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That thing 22 years ago…

I have not forgotten it.

An unprivate death. Instapundit met with some opposition when he showed the famous photograph of a man falling to his death upside down, having leapt from the burning World Trade Centre.

You can’t help wondering: did he know as he jumped that he’d turn in the air and spend his last seconds upside down? Mortal insult added to mortal injury. If he had known, would he have chosen the other death? I had a friend who died when both parachutes failed to open. I think of her when I see that picture. I don’t know if she fell upside down. I hope not.

I say, show it. Show it often. I know all about hating to see it: like most of you I can remember first seeing that picture on September 11 – only in my case it was September 11 2002. Out of all the hundreds of hours of film and the thousands of photos taken of the slaughter on September 11 2001, I saw only a few seconds of footage until a year later. On that day I didn’t want the children seeing people die on camera (though we talked about it, of course), particularly as I didn’t know if there were more attacks to come. My fear of the children seeing it flowed from my fear of me seeing it. I’ve always disliked even fictional images of modern-day, realistic violence, the sort of violence that can happen to me and mine; and this dislike has hardened into almost a (controlled) phobia since I had children. It’s a thousand times worse when the images are real. Yet my hunger to know more about what had happened was as primal, as voracious, as anyone’s. That hunger is a survival trait. (Refined and systemised, it is also a victory trait: the defining victory trait of Western civilisation. It will win us this war, too – if a fatal squeamishness more sickly by far than my purely visual queasiness doesn’t rot our guts first.)

I have nothing to add to what I wrote twenty years ago, and nothing to subtract either.

39 comments to That thing 22 years ago…

  • Kirk

    22 years on, the thing that still strikes me is the difference in reaction to the deaths. When you juxtapose the reaction between the bombings in Beirut, Khobar Towers, the USS Cole and all the thousand and one other petty terrorist attacks like the deliberate murder of Robert Dean Stetham…?

    Nobody really gave a damn when it was US servicemen getting killed by these degenerates. Apparently, that’s their job. Their role in life, ya know? Cannon fodder.

    But, you kill a few thousand upper-middle class investment banker types and their support personnel, now we’ve got a problem.

    The difference in response always struck me as a bit bizarre. You had endless encomiums about the casualties of 9/11, but by comparison? Not a hell of a lot about the Cole’s deaths, or any of the others. No matter how much you try to gloss over the dichotomy by saying “But, those were military deaths…”, they were still treated very differently. I never made much distinction between the two, myself–To me, one American is pretty much the same as any other, and without there being a declared war, killing American servicemen in something like the attack on the Cole is the same thing as flying a hijacked airliner into a skyscraper in terms of morality within the framework of international law. Both are illegal, immoral, and infamous.

    But… The response to the Cole was a collective “Meh. Oh, well… Nobody I know goes into the Navy… Poor slobs. That’s what they’re paid for, though…”

    I am not saying that an emphatic reaction to the Cole or any of the other thousand-and-one provocations would have prevented 9/11, but having established a solid precedent for responding properly to the murder of American citizens, I think we would have given the scumbags behind al Qaeda some pause to reconsider. I honestly think that things like the Cole led directly into 9/11, because we allowed the minor things to pass until they finally performed a major transgression. Had we responded to the Cole with proper force, and dealt out justice? I don’t think we’d be commemorating this date as a national tragedy here in the US.

    Feckless political blunders made by feckless politicians who have no business whatsoever doing national security is how we got here. It started with Bush I kow-towing to the Saudis and the Gulf Arabs before achieving a total victory in Iraq, and it ended with the shameful withdrawal from Kabul. Same set of idiots in charge of it all.

  • Fraser Orr

    I think it is important to show it, because most of our memory of that day is of a huge fireball and a massive cloud of dust as the buildings collapsed. What we don’t see is that in that massive fireball are a thousand people incinerated, some vaporized, some slowly burning to death. What we don’t see in the cloud of dust is the arms being cut off, the heads crushed, the people stuck in tiny pockets where they are still alive, barely, in excruciating pain, waiting a few days for death to give them a final release.

    To hide the one image of a man dying horribly, the only picture of personal truth, is to hide the brutal reality of what was wrought on that terrible day. I am glad that nobody knows who he is, because the man does at least deserve privacy in his death. But I am glad that we have it so that we can share in some tiny way the horror of it all. I think in some sense the lack of gore makes it all the more poignant, it stirs in us a sense of what it would be like — isolated, unprotected, waiting for death.

    And it was terrible, horrible beyond belief, really. However, it is worth pointing out that American rage resulted in us bombing and killing many innocent civilians, dying in the same horrible way on foreign soil. And those images also were hidden from the American public, except for an occasional leak. And perhaps such violence was justified by us, perhaps in our righteous zeal to kill the people who did it, and to prevent it from happening again, such collateral damage was an unfortunate side effect. But it seems to me that just as we, adults need to be faced with the reality of 9/11, we should surely be honest enough to face the consequences of that too. Shouldn’t we be honest enough to say — “what we did to that wedding in Iraq was terrible. Burning babies alive was a horrible thing, but necessary, it was our only option.”

    And to be honest I think some of he terrible things we did were indeed necessary, but certainly not all of them. And the casual disregard for decency and restraint of our politicians is very much enabled by the fact that they can do it in secret, without review, hidden in a miasma of jingoism, dry statistics and scoring of political points. And should someone, like Assange, dare to bring it to light, they will persecute him and hunt him down like a dog. However, I think, most worryingly of all, the American people are ok with that ignorance — “do what you need, just don’t tell me the horrible reality.” But I suppose war has always been like that.

