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Monday, September 11, 2006

# Posted 11:46 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

DO LIBERALS HAVE A POLITICAL DEATH WISH? It's as if they're doing their absolute best to sound soft on terrorism. Katrina Vanden Heuvel is the editor of The Nation, arguably the most influential publication on the left. Here's what she said on ABC on Sunday morning [no transcript, pocast here]:
By calling this a war, by hyper-militarizing what happened to us on 9/11, by making it the organizing narrative of our life, it has made everything seem subsidiary to terrorism, when in fact there are other, larger issues this nation needs to deal with.
3,000 civilians dead and Vanden Heuvel thinks America "hyper-militarized" 9/11? No, that is what Al Qaeda did.

And then Vanden Heuvel said this:
You can't have a war on terrorism. Terrorism is a brutal method and tactic, but my making this a war, we have spread -- and I think Fareed would agree -- what was a limited Al Qaeda threat into a potentially larger Bin Ladenism, radical Islamist threat which is rippling through the streets of Germany and London.
3,000 dead in New York and DC and Vanden Heuvel thinks there was only "a limited Al Qaeda threat"? 3,000 dead in New York and DC and she thinks our response is what spread the problem?

Yes, Bin Ladenism was in Germany. Before 9/11. That is where Al Qaeda planned to murder Americans. And hatred was preached in the mosques of London also before 9/11.

Vanden Heuvel should be ashamed.
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Comments:
From the first quote, when in fact there are other, larger issues this nation needs to deal with. You'll agree that Bush is going to be judged on Iraq and the War of Terror as he has precious little else to show for 6 years in office. Inarguably Iraq is a failure, and the War on Terror looks pretty bad.

From the second quote, what was a limited Al Qaeda threat into a potentially larger Bin Ladenism. She is saying that by our *overreacting* we have been playing into bin Laden's hands. Vanden Heuvel is clearly and soberly describing the *nature* of terrorism.

Vanden Heuvel isn't saying that bin Ladenism didn't exist in Germany or London before 9/11. That's absurd. She's saying that our overreaction in Iraq has magnified al Queda's support which is only too obvious.

Yet in order to bolster Republican chances in the midterms, Bush is trying to tie Iraq to the War on Terror with an Oval Office speech on September 11th interrupting a two day 9/11 fictionalization from the people at Disney.

Bush has no shame.
 
I've never heard any rational explanation for why you can't effectively wage war on a tactic. Lefties just say it, like it was an obvious truism, and gloss over the bit where they're supposed to actually support the claim.

Sure, terrorism is a "tactic". And if you make a point of specifically hunting down and ruthlessly extermininating everyone who practices it, it becomes a much less attractive -- and thus much less common -- tactic.
 
Anonymous:
1) Your "precious little else to show for 6 years in office" is rubbish. The economy is strong, the deficit is going down, and he passed your prescription plan did he not.
2) Your "Inarguably Iraq is a failure" is the same - I'd argue with your assessment - as would many others (especially Kurdish Iraqis).
The fact is, you and Vanden Heuvel are too feeble minded and/or cowardly to get it!
 
also, don't forget that although 9/11 killed 3000, it was probably an attempt to kill far more.

Had the terrorists reckoned on one of the buildings falling sideways, or more people being trapped inside the building, or one hijacked plane not being courageously brought down before reaching its target?

It could have been much much worse. And they also make a point of indiscriminately attacking Moslems and others all over the world. Its not just about us.
 
Revenant, I'm no lefty, but I'll try to provide you an answer here. The war should be labeled the war against Islamic totalitarianism (which communicates everything the right means by 'Islamic fascism' without pedantic arguments over whether only nation states can be fascist). Mislabeling has several drawbacks:
While you may be right that we could effectively go after everyone who employs terrorism, we're not. The Tamil Tigers, the remains of the Shining Path, hell even the Chechens and Hezbollah haven't been the target of so much as one American bullet in the past 5 years. We should be against terrorism as a matter of principle of course, but we can only afford to act against those who use it when we have national interests at stake. Additionally, the mislabeling of the war helps our opponents claim that fighting it in other theaters (Iraq, possibly Iran) is a distraction from the 'real' war, and gives rise to the tedious distractions over how high-level the meetings were between Saddam and a particular terrorist organization.
The only drawback to proper labeling is it may offend the moderate Muslims who don't support suicide bombing and beheading civilians. Of course it's hard to say how those people react to things, since they've never been caught on film.
 
also, don't forget that although 9/11 killed 3000, it was probably an attempt to kill far more.

