Terror Wins Again

Authorities in Great Britian arrested 21 people in and around London Thursday, claiming to have foiled a terrorist plot to blow up transatlantic jetliners bound from London to the United States. Security was raised to its highest level in Britain, and carry-on luggage was banned on all flights. Huge crowds backed up at London’s Heathrow airport as officials searching for explosives barred nearly every form of liquid outside of baby formula.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the terrorists planned to use liquid explosives disguised as beverages and other common products and set them off with detonators disguised as electronic devices.

The extreme measures at a major international aviation hub sent ripples throughout the world. Heathrow was closed to most flights from Europe, and British Airways canceled all its flights between the airport and points in Britain, Europe and Libya. Numerous flights from U.S. cities to Britain were canceled.

Washington raised its threat alert to its highest level for commercial flights from Britain to the United States amid fears the plot had not been completely crushed. The alert for all flights coming or going from the United States was also raised slightly.

Thus, without spilling even one drop of blood, the terrorist mindset of Radical Islam has thrown a significant portion of the Western world into utter chaos, altered the security protocol for air travel “for the forseeable future” according to unnamed government sources, and dealt another financial blow to an airline industry that only in the last quarter saw the largest American carriers posting their first profits since 2001.

President Bush said during a visit to Green Bay, Wis., that the foiled plot was a “stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists.” Despite increased security since Sept. 11, he warned, “It is a mistake to believe there is no threat to the United States of America.”

“We think this was an extraordinarily serious plot and we are confident that we’ve prevented an attempt to commit mass murder on an unimaginable scale,” London Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson said.

A senior U.S. counterterrorism official said authorities believe dozens of people — possibly as many as 50 — were involved in the plot. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

The plan involved airline passengers hiding masked explosives in carry-on luggage, the official said. “They were not yet sitting on an airplane,” but were very close to traveling, the official said, calling the plot “the real deal.”

White House spokesman Tony Snow, who said Mr. Bush had been briefed by aides while on vacation at his ranch in Crawford, TX, called the plot a serious threat but assured Americans, “it is safe to travel.”

Best look twice, however, at the bearded young man with the energy drink and an iPod sitting next to you.

Portions of this post were composed with information taken from articles filed by Associated Press writers Thursday, August 10, 2006.


  1. Tam O’Tellico - August 10, 2006 @ 7:45 pm

    Congratulations to the Brits, the Pakistanis and the Americans who foiled this insidious plot. This should certainly put to rest the absurd notion that fighting terrorists in Iraq is keeping them from terrorist acts elsewhere. Certainly, the Brits would point to last July as proof that canard is only so much propaganda.

    Also, let’s not get carried away with this success; the evil men who would commit such cowardly acts will not be deterred from their ego-manical misguided martyrdom. This will not be the last we hear from such cowards.

    And don’t let anyone say I told you so and try to use this foiled plot as an excuse to justify this administration’s wiretapping and other questionable investigative techniques. This plot was foiled by brave men who infiltrated these terror cells. It proves once again what intelligence experts have been saying all along: Technology is no substiture for human intel.

  2. lonbud - August 10, 2006 @ 10:51 pm

    I’d like to know a tad more about the plot and the forensics of its foiling before showering huzzahs on anyone, myself.

  3. lonbud - August 16, 2006 @ 8:32 am

    A few day’s perspective shows last week’s news in a more revealing light.

    The Bush administration prevailed upon the Brits to go public with an on-going investigation for which they would rather have kept assembling evidence. However, the Bush administration’s paramount objective is the retention of power and not, as some believe, combatting the threat of terror.

    Thus, in transparent Roveian fashion, on the day after Connecticut’s voters signaled a potentially seismic shift in the underlying mood of America’s electorate by rejecting a neoconservative toady in favor of a candidate who questions the administration’s ability to wage the WOT — BushCo red-lines the fear meter and serves up another body blow to a reeling airline industry just to show everyone who’s still the boss.

    Yesterday, the President said the United States is safer but not completely safe yet.

    What a bunch of assholes.

  4. Tam O’Tellico - August 16, 2006 @ 8:56 pm

    Yes, and even Conservatives are finally beginning to realize the truth about the fool who would be king: Bad policies badly executed.


