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Tilting at Windmills

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January 18, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

TARGETING AL-QAEDA....We may not have gotten Zawahiri, but we did get one of al-Qaeda's big fish in the attack on Damadola last week:

ABC News has learned that Pakistani officials now believe that al Qaeda's master bomb maker and chemical weapons expert was one of the men killed in last week's U.S. missile attack in eastern Pakistan.

Midhat Mursi, 52, also known as Abu Khabab al-Masri, was identified by Pakistani authorities as one of four known major al Qaeda leaders present at an apparent terror summit in the village of Damadola early last Friday morning.

...."Pakistani intelligence says this was a very important planning session involving the very top levels of al Qaeda as they get ready for a new spring offensive," explained Alexis Debat, a former official in the French Defense Ministry and now an ABC News consultant.

For the sake of argument, let's assume that we had pretty good intelligence telling us that a bunch of al-Qaeda leaders were in the house we bombed. And let's also assume that we did indeed kill al-Masri and several other major al-Qaeda leaders. Finally, let's assume that the 18 civilians killed in the attack were genuinely innocent bystanders with no connection to terrorists.

Question: Under those assumptions, was the attack justified? I think the answer is pretty plainly yes, but I'd sure like to see the liberal blogosphere discuss it. And for those who answer no, I'm curious: under what circumstances would such an attack be justified?

Kevin Drum 8:55 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (461)

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Comments

"under what circumstances would such an attack be justified?"

When it is not ordered by a Republican, silly.

Posted by: am on January 18, 2006 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

"under what circumstances would such an attack be justified?"

When it is ordered by a Republican, silly.

Posted by: Joel on January 18, 2006 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

Can you believe these liars?

This whole ordeal has been a war of lies!

Posted by: NeoDude on January 18, 2006 at 9:01 PM | PERMALINK

I seriously doubt if all 18 of the "civilians" were really civilians. Some where, and that is regretable, but I would bet most were Al Qaeda supporters.

Even if they weren't what is the problem with attacking people who have announced they want to kill us and have engaged in numerous attacks on the west including us?

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 18, 2006 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK

We may not have gotten Zawahiri, but we did get one of al-Qaeda's big fish in the attack on Damadola last week

That's not what your excerpt says. It says that Pakistani government officials, who have considerable self-interest in saying this (as convincing the Pakistani public that this was not a totally unjustified attack might be key to the survival of their regime), claim to believe that this is the case.

But then, the actual facts of the case are pretty much irrelevant to your hypothetical, so lets move on to that.

For the sake of argument, let's assume that we had pretty good intelligence telling us that a bunch of al-Qaeda leaders were in the house we bombed. And let's also assume that we did indeed kill al-Masri and several other major al-Qaeda leaders. Finally, let's assume that the 18 civilians killed in the attack were genuinely innocent bystanders with no connection to terrorists.

Question: Under those assumptions, was the attack justified?

Those assumptions alone do not provide an adequate basis for even a first-blush answer, as they do not establish any basis for a judgement on whether or not alternative means which would not have produced those civilian casualties were available, how much less (if it all) reliable the alternative means would be, and what other additional net costs (if any) would be associated with them.

If you are asking if, under any circumstances, a military strike, at an enemy we are at war with, could justify an expected toll of 18 innocent civilian casualties to take out some unspecified group of major leaders, the answer is clearly that it is possible to imagine circumstances where that would be justified.

If you are claiming, as you seem to be, that the mere presence of intelligence of such a meeting automatically justifies such an attack regardless of the availability and utility of alternatives, then you are clearly wrong.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 18, 2006 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

I have no problem with killing members of al-Qaeda. But lets consider those 18 innocent bystanders. Let us say for the sake of argument that they are a worthwhile price to pay for getting al-Qaeda's master bomb maker. Now let's reverse the scenario. It does not take a lot of imagination: We already know all too well that al-Qaeda would view these 18 bystanders as a small price to pay if they could also take out a sufficiently high-ranking political or military figure. If anything, they would prefer it be 1800 bystanders.

Now imagine you are one of these 18 people, or any 18 people who have been judged as expendable by both sides of a war. Who would you root for? Who would you prefer to be killed by?

I don't have an answer, of course. I don't think there is an answer. So maybe it comes down to which side is willing to even ask itself the question...

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on January 18, 2006 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

Careful: the Pakistanis as well as the Bush administration have consistently exaggerated the importance of those killed or captured. Can you find any mention of the guy's name before this incident? Also, I don't think that an organization that helped drive the Russians out of Afghanistan has one master bomb maker.

If it truly was a collection of their top guys, and the Pakistanis approved under the table (the latter is evidently true), then yes, it could be justified, though the large number of civilian casualties is problematic; seems to me that if everyone knew where they were, surrounding the village with Pakistani troops would have led to more captives and less collateral damage. But maybe the Pakistanis weren't willing to do that.

Posted by: Joe Buck on January 18, 2006 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

Another way of thinking about it is this: let's suppose that Pakistan was pursuing Hindu terrorists in an isolated part of Alaska. They had several times sent missiles down upon them, with collateral damage. Then, after a new, and larger, missile strike, local Alaskans say nobody from India was around, but a lot of American civilians got fried, including children. Pakistan says, no, there were Hindu terrorists there...

Now consider if Pakistan's president has, let's just say, a credibility problem in America. (the real one does, but over different stuff).

How would all this go over in Peoria?

How would ANY country react to acts which kill its civilians over which it is has very little control?

Hell, we wouldn't let even Israel blow up terrorists in America. And Britain wouldn't let us go hunting in the mountain villages of Wales without British supervision and control.

Of course, the comparison is difficult, because the Pakistani government barely exerts any control over many regions in its country...but the emotions of the people do not take this into account, I'm sure.

Posted by: jd on January 18, 2006 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

And for those who answer no, I'm curious: under what circumstances would such an attack be justified?

how about when your country wasn't the one responsible for the formation of the terrorist group to begin with?

Posted by: Nads on January 18, 2006 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

Would it be justified for the government of say Cambodia to bomb a campus auditorium because Henry Kissinger was there? We have a horrible ability to cheapen the value of other's lives.

Henry Kissinger is just an example. What about the family of an innocent person tortured in Iraq by an American GI. Should they be able to firebomb them during church services to get at them?

I call bullshit Kevin. We are only having this discussion because we don't give a crap about the lives of foreigners.

Posted by: trifecta on January 18, 2006 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

If you think it is that important to kill those Al Qaeda members, are you willing to be one of the civilians killed? What about your whole family?

Posted by: Stuart on January 18, 2006 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

"I would bet most were Al Qaeda supporters."

Based on what? A message from God?

"Even if they weren't what is the problem with attacking people who have announced they want to kill us and have engaged in numerous attacks on the west including us?"

Uh, what if they weren't Al Queda supporters AND they never announced they wanted to kill your and never engaged in any attacks on the west? Would it still be OK?

Posted by: Joel on January 18, 2006 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

If we had troops in the area, then we might be able to do a better job of getting bad guys without hurting civilians. That would be preferable. Barring that, it has to depend on the actual importance of the targets. Are these really serious bad guys or low-level grunts?

In any case what's preventing us from having troops in the area to do this better is the Pakistani government. Which is due to pressure from the terrorist sympathisizers in the region itself. As witnessed by the apparently false testimony coming out of the area (no bad guys here) and the reported removal of the bodies.

In other words, the political leadership in that region of the world, and the local leadership as well, bears some responsibility for this as well.

Posted by: larry birnbaum on January 18, 2006 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

The incredibly credulous blogosphere.

Nobody else smells a whiff of cya? C'mon... these guys will propagandize anything with no regard for morality. Killed a bunch of innocents? Cover it up with a sweet sounding redemptive story.

It's their primary modus operendi... why are we still falling for it?

Can anyone recall the last time they told the truth about something like this?

Posted by: Mike Stark on January 18, 2006 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

So, this makes it 16 numbah threes so far, right? Good job.

Posted by: Alopex Lagopus on January 18, 2006 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

maybe it's just my extreme bullshit detectors which have had alot of practice recently, but i'm smelling a big old disinformation shebang. convenient, no, that the alleged newly vanquished is an egyptian bombmaker extraordinaire. kind of helps diffuse the growing outrage in pakistan; helps the u.s. with the p.r. spin from this weekend's disaster and bonus points for never being able to confirm that was actually the dude. you'll just have to trust idiot son on this one.

Posted by: linda on January 18, 2006 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

I had this debate last night and I am sure most people agree with you, that is, unless it is your home that is the target. Basically, the decision breaks teh philosopical principle of the Golden Rule and sets the permanent standard that the end justify the means. Now, it is one thing to quickly react to a situation that leads to collateral damage, but the intentional infliction of innocent human death is simply unacceptable. We better find a different way or we are no worse than terrorists who also kill innocents with similar justification. From a practical point of view we are just contributing to the cycle of violence where survivors take revenge. In fact, in many ways, the current world situation is the child Of MacFarlane's decision to us ethe USS New Jersey to bomb the Druze Hills in 1984. The revenge of the 241 marine who died in a suicide blast lead to the death over a thousand civilians in those hills which lead to creation of many terrorist opeartions in the Bekka Valley which in turn lead to the German disco bomb, which lead to killing Qaddaffi's daughter which lead the Pan Am flight explosion, etc., etc. So count me out in supporting this repugnant approach.

Posted by: Raoul on January 18, 2006 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

Dropping bombs on a populated area from unmanned drones in an attempt to kill a few specific individuals...how is it any different from a car bomb or other such? Hell, we might as well kill 'em all and let g-d sort 'em out.

Posted by: Ed on January 18, 2006 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK
It's their primary modus operendi... why are we still falling for it?

The Reasonable, Moderate Liberal™ never learns. That's why they are so valuable to the Right.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 18, 2006 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

Why do you believe a word they say? What gives you the confidence our government is telling the truth about this incident?

Posted by: arna on January 18, 2006 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

Please, you give up too easily on morality when it's weighed against military success. Ron doesn't even care if they are A-Q supporters. This is supposed to be a fight against terrorists, not everybody in their vicinity or everybody they know. I think we do consider the likely damage to "collateral," buildings and infrastructure as well as human lives. I believe the military has some standards on that. Maybe the standards aren't high enough. We are so quick to condemn terrorists because they kill civilians. But we kill more than they do. It's inevitable. That it's not our primary purpose is a pretty thin moral veil.

Posted by: m nye on January 18, 2006 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

Even if they weren't what is the problem with attacking people who have announced they want to kill us and have engaged in numerous attacks on the west including us?

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 18, 2006 at 9:04 PM

ok, ronnie, here's one for ya: so when orlando bosch is released from federal custody to some cushy florida compound, is fidel castro within his rights as supreme commando of cuba to bomb said compound. too bad about all those dead cousins, nieces and nephews; but hey, that's the price of justice.

Posted by: linda on January 18, 2006 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

First of all, I see no reason we should believe this. (Note that Pakistan intelligence is only claiming that some al-Qaeda types were in the vicinity; likely that was the basis for the attack in the first place). We must never forget the first rule when dealing with Bushco pronouncements: assume anything they say is a lie unless independent evidence exists to corroborate. It would be in the interest of both Bushco and the Pakistani's to claim that some al-Qaeda were killed so as to reduce outrage among the Pakistani populace.

As to Mr. Drum's question I think we should have intelligence indicating that there are NO potential innocents who might be hurt (I'd be willing to put up with "collateral damage" if our information were wrong, but if we suspect that there are innocents around we shouldn't attack). This is the standard in any police situation, and we should be dealing with al-Qaeda as a police problem, not a war!

Posted by: Bill Rudman on January 18, 2006 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

Eight thousand people march in the streets to denounce the United States? Is it worth it to kill half-a-dozen bad guys if we make thousands of enemies?

No.

Posted by: Darryl Pearce on January 18, 2006 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

Nothing these people say can be taken at face value so any argument which posits their assertions as facts is off the table as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by: Oleary25 on January 18, 2006 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

Why do you believe a word they say? What gives you the confidence our government is telling the truth about this incident?

Technically, this is the Pakistani government that is telling who they believe was there. Of course, giving how their officials lives are much more likely to be literally on the line with how this is perceived, they have even more motive to lie. Plus, they have the history of being for al-Qaeda before they were against them to consider.

Just remember, Pakistan stopped being an overt Taliban ally and started being our "ally" after 9/11, and hasn't yet stopped being entangled with al-Qaeda linked terrorist groups, though they are formally supporting our efforts against al-Qaeda.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 18, 2006 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

Dropping bombs on a populated area from unmanned drones in an attempt to kill a few specific individuals...how is it any different from a car bomb or other such?

Its more expensive, and safer for the bomber.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 18, 2006 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

...further, we've been bombing the Middle East with impunity for several decades now without much of a "return" (look at the aspirin factory).

The fact is... these are soverign nations far, far away and we don't have the ability to be on the ground, or be in the culture on the ground.

We're foreign interlopers acting from a distance, chucking big bombs, and making people really mad.

Posted by: Darryl Pearce on January 18, 2006 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

For the sake of argument, let's assume that we had pretty good intelligence telling us that a bunch of al-Qaeda leaders were in the house we bombed. And let's also assume that we did indeed kill al-Masri and several other major al-Qaeda leaders. Finally, let's assume that the 18 civilians killed in the attack were genuinely innocent bystanders with no connection to terrorists.

For the sake of argument, let's assume Iraqi rebels had pretty good intelligence telling them Don Rumsfeld was going to be in Baghdad meeting at a hotel. And let's also assume that they decide to attack that hotel. Finally, let's assume that in the course of that attack they kill 18 innocent bystanders with no connection to Rumsfeld.

Question: under these assumptions, was their attack justified? And for those who answer no: under what circumstances would such an attack by Iraqi rebels against the political leadership of the country which invaded them be justified?

Posted by: Stefan on January 18, 2006 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

What Raoul said.

On what possible basis would we believe this report, firt of all. And moreover, the whole notion and the very existence of you question sickens me. What a debased and cowardly country we have become.

Christ, even if we DID get the person they are claiming to believe they got, do you honestly think it'll make one fucking iota of difference? If ever there were a case where violence begets violence and with no possible upside, this goddamned 'war' against terrorism exemplifies it.

I'm ready to abandon pansy moderates like you, Kevin. Thank god for Al Gore's speech the other day, one of the few rays of light in this darkening left. Do you think he believes the case against the impeachment of W is a 'weak brew'? And your not having the commmon decency, Kevin, to even RESPOND to the many, many good, hard questions put to you in that thread is nothing short of disgusting. It demeans your readers, and you in the process.

This post just further taints your image.

I'm gonna go throw up.

Posted by: Jones on January 18, 2006 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

I personally believe the US killed al-qaeda #3. (again)

Posted by: Tigershark on January 18, 2006 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan- it depends what kind of a society you want- if were are no better than them- then what's the point of fighting?

Posted by: Raoul on January 18, 2006 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK

Well linda, you are right, of course, from the point of view of America Fidel wouldn't be within his rights to bomb Orlando Bosch. From Fidel's point of view he would do it in a New York minute if he thought he could get away with it.

I don't like Bush, and I don't trust the administration. On the other hand I do trust the troops in the field to do their best to take out Al Qeada where ever and whenever they can.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 18, 2006 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

If this was done as part of a war on terror by an administration which had conducted operations similar to this from and after the invasion of Afghanistan, then there might be a legitimate basis for debate. Once GWB invaded Iraq and argued that it was part of this war,and made such a mess of it, then reports of an operation such as this are sure to be tinged with more that a little skepticism.
This is, after all, why weapon systems like the predator were developed. The current inept bunch,though, have such a hard row to hoe,it seems more an attempt to deflect from other issues.

Posted by: TJM on January 18, 2006 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

Is the strike justified? Absolutely not. There's a higher standard when it comes to bombing targets from the air. If we had intelligence that our target might be in a particular village and that there were civilians there as well, we have an obligation to use non-lethal force (i.e. surround the village and move in to capture the guy). You may say, "Well that would risk casualties on our side." To that I'd say, "If you're not willing to bleed, you have no right to kill." Only if you could kill your target without harming civilians would an airstrike be justified.

I have to ask, would you feel the same way if it was your house that was struck? 'Cause your answer makes you sound sociopathic.

Posted by: Daniel on January 18, 2006 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

If this was brought up before forgive me. But Kevin, what in the name of God makes you think any of the information in this story is accurate? Because it came from US intelligence? Pakistani intelligence? Yeah right.

Posted by: JMG on January 18, 2006 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

Unless these guys arrived by helicopter they can't leave except on a well-defined route. Once you know where they are, you inform the allied country and you take them on the ground. Gee, you might even capture one.

If killing 18 innocents is "justified" by including a legitimate target, what is the cutoff number for innocent deaths that delegitimizes it? 100? 3000? How did you arrive at whatever number you chose? Why do we take so much trouble to protect hostages when we could vaporize a bad guy at the cost of a hostage or two?

Posted by: Repack Rider on January 18, 2006 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

I suppose this legitimizes all those palestinian "terrorists" as long as they got some IDF soldiers or other desireable target, regardless of the civilian toll.

If this bullshit doesn't fly when the victims are white americans, europeans, or israelis, then it shouldn't when they're brown pakis.

and I'm not calling kevin consciously racist ... just guilty of asking a really fucking stupid question.

Posted by: Nads on January 18, 2006 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sceptical of our country's concern about civilians. We clearly didn't know how much collateral damage would be suffered or who we were hitting, we were just hoping that our evidence was good enough to cover ourselves. Our experience has been that our intelligence has been unreliable for quite some time, now. It's almost as if we throw bombs somewhere every once in a while in frustration, hoping we can justify our mistake after the fact.

Would we bomb the Black Rock in Mecca if the only people around it were al Qaeda leaders?

Posted by: freelunch on January 18, 2006 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

An unhealthy percentage of the world's terrorism, mostly against India, is done by groups more or less supported by Pakistan.

Posted by: Boronx on January 18, 2006 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

Also, I don't think that an organization that helped drive the Russians out of Afghanistan has one master bomb maker.

Actually, Al Qaeda only formed in the 1990s, after the Soviet war, and the Arab military contribution to driving them out (as opposed to the Arab financial contribution) was negligible.

However, you're correct that this whole notion of an Al Qaeda "master bomber" is absurd. This isn't SPECTRE, for God's sakes -- Al Qaeda operations have always been distinguished by their operational crudeness and lack of sophistication. All that "master bombmaker" means is that the guy is probably a B.A. in chemistry from some American university.

Posted by: Stefan on January 18, 2006 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

Implacable enemies are hard to factor into the equation in a world of proliferating nukes. We've never really been here before, have we?

Posted by: yesh on January 18, 2006 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

Seriously, not much more needs to be said besides this. Nicely done, cmdicely.

Move along, Kevin. You're going to embarrass yourself more if you pursue this any further.

Posted by: Bill on January 18, 2006 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

Daniel, Higher standard? What are you talking about?

War is not a game. Al Qaeda doesn't treat it as a game. War is murder. If you are willing to sanction war at all you should be aware that it means killing real live human beings. It is ugly. It is brutal. It is wrong.

The first rule of war is to win it as soon as you can. The second rule of war is the same as the first.

I assume that we had good intelligence that several high ranking Al Qaeda folks were present at the site. Dangerous assumption I know, but one I choose to make in this case.

As to surrounding the enemy with troops, half the Pakistani army sympathizes with Al Qaeda. That is why they hide out in Pakistan.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 18, 2006 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

We are so quick to condemn terrorists because they kill civilians. But we kill more than they do. It's inevitable. That it's not our primary purpose is a pretty thin moral veil.

Well said, m nye. The collateral damage rationale for killing innocents has always been the height of immorality, imo, for exactly the reason you say. We justify it by saying these 'unfortunate' deaths are unavoidable in achieving our military goal. The so-called terrorists can claim exactly the same thing. And I say "so-called" terrorists because it is a figment of our distorted, hubristic imagination to believe they are any less moral than we are when we kill innocents en masse with our bombs. If you think I'm wrong, try polling people in the Middle East.

I can't remember who said it, but it's true imo:

"Terrorism is the war of the weak, and war is the terrorism of the strong." Something like that.

Posted by: Jones on January 18, 2006 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

The level heads have covered the moral flaws out of Mr Reasonable, but let's look at the method: something like a dozen missiles from drones? Why, for all of the early big talk, don't we have special forces operators snatching people off trails? Although it ended poorly, elite forces in Somalia snatched people dozens of times before their trick was foiled. (We all know the plain truth, the moment Rumsfleld pulled imaging satellites off of Afghanistan onto Iraq, we became unserious about al Qaeda).

The only safe thinking with this administration is they don't think the targets were worth the use of American soldiers. Pakistani villagers are cheaper. It's the same story as Tora Bora. Real targets are not worth the use of American troops. Oh yeah, these guys support the troops. Up the rear.

Darryl Pearce: The tribal area of Pakistan is daunting, but remember, we put Green Berets hundreds of miles into enemy territory in Afghanistan when the Bush administration cared to.

Posted by: Pacific John on January 18, 2006 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

Raoul: Stefan- it depends what kind of a society you want- if were are no better than them- then what's the point of fighting?

Well, that was exactly my point with the counterfactual. The same behavior we excuse, even laud, when done by us to them would make us scream if done by them to us.

Posted by: Stefan on January 18, 2006 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

I feel like this thread demonstrates the scariness of some of the left wing. There are opinions here that could never find their way into the policies of any statesman, liberal or conservative. The moral argument for collateral damage in war (including the international struggle against al Qaeda) is pretty reasonable. There are certainly arguments to be made about how much and when, etc., but to see the vehement reactions to even the notion that civilian casualties are ever acceptable, well, it reminds me of how embarassed I was by liberals who opposed the war in Afghanistan. Let's get it together, please, people.

Posted by: Jesse on January 18, 2006 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers:

"The first rule of war is to win it as soon as you can."

Riiiiight. That's EXACTLY what this administraton wants to do.

Posted by: Pacific John on January 18, 2006 at 9:51 PM | PERMALINK

Listen, Jesse, this whole goddamned war was unjustified, immoral and illegal from day one. Your sermonizing to the left that killing innocents is sometimes "acceptable" has no bearing in this case.

Posted by: Jones on January 18, 2006 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

Jesse, don't get all strawy on us. I bet 98% of the people you're talking about simply want to avoid unnecessary compromises. Everything is such ham handed BS with this administration, we can only safely assume the operation was botched.

Say it with me, "incompetent."

Posted by: Pacific John on January 18, 2006 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

Pacific John,

I do not believe this administration really wants to win the war on Al-Qaeda? I haven't thought that since Iraq. I haven't thought that since Tora Bora. How the hell long has Bin Laden been hiding out? What makes you think the chickenhawks in this administration want to win this war. The war on Al-Qaeda works to their advantage. Ending it would expose them for the crooks and liars they are.

I wonder if this attack had high level authorization. It sounds like something some mid level warriors would do, not the guys at smoky bottom.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 18, 2006 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

Ask the same question about the attack earlier last week that was supposed to nail A-Q leaders and killed nothing but civilians. Was that attack OK because it was good practive for the dubious attack that followed (and which we don't have any real reason to believe yet was any more successful than the first)? Does a momentary victory in a horseshit, failing, underequipped military operation in Pakistan that's supposed to be cleaning up a mess we left festering in Afghanistan three years ago justify killing civilians by the dozens, hundreds or thousands?
You can't extract these individual operations from the whole and pretend the occasional ``success'' somehow counts toward some greater good. It's like asking if a field goal is a good thing when the score's 77-3.

Posted by: secularhuman on January 18, 2006 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

Out of curiosity, how about if, instead of a measly bombmaker, we had the opportunity to hit the nerve center of the enemy's military operations? But the collateral damage came to 64 civilians in this case... sound worth it?

Posted by: MJ Memphis on January 18, 2006 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

The information was that it was a meeting of high level terrorists planning how to kill Americans and others. The attack was obviously justified.

If the "civilians" welcomed the terrorists, then the deaths are their own fault. If the "civilians" were held by the terrorists against their will, then the deaths are the terrorists' fault.

The folks here who see moral equivalence between actions by us and actions by the terrorists are so wrong as to suggest they are simply anti-American.

Posted by: brian on January 18, 2006 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

In theory killing 18 innocent people in a remote village of a foreign but bought country to get one or a few top international terrorists could be justifiable, with caveats of the sort listed by cmdicely.

No way to know if this is such a case. I put very little weight on Bush administration or Pakistani claims because neither of them are credible to me.

It is also important to count all such attacks, not just the sucessful ones when deciding if this is good policy. If we bomb a dozen villages killing 100 bystanders and in one of them we kill a terrorist and 10 people our ratio isnt 1:10 it is 1:100.

Posted by: jefff on January 18, 2006 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

Our military is capable of mounting a special ops mission that would allow the suspects to be apprehended (or killed, if necessary) with a reasonable chance for success. It could involve paratroops with close air support.

However, in political terms, this administration (which is apparently trying, very unsuccessfully to run the war) is unwilling to take the risk. Some would say this is because they are cowardly bed-wetters who talk tough, but have no true grit.

We will encounter an obstacle in such operations that was not a problem before 2003: the world (enemies and friends alike) knows that we detain and torture people without need of any probable cause for suspicion (not that said probable cause would justify the disgusting interrogation and detention practices for which we are now infamous). This means that, regardless of the actual guilt or innocence of the 18 people, they will resist capture by us unto their deaths. It also means that if we succeed in taking any alive, any "intelligence" we might try to gather will be worthless. How will our forces know if we have confronted people with prior hostile plans for us, when they are forced to act with hostility upon our confronting them, in any case?

How will we at home know if our forces have acted appropriately? How will we know if anyone we detain or kill was our enemy? We are making enemies of the entire world, and bombing houses is not going to help. The harm we are doing certainly outweighs the added risk that would be incurred with a ground operation.

The final point is that the hypothetical is moot, because we are trying to play both sides with Pakistan; we don't have their government's permission to conduct operations on their soil (or bomb them from their airspace), the people of Pakistan hate us and don't support anything we are doing, the Pakistani government is trying to be our ally, while appeasing the citizenry.

In short, we have a complete mess on our hands, resolving it will take decades in the best case, and trying to armchair quarter-back is a futile exercise.

I miss the days of Monica...

Posted by: klevenstein on January 18, 2006 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone who has studied the history of American battle tactics understands that every one of their armed forces is considered expendible. Civilians are included. The tremendous lack of preparations made in the era of nuclear brinksmanship with the thought that such wars would be winnable despite horrendous numbers of deaths. The killing of foreign civilians means nothing in this context. Any preyext of justification such as "there was potentially an enemy in that village" is purely for the PR and not for the reality because they really don't care who was there. Throw enough shit on the wall and some of it sticks. The United States is the largest terrorist organization in the world and the most hated country in the world and yet it's people are the most generous and usually the most loved individually except that they are seen as symbols of an evil government.

Posted by: murmeister on January 18, 2006 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

Ask the same question about the attack earlier last week that was supposed to nail A-Q leaders and killed nothing but civilians.

Same attack. It was supposed to be al-Zawahiri (al-Qaeda's supposed #2), but it now turns out the story is that, al-Masri was there, but maybe not al-Zawahiri. But its safe to say that US and Pakistani officials will stick to the story that someone, with some connection to al-Qaeda was probably killed, or at least in the area at the time of the attack, even though the precise person may still change again.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 18, 2006 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK
But Kevin, what in the name of God makes you think any of the information in this story is accurate? Because it came from US intelligence? Pakistani intelligence? Yeah right.

Well, certainly, there is no intelligence service in the world that knows al-Qaeda the way Pakistani intelligence does.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 18, 2006 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone who has studied the history of American battle tactics understands that every one of their armed forces is considered expendible.

Where do you get this shit? Anyone who has studied American battle tactics knows that we have an extremely deep "never leave a man behind" ethos that is often used against us.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 18, 2006 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

Repack Rider,
well said.
Alternatively you send in a special forces team. It would be risky to those on the team, and perhaps with less chance of success.
This was a de-facto attack on civilians, which de-legitimizes it -- destroying houses with high explosives from the air, with no reliable way of knowing how many civilians are in them or in nearby houses, is an attack on civilians.

I wonder what formula is used to help make decisions about whether to attack. What's the cutoff for expected value of (civilian deaths)/(terrorist deaths), above which an attack is not justified? Do we add a "dangerousness of terrorists" factor? A (cough) "differentness from Americans" factor? With a formula like this people could easily justify destroying an entire village, perhaps even an entire small city.

Of course, revealing said secret formula would be a traitorous act, since if the terrorists knew the formula, they could adjust their behavior to avoid being targetted... (joke)

Posted by: Bill Arnold on January 18, 2006 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

These comments seem to be the mirror image of the principled right-leaning opposition to Clinton's bombing in Yugoslavia. We came to the conclusion that the war was justified, and limited our gripping to the focus-group aspects of who decided the calculus that 2,500 civilians killed from 25,000 feet were less valuable than the lives of maybe 3 dozen US ground troops.

I said principled opposition -- do not start with the Trent Lott, Tom Delay, etc., etc. quotes.

Posted by: neocon on January 18, 2006 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

But its safe to say that US and Pakistani officials will stick to the story that someone, with some connection to al-Qaeda was probably killed, or at least in the area at the time of the attack, even though the precise person may still change again.

If whoever killed was important enough, it'll come bubbling up through the JihadNet at some point.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 18, 2006 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

I need to expand on a couple of points:

We can thank the Bush Bunglers for the mess we are facing. They have consistently refused to listen to their most expert military advisors (or any experts in any other area, for that matter). "Heck of a job there, Brownie". 'Nuff said on that...

How the hell do we know when we are hearing media-pimped propaganda and when we are hearing accurate facts? The Bush administration is by far the most secretive and deceptive in history. This is "justified" because of the terrifying prospect of a terrorist group again causing destruction on American soil. While I abhor that prospect, it pales beside the horror of losing the freedom that America once stood for. We can stand for that freedom again.

IMPEACH BUSH

Posted by: klevenstein on January 18, 2006 at 10:13 PM | PERMALINK

Lets assume most of us real politickers go along with Kevin on targeted assassination. Then why is he a ' liberal'?
Because didn't ' Liberals' slam and can the PAM plan?

That was a perfectly sane and sensible idea to use comnbinatorial auctions in order to predict events such as assassinations. Find out more about it here...

http://www.nex.com/innews.htm

You Can Bet on Idea Markets

Harvard Business School - Working Knowledge [go to article]

A New Wind Tunnel for Companies

Newsweek [go to article]

A Good Idea With Bad Press

NY Times [go to article]

Damn the Slam PAM Plan!

MSN Slate [go to article]

Multilateral, Multi-Item Trades Possible Through Net Exchange

Wall Street & Technology [go to article]

Jim Bells ' Assassination Politics'...

http://jya.com/ap.htm

PAM private was supposed to start up in March of 2004. Why the delay?

What that goose Hillary Clinton derided as a ' terrorist casino' could have actually dramatically minimized collateral damage such as we are seeing today. For more on ' War by assassination' sear John Fillis and George Orwells seminal essay...' You and your Atomic Bomb ' Even Erich Maria Remarque speaks of placing those who want war in direct conflict themselves as opposed to mass slaughter. If we truly are ' liberal' in the best emperical and utilaterian tradition we owe it to ourselves to seek alternatives to dangerous unrestrained and absolutist state power. That sort of power mass murdered millions last century and that must never happen again.

Give PAM the terminatrix a chance - you know it makes sense.

Posted by: professor-rat on January 18, 2006 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

The moral argument for collateral damage in war (including the international struggle against al Qaeda) is pretty reasonable. There are certainly arguments to be made about how much and when, etc., but to see the vehement reactions to even the notion that civilian casualties are ever acceptable, well, it reminds me of how embarassed I was by liberals who opposed the war in Afghanistan. Let's get it together, please, people.

But to some degree that's the same thinking that Al Qaeda uses. Many of the 9/11 hijackers started on their path when they attended the Al Quds mosque in Hamburg, where they heard sentiments like this from the radical preacher Sheikh Fazazi: "Who participates in the war against Islam...is an infidel on war footing, that shall be killed, no matter if it's a man, a woman, or a child" or "The jihad for God's cause is hard for the infidels, because our religion has ordered us to cut their throats and that we kill their heirs is a hard thing...God the merciful has created the hell for the infidels as he created the paradise for the believers, too."

So how are these sentiments -- that your enemies are there to be killed, that collateral damage is regrettable but acceptable -- any different from our attempts to rationalize our murder of innocent bystanders? Is it really the case that when they do it it's terrorism, when we do it it's collateral damage?

Posted by: Stefan on January 18, 2006 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

The folks here who see moral equivalence between actions by us and actions by the terrorists are so wrong as to suggest they are simply anti-American. - Brian

Why is it so hard for rah-rah patriots (and I don't know your posts well enough, Brian, to know if this description fits you or not, but the above post leads me to think it may be so) to understand the difference between being anti-American and being anti-current-government, or anti-American-foreign-policy? Please explain.

Posted by: Jones on January 18, 2006 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK


KEVIN DRUM: For the sake of argument, let's assume that we had pretty good intelligence telling us that a bunch of al-Qaeda leaders were in the house we bombed. And let's also assume that we did indeed kill al-Masri and several other major al-Qaeda leaders. Finally, let's assume that the 18 civilians killed in the attack were genuinely innocent bystanders with no connection to terrorists. Question: Under those assumptions, was the attack justified? I think the answer is pretty plainly yes

Your question makes no sense. You can't justify an attack on assumptions made after the fact. "Pretty good intelligence" (by the way, FEMA had a "pretty good response plan" before Katrina) is the only pre-attack assumption in your list. This is just another way of saying The End Justifies the Means, ("Brownie, you're doin' a heckuva job.") which is precisely the mindset of the current administration. Unfortunately, their ends have a habit of not living up to their billing. So they make up happy endings and continue on with their sad means.

Meanwhile, you sit there giving them points for good intentions, safely analyzing how many innocents you're willing to sacrifice. Just curious . . You say that killing 18 innocents is "plainly" justified. What number would be less plain for you? And what is the magic number when it would plainly not be justified? 2,986? You're pretty much a terrorist, aren't you, Kevin?

BRIAN: The folks here who see moral equivalence between actions by us and actions by the terrorists are so wrong as to suggest they are simply anti-American.

Your suggestion is noted. But anti-American what? Anti-American killing? Yes, that's me. Anti-American Imperialism? Me again. Anti-American good will? No, not me. Whenever it's expressed, whenever it's sincerely offered, whenever it's at the top of our values, I'm pro-American.


Posted by: jayarbee on January 18, 2006 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

Alternatively you send in a special forces team. It would be risky to those on the team, and perhaps with less chance of success.

If I was a betting man, I'd bet there were special forces there. But in the new approach, they don't do the dirty work. They either lase the target for a guided shot or more likely pass up GPS coordinates to a shooter that then drops a precision munition on the target. Best of both worlds.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 18, 2006 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

It's kind of interesting that not many of the answers here really simply accepted the assumptions of Kevin's question, whether true or not, and gave a yea or nay.

I guess my own reaction is, yes, it would be justified. I think that if had been Osama himself who was present at that meeting, it would have been even more obviously justified; that it was lesser fry makes it just somewhat less obvious.

Now, I'll have to admit that part of what makes it seem justified to me are things that in part seem morally extraneous -- that it's done by drone, like an act of war, and that it's in a remote country.

I simply observe this without trying to justify it.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 18, 2006 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

Why should anyone believe anything the Bush administration or any of their lackeys say?

If we're at war and the enemy's leaders can be killed then we'd do it with no concern for bystanders of any sort.

War ain't pinochle.

The trouble is that with this 'war' and with Dubya in charge everything suddenly has to be reviewed a zillion times. Nothing can be taken at face value.

Posted by: MarkH on January 18, 2006 at 10:18 PM | PERMALINK

Congrats to Kevin Drum for asking the question most other Dems will not ask.

The obvious answer is YES, the attack was justified.

But most Dems seem content to sit back and criticize when something goes wrong (bad intelligence, etc.)

Posted by: GOPGregory on January 18, 2006 at 10:18 PM | PERMALINK

Your question makes no sense. You can't justify an attack on assumptions made after the fact.

I think the question he should have asked is "Was the attack worth it?" That's an after-the-fact question that bears examining.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 18, 2006 at 10:18 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. Unfuckingbelievable. If K-Drum is reading these comments, and he ever had illusions that he was dealing with reasonable citizens here, those ought to be well shattered by now.

Nads - how about when your country wasn't the one responsible for the formation of the terrorist group to begin with?

I.e., "We're just as bad as, or really to blame for, AQ"

trifecta - What about the family of an innocent person tortured in Iraq by an American GI. Should they be able to firebomb them during church services to get at them?

I.e., "Killing GI's is just as valuable as killing AQ"

Stefan - Kevin,If you think it is that important to kill those Al Qaeda members, are you willing to be one of the civilians killed? What about your whole family?

I.e., "Kevin, this could just as well have happened to you" (except Kevin doesn't usually ask AQ home for dinner parties. I assume)

Mike Stark - C'mon... these guys will propagandize anything with no regard for morality. Killed a bunch of innocents? Cover it up with a sweet sounding redemptive story.

I.e., "I hate ChimpyMcBushHitler so much I can't even see straight"

Ed - how is it any different from a car bomb or other such?

I.e., "I see no difference between my own government and AQ"

linda - so when orlando bosch is released from federal custody to some cushy florida compound, is fidel castro within his rights as supreme commando of cuba to bomb said compound

I.e., "The dictator Fidel Castro, the President of the US, they're all the same to me"

Stefan - let's assume Iraqi rebels had pretty good intelligence telling them Don Rumsfeld was going to be in Baghdad meeting at a hotel. And let's also assume that they decide to attack that hotel. Finally, let's assume that in the course of that attack they kill 18 innocent bystanders with no connection to Rumsfeld. Question: under these assumptions, was their attack justified?

Actually, the last one is too disgusting for comment.

To all of you: Have you ever heard of the concept of "loyal opposition"? It means that even if you would prefer another party in government in your country, there is still a level below you will not sink in criticizing the party in power. Call it a minimum level of patriotism, or just decency.

You have no decency. And no sense of patriotism. Thank god there are people in the Dem party that are not like you bastards. So there is still a loyal opposition in our country. You just can't find it anywhere around here.

But I have to say it's surprising there's so many of you. Unless all these pseudonyms are just the same lonely geek - who just hates his government and country for some reason.

Posted by: peanut on January 18, 2006 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

Why should anyone believe anything the Bush administration or any of their lackeys say?

Do you believe what "they" say in that 18 civilians were killed? Seems like it.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 18, 2006 at 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike: I appreciate what you said and I agree with the philosophy but that is a field decision but the CIC decision is what created the body in the first place. As has been said before: Jaw-Jaw is better than War-War.

Posted by: murmeister on January 18, 2006 at 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

The information was that it was a meeting of high level terrorists planning how to kill Americans and others. The attack was obviously justified. If the "civilians" welcomed the terrorists, then the deaths are their own fault. If the "civilians" were held by the terrorists against their will, then the deaths are the terrorists' fault.