It certainly *was* an attempt to kill far more, but Bush *isn't* pursuing bin Laden, he's enabling him.

I've never heard any rational explanation for why you can't effectively wage war on a tactic.

This is from the Army War College, Defeating Terrorism:

•This war can be won, not merely contained, but only if we choose our aims and strategies correctly.

•Our enemy is not terrorism, it is al Qaeda’s radical ideology.

•Our war aim must be the defeat of this ideology. If we achieve this, mass casualty terrorism against Americans will subside; if we do not, counterterrorist efforts will inevitably fail.

•To defeat this ideology requires both a war of military violence to destroy al Qaeda’s current operatives and a war of ideas to prevent their replacement from among the millions of politically uncommitted Muslims.

•We cannot allow our military means to undermine our ideological ends: the hearts and minds of politically uncommitted Muslims are the center of gravity; military exigencies, while important, take second place.

•This war of ideas must focus on a “third way”: neither al Qaeda’s radical separatism nor an imposed Westernism, but an indigenous alternative that allows the legitimate religious yearnings of everyday Muslims to see political expression.
 
David,

Of course Vanden Heuvel should be ashamed of herself.

In watching this exchange what struck me was that Fareed Zakarhia never responded to her comment that,'I think Fareed would agree.'

Although I have no way of knowing for sure, I doubt that he subscribed to every word that she said.

I would have been curious to see him reply to her.What's the point of a panel discussion,if outrageous statements like this are not even discussed?
 
Patrick, you have to remember -- there was no plane in Pennsylvania, the buildings didn't fall sideways because they were demolished by the CIA, and there were fewer people because all Jews were told to stay home. (Sorry, I've been hanging around too many conspiracy theorists lately.)
 
I find it extraordinary that people think that this topic is a valid forum in which to play out their left-wing/right-wing pyschodramas. I appreciate that Mr. Adesnik's post is partly about partisan linguistics, but I don't think that they're useful. This shouldn't be about Bush's shame. Nor should it be about Vanden Heuvel's shame.

The only thing to argue about is not what has been done in the past 5 years but what to do in the next five. I'd include in this abandoning the specific political rhetoric that both sides have used, because it has become loaded with meaning beyond its context - ie, the political rhetoric of these five years has itself become a medium for further left/right antagonism.

So instead of debating which terms have been useful and valid, and which haven't, couldn't we have a more constructive political discourse focused on what is happening and what is not happening? A more honest engagement with "fact on the ground"?

In an enviroment that if nothing else is itelf ruthlessly, dangerously protean, couldn't we be "tough on terrorism, tough on the causes of terrorism" more productively by changing the way we address it?
 
Patrick, I subscribed (and still subscribe) to the view that the Middle East has been suffering from a lot of pathology which had to be addressed. This situation could not continue the way it was going, with Wahhabism exercising such a hold on so many people. Therefore, although I had severe misgivings about our country going into that troubled part of the world, I was willing to give the Administration the benefit of the doubt in their attempt at regime change, which was successful. Their failure to own up to their mistakes in the occupation, and the apparent lack of post-war planning, however, continues to anger me almost daily. This war was a major geopolitical move, was it not? yet the requisite focus and maturity was lacking. I marvel at the fact that this apparently shallow person became President in the first place, I am sorry to say. I think both parties need to wither away, and let a new, accountable, honest set of leaders try to clean up the mess.
 
An.

To suggest that Bush was a terrorist enabler is just silly.

Al Qaeda trained at least 18,000 in Afghanistan prior to the fall of the Taliba. Before that they trained people in Sudan.

Most of these people went home and waited. Most are still waiting. That some choose to come out and be killed on the battlfield is good. The more the merrier.

Additionally. If someone goes on to a TV show aimed at a general audience they should speak in terms that the audience will understand. If you have to spell out what she meant, even if that is not what she said, then she needs to change the way she speaks. Or better yet why dont you speak in her place.
 
Davod

To suggest that Bush was a terrorist enabler is just silly.

pre-9/11 the Taliban was our ally. We gave them $43M in May 2001 'to combat opium production.' And yes, we knew OBL was there then. Here's an article from the right wing Cato Institute detailing it.
 
Briefly, in response to Steve Albert: No, Zakaria didn't respond to Vanden Heuvel's remarks. But George Will immediately criticized her, so the concept of a panel worked. I recommend you listen to the full podcast.

