The Foiled London Plot

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We’d planned a Duke Ellington at Newport fifty years later show for tonight, but twenty-one suspected would-be terrorists (along with the London police) changed the subject. Now we’re wondering: is the foiled London plot a victory for warring on terror? Or policing it? What does today’s news tell us about how far we’ve come — or haven’t — in the nearly five years since September 11, 2001?

And, shampoo aside, who was actually surprised by today’s news? Have we all basically come to grips with the fact that there will be more attacks — foiled and not — in the coming years and decades? Where’s the line between defeatism and reality?

Steve Clemons

Director of the American Strategy Program, New America Foundation

Blogger, The Washington Note

James Der Derian

Director of the

Info Tech War Peace Project at The Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University

Author of Virtuous War: Mapping the Military-Industrial-Media-Entertainment Network

Paul R. Pillar

Formerly of the CIA

Author, Terrorism and U.S. Foreign Policy

Visiting Professor, Center for Peace and Security Studies, Georgetown University

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  • loki

    Rodney King had it right ” Can’t we just be friends?” Yesterday, I was listening to King’s Riverside Address reminding that the most vulnerable people:wome,children and the aged are the victims of war. Today we see innocents on both sides getting killed:in Africa,Iraq, Beruit, Israel and the twin towers.

  • hurley

    Salute the Duke! It’s likely we won’t know anymore about the plot tomorrow than the day after. Why not pause and reflect and listen. Perhaps a worthy gesture toward the continuity of better things.

  • Old Nick

    I seem to recall someone recently on ROS (which show? …or was it another public radio show…?) predicting that the rise of Hezbollah in Arab and Muslim esteem would ‘force’ Al-Qaida into a spectacular attack of its own. ‘Forced’ (in quotes) because Hezbollah (Shiite & Iranian-sponsored) and Al-Qaida (Sunni & Wahabi-sponsored) are vying for the passions and loyalties of those many minds who are vulnerable to the Islamist meme.

    Can your guests (not yet listed at the time of this posting) speak to this possibility?

    Thanks. (And sorry for phrasing this so ineptly.)

    (And please give the great Duke his due next week!)

  • silvio.rabioso

    I begin this dispatch with an expression of cynical skepticism. Upon awaking to the news of a thwarted international terror plot, I found my first impulse was to doubt. Some conflicting information pushed me in that direction, and by the afternoon, the NY Times’ blurb showed a hint of misinformation bubbling up to the surface: “Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the plot was close to fruition. London’s police chief said that it appeared that the group had not yet built any bombs.” This subtle variation, “close to fruition” and “not yet…” gave me pause. And due to my government’s aversion to transparency, I most likely will never know if bombers were actually stopped today in London airports or, rather, if a group of bored, angry but resourceless kids stupidly sent a text message about liquid-based bombs.

    My skepticism brings me back to a film I saw several months ago. “State of Fear,” a documentary based on the findings of the Peruvian Truth Commission, demonstrated how Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori continued to use the threat of terrorism long after the effective dismantling of the Shinning Path—a revolutionary Marxist guerrilla group—to consolidate his hold on power and mask his corrupt deeds.

    After rushing into a disastrous war based on inconclusive—at best—evidence, the current Administration has used up the good will of the American people. Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, the mishandling of the Luis Posada Carriles case, domestic wiretapping and monitoring of bank transfers, the Patriot Act and a generally strong police presence in everyday life have left this Administration bankrupt in the credibility column. The fact that I immediately doubted the veracity and gravity of the terrorist threat is a sign not only of our Administration’s past incompetence—thus leaving my skeptical—but also of the smooth painless embrace of a police state.

    For all of the feel-good rhetoric of ‘never again’ that we patriotically spoon-feed to our schoolchildren when they learn about the horrors of the Holocaust, we never focus on how things got to that point of extreme inhumanity. If we take Fujimori’s rise to power as an example—so as to avoid the hopelessly problematic case of Hitler—, one sees that it is bit-by-bit that a society gives up its freedoms and values. Like the parable of cooking a frog, a creature dropped into boiling water will try to jump away and will die fighting the scalding inevitability to the last instant, while another put into a pot of lukewarm water that is gradually heated will enjoy its bath up until the moment it expires. The threat of terrorism is our pot, and the flame, as one of our celebrated chefs might say, has just been kicked up a notch.

    As the founding fathers of this country made clear, no government deserves to be trusted. This constant suspension of belief led to our system of checks and balances, and more recently, to the rallying cry of “transparency’. If no government deserves our trust, this particular Administration has done much to actively lose our trust. If the current threat leads the Administration to attempt to push through a new set of Patriot Act-like curtailments of civil liberties, we must resist with all of our power. We must demand total transparency and accountability: the government must prove to the entire citizenship that the threats recently encountered are grave enough to warrant further compromises of our foundational documents and our ratified international treaties.

    Furthermore, we must ask ourselves—if the British threat indeed turns out to have merited the global response it set into motion—is it our style of policing that must change, or must our foreign policy, which forces so many angry young people to sacrifice human life simply to disrupt the North American status quo, itself be reevaluated?

  • joshua hendrickson

    Benjamin Franklin warned us that a nation that trades liberty for security will lose both and deserve neither.

    I am not certain that our civil liberties include the right to get on board a crowded airplane without submitting to physical search and seizure. That sort of security makes sense to me, even if it is annoying and inconvenient (and wasn’t it the Dead Kennedys who claimed that America’s real motto is “give me convenience or give me death”?), because it is concerned with the nuts and bolts of safety. Unquestionably (to me), though, our civil liberties do include the right to read, speak, and think anything we want–regardless of what someone else thinks of it.

    So yes, Silvio, we must resist any new Patriot Act style curtailments on our civil liberties, we must demand total transparency and accountability, and furthermore, we must change our foreign policy. It is appalling to me that any of the citizens of the United States would agree with the tactics of the thought police. Dissent is what this nation was founded upon, no matter how much those in power since then would like to suppress it.

    We all need to remember something written by the great Russian novelist Yevgeny Zamyatin, for it is as true regarding America as it ever was regarding the Soviet Union:

    “THERE IS NO FINAL REVOLUTION.”

  • The arrest of 21 suspects is a large sweep. The plot, if the facts pan out, match the sort of multi-aircraft murder than was planned and halted back in the 90s. That’s what this was..a murder plot. You can tart it up in politics, but it is murder nonetheless. I’m glad they were stopped. HOW they were stopped is a key story. How to prevent this in the ftuure is the vexing question about combatting terrorism. Should civil rights be dented to halt this sort of thing? Is there anyway to head off this level of hatred let alone the acts and the threats? Whyy do people think terrorism ‘works?’ Is it an end in itself? Can extremist Islam honestly believe that enough people can be killed to bring us back to the holiness of the 14th century? Are we all infidels? Is there no forgiveness in Islam? Is there no middle ground? There is part of me that does not care what happens to those who were behind this plot. Does not make me as thoughtless as the people who plotted this? Does that mean they win?

  • fiddlesticks

    Silvio: “I begin this dispatch with an expression of cynical skepticism. Upon awaking to the news of a thwarted international terror plot, I found my first impulse was to doubt.”

    No report about an attempted terrorist attack would be complete without a skeptical post.

    Had they not stopped the attack Silvio would be posting about Bush’s deliberately letting the terrorist attack the planes in order to…..

    Or someone would have posted about it all being a government conspiracy and that the planes were bombed by the CIA.

    Where is Juan Cole? I want another comical “thought(less) experiment!”

  • fiddlesticks

    joshua:”Benjamin Franklin warned us that a nation that trades liberty for security will lose both and deserve neither.”

    Hey Joshua you gotta get your quotes right before you post them.

    Here is the real quote:

    “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

    I don’t believe we have given up “essential liberty” and certainly not for “temporaty safety.” In spite of people who would want us to give up the fight and give up essential liberties for temporary safety by giving in to the Jihadist’s demand we are still at war.

    I am glad the government isn’t compromising with the Islamo Fascists.

