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Friday, July 08, 2005

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Randy Paul

Amen. I spent a good part of the day waiting to receive e-mails from friends who ride the tube every day. Thank God they're all okay.

This is not a day to score political points on this issue.

a many sided mirror

Oh come on, it's not that bad--only ~60 people dead? the 9/11 attacks were far worse: those toppling towers took down over 3000 people!


I mean, everyone is objecting to Amnesty's condemnation of GB as similar to the gulags of Stalin's state: they're crunching the numbers (apparently the underlying ethical principle can be ommited if enough people die, where that marker is I don't know) and it's something like millions died in gulags/nearing 70,000 detained by the Bush's War on Terror: the ratio of difference is to the same degree of magnitude. So what's the big fuss about what went down in London? It's just an unfortunate trifle.

reg

Of course, not all of the pundits saw fit to mine the outrageous attack on London for petty political points. There was also this more thoughtful response:

"My first thought when I heard - just on a personal basis, when I heard there had been this attack and I saw the futures this morning, which were really in the tank, I thought, 'Hmmm, time to buy.'"
- Fox News's Brit Hume, 7/7/05

richard lo cicero

Before we turn this into another bash the left/ bash the right let us discuss a few facts. These are better said on AMERICABLOG but let me summarize here:

George Bush's Administration has dropped the ball on protecting us from terrorist attacks:

1. Four years after 9-11 Osama is still atlarge. The new CIA head, Porter Goss, tells us he knows where Bin Laden is but can't act because of the sensitivities of a soverign country. What happened to "You're either with us or the terrorists" and anyone harboring a terrorist was a terrorist state?

2. Four years after 9-11 our Chemical plans and Nuclear facilities are still at risk.

3. The Coast Guard, tasked with protecting our ports, has an older fleet of ships than Pakistan! Yet CG modernization has been pushed back to thirty years - not until 2035 - in order to save money. Guess Paris Hilton just has to have that tax cut!

4. There is not enough money for first responders, police and fire, but we can raise the terror threat level on mass transit to orange. Feel safer?

Whatever you feel about Bush's intent he is clearly not up to the job. But watch the usual sources tell us that its the fault of us liberals who "Hate America".

richard lo cicero

Before we turn this into another bash the left/ bash the right let us discuss a few facts. These are better said on AMERICABLOG but let me summarize here:

George Bush's Administration has dropped the ball on protecting us from terrorist attacks:

1. Four years after 9-11 Osama is still atlarge. The new CIA head, Porter Goss, tells us he knows where Bin Laden is but can't act because of the sensitivities of a soverign country. What happened to "You're either with us or the terrorists" and anyone harboring a terrorist was a terrorist state?

2. Four years after 9-11 our Chemical plans and Nuclear facilities are still at risk.

3. The Coast Guard, tasked with protecting our ports, has an older fleet of ships than Pakistan! Yet CG modernization has been pushed back to thirty years - not until 2035 - in order to save money. Guess Paris Hilton just has to have that tax cut!

4. There is not enough money for first responders, police and fire, but we can raise the terror threat level on mass transit to orange. Feel safer?

Whatever you feel about Bush's intent he is clearly not up to the job. But watch the usual sources tell us that its the fault of us liberals who "Hate America".

Whitney Green

To see a through line from our invasion/occupation of Iraq - and Afghanistan - to these horrific and despicable London bombings, is NOT to make a cheap partisan call on such a dark day. We - the US - chose to go to war against a nation that had NOTHING to do with this "War on Terror", instead of turning our considerable resources to hunt down and contain/capture the hydra-headed terrorists who drove planes into our skyscrapers and our hearts. I am convinced that through the tragedy and travesty of the Iraq War, these insane and desparate and deadly terrorists have gained strength and recruits. THIS, I lay at the door of George Bush.