  5. Michael Herdegen - August 18, 2006 @ 6:22 am

    “Terror Wins Again” – by forcing us to give up bringing drinks onto airplanes that already have beverages available, and making us pack toothpaste, suntan lotion, and lip gloss in our checked luggage, rather than in a carry-on.
    Wow, it’s like Appomattox Court House all over again, or maybe Dresden.

    If forcing a superficial change in behavior, especially a simple change in degree of previously-routine behavior, is the best that they can do, then they might as well just go home.

    Radical Islam has thrown a significant portion of the Western world into utter chaos…

    Yeah ?
    “A significant portion of the Western world” is flying at any given time ?
    Having to throw away your tanning oil and Diet Coke is “utter chaos” ?

    [T]he Bush administration’s paramount objective is the retention of power and [they don’t care who has to die for them to keep it].
    Thus, in transparent Roveian fashion…

    They pressured the Brits to act now, in the middle of August, so that the plot would be long-forgotten by the time voters go to the polls, rather than collapsing the plot in October, when dramatic news affects voting so much that there’s a cliche named for the phenomenon, “October surprise”…
    Oh, wait, that’s not “Roveian”, because Rove is known for being smart. The “paranoid conspiracy school of political analysis” strikes again.

  6. Tam O’Tellico - August 18, 2006 @ 1:05 pm

    Say what you will, but the very fact that we are having to concern ourselves with what innocent liquids can be carried onboard an airplane argues that terrorism is succeeding if creating fear is the political objective. On the other hand, the terrorists seem to be running a poor second to Dick Cheney.

  7. lonbud - August 18, 2006 @ 4:27 pm

    Well, that’s the thing, innit? The terrists themselves aren’t nearly as fearsome or dangerous as, say, cardiovascular disease, which will kill well over half a million people in the U.S. this year.

    Al Qaeda, the great evil bogeyman against which BushCo has committed the nation to endless war is not even quite as threatening as Septicemia, a blood conditon that killed nearly 35,000 people in the U.S. in 2003.

    So, Michael may feel it’s no big deal that BushCo’s obsession with IslamoFascism has caused the creation of an entire new bureaucracy in an already bloated federal government, has resulted in the near decimation of an entire industry, and has given rise to a level of cultural paranoia unheard of since the great Red Scare of the 1950s, but I’d say yes, Terror Wins Again.

    And Michael, m’lad, you feel that incredulity over my use of terms like “utter chaos” and “significant portion of the Western world”? That’s how the rest of us felt when we were hearing “mushroom cloud” and “WMD” and “imminent threat” and “just as bad as Hitler” in the run-up to our Iraq fiasco.

  8. Michael Herdegen - August 19, 2006 @ 12:05 am

    Sure, we’d be better off forgetting about terrorists and instead losing weight, eating more vegetables, stopping all smoking, and buckling all seatbelts – but that’s not human nature, is it ?
    If it were, we’d have far less to argue about.

    Cardiovascular disease, cancers of all types, but especially lung and breast, and diabetes could be slashed in half with simple changes, carried out on a population-wide scale.
    But those are slow and stealthy killers, thieves in the night. People often don’t even feel that bad, before they’re mortally ill.

    Flaming airplanes falling out of the sky do capture our attention, and the public demands that immediate action be taken. If Bush had just brushed off 9/11 by saying “grow up, you’re far more likely to die of a lightening strike than by terrorist actions. Return to your homes,” then fairly quickly President Cheney would have been directing a more robust response.

  9. Michael Herdegen - August 19, 2006 @ 12:17 am

    [T]errorism is succeeding if creating fear is the political objective.

    But fear isn’t their end goal, it’s their tool. They’re not anarchists, they don’t just want a breakdown of the social order, they want a different social order.
    They’re hoping that if the public gets fearful enough, then the public will force their leaders to change their nations’ foreign policies with respect to the Middle East.

    So far, so bad. It’s as if the terrorists were a football team, and have shut down our passing game. That causes a change in our behavior, but that’s not a “win” unless they can also stop our running game. It’s just an inconvenience to us.

    After all, the very same day that the details of the terrorist plot were revealed, and passengers started having to chuck gels and liquids, in most places security lines were no worse than normal by the end of the day. So they aren’t even costing us much lost time, just the convenience of carrying a drink through the security checkpoints. Ask them if they conceive of that as “winning”.

