Saturday, October 30, 2004
An argument with which I have no patience, from fools I will not suffer gladly: "We're making more terrorists!"
In my practice of law, it often pays me to suffer fools gladly. Sometimes they're my clients — fools quite often find themselves in an astonishingly urgent need of good legal help, as it turns out — and it literally pays me to suffer them patiently, and I'm certainly glad to be paid for it.
But in politics, however, I'm not so motivated. And I find myself set off into a short rant this fine fall afternoon by the stupidest argument I've seen floating around lately — one which, to my absolute amazement, I've heard advanced by a few normally very intelligent people as seriously as "scientists" once argued that decaying food spontaneously transmutes itself into flies, or that liver cancer is a sign of excessive quantities of bilious humors in the host's body.
"By invading Iraq," they say, "President Bush has caused more terrorists." For example, I just saw a blogad pimping a new book with a blurb from a WaPo review by Richard Clarke that gushes, "[Jonathan] Randal makes a convincing case that the U.S. war on Iraq has needlessly extended the lifetime and ferocity of this generation of terrorists as never before." I haven't read Mr. Randal's book, and neither do I plan to waste the time or money to do so, because I already understand his "convincing case," and I know what it amounts to:
Rubbish and balderdash.
Radical Islamic extremists are not like poison ivy — "don't scratch it, it'll only get worse!" The necessary premise of this argument is, "If we'd only — (choose one or more) — (a) let them alone, (b) treat them with due respect, (c) allow them to drive Israel into the sea, then they wouldn't keep flying airplanes into our buildings, blowing up school busses, kidnapping and beheading civilians, etc."
These folks won't be happy until my two daughters are in burqas and they and I together are under the watchful eyes of thought-and-conduct police who'll correct any deviation from their approved path. They won't be happy until our civilization is destroyed and replaced with one that they've dictated.
Does it make them angrier when we thwart their plans by liberating and bringing democracy to places like Afghanistan and Iraq? You're damn right it does. Does it make them so angry that they stream into enclaves of their fellow terrorists there to fight our military forces? Damn straight, and bully for that! That most definitely doesn't "[extend] the lifetime and ferocity of this generation of terrorists" — it puts them directly into the sights of the most effective and lethal military forces on the planet. As remarked by one of our soldiers of the fayhadeen irregulars who were charging our M1-A1s and Bradleys while firing off light machine guns from the tops of Toyota pickup trucks during the brief toppling of Saddam's armies last year — with inevitable and spectacular failure as the result — "It's the perfect war, because they want to die, and we're glad to give them their wish."
If what we were doing in Iraq was the forcible conversion of Muslims to Christianity and the extinguishment of their own culture, then yes, we could be "breeding more terrorists," just as if we deliberately salted rotting meat with fly eggs we'd be breeding maggots and flies. But I categorically reject — as racist and bigoted and shortsighted and wrong — the necessary presumption of the "we're making more terrorists" arguers that establishing democracy and freedom equate to that. If a radical, democracy- and liberty-hating man is capable of being energized into action — into killing and terrorizing — by our spread of democracy and liberty, then by all means let's give him the impetus to pick up his AK-47 and put himself onto the active battleground of our choice, and then let's kill him there.
Are there some numbers of "potential terrorists" who will, through propaganda and hate-filled rhetoric, be persuaded that our establishment of democracy and liberty in Afghanistan and Iraq are instead anti-Islamic? Yes, certainly — just as there were Japanese soldiers in World War II who sincerely believed they were fighting to thwart Western attempts to unseat their emperor (instead of Western attempts to interfere with their establishment of a brutal, repressive, and exploitative "Greater East Asia Coprosperity Sphere"); if they survived the war, they eventually revised their views, which is why the American embassy in Tokyo isn't beseiged by Japanese fanatics blowing themselves up while shouting "Long live the Emperor!" That our enemies can use our actions in the meantime — any actions, for even our most passive course of promoting liberty and democracy will not satisfy them — to make converts of the gullible is unfortunate, but fundamentally (pun intended) beyond our control.
And by far the most effective way of minimizing and, ultimately, eliminating (in one way or the other) the sincere-but-confused terrorist converts will be to finish the jobs that we started in those countries when we toppled their governing regimes. Cutting and running will do the opposite — it will not only betray the less gullible and freedom- and liberty-loving Muslims (and others) in those countries, but encourage our enemies into believing that we are weak and easily defeated, and worse, lend credence to the deliberately misleading arguments of our enemies that our real motivations were to promote Christianity or serve the Jews of Israel or steal their oil wealth (or whatever).