Whit

John Mc

I was on the train on my way to work this morning, and as usual, at one of the stops, it pauses for a security check. A couple of cops stroll by with a dog looking very official. I usually don't give it a second thought, but this time I paused to think about how useless our defenses are against terrorist attacks. The dog doesn't even look like it's sniffing anything for christs sake. The funny thing was that this was before I had even heard about the London attacks.

We go through all of these empty procedures ('did you pack your own bags?' questions at the airport, confiscating nail clippers, plant a cop or two with a dog at a train stop for a "security" check) so we can tell ourselves that we are doing something. We need to get comfortable with the fact that we can't stop it.

Hitchens wrote a good article today on the "anticipated" attacks. He's absolutely right. We should know these attacks are coming. This is part of the fabric of the world. I work in downtown chicago, and given enough time, these criminals will hit it. They've already been caught with multiple pictures of the Sears Tower. I don't lose any sleep over it though. My point is that Geras sais, "They must be fought till they have been defeated", but what does defeat mean? When John Kerry said during the campaign that the goal is to reduce terrorism to a nuisance, the Right jumped all over him for his unwillingness to defend his country (conveniently forgetting that Bush pretty much said the same thing a few months earlier). Kerry was right. Only in a total police state could you hope to eradicate terrorist acts, and that is not acceptable.

We 'defeat' these monsters with intelligent planning, good intelligence, and special forces covert ops to seek these monsters out and destroy them. We can also promote liberal democracies around the world in a way that makes more friends than enemies. We can also deny them power by refusing to be terrified. This is all we can do. I feel for the victims and their families, but I'm going to turn on a ballgame now.

Trey Stone

a couple of blame bush folks here i see. maybe if you could prove that a) we haven't significantly battered al-Qaeda and the Taliban and b) that Iraq has led to a significant diversion of resources from Afghanistan I'd take your ramblings seriously.

Michael Balter

Marc, I totally agree that the bombers in London are barbarians whose actions cannot be justified in any way. In fact, my nephew was just one tube train away from one of the bombs when it went off. But it is nevertheless critical to understand their motivations, as well as those of politicians like Bush and Blair who seek to use terrorism as a smokescreen for their own questionable actions, if terrorism is to be "defeated." Thus the Bush-Blair cant about defending our "values" is just plain nonsense: The terrorists are not out to impose Sharia law on Western countries or make all women in the West wear burqas; at least, this is not the basis on which they recruit their bombers. What they talk about is the invasion of Iraq and the treatment of Palestinians by Israelis, and it is on these issues that they are most successful at finding volunteers for their hideous acts. And since terrorism can never be really "defeated"--if it could, it would not be terrorism--the most important thing for progressives to be doing is continue to fight the injustices that serve as recruiting posters for Al Qaeda. Condemn, yes, but act where it matters. Let Bush and Blair spout the rhetoric about values and how precious human life is while civilian casualties from their own misguided wars continue to mount, and let us be the ones to fight the injustices that breed the terrorists.

Mork

"a couple of blame bush folks here i see."

Of course, then there are some whose instinctive reaction to tragedy is to go hunting for the most extreme reactions from the most marginal elements of the domestic polity, and convince themselves that they are striking a blow for freedom by publicizing their idiocy:

http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/000878.html

Thank god that, no matter how dire the circumstances, we can always count on the 101st fighting keyboarders to heroically defend us from Indymedia.

reg

Trey Stone...here's your homework assignment. Just so we can take your ramblings seriously.

http://www.globalsecurity.org/org/news/2004/0410-lost-year.htm

Marc Cooper

Hello Michael...from across the pond. Well, I mostly agree. But here's the rub. I dont believe that Al Qaeda or its fight are born from injustice. I believe they are born from fanaticism and delusion. Does Al Qaeda use injustice, including that comitted by the US and the UK as recruitment tools? Undoubtedly. But if Bush and Blair and their policies would disappear tomorrow we'd still have Al Qaeda to deal with. I am concerned that the political fight against Bush has obscured this reality. Bush and Blair can be wrong, their policies can be capitalized upon by AQ AND the terrorists still have their own indepdendent agency. Al Qaeda does not exist merely in relation with and in opposition to the US/UK/.

rosedog

In the last hour:

After comparing George Bush favorably to Winston Churchill, Joe Scarborough lobbed some portion of blame for the London terrorist bombings at......Bob Geldof. (Or maybe he was merely blaming people who listen to Bob Geldof. I can't be entirely certain.)