    I remember back when the Argentine air force dropped a bomb on Sir Galahad during the Falklands War, resulting in a similar but smaller explosion, the TV cameras captured not just the fireball, but the maimed, tortured bodies of the soldiers being evacuated. Somehow the military censors missed that and it was very real. The truth was not hidden in somber, dignified oak coffins draped with perfectly crisp flags. But the bloody horror of what we did, irrespective of how justified it was, was full colour on our TV screens.

  • bobby b

    I think the biggest shock to our system from 9/11 didn’t involve WHO was killed – suits versus uniforms – but WHERE they were killed.

    We – the US – had always prosecuted our wars as the away team, on other peoples’ fields. That always kept us a bit above the fray, disconnected, protected. We could watch those wars on television if we wished. They happened Over There, so there was always a slight unreality to them. We could see them, anguish over them, and then go eat dinner, knowing that we were safe.

    We all watched the guys being pulled from the Beirut barracks in ’83, and the horror and pain weren’t made easier because they were military. It was made easier because it didn’t happen here. 9/11 happened here.

  • Kirk

    I beg to differ.

    The massacre at Fort Hood, performed by the Muslim infiltrator? Aroused no rage, whatsoever. Similarly, people just nodded their heads and said, in essence “Oh, well… That’s what they’re for…”

    The big difference wasn’t the location or the time; the big difference was that people saw their own kind getting killed. I heard people saying that, around 9/11 and after. They weren’t outraged about the military deaths, despite the perfidious nature of them, they were outraged that “normal people”, just like them, were targeted.

    It’s a weird deal, but you could feel the difference in atmosphere, were you cued to be looking for it and listening to the undertones out in public. After the Cole and the other events I reference, people were just “sad…” that something bad had happened to American troops overseas. Too bad, so sad… That’s their job… After 9/11, there was a huge difference in reaction, because most of America could see themselves as potential victims, wherein before, you had to be a part of the military caste we had growing up in our society. The one they’re in the conscious process of eradicating as we speak, BTW.

    Raw fact is, the US general public doesn’t really care about the lives of its professional armed forces nearly as much as they care about their own asses. I actually had people blaming me for what happened during 9/11, as though I were personally responsible for the 8-year vacation from common sense that was the Clinton era. Hey, I didn’t even vote for the turd, and never approved of any of his actions from gutting the communications between the counter-intel side of the FBI and the criminal side to selling Loral to the Chinese. All y’all did that, and I hope you’re proud of yourselves.

    Then, there’s the cavalier way the American people reacted to both Obama and Biden throwing away the fruits of our labors in Iraq and Afghanistan both. Had the sorry bastards stayed the course, both nations would be in very different places today, and we’d not have the ugly image of American political failure overwhelming what was a fairly credible military performance.

    I still think that Bush tried to do far too much, given domestic politics. He’d have done a hell of a lot better to have simply done two punitive expeditions into Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, leaving both nations in ruins, having made the point that you don’t get to wage war by proxy, or evade responsibility for the actions of your nationals working within your own government like the ISI and whoever “massaged” the Saudi visa system to get clean documents for the hijackers…

  • bobby b

    “Raw fact is, the US general public doesn’t really care about the lives of its professional armed forces nearly as much as they care about their own asses.”

    Not disagreeing, but I will expand it – the US general public doesn’t really care about ANYONE nearly as much as they care about their own asses. It’s not that they care little for military people specifically – it’s that military people are the ones who usually get the shaft and so they’re the ones the American public can look at most often and say “good, not me!”

    But when it happened in NYC, they were left with (for the first time) “it COULD be me!” This is a nation that can’t handle the stress of hearing someone say something they disagree with – to find out they might actually be at physical risk is just . . . too much for them.

    (I think the American press worked very hard to make sure that as few people as possible here even heard about the Fort Hood attack, and those that did hear about it heard nothing about Muslims, but heard that some generic guy went nuts.)

  • Kirk

    Point remains: They don’t see their military servicemen as peers; they’re all “other”, whose lives don’t count as much as those of “real people” like themselves.

    When 9/11 lit off, I was associated with some friends from past assignments that were field-grade officers. Did a bit of socializing with them, and it was… Interesting to hear the opinions expressed by their civilian peer friends and family members. They almost reacted as though the terrorists had cheated, or something, because while the military was a fair target, civilians were absolutely not OK. They didn’t regard the deaths of American servicemen in terrorist attacks as anything special to be outraged over; it was as if we were disposable things, written off entirely as outside their sphere of interest.

    This is the demarcation line between classes in the US, I think. The “right people” don’t see themselves as part of the game; they’re sacrosanct, deserving of special consideration. Not really American, you see, so when the terrorists (who’re really “Freedom Fighters”…) come after them right alongside the working-class “real Americans”, that’s somehow “off-sides”, cheating.

    I wish I could convey the full context of some of those conversations I participated in and overheard, but I lack the words. It was made quite clear to me, about that time, that there were two sorts of Americans in their minds… The “righteously immune” and “the rest of us”. This is the same class of people who were agitating for surrender to the Soviets, apparently thinking that they’d somehow be immune to the after-effects of the Communists winning. Somehow, they seemed to think, they’d sidestep the camps and all the rest, because they were the “righteously enlightened” like their fantasy-father figures in the Soviet state.

    Never seemed to get through to those idiots that while I might spend some time in a re-education camp preparatory to serving as a guard dog for the new state, they’d be liquidated out of hand as threats. No amount of study ever seemed to dent their daffy optimism, either… They’d just gloss right over what happened to the Viet Cong and every other fifth-column organization throughout history.

    Which is why Richard Fernandez’s construction of “TWANLOC”, Those Who Are No Longer Our fellow Citizens” is so valuable. Most of this ilk doesn’t really see itself as American, or believe that “the rest of us” share any of their ohsocorrect interests.

    Longer I live, the more I regret ever serving them.

  • Paul Marks.