    I don’t know how this applies to fighting Islamo Fascists:

    “We all need to remember something written by the great Russian novelist Yevgeny Zamyatin, for it is as true regarding America as it ever was regarding the Soviet Union:

    “THERE IS NO FINAL REVOLUTION.â€? ”

    Shouldn’t you be telling the Jihdists that?

  • silvio.rabioso

    To those who did not like my last post, I thought I would clear up some biographical questions. I do not subscribe to any “9-11 was an inside job” mailing lists. In fact, the only one of these movies I’ve seen has been Loose Change. But just because these guys come up with crazy and absurd answers to these otherwise unanswered questions does NOT mean we can simply write off the questions they raise.

    What does it feel like to slowly move from a free society (or a freer society) to a police state? Who knows? All I am saying is that only by asking ourselves that question every day will we be vigilant enough to spot that tipping point when we move from ‘free’ to ‘subjects of tyranny’–and it is against tyranny that the USA itself was founded.

    So yes, I agree that there is no final revolution…but until we have another, we must stay faithful to the revolutions that have come before us, ones with names like: the North American Revolution, the Emancipation Proclamation, Woman’s, Child Labor Law, Civil Rights, Social Security, Labor Organization, ADA, Geneva Conventions…

    When we are continually asked to sacrifice the principals represented by those previous revolutions, but without the promise of some future revolution, we have indeed betrayed ourselves.

    Based on their lack of transparency, the current Administration does not deserve the benefit of the doubt. When a counterterrorism official is quoted in the NY Times story as saying: “We don’t want them to know what we know is out there,” we have to ask ourselves: “Why won’t these officials tell us what they know? And who is making sure these officials are doing their jobs correctly?”

    So I am not advocating a crazy theory. All I am saying is that if our government cannot give us substantial material proof of the advanced nature of this plot, then we, as an open society under the rule of law, must wait until these suspects are convicted, for it is only after their trials by their peers, where all evidence is open and public, could we justify any further infringements on basic human rights.

    I mean this in all seriousness: is not depriving someone of water for any non-emergency medical reason a violation of the most basic definition of a right? So if we submit to allowing the government to prohibit liquid on airplanes, are we not giving up a basic right (to carry and have access to clean drinking water)?

    If the answer is a resounding NO!, then so it will be. The time will come, however, when something this Administration (or a future one) does will force us all to raise up and shout YES! that some sacrifice we have been forced to make is not worth it, that we must resist.

    It would be a pity if that YES! comes too late, when our principals have degenerated to a point not even worth saving.

  • Fiddlesticks–our Govemnment doesn’t have to compromise with the “Islamo Fascists” they are creating their own sort of fascism.

    I too, in a cynical moment, wondered if this was all staged, all just another feather in the conspiracy theorists’ hat. I mean, the timing; the unverifiabiltiy of it all, the broad scope of the threat without any particulars, and then this–http://www.xopl.com/blog/2006/08/10/crockofshit.html

    I mean really, how sensible are the Authorities being? Either there is an actual, real, immanent threat and full security measures and safety protocols are employed or there isn’t. Period. There is no room for slip-shod methods or carelessness with this sort of thing. So why the seemingly purposeless show of control? It shows no sense at all and very little reason. It make the whole thing look a bit like a joke and a ploy to set nations, just finding their sense of ease, back on pins and needles.

    It’s too late to win a war on terrorism. The terrorist won long ago with their ultimate weapon–turning our own govenments into the real terrorists. It won’t matter much longer anyway–Bush will be out of office, the alerts can go back down (unless another republican gets in office) and will be fine until Agenda 21 and the New World Order finish what the Bushes began.

  • rc21

    To fiddlesticks I couldnt agree with you more. The one thing I have noticed in the short time I have been reading peoples posts,is an almost blinding hate for Bush and American policy. Over 20 terrorists are arrested for planning to blow up 10 planes. That is roughly 1,500 to 2,000 innocent people. You would think people would be happy and relieved that mass slaughter had been avoided.

    But no instead we get skepticism and a desire to blame Bush. Then we get more talk of how Bush is taking away all of our civil rights and turning the US into a police state.

    Certainly Bush has made plenty of mistakes. Personally I feel he underestimated the problems Iraq could present. and he seems to have a real hard time articulating his views on the whole middleeast situation. I also think he should have brought more democrats into his camp so that both parties could feel like they were involved. As to our civil rihts this is a tough subject. Bush has to weigh the saftey of our civillians with the takeing of some of our freedoms.Could this have been handled better, probably I wonder if you can imagine the tremendous amount of pressure he is under to prevent another attack. And make no mistake another one is comeing. So yes He may have over stepped his bounds. Can you give me a president who in a time of war has not.

    I’m not excusing it, I just think in a time of crisis we sometimes make decisions that in hind sight could have been thought out better.

    I in no way think we are becoming a police state. When I hear people who express that point of view it is I who become sceptical. In closing could we just be happy that another terrorist plot has been foiled. There is always tommorow to begin the I hate Bush talk. I’m sure he will do something in the next 24 hours to piss you off.

  • nabobnico

    Silvio

    Don’t be turned off by the reactionaries on this thread. I welcome your fresh insight and think it is time to ask questions. I for one was also immediatly sceptical; what happened to the Sears Tower bombers last month. That too begun as a massive arrest and slowly dwindled into a “potential plot.” I don’t know if we will ever know the truth either.

    Fiddlesticks, just because you can do a quick internet search for the correct Franklin quote doesn’t take away at all from Joshua’s original post.

  • fiddlesticks

    Someone should tell the speaker that it’s not out fault, period.

    There is no moral equivalence here.

  • fiddlesticks

    This is Lieberman’s exact quote:

    Form the NY Times:

    ““If we just pick up like Ned Lamont wants us to do, get out by a date certain, it will be taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched in England,â€? Mr. Lieberman said at a campaign event at lunchtime in Waterbury, Conn. “It will strengthen them and they will strike again.â€?”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/10/washington/10cnd-lieberman.html?hp&ex=1155268800&en=cd64531fba998a62&ei=5094&partner=homepage

    The “same people does not refer to Ned Lamont. Tell the speaker to learn to read!

    Amazing, he is doing what he claims LIeberman is doing, he is smearing Liberman.

  • nabobnico

    That is a good place to use a correct quote. I comend you Fiddle the sticks!

    Still it is an outrageous comment and shows that Lieberman is going to play by Bush rules…

  • fiddlesticks

    I don’t think it does, Nico the Nabob.

  • fiddlesticks

    Chris just said that Chaney wanted this kind of threat (and attack?).

    How does Chris know what Chaney wanted? His comment is outrageous.

  • fiddlesticks

    I am glad Paul said that there is something to fear!

    Chris is off base here!

  • fiddlesticks

    The problem isn’t just the Islamic terrorists. It’s also their left wing enablers and apologists.

  • planb

    code red…..election imminent

  • nabobnico

    Now Fid da Stick, you are sounding exactly like Lieberman, Cheney, et al. The Republicans have been in power for six years. Your “left wing enablers” have been persona no grata as far as policy has been concerned. The neo cons have had their chance while the apologiusts and enablers have been on the sideline. That may change in November, but until then, you cannot, cannot, say that we are tyhe problem!

  • fiddlesticks

    Chris is just using the show to trash the Republicans.

    Outragious, but not suprising!

  • nabobnico

    The republicans need to be trashed. They have trashed this country and the world. Trash them before they trash you. Dick Cheney before Cheney dicks you!

  • nabobnico

    Thats a very interesting point…the idea that Israel will come out of this so much weaker…

  • fiddlesticks

    Listening to Chris and Co. one would never guess that we were first attacked on 911 before we went into Iraq.

    Also we had been attacked repeatedly in the 1990’s during the Clinton administration.

    Again, you people are off the mark.

    Republicans will eat your lunch in these issues in November.

  • fiddlesticks

    The other interesting thing about these programs is how afraid Chris is of bringing in guests who disagree with his stale positions and his usual rhetoric.