Then another group of MSNBC pundits blamed the bombing on "Europe" (which mysteriously doesn't include Britain). "Maybe they'll GET IT now," intoned the pundits with somber nods at each other that put me unpleasantly in mind of those bobble-headed dolls once found in the rear windows of 1950s automobiles.


Meanwhile, Christopher Hitchens was asked what he thought about Hilary Clinton's contention that the US should be allocating more funds than we presently have for issues of homeland security---protections for ports and airports, first responders and so on.. At this, Hitchens replied, "I don't care what she said. Frankly, I can't stand the sight of the woman."

I gotta say, disasters really bring out the best in some people.

reg

Re: At this, Hitchens replied, "I don't care what she said. Frankly, I can't stand the sight of the woman."


Funny. My reaction to that was, "I don't care what Hitchens said. Frankly, I've come to the point that I can't stand the sound of the man."

I know that Hitchens has a brother, Peter...but has some evil scientist cloned Christopher and sent the thing out drunk in public so as to destroy what increasingly appears an enormously oversized reputation ? Probably not...

Marc Cooper

Well, scarborough and the euro-phobes are indeed bobble-head dolls. But I have to say, I can't stand Hillary either and I couldnt care less what she says because whatever it is it is hot air.

reg

And your and Hitchens petty loathing isn't ????

reg

Sorry for double-posting in reaction to that, but frankly, if you said the exact same thing about Bush - who I happen to hold in contempt - I would think it was an incredibly stupid, small-minded, insipid reaction - regardless of how inept or idiotic Bush's comment might be. The point Hillary made in this instance was hardly stupid. Hitchens' reaction was on the face of it, as is yours.

Abbas-Ali Abadani

Good commentary from Brit blogs -- here from "One More Cup of Coffee":

http://omcoc.blogspot.com/

" "Dear London,
Sometimes I forget, with all the mass amounts of cuntiness which courses through this city, that the people here are generally quite balanced and respond to great tragedy with a resounding ‘meh’."

"It's true! I can't see us having an appetite for '7/7' merchandise and souvenirs, and, when it's all cleared up, I don't think this is going to become a significant part of the national, or even the city's, psyche.

"Meh."


And from Lenin's Tomb.

http://leninology.blogspot.com/

from poster "isakofsky":
"It's interesting, isn't it, that even if we condemn the killings...any attempt whatsoever to link what they've done to any aspect of the political/military situation is deemed as eg encouraging the terrorists. It's weird. Haven't they noticed that this country is at war. Haven't they noticed that war legitimates the use of violence. It was all so bloody predictable. This country used violence against another country, so it was pretty bloody obvious that either people from that country or surrogates believing that they were acting on behalf of those people would try and use violence against this country in reply. That's war. The moral outrage of our leaders is incredible. What's happened (presumably) is that some people have thought to bring the war here. It is terrible, horrible and disgusting. But no more terrible, horrible and disgusting than what our leaders have done to the dead civilians of Afghanistan and Iraq. Our leaders will struggle to tell us that what the London terrorists have done is more disgusting that what they've done. The cheek of it is staggering. what's more, I suspect that the arrogance of our leaders in saying that the deaths they cause can't be counted, were minimal and all in a good cause, serves to incite a terrorist response even more."


from poster "Larry Lamb":
"Well, I got my lunch at Pret's in Soho at 14:00 ish. Wish I knew what was going on at the place I wanted to get my lunch from, the fabulous Opuz kebab shop on Old Compton Street - open but not letting anyone in.

