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If It Quags Like Osama...
From what I've read about Islam on sites like Jihadwatch.com since September 11, 2001, I disagree with Radley Balko that Osama and Co. are operating according to a bastardization of Islam. But, in this Foxnews.com piece, Balko's right that Bin Laden is free, Bush dropped his promise to go after him about 20 minutes after making it, and that Bin Laden has succeeded into drawing the USA into a giant, no-win quagmire in Iraq:

Wright explains that Bin Laden's goal was to goad the United States into a long, drawn-out war with Isalmic mujahadeen, the same way he did with the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The Soviets left a decade-long war battered, dejected, and demoralized, and though the real victors were the Afghan resistance fighters themselves, Bin Laden was able to claim credit for helping to stave off a world super-power, despite being outmanned and outgunned.

He had hoped to lure the United States into the same sort of protracted quagmire, where U.S. troops would have no choice but to occupy a tattered, dangerous country, while—as in the Soviet-Afghan war—radical Muslims would come from all over the world to help humiliate another world power.

The thing is, Bin Laden thought this second war would also be in Afghanistan. He hoped first to lure the U.S. through the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in 2000. When President Clinton didn't react, Bin Laden went about planning the Sept. 11 attacks. The U.S. had to act after Sept. 11. And we initially thwarted Bin Laden's plan with a decisive, overwhelming victory in Afghanistan.

Wright writes that Bin Laden was dejected at the ease with which U.S. military power dispatched with the Taliban, which then sent him into hiding. But instead of seeing that operation through to its logical conclusion—the capture of Bin Laden, Al-Zawahiri and the rest of the Al-Qaeda leadership—we turned our attention to Iraq.

We have created in Iraq the exact type of scenario Bin Laden was hoping (but failed) to lure us into in Afghanistan—an unwinnable war where we're isolated from the world, our troops are walking targets for guerilla terrorists, and our only options are bad (pull out and hope for minimal carnage) and worse (stay in, where our troops will continue to die, and where there's no prospect for stability in the near future).

A loosely-connected, (relatively) poorly funded, backward-thinking organization like Al-Qaeda could never inflict significant harm on the United States, at least not in a straightforward war. Their best hope is to scare us into rash, ill-considered actions like overextending our military, alienating our allies, and doing away with the open society and civil liberties that define who we are.

Six years have passed since Sept. 11. That's enough time and distance for us to take a couple of steps back, look at that horrible day with some perspective, and reevaluate if the course we've charted is the correct one. We should bear in mind that Al-Qaeda could never defeat us on its own. It can only frighten and trap us into defeating ourselves.


Posted by aalkon at September 13, 2007 10:16 AM

Comments

Again. Again. Again, Amy:

1. What did you want us to do?

Don't just say "Get Osama Bin Laden!" Exactly what steps should have been taken? Did you want to watch President George Bush (or his Undersecretary for Middle East Affairs Bill Barnes) punch that meanie Osama right in the nose? Did you wanna watch Oprah Winfrey wag a finger in Osama's face and give that nasty man a piece of her mind? Which door should we have knocked on, which valley should we have scoured, which transoceanic phone call should we have tapped?

If you think you have the answer, it means there should have been an answer.... And it's hard to believe that a liberty-lovin' redhead like yourself actually believes that. Especially in lieu of yesterday's post, suggesting that the President already has too much information and authority.

2. What fucking difference does it make?

Osama's like Elton John in the 1980's. 9/11 was his "Your Song," and all that's left is the hope that you'll tune in to critique the production values in his latest video... At least until Disney starts phoning for help with cartoon soundtracks. But Osama came to the charts later in life, so he may not get the call.

I think the video is bogus. Make up your own mind: http://urltea.com/1h5x

He co-ordinated the most gruesome attack the nation has ever seen, and has been essentially silent ever since. (I think he's dead, and can make quite a case.) But, like, whatever. He's fifty years old. The first decade of this century was his time to rule the world's attention and he's squandered it cowering in a cave (if he's alive.) It's the biggest showbiz fuckup since Heidi.

3. Do you believe or not believe that this is a problem with a globally dispersed collection of assholes and oppressive social forces? If it is so broad a problem, why are you going to get hung up on this one pathetic guy?