Again, what if the Iraqi resistance got information about a meeting of high-level American commanders in Baghdad planning how to kill Iraqis and bombed that meeting -- is that attack, too, "obviously justified"? If not, why? Would you consider that the Americans who held the meeting were responsible for the deaths of any Iraqi civilians around them after the attack -- since, after all, America invaded Iraq and all of Iraq is being held against its own will by the US?

Posted by: Stefan on January 18, 2006 at 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

Without offering and answer, let me propose another piece of the puzzle. If we are in a war, and we certainly say so very often, then there are rules. The 4th Geneva Convention of 1949 makes civilians protected persons.

Now the protection of civilians during wars has not been frequently observed. Particularly when the damage to civilians can be credibly presented as the result of inadvertence, not much is made of it. That is not likely the case here. We thought there were legitimate targets and decided that the killing of civilians was "worth it."

Without taking a stentorian position on this incident, let me point out the bottom of the slope on which we stand. We have already determined that, because Al Qaeda and the Taliban are not governments and not signatories to the Conventions, that prisoners are 'enemy combantants' and can be tortured.

Are we deciding here that civilians of a signatory nation (and, incidentally, a nation with which we are not at war) are not protected persons?

Are we on the way to a 'war' waged with no rules? Certainly we are struggling with people who have and likely will choose to carry on their struggle without any rules. Does that mean that we should follow their example? Is that who we want to be?

Do ends justify means? If through some (unrealistic) twist of fate, we could kill Zawahiri but in order to get to him, we would have to kill your brother, your sister, your children or your parents, how do you vote?

If that changes the calculus for you, is that because, after all, the civilians we killed are only Pakistanis?

I have no conclusion because we don't know enough of the facts. I worry. The absence of simple sensible decent rules for this war (e.g. make sure you have the right guy before you torture him) makes me wonder if we could not have have found a way to go after these targets without so much collateral damage (for instance, as they approached or after they left the village).

Posted by: ursus on January 18, 2006 at 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

When I grew up, way back in the '50s and '60s, "the ends justify the means" was understood by virtually everybody as the very embodiment of immorality. Indeed, it was used as such in classroom discussions and general conversation.

My, how times have changed.

Posted by: Jones on January 18, 2006 at 10:22 PM | PERMALINK

To all of you: Have you ever heard of the concept of "loyal opposition"?

You have apparently managed to turn the genuine meaning of "loyal opposition" on its head.

What it means is that you love your country enough to admit when it's wrong and take corrective action, even at risk of being destroyed by the party in power. That takes true courage, not the phony bluster of some chicken-hawk yellow elephant..

Posted by: klevenstein on January 18, 2006 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

Press reports I've read say the intell was that al Zawahiri was invited to a dinner party (now the information is that it was in the morning, so who knows.) If the 18 "civilians" were indeed attending a dinner with al Zawahiri and his posse I agree with the commenter who said it might motivate a lot of tribesmen to start inviting and associating with a better class of friends at their dinner parties.

Posted by: neocon on January 18, 2006 at 10:26 PM | PERMALINK

Let's see.

First reports were that no one related to or involved in Al Quaeda (Qaos for short) were at the scene. Then there's a monumental outcry from just about everywhere about the outrageous incompetence and murderous arrogance of the missile attack (which itself is described in varied terms involving drones and flares and jets). Then, as the firestorm of outrage grows in both the U.S. and Pakistan, reports begin to come in that there were terrorists at the location and that some were killed and that their bodies were quickly removed by other unknown baddies at the scene. There's even a report of empty graves. No bodies have been found to do DNA verification testing (though how base samples are available never seems to be specified). But the news reports become more and more specific that real baddies had been there and were killed.

I say the bombing definitely killed the number 3, number 3, and number 3 persons in Al Quaeda.

Going with the brilliance of Drum's argument, what if there are reports of Al Quaeda in the Empire State Building? Should missiles be fired at the site? Same for Paris, London, Rome, Berlin, Moscow?

When and where is it OK to just shoot first and ask questions or make up stories later? Is the shading of skin a factor? Oh. I forgot. These are questions that should never be asked. American lives are at stake and everything will be done to protect Americans.

Why not just nuke the rest of the world and solve the whole fucking problem? That's the question.

Hey! Seriously. What's the problem with indiscriminately firing missiles at one of the most populous Muslim nations in the world that is ostensibly an ally, repeatedly killing innocents in the process and risking having that nation then taken over by the strongly anti-American groups that already exist there?

They've got a big army. They've got nuclear weapons. They've got missiles. They've got a weak dictator that is weakly allied to us and could easily be killed or toppled at any moment. That is assuming he doesn't decide on his own that being an ally of America is dangerous to his health.

So what's the down side?

Now I'll pose the question another way. What if there were groups in America that are responsible for the death of citizens of other nations? Are those nations justified in bombing our buildings and citizens on that basis, assuming there are "reports" of some proximity of those percieved baddies?

When it's "us" getting bombed is it OK?

So when does might make right and terror (the might of the weak) equate to freedom fighting?

Posted by: Amos Anan on January 18, 2006 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

Information and disinformation. The innocent and the guilty. The ally and the enemy. Live missiles from above, death down below.

Al Qaeda senior officials die again and again. "Collateral" is damaged but once.

Is it worth it? The death of bystanders or innocents brutalizes the victim and the perpetrator, the same way torture does. If we accept that the means justifies the ends, we only become more mean in the end. Live with that world if you will and your children will as well.

Posted by: The Heretik on January 18, 2006 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan
Again, what if the Iraqi resistance got information about a meeting of high-level American commanders in Baghdad planning how to kill Iraqis and bombed that meeting -- is that attack, too, "obviously justified"?

Well, since they've shown that attacks on children collecting candy from GIs is justified...what do you think they'd say? Hell, they don't need Rummy there, just a kindergarten class. And media to take pictures of it. Film at 11.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 18, 2006 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

Assuming we need to suspend judgement in this particular case ( usually a wise move until more factoids are available ) here is a well known example of justifiable 'murder'.
A ferry loaded with Heavy water is on its way to Berlin. Should Hitler get that Heavy water he will almost certainly get the Atomic bomb.

Would you kill some innocent ferry passengers and crew in order to stop the shipment?

See how collateral damage is unavoidable?

The point for effective and rational politics is to absolutely MINIMIZE it. That is what we need to be about here. Enough nonsense already.

Now when can we start saving lives and assassinate Bush? ( my 2c )

Posted by: professor-rat on January 18, 2006 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

peanut, you are full of it. For the most part the people writing here are trying their best to be prinicpled and honorable. The are the best kind of patriots and if push came to shove, I would stand with any of them. I am glad that they have principles. Sometimes they are naive, but then again their principles are worth having.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 18, 2006 at 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

When I take action, I'm not going to fire a $2m missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt. It's going to be decisive. -- (GW Bush, Newsweek, Sep 24, 2001)

According to a spokesperson for a military dictatorship presently allied with a US presidential proto-dictatorship, this is not a laughable quote, but ponder the sequence of the stories -
1. CIA thinks it might have hit the no.2 guy
2. CIA 'hit a camel in the butt' (and 18 die)
3. CIA hit a bomb-maker
After story 2, story 3 or something similar was inevitable propaganda. If the boy who cried wolf is telling the truth, tough.

Question:
Does this mean Al Qaida can't make bombs anymore?

Answer to Kevin's question:
Lower-tech solutions with greater precision would avoid this degree of collateral murder. Only problem - US leadership is too chicken to put bodies on the line where it matters; it'd rather sacrifice bodies to counterproductive ends in Iraq. Apparently the US lacks human intelligence assets.

Posted by: AlanDownunder on January 18, 2006 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

Do you believe what "they" say in that 18 civilians were killed?

A statement by a party with a personal or institutional interest is more credible when it is against their interest than when it is for their interest; ergo, Pakistani and Bush Administration officials are more credible when they say civilians were killed then when they say al-Qaeda leaders (whose identities evolve over time) were killed.

This is really one of the most basic parts of critically examining statements from potentially biased sources, and anyone engaging in political debate who doesn't understand it is either too dumb to take seriously, or too dishonest to take seriously.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 18, 2006 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

You have no decency. And no sense of patriotism. Thank god there are people in the Dem party that are not like you bastards.
Posted by: peanut

listen pissant ... I have enough patriotism to recognize actions which have just created 1000 more terrorists. I have enough patriotism to question my worthless CIC when he's just set the groundwork for another 9/11.

just because dipshits like you need to see some dead arabs to satisfy your limp-dicked bloodlust doesn't make you patriotic.

Posted by: Nads on January 18, 2006 at 10:33 PM | PERMALINK

Ron B - Can you not read? Stefan just suggested that it might be justifiable to kill the SecDef of the US. You can spout vile, antiAmerican garbage like that or you can say you sincerely love your country. But you can't have it both ways.

YOu can "try" all you want, but you can't.

Posted by: peanut on January 18, 2006 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

/Have you ever heard of the concept of "loyal opposition"? It means that even if you would prefer another party in government in your country, there is still a level below you will not sink in criticizing the party in power. Call it a minimum level of patriotism, or just decency.

So, peanut, if I sincerely and deeply believe that our beloved country has been illegally taken over by a bunch of hate-filled, power-grabbing criminals who are conducting the most immoral and illegal war in our country's history, slaughtering tens of thousands of innocent people in their wake, destroying all vestiges of goodwill we have in the world, and endangering the lives of my children and grandchildren with their reckless hubris and power-mongering that is sure to 'blowback' on us for decades to come, are you saying that I should refrain from railing against the opposition out of a "minimum level of patriotism, or just decency"? Huh? Is that what you are saying, you frigging ignorant so-called patriot? Our founding fathers would denounce you in the strongest terms.

Oh, and thanks for the handy recapitulation of all the good arguments against Kevin's sorry, morally dead position.

Posted by: Jones on January 18, 2006 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

If the 18 "civilians" were indeed attending a dinner with al Zawahiri and his posse I agree with the commenter who said it might motivate a lot of tribesmen to start inviting and associating with a better class of friends at their dinner parties.
Posted by: neocon

I'm sure bin laden said something similar when aiming for the pentagon.

Posted by: Nads on January 18, 2006 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

So who decides who the civilians are? The locals sympathetic to Al Qaeda? Think they don't have a vested interest in upping the numbers of civilians killed in the attack?

Cmdicely, I am well aware of how the game is played. So are the bad guys.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 18, 2006 at 10:36 PM | PERMALINK

Well, since they've shown that attacks on children collecting candy from GIs is justified...what do you think they'd say? Hell, they don't need Rummy there, just a kindergarten class. And media to take pictures of it. Film at 11.

I know what they'd say -- but what would you say? Is the Iraqi resistance justified in carrying out attacks against the political-military leadership of the country that invaded them? If they are, what if eighteen American, say, innocent civilians got killed in the process. Would that be morally justified from the Iraqis' viewpoint?

Posted by: Stefan on January 18, 2006 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

What wingers just will never get in cases like this, because they have zero moral feeling, is that it is possible to do the right thing, and still do a terrible thing.

Killing senior al Qaeda in a circumstance like this, in which, we are assuming, innocents are also killed, is, on balance, I believe the right thing.

But it is also a terrible thing, because of the deaths of innocents.

THAT is what they are incapable of feeling or caring about. They have no regrets.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 18, 2006 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

So who decides who the civilians are? The locals sympathetic to Al Qaeda? Think they don't have a vested interest in upping the numbers of civilians killed in the attack?

So who decides who the American civilians are? The locals sympathetic to George Bush? Think the Bush regime doesn't have a vested interest in upping the numbers of civilians killed in the attacks?

Posted by: Stefan on January 18, 2006 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan has it completely right. They wouldn't hesitate to attack us.

This incident certainly didn't help Musharraf hold onto power, did it? Ultimately, Kevin's question about whether this was justified has to take into account the possibility that this might destabilize Pakistan and cause wider problems.

I think it was justified, and whatever the result, we need to be ready to live with it.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 18, 2006 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

You have no decency. And no sense of patriotism. Thank god there are people in the Dem party that are not like you bastards. So there is still a loyal opposition in our country. You just can't find it anywhere around here.

Translation: any criticism that makes me unconfortable or challenges my belief in America's innate goodness, or implies that furners are just as human as Americans is indecent.

Additionaly, peanut, the concept of justification for a war or act of war that rests on some universal principles and rises above crude nationalism has apparantly eluded you.

Posted by: Boronx on January 18, 2006 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

So who decides who the civilians are? The locals sympathetic to Al Qaeda? Think they don't have a vested interest in upping the numbers of civilians killed in the attack?

If Al Qaeda does have such a vested interest THEN WHY THE FUCK ARE WE HELPING THEM ACHIEVE IT?!?!?!?

Posted by: Stefan on January 18, 2006 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

"To all of you: Have you ever heard of the concept of "loyal opposition"? It means that even if you would prefer another party in government in your country, there is still a level below you will not sink in criticizing the party in power. Call it a minimum level of patriotism, or just decency."

You're kidding, right? We are talking about bastard that sent Marines and soldiers into Iraq to die thinking they were going after the 9/11 terrorists.

All the people here are saying is that this administration has been Lucy with a football one too many times.

A simpler moral equation is this: we should not be willing to kill children unless we are first willing to put our own people at similar risk... and I dare say, the entire country feels this way. When we lost soldiers in Operation Anaconda, there nothing aside from chirping crickets could be heard as criticism. Although the neocons did not believe so, the country would have tolerated many US casualties had we thrown divisions into the Tora Bora battle.

Here we are, a country that has taken something like 20,000 casualties in Iraq, but we won't send troops to get al Qaeda? Are you insane?

Posted by: Pacific John on January 18, 2006 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

Before playing parlor games with people's lives, we should take a good long look in the mirror.

How can anyone accept a whit of a story like this passed along by ABC as being true? This adminstration has a long and solid track record of lying, and passing along lies, in situations like this. The Pakistanis? Please. (And ABC didn't even do us the favor of saying why they couldn't ID the "Pakistani officials" they used as sources on this story.)

My bullshit meter is screaming.

How the hell do the Pakistanis know who was killed? Were bodies collected? Who identified the bodies? Were DNA samples already tested? Did the Americans tell them who they targeted? If they did, did they give away "sources and means" info to back up their story? (I doubt it.)

In short, with the track record we find ourselves living with these days, stories like this one from ABC should be met first with sniggers and rolling eyes, rather than "Let's Play God" games.

Until Americans figure out that their government (and its minions, foreign and domestic) can't be trusted to tell the truth about anything anymore, we'll be living in Alice's Wonderland, including pop quizzes on the meanings of other people's spilled entrails. If we prove incapable of even demanding, much less getting, the truth from our own government, we're damned.

Posted by: Mike on January 18, 2006 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

Jones - I say this is your government, and your country. Clearly, you disagree. Then, find another.

Posted by: peanut on January 18, 2006 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

peanut, why don't you think the insurgents are justified in waging an armed resistance against an occupying force?

BTW, the airstrike in Pakistan was clearly a murderous and ghastly mistake, and is entirely the wrong way to go about things anyway, but that doesn't mean it's not justified.

Posted by: Boronx on January 18, 2006 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

So who decides who the civilians are?

Who the civilians are is an objective fact; it is, however, one for which most of us have no direct evidence and are forced to determine the truth through the testimony of sources that are not only potentially biased, but known to lie their asses off.

The locals sympathetic to Al Qaeda? Or the Pakistani intelligence services that are also sympathetic to al-Qaeda?

No one has suggested "locals sympathetic to al-Qaeda" as a reliable source for this information, so as usual you are engaging in irrelevant attacks on strawmen. The locals said all the dead were locals. The provincial authorities said they believed 18 local residents were killed and 4-5 foreign militants were taken by residents to the mountains to be buried. An AP reported report 13 apparently "used" fresh graves and 5 more prepared but not used. A Pakistani Army official claims some bodies were taken for DNA tests, which conflicts with the local stories. (see, here.

Cmdicely, I am well aware of how the game is played.

Certainly, you are well versed in the art of deception and dishonest distraction. You certainly understand how the game is played, especially by your ideological allies.

So are the bad guys.

There are lots of bad guys. Some you oppose. Some you defend, with dishonesty and distraction.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 18, 2006 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

Ron B - Can you not read? Stefan just suggested that it might be justifiable to kill the SecDef of the US. You can spout vile, antiAmerican garbage like that or you can say you sincerely love your country. But you can't have it both ways.

Well, from the Iraqis' point of view of course it is. Would we not be justified in killing the Secretary of Defense of a country that invaded us? Didn't we, in fact, try to kill the political-military leadership of Iraq with missile strikes when Iraq hadn't even attacked us?

Posted by: Stefan on January 18, 2006 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

Jones - I say this is your government, and your country. Clearly, you disagree. Then, find another.
Posted by: peanut

funny ... I didn't see the rightwing pussies running for canada when we had troops in yugoslavia.

Posted by: Nads on January 18, 2006 at 10:48 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:
I stand corrected, I guess. There was a DISPUTED attack by American forces on Jan. 7 that killed a house full of Pakistanis, but the U.S. military denied involvement. My larger point still stands, though that assessing this attack as a good or bad thing is somehow relevant. There's a naive assumption that killing A-Q's No. 2 and No. 3 somehow means that 4 and 5 aren't every bit as bad. It's silly to invest any hope in or assign any value to this stuff.

Posted by: secularhuman on January 18, 2006 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

I want to add to my justification for this some points:

1. Zawahiri is too important to NOT take out, by any means possible. Removing him is a blow to Al Qaeda, perhaps a bigger blow than actually getting Bin Laden or Zarqawi. He's too dangerous to innocents, whether they be American, European or whoever.

2. If a person like Zawahiri or Mirsi is engaged in using safe houses or moving covertly through the countryside, it has to be assumed that they are either going to co-locate with innocents in order to shield themselves or to hide. Placing innocents in danger to hide themselves is a choice that they made, not us. For a people who use Medieval chivalry and honor to justify their killing of others, this is hypocritical. At least Saddam hid in a spider hole. But then, Saddam was a secular terrorist and Zawahiri is supposedly a true believer.

3. The upper echelon of Al Qaeda doesn't believe their own hype. I honestly don't think they believe in Islam; I think they use it as a shield or a marketing ploy to attract followers. I think they're closet agnostics or atheists and don't believe in anything other than their own power and influence. Zawahiri is driven by revenge, Bin Laden is driven by a desire to hurt the West.

Jeez, sorry guys. I'm feeling a little bloodthirsty tonight. Killing innocent people is wrong, of course. I'm sorry if I'm contradicting myself.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 18, 2006 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: what strikes me about this situation is that it seems we did not, and probably hardly ever know for sure, that the guys we are after will be there for sure.

Given that, I would not use a bomb or missle. I would not take it upon myself to calculate that although I may kill 18 or so innocent folks, I'll take my chances.

How do I know that this fellow will ever kill, in the future, as many people as I am about to kill?

I don't like it.

I would have to be there in the decision-making room. But for the most part, I agree with Stefan above. The folks in the decision-making room end up using logic thats hard to distinguish from that of the terrorists.

If the terrorists are in a military type setting, then you dont hesitate. A building or house with innocent people, I dont blow it up.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on January 18, 2006 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

Jones - I say this is your government, and your country. Clearly, you disagree. Then, find another.

Well, as that great patriot Tom DeLay said at the time of the Kosovo war in 1999, "you can support the troops but not the president."

Posted by: Stefan on January 18, 2006 at 10:52 PM | PERMALINK

"You're kidding, right? We are talking about bastard that sent Marines and soldiers into Iraq to die thinking they were going after the 9/11 terrorists."

No, actually, we are not. Or at least, Kevin did not in his post that started this thread. Note he said nothing about Bush.

But it is interesting that you are confused about that, because it really speaks volumes about the minds of the far lefties at the moment. Think about it: the US Air Force bombs an Al Qaeda target and all you can think about is how much you hate the Bush admin. I guess that's what they call a "Freudian" slip.

Posted by: peanut on January 18, 2006 at 10:52 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan just suggested that it might be justifiable to kill the SecDef of the US. You can spout vile, antiAmerican garbage like that or you can say you sincerely love your country. But you can't have it both ways.

Hello, he was sitting in the E-ring when the plane hit the Pentagon. They took their shot and missed.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 18, 2006 at 10:52 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "And for those who answer no, I'm curious: under what circumstances would such an attack be justified?"

For me, it'd be when there was no collateral damage (loss of innocent life). So, is Kevin saying that he doesn't care how much collateral damage there is as long as an al-Qaeda member is killed? If that's true, then Kevin would theoretically accept it if a nuclear weapon was used to kill them because all collateral damage is OK. If that's a stretch even for Kevin, I'd be curious to know what his limit is with regard to the loss of innocent life. Can he quantify it? Presumably the 10 or so non-combatant lives were within his acceptable limits. Is there a moral dimension at all to this issue for Kevin?

Posted by: Taobhan on January 18, 2006 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

The upper echelon of Al Qaeda doesn't believe their own hype. I honestly don't think they believe in Islam; I think they use it as a shield or a marketing ploy to attract followers. I think they're closet agnostics or atheists and don't believe in anything other than their own power and influence. Zawahiri is driven by revenge, Bin Laden is driven by a desire to hurt the West.

I seriously doubt this. Some of their financial backers like the Saudis may be like this, but the central guys quite certainly are devout (in their own eyes) Muslims.

Posted by: Stefan on January 18, 2006 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan - Well, from the Iraqis' point of view of course it is.

Ah, but you call yourself an American, don't you?

Posted by: peanut on January 18, 2006 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, but you call yourself an American, don't you?
Posted by: peanut

yeah, but I'm human first, you pathetic little cumstain.

Posted by: Nads on January 18, 2006 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

Jones - I say this is your government, and your country. Clearly, you disagree. Then, find another.

Is that the extent of your intellectual prowess, peanut? Well, you certainly picked the right name here, I'll give you credit for that.

Posted by: Jones on January 18, 2006 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

Think about it: the US Air Force bombs an Al Qaeda target and all you can think about is how much you hate the Bush admin. I guess that's what they call a "Freudian" slip.

No, that's really not.

I see this poster's command of psychology is a match for his command of ethics.

Posted by: Stefan on January 18, 2006 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, if by some strange and admittedly hypothetical circumstance the 18 closest members of your family were in that house with the al Qaida leaders would you encourage the drone strike?

Posted by: steve duncan on January 18, 2006 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

I guess, the question has an immediate answer when you replace those 18 people with the immediate family of Kevin Drum.

As for the wanking idea, because an Al-Queda member stays in somebody's house they become a supporter....

like the AQ chaps go around bragging they're members of the da Club

or in intel parlance, they just might, you know, use 'need to know' principle

& almost everyone in the Frontier provinces carries arms from Ak-47s to RPGs along with them. so someone staying at a place with lots of armour, you know is like the typical obese american at Macs

Living in the shadow of evil, no wonder you guys are also becoming scumbags.

Posted by: shanks on January 18, 2006 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

I seriously doubt this. Some of their financial backers like the Saudis may be like this, but the central guys quite certainly are devout (in their own eyes) Muslims.

It would make sense, though, wouldn't it? Does anyone actually believe the Republican leadership of the House and Senate believes in Christianity?

Outwardly, the top Al Qaeda people spout this contradictory type of Islam, ignoring the peaceful aspects of the religion, seizing on the 'slay the unbeliever' parts, and have essentially bastardized the religion to fit their purposes. There doesn't seem to be anything religious about them, just fanatical. And I don't think fanatics are actually religious; I think a fanatic is just really good at looking religious.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 18, 2006 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

Zawahiri is too important to NOT take out, by any means possible. Removing him is a blow to Al Qaeda, perhaps a bigger blow than actually getting Bin Laden or Zarqawi.

Maybe, but the history of the strategy of lobbing a bomb into suspect buildings is very long and dismal. What I don't understand is if they're tracking this guy with a drone that can, I think, have a hellfire missile on it, why not take him out in a moving car. Then you know that if he was ID'd correctly, then he's actually in that car, and instead of killing kids on the side, you might get some of his leutenants.

Posted by: Boronx on January 18, 2006 at 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan - Well, from the Iraqis' point of view of course it is.

Thanks for answering the question. (Not snark, by the way, but actually a sincere thanks).

Ah, but you call yourself an American, don't you?

Yes, I do, so I'd prefer Americans rather than their enemies to "win" (whatever that term now means). But I don't, therefore, delude myself that we're as pure as the driven snow while our opponents are bloodthirsty monsters. They kill innocent civilians to achieve their goals and, as they see it, defend themselves. Well, so do we. So if we can claim that it's justified to kill X number of bystanders in order to kill an Al Qaeda leader why can't they say it's OK to kill X number of Americans to kill, say Donald Rumsfeld?

And let's realize, too, that at this point we're talking tactics, not ethics. Ethics we abandoned a long time ago....

Posted by: Stefan on January 18, 2006 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

"I wonder what formula is used to help make decisions about whether to attack."

So how do you decide what to do? Look for crows circling in the sky? Shake a magic 8 ball? Or are you a total pacifist (though even that doesn't excuse you from critical thinking, every policy eventually decides who lives and who dies even if only by opportunity cost)?

If the formula is set up correctly (ie plugging in the moral paramaters of almost any random person pulled off the street and including things like precedent setting and the appearance of actions) it would not "easily justify" killing large numbers of people. It would actually likely be far more heavily weighted against it than the wild ass guesses of one of our lazier presidents trying to prove how tough he is to his thoughtless constituents. For example how many net lives were saved by spending a trillion dollars in Iraq vs spending it in various other ways? There are probably dozens of countries we could have occupied and done better, let alone actions that didn't involve spending billions of dollars to blow up infrastructure.

Really you are not going to be able to parameterize it well enough to come up with a formula, but you ought to be thinking critically about the costs and benefits of your actions to the best of your ability.

One of the most irritating things that politicians tend do is claim they aren't doing calculations like this. Either they are lying, which is bad, or they are telling the truth, which is worse. Personally I suspect that George Bush is telling the truth.

Reminds me of an anecdote I heard once, no idea what if any basis it has in reality, but illustrative none the less...

A federal agency was contemplating some regulatory change by congress. They prepared a report where they crunched a lot of numbers and showed that if a human life was worth some hundereds of thousands of dollars the cost of the new regulation was justified (it would save more than 1 life per whatever a life was worth). There was a great uproar in whatever congressional committe was reading the report. How can you put a dollar value on a human life? It's preposterous! Blah blah blah. A little while later they voted against the regulatory change. We don't know what value those congressmen put on a human life, but we do know that it was less than what the agency assumed (Yea, yea assuming the analysis was accurate. It's an illustration, its allowed to have a wierd assumption or two.).

Posted by: jefff on January 18, 2006 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

Cmdicely
RSM: Cmdicely, I am well aware of how the game is played.

Certainly, you are well versed in the art of deception and dishonest distraction. You certainly understand how the game is played, especially by your ideological allies.

Kee-rist. These are guys who blow up children getting candy in order to make a point. Who attacked the WTC with thousands of civilians in them. Who hide in mosques because they know we don't shoot at them. Who wouldn't hesitate to martyr a few civilians if it made folks like cmdicely squeamish and against the war. They wouldn't hesitate a second. They do it all the time. Gladly.

I don't trust the numbers coming out of there as to civilians for a second. I guess I'm just as evil as them, in your book.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 18, 2006 at 11:04 PM | PERMALINK

And where did this jingoistic attack on Stefan come from? From the same side of the aisle where attacking Bill Clinton as Commander in Chief became de rigeur for commissioned officers, and got so bad that at one point, they started relieving them in the field?

Anybody who lives in Manhattan has already placed themselves in harms way, and I don't think we need to stoop to accusing people of being un-American. Hell, it's so much easier to accuse them of being stupid, ignorant half-wits who can't string together a coherent thought.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 18, 2006 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

"Can you not read? Stefan just suggested that it might be justifiable to kill the SecDef of the US."

Stefan never said it would be justified for him or for you or for me to kill the Secretary of Defense (I do love phony patriots using technospeak like "SecDef of the US." Soooo Tom Clancy like.

He said it would be justified for an Iraqi to kill the Secretary of Defense after we invaded his country. Given his hypothetical, he is right. It doesn't make him disloyal. I bet if you ask Colin Powell he would agree. That is the nature of war.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 18, 2006 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

It would make sense, though, wouldn't it? Does anyone actually believe the Republican leadership of the House and Senate believes in Christianity?

Some do -- but it's their own strange version of Christianity is, which basically translates into "fuck you, I've got mine."

Outwardly, the top Al Qaeda people spout this contradictory type of Islam, ignoring the peaceful aspects of the religion, seizing on the 'slay the unbeliever' parts, and have essentially bastardized the religion to fit their purposes. There doesn't seem to be anything religious about them, just fanatical. And I don't think fanatics are actually religious; I think a fanatic is just really good at looking religious.

Interesting question, really, isn't it? Was Torquemada a "religious" man? Were the Crusaders or the Inquisitors?

Posted by: Stefan on January 18, 2006 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

Given your assumptions, and if we were at war with Pakistan, this attack might be justified.

But we are not at war with Pakistan. Pakistan is an ally with an unreliable military, so working with them to capture or kill these people is out. If we were serious about defeating al-Qaeda we would have used a more quiet and precise tactic, and given the government of Pakistan some deniability.

We can't defeat al-Qaeda without the help of the countries where it is hiding. We should no more be bombing innocent Pakistanis than we would bomb innocent Britons or Americans to get at a few suspects.

Posted by: tib on January 18, 2006 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

OK, for the sake of moral argument let's say that US intelligence says an al Qaeda cell is inhabiting 5 rooms in an apartment house in New York City and intelligence tells us that the only way to take them out is a missle strike that will most likely kill the other innocent 18 US citizens living in the apartment building. Does this present a harder moral dilemma? Just wondering...

Of course, we could add that this is the second missile strike in Pakistan that killed innocent Pakistanis in the last two weeks. What's 52 x 18 (a year of strikes). My math says 937 people killed per year. Still OK?

Posted by: nepeta on January 18, 2006 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody who lives in Manhattan has already placed themselves in harms way, and I don't think we need to stoop to accusing people of being un-American. Hell, it's so much easier to accuse them of being stupid, ignorant half-wits who can't string together a coherent thought.

I...why..I...splutter splutter...blagh!

Posted by: Stefan on January 18, 2006 at 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

We should no more be bombing innocent Pakistanis than we would bomb innocent Britons or Americans to get at a few suspects.

Which leads to another hypothetical: the British receive intelligence that a top IRA leader is holed up in a house in Boston. They launch a missile strike at the house. He's not there, but the strike kills the eighteen American family members living in the house. Justified or not? Too bad for all those American kids because their parents sympathized with the IRA?

Posted by: Stefan on January 18, 2006 at 11:12 PM | PERMALINK
These are guys who blow up children getting candy in order to make a point. Who attacked the WTC with thousands of civilians in them. Who hide in mosques because they know we don't shoot at them. Who wouldn't hesitate to martyr a few civilians if it made folks like cmdicely squeamish and against the war. They wouldn't hesitate a second. They do it all the time. Gladly.

I don't trust the numbers coming out of there as to civilians for a second.

No, in fact, neither the AP reporter nor the Pakistani provincial authorities, from whom the numbers come, are the guys that did all that.

You are again engaging in dishonesty and distraction.

I guess I'm just as evil as them, in your book.

More evil, by the evidence I've seen, than the Pakistani provincial authorities and the AP reporter from whom the numbers come; less evil than the leadership of al-Qaeda. So it depends who you mean in your equivocating use of "these" and "them".


Posted by: cmdicely on January 18, 2006 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure this is up in this thread somewhere but...

What if the number 3 guy were at a Wal-Mart in Georgia. What if we bombed the Wal-Mart, but, whoopsie, killed 18 unfortunate value shoppers at the same time.

Is that worth it?

If you changed your answer, please explain why.

Posted by: craigie on January 18, 2006 at 11:22 PM | PERMALINK

No fucking executions without a trial, okay, no matter how many people aren't killed?

Liberal my ass. Kevin, you've apparently given up on the right to a trial and a presumption of innocence. Bah!

Posted by: JamesP on January 18, 2006 at 11:23 PM | PERMALINK

"I call bullshit Kevin. We are only having this discussion because we don't give a crap about the lives of foreigners."

Absolutely right. So why should foreigners give a crap about anyone in the US? Talk about a lamebrain foreign policy.

Posted by: Bob M on January 18, 2006 at 11:30 PM | PERMALINK

War is not a game. Al Qaeda doesn't treat it as a game. War is murder. If you are willing to sanction war at all you should be aware that it means killing real live human beings. It is ugly. It is brutal. It is wrong.

The first rule of war is to win it as soon as you can. The second rule of war is the same as the first.

Remeber this next time a US serviceman is killed in Iraq, Ron. The insurgency is playing by exactly the same rules as you.

Posted by: floopmeister on January 18, 2006 at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK

I'm really hoping you've written this to get a reaction out of your readers and not because you really feel this way. I could not disagree with you more. It is not moral to kill 18 bystanders even IF an enemy of the US was also killed.

Posted by: karin on January 18, 2006 at 11:56 PM | PERMALINK

How many civilians until it becomes immoral? 100? 1000? Is there ever a risk that the terrorists we may be creating by killing family members and spouses might be even more vicious that the ones we already have?

Posted by: Cody on January 19, 2006 at 12:00 AM | PERMALINK

What ever happened to arresting people and gathering more intelligence to try to get to the higher ups? If they resist and put you in danger, the take the appropriate action, including lethal force if necessary? Apparently, the only works in Western countries....

Why didn't we just bomb the house they found Timothy McVeigh before he had a chance to plot again?

So Kevin - I guess you think the Iraqi Government would be justified in calling in missles strike at throughout Iraq until they hit Al Zarqawi?

Listen to yourself Kevin...You are recommending a precendent where countries can summarily execute anyone and everyone they consider a threat. This is a recipe for disaster. Would you have the same feelings for Putin if he pulled this in Chechnya? Fire missiles until he gets the leader his arch enemy....?

I'll tell you what Kevin. If the President determined the mastermind of major attack on a California landmark lived next door to you, would approve a missile strike to take this mastermind out? It would be for the greater good right? You are willing to sacrifice right?

If not, then why are you so willing to sacrifice other parent's children?

I can not believe what I am reading...

...and the sad thing is I am sure Kevin won't even read any of this. He will wait for his buds at TNR and Marshall Wittman to respond with the latest talking points.

Posted by: Law and Order on January 19, 2006 at 12:00 AM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, Karin, it is exactly how the American Government feels and you can substitute any number of civilians you want in that equation.

Posted by: murmeister on January 19, 2006 at 12:02 AM | PERMALINK

Heh, it's the reverse ticking time bomb scenario. :)

Doesn't matter to me what nationality the bystanders have. It's a far more unlikely case where a missile is the minimum cost action inside the US for the US, though such a terrorist in the US might be far more dangerous than one in the middle of nowhere pakistan.

Actually I do not think that the whole Bush 'targeted killing by missile' policy is acceptable thus this attack as a part of it is unacceptable. This is the real question. Bush doesn't get to choose to be judged on this in isolation even if it does turn out to be one of the sucessful attacks. Expand it out to 1-2 terrorist killed for 5 attacks killing 100 innocents and I say it surely fails. That terrorist running around remote pakistan was mostly neutralized already, and I think we greatly overemphasize the "leadership" of al-qaeda, and "al-qaeda" itself anyway.

Posted by: jefff on January 19, 2006 at 12:02 AM | PERMALINK

Well, as a proud member of the liberal blogosphere I wanted to discuss this issue. The dilemma of killing a few innocent people now in order to save more innocent people is an idea the United States has decided on. We will always lose a few to spare the many. We saw this after 9/11 when the decision was made to allow civilian airliners to be shot down if it was believed they were going to be used as weapons. Unfortunately, the debate and moral dilemma that went into that situation does not duplicate when we the civilians who die are from another country. This is not strictly a political problem, as many of us view civilian death as unfortunate but necessary when the civilians are not American. However, if the civilians were American, we would hold find a way to immortalize them. I am not saying that the latter is a problem, but the gap between how we feel when Americans die, and how we feel when innocent foreigners die needs to be reduced.

For me, the problem when innocent people from other nations die at the hands of American military action I often feel like their deaths were not the result of a last resort. We would never launch missiles at an American household because we thought a terrorist was on the premise. We would never launch missiles into a European nation under the same circumstances. When it comes to our own people, and our closest allies, civilian death is avoided at all costs. A passenger airline to be used as a weapon would be shot down only because there was no other course of action that could have the same desired effect of protecting the lives of the people on the ground.

Yet, when it comes to the Middle East, we launch missiles into the areas civilians occupy on a somewhat regular basis. I understand we do not have all the options in the Middle East that we have here, or in friendlier nations, but we must still use these missile strikes on the rarest of occasion.

I am pleased that we eliminated some of the most dangerous men on the planet, but a significant number of people who were innocent died, and that is an enormous price to pay. The War on Terror is not as simple as us taking out terrorists. War is complex, there are public relations problems, and regardless of how you feel about the actual battles against the terrorists there is no doubt that we are losing the PR battle.

The War on Terror is, in its most idealistic form, a mission designed to rid the world of terrorists. Yet, the public relations portion of the war has undoubtedly created terrorists, possibly to the extent where there are more terrorists now than there were before 9/11. So now, the question becomes, is killing four terrorists now, along with eighteen civilians, worth giving an unknown number of Muslims cause to become terrorists? Dont get me wrong, I am not saying the United States deserves to have enemies, but the reality is our actions do not occur in a vacuum, and hundreds, possibly thousands, misguided individuals will view what happened in Pakistan as one more reason America is evil. Of these misguided individuals, an unknown percentage will dedicate their lives to destroying us. Although no data exists to verify my theory, but I would be willing to bet that the air strike in Pakistan that killed a few terrorists, all be it major ones, will in the long run create more than four terrorists.

That is the reality of the War on Terror. The lack of diplomacy involved with out actions has created a situation where it is very conceivable that, at the very least, for every terrorist we have captured or killed we have created another. I personally think that the number of terrorists created by this war far exceeds the number we have eliminated one way or another.

So, to answer Drums question, I would have to say no, the air strikes in Pakistan were not worth it in the long run. Perhaps if American had a better policy on the diplomatic side of the War on Terror we could limit the fall out from events like this, but Bushs failure to do so is essentially opening the flood gates.

I wholeheartedly believe that my generation is not only going to inherit the War on Terror, it will be much worse than it is now. Over time, the misguided individuals who hear about attacks like the one in Pakistan will become more organized, better educated, and ultimately more dangerous.

The War on Terror is like an antibiotic, and the terrorists are the infection that plagues this planet. If you fail to take your antibiotic until the end, and eradicate your illness, you are susceptible to a stronger strain in the future.

The best we can hope for in the War on Terror is a long term approach of military action, coupled with diplomacy that will slowly but surely reduce the number of terrorists on this planet. I am not foolish enough to think that the world will one day be free of terrorists, but I know that there must be a more effective means of dealing with this problem of problems.....I wish President Bush knew it too.