So if you're all worked up into making this particular argument in my presence, don't be surprised if I snort derisively and wander off to do something more productive — say, clipping my fingernails or cleaning my toilets — instead of debating it with you at length. You're a fool, and unless you're also a client (and I don't argue politics with my clients anyway), I have no obligation to suffer your foolishness gladly.
Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to An argument with which I have no patience, from fools I will not suffer gladly: "We're making more terrorists!" and sent a trackback ping are listed here:
» Will the Real Giant Please Stand Up from Carnivorous Conservative
Tracked on Oct 30, 2004 5:08:15 PM
» Beldar's fed up, and so am I from Media Lies
Tracked on Oct 30, 2004 10:02:50 PM
» Has President Bush Created More Idiots By Invading Iraq from Patterico's Pontifications
Tracked on Oct 31, 2004 12:50:10 PM
» Reflections in a glittering eye from dustbury.com
Tracked on Oct 31, 2004 2:47:57 PM
Remember Richard Speck and the 9 (was it?) Chicago nurses. He managed to kill most of them by just taking them one at a time out of the room and stabbing them. They were too cowered to rise up against him. They probably thought they were better off trying to not piss him off.
It would have saved thousands of lives on 9/11 if some of those passengers on the hijacked planes figured their lives were over anyway, so why not attack the terrorists with the boxcutters. At least on one plane (was it headed toward the White House?) they did.
(2) Prap made the following comment | Oct 30, 2004 3:50:52 PM | Permalink
Great article on your part. As proof and a follow-up by last coount we created over 10 million new democratic voters in Afghanistan who actually voted. I'm sure the number of terrorists created was far fewer than that.
If we create an equal number of voters in Iraq....it's the terorists that have to comepte whith these overwhelming odds.
to my way of thinking we are the ones gaining
(3) Terry Gain made the following comment | Oct 30, 2004 4:22:23 PM | Permalink
Well said. It is a testament to the level of support they receive from MSM that the fallacious arguments of the anti-Bushites have gotten such widespread currency. They argue that the war in Iraq has created more terrorists-as if freeing 25 million Muslims creates terrorists. They argue that the war in Iraq was a diversion from the war on terrorism and yet the war on terrorism has intensified in Iraq and the kill ratio is decidedly in our favor, for example 30 terrorists for every American in the battle for Najaf.
Kerry claims, as he did again yesterday, that he will hunt down bin laden (and the terrorists). I've never understood why removing a brutal regime and helping the Iraqis to establish a civilized society breeds more terrorists but hunting down terrorists or even threatening to hunt down terrorists has no similar effect. I think you have effectively rebutted one of the myths of this campaign.
I would like to address another.
Kerry doesn't say how he will hunt down the terrorists and no one in MSM has bothered to ask him whether, if bin Laden is in Pakistan, won't he have to outsource the job to the Pakistanis, or does he really think U. S. troops will be welcome on Pakistani soil.
What if bin Laden is in Iran and the mullahs refuse to hand him over? If he didn't think we should have gone into Iraq will he nevertheless advocate going into Iran. If he wasn't pepared to go into the country led by the world biggest mass murderer and biggest sponsor of terrorism, a man in breach of numerous U. N. resolutions, would he go into Iran or Syria. And would he go in alone or does he honestly contend that his friends at the U. N. would approve of force when surely some other method such as talking might work.
(4) lyle made the following comment | Oct 30, 2004 4:59:06 PM | Permalink
The argument that fighting back only breeds more terrorists is idiotic.
I am not surprised that Richard Clarke endorses the idea. Clarke was counter-terrorism czar while al-Qaeda metastasized from a handful of malcontents into a global threat. The limpness of his - and Clinton's - response to Terror convinced bin Laden that 9/11 would result in a US withdrawal from the Middle East.
Clarke is a fool and a proven failure. He is also Kerry's top advisor on counter-terrorism. Do we really need to know anything more?
(5) lyle made the following comment | Oct 30, 2004 5:09:46 PM | Permalink
Just to take the argument semi-seriously: imagine that you're a jihadist seeking martyrdom for the cause. Where do you go for weapons, ammunition, training, leadership, money, and food?