PS - Those "alienated allies" may not have been good for as much as you think. They were never at the table for anything but there own be$t interests.

Posted by: Crid at September 13, 2007 1:38 AM

I think we lost a good bit of standing in the eyes of the world (pooh-pooh that if you want, but it's important) and lost miles and miles of moral high ground by not singlemindedly going after Osama. Iraq was a major mistake.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 13, 2007 2:24 AM

Amy -

We never HAD ANY STANDING with the world. Ever. Remember in 1989 when the wall fell - Mitterand - (paraphrasing) "France will act as a hedge against U.S. power". Europe was more worried about us during the cold war than they were the Soviets.

And "singlemindedly" going after Osama would have had us invading Pakistan and Iran. You think Iraq was a mistake? How about going after the only nuclear-tipped islamic nation in the world?

Here's a task for you Amy. I've hidden a box somewhere in California. It moves randomly. Find it. You can't. Except with extreme luck.

Capturing bin Laden is actually the worst thing we could do, if he's even still alive. Because we all know that the hard left will use the courts to force him into a civilian trial, and they will obfuscate enough so that he walks.

I'm with Crid, however. Osama's bin Dead for over three years now. We're just trying to mop up the rest of the Islamic fundamentalist movements.

Posted by: brian at September 13, 2007 5:18 AM

"It's the biggest showbiz fuckup since Heidi."

AHHHHHHHGGGGGGG!!!!!

Posted by: doombuggy at September 13, 2007 5:57 AM

Still stings, don't it?

Posted by: Crid at September 13, 2007 7:01 AM

> we lost a good bit
> of standing

With which we could have done what?

> miles of moral high ground
> by not singlemindedly
> going after Osama

Whaddyou mean, singlemindedly? You just can't say what should have happened except "Get Osama," and you can't even define the terms that far.

There were always billions of other players, and this guy is very much off the air: After all these years, this is the first of the videos that I've bother to look at closely, to inspect for some deeper meaning... And there is none. You can call it a clumsy metaphor if you want, but to pretend that this guy is --behind the smokescreen of these heavily processed messages-- still a meaningful player is like assuming that every woman in a burqa is a supermodel. If you ever got a look at what was going on in there, you'd be really disappointed.

> Iraq was a major
> mistake.

That's almost good to hear. It imagines a world of 2007 where things were going to be going well. I very, very badly wish someone could tell us more about that scenario. But of all the people complaining nowadays, and there are billions, no one can offer a single word. Meanwhile the sons are dead, the marshlands are still filling, the Kurds are safer and we finally, finally know whether or not the Iraqi government is in compliance with UN WMD directives.

Posted by: Crid at September 13, 2007 7:29 AM

The other day I was reading a book from the 1960's (by a man who traveled the whole world and was writing his impression of the locals). Every country he visited, from France to S. Africa had an anti-American sentimentality. Last time I was in S.Korea the youth were very anti-American. Their resentment has nothing to do with 9/11 or Iraq.

Posted by: PurplePen at September 13, 2007 2:17 PM

> in S.Korea the youth were
> very anti-American.

(!)

The world is a teenager, and we're Dad.

Posted by: Crid at September 13, 2007 2:38 PM

The world is a teenager, and we're Dad.

Great. They hate and mock us, and yet still they want $40 and the keys to the car on Saturday night.

Posted by: Rebecca at September 13, 2007 3:46 PM

More like a spoiled 6 year-old (the world) who has been taken care of well by his mother (the US) but still sasses her ungratefully and incessantly. But -- when a bully threatens him with some real harm, he shuts up in a big hurry and hurries to hide behind Mommy's skirt.

Posted by: Emile at September 13, 2007 3:49 PM

Because we all know that the hard left will use the courts to force him into a civilian trial, and they will obfuscate enough so that he walks.

Too busy for much blog posting these days. But I daresay this overstates the power of the "Hard Left" just a bit. Last I checked they were pretty much being ignored by everyone, even the Democrats.

It imagines a world of 2007 where things were going to be going well.

Where? Here, or that shithole of a non-country Iraq.

Posted by: justin case at September 13, 2007 7:11 PM

Bin Laden has succeeded into drawing the USA into a giant, no-win quagmire in Iraq

I'd have to say no - that was pretty much all team GWB.

why are you going to get hung up on this one pathetic guy?