Cheers,
 
Terrorists thrive embedded within a society that lacks either the power or the will to expel them. The force used to fight evil in the midst of a society without destroying it is called the police. Armies fight wars. They don't have the luxury of worrying about the preservation of the society of the country they fight in. Their duty is to destroy all in their path if need be. The Taliban and Al Qaeda were one in the same. Military action was correct and effective in that case. In what other case would it work? Tell me. If you support military action against terrorists you are effectively sanctioning the mass destruction of any society that harbors terrorists. So how has that approach worked out in Iraq? There weren't many there until our army arrived. In that regard, it has been a counterproductive war. Until you can explain in detail how a military approach to terrorism is truly effective dlcvjaq(which the president has been completely unable to do), then I have to conclude that this post was the product of a bloviating lightweight.
 
David,

First I would say that Katrina is on the hard left and would not even call her a democrat. Still lets look at the problems she sees. One is the over use of military jargon and tactics. I tend to think that the imagery and linguistics was designed for domestic political use and not to deal with al Qaeda’s radical ideology. The real issue and second what does your enemy hope to accomplish what are their end goals. Is it to hope for and overreaction that help them propagate against moderate and corrupt Mideast regimes? I guess that you then think that the response has been handled well in the five years since 911?

We have spent our blood and treasure well in this struggle against the current enemy of our country? We have fought the battle's of our choosing in order to destroy the ideology that makes it OK to use terrorism? Still I am not sure that you will ever completely get rid of the tactic.

Remember Remember the fifth of November. (Tactics and terrorism gave us our republic it could be argued) Let us hope we can make a world that does not need the tactic to solve its problems because it has justice..

I tend to view this issue as the same issue that has ended many cultures the battle against modern society...
 
Vanden Heuvel never had a shot fired at her or been chased down a back street by some bad guys. She is a perfect example of the nutso left that remains unaware of how the world works. ABC 9/11 told it real.
 
Davinci, I understand why you don't want to have Vanden Heuvel identified as a Democrat or even a liberal. But she is the voice of a magazine with something like 250,000 subscribers. And those subscribers are liberal Democrats.

As for looking at the problem Vanden Heuvel sees, I believe you define it far too broadly. She thinks we're not in a war. She thinks there are bigger issues than terrorism. She thinks Al Qaeda only presented a limited threat after 9/11.
 
Now I'll admit to having just a little too much fun with this one, but David is overestimating the circulation of The Nation; its only about 200,000 according to KVH herself. Its 2004 circulation was 173473 and the right wing National Review was 155271. Here's an article on the relative circulation in recent years of the Nation, the National Review and the centrist New Republic. Hmmm, the Nation seems to be enjoying steady growth in this digital age while the NR seems to have finally stanched its bleeding.

We're comfortable with calling Vanden Heuvel a Liberal, so lets get past the labels and back to her ideas.

She said: By calling this a war, by hyper-militarizing what happened to us on 9/11, by making it the organizing narrative of our life, it has made everything seem subsidiary to terrorism, when in fact there are other, larger issues this nation needs to deal with.

And you said She thinks there are bigger issues than terrorism.

She's right. There are bigger issues than terrorism. If there aren't, then the tall bearded nutcase hiding in a cave with his four wives has already won. And only fearmongers believe otherwise.
 
I guess I should be happy that 50,000 fewer people than I thought subscribe to The Nation.

Moving on, I'm a little confused by the argument that if terrorism is the biggest issue then Osama has already won. Do our enemies win when we pay attention to them? Do they lose when we ignore them?

The standard Democratic criticism of Iraq is that it's a distraction from the real war on terror, the war against Al Qaeda. So are Howard Dean and John Kerry the "fearmongers" you were talking about?
 
... the argument that if terrorism is the biggest issue then Osama has already won. Do our enemies win when we pay attention to them?

No, they win if you think that terrorism is *the* most important issue, or to use KVH's English Department phrase, the defining narrative.

The standard Democratic criticism of Iraq is that it's a distraction from the real war on terror, the war against Al Qaeda.

Correct.

So are Howard Dean and John Kerry the "fearmongers" you were talking about?

No. The fearmonger I was talking about is the sitting President, the actual captain of our ship of state. As I've said before, Bush has no other accomplishments to mention. The deficit is back to the usual Republican levels compared with Clinton's balanced budget.

But he passed a prescription drug plan.
 
I am surprised no one on here commented on "Olbermann Rails Against Bush at Ground Zero". Well, maybe it's best not to give wind to a lunatic...
 
What Paul de Man said.

David, we have been at this for five years now. Last year the DOS showed a marked increase in the number of terrorism incidents around the world. In November the Iraq War will be longer than US involvement in WWII.