    With hindsight, yes 20/20 vision, the basic mistake in the reaction to the mass murder of thousands of Americans on September 11, 2001, was made at once – and by all the Western cultural and political leadership (of various countries) including President George Walker Bush.

    There was endless talk of “extremism” and defeating a supposed “handful” of “extremists” who had “misinterpreted” and “distorted” Islam, and saving the supposed great majority of “real Muslims” who were, supposedly, persecuted and oppressed by these “handful” of “Islamists” who are “not real Muslims”. Hence these decades of war in Afghanistan, Iraq and so on.

    I am told that it may be a criminal offence in the United kingdom to write about Islam too honestly – so I will limit myself to saying that the response to “9/11” by the cultural and political leadership of the Western world was based on a total misunderstanding of Islam, the teachings and deeds (life) of Muhammed – which he claimed came from God (with Muhammed himself merely being the messenger) and which can-not-be-changed (the clarity and unchanging nature of the basic principles and practices of Islam being its great strength – Islam can adopt new technology, and so on, without in any way changings its basic principles and practices) – to give just one example, “Islam” does not mean “religion of peace”, as President Bush and the others said endlessly, it means submission to Allah.

    To use all necessary means to achieve submission to Allah, submission to the religious and legal (yes legal – Islamic law, jurisprudence is from religious principles which are claimed to be from God – it is a well developed system of law, to talk of changing it in order to bring it into line with post 1960s Western fashions, is absurd) is central to Islam, it is what Islam is.

    This is nothing to do with “extremism” or “radicalism” – nor is it “Islamism” (there is no such thing as “Islamism”), it is Islam. Which goes back to the great religious, political and military leader Muhammed – his life (deeds) and teachings, which he, and all his followers – to-this-day, were from God – that his teachings were from God and his actions were a matter of following the orders of God. As for people who claimed to be Muslims but did NOT carry out these principles – Muhammed called them “hypocrites” and laid down the death penalty for them – like all of Muhammed’s legal judgements this is held, by followers of Islam (the submission to Allah) to be a matter of Muhammed following the instructions of God.

  • Paul Marks.

    As for Western Civilisation – even in 2001 it had been in decline for a very long time.

    In 2023 Western Civilisation is not yet dead – but it is clearly very sick, indeed it may well be dying.

    This is NOT the fault of Islam – the sickness in Western civilisation is very much an internal matter, and stems from the very “flexibility” and “pragmatism” that many people, mistakenly, believe is a strength. Most people being unclear about the basic principles of the West and “open to new ideas” left them open to attack from people (fellow Westerners) whose intensions were hostile. Ironically these “new ideas” include censorship and the crushing of dissent.

    The West is based on certain principles which have been under attack for a very long time – in the United kingdom one need only think of the Fabians, those “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (as they described themselves), whose attacks started in the late 19th century, the attacks of the “Progressives” in the United States started at about the same time.

    The cultural decline of the West, the undermining of its foundational principles, is not some recent thing – “there is a lot of ruin in a great nation”, the collapse that is becoming obvious in our time, has roots that go back a very long time indeed.

  • Paul Marks.

    Kirk – I believe that even after the mass murder at Foot Hood, by an army officer and phycologist (exactly the sort of “success story” that the Western leadership go on about – in their utterly deluded way), the Clinton era order that military personal must not carry firearms when not on duty, remains (you will correct me if I am mistaken).

    The people must be defenceless in the face of attack – even military personal, when not on duty, must be defenceless in the face of attack. That is a central principle of the, utterly terrible, modern political and cultural elite in the modern, dying, West.

    It was a principle of the Roman Empire – both West and East (after all – an armed population might defend themselves against the endless taxes and regulations of the state), Islam rejected this principle (just as the Franks, the “Free Men”, and the Goths had rejected it when they entered the Western Empire in the 4th and 5th centuries A.D., refusing to give up their weapons) – and Islam was right to reject this principle of servitude.

  • NickM

    I seriously don’t think a more robust response to the Beirut bombing of the US Marines or the attack on the USS Cole would have “made Al Queda reconsider”. These people actively seek death for Allah. The 9/11 hijackers absolutely believed they’d be in Muhammed’s paradise sipping the finest wines when they weren’t engaged with their 72 virgins. Islam is not Budhism or Christianity. The Islamic concept of what comes next is deeply visceral. It’s not abstract or transcendental or anything like that – it’s an eternal party in Allah’s whore-house. Why do you think it has such a hold on so many for whom life on this Earth is “nasty, brutish and short”?

    Paul is absolutely right. A large chunk of Islam has declared jihad (as is specifically, directly urged in the Qu’ran) on “The West” and the Western response was to declare back a “War on Terror”. A war on a quasi-military tactic. A war on an abstraction rather than against the people who regard us infidels as sub-human. This was a terrible mistake. In war there is no substitute for having clarity of purpose and a very strong sense of what winning actually means. A war needs clearly defined goals. Desert Storm had them. The later wars in Afghanistan and Iraq just didn’t and what war aims were originally planned got lost in meaningless and vague ideas such as “nation building” and stuff like that.

    A lot of Muslims have suffered. Not just from USAF JDAMS. They have suffered because they are by Al Queda standards (the standards of the Qu’ran) back-sliders. Or they are seen as mere pawns to sacrifice. Do you think the oil-wealthy Gulf States who finance the likes of Hezbollah actually give a toss about the life of the average Gazan? Well, in a way. They love it when Israel fights back because they can engage in a new round of shroud-waving. There could be peace in the Near East if, and only if, the Palestinians realise who and what is really making their lives miserable. No it ain’t the “Zionists” next door. It is the rich Arabs and their useful idiots in The West. The former are buying their way into Heaven on the suffering of their co-religionists. The later are just deranged and simply equate squalor with being repressed. I have heard loads of folks regard Yasser Arafat as a great leader. What did he ever achieve for his people? Did he have any personal interest in them? Yes, but not in a good way. The more dreadful Gaza or the West Bank got the greater political capital (and cash) he personally accrued.