Posted by: Ryan Oddey on January 19, 2006 at 12:03 AM | PERMALINK

The question is interesting, especially in light of an interview I watched earlier on C-Span with good ol' Judge Pickering, who is making the rounds hawking a book, lauding the right for their "culture of life" and villainizing the left for, y'know, our love of killing babies and terminally ill. The USSC decision yesterday about Oregon's Right to Die law came up, and Pickering went off on how the left supports that law because with the Boomers' aging and Medicare costs, we want to decide who isn't valuable enough to keep alive. Pickering just doesn't get that it's about the individual choice of the person himself, to exercise control over what happens to his own body. But anyway, back to the question.

What if it's not Pakistani innocents who would get killed along with Al Qaeda members, but what if it's innocent Americans? What if it were the Bush twins, or Nicole or George P. Bush? Do you think Bush would order that airstrike his own family members were there along with Al Qaeda?


Posted by: Sheila on January 19, 2006 at 12:07 AM | PERMALINK

My test for such a situation is to imagine it occurred here in the United States. Would our government be justified in killing 18 American citizens to get at a handful of terror suspects? If your answer is still pretty plainly yes, what does that say about you? If your answer is no--again, what does that say about you?

Posted by: Joe on January 19, 2006 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

JamesP hit the nail on the head.
Once the Taliban government was overthrown the 'war' was over. Terrorism is a criminal activity instigated and carried out by small groups and individuals.
You might as well ask if it's justified to kill a restaurant full of people in Jersey City just to kill the second in command of a crime syndicate.
This administration uses the language of war to justify barbaric behavior. When you accept their reasoning you join them in evil.
War on terror.
War on drugs.
War on crime.
It's all rhetoric to excuse thuggery.

Posted by: joe on January 19, 2006 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
You floor me sometimes.. you really went off the deep end with this question, IMO. Pitiful.

Posted by: marky on January 19, 2006 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

You might as well ask if it's justified to kill a restaurant full of people in Jersey City just to kill the second in command of a crime syndicate.

Posted by: joe on January 19, 2006 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

Depend on whether the crime syndicate was killing people regularly and whether the state he was in considered his activity a crime.

Bomb-builders kill quite a lot of people. Given the probability of preventing a bomb reaching a crowd of non-Americans in Afghanistan is high...might a practising bomb-builder in a part of the world where an arrest is unlikely not be the equivalent of a loaded gun?

Posted by: McAristotle on January 19, 2006 at 12:14 AM | PERMALINK

philosopical principle of the Golden Rule and

Posted by: Raoul on January 18, 2006 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

Try applying the Golden Rule with a different timeframe for analysis. If I had gone schizo and was regularly building bombs killing people, my preferences are:

1. Rescue and rehabilitation

2. Kill me so I have less burdens on my soul in the afterlife

3. Not let me go free

True being the civilian next to the bomb-builder sucks. But what about the many, many civilans killed by the bombs he would build before a more humanitarian capture is available.

If I were one of them, I'd want someone to have prevented my death through pre-emptive action....

Who is the counterparty I apply the Golden Rule too?

Western liberals show distinct lack of thinking. Perhaps a PC culture is as damaging as rote learning....

Posted by: McA on January 19, 2006 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK

This point has been made a number of times above, but I've yet to read a response by any of those here who say, yes, it was worth it to kill 18 innoncents in Pakistan to get a few genuine bad guys. So I'm going to state the question again, trying to boil it down to something perhaps more tangible and relevant.

Pakistan is an ally in our war. So is Great Britain. Pakistan harbors many anti-West radical Musilim terrorists. And, as we now know for certain after the London tube bombings of last year, so does Great Britain. So the question is simple:

If we had some kind of intelligence saying a group of several leading al-qaeda types were holed up in a poor neighborhood in rural England, would we be justified in bombing those homes? Would we even consider doing it? Would you support such an action?

Can any of you bombing supporters give us an answer? Kevin?

And I must say, Kevin's disappearing act here after stirring up this hornet's nest is troubling. Why does it feel like this once-responsive blogger is hiding of late? I've lost so much respect for Kevin that it actually hurts.

Posted by: Jones on January 19, 2006 at 12:22 AM | PERMALINK

Mo matter how the war is spun here, all the Muslims know is that is is a war against their religion and an attempt by modern crusaders to destroy the laws of Islam. No fundamentalist will see it any differently. People who have been highly educated and then dumped into poverty where their education is useless to improve their lives and many quickly become disillusioned philosophers and turn to religious fervour in order to keep their minds disciplined. No good comes from the type of attack that kills the civilians. It can never be justified. I met Germans who never forgave Americans and British for the bombings of Cologne 50 years after the events. I have met South Koreans who still secretly hate Americans for the atrocities they committed in Korea. The political wounds heal but these wounds are being created at a level that politics will never heal. This is personal because it is religious.

Posted by: murmeister on January 19, 2006 at 12:24 AM | PERMALINK

Question: Under those assumptions, was the attack justified?

Tough question. Consider if the Brits took out an IRA operative the same way in a small Mass. town in the mid 80's in the same manner, killing a dozen or so innocent bystanders.

What would our reaction be?

Posted by: bobbyp on January 19, 2006 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK

resistance got information about a meeting of high-level American commanders in Baghdad planning how to kill Iraqis and bombed that meeting -- is that attack, too, "obviously justified"?

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 18, 2006 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, yes. Its war.

If they had used rifles & uniforms and were caught afterward - they'd be Prisoners of War under the Geneva Convention.

America couldn't sentence them*. It would have to be an Iraqi court if any.

*War crimes is a possibility but you'd have to prove they had another option that would have inflicted less non-combatant deaths.


Posted by: McA on January 19, 2006 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

I shoulda' read the comments. I see my example was applied to just about every country except Myramar.

Thank goodness not many people will read that abysmal post way down here.

Posted by: bobbyp on January 19, 2006 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

would we be justified in bombing those homes? Would we even consider doing it? Would you support such an action?

Posted by: Jones on January 19, 2006 at 12:22 AM | PERMALINK

Depend what other options you have.

In England, asking the local government to pick him up is possible. And even if he gets away the probability of him fleeing and getting a chance to get another bomb is low.

----------------

No good comes from the type of attack that kills the civilians. It can never be justified. I met Germans who never forgave Americans and British for the bombings of Cologne 50 years after the events. I have met South Koreans who still secretly hate Americans for the atrocities they committed in Korea.

Posted by: murmeister on January 19, 2006 at 12:24 AM | PERMALINK

Sure, but those acts also had positive consequences.

1. At what rate were Jews dying in the camps and soldiers dying on the field? Did that action speed the end of the war and reduce those deaths?

2. How many South Koreans would want the levels of malnutrition they have in the North for their kids?

The state of Anti-American thought from your own culture and various opponents is such that everything is blamed on the US. Whether through inaction (global warming) or action (regime change).....but why should that absolve you from what is right?


Posted by: McA on January 19, 2006 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK

McA:

If they had used rifles....

What does the weapon have to do with where you are trying to take this?

...& uniforms...

Uniforms are weapons?

....and were caught afterward - they'd be Prisoners of War under the Geneva Convention.

Ah. So insurgents have to play by the rules to be treated by the rules? Would you play by the rules if a foreign power invaded your country? Suprise me and say "yes".

Posted by: bobbyp on January 19, 2006 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

is fidel castro within his rights as supreme commando of cuba to bomb said compound. too bad about all those dead cousins, nieces and nephews; but hey, that's the price of justice.

Posted by: linda on January 18, 2006 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

Yes. It would be an act of war though. It certainly wouldn't be a war crime if Castro could
argue Orlando was still active - and he had no means to persuade the US to prevent him being active.

If Castro did that, then passed CNN a package showing evidence that linked Orlando to current activity, and evidence that the US refused his request to do something about it....
I'd say there would be a decent debate about whether the US could go to war over it.

The question is how a state's right of self-defense ranks against another state's sovereignity.


Posted by: McA on January 19, 2006 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

Would you play by the rules if a foreign power invaded your country? Suprise me and say "yes".

Posted by: bobbyp on January 19, 2006 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

If I didn't want to be shot as a saboteur. Yes.

---------------------

Uniforms are weapons?

Posted by: bobbyp on January 19, 2006 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

No. But identification as a soldier is mentioned under Geneva. The uniform thing is meant to be a signal for civilians to run like hell from both sides in a war zone to minimize casulties. If you don't wear the uniform - you risk being shot as a saboteur/spy.

Posted by: McA on January 19, 2006 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

What I found interesting from reports on cable news is that we are not trying to identify remains to prove the claim. They say we have better ways of finding out whether we killed the target. WTF?

Kevin, we knew from the start that they were targeting bad guys. The latest news is that they were targeting bad guys (and they're not really serious about assessing whether they got the bad guys). In a few days they'll release more information that says they were targeting bad guys, and in a few more days they might call a reporter and tell them that they were targeting bad guys.

The "lips" you see moving is actually the sphincter of the media spin department of the administration. They don't want to confirm a miss because a miss is bad news and the fact we were targeting bad guys is the same but better news. If it was a miss we will never get confirmation. BTW, houses explode all the time in the tribal area and rarely get coverage. Do we assume they are misses if we don't take credit?

No judgement here, just saying this "news" is not news.

Posted by: B on January 19, 2006 at 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

For the sake of argument, let's assume that we had pretty good intelligence telling us that a bunch of al-Qaeda leaders were in the house we bombed. And let's also assume that we did indeed kill al-Masri and several other major al-Qaeda leaders. Finally, let's assume that the 18 civilians killed in the attack were genuinely innocent bystanders with no connection to terrorists.

Question: Under those assumptions, was the attack justified?

Under those circumstances, the attack would have been justified.

But...

Was the Pakistani government notified and prepared for the backblast?

If yes, then there is no real problem, just PR going on the al Qaeda side.

If no, were the reasons clear and well established? It is my understanding that the head of ISI notified bin Laden when the American submarines surfaced and fired the tomahowk missils that Clinton fired at the al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, and this allowed bin Laden and his staff time to get away before they hit.

If that is true, then our Intelligence people should know what Pakistani officials cannot be trusted, and may have delayed notifying the Pakistani government until it was too late to screw up the attack.

All in all, except for the short term media reaction, if real targets were hit then it was a good operation. Which means that it was rather obviously handled by long-term competent professionals, not Republican cronys.

And yeah, I am a moderate Democrat who approved of the attack on al Qaeda in Afghanistan from 9/12 on. It is the repeated Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/crony incompetence that I disapprove of. That includes ALL of the Iraq invasion.

Posted by: Rick B on January 19, 2006 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

that's a lot of assumptions castro has to fulfill ... pakistan is ostensibly an ally, and our troops aren't allowed to cross into their border. If we had intel, why couldn't we have asked pakistan to detain this guy, since everyone knew ehere they were ... you know, actually USE our ally as an ally instead of carpet bombing a village???

and if I have to hear this foreigner comment on my anti-americanism one more time, I'll begin to think the repubs have begun outsourcing their chickenhawks to east asia, too.

Posted by: Nads on January 19, 2006 at 12:50 AM | PERMALINK

What does the weapon have to do with where you are trying to take this?

Posted by: bobbyp on January 19, 2006 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

Bombs are complicated because they seem to be used against purely civilian targets at present. So depending on where they were used and what he knows, the maker might be a war criminal.

If I remember rightly, an insurgent in Iraq who is a Citizen of Iraq and captured in Iraq cannot be deported from Iraq under international law.

Posted by: McA on January 19, 2006 at 12:51 AM | PERMALINK

McA: Even Churchill admitted that firebombing Cologne was of no military significance other than to create terror in the civilian population. It was a tactic that hadn't worked in Britain as he knew well from the Blitz and he was aware it wouldn't work in Germany. It would simply result in the death of civilians at an astonishing rate and that was the desired outcome...nothing about shortening the outcome of the war. The atrocities in Korea were very similar to those in Vietnam - civilians killed unnecessarily through frustration and not as participants of war. Again their deaths did not affect or shorten the outcome of the war. It is not a matter of blaming the U.S. This is the past. It is a matter of pointing to the past and saying let us learn from the past. No war can be won by terrorizing and murdering civilians. It tends only to create martyrs and anger and even prolong wars.

Posted by: murmeister on January 19, 2006 at 12:52 AM | PERMALINK

Now that we got Zarqawi, that should be a big turning point in Iraq. He thought he could hide in Pakistan, but he was wrong. This is a real break through in the war on terror.

Posted by: DougJ on January 19, 2006 at 12:58 AM | PERMALINK

Well McA - our conservative PM has argued that Australia has the right to preemptively bomb any country in SE Asia that we decide may be a risk to us, or harbours terrorists.

Obviously you support our right to bomb Kuching if we can argue after the fact that there was a JI member there, right? If we have evidence, that we won't show you. You'll agree with our right to do that, won't you?

Right?

Or would it be different because we're a bunch of racist Europeans who don't know squat about Asian culture and are too arrogant to learn much about it it?

No matter how passionately you argue, your position is till logically full of holes. Most arguments that espouse blind Black and White thinking tend to be like that, hey.

Posted by: floopmeister on January 19, 2006 at 12:59 AM | PERMALINK

pakistan is ostensibly an ally, and our troops aren't allowed to cross into their border. If we had intel, why couldn't we have asked pakistan to detain this guy

Posted by: Nads on January 19, 2006 at 12:50 AM | PERMALINK

Tribal Pakistan. Some parts of it are out of the reach of the Pakistani armed forces.

Notice how Pakistan's helicopters are tied up airlifting food to starving earthquake victims....

Jeez, have you ever even read about the third world? Its not all strip malls and high ways.

No wonder your President didn't have a passport when he got elected. The Yanks I meet out here must be exceptional or something.

---------------------

foreigner comment on my anti-americanism one more time, I'll begin to think the repubs have begun outsourcing their chickenhawks to east asia, too.

Posted by: Nads on January 19, 2006 at 12:50 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, if you think your country provoked the third world into terrorism and its justified, my abuse of American liberalism is justified too.

This is all your fault for not making Bush sign Kyoto! The Australian Liberal Party is in government. What's wrong with you idiots?

Oy! Why can't the country with nukes get the smart Liberals instead of the rote-learning, unable to think critically kind?

Posted by: McA on January 19, 2006 at 1:00 AM | PERMALINK

This is all your fault for not making Bush sign Kyoto! The Australian Liberal Party is in government. What's wrong with you idiots?

What are you blathering about?

Do you even know the political orientation of the Australian Liberal party?

Posted by: floopmeister on January 19, 2006 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK

So, the ends justify the means? The attack is justified because we were eliminating terrorists? Try that argument with families who lost innocent loved ones simply because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Posted by: Vic Conrad on January 19, 2006 at 1:04 AM | PERMALINK
Hell, we wouldn't let even Israel blow up terrorists in America. And Britain wouldn't let us go hunting in the mountain villages of Wales without British supervision and control.
From cmdicely.

No one let the Mossad go hunting throughout Europe for the Palistanian terrorists who killed the Israeli athletes in Munich in 1972, either. Sometimes you don't let allies nix your mission. You do it anyway.

It has to be (1)important, (2)effective, and (3)no one can be (known to be) caught. (Plausible deniability at the least.) Then (4)the allies have to be more motivated to remain allies than to cancel the alliance.

As shown with the hellfire missiles into Pakistan, numbers 3 and 4 can be traded off a bit.

It is also significant that the government in Islamabad does not have effective control over the northern part of Pakistan. I suspect that hte governments of Alaska and the U.S. have better control over northern Alaska than Pakistan has over that part of what is supposedly their country. That means that if we leave it to the Pakistanis to deal with the terrorists, those terrorists will probably not be effectively dealt with. They can handle the ones in the cities, but not the rural terrorists.

Posted by: Rick B on January 19, 2006 at 1:05 AM | PERMALINK

Sometimes you don't let allies nix your mission.

Glorious irony! Why would they be your allies if you did that to them? I think 'native spear carriers' would be a better description, no?

Posted by: floopmeister on January 19, 2006 at 1:09 AM | PERMALINK

Oy! Why can't the country with nukes get the smart Liberals instead of the rote-learning, unable to think critically kind?
Posted by: McA

aren't you being kinda hard on israel? what are you?? anti-semitic?

Posted by: Nads on January 19, 2006 at 1:10 AM | PERMALINK

Well McA - our conservative PM has argued that Australia has the right to preemptively bomb any country in SE Asia that we decide may be a risk to us, or harbours terrorists.

Obviously you support our right to bomb Kuching if we can argue after the fact that there was a JI member there, right?

Posted by: floopmeister on January 19, 2006 at 12:59 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, Malaysia cooperates really well with the war on terror. They shadowed two 9/11 terrorists at the request of the CIA who then lost them in Thailand (see 9/11 report).
Malaysia's position is that it fights terrorism well enough for that to be unnecessary.

I'll note that Malaysia has not said it doesn't have the right to attack Indonesia if there was a terrorism issue that couldn't be settled by some other manner.

It has threatened to seize Indonesia assets in Malaysia in response to polution damage from fires across the border once.
It sued Singapore in the World Court over pollution damage from land reclamation in Singapore soil.

Military action has been considered against Indonesian pirates.

ASEAN does not in practice put cross-border sovereignity over everything else.

Thailand for example, has hinted to Malaysia that if Malaysia chose not to act on terrorists finding shelter in Northern Malaysia from Northern Thailand that it might violate sovereignity...

Australia just doesn't know how to refuse to answer questions of that kind. The right answer is, "...to date, we have found that cooperation with our neighbours is the best way to prevent terrorism, we reserve the right to self-defense...".

Posted by: McAristotle on January 19, 2006 at 1:13 AM | PERMALINK

This is all very reminiscent of the term 'Ground Zero' being used to decribe the remains of the WTC.

The first 'Ground Zero' was the site of a justifiable attack against a dangerous enemy who wouldn't surrender, right?

But to the Japanese, the first 'Ground Zero' was the symbol of a barbaric attack which killed thousands of innocent civilians - it was not militarily justifiable in any way...

I always get confused - which one is the WTC again?

Posted by: floopmeister on January 19, 2006 at 1:14 AM | PERMALINK

ASEAN does not in practice put cross-border sovereignity over everything else.

Bullshit.

One of the main principles of ASEAN, is 'non-interference in internal affairs of member countries". It's enshrined in the founding principles of the regional grouping.

It's why Thailand has such trouble with the Karen and the Myanmar army.

It's only been challenged once, in mild statements put out about Myanmar's actions when they refused that country the right to host an ASEAN conference.

Legal actions is one thing - internal interference is another.

Posted by: floopmeister on January 19, 2006 at 1:18 AM | PERMALINK

I would hardly use the Israelis as a description of Allies after their history of spying on the United States. Anyone remember the name of the American warship they attacked in order to prevent it from giving information to the Egyptians.....killed several Americans .... claimed it was all a misunderstanding? hyuk! hyuk! I met a retired member of the Mossad and was told some very interesting stories of how much regard the Israelis have for American Law and Government and how they operated quite independently in America... of any nation's law for that matter. They were licenced to kill and that was legal anywhere in the world according to their contract with their government. 007 move over. So, I would be careful who I thought of as an ally. Hold your friends close and your enemies even closer.

Posted by: murmeister on January 19, 2006 at 1:20 AM | PERMALINK

OK, Joel,

I call bullshit Kevin. We are only having this discussion because we don't give a crap about the lives of oreigners
The part of Pakistant that was hit is strongly supportive of bin Laden and al Qaeda or of the Taliban. When the Pakistan military goes into that area they have less effect than American military does. That's Indian country. The terrorists effectively own it.

It is not a question that they are foreignors. That is simply a scurrilous lie. It is that they are our deadly enemies, including the women and children that the terrorists are hiding behind.

We attacked the terrorists themselves. They didn't need to let women and children be around them, but they did. Their copunterattack is to blame Americans for the deaths of the women and children they were using as shields.

From what I have read, the hellfire missiles very accurately hit precisely the three homes that were targeted, and the more recent reports indicate that at least four high-level al Qaeda leaders were there planning the attacks they were going to carry out during the Spring.

Posted by: Rick B on January 19, 2006 at 1:21 AM | PERMALINK

murmeister:

"Israel is the tail that wags the US dog" Ariel Sharon (paraphrased - can't remember the exact words)

Posted by: floopmeister on January 19, 2006 at 1:23 AM | PERMALINK

Drum, You are a complete asshole! You are a spineless sycophant. You are always on the wrong side of everything, while sitting on your fat ass pretending to be wise. It is NEVER right to knowingly kill innocent people.

Posted by: Nemo on January 19, 2006 at 1:23 AM | PERMALINK

nemo - time to give up - we are arguing with moral relativists.

Posted by: floopmeister on January 19, 2006 at 1:25 AM | PERMALINK

We should no more be bombing innocent Pakistanis than we would bomb innocent Britons or Americans to get at a few suspects.

Best mind fuck comment so far (not done reading).

How would you feel if 18 Brits were taken out to get another #3? Australians? Canadians? Syrians? Iranians? Italians? Malaysians? We are at "war" wit Al Qaeda -- wherever they go?

Does this give you pause?

Posted by: E. Henry Thripshaw on January 19, 2006 at 1:38 AM | PERMALINK

I'm a moral relativist, but I don't support this bombing. I don't see why we should assume anyone but innocent bystanders were killed. Making an assumption that we did kill 4 bad guys isn't justified. Who's the source? Where did they get the info? No Pakistani or US Network media can be trusted,

How can we keep killing off all these #2 in command or #4 in command guys...repeatedly? I mean you only die once last I checked.

The military and Bush Co. tell more lies than truth. They probably killed more than 18 and likely none of them were connected to anyone. And who knows if it even happened recently? Planted stories, paid journalists, fake news reports. Anyone notice how long it's taking to get those votes counted up in Iraq? Don't hear much about that these days.

I did hear about a rash of choppers going down, that somehow always manage to kill only a few Americans and almost never is it attributed to Iraqis. The one that went down north of Baghdad was reported shot down by Iraqi military, Iraqi police confirmed the story, AP was turned away by US military and then US military said it wasn't shot down. Nixon and Kissinger at their finest.

Posted by: Spectator Consumer on January 19, 2006 at 1:38 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, is your hypothetical question anything like the ticking bomb hypothetical that the Rethuglicans like to use to justify torture?

Posted by: Libby Sosume on January 19, 2006 at 1:38 AM | PERMALINK

For the sake of argument, let's assume that we had pretty good intelligence telling us Timothy McVeigh and Michigan militia leaders were meeting in a house in downtown Dearborn. So you bomb the place. Finally, let's assume that the 18 civilians who are genuinely innocent bystanders with no connection to these terrorists are killed in the attack. Is the attack justified.

According to many commentators (and it would seem Mr. Drum in a temporary lapse from sense) absolutely.

I gotta say I'm pretty disgusted by some of the downgrading of non-American lives seen in these comments.

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 19, 2006 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK

I love the ticking time bomb hypothetical. Always a great idea to base policy around the most absurd situtation one can imagine. Think if you ran your life that way.
Since you might suffer an epiletic attack watching television, would you be justified blowing up the local electronics store? Of course Bush would say, "What if we knew a station was about to broadcast a show that would cause epiletic seizures, and you have the program manager but he doesn't want to talk?" Torture him! So that means we need to pass a law saying it is ok to torture.

They're going to continue bombing people, generally killing people they shouldn't. If we know someone a real bad guy, we only have 150,000 troops to go arrest the guy and put him on trial. Oh yeah, we don't do trials anymore.

Posted by: Spectator Consumer on January 19, 2006 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK

I'm going to say no, under those assumptions. "Pretty good" intelligence is not good enough. Come back to me with "rock solid" and we'll go from there, but in any case it won't be my personal moral position, but the position of the president in the abstract. I would never murder anyone unless in self-defense, and even then would not intend to murder but to neutralize, and could certainly never justify killing innocent bystanders, including women and children, in this act of "self-defense".

Posted by: Jimm on January 19, 2006 at 1:49 AM | PERMALINK

Silly Rabbit, trials are for white, Christians.

Posted by: Spectator Consumer on January 19, 2006 at 1:49 AM | PERMALINK

It's interesting that a lot of people who were perfectly willing to accept the word of village locals on what happened a few days ago, including obviously phony stories about flares, and setup photos of "missile fragments," are now highly skeptical now that the information is tilting a different direction.

I'm not ready to call this a "slam dunk" yet myself until more information comes in. But this area of Pakistan is known for being sympathetic to al Qaeda, and if you're going to be skeptical of motivations when judging what people say, be even-handed about it.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 19, 2006 at 1:52 AM | PERMALINK

Good post Ryan Oddey. And I see that many have pointed out the hypothetical of what if it were in the US. The point of my previous post, and the point I see in these is that in our zeal to defeat this "enemy", that is like no "enemy" we have ever faced in war (not being a sovereign nation), I think it is crucial to appreciate that "innocent bystanders" are no better or worse whether they be in Pakistan or Peoria, Rick B's comments notwithstanding.

I have this sick feeling that this is not the case though, and that many who support it, support it without that full appreciation for how connected ALL innocent bystanders in the world are.

Posted by: E. Henry Thripshaw on January 19, 2006 at 1:55 AM | PERMALINK

Bill Rudman, Your statement

I'd be willing to put up with "collateral damage" if our information were wrong, but if we suspect that there are innocents around we shouldn't attack). This is the standard in any police situation, and we should be dealing with al-Qaeda as a police problem, not a war!
means that all a high-level terrorist has to do to stay alive is handcuff himself to a woman or a child.

The terrorist can arrange to kill as many peope as he wishes, and gets a pass because no one can get to him without taking out so-called "innocents."

Fighting these guys is not like police work in which the police can isolate the criminal and avoid most casualties because no one else is out there shooting at them from behind. Northern Pakastan does not have effective Pakistani police or military to control the place. It is more like fighting the Germans in WW II. Strategic bombing killed a lot of so-called innocents, but they were members of the nation we and the Soviets were fighting against. The fire-bombing of Dresden and the resulting firestorm was a total horror, but the only difference between it and the bombing of London by the Germans was that the Americans and British were more efficient. The trick to war is to avoid it. If you can't avoid fighting then you get your hands dirty and win it.

[Bush has done neither, of course. But Bush is incompetent and very likely psychotic.]

That part of Pakistan is the same place that the Madrassas that trained the Taliban came from, and the populace generally supports both the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Posted by: Rick B on January 19, 2006 at 1:56 AM | PERMALINK

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4353029.stm

http://www.abc.net.au/ra/news/stories/s1391923.htm

More piracy.

Posted by: McA on January 19, 2006 at 1:57 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin's question is a very good one. The answer depends.

If it is a war, then yes, the death of innocents is a tragic but justifiable consequence of taking out a key component of the enemy. Just as the death of (our) military personnel would be a tragic and hard-to-bear cost if they had died going on a mission to do this.

If it is not a war, then no, the death of innocents is unreasonable, just as it would be unacceptable for police to kill a crowd of people in order to apprehend a criminal ... maybe unavoidable if it was a violent criminal in a position to do harm to some greater number of others, right then and there, and only then when the police used reasonable caution NOT to kill regular people. But even then it is a very close call, and not one I would want to have to make.

I think it is a war, but I respect others' opinions who do not believe it is. So, we would disagree on the answer to Kevin's question, if my conditional response is applied.

Posted by: Terry Ott on January 19, 2006 at 2:08 AM | PERMALINK

Ok, seriously here, this is messed thinking, Kevin. You want to know when it's okay to kill 18 innocent people because several bad people would also be killed.

What is the purpose to ask this?
Do you know Al Qaeda exists as anything other a CIA funded false flag, Emmanuel Goldstein? If you do know this, I'd sure like to know how. Have you seen the BBC documentary, "The Power of Nightmares?" So the hypothetical is based on assumptions that aren't well established. Yeah, I know you'll say but 9/11. But what about the Maine and Operation Northwoods? You have to prove to me Al Qaeda isn't a front organization BECAUSE it is no secret we did support radical islam in Afghanistan, throughout the 80s and 90s. Where is the reporting into when and where the money stopped flowing to these guys? My understanding is we recruited and flew in radical muslim guys to fight in Kosovo.

Anyway, you wnat us to take the cake and then get us to deny it's a cake. Well ok, we'll play this silly game. Al Qaeda bad guys exist and they are a big danger to the US (how I would ask?) and they're in some hut in Pakistan posing this threat right. Now we know all this because we have "good intelligence"...where have we ever proved to have good intelligence about radical islam? We didn't even figure out the clerical revolution when we owned Iran. We can't find Bin Laden (assuming he's the guy that did 9/11, which again, how do we know that, I remember Tony Blair and Musharef seeign a secret dossier that "proved" al Qaeda/bin Laden did it...but then we had years of stone walling real investigation into 9/11 only have a b.s. commission half of whom were Kissinger Associates, the other half tied in to the airline, oil or military industry. Their ridiculous report didn't even mention "Able Danger" even though their own staff outed them for supressing that operation. And where has our media run with that one...remember 2 terrabytes of information purged? But yeah, let's play part two of this game, and compound our assumptions and say this is "good intelligence."

Finally, Kevin, you're surprised people might balk at killing 18 people that you say are innocent? The innocence isn't based on a pyramid of assumptions it's just given as axiomatic, and we can accept it as such because we have no reason special reason to doubt the great majority of muslims aren't involved in military operations against us. There are over a billion world wide, what percentage is fighting us? So your innocent claim is far more believeable.

So faced with all that, yeah I'd have a moral dilemma about killing those 18 people.

I have no good reason to accept your assumptions, and many reasons to doubt them. What danger could these baddies pose, how do we know it, and finally what is their specific danger that requires us to kill them rather than try to arrest them, or even barring that, alternatives how we might kill them some other time without all the innocent lives taken.

But playing along just to show I as a liberal I'm for killing people in certain situations, which is I guess what you're doubting. I would support killing those 18 if I knew with certainty many more than 18 were certain to die if I didn't kill all those people.

I have trouble imagining how one could ever be certain over there about things like this, that's my problem. We might as well ask what if Magneto and his band of evil mutants were really hiding out in that hut in pakistan, and they were about to unleash a doomsday device.

Posted by: Spectator Consumer on January 19, 2006 at 2:18 AM | PERMALINK

That part of Pakistan is the same place that the Madrassas that trained the Taliban came from, and the populace generally supports both the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Oh, then those "innocent" women and children must have been "guilty" conspirators (slapping myself).

Get a grip Rick B. Your other arguments are what they are, but this one is morally indefensible.

Posted by: Jimm on January 19, 2006 at 2:27 AM | PERMALINK

This is a good question because it makes us question and articulate our principles. What are we about? What do we stand for? My answer is: the rule of law and the valuing (dare I say) the sanctity of each human life. Don't accept the Bushies' framing of the issue. Don't ask: in the (implicitly worthwhile) pursuit of the so-called War On Terror, is this action justifiable. Instead, look at it this way: GWB invaded another country (actually two). He started a war! And he made up the reasons for doing so. He invaded another country and, even if his reasons were based on facts, if another country had done the same thing for the same reasons, what would have been the reaction of the US and the rest of the world to this invasion? How can we forget what Robert H. Jackson, the chief United States prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, said:

"We must make clear to the Germans that the wrong for which their fallen leaders are on trial is not that they lost the war, but that they started it. And we must not allow ourselves to be drawn into a trial of the causes of the war, for our position is that no grievances or policies will justify resort to aggressive war. It is utterly renounced and condemned as an instrument of policy."


What happened on 9/11 was a terrible thing. Nothing I am about to say should be characterized as defending or justifying those despicable acts. But it was not an act of war. In the simple historical sense of the word, a war involves nations and armies. I know how much Bush want us not to see this for what it is -- a criminal conspiracy and criminal acts causing death. As frustrating as this may be for those who understandably sought revenge, those who committed the acts are dead. The appropriate course of action was to investigate what happened, to seek those who conspired, aided and abetted. They should have been arrested, charged and tried and, if found guilty, sentenced. There should have been an investigation into how it happened (why, as well, but that's another topic) and all reasonable efforts should have been employed to mitigate the risk of anything similar happening again.

But real leadership would have reassured the public that, while this terrible thing had happened, it was less likely to happen again now because of these efforts. The probability that anyone of us would be killed by a future terrorist attack is much less than (pick your known risk... car crash, heart attack, cancer, drowning, even getting hit by lightening). They should have been honest in their risk assessments, taken reasonable precautions and reminded people that, while life will always be risky, their odds for personal safety were still good.

But instead, he terrorized his own people, with his now famous scare tactics, to such an extent that they were willing to stand by while he -- the Great Leader - the Great Protector -- invaded and started a war in which many more innocent civilians have been killed by Americans than were killed by the 9/11 terrorists. So, if Kevin's question was: how many more innocents will it be justifiable to kill in this misbegotten adventure, my answer is: none! The American efforts should be focused on pursuing the suspects in this conspiracy and they should be apprehended in accordance with reasonable standards.

We should not be condoning the execution of suspects for crying out loud! How have we come to this juncture? We discuss whether it "OK" to arrest people and hold them indefinitely without charge, or access to legal advice, or a trial or any kind of due process. We ponder when it's "OK" to torture people! We wonder how many innocents it's OK to kill in the hopes of executing someone who is suspected of committing a terrible crime. And, to top it off, we are expected to do this based on our trust of the intelligence (in either sense) , judgment and competence of Bush and his cronies...?!!!

I once asked a proponent the invasion of Iraq, if he suspected that Saddam Hussein (or Osama bin Laden) was hiding in our home town, would he support the US Air Force bombing all of us into nothingness in the hopes that we would get him too? If people suspected of terrible crimes are located, do we just lay waste to the neighbourhood? There are rules in war. There are rules of engagement. It that brutal reality, it's "OK" to sink an enemy ship or bomb a base even when it's reasonable to suspect that there troops therein who are not actually fighting against you. But this is not a war. Or, if this is now considered war, then what's to keep the authorities from declaring "war" on any criminals or their criminal activity. Where does this lead?

The way civilized, law abiding, humanistic societies do it... you know, the "good guys", the way they do it is: carefully, responsibly, the way we would be proud of doing it. Otherwise, if we kill innocents to achieve our goals, how are we better than those we oppose? Is it not then the case that our actions, and therefore we ourselves, are no better than those we oppose? Will our justification be, to paraphrase Roosevelt, that we may be sons-of-a-bitches, but at least we are our sons-of-a-bitches?

So Kevin, in answer to your questions: under what circumstances would such an attack [killing innocents, in order to kill suspected terrorists] be justified?

Never! Not on my watch.

Posted by: Bill on January 19, 2006 at 2:30 AM | PERMALINK

For the sake of argument, let's assume that we had pretty good intelligence telling us that a bunch of al-Qaeda leaders were in the house we bombed. And let's also assume that we did indeed kill al-Masri and several other major al-Qaeda leaders. Finally, let's assume that the 18 civilians killed in the attack were genuinely innocent bystanders with no connection to terrorists.

Kevin posted a hypothetical, as he say, "for the sake of argument."

We can argue about the innocent victims in Kevin's hypothetical situation, but a number of people here are arguing as though the actual case fits that situation, and that isn't true.

If it does turn out that the scenario we are being given is true, then those al Qaeda members were in that home by direct invitation of the families who lived there. Not exactly "no connection to terrorists" or "innocent bystanders."

It's not like these terrorists picked the house out at random and snuck into the basement for a meeting without telling the inhabitants. Any intelligence we had on this situation must have been the result of it being a well-planned event.

BTW, one outcome of this attack may be that al Qaeda members may have a bit more difficulty finding hospitality for future meetings.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 19, 2006 at 2:31 AM | PERMALINK

Let's all be glad we're sitting back here in good ol'merica, land of the free, on our computers. On our computers, debating hypos after our military did really kill 18 people that even Bush Co. isn't claiming were bad guys.

We get to sit back and debate ethics based on absurd assertions/assumptions we have every reason to doubt, meanwhile some poor suckers did just get bombed to death. Heaven only knows if anyone really dangerous was killed, or what danger he/she/they posed. I don't suppose the US would be above planting a false story about a major strike, when they had a major f-up, not our military. They've never lied to us before. Remember we don't torture, never did, only a few bad apples. We didn't cluster bomb either, despite the shells Robert Fisk documented. We also didn't use whie phosphorous for illegal purposes.

We need to appreciate how damn lucky we were to win the gene pool lottery to end up born on contintent North America and not in Pakistan or Iraq. Life sucks for those people and it isn't just some dumbass question for us anti-war schmucks(to type at our keyboards about). We're important people. We matter. We'll be George Bush someday deciding whom to bomb. Yeah right. I'm going to bed, enough intellectual onanism for one night.

Posted by: Spectator Consumer on January 19, 2006 at 2:34 AM | PERMALINK

If it does turn out that the scenario we are being given is true, then those al Qaeda members were in that home by direct invitation of the families who lived there. Not exactly "no connection to terrorists" or "innocent bystanders."

Q1: What is happening in your neighbor's house, right now? Or, if you live in an urban center: what is happening in the apartments next to you, above you and below you?

Q2: What is the destructive radius of the warhead on a Hellfire missile?

Q3: Do women in rural Pakistani society have the authority to deny their husbands permission to invite Al-Qaeda terrorists into the home? Do they, for that matter, know what Al-Qaeda is, or understand the difference between a soldier, a policeman, a fighter from their local ethnic militia, and a terrorist? Particularly in the case of the majority of women in Pakistan who cannot read?

Q4: Under what circumstances is a child under the age of 12 not an innocent bystander?

The strike may or may not have been justified, but to argue that civilian bystanders who were killed in a strike were probably guilty of, oh, something or other, reflects an assumption that is not based on evidence. And it's an assumption that's actually quite wrong, if you look back at 40 years of aerial strikes intended to kill terrorists by countries like Israel, the US, and Russia.

Posted by: brooksfoe on January 19, 2006 at 2:40 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, Kevin, Kevin. Do you really think killing some top terrorists will make any difference in their capabilities? Another one will just step up in his place, maybe even more competent. An attack on a sovereign country, especially where innocents are killed is unacceptable under any circumstances.

The great American cowboy ego is at work in you as it is in the Republicans, Kevin. You think in order for the world to progress, we have to do it, and our preferred method is to kill people.

Reminds me of the Sorcerers Apprentice. You are out front trying to kill the brooms while GWB is behind, manufacturing them.

Posted by: James of Dc on January 19, 2006 at 2:42 AM | PERMALINK

Bill Arnold,

Alternatively you send in a special forces team. It would be risky to those on the team, and perhaps with less chance of success.

This was a de-facto attack on civilians, which de-legitimizes it -- destroying houses with high explosives from the air, with no reliable way of knowing how many civilians are in them or in nearby houses, is an attack on civilians.Repeated reports indicate that witnesses say drone flying over the area for at least a day, maybe longer, before the attack.

They were determining the value of the targets, the risk of missing, and the amount of likely collateral damage. The thing started with Humint, but the drones were the final date gathering tool.

Then there is the statment that there were only three houses targeted, and little damage beyond them. I remember doing calculations for firing 8 inch and 155 MM guns back in the stone age (we had special artillery slide rules)and we did a rather tight job of determining where our shells were going to land. The hellfire missiles are at least as accurate as an 8 inch gun (Beautiful weapons, I might add. Both the gun and the missile) and their observer is the UAV itself. They had a good idea just how many people were in each house, and generally who. They also didn't hit the houses next door.