Cause not killing him is kinda pathetic? Producing his body would have been a nice reminder to the world that you don't fuck with the U.S. We needed better revenge than we got. Well, me anyway. Maybe you're OK with how we did things.

Posted by: justin case at September 13, 2007 7:54 PM

Justin - it would be pretty hard to reassemble Bin Laden's body - He was blown to quarks by a MOAB at Tora Bora.

Posted by: brian at September 13, 2007 8:27 PM

"We have created in Iraq the exact type of scenario Bin Laden was hoping (but failed) to lure us into in Afghanistan"

So, let me see if I am getting this right: Osama bin Laden wants to bait America into a war they can't win, to bleed them and demoralize them, but it doesn't work in Afghanistan. But, luckily for Al Qaeda, America invaded Iraq and it's now the plan is working like a charm? Except, Al Qaeda wants America OUT of Iraq before the real serious bleeding can even be done?

That makes almost no sense. If this is what you believe, you need to check your premises. Besides, how do we really know how Afghanistan would be going now if Iraq had never even happened? Iran wouldn't be meddling somehow? The foreign jihadists now in Iraq wouldn't be in Afghanistan? Iraq has made Osama bin Laden's goals seem that much more unattainable at this point, not closer and more realized.

Osama bin Laden speculated big time, gambled, and lost, and he wants an immediate deck reshuffle. So, here the anti-war Westerners are, inadvertently trying to give him exactly that chance!

Read Wright's "The Looming Tower" and then consider how poorly this has gone for Osama and Al Qaeda, and how much SPIN you're really buying into when selectively believing Osama's current claims. Yes, he wanted to beat the paper tiger and thought that he could, only the real paper tiger is in DC, not in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Had Osama realized America wasn't as brutal and amoral as the Soviet Union, he probably wouldn't have baited America like this and would have found and used other methods, softer targets. And proof of progress in Iraq threatens Al Qaeda dearly, as it further commits America to seeing the reform through, an idea that should encourage Osama if the "bleed" theory was actually working in the first place.

Posted by: REN at September 13, 2007 8:52 PM

Brian, I agree. Bin Laden's probably dead. It's just a bummer it didn't happen in a fashion that let us provide it to the world. Some Osama corpse photos would have been great propaganda.

Posted by: justin case at September 13, 2007 9:17 PM

**+*+++> Here, or that shithole
> of a non-country Iraq.

9/11 gave some of us the idea that the distinction between here and Over There wasn't good for as much as it used to be. Wackjobs from Over There could be on an airliner at our shores as readily as they could buy a TV set.

Were we ever, ever, going to be disinterested in politics and oil production of Iraq? If it's a non-country (and it is), it's because we and men very much like us wanted it to be.

> his body would have
> been a nice reminder

A friend in the standup comedy business has a competitor (Italian American) who has a whole routine about the word "nice." (I'll ask Dan for the YouTube link tomorrow). Basically it's seven minutes of this:

"When I took my car in for the 37,000 mile checkup, they said all the maintenance for the whole model had been extended past the warranty because of the carburetion problems on the E series..."

(Pregnant pause, ethnic sincerity)

"Niiiiccccccccce!"

If winning this battle could be reduced to getting this one guy, I'd be worried about it. As it is, he (or his corpse and lookalike) is reduced to a TV show, that most ephemeral of amusements. That these programs may, as did My Mother The Car, represent some trivial but genuine component of the human experience doesn't mean they're something you wanna give a lot of attention to.

Conversely, if our victory is dependant on whatever clarity would be gained by slaying this fucktard within view of his acolytes, then we probably don't deserve to win, either.

Osama wasn't brilliant, principled, well-connected, or even especially pissed off. He had money and a troubled teenager's bitterness. Let's not pretend he was a remarkable human being.

> Maybe you're OK with
> how we did things.

Don't be backhanded... Opinion follows affirmation. What do you think we should have done to capture Bin Laden? How should we have painted the stage so that he'd be easy to spot?

(I so, so wish someone would answer that with something besides theatrical emotion.)

We never save the articles that mean the most to us, but this morning I read a web page that argued that our security agencies (CIA & FBI, maybe NSA) passed up twenty-three opportunites to prevent 9/11. Who are you asking me to be upset with? Reagan? Carter? Kissinger?