  • fiddlesticks

    “Thats a very interesting point…the idea that Israel will come out of this so much weaker… ”

    Interesting? you mean “exhilirating” don’t you, bobnico?

  • nabobnico

    The republicans are already eating my lunch. They keep stealing my lunch money.

    And we were in Saudi Arabia. And we were bombing Iraq evry three days on average. All during the eighties. I don’t think 9/11 was a first shot; it was instead, an escalation.

  • nabobnico

    Don’t put words in my mouth. I do not find the current war exhilarating at all; I find it tragic, brutal, useless. And I think Israel and America complicit if only becauuse we are wiser, more noble. Trading blow for blow continues the cycle. The point of this show tonight was meant to be about how we could move beyond reactions. It sort of didn’t, but it should have.

  • fiddlesticks

    Brendan quotes a cynical post on the terror alert today, but he doesn’t quote post on cynical reactions to the shows views about terrorism.

    Typical.

  • elroustom

    You want root causes?

    Will America never drop its unlimited support for Israel – the heart of the matter?

    I’m not calling for ending the State of Israel, and I’m not an anti-semite, but the way Israel has conducted its existence, especially after it got the upper hand, is still waiting for a soulution. There are huge injustices that need to be addressed, or will we continue to see the demand for justice (warped as it has become) play out in our airports every so many months?

  • fiddlesticks

    “I’m not calling for ending the State of Israel, and I’m not an anti-semite, ”

    elroustom when someone says “I am not an antisemite,” watch out the chances are pretty good that he is one.

  • nabobnico

    So what if someone says, “I am an anti-semite?”

  • fiddlesticks

    “So what if someone says, “I am an anti-semite?â€? ”

    You mean like Nasrallah? Believe him.

  • fiddlesticks

    I can’t wait to see what Chris’s show,if he is still on the air, will sound like the day after the midterm elections when the Democrats will yet again implode.

  • fiddlesticks

    It’s still early but here it is:

    August 10, 2006

    http://politicalwire.com/archives/2006/08/10/in_connecticut_first_postprimary_poll_shows_tight_race.html

    “In Connecticut, First Post-Primary Poll Shows Tight Race

    Rasmussen Reports began polling the Ned Lamont-Joe Lieberman general election match-up last night. After 375 interviews, preliminary numbers show Lieberman ahead of Lamont by 3 percentage points. Republican candidate Alan Schlesinger is a non-factor in the single digits.

    The last Rasmussen survey of a three way general election found Lamont and Lieberman tied at 40% with Schlesinger at 13%. It appears Lieberman is gaining ground primarily among GOP voters.

    Rasmussen will be back in the field tonight to complete the survey and hopes to post final data on their website before midnight.”

  • fiddlesticks, the probems didn’t begin on September 11, 2001. Arabs wouldn’t care two hoots about the US if it weren’t for the destructive policies that we have pursued over the past century plus. They didn’t just randomly decide to launch murderous anger at an innocent country. Somewhat innocent people, yes. ( I say, somewhat, because we all collude by continuing to elect greedy, power hungry politicians and to support a money-driven election process and to bow down to the power of the corporation.) But the country was not and is not innocent.

    Nothing can change until we take responsibility for our policies and disrespect for peope who think differently than we do.

    And please stop acting as though invading Iraq is a justifiable response to the attacks on the World Trade Center. Despite the PR of the White House, there was not a link. That’s old news.

    While you’re bashing everybody for being frustrated with this Administration. For not respecting a President who has no military background (actually avoided it), who has no interest in intellectual pursuits such as reading and history and who went into his presidency owing a whole lot of people big favors after they twice invested in his big loser oil business (I can’t believe he got away with running as the next CEO of the US, given that his CV had ony failures in that position) and who has repeatedly shown his lack integrity, I might ask why you’re so comfortable sitting in the the most powerful country on the planet, the one with the most financial infuence around the world thinking that we don’t have any accountabiity for why people might develop a hatred for us. We are not the underdogs. We’re the top of the international power hierarchy. The resulting culture is created from the top down.

  • rc21

    There was apoll done some time ago. They asked a number of people that were antizionist if they were anti semetic. almost all of them said they were not.

    They then asked them questions that related to what they thought of jews in general . Guess what It turns out that these people who claim to have nothing against jews,also thought Jews were good with money. That they were cheap. That they always stuck togeather. That they were somewhat untrustworthy.

    I think we have a good idea as to what people who claim to be antizionist but not anti jew, or anti semetic are really thinking.

    It’s kind of like those people who say they like blacks. They just wish they wern’t so lazy,and would stop commiting crime,get off welfare,and stop doing so much crack cocaine. But really I do like blacks. I’m even friends with some. Same train of thought different group of people. It’s not hard to spot a bigot even online. It really didn’t take long at all for someone to blame Isreal for this latest terror plot. Bigots are also very predictable.

  • fiddlesticks

    Allison: Most of your post is just more irrelevant anti-Bush invective.

    Neither Lincoln, nor FDR had prior military experience. That did not stop them from prosecuting wars.

    However, one point you made is worth looking into:

    “fiddlesticks, the probems didn’t begin on September 11, 2001. Arabs wouldn’t care two hoots about the US if it weren’t for the destructive policies that we have pursued over the past century plus.”

    Please tell me what exactly did we do the Arabs a century ago, say around 1910, or even around 1960?

  • fiddlesticks

    rc21,

    precisely so.

    However, even sophisticated anti-Zionist who would never openly declare their prejudice are still antisemitic. This is because they necessarily adopt a double standard when attacking the Jewish State which they don’t apply to other countries.

    Anti-Zionism is the form contemporary antisemitism takes today.

  • fiddlesticks

    Here is a speechl worth considering:

    Brigitte Gabriel’s Speech at Duke University

    http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/gabriel.asp

    [Fiddlesticks, please stop posting copyrighted material in the comment threads. Provide a link, summarize what you find elsewhere or excerpt selectively within the realm of fair use. Thanks, the management]

  • 1st/14th

    “Please tell me what exactly did we do the Arabs a century ago, say around 1910, or even around 1960? ”

    Ding ding ding, we have a winner.

  • rc21

    To Allison The point of 9/11 is that we were innocent. The US had never attacked another Arab country before 9/11. What part of that dont you understand. All countries have foreign policies and dealings with other countries.

    Over the centuries relationships and policies change. Obviously mistakes have been made and at times short sighted policies have led to problems. Show me a country that in over 200 years has not made some poor foreign policy decisions. You are holding the US to a completely unrealistic standard that no clear thinking person would call reasonable. As far as big corporations. If other countries want US corporations to invest in there resources I dont see how that should upset you. If they make a profit (which by the way is there reason for being ) That is great you and I both enjoy the fruits of these profits.

    As to Bush not serving in the milatary, therfore this should disqualify him as commander and chief. fiddle sticks has already answered that question I cant beleive you didnt know that some of our war time presidents had never served.

    As to the US not respecting people who think differently then us . I find that a rather vauge statement. Do you think we should have respected Nazi Germany as they tried to march across Europe destroying everything in its path. Should we have respected South Africas apartied way of life. I guess your answer is yes going by your previous statement. And why should we care if 800,000 thousand are killed in Rwanda. After all they just think differently then us.

    One more thing To the best of my knowledge Bush never said Iraq was linked to 9/11. Could you show me the speech where he said this. I could very well be wrong on this. I do know he never said Iraq was an imminent threat something that liberals always try and attribute to him.

    I think it would be nice if we could just blame the people who are trying to kill us,Muslim extremists, and stop trying to shift the blame to the US. By the way if it is all our fault than can you explain the recent bombings in India by the muslim terrorists.

    Maybe they actually thought they were blowing up a train in Indiana.

  • fiddlesticks

    I am still waiting for Allison to tell what the US did to the Arabs in 1910 oir in 1960 that provoked 911!

