pageok
pageok
pageok
9/11:

fema.gov

My views, expressed at the time in the TLS, have not changed very much:

Abstract: This article was offered in 2001 as the Times Literary Supplement's main commentary the week following 9-11. The essay argues that 9-11 required war as a response, and challenges views expressed in the days following 9-11 by commentators such as Anne-Marie Slaughter and Michael Ignatieff that the proper response by the United States should be criminal law in nature - either international criminal law, through international tribunals or procedures, or domestic criminal law of the kind pursued in the first 1993 World Trade Center bombing. It further argues against the functional pacifism of many Christian theologians who, while approving of just war principles in theory, never manage to approve any actual war in practice. At the same time, the essay observes that the war on terror declared by President Bush, while comprising one or more particular wars, starting with war to topple the Taleban regime in Afghanistan, is a metaphorical war, akin to the War on Drugs, rather than an actual war. Appearing just a few days after 9-11, this essay makes a case for war as war, for soldiers and not policemen against terror.

Josh K (mail):
Regarding just war theory, I was under the impression that most proponents were for the war in Afghanistan. It's the war in Iraq that was very unpopular under that model.
9.11.2009 10:56am
Allan (mail):
Yes, Josh. Afghanistan was a just war. Unfortunately, we did not devote enough resources to do it right, deciding, instead to attack Iraq.

Iraq started like and continues to be like a Philip Dick story.

As for Mr. Anderson, I think we may be losing the war the Taleban started in 2001. We have lost many of the freedoms we took for granted. Sure, they are small (like carrying drinks on airplanes and greeting your loved ones at the gate), but they are freedoms none-the-less. Heck, even the Republican Party was toppled from power - Regime Change.

Thanks a lot for giving up on the great American dream Mr. Anderson (wow - that could be a line from the Matrix).
9.11.2009 11:30am
PersonFromPorlock:
In retrospect, it seems to me that we should have treated the WOT as a criminal problem, with the proviso that we would treat any country's hindering our pursuit of the terrorists as an act of war. That would have put both our treatment of captured terrorists and recalcitrant governments onto known ground.

As far as Iraq goes, I think the idea was good - change the Arab world for the better and young Arabs will have something better to do than die - but the execution was sorely lacking. We tried to do it on the cheap, and Bush had so little faith in his own plan that he falsely justified the invasion as being about supporting the UN against Saddam. It wasn't, and trying to pretend it was both caused our effort to become unfocused and gave those critical of it a dandy tool to beat us about the head and shoulders with.

We should have invaded Syria, too, immediately we had Iraq in hand. That would have made it clear our intention was to change the Arab world, and sent useful shockwaves and messages throughout it. Stopping with Iraq made the invasion about Iraq alone, something the rest of the Arab world shrugged off easily.
9.11.2009 12:15pm
Deep Lurker (mail):
Yes, we've lost many freedoms that we had taken for granted. But those freedoms weren't lost due to our making war against the Taleban or Iraq - they were lost due to our treating terrorism as a criminal-law matter. They were lost to police- and law-enforcement measures; to investigations, searches, and new "security" rules.

If we had treated terrorism purely as a criminal-law matter, our loss of freedom from the resulting law-enforcement measures would have been at least as great.
9.11.2009 12:48pm
Patrick S. O'Donnell (mail) (www):
I rather suspect that the better we understand what motivated this suicide mission by members of al-Qaeda (i.e., what made these men ripe for recruitment for such a thing; of course such motivation will never be fully transparent yet I think we can go quite far in ascertaining at least some of the more conspicuous motives) and the better we understand why al-Qaeda thinks and acts as it does, the sooner we'll appreciate why this war is sheer folly and unwinnable as such (in other words, the sooner we'll learn and rely on—more complicated and long-term—strategies that help undermine the causal variables involved in drawing, in this case, young men to this particular type of terrorism). Toward the first goal at least, I'd recommend Stephen Holmes' remarkable essay, "Al-Qaeda, September 11, 2001," in Diego Gambetta, ed., Making Sense of Suicide Missions (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006 ed.).
9.11.2009 12:52pm
MarkField (mail):

In retrospect, it seems to me that we should have treated the WOT as a criminal problem, with the proviso that we would treat any country's hindering our pursuit of the terrorists as an act of war. That would have put both our treatment of captured terrorists and recalcitrant governments onto known ground.


Agreed.
9.11.2009 1:27pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
We should have made war on the religion of Islam, which is our enemy.

So that was the strategic incomprehension right there. When Bush made kissyface with the same guys who were preaching the ultimate subversion of dar al-Harb by dar al-Islam, the world's Muslims got it.

Islam is a supremacist religion that does not separate politics and government from theology.

From the point of view of Islam, we are the dark side that their weak sisters come over to. We should have invited defections (not from the spiritual doctrine, from the political), and welcomed the defectors. Then made life hell for the residue.

It would, no doubt, have been as difficult for Muslims in an Age of Reformation as it was 500 years ago for Christians. Not my problem, though.
9.11.2009 2:19pm
Assistant Village Idiot (mail) (www):
I checked out Patrick O'Donnell's essay. Holmes believes that we were attacked because we have arrogantly plundered other nations and supported despotic regimes. Not that we are as bad as the Islamists think, but whoa, still pretty bad. It's the America-wearing-short-skirts argument.