Posted by: Crid at September 14, 2007 1:26 AM

Crid - Clinton.

Justin:

Brian, I agree. Bin Laden's probably dead. It's just a bummer it didn't happen in a fashion that let us provide it to the world. Some Osama corpse photos would have been great propaganda.

Remember the outcry from the moonbats and the media when we showed pictures of Saddam? What, precisely, was showing pictures of the dead Osama going to do for us?

Oh yeah. Piss off more muslims.

See, that's why it ultimately doesn't matter. If we don't force these 7th Century fucktards to grow up, and fast, we're doomed. If they get a nuke, their temper tantrums could kill millions next time out.

Posted by: brian at September 14, 2007 5:17 AM

Is this theatrical? I don't think so.

I don't know what would have gotten OBL. My point was that having clear proof of his death would have been an effective tool for demonstrating what happens when you attack the U.S. (and to Brian - I don't care if this would have pissed of more Muslims. It would have encouraged US, which is more important. They're pissed already). I do think that more soldiers on the ground, instead of air bombing and proxy war would have been a good idea in the long run (admittedly more costly in the short). I also think that a serious campaign to exterminate the Taliban in Afghanistan would have been good idea, because they gave OBL a safe place to be prior to 9/11 and wouldn't give him up.

Regarding Iraq, I know we'll never agree on this. Prior to our invasion of Iraq, I saw it as a totally neutralized place (due to our continuous but low-level military intervention - all it took was an occasional skirmish to keep them in their place) that was no threat to its neighbors or us. It was not a hotbed of Islamic extremism. And I'm a heartless bastard, but I don't really care about what was going on in Iraq internally, or whatever was happening to the marsh Arabs or that the oil-for-food joke was lining Saddam's and French coffers. Those reasons just don't matter enough to me to justify the American lives, American Debt, and the grinding wear on our military capabilities (as well as the quite public exposure that we have quite tangible limits to our power - we now look less like Goliath than before). If Iraq started becoming a serious terrorist center, then sure, bomb the hell out of it. But it wasn't that when we went in.

I also don't think that the 9/11 attacks, spectacular though they were, shouldn't change everything about our policies in the Middle East or in handling terrorism. But if you do think that, if you're serious in thinking that we're locked in some struggle against an existential threat (instead of a struggle against mostly poorly-armed and disorganized zealots), then I think we need to starting approaching these things more like, say Israel. Let's bring back compulsory military service for young people, raise a powerful enough military to crush these people, and then go do it. Iraq war proponents say that those who think that war was a bad idea aren't serious about opposing terror - I think it's the other way around. If you're for the war, you should be for doing it right. Petraeus wrote the manual on how to do counter-insurgency work, but is ignoring his own manual. We need hundreds of thousands of more soldiers in Iraq to win there. But the big war supporters aren't trying to get him what he needs. They don't strike me as serious either. There's no way to win doing it like we're doing it now. We're just perpetuating a system that no one there wants. As I've said before, the Iraqis clearly want civil war, and they've got scores to settle with each other. I'd move our troops to Kuwait and Kurdistan and let them settle them.

If they get a nuke, their temper tantrums could kill millions next time out.

If that were to happen - America would survive. But I'm betting most of the Middle East wouldn't make it through the aftermath. I believe that would invoke your scenario #3.

Posted by: justin case at September 14, 2007 8:44 AM

Justin, we have over 100,000 active-duty soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen stationed in Germany, South Korea, and other friendly nations. We could deploy those to the middle east with little or no problem. Compulsory Service won't work in this country for the specific reason that the vast majority of the population doesn't view the Jihadi as an existential threat, but as a mere criminal nuisance

What Iraq wants is NOT civil war. What's happening in Iraq now is an invasion by Iran and Syria (which is Iran's proxy and they don't even realize it).

And in my scenario #3, once we vent all our nukes over the middle east, we'll probably kill another 1-2 billion with the fallout. The only logistically workable solution is #1 - reform. Quarantine would take more manpower than presently exists in the free world. Annihilation has too many negative consequences outside the immediate AO.

