Thursday, January 07, 2010

City progressives and Afghanistan

City progressives are disappointed in President Obama's policy on Afghanistan, even though he made it clear during the campaign that he wasn't going to allow the Taliban to retake that country.

The folks over at Fog City apparently agree with Noam Chomsky that the US is out to conquer the world, and Afghanistan is just part of that plan.

Over at the Bay Guardian's political blog, the thinking is the same, with the unstated assumption that Afghanistan is just another one of those wars launched by the US on unsuspecting countries. Steve Jones came unglued when I made this comment to one of his anti-war posts. No wonder the American people can't trust the left to govern this country!

I wrote:
I understand that progressives agree with Osama Bin Laden that their country is the Great Satan, but I'd still like them to explain how allowing Afghanistan to be retaken by the Taliban won't threaten our national security, since the 9/11 attacks were planned there and the attackers were trained there.

Jones's response:
9/11 was a response to the massive U.S. military buildup in the Middle East during the first Gulf War. That's why Bin Laden declared war on us, as he said clearly at the time in his fatwa. The fact that he was given safe haven by the Taliban in exchange for money doesn't mean that the Taliban is scheming to destroy the U.S. Most Talibs are dirt poor, have never traveled more than 50 miles from their home village, and couldn't find the U.S. on a map.

Of course the threat to our security doesn't come from the Taliban themselves; they seem content to terrorize only the people of Afghanistan. But they and Al Qaeda are doctrinal and political allies, which is why they made the deal with Bin Laden before 9/11 in the first place. By the way, since there are no longer any US troops in Saudi Arabia, shouldn't Bin Laden call off the fatwa now?

Jones wrote:
The fact that most Americans see all muslim fundamentalists as a direct military threat...indicates how dangerously misguided we are in our belief that we can extinguish this threat militarily.

There is a significant minority of Muslims who are a direct military threat, as the Christmas Day attempt to blow up that airliner again demonstrates. Maybe we can't "extinguish" the threat, but we surely have to defend ourselves. Do you think it's misguided to try to defend ourselves? Do you really think we can negotiate some kind of political settlement with Bin Laden and his international followers? If so it would be interesting to learn what a deal like that would look like.

Jones wrote:
You want total war? Against isolated pockets of radicals throughout the world, and involving a country with nuclear weapons? You want to reduce the world's great cities to rubble, again, just like we did in Dresden, Hiroshima, London, Nagasaki, Berlin, and countless others? You want a death toll in the millions to avenge an attack that killed 3,000 or because you're scared that someone might try to blow up an airplane or subway train every few years? You're insane! Have you no sense of proportion? Do you really think we'll just kill them all and live happily ever after? That's a children's fairy tale.

It's not a matter of revenge, but surely we have to protect ourselves. We should abandon our attempts to do so and resign ourselves to having an airplane or a subway train blown up "every few years"? And you call me "insane" and question my "sense of proportion"! How would Obama explain that to the American people? "Don't worry, folks. We're just going to let the terrorists blow up an occasional airliner and/or subway car." The primary nuclear danger the world faces now is from the Islamic fanatics, who, as soon as they get their hands on the bomb, will use it against us, against Europe, or, in the case of Iran, against Israel. The Afghanistan/Pakistan border is a haven for these Islamic terrorists, who would like to take over Pakistan and its nuclear arsenal. No, I don't think we're going to live "happily ever after" in our lifetime. These homicidal/suicidal fanatics are going to keep coming at us for the forseeable future.

Steve Jones wrote:
9/11 was a response to the massive U.S. military buildup in the Middle East during the first Gulf War. That's why Bin Laden declared war on us, as he said clearly at the time in his fatwa. The fact that he was given safe haven by the Taliban in exchange for money doesn't mean that the Taliban is scheming to destroy the U.S. Most Talibs are dirt poor, have never traveled more than 50 miles from their home village, and couldn't find the U.S. on a map. As Marc said, they only reason they'd be motivated to attack the U.S. is if we blew up their family with a predator drone.

The fact that most Americans see all muslim fundamentalists as a direct military threat---such as the above commenter who can't distinguish between a Yemeni and a Talib, even though they're on different continents---indicates how dangerously misguided we are in our belief that we can extinguish this threat militarily. You want total war? Against isolated pockets of radicals throughout the world, and involving a country with nuclear weapons? You want to reduce the world's great cities to rubble, again, just like we did in Dresden, Hiroshima, London, Nagasaki, Berlin, and countless others? You want a death toll in the millions to avenge an attack that killed 3,000 or because you're scared that someone might try to blow up an airplane or subway train every few years? You're insane! Have you no sense of proportion? Do you really think we'll just kill them all and live happily ever after? That's a children's fairy tale.

Now, as far as Matthew's point about using Gutierrez's death to make a political point, it's true that I did, just as supporters of war do in their statements about what this death means, and just as we hear about from the president on down every Memorial Day and Veteran's Day and every time a bunch of American soldiers get killed. And that was precisely my point: the warmongering will stop only when we see deaths like this as the tragic and unnecessary price we're paying for a misguided policy that is doomed to fail. Bring the troops home.
Posted by Steven T. Jones, December 29, 2009
 

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7 Comments:

At 1:34 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

"as soon as they get their hands on the bomb, will use it against us, against Europe, or, in the case of Iran, against Israel."

umm... they would need an ICBM too...those aren't just lying around anywhere...

 
At 1:59 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

No they wouldn't. We were just reminded in the wake of the Christmas incident, for example, that few ships entering the US are thoroughly inspected. I assume that's also true of Europe.

 
At 2:18 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

what's cheaper - trying to stabilize afghanistan, or bringing home the troops and employing them to thoroughly inspect every ship?

which is more feasible? more productive? safer? produces better results?

without even considering it's a lot different to handle tons of fissile material than to handle a container of plastic toys...

 
At 3:28 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You silly, know-it-all jerk. Why don't you send your Big Thoughts to President Obama? He'll no doubt be reassured that Murph is on the case.

 
At 9:49 PM, Blogger missiondweller said...

Rob, an excellent post. This is why liberalism is considered by many to be a mental illness. For anyone to justify Bin Laden in any way is madness. To argue we shouldn't defend ourselves is laughable. These same people seem to think we should, instead. fall down and die in an orderly fashion. History has demonstrated time and again the only way to deal with evil is to confron it head on.

 
At 4:34 PM, Anonymous Otaro said...

Nice post rob. If you'd lay off the bike hatred, then I could say I agree with you 100%!

 
At 6:20 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I don't hate bikes or the people who ride them, or the SF Bicycle Coalition, or even Critical Mass, which is nothing but an annoyance. I'm the only real critic you bike people have, which I now see as something of a responsibility. No one else seems willing or able to do it. As the unofficial Bike Critic for San Francisco, I criticize the bike people which the Guardian, the Chronicle, the Examiner, BeyondChron, and Fog City are unwilling or unable to do.

Your comment is about a foreign policy post, which just goes to show that I write about issues other than the bike issue.

 

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