ID:274201
 
Normally I'd just let it rest so we can move on from last week's events, but I thought I'd share this. The following was forwarded to a mailing list I'm on. It seems to be one of the most intelligent things I've read regarding the forthcoming US reaction in its "war on terrorism." Hopefully the people in Washington will take such things into consideration...



-----Original Message-----
From: Bauer, Carl
Sent: Friday, September 14, 2001 10:32 AM
To: RFFSTAFF
Subject: very disturbing but I thought I should fwd it

from a friend in Chile
Dear Friends,
The following was sent to me by my friend Tamim Ansary. Tamim is an Afghani-American writer. He is also one of the most brilliant people I know in this life. When he writes, I read. When he talks, I listen. Here is his take on Afghanistan and the whole mess we are in.
-Gary T.


Dear Gary and whoever else is on this email thread:

I've been hearing a lot of talk about "bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age." Ronn Owens, on KGO Talk Radio today, allowed that this would mean killing innocent people, people who had nothing to do with this atrocity, but "we're at war, we have to accept collateral damage. What else can we do?" Minutes later I heard some TV pundit discussing whether we "have the belly to do what must be done."

And I thought about the issues being raised especially hard because I am from Afghanistan, and even though I've lived here for 35 years I've never lost track of what's going on there. So I want to tell anyone who will listen how it all looks from where I'm standing.

I speak as one who hates the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. There is no doubt in my mind that these people were responsible for the atrocity in New York. I agree that something must be done about those monsters.

But the Taliban and Ben Laden are not Afghanistan. They're not even the government of Afghanistan. The Taliban are a cult of ignorant psychotics who took over Afghanistan in 1997. Bin Laden is a political criminal with a plan. When you think Taliban, think Nazis. When you think Bin Laden, think Hitler. And when you think "the people of Afghanistan" think "the Jews in the concentration camps."

It's not only that the Afghan people had nothing to do with this atrocity. They were the first victims of the perpetrators. They would exult if someone would come in there, take out the Taliban and clear out the rats nest of international thugs holed up in their country.

Some say, why don't the Afghans rise up and overthrow the Taliban? The answer is, they're starved, exhausted, hurt, incapacitated, suffering. A few years ago, the United Nations estimated that there are 500,000 disabled orphans in Afghanistan--a country with no economy, no food. There are millions of widows. And the Taliban has been burying these widows alive in mass graves. The soil is littered with land mines, the farms were all destroyed by the Soviets. These are a few of the reasons why the Afghan people have not overthrown the Taliban.

We come now to the question of bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age. Trouble is, that's been done. The Soviets took care of it already. Make the Afghans suffer? They're already suffering. Level their houses? Done. Turn their schools into piles of rubble? Done. Eradicate their hospitals? Done. Destroy their infrastructure? Cut them off from medicine and health care? Too late. Someone already did all that.

New bombs would only stir the rubble of earlier bombs. Would they at least get the Taliban? Not likely. In today's Afghanistan, only the Taliban eat, only they have the means to move around. They'd slip away and hide. Maybe the bombs would get some of those disabled orphans, they don't move too fast, they don't even have wheelchairs. But flying over Kabul and dropping bombs wouldn't really be a strike against the criminals who did this horrific thing. Actually it would only be making common cause with the Taliban--by raping once again the people they've been raping all this time

So what else is there? What can be done, then? Let me now speak with true fear and trembling. The only way to get Bin Laden is to go in there with ground troops. When people speak of "having the belly to do what needs to be done" they're thinking in terms of having the belly to kill as many as needed. Having the belly to overcome any moral qualms about killing innocent people. Let's pull our heads out of the sand. What's actually on the table is Americans dying. And not just because some Americans would die fighting their way through Afghanistan to Bin Laden's hideout. It's much bigger than that folks. Because to get any troops to Afghanistan, we'd have to go through Pakistan. Would they let us? Not likely. The conquest of Pakistan would have to be first. Will other Muslim nations just stand by? You see where I'm going. We're flirting with a world war between Islam and the West.

And guess what: that's Bin Laden's program. That's exactly what he wants. That's why he did this. Read his speeches and statements. It's all right there. He really believes Islam would beat the West. It might seem ridiculous, but he figures if he can polarize the world into Islam and the West, he's got a billion soldiers. If the West wreaks a holocaust in those lands, that's a billion people with nothing left to lose, that's even better from Bin Laden's point of view. He's probably wrong, in the end the West would win, whatever that would mean, but the war would last for years and millions would die, not just theirs but ours. Who has the belly for that? Bin Laden does. Anyone else?

Tamim Ansary

____________________________
At the risk of starting another massive thread here, I'll respond.

The incessant, stubborn misconception that our war on terrorism will mean bombing lots and lots of innocent people indiscriminately has got to stop. War has military objectives, and the main objective is to destroy your opponents' ability to make war upon you. War is not random violence. We wouldn't need to level Afghanistan to do it, though we'll certainly need to strike in a way that makes the Taliban feel the pinch for having sponsored terrorism. I believe we will likely have to attack Afghanistan, but if and when we do it will be aimed at those who bear the responsiblity for terrorism, not simply at any and all of that nation's citizens.