"My spot poll shows that all my (work) local pubs were open, and all the bars closed, which says something fairly obvious. Mood in the pubs agreeable insouciant - someone in the next room had had BBC radio London on all day which had seemed to be trying very hard to summon an "emotional" reaction (wonder what that is, eh readers?) - mood in the pub suggested that had failed."


From poster "ann on":
"The attacks are horrible and frightening, and I have done my fair share of phoning round everyone I know to check they are ok and my own "thank god I had a day off work today because I usually go past there" moments.
However, I would not be so shaken about the political effects of the bombs yet. I think there are reasonably strong public currents against foriegn wars, ID Cards, racial/religious scapegoating , not just on the grounds that these things are bad in themselves, but also becuase they do not stop terrorism. The first and worst effect of terrorist outrages is the loss of life. The second bad effect is they push politics to the right, to repressive and military repsonses. However, I think some of the public debate, the stance of many people way beyond the hard left, embracing lots of Labour MP's (and some Libdem ones), the Trade Unions, the general public mean that this nasty attack will not pitch us into a sharp move to the right - indeed as in Madrid, the effect can go in two political directions. People need to stand up for what they believe, but I do not think it will be as hard as you imply."

"Thankfully, I also suspect (I know we do not know for sure yet) , the scale of the loss of life is low, certainly compared to Madrid. Any deaths - any people killed by the terrorists bombs - are grim, but fewer dying by the bombers actions the better."


from poster "bat020":
"Seconded, ann on. Walking into work today and overhearing passers by chatting it struck me that while people were dazed and shocked, they were also quite calm. Moralising Muslim-baiters...seem to be a small minority, thank fukk."


On the other side of the aisle, David T put up a very interesting post over at Harry's Place.

http://hurryupharry.bloghouse.net/archives/2005/07/07/a_letter_to_a_friend.php

Whatever differences I have with the opinions expressed in the post, I can't argue with the facts and history that he lays out.

Also a good commentary here by Johann Hari:

http://www.johannhari.com/archive/article.php?id=638


Great commentary also from A Fistful of Euros:

http://fistfulofeuros.net/

Rick Strom

It saddens me that people like Trey Stone (hiding behind a fake name, a good decision indeed) fail to recognize the complexity of this situation, and feel compelled to reduce it to such simple cause and effect dynamics that even an 8 year old can relate to it.

We were not in Iraq nor Afghanistan on September 11, 2001. Nor had we done anything but prop up an ally (in Israel). This is much more complicated than the current anti-war movement can mentally process, I'm afraid.

Marc said it well. Neither Bush's nor Blair's nor anyone else's actions and/or policies justified this, and to suggest so doesn't compute.

rosedog

I find too Hilary deeply grating, and am horrified at the notion that she could ever be in real danger of becoming the Dem nominee. But she's not unintelligent, and tonight she was making a reasonable point. Truth be told, from reading Hitchens’ face in the beat and a half before he spoke, I'd bet good money that he hadn't a clue what figures might or might not be reasonable on the homeland security issue, or whether said figures had gone up or down in the budget since 2004, so simply resorted to a personal attack cum dismissal, which I found cheap, childish and loathsome in the context. (To put it another way, while you also detest Hilary, I don’t see you saying so on national television---and certainly not during a commentary after a lethal terrorist attack---and absolutely not as method of dodging a question on an issue that merits serious discussion.)

But it did the trick for Hitchens because the mini-rant gave him time to sort of recover, and then he nattered something about homeland security being entirely irrelevant anyway, because the crafty, evil, unstoppable terrorists could slip past whatever protective measures we devised. (Another dodge, but a slightly less childish one, I guess, because there's an element of truth to it, but only a half truth, so ultimately was it was meaningless and mindlessly quarrelsome.)

Moreover, is it just me, or is Hitchens looking disturbingly like a dissolute hybrid of Orson Wells and Rasputin? I realize he's your friend, Marc, but he's getting damned scary looking and this might be a good 12-step moment.

Only one woman’s opinion.