As to Just War theory and Afghanistan compared to Iraq, the key point for the Religious Left is that they consider the UN the only legitimate authority. Though this is frankly bizarre in terms of the development of Just War Doctrine, it is common thinking now because of how many people in the West view the UN. It is dangerously close to choosing a new religion, actually.
9.11.2009 4:06pm
Tom Grey (Liberty Dad - Slovakia) (mail) (www):
Islam as practiced by Arabs, and exported by Saudi Wahhabists, is not compatible with Human Rights.

So as long as non-Muslims are forbidden to enter Mecca, Islam should be more honestly treated as what it really has been.

The Iraq nation-building and democracy building is being implemented poorly, with huge gov't cash &waste &creating a culture of gov't corruption, rather than private, peaceful business.

The US needs to learn how to do non-colonial nation building. And we can't leave Iraq until they are reasonable, nor Afghanistan.

But we can't win in Afghanistan as long as heroin remains as illegal -- too much money in the illegal economy.
9.11.2009 9:53pm
John Moore (www):

Islam as practiced by Arabs, and exported by Saudi Wahhabists, is not compatible with Human Rights.

Not all Arabs. But a lot of Muslims have beliefs incompatible with both democracy and human rights.


The US needs to learn how to do non-colonial nation building. And we can't leave Iraq until they are reasonable, nor Afghanistan.

I think that nation building is the right model for Iraq, and may very well succeed (not that they are likely to be a perfect democracy). An even moderately successful moderately democratic Iraq is a strategic asset to the US and a great threat to Iran (and indirectly, to Saudi Arabia).

Hopefully Afghanistan will not require nation building, because I doubt it is worth it and I really doubt we have the political will. Even though it was "the good war" to the left, that meme really gained strength only as a counter to "Iraq, the bad war." With Iraq no longer a major issue, the left will turn on Afghanistan - and in this case, they might even be right (perish the thought).

What is clear is that the situation with Afghanistan is murky. Do we need to control it to achieve our strategic goals? Does our presence there increase or decrease stability in Pakistan? Is it significantly helpful in our efforts to disrupt Al Qaeda's continuing plots?



But we can't win in Afghanistan as long as heroin remains as illegal -- too much money in the illegal economy.
9.12.2009 12:46am
John Moore (www):
Errr... don't know how the last sentence snuck in there.

There's a point there to be reckoned with, but it wasn't mine.
9.12.2009 1:21am
AlanDownunder (mail):
Bin Laden is as representative of Islam as Bush is of Christianity. The world got caught in the crossfire between two bellicose extremist distortions of two Abrahamic religions, thanks to apologists like Anderson.

Exxon, Halliburton, Blackwater etc did ok though.

Of course there should have been an international policing and intelligence agency effort, when co-operation was in the offing, not blundering bull in a china shop "war"s in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Over half a million are dead and millions are maimed and displaced. Anyone who supported that has got to keep supporting it or else acknowledge their share of responsibility for it. No wonder so many keep supporting it.
9.12.2009 2:28am
John Moore (www):

Bin Laden is as representative of Islam as Bush is of Christianity


Furthermore, Bush was not acting from Christian religious dogma when he started the... what do we call it now... overseas contingency operation. He was acting as a national leader.

Bin Laden was directly acting out of religious motives.

Furthermore, the support for Bin Laden is widespread in Islam, so Bin Laden is, unfortunately, a representative (or a hero) of too large a percentage of Muslims.
9.13.2009 1:58am
AlanDownunder (mail):
... and unfortunately, the support for Bush was widespread among US Christians, so Bush was, unfortunately, a representative (or a hero) of too large a percentage of Christians.

Furthermore (to coin a phrase) Bin Laden is as political as he is religious.

It was Bush's "crusade" (his own word). He was a national leader, but he was acting from religious dogma. Cheney wasn't the national leader and he wasn't acting from religious dogma - he was just selling his notion of America's national interests (ie Exxon's, Halliburton's etc) by appealing to Bush's perversion of Christianity.
9.13.2009 7:47pm
John Moore (www):
AlanDownunder, your attempt at a parallel fails badly. Bin Laden has made it clear, time and time again, that his ultimate goal is religious, while his tactics may involve politics.

Bush was NOT acting from religious dogma, no matter how much you want to twist it. The word "crusade" has common meanings that far exceed its religious meanings, except in history. The idea that Bush's actions as leader were a matter of religious dogma would be laughable, if it weren't so common. It is held only by fools.

As for your slur on Cheney, he remains near the top of the list of national figures whom I admire.

The very idea that Bush/Cheney went to war for money is an accusation of mass homicide from profit. It is deeply offensive, not to mention utterly wrong.
9.15.2009 1:52am

Post as: [Register] [Log In]

Account:
Password:
Remember info?

If you have a comment about spelling, typos, or format errors, please e-mail the poster directly rather than posting a comment.

Comment Policy: We reserve the right to edit or delete comments, and in extreme cases to ban commenters, at our discretion. Comments must be relevant and civil (and, especially, free of name-calling). We think of comment threads like dinner parties at our homes. If you make the party unpleasant for us or for others, we'd rather you went elsewhere. We're happy to see a wide range of viewpoints, but we want all of them to be expressed as politely as possible.

We realize that such a comment policy can never be evenly enforced, because we can't possibly monitor every comment equally well. Hundreds of comments are posted every day here, and we don't read them all. Those we read, we read with different degrees of attention, and in different moods. We try to be fair, but we make no promises.

And remember, it's a big Internet. If you think we were mistaken in removing your post (or, in extreme cases, in removing you) -- or if you prefer a more free-for-all approach -- there are surely plenty of ways you can still get your views out.