  10. lonbud - August 20, 2006 @ 10:52 am

    Except the terrorists aren’t a football team and we are not playing a game. They are winning because they have nothing to lose and because they have insinuated themselves into the minds of millions of people who didn’t give them a passing thought prior to 9/11. If the terrorists did approach their goals with game theory, they would be adherents to the philosophy of Yogi Berra: “90% of winning is half mental.”

  11. Michael Herdegen - August 21, 2006 @ 2:23 am

    Causing a change in behavior isn’t “winning”. You write counter-points to my thoughts, essays that you never would have done if I didn’t post comments.
    Does that mean that I’ve “won” every argument that we’ve had ?

    Only if my sole goal is to get you to respond to me.

    The Islamofascist terrorists don’t just want recognition, they want substantial foreign policy changes in Western nations. So far, no go.

    As for it being a “game”…
    It’s more serious than a game, but less serious than most wars that America has been involved in, in the past. We haven’t really spent much money, or effort, fighting them. We take them so lightly that our society seriously argues about whether we should even imprison the POWs that we take during the conflict, and we use police tactics in Iraq, rather than military ones.

    Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that so far we’ve spent one trillion dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus all of the efforts combatting terrorism. In less than a month, it’ll have been five years since 9/11. During that time, our cumulative GNP has been roughly $ 60 trillion, so we’ve spent about 1.75% of GNP on the War on Terror, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
    During 1945 alone, we spent 150% of GNP, or almost 100 times as much as we’ve spent on all facets of the struggle against Islamofacsism.

    During WW II we flattened entire cities, and impoverished and starved entire national populations. In Iraq we conduct no-knock raids door to door.

    WW II was total war. What we’re doing now isn’t, not even within shouting distance.

  12. lonbud - August 21, 2006 @ 8:02 pm

    I don’t believe you have any real idea what Islamofascist terrorists want, Michael. Nor do I believe you have an appreciation for how long they are willing to wait to get it.

    You and I are engaged in a voluntary exchange of ideas. If you didn’t post commentary here I would do exactly as I did for the several years prior to my creating a public blog, just as if I hadn’t done so you’d have gone on blissfully unaware of my diametrically opposed view of much of the world.

    But we do agree to converse, and though we rarely find ourselves on common rhetorical ground, we have enough of a shared language to keep it up.

    The difference between what we do here and what the adherents of radical Islam do with their terrorism is that with them against us, neither side feels voluntarily engaged; it’s a matter of survival (in their own minds) to both sides.

    Which is why I have always maintained we can never prevail over radical Islam. Radical Islam will only ever be defeated from within, just as we have only ever contained our own radical thinkers from within our society.

    I’ve also always maintained that the WOT is nothing like WWII, so your statistics are neither persuasive nor germane.

  13. Michael Herdegen - August 22, 2006 @ 9:37 pm

    I don’t believe you have any real idea what Islamofascist terrorists want, Michael.

    It’s true that I only know what they say that they want – maybe that’s some sort of disinformation.
    Enlighten me. What do Islamofascist terrorists want ?

    Nor do I believe you have an appreciation for how long they are willing to wait to get it.

    I have a very strong appreciation for how long they’ll have to wait to get it.

    I’ve also always maintained that the WOT is nothing like WWII, so…

    …we agree that the WoT is more like a game than a war, and that the terrorists are evil but incompetent ?

  14. lonbud - August 22, 2006 @ 10:55 pm

    Make no mistake about our disagreement when it comes to the WOT. It is every bit like any war, despite your diminishment of it as a cheap one. Death and maiming and the ruination of families and communities both here in the U.S. and in Iraq have yet to attain the scale of WWII, or Korea, or Vietnam, but they are just as real and permanent in their effect. What distinguishes w’s war from any of the other three is his was the least necessary, and therefore, the most culpable and most tragic.

    I, like you, know what Osama bin Laden and Al Quaeda want, only from what they say they want. He and they were the reason for our “taking the fight” to them, right? What they want is for American troops to leave Islam’s Holy Lands, among ther things, perhaps, but foremost that, as bin Laden made clear a long time ago.

    Seems like it might have been a reasonable thing to try first, to me.

