Yes, there are no more training camps, but it is also very difficult to mount a large operation when you know Bushco is looking for you. Additionally, we the people are much more vigilant. We report suspicious activities much more than before. Not so easy to rent tanker trucks, take flying (but not landing) lessons. There is no way someone is going to hijack an airliner without a passenger revolt. I’m doubting Algore would have caused such a response.

  • Laird

    OK, Stefan, I stand corrected: terrorism is a “strategy”, not a “tactic.” Whatever. Call it what you like; the point remains that it is not itself an enemy, and there can be no “war” against it. (And I never said that bullets are a “tactic.” Google the word “analogy” sometime.)

    But this is not a mere quibble. Referring to the fight against Muslim fundamentalists as a “war on terror” is not merely shorthand for something which would otherwise require a more lengthy description; it is of a piece with Bush’s characterization of Islam as a “religion of peace.” It is a gutless sop to the forces of political correctness, a brainless, foolish and ultimately futile attempt to avoid giving offense to those who would do us harm (or to their apologists and enablers). If you cannot name your enemy you cannot formulate effective strategies against him.

    Words have meaning. Names have power. The Bush Administration’s fear of clearly defining our enemy is telling. Unless that changes we cannot hope to prevail in the long run.

  • So, the killing of over one million Iraqis, thousands of American soldiers, and hundreds of British ones, is something to crow over? I expect when a few million more are killed during the American invasion of Iran, we may get more Samizdata paeans to the praise of US neoconservatism saving freedom? And then when the resultant super-Shia state emerges, after the Americans have been repulsed, filled with tens of millions of angry Muslims with hate in their eyes, and US-murdered and UK-murdered relatives to avenge, we will feel much safer than we did before the Americans and their Brit lapdogs started frigging around in the middle east?

    Personally, I’ll be amazed if a third live nuclear weapon isn’t unleashed during this conflagration, to join its brethren of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, I don’t think this time it will be the Americans unleashing it. That Al-Qaeda haven’t managed this feat yet, will not be for their lack of trying, especially with Pakistan in political meltdown, with its own collection of US-inspired nuclear ordnance.

    At the moment I suppose you might be right in that Al-Qaeda are too busy killing Kansas and Wiltshire farm boys, in Afghanistan and Iraq, to worry too much about nuking London or New York. But I’m sure the eventual prospect isn’t too far from their minds.

    And just what is it with Samizdata? I thought it used to be a site for aspiring libertarians, you know, those people who professed to delight in non-aggression except perhaps in self-defence. However, it’s hardly ‘the clandestine copying and distribution of government-suppressed literature’ spirit any more, is it?

    It’s more of a neocon shill for aggressive state wars started with lies and paid for with coercively extracted taxation and rapacious inflation. Perhaps the site should be renamed Pravda-ta?

  • M

    I don’t think Al Qaeda need to particularly launch another major strike against the United States. The large US, long-term occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq are slowly bleeding American military and economic strength, as well as making America increasingly unpopular around the world. The Bush administration, Congress, and Federal Reserve are all committed to policies of economic suicide too, so they do half of the job for Al Qaeda anyway.

  • Kevin B

    At the moment I suppose you might be right in that Al-Qaeda are too busy killing being killed by Kansas and Wiltshire farm boys [and don’t forget the Iraqi farm boys who joined the army in their tens of thousands] , in Afghanistan and Iraq

    And ‘the American invasion of Iran’ will not be a nation building excercise. If the Americans go into Iran then it will be in response to severe Iranian provocation and they will go in hard and heavy. This time the millions of dead may well be real and not the artefact of some politically inspired data fiddling.

    And if terrorists get hold of a nuclear device and explode it in a Western city it will not be because of ‘American, (or western), aggression, it will be because they choose to to advance their political aims in exactly the same way that they tried on 9/11.

    There are two sides in this dispute. Blaming America and the west for all the woes of the world is both infantile and patronising. The Islamists have clear and well enunciated aims. They are not demanding that we leave them alone, they are demanding that we surrender. You may feel we can ignore their demands but there are a lot of people who don’t.

  • M

    Afghanistan was supposed to be about catching Bin Laden. It is now a nationbuilding exercise. Iraq was supposed to be about weapons that in the end were not found. It is now a nationbuilding exercise. I have every confidence that any war with Iran would end up a nationbuilding exercise.

  • Brad

    The biggest success from 9/11 is that people weren’t going to sit by while people with box cutters took over their plane. THAT in a nutshell is what should strike a libertarian first and foremost, that people until that fateful day drank the koolaid that their government was protecting them and did as they were told….sit by and wait for someone else to save your life. How much Dubya had to do with that I don’t know.

