September 8, 2004

WHAT YOU DO IS WHO YOU ARE:

It's Not Because They Hate Who We Are (Ivan Eland, History News Network)

According to one of the main findings of the 9/11 Commission, the U.S. government's failure to anticipate the grave threat from al Qaeda prior to the September 11 attacks was a failure of imagination. Since those attacks, however, the Bush administration's broad "war on terror" has exhibited nothing but imagination.

To begin with, President Bush has the chimerical and dangerously naïve notion that al Qaeda attacks America because of its freedoms--that is, the United States is attacked for what it is and not what it does. All evidence is to the contrary. Both Western and Islamic authorities on al Qaeda tell us that the group attacks the United States because of its foreign policy toward the Moslem world. Osama bin Laden believes the U.S. military's presence and actions in Islamic lands, as well as its support for corrupt governments there, are tantamount to a modern day "crusade." President Bush's disastrous use of the c-word to describe U.S. policy merely confirmed the obvious to many Moslems around the world. Repeated polls of the Islamic world demonstrate that intense anti-U.S. hatred is generated by U.S. foreign policy, not by U.S. culture, technology, or political and economic freedoms. In fact, those latter characteristics of U.S. society are often admired in Moslem lands.


So by reversing U.S. policy to now impose democracy where we previously supported totalitarian regimes, the President should be winning the Islamic world to our side, no?

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 8, 2004 8:49 AM
Comments

These guys just never give up.

Posted by: Peter B at September 8, 2004 8:53 AM

First, will someone please explain why Muslims are allowed to use "Jihad" but we're not allowed to use "crusade", a word we use for everything from war to feeding the hungry?

Second, obviously AQ recruitment is helped by some US policies. But in establishing AQ, bin Laden, if we take him at his word, was primarily motivated by his desire to reestablish the caliphate and finish the inevitable spread of Islam across the world. Even if our policies have helped recruit terrorists, not all, by any means, are bad policies and, in any event, we can't afford to change our policies in response to terrorism.

Posted by: David Cohen at September 8, 2004 9:04 AM

David:

We did.

Posted by: oj at September 8, 2004 9:08 AM

Islamic terrorism exists because the civilized world needs the oil and is willing to bribe a bunch of savage desert bandits to get it. The first thing we need to do is set up an international facility with our allies including Russia and the PRC and develop alternate sources of energy which would make OPEC irrelevant.

Eland, who is just another American-hater from Justin Raimondo's Antiwar.com, has no explanation for why, if terror against America is caused by America being so evil, Muslims murder Buddhist schoolteachers in Thailand, Christian nurses in the Philipines, Christian subsistence farmers and fishermen in Timor, animist tribesmen in the Sudan, etc.

Posted by: Bart at September 8, 2004 9:18 AM

OJ: I stand corrected. [I]n any event, we can't afford to change our policies to favor the terrorists in response to terrorism.

Posted by: David Cohen at September 8, 2004 9:24 AM

"Islamic terrorism exists because the civilized world needs the oil"

Bart, I don't get that exactly, to be honest with you. Perhaps you or somebody else could bring me up to speed as to how that would subject us to terrorism. I think I already grasp that dependence on Oil in unstable regions might lead to unstable supplies of Oil, but terrorism from those regions doesn't seem to follow.

Posted by: h-man at September 8, 2004 9:27 AM

h-man:

Islamic terror is largely supported by petro-dollars.
If the demand for Arab oil were lower, and they received less money for it, there would be less funding for Islamic terror from oil-rich people in Islamic societies.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at September 8, 2004 9:45 AM

Why is research even needed for alternate fuels?

You don'twant fossil fuels just switch over to nuclear.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at September 8, 2004 10:19 AM

I'm having difficulty visualising the Arab 'street' relaxing over coffee and catching up with the latest issues of Foreign Affairs and Jane's Defense Weekly. Are they upset because we're not giving enough money to Egypt?

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at September 8, 2004 10:24 AM

Forty percent of all the oil usage in the US is as vehicular fuel.(Only 12% of American oil is imported from the Middle East) There is no reason for this. The Nazis made gasoline from coal, and the US has thousands of years worth of coal as do many European nations, and China. Methanol, ethanol and fuel cells are also possibilities.

