November 17, 2003

The Latest (Updated)

23 people were killed when Al Qaeda blew up two synagogues in Istanbul.

Jews once again were murdered for being Jews. And it was worse even than that. This was an attack on the entire Turkish nation. Look at what they did.

Meanwhile, the director of Amnesty International USA says terrorism is a major human rights issue, and if the anti-war left canít address it then they risk becoming irrelevant.


UPDATE: When I posted this, I didn't realize the interview with the Amnesty director requires either a Salon subscription or the patience to sit through an annoying ad. Sorry. Here's the money quote, from the director of Amnesty International USA:

[T]here has been a tendency for the American political left and the greater human rights community to downplay the genuine, serious threat of terrorism around the globe. Presumably the human rights community is committed to protecting Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, namely the guarantee of security of person -- the right to life. But there's been a failure to give the necessary attention, analysis and strategizing to the effort to counter terrorism and protect this right to security.
...

Human rights organizations are basically set up to put pressure on governments, not on more amorphous entities like terrorist groups. The traditional tools we use are generally not going to be effective with terrorists. I doubt Osama Bin Laden is going to be moved by 50,000 members of Amnesty International writing him a letter asking him to refrain from terrorist acts. In the face of a new kind of force in the world that is detrimental to human rights, the human rights community has been slow to adapt to that new reality, in both its understanding and its tactics. There's a cultural lag at work here.

It's a serious problem. It means that human rights advocates are seen solely as harping critics. We certainly need to be that; it's a very important role. But if we fail to engage with the very real, hard decisions that governments have to make about protecting the safety of their citizens, then we'll be dismissed as charlatans, or ideologues who are out of step with reality.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at November 17, 2003 12:09 AM
Comments

Thats a good piece of news. I'd still like to see Amnesty International elaborate and condemn all forms of terrorism, even those perpetrated by their beloved Palestinians.

Posted by: Jono at November 17, 2003 03:36 AM

Stupid me - its not good news. Its damn awful terrible news.

I was referring above to AI's comments - not the synagogue bombings. In a way, they were more surprising to me than another Islamofascist bombing of innocent Jews.

Posted by: Jono at November 17, 2003 03:59 AM

I hope the Turks are pleased with this result of stabbing us in the back last spring. All that flaunted independence and trashing of their NATO obligations was supposed to buy them protection from al Qaeda and the Islamists, wasn't it?

Idiots. If the 4th ID had gone in from the north on schedule, they would have been in Tikrit before Saddam and this occupation would have a whole different tenor. Less terrorism in the neighborhood, for one thing. Maybe even two more synagogues in Turkey.

From the silver lining department, glad to see AI grow a spine and a couple of neurons. About time.

Posted by: R C Dean at November 17, 2003 04:13 AM

Well Michael, as part of the anti-war left who lives in New York and lost a colleague on United Flight 175 and as someone whose Dad was nearly killed by a Baader-Meinhof bombing in the early 1970's at USAREUR, I've always taken terrorism seriously. As a matter of fact, I really wish that Afghanistan had been made secure before the military was spread too thinly in Iraq.

Posted by: Randy Paul at November 17, 2003 06:25 AM

Nad, just fir the record, I'm not a pacifist and I'm not part of the ANSWER crowd.

Posted by: Randy Paul at November 17, 2003 07:02 AM

Thanks, Randy. This dishonest attempt to pretend that anyone opposed to the war in Iraq is opposed to fighting terrorism is really tiresome.

A lot of people opposed invading Iraq because it would be counterproductive in the war on terror.

Posted by: Swopa at November 17, 2003 07:38 AM

"This dishonest attempt to pretend that anyone opposed to the war in Iraq is opposed to fighting terrorism is really tiresome."

So, no Christmas checks this year to Amnesty International USA, then?

Posted by: Moe Lane at November 17, 2003 08:09 AM

Events like this just confirm for me the overall strategic idiocy of having invaded Iraq.

Posted by: Kimmitt at November 17, 2003 09:18 AM

Swopa and Randy:

So, what about the Feith memo leaked to the Weekly Standard?