From the reports of interviews with neighbors, the casualities were mostly family members, and the evidence is growing that the head of the family had invited the al Qaeda guys to have a meeting to plan attacks for this Spring.

These guys who were targeted are our enemies. We didn't go looking for trouble and cause bin Laden to attack the U.S. He is using attacks on the U.S. to try to get his special brand of strict Wahabi Islam more popular so that someday, probably after his death, the Caliphate he wants will be created. These guys are not going to stop being our enemies if we fold our tents and just leave them alone. They also are not going to let us send up a white flad and start negotiating.

There aren't very many al Qaeda, but those that there are will have to be captured or killed, and more likely they will be killed. Going after those people is not attacking civilians.

I keep emphasizing the report of hitting only three houses, all of which were specifically targetted. [Yeah, I know. How good are the reports? Usually better after the action than before, and these haven't come throught the the U.S. government which is frankly about as trustworthy as al Qaeda and less efficient. The reports will be continually refined and cross-checked, so we are getting better data now.]But only three houses.

Compare that to the techniques used by the Russians in Chechnya. Whent he Chechnyan terrorists took over a hospital a few years ago, the Russians called in artillery and leveled the hospital and much of the city around it.

In fact, sort of like our Marines did in Fallujah. But last night's Frontline explained that the Marines had a much better, hearts-and-minds-friendly operations plan before the four Blackstar security guys were killed and four days later Bush called the Marines and told them to go in and level the town.

Get the distinction? Our professionals, either Marines or CIA UAV operators, are doing a necessary job with minimum collateral damage. But our idiots - I man political leaders - screw up everything they get near. There is a good reason our military people don't like the Bush suits in the Pentagon, and Porter Goss brought more of the idiotic and incompetent conservatives into the CIA. Fortunately, the CIA suits are at the political level and don't know how to operate the UAVs. So at the operational levels we continue to get decent decisions and reasonably planned smaller operations. The Suits only screw up the larger operations.

My point is, though, that the UAV attack was not a random destruction of all the houses near where the targets were suspected to be. The targets were ID'd, and the houses they were in were hit, and only those houses. The collateral damage was among people closely associated with the targets, and the amount of collateral damage was predicted in advance and probably came in under the predictions. There is not another military force in the world that could have done that. And it needed to be done.

Posted by: Rick B on January 19, 2006 at 2:48 AM | PERMALINK

Rick, this information is likely coming from us, but through a well paid (or threatened) local conduit.

Please don't be naive.

Posted by: Jimm on January 19, 2006 at 2:53 AM | PERMALINK

Get the distinction? Our professionals, either Marines or CIA UAV operators, are doing a necessary job with minimum collateral damage. But our idiots - I man political leaders - screw up everything they get near.

I carry no torch for our current political leaders, but people have been repeating this line ever since 1968, and it's generally full of crap. You might want to read "Generation Kill" for a firsthand report of how careful our troops have been about causing "minimum collateral damage" in Iraq. Too many innocent people have been killed in their cars by US troops at checkpoints to justify this kind of talk.

The US Army is not trained for police work; it is trained to use maximal force to destroy an enemy, not minimal force to pacify a situation and perhaps allow an enemy to escape if the alternative is to cause heavy civilian casualties. Precision munitions mean we're killing far fewer civilians than we did in Vietnam (though that wouldn't be hard; we killed hundreds of thousands there), but instant networked communications mean that small numbers of civilian casualties create far more political outrage. And, lest we forget, that's a GOOD thing: people are putting up with less senseless death.

Posted by: brooksfoe on January 19, 2006 at 3:05 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, Kevin, Kevin. Do you really think killing some top terrorists will make any difference in their capabilities? Another one will just step up in his place, maybe even more competent.

Posted by: James of Dc on January 19, 2006 at 2:42 AM | PERMALINK

There is a hidden assumption here that your enemies are some kind of undefeatable hydra, able to replenish any loss and never five up.

If they were that capable. They'd be smart. If they were smart - how come they don't realise that terrorism achieves nothing - Another American will just take the place of the last victim, equally loud and uninformed. But still there.

You should ask yourself, why there aren't any terrorists bothering China since they invaded Tibet.

Posted by: McAristotle on January 19, 2006 at 3:06 AM | PERMALINK

would you feel the same way if it was your house that was struck? 'Cause your answer makes you sound sociopathic.

Posted by: Daniel on January 18, 2006 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

How would you feel if the terrorists next target was your house? I guess its OK, because they are blowing up Afghan voters then.

If you haven't noticed Al Qaeda IED's in Iraq and Afghanistan have killed more non-Americans by now than America's invasion in the first place.
A senior Al Qaeda bomb maker is a walking near certain cause of future deaths.

Posted by: McAristotle on January 19, 2006 at 3:09 AM | PERMALINK

Snickersnack,

For the sake of argument, let's assume that we had pretty good intelligence telling us Timothy McVeigh and Michigan militia leaders were meeting in a house in downtown Dearborn. So you bomb the place. Finally, let's assume that the 18 civilians who are genuinely innocent bystanders with no connection to these terrorists are killed in the attack. Is the attack justified.
The two cases are not comparable. So let's change it to where they are.

Michigan is a state/province over which the U.S. government has no control, an it has no effective internal police forces. The population detests the government in Washington because they are not members of the true religion, which Timothy McVeigh and the Michigan militia members are.

About half the federal military forces are also members of the Michigan true religion, and will warn their friends in Michigan of any move that the federal government begins. [You should have used Texas. That would be closer to being a true story.]

Now. How do you get McVeigh as he and his henchmen plan further attacks for this Spring? He surrounds himself with woment and children, also Michigan true believers. Because I don't buy your assumption thatthe civilians are actually true innocents. They are supporters of McVeigh and the Michigan militia.

As for downgrading foreign lives - what the Hell do you think that the al Qaeda is doing? WE ARE INFIDELS for Christ's sake. And the al Qaeda are the guys sending suicide bombers into places with truely innocent people in both Afghanistan and Iraq. We focus on minimizing collateral damage. They don't use the term collateral damage because the more innocents they can kill or maim, the more they are winning.

Lastly, the idea that we had good intelligence telling us that the bad guys were meeting is one thing. But we had more than that. We had a UAV circling overhead and identifying the bad guys as they went into the houses. This was right up to the last moment before the Hellfire missiles hit.

Posted by: Rick B on January 19, 2006 at 3:27 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

If I were your neighbor in Irvine, and I had pretty good intelligence that Jasmine and Inkblot were carrying some nasty kitty bubonic plague that could potentially wipe out thousands of healthy OC kids, and it was a Thursday, would I not be justified in putting them down with an axe? I believe the answer is plainly yes.

Posted by: Mr. Stitches on January 19, 2006 at 3:42 AM | PERMALINK

Man, youz guys really like to be spoon fed, dontchya?

Posted by: ChetBob on January 19, 2006 at 3:45 AM | PERMALINK

Nads,

pakistan is ostensibly an ally, and our troops aren't allowed to cross into their border. If we had intel, why couldn't we have asked pakistan to detain this guy.
Because we apparently had intel not on where he was, but on where he was going to be at a given time. That requires good Humint.

If we had let the Pakistani Army know where he was going to be, then someone would have warned him. Then he would go there. It has happened a lot in Pakistan.

Keep in mind that the funding for the Madrassas that trained the Taliban who took over Afghanistan was going through the Pakistani Interservice Intelligance Service. Yet the Taliban or al Qaeda have twice tried to assassinate the President, Mushariff - who hasn't yet removed the head of the Intelligence Service.

Both the Army and the Intelligence services are unreliable. You have the religious against the secular. Pakistan simply is not a single unitary nation. You may be surprised to find that there is no tribe called the Pakis. What there were was the Pushtans, and three other tribes whose initials were A, K, and I. "Stan" means "Land of." When the British pulled out of India and created Pakistan, it was far from a unitary nation and has not yet become one. That's why Bangladesh broke away from Pakistan and became a nation on its own. Pakistan is more like Yugoslavia was than it is a single nation.

So which tribe can we trust to actually go into Northerm Pakistan and grab these guys? Even the Pakistani President can't answer that question.

Posted by: Rick B on January 19, 2006 at 4:01 AM | PERMALINK

Both the Army and the Intelligence services are unreliable. You have the religious against the secular. Pakistan simply is not a single unitary nation. You may be surprised to find that there is no tribe called the Pakis. What there were was the Pushtans, and three other tribes whose initials were A, K, and I. "Stan" means "Land of." When the British pulled out of India and created Pakistan, it was far from a unitary nation and has not yet become one. That's why Bangladesh broke away from Pakistan and became a nation on its own. Pakistan is more like Yugoslavia was than it is a single nation.
Posted by: Rick B

... perhaps I should point out that I'm pakistani at this point, but I appreciate the thought you're putting into this. I lived in karachi for 3 years, and was last visiting 2 yrs ago.

and I recognize the tribal lawlessness of the afghan borderlands. But the CIA has worked there for over 20 years. They have the capability to identify targets much more cleanly than this. ... This was a myopic decision, with dead civilians and kids, and 1000 enraged pakistanis. every night on the news, and in the urdu and english newspapers, they'll be showing pictures of these kids' corpses.

aside from the immorality of this, this strike is just bad policy, and is in fact emblematic of the sort of short-sighted decisions this administration specializes in. we're making enemies. ask if that's worth it.

Posted by: Nads on January 19, 2006 at 4:36 AM | PERMALINK

Jimm,

Your argument is ridiculous, and you don't strengthen it by claiming that mine is morally indefensible.

You are trying to apply the standards of a police force in a stable and relatively unified post-inductrial nation to a place that is considered a nation only because a couple of British officers used a straight-edge on a map of territory they had never seen and lumped all kinds of tribal peoples into the resulting map-splotch.

We both know that guilt has nothing to do with who gets maimed or killed in wartime. And I know, if perhaps you do not, that the civilians who get caught up into a battlefield take a lot more casualties than the military. War is a shitty place for women, children, dogs, and even for most soldiers. The first priority is to not fight the war to begin with.

The second fact is that war is always the fault of the defenders. If they had simply let the attackers invade and not shot at them, like the Checkoslovaks in 1939, there would be no war. But the Poles, French and Belgians shot at all the German tourists driving in with their SUVs (tanks) and whatnot, and started WW II. Once the shooting starts, your moral arguments are worthless. The only remaining choice is to win the war by killing or capturing the opposing forces as efficiently as possible.

If you think that the military - civilian distinction holds much water on a battlefield, then you do not understand modern (twentieth century and later) war. Most people get killed and maimed in war because of where they are, not whether they possess some strange property called "Guilt" or "Innocence."

If you are standing next to someone who for some reason draws fire down on himself, you are likely to get as killed as he did. That's not guile or innocence. That's the old real estate adage of "Location, location, location."

Oh, and regarding your comment on the unreliability of my sources of information, they are the best I've got. Any conclusion drawn from them has to be tentative. But I'm not going to give up making judgements because my data is imperfect. I'm still waiting for something reliable and valid on who the hell forged the Niger Uranium documents.

You aren't going to quit making judgements on poor data either, are you.

Posted by: Rick B on January 19, 2006 at 4:46 AM | PERMALINK

Nads,

re: your comment

and I recognize the tribal lawlessness of the afghan borderlands. But the CIA has worked there for over 20 years. They have the capability to identify targets much more cleanly than this. ... This was a myopic decision, with dead civilians and kids, and 1000 enraged pakistanis. every night on the news, and in the urdu and english newspapers, they'll be showing pictures of these kids' corpses.

aside from the immorality of this, this strike is just bad policy, and is in fact emblematic of the sort of short-sighted decisions this administration specializes in. we're making enemies. ask if that's worth it.

City people don't really realize how difficult it is to have a government control all of the land and population in a nation.

As for the quality of the decision, you may be correct. I'm waiting to hear what went into the decision to attack.

But my bet is that the CIA has been given orders not to let the lack of certainty and the absence of perfect conditions stop them from trying to take out the top al Qaeda people. Mullah Omar escaped because they took to long to make a decision to take him out when we first went into Afghanistan,and I have no doubt that someone lost his career over it.

The UAV operators are a lot like Terriers. They get sight of a prey and all of a sudden their entire world narrows down to the hunt. Considering the public reaction to their strike, or its effect on Mushariff, isn't likely to be even considered. Still, I have no doubt that the final decision to attack was made in the White House, probably by Cheney with Bush watching. They have very short term view. Still, if it meant a good chance of taking out the Egyption Doctor, I'd probably have made the same decision myself. Rumor is that one of the three dead al Qaeda was his son.

Again, though, what we have is rumors and reports of rumors, some right,some wrong and a lot of lies mixed in.

You are correct about us making enemies. Bush et al are very good at that. They also don't seem to think that it is important to build up good relations in advance to carry through the occaisional bad patch, either.

Posted by: Rick B on January 19, 2006 at 5:15 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, let's re-frame your question. Try this on for size:

For the sake of argument, let's assume that we had pretty good intelligence telling us that a bunch of murderers were in the house we bombed. And let's also assume that we did indeed kill several of those murderers. Finally, let's assume that the 18 civilians killed in the attack were genuinely innocent bystanders with no connection to murderers.

Question: Under those assumptions, was the attack justified? I think the answer is pretty plainly yes.

***

In effect Kevin, you are condoning the death penalty for innocents just because their's a chance you might take out some bad guys. If this were a police action (which is what it should be), would you condone having, oh. let's say the LAPD blow up a house that had four "suspected" murderers in it attending a party with a couple of dozen perfectly innocent civilians?

It seems to me as if this whole "war on Tara" thing has gotten in the way of some of your brain's processes. Take rational thought for example.

So anyway, do I think bombing a house full of civilians where we "have pretty good" intelligence that "suspected" murderers might be is justified or is in fact anything other than counterproductive? No, I don't. I think killing innocent civilians is terrorism. Put yourself on the other side of the fence and look at it from the Pakistani point of view and tell me that you really could see it any other way.

No wonder the reputation of the US is in the toilet. That you excuse this crap is not a mark in your favor.

Posted by: The Ox on January 19, 2006 at 5:24 AM | PERMALINK

As was stated more obtusely above. Great Britian was faced with the exact same question repeatedly in 70's & 80's Massachusetts. Known IRA terrorists did meet there, plan bombings, and purchase arms.

Would it have been justified to bomb those residences and kill the occupants including the children?

Get a grip!

Posted by: joe on January 19, 2006 at 5:36 AM | PERMALINK

let's say the LAPD blow up a house that had four "suspected" murderers in it attending a party with a couple of dozen perfectly innocent civilians?

Posted by: The Ox on January 19, 2006 at 5:24 AM | PERMALINK

If arrest was not possible and the murderers would go on to kill large numbers of people with a high degree of certainty ..maybe.

------------

But the CIA has worked there for over 20 years. They have the capability to identify targets much more cleanly than this. ...

Posted by: Nads on January 19, 2006 at 4:36 AM | PERMALINK

The same CIA that bombed a Chinese embassy ?Please, a tour guide could do better than them.
The CIA with leaks throught the wazoo, "slam-dunk" WMD predictions..... and NOC's who issue press releases and recruit their husbands as spies.... that triggers a constitutional crisis to tap Al-Qaeda phones.

Naive. America is powerful but highly weak on human intelligence. Its democratic nature prevents the really nasty stuff.

Plus infiltrating rural areas in the third world is really hard. They can tell if you are a 'local' from your voice. And 'local' means born within this village and the next three.

Posted by: McAristotle on January 19, 2006 at 6:01 AM | PERMALINK

pretty good intelligence that Jasmine and Inkblot were carrying some nasty kitty bubonic plague that could potentially wipe out thousands of healthy OC kids, and it was a Thursday, would I not be justified in putting them down with an axe? I believe the answer is plainly yes.

Posted by: Mr. Stitches on January 19, 2006 at 3:42 AM | PERMALINK

Do you have a better option? And would Kevin help if you asked? If no to both and the police don't believe me....perhaps.

Posted by: McAristotle on January 19, 2006 at 6:03 AM | PERMALINK

"under what circumstances would such an attack be justified?"

Assuming the information is credible, quite a stretch, this attach was justified.

Protecting the civilians at all cost suppose a clear delineation between civilians and military targets and if the two mix at one point, say a column of tanks crossing a village, you can hold the fire knowing the military targets won't stay around the civilians for protection and will come clear for combat pretty soon afterwards.

If legitimate targets systematically hide behind civilians, especially with support of those civilians, the civilians stand in the way, shit happens and its the targets fault. After that, its a political/tactical cost-benefit evaluation of the impact of killing civilians, but morally, those civilians deserve no specific protection.

It seems that the Pashtos who populate the Pakistan Afghanistan border region have nothing but hatred for us and that there is no potential for winning their favors and their collaboration against al Qaeda and the Talibans. They are the Taliban base and they cant be radicalized further nor won over. Nothing to loose, nothing to win. So, unless that evaluation is incorrect, I have no qualms killing locals if necessary to get to al Qaeda targets. Its not a blanket authorization to killing civilians for the sake of killing civilians but for ignoring their presence or absence for fire control purposes.

Posted by: No way on January 19, 2006 at 7:02 AM | PERMALINK

If you invite known terrorists to lunch you are not an "innocent civilian".

Posted by: Doh! on January 19, 2006 at 7:23 AM | PERMALINK

"Finally, let's assume that the 18 civilians killed in the attack were genuinely innocent bystanders with no connection to terrorists."
Fine, and let's assume that it didn't happen in Pakistan, but in New Jersey, Alaska, Iowa, anywhere in the US. Do YOU still think that the attack was justified, Kevin?

Imho, this method of executing a terrorist without a trial can only be justified when a) you publicly made the case against the terrorist and b) it's really impossible to catch the guy alive (like he's in, say, North Korea). You may argue about a), but for b), remember, Pakistan is an ally in the WoT, it is assisting US agencies, and it would have been no problem to surround the village and to try to arrest the terrorists when they tried to depart. And this probably wouldn't have cost so many lives of innocent bystanders. How would you feel if your loved ones were killed because they happened to be in the same building as a terrorist? Do you feel that the lives of pakistani civilians don't have the same value as americans? THINK!

Posted by: Gray on January 19, 2006 at 7:33 AM | PERMALINK

Let's keep this simple. The terror suspects (not actually convicted) were in Slough, a suburb of London where lots of Pakistanis live. I shop there.

The bomb the US drops from 30,000 feet kills me and my family among the four suspected terrorists.

Under these assumptions, was the attack justified? I think the answer pretty plainly is NO.

You. Cannot. Kill. Innocent. People. And not risk being called a terrorist.

Posted by: KathyF on January 19, 2006 at 7:37 AM | PERMALINK

For those here defending the attack: Maybe those Pakistani in the village hate the US. That's a sufficient justification to kill them? Maybe some of them new that terrorists where in the house. That's a sufficient justification to kill their wifes and children, too? Again, if you wouldn't use the same method against terrorists on US soil, you can't justify using it in foreign countries who are not at war with the US. Or do you really want to tell us that only american lives are precious, bad luck for all foreigners who happen to stand in you way?

Posted by: Gray on January 19, 2006 at 7:41 AM | PERMALINK

Others will have said this, but I reject the premise. Aside from children, there are no "innocent bystanders." If you hang out with these guys, you're taking your life in your hands, and you deserve what you get.

Posted by: Matt on January 19, 2006 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

tbrosz, you're right on about these people's supposed innocense. I'd go further: if you invite a handful of major Al Qaeda operatives home for dinner, and don't at least assume that there might be fireworks, you're too dumb to live.

Posted by: cecce on January 19, 2006 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

MCA: Welcome to the debate- I do believe the West represents high ethical standards and when we fail we should be held accountable-your world view amounts to zero sum game-you probably believe that in those countries where the "wrong" party prevailed that they were right in their use of force. War without ethics or morals is child's play.

Posted by: Raoul on January 19, 2006 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

More broadly, there is a complete confusion among the posters here about the proper role of a state. A state, especially a democratic state, has the right sometimes to use violence, whether in police actions domestically (always), same internationally (sometimes), or in war (sometimes).

AQ is certainly at war with us, but I know so many of you lefties don't think we ought to fight back, so let's not even discuss it. However, regardless of what you think about the lawfulness of any particular war or police action, you have to understand that the state's powers under those circumstances include the right to do violence. And no matter where you are (confronting a mugger in the Bronx, fighting AQ in Iraq, fighting Germans in France) there can always be some third-party bystanders that are hurt.

That's not a good thing, but sometimes it happens. If your argument is that the state should never ever be allowed to do anything that might harm innocent bystanders (and here "innocent" has to come in quotation marks), then logically the state should never be able to take any violent action at all.

The "moral equivalence" crowd here is the same as all the Israel-haters who for ages have argued that the IDF is "just like" Hamas because both kill innocents. (God, how I remember this trite "debate" from Europe). They see the following acts:
- Hamas plants a bomb, the sole purpose of which is to kill and maim innocent civilians (or police or soldiers who are doing legitimate work) as possible.
- IDF attacks known a known terrorist, staying in a safe house. The terrorist leader is dead, and so are, unfortunately, some other.
...and say: they're all the same.

They're not.

Substitute AQ for Hamas and USAF for IDF. If you proscribe any state action that might kill innocents, the state has virtually no power left to protect us.

Posted by: cecce on January 19, 2006 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

Of course there were no al queda bodies found, so why should I believe the administration or the paki-puppets when they say anything?

Posted by: madmatt on January 19, 2006 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Sure. And the next time we discover a gang headquarters or crack house, we can just incinerate the whole city block. Surely that's justifiable, right? I mean, those people might do bad things at some indeterminate time in the future, right?

How would you feel if *your* family was murdered just because they happened to be in the same vicinity as some (potential) criminals? Do you think that would be "justified?" Would you just shrug and say, "Oh well, that's what I get for living in a location where criminals might occassionally gather!"

I'm really starting to hate this blog.

Posted by: sohei on January 19, 2006 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

No, idiot. I would not just shrug if someone I loved had been hurt. Nor would I do so if someone I loved had been hurt in a traffic accident.

But we do live in a society where the police is armed. And for good reasons. And, sometimes, when they do confront a gang there is shooting. (this nonsense about "incinerating the block" is just a red herring - that kind of action isn't as necessary in the Bronx as it might be in lawless tribal areas of Pakistan where the Pakistani army doesn't even like to go.) And, sometimes, innocent people are caught in the crossfire. It does happen, it is reality. If you deny your government the right to take actions that *might* hurt the wrong guy then you're denying it the right to take any effective action whatsoever.

Posted by: cecce on January 19, 2006 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, as several people have pointed out, if we bombed a house in a village outside of London and killed 18 innocent people, would you have had the same reaction?

You need to seriously consider that, and if you can't some to the same conclusion, then you need to retract your statement about the answer being "pretty plainly yes". I would like to see an answer from you or an update to your post.

Posted by: rch on January 19, 2006 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

"Kevin, as several people have pointed out, if we bombed a house in a village outside of London and killed 18 innocent people, would you have had the same reaction? You need to seriously consider that"

Er, no you don't.

Most people would consider bombing some house in the UK excessive. Excessive because there would be less violent, but equally effective, means available. (Note, such an action might also be unjustified. But unjustified and excessive are two different concepts. Don't confuse them.) But excessive in a lawless area of Pakistan? Not necessarily.

And unjustified? Against top AQ people? Hell, no.

Posted by: cecce on January 19, 2006 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

We attacked the terrorists themselves. They didn't need to let women and children be around them, but they did. Their copunterattack is to blame Americans for the deaths of the women and children they were using as shields.

Just as Al Qaeda can claim that the 9/11 attacks were against US government offices in the World Trade Center and that the US didn't need to let innocent men, women and children be around them, but they did.

Posted by: Stefan on January 19, 2006 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

How would you feel if *your* family was murdered just because they happened to be in the same vicinity as some (potential) criminals? Do you think that would be "justified?" Would you just shrug and say, "Oh well, that's what I get for living in a location where criminals might occassionally gather!"

Then how would you feel if the police did nothing to try to solve the problem?

I think the real problem in America is that we've bought into the Bush Administration's fear campaign. Americans are going to face terrorism whether they like it or not, and how they choose to deal with it and to what extent they're ready to fight it is the real debate. No one should be afraid of terrorists or buy into the 'ticking time bomb' scenario. If it's your time to go, guess what, you're going to go whether you get hit by a car, get cancer, or hit by lightning. And yes, all of those things are far more likely to get you than a terrorist. Don't be afraid, and live your life with open eyes. Don't give in to the fear mongering of the Bush Administration--hey, what's the Department of Homeland Security threat warning this morning? Yellow? Orange? Screaming blood red?

You have a guy like Zawahiri in your sights, you have to take him out. There are dead people all over the globe thanks to him, whether it's Bali, Morocco, Spain, Britain, the US, Africa--literally everywhere that al Qaeda has struck. Every human life has value, and Zawahiri has dedicated himself to taking innocent human life wherever he can to advance his own agenda.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

it is refreshing to see that most of the bloggers here appear not to share the same moral universe as Kevin. This is not a close call. Norms exist because people en-act them, erode when they don't. Kevin has a bad case of what historian Patricia Limerick called "The Empire of Innocence" understanding of the United States.

Posted by: shoebeacon on January 19, 2006 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

If we have what we consider to be rock-solid intelligence that top Al-Qaeda leaders are in a building and if we can't go in on the ground (which we couldn't in this case) then civilian casualties might be justified. I think the argument comes down to whether or not we are savings lives by sacrificing lives. If you kill Al-Qaeda leaders then you arguably save lives in the future by preventing further terrorist attacks.

The argument that we would view this differently if English civilians were killed is bullshit. If they had been in England we could have gone in with ground forces. That isn't an option in most of Pakistan. Furthermore, civilians die in wars. While that sucks its a fact. It comes down to whether you can justify the cost. If the cost is 18 civilian lives to kill top terrorists then it is probably justified. If you have to drop a nuke to get the terrorists and kill 18,000 civilians there is no way to justify the act.

Posted by: GeorgiaHoo on January 19, 2006 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

Here would be my observation: The desire to protect civilians causes civilians to be put in harm's way. In other words, the desire to protect civilians is counterproductive.

Before continuing, I will point out that actively avoiding civilians deaths is unquestionably a wonderful thing.

But everyone sitting in their armchairs moaning about the tragedy of civilian deaths and demanding that none occur, that is what endangers civilians. If we worry about those civilian deaths, then we make the use of civilians as human shields a viable tactic. If we do not worry about civilian deaths, then they have no value as human shields, and so are not purposefully put in harm's way.

Once again, before everyone gets their panties in a knot, the military actively avoiding civilian deaths is great. They should. It's the people at home where this applies.

In the end, worrying about civilian deaths makes the job of our military more difficult. When the job is more difficult, our military will tear up more stuff getting it done.

I've often thought this was an active goal of the left: making the military's job harder, causing them to incurr more civilian deaths (through making them viable human shields), and making the military tear up more stuff. Am I wrong?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 19, 2006 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

Your statement "I'd be willing to put up with 'collateral damage' if our information were wrong, but if we suspect that there are innocents around we shouldn't attack). This is the standard in any police situation, and we should be dealing with al-Qaeda as a police problem, not a war!"
means that all a high-level terrorist has to do to stay alive is handcuff himself to a woman or a child. The terrorist can arrange to kill as many peope as he wishes, and gets a pass because no one can get to him without taking out so-called "innocents."

I think we can safely say that if every Al Qaeda operative now handcuffs himself to a woman or child it will go a long ways towards hampering their operational effectiveness. Have you ever tried to plan a terrorist atrocity with one hand while the other's attached to a screaming three year old throwing a tantrum because he can't watch Teletubbies? It ain't easy, let me tell you.

Have any more reduction ad absurdum scenarios?

Posted by: Stefan on January 19, 2006 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

I've often thought this was an active goal of the left: making the military's job harder, causing them to incurr more civilian deaths (through making them viable human shields), and making the military tear up more stuff. Am I wrong?

You're significantly wrong, and you're viewing this through the prism of Vietnam.

Making the military's job harder in this case would be a Donald Rumsfeld who says "you go to war with the Army you have" while knowing that vast amounts of armor for vehicles, body armor, weaponry, etc., sit in warehouses and parked in neat little rows stateside because he won't get off his ass and incur the cost of moving it to Iraq to support the troops.

Making the military's job harder would also be like Kosovo, whereby Republican members of Congress actively and openly dissented with the President of the United States and flatly threatened to cut off funding/support for NATO if General Clark had taken the option of putting ground forces into play in order to eject the Serbs from Kosovo.

To be fair, having a hair-on-fire bag of nuts like Jane Fonda or her chubby cohort Michael Moore pissing his pants every time the military does something doesn't help, either.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

If it does turn out that the scenario we are being given is true,

Yes, "if." What are the odds that something we're told by the Bush regime will turn out be a lie? Hmmm.....

then those al Qaeda members were in that home by direct invitation of the families who lived there. Not exactly "no connection to terrorists" or "innocent bystanders."

Including their wives and children? (We know how much say wives get in that part of the world). So the wives and little children in that house aren't exactly "innocent bystanders" with "no connection to terrorists"?

Well then, let's kill 'em!

Posted by: Stefan on January 19, 2006 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

Christ, I'm glad you people aren't in power now.

Christ, I'm glad your party wasn't like this in the 1940s, either.

We incinerated Japanese cities knowing women and children would die by the thousands. Why did we do this? Because the Japanese moved their industry into residential neighborhoods after we got too good at bombing their factories. You have to be ready to make such decisions unless you're willing to give your enemy veto power over every tactic you use. Thankfully, there are men and women willing to make such horrible decisions for all of us. Without warriors, pacifists wouldn't be alive to be self-righteous.

Posted by: Mike G on January 19, 2006 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

Without warriors, pacifists wouldn't be alive to be self-righteous.

Really? Last time I checked, damned near every Republican currently in power took a pass and found 'other priorities' the last time there was a call up for warriors.

But keep buying the notion that the current cabal of fear mongering hypocrites is doing its utmost to protect you.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

These guys who were targeted are our enemies. We didn't go looking for trouble and cause bin Laden to attack the U.S.

Oh, come on! This claim that "we didn't go looking for trouble" is absurd on it's face. If we didn't go "looking for trouble" we wouldn't have US troops and intelligence assets stationed all over the globe. From our funding of the mujahideen in Afghanistan against the Soviets, to our constant interference in the Middle East, to our funding of Saddam in the 1980s, to our propping up dictatorial regimes such as Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to our support of Israel, to our weapons sales, to our concern to keep the oil flowing, etc. etc. etc., we do nothing but "look for trouble." We're an empire -- that's what empires do.

Some of our actions may or may not be justified, and many we may consider necessary for our own strategic interest, but this claim that we're just sittin' on the porch, mindin' our own business, when suddenly some guy comes out right out of the blue and hits us on the head is a farce.

Posted by: Stefan on January 19, 2006 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

If you are standing next to someone who for some reason draws fire down on himself, you are likely to get as killed as he did. That's not guile or innocence. That's the old real estate adage of "Location, location, location."

I'll remember that the next time I stand next to a US government official or a soldier on guard in Grand Central Station or do any business in a federal building. My fault, I suppose, if Al Qaeda decides to take that moment to strike.

Posted by: Stefan on January 19, 2006 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

Seems you are pretty blase about civilian casualties there Kevin. However, being a military sort myself, I accept and understand in my heart, in my gut that sometimes civilian casualties are virtually impossible to prevent. It is, objectively, part of the horror and cost of war. It makes more enemies as the enemies are cut down. It is sometimes necessary, however, but often it is wholly gratuitious (fire bombings of Japan, fire bombing Dresden). In this case, the attack may have been justified (we don't know, do we, since it was a CIA op and they are keeping mum on their intel)...but ask yourself this: When is it too much? When is it counterproductive? At what point, given the nature of the fight against terrorism? (There is NO war on Terror, no declaration of war, no way for such a fantasy war to be declared over - it is merely a way of wording and shaping the view of the conflict to ensure the President has dictatorial powers forever and ever, amen.)

Too many more "successes" like this one and there will be a total loss of Pakistan as an "allie" AND there will be a civil war in Pakistan. There will be more recruits pouring into Afghanistan and Iraq to wage jihad against the Americans. What this was, the way it was done, was a way to skip past niceties like international law (yet again), the laws of sovereign nations (Pakistan), and avoid getting hands dirty by using stand-off semi-indescriminent missiles in place of commandos on the ground which could do VERY surgical killing...but at the cost of increasing the danger to personnel (and embarrassment for the Admin - sheesh, yet another embarrassment for the Admin).

By the way, how many number 2's and 3's are there to kill? We kill the number 2 and 3 Al Qaeda guys once a month or so. Is the entire Al Qaeda organization just a number 1 with thousands of number 2's? Is EVERYONE not a number one a number 2?

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on January 19, 2006 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

Kill 17 innocents in order to "get" one?

Bad odds and completely out of line with any ROI calculation.

Posted by: Sky-Ho on January 19, 2006 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

Was it worth it to kill 18 innocent people in an effort to kill 4 terrorists?

"...I think the answer is pretty plainly yes."

How many anti-American "terrorists" do you think we made worldwide from our cavalier, gotta-break-some-eggs, who-gives-a-shit-about-collateral-damage attack?

More than four, I'll bet. Should we kill them, and their innocent neighbors, next? How about if they're living next door to your Mom?

Shame on you, Kevin. This isn't going to "win the war on terror", whatever that means- it just turns us into terrorists.

Posted by: pdq on January 19, 2006 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

BREAKING NEWS: Al-Jazeera airs audiotaped message purportedly from Osama bin Laden warning that plans for attacks inside U.S. are under way.

Boo!

How many of our wingnut friends just crapped themselves and made a move to descend into their secure location?

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

Yes. It was justified. So were the atomic bombs and the bombs we dropped on Berlin. Evil sometimes can only be countered by evil.

Posted by: Rosey Palmer on January 19, 2006 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

If legitimate targets systematically hide behind civilians, especially with support of those civilians, the civilians stand in the way, shit happens and its the targets fault. After that, its a political/tactical cost-benefit evaluation of the impact of killing civilians, but morally, those civilians deserve no specific protection. It seems that the Pashtos who populate the Pakistan Afghanistan border region have nothing but hatred for us and that there is no potential for winning their favors and their collaboration against al Qaeda and the Talibans. They are the Taliban base and they cant be radicalized further nor won over. Nothing to loose, nothing to win. So, unless that evaluation is incorrect, I have no qualms killing locals if necessary to get to al Qaeda targets. Its not a blanket authorization to killing civilians for the sake of killing civilians but for ignoring their presence or absence for fire control purposes.

Once again, let's try it the other way, from Al Qaeda's perspective: If legitimate targets systematically hide behind American civilians, especially with support of those civilians, the civilians stand in the way, shit happens and its the targets fault. After that, its a political/tactical cost-benefit evaluation of the impact of killing civilians, but morally, those civilians deserve no specific protection. It seems that the Americans who populate America have nothing but hatred for us Muslims and that there is no potential for winning their favors and their collaboration against the secular Arab regimes. They are the Bush-supporting base and they cant be radicalized further nor won over. Nothing to loose, nothing to win. So, unless that evaluation is incorrect, I have no qualms killing American locals if necessary to get to American government targets. Its not a blanket authorization to killing civilians for the sake of killing civilians but for ignoring their presence or absence for fire control purposes.


Posted by: Stefan on January 19, 2006 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, your commment is simply shameful and disgusting.

How many of *your* friends and family would be be willing to kill to take the life of a surely-relpaceable al Qaida terrorist? How many new al Qaida members were born in the ashes of this attack?

Your calculus would suggest that the moral response would simply be to obliterate all of Northern Pakistan with nuclear weapons.

You have lost your moral compass, and should try to reconsider, for sanity's sake.

Posted by: Alex R on January 19, 2006 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

Whore on Terrah Scorecard:

Al Qaeda Operatives Killed: MAYBE 4, big maybe.
Civilians Killed: 18
Terrahists Created from Attack: Entire Pakistani Villages.

Posted by: ckelly on January 19, 2006 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

Zawahiri is too important to NOT take out, by any means possible.

One possible means of taking him out would be to lay down a dozen 10-megaton nuclear warheads in a target circle of 100 miles of his suspected location. But I sincerely doubt you honestly believe Zawahiri is THAT important to take out, by those particular means.

What I'm getting at is, can we stop with the breathless anti-terrorist rhetoric that says things that we don't really mean? "By any means necessary?" That's just bullshit, and we all know it.

Posted by: Irony Man on January 19, 2006 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

BREAKING NEWS

Al-Jazeera aired an audiotape purportedly from Osama bin Laden on Thursday, saying al-Qaida is making preparations for attacks in the United States but offering a truce to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan.

The voice on the tape said heightened security measures in the United States are not the reason there have been no attacks there since the Sept. 11, 2001, suicide hijackings.

Instead, the reason is "because there are operations that need preparations, and you will see them," he said.

"Based on what I have said, it is better not to fight the Muslims on their land," he said. "We do not mind offering you a truce that is fair and long-term. ... So we can build Iraq and Afghanistan ... there is no shame
-------------------

WTF? I thought Bush was protecting us by not increasing port security, closing the US-Mexico border and by getting us involved in a massive land war in Asia?!?

Someone has some 'splaining to do...

Oh, and, what do you want to bet there are wingnuts who are praying that Bush caves in and appeases these murderous monsters who can kill with the flick of a switch?

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

I thought one of the definitions of terrorism would be "the killng of innocent people." The outcome to the victims and their families is the same whether they died from a suicide bomber or an American-launched Hellfire missile. I realize that innocent people die in wartime, but that's exactly why I did not favor the Iraqi adventure. I'm not saying that people who have done terrible things such as Al-Quaeda shouldn't be brought to justice, but the "collateral" killing of innocent people puts our government on the same moral plane as the people we are opposing. I would welcome an explanation of why we are justified in killing innocent people.

Posted by: Noqwus on January 19, 2006 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

The information was that it was a meeting of high level terrorists planning how to kill Americans and others.

Right. And our "information" has been just oh so reliable these last 5 years.

Posted by: ckelly on January 19, 2006 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

If you invite known terrorists to lunch you are not an "innocent civilian".

And if you happen to live in the same village?

Of course you assume our "intel" was correct also. A very tenuous assumption.

Posted by: ckelly on January 19, 2006 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

It seems people are confusing two questions: (i) is it justified in the sense of a necessary cost-beneift calculus of self-defense and (ii) is it morally justified, i.e. is it an ethical act. While we may be willing to say that the murder of innocent people to prevent a greater evil is, perhaps, "justified" in the sense that we find it necessary to do so for our own defense, we cannot go further than that and say that our actions are therefore morally justified. We can say it was perhaps necessary -- we cannot say it was good. We have to recognize that when we engage in this utilitarian calculus of innocent lives that we are engaging in an evil act, that we are ourselve becoming a little bit evil.