  15. Michael Herdegen - August 24, 2006 @ 5:03 am

    American troops are no longer in Arabia, the land of Mecca, but I haven’t noticed al Qaeda retiring from the fray.

    Obviously, “get U.S. troops out of the Holy Land” was either a convenient pretext, or merely an interim goal.

    Seems like it might have been a reasonable thing to try first, to me.

    Leaving Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Bahrain, and Kuwait to the tender mercies of Saddam seems “reasonable” to you ?!
    Besides, I thought that you supported the UN sanctions against Iraq, over active warfare. Are you now saying that we should have abandoned the UN sanction regime much earlier, and invaded Iraq, so that we could have moved our military operations out of Arabia sooner ?

  16. lonbud - August 24, 2006 @ 9:44 pm

    Like th e Bush administration’s adherence to the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution, almost, but not quite. Troops were not even initially withdrawn from Saudi Arabia until 2003, after the invasion of Iraq, and several hundred remain stationed there to this day.

    I would have redeployed our troops from Saudi Arabia to somewhere lke Qatar, the UAE, or Kuwait immediately upon taking office in January 2001, at LEAST by August, after receiving the briefing about bin Laden’s intentions to strike on U.S. soil. Had I been president, there would have been no 9/11. Too bad I didn’t run in 2000.

  17. Michael Herdegen - August 25, 2006 @ 2:27 am

    Had I been president, there would have been no 9/11.


    You flatter yourself way too much there. Your position is also extremely culturally narcissistic, because it assumes that bin Laden could have been manipulated by minor and surface changes in U.S. foreign policy, instead of the deep and substantial changes that the Islamofascist movement seeks.
    In other words, your position is coherent only if America is the only player whose actions count, and other nations and groups only react to America, never acting independently out of their own thoughts, ideas, or philosophies. I’m an American chauvinist, believing that America is the main driver of global events and the world economy, but even I wouldn’t go so far as to say that only America counts.

    That’s also the main failure of your concept that America could somehow have prevented the latest Hizbollah/Israeli dustup through diplomacy – you assume that Hizbollah cares what America wants, or that America has anything to offer Hizbollah that’s important enough to change their behavior.
    The classic rejoinder to that kind of delusionally self-important thinking is “get over yourself.” Good advice, that.

  18. Tam O’Tellico - August 27, 2006 @ 3:20 pm

    Interesting debate, fellas, but pointless as far as I am concerned. Whether and when we removed our troops from Saudi Arabia is not worthy of a wasted word. Anyone who thinks that Islamic Fundamentalists will cease and desist if we simply get our troops out Arabia – or even out of the Midle East is delusional. Sorry, Lon, on that platform, you wouldn’t have gotten my vote.

    At the very least, we would also have to abandon Israel, a political step no American politician who values his campaign war-chest, his treatment in the press, or his poll-numbers is likely to attempt. But even that unlikely and untenable solution would not suffice.

    No, I’m afraid that what we have here is a modern version of the old Aesop fable of the lamb and the wolf which has its moral this sage advice: Any excuse will do for a tyrant.

    In fairness, however, it should be added that the same moral can be applied to the broke-brain cowboy currently sullying what’s left of our reputation in the Muslim world. From WMD to the Iraq-Saddam connection to Iraqi democracy to fightin’ ’em over thar – any excuse will do for the fool who would be king.

  19. lonbud - August 28, 2006 @ 7:41 pm

    Islamic fundamentalism is no more likely to cease and desist — regardless of what we do or don’t do with our own money, power, and weapons of mass destruction — than is Christian fundamentalism. What’s germane here is provocation toward violent nihilism, and I say it would have been far cheaper — at least, and no more strategically unsound — to have re-deployed American troops out of Saudi Arabia when “the gravest threat to American security” let it be known that was all he really wanted. What BushCo did with that very information has obviously been a waste, and a failure.

    I do not believe our diplomatic position vis a vis Israel is one of choice between feast or famine, either. We could gain a great deal of credibility with the elements of Arab society who recognize the long-term viability of a diplomatic approach to what Michael refers to as saving their “failed societies” if we simply stop writing blank checks and require a modicum of consistency between Israel’s rhetoric and its action.