Doesn't it kind of show that the war in Iraq is part of the war on terror?

Oh, I know can't trust the neocon Feith/Weekly Standar/Post/whoever or maybe you guys have moved the goal posts again.

Really, this attempt to atmoize the war on terror/war in Iraq as if they were these two completely discrete entities has long been tiresome even before this information was made public.

Fuding for Palestinian suicide bombers, Ansar-al-Islam, Zarqawi's presence in Baghdad, OBL's fatwah on the plight of the Iraqi's. Does any of this ring a bell to you people?

Posted by: Eric Deamer at November 17, 2003 09:21 AM

Randy,

I know you're not part of the ANSWER crowd. You wouldn't be on my blogroll if you were.

Still, the interview with Amnesty's director is worth reading and taking seriously. Much of the anti-war left doesn't have much to say about it, even if you do. He wasn't talking about you personally, and I wasn't either.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 17, 2003 09:21 AM

Swopa,

Is Amnesty International joining the "tiresome" dishonest spin machine now? Do you really believe that?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 17, 2003 09:22 AM

Wow Kimmit, please enlighten us as to how these attacks show that, particularly considering these very synagogues have been attacked twice already before the war in Iraq. I'm sure you're right though, if we hadn't invaded Iraq Al Qaeda would have gone back to its previous policy of loving Jews.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at November 17, 2003 09:24 AM

Yes Kimmit,

Rabid Arabs blowing up things anywhere in the world are obviously the failure of Bush's anti-terror strategy...

We were making terrific progress on combating the growing islamic threat the last 20 years or so, if only Bush hadn't screwed up our progress!

I know he's only doing it so the military industrial complex which fuels the oil ambitions of Halliburton and the nations corporate rulers continue to line their pockets on the backs of the enslaved proles acorss the planet....

(see, it's fun writing nonsense like a LLL)

If only he had stayed totally in Afganastan and captured every single Taliban and Al Queda puke, and combed the earth and caves of Tora Bora for DNA proof no matter how many years it took, or what happened elsewhere in the world. And we can't declare victory in Afganastan until they have a vibrant, functioning, peaceful society. Nevermind the annoying fact it's always been a tribal hellhole, just lines on a map.

Because Bush touched it somehow, he's failed...

It gets so old to hear the constant whine..

I read tons of bitching from the left, but I never ever read something constructive from the LLL.

Kimmit, assume you were the commander-in-chief, what would YOU do to solve this problem? And answers like "work with allies", "don't have enemies", won't cut it.

These are adult times, that require adult thinking.

Francis

Posted by: Francis at November 17, 2003 09:45 AM

It's because Bush is the root of all evil. Hells bells, if Kimmit couldn't maintain an erection, he'd cry that was 'cause of his outrage over the strategic idiocy of invading Iraq.

Posted by: Rockabilly at November 17, 2003 09:46 AM

Yes, Randy. We really shouldn't have invaded Iraq until Afghanistan--and Indonesia, and Pakistan, and Sudan, and Kosovo, and Bosnia, and Somalia and you name it--were secure; and shouldn't have invaded Afghanistan until we imposed peace on the Israelis and Palestinians; and shouldn't have gotten into an arms race with the Soviets until we had funded universal health care in the U.S.; and shouldn't have entered the war in Europe until the war in the Pacific was over, or vice versa. There are always more reasons not to act than to act. But not every problem waits patiently until you're finally ready to address it. That argument has become a hackneyed dodge by now.

Posted by: Joel at November 17, 2003 10:27 AM

The director of Amnesty International says that the anti war left should address the issue of terrorism - then he spends the rest of the interview complaining about the Bush administration, the Patriot act, Clinton and the US in general. Pretty standard stuff with no new ideas. I hope his book has more to offer...

Posted by: mary at November 17, 2003 10:40 AM

Kimmit, assume you were the commander-in-chief, what would YOU do to solve this problem?