To use an absurd example, if I could end world hunger by shooting an innocent baby in the head should I do so? Yes, in the sense that I would be ending the suffering of hundreds of millions of people at the expense of one person's suffering. But would I also not have committed murder, would I not also have committed an evil act? What gives me the right to sacrifice that other person, to use that other person as a means for my own ends? Even though I've benefited many should I not also be tried and punished for my crime?

Posted by: Stefan on January 19, 2006 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

No, I do not agree. If we carry this logic out further then in a scenario that says we know Bin Laden is within a 50 mile radius of an area what prevents us from using a small tactical nuke to take him out? I know, most would say we would never do this but just think of where we were 5 years ago compared to where we are now and then try to justify that this administration would not try to put the same logic to it. This "war", if that is the term we wish to use, at best should be a pin point strike type action. Good Intel, then a strike team inserted to take them out. Yes, this may mean we will take some casualties but just consider all the casualties we are taking in Iraq right now fighting this battle on a broad scale. In my humble opinion this "war" should be fought on a tactical basis....Intel groups flush them out and small to medium military strike teams take them out.

Posted by: Doug on January 19, 2006 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

I frame the issue differently.

The differences are the intent, and the identity of the civilians. Terrorists target civilians primarily; that is their preferred target. Specifically, they target Western civilians. Accordingly, the enemy targets me, now a civilian, and thousands (millions) of people like me living in the West simply because we are Westerners.

We target terrorist leaders primarily, but sometimes have to kill civilians in the course of tragetting the terrorists. Specifically, we target Islamofacist terrorist leaders.

So, the question is: would I mind killing 12 of their civilians in order to stop one of their leaders from training someone to potentially kill thousands (millions) of Western civilians? The answer is yes.

This observation is also why the argument of "how you like it if you were standing to close to Rumsfeld when an Al-Quaeda bomb targetted at him detonated" is simply a canard. The terrorists make NO efforts to limit their damage. They don't care. They would first intend to take out a couple thousand Americans or other Westerners (as they have done in NYC, D.C., Madrid, London, Bali, Tel Aviv, and countless other places), and only later worry about whether they hit any leadership. It's the exact opposite of our reasoning, showing the fundamental difference in the morality between our civilization and the Islamofacist movement.

You can play the moral equivocation game when you don't accept that we are at war. However, refusing to accept that fact will result in the enemy's triumph over us. I accept the fact that we are at war. Accordingly, I accept protecting American interests and LIVES first. If, in the process of protecting American lives, I can limit the harm done to non-American lives, good. In fact, we have a duty to attempt to limit that damage as much as possible. But our primary duty, and the primary duty of any American president, Republican or Democrat, is to protect American lives. That's the current reality, and no philosophical waxing about how humans *could* theoretically live in peace and harmony will alter that current reality.

Posted by: Tanker J.D. on January 19, 2006 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

No, I do not agree. If we carry this logic out further then in a scenario that says we know Bin Laden is within a 50 mile radius of an area what prevents us from using a small tactical nuke to take him out?

Well, common sense prevents us from doing that. International law, signed treaties with other nations, etc.

I realize those don't mean anything anymore, but there you go.

Besides, the fuel-air bombs that we HAVE dropped and that we HAVE used simulate the heat signature and the destructive capabilities of a small nuclear weapon anyway.

Not that Americans are really paying attention. I would think that the various posters who have brought up the nuclear weapon scenario would already know this stuff, but apparently not.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin: . . . under what circumstances would such an attack be justified?

Okay Kevin, I'll bite: so for those who say it was justified, under just what circumstances would such an attack be unjustified.

If your question is fair, then so is this one.

Would 50 dead innocent civilians be too many?

What about 100?

What about 18, but the targets were lower level Al Queda?

Aren't those conservatives saying that this was a justified attack implicitly approving of Waco, where the government didn't even target the Branch Davidian leaders for death - where the Branch Davidian leaders themselves set the wheels of death in motion for their innocent followers, not the federal government?

What if the 18 were all children under the age of 12?

What if the 18 were all expectant females?

When exactly is it right to deliberately kill, not unintended collateral damage, three or more handfuls of innocent civilians simply to ensure you kill a handfull of suspected terrorists or criminals?

I think you, just like Bush and his fascist lemming followers, just handed the suicide bombers and other terrorists all the moral justification they need.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 19, 2006 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

The 800 people who died at the Pentagon have all been replaced by people who are very determined to destroy bin Laden. They are led by Rumsfeld who survived the attack. I don't believe this tactic is working against us. I don't believe it will work against bin Laden. Think of something else.

Posted by: that'lldopig on January 19, 2006 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Thank you Mr. Drum for asking this question. I have been thinking about it ever since the extrajudicial killings took place. I knew Mr. Drum and other like minded centrist Americans would justify the killing of innocent OTHERS as long as some boogeymen were also killed. However, I doubt very much if those same people would agree the killing was justifiable had the house been full of Episcopalians or Jews. If bin Laden were found to be hiding out at a day care center, Protestant, Catholic or Jewish, I doubt very much if the raging sexpot xenophobes of America would be so very happy to kill the children inside just to kill the boogeyman. If, on the other hand, bin Laden were found to be hiding out at a day care center for Mexican immigrants (legal or not), African Americans, Africans or Arabs, then the attack and subsequent death of these innocent 'types' of people would be deemed justified.

Allah forgive America.

Posted by: Hostile on January 19, 2006 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Hostile,

Come on, pray harder if you want to extend your little parody out to include Unitarians and Moonies.

Sexpot xenophobes?

That was a great line.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

I find the response of your liberal friends frighteningly underinformed.

"Alternatives"? Have these folks ever read anything about the situation with the Pakistani military over there?

The logistics of mounting an operation in the mountainous region in which this terrorist summit was taking place are formidable. Remember, Pakistan is twice the size of California, and the area in which this operation took place is well oustide the control of the Pakistani government, and beyond the reach of teh Pakistani military. It would have taken several hours to get troops there, and it would have been unlikely that they would have gotten there in time.

Further still, had the Pakistanis gotten some troops in the area, the area would likely only be reasonably secure, with plenty of escape routes of which the locals would have surely known.

Finally, the Pakistani military is rife with al Qaeda sympathizers. There is no way that such an operation could have been mounted without word getting out.

That's just the tip of the iceberg. Giving this big a job to the Pakistanis with the time and logistical constraints was simply a non-starter. To suggest differently is profoundly ignorant.

Posted by: Sean on January 19, 2006 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

An extrajudicail attack of this type cannot be justified. There is no reason why law enforcement type arrests cound not be made, except yahoo Americans with weapons systems, made by blood sucking electrical engineers who love to lick dead childrens' genitals, prefer to blow people up.

Posted by: Hostile on January 19, 2006 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

That'lldopig:

The attack on the Pentagon did not target Rumsfeld specifically--that's the difference. The Pentagon is a military target, but civilians work there. Thus, when terrorist use civilian airliners to damage the Pentagon, they are engaging in an act of WAR that destroys civilians. Thus, we are at WAR.

Now, let's compare how the two opponents engage in war.

1. Islamofacists: target civilians first, and maybe a military target for good measure, to seek to demoralize the enemy's civilian population into submission (which some posters on this blog are falling prey to).

2. The West: Target the leadership first, to try to dismantle the enemy's military apparatus, while limiting as much as possible the harm done to civilians, to seek to end the enemy's capability to hurt us.

Which side do you think has the moral high ground?

Posted by: Tanker J.D. on January 19, 2006 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Sean: I find the response of your liberal friends frighteningly underinformed.

Translation: let's whine and cry about how hard it is to use justifiable and moral tactics against our enemy and thereby justify our immoral and unjustifiable tactics.

In other words, the terrorist merely need state that it's too hard to use means other than suicide bombers and kidnapping-executions to defeat the enemy, therefore we are justified in employing these methods.

Like I said, conservatives are handing the terrorists moral justifications on a platter and do every time they seek to justify using evil methods against evil people.

When you use evil means to achieve your ends, all you do is become a different set of evil people, and not even a lesser one at that.

No conservative (or liberal) who approves of Bush's methodologies, including the deliberate and intentional sacrifice of innocent civilians to tactical and strategic expediency, has the integrity to question the morality of the terrorists' methodologies.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 19, 2006 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Advocate for God:

"No conservative (or liberal) who approves of Bush's methodologies, including the deliberate and intentional sacrifice of innocent civilians to tactical and strategic expediency, has the integrity to question the morality of the terrorists' methodologies."

Such beautiful moral equivocation. Did you learn that in college? I bet you did. Now maybe you can serve a tour and deal with the issues first hand to see if your opinion changes.

Posted by: Tanker J.D. on January 19, 2006 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

Nice, cecce, you're almost the only voice of sanity here. For the record, in case you are despairing at the cretins on this board, here is the "smarter dem" position:

"It's a regrettable situation, but what else are we supposed to do?" "It's like the wild, wild West out there. The Pakistani border is a real problem." - Sen. Bayh

There is Some hope...

Posted by: peanut on January 19, 2006 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

I remember reading about a high ranking officer in the British air force in early WWII who disagreed with bombing German factories because they were private property and thereofore not part of the German government's war effort
If these villagers are sympathetic to al Qaeda, thye have allied themselves with a very dangerous ally.

Posted by: GW Crawford on January 19, 2006 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

This strikes me as good news too:

"Zawahiri, if he slept three hours on a normal night, he's sleeping an hour and a half right now with his eyes wide open," Cloonan said. "He's looking around right now and wondering who handed him up. Not a nice feeling."

Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy...

Posted by: peanut on January 19, 2006 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

Mr Rider
I draw a distinction between actions by the military, and actions by the armchair generals.

Failure to secure borders, et al are all valid complaints. And I say again, the military needs to limit civilian casualties. Their job is to execute their function well. And I allow that the Repubs incorrectly hobbled Clinton.

Now, what say you to the armchair general's undue concern for civilian casualties?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 19, 2006 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

accept the fact that we are at war. Accordingly, I accept protecting American interests and LIVES first. If, in the process of protecting American lives, I can limit the harm done to non-American lives, good.

Posted by: Tanker J.D. on January 19, 2006 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

I'm against this. I think to violate another countries sovereignity, you need to have something similar to just war criteria:

1. No other option
2. Good outweighs collateral damage regardless of lives


Posted by: McAristotle on January 19, 2006 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Mr. Rider:

"I allow that the Repubs incorrectly hobbled Clinton."

Do you mean with respect to Bosnia, Kosovo, Operation Desert Fox, etc.? If so, please provide evidence to support this assertion.

Posted by: Tanker J.D. on January 19, 2006 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

answer?
When we get the hell out of Iraq and stop meddling in the Middle East because of oil and Israel or any other reason.
The US is not the innocent poor victim here.
Why don't they target Canada or Mexico?

Deleted Drum from my bookmarks.

Posted by: agave on January 19, 2006 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

We target terrorist leaders primarily, but sometimes have to kill civilians in the course of tragetting the terrorists. Specifically, we target Islamofacist terrorist leaders.
So, the question is: would I mind killing 12 of their civilians in order to stop one of their leaders from training someone to potentially kill thousands (millions) of Western civilians? The answer is yes.

I'm not convinced we should get extra credit points for not TRYING to kill civilians when we actually end up killing a lot of civilians. Intentions don't mean shit to the dead people, especially when there are so many of them.

Posted by: Nads on January 19, 2006 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Tanker J.D.: Which side do you think has the moral high ground?

Who has the most rationalizing bullshit?

Tanker J.D. wins hands down.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 19, 2006 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

McAristotle

1. We are not violating any other countries' sovereignty. We are operating in Pakistan with the permission of that government. Accordingly, the two criteria you listed, by the rule you stated, do not need to be met.

2. Even if those criteria do apply to this case, they are met:
a. Please propose an alternative, effective and possible method to have destroyed this particular Al-Queada. Remember, it has to actually be do-able, not just theoretically possible.
c. The good at preventing this Al Queada higher-up from continuing to train Islamofacists to kill Westerners by the thousands is a good that outweighs the bad of destroying the 12 "civilians" who were harboring him.

-TJD

Posted by: Tanker J.D. on January 19, 2006 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Tanker J.D.: Did you learn that in college?

Do you learn all your morals from the terrorists?

Apparently so.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 19, 2006 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Then it makes perfect sense for Pakistanis to lob a bomb at an American target.... if 18 innocent Americans die... they are ALSO collateral damage.

What kind of logic says dead Iraqi/Pakistani civilians DONT COUNT as terror?

WE ARE THE TERRORISTS.... and I am not a liberal.

I voted Perot twice and Buchanan once.

I voted for John Anderson!

But let's be frank -- the war on Islam is a xenophobic war -- led by neocons [who should identify their ethnic bias]and fought by red state racists [ who don't like Jews any better than Muslims]

Nobody is talking about the double standards in the war on Terror.... I agree with Belafonte.

Bush is a terrorist against innocent Muslims. Sharon is a terrorist against hapless Palestinians.

If you see this from any perspective other than Jewish and Christian... Bin Ladin is a hero.


Posted by: arsenia gallegos on January 19, 2006 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: Now, what say you to the armchair general's undue concern for civilian casualties?

Exactly what the terrorists say to Muslims who question their methods.

I just knew there was little difference between Islamic fanatics and conservative fanatics like conspiracy nut, rdw, and now Tanker Justa Dummy.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 19, 2006 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Tanker-

With respect to Bosnia, Kosovo, Operation Desert Fox, etc, republicans (even "leaders" in congress), ranged from lukewarm to downright negative (wag the dog, and all the other whines). They were better than the ultra-left shits on this board, but it is still a stain on their record.

If your president makes a completely justified, and well measured, decision to act against our enemies, as Clinton did in ODF - whatever you might feel about the "timing" - your first reaction ought to be: thank god the pilots made it home safe, hope they succeeded in their mission, not to scream wag the dog at cnn.

Posted by: peanut on January 19, 2006 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Well, it's clear by so many of the comments above that Afghanistan is no longer "the good war'.

lol! The veil is now off the leftist lie.

Posted by: Hugh Beaumont on January 19, 2006 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

Tanker JD,

Do you mean with respect to Bosnia, Kosovo, Operation Desert Fox, etc.? If so, please provide evidence to support this assertion.

Here's a hit job on the Kosovo Liberation Army done by The Republicans in March, 1999:

The Kosovo Liberation Army: Does Clinton Policy Support Group with Terror, Drug Ties?
From 'Terrorists' to 'Partners'

On March 24, 1999, NATO initiated air attacks on Yugoslavia (a federation of two republics, Serbia and Montenegro) in order to impose a peace agreement in the Serbian province of Kosovo, which has an ethnic Albanian majority. The Clinton Administration has not formally withdrawn its standing insistence that Belgrade sign the peace agreement, which would entail the deployment in Kosovo of some 28,000 NATO ground troops -- including 4,000 Americans -- to police the settlement. But in recent days the Clinton public line has shifted to a demand that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic halt the offensive he has launched in Kosovo, which has led to a growing humanitarian crisis in the region, before there can be a stop to the bombing campaign.

http://www.fas.org/irp/world/para/docs/fr033199.htm

Pale Rider says: Now, if any of this were actually true, then why didn't the Bush Administration pull out of Kosovo and attack the KLA?

Here's William Kristol:

Kosovo and the Republican Future E-mail
Print

By Robert Kagan, William Kristol
Publisher: Carnegie
Weekly Standard, April 5, 1999
Reprinted from the Weekly Standard, April 5/April 12, 1999

Republicans say they want to make foreign policy and national security a big issue in the 2000 campaign. But when Republican senators voted 38-16 against NATO airstrikes in Yugoslavia last week, they gravely damaged their ability to do so. As a result of that vote, and of the neo-isolationist arguments that leading Republicans made to support their position, Republican foreign policy is now mired in pathetic incoherence. Is this the party of Reagan or the party of Buchanan? Right now, it's hard to tell.

This is too bad, because Republicans are right to think that foreign policy offers them a big opportunity in 2000. Clinton's record is dismal; the world on his watch has become a much more dangerous place; and polls suggest the American people are figuring this out.

Tom Delay on the Kosovo War:

This is [President Clintons] war. Washington Post, 4/14/99

Its very simple. The president is not supported by the House, and the military is supported by the House. As quoted in USA Today, regarding Floor votes on Kosovo, 4/30/99

Instead of sending in ground troops, we should pull out the forces we now have in the region. Mr. Speaker, I do not think we should send ground troops to Kosovo and I do not think we should be bombing in the Balkans, and I do not think that NATO should be destroyed by changing its mission into a humanitarian invasion force. Floor Statement, 4/28/99

The Kosovo operation is different and oxymoronic. It is a peace war waged by peace hawks pursuing a dovish social agenda. Peace hawks are global idealists and former anti-war activists, including the youthful Bill Clinton. Floor Statement, 4/15/99

Doing good on a worldwide scale appeals to peace hawks, who are motivated by altruism, not patriotism. Floor Statement, 4/15/99

There's no national interest of the United States in Kosovo. It's flawed policy and it was flawed to go in. I think this president is one of the least effective presidents of my life time. He's hollowed out our forces while running round the world with these adventures. The Guardian, 5/17/99

American foreign policy is now one huge big mystery. Simply put, the administration is trying to lead the world with a feel-good foreign policy. Floor Statement on Resolution on Peacekeeping Operations in Kosovo, 3/11/99

Bombing a sovereign nation for ill-defined reasons with vague objectives undermines the American stature in the world. The international respect and trust for America has diminished every time we casually let the bombs fly. We must stop giving the appearance that our foreign policy is formulated by the Unabomber. Floor Statement on Resolution on Peacekeeping Operations in Kosovo, 3/11/99

Mr. Chairman, I rise today to voice my complete opposition to sending American troops to Kosovo. There is simply no vision to this mission. There is a six-year trend to send American troops anywhere for any reason, but there are no consistent goals that tie all of these missions together. Floor Statement on Resolution on Peacekeeping Operations in Kosovo, 3/11/99

I rise today to state that no defense funds should be used for ground forces in Kosovo unless authorized by Congress. Floor Statement, 4/15/99

So what they are doing here is they are voting to continue an unplanned war by an administration that is incompetent of [sic] carrying it out. I hope my colleagues will vote against this resolution. Floor Statement on S. Con. Res. 21, 4/15/99

It is clear that any deployment to Kosovo will similarly drag on and go enormously over budget. Floor Statement, 4/28/99

I cannot support a failed foreign policy. History teaches us that it is often easier to make war than peace. This administration is just learning that lesson right now. The President began this mission with very vague objectives and lots of unanswered questions. A month later, these questions are still unanswered. There are no clarified rules of engagement. There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of victory. There is no contingency plan for mission creep. There is no clear funding program. There is no agenda to bolster our overextended military. There is no explanation defining what vital national interests are at stake. There was no strategic plan for war when the President started this thing, and there still is no plan today. Floor Statement, 4/28/99


Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Just a thought...

We did not bomb an "innocent Pakistani village." Hundreds would have died in that case. We bombed an Al-Qaeda COMPOUND located in that village. The people in that compound were harboring enemies of the United States of America. Harboring an enemy is the same as BEING an enemy.

I grieve for the children. But in fact, their parents sealed their fates, not the USA.

Posted by: jaafar on January 19, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Advocate for God

You dodged my question: do you think the Islamofacist movement has the moral high ground over The West?

To answer your question: I learned my morals not just through classroom and church group hypothesizing, but also from applying those moral principles to real-world problems. It's easy to say that all people who are not perfect are equally evil. However, that philosophy leads to despair, self-loathing and eventually self-destruction.

Posted by: Tanker J.D. on January 19, 2006 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Tanker Justa Dummy: Please propose an alternative, effective and possible method to have destroyed this particular [enemy].

Just what the Islamic terrorists say to Muslims who question their methods.

Now you are Justan Ass.

Remember, it has to actually be do-able, not just theoretically possible.

Kinda like 9/11.

. . . outweighs the bad of destroying the 12 "civilians" who were harboring him.

A presumption stated as fact is essentially a lie.

You have no way of knowing whether the civilians were harboring these individuals or forced to do so at gunpoint.

More to the point, it was obviously a set up which means that at least some of the people setting up the Al Queda members were probably present and were not "harboring" them.

You lie like the conservative you are.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 19, 2006 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider:

Touchee. Kagan & Kristol had it right. It is sad that the Republican House leadership took the course it did.

Posted by: Tanker J.D. on January 19, 2006 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

Since the precise location of the "meeting" was known, why was it necessary to bomb it? Why not send in some troops to do the job and avoid killing a lot of civilians?
Glenn

Posted by: Glenn Scriven on January 19, 2006 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

Tanker J.D.: However, that philosophy leads to despair, self-loathing and eventually self-destruction.

Yet more bullshit philosophy that presumes facts not in evidence and assumes dichotomies that don't exist except in their own limited intellect.

You dodged my question: do you think the Islamofacist movement has the moral high ground over The West?

You assume that one must have the high ground over the other.

More conservative philosophical bullshit that insists that evey issue be presented as an artificial and false dichotomy because conservatives have no capacity to think beyond two choices.

So, tell me this: who has the moral high ground between the Palestinian terrorists and Al Queda?

How about between Stalin and Hitler?

Please enlighten us with your claimed "real world experience" in applying equally "claimed" moral principles.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 19, 2006 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

It is possible to justify an attack under the circumstances described by Kevin, but the bar should be prettty high. In particular, justification should involve a good faith effort to take into account the value of the innocent lives that would be lost. And good faith involves, I think, placing the same value on those lives that you would place on your life, or the lives of those you care about. Otherwise, the notion of innocent life is simply not taken seriously. No offense, Kevin, but your "pretty plainly yes" gives the appearance of being a little bit cavalier about those lives. If the value of the innocent lives lost is considered in good faith, no one would be able to justify the attack without a heavy heart. No one would be able to undertake such a attack without regret. And no one would be able to crow about the results of such an attack afterwards. I would go so far as to say that an absence of regret, or post-attack triumphalism, constitute prima facie evidence of failure to take the value of innocent life seriously.

Posted by: Jim on January 19, 2006 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

If so, please provide evidence to support this assertion.
Please provide evidence that the right hobbled Clinton? That's rich.

To come down upon this rightie, or not to come down upon this rightie, that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler to do myself what I ask of sane lefties, or to let sleeping dummies lie...

Here's my advice: lose your Clinton hate. It's all over, man; he's gone, let it go. Trust me, you'll be a happier camper, I was. Look on the bright side, he signed almost all of the Contract with America that made it to him, he failed to screw up a fine economic boom, and (taken in the right light) he provided 8 years of the kind of entertainment you can't get anywhere else. What do you want out of a president?

But as for your challenge, everytime Clinton proposed military action the right hollered "Wag the Dog!". Don't try to tell me it isn't true. The right had the same knee-jerk reactionary opposition to all things Clinton as the left has to all things Bush.

And it's a sorry, sad-ass state of affairs. Then and now.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 19, 2006 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Tanker J.D.: . . . but also from applying those moral principles to real-world problems.

Gee, and no one else in the entire world except the conservative lemmings to which you belong has ever had to do this.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 19, 2006 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: . . . he failed to screw up a fine economic boom . . .

Clearly you have failed to follow your own advice and give up your Clinton hatred.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 19, 2006 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Advocate for God

1. "Just what the Islamic terrorists say to Muslims who question their methods."

There is still a fundamental difference in the methods themselves. A justification can be valid in one instance, but invalid in another. Just because the enemy uses a justification in an invalid context does not mean that it's invalid in another.

2. I don't understand your point in mentioning 9/11 in that context... They pulled off a surprise attack deliberately aimed at civilians by taking advantage of our complancency. We took advantage of our technical prowess to conduct a limited airstrike at Al-Queda leadership in a safe house that incidentally killed civilians in the same place. How are these actions morally equivalent?

3. "it was obviously a set up which means that at least some of the people setting up the Al Queda members were probably present and were not 'harboring' them"

Umm.... Isn't that a "presumption stated as a fact"--i.e., a "lie"?

P.S. I made fun of you with the "did you learn that in college" quip, and tolerated some ad hominem quips back; but let's tone that part down, now...

Posted by: Tanker J.D. on January 19, 2006 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: The right had the same knee-jerk reactionary opposition to all things Clinton as the left has to all things Bush.

Clinton didn't lie about Kosovo and Bosnia: real genocide was occurring and Clinton put an end to it.

Bush did lie about Iraq: real genocide was not occurring and there was no genocide for Bush to interdict as he claimed to be doing. It had already run its course during the Bush 41 administration, cut short by no-fly zones and sanctions.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 19, 2006 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

Tanker JD,

Hello, once you get your ass handed to you, you're supposed to bow out gracefully. Why are you coming back for more?

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK
The "moral equivalence" crowd here is the same as all the Israel-haters who for ages have argued that the IDF is "just like" Hamas because both kill innocents. (God, how I remember this trite "debate" from Europe). They see the following acts: - Hamas plants a bomb, the sole purpose of which is to kill and maim innocent civilians (or police or soldiers who are doing legitimate work) as possible. - IDF attacks known a known terrorist, staying in a safe house. The terrorist leader is dead, and so are, unfortunately, some other. ...and say: they're all the same.

No, I think the accusation of them being the same stems from Israel targetting the relatives of known terrorists, the neighborhoods already-dead suicide bombers are from, and from forcibly using Palestinian civilians as human booby trap detectors and human shields in infantry operations in the territories, among other violations of international norms that would be universally and uncontroversially labelled "terrorism" if conducted by non-state actors (or, likely, if conducted by state actors that weren't Israel or the US.)

Posted by: cmdicely on January 19, 2006 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Advocate:

"Tanker J.D.: . . . 'but also from applying those moral principles to real-world problems.'

Gee, and no one else in the entire world except the conservative lemmings to which you belong has ever had to do this."

O.k., I'll be more specific--have you ever had to consider, outside of a sanitary, theoretical context, in what contexts *you* would authorize force to defeat an enemy.

Posted by: Tanker J.D. on January 19, 2006 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

The christian west always has the moral high ground.

Many times they BELIEVE there are terrorists in a building and after a bombing, killing a few women and children they find out it was all a MISTAKE, they will investigate.

It is their God Given Right to bomb whenever they think it is in their interest, in any country, at any time, international law or not, being at war with the nation or not, as in Pakistan, it does not matter, it is our god given right.
And please don't insult our sensiblities with reports of blood and suffering as long it is not our blood.

The question is mute.

Pretty good intelligence, what a joke, we went to war based on such pretty good intelligence.

Posted by: Renate on January 19, 2006 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

AOG
That was worded one rightie to another rightie. It's beyond your ken. See, we don't buy into the left's proposition that all good things flow from the government.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 19, 2006 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

Advocate:

"Tanker J.D.: . . . 'but also from applying those moral principles to real-world problems.'

Gee, and no one else in the entire world except the conservative lemmings to which you belong has ever had to do this."

O.k., I'll be more specific--have you ever had to consider, outside of a sanitary, theoretical context, in what situations *you* would authorize force to defeat an enemy.

Pale Rider:

I picked two fights--I've accepted my defeat in one, and bowed out of that. I should still be allowed to wage the other!

Posted by: Tanker J.D. on January 19, 2006 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Question: Under those assumptions, was the attack justified? I think the answer is pretty plainly yes, but I'd sure like to see the liberal blogosphere discuss it. And for those who answer no, I'm curious: under what circumstances would such an attack be justified?

The 18 civilians killed, of which were children and woman - Kevin think its okay and that this collateral damage happened and thats its justifiable. Hardly, because certainly HAD this happen in the US - whereby some country, whom have suffered under the same terrorist attack as we did on 9/11 indiscriminately bomb some part of the US, with a sloppy drone no less, without telling our govenment one single word of the coming attack or what was about to happen - IT WOULD HAVE BEEN NOTHING SHORT OF A ACT OF WAR.

There is no fucking way the US would tolerate such an act - so Kevin needs to be told this 18 innocent lifes WHERE CERTAINLY NOT okay to kill. Kevin Drum isn't just a Republican - he's a neo-con - only neo-cons think this way. Kevin Drum is a radical and Washington Monthly is simply another one of those Republican owned news rags that profess to be liberl - but are owned by Republican Party members?

Kevin Drum is also clearly a racist. This act would certainly NOT have been okay if it happen on US soil to white Americans individuals but in Pakistani its only --- what was Bush's word "regrettable".

Its a hell of lot more then simply "regrettable". That fact that the US is this big and powerful nation doesnt give US citizens the right to treat Pakistani and its people as meaningless dark skined people whom just don't practice Christian values therefore collateral damage is just one of those things that the Pakistani people need to accept as a way of life, as under the Bush administration there will certainly be more bombings, by drones, that routinely take innocent life - just a cost of being a nothing, no account country in the Mideast. I wonder, would France, the UK or other country put up with this kind of cold indifferance by the US - NO they would not. I'm sure there is no doubt in Kevin's brain either.

Now I see why Iran wants it's own nuclear weapons and frankly I've got no problem with it since it's more than clear that Bush and even Kevin Drum don't really see Mideastern people as real human being but rather as some kind of sub-species.

Is Kevin a Democrat or one of those radical Republican whom would preach to us liberal minded individuals no to celebrate the act of abortion - you know those liberil love killing their babies, but sees nothing wrong whatsoever if Bush kills a few innocent Midwesterners in a random sloppy drone bombing Kevin is a hypocrite - just like the rest of his radical neo-con republican counterparts.

Kevin is clearly NOT a Democrat or a liberal thinker - so stop pretending to write for Dems. Why doesn't Kevin just move to NRO and stop pretending. You'd be more a lot more at home with your own like minded friends, Kevin.

Posted by: Cheryl on January 19, 2006 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Advocate:

Is stopping a on-going genocide the only justification for invasion?

Posted by: Tanker J.D. on January 19, 2006 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Then it makes perfect sense for Pakistanis to lob a bomb at an American target.... if 18 innocent Americans die... they are ALSO collateral damage.

Arsenia Gallegos states the dilemna correctly. Why is OK for the US to kill Pakistanis, as long as we kill some boogeymen, too, but it is not OK for Pakistan to perform the same act in the US?

There was an article in the New Yorker a year or so ago profiling the Iranian community in S. California. Perhaps Mr. Drum and the other e.e. type Americans would think it OK for Iran to blow up some family homes in Irvine that harbored Iranians who have contributed to the violent overthrow of Iran, and that if some innocent locals happened to be killed it would be justifiable because threats to Iran were also killed. Logic goes both ways. If America can kill innocents in other nations in order to eliminate threats, then every other nation can, too.

I am reminded of the lame response the US had after Letelier was car bombed in Washington DC by Chile. So I guess it is true: e.e Americans think it is OK to kill other nation's boogemen in our own country.

Posted by: Hostile on January 19, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Tanker J.D.: There is still a fundamental difference in the methods themselves. A justification can be valid in one instance, but invalid in another. Just because the enemy uses a justification in an invalid context does not mean that it's invalid in another.

And just because a president you support uses a justification doesn't make it valid.

And you are splitting hairs about methodologies.

Conservative administrations over the past 50 years have routinely and consistently embraced, supported, financed, and armed regimes that used methodologies that were not substantially different than those employed by the terrorists; have protected Americans who have employed methodologies that were not substantially different than those employed by the terrorists; have adopted policies that resulted in activities that were not substantially different than the activities of terrorists.

Your pathetic rationalizations simply demonstrate your wilfull blindness to these truths.

They pulled off a surprise attack deliberately aimed at civilians by taking advantage of our complancency.

And the US has never engaged in surprise attacks against civilian targets, I take to be your implicit claim.

Well, you are entitled to your delusions.

Umm.... Isn't that a "presumption stated as a fact"--i.e., a "lie"?

No, because the presumption was qualified with "probably" and the part about setting up the Al Queda memebers was implicit in the news stories on the matter.

Perhaps your reading comprehension is as corrupt as your morals, however.

.S. I made fun of you with the "did you learn that in college" quip, and tolerated some ad hominem quips back; but let's tone that part down, now...

You're not going to start crying now are you?

I tell you what, though . . .

You and your ilk quit implying that anyone who disagrees with Bush and his administration are traitors,

quit implying that those people support the terrorists and are apologists for them,

quit claiming you have the "moral high ground", quit arrogantly pretending you are the only ones who have the "experience" to adequately determine what the "moral high ground" is,

quit lying to the American people about the bases for war and what is going on in Iraq, and

quit calling everybody who opposes the war cowards, defeatists, and a host of other ad hominems . . .

and I'll think about "toning it down."

You want to be like Barbara Bush and use euphemisms to convey insults, pretending that somehow that makes the attacks something other than ad hominem.

Others of us, on the other hand, simply just say what's on our mind without trying to be dishonest about our intent or meaning.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 19, 2006 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

See, we don't buy into the left's proposition that all good things flow from the government.

Exactly. That's why we're all a bit concerned about how the Bush Administration has been using the NSA to intercept the phone conversations of US Persons. Now, remember, data mining is legal; warrantless wiretaps of US Persons is illegal. I schooled you on that the other day, and I hope you remember how important it is to have a FISA court serving as a legitimate check against the power of the Executive branch...

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Tanker J.D.: Is stopping a on-going genocide the only justification for invasion?

Ignoring for the moment that you've also ducked the question about who has the moral high ground in the examples I gave . . .

The other Bush justifications for invasion were equally dishonest and they were illegal under international law.

But, that wasn't the meme being promoted by conspiracy nut.

Bush wagged the dog; Clinton didn't.

Bush offered several reasons for invasion; most, if not all, of them were untrue, but in any event he offered them as a package whereby the whole was supposed to justify the invasion, not any one reason individually.

Indeed, many conservatives have consistently insisted that it was only the combination of multiple reasons that justified invasion, in order to escape the problems that exist for the individual reasons.

For Clinton, there was only one reason to invade and it was a truthful reason: ongoing genocide.

Is that clear enough for you?

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 19, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

What kind of moral moron are you? Sorry, Kev, you really disappoint me sometimes. A) With intelligence that used to prove Zarqawi and Osama were close allies of Saddam, can you believe anything these guys say? B) Donald Rumsfeld of "shock and awe" fame, is at his family Easter Dinner, or Paul Wolfowitz, he of "fuck up every one else to spare Israel worries" fame, is at Pesah. An Iranian drone bombs the hell out of the families and friends. Oops. Donald wasn't there. Paul wasn't there. And even if they were, how can you so blithely dismiss this ignoring of another country's sovereignty and the dumb fact that these guys don't see themselves as terrorists but as warriors, the same as our own chickenhawks do. They terrorize with airplanes and suicide bombs. We terrorize with cluster bombs and uranium-tipped megabombs. The press would have a fucking "these guys are animals" field day if the same was done to us. Oh, they already did--see "9/11." Knock off the provincial outlook, please.

Posted by: andree on January 19, 2006 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

I picked two fights--I've accepted my defeat in one, and bowed out of that. I should still be allowed to wage the other!

Trust me--Advocate is far more adept at destroying wingnut arguments than I am.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

There isn't an argument here that couldn't be used to invalidate the logic of World War II, the Civil War, or the fight against measles for that matter.

All you candy-asses, here's what justifies it. They're theocratic fascist nutballs. Our society is better than theirs. Anyone really want to argue the contrary?

Let's roll!

Posted by: Mike G on January 19, 2006 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

I schooled you on that the other day
What you never schooled me on the other day, however, was any evidence that NSA is performing warrantless wiretaps instead of just data mining.

I know warrantless wiretaps are bad. And if any happen, I'll join you in pounding them. Until that time, it's just hyperventilating over nothing.

And I've noticed you've skipped over my question today.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 19, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Advocate:

"'You dodged my question: do you think the Islamofacist movement has the moral high ground over The West?'

You assume that one must have the high ground over the other."

Read the question again--it does not assume a dichtomoy. The following question, however, would assume a dichtomoy: "Which of the following has the moral high ground: Islamofacism or the West." As you pointed out, an answer to my question could be "no" while still holding the possibility of the two being equal. The form of my question did not assume that a "no" answer would mean that Islamofacism has the moral high ground, just that the West did not have the high ground.

So, is that your answer? That Islamofacism and The West have equal moral standing? Kind of like how Stalin and Hitler have comparable moral standing?* If so, I would say that your answer(assuming you are a citizen of a Western State) is exactly the type of self-loathing that I asserted results from moral equivocation. Hence, we now have evidence "in the record" to support my openning statement...

*Palestinian and Al-Queda terrorists are part of the same Islamofacist movement, so I would say they are identical, not comparable

***
"Please enlighten us with your claimed "real world experience" in applying equally "claimed" moral principles."

I was an Army officer for four years, and as an example, I had to write policy that soldiers could implement on while serving security duties as to when they could use force to, say, protect classified material or prevent the death of U.S. personnel. As another example, I led to combat troops, and had to train myself to make judgments about when to order them to fire.

Time for lunch...

Posted by: Tanker J.D. on January 19, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Post from another site:

Sometimes its hard for me to distinguish the country I thought I knew from the countries and people we are railing against for their extremism.

I had once thought that we were principled on the foundation of tolerance and acceptance of others, no matter how different their views may be. We would use diplomacy and work through issues in accordance with "the supreme law of our land."

Now, we kill others indiscriminately while obsequiously following a president who, not only justifies our own terrorism against innocents, but, reduces our civil liberties while extolling the virtues of disregarding our constitution.

While many seek to justify deaths as "collateral" damage in the war on terror, it is only when we are personally confronted with a similar issue that reality strikes home --- enter Timothy McVeigh and the "collateral" damage he justified in Oklahoma City for his deranged actions.

The killing of innocent people anywhere on this planet is abhorrent and those who justify it under any circumstances, in my mind, are promulgating the very terrorism we are trying to eradicate.

Posted by: CaBeachBum on January 19, 2006 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Mike G: They're theocratic fascist nutballs.

Gee, what a choice.

Group A theocratic fascist nutballs who are in charge of our government, live among us in large numbers, and will have a significant effect on our lives . . .

or Group B theocratic fascist nutballs who primarily want us out of the Middle East, who live among us in small numbers, and will have an insignificant effect on our lives.

I'll get back to you after I've analyzed all the downsides of having to choose between two evils . . .

That was worded one rightie to another rightie. It's beyond your ken. See, we don't buy into the left's proposition that all good things flow from the government.

I thought you were a troll, not a rightie!

See, we don't buy into the conservatives' false proposition that the left thinks that all good things flow from the government.

It's very hard to ken what is false and who would want to?

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 19, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Now, what say you to the armchair general's undue concern for civilian casualties?

I think there is a genuine concern for civilian casualties, and it stems from the fact that people aren't wind-up killing machine robots. I don't have a problem with that. Sadly, there is little that a peace movement can actually accomplish anymore, what with the fact that NSA is wiretapping them, too.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

I was an Army officer for four years, and as an example, I had to write policy that soldiers could implement on while serving security duties as to when they could use force to, say, protect classified material or prevent the death of U.S. personnel. As another example, I led to combat troops, and had to train myself to make judgments about when to order them to fire.

Only four? What happened? Did you shoot the post commander's dog in a vicious firefight behind the Class 6?

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

I suppose it would be OK for Mexico to bomb a Texas ranch house if its intel indicated Zapatista leadership might be present?