    But that would necessitate a similar consistency between those two elements of our own participation in the international diplomatic arena. And that would seem to be a challenge similar to arranging the cessation and desisting of Islamic fundamentalism.

  20. Michael Herdegen - August 30, 2006 @ 8:37 am

    So, the solution to the Israeli/Islam problem is for the U.S. to stop supporting Israel, while Syria, Iran, and elements of Arabian society continue to support terrorist groups dedicated to the destruction of Israel ?!

    You have a strange notion of a level playing field.

    Further, let us consider some possible knock-on effects of such a policy.
    America cuts Israel loose, and so they feel alone in the world and vulnerable, and the Islamic terror groups are energized, since they see an opportunity to overwhelm Israel once and for all.

    However, Israel isn’t defenseless. On the contrary, they are the most militarily powerful nation in their region, even including Turkey and Pakistan. In fact, over the past twenty years, the main thrust of American diplomatic policy towards Israel has been directed towards getting Israel to respond less forcefully to provocation.

    So, recognizing all of those elements, one probable scenario is this: The U.S. cut Israel loose. Islamic terror groups step up their attacks. The region’s most powerful nation feels as though its back is against the wall, that they have no friends. What next ?

    Is it: A) they allow themselves to be overrun by suicide bombers and rocketeers, or B) they lash out, bombing the Syrian army into nonexistence, taking out Iran’s nuclear facilities and oil infrastructure, and driving the Palestinians into Syria, Jordan, and Egypt ?

    Obviously, it’s very unlikely to be “A”, which is why ending American support for Israel is likely to be disastrous for Muslims. as well as having very unpleasant consequences for the developed world.

  21. lonbud - August 30, 2006 @ 9:19 pm

    Well, that’s all fine, and good, Michael, but where did I say anything about cutting Israel loose? When have I ever suggested the U.S. “stop supporting Israel”?

    One of the major difficulties people seem to have in tapping the nut of this problem we all agree we have, is actually listening to (or in our case, reading) what “the other side” has to say.

    My exact words were “stop writing blank checks” and “require a modicum of consistency between Israel’s rhetoric and its action.” How does that get translated into “stop supporting Israel” and “cut Israel loose”?

    The entirety of your reply is a waste of words because it’s founded on a false premise.

  22. Michael Herdegen - August 31, 2006 @ 3:49 am


    Then how about this: The subtext of your position is that America supports/enables Israel too much, and that it would facilitate Middle Eastern peace to make them feel more vulnerable.

    In the first place, as I’ve pointed out, that won’t work, and in the second place, hostility towards Israel is necessarily succor to Islamic terror groups. And yes, a worldview that perceives that Israel is more to blame for Mid-east strife than are Islamic terror groups and the nations that support such, for responding to acts of terror, is hostile to Israel, and indeed to all advanced cultures.

    I note well that you don’t mention that Hizbollah should have “a modicum of consistency between their rhetoric and actions”, nor that Iran should “stop writing blank checks” to Hizbollah and Islamic Jihad.
    Wouldn’t that bring more peace to the Middle East ?

    America would be more than happy to be able to leave the Middle East to its own devices. The U.S. and Israel are not the instigators here. They only respond to provocation.

    Based on our conversations, you seem to believe that instigators and victims are equally culpable for conflicts, but I can assure you that that’s not so.

    The good news is that within twenty years the Middle East will be a marginal player in supplying the world’s oil, and in forty years they’ll be basically tapped out, so within two generations, before Israel’s Centennial, the barbarians will be back to herding goats and begging for food aid from the West. All’s well with the world.

  23. Michael Herdegen - August 31, 2006 @ 4:13 am

    I can’t wait to comment on your new post. As much as I would like to believe that Middle Eastern nations will normalize within twenty years, historical example suggests that it largely won’t happen without a lot of help and prodding from the West.

    For many reasons, the ex-provinces of the former Soviet Union are not directly comparable to the current nations of the Middle East, and even if they were, think about it. That would only support the position of staying engaged in the Middle East, since the former Soviet Union only collapsed due to external pressures.
    Without continuous engagement by America, there would be NO democratic ex-Soviet-provinces.

  24. lonbud - August 31, 2006 @ 8:03 am

    The subtext of my position is not to make Israel feel more vulnerable, nor do I intend to excuse Iran, Syria, Hezbolla, Hamas, or any other interested party from the requirement of consistency between rhetoric and action.