  • silvio.rabioso

    Sorry, missed the show. I’ll listen to it tomorrow and give my comments then. I just browsed the thread, and one statement is so unbelievably ignorant that I must respond immediately. RC21 said: “The US had never attacked another Arab country before 9/11.” This current war isn’t even the first time we have invade IRAQ. What do you think happened in 1991? Wasn’t Iraq an Arab country then?

  • fiddlesticks

    ” What do you think happened in 1991? Wasn’t Iraq an Arab country then?”

    You tell us, silvio?

    What did Saddam do to Kuwait.

    Where you ready to allow him swallow up that country?

    besides, wasn’t there a world wide coalition that rolled back Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait?

  • wellintune

    I can’t help but to notice a disturbing pattern since 9-11 regarding the timing of the Bush – and apparently now, Blair administration – of alleged eminent terrorist attacks and the raising of warning levels and security measures. For example, this falls on the heels of an announcement by Israel that they were expanding the ground war in Lebanon furhter into Lebanese territory. Over 1,000 Lebanese, 90% of whom were civilians, have been killed in the Lebanese-Israeli conflict. Criticism of the U.S. for siding with the Israelis is growing by the day, as is the support in Arabic communities for Hezbolah.

    Is it possible that these warnings are a smoke-screen to hide or diffuse information the Bush (and Blair) administrations would prefer to sweep under the rug? Is it also possible that these warnings provide the excuse to further curtail what remains of our tattered democracy?

  • Ido hope folks read this profile i wrote of former Faa’s red team counter-terror expert Bogdan Dzakovic. it’s an excerpt from my book, Patriots Act: Voices of Dissent, and was published in the San Francisco Chronicle last month–“Flyng the Deadly Skies.” He predicted elements of the foiled attack. an excerpt of the excerpt is provided here for Open Source (my favorite radio show): i don’t mean to offer a shameless plug for my book, but what Bogdan has to say is critical to our national security.

    He told me, “if i was a terrorist mastermind and I could muster up another 20 guys, I’d scatter them around to different airports around the country. I would give each one of them three bombs and three different sets of luggage. Some of those bombs will make it onto flights.”

    His scenario bears some similarity to what the U.K. terrorists had planned to achieve, even though they planned to bomb several aircraft over the Atlantic ocean. Their plot also echoes an earlier, but botched terrorist mission from the 90s known as the “Bokinka Operation,” and which involved simultaneous flights over the Pacific.

    So just how safe are the deadly skies? Are the FAA, Transportation Security Administration, and Homeland Security really up to the task of preventing another 9/11?

    Dzakovic doesn’t think so.

    For many years, Bogdan was on the front lines of battling aviation terrorism. He had been a federal air marshal before being selected to head up the FAA’s Red Team–its most elite counter-terror unit.

    The Red Team was a small, elite squad who conducted mock undercover raids as terrorists and hijackers. It probed vulnerable areas inside airports. With surprising ease and frequency during routine tests, members of his team slipped bombs, guns and knives onto aircraft.

    Several days after Sept. 11, 2001, the FAA grounded the Red Team, apparently because it didn’t want to be embarrassed by the team’s findings. Dzakovic disagreed with this shameless attempt to bury the truth. And so he took the bold step of filing a whistle-blower disclosure in October 2001 with the Office of Special Counsel, an independent government agency. That document — the first of its kind by an FAA Security Division employee — set in motion a lengthy and costly investigation by the inspector general.

    But instead of rewarding Dzakovic, the newly formed Transportation Security Administration, which had swallowed the FAA, punished him by reassigning him to an entry-level clerical position behind a desk. He spent months punching holes in paper and putting training binders together for new TSA employees. The counter-terrorism expertise of this valuable 14-year FAA veteran was stupidly wasted. He wanted to spend the rest of his career fighting bad guys, but his government bosses thought that wasn’t such a good idea after he became a whistle-blower. (As of 2006, he’s still doing entry-level work.)

    “The nature of aviation security, ” he told me. ” is that it invites an attack because it must first and foremost ‘process’ people and their luggage as rapidly as possible, while providing at least some illusion that effective screening is actually taking place. The FAA did a great job of maintaining this fiction, and the TSA is doing the same with billions of dollars of our tax money.

    “For example, the one thing we determined on the Red Team was that in order for the CTX bomb-detection machines to be used effectively, you need to have the absolute minimum number of bags going through them because the machines aren’t reliable for mass searching of bags. It has to be limited as much as possible to the most suspect people.

    “All it takes to bypass these so-called layers of security is a little research from open sources. You can easily find the technical specs of bomb-detecting machines; many are published online by the manufacturers. With a rudimentary knowledge of chemistry and electronics, which the bad guys have proven they have, you can figure out how to beat every single one of these systems.

    “The next step, as the 9/11 terrorists demonstrated, is to do some basic surveillance of the system just to see how things operate and get familiar with the airport environment. When (former Red Team member) Steve Elson and Fox News were doing their own undercover sting story at Logan Airport in the spring of 2001, the hijackers were doing their own dry runs at the same time and at the same airport.

    “The real problem is that the TSA is built on the same weak foundation as the FAA. It will always be at least one step behind the terrorists. Remember the shoe bomber? Right after that incident, the TSA made everyone take off their shoes at the screening checkpoints. Then we had the female Chechen terrorists who apparently hid explosives in their underwear. And so TSA screeners started groping female passengers until a big public outcry brought that silliness to a stop. Next time the terrorists might put explosives in toothpaste tubes, and you can count on TSA screeners squishing out all the toothpaste from passengers’ bags.”

    Well, that’s exactly what happened as of Thursday. We can now expect sports drinks and hair gels to be permanently banned because this was what the British terrorists planned to use to disguise the explosives.

    “From my Red Team testing days,” continued Dzakovic, “the only thing that ever really had me concerned about getting caught trying to sneak a weapon on board was a human being doing profiling. “It’s looking at very small anomalies and behavior like nervousness or how someone answers questions. You don’t simply ask a passenger ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions. The journalist Paul Sperry said that Islamic suicide terrorists will coat themselves with lilac as some kind of blessing it has for the next life when he’s supposed to meet his seventy-two virgins. A profiler should be looking for those subtle signs.

    “Another thing I learned from my research was that in every hijacking, passengers or flight crews recognized something hinky about the hijackers before the hijacking began, and this was either on the plane, on the ground before the plane took off, or when the passengers were still in the terminal building. Every single time the hijackers gave off these signs.”

    Too bad, the U.S. government punishes whistleblowers like Dzakovic who point out signs it wishes to ignore and cover-up.

  • David Weinstein

    Chris and audience, I think the answer to the show’s question of how we can break out of the box, think about terrorism and speak about it differently, lies in how the several conspirators were caught by British security: They were tipped off by Pakistani authorities.

    We need the cooperation of the Muslim countries where these terrorists hide. But if we want their cooperation we need to cooperate with them. I think it is a question of understanding, repsect, bridge building, real diplomacy.

    This will take time, effort, give and take, tenacity, just like in any human realtionship. But without building these relationships, we are indeed domed to the endless “war,” on terrorism. This means a paradigm shift from the Bush/Cheney/neo-con view of the world that is one of fear and domination. This a a paradigm shift to America as a partner in cooperation, peace and stability based on fundamental optimism about relations between nations and cultures instead of the ignorance and fear tht is running Washington now.

  • rc21

    To silvio Rabioso I purposely did not mention desert storm. I wanted to see if anyone would accuse the US for that crisis.

    As you may recall it was Saddam who attacked by invading Kuwait. We went in as part of a large coalition of countries that had the backing of the UN. Our purpose was to free Kuwait and stop Sadaams aggression.

    Your comments reveal an intellectual dishonesty that does not suprise me.

    keep up the good work.

  • Rob_

    I listened to Open Source yesterday for the first time. Chris Lydon suggested multiple times that our foreign policy such as the war in Iraq was the cause of all the attacks, and we should not have done that because it makes the extremists hate us more.