Posted by: Scippie AM on January 19, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Tanker J.D.: Read the question again--it does not assume a dichtomoy.

Read the question again--it does assume a dichotomy, that one or the other must have the moral high ground.

You cannot answer "no" to the question you posed, since you provided only two possible answers: (1) Islamofascism or (2) the West.

Now, if you had asked, "does either Islamofascism or the West have the moral high ground and, if so, who", then an answer of "no" (or yes) could be provided.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 19, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Suppose the 4th plane on Sept 11 had hit the White House and Bush was home and was killed. Would the deaths of the secretaries, clerks and lower level workers be justified. What if only 18 clerical workers were killed with him?

Look Kevin, as long as the rule is going to be "It's ok for us to kill your innocent civilians but it's not ok for you to kill our innocent civilians" then we can't really expect the world to play by our rules. It's just like the rule that says "It's ok for us to kill your soldiers with a 500 pound laser guided bomb but it's not ok for you to kill our soldiers with an IED."

If Bush, you and everyone who thinks the war on terror is justified, then you at least have the responsibility to accept the fact that if their civilians are targets then we are too.

Posted by: tomeck on January 19, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

All you candy-asses, here's what justifies it. They're theocratic fascist nutballs. Our society is better than theirs. Anyone really want to argue the contrary?

I think Mike G has justified Al Queda's 9/11 attack on the US.

Posted by: Hostile on January 19, 2006 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Oh good God. If this where America circa 1939 we'd all be speaking German in a few years. Civilian casualties happen in war, even a just war. During WWII the 'good' guys strategically firebombed towns pretty much just to make a point. The difference between 'us' and 'them' isn't tactics, it's the motives of either side and the consequences of the victory of either side. If you genuinely believe that the world would be the same or a better place if AQ wins/the US loses then yeah, civilian deaths are civilians deaths and the actions of either side are morally equivalent. Of course, if you genuinely believe that the world would be the same or a better place if AQ wins/the US loses then you're either someone that enjoys stoning gays and oppressing women... or a mouth breathing moron. Otherwise, the civilian deaths are bound up in that great balancer of progressive books, 'for the greater good'. Further, everyone seems to take it for granted that the terrorists should bear even the slightest bit of culpability for adopting shielding themselves with innocents as an institutional tactic.

To all the Internet generals talking out of their necks here, that seem to believe that a couple of episodes of 24 and a Clancy novel give them the insight required to definitively state that SF troops could've been used to do this cleaner, some questions. SF troops staged where? How long would it've taken to gather logistical resources of a strike unit, their transport and support, planning the insertion, the op itself and the extraction, notifying the foreign government that you were putting troops on their soil, plus all the contingencies that have to be considered when you put people on the ground? Was the tactical window even large enough for all that to happen? Betcha it wasn't. The tactical beauty of the drones is that you can go from intelligence gathering to acting upon it in minutes. Hey, there's a bad guy! Are you sure? Let's get confirmation. Confirmed. Okay, let's take him out. Result, dead bad guy, faster than Domino's can get you a pizza.

Of course that haste, and the tools available, had consequences, just as inaction would've. Had inaction been chosen, as it was for most of the last administration, and as most here would seem to advocate, I sincerely doubt that the eventual consequences would actually be better than those of removing these people from the face of the planet, even factoring the costs. And while I hear a lot of passion that the path chosen was wrong, I don't hear a lot of persausive arguments as to why the alternatives would be better. So people in Pakistan maybe hate us a little (or a lot) more; would they love us if we left them to the tender embrace of AQ and/or what's left of the Taliban? Our status in the world is diminished because we were fighting 'dirty'; would our status increase if it were clear that either you can harm us with impunity or if we do fight we'll do so stupidly, with rigid, telegraphed tactics and a preference for moral victories over actual strategic or tactical ones?
I have some respect for people who oppose a tactic because they believe it's ineffective toward the common goal of combatting terror; that's a gentlemen's disagreement over methods, but the basic logic is shared. But most of the dissenters seem to not share that basis, and instead seem to view terror, poverty, racism, et al as the justifiable result of the US's very existence.

Posted by: junyo on January 19, 2006 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

I think this incident might have been easier to swallow for many of us had we not been lied to so unashamedly about death drones and mushrooms clouds and yellowcake and Al Qaeda connections.

The same administration that would like Americans to support this attack in Pakistan has not shown the tiniest bit of competence, sincerity, or careful concern for human life in their failure to plan for an occupation of Iraq and their failure even try and educate themselves on the dynamics between the factions there.

They've proven their willingness to exaggerate and misrepresent intelligence to falsely garner political support for their agenda.

They've paid lip-service to democracy but were willing to install a caretaker government until an insurgency and Ayatollah Sistani forced them to step up to the plate.

They've shown they don't truly respect the sovereignty of other nations by using the Iraqis' sovereign resources as free-market plums for their buddies and supporters.

And they've shown they really don't care about policy or real intelligence enough to anticipate an insurgency and possible civil war in Iraq which could have been and probably was predicted by second graders somewhere.

A good leader with a good track record can ameliorate an unfortunate incident like this for his countrymen; a bad leader, because he's broken trust, cannot.

That's why it's important to have good leaders when you're faced with bad choices.

Posted by: trex on January 19, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider:

"Only four? What happened? Did you shoot the post commander's dog in a vicious firefight behind the Class 6?"

Right--somethin' like that. Or maybe I just wanted to go to grad school, and the dead dog just provided a reason.

Advocate--The question does not assume a dichotomy. Answering "no" to the question "is A greater than B" does not mean B is greater than A. Any Middle School student can see that.

Posted by: Tanker J.D. on January 19, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Im pretty sure all US civilians are targets for Al Qaeda, its sad innocents may have been killed, according to Al Qaeda's theories any Submissives killed in this war are going to paradise anyway.

Posted by: dave clarke on January 19, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

I forgot to mention Ronni Moffitt, an American, was also killed by the Chilean government on US soil when they car bombed Letelier. According to e.e. Americans, Chile was justified in killing innocent Americans in America in order to eliminate a political threat to their regime.

Vile e.e. Americans.

Posted by: Hostile on January 19, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Tanker J.D.: If so, I would say that your answer(assuming you are a citizen of a Western State) is exactly the type of self-loathing that I asserted results from moral equivocation.

So, a German during WWII who determined that his own country and its allies were morally repugnant would have been engaged in "self-loathing" and "moral equivocation"?

If you really believe this, then truly you are an idiot and don't understand the term "equivocation."

Determining that the US has acted immorally is not equivocation.

Equivocation would be "I'm not sure whether the US has engaged in immoral actions."

Equivocation is not having a definite opinion.

Equivocation means to "hedge."

There is nothing "hedging" in saying that the West and the Islamofascists are morally equivalent.

You may disagree with that conclusion and it might even be wrong, but it is not "equivocating" to hold such an opinion, morally, intellectually, or otherwise.

So, I think you do not truly understand the meaning of the phrase "moral equivocation" and are merely parroting what you believe to be a dandy ad hominem phrase you heard on some conservative talk show or blog.

Try to refrain from parroting conservative spin phrasing until you understand it.

Palestinian and Al-Queda terrorists are part of the same Islamofacist movement, so I would say they are identical, not comparable . . .

Things that are identical are comparable: the comparison is that they are identical.

I compare the suspect's fingerprint to the fingerprint found at the crime scene: they are identical (or not); they are comparable.

Are you sure you understand the words that are coming out of your keyboard?

Hence, we now have evidence "in the record" to support my openning statement...

The only evidence we appear to have is that you weren't quite accurate in posing the issues in your opening statement in a way that can be answered . . .

Now, for some REAL equivocation . . .

It is not an easy question, considering the history of each as a whole, as to whether the Islamofascists or the West (again, as a whole, despite the fact that neither forms a consistent whole) has a higher moral standing on some theoretical scale of the same.

Was 9/11 a more immoral act than the attack on the suspected Al Queda leadership?

Probably, but even assuming this to be so, on whatever theoretical scale you might employ, the finding that one act is more immoral does not justify the other act.

Murder is more immoral than rape.

Rape is, however, not a moral act.

You would likely, given your statements above, insist that it is "moral equivocation" to refuse to decide whether the Islamofascists, based solely on the 9/11 incident, or the West, based solely on the suspected Al Queda leadership execution incident, has the higher moral ground.

It is a specious assumption that a geographic region (the West) can be compared to a political/military/philosophical movement ("Islamofascism").

It is equally specious to assume that an evaluation of only two incidents, one by either side, is sufficient to answer the broad question of which has the moral high ground.

It is arrogant to insist that a decision on the overall moral equivalency of the two is necessary, is useful, is easy, is reasonably arrived at, or must come down on the side of one's own country and that a failure to arrive at such a decision in a moment's reflection is "moral equivocation" or that a failure to arrive at a decision that you agree with is also "moral equivocation".

Those who pander to such false dichotomies are deserving of no respect intellectually or morally.

Your "moral equivalence" dichotomy has no more meaning than asking whether the murderer or the rapist stands on the moral high ground.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 19, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Is stopping a on-going genocide the only justification for invasion?

That or self-defense, generally; neither was the case in our unprovoked invasion of Iraq.

Posted by: Stefan on January 19, 2006 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Right--somethin' like that. Or maybe I just wanted to go to grad school, and the dead dog just provided a reason.

Funny, the US Army that I served in sort of liked having officers go to grad school, and would often pay for their education. You must have served in a time of great peril and confusion--did the Iraq war convince you to resign your commission like a good many other officers?

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Sadly, there is little that a peace movement can actually accomplish anymore, what with the fact that NSA is wiretapping them, too.

Exactly who would they wiretap? What little peace movement we have is so inpet the GOP likes having them around. Cindy Sheehan is a buffoon. Academia is even better. I've read dozens of attempts to hold peace marches on campus and it's the same story. There are more graybeard professors than students.

The kids in college today are there for one reason and it's not to dodge the draft. They look at the guy in front of class as the "A" they need for a good job. He works for them. or more commonly, their daddy. They're not going to listen to his political crap. Plus they don't have time for rallies between classtime, working out at the gym, studying and the keggars. Consumers aren't spending $25K a year to have some quack preach politics.

Forget any peace movement. 1968 will never be repeated. It's also true that student bodies are more conservative today reflecting 3 decade birth patterns. Liberal secularists simply do not reproduce.

Posted by: rdw on January 19, 2006 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Mike G: All you candy-asses, here's what justifies it. They're theocratic fascist nutballs. Our society is better than theirs. Anyone really want to argue the contrary? Let's roll!

Mahmoud G: All you candy-asses, here's what justifies it. They're godless infidel pigs. Our society is better than theirs. Anyone really want to argue the contrary? God is great!

Posted by: Stefan on January 19, 2006 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Exactly who would they wiretap? What little peace movement we have is so inpet the GOP likes having them around.

rdw is never the smartest person on the thread...

The National Security Agency used law enforcement agencies, including the Baltimore Police Department, to track members of a city anti-war group as they prepared for protests outside the sprawling Fort Meade facility, internal NSA documents show.

The target of the clandestine surveillance was the Baltimore Pledge of Resistance, a group loosely affiliated with the local chapter of the American Friends Service Committee, whose members include many veteran city peace activists with a history of nonviolent civil disobedience.

Under various names, the activists have staged protests at the NSA campus off the Baltimore-Washington Parkway every year since 1996.

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, members of the group say, their protests have come under increasing scrutiny by federal and local law enforcement officials working on behalf of the NSA.

An internal NSA e-mail, posted on two Internet sites this week, shows how operatives with the "Baltimore Intel Unit" provided a minute-by-minute account of Pledge of Resistances' preparations for a July 3, 2004, protest at Fort Meade. An attorney for the demonstrators said he obtained the document through the discovery process from NSA.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

I think Mike G has justified Al Queda's 9/11 attack on the US.
Have you possibly considered the idea that starting a fight is slightly different than having a fight started upon you?

Naw, I suppose not.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 19, 2006 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Have you possibly considered the idea that starting a fight is slightly different than having a fight started upon you?

I think it has probably occurred to the Iraqi insurgents. They're not going to cut and run, so why should we!

Where's rdw and his superhero cape to save us all from the dreaded little brown people with scraggly beards and the gleam of bloodlust in their eye?

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Palestinian and Al-Queda terrorists are part of the same Islamofacist movement, so I would say they are identical, not comparable . . .

Look, if you say absurd things like this you can't expect to be taken that seriously here. Palestinian terrorism, while it has acquired an Islamic tinge in recent years (particularly since the growth of Hamas) is at its roots nationalist, with the ultimate goal of reconstituting Palestine as a secular state. The early PLO was largely secular in character (at least as secular as you can get in the Middle East) and there were even Christian Palestinian PLO members. Since the late 1980s intifadas and the failure of the PLO to provide a state Hamas has gained ground, to be sure, but at root the Palestinians want a home here on Earth, not in Heaven.

Al Qaeda, on the other hand, is a fundamentalist religious (or, as we say here, faith-based) movement with its roots in the Muslim Brotherhood and in a strange amalgam of Salafist/Wahabbi ideology. It has no real earthly goals (none that have a prayer of being met, anyway) and it is as much an enemy of the secular Arab regimes as it is of the West.

Know your enemy, for God's sake. That's a basic rule of warfare.

Posted by: Stefan on January 19, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

And AfG slams headfirst into Godwin's Law with:
So, a German during WWII who determined that his own country and its allies were morally repugnant would have been engaged in "self-loathing" and "moral equivocation"?

Because as we all know:
United States of America = Nazi freakin' Germany.

Well I'm off to gas some Jews, homosexuals, and Jehovah's Witnesses.

Posted by: junyo on January 19, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Have you possibly considered the idea that starting a fight is slightly different than having a fight started upon you?

So says the Iraqi resistance in response to our invasion of them....

Posted by: Stefan on January 19, 2006 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan,

Jinx!

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

junyo, you're an idiot. people who start thinking like you in term of black and white without taking a step back end up gassing jews, homosexuals and jehovah witnesses

Posted by: GOD on January 19, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

junyo: Had inaction been chosen, as it was for most of the last administration . . .

A lie repeated still has no value.

BTW, the issue is the deliberate killing of civilians, not unintended collateral damage.

Get a clue.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 19, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Forget any peace movement. 1968 will never be repeated.

Actually, 1968 was trumped by the peace protests worldwide in the year prior to the Iraq war, and specifically on February 15, in which 150 cities in the U.S. saw protests and in which Rome entered the Guinness Book of World Records for holding the largest peace protest in history with three million people.

American cities saw protests numbering in the hundreds of thousands on a number of different days during that year. This all happened before the war even started.

Posted by: trex on January 19, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

junyo: And AfG slams headfirst into Godwin's Law with . . .

Not every reference to WWII Germany implicates Godwin's Law.

Not that you really understand Godwin's Law, or much of anything else.

junyo: Well I'm off to gas some Jews, homosexuals, and Jehovah's Witnesses.

Well, at least you are honest about your prejudices.

Tanker: Advocate--The question does not assume a dichotomy. Answering "no" to the question "is A greater than B" does not mean B is greater than A. Any Middle School student can see that.

You didn't ask is A greater than B; you asked "which of A or B is greater".

Those are two different questions.

Didn't study your grammer in school, I see.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 19, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

junyo: Because as we all know: United States of America = Nazi freakin' Germany.

Only because of people like you.

Now, that might conceivably implicate Godwin's Law.

But don't impose false meanings on my posts because of your own political biases.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 19, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

I think it has probably occurred to the Iraqi insurgents.
Point taken. Be sure to remind me of this if I complain that they are attacking our forces.

Now, shall I list the UN sanctions and resolutions against the government they are trying to get back? Shall I reproduce the number of Iraqis killed by the government they are trying to get back? The number of Kuwaitis?

Possibly you need to reconsider junyo at 1:46.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 19, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

You didn't ask is A greater than B; you asked "which of A or B is greater".

Or to be more precise and accurate, you asked . . .

Which is the greater:

(1) A,

or

(2) B?


Now, would you like to change your question to:

Which is the greater:

(1) A,

or

(2) B,

or

(3) Neither?

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 19, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

"Mike G: All you candy-asses, here's what justifies it. They're theocratic fascist nutballs. Our society is better than theirs. Anyone really want to argue the contrary? Let's roll!

"Mahmoud G: All you candy-asses, here's what justifies it. They're godless infidel pigs. Our society is better than theirs. Anyone really want to argue the contrary? God is great!"

Exactly. Survival of the fittest, and by Edison, our society has superior values which lead to the creation of superior weaponry, while theirs is backward and parasitic on our technology. Make 'em sorry they brought it up!

Posted by: Mike G on January 19, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

To take Libby Sosume's statement above ("Kevin, is your hypothetical question anything like the ticking bomb hypothetical that the Rethuglicans like to use to justify torture?") and make the argument against you explicit: If, in your consistently stated opinion, it's NOT ok to torture an actual guilty person in custody in order to gain intel against a putative attack, then why is it ok to kill innocent collaterals in an attack on a site where we guess that suspects may be located?

I'm not attacking your position, Kevin (though I don't agree with it), just genuinely curious how you reconcile these scenarios.

Posted by: The Confidence Man on January 19, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

pale rider,

So when were they wiretaped? You make my point. What protestors? I've never heard of these people and I read a lot of news. If getting 30 people to picket something is your idea of a peace protest we're on very different pages. One of the comical things about the protests that actually make it on TV a couple of years ago was the fact of the pitifully small size AND the variety of different groups. They were incoherent. You had the eco-freaks, the anti-globalists, anti-death-penalty, free mumia, etc. Even with the MSM exaggerating crowd size they were still putifully small.

What you are seeing from the Baltimore police and those across the country is a determination not to be made an ass of as the Seattle riotors did in the 90's for the city and Bill 'they-deserve-a-seat-at-the-table' Clinton. They all now follow the NYC model of aggressive interference. They're mostly the idle young of rich old lefties. I got to watch this fairly closely in Philly a few years back. One kid, about 30, punched a cop sitting in his cop car and ran. Except people saw him and tripped him up. The cops beat the crap out of him but didn't arrest himas he wanted for a police brutality lawsuit. They're were no cameras and the spectators wanted to kick his ass too. He just slithered away.

They have to watch these people because they're nuts. But they have zero support. Most people see them as spoiled and clueless rich kids looking for attention. Philly is one of those towns if a group of demonstrators started doing here what they did in Settle, looting, they've all say in unison, "SHOOT TO KILL." Just mow those assh*les down!

All they so is add to the image of a totally whacko left. People don't like them.

Posted by: rdw on January 19, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I criticize someone for making the US the moral equivalent of Nazi Germany, and i'm thinking in black and white. Right...

GOD, you seemed a lot smarter in that book you wrote.

A lie repeated still has no value. And the act of denying something doesn't automatically make it untrue. I'm fully willing to get any clue you can offer that proves the Clinton administration did something more than token attempts at combatting external threats. I'd also be real interested in any clues that you have that prove that the US deliberately kills civilians when it can avoid it.

Until such clues are offered all my points stand.

Posted by: junyo on January 19, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, the issue is the deliberate killing of civilians, not unintended collateral damage.
From Kevin's post:

let's also assume that we did indeed kill al-Masri and several other major al-Qaeda leaders. Finally, let's assume that the 18 civilians killed in the attack were genuinely innocent bystanders
No, we're talking about collateral damage, not deliberate targeting. Unless of course we're talking about 9/11. Now that was deliberate targeting of civilians.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 19, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Now, shall I list the UN sanctions and resolutions against the government they are trying to get back? Shall I reproduce the number of Iraqis killed by the government they are trying to get back? The number of Kuwaitis?

Whoa, now I'm confused. The UN sanctions and resolutions were not effective? Or were they too effective. I thought we had to invade Iraq because the UN simply wasn't tough enough on Iraq. But you seem to be saying that the insurgents are trying to restore a government that was allegedly in collusion with the UN during the Oil-For-Food scandal. How could that be if there were santions and resolutions in place?

Can you school me on this because, to be honest, one good post from rdw and my brain just turns to mush and me...feel...stupid...in...brain.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Philly is one of those towns if a group of demonstrators started doing here what they did in Settle, looting, they've all say in unison, "SHOOT TO KILL." Just mow those assh*les down!

Oh, so now you're a law and order man, huh?

All they so is add to the image of a totally whacko left. People don't like them.

Shoot to kill! Bang bang bang! Yeah, they're nuts, rdw. You're the sane one.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

American cities saw protests numbering in the hundreds of thousands on a number of different days during that year. This all happened before the war even started.

They weren't anywhere near the hundreds of thousands and they were a freakshow of leftwing causes from anti-death penalty, free mumia, no drilling in ANWR, same-sex marriage, anti-trade etc. They were pitiful. That's why they stopped. They had negative influence. Every whackjob with a complaint showed up. There was a serious shortage of sane people.

Fox and others did an estimate of crowd sizes and they were ALL grossly overstated. Fox even got the Washington Post to issue a correction on an estimate they used for a DC rally. It was not uncommon to see more reporters than protestors at some of these demonstrations. In fact DC business owners started complaining because the rumors of the protests kept the locals and visitors away while there were so few protestors the resturants and retail shops took a beating. There were fewer people around the mall than on an average day.

Posted by: rdw on January 19, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

If the United States were engaged in a war against Pakistan, and if there were a division headquarters located in Damadola (in particular a HQ that was actively engaged in combat operations against US forces), then maybe the US military or CIA would be justified in conducting an airstrike against it. Then the collateral damage should be limited if possible, but if not, that's war. You use all the tactical tools at your command to achieve critical operational objectives.

On the other hand, in a counterinsurgency strike against a suspected target of a few insurgent leaders that MAY BE holing up in a civilian town, your objectives are different. Emphasis is on minimal amount of force necessary, and ideally, use the allied regime (Pakistan) instead of your own. That's what should have happened. The US government made the wrong call at Damadola. Kevin made the wrong call in suggesting that it's okay to accidently kill a few dozen noncombatants as long as you get a few replaceable top leaders.

See here for discussion.

Posted by: J. on January 19, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

- Let's assume we thought we had good intelligence about the location of these targets.
-Let's assume we took out the buildings in question and that we had not killed any of the targets but had killed more than a dozen civilians.

Would this attack be justified???

Posted by: bob mcdowell on January 19, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider:

"Funny, the US Army that I served in sort of liked having officers go to grad school, and would often pay for their education. You must have served in a time of great peril and confusion--did the Iraq war convince you to resign your commission like a good many other officers?"

How long did you serve? When did you get out? What political statement were you making by leaving the Army? I suppose short of being involuntarily seperated (or even "forced" to retire), you must have had some sort of political statement to make, right?

Advocate:

"Identical" and "comparable" can have different meanings. The first means that only one entity exists, and the other means more than one entity exists, which are, however, similar. For example, a fingerprint at a crime scene could be sufficiently COMPRABLE to a fingerprint taken from a suspect such that a jury could conclude that both fingerprints came from the IDENTICAL source--viz. the suspect. However, there are TWO fingerprints. Thus, they are not "identical", just "comprable".

So, Hitler, a facist dictator, was comprable to Stalin, a communist dictator, but Hitler and Stalin were not identical nor were they in identical movements. Conversely, Palestinian terrorists and Al Queada terrorists have the same overarching goals and are part the identical movement--islamofacism.

When I used "The West" I was not refering to just a geographic area. I was refering to an entire civilization that is made up of a geographic area and group of people sharing common values, such as liberal democracy (with a little "l" and a little "d"). Thus, I was comparing the collective morality of the group of people in the West, as a civilization, to the collective morality of group of people in a political movement called "Islamofacism".

You're also changing the definition of "equivocate" from the one assigned to that word in the context in which I used it, to another definition that suits you. Yes, "equivocate" can mean to hedge, but it can also mean to make a statement saying that two things are equal or at least comprable.

Your arguments that I was proffering "false dichotomies" hinged on how you defined the terms I used.

So, now that I have clarified the terms, I will offer your form of my previous question: "does either Islamofascism or the West have the moral high ground and, if so, who"? Do you stand on the answer you previously offered that, said essentially:

"Islamofacism : Murderers :: The West : Rapists?"

If so, does that not offer an equivocation between Islamofacism and the West, by implying that both are essentially immoral entities, differing only in the degree to which they are immoral? If not, why not?

Your rejoinder stating that I implied German dissenters from Nazism were "self-loathers" is off-base. I was not saying that dissent causes self-loathing. I was saying that someone who is a member of an essentially moral group, who because of the imperfecions of that group, concludes that his group is no better than (or at least just differs by a matter of degree, not kind) from an essentially immoral group is a self-loather.

I believe that Western civilization, despite all its flaws, is essentially a force for good, but the Islamofacist movement is an immoral, oppressive, and, yes, evil force. Accordingly, I see Westerners who argue that the West is like a rapist while Islamofacist is like a murderer as being self-loathers. (Not traitors, though, mind you).

Posted by: Tanker J.D. on January 19, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

I'd also be real interested in any clues that you have that prove that the US deliberately kills civilians when it can avoid it.

Hamburg, Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, My Lai, the American Indians....

Posted by: Stefan on January 19, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Only because of people like you.
Ah, ad hominems, the last refuge of the pointless. As to the Jews, homosexuals, and Jehovah's Witnesses thing; it probably helps to know who you're dealing with before you sling insults. I take the comparison of the US to Nazi Germany extremely personally. Of that list I am one, related to another, and in a committed relationship with the third. You guess which. If you had any comprehension of how these groups were treated by the Nazis you'd begin to understand how repugnant your logic is. But from the discussion I'm guessing logic's not your strong point.

Posted by: junyo on January 19, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Conversely, Palestinian terrorists and Al Queada terrorists have the same overarching goals and are part the identical movement--islamofacism.

Again, no, this is nonsense. For one thing, there is no such thing as "Islamofacism." Islamists hold that everything should be controlled by Islam, by religion; fascists, on the other hand, believe in state control. They're quite incompatible. Osama bin Laden -- Islamist; Saddam Hussein -- fascist.

For another, just as I said above the goal of Palestinian terrorism is the re-establishment of a recognized Palestinian state. They have well-defined political goals.

The goal of Al Qaeda and its allies is much more diffuse, if they can even be said to have one single goal: the overthrow of secular Arab regimes, the establishment of a Caliphate, uniting all Muslim lands, throwing the West out of Muslim lands, etc. These are not so much political goals as they are lurid fantasies.

Posted by: Stefan on January 19, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: Be sure to remind me of this if I complain that they are attacking our forces.

Consider yourself reminded.

Shall I reproduce the number of Iraqis killed by the government they are trying to get back?

It would be interesting if you could reproduce dead people. So, yes, by all means do so.

Shouldn't you also cite the number of people killed by the Saddam government that conservatives adored, supported, funded, and armed?

Shouldn't you also cite the UN resolutions that the Bush administration violated in invading Iraq, not to mention the international laws?

How about citing the number of Panamanians that conservatives helped Noriega kill?

Or the number of Chileans they helped Pinochet kill?

Or the number of Guatamalans they helped Rios Montt kill?

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 19, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

AfG
Ya, those Repubs used to be evil, evil, evil. But we don't need to be anymore. You moonbats have started defending the dictators.

Thanks for freeing us up for more noble pursuits.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 19, 2006 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Islamists hold that everything should be controlled by Islam, by religion; fascists, on the other hand, believe in state control. They're quite incompatible.

What utter nonsense. Go read Berman's Terror and Liberalism to see how well the two work together-- and blend indistinguishably.

Anyway, no one seems to recognize the real virtue of this operation: all those villages which will be scared to host a dinner for al-Qaeda biggies for fear the bombs will come down. (That someone local had to tip the Pakistani government and thus us off is obvious. Stoking paranoia is always helpful.) The tougher it is for al-Qaeda to get a hot meal and chitchat, the better off we are. That thousands of lives-- ours or theirs-- may have been saved by the civilian deaths in this operation is undeniable.

Posted by: Mike G on January 19, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

To beat a dead horse, I said:

Advocate for God

You dodged my question: do you think the Islamofacist movement has the moral high ground over The West?

. . . .

Posted by: Tanker J.D. on January 19, 2006 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Thus, I said "is A greater than B", not "which is greater."

It's sort of a silly point, because I accept the idea that one could theoretically say "both the West and Islamofacism are both immoral, but to different degrees," which is what I think you are saying... I guess I just fundamentally disagree...

Posted by: Tanker J.D. on January 19, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

I'll give you Hamburg and Dresden Stefan, those had little strategic value. They were also better than 60 years ago. Same with the native Americans. There's a fairly substantial body of work that shows bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved both American and Japanese lives and that this was intentional. My Lai wasn't the US government, but rougue agents thereof. So in better than two centuries 2 good examples, and none within the last half century. Unless you have any contemporary examples? Because I actually asked about proof that it "kills" as in 'does right now', as opposed to "killed" as in answering for national history.

Posted by: junyo on January 19, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Well, now that we know this Bin Laden video/tape was in the pipeline, we can take some more skeptical conclusions about the whole affair in Pakistan last Friday. It's all about the narrative...

Posted by: Jimm on January 19, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Whoa, now I'm confused.
That's because you looked right past where I was going. Consider what type of nation gets that type of sanctions from the UN, that's all.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 19, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Jason Sigger over at the progressive national security blog Blue Force takes issue with Drum's position. Check it out.

Posted by: Nick Schwellenbach on January 19, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Shoot to kill! Bang bang bang! Yeah, they're nuts, rdw. You're the sane one.

Quite right. Looters are quite unpopular in this town. If you want to come to philly and torch the place you might get seriously hurt. And You won't get a 2nd chance. The cool thing about that freak show in philly was they got an extremely cold reception from the people on the street. If I remember correctly they arrested about 400 people and 350 of the charges were discharged at trial. They identified the freaks in advance and arrested them before they could do any real damage. They spent so much time in jail they missed their own party.

The only real newsmaking event was a sit-in on the street blocking an offramp of the highway into center city. It caused a bit of a traffic jam and infuriated the entire city. Aside from making average people detest them even more I can't imagine what it accomplished.

Let's face it. These people don't count. They won't get shot because all they're looking for is their 15 minutes. They want it to be 1968. But they don't have the balls and they are too few. They're a freak show and not at all well run.

Posted by: rdw on January 19, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

How long did you serve?

Seven years

When did you get out?

2004

What political statement were you making by leaving the Army?

None. Hell, they didn't listen when I was in the Army, why would they listen just because I was leaving the Army?

I suppose short of being involuntarily seperated (or even "forced" to retire), you must have had some sort of political statement to make, right?

I left standing up, no chapter, no forced retirement, no political statement. I was MOS 98C, served in four separate Military Intelligence battalions, and they were all disasterously organized and led.

See, the problem was, when you're the only one who knows the mission, can accomplish the mission, the only one who can take the ASAS system into the field and set it up and connect it to the satellite and pull in information, and then you have to sit back and watch incompetent warrant officers take credit for the work of NCOs, well...I guess there's a political statement in there somewhere.

I now work in a bottle washing factory. But thanks for playing.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

rdw: I've never heard of these people and I read [all my] news [in White House press releases which surely would have mentioned these].

Corrected version of rdw's post for honesty in meaning sake.

junyo: Yeah, I criticize someone for making the US the moral equivalent of Nazi Germany . . .

Which no one did.

Besides BIS, you seem to also suffer from that mendacity bug that afflicts most conservatives.

GOD, you seemed a lot smarter in that book you wrote.

Well, everybody looks smarter in print, with perhaps you being the exception and looking equally ignorant and stupid either way.

junyo: I'm fully willing to get any clue you can offer that proves the Clinton administration did something more than token attempts at combatting external threats.

Continued implementation of no-fly zone.

Bombing of Iraqi weapons facilities.

Disarming of Saddam through continued support of the UN sanctions.

Which makes you a liar.

I'd also be real interested in any clues that you have that prove that the US deliberately kills civilians when it can avoid it.

The attack that is the subject of this thread.

Which also makes you a liar.

conspiracy nut: No, we're talking about collateral damage, not deliberate targeting.

Kevin's assumed scenario is not the same as the incident as it was reported. His scenario was for argument's sake. Pretending otherwise, as you do, is simply another example of your mendacity at work.

Tanker: Yes, "equivocate" can mean to hedge, but it can also mean to make a statement saying that two things are equal or at least comprable.

You'd better consult your dictionary again. There is no meaning of equivocate that means to make a statement that two things are equal or comparable.

Perhaps you are thinking of a different word, but it ain't equivocate.

Be sure to reference the dictionary you get your definition from if you think differently.

Mine's Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary.

What's yours? The Conservative's Dictionary of Fanciful Words?


Posted by: Advocate for God on January 19, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

So you got out because you didn't like your environment. Good choice. Thank you for your service, though.

I got out because I had done what I went in to do, and wanted to move on with a different career. I wasn't making any political statement.

Posted by: Tanker J.D. on January 19, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

They weren't anywhere near the hundreds of thousands

Sorry, those estimates came not only from the major media outlets but many came from local police, Mall police, park police -- as well as analysis of photographs taken of the events.

No matter what event is taking place there is always a descrepancy between the organizers' numbers and those of the police, but even the police admitted to 100,000+ in many of the peace marches.

Your attempts to portray them as having more reporters than attendees is weak. But if nothing else, it gives all of us an insight into your psyche. Just keep your eyes scrunched closed and listen to the soothing words of Fox News and alllll the bad liberals will disappear.

When I read an rdw post I swear I feel like I'm in the audience participation version of the stage adaption for Orwell's 1984. You've got it all: the historical revisionism of the Ministry of Truth, the Two Minutes Hate for enemies of the Party, triumphalism over enemies we never have to defeat because it keeps the Party in power, and Big Brother watching us in the form of the NSA.

Everything being equal, I think most of us prefer Cats. At least it had interesting costumes.

Posted by: trex on January 19, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Cecce, You really seem to get it.

There are some people writing here who belive that the first role of government is to enforce their own parochial view of morality. That's not the case.

The first role of every government anywhere is to maintain a stable society in which individuals are able to work and raise their families with a minimum of disruption. We have assigned the right to use force to whichever government does this most effectively.

Within any single state most governments establish institutions to maintain the peace and stability, and in the west we generally assign those institutions a monopoly on the right to use force to do their jobs. Outside the state, the rules change sharply.

We live in a world of sovereign states, in which there are no overarching institutions that have the job of maintaining peace and stability and to which all or most nations have assigned a monopoly on the right to use lethal force. That's why nearly every nation has its own military. `

But the first responsibility of every government is to maintain the peace and social stability. Failure to achieve this job desroys all legitimacy for any government. Failure to act in a so-called moral manner (who defines morality? Bush? Pat Robertson?) is not necessarily a threat to the legitimacy and existance of a government.

War is a an attempt to enforce a new government institution over a state to replace an older one. Within a nation, insurgency is used to proove the government has failed in its primary responsibility. That is why the Iraqi insurgents have no hesitation to attack civilians. That is also why the Americans need to as much as possible protect civiliams. The issue is not morality, it is simply power politics.

The Bush administration stupidly invaded Iraq because it did not understand what it meant to remove the previous government. (It meant we had to take over the function of providing stability.)

The insurgents, for whatever reasons individually, have taken the form of terroristic insurgency to destabilize the nation as long as the Americans are there and responsible for providing stability. Saddam did a much better job of providing stability. That is why cries of his immorality really miss the point.

In the diverse and inherently unstable society of the slap-dash so-called "Nation" of Iraq, the use of internal terror may well have been the only way to hold it together. [Whether holding Iraq together is important is a totally different issue that depends a lot of the position each arguing person starts from.]

I don't think America has the motivation or the stomach to do what will be required to create and maintain peace and stability in Iraq. Afgthanistan is a different case. We let Karsai do that job early on, and while the warlords and dope dealers don't much cooperate, at least the entire nation is not as disruipted as it was after the Soviets left and in desperation the people accepted the Taliban.

It was the effort of the Taliban to enforce its extreme form of Islamic morality on the people of Afghanistan that made their overthrow relatively easy for American-supported forces.

Unfortunately, the Bush admininstration's choice of who to install in Iraq (Chalabi) failed to do his part and was rejected. The most recent election removed most of the secular Iraqis from the government, and the internal conflicts seem insurmountable. Many of the Shiite and Kurdish groups are trying to manipulate the American forces to take over the nation as the Baatists had previously done, while the Sunnis are trying to use the insurgency to prove the Americans and their supports cannot provide the benefits of government.

We frankly cannot win there. Murtha has it right. But the key is that any successful government will provide peace and stability. It is an issue of power politics and moral arguments have little or nothing useful to add to the wars.

Posted by: Rick B on January 19, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

rdw has a bottle of Wild Turkey and unwinds...

Looters are quite unpopular in this town...If you want to come to philly and torch the place you might get seriously hurt...And You won't get a 2nd chance...The cool thing about that freak show in philly was they got an extremely cold reception from the people on the street...Let's face it...These people don't count...They won't get shot because all they're looking for is their 15 minutes...They want it to be 1968. But they don't have the balls and they are too few...They're a freak show and not at all well run.

Okay, Archie Bunker. Did the Philly cops fish you and your LaSalle out of the river? They must have seen you waving your superhero cape at them. For God's sake, man, if you're going to get drunk and crash into the river after a rant like that, try to remember to put some pants on.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Everything being equal, I think most of us prefer Cats. At least it had interesting costumes.

I think we'd all prefer Spam-A-Lot.

Oh, and Pale Rider's post is up at that milblog that has spammed our thread.

See here:

http://blueforceblog.com/node/63

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

junyo,

Hamburg and Dresden were legitimate military targets as major parts of the German war making machine. While the US was assured large numbers of civilians would be killed they were never the target. The US was after the factories producing the armaments. Germany had to be defeated.


Terrorists intentionally target innocent civilians. American soldiers take steps not to target. But when the enemy hides within the population and is accepted as a guest they willingly position themselves as targets. If the CIA had the technology to kill just the 4 targets they would have done so.

Mike G above is quite right. This exercise will be very valuable in disrupting Al Qaeda. Aside from the obvious loss of talent they don't know who ratted them out and they are going to find it increasingly harder to get dinner invitations. They were in a very desolate and unpleasant place and the CIA still found them.

Posted by: rdw on January 19, 2006 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Pale Rider, glad you came over to our Blue Force site to "represent" the WM community, but this is about the first time one of our guys has come over to comment. Hardly a "spam" attack. All I did was state my case calmly and leave a link for further discussion. I didn't ask you to click on the link and unload your emotional hand-wringing "every life has value" BS on our site. You want to talk or you want to flame? But don't attack me and call me a spammer.

Check your facts and grow up already. You want to discuss this like adults or just be Kevin's public relations front?

Posted by: J. on January 19, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Trex,

If the demonstrations were so popular why did they stop? Where is this peace movement? There's no there there!

In 1968 Eugene McCarthy chased LBJ, an incumbent President, out of the race. Howard Dean managed one 3rd place in the primaries and screwed John Kerry.

There is no peace movement. There will never be a peace movement. The estimates of the rallies of a few years ago were a joke and Fox tore them apart.

Posted by: rdw on January 19, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Check your facts and grow up already. You want to discuss this like adults or just be Kevin's public relations front?

Wah wah wah. Sounds like the little milblogger found a booger in his milk.