    Oh, and I think bobby b is right. 9/11 struck a chord with the US public like nothing else because it happened on home turf and the USA is just not used to that. bin Laden understood that. He stated that. He wasn’t daft. He knew that striking at the US mainland in a way nobody had done before would provoke an unprecedented reaction which would of course motivate the jihadis.

  • Kirk

    NickM said:

    I seriously don’t think a more robust response to the Beirut bombing of the US Marines or the attack on the USS Cole would have “made Al Queda reconsider”. These people actively seek death for Allah.

    Yeah, you need to see the reality. The real deal is this: The Islamic “extremism” is an outgrowth of the fact that the average young Islamic male across much of the Middle East is an individual with few prospects, mostly because of polygamy and the nature of the society. So, to distract them, the older established males subsidize the crazy in order to damage and weaken their neighbors. So long as the young wild males are “out there” doing things, they’re safe at home boinking their sisters that they’ve generously taken into their harems.

    Something of a caricature, there, but that’s a basic truth of the situation. The Saudis have been paying off the crazies for decades in order to maintain peace at home; that’s why they tolerate the religious police and all the rest. The “international Islamic terrorist” thing is a hobby for some of them, and they love to dabble, keeping the youthful dumbasses distracted from their actual situation. At the root, this is where most of the Islamic terrorism problem comes from–Frustrated sex drives. It’s been a powerful tool, down the years, for the Islamic oligarchs that actually run things. They’ve used religion as a tool of social control since forever.

    So, you want to dissuade them? You don’t go after the terrorists. You go after the assholes subsidizing them, make them hurt, make them pay.

    Which was why Bush would have been better served to have dealt harshly with the Saudis and Pakistanis. There is no way that those 15 hijackers got clean passports out of their government and visa approvals absent collusion from someone inside the Saudi government, which means the Saudi royal family. Same with the ISI… They had to know, because they ran the Taliban then.

    The actual enemy here is was never the actual terrorists. The actual enemies were and are the people supporting and encouraging them. Those people are entirely open to influence by destroying their comfortable lives that are at least partially enabled by their support of terrorism…

  • Steven R

    Soldiers and sailors go in harm’s way. That’s their job and coming home in a flag-draped box is just part of the deal sometimes. It’s always been that way. Sending dad to work in a bank only to have him not come home because some religious type decided to make a point isn’t part of the normal way of the world. It’s like the Joker says in The Dark Knight,

    You know what I’ve noticed? Nobody panics when things go “according to plan.” Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it’s all “part of the plan”. But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!

    The day Dale Earnhardt crashed a Blackhawk went down in Hawaii with a load of soldiers. I wrote a letter to the editor about how the world mourned a guy who turned left in a circle for a living but the news couldn’t even be bothered to print the names of the soldiers who were killed. The responses from people writing in after that basically said how shocking it was that a race car driver died, he was an entertainer and beloved by millions, I just didn’t understand how horrible it was, etc. But at the end of the day, it still came down to soldiers die and no one cares, but an entertainer dies and the whole world is shocked because it’s all part of the plan.

  • NickM

    Seriously, re-read what I wrote because I think we’re pretty much singing from the same hymn sheet. I almost included the thing about polygamy reducing the chances of young Arab males getting a missus but frankly the post was getting long and there is, oddly enough, more going on in my life than ranting about…

    “Islam, this absurd theology of an immoral Bedouin, is a rotting corpse which poisons our lives.”
    ~ Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

    Atatürk was, in many ways, not a nice man (ask an Armenian) but he was on the money on that. What Erdoğan is trying to do in Turkey is truly wrong. I kinda wonder if their recent earthquake was due to Atatürk developing high angular momentum in his grave.

    What appals me is things like Rishi Sunak rolling out the red-carpet for that murderous bastard Muhammed bin Salman, crown prince of Shoddy Absurdia. Hell’s teeth the buggers also own my football team, Newcastle United.

  • Kirk

    NickM, we’re really not on the same page. You said you didn’t think a “more robust response” to all the provocations would accomplish anything, which I vehemently disagree with. With the Arab mentality, “proportional response” as the West conceives it means nothing. We see “generous in victory”, they see “we really won; they’re pulling back and actually paying us tribute”.

    You want to stop terrorism? Crush the bastards utterly and make quite clear that they lost. That’s the cultural disconnect that’s made the Arab-Israeli crap last as long as it has. The Arabs still think they’re winning, because they’re not slaughtered like sheep, their women rounded up and sold as slaves, etc.

    That’s their world-view. They don’t get “proportional” in war; it’s all or nothing. Nuance isn’t a part of it, at all; they don’t gauge things the way the West does. Old Testament Jewry still retained enough of the original Semitic values to understand that. They picked up too many bad Western habits during their long sojourn in the West. Peace ain’t coming to the Middle East until a genocide or two has been accomplished, and that’s the whole of it.

    The real problem is that the terrorists aren’t actually the problem; they’re a damn symptom of fundamentally dysfunctional societies that can’t provide them with meaningful lives of their own. Fixing that? You have to convince the real winners in their world to start sharing things equitably, and that ain’t happening.

    Unpleasant but true facts. Islam is what it is because it is the expression of underlying cultural features that have to change before it can become something else. It is what it is because it has to be that which it is.

  • NickM

    I think I made it abundantly clear that I agree with…

    The real problem is that the terrorists aren’t actually the problem; they’re a damn symptom of fundamentally dysfunctional societies that can’t provide them with meaningful lives of their own.

    I can see no way anyone could misinterpret my comments as anything other than agreeing with that. As I see it, where we differ is, is I just don’t see anyone embarking on a genocidal quest as either feasible or morally justifiable.