Uniting all the great scientific powers of the world like the US, the EU, China, India, Russia, Israel, Australia, Japan to resolve this problem would be momentous and would perhaps herald a sensible pattern of cooperation and dispute resolution, far improving the current system. This would of course be the kind of public/private cooperation commonplace in the world.

Posted by: Bart at September 8, 2004 10:33 AM

Any any possible shift in energy usage would take place across far too large a timescale to make an appreciable impact on terrorist activities in the short to medium-term.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at September 8, 2004 10:47 AM

The mere announcement of such a consortium will cause a dramatic drop in oil prices, as suppliers wish to dump inventory on the market. There are capped wells all over the US and Russia waiting to be used. If oil is replaced, then those wells are of no value. Over time, 5-10 years at most, oil in vehicles would be a thing of history.

A drop in the price of oil will mean less money for terrorism. It is the oil rich states of Islam which fund terror, most particularly Saudi Arabia and Iran. Given a choice between funding terrorists and cutting back on drinking, whoring and gambling in Marbella and Monte Carlo, the Saudi princelings will cut back on funding terrorists. Given a choice between feeding their huge, restive population and funding terror overseas, even the looniest Iranian mullah will feed the locals.

Maybe there would be increased instability in much of the Muslim world as a result of an oil price drop, however, if the terrorists don't have the money for weapons, passports, phony IDs and all the other necessities to run a terror operation, paraphrasing Zell Miller,'What will they use? Spitballs?'

Posted by: Bart at September 8, 2004 11:08 AM

And what's to stop terrorist funders from sticking their wealth into US stocks long before they feel any pinch from dropping oil sales?

Who's to say terrorist funders aren't sufficiently well-diversified already?

Not to mention the US hardly needs foreign partners when it comes to R&D.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at September 8, 2004 11:16 AM

Thank you Michael, but if the Arab/muslim populations become poorer (due to our not buying their "products"), some might might conclude that muslim rage (presumably to motivator of terrorism) would increase against the west, not lessen.

Financing of the terrorism would not seem to be a major obstacle. The same argument regarding Oil could be used against purchasing any product manufactured in Islamic lands. Hence you would be left arguing that economic isolation will lessen terrorism and that increased trade would increase terrorism. I think not. Why in other words is Oil trade different from any other trade?

Posted by: h-man at September 8, 2004 11:17 AM

"You don'twant fossil fuels just switch over to nuclear.

Ali -

If *only* it were this easy. We sink because we will not swim. There is a huge built-in inertia and resistance to _any_ large scale power plant construction here in the US (nuclear, oil, coal). Despite such advances as HTGRs, nuclear is the plant of last resort.

As far as extracting gasoline from coal, yes it can be done, but it cannot be done anywhere near $1.65/gallon, and it cannot be done 'nicely': some nontrivial amount of environmental degradation will occur digging up the coal.

I'm not saying it's right, I'm saying that's the way it is...

Posted by: Bruce Cleaver at September 8, 2004 11:22 AM

Bruce:

Yeah, I know. It's just that if people want an alternative to fossil fuels and aren't too bothered about how environmentally friendly the replacement is or how many new plants are needed, then we already have nuclear.

I don't think Bart's concerned about either of the two which is why I made the point that further research isn't really necessary.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at September 8, 2004 11:33 AM

"All evidence is to the contrary. Both Western and Islamic authorities on al Qaeda tell us that the group attacks the United States because of its foreign policy toward the Moslem world."

Several months after 9-11, I googled around some Islamist web sights. One of them answered their own question about what it would take to stop them killing us.

Simple. Adopt Sharia law and submit to the ummah.

His notion of All is seriously flawed.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at September 8, 2004 11:38 AM

Nuclear suffers from bad PR. The Saudis for a long time have been supporters of the Sierra Club and other such groups which only serve to increase dependence on the Middle East bandits.

What manufacturing is there in the Islamic World other than oil and oil related products? I read somewhere that Israel's GDP from manufacturing exceeds the non-oil GDP from manufacturing of the entire Arab World.