Trey Stone

i don't think my name is relevant considering i don't personally know you people, but in any case, i am not particularly concerned with the "complexities" of this situation. Blair has indeed been pushing for a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- yet that doesn't change the fact that there are still fanatics in the region that wish nothing less than its destruction.

there are legitimate criticisms that can be made about the U.S. attitude toward Israel and the U.S. focus of attention on Iraq (when I said significant diversion of resources, I meant material resources, not international focus,) but we shouldn't get bogged down in "complexity, it's not that simple, etc." or we end up losing sight of the fact that these are fanatics, both in their methods and in their ideology.

Michael Turner

Red Ken addresses the terrorists, concluding "... whatever you do, however many you kill, you will fail."

Sorry, Ken, but I think they have might have already succeeded in their aims, at least for this attack. Look at what they are probably getting:

(1) As the G-8 meeting opens, Blair will have to mute any backchannel quid-pro-quo rhetoric about how the U.S. should sign on to the Kyoto Protocol in exchange for the Brits helping out in Iraq, thus guaranteeing (for a while anyway) that U.S. consumption of oil will remain high;

(2) the U.K.'s aiding and abetting of the military occupation of Iraq, with all its Jihad training ground value (and terror innovation proving ground value) for Al Qaeda, is likely to be bolstered, now that there's British homeland blood in the waters; at the same time, Al Qaeda spared G.W. Bush any embarrassment over its leaky-as-a-sieve Homeland Security by not siting the attack in the U.S.; if anything, they've given Bush an I-told-you-so that must delight the Al Qaeda leadership;

(3) OPEC and its whores (the global petroleum industries) can breathe easily -- oil prices will maintain, if not top, their recent highs on investor jitters over instability, and the protection money that the oil principalities pay (as laundered through Islamic charities) to terrorists to mostly stay off Arab monarchy turf for the time being will not make more than a small dent in the profits guaranteed by this kind of attack.

So why not come out and say it? Ah, even a leftist like Ken Livingstone has to read from the script sometimes.

Obligatory note: these attacks are depraved, horrible, horrendous, inhuman, savage, monstrous, awful, bloodthirsty, chilling, wrenching and ... did I say depraved? Oh, I did.

But I wouldn't say "irrational", nor would I say "incomprehensible." Much less would I say, "ultimately ineffective." Livingstone's rhetoric is excellent evidence that Al Qaeda can get almost any elected politician in any liberal democracy to read from the script.

Trey Stone

those guys sure are masterminds, mmhmm. got it all mapped out.

soru

Two narratives about AQ:

1. they are a loose bunch of disconnected groups united only by a brand name.

2. they are strategic geniuses who predict western responses three moves in advance, making whatever is done always exactly the wrong thing to do.

Believing both of these at the same time would seem rather tricky, but I am sure someone somewhere will manage it.

soru

HA

Red Ken once again displays his supreme ignorance:

"I want to say one thing, specifically to the world today — this was not a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful, it was not aimed at presidents or prime ministers"

The obvious inference is that presidents or prime ministers are LEGTIMATE targets.

Here's some news for Red Ken. Working class people are INFIDELS too. If Red Ken wasn't so blinded by socialist multi-culti, post-modern, post-colonial BS, he might be able to understand that.

We are in a real war launched by Islamic terrorists and their state sponsors under THEIR OWN INITIATIVE, and not in reaction to America foreign policy or Zionism or capitalism or any other such socialist bogeymen.

We can pull out of Iraq, and the Jihad will go on. We can pull of of Afghanistan and the Jihad will go on. We can throw the Jews to the wolves, and the Jihad will go on. We can give Africa trillions of dollars and the Jihad will go on. We can all drive hybrid cars and the Jihad will go on. We can join Kyoto and the Jihad will go on. We can join the ICC and the Jihad will go on.

The only policy action America and the rest of the civilized world can take to end the Jihad is to kill or capture the jihadists, their state sponsors, and if necessary the populations that give them popular support.


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