Before 9/11, sources for all of the above were plentiful and widely known. Now? Well, if you hurry you can still make Fallujah...
(6) Duane Wolcott made the following comment | Oct 30, 2004 5:26:05 PM | Permalink
Only one word needed----"BRAVO!!!"
(7) Jill Livingston made the following comment | Oct 30, 2004 5:44:07 PM | Permalink
With Saudi Arabia cracking down; Russia fighting back; Pakistan not as open; and Afghanistan not available just where do Mr. Clarke and Mr. Randal think all the terrorists are going to go? After all the jihadist's mission is to kill is it not?
Yale history professor, Mary Habeck, has said that the holy war is the Islamic jihadist's way of life. The jihadist were against the West before Israel existed. Once Israel came to be a state it also became another "excuse" for the terrorists to continue with their killing.
Bush has not "created more terrorists"; he has just provided them with another excuse.
Beldar, the argument that the U. S. prosecution of the War on Terror has created more terrorists is true in the same sense that private property has created thieves and our desire for life creates murderers. The question is not Is it true? but So what?.
We will defend ourselves. We will pursue the foreign policy that is in our nation's best interests. We would be fools to do otherwise.
(9) MD made the following comment | Oct 30, 2004 7:16:37 PM | Permalink
I'm glad someone addressed this fatuous assertion. I've heard it too, and I have also been unimpressed.
In the 80's and 90's, terrorism in the Middle East was an upwardly mobile profession. As a terrorist, one found friends, group support, finances, travel documents, weapons, perhaps education in Germany or even the US, celebrity, international media exposure, government support, and, in the case of Osama, your own country. Your only real enemy was Israel.
Since, Sept 2001, terrorism is no longer the fast track to the good life. Some people are now actually shooting back. Visas are tough. Finances are tightening. Islamic Charities have been introduced to the FBI. Leaders are dead, or on the run. Formerly supportive governments are now destroyed, or much more cautious. Wanted posters are on the internet around the globe. Impassioned rhetoric from the Koran has proven ineffective against B-52's.
The days of wine and roses are over for Middle Eastern terrorists. We can kill them much faster than they can recruit them, which is the brutal calculus for the losing side in all wars.
Lyle, I also agree with your assessment of "terrorist czar" Richard Clarke. In his many years of "fighting terrorism," Clarke (or any of his schemes) didn't kill a single terrorist; he was totally inept. He belongs to the school that believes that writing memos is the equivalent of actually doing something.
I didn't know he was advising Kerry. Kerry must have retained him when he had still had some credibility.
About a month after the 9-11 hearings, Frontline ran a program on the Rwanda massacres, ten years later. The program revealed that it was Richard Clarke who instructed Mad Albright (then US Ambassador to the UN) to reject any UN call for intervention in the gathering conflict (prior to the genocide). Frontline said: "When contacted about this episode, Richard Clarke refused to comment." It was about that time that Clarke began to lose some of his formerly admiring friends (on the left). He wasn't quite the hot property he used to be.
(10) perfectsense made the following comment | Oct 30, 2004 7:23:59 PM | Permalink
You guys are good!
He belongs to the school that believes that writing memos is the equivalent of actually doing something.
Don't forget having meetings.
(12) B-52vet made the following comment | Oct 30, 2004 8:46:54 PM | Permalink
We shouldn't have fought WWII, either. All we did was create more Nazis.
(13) tvd made the following comment | Oct 30, 2004 8:48:55 PM | Permalink
Wonderful analysis, O Beldar.
I ran across the below recently. In 1932, re the British dominion of India, a certain Mohandas K. Gandhi wrote:
"What then, would you say to the English?
To them I would respectfully say: "I admit you are my rulers. It is not necessary to debate the question whether you hold India by the sword or by my consent. I have no objection to your remaining in my country, but although you are the rulers; you will have to remain as servants of the people. It is not we who have to do as you wish, but it is you who have to do as we wish.
You may keep the riches that you have drained away from this land, but you may not drain riches henceforth. Your function will be, if you so wish, to police India; you must abandon the idea of deriving any commercial benefit from us.
We hold the civilization that you support to be the reverse of civilization. We consider our civilization to be far superior to yours. If you realize this truth, it will be to your advantage and, if you do not, according to your own proverb [when in Rome, etc.] you should only live in our country in the same manner as we do.