You and your boy Neil hit us twice in less than a half an hour. Our resident Chinese spammers at least take a little break before hitting us. And believe me, you don't want DavidChingChangCho spamming your dang thread...

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

The estimates of the rallies of a few years ago were a joke and Fox tore them apart.

You're just making an assertion that's contrary to the facts.

You'd make a stronger case if you stuck to the facts and didn't stoop to weak rhetorical devices.

Speaking of Kyoto, did you read where five former Republican heads of the EPA came together yesterday to denounce this administration's handling of global warming and endorse carbon credits? Man, if you can't trust a Republican on global warming, who can you trust?

Hundreds. Of. Thousands.

Posted by: trex on January 19, 2006 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

trex,

see the WSJ editorial today? kyoto is pitiful. Our two biggest critics at the last montreal meeting were greece and canada. Our emission are up 15.8% since 1990. There's are up 23% and 24% respectively. And that's as of 2002. Before Canada opened the tar sands up.

11 of the 13 EU signers are going to miss the targets by a wide margin. Spain by 33% and Denmark by 25%

it's a joke.

Posted by: rdw on January 19, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

rdw:

Seen the latest climate trends? Desertification figures and loss of arable land? You may want to fiddle while the planet burns by trying to win political points off of Kyoto, but anything is better than nothing.

Puh-leeze don't bring up non-existent Bush plans with Asia that you and I both know will never, ever be implemented.

Anyway, off topic, sorry about that all.

Posted by: trex on January 19, 2006 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: You moonbats have started defending the dictators.

Since I'm not a moonbat, I know you aren't referring to me, but no liberals are defending any dictators.

We leave that to conservatives who also fund and arm them.

Tanker,

I think you mean "equate" when you say "equivocate".

These are not synomymous.

I also think you got "moral equivocation" from a conservative source that very likely used it in a context different that you understand this term to mean, but if they did not, then they used it incorrectly also.

In any event, as you say, it is a fairly minor point, except to the extent it represents a dishonest ad hominem attack on "liberals" by suggesting that they engage in "moral equivocation" as a whole and with consistency, without understanding exactly what you are charging "liberals" with and by using it inappropriately for the current issue.

Your claim that the "Islamofascists" (even if they were identifiable as a group or philosophy - a doubtful proposition) can be on the whole morally compared to "the West" as a whole (also dubiously an indentifiable group or philosophy, no matter how much you try to define it narrowly) is quite simply arrogant pedantics.

The West includes Germany which includes the Nazis, just to name one example of how the comparison fails.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 19, 2006 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

junyo: Yeah, I criticize someone for making the US the moral equivalent of Nazi Germany . . .

AfG:Which no one did.

Oh, really? Let's go to the tape!

Tanker J.D.: If so, I would say that your answer(assuming you are a citizen of a Western State) is exactly the type of self-loathing that I asserted results from moral equivocation.
Here you quote Tanker J.D. which established the basis of your comparision, ie. a "citizen of a Western State" engaged in "self-loathing". Since the entire thread relates to the actions of the US, and modern geopolitics have traditionally aligned 'East/West' with the US as the dominant state of the 'West', it can reasonably be inferred that the US is at least included in the term 'a Western State'.
So, a German during WWII who determined that his own country and its allies were morally repugnant would have been engaged in "self-loathing" and "moral equivocation"?
So here, in your response, you keep (in fact you quote) the "self-loathing" part of the statement but replace "citizen of a Western State" with "a German during WWII". And who was in power in Germany during WWII? C'mon, I know you know this... That's right, National Socialists, Nazis. Since the only thing that changed between Tanker J.D.'s statement and yours was the identities of the national groups, your statement is only valid if you are comparing, ie "considering or describing as similar, equal, or analogous" those national groups. So while you didn't explicitly compare the US to Nazi Germany (you merely explicitly compared the entire Western world to Nazis) you most certainly did make an implicit comparision.
AfG:Which makes you a liar.
Dude, you're being too hard on yourself. You're a bit confused and Lord know reading comprehension ain't your thing, but you honest probably believe the nonsense you spew. But I wouldn't call you a liar.

junyo: I'm fully willing to get any clue you can offer that proves the Clinton administration did something more than token attempts at combatting external threats.

AfG(apparently with a straight face)responded:
Continued implementation of no-fly zone.

Bombing of Iraqi weapons facilities.

Disarming of Saddam through continued support of the UN sanctions.

Which makes you a liar.
No, it makes me someone that understands the meaning of the word token. Continued implementation of policies the previous administration left in place, and occassioanlly lobbing a missile, don't really count. Besides, Saddam was a threat? I could've sworn that I was told he wasn't a threat to anyone.

junyo (the man of the hour, tower of power) said:I'd also be real interested in any clues that you have that prove that the US deliberately kills civilians when it can avoid it.

AfG (running from logic like a Frenchman runs from a shower) resplied: The attack that is the subject of this thread.
How a strike that DNA confirmed took out legitimate military targets equals deliberately targeting civilians, only the mind of AfG knows.

AfG: Which also makes you a liar.
Yeah, you're right, my bad. Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan, and Sean Penn probably know too.

rdw:Hamburg and Dresden were legitimate military targets as major parts of the German war making machine.
True, there were military and industrial targets in both locations. There's no doubt that they were legitimate targets. But the specific targeting of the raids, the manner in which they were conducted (such firebombing the town center, rather than the industrial district in the case of Dresden) and the obvious political motivations of the decision make it a less than optimal outcome in retrospect. There were also more strategically important ones elsewhere. I'm ambivalent on the point but I was willing to concede it to Stefan rather than get bogged down in the details.

The overriding point is what side do you want to win. I might be uncomfortable with some of the Allies conduct during WWII, but guess what? I'm really happy they won, because of the alternative. You can deal in moral theoreticals and abstracts all day, but in the real world I guarantee that a) the shoot/noshoot decision that takes place for every single round expended by the US military is a hell of a lot more rigourous than that of the people they're fighting, and b) you're a hell of a lot safer as a true innocent standing next to an AQ fanatic than you are standing next to a US soldier. The guy trying to kill the AQ member will kill you if he has to, but won't if he doesn't, the AQ member trying to kill the soldier considers you a bonus target, and half the people in this country will applaud (then afterwards AfG would explain in painstaking detail how, though his hands were slapping togather repeatedly, he did not, in fact, applaud). The Pentagon was a legitimate military target, just not with a planeful of noncombatants as the weapon. This situation would be vaguely equivalent only if the military had strapped a Pakastani to each missile before it was fired.

I'm through with moonbats for the day.

Posted by: junyo on January 19, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

rdw: But when the enemy hides within the population and is accepted as a guest they willingly position themselves as targets.

You mean like when American soldiers draw Iraqi children into the line of fire by offering them candy as they patrol the streets?

. . . and is accepted as a guest . . .

You have no proof that the Al Queda leaders were accepted as guests, nor has the government provided any evidence of this.

Another presumption which you readily assume in order to feel good about your pre-ordained conclusions.

. . . they are going to find it increasingly harder to get dinner invitations.

Because Al Queda's main goal is to secure dinner invitations.

Yep, you truly are a doofus.

They were in a very desolate and unpleasant place and the CIA still found them.

Not so desolate that they couldn't plan and carry out 9/11, eh rdw?

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 19, 2006 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

The one thing I can discern from reading all of these comments is this, I am glad you folks only do your fighting with words.

I don't think a majority of the people here would actually do anything if their lives or their freedoms were really in danger. All the doubting, all the accusations, all the back-biting, and all the criticism amounts to squat. It's all talk.

Pick a side to be on folks and start fighting. Logical syllogisms and arguments never resolve real world problems.

Posted by: jcrue on January 19, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Hamburg and Dresden were legitimate military targets as major parts of the German war making machine. While the US was assured large numbers of civilians would be killed they were never the target. The US was after the factories producing the armaments.

Statements like this make me tend to believe that rdw is a brilliant performance artist rather than a moronically deluded Republican.

Posted by: Gregory on January 19, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

junyo: So here, in your response, you keep (in fact you quote) the "self-loathing" part of the statement but replace "citizen of a Western State" with "a German during WWII". And who was in power in Germany during WWII? C'mon, I know you know this...

Which isn't equating the US to Nazi Germany, but equating the conservatives' expected blind loyalty of US citizens to what such blind loyalty would have meant in Germany in 1932.

So, it appears that your reading comprehension is not defective so much as your capacity to see what you want to see rather than what is really there.

AfG (running from logic like a Frenchman runs from a shower)

Gee, ethnicism from a conservative. Who would've thought it from the philosophical home of racists.

How a strike that DNA confirmed took out legitimate military targets equals deliberately targeting civilians, only the mind of AfG knows.

So, DNA showed that every single person killed was a terrorist?

The CIA has the DNA of every terrorist in the world?

DNA never lies, despite the fact that conservatives such as yourself claim that it does every time it exonerates a deathrow inmate?

So, labs never make mistakes when it comes to analyzing chemicals, even though conservatives like you claim that they did just that when Clinton struck Libya?

Now, who is lying again?

I'm through with moonbats for the day.

How are you going to separate youself from yourself?

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 19, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Dudes! Check it out...

From the lefty wingding milblog:

Hilarious!
new
Submitted by WM-Pale Rider on Thu, 01/19/2006 - 12:26pm.
Home
user account

The Blue Force Blog banned me for patiently explaining why I disagreed with their assessment!

And I didn't use no bad words or nothing!

Wow, isn't that just like the blogosphere. One minute you're typing what you think are brilliant comments and then the next minute someone edits what you

The name Pale Rider has been denied access.
Note: if you have an account with one of our affiliates (Drupal), you may login now instead of registering.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

. . . when Clinton struck Libya.

Oops. Make that "struck the Sudan."

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 19, 2006 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

No mention of opportunity costs?
Disregarding any moral issues, I mean.

- were more terrorists killed than created?
- has this made it more or less likely that the current Pakistani government(a nuclear power) will be overthrown and increasing the likelihood of AQ or sympathisers getting their hands on an actual nuclear weapon?
- would the above make it more or less likely that the US would have to seriously consider using a weapon with a wide area of effect to prevent AQ from getting out of Pakistan with said WMD?
- has it made AQ/Bin Laden/Al Zwahiri more or less credible in the minds of the 1+ billion Muslims elsewhere on the planet?
- is making Al Zwahiri a martyr a better outcome than discrediting him?

Feh. Some of you folks are probably pretty good at checkers. Stick with it.

Posted by: kenga on January 19, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider, I appreciate your comments because they are well informed. It is Blue Force Blog's readers' loss not to have your comments posted.

Posted by: Hostile on January 19, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider:

Some good comments over at Blue Force Blog.

If you were, in fact, banned for your comments, and not cut off for something odd like posting too many times in a given period (kind of like here if you post too fast), then you have at least one certified case, in my opinion, of having been unfairly banned.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 19, 2006 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider,

May I commend you, as well as others, for keeping Wootten, that lying sack of shit, tied up for the day on this thread. It allows civilized conversation on the others.
Dresden was making armaments? Bull shit - Dresden and Hamburg were fire bombed - And you know nothing about the protests in Seattle - A small group of anarchists provoked the Seattle police into attacking them, thus disrupting a very peaceful demonstration by thousands.

Wootten, You are a liar and the most uninformed individual to ever post on this site - Go to hell. Crawl back under your rock in Drexel Hill.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 19, 2006 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz,

I didn't even get a chance to post the lyrics to Wake Me Up Before You Go Go.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

3rd Paul,

Nothing wrong with you a few qualudes wouldn't solve.

Seattle was a disaster for the eco-freaks because the Seattle Liberals in charge were such wimps. The cops weren't allowed to react. They let the simple fools loot honest businessmen. There's nothing Americans appreciate more than a group of rich kids having a hissy fit. Seattle is still the model for stupidity. NYC is the model for control. Don't take any crap off the assh*les.

Posted by: rdw on January 19, 2006 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

How many French civilians were killed and maimed in the softening-up operations immediately preceding the Normandy invasion in 1944? I seem to recollect that it was at least in the thousands, if not tens of thousands. Did the general public even know about this before the war was over?

War certainly does tend to discount the lives of both military personnel and civilians in contested areas, especially as practiced in the past century or so. If any of the participants begin to lob nukes or other WMD at their targets, we will see even higher discounts applied, so high that the heat and fog coming out of the woodwork over this incident will seem completely disproportionate to the severity of the outcome.

Posted by: bemused observer on January 19, 2006 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

PttO,

rdw ain't worth it, man! Don't shoot him with that Mauser rifle, man! Don't do it!

rdw,

What sack of crap did you pull your ideas out of today? Still Mr. Law and Order, Kill'em All?

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

How many French civilians were killed and maimed in the softening-up operations immediately preceding the Normandy invasion in 1944? I seem to recollect that it was at least in the thousands, if not tens of thousands. Did the general public even know about this before the war was over?

I seem to remember that they actually did welcome the Allied troops with roses and with open arms, unlike the whole Iraq thing.

Oh, and the French Resistance did quite a bit of the softening up, and saved quite a few of our airborne troops...

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

You may want to fiddle while the planet burns by trying to win political points off of Kyoto, but anything is better than nothing.


Kyoto was much worse than nothing. Kyoto generated a mass migration of manufacturing capacity from the developed world, with it's environmental protections, to the 3rd world, with zero protections. Kyoto created pollution.

Consider North America. Snicker-Snack will tell you the expanion of oil production from the Tar sands is an environmental disaster and it's going to be even worse from Venezuela. USA liberals are blocking drilling in ANWR where it's expected we can get 1M a day for 20 years. Instead we'll get 1M a day for 20 years from the dramacially dirtier Tar Sand.

IN terms of global pollutuion this is insane. But I am OK wih it. We'll keep our lands clean and just let the Canadians deal with their own filth.

Posted by: rdw on January 19, 2006 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

After having looked at many of the comments, I would like to make the following point:

If al Queda or the Iraqi insurgents (Iraqis who are politically disaffected, not foreigners who have come to smite non-Muslims) attack legitimate military targets (including Don Rumsfeld, as was posited earlier but also including US Marines or Soldiers) then the killing of civilians as part of that military operation would be equivalent to the civilians killed by Hellfire missiles in Pakistan.

However, when the attacks are on civilians in line to vote or on children receiving candy or on civilians lined up to join the police force (which is not a military target) then the moral equivalence present in the first paragraph of this post has completely evaporated.

The conflation of terrorism -- the intentional targeting of civilian targets -- and military actions taken against opposing forces on the battlefield is striking and not the least bit unsettling.

To those on the Left, I urge you to reconsider if you give the same moral weight to the two. And look to the Geneva Conventions if that'll help. (Some of you seem to love the GC anyway, of a sort.)

Posted by: Birkel on January 19, 2006 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

Whether the attack was justified or not may be irrelevant. This act provides yet another recruiting video for Islamic terrorists . If anyone important was indeed killed we can surely expect that there is a willing multitude of followers ready to take his place. Look at Israel's dismal results with fighting terrorism - every reprisal is met with a reprisal. We really do have to "change hearts and minds" - it's the only solution. Otherwise it will be perpetual war.

Posted by: J-Man on January 19, 2006 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks Kenga, I love opportunity costing, and this event looks like the costs were pretty high.

Posted by: Hostile on January 19, 2006 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

Birkel, I hope neither the US Armed Forces or militant Islamic jihadists ever consider your home to be a legitimate military target, like the CIA did that home in a village in Pakistan. But you never know, so you had better peruse your guest list for known enemy combatants (on both sides) before having anyone over for dinner, to make sure your home does not become a military target.

Posted by: Hostile on January 19, 2006 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK
And you know nothing about the protests in Seattle - A small group of anarchists provoked the Seattle police into attacking them, thus disrupting a very peaceful demonstration by thousands.

From what I heard, I more accurate description would be "a small group of anarchists provided the pretext for Seattle police attacking lots of people, in lots of places, many of which were entirely unrelated to those where the anarchists were active."

Posted by: cmdicely on January 19, 2006 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Hostile,

For somebody with that nom de guerre you sure don't seem to understand violence in war.

Posted by: Birkel on January 19, 2006 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

Advocate:

There is technical definition for equivocate other than to "hedge". Via wikipedia:

Equivocation is a logical fallacy. It is committed when someone uses the same word in different meanings in an argument, implying that the word means the same each time round.

For example:

A feather is light.
What is light cannot be dark.
So a feather cannot be dark.
***

The article goes on to state that equivocation is usually done intentionally to confuse.

Granted, that isn't exactly the definition I offered. I was searching for a noun form of "to equate".

However, liberals, like Sen. Durbin, that, shall we say, equate, the actions of U.S. soldiers at Guantanamo to the actions of Nazis, Stalinist, and the followers of Pol Pot are offering an implied equivocation. They imply two different meanings for terms such as "prisoner mistreatment", "human rights abuse," "crimes against humanity" and other such terms that we would associate with dictatorial regimes. Further, these equivocations are done with the intent to confuse and mislead. Durbin is a political opponent of the President, and so his comparing conduct of our military during that President's term to the conduct of dictators' militaries is intended to make the populace believe that the President is a dictator--an assertion with which some people posting here might reflexively agree. Thus, we end up with another equivocation.

Similarly, the "Bush is a terrorist" meme suffer from the same fallacy.

O.k., so let's review. Here's where I first accused you of "moral equivocation":

Advocate for God:

"No conservative (or liberal) who approves of Bush's methodologies, including the deliberate and intentional sacrifice of innocent civilians to tactical and strategic expediency, has the integrity to question the morality of the terrorists' methodologies."

Such beautiful moral equivocation. . . .

Posted by: Tanker J.D. on January 19, 2006 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

There are at least two equivocations in your passage.

First, you are intentionally using "deliberate and intentional sacrifice of innocent civilians" in two different ways. You are saying that terrorist attacks, such as 9/11 (presumably), are deliberately and intentional sacrifice[s] of innocent civilians, and thus immoral. And then you are implying that this particular air strike was also a deliberately and intentional sacrifice of innocent civilians, and thus immoral. However, to anyone but a lawyer, the vast gulf between these two acts is so apparent that it hardly needs to be explained. But to be explicit:

The terrorists attacking the WTC, as opposed to the Pentagon, picked a purely civilian target with the exclusive intent to produce a dramatic loss of civilian life & property. That's definitely deliberate and intentional killing of innocent civilians.

Compare now the attack at issue here. The attack was aimed at very specific military targets (individuals, no less, which makes it much more narrowly targeted even than the attacks terrorists make on military targets such as the Pentagon). So, yes, the attacks were deliberate and intentional in that we meant to launch the weapons and kill the targets. However, the effect and the intended targets were completely different. One attack was intended solely to destroy as many civilians as possible. The other attack accepted that civilians in the employ or in the vicinity of the military targets might also be destroyed. Likewise, the effect of attacking a safe house in remote area is completely different than attacking a high rise office building in a heavily populated city. Those are huge differences in subjective intent & intended effect which the phrase deliberate and intentional alone cannot cover.

You, however, pray on the facial flexibility of those words to fallaciously compare the morality of Bush voters to the morality of terroriststhus: equivocation.

Contrasting the Pentagon and the WTC attacks might also be useful. The Pentagon is obviously a military target, even though civilians work there. They could be very innocent civilians, tooline cooks in the cafeteria; secretaries typing out routine memos. By itself, attacking an enemys headquarters is not immoral or illegal. It is immoral and illegal, however, to begin a war by hijacking an enemy civilian airliner and use it as a weapon to attack the enemys headquarters. So, even the the Pentagon was a military target argument doesnt mean that that attack was the moral equivalent of our air strike.

Secondly, you compare the overarching goals of the combatants when you mention strategic expediency. You are saying, in effect, that our acceptance of civilian casualties for our strategic goals is as morally repugnant as their deliberately killing of thousands of civilians for their strategic goals. This would be true only if there was no difference in the morality of the strategic goal. The terrorists have as their strategic goal the elimination of Western primacy, and with it, the elimination of liberal democratic forms of government, including a respect for human & civil rights. Our strategic goal is the elimination of those terrorists, and the spread of liberal democratic forms of government.

Accepting that liberal democratic forms of government are morally better than tyrannies, I must conclude that that there is a vast difference between sacrificing for the strategic goals of liberal democracies, and killing for the aims of tyranny. (This is, incidentally, why it was relevant to ask whether or not you believe the West, as a civilization, has higher moral grounding than terrorists political movement. If one believes that liberal democracy is no better than Islamic tyranny, then I suppose sacrificing in furtherance of the goals of one is the same as sacrificing in furtherance of the other. I, however, just fundamentally disagree.)

Lastly, I do accuse you of engaging in this equivocation simply to confuse. You accused me of defending this action, simply because I liked the President. That accusation cuts both ways, my friendI could just as easily accuse you of opposing it because you dont like the President. Did you investigate whether any air strike during the Kosovo, Desert Fox, etc. campaigns killed a civilian? Like the attack on the civilian power grid? Or attacks on military headquarters that might have contained civilian employees? Of how bout the mishap of bombing the Chinese embassy? If not, why not? If so, did you protest the Clinton administration as loudly? You can point to Delays floor statements about Kosovo all you want to imply that Im hypocrite, but the fact is, Im already on record saying that other conservatives, specifically Kagan and Kristol were right to rebuke Delays comments.

On this point, the Bush lied lie wont save you, either, even if it were true. The Bush lied accusation only applies to the justifications for attacking Iraq, and not for the justifications for attacking Al Queada operatives in the Afghanistan region. Thus, you cant argue that didnt scrutinize Clintons air strikes for that reason.


Posted by: Tanker J.D. on January 19, 2006 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

Based on the premises presented at the outset, the attack was and is justified.

Killing children is unfortunate but the altenative is to allow targets to avoid attack by surrounding themselves with children or other "collateral damage" that is deemed off-side.

We are at war. The enemy was invited to dinner - this obviously suggests the occupants were supporting the enemy. Too bad.

Of course, I am a neo-con, a huge supporter of GWB, and a war-mongering Canadian. I know what side I'm on but I am not sure about many of you.

Posted by: steve on January 19, 2006 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

If al Queda or the Iraqi insurgents (Iraqis who are politically disaffected, not foreigners who have come to smite non-Muslims) attack legitimate military targets (including Don Rumsfeld, as was posited earlier but also including US Marines or Soldiers) then the killing of civilians as part of that military operation would be equivalent to the civilians killed by Hellfire missiles in Pakistan.

I have to agree with this.

However, when the attacks are on civilians in line to vote or on children receiving candy or on civilians lined up to join the police force (which is not a military target) then the moral equivalence present in the first paragraph of this post has completely evaporated.

And this.

The conflation of terrorism -- the intentional targeting of civilian targets -- and military actions taken against opposing forces on the battlefield is striking and not the least bit unsettling.

Perhaps, but our constant discounting of civilian casualties merely because they are inflicted by our military is also unsettling. There have been more Iraqi civilians -- by orders of magnitude -- killed by US soldiers and Marines than there have been American civilians killed by terrorists.

To those on the Left, I urge you to reconsider if you give the same moral weight to the two. And look to the Geneva Conventions if that'll help. (Some of you seem to love the GC anyway, of a sort.)

My point of disagreement: I don't think people on the "Left" ever do give the same moral weight to the two. I think our main objection has been to the notion that you can ever morally (as opposed to strategically) justify killing innocent civilians. Sometimes, perhaps, it may be the lesser of two evils, but that does not mean it is not in itself evil.

Still, though, not every day Birkel and I get this close together on a subject.

Posted by: Stefan on January 19, 2006 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider,

You've seen too many episodes of Hogans Heroes. The French Resistance did next to nothing. They were created in an attempt to make saving France seem worth it.

Posted by: rdw on January 19, 2006 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

How many of the Bush haters on this blog publicly criticized Bill Clinton when NATO forces bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade which killed "a female reporter for China's state news agency, Xinhua, another journalist and his wife" per the BBC. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/339313.stm
(And yes, I know the liberal CYA theory that the Embassy was transmitting military information to the Serbs. The only evidence supporting that theory is the alleged statement of an anonymous American officer in Italy published by a leftist paper in the UK. Pretty thin gruel.)

That strike killed two journalists and one spouse and no one on the left said boo about it. Even if the liberal moonbats were right, does the desire to stop transmission of miltary information justify the killing of three innocent people?

How about when Clinton/NATO killed 75 ethnic Albanians (and zero combatants) in a convoy they mistook for Serbs?http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/europe/jan-june99/casualties_5-14.html

How about when Clinton/NATO bombed that civilian passenger train killing 14 civilians and zero combatants?http://www.wsws.org/articles/2000/jun2000/nato-j19_prn.shtml

How about when Clinton/NATO bombed Serbian Television and killed 10 civilians including several journalists, a make up artist and an electrician?http://southmovement.alphalink.com.au/southnews/990423-journos.htm

How about the fact that many of the several thousand civilian casualties lived in areas that had opposed Milosevic? being "elected".http://www.zmag.org/grossmanciv.htm

I can hear your nonsensical response already. "This has nothing to do with Clinton. Why can't you Clinton haters get over him?"

Of course the facts set forth above aren't offered to condemn Clinton or as an exculpatory comparison to Bush. They are offered as evidence of liberals' selective moral outrage at civilian deaths during war. None of you have any credibility when you criticize this strike that killed three Al Qaeda leaders because you didn't give a shit when Clinton screwed up and killed ten times as many people in bombings that failed to destroy any military target whatsoever.

Prove that you were outraged then and that you publicly criticized the Clinton administration for its patent incompetence and I'll believe that you are sincere now.

Posted by: J on January 19, 2006 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK
How many of the Bush haters on this blog publicly criticized Bill Clinton when NATO forces bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade which killed "a female reporter for China's state news agency, Xinhua, another journalist and his wife" per the BBC. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/339313.stm (And yes, I know the liberal CYA theory that the Embassy was transmitting military information to the Serbs. The only evidence supporting that theory is the alleged statement of an anonymous American officer in Italy published by a leftist paper in the UK. Pretty thin gruel.)

That strike killed two journalists and one spouse and no one on the left said boo about it.

While a few people (Pale Rider being one of the few American liberals to have embraced that I've seen) have glommed on to that theory, the official story is that an outdated map was used for target programming. While such a bureaucratic snafu is possible, lots of people -- including many in the left, from the moderate to the far left -- assailed the attack, and the story, immediately when it occurred. See, for instance, here, and here stating, in relevant part:

San Francisco Sat. Nov. 13, 10 am - 5 pm: Horace Mann School 23rd St. near Valencia in San Francisco Evidence: NATO Bombed Chinese Embassy Deliberately. Friends, Following is a amazing confirmation of what progressives already knew: that the US and NATO forces deliberately targeted the Chinese Embassy during the war against Yugoslavia. There hasnt been a trace of this in the US media. At the upcoming International War Crimes Tribunal Hearing to be held in San Francisco on Nov. 13, we will discuss this and other findings that seem to have "slipped" by the US press. We will also hear a report from Richard Becker, who is returning this week from an IAC fact-finding delegation to Yugoslavia. International War Crimes Tribunal Hearing on the US/NATO War Against Yugoslavia MORE info: iacenter@actionsf.org (415) 821-6545


I can hear your nonsensical response already. "This has nothing to do with Clinton. Why can't you Clinton haters get over him?"

No, the reply is "You are wrong in your premise. Plenty of people on the left, even among those who supported the concept of the use of military force against Yugoslavia, did, indeed, express outrage against strikes on civilian targets in that war. Your argument based on the premise that that did not occur is, therefore, based on a lie."

Though, there is a critical difference in a war against a state (Yugoslavia) and a war against a much more diffuse irregular terrorist force that recruits globally (al-Qaeda), in that, simply in terms of achieving ultimate strategic objectives, and putting morality aside, collateral damage in the former case that accompanies acheivement of traditional military objectives is less likely to be self-defeating by increasing enemy capacity than similar collateral damage against civilians is in the latter case.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 19, 2006 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

Yes, when the police started throwing the tear gas and moving the demonstrators back, the anarchists were gone. The local TV coverage was more of the activities of the anarchists and the gassing than of the actual peaceful demonstration. The individuals who have been compensated by the City of Seattle are not the anarchists from other areas.

Similar tactics were used by the same groups who tried to disrupt the war protests in Portland, OR. They want to provoke the police and have them attack the others. TV coverage flows to the disruptions. And yes, we did have many protests in Portland. There is an active peace movement in the Northwest.

Having lived in Seattle during the WTO protest and in Portland, during the war protests, I can say that they have been covered in great detail by local television and the major papers.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 19, 2006 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

rdw: You've seen too many episodes of Hogans Heroes.

You've read too many White House press releases.

Hogan's Heroes had less fictional content that the White House's PRs.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 19, 2006 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

They are offered as evidence of liberals' selective moral outrage at civilian deaths during war

And these remarks are offered as evidence of conservatives' selective outrage at civilian deaths during war (with thanks to Pale Rider for posting them):

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2006_01/008037.php#803569

You have to admit there's a lot more notable people in that list than here, and they have a much bigger megaphone.

Prove that you were outraged then and that you publicly criticized the Clinton administration for its patent incompetence and I'll believe that you are sincere now.

How many examples will it take to refute your assertion and what do you require in the form of proof? Photographs of us grimacing at a Kosovo story on CNN? Ticket stubs from an anti-war rally at the time?

I think it's fair to say there are at least a couple of regular posters to this blog who probably opposed the bombing in Kosovo, for whatever that's worth.

I can't speak for anyone else, but for me part of the equation in evaluating a situation like this is being able to trust my leader. I truly regret civilian deaths no matter what the circumstances, but if I feel the leadership is competent and trustworthy, at least that makes it easier to stomach. Bush has broken trust too many times for that to be the case for me.

That said, I think it's pretty clear Kosovo, as a NATO military intervention, is not comparable to this kind of strike.

And btw, I don't think many people "hate Bush" for any a priori metaphysical reasons. It's just that he's shown himself by his actions to be unprincipled, incompetent, and more interested in politics than policy.

Posted by: trex on January 19, 2006 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

Trex: "I think it's pretty clear Kosovo, as a NATO military intervention, is not comparable to this kind of strike."

Um... So, assuming that the Chinese embassy thing was a mistake, and that liberals were outraged about it, are you then saying that no civilian died in any of the deliberately-targetted strikes during the Kosovo campaign? Is that the difference between those airstrikes and this airstrike?

Or... is it the fact that it was NATO campaign that made it different? So is it then your assertion then that it's o.k. to accept civilian casualities as long as France and Germany ratify the action?

We had Pakistan approving of our operations in this instance. Why is that not enough?

Posted by: Tanker J.D. on January 19, 2006 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: If we worry about those civilian deaths, then we make the use of civilians as human shields a viable tactic.

We're already using human shields by giving candy to children in the streets we are patroling.

Tanker: Accepting that liberal democratic forms of government are morally better than tyrannies, I must conclude that that there is a vast difference between sacrificing for the strategic goals of liberal democracies, and killing for the aims of tyranny.

Bush is killing for the aims of tyranny and his killing based on lies is tyranny.

However, to anyone but a lawyer, the vast gulf between these two acts is so apparent that it hardly needs to be explained.

In other words, you disagree with my presumed conclusions about the moral equivalency of the two acts, even though I made no such comparison.

But moral equivalency, even if that had been my conclusion, is not the same as moral equivocation.

You still don't understand that "equivocation" has nothing to do with "equivalency" and you still don't comprehend the meaning of "moral equivalency.

A determination that the two acts are morally equivalent is not a moral equivocation, no matter how much you continue to pretend that "equivocation" has the meaning you assign to it.

Via wikipedia

Yes, and we know the wikipedia never contains any mistakes.

Find it in a dictionary somewhere.

I am not responsible for understanding a non-standard definition for a term that you've incorrectly created in your head no matter how you intended it.

Equivocation. Description: The argument depends upon an ambiguity in the meaning of a word.

There is no ambiguity in the meaning of any of the words I've use or how I've used them.

But this is all tiresome.

You've declared the West moral as an a prior assumption and thereby concluded that we have the moral high ground in any conflict - there is nothing in anything you've said that would suggest that the US could ever commit any act which you would not rationalize away as being less immoral, perhaps even outright moral, than any hypothetical opponent.

I understand that.

I understand that you will never objectively evaluate, analyze or judge a conservative leader of the US or any action a conservative would approve of undertaken by your country.

Therefore, debating the point is clearly useless.

This is confirmed by your a prior assumptions, many of which I do not agree are true.

Such as . . .

Our strategic goal is the elimination of those terrorists, and the spread of liberal democratic forms of government.

Nothing in the history of conservative governance in the US supports the idea that they believe in the spread of democratic forms of government, much less liberal ones (small "l").

Their support of Saddam, Noriega, the Shah, Pinochet, Rios Montt, the Saudi royal family, and a host of other tyrants supports that conclusion.

Their attempts to destroy civil liberties in America, a repudiation of the "give me liberty or give me death" courage of the Founding Fathers of the United States also supports that conclusion.

Their embracing of torture and denial of due process whenever convenient, despite the very American view that such rights are an inseparable part of each human being (perhaps you've heard of "inalienable rights" given by God not the Constitution and not governments), also supports that conclusion.

Adios.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 19, 2006 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

"Under those assumptions, was the attack justified? I think the answer is pretty plainly yes"

Kevin, in an ends justifies the means value system their are no enduring values. Decide on an "important" end and your values no longer apply in the implementation of getting to your value-laden ends, including any and all heinous means imaginable. Its the modern Cult of republicanism in a nutshell, along with the valueless middle (like Kevin) willing to go along with and rationalize anything that sounds good at the time. They preach up and down about values, family, culture of life, and other pomposity, all the while practicing exactly the opposite: spineless greed, deceit, and self aggrandizement, i.e., the conservative movement.

"Live free or die"
"Give me liberty or give me death"
"Thou shall not kill"
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"

These are values that should be inviolable regardless of the circumstances. The challenge of humanity is to find ways to achieve value-laden ends with violating such values. Finding ways to justify throwing them away in order to achieve them is pitiful, immature self-absorption.

not sacrificing such values in order to achieve such values is being liberal.

Posted by: proud liberal on January 19, 2006 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

Advocate:

I explained in detail which words & phrases you used were ambiguous ("strategic purpose", "innocent civilian", "deliberate," and "intentional"). I then explained how you used those ambiguities to make a fallcious argument. Thus, my accusation that you engaged in "moral equivocation" meets the definition you supplied: "Equivocation. Description: The argument depends upon an ambiguity in the meaning of a word."

The fact that your equivocation results from asserting certain false equivalencies was just a side note. I understand the difference, and I explained it.

In response, I get no measured thoughts, just over-generalizations of my points and insults. Ah, the learned left.

I never said that the U.S. was morally better than ALL its enemies. I said the Western values of liberal democracy were better than the values of the islamic terrorists... You have offered no response to that assertion.

As for objectively assessing a conservative leader, you are the one suffering from his prejudices. You are taking the actions of prior conservatives, condemning them, and then, without further analysis to see if his actions are the same or similar to the prior examples, condemning the current "conservative." That, my friend, is prejudice. And you projecting prejudice onto me won't change that.

Good bye to you.

Posted by: Tanker J.D. on January 19, 2006 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

They're terrorista anmd criminals? Arrest them, try them, convict them, and punish them. That's what I say. And that's what I'd home that anyone with a respect for the rule of law would say. You'll note that automotive "hot pursuit" has fallen into disfavour lately, because even if we know that there's a fleeing felon, we know that innocents may get killed (and have been) in the pursuit, and we figure we'll get 'em another time.

Cheers,

Posted by: Arne Langsetmo on January 19, 2006 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

While a few people (Pale Rider being one of the few American liberals to have embraced that I've seen) have glommed on to that theory, the official story is that an outdated map was used for target programming. While such a bureaucratic snafu is possible, lots of people -- including many in the left, from the moderate to the far left -- assailed the attack, and the story, immediately when it occurred.

The truth is, the Chinese were helping the Serbs in a way that was not particularly helpful to the US cause. Now, was there a problem with the maps? Yes. Did the Chinese embassy have military attaches doing something that they weren't supposed to be doing? Yes. Did a carefully targeted bomb silence someone from doing something that might have gotten an American pilot killed? Yes.

As Forrest Gump would say, That's all I got to say about that.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

OK, blueforceblog banned me again.

Jason Siggler, thank you for the opportunity to comment on your blog. Sadly, you took down half the comments I made and then banned me a second time. I guess neither you nor your compatriots can handle the Pale Rider.

user account
log in register request new password
Sorry. The username WM-Pale Rider is not recognized.

Well, I guess that's that.

But, there's still the insanity of rdw to contend with.

rdw said: "The French Resistance did next to nothing. They were created in an attempt to make saving France seem worth it."

On 5th June, 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower asked the BBC sent out coded messages to the resistance asking them to carry out acts of resistance during the D-day landings in order to help Allied forces establish a beachhead on the Normandy coast.

This included attacks on the occupied garrisons in the towns of Tulle and Gueret. In revenge for the French attack on the German garrison 120 men were hanged in Tulle on 9th June. Later that day another 67 were murdered in Argenton.

These armed resistance groups were able to slow down the attempt by the 2nd SS Panzer Division to get to the Normandy beaches. It was decided to carry out a revenge attack that would frighten the French people into submission. On 10th June a group of soldiers led by Major Otto Dickmann, entered Oradour-sur-Glane, a village in the Haute-Vienne region of France. He ordered the execution of more than 600 men, women and children before setting fire to the village.

Despite these atrocities the French Resistance continued to take up arms against the German Army. After the war General Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote: "Throughout France the Resistance had been of inestimable value in the campaign. Without their great assistance the liberation of France would have consumed a much longer time and meant greater losses to ourselves."

Wow. rdw. What a frickin' goof.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

J: Prove that you were outraged then and that you publicly criticized the Clinton administration for its patent incompetence and I'll believe that you are sincere now.

Prove that you were not outraged then and that you publically praised the Clinton administration for their actions, including intervening in the Balkans.

Indeed, prove that a majority of conservatives in positions of power within the Republican Party and the media, such as the National Review, praised Clinton's actions in stopping genocide and spreading democracy in the Balkans.

Tanker: I explained in detail which words & phrases you used were ambiguous ("strategic purpose", "innocent civilian", "deliberate," and "intentional").

I could equally declare every word you used "ambiguous" and insist that eveything you say is, thus, equivocation.

It wouldn't make it so, nor would it set up what you pretend or misunderstand are "false equivalencies."

I said the Western values of liberal democracy were better than the values of the islamic terrorists...

And you arbitrarily and without proof assign values to suit your pre-ordained conclusions.

The so-called "Western values of liberal democracy" are not the values being promoted by Bush or Bush's war.

Thus, my accusation that you engaged in "moral equivocation" meets the definition you supplied: "Equivocation. Description: The argument depends upon an ambiguity in the meaning of a word."

No, it doesn't because your premise of ambiguity is falsely imposed.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 19, 2006 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

So is it then your assertion then that it's o.k. to accept civilian casualities as long as France and Germany ratify the action?

