Monday, May 2, 2011

Bush on bin Laden

Yglesias reposts this:

I actually never had that much of a problem with this statement from Bush, and I'm a little surprised so many people did. From the standpoint of justice, I'm glad that after all this time we've finally managed to kill bin Laden. I'm truly glad about that. But Bush is right - terrorism isn't about one man, this doesn't change the threat, and the question is still whether we have a sound strategy in the war on terror. Distractions in Iraq and perhaps Libya probably don't help that mission. Abandoning our values in the detention of suspected terrorists certainly doesn't help that mission. Getting unsettled over the fact that we take prisoners of war and hold them in Cuba also probably doesn't help the mission. We can argue over these points - but the problem is much bigger than bin Laden. Nevertheless - the man finally got what he deserves.


  1. Interesting statement that I think more people need to listen to. While it is probably going to end up being a very symbolic victory to have killed Bin Laden it definitely does not destroy all terrorists. Despite recent allegations, Greg Mortenson's "Three Cups of Tea" still has a valid overall message that until we promote education and aid in many of these areas fundamentalist terrorism will remain appealing to many.

  2. I'm more willing to believe Jon on this one. Until the Middle East begins to see economic growth, there will still exist large power disparities between well-funded terror groups and poor families that have every financial reason to cooperate with them.

    Muslims in the western world do not become terrorists because they have too much to lose. The extremists in poor countries have very little to lose.

  3. I am not too convinced that the man they killed in Pakistan is bin Laden.


    A few years ago, the late Benazir Bhutto reported to live BBC News that a British double agent, Omar Sheikh, infiltrated the group and killed Osama bin Laden. Actually, Omar Sheikh may even have been a triple agent, because his workings with other terrorist groups seem so sincere, that it's hard to believe he was working fully for the MI6. Bhutto even claimed Sheikh may be the true source of Wahhabist terror outfits based around the Af-Pak region.

    And now they come out and say bin Laden is dead?

    Either Bhutto was lying, or the current ISI is lying. Or maybe they were both telling the full extent of their knowledge.

    It leaves me terribly confused. Why would Bhutto say that, 4 years ago?

  4. Both Ms. Kuehn and Mr. von Guttenburg are making dangerous assumptions.

    None of the 9/11 terrorists were poor or uneducated.

    Mohammed Atta studied in Germany, Ziad Jarrah was from a cosmopolitan secular family, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was an American educated engineer.

    No poor, illiterate Muslim was ever involved in terrorism.

  5. "Nevertheless - the man finally got what he deserves."

    Great, the primal psychological desire to seek retribution has been satisfied after spilling the blood of countless innocents and DEA thugs burning the Afghan's most vital economic good, the poppy crop.

    "but the problem is much bigger than bin Laden."

    Yeah, and it's launching predator drone attacks on villages on the outskirts of Pakistan.

  6. That was exactly my thought, Prateek -

    1. Poverty didn't drive at least this core of terrorists, and
    2. Muslims in the Western world don't become terrorists?!?!?

    It's probably true - the recruitment of cannon-fodder terrorists probably goes up with desparation and down with affluence. But I wouldn't say any more than that.

  7. Actually, I'd say even more than that.

    Affluence and poverty are probably irrelevant.

    If poverty caused the events of Rwanda, we should assume that Rwanda was merely a representation of what goes on in every Third World country.

    But Korea was poor once. Koreans never in the 20th century started a machete decimation of any ethnic sub-group in their region. While Ahmadiya or Ismaili heresy has been illegal in Egypt (don't know if it still is), poverty stricken Egyptians have never been seen to start openly slaughtering heretics they didn't like.

    What distinguishes people who kill and people who don't is their inner drive to kill, not necessarilly external circumstances. There was something unleashed in the spirit of many Rwandans that is not unleashed in even the poorest Ghanan.

    If we make this mistake, we will start sending foreign aid, start building schools, and start expensive development projects in regions of former genocide and throw more money into lands filled with murderers. Of course, the industrial world is already doing that - in Afghanistan, in Central Africa, and so on.

    PS: Abbottabad, city in which bin Laden was found, is actually a well developed metropolis, not a rural village. And here was the hotbed of Islamist radicals?

  8. terrorism isn't about one man

    On the subject, this was an interesting post on the theoretical potential of political assassinations as part of foreign policy (though, I believe, ultimately misguided as per my comments towards the bottom).

  9. Mr. Sanjay I suppose when I was referring to the lack of education and poverty causing terrorism I was more referring to the insurgent fighters and terrorists acting within the Middle East. It seems that the ground fighters are those in poverty being manipulated by people like Bin Laden. When the terrorists pay better than any other job (as well as paying your family after "martyrdom") and there are no other educational opportunities besides fundamentalist schools that's a pretty strong incentive to engage in terrorism. Ultimately if we want to reduce terrorism we need to remove its wider base of support.

    "Yeah, and it's launching predator drone attacks on villages on the outskirts of Pakistan." -While I'm not sure about the bluntness of this statement it is a valid point. America unfortunately has a habit of looking only at the short term and our actions throughout the Middle East often come back to haunt us in the future (i.e. Iran, Saddam Hussein, the Taliban, etc.)

  10. I think that bin Laden himself said something to the effect of "kill me, and a thousand will take my place."

    As for the conspiracy theories I have no reason to believe them as they said DNA evidence was from the body. Maybe if it was coming from serious sources I'll start to consider them.

    That said, I don't think the terrorism is solely because they are poor or because they have been the victims of certain US interventions. If that were true that Latin America would be attacking the US more often, as the US has committed crimes generating just as much atrocity. I think it has to do with the history of the region in general, the history of the West, how the West seen, and also their more fundamentalist and absolutist ways.



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