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Friday, October 10, 2003

More fraternal bickering.

Topic: polls

TODD: There is nothing to talk about here. Yes i saw the polls you were talking about. Again. i really don't trust those polls, any polls.
For Iraq, against, for bush, against. You know as much as i do that math is a fuzzy thing and what questions you ask, in what order and when, change your results. From here on out lets not bring up polls.
we both can make them say what we want.

MACK: Fair enough. I don’t think this is about polls anyway. Even if a position gets 90% support, it doesn’t mean the policy is the right one. After all, Saadam had 100% support in his last survey of the electorate.

Topic: terrorism:
TODD: [After noting the long list of terrorist acts since 1968 cited by Mack in previous post]

I hope you see my point now about always having to deal with
terrorism. From this point on I will refuse to call it a "war" on
terrorism. That is a ridiculous idea. 9-11 wasn't the first terrorist attack and won't be the last. Most of the terrorist attacks are a failure of US intelligence agencies and not as you shockingly put it [the result of the failure of the UN and failed educational and international cooperation efforts].

“The UN failed us on 9-11”. Reality check. How is that the UN's failure? I understand this administrations approach to seek out all the
terrorists and kill them. But think about that a second. It is not so black and white. The situation is much more fluid and that was what karen armstrong(linked to her essay) is talking about. How do we deal with it. Thats a tough question. I think seeking out the known terrorists with the rest of the world via UN is a good start. That way we don't make ourselves a big target because we are the only ones going after the terror groups. Safety in numbers.

I also think we are spending money fighting a war of choice instead of giving are first responders radios. Something is seriously wrong there. If WMD was in Iraq it would be a rational idea to attack them. No matter how much you say there is WMD in Iraq. There just isn't. Saddam was bluffing and our intelligence agencies failed us again by not knowing it. Think about terrorism this way. If we are playing hide-and-go-seek and the terrorists are hiders an we are the seeker. Wouldn't it be smarter to get more seekers.

Joining the global community on this is really a no--brainer. I will
clarify this even further: if muslims along with the infidels(face it that's how most muslims see non-muslims and that doesn't mean they want them dead) are looking for terrorists other muslims(in this case(because not only muslims are terrorist see tim mcviegh)) will think twice about becoming terrorists.

MACK: Let’s take these on one at a time.

1. This isn’t a war/most of the attacks are failures of US intelligence.

I disagree. There are always failures in “intelligence.” Pearl Harbor was a failure of intelligence. It was nonetheless an act of war.

The nature of intelligence is that it is not perfect. Could it have been better? Sure. There are always holes and you work to plug them. But that is why we were arguing we should spend MORE money on the CIA in the post cold war era. I am not speaking metaphorically either. I was working in the House when Congress was having these arguments. The legislators like Pete DeFazio and Rosa DeLauro were the ones looking to gut our intelligence agencies and, to a certain extent, they got a lot of what they wanted. We paid the price.

In the end, these terrorist attacks are not failures of intelligence, they are failures of will. We have allowed ourselves to be the target because we have not had the will to take on terror and the states that promote it. Terror is not something that arises from nowhere. The vast majority of terror is organized and often, state sponsored. This is a vast network that works to train, recruit, fund and equip terrorists. You can hope that the network goes away on its own, as we have done for 3 decades, or you can take on the network and take it down piece by piece. In the age of WMD’s, we can’t afford to have a failure of will.

If it isn’t a war, what is it? When foreign citizens organize themselves, with the quiet and not so quiet encouragement and support of members of their governments and community and religious leaders, what do you call it? A police problem?

Will there be other attacks? Certainly. We have to get it right
every time and they only have to get it right once. But that doesn’t mean you throw up your hands and say terrorism has always been with us. That is like saying murder has always been with us. In both cases, you still have to hunt down the killers. Why? Because leaving the killers to roam free will not solve your future problems, it will only exacerbate your present ones.