    Unleashing F16s and taking out a soverign nation’s infrastructure is not, in my view, a productive response to the provocation of a couple of kidnappings. Laying the groundwork for civil war in Iraq was not a productive response to Al Qaeda’s provocation on 9/11.

    There is a big difference between staying engaged in the Middle East and condoning (or aiding and abetting, or practicing) torture, death squads, and indiscriminate violence against its people.

    We’ve had this argument from time to time, and my contention remains the Soviet Union collapsed as a result of internal decay and corruption to a far greater extent than it did from external pressures. Many of the forces that acted to destroy it from within had origins outside the cuture, but the ideas and practices of freedom adopted by the people were what brought down the Iron Curtain. The Arms Race was just a sideshow.

  25. Michael Herdegen - September 2, 2006 @ 10:38 am

    That’s like saying that businesses that have no competitors will eventually collapse of internal decay and corruption. Such organizations get more and more dysfunctional, but they rarely collapse without an external shock.

    Even after twelve years of extreme suffering and deprivation in Iraq, the corrupt and incompetent Saddam regime was nowhere near collapse in Iraq. Robert Mugabe still rules in Zimbabwe, despite completely destroying his nation’s economy, and the desperation of his peoples.

    Even the Western Roman Empire fell to external forces, not internal collapse.

    If you want to believe that America had nothing to do with the demise of the USSR, ought not you be able to point to a few examples of that dynamic occurring before ?
    After all, it’s not like there’s been a dearth of corrupt, dysfunctional, decaying nations and empires before the 20th century.

    If you can’t find at least two examples, won’t that show that your working assumption is merely an anti-American fantasy ?

  26. lonbud - September 2, 2006 @ 10:41 pm

    Micheal, your consistent misreading of my posts leads to misguided assumptions about my worldview and my intentions.

    First off, however, countries (nations, societies, cultures, states, cities, or whatever political demarcation one might wish to assign people engaged in social and economic interaction) are not businesses.

    The notion they are is one of the most wrongheaded and destructive tropes promoted by so-called conservatives and the Republican party.

    The United States of America is not a business, nor is any of its 50 states. Nor is any city, town, or unincorporated area within its borders a business.

    While the President is indeed a Chief Executive Officer, and a good one puts in place executive orgnizations whose well-directed and accountable functions would resemble those of a well-run and successful business, the goal of government is not the turning of a profit.

    Nor should public policy be constrained to choices that meet the requirements of cost/benefit analysis.

    When you address my contention that the Soviet Union collapsed from within — as will the threat of radical Islam — by comparing it to a business, you start off immediately on a jaunt into the weeds.

    The germane contention here is not that Iraq was on the verge of collapse, but that Saddam was on the verge of threatening the United States with weapons of mass destruction.

    Events have proved rather conclusively that Saddam posed no relevant threat to the U.S..

    And while chaos apparently festered beneath the surface of Saddam’s iron rule, the administration of government there (nothwithstanding our unending commitment to securing the central front in the War on Terror) remains the province of the Iraqi people.

    Whoever they might be.

    America had everything to do with the demise of the Soviet Union. And my belief that America will have everything to do with the demise of radical Islam is founded in the understanding that the same forces will have prevailed in each case.

    Those forces are not military, nor are they economic. They are cultural and ideological.

    w is unwittingly correct repeating the company line that we are engaged in a “war of ideas.” But it is the ideas themselves — the things you can’t erase from the collective consciousness of a society that has been exposed to jazz or hip hop or rock and roll — that will prevail in every conflict the most paranoid among us could imagine.

    Our military and industrial might is adjunct to the central theme. And our moral superiority is a chimera.

  27. Michael Herdegen - September 5, 2006 @ 10:22 pm

    You’ve almost got it.

    Yes, the simple existence of America provided a counter-example for the citizens of the Soviet Union – but so did the UK, France, and New Zealand.

    It was the relentless pressure on the USSR to keep up with America, to always produce more, better, that ultimately exhausted them. Why do you think that Gorbachev attempted to liberalize the Soviet economy, while trying to keep control of the political process ?
    Perhaps it had something to do with the need to be more productive, but the unwillingness of the Kremlin to lose control ?