You must not do anything that is contrary to our religions. It is your duty as rulers that for the sake of the Hindus you should eschew beef, and for the sake of Mahomedans [Muslims] you should avoid bacon and ham.
We have hitherto said nothing because we have been cowed down, but you need not consider that you have not hurt our feelings by your conduct. We are not expressing our sentiments either through base selfishness or fear, but because it is our duty now to speak out boldly. We consider your schools and courts to be useless. We want our own ancient schools and courts to be restored. The common language of India is not English but Hindi. You should, therefore, learn it. We can hold communication with you only in our national language..."
Like you, I expect, I'm an anti-tyrannist, although I'm an unapologetic hegemonist if hegemony indeed be a function of self-defense.
The current US/UK hegemony over Iraq, which we consider necessary, is respectful of and conforms to Gandhi's demands. I think what has changed since the old days is the Bush and Blair administrations' greater sensitivity to "deals with the devil." We so easily could have put "our SOBs" in charge for immediate convenience but perhaps our eternal rue.
I think we're behaving honorably, and much in accord with our national ethos, which I believe will inevitably accrue to our benefit.
The neo-con philosophical influence? I dunno. But I'm proud of us---we're finally doing this sort of thing right.
It makes me sad, tvd, to read you say that "we are finally doing this sort of thing right." I'm a Vietnam-era vet. I can assure you, we "did it right" in Vietnam as well. The difference? You didn't have blogs back then to get the truth from. The media is telling the same story in Iraq that they told in Vietnam.
(15) Bains made the following comment | Oct 31, 2004 1:57:34 AM | Permalink
There's a substantial difference between terrorist breeding grounds, terrorist training grounds, and terrorist target grounds. Breeding terrorists, as Saudi Arabia does, will be realized to be counter productive when the terrorist's training and target grounds vaporize and the terrorists have no where other than home to ply their trade.
(16) SteveoBrien made the following comment | Oct 31, 2004 2:12:02 AM | Permalink
I'm wondering if you aren't overlooking something. Given the unemployment rate in some Middle East staees, isn't it possible, given the deep pockets of OBL and co. that the job of being a terrorist is better than no job at all?
(17) Veteran330 made the following comment | Oct 31, 2004 6:02:45 AM | Permalink
Did you know that Ghandi was Islamic? Most people don't, they assume he was a Hindu.
Rather puts all of his advice in a different light doesn't it?
(18) Sean made the following comment | Oct 31, 2004 6:03:32 AM | Permalink
Here here sir,
You have hit the nail squarely on the head. These radicals are teaching that you are one of us or you are dead. That was a period at the end of the last sentence for those who wish to debate fruitless points. I had the chance to speak with Dan Patrick and funny thing is he agreed with my point of view that EVERY knee shall bow and EVERY tongue shall confess is their mission. Give in today on any one point and they will raise another issue tomorrow. Give in or die on that point and so on and so on goes the story. They will rule over EVERY aspect of your meaningless and worthless life until they believe you have violated one of their knee bending issues and then they will, for their own pleasure, execute you in a gruesome manor for their pleasure.
All I can say is, get a grip, get some internal fortitude, fight them their or fight them here or choose to bend your knee until you have surrendered EVERY thought and issue to them.
Why did Moammar turn over his WMD's, because we were weak? Why did the Soviet Union fall? Why did Hitler and Tojo fall? Who gives a care one for what Europe or others think, my concern is my wife and three kids along with my neighbors and my partners and employees and even the ability of the loony left to live.
(19) McTrip made the following comment | Oct 31, 2004 8:49:42 AM | Permalink
I think you are mistaken - Gandhi was a Hindu : put his name in Google and all will become clear.
Beldar & antimedia
Bravo, and well said !
You might have missed Pennsylvania governor Rendell on Fox this morning. He went right to the "we're making more terrorists" motif. I guess he missed all those people standing in line to vote in Afghanistan and the 25 million or so Iraqis who are not joining the attacks on IRaqi and allied forces.
(21) Dave made the following comment | Oct 31, 2004 2:04:19 PM | Permalink
Rendell's just another thieving ,Leftist jerk.
If I recall correctly little Dickie Clarke's biggest fear was Y2K, not screaming Jacobian nihilists intent on murdering civilization. Clarke is jello masquerading as a man as is Jean Fraud Kerry.
Aren't a lot of assumptions being made here?