    Whether or not he is actually correct is one issue, but to allow the Islamic-Extremists, or any foreign power to dictate our foreign policy shows weakness. Weakness is what the extremists feed on, not our foreign policy. It is positive reinforment to negative behavior. If appeasement works why did the extremists try to attack Spain again after they withdrew from Iraq? Or how about Israel withdrawing from Gaza or Southern Lebanon. That did not bring peace to them. It brought on more attacks from these hateemongering Extremists.

    He talks about the Republican party playing on the peoples fear of Islamic-Extremists. Then he says we should change our foreign policy to keep the extremists from hating us, thereby eliminating a desire to attack us. Who is really the puppet here?

    Thomas Friedman of the New York Times had an excellent point:

    Maybe if the Extremists spent more time building universities, industries, and maybe even some entertainment, then they wouldn’t have time to sit around hating the infidels and jews so much and concocting ways to destroy others who do not agree with them. Sure its not an overnight fix, but right now their culture seems broken (aside from the usual porblems such as genital mutilation of women and outright repression of them), and needs to change for the better.

    I see ten years from now Chris Lyndon saying the following:

    “You see, the reason they hate is just because we are not Muslims, so if we just except sharia law for now as part of our constitution then they won’t hate us, and will leave us alone. When is everyone going to just see it my way?”

  • fiddlesticks

    I am still waiting for Allison to tell what the US did to the Arabs in 1910 oir in 1960 that provoked 911!

    Still, no Allison reply.

    She accuses the US of provoking attacks and when I ask for specifics non are fothcoming.

  • silvio.rabioso

    I take charges of intellectual dishonesty very seriously. But making a claim such as “the US has never attacked an Arab country” leaves RC21 (or anyone else making such a statement) in no position to accuse. Regardless of your OPINION regarding the 1991 Gulf War, the FACT is that the US–with UN backing, as RC21 mentions–went to WAR against an Arab state.

    Rob’s comments show a bit more nuanced of an understanding, but he too falls victim to his inability to empathize / see the other side. Instead of advocating for a change in our foreign policy, Rob suggests a course of action endorsed by Tom Friedman that states, if I may paraphrase, ‘the US must force Arab countries to change their domestic policies. These countries have proven inept at domestic government, so the only hope is to export our own US domestic model and graft in onto their societies.’

    The sane couse of action is the middle ground. If we are to encourage Arab states to adopt US-style societies, we must lead by example, NOT export through force.

    As I have mentioned in earlier posts, there will come a day when you (whoever is reading this) will say: “shit…this has gone too far.” Some have already reached that conclusion when they found out they were being spied on by a government that claimed to be protecting their liberty, others when they were unjustly detained because they fit a ‘profile’. Yes, it could always get worse…but how bad will we allow it to get before we scream “ENOUGH!”???

  • fiddlesticks

    “But making a claim such as “the US has never attacked an Arab countryâ€? leaves RC21…”

    Hey, Silvio, that depends on what the meaning of “is” is.

    Attack usually means “unprovoked” attack which is what Iraq did when it attacked Kuwait. The US led attack on Iraq was actually a counter-attack it you want to be precise.

  • gregor

    fiddlesticks: “Please tell me what exactly did we do the Arabs a century ago, say around 1910, or even around 1960?”

    Fist let me say, that I don’t sit at the computer all day poised to read and respond to ROS comments. I have a life. I own a business, have a 6 year-old daughter and am battling serious health concerns. So, I don’t appreciate the baiting about lack of response. If you want to have a conversation, be patient. Character bashing doesn’t make you right.

    Next, I don’t have time to do the history research for you and find the academic links (perhaps someone else can), but if you have to ask how the US has participated in things that drastically affected the Arabs around the times of WWI and WWII, you need to read a little history. It is hard to believe that anyone doesn’t understand the resentment stemming from European/US impact on the region and how it affected their culture. As we have turned out to be the “Super Power” (oh, but we’re the victims) we have become the main target of those resentments.

    We generate ill-will for ourselves everywhere. We are economic bullies. Our idea of a free market economy means that we are free to do whatever we want to anybody else and their land in order to bolster our economy. From ‘aid” packages that leave farmers perpetually beholden to our agri-companies and ‘health’ policies that deny people information about birth control adn trade policies that encourage the destruction of other countries’ environments, we bring a destructive force everywhere we go. Until we own up to how we treat others as our servant class and how we disrespect their cultures and destroy their environments, we will never stop generating hatred.

    This is not say that I think the terrorist response is the right one. I do believe that we need to fight against that response and protect innocent people. (Though we can’t continue to claim innocence if we refuse to understand someone else’s point of view and how we helped create it.) I was all for going after Bin Laden – I’m all for intelligent multi-national efforts to stop terrorist activity. But the Iraq war was a scam and it’s a failure. And the only true way that we will end the desire to commit these acts against us is to consider what we do to make people hate us. Addressing poverty, helping countries sustain their cultures and ecologies and learning that we don’t need to keep accumulating wealth – we need to share what we have amongst ourselves – will go a long way to end the terrorism. Catching Bin-Laden will not end terrorism because people who are poor and hopeless and feel powerless will look for any way to feel that their life has a respectful purpose. The idea of being on a mission from God just can’t be topped. But it’s not surprising to see how little of God’s mission includes the killing of others when people have a stable life to maintain and economic opportunities are available to them. Those oppotunities don’t have to look like ours. We need to ask them what they want for their lives and if they want us to help them get there. Not attack them or push our lifestyle onto them. Arrogance is not a virtue.

  • silvio.rabioso

    “Is” is a tough word to define…there are entire branches of philosophy–notably metaphysics and existentialism–dedicated to exploring the nuances of that verb.

    “Attack”, happily, has a more consensual conventional definition. Without an appeal to the OED (which, unhappily, is not available for free online), one can still find a generally accepted definition: to apply violent force to someone or something. (Wiktionary). Outside of sports metaphors, this definition is literal and uncontested. Attack in itself does not posses any intrinsic temporal referent (before, after, counter, pre-emptive…)

    May I be so bold as to suggest that our inability to recognize even the simplest facts (i.e. the US has previously attacked Arab states) permits us from seeing the larger dots that need to be connected? For instance, on the front page of today’s late-afternoon edition of the NY Times, two headlines in bold stood on opposite sides of the page: one about the attempted attacks by, as Bush says, Islamo-fascists (itself a misuse of the precise term ‘fascism’), the other about Israel’s request that the US rush delivery of cluster-bomb style missiles (sorry if I get the military terminology wrong). I am not saying that B caused A, but I am insisting that we must recognize that in the eyes of the Muslim world (the black and brown world generally, the Global South, or whatever you want to call it), those two headlines READ AS IF it were a causal relationship: the US supports the killing of Arab civilians, so Arabs target US civilians.

    One does not have to subscribe to this world-view to recognize that it exists. And that it is not merely the view of a few extremists, but rather a view shared by a vast percentage of the human beings who populate the planet. Many of these people may not condone terrorism, but they also are not looking to the US as a friend, ally or (absurdity of all absurdities) a liberator.

    Sometimes chicken-or-the-egg arguments are the poor man’s costume so as not to have to admit an error. We must end our occupation of Iraq, stop selling weapons to any state or militia that may use them against civilians and close our detention facilities such as Guantanamo. This will not lead to an immediate end of attacks against US interests, but it will at least put us in a position to negotiate and begin to create a world where all humans, regardless of national or religious affiliation, can exists and share a fundamental respect for human rights.

  • rc21

    Silvio knows what I meant.He just couldnt resist the oppertunity to blame the US for going to war on Arab soil.That is what I meant by being intelectualy dishonest.

    I dont mind debating issues and hearing what other people have to say.Many times I will change my position or at least modify what I might think.

    I just want to know the person I’m dealing with. Do they try and alter or distort certain events or try and put a spin on them.

    I think Silvio knows that he was distorting the events of desert storm. by saying the US attacked. Your right fiddlesticks actually we counter attacked. Or you could say we defended Kuwait.