    Please provide two examples of Empires/Great Powers that fell due solely to internal decay. If you cannot, don’t you think that the lack of historical example might say something about the validity of your thesis ?

    And our moral superiority is a chimera.

    Meaning what ?
    That all nations have equal claims to morality ?
    That’s so silly that I cannot believe that you would mean that.

    That some nations are superior to America ?
    Name some, please.

  28. lonbud - September 5, 2006 @ 11:27 pm

    Ahh, then, it wasn’t the military threat, it was the bigger, better, faster, more influence of western liberty that did in the Soviets. We can both chew some meat off of that bone. The reason the Soveits’ experience had more of the Yankee-Doodle Dandy to it was largely one of media presence.

    Gorbachev saved the people of the Soviet Union by instituting glasnost; like any politician with a long-term view, he didn’t save them all at once.

    Nations have no claim to morality at all; only the people who live in them may.

    However, on a scale you seem content operating with, Switzerland and Lichtenstein would both be superior to America. On a different one, any nation that doesn’t practice the death penalty would also be superior.

  29. Michael Herdegen - September 6, 2006 @ 3:50 am

    Ahh, then, it wasn’t the military threat, it was the bigger, better, faster, more influence of western liberty that did in the Soviets.

    No, it was the military threat, and the bigger-better-faster-more arms race treadmill that we put them on.

    You seem to believe that the Soviet Union crumbled because the people demanded bigger-better-faster-more liberty, or maybe consumer goods, but perhaps you forget that the USSR wasn’t a democracy.
    The only outlet the citizens had was to riot, rebel, or slack off at work. There was a little bit of the first, almost none of the second, and rather a lot of the third.

    How do you get from “malingering” to “overthrowing a despotic oligarchy” ?
    The peoples of the Soviet Union certainly didn’t get from one to the other.

    Further, I note that you still haven’t come up with any historic examples of the dynamic which you claim doomed the USSR. Funny, that.
    But maybe the Soviet Union was a one-off, eh ?

    Gorbachev saved the people of the Soviet Union by instituting glasnost…

    Maybe so, maybe not, but it’s indisputable that that’s not what he set out to do. Gorbachev wasn’t some Russian Washington.

    [A]ny nation that doesn’t practice the death penalty would also be superior [to America].

    So Sweden, which doesn’t have a death penalty, would be superior to a nation which freed 50 million people from oppression ?
    Standing by and doing nothing, as Switzerland has done for centuries, while evil dictators kill freely is “morally superior” to acting to stop such foul behavior ?!

    Have you ever given any serious thought to the ideas that you profess to believe ?
    Like your “pacifism”, you rather seem to have never considered any of the ramifications of a world in which your ideal behaviors were the norm.

  30. Michael Herdegen - September 6, 2006 @ 5:21 am

    Strike the last two sentences.

    Substitute “consider the ramifications of a world in which your ideal behaviors were the norm. Nobody resists bad behavior, except verbally.
    Who would rule in such a world, who would set the standards? Moderate, rational people? Or those who don’t care about others, who only seek self-gratification, and who are willing to use violence and intimidation to get their way?”

  31. lonbud - September 8, 2006 @ 5:34 pm

    Like your leaders, Michael, you appear to believe in a world in which danger, injury, threats, and mayhem lurk around every corner and seethe in the heart of every stranger.

    My view of the world is not nearly so infused with fear. So, were my ideal behaviors the norm, run-of-the-mill bad behavior would be naturally attenuated; the most serious cases would be few enough and far between as to be managable by the collective strength and unity of, yes, moderate, rational people.

    Such a world would be ruled by thoughtful, enlightened people, who would be caretakers of a society where getting one’s way through violence and intimidation would seem quite unnecessary.

  32. Michael Herdegen - September 13, 2006 @ 12:22 am

    Such a world would be ruled by thoughtful, enlightened people, who would be caretakers…

    This is what I mean by “failing to consider the ramifications”.

    “Caretake” how? If they are to keep public order, they NECESSARILY would have to use violence, or the threat of violence, against those few who see that they could personally gain through bullying and intimidation, as “unnecessary” as it might be.