Money used to purchase US stocks and the revenue from sales can be tracked very easily. Even so-called 'offshore banks' would cooperate because while Americans will put up with letting a drug dealer launder profits, it is quite another thing to allow a terrorist to use offshore accounts to fund his activities.

Posted by: Bart at September 8, 2004 11:44 AM

That still doesn't disprove my point about them already being diversified no matter what the asset class.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at September 8, 2004 11:47 AM

The problem is the mis-application of Western standards of ownership to barbarians who happen to live over resources that we want and need and which only we (and not they) can extract and use. The proper solution is to just take it from them as we always used to do.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 8, 2004 11:53 AM

It costs a couple of bucks a barrel to get oil out of the ground in the middle East. Saudi Arabia can sell oil profitably at under $10 per barrel. There is no way to force the price at the pump head up so high that alternative fuels (which (regardless of price) simply couldn't exist in practical form in less than ten or fifteen years) will be at all attractive.

Posted by: David Cohen at September 8, 2004 11:53 AM

Bart
Funding is a minor issue for the terrorists, their operations don't require billions of dollars. They could (and are) funding their operations from other sources, including drug trafficking. Oil independence won't solve the problem.

David, the Saudi cost of production will have little to do with the market price for oil going forward. Worldwide oil production is at or near its peak. The price will be driven by worldwide demand for a finite and soon to be dropping production from existing fields. The gap will be made up by more costly sources, such as tar sands and coal/oil shale, with the price rising to the level required to make these new supplies recoverable at an acceptable return on investment. We won't need a consortium to make alternative energy sources viable, rising oil prices will make that happen soon enough, in the next 10 to 20 years.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at September 8, 2004 1:29 PM

Robert: We're drowning in the stuff.

Posted by: David Cohen at September 8, 2004 1:35 PM

Robert,

Funding buys them safe havens. Do you think al-Qaeda would be doing gun-running in the Ciudad del Este region of Latin America unless a lot of money were falling into government hands in Brasilia, Buenos Aires and Ascunsion? Do you think that local tribal leaders in the Northwest Province of Pakistan want a lot of Arabs around causing trouble, unless they're getting a lot of money for their inconvenience?

One of the things the terrorists do is buy off local populations not unlike a crime boss. That requires money. The Saudis are up to their burnooses(burneese?) in funding the madrassas that prepare future Jihadniks all over the world. If the price of oil falls, and the Saudis have to give up either their sprees in the fleshpots of the West or fund terrorism, which are they going to do? Let me give you a hint, nobody in Vegas or Punta del Este or the Riviera is worried.

Posted by: Bart at September 8, 2004 1:59 PM

So, this guy has explained why Arabs are attacking the US. It's our bad foreign policy.

How does that explain Muslims attacking the Philippines, Christians in Indonesia and Nigeria, Muslims in Sudan, Muslims in Algeria etc?

Every large organization has a project. Islam's project for 1,400 years has been violent expansion. Bin Laden is/was just an iteration.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 8, 2004 3:41 PM

Robert Duquette: "David, the [very low] Saudi cost of production will have little to do with the market price for oil going forward. "

But it has a lot to do with any attempt to reach "energy independence". If some development were to cut world demand for oil, it won't be the Saudi wells that are shut down. The world would be more, not less, dependent on Middle-Eastern oil. It's the current high price that allows alternate sources of oil to come into production, reducing the fraction of world production that comes from the Middle East.

Posted by: Bill Woods at September 8, 2004 3:54 PM

The world wouldn't be more dependent on Middle Eastern oil, we'd merely face a price shock when switching to different sources for oil, if the Middle East became unstable again.

h-man:

Yes, Arab rage and frustration would increase, but their ability to do anything about it would decrease.
They can be as angry as they like, as long as they stay home.

Robert Duquette:

Global oil production won't peak for decades. You're looking at some old projections. Canada alone could triple production within a decade.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at September 8, 2004 4:52 PM

Heh, "alternate fuels", phooey.

I stand by my prediction that, unless things change pretty drastically, the upcoming major alternative fuel 20-30 years from now will be mildly radioactive oil.

Posted by: ray at September 8, 2004 8:04 PM

ray:

Funny, but wrong.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at September 8, 2004 8:22 PM

David, Michael,
Do you have any links to references that show we are decades from worrying about oil shortages? Michael, at what price would it be economical for Canada to triple it's output?