Make sure the Taliban stayed utterly powerless; keep the pressure up on Al Qaeda in Pakistan; contain Saddam and started to build up an international coalition to either defeat or disarm him over the course of a couple of years; consider intervening in the Sudan on humanitarian grounds (I'd need more information); restructure the Army so that it is better able to handle low-level conflict at the expense of its capacity to fight the Soviets; buy fewer nuclear missile subs and more Marines to ride on our surface ships; aggressively push for reprocessing of Russian nuclear materials and destruction of Russian biowarfare stocks; begin the process of disentangling ourselves from the Saudis; support the various anti-money-laundering iniatives out there and squeeze Al Qaeda and other terror groups' funding sources; get Geiger counters in our ports and decline to deploy a non-functional antimissile shield; give the North Koreans food in exchange for them not producing nuclear weapons; actually find the anthrax guy; and work on the Israeli-Palestinian situation, as it is that legitimate grievance which feeds recruits into our opponents' arms.* Oh yeah, and asked for Congress to give a Declaration of War against Al Qaeda and related terror groups, so as to preserve what little Constitutional process we have yet remaining.

None of this is helped by our decision to put more resources into Iraq than it is worth.

Bush planned to invade Iraq before 9/11. It had nothing to do with any War on Terror then, and, unsurprisingly, it still does.

*Non-terror-related, but I'd also put the $3.7 billion needed to eradicate measles over the next few years into our budget as part of an overall "improving the world and getting good PR in the process" campaign.

Posted by: Kimmitt at November 17, 2003 10:57 AM

That said, I haven't the faintest damn notion of what to do in Iraq. That's part of why I didn't think that invading would necessarily be a good idea.

Posted by: Kimmitt at November 17, 2003 10:58 AM

Rockabilly:

Don't know if you've read Thomas Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow" or not, but the main character Tyrone Slothrop's erections in various spots of WWII London during the Blitz become "predictors" of where the V2 rockets will actually fall.

Posted by: Daniel Calto at November 17, 2003 11:02 AM

My cousin Earl had a similar problem when he was stationed in Nam. After Tet, he was impotent for years.

Posted by: Rockabilly at November 17, 2003 11:10 AM

Once again Kimmit, you get so much right, and then you fail to recognize the obvious. America could NEVER have gotten a true "coalition" along the lines of Gulf War I. Not unless Saddam invaded his neighbors again. Desert Storm was a fluke, it was only Saddams blatant agression that got many nations to back, or at least allow, his aggression in the first place. And only on the condition that he stay in power. The French and Russians were pushing to remove sanctions. Why? To make money. Dealing with Saddam once and for all was never on their minds. We had to act on Iraq NOW, not in 5 or 10 years. Sanctions would have been over by then, and who knows what Saddam could have done in that time.

Posted by: FH at November 17, 2003 11:33 AM

"Bush planned to invade Iraq before 9/11. It had nothing to do with any War on Terror then, and, unsurprisingly, it still does."

Is this just from the PNAC paper, or do you actually have any evidence of this? And what would be Bush's motives aside from the war of terror? (Please be advised that if you say "oil" my eyes will glaze over and I will scroll on to the next post.)

Posted by: Yehudit at November 17, 2003 12:02 PM

Kimmit,

many of your ideas are good, and I agree w/them. Several are actually being done (restructuring of the military, keeping the Taliban out).

I think you're missing the point on the "building a coalition" idea. You won't get a coalition in the future for the reasons stated above by FH.

Also, I think the idea of "buying good will" is throwing money away. We've been doing this for decades to zero effect. Even Bush is guilty of this with his $15 billion for aids. Will it change world opinion? Not in the slightest. Where did I read just recently the red cross was tossed out for providing free polio vaccines because it came from the cursed infidels?

As far as Iraq, I think we're doing what needs to be done. Will it work? We won't know till it's over. without a model of how things can be better, that region of the world will never change. Germany and Japan were hard efforts after the war, but most would say it was worth the effort.