  • >and seven years pass without an incident

    Except for the anthrax attacks

    And the beltway snipers

    And the LAX Terminal shooting

    And the Seatle Community Center attack

    And the University of Oklahoma suicide bombing

    And the University of North Carolina SUV attack

    But I mean other than THOSE there’s been no incidents since 9-11

  • Kevin B

    Afghanistan was supposed to be about catching Bin Laden. It is now a nationbuilding exercise. Iraq was supposed to be about weapons that in the end were not found. It is now a nationbuilding exercise. I have every confidence that any war with Iran would end up a nationbuilding exercise.

    Does anyone really believe that nonsense?

    We invaded Afghanistan to knock over the AQ training camps and kick out the Taliban. We did this with a (relatively) few troops and a lot of air-power together with various alliances with groups opposed to the Talibs. We then helped install a government from those groups in an effort to keep the Taliban out. It was always a nation building exercise. I’d give it a six out of ten so far.

    We invaded Iraq to depose Saddam and help the Iraqis install a government and build a democratic Iraq. The reasons we gave were WMDs and ties to terrorists but the purpose was always to build a new Iraq. Read the neocon speeches from before the war. They’re quite explicit. I’d give this one a seven out of ten. Even Nancy thinks we’re succeeding, but she thinks it’s because the nice Iranians told Sadr to quit fighting, not because the Iraqi army was kicking his ass.

    Any war with Iran will be instigated by the leaders of Iran. Bush is not going to push anything now unless the Iranians do something really stupid, and if Jimmy Carter Barack Obama gets in Ahmadinejad may get away with plenty. But if the Americans do go in it won’t be for nation building.

  • FreeStater

    The death toll from terrorism in America is 3000 people per day!

    That is, of course, if you happen to live your entire life trapped in 9/11, like a certain Ex-Mayor I could name.

    If the scope of your vision extends to an entire year, and you live in 2001, then the death toll drops to 8.21917808 per day.

    If you have the vision to consider a decade, the death toll drops to .821917808 per day.

    If you have the amazing ability to think about two decades, the death toll drops to .41095989 per day.

    And when you consider a century, the death toll from terrorism is .082191780 per day.

    So the size of the problem is pretty much a matter of perspective.

  • Alasdair

    M – “Afghanistan was supposed to be about catching Bin Laden.” – only in *your* eyes and the eyes of those who are satisfied to get their newsfeed from the LATimes or NYTimes or Newsweek … Afghanistan was about eliminating the Taliban as state-sponsors of terrorists … amazingly enough, the Taliban isn’t sponsoring terror at the state level any more …

    Saddam Hussein (and his state – Iraq) used to pay bounties publicly and proudly to the families of those who blew themselves and nearby civilians up in Israel … wouldn’t you know it, amazingly enough, Iraq is no longer financing terrorism at that level any more …

    For rational folk, each of those two is considered to be a Good Thing …

  • Alasdair

    Laird – you are just being anti-semantic …

    For whatever reason, you are just coming across as having no effective arrows in your quibble …

  • Sam Duncan

    I’ve told my friends that it is lucky that the US has pissed of people in the Middle East instead of the Irish.

    Not really. We pissed off the Irish once. Nasty business, but at least the IRA was relatively rational, with a single, specific goal, and even gave out the odd half-hearted warning to the police before blowing innocent people to kingdom come. Not always early enough to save anyone’s life, but it was like the age of chivalry compared to this bunch of maniacs.

    And incidentally, the US hasn’t pissed them off. Everything that isn’t their interpretation of Islam has pissed them off. The US is just the biggest of their many, many bogeymen. It’s an important point.

    (Turing code: 959747. Porsche and Boeing. Nice.)

  • And incidentally, the US hasn’t pissed them off. Everything that isn’t their interpretation of Islam has pissed them off. The US is just the biggest of their many, many bogeymen. It’s an important point.

    I’m sure that that is true … for some of them. Unless, however, you believe that 1 billion people can have identical thoughts and feelings, you have to admit that there are a variety of motivations to which Muslims are subject, just as Christians do things — sometimes the same things — for different reasons.

    ** Some people may have supported the war with Iraq because they are Christians, and see all other religions as a threat.

    ** Some people may have supported the war with Iraq because they are Christians, and believe that it was charitable to impoverish our own people in order to provide freedom to a people who would not thank us for it.