    One of the fundamental reasons I support Israel (largely – like everyone they get stuff wrong) is because they aren’t Old Testament Jewry. It is because they picked up those “bad Western habits” and modern Israel isn’t the Israel of endless smiting. And the Old Testament is packed with the smiting. I mean it’s a total gore-fest.

    Can someone else please come in and correct me if I’m wrong because I’m beginning to doubt either whether Kirk actually reads me or if I have gone loopy?

    Kirk, basically, in short, are you saying the solution to the problems of the Middle East is to nuke “The Camel Fuckers”?

    Because that is what it sounds like.

  • Martin

    Although I think the military interventions that followed 9/11 were pretty disastrous, I think at least for the USA, the most pernicious long-term impact is the security state the Bush administration fortified and expanded. A lot of this post-9/11 ‘War on terror’ apparatus from then appears to be more targeted at Catholics, gun owners, Trump supporters, and just generally anyone not woke enough and too outspoken for the degenerate elite that rules the USA than is used against jihadists. The Bush administration created a monster that the administrations of Barack Obama and Joe Biden couldn’t resist using against their domestic foes.

    Michael Anton had it right last year:

    Right after 9/11, the libertarians said, don’t [pass the Patriot Act], it will be used against you. This is a terrible power to give to the government and we shouldn’t do it. And a lot of conservatives said, ‘No we need this, it’s only going to be used against foreign enemies, don’t be soft.’ Libertarians were completely correct and we all owe them an apology.

    The silver lining is that, as far as I can see, more and more conservatives in the USA seem to despise Bush and seem uninterested in the kind of presidential candidates that appear to want a revival of Bush era ‘conservatism’, like Mike Pence, Nikki Haley, etc.

  • bobby b

    I think we lost focus on what “treason” really opposes, on what “patriots” really support.

    It’s supposed to be, “the people”, or “the collective nation.”

    It has been redefined. A “patriot” now serves the Democrats. “Treason” currently means, in the USA, to impede or oppose the Democrat vision.

    And it turns out that the Patriot Act was written with that exact new definition in mind. Again, cons got played. Progs play a long game, while cons react to it. Poorly.

  • bobby b

    Kirk: “The real problem is that the terrorists aren’t actually the problem; they’re a damn symptom of fundamentally dysfunctional societies that can’t provide them with meaningful lives of their own.”

    You sorta just described much of America.

  • Kirk

    NickM said:

    Kirk, basically, in short, are you saying the solution to the problems of the Middle East is to nuke “The Camel Fuckers”?

    Your words, not mine. What I’m pointing out is the fallacy of trying to communicate with people of another culture using the context of your own. You think you’re demonstrating open-handed generosity in not crushing them utterly when you win? That you’re doing “the right thing”? They see weakness; they see that they really “won” the conflict, because you refrained from killing them and utterly defeating them.

    It’s actually the worst form of cultural chauvinism; you refuse to accept their norms, their values, on their own terms. That is how the Arab has conducted himself throughout history, going back millennia. It’s how they triggered the Mongol invasions; you’ll note that even today, the Mongols are regarded with respect because of their rather thorough response to Khwarazim’s treatment of their envoys.

    It’s unfortunate that this is the case, but when you are trying to communicate across the gulf between cultures, you have to at least try to understand what the hell the other side is thinking. The Arabs don’t look at the generous gifts offered to them by the West and the Israelis as being “peace offerings”; they see “tribute”, and because it is offered, they assume that they really, truly won all those conflicts that left their armies shattered in the desert. You want to “win” against the Arab mindset? You have to do it the same way they would, had they won: Grind the enemy into the ground, destroy their settlements, take their wealth, sell their women and children into slavery. Then, they’ll accept that they lost the war. Afterwards, you might be able to get them to behave peacefully for a few generations, as the Ismailis have since the Mongols rooted the “Old Man of the Mountains” out of his little hideaways.

    I think a lot of people read history, but don’t really bother to wrap their heads around the idea that the people in those histories manifestly do not think the way they do. Arabs are not funny-talking little brown Americans or Englishmen; they have a culture and a legacy that goes back a long way, and which does not include the value-set or mores that ours does. There are points of contingency, but… They’re not at all the same as you or I. And, that’s not a value judgment, just an observation of fact. The Arab culture is well-suited to the environment that it grew in, or it wouldn’t be what it is. The problems come when it interfaces with everyone else that doesn’t dwell in the austere…

  • Kirk

    bobby b said:

    You sorta just described much of America.

    Yup. Totally agree. Starting with our over-educated pseudo-elites that have been running the place for generations, now. Whose demonstrated incompetence is destroying the nation and the legacy of those who built it.

    Not really too sure how else to describe the situation, TBH. I mean, the Biden admin is about to pay the Iranians 6 billion dollars for hostages, and expects positive results from that. On top of everything else the crooked bastard has done out in the open, like divert the 9/11 victim’s funds to the Taliban. While hardly a voice is heard dissenting, from his fellow oligarchs.

    When the day of reckoning comes for all the last few generations of malfeasance and incompetence, I’m not planning on raising a hand to prevent the inevitable. I may take some pleasure in pointing and laughing as I drive by the swinging corpses dangling from the lantern posts, though.

    The really funny thing is, I can remember a time when I would have been horrified to think like that, and dismayed at anyone with my current attitude. I was once a true believer; now? Jaded cynic that is just trying to cultivate a sense of amusement at the follies I am forced to witness. They aren’t even bothering to hide it, any more, are they?

  • NickM

    “…because you refrained from killing them and utterly defeating them.”

    Your words, not mine. That sounds a hell of a lot like something along the lines of genocide to me, Kirk.

    “It’s actually the worst form of cultural chauvinism”

    Er… no. It is simply the fact that you shouldn’t slay monsters by becoming a worse monster. I suggest you read some Tolkien on that score.