Tanker, if you read my comments carefully you'll see that nowhere in them did I condemn this attack; I just said I didn't believe that this strike in the context of going after the criminal organization of al-Qaeda was comparable to a multi-state sanctioned military action in Kosovo.

If Pakistan knew and approved of this strike and if the intelligence met a certain threshold and if the precautions were taken to limit civilian losses then I think the strike was probably legitimate, and morally acceptable if one accepts a utilitarian view. At the same time, there are legitimate and compelling formalist positions in which it would not be morally acceptable.

Obviously this thread has shown that issues like this are difficult moral issues, and we'll never have access to all the details surrounding it to know whether the conditions were met.

So in coming to terms with it we're ultimately forced to trust the word of our leadship on the matter, which is why I believe that having good leadership is an essential requirement in both judging and accepting a situation like this. When Homeland Security Alerts (remember those? the ones that ended just after the election?) and operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have been initiated and/or dictated by the realities of poll numbers, it doesn't reassure me that a strike like this will be carried out untainted by political considerations.

Wow. rdw. What a frickin' goof.

Truer words were never spoken.

Posted by: trex on January 19, 2006 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

Tanker JD,

I can vouch for both advocate and trex--they're giving you hell, but they're trying to be honest about it. If you give them a chance, you'll see that they can have a pretty good give and take with you.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 9:37 PM | PERMALINK

Taking so many surrenders as POW's, really tired the Germans out.

Bah ha ha ha! You so funny me laugh long time ha ha!

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

Taking so many surrenders as POW's, really tired the Germans out.

Yeah, except for all those people who were tortured and killed to save their family, their countrymen, and the allied forces -- that was hilarious.

Kinda like the Malay government tiring themselves out disappearing people under the Internal Security Act or issuing fatwas against the members of the Sky Kingdom.

Whew, that's rich!

Posted by: trex on January 19, 2006 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

McAristotle, Malaysia's answer to a shortage of clear and rational thinking...

Why the double standard?
Why is it Ok to kill a building full of diplomats to protect one pilot when its not OK to kill a bombmaker to protect lots of soft Afghan/Iraqi civillians?

I agree with both actions, ya dummy!

Oh, and tanks for a 30 year upgrade to Chinese spy plane technology, FOC. How come your pilots can't fly straight?
Those big round eyes let too much light in and make you blind up there?

Oh, and we were two posts away from little McAristotle crying like a bitch about ad homineum and everybody is racist! You got there before us!

And how are you going to upgrade your technology by using parts from a plane that was shot down with 40 year old Soviet made SAMs?

Please, everyone has spies in their embassies. The Israeli's spied on you and had a guy get caught. Blow up their embassy, then.

That's right, bitch--and you got dead spies in yours! Ha!

The bombing of the Chinese embassy was a mistake or Clinton's way of trying to compensate for Gore getting donations from temples. Just as Sudan's was Clinton's way of trying to distract from the sex scandals....

Didn't get your money's worth, did ya?

McAristotle revealed tonight that he is racist and is working late stealing money from people in Hong Kong.

So long, bitch!

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 19, 2006 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

if i were the Pakistanis and some country violated my borders without my permission by lobbing a missle into my country, i would consider it an act of war no matter what their reason. And i would expect all Merkans, repukelicans, Kevin's troll patrol, so-called liberal hawks, and other assorted flotsam would look at it that way, as well as liberals and other members of the reality-based community.

Posted by: gak on January 19, 2006 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

Advocate:

I did not arbitrarily declare your words ambiguious--I explained the ambiguities, you just ignored the arguments. But, here they are again:

You know as well as I do that "intent" has about 10 different meanings--everything from special intent crimes to intentional torts. These are different measures of intent. Thus, to say that U.S. forces are the same as terrorists because they both "intentionally" bombed civilians is a perfect example of equivocation. The intents were worlds apart, but you made an argument based on both meanings. I don't know how I can be more clear. For another lawyer to say that this is an assumption is disingueous, because you know that there are different meanings for "intent."

Similarly "deliberate" could mean to do something with a certain result in mind, or to just intend the action, with a disregard to possible results.

"Innocent civilian" is ambiguous because you can have civilians doing mundane tasks in a business office, or you can have civilians doing mundane tasks in military headquarters.

"strategic expediency" could be ambiguous if one accepts the notion that some strategic ends are moralistic and some not. I conceeded that if you saw no difference in the stragetic ends, then this would not be ambiguous.

[In the meantime, I thought of another one: "sacrifice". "Sacrifice" can have either a positive or negative connotation. The positive connotation includes someone heroic suffering for another; the negative connotation is senseless killing.]

As for whether there is a moral difference between the strategic goals of the Bush administration and Islamic extremists, I agree that that is a seperate issue, upon which we probably disagree deeply. However, I would note: 1. your prejudices color your thinking at least to the extent that you accuse me of harboring such prejudices; 2. the mere fact that you can, presumably as someone subject to U.S. jurisdiction, openly criticise the President, including accusing him tyrrany, without fear of retribution or recourse, proves what you deny--that we live in a free society. If you think that you could in Iran, for example, speak out against the ruling, actual theocracy in that country, then I have some ocean-front property in Arizona to sell 'ya.

This is just one example of the qualitative differences between Islamic dictators and liberal democracies. Other are so numerous and well-known as to be unneccessary to cite. (Treatment of women, for example; treatment of religious minorities--you think it's tough to be a muslim in American, try being a Christian in Syria--is another; free elections; etc., etc.) To demand citation is simply willing ignorance borne from contrarianism. But, frankly, contrarianism is the liberal tactic du jour; so how could I expect more!?

Pale Rider:

I've actually been impressed with the level of discourse amongst commenters here as compared to other blogs on both sides of the political spectrum (e.g. Kos and LGF), where dissent is truly intolerable.

Posted by: Tanker J.D. on January 19, 2006 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

So how are these Pakistanis any different than New Yorkers? Spaniards? London Commuters?

I guess they are all collateral damage. If I were a Palestinian mother who gave birth at a checkpoint, and had my child ripped from my arms - you bet your life I would name my next born Osama.

And if would expect that child to grow up and avenge his parents and dead sibling.

Asymetrical warfare does not favor Goliath.

How could you call yourself a Democrat, Kevin? or are you just chumming for contributions from the monied Islamophobes who dictate party policy.

Posted by: annie on January 19, 2006 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

The civil war between sunnis, shiites and kurds is a separate matter.

I am talking about the genocide of Palestinians and the civilian bombings by OUR military.

It's WRONG.

You practice the same sleight of hand as every other islamophobe. Crimes against Palestinians by Jews cannot be dismissed because Muslims in other countries do bad things.

That's kind of like tarring all Jews with the same brush - right?

WHAT'S GOOD FOR THE OPPRESSOR IS GOOD FOR THE OPPRESSED.

Posted by: annie on January 20, 2006 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

And if you were an Iraqi whose shrine was bombed, then the funeral for that bombing was bombed by Mr. Zarqawi, they might decide to name their Kid, Freedom Ahmad. George Aziz, Cheney Sharif and Rove Al-Sadr might be too much to go for though...

And in breaking news the Iraqi government is naming a square in Baghdad after President Bush!

Not.

Posted by: floopmeister on January 20, 2006 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

Nice racism there, McA. Why doncha call us all gweilo and laowei next time?

Sad.

Posted by: floopmeister on January 20, 2006 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK

Cometh the floop, bearing aloft justice and reason upon his silvery wings!

Kinda like Archangel from X-Men.

Keep on keeping McA honest floopmeister. Remind him of his incessant bigotry against the French and his Islamophobia. Remember how giddy he was during the French riots and how he predicted they'd set the world aflame. How it'd be prayer rugs for all of us?


Posted by: trex on January 20, 2006 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

"Would it be okay if it was your house/dinner party/soiree being bombed?"

Irrelevant. All such questions are irrelevant. We are at war. That means you choose sides. If you don't choose sides the sides will make the choice for you. The other side made the choice for those so-called innocent civilians (whose true status you have no idea of whatsoever) when they exposed them to the danger inherent in being close to them.

Someone put those wanted men in the same house with the so-called innocents. The innocents got killed. That would not have happened if the enemy did not hide amongst civilians (yes, innocent civilians in many cases, but that still says nothing about this particular bunch), wore a uniform and followed all the other rules you are supposed to follow when you declare war or, as they refer to it, jihad, on another.

There is really nothing in anyone's objections here but the certainty that you don't like Bush and want him to lose. That's fine. Keep on talking; I like knowing what's on your minds.

Posted by: Yr. Fthfl. Svnt. on January 20, 2006 at 1:14 AM | PERMALINK

genocide of Palestinians and the civilian bombings by OUR military.

Posted by: annie on January 20, 2006 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

Genocide of Palestinians by US troops. I missed that!

-----------------------
Crimes against Palestinians by Jews cannot be dismissed because Muslims in other countries do bad things.

Posted by: annie on January 20, 2006 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

And crimes by Muslims in other countries against Thai Buddhists, Indonesian Christians, Iraqi Shites and Afghan Pushtuns can't be dismissed either because of the issue with Israel.

And Al Qaeda does a lot of these.

--------------

the Iraqi government is naming a square in Baghdad after President Bush!

Not.

Posted by: floopmeister on January 20, 2006 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tugu_Negara

If I remember rightly the Malaysian National Monument has the names of local and Australian soldiers on it who died fighting communism.

You'd be suprised how history works.

South Korean history records Douglas McArthur as a hero.

----------------------

PaleRider is most definitely a gweilo! Its actually used for the white guys with more boorish behaviour. He fits.

The bombing of the Chinese embassy was an American atrocity.

-----------------------

Remember how giddy he was during the French riots and how he predicted they'd set the world aflame. How it'd be prayer rugs for all of us?

Posted by: trex on January 20, 2006 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

No, just the French. America has those crazy middle American teenagers who pass up first world incomes to join the marines. They seem to be doing the fighting for the rest of you - and that will do against Al Qaeda.

Plus if occupation justifies hatred. Have you heard that France still has colonies? And uses troops to control protest.


Posted by: McA on January 20, 2006 at 1:37 AM | PERMALINK

Let's have Kevin Drum take the "moral dilemma" challenge: If it's worth killing 18 innocent by-standers to get second-tier operatives, why wasn't it worth sending in a few SEALS to get Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora, instead of literally letting him get away?

If the Bush agenda is to get Al Quaeda, why the hell are we in Iraq, which was closed to Al Quaeda before we invaded?

Why do the Bushies always choose the route of maximum death to innocents?

Posted by: Ed Darrell on January 20, 2006 at 2:59 AM | PERMALINK

McA, who is obviously one of McAristotle's little pool boy lackeys, calls Pale Rider a name:

gweilo

In Hong Kong, an abundance of nicknames for Westerners have developed over the years. The term gweilo (foreign devil) originated many years ago with the birth of Chinese xenophobia. Originally it was derogatory, but since the Communist riots of 1967 it is quite openly used by both Chinese and resident foreigners. It is slang now, and more commonly used than the more polite term saiyahn (Western person). There are, however, other ruder terms used either vehemently or, again, humorously.

In America, we call McAristotle bitch.

As in, Pale Rider has watched way too much Chappelle's Show and the tag line, "That's right, bitch!" just seems to fit McAristotle perfectly. He's too stupid to get it, too ridiculous to continue responding to.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 20, 2006 at 7:29 AM | PERMALINK

How is Kevin's thought experiment different, except in the politeness of its wording, from the Bush Administration's thought experiments regarding necessary torture to prevent an immediate terrorist threat?

Posted by: OmerosPeanut on January 20, 2006 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

Mental experiment: Can you imagine a movie in which an "American hero" (insert John Wayne or Bruce Willis per your generation) tosses a bomb into a house containing 18 "innocents?"

Basically, we are diverging from our idea of the honest (and heroic) because we feel ... frightened.

I'd prefer us to be heroic (and honest) again.

Posted by: odograph on January 20, 2006 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

Hey are you guys still accepting commments here?

Posted by: Riverbelle on January 20, 2006 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Riverbelle,

Given that you just posted a comment, I think it would be safe to say that we are.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 20, 2006 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Where the hell is the Pakistani CIVILIAN perspective in all this? here: http://www.pierretristam.com/#FB2

Posted by: Pierre Tristam on January 20, 2006 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK


Digby so answered you..

Response To Kevin Drum

by tristero

Kevin asks liberal bloggers to respond to a hypothetical and I will cheerfully do so, although my argument won't please Kevin, I think:
For the sake of argument, let's assume that we had pretty good intelligence telling us that a bunch of al-Qaeda leaders were in the house we bombed. And let's also assume that we did indeed kill al-Masri and several other major al-Qaeda leaders. Finally, let's assume that the 18 civilians killed in the attack were genuinely innocent bystanders with no connection to terrorists.

Question: Under those assumptions, was the attack justified? I think the answer is pretty plainly yes, but I'd sure like to see the liberal blogosphere discuss it. And for those who answer no, I'm curious: under what circumstances would such an attack be justified?
My answer, which will surprise no one who knows my writing, is that what Kevin has written is so loaded that it is utterly incoherent as a spur to an honest discussion of terrorism and what to do about it. The only appropriate way to answer is ask the questions that should be asked in the first place, the ones that are being sidestepped. To explain:

Although it seems there are two questions here, there are exactly no real questions being asked. In fact, Kevin simply has crafted a blunt accusatory phrased as a question which can only elicit one possible answer: his. He's really saying, roughly, "You'd be out of your mind not to bomb them, even if 18 innocents died. Thousands, if not millions, of lives, will be spared."

The question, "Was the attack justified?" is not meant to be seriously disputed and a little bit of thought will show that it never can be. Let's just say you answer no and with tremendous eloquence you discuss the morality of it, invoking not only the Bible, but the Bhagavad Gita and a few scientific studies of moral dilemmas. It's all meaningless, for all Kevin needs to do is follow up with, "Okay, let's say the people in that building were putting the finishing touches on a plan to nuke Boston. Would you now say it's justified?" And if that doesn't change your mind, Kevin can simply continue to up the ante - in the house, say, was enough Chemical W to obliterate the Midwest for generations. Eventually, even you will be forced to abandon your objections.

But what happens if you agree with Kevin that the attack was justified? Well, an opponent can easily play this game, too. Simply respond with the opposite extension of the hypothetical. "Okay, let's say those 18 killed included your Mom, your Dad, your brother, two sisters, and your favorite cousins. Was it still justified to attack that house?" And sooner or later you will end up saying, no it wasn't justified.

And around and around you'll go, fine tuning the hypothetical to provide you with exactly the answer you want. It only looks like a moral dilemma but really, it isn't. A moral dilemma happens in the real world, not in hypothetical situations. Kevin's hypothetical is a setup. In fact, and this really should be patently obvious, it isn't even Kevin's hypothetical, but the Bush administration's, a hypothetical they are asserting actually occurred. And while they're marketing it as likely fact, this situation doesn't resemble genuine moral dilemmas I know, which are far more complex than a carefully constructed hypothetical which this clearly is. In other words, the story of the attack and its justification is a lie.

The question Kevin asked is precisely the one Bush wants us to ask. They have composed this "justification" for the attack which they expect will meet the minimum standards necessary for some dispassionate observers to conclude that yes, it just might be worth it to have unfortunately killed all those innocent civilians. But the closer you look at the story, how it developed, how it's being described, the more bogus it seems. For example:

Mysteriously, the bodies of the targeted terrorists were removed before they could be identified. The US government, quite skillfully, has refused to confirm or deny the latest Pakistani story which originally contended it was al Zawahiri but now it's a mad bomber genius, al Qaeda's own Unabomber, who was - ever so ironically - blown to bits. Surely, that's worth 18 innocent lives, yes?

And that, plus other peculiarities, is why I don't believe a word of it. It's too pat, too perfect a concretization of a carefully crafted arm chair accusatory skewed towards only one right answer - Bush's - and as details emerge it can be easily adjusted to make that answer even more inevitable. And tellingly, the structure of the Pakistan assertion combined with a US refusal to confirm easily enables the story to be disowned a few months from now, when no one's paying much attention.

Am I saying that there is no way in hell the story put out by the Pakistanis and the Bushies could be true? What I'm saying is this: the story of 18 innocents sacrificed to eliminate an Evil Bombing Genius is so perfectly tailored to fit the moral theorizing of amateur philosophers rather than any possibly real conflict with al Qaeda that it resembles more the fake Jessica Lynch heroism stories than the real Lynch story.

This is merely Bush propaganda at its most cynical and crude. Frankly, I'm amazed that Kevin asked precisely the question Bush wanted us to ask, a question posed only so that outrage over American bombing of civilians - a war crime if deliberate - would dissipate. I'm also amazed, in fact saddened, that PZ Myers didn't realize this was was a con and chose to respond as if it were a serious question designed to "engage" a debate about national security and its tradeoffs. PZ didn't realize the fundamental bogosity of the question.

But while Kevin may be naive when it comes to accepting the terms of the Bush administration for debate - and he is, as his pre-invasion support for the war shows - he is no Bushite. In fact he is probably after a deeper question here: How should al Qaeda be confronted? What techniques and strategies will not only neutralize al Qaeda's ability to strike but eliminate al Qaeda-ism as a serious danger? That's a question I'd like not only liberal bloggers to discuss; I'd like the government of the United States to address it directly instead of spewing an endless stream of third rate propaganda intended only to make it impossible for their domestic political opponents to object to their cockmamie plans.

Perhaps Kevin is also posing a meta-question here: How can liberals construct narratives that are rhetorically as slippery as the rightwing, like this one about the botched bombing? That is another very good question. Personally, I lean towards crisply telling the truth no matter where the chips land. I'm not sure much more is required to bring down Bush and Bushism for good. It would be nice if a political party did that in a consistent fashion, just as an experiment some time.

(updated immediately after posting to fix grammar and clarify some subsidiary points.)

Posted by: trumad on January 20, 2006 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

For the sake of argument, let's assume that we had pretty good intelligence telling us that a bunch of al-Qaeda leaders are in a Manhatten appartment building. And let's also assume that these leaders are al-Masri and several other major al-Qaeda leaders. Finally, let's assume that there are 18 American genuinely innocent civilians - men, women, children and babies, with no connection to terrorists and who are living in that appartment building.

Question: Under those assumptions, would an attack on that building be justified? I think the answer is pretty plainly yes, but I'd sure like to see the conservative blogosphere discuss it. And for those who answer no, I'm curious: under what circumstances would such an attack be justified?

Posted by: Earthling on January 20, 2006 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

"If a few civilians are killed in the pursuit of our goals, too bad. They shouldn't have been at the target."

Of course that justifies the deaths in the WTC as well, doesn't it?

Posted by: Ralph Dosser on January 20, 2006 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

funny how Kevin's mental breakdown is simultaneously occurring with Chris Matthews'....

Posted by: coffeequeen on January 20, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Let's change the location of the terrorists and the innocent bystanders to, say, a luxury liner. Or a commuter train. Or, an hotel.

How about a hpsoital?

According to Kevin, it would be "justified" in blowing up a hospital with a hellfirte missile fired remotely from an unmanned drone, just to kill a couple of terrorists.

How about we send in some troops to get them instead? Gee. What a thought. Actually fighting a war with troops in a way that kinimizes innocent bystanders getting blown to hell.

Your hypotehtical is manifestly stupid, Kevin. You can do better.

Posted by: Hesiod on January 20, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

How about this one. Let's say we identified some Al Qaeda suspects sitting in a lawschool classroom at the University of Tennessee, listening to a lwecture by a conseratarian blogger.

Let's say that, out of a class of 125, only 4 are terrorists.

Is it justified to blow up the classroom to get 'em?

The answer is quite clearly, yes. Especially if they get the professor.

Posted by: Hesiod on January 20, 2006 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and, why don't we jst saturation nuke Pakistan and Afghansitan?

Would it be justifiably to kill tens of millions of innocent bystanders to get a few hundred terrorists including Osama?

The answer is quite clearly (to an insane wackjob) yes.

Posted by: Hesiod on January 20, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

RickB
First, thank you for joining this discussion with some nice detailed rational arguments.

Repeated reports indicate that witnesses say drone flying over the area for at least a day, maybe longer, before the attack. They were determining the value of the targets, the risk of missing, and the amount of likely collateral damage. The thing started with Humint, but the drones were the final date gathering tool.

I have near-zero knowledge of Pakistani Afghan border area village family life, but a day or two of observation seems unlikely to discover who is inside a house; not all people leave, and I'd expect infants and the sick and perhaps some others to stay in the house for days on end.

Your observations about the improvements in the technology of targetted destruction are spot on. It's still mind-numbing to me that the various players in WWII night-bombed entire cities because (primarily due to very inaccurate navigation technologies) those were the smallest targets they could destroy from the air with heavy bombers.

Posted by: Bill Arnold on January 20, 2006 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

I started reading Calpundit years ago. I've always considered your postings reasonable and level-headed, even if a tad conservative for one who calls themselves a liberal. Now you have revealed that you are in favor of incurring innocent deaths in pursuit of the endless War on Terror. You have lost my readership for good. I'm removing your link from my bookmarks and emailing everyone I know to drop you like a hot potato. Enjoy the rest of your sorry life.

Posted by: GoneforGood on January 20, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

I'm too lazy to read if this point has been made, but how does this hypothetical jibe with Kevin's anti-torture stance? How is it always morally wrong to torture, while it is completely justified to murder, including murdering innocents? And couldn't it be easily argued that, if the "pretty good intelligence" was obtained using torture against terrorist killers, shouldn't that also justify the torture? How does it not? Again, why is murder ok, when torture is wrong?

I myself am against torture for pragmatic reasons, but the moral argument against torture seems pretty weak if murder is justified under similar situations.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on January 20, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

"'If a few civilians are killed in the pursuit of our goals, too bad. They shouldn't have been at the target.'

Of course that justifies the deaths in the WTC as well, doesn't it?"

To the enemy, of course it does. But not to me or anyone else who wants to defeat them. Your question makes it clear that you equate liberal democracy (our side) with Islamic fascism (their side). That means you are not serious.

Posted by: Yr. Fthfl. Svnt. on January 20, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: I followed the link here from Digby, and I'm intrigued by your question and the debate. My answer might not be very satisfying.

It is: yes and no; it depends.

If you prefer, I am willing to say: conditionally, yes.

My thoughts follow Tristero on this, but I would like to analyze the situation more formally. I agree that you are presenting a false choice. That is often true when someone proposes a "moral dilemma." The question makes us uncomfortable by seeming to bring one or more of our moral precepts into conflict. We hesitate to answer, because instinctively we sense the web of underlying and sometimes false assumptions that the question implies. Let's look at those assumptions.

I would lay the groundwork by proposing some statements that we may not all like, but with which most of us will probably concur.

# Civilians get killed as collateral damage in war. This has been true of every war in mankind's long and bloody history.

# The line between "innocent civilians" and combatants can get blurry sometimes, especially in revolutions or wars of insurgency.

# It's not fair to blame civilians for getting in the way, but it is reasonable to expect them to make an effort to stay out of the way. People in close proximity to combatants are at risk. Civilians who collaborate with the enemy are at special risk.

# If this question is urgently relevant to me, then I am probably a soldier in charge of dropping bombs. If that is true, then I am a warrior. I have sworn to defend my country and to fight its battles. Unless I am a fool, I have thought about the matter above and come to some kind of peace with it.

If my answer is a conditional yes, then what are my conditions?

1. I am fighting in a war, which means that either a) a state of war has been declared by the Senate, or b) military action has been authorized by the President under emergency conditions, subject to eventual ratification by the Senate.
2. If action is authorized only by the President, then the President is the legitimately elected leader of my country.
3. The President is operating under the constraints of the Constitution of the United States, subject to the balance of powers explicitly defined therein.
4. A system of checks and balances is in place by which the President will be held accountable for his actions. This issue of accountability is critical. When Jefferson felt he had gone beyond his constitutional authority in negotiating the Louisiana Purchase, he knew that he had acted in good faith, and he was willing to submit himself to the judgment of the Senate and the people, to be censured or removed from office, if his actions had been found to be improper.
5. Furthermore, as you imply, we have good intelligence that enemy combatants are present at a certain location. Let us assume that we know that civilians may also be present. We do not know if they are collaborators, but we don't know that they aren't.

Under these assumptions, I can feel assured that the order to drop this bomb ultimately comes from duly constituted civilian authority, which represents, however indirectly and imperfectly, the will of the American people, and that this action is part of an armed conflict that my country has decided is worth fighting, even though we know that civilians are at risk of dying it.

On the other hand, let me propose an alternate set of assumptions that may seem closer to the truth in the eyes of some people.

1. The leader of my country has risen to power not by legitimate election, but through the actions of a powerful political machine that has undermined the functions of the other two branches of government and which used its influence to abort the electoral process and declare him to be President.
2. He was reelected through a process that was neither transparent nor verifiable. The election machinery was administered by his own political henchman, and the results were validated despite the observation of serious anomalies. No inquiry into the anomalies has been permitted.
3. Americans die as the result of an atrocity committed on our soil by an enemy that our President, in stark contrast to his predecessors, had chosen to ignore. The President continues to virtually ignore that enemy, but he uses the atrocity as a pretext to launch an uknprovoked attack on a nation that was not involved.
4. The Senate and the People are convinced to support this action on the premise that the invaded country was a threat. This argument is made to the nation and to the world, supported by a large body of supposed evidence, all of which is eventually proven to be false.
5. The President does not return to the Senate for authorization to invade, as required by the War Powers Resolution.
6. The Senate never declares war.
7. The President uses the invasion as a pretext to assume extraordinary and plainly unconstitutional wartime powers - including the right to arrest citizens without warrent, torture prisoners, and spy on citizens without oversight - for the duration of the emergency, and he further declares that the emergency will last until the he says it does not.
8. Failure of the President to commit adequate resources to the occupation of the invaded country, so as to guarantee the safety of the citizens and provide basic services such as food, water and electricity - causes that nation to collapse into lawless anarchy. An insurgency develops. Our army is left in harm's way like ducks in a shooting gallery, without clear objectives or endpoints.
9. Neither the President or his advisors permit themselves to be held accountable for any of the above. They use lies, propaganda, bullying and intimidation to prevent any honest debate regarding the ultimate aims of the war.
10. Conditions in the occupied country deteriorate to the point that the only plausible reason for remaining there is so that the President does not have to acknowledge his defeat and face the domestic and geopolitical consequences of his actions, including wasted lives, money, and destabilization of an area critical to the world's oil supply.
11. The President declares that he is now above the law and the Constitution, and that his actions are not subject to review by Congress. He is all-powerful and accountable to no one.

Under the above circumstances now, let us say that we have identified a potential target which is not within the region of conflict, but located in a friendly country. Somebody in the chain of command above you has taken a break from torturing innocent taxi drivers and raping small children to send a message that he suspects evildoers may or may not be present at this location (the level of certainty presumably is less than the "slam dunk" probability of WMD in Iraq), but there are certainly some innocent civilians who dwell there. The friendly country hasn't given us permission to bomb them, but what the hell.

Now do you drop the bomb?

The important moral question is not whether a past action was justified by the way events happened to turn out, but rather: how will you react when faced with these circumstances in the future, not knowing what the outcome will be?

If you would bomb these people under the assumptions I just gave you, then how do you sleep at night?

If you would not, then at what level of certitude do you think it's okay to bomb innocent civilians?

What if the only purpose of this bombing is to politically support an illegitimate, despotic regime that is taking over your country?

I myself would be disinclined to do it. Moral decisions are not made in a vacuum, and the circumstances do matter.

Posted by: galen on January 20, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

How disgustingly obvious is it that most of the lefties are DISAPPOINTED to find out that it turns out that four or five of Al-Qaeda's top leaders were indeed on location, targeted and killed?

You can read it between every line - it's as if upon finding out that high-value targets were indeed taken out by this strike, the Bush-haters are dispondent and feel as if they've been cheated from indulging in yet another round of screaming their shrill little voices in an orgy of anti-Bush hysteria.

Posted by: Mikeycorn on January 21, 2006 at 2:45 AM | PERMALINK

In response to my earlier post I got nothing but non sequiturs and variations of the I know you are, but what am I defense. Accusations about what Republicans said in 1998, in addition to being entirely irrelevant to the question posed by Kevin, were idiotic. Republicans opposed military action in Kosovo because it had nothing to do with our national interests and Clintons WWI started in that part of the world justification was pathetic. They never feigned concern over civilian deaths like Democrats are now and then ignored them when a Republican President was in charge. They legitimately questioned why Clinton wanted to bomb a country without sending any of the ground troops that were necessary to accomplish the stated purpose of the war; to stop the ethnic cleansing.(See section two of this report, http://www.cps.org.uk/pdf/pub/91.pdf], and this Reuters report quoting the British General who had commanded the UN troops in Bosnia). On my way home tonight I saw four different bumper stickers telling me that Peace is Patriotic and I cant remember how many times liberals have told me that dissent is the corner stone of democracy. How dare you criticize them for exercising their constitutional right to criticize the government. (heh, heh)

Nonetheless, you numbskulls proved my point with your failure to provide a response. Cmdicely quoted a blurb about a protest in San Francisco where someone named Richard Becker presented the findings of a war crimes tribunal and linked to an article on the World Socialist Web Site. Other than unwittingly admitting that liberals are socialists, her non-response is completely inapposite to my challenge. Just claiming that plenty of people on the leftdid indeed express outrage doesnt make it so. You can claim that youre the Easter Bunny if you want, but that doesnt make it true. I asked for proof that any of the Bush hating commenters on this site had assailed the Clinton Administration for killing innocents and engendering anti-Americanism. You provided none.

Ill repeat my challenge: which one of the moral preeners on this website criticized the incompetence of the Clinton administration in its prosecution of the 78 day bombing campaign that killed thousands of innocents? Trex offered this powerful response I think it's fair to say there are at least a couple of regular posters to this blog who probably opposed the bombing in Kosovo, for whatever that's worth. Which ones? Name some names, provide some evidence hot shot. You ask, How many examples will it take to refute your assertion? Just one numbnuts, just one. At least you cracked me up with your claim that people dont hate Bush for any a priori metaphysical reasons. You arent fooling anyone but yourself with that bs.

But seriously, I give trex credit for making the only logical comment on this whole site. Of course trust in the leader taking us to war is a threshold question that a reasonable person should consider when deciding whther or not to support any military campaign. I can even respect someone saying I am a Democrat and I support their approach to foreign policy so I have a problem supporting a Republican administrations decision to go to war. However, the problem for the Bush haters is that too many of them actually trusted Bill Clinton. They credulously sat by when Clinton just coincidentally bombed the aspirin factory on the day that Tubby Lewinsky testified to grand jury. They believed it was just happenstance that Clinton decided to bomb Iraq on the day that the impeachment vote was scheduled to start. They believed his excuse that the bombing had to begin that day in order to get it done before Ramadan began (as opposed to seven weeks earlier when the planes were on the carrier decks ready to take off to bomb precisely the same targets). They said nothing when he bombed right past sundown that Friday (the beginning of Ramadan), all through the night and the next day. They criticized anyone who would raise the obvious point that Clinton had just contradicted the justification he had given us 48 hours before. Finally, they again believed that it was mere happenstance that the bombing was halted 45 minutes after the impeachment vote was completed (late Saturday, Baghdad time). The fact that liberals still want to pretend that those were just coincidences makes me question how much of their criticism of this recent bombing in Pakistan is sincere as opposed to liberal partisanship and narcissism. As general proposition, trex raises a good point. However, after trusting someone like Clinton, Bush haters dont have enough credibility to talk about trust. Liberals love the exercise of power and dont mind killing innocent people if it will help them maintain or acquire power.
__________________________________________________

Pale Rider says: Did the Chinese Embassy have military attaches doing something that they werent supposed to be doing? Yes. Did a carefully targeted bomb silence someone from doing something that might have gotten an American pilot killed? Yes.

That is an example of what is called talking out of your ass. Once again, saying something is so doesnt mean it is so. It is certainly possible that the two journalists and the wife were attaches doing something that they werent supposed to be doing. But that claim is no more likely than claiming that the people killed in the Pakistan bombing were al Qaeda/Taliban supporters. While liberals may not be aware of the obvious, the tribes in western Pakistan are supporters of al Qaeda and that is why everyone thinks that bin Laden is hiding there. Commenters on this post have ridiculed suggestions that the people killed might have been al Qaeda sympathizers, and then Pale Rider makes precisely the same type of assumption about the Chinese victims in Belgrade. Both are very possibly true and one is no less valid than the other. Liberals lack of self awareness never ceases to amaze me. (And no, just because some dumb ass AP reporter and other al Qaeda sympathizers claim children were killed doesnt mean that really happened. How old were they? Were they teenagers about to start a rewarding career in terror?)

If it really was a screw up due to old maps, how would the three deaths be any less justified than the alleged deaths of eighteen people in the Pakistan strike?
________________________________________________________________________

Advocate for God also offers a complete non-sequitur in response to my challenge to the Bush hating commenters on this blog. Republicans (Im not one by the way) have absolutely nothing to do with your inconsistency and your lack of even one example in response to my challenge says it all.

Notwithstanding that fact, Advocates demand that I prove that I publicly praised Clinton for his unbelievable incompetence in Kosovo is nonsensical. See, I was never on some website morally preening about how the killing of civilians is never justified in war. That never happened. On the other hand, you and your friends supported Clinton in the litany of screw ups I listed in my earlier post. You didnt give two shits about the Serbs and Albanians who were killed in Clintons futile pursuit of a Presidential legacy (by the way, that was George Stephanoplous theory). But Ive got tell you Advocate, your sincere concern for those innocent civilians in Pakistan has really moved me. My bowels that is.
________________________________________________________________________

Finally, cmdicelys rambling nonsense about how NATOs war against a state is different than the war on terror is about as incoherent and irrelevant as Al Sharptons response to Peter Jennings question about the Federal Reserve in the 2004 Democrat presidential primary debate. Kevin posited a question about the justification for civilian deaths in a military action. Your rationalization that killing innocent Serbs and Albanians is somehow less self-defeating than killing Pashtun tribesmen in a strike against al Qaeda is pathetic. The tribes in that area are overwhelmingly sympathetic to al Qaeda and the Taliban. They dont need any further basis for hating the USA. They already did before this bombing. They were pissed that we overthrew the Taliban and even you lefties supported that.

Posted by: J on January 21, 2006 at 4:47 AM | PERMALINK

Advocate for God asks for proof that a majority of conservatives in positions of power within the Republican Party and the media, such as the National Review, praised Clintons actions in stopping genocide and spreading democracy in the Balkans.
___________________________________________________________________

Clintons actions stopped genocide?

Lets see, where do I start? The bombing campaign ended in June 1999. In March 2004, fourteen Serbs were killed and hundreds were wounded in gun battles between ethnic Albanians and Serbs. (Guardian 3/18/04, "Fourteen Dead as Ethnic Violence Sweeps Kosovo" http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/0,3858,4882382-103558,00.html). The NATO commander in overall charge of Kosovo has likened the recent violence in the province - in which at least 28 people have died - to ethnic cleansing. Admiral Gregory Johnson said almost 1,000 Serbs had been driven from their homes after attacks by ethnic Albanians (March 20, 2004, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3551571.stm).

The former commander of United Nations troops in Bosnia has dismissed NATOs Kosovo bombing campaign as a tragic failure. Britains General Sir Michael Rose said NATO and British politicians were running a propaganda campaign to persuade people that the air war met its objectives.Rose said NATO had defined its initial objective as the prevention of more suffering, repression and violence against Kosovos ethnic Albanians.. [yet] thousands of people were brutally murdered and more than a million people were driven from their homes by the Serbs, said Rose, who has retired from the British army.(Reuters, July 15, 1999) [http://agitprop.org.au/stopnato/19990715natocockup.php]
Then, when the Serb soldiers left Kosovo in June 1999, the returning ethnic Albanian refugees sought revenge on their Serb neighbors, and forced up to 200,000 to flee the province. In March last year, 50,000 Albanians rioted across the province, attacking Serbs and other minorities and forcing 4,000 from their homes. http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/07/25/news/kosovo.php

Reverse ethnic cleansing forced all [Serbs] who remained in Kosovo in 1999 to retreat to pathetic enclaves.(http://www.guardian.co.uk/Kosovo/Story/0,2763,1490685,00.html) Per Human Rights Watch, after the bombing campaign ended the ethnic Albanians ran wild over the Serbs and other groups in Kosovo. (http://hrw.org/english/docs/2004/07/27/serbia9136.htm)

Clinton didnt stop anything. In fact, his refusal to send in ground troops sped it up. [take a look at Chapter 3 of this report, (http://www.cps.org.uk/pdf/pub/91.pdf)]. Maybe he stopped genocide in liberal fantasyland, but in reality he made it worse. Why would you make such a stupid statement?

________________________________________________________________________

Clintons actions spread democracy in the Balkans?

As of last summer, six years after Clintons victory, Kosovo was (and still is) under UN and NATO administration and it hasnt even been determined if it will remain part of Serbia or become an independent state. [AP, Reuters 6/20/05, Violence Erupts in North Kosovo Town [http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/06/19/news/serbs.php] The UN is still commissioning reports as to how to begin the negotiations to resolve the situation. The framework for the negotiations is far from clear. The United Nations has commissioned a report to determine if and when talks can start. [7/26/05, New York Times, http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/07/25/news/kosovo.php] In March 2005, the Kosovar Prime Minister was charged with war crimes by the international criminal court at The Hague. (http://www.wsws.org/articles/2005/mar2005/kla-m16.shtml). Things are great in Kosovo.

Clinton didnt bring democracy to Bosnia either. In 2006, it remains under UN control. Plus, Bosnia was already a burgeoning democracy in 1992 when it held a referendum on succession from Yugoslavia. It had an elected president in 1995 who signed the Dayton Accords on its behalf. Now it has an elected government, but Bosnia is ultimately controlled by the UN. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosnia_and_Herzegovina). Eleven years and there still isnt an independent, democratic Bosnian state. According to liberal logic that apparently constitutes a success. However, in reality, nothing was accomplished by Clintons excellent Kosovo adventure.

The answer to Advocate's question is: nobody. Republicans didnt praise Clinton's actions because they caused 1.4 million refugees and increased ethnic cleansing. Reality isnt going to keep Bush haters like Advocate from clinging to their fantasies. That is why they cant be taken seriously.

Posted by: J on January 21, 2006 at 6:01 AM | PERMALINK

I had a dream last night. Jeb was campaigning for his second term and at the DNC the keynote speaker was Osama Bin laden. Suddenly a cruise missle crashes thru the roof (one of those pesky penetrating models) and obliterates the stage along with Dean, Kennedy, Reid, Hillary, Landrieu, Moore, Biden and hundreds of zombie like Democratic supporters. I awoke feeling better than I have in years:)

Posted by: Jon Brooks on January 21, 2006 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Will you Clinton Haters get down off your moral high horse! Ronald Reagan ordered Lybia bombed and his "collateral damage" was also women and children. And if that doesn't equate with any Clinton "witch hunt" you can dredge up, try this one: Reagan also bombed Lybia's "Embassy Row" where foreign countries had established their embassies and killed dozens of Embassy staff from many countries.

Posted by: History Buff on January 21, 2006 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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