    ** Some people may have supported the war with Iraq because they thought that it would lower oil prices — though of course, since war is the ultimate government program, it had the opposite effect, like most government programs.

    ** Some people may have supported the war with Iraq because they were Texas oil men, and stood to make a whole lot of money if oil production outside Texas dropped, and the price rose.

    ** Some people may have supported the war with Iraq because they want to see a Pax Americana imposed on the entire world.

    ** Some people may have supported the war with Iraq because they actually thought that an attack on a religion practiced by a billion people might somehow make America safer.

    To say that everyone fighting on the same side of a large and complex issue is fighting for the same reason is barking moonbattery at it’s worse. It assumes that groups thing and people do not. Actually, the opposite is true.

    So the question is, if we stopped trying to control the rest of the world, how many of the people who *support* various terrorist organizations would, while still feeling no warm fuzzy bunny feelings for the United States, would find that their first priority was killing the people on the other side of the Sunni/Shiite divide, rather than killing Americans (or Brits), and what would the cost to the United States (or England) be?

    The cost to America, of course, would have been about -$1,000,000,000,000 and -4000 lives. The benifit? Well, I’m quite sure that at least some terrorists would be happy to stand down, or to target more local threats, if we would stop dropping bombs on their relatives.

    So if we could save 4,000 American lives, and a trillian American dollars, and at the same time deal a blow to the terrorists, we could use that money to defend America instead of Iraq. And that ain’t bad.

  • Dishman

    Ahhhh….
    There have been thousands of terrorist attacks against Americans by al-Qaeda since 9/11….
    They’ve just been against Americans who were carrying arms and expecting trouble.

    Where the al Qaeda kill ratio on 9/11 was 150:1, since then they’ve been under 1:2, and probably closer to 1:5.

    Along the way, they’ve also inspired tens of millions of muslims to hate them.

    Of course, I wouldn’t expect this to sway anyone who had already made up their mind.

  • The biggest success from 9/11 is that people weren’t going to sit by while people with box cutters took over their plane. THAT in a nutshell is what should strike a libertarian first and foremost, that people until that fateful day drank the koolaid that their government was protecting them and did as they were told….sit by and wait for someone else to save your life. How much Dubya had to do with that I don’t know.

    Brad. You win the cigar. It also means the Islamists have lost one of their major tactics. People just don’t believe any hi-jacking will end with negotiation on the tarmac anymore. United 93 taught them too. I suspect they haven’t tried it since because they now know that amongst the coupla hundred folks on an average airliner there will always be enough likely lads and lasses to just not fucking take it.

  • John K

    So, the killing of over one million Iraqis, thousands of American soldiers, and hundreds of British ones, is something to crow over?

    Not this old canard again. The Lancet posited that up to 650,000 Iraqis may have died. I consider this fugure extremely suspect. The bombing campaign against Germany did not kill that many people despite about four years of heavy bombing of cities. But even that bullshit figure won’t do for some people, so it has to be rounded up to a million. How many of this so-called million have been killed by coalition forces? A few thousand at most. The rest must have been killed by other Muslims, but frankly I doubt even AQ can kill them that fast.

    And just what is it with Samizdata? I thought it used to be a site for aspiring libertarians, you know, those people who professed to delight in non-aggression except perhaps in self-defence.

    I rather thought we were acting in self-defence. Sometimes when you are attacked you really have to fight back.

  • John K wrote:

    Not this old canard again. The Lancet posited that up to 650,000 Iraqis may have died. I consider this fugure extremely suspect. The bombing campaign against Germany did not kill that many people despite about four years of heavy bombing of cities. But even that bullshit figure won’t do for some people, so it has to be rounded up to a million.

    This, I think, fits in well with Alex Singleton’s Quote of the Day. The big-L Libertarians I know are all obsessed with the Iraq issue to the exclusion of all else, in that if you don’t agree with them, you’re practically evil. They’ve also allowed their hatred of Bush to make them engage in dubious practices, such as spending money contesting the Ohio elections of 2004 on the grounds of alleged fraud, while ignoring the much more obvoius fraud in the Washington state gubernatorial election.

    As for those Lancet bodies, don’t you think the people who believe the Lancet study should tell us where those bodies are? It’s no different from the sneering question of “Where are the WMDs?”

    The one other thing that always astonished me is how the same people who believed the Lancet study are the sorts of people who argued that the pre-2003 sanctions were killing hundreds of thousands of children. However, when the Lancet study was put out, history was whitewashed so that those children magically stopped dying, and Iraq had an artificially low death rate.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    KipEsquire says that we never captured bin Laden as if that is a failure. I guess it might be, but what matters is his ability to co-ordinate attacks and devise new ones. That appears to be non-existent.