    And, God help me, I’m not going to be let an accusation of “cultural chauvinism” lie from someone who can say stuff like this…

    “Arabs are not funny-talking little brown Americans or Englishmen; they have a culture and a legacy that goes back a long way, and which does not include the value-set or mores that ours does. There are points of contingency, but… They’re not at all the same as you or I. And, that’s not a value judgment, just an observation of fact. The Arab culture is well-suited to the environment that it grew in, or it wouldn’t be what it is. The problems come when it interfaces with everyone else that doesn’t dwell in the austere…”

    At my most charitable I’d call that absurd deterministic cultural relativism. Realistically, I’d call it for what it is, racism, because that is within a hair’s breadth of saying, “The savages just can’t help themselves”.

    “And, that’s not a value judgment, just an observation of fact.”

    Interesting phrasing. When people say they aren’t judging but stating “fact” then they are usually judging but are trying to hide it behind a “fact” conjured out of nowhere. Of course there is a lot wrong with the Arab/Islamic World (there’s things wrong in every culture) but are you really stating that genuinely constructive real understanding is not possible between Arabs and the West? Seriously?

  • Kirk

    Look, Nick… I’m telling you the reality as I see it, based on my experience with and study of Arab culture. You want me to tell you sweet-smelling lies? Or, do you want the ugly truth?

    Idiots thought that it was wise to half-defeat Germany in WWI, leading to the whole unfinished debacle that was Versailles. It took inflicting the damage we did on Germany in WWII to convince them that a.) they’d lost the damn war, and b.) it was time to consider another way of dealing with the rest of Europe. Was it kind or “nice” to have stopped where we did in WWI? Was it smart?

    I’d submit that it was not, and that what was accomplished by ending the war the way they did historically was utter folly. It was what it was, and you can call them what you like. I’d say “delusional”, but that’s my opinion.

    The Arab issue is that the entire underpinnings of the culture are based on tribal mentalities dating back to when they were desert raiders. Read the Koran; it’s like the friggin’ Hatfields and the McCoys. You don’t end that crap by singing hosannahs and having prayer meetings. The only successful solution is precisely what the Mongols did to the Assassins at Alamut, which was defeat them utterly and thoroughly. You’ll note that the successors to the Assassins, the Ismailis? They’re notable pacifists. They learned the lesson offered by the Mongols.

    That’s reality. It’s not a thing to be liked or disliked, merely observed and acted upon. You don’t want to deal with it? Fine; someone else will, or you will be dealt with yourself, in turn.

  • Steven R

    There’s an article titled “Give War A Chance” by Edwin Luttwak from the July/August 1999 issue of Foreign Affairs. Basically, the thesis of the article comes down to the West is wrong in not letting brushfire wars get resolved by the participants. Either one side wins, one side wipes the other side out, or its a stalemate and the participants have to learn to live with each other. Instead, the US or NATO or the UN keeps stepping in and stopping those wars which sounds great until we realize that the issues are never resolved and the hatred just keeps on simmering until it flares up again.

    Obviously, the issue is complicated when powers like the US or USSR or China or whoever are backing one side for their own reasons or that brushfire war threatens world access to oil or whatever, and there have been articles which say Luttwak is wrong. But I have to wonder if we wouldn’t have been better off in the end letting a place like Israel simply drive the Palestinians into the sea or letting the Vietnamese fight their civil war after France left or letting the Yugoslavians deal with their own breakup in the 90s without anyone getting involved.

    From a purely practical point of view Curtis LeMay was right when he said, “if you kill enough of them, they stop fighting.” The Romans wiped Carthage off the map for good to stop that rivalry. It took the death of a quarter of Europe, but Europeans got the point that killing each other over which flavor worshiping the god of peace is right is stupid. The Spanish and their native allies put an end to the Aztecs once and for all and the survivors had to give up their old way of thinking and accept the new order or die. Had the Japanese not surrendered after the second atomic bomb was dropped, it would have required basically killing every man, woman, and child in Japan to end the war. It wouldn’t have been pretty, but the mindset of the Japanese people and leadership demanded that they go down swinging.

  • Kirk

    I wish there were an HTML code for a shrug of the shoulders…

    I spent most of my life as a professional soldier, studying and training for war. I’m coming at this from an essentially antiseptic point of view, telling you what’s necessary to achieve the effect, and counseling what the facts actually are.

    You want a lasting peace? Do unto the enemy at least what was done unto Germany and Japan in WWII. Those two belligerents had their hash settled enough that they haven’t gone back to “war as a solution” ever since. Note other historical examples; I hold out the Mongols at Alamut and Khwarazim as other, more thorough examples.

    If, on the other hand, you want forever war, echoing down the generations? Do like the dumbasses in WWI did, and leave things open. You’ll note, too, the utter lack of recent raids performed upon travelers on the high plains of North America, the local tribal types having been in receipt of salutary lessons that they finally heeded on the ill-advised nature of such activities.

    It ain’t a value judgment; it’s fact. You want peace, you defeat the enemy at least as much as we did the Germans and Japanese in WWII. Don’t want to go that far? Well, be prepared to put up with their depredations until someone tires of the BS and goes after them. You’ll note that the Europeans put up with the Barbary Pirates for a long, long time before the US said “Oh, hell no…” and went after them. You don’t see too many slave-raids on Irish shores or Iceland, these days, now do you?

    With European fecklessness on the rise, I suspect you’ll soon see the white slave trade revived in North Africa. Probably already is, from rumors I’ve heard about activities in Libya.

  • Fraser Orr

    Steven R
    There’s an article titled “Give War A Chance” by Edwin Luttwak from the July/August 1999 issue of Foreign Affairs.