Posted by: Robert Duquette at September 8, 2004 9:12 PM

"They can be as angry as they like, as long as they stay home"

Yes "stay home" works for me.

However I guess my skepticism relates to the so called financing of terrorism with oil revenues. As stated by someone up above that financing is not a significant obstacle to carrying out terrorism against civilians.

Posted by: h-man at September 8, 2004 9:34 PM

David:

"First, will someone please explain why Muslims are allowed to use "Jihad" but we're not allowed to use "crusade", a word we use for everything from war to feeding the hungry?"

Good Point, I wonder what Arabic word the Arab press uses to translate the English word "Crusade?" Would it be "Jihad?"

"in establishing AQ, bin Laden, if we take him at his word, was primarily motivated by his desire to reestablish the caliphate and finish the inevitable spread of Islam across the world."

That is the way I understand it also. It sounds crazy and it is.

Bart:

"Islamic terrorism exists because the civilized world needs the oil and is willing to bribe a bunch of savage desert bandits to get it. The first thing we need to do is set up an international facility with our allies including Russia and the PRC and develop alternate sources of energy which would make OPEC irrelevant."

This is not a logical series of statements. Terrorism has been funded by oil money, that is true, but it is not an expensive business and if they need to raise funds by dealing drugs, kidnaping or piracy they can do that instead. OPEC was a problem in the 1970's, but there is little evidence that they have been anything but a debating society since then, Furhter no one has accused OPEC, qua OPEC of being a terroris organization.

"why, if terror against America is caused by America being so evil, Muslims murder Buddhist schoolteachers in Thailand, Christian nurses in the Philipines, Christian subsistence farmers and fishermen in Timor, animist tribesmen in the Sudan, etc."

Good point. But these countries are not major oil importers.

M Ali Choudhury:

"Why is research even needed for alternate fuels?

You don't want fossil fuels just switch over to nuclear."

Because the people who call for research do not want anything to happen. They just want to look like they want something to happen. Today's NYTimes has two (count 'em two) articles about a "documentary" made by Rory Kennedy (sister of Robert Kennedy Jr of the odious Kennedy clan enviromental lawyer and wind-power opponent) who wants to shut down a nuclear power plant north of New York.
Dumb
Dumberer
The rule of thumb is that enviromentalists do not want to solve problems they want to be problems.

Fred Jacobsen:

"I'm having difficulty visualising the Arab 'street' relaxing over coffee and catching up with the latest issues of Foreign Affairs and Jane's Defense Weekly."

Good point. To push it futher. Most Arabs seem to get most of their information from their lunatic preachers, whose rants can be read at MEMRI. and the infamous Al-jazzera. Their capacity for believing non-sense is almost limitless. Most of them still believe that 9/11 was the work of Israel or the CIA. Given that they have no real knowledge of US policy how could they be responding to it? and how could they respond to changes in it?

Bart:

"Given a choice between feeding their huge, restive population and funding terror overseas, even the looniest Iranian mullah will feed the locals."

Saddam didn't do it and there is no reason to believe that other tyrants will short-change their armies and weapons programs and let the masses starve just like Saddam did. That is what tyrants always do.

"Maybe there would be increased instability in much of the Muslim world as a result of an oil price drop, however, if the terrorists don't have the money for weapons, passports, phony IDs and all the other necessities to run a terror operation, paraphrasing Zell Miller,'What will they use? Spitballs?'"

They pulled off terror ops in the 90's with low oil prices.

Jeff Guinn

"Several months after 9-11, I googled around some Islamist web sights. One of them answered their own question about what it would take to stop them killing us.

Simple. Adopt Sharia law and submit to the ummah."

We shall have to beat them around the head and neck severely until the give up that kind of twadle

Bart:

"Nuclear suffers from bad PR. The Saudis for a long time have been supporters of the Sierra Club and other such groups which only serve to increase dependence on the Middle East bandits."

I would like to believe that, but I think there plenty of idiots in this country.

Robert:
"Funding is a minor issue for the terrorists, their operations don't require billions of dollars. They could (and are) funding their operations from other sources, including drug trafficking. Oil independence won't solve the problem."