    Stormy Dragon’s list of incidents, none of which caused the deaths of more than a handful of lives, hardly bears out the idea that Bush failed to prevent major attacks.

    Brad writes:

    The biggest success from 9/11 is that people weren’t going to sit by while people with box cutters took over their plane. THAT in a nutshell is what should strike a libertarian first and foremost, that people until that fateful day drank the koolaid that their government was protecting them and did as they were told….sit by and wait for someone else to save your life

    Absolutely right on the money. I think that one thing that may hopefully come out of that day of infamy is the fact that ordinary people, both in the US and elsewhere, no longer are prepared to sit and wait for the law enforcement guys/politicians/military to do all the work. Vigilance is necessary, as is a willingness to confront thugs if need be.

    Jack Mauturin writes:

    And just what is it with Samizdata? I thought it used to be a site for aspiring libertarians, you know, those people who professed to delight in non-aggression except perhaps in self-defence. However, it’s hardly ‘the clandestine copying and distribution of government-suppressed literature’ spirit any more, is it?

    Samizdata is one of those libertarian sites that understands that it is one thing to pronounce that the only just use of force is in self defence, quite another to understand how that is applied in practice, in the real world. One should also remember that an important principle of justice is punishment of those who aid, abet and assist violence. The Taliban did so, hence we attacked them. As for the attack on Saddam, he had broken so many resolutions, breached the 1991 ceasefire, developed such an odious track record for violence, financial sponsorship of terror groups, that his regime was deserving of annihilation on any grounds.

    If I wanted to reframe this point, I would ask this of “purist” libertarians: do you honestly think the non-aggression principle, which makes sense when applied to individuals, makes sense when rogue states are involved?

  • M

    We invaded Iraq to depose Saddam and help the Iraqis install a government and build a democratic Iraq. The reasons we gave were WMDs and ties to terrorists but the purpose was always to build a new Iraq. Read the neocon speeches from before the war. They’re quite explicit. I’d give this one a seven out of ten. Even Nancy thinks we’re succeeding, but she thinks it’s because the nice Iranians told Sadr to quit fighting, not because the Iraqi army was kicking his ass.

    7/10? All America has proven in Iraq is that Iraq is completely unsuitable for democracy. If John McCain et al. are right in saying that genocide will break out unless a large scale American occupation continues for many years, then that just shows how flimsy Iraqi ‘democracy’ is. It is wholly reliant on the cash and guns of a foreign power.

  • Slugger

    The reason I trotted out the Irish was to show how much damage a small group of competent terrorists can do. I believe that the reason that the US has not been struck in the last few years is that the enemy is overhyped by the government, and not that the government is highly efficient at its job.
    I’m an angler and drove up to a dam this morning where I was asked to open my trunk for inspection by a uniformed guard. My rods were packed in a one meter long, 8 cm diameter PVC pipe for safety on bumpy roads. This obvious container was not opened. The guard had no warrant for this search, and told me that “9/11″ was the reason for the search.
    Did the quantum of safety established by this search warrant the quantum in reduction of my civil liberties?
    Do you trust the government that much?

  • Rich

    Ahhhh….
    There have been thousands of terrorist attacks against Americans by al-Qaeda since 9/11….
    They’ve just been against Americans who were carrying arms and expecting trouble.

    Interesting. So when the French Resistence bombed the Nazies who were occupying france it was a terrorist act? Sure, lots of Americans have been attacked while occupying a foreign country. That’s not terrorism, that’s war.

    Unless, of course, your defrinitions are:

    Terrorism: When bad people kill good people.

    War: When good people kill bad people.

    Of course, since which side is right is a matter of perspective (everybody always says “the other side lives only to kill us, they’re not really human, they don’t value human life, they don’t love their children, whatever), it remders both words meaningless to use them in this way.

  • Gordon

    Rich
    No moral content applies to “occupation” in its self.
    British, French and American troops occupied Nazi Germany at the end of the Second World War.
    Unless, of course, your defrinitions are:

    “Terrorism: When bad people kill good people.

    War: When good people kill bad people.”
    A good idea of what should be true if we did not live in an imperfect world.
    I think that you inhabit that corner of libertarianism which reduces to relativism.
    On a completely different tack, in some people’s eyes it reduces to “Do what thou willst shall be the whole of the law.”
    Who said that?