Talking tough may make one feel good, but five years of tough talk has given us precious little progress. The Taliban appears to be adopting an Iraqi style Jihad.

The problem is not with Katrina Vanden Heuvel, David.
 
it's no use debating with the liberal democrats anymore. they have overrun the democratic party with big money -- the elitists of the northeast, the elitists wannabe in hollywood, and the likes of soros. these people are so far removed from reality, so is their thinking. for years the democrats have ridden to power on the back of blacks and minorities. for years they have have created a legalized form of modern slavery that no one has dared to point out. they promoted a hand-out system of government that says "don't worry, no need to get an education, to work hard, and to contribute to society, uncle same will take care of you; just vote for democrats". there is nothing more cruel than this detestable form of slavery -- one that ensures a whole race of people, a whole class of people, will forever be mediocre, forever be subserviant to a single party. thank god for the 1994 contract with america, some blacks and minorities are starting to question the legitimacy of the democrats. unfortunately the majority of them have looked but still lnot seen the chains around their ankles. why? because running these plantations are the likes of sharpton, rangle, and jackson. democrats maybe stupid when it comes to making policies that are good for the country, but they ain't that stupid in knowing who to pick to run their plantations.
 
"David, we have been at this for five years now."

That's not a long time.


"Last year the DOS showed a marked increase in the number of terrorism incidents around the world."

The jihadists spread around the world unimpeded for a very long time, we are playing catchup.



"In November the Iraq War will be longer than US involvement in WWII."

But shorter than Vietnam or the Revolutionary War. So what?


"Talking tough may make one feel good, but five years of tough talk has given us precious little progress."

You have to ignore a hell of a lot to think little progress has been made.
 
Five years is a long time.

The jihadists spread around the world unimpeded for a very long time, we are playing catchup.

Unimpeded. I'm sure that you feel secure that Our Dear Leader is on the case. Been watching a little too much Disney have you?

You have to ignore a hell of a lot to think little progress has been made.

Five years is a long time, and I don't think we can endure much more of this 'progress.'

America's world image has slipped considerably. The coalition that we led in the Persian Gulf War and in Bosnia has evaporated. In a year, England will be gone from Iraq.

So exactly what progress do *you* think has been made in the war on terror and in Iraq?

Hey, they have cell phones now.
 
On what grounds do we assume that terrorism is "the" most important threat to the US? Surely it is a very important concern, but "the"? Take a quick look at comparative risk assessment: you are more likely to die from any number of causes preventable through public policy changes than from terrorism.
 
You have to ignore a hell of a lot to think little progress has been made.

I'm not the one ignoring things. The Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan. The number of worldwide terrorism incidents hit a record high last year.

You think this is progress? Talk about the soft bigotry of lowered expectations . . .

"In November the Iraq War will be longer than US involvement in WWII."

But shorter than Vietnam or the Revolutionary War. So what?


Don't recall Washington or Nixon parading around naval vessels with Mission Accomplished in the background.

The jihadists spread around the world unimpeded for a very long time, we are playing catchup.

Oh please, that's poppycock.

Are you writing from Egypt? You must be because denial is running through your brain.
 
To continue,

I hate to seem like I'm piling on, but consider the following:

More than 3,500 Iraqi civilians were killed last month, the highest monthly toll in the history of the war. The Guardian reports that the number of bomb attacks carried out or attempted by the insurgency in July — more than 2,600 — is also the highest monthly total of the war, and the average number of attacks against U.S. forces has doubled since January to more than 500 a day. The much-touted U.S. plan announced in June to flood and subdue Baghdad with security forces has collapsed into a death-squad orgy costing an average of 100 lives per day. And Prime Minister Maliki’s supposed national-unity government is rapidly deflating, the last remaining Sunnis threatening to desert.

Some progress - more than three years after the aircraft carrier stunt.
 
Observations. Vandenwhosits tries to fool people--and whoever else she fooled, she sure got some on this thread.
Her implication, the planted axiom, is that if you call this a war on terror you can only fight terror(ists)(ism) and you have leave the other stuff alone.
That is, of course, nonsense.
We have to call this war something. WOT will do.
Two books, The Shadow War and Imperial Grunts (the latter reviewed by yours truly on Amazon) and a search on the web for "caspian guard" give a picture of what else we're doing besides pursuing terrorists, although, given the speed with which things move, they're already dated.

The Taliban can't be "resurgent" until it has been desurgent. Anybody who is calling the current shooting-galleries enjoyed by NATO troops "resurgence" want to show where they noted the Taliban was practically defeated, "desurged"? And nothing backdated, please.
That accusation is nonsense.
 
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