    Sounds like a good plan to me. US foreign policy used to be “peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none.” We’d have been a lot better off if we stuck to that. Instead, it is hard to list a country in the world where the US military isn’t interfering in one way or another. It seems that the only border the US military doesn’t defend is our own.

  • bobby b

    “It seems that the only border the US military doesn’t defend is our own.”

    Kind of a side point, but . . . I think it will fight internally, when asked, and I think it will fight against the right.

    Can you picture a military – a military that will be 52% female, 17% trans, 78% BIPOC, guaranteed free sex changes and trigger warnings and psychotropic drugs – being mustered out into the field and then deciding to switch to the side of the evil conservatives? I can’t.

  • Kirk

    I love the way you frame that… “Evil conservatives”, as though that were the reality.

    The far more likely outcome of that is that the feckless morons of the left will try to pull a pogrom out of their asses, and wind up on the receiving end of an ideological cleansing the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Reformation.

    I don’t think you quite grasp the reality of things, to be honest. You think that the same people that can’t figure out boy and girl are going to suddenly discover the moral fortitude to stand up under fire? Can you point to a single instance of any of the proud Black Bloc or Antifa types successfully defending themselves against anyone, when the cops weren’t on their side?

    The revolution comes, I don’t think you’re going to like the outcome. Your favored side won’t be coming out on top. You think you’ve seen your caricature of “the right” act; the reality is that you’ve only seen the idiot precursors. The actual silent ones, who’re waiting until things have absolutely become intolerable to them? Sweet Jesus, but I hope they never reach that point, because the results of that are going to be something out of nightmares.

    You on the left keep pushing, you’re going to find out just how bad it can get, and how little your ideas have sway. Right now, you’re living in the slack space on the rope; as it taughtens, you should worry. Average Joe does not want to live in your world, and he’s not going to go there willingly. Respect for rule of law is only so strong; this is not a country built on acquiescence to authority. Patience is running out, and it’s got nothing to do with your imagined “conservative” boogie men and your sainted “liberals”. It’s got a lot more to do with people putting up with bullshit for only so long before they say “Enough…”

    You’d do well to recognize that fact. “Enough” ain’t that far off, and your side is the one that’s going to take the blame for “Too damn far…”

    I don’t think my friend was that far off, now that I’ve seen the last twenty years. He was right; they are going to be hunting “…us Democrats through the streets, with dogs…”

    Just watch the reaction to Fetterman’s response to the question about Joe Biden’s impeachment. People are paying attention, hard though that may be to believe. Also, how they’re going after Elon Musk, when Elizabeth Warren has managed to parlay her career in Congress to some 73 million dollars on a Senator’s salary.

    That ain’t being ignored. At. All.

  • bobby b

    September 12, 2023 at 9:10 pm

    “Can someone else please come in and correct me if I’m wrong because I’m beginning to doubt either whether Kirk actually reads me or if I have gone loopy?”


  • Steven R

    bobby b wrote:

    Kind of a side point, but . . . I think it will fight internally, when asked, and I think it will fight against the right.

    It will fight whoever it is told to. Civilians order the military and the military obeys, but more to the point I try to think of a time where the US military has said “no” when told to kill Americans and I can’t come up with an example. From the Whiskey Rebellion to now, whenever the GIs have been told to kill Americans the generals simply say “yessir, yessir, three bags full.”

    So maybe an army full of he/shes who need timeout cards, safe spaces, BLM rallys, and that can’t even, literally can’t even, isn’t that bad for America if it comes down to it.

  • jgh

    When 9/11 happened, I was in a plumbers’ merchants buying some supplies. We were all listening to what was happening on the radio. The general feeling amongst a dozen British plumbers was: now they know what it’s like, we’ve had the IRA for 30 years. Just a few years earlier the city centre had been completely closed off due to a bomb alert, just five years before Manchester city centre had been devestated just before 75,000 people turned up for a football match.

  • Fraser Orr

    I have a friend who is a Col in the Airforce, who absolutely (in private) loathes Biden. During J6 I asked him what he thought the troops would do if ordered to fire on Americans there. His opinion was that they do what they guy signing their paycheck tells them to.

    If you think about Kent State, the last time this happened, you had a bunch of lowly privates commanded by junior officers, instructed by, what in their mind, would be very senior people. It is one hell of a big stand for one of those kids to take to refuse to fire when a guy with a bird on his uniform tells him to do so.

    And I suppose that is the way it should be. But the guy with the bird on his uniform for sure needs to be held accountable for all the people under his command.

  • Kirk

    The most likely flash point for all of this going kinetic is going to be someone somewhere giving an order that results in a highly visible act that serves to put point to the reality that “our military” ain’t on side with “us”. “Us” being the people who used to man that force, and who have been steadily elbowed out in favor of the latest alphabet soup trash.

    News flash: The “politically correct” make lousy soldiers. They don’t follow orders, they don’t respond well to stress, and you’ve spent rather more time on COO (Consideration Of Others) training than you have crew drills with them. It won’t go at all the way y’all triumphalists on the left side of the house fantasize.

    If anything, it’s going to look a lot like the Russians back on February 25th, on the way to Kyiv. They won’t get there, and ohbytheway… Even with all the civilian agencies and their little “SWAT teams”, you ain’t got numbers on your side. You only govern with the consent of the governed, police with the consent of the policed, and if you think the left was disruptive during the Floyd riots, wait until you see what happens when the people that actually do the work in this country decide they no longer give a damn about what you think.

    Rioters with molotov cocktails and motorcycle helmets? Oh, that’s precious: You need to be worried about what people with bulldozers can do to your precious “institutions of governance”. That key gets turned in that lock, and we ain’t coming back from it until the nation looks about like Revolutionary France did, with various parties decorating the lamp posts.