(23) MD made the following comment | Oct 31, 2004 2:46:42 PM | Permalink
Instapundit links to Marc Danzinger's fisking of Richard Clarke and the Century Foundation's latest tome on "how to defeat the jihadists."
Clarke, et al, list 10 points, in the best memo-writing tradition, that in combo will bring the beast to bay.
Notable for their absence are the ideas of: 1. killing terrorists; or 2. destroying, isolating, or punishing terrorist-sponsoring regimes.
(24) Sharpshooter made the following comment | Oct 31, 2004 2:56:50 PM | Permalink
And by hiring police that patrol our cities, towns and villages, we're creating criminals...
One word: BRAINDEAD (or is that two words: brain dead?)
(25) tvd made the following comment | Oct 31, 2004 9:20:41 PM | Permalink
Mr. Anti-Media, I trust that you folks on the ground did it right.
The biggest and perhaps only mistake we made was not having a legitimate government in South Vietnam to back. We offered the people no future.
I'm thinking we learned from that.
Isn't the premise of this posting derived from Mr. Rumsfeld's answer to his own question (which he is so often fond of doing)--that we will know we have won when we kill them in greater numbers than they can recruit to madrasas? Isn't such a premise naive and "faith-based", since we have not yet had the benefit of seeing the fruits of such efforts in action over a suitable period of time?
Is the argument naive? Er, no. It is the contrary premise which is weird and needs factual evidence in support. Just consider it in another context:
"If we raise the cost for exceeding the speed limit, we will only create more speeders."
Sounds kinda crazy, eh? As well it should.
Now, there's a hidden assumption in the argument about speeders which we all accept (namely, raising the cost of speeding produces fewer speeders): we assume people are rational.
This is an important point. The argument that raising the cost of terrorism breeds more terrorists relies on the implicit assumption that the people we are talking about (vast swathes of Islamic humanity) are not rational. Thus the typical arrogance of the left emerges.
(28) tubino made the following comment | Nov 4, 2004 1:48:43 PM | Permalink
Straw man argument. The options aren't limited to your silly list: surrender, drive Israel into the sea, etc.
The smart option is fight non-statebound enemies through non-state-war options. Covert operations. International police work. Assassinations that barely make the headlines, if at all. Deny the enemy the food they live on, which is public relations and propaganda. Al-Qaeda can only grow if OBL is made into a hero ("dead-or-alive" talk with no followup), and if a power like the US is provoked into repressive actions (in Iraq, for example) that wins converts for them.
Why is this better?
No Al-Jazeera images of buildings blown up in Baghdad and Fallujah. No evening film of more of the 100,000 Iraqi civilians killed so far in the war. No feeding into the Al-Q line about US wanting to defeat Islam.
Why didn't Bush do this?
He wanted to invade Iraq, or the neocons in power wanted to, since the PNAC documents were published in 1998. And because a front-page war is better, in domestic politics, than effective covert operations, even if the later achieve the anti-terrorist goals. Bush won re-election despite the negatives.
Yeah, the war in Iraq is making new terrorists, because it plays into OBL's propaganda, and the Al Jazeera images fit into the already-established narrative of US-Israel oppression of Arabs. The argument isn't stupid, even though you framed it in terms that were strawman stupid.
(29) Sam made the following comment | Nov 8, 2004 2:46:57 PM | Permalink
"The smart option is fight non-statebound enemies through non-state-war options."
Large-scale terrorism depends on state sponsors.
Politically difficult -- Clinton tried and couldn't get his own administration to mount any.
"International police work."
Ineffective. It would require the cooperation of the police in states that sponsor terrorism.
"Assassinations that barely make the headlines, if at all."
Political disaster if uncovered, and too little to make any real difference.
In short, these options would prune the tree a little, but could not possibly kill it.
"Deny the enemy the food they live on, which is public relations and propaganda."
Unless we censor the media worldwide, they will get their PR and propaganda fix the way they always have -- by bombing and murdering. They don't need a US response.
"if a power like the US is provoked into repressive actions (in Iraq, for example) that wins converts for them."
Our actions may push some number of anti-Western nutcases into action. It may or may not be smaller than the number of nutcases we kill.
Remember, though, that our current attack on Islamic radicalism has two prongs:
- kill the terrorists and deter the survivors
- offer the broad populace in the Middle East another political choice besides tyrants
I believe that the second prong will win, and the first is necessary to support it.
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