Also, WRT solving the Israel / Pal situation. The reality is that the Arabs have been frothing since Israel was declared. 5 wars later, getting their asses kicked time and time again hasn't driven home the point because each time Israel stops short of total victory. Damn them and us (by limiting their victories) for prolonging this conflict with half measures. Complete, total, and unequivical surrendar were the standards for WWII, and should be here also. Until the Arab world is broken of their desire to destory Israel, this will continue to fester.

And NK, what's the saying, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me? We've tried the food for good behavior. Are you going to tell me this time we'll inspect and ensure they are complying? You place more trust in inspections than I do. Besides throwing the populace to the continued misery of their hellish existence, how does food do anything but prolong a regeime which is a huge threat to that region of the world?

And finally, on Iraq, I will say all the bitching and crying at home brings hope to the insurgents that they can force the US to give up. I truely believe that if the reports coming from the US showed a united, committed populace you 1) wouldn't have needed a war in the first place (because Saddam would have capitulated) and 2) resistance would be less now becuause of the percieved fulity of fighting...

Posted by: Francis at November 17, 2003 12:19 PM

I truely believe that if the reports coming from the US showed a united, committed populace you 1) wouldn't have needed a war in the first place (because Saddam would have capitulated) and 2) resistance would be less now becuause of the percieved fulity of fighting...

The US populace is neither united nor committed because President Bush and his staff lied to us in order to get most of us along for the ride. We were promised a short war (which we got). We were promised few Iraqi casualties (which we got, rather spectacularly). We were then promised a short, inexpensive occupation (which we are not getting). It is not the fault of the US voting public that it is demanding that which the Administration promised -- it is the fault of the Administration for failing to acknowledge the likely real costs of the war when making its case for that war.

Posted by: Kimmitt at November 17, 2003 12:42 PM

You know, it's gotten to the point where Kimmitt's inability to tell an allegation from a fact has somehow gotten oddly endearing. At least we always know what he's going to say before he even says it... :)

Posted by: Moe Lane at November 17, 2003 12:55 PM

That amnesty interview is really worth a read. I say this as someone who was an antiwar person and a mildly starry eyed Howard Dean supporter.

A lot of these fights come down to who you're including in the "anti-war left"--everyone who opposed the war beforehand? everyone who thinks Bush botched the postwar? everyone who actively or publicly opposed the war (including taking a public position or writing a letter to your Congressmen?) Everyone who went to any antiwar protest, from a local silent candlelight vigil on up? Everyone who went to a big protest before the war? The organizers of the big protests? The democratic party? ANSWER? Everyone who thinks we should withdraw now?

I don't think you can deny that some of those folks aren't taking terrorism seriously enough. I also don't think you can deny that some of them are. I think there are a whole lot of people who are deliberately blurring the lines for political gain, and I resent the hell out of it--but the director of Amnesty International is not one of them.

Posted by: Katherine at November 17, 2003 01:09 PM

Moe and Michael:

When did Amnesty International say that "anyone opposed to the war in Iraq is opposed to fighting terrorism"?

The answer: They didn't.

Here's what the Salon interview you link above says about Iraq:

Amnesty International took no position on the military action itself. We had been highlighting for more than 20 years the human rights violations by Saddam Hussein. No one who cares about human rights can help but be grateful that he is no longer in power.

But the way in which the United States went about the overthrow, particularly in its thumbing of its nose at international institutions, and without an international sanction for the invasion, did in the long run, I'm afraid, enormous damage to the international support structure for human rights.

. . . To the best of my knowledge, neither Amnesty nor any other human rights organization had documented active genocide going on in Iraq. There were profound human rights violations going on, and I think there's an arguable case that those violations may very well have justified some sort of international military intervention.

I agree with every word of that. I was never opposed to removing Saddam; I just believed (and continue to believe) that the way Bush went about it will be counterproductive in the long run -- and specifically counterproductive regarding the war on terrorism.

Moe and Michael, what caused you two to see a statement that wasn't there . . . sloppy reading, or sloppy thinking?