    Speak about your fantasy pogroms against others with extreme caution. You open that gate, you’re the one most likely to wind up on the receiving end of things. You lack the numbers, and you lack the competence at much of anything important.

  • Kirk

    Fraser Orr, I hate to point out to you that you’ve totally missed what was going on at Kent State.

    Working-class National Guardsmen, mostly. Yeah, a bunch were probably deferments, but that unit was predominantly working class kids from what people who were there have told me. Zero class-connection with the rioters, who most of them saw as a bunch of spoiled rich kids that were throwing rocks at them for doing their jobs and protecting the campus. There were shots fired, either by provocateurs or agents of the government; it’s never been real clear who started shooting. The officers “in charge” lost control, orders to fire went out, and… Yeah. Not a really good example to use in this argument. It wasn’t “British Redcoats firing at rioters…”, it was pissed-off kids shooting at other pissed-off kids that were throwing rocks at them.

    Where the next Kent State incident is likely to come from is going to be like that little lesbian twit with stripes choosing to open fire on parents protesting the latest LGBTWTFBBQ provocation, ‘cos she’s in the moral right to “suppress those nasty conservatives”, because that’s how she’s been primed to think about them by people like our bobby b.


    The fact that most of the crowd she’s shooting into are likely fellow Democrats who just ain’t onboard with having their kiddies transitioned? That’ll escape her, until they get overrun and stomped into a melange of flesh and mud by the maddened crowd that’s realized their real position in the world and don’t like it.

    bobby b and his ilk keep pushing this crap, and it will happen. We’ll all be sitting there watching in in living color as the Timisoara moment happens on national TV, and there ya go.

    See, here is the thing about what they’ve done to the military. My generation would have told whoever it was that gave the order to shoot civilians to go piss up a rope, and we likely would have arrested them and held them for higher to come deal with. The petty little tyrants like that twit sergeant who boasted about what she’d do to fellow citizens who dared to disobey her orders? That didn’t want to obey her whim? She’s a loose f*cking cannon out there in the world, filled with her righteousness and the fullness of her belief in her “empowerment”. They never bothered to teach these twits about their Constitutional responsibilities and limits or any of that stuff; they’ve primed the forces for this crap when these dumbasses get out there and have to act independently. It ain’t going to be pretty, and when the results go viral…?

    F********ck… I can’t even convey to you how bad it’s going to get. Y’all think “the regime” is competent enough to “manage” this crap? Nope; it’ll be a sh*t-show from day one, and it won’t end the way bobby b seems to fantasize about.

  • bobby b

    “bobby b and his ilk keep pushing this crap, and it will happen.”

    Kirk, I’m to the point where all I can manage to say is, you’re an idiot. Go back and read what I wrote. Imagine the words “evil conservative” in quotation marks.

    (Sorry. Cleaned that up.)

  • bobby b

    Actually, let me clean that up even more:

    1. You’re not an idiot. I apologize for saying that. Not enough coffee.

    2. Maybe I just don’t write clearly. My point was this:

    There has been this fable in conservative circles that, if our military was pointed at us – the conservative side – it would refuse to attack us. That may have been true a decade ago, but no more.

    Now, our feminized, racialized, transed, and psychologically-fragile military will see conservatives as the enemy, and will eagerly shoot down Proud Boys, and everyone else to the right of center.

    In short, everything that you said in rebuttal was exactly what I said.

    Now I’ll go back and play with my ilk.

  • Steven R

    jgh wrote:

    When 9/11 happened, I was in a plumbers’ merchants buying some supplies. We were all listening to what was happening on the radio. The general feeling amongst a dozen British plumbers was: now they know what it’s like, we’ve had the IRA for 30 years. Just a few years earlier the city centre had been completely closed off due to a bomb alert, just five years before Manchester city centre had been devestated just before 75,000 people turned up for a football match.

    Those British plumbers weren’t paying attention. We’ve been dealing with terror bombings since the 1910s. The Anarchists had their turn until the 1930s, even bombing Wall Street in 1920, bombings during the attempts for miners and millworkers to unionize, bombing between rival bootleggers during Prohibition, and a crazy school principle who blew up his own school. After WW2 we had Puerto Rican separatists try their hand at it, then in the 60s and 70s communists like the Weather Underground and SLA got into the act, the 80s saw bombing between the Cuban and Colombian coke pushers in Miami, and the 90s had Oklahoma City and the WTC bombing.

  • Paul Marks.

    Both the supporters of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the opponents of these wars, made the same FALSE assumption – the same FALSE assumption made by “Prevent” and other “counter extremism” bodies in Western nations. The same FALSE assumption made in France – with their bans on forms of dress and “radical” or “extreme” preachers.

    I can not explain the false assumption more clearly than I have done in my previous comment (of 0900 AM of the 12th of September 2023) – not without risk of punishment.

    So I would ask people to go back and read my previous comment of 0901 AM of the 12th of September 2023.

    Unless you grasp what I am saying, and (sorry) I am not allowed to make it any clearer, you are wasting your time having this discussion.

    There is no such thing as “Islamism”, all this has nothing to do with “radicalism” or “extremism”, or a “misinterpretation” or “distortion” of anything.

    And you can NOT defend against a religion which is also a philosophy and legal code, indeed civilisation (world view), just with shiny weapons systems (no matter how many people you kill), or pop music and Association Football – nor will pornography (and so on) be of any real help.

    You can only defend against a hostile philosophy – world-view, if you have one of your own. The Western world used to have such a philosophy, world view, but it no longer does. The West used to have certain principles, but it no longer does. It is this, this INTERNAL loss of principle, that is destroying the West.

  • Fraser Orr

    bobby b
    Now I’ll go back and play with my ilk.

    I was thinking about joining your ilk. What is the application process? Is there a membership fee? LMK.

  • bobby b

    So, “ilk” isn’t a . . . body part? Dang.