2. How is that the U.N.’s failure?

My point isn’t to blame the UN, but to blame the approach that led us to leave questions like this up to the UN and let international opinion limit our ability to defend ourselves. The U.N. isn’t to blame for our failure to take Bin Laden out the three times he was offered to us. But it was our “sensitivity” to international opinion that led us to pass on those offers. “Gosh, what would Kofi say? That will make the next NYC cocktail party very awkward for our ambassador. Never mind, we don’t want him.” You put a lot of faith in the international community to go after the terrorists, but after the 1993 bombing of the WTC (the first attempt to bring down the towers), how many terrorists did the UN round up? Contrast that with the Bush record - - hundreds of terrorist leaders dead or in custody, thousands of terrorist wannabes dead, hundreds more in custody. Seriously, if you were a terrorist, which approach would you fear more?

3. We are making ourselves a big target by taking this on alone.

Again, we are not doing it alone, but nonetheless we will always be the biggest target. Why? Because we are the antithesis of what they represent. Consider the reality: we dealt with terrorists “with the rest of the world via the UN” throughout the 1990s. Remember, we had good high poll numbers in Brussels back then – but it didn’t stop us from being a target. You don’t solve this problem by feeding the alligator and hoping it eats you last. You kill the alligator.

4. This is a War of choice

With the exception of invasions, all wars are wars of choice. Hell, we fought the revolutionary war over what amounted to a slight increase in taxes. The Union could have chosen to let the South go it on their own. We could have stayed out of WW1 and WW2 and said that was a European problem and sued for peace from the Japanese. We could have given the Southwest to Mexico in the 1840s. We could have let the commies have South Korea. We could, like the French, have walked away from our obligation to help the people of South Korea and South Vietnam fight communism.

The key matter is whether you make the right choices. There is no question that Saadam was in violation of the treaty he signed in the gulf war. You violate the treaty, the war ain’t over. Beyond that, he violated something like 18 UN resolutions. We could have continued to ignore that and said - - please listen to us, we are the international community and if you don’t, we will have a conference and get together and say very strong words about this in between very fancy lunches and cocktails. And don’t say that sanctions were working. As we saw in our three week roll across Iraq, the sanctions didn’t impact Saadam - - he continued to live in his lavish lifestyle, building new palaces right up to the end. His sons continued their raping and torturing right up to the end too. We chose to say enough is enough. You may have preferred we continue the charade of UN sanctions and no fly zones. Others see it differently. Different viewpoints, different choices.

5. First responder radios or the war on terror?

It is a false choice when you say we should have spent money on first responder radios rather than fighting the war on terror. Yes, we should have good radios. But we could always cut the bloated farm bill to pay for them. We could also cut the enormous sums spent on social welfare. Everyone has something they would cut to get something else they want more. You don’t like the war on terror, so you would cut that. There is something defeatist about the idea that we need to spend more money to respond to the victims of terror - - first responder radios - - but not spend money to going after the terrorists who will make those radios so necessary. Clearly, we need to do both.

6. Terrorists will be discouraged when they see Muslims helping the war on terror.

This is just not borne out by what has already happened in the situations where muslims have helped out. They just lump them in with the infidels. Hell, in Afghanistan, you weren’t a good muslim if you flew a kite – they would whip you for it! Think about how bad it must be to stand with the west! This isn’t to say I don’t welcome muslim help, when it comes, just an acknowledgment that it doesn’t stop terror as you say it does. Also important to point out that I hope the muslim “help” we get is somewhat better than the assistance we were getting at Gitmo.

7. WMD’s –

Your favorite member of the administration, Colin Powell, disagrees with you. Kay’s report, beyond the first page, details the programs. The stuff we are looking for is easy to conceal. I adopt a wait and see attitude. I doubt that Saadam was spending tens of millions to pay all these scientists to pretend they had a biological/chemical weapons program. Perhaps we should look into whether all those Kurds were part of the ruse – a huge con designed to pretend that chemical weapons were used to kill large numbers of people. To add to the con, they gave their scientists funny nicknames like “Dr. Germ” and “Chemical Ali”. Probably one of those opposite nicknames, like Lefty for the guy who doesn’t have a left arm. If it was a huge bluff and Saadam was only fooling that he had WMD potential, than he deliberately broke the peace treaty, misled the world community and forced his people to live under sanctions that were completely unnecessary. That seems like a huge blunder on his part, not ours. I bet he is kicking himself for that one!

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