Posted by: Swopa at November 17, 2003 01:37 PM

Kimmit,

I disagree, the american public wasn't lied to. If you read the actual transcripts of what this adminstration says, vs. what gets reported by the media, you'll see there is a wide disconnect.

On purpose I add. It's obvious the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy would love to see the US defeated in the WOT as long as it meant defeating Bush in '04.

The Bush adminstration has consistantly said this is a hard, long, an difficult challenge ahead of us that will last decades. It's another ideological war, similar to the cold war. But it will be fought completely differently.

Anyone with a 6th grade education, and who has any historical perspective knows that the actions in Afganastan and Iraq are unparalled successes in military history. Read some VDH such as carnage and culture for some perspective.

The left's obsession with casualty counts (funny how they get concerned for our troops safety when it serves their agenda, and the rest of the time encourage the shooting of officers) is beyond pathetic. The murder rate of some US cities is greater than the casualty rate in Iraq, and yet the left gleefully wrings their hands in mock horror, lamenting the lack of "a strategy"...

History shows that Western powers crumble from within rather than due to external foes. We certainly have seen the face of our real foes; not the latest facists history brings forth (the islamists), but the craven LLL who refuse to acknowledge the reality of the situation, and who consistently side with the enemies of America.

It's an irony that the LLL whine so hard, because if they're successful, and the US gives up, it's their ass that'll be silenced first when we fall...

Posted by: Francis at November 17, 2003 02:15 PM

Damn,

I hit send too fast. Please replace wasn't with was in the first sentance above.

Francis

Posted by: Francis at November 17, 2003 02:16 PM

Swopa: When did Amnesty International say that "anyone opposed to the war in Iraq is opposed to fighting terrorism"?

I never said that Amnesty said that.

Moe and Michael, what caused you two to see a statement that wasn't there . . . sloppy reading, or sloppy thinking?

You're accusing me of being sloppy? Give me a break.

Here is what I said:

the director of Amnesty International USA says terrorism is a major human rights issue, and if the anti-war left can’t address it then they risk becoming irrelevant.

And here is what the director of Amnesty International USA said:

[T]here has been a tendency for the American political left and the greater human rights community to downplay the genuine, serious threat of terrorism around the globe. Presumably the human rights community is committed to protecting Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, namely the guarantee of security of person -- the right to life. But there's been a failure to give the necessary attention, analysis and strategizing to the effort to counter terrorism and protect this right to security.

...

Human rights organizations are basically set up to put pressure on governments, not on more amorphous entities like terrorist groups. The traditional tools we use are generally not going to be effective with terrorists. I doubt Osama Bin Laden is going to be moved by 50,000 members of Amnesty International writing him a letter asking him to refrain from terrorist acts. In the face of a new kind of force in the world that is detrimental to human rights, the human rights community has been slow to adapt to that new reality, in both its understanding and its tactics. There's a cultural lag at work here.

It's a serious problem. It means that human rights advocates are seen solely as harping critics. We certainly need to be that; it's a very important role. But if we fail to engage with the very real, hard decisions that governments have to make about protecting the safety of their citizens, then we'll be dismissed as charlatans, or ideologues who are out of step with reality.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 17, 2003 02:26 PM

The Bush adminstration has consistantly said this is a hard, long, an difficult challenge ahead of us that will last decades.

Way to redefine the question. Yes, the Bush Administration has said that the War on Terror will last more or less indefinitely. However, various members of the Administration, speaking at various points, promised us occupations which would last from weeks to less than a year, at costs which were estimated as being lower than $1.2 billion (not kidding!), and which would inevitably produce a flowering democracy which would serve as a shining light for the rest of the region.

Pearle, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Cheney -- even Rice and Powell -- all of them are guilty of this Pollyannism.

Posted by: Kimmitt at November 17, 2003 02:53 PM

I don't understand why you keep forgeting to include the biggest pollyanna of them all, Kimmitt. Clinton couldn't imagine the military action taking more than a few weeks. I guess we'll just have to keep reminding you of the stuff you choose to ignore.