  • lucklucky

    What Bush achieved is more important of what is said here. Read Arab newspapers from 2001 and from 2008 and compare how many praises Bin Laden got after 911
    and now when almost no one does. In 2001 Bin Laden was dream of power for Muslims and Arabs even if many didnt agreed with the methods. Today Bin laden is just random murder outside hardcore islamist circles.
    Because Bush forced Al Qaeda to play instead of having the luxury of letting them choosing the time,place of next terrorist attack.

    Decisive factors

    1- Caling Al Qaeda to combat, drawing its resources. Making them show their hand.

    2-Making a strategic threat to Al-Qaeda in Muslim land.

    3-Building Al-qaeda anti-corpus in Muslim world.

    Do you know any newspaper that lists the deaths of Islamist leaders since 911?. That shows the true picture of today media including Wall Street Journal. Islamist leaders are the Battleships, Cruisers of the past.

  • Bush’s reputation will rise as the years advance. In each situation, each decision point, nobody answers “What is the alternative?” The presumption is that he is wrong.

    He has brought to fore the Bush Derangement Syndrome. People who oppose him cannot articulate their reasons. They cannot express a reasonable alternative. They cannot state what consequences will follow from a change in his direction.

    Pulling the troops out of Iraq will not take the world back to 1992.

    Counter Insurgency is the model for all future wars. They cost little to start, require few terrorists/killers, replacements are easy to find, they tie up many time their number of govt forces, they cost little in training or support. The govt forces have a marked inability to respond without massive force, abuse and lingering resentment Compare the Iraq/Afghanistan changes to the Russians in Chechnya or the Chinese in Tibet. Fighting an insurgency takes well trained, well disciplined and well led forces… Simply wielding a weapon and killing children is not enough… There has been a change in doctrine. Will the Officer/political class dissipate all that we have learned? Will they expand and improve on our tactics and training-?

    The world is different from that September morning. We are not the same. The world has changed and we cannot go back.

  • Rich

    On a completely different tack, in some people’s eyes it reduces to “Do what thou willst shall be the whole of the law.”
    Who said that?

    What you quote there is from a con-man named Crowley, who incompletely quoted the Wiccan Reade, which is a part of the Wiccan religion, a relatively harmless earth-based religion. If you add what Crowley left out, it is:

    ‘An it harm none, do as though wilt shall be the whole of the law.

    Note that ‘an in this context, like the same word in Shakespeare, means “if”. So yet, the full version can be considered a Libertarian statement, though it is more ambiguous that Rand’s ‘non-initiation of force”.

    I think that you inhabit that corner of libertarianism which reduces to relativism.

    Not so much relativism as pragmatism. I have very firm ideas on right and wrong. I don’t expect to sell them you you, and I don’t expect to buy yours. So one option is to fight until your faction or my faction is dead or enslaved by the other. The other option is for me to allow you to go your way and you to allow me to go mine, with both of us resisting by force encroachments into our territory, and not trying to impose our will on the territory of the other.

    I know of no third option.

  • Gabriel

    I know of no third option.

    Really?

  • Stormy Dragon’s list of incidents, none of which caused the deaths of more than a handful of lives, hardly bears out the idea that Bush failed to prevent major attacks.

    Yes, but once we qualify it to ‘there have been no major attacks in the 8 years since 9/11′ you also have to point out there were no major attacks in the 8 years before 9/11 either.

    So what exactly are we giving Bush credit for?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Yes, but once we qualify it to ‘there have been no major attacks in the 8 years since 9/11′ you also have to point out there were no major attacks in the 8 years before 9/11 either.

    Quite possibly – although there was a pretty serious plot in the 90s to blow up the WTC, which nearly succeeded, if I recall.

    But the point is that in the days immediately after 9/11, I recall – I am sure you do – how commentators were arguing that we would see more, high-profile attacks on the US; that dirty bombs, etc, would be a serious risk, that all manner of installations could be attacked. It did not happen.

    Now, to be clear here, I am not arguing that the lack of major attacks is down entirely to the measures taken by the US government; as I said, much of the reason may be down to luck, the fact that terror groups are not as well organised as some have feared, or that ordinary citizens in the US have become much more vigilant, or some combination of all these factors. But the point cannot be denied that in the aftermath of 9/11, there was said to be a serious risk of repeat attacks on US soil. It has not happened. I think that as George Bush or whomever would have been criticised had this happened, it is only fair to accept that he has not been quite the useless twit that his enemies claim to be.

    Also, we were told endlessly that Afghanistan, Iraq etc would provoke massive “blowback” on the US. Again, there has not been anything; sure, the extremists are pissed, but they were long before anyway.