    (How often is starting a war “necessary”, anyhow? Was it “necessary” for Hitler to seek conquest? For Alexander the Nominally Great? For Saddam? It’s typically only necessary to resist such violence. In other words, you’re already living in the world that you ouline – but you still don’t like it).

    What you really want is a world in which the likes of me have cleared out the likes of Saddam and Mugabe, so that we can live in a park. Well, that’s all well and good, but never confuse that park with the wild, or you’ll be eaten alive when you venture beyond the “safe” markers.

  33. Michael Herdegen - September 13, 2006 @ 10:59 am

    In other words, you’re confusing cause and effect. Behaving passively won’t cause the world to be “ruled by thoughtful, enlightened people”; it’ll only be after all rulers are thoughtful and enlightened, (and all populations are so also), that nonviolence will have its day.

  34. lonbud - September 19, 2006 @ 9:38 pm

    Forgive my delay, please, in responding to your last two posts on this thread, Michael. I’ve been away from home and quite occupied by other concerns. Now that I have a moment it seems important to clarify a few things.

    You appear to have a very difficult time imagining a world in which violence is not the norm, either through the natural inclination of its unchecked hordes or that made necessary to those charged with its police-keeping functions.

    There may well have been a time in the development of human societies when the differences between the commons and “the wild” were mere matters of degree. I happen to believe we’ve passed the tipping point, however; the differences between mankind and beast are well understood.

    A collective acknowledgment of that fact among the most influential leaders of social entities is all that’s needed to put clear distance between those who would prosper through peaceful means and those who seek to attain advantage through violence.

    Unfortunately, the most influential leader — check that — the leader of what used to be the most influential social entity in the world today, still believes in gaining advantage through bullying and intimidation, on the world stage and in his national and personal political arenas.

    Should the people of the United States manage to begin choosing thoughtful and enlightened leaders anytime soon, I believe you’ll be amazed at how quickly the world will seem a much less scary and dangerous place.

  35. Michael Herdegen - September 25, 2006 @ 1:52 am

    A collective acknowledgment of that fact among the most influential leaders of social entities is all that’s needed to put clear distance between those who would prosper through peaceful means and those who seek to attain advantage through violence.

    There’s already a clear moral and philosophical distance between those two camps. Unfortunately, there’s no geographical distance.
    No matter how much we’d like to be able to ignore troublemakers, it’s still true that sooner or later we have to deal with them, or at least with the results of their actions.

    By your standards Europe is morally superior to America, but that didn’t prevent them from being bombed by terrorists.
    The rest of the world practiced nonviolence during the Rwandan genocide; how was letting hundreds of thousands of people get hacked to death by machetes a superior outcome to counter-violence ??

    Further, let us suppose that the leaders of all of the world’s advanced nations became less inclined to use force to quell unrest in the world’s trouble spots.
    How would that stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, for example ?

    And if it wouldn’t, then of what use would be such a shift towards pacifism by the world’s leaders ?
    We’d still have the same problems, no ?

    Unfortunately, […] the leader of […] the most influential social entity in the world today [you had it right before your correction] still believes in gaining advantage through bullying and intimidation, on the world stage and in his national and personal political arenas.

    Yeah ?
    Examples, please. Otherwise we must conclude that you’re simply indulging in more divorced-from-reality cathartic Bush-bashing.

    Should the people of the United States manage to begin choosing thoughtful and enlightened leaders anytime soon, I believe you’ll be amazed at how quickly the world will seem a much less scary and dangerous place.

    The world was and is a dangerous place under Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush.

    If you can’t find a person that you’re willing to call a “thoughtful and enlightened leader” from among that group, then it’s a lead-pipe cinch that the people of the United States won’t be electing anyone that you’d apply such a designation to anytime soon, or probably ever.
    And of course if you do find such a person in that group, then it refutes your notion that all it takes is the right U.S. President to bring about peace on Earth.

    Which is the main flaw in your assertion: It’s culturally biased.
    We could have something approaching the kind of peace and calm that you write about by withdrawing from the rest of the world, but doing so wouldn’t mean that peoples everywhere would enjoy the same freedom from oppression, exploitation, and violence.
    Your “solution” would do nothing to help the vast majority of people on Earth, who don’t live in advanced societies.

    In essence, it’s just “I got mine, forget you”. I refuse to be that selfish.

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