Amnesty International claims to be a non-political outfit, but when the Bush adminstration highlighted Human Rights abuses in Iraq from AI documents, their reaction was telling. Their website homepage, at that time, announced something like "Bush - Don't use AI to justify your imperialistic war against Iraq!". They supposedly take "no position" on regime change. To me, that is the same policy as essentially supporting the status quo (leaving Iraqis in a hopeless human rights nightmare).

Posted by: d-rod at November 17, 2003 03:33 PM

Swopa, 7:38 am: This dishonest attempt to pretend that anyone opposed to the war in Iraq is opposed to fighting terrorism is really tiresome.

Michael, 9:22 am: Is Amnesty International joining the "tiresome" dishonest spin machine now? Do you really believe that?

Swopa, 1:37 pm: When did Amnesty International say that "anyone opposed to the war in Iraq is opposed to fighting terrorism"? The answer: They didn't.

Michael, 2:26 pm: I never said that Amnesty said that.

Shall we revisit some basic English comprehension skills here, Michael? What did I say was "tiresome" and "dishonest"? Answer: Claiming "that anyone opposed to the war in Iraq is opposed to fighting terrorism."

It's only one sentence, so there's really not much to get confused by.

And so, when you (and Moe) say I'm attacking Amnesty International -- and you specifically say I'm calling them "tiresome" and "dishonest" -- you're implying that AI has adopted the point of view I'm criticizing. Which, of course, they haven't.

Called on this discrepancy, you respond by dragging in all sorts of stuff that was in neither my comment nor your response to it, saying, "Here is what I said." Huh?

I guess it may not be sloppy reading or sloppy thinking, but rather sloppy ethics.

Either way, it's embarrassing to watch. Why are you afraid to own up to your mistakes?

Posted by: Swopa at November 17, 2003 04:32 PM

Swopa,

You said this in reponse to my post about Amnesty International: This dishonest attempt to pretend that anyone opposed to the war in Iraq is opposed to fighting terrorism is really tiresome.

That seemed to be your answer to Amnesty International. So I then simply asked you if you felt Amnesty had become dishonest and tiresome. I found your response odd, hence my question.

Then I requoted myself and the director of Amnesty International to demonstrate that I did not misrepresent what he said.

Maybe we're just having a miscommunication problem here. Perhaps you initially misunderstood my and Amnesty's point?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 17, 2003 04:56 PM

Michael,

Apparently, there was a miscommunication problem. I was concurring with Randy's posts where he noted that he was opposed to the war, yet did take terrorism seriously.

You seemed to understand well enough what he was saying, but then accused me (but not Randy) of criticizing Amnesty International. In any event, I appreciate your clarification.

I guess one of the reasons for the mixup is that the AI director didn't talk about "the antiwar left" but rather the left in terms of human rights advocacy. Indeed, he essentially endorses the mainstream antiwar-left position when he says "a greater degree of patience and respect for those international processes regarding Iraq might well have resulted in a far broader coalition, and there's a good chance the consequences of rebuilding Iraq would've been far less drastic, for all involved, than they are now."

The notion that being antiwar (with regard to Iraq) has some special application to his comments seems to be spin by the Salon article's author, which you picked up.

Posted by: Swopa at November 17, 2003 05:50 PM

Jews may have been the target but it was mostly Muslims killed in this attack in Istanbul. It seems that al Qaeda doesn't really care who they blow up these days. Christians, Muslims, Jews, Americans, Turks, Saudis...it's all good.

I have my own theory about the strategy that al Qaeda is employing: they are following the Underpants Gnomes plan for success.

Posted by: Randal Robinson at November 17, 2003 07:20 PM

Great article. Finally a liberal that gets it. I mean how effective is it when the left hates Bush more than even the terrorists themselves.

Posted by: Andykoom at November 17, 2003 08:45 PM

Clinton couldn't imagine the military action taking more than a few weeks.

1) Cite.

2) Clinton is a centrist, not a leftist.

Posted by: Kimmitt at November 18, 2003 01:17 PM



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