  • silvio.rabioso

    In defense of Gregor (and perhaps to justify my long posts), let me remind the community of the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu. Bourdieu has consistently argued against the twisting of the media into a propaganda echo chamber. Writing before the birth of the 24-hour news cycle, he decried the ‘fast-thinking’ that seem to be some popular among journalists. Think talking points and O’Rielly-style shows.

    One of the great powers of the internet is that it allows bloggers to call the ‘fast-thinking’ talking heads on their bullshit. That does not mean that we must become ‘fast-thinking’ bloggers ourselves. When the world has this many problems, we must have the courage and the foresight to SLOW DOWN, to think things through and to be honest with ourselves.

    Gregor, thank you for your intelligent and informed words.

  • rc21

    To Rob; I didnt hear open source yesterday. But I have a hard time beleiveing Chris would say the war in Iraq is the cause of all of these attacks.

    The war in Iraq is certainly a topic that I think both pro and anti war people can make logical arguments for.

    But we all know terrorist attacks by muslim extremists have been going on long before 9/11. Most of 9/11 was planned while Clinton was in office.

    If I had a dollar for every terror attack caused by muslim extremists dateing back to the early 70’s I’d be retired and living on an island. There is a movement afoot by radical Islam to destroy the US, Isreal ,and other western countries. The sooner we acknowledge this and deal with it the closer we will get to ending it.

  • fiddlesticks

    gregor: Fist let me say, that I don’t sit at the computer all day poised to read and respond to ROS comments.

    My question was addressed to Allison.

    As to your flippant reply:

    “Next, I don’t have time to do the history research for you and find the academic links (perhaps someone else can), but if you have to ask how the US has participated in things that drastically affected the Arabs around the times of WWI and WWII, you need to read a little history. It is hard to believe that anyone doesn’t understand the resentment stemming from European/US impact on the region and how it affected their culture. As we have turned out to be the “Super Powerâ€? (oh, but we’re the victims) we have become the main target of those resentments.”

    I happpen to know the history of the area pretty well and I do know that the US was not ivolved there till after WW2 except as consumers of oil which till 1960 was pretty minimal.

    If you have any evidence to the contrary let me hear it.

    Yes, I know about the coup in Iran which was in part blamed on the CIA, but I am talking about involevement in Arab affairs.

    If you think that being involved in a coup is grounds for killing 3000 civilians on 911 then I’d have to say that we have nothing to talk about.

    If a coup justifies wholesale murder then what don’t you think that wholesale murder justifies taking out the murderers?

  • fiddlesticks

    silvio: “In defense of Gregor (and perhaps to justify my long posts), let me remind the community of the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu. Bourdieu has consistently argued against the twisting of the media into a propaganda echo chamber. Writing before the birth of the 24-hour news cycle, he decried the ‘fast-thinking’ that seem to be some popular among journalists. Think talking points and O’Rielly-style shows.”

    Think also BBC and NPR and radioopensource.

    By the way for every sociological Bourdieu there is a sociological anti Bourdieu.

    Let’s not quote “experts here” we can out these issues for ourselves and if we can’t then “experts” can’t help.

    “One of the great powers of the internet is that it allows bloggers to call the ‘fast-thinking’ talking heads on their bullshit.”

    Yes, the way they recently showed how reuter, ap, nytimes, and bbc have been publishing doctroed photographs that made Israel look like they were bombing Beirut indiscriminately.

    Still, I would say that these media outlets have more power than the right wing media or the bloggers since they reach more people worldwide.

    The BBC alone which is pretty anti-American is listened to by more people than there are bloggers and readers of those blogs.

  • silvio.rabioso

    >

    For some reason that sounds funnier when Steven Colbert says it.

    And god forbid that the BBC actually reflects British interests on the air. What next? Are you going to complain because the CBC broadcasts in French?

  • silvio.rabioso

    My bad..lost the first part of that post. Should read:

    –Let’s not quote “experts hereâ€? we can out these issues for ourselves and if we can’t then “expertsâ€? can’t help. —

    For some reason that sounds funnier when Steven Colbert says it.

    And god forbid that the BBC actually reflects British interests on the air. What next? Are you going to complain because the CBC broadcasts in French?

  • fiddlesticks

    Silvio, your answer is ridiculous with or without the quote.

    “And god forbid that the BBC actually reflects British interests”

    Does it reflect British interests or the interests of the a segment of the left?

    This is the problem with theoretically stale analysis. You apply the principle of self interests and you come up with what? With the wrong answer.

    Post modern societies dont have single interests and the BBC is a self contained entity which seems to reflect more its own internal culture than the interests of the British.

    Ask Tony Blair about that.

    Oh, I forgot you would rather ask a sociologists.

    Well, good luck to you.

  • florfliege

    Rob, I am struck by the fact that understanding the true nature of this terrorist threat against the US and the West is almost impossible for us to achieve. Us being the targets of that threat and obviously trapped in that very circle of thinking that demagogues on both sides want us to be in.

    While of course I can’t claim to fully understand the terrorists myself I do firmly believe that the thought that weakness is what islamic extremists feed on isn’t very helpful in devising strategies against them. Example? Israel, showing strength and military power for decades and still constantly feeding terrorism against its borders and people. We have to move away from this binary thinking of weak and strong. Maybe in these times of asymmetrical warfare the traditional rules of power politics don’t apply.

    I’d even go so far as to say that terrorists do feed not on weakness but on the opposite: on power or at least the excess of it. Excess of power leads to missuse of power, the very sort of extremism that befalls even a superpower with only the best intentions. Osama & Co. do want us to show the absolute resolve that George W. Bush constantly claims for his administration, because it helps to alienate moderate Muslims around the world and makes it easier for them to rally their troups.

    Perhaps it is necessary to reexamine the origins of the demise of the first wave of international terrorism which from the 60s to the 80s saw extremist groups of the left in many industrialized countries as well as in some third world countries cooperate against the perceived imperialism of the capitalist West. This set of terrorist movements ranging from the German RAF and the Italian Red Brigades to the Peruvian Sentiero Luminoso and groups in Northern Africa and Arabia was just as heterogenous as today’s islamic terrorism.

    But one after another they seem to have dissolved, and not because they were bombed by the worlds most powerful air force (which they weren’t) and heavy police prosecution (which they were) but because the root of their self-understanding, the Cold War and the opposition of Capitalism and Communism ceased to be. Therefore we have to find and dispose of the root that Islamic fundamentalism is based on. And I can’t think of a better place to start than to finally settle the conflict between Israel and the Palestines.

    It is the cynical logic of this opposition that practically forces Israel to kill innocent Civilians and by military or political means inhibit individual freedom and national prosperity in Palestine, the Gaza strip and the southern part of Lebanon. In that same logic Hizbullah and Hamas are able to recruit young males and females to die as suicide bombers killing yet more civilians on the other side.

    To get back to that abominable idea of weakness: the administrations of Reagan and Bush sen. certainly did not show any weakness any time. Indeed they very firmly held on to their ideals — and yet were flexible enough to encourage change in the Soviet Union by cooperation on certain levels instead of stopping it by maintaining a policy of stubborn resolve. This kind of pragmatism stems from strength not weakness and today both the US and Israel should be strong and pragmatic enough to follow a course that would enable them to over time disarm their enemies by convincing the man and woman on the Arab street of their ultimately peaceful intentions.

    Just envision the Near and Middle East in peace, a prospering region, booming with tourists from all over the world visiting the many grand historic sites in Israel, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, even in Iraq and Iran. There would still be die hard extremists around but most certainly only a few. Without a “just cause” most of the people would have something better to do with their lives.

  • nabobnico

    Sorry I posted this in the wrong threafd earlier. I think it is better here…and I don’t think it is copyrighted. If it is, well then, apologies.

    This is put better than I could ever put it; it addresses the core problem I think we have all been circling on this thread, and one which deserves our close attention….

    A Letter from 18 Writers

    including three Nobel Prize recipients

    The latest chapter of the conflict between Israel and Palestine began when Israeli forces abducted two civilians, a doctor and his brother, from Gaza. An incident scarcely reported anywhere, except in the Turkish press. The following day the Palestinians took an Israeli soldier prisoner–and proposed a negotiated exchange against prisoners taken by the Israelis–there are approximately 10,000 in Israeli jails.