Good point I stole from you.

Bart:
"If the price of oil falls, and the Saudis have to give up either their sprees in the fleshpots of the West or fund terrorism, which are they going to do? Let me give you a hint, nobody in Vegas or Punta del Este or the Riviera is worried."

Once again the optimist.

Harry Eagar:
"Every large organization has a project. Islam's project for 1,400 years has been violent expansion. Bin Laden is/was just an iteration."

Yes and unlike some earlier ones he was not sent by God. So we have a good shot at tracking him down and killing him.


==========================================================================

My bottom line is that the Islamo-Nazi terror problem is not caused by anything external to the Arab world. It arises out of the tension between Islam promise of worldly sucess to the faithful (embeded in the call to prayer) and the manifest inability of Arab societies to keep up with non-Muslim societies in the Modern world.

The Islamo-Nazi ideology was formulated out of scraps of Islam, Anti-Semitism, Fascism and Stalinism by scriblers (one hesitates to use the term thinker or writer) such as Qtub. It condemns the West as corrupt (remember they learned this from the Nazi's and Communists) and looks to redemption through the establishment of a khilafah (note the formal equivalence to communism's redemtion through revolution). It is sufficently rooted in Islam and its modern predicament and has enough muscle spread around to either command sympathy or compel silence from the vast majority of the world's muslims.

Terrorism is a weapon used by the Islamo-Nazi's because it is cheap and it has many precedents among east european communist and fascist revolutionary organizations of the 19th and 20th centuries. Read Dostoyevsky’s The Possessed. If they had the Wehrmacht, they would use it.

The way to defeat them is to defeat them. If we kill enough of them, they will start to look like losers. If nothing suceeds like sucess, nothing fails like failure. But this means we have to get after them and stay after them for an extended period of time. Which in turn means that Dick Cheney was right. If Kerry wins, we will lose the war on terror.


Posted by: Robert Schwartz at September 8, 2004 11:34 PM

Robert Schwartz
Great post! I believe that I am in total agreement with you on this. You should submit your last paragraph to the Bush campaign, it would make a killer soundbite.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at September 9, 2004 1:57 PM

Robert Duquette:

At $ 24 a barrel, Canadian companies could break even during expansion. At today's current prices, Suncor, (stock symbol: SU), is expanding as quickly as it can.
Sustained $ 50 - $ 60 a barrel prices would cause Canada to exploit those resources much more quickly.

Canadian oil resources are topped only by Arabia's.
Also, look at the Missouri company testing its process from turning anything made of carbon, (think plants and animals, plastics), into, among other things, oil.
It was featured in Discover magazine a while back, and while they're having problems scaling their process up, it does seem to work.
Also, check out E85 ethanol fuels, sold at gas stations all around the midwest.

All of the above will relieve pressures on current oil sources, or add capacity. We're not even close to the theoretical maximum output yet, although we are very close to the maximum output from existing facilities.

h-man, Robert Schwartz:

Although it's true that terrorists need only have enough to buy a firearm and some ammo, attacks like the US Embassy bombings in Africa, the Khobar Towers bombing in Arabia, and 9/11 require much, much more money and organization.
Terrorists could sell drugs to finance their activities, but as we've seen in Afghanistan and South America, dealing drugs to finance other activities usually leads to full-time concern about drug dealing and infighting over who gets how much of the profits.

The bottom line is, terroristic activity is cheap, but large and sustained attacks in foreign lands are not cheap, and so the less money floating around those people, the better.

Of course, in one's own land, US minimum wage is enough. Given $ 10,000 and a dependable automobile, I could cause everyone in America to worry about where I might strike next, and force local, state, and the national gov'ts to spend billions attempting to defend against me, and to try to find me.
Fortunately, al-Qaeda and most homegrown American terrorists seem inclined towards the massive strike, and not to effective terror.

The Unibomber wasn't a very effective terrorist, yet look how long it took to find him.
If he'd refrained from the ego-trip of publishing his moronic manifesto, he'd still be at large.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at September 9, 2004 5:48 PM

Robert Schwartz, you may be right about why Islamo-Nazism or whatever we want to call it is the way it is.

But who cares?

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 10, 2004 2:28 AM
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