Oh, and you'll notice that nobody in the ME is complaining about Israel's strike inside Lebanon last week. Why? They blew up Iranian missiles. The only reason anyone in the middle east is worried that we might not win in Iraq (and why they supported Saddam) is that they are terrified of Iran. Iran wants regional hegemony, and they are working around the fringes to get it. As soon as we caught Iranian military inside Iraq we should have blasted Iran. Hard.

Posted by: brian at September 14, 2007 10:00 AM

> having clear proof of
> his death would have
> been an effective tool
> for demonstrating what
> happens when you attack
> the U.S.

No one ever thought otherwise. But Daisy Cutters have their own demonstrative effects, and we may be benefitting from those as well.

> a serious campaign to
> exterminate the Taliban
> in Afghanistan would
> have been good idea

How? With what? You know what you got in Afghanistan? A Texas-sized area with rocks... and no coast. And no Texans! They're impoverished, they're uneducated, and they have nothing to offer the rest of the world but poppies, so warlords and religious zombies rule the landscape. If there's a way to turn a place like that into Iowa, please tell us how. See also, Iraq.

Posted by: Crid at September 14, 2007 10:06 AM

Crid -

Iraq has the benefit of a mostly-educated, literate populace and arable land. And oil. And a coast line.

That whole arable land thing is big. Once the marshes are back in business, they'll have an exportable crop - dates. Which is one more than they have now.

Posted by: brian at September 14, 2007 10:11 AM

So Baghdad will turn into Des Moines... When?

Posted by: Crid at September 14, 2007 11:17 AM

Who said anything about turning Afghanistan into Iowa? I was talking about killing zealots who enabled the people who attacked us. Zealots who are now coming back to haunt us.

What I basically feel is this: we would have been better off right now if we'd taken either of two course of action: 1) Wiped out the Taliban and OBLs people and anyone around them in Afghanistan, gone home for a while, and then killed whoever else started making similar noises or 2) Gotten every able-bodied man we could and then gone ahead and really destroying these regimes, their supporters, and everything else. Instead we've charted this stupid middle course where we never win.

Posted by: justin case at September 14, 2007 7:19 PM

You and Amy and Brian are making all these noises about how we needed to be bigger and badder about this.

By hook or by crook --that is, because I'm too old to fight and never even had to register for the draft [dob 1959) or because of being a thoughtful guy-- I'm not a peacenik. But it seems like a lot of the noisiest people nowadays are peaceniks.... They want to think that people are basically good (unless they're savage Aye-rabs who can't be civilized), and that none of this bad stuff would be happening if only Gore had carried Florida. I think those people are wack. But when they ask why we shouldn't bring our troops home, it's hard to give them an answer.

It's perfectly clear that Bush has no practical plan for turning these warring tribes into a cohesive nation. He's not even asking for suggestions about how that might happen. America is not a nation at war. The man on the street is making zero sacrifices to keep our soldiers fed and armed... And the man on the street certainly isn't asked to do anything on behalf of the devastated Iraqis. I don't think Luljp was correct to say that Halliburton had anything to do with old-for-food. On the other hand, it's inexcusable that a few transational corporations should be doing so well when the combatant nations are bleeding so profusely, and to no resolution.

Basically, in this hour, I want peaceniks to be as convincing as possible and the warmaking violence enthusiasts to be as convincing as possible, so we can get his straightened out. But neither camp is delivering the goods.

On Planet Crid, fence-stradlers would be harshly punished.

Not really, but again... When people who've been harshing Boosh for several years argue that we should have gone in bigger, even though they're endlessly critical of being there at all, there's a sense that they're not being serious.

Posted by: Crid at September 15, 2007 3:50 AM

Great post, Crid. I have little to add other than to say that I think it's a very effective and concise summary of our national dilemma. I especially agree that neither the pro- the nor anti-war camps is making a good case for why we should believe that they have the best idea for a way forward.

Posted by: justin case at September 15, 2007 10:09 AM

TO: Amy Alkon, et al.
RE: Al Qaeda, et al.

"We should bear in mind that Al-Qaeda could never defeat us on its own. It can only frighten and trap us into defeating ourselves." -- Amy Alkon

Let's see what they can do with a nuke or two in NYC or LA. Eh?

Regards,

Chuck(le)
P.S. Will you be back for that?

Posted by: Chuck Pelto at September 17, 2007 3:58 PM

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