    That this “kidnapping� was considered an outrage, whereas the illegal military occupation of the West Bank and the systematic appropriation of its natural resources–most particularly that of water–by the Israeli Defense (!) Forces is considered a regrettable but realistic fact of life, is typical of the double standards repeatedly employed by the West in face of what has befallen the Palestinians, on the land allotted to them by international agreements, during the last seventy years.

    Today outrage follows outrage; makeshift missiles cross sophisticated ones. The latter usually find their target situated where the disinherited and crowded poor live, waiting for what was once called Justice. Both categories of missile rip bodies apart horribly–who but field commanders can forget this for a moment?

    Each provocation and counter-provocation is contested and preached over. But the subsequent arguments, accusations and vows, all serve as a distraction in order to divert world attention from a long-term military, economic and geographic practice whose political aim is nothing less than the liquidation of the Palestinian nation.

    This has to be said loud and clear, for the practice, only half declared and often covert, is advancing fast these days, and, in our opinion, it must be unceasingly and eternally recognized for what it is and resisted.

    PS: As Juliano Mer Khamis, director of the documentary film Arna’s Children, asked: “Who is going to paint the ‘Guernica’ of Lebanon?�

    John Berger

    Noam Chomsky

    Harold Pinter

    José Saramago

    Eduardo Galeano

    Arundhati Roy

    Naomi Klein

    Howard Zinn

    Charles Glass

    Richard Falk

    Gore Vidal

    Russell Banks

    Thomas Keneally

    Chris Abani

    Carolyn Forché

    Martín Espada

    Jessica Hagedorn

    Toni Morrison

  • rc21

    Well thats a group of fair minded individuals if I do say so myself. If Arafat was alive today I’m sure he would have also signed. I’m glad you posted something by a group that is so neutral and unbiased. Theres no reason to question anything that these guys would write. Thanks for enlightening me.

    See if you can find some articles by Al Jeezera. They could also give us some unbiased news on what is happening.

  • David Weinstein

    Very thoughtful and helpful posts, Gregor and Florliege. I think if American foreign policy and Israeli policy makers took into account your wise views, we’d be perhaps 75% (I’m an optimist) towards a deep and stable peace in the Middle East.

    But there are two problems remaining. The first is that many, if not the majoirity of the 9/11 perpetrators were educated and middle class Saudis. Economic prosperity, or the hope thereof is not enough apprantly to stop the terrorist recruiting. Saudi Arabia is close to being a police state. But I am in no way suggesting tht we try to “democratize” Saudia Arabia in the violent Bush fashion. But here is a key factor to the kind of deep discontent that leads to terrorism in that part of the world – authoritarian regimes with no hope of daylight in the future.

    The problem even with an enlightened Israeli policy towards creating a just two state settlement with the Palestinians that lasted some seven years or so, most notably under the leadership of the assasinated Itzhak Rabin, is tht the Islamic extremistis under Hamas did everything in their power to disrupt negotiations towards this peaceful settlement by bombing Israeli buses and other terrorist acts. Now Hamas is in power because the PLO was too corrupt and did not deliver services to its people and because the Israeli government swung to the right under Sharon and decided on the path of an imposed settlement.

    As I have written before on ROS, an imposed settlement is an excuse for perpetual terrorism and recrutiment by Hamas and Hizbollah. On the other hand, if ever the Israelis would go back to the bargaining table with the Palestinians for a true compromise settlement, Israel must have absolute assurane that the new Palestinian state will not be a launcing pad for terrorist attacks by rocket and so forth by an uncontrolled Hamas out for blood. A real chicken and egg dilemna. Almost as hard as how an enlihtened America can use its influence and not its military to bring about a greater measure of freedom and democracy in these authoritarian regimes.

    Nevertheless, the 75% improvement in US foreign policy will go a long way to turnign the tide of events in the Middle East.

    Anybody got an idea about the other 25 per cent?

  • florfliege

    David, Israels terrorist opponents depend on support from neighboring Muslim countries and/or communities, Hizbollah certainly more so, without Irans rocket supply the ongoing war wouldn’t have been possible. So any deal with the Palestinians has to be accompanied with what is called the great bargain, thereby settling anything from Israels legitimate security concerns or Syria’s desire to get back the Golan heights and be allowed back onto the stage of international politics to Iran’s nuclear ambitions and, of course, the whole mess in Iraq.

    By no means an easy task, but at least theoretically it should be alleviated by the long overdue insight of all governments involved that the only ones having profited of what’s been going for the past few years are extremists on all sides. Any further aggravation will substantially destabilize the region and cannot be in the interest of the Saudi monarchy, Israeli hawks or even the political madmen in Teheran. Let’s get them to the table then, now or never!

  • jdyer

    Nabobnico,

    Saramago is a rabid antisemite. He is not the only Nobel prize winner to hold such vile views.

  • jdyer

    “The latest chapter of the conflict between Israel and Palestine began when Israeli forces abducted two civilians, a doctor and his brother, from Gaza. An incident scarcely reported anywhere, except in the Turkish press. The following day the Palestinians took an Israeli soldier prisoner–and proposed a negotiated exchange against prisoners taken by the Israelis–there are approximately 10,000 in Israeli jails.”

    From the posted letter.

    This is nonsense.

    An operation as complex as the kidnapping of the Israeli soldier took months to plan not to mention the time it took to dig the tunnel they used.

    In addition, the Palestinian prisoners in Israel have all been caught trying to carry out attacks on Israelis or had actually done so.

    It’s nonsense like this which makes most sensible people hold intellectuals like Chomsky and Howard Zinn in such low esteem.

  • jdyer

    It should also be pointed out that most of the signers of this disgarceful letter are in the their 70’s and 80’s and that they are still sticking to ideas they picked up in their twenties and haven’t been able to adjust their ideologies to the new realities.

  • rc21

    Chomsky is so far gone it took him years and mountains of evidence to admit that the communists killed over 2 million of there own countrymen.

    Even at that he really said the figures were much lower only in the thousands. He also somehow found away to blame the US for this. No suprise there. He also raised his speaking fees from 9,000 to 12,000 shortly after 9/11

    Never one to not take advantage of a good opportunity. He showed pretty good capitalistic skills by cashing in on the tragedy.Especially for one who has such disdain for capitalism and the people who are always in search of the almighty dollar.Such is the moral character of the nations leading leftwing thinker.

  • nabobnico

    “In addition, the Palestinian prisoners in Israel have all been caught trying to carry out attacks on Israelis or had actually done so.”

    That is nonsense, not the facts of the letter. To state that all Palestinians in Israeli jails are guilty is beyond nonsense, it is ridiculous. Not even the staunchest defender of the american penal system would claim that every person within jail is truly guilty. Even they would admit that there is a margin of error to some degree. Your statement belies your entire argument which is based on hysterical name calling, mainly the anti-semitism charge.

    In a review of Alan Dershowitz’s new book published in the Yale Israel Jouranl, Ariel Schneller writes, “Anti-Semitism in terms of “effectâ€? is a charge that is too easily played as a trump card against critics of Israel and it becomes merely another word for any action that happens solely to harm Jews.”

    Dismissing the signers as in their ’70’s and 80’s also misses the point. Senior statesmen and commentators are often older and wiser than younger critics. besides, I think Naomi Klein, Arundhati Roy, Charlie Glass and Richard Falk, to name a few would take issue with that staement.

    Back to, for a minute, your staement that “the Palestinian prisoners in Israel have all been caught trying to carry out attacks on Israelis or had actually done so.” In an article in the Gaurdian, Chris McGreal, writes, “The bulk of the prisoners have never been tried and many are not even told the accusations against them. Just 1,461 have been convicted of any crime — some of atrocities against civilians which the Israelis use to justify their sweeping security laws.” Later on in the same article, he quotes the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem and writes that many of the prisoners are locked up for political views. He quotes the oragnisation as saying, “Security is interpreted in an extremely broad manner, such that nonviolent speech and political activity are considered dangerous.” Not even the Israelis claim that every prisoner is guilty. Only you, JDyer.

  • nabobnico

    I posted the letter because I felt it pointed a humane direction that the discussions surrounding the very complicated issue of the mid east could take, and I think the spirit has been echoed by other posters here. We need to move beyond the “he fired missiles first” debate and into something much more fundamental. I think Rabin and Arafat were onto something in the early ’90’s. Just imagine what the area would look like now if Rabin had not been slaughtered by the fundamentalists (Judeo-Fascism, anyone?) I’m sure it would be a lot closer to Florieliege’s idea of a “prospering” area, “booming with tourists.” If the Palestinian question had been settled then, Hezbollah would have very few justifications now (whatever you might think of them.) Without the brutality of the apartheid, Nassrallah would have crawled back into his fundamental hole. We have to admit that there have been bloody crimes on both sides, that, in effect, no one is justified. Missiles fired from the strip or South Lebanon are no better and no worse, no more justified, than the missiles and bombs launched by the Israelis. The conflict goes too far back to try to justify either side at this stage. We need to each pull back from the brink. Hezbollah will not be eleiminated (that much was proven this month) any more than Isreal will be pushed into the sea. Refugees on both sides have legitimate claims. Lets recognise them, listen to them, and from that move forward. No one is ever one hundred percent guilty nor innocent.

  • jdyer

    Nabobics:

    “That is nonsense, not the facts of the letter. To state that all Palestinians in Israeli jails are guilty is beyond nonsense, it is ridiculous. Not even the staunchest defender of the american penal system would claim that every person within jail is truly guilty.”

    We are not talking about the American penal system. We are talking about Israeli jailing people for offenses ranging from stabbing or attempted stabbings to people caught trying to blow themselves up and kill as many civilians as they can.

    Are you aware that an Italian “tourist” was stabbed to death a few days ago because he was taken for an Israeli Jew?

    It turn out he was there to help the Palestinian cause. Ironic isn’t it. Now do you think that his murderer should go free?

    Nabobnico you are just propogandizing for the Arab cause and don’t give a damn about the facts.

    You can try to justify these violent acts if you like but don’t pretend that the people in these jails are innocent. Why would Israel want to keep and feed ten thousand people? Ridiculous.

    btw: I didn’t check on the number and I am taking your word that it is correct.

  • jdyer

    nabobnico Says:

    August 13th, 2006 at 9:01 pm

    “I posted the letter because I felt it pointed a humane direction that the discussions surrounding the very complicated issue of the mid east could take, and I think the spirit has been echoed by other posters here.”

    In other words it’s wishful thinking but it sounded nice.

    The first rule of critic: get the facts straight.

  • jdyer

    “The conflict goes too far back to try to justify either side at this stage.”

    It’s not a question of justification, it’s a question of detering people from firing rockets into civilian areas and trying to kill as many civilians as possible. Israel has no reason to attack Hizbollah except to defent itself. Hizbollah’s reaons for attacking Israel are the elimination of the Jewish State and to kill as many Jews as possible.Read their charter.

    “We need to each pull back from the brink.”

    Who is we, Nabobico? There already is a war going on. The Israelis need to defend themselves.

    “Hezbollah will not be eleiminated (that much was proven this month)”

    Nothing of the kind was proven. We don’t know what the future of Hizbollah will be. We don’t know if the truce will hold. If they take over the Lebanese government the situation will become a lot more complicated and a civil war in Lebanon is possible. If they don’t they will be disarmed. In any case Hizbollah will not remain the threat it has been.

    “any more than Isreal will be pushed into the sea.”

    This is certain.

    ” Refugees on both sides have legitimate claims. Lets recognise them, listen to them, and from that move forward. No one is ever one hundred percent guilty nor innocent.”

    This is a separate issue which has nothing to do with Hizbollah.

  • My apologies, I made my last entry on another computer and didn’t realize that it automatically logged into ROS under another name: Gregor.

    f’sticks. That was me.

  • anyway, you are correct that we not involved until later, but we picked up the “create a pro-western middle east” torch and ran with it. As the super power we have reigned supreme, and thus, bear the most responsibiity for any anti-western sentiment. While we do have to contain violence against us, it is our obligation to find out how we might have generated this hatred. It is not too difficult to see that we have a vested interest in the natural resources. Our participation in the area is tainted with self-interest.

    If tomorrow, we magically tranformed into an economy that had no use for petroleum products, we would walk away and let them all sort it out for themselves. The fact that we became dependent on a resource that we don’t have enough of within our own boundaries is not the responsibiity of those who have that resource. And it does not justify our policies of fomenting confict and toying with the lives of millions.

  • David,

    I hear you about the Saudi perptrators of September 11. – What, they weren’t Iraqi?! –

    I think you nailed it with another kind of poverty: oppression. These terrorist may have been educated, but they were without opportunity. It’s still about powerlessness. Sadly, it wasn’t too difficult to channel their frustrations toward the US. We have ourselves to blame for that. Certainly, changing the internal government in Saudi Arabia is a daunting task. But we didn’t attack Saudi Arabia. We attacked Iraq with the ideal of changing their form of goverment. And this is emblematic of how we have behaved in the Middle East. Our ruling class is in bed with the Saudi ruling class. We use Israel because of our interest in Iran’s oil fields. We manipulate the entire region via our role as super bully in the UN.

    How to effect change? It’s impossibleuntil we disengage. As long as we’re dependent on their resources and as long as our ruling class has a financial interest in oil production, we cannot assist in affecting cultural change over there. We can’t afford to isolate them or stop buying their products. We have no leverage points and no credibility. Even force isn’t working.

  • fiddlesticks

    Allison, “anyway, you are correct that we not involved until later, but we picked up the “create a pro-western middle eastâ€? torch and ran with it. As the super power we have reigned supreme, and thus, bear the most responsibiity for any anti-western sentiment.”

    I don’t see anything wrong with trying to democratize the Muslim world and as a woman, (are you a woman? you seem to have so many names that it hard to tell who you are) any woman though would want to see women live free lives and not be forced to marry, to wear perscribed clothing, and murdered if they don’t do what their male relatives tell them.

  • fiddlesticks

    “I hear you about the Saudi perptrators of September 11. – What, they weren’t Iraqi?! ”

    Give me a break, we all know they weren’t Iraqis, but that isn’t the point is it?

    Saddam was a bad actor killing and murdering thousands of Kurds and Shites. You should be glad he is gone.

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  • “These terrorist may have been educated, but they were without opportunity. It’s still about powerlessness. Sadly, it wasn’t too difficult to channel their frustrations toward the US. We have ourselves to blame for that.”

    . . .

    No, we do NOT.

    First of all I am not responsible for someone else’s behavior or choices. There are any number of ways to respond to an oppressive government.

    Second, there is no science of human behavior (psychology, sociology, etc) that is strong enough or rigorous enough to tell us why someone will happily blow up an airplane full of innocent people. Anyone who claims otherwise is exercising the same hubris that the Bush administration displayed by invading Iraq: claiming to know more than they really did; claiming more understanding than was actually possible.

    Terrorists and their supporters come from ALL KINDS of backgrounds – educated and illiterate, rich and poor, democratic societies and oppressive ones. There is no common socioeconomic theme. A recent study in the UK found that support for terrorism has actually INCREASED recently among British Muslim women and college students.

  • “Saddam was a bad actor killing and murdering thousands of Kurds and Shites. You should be glad he is gone. ”

    The world is filled with bad actors killing thousands of their wn people. Any decision to get rid of one of them MUST include a cost-benefit analysis. I think the COST (still climbing) of the Iraq invasion has WAY exceeded any purported benefit.

    Anyway, on a year-to-year basis, more Iraqi’s are dying today (as a result of sectarian violence, crime, destroyed infrastructure, etc) than in the last several years Saddam was in power.