It is equally absurd to insist that any kind of military action provokes continued escalation or that all Islamic nations or even all terrorist-sponsoring will form a coalition against us. In fact the opposite has been proven true, both by history and by current events: When a country stands strong in the face of hostility, and shows a willingness to use force--not blindly nuking civilians, mind you, but attacking the right targets--others tend to fall in line. The Gulf War made allies (if uneasy ones) out of several Arab states that had been more openly hostile to the US before that. This week, not only has Pakistan made clear its intention to help out, but even Syria (a former terrorist state itself) has offered support. Even if these nations had a united resolve against the US, it takes superpower against superpower to run a world war, not First World against Third. The images of mushroom clouds and mutually assured destruction may haunt our darkest dreams, but we face not China or Russia but countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Sudan. "World war" is truly the most foolish phrase I've heard tossed around in this context.

Our military action since the Gulf War has been composed largely of precision missile strikes against fourth-rate targets--much the equivalent of stripping a gang member of his gun and then releasing him, thinking he can do no more harm. We have done little in 10 years to combat a growing surge of terrorism. Through diplomatic channels we were only barely able in those 10 years to finally get our hands on the men behind the Pan Am 103 bombing, with the intent of trying and convicting them like ordinary criminals. (That attack was a big deal in my hometown, as many of the passengers were from Syracuse University.)

If we learn nothing else from this, we should learn that our recent attempts to control terrorism through diplomacy have failed. Treating terrorism like a crime and not like acts of war has been even more fruitless. Terrorists are a danger to national security--really to everyone's national security--and must be eliminated. A vast terror network exists today, a network which has been used not just by Osama bin Laden but also by wings of the PLO in their recent spate of nonstop suicide bombings in Israel; one of those attacks took the life of an American citizen. The surest way to prevent a future incident will be to wipe out that network: Its members, its propaganda machine, its leaders, its financial backings, and its connections to state sponsors. Crippling that network is our top priority.

This really isn't about justice or revenge; this is about the safety of our nation and its citizens, which can't be protected any more reasonable way than to destroy the terrorist network that made the September 11th attack possible, and to prevent future networks from gaining ground. There will always be other terrorists, but if we remain firm in our commitment to prevent the kind of mass organization that exists today, their opportunities for destruction will be fewer and less severe.

When the President says we're going to war, this is what he means. Not carpet bombing Afghanistan, not nuking Iraq, but definitely taking target military action against these and other terror sponsors, and more importantly to use military force to eliminate the nerve system of global terrorism.

Lummox JR
Air Mapster wrote:
Normally I'd just let it rest so we can move on from last week's events, but I thought I'd share this. The following was forwarded to a mailing list I'm on. It seems to be one of the most intelligent things I've read regarding the forthcoming US reaction in its "war on terrorism." Hopefully the people in Washington will take such things into consideration...

Ronn Owens interviewed Tamim on his show today, and it should be mentioned that Tamim supports military action, he just is looking for the right solution. He believes we should support the Northern Alliance in their fight against the Taliban, with money and men.

I think many people reading his message may not understand his full message.
In response to Deadron (#2)
Deadron wrote:
Ronn Owens interviewed Tamim on his show today, and it should be mentioned that Tamim supports military action, he just is looking for the right solution. He believes we should support the Northern Alliance in their fight against the Taliban, with money and men.

I think many people reading his message may not understand his full message.

I think you have a good point there. The tone of that statement was decidedly mixed.

I'm in agreement with working with the people of Afghanistan to get rid of the Taliban government, though moving against the Taliban is basically one of many concerns in this conflict. (As has already been suggested, though, they're mobile. The only way to really oust--or at least hurt--the Taliban will be to insinuate enough of an American presence to massively disrupt their efforts to govern effectively.)

Lummox JR
In response to Lummox JR (#3)
You know there's an angle on all this I think most of the world is missing, even though they are indirectly reporting it:

Americans are being slammed by some because "you caused this situation to happen by your actions" and they say "this is not an attack on democracy and freedom just on your military actions".

What those people are ignoring is a piece of their own statement: One of bin Laden's biggest concerns is that the Western world has too much influence. He is angry at the Saudis working with us, and at the moderation occurring in Iran, etc... He has specifically talked about triggering the US to attack Middle Eastern countries in order to reverse this trend. His feeling being that a big attack by the US would cause all Arabs to come together into one huge Jihad army and crush the West.

In other words, in addition to our complicity by supporting bad people etc, a large part of our complicity has been by being a presence that is moderating Arab countries and bringing them into the "Western world" leadership circles, resulting in better conditions for women, less religious oppression, etc.

Those things are intolerable to bin Laden.

This leads to two conclusions:

- We have been engaging Middle Eastern countries in ways other than with bombs, and it has been having a positive effect.

- bin Laden IS attacking democracy and freedom, because it is intolerable to him that those things might come to his part of the world.

In response to Deadron (#4)
Deadron wrote:
- We have been engaging Middle Eastern countries in ways other than with bombs, and it has been having a positive effect.

- bin Laden IS attacking democracy and freedom, because it is intolerable to him that those things might come to his part of the world.

Fully agreed.

Obviously we have to use force to wipe out the terrorist network, but there are positive things we can be doing to stunt its regrowth. We should put a lot more money and effort into the Voice of America, which gives these people a different side to hear than what their corrupt leaders tell them. We can find other ways, I'm sure, to encourage people to act responsibly, to deplore terrorism because of what it is. But, that's for the future, when we've made significant headway in destroying the terrorists that are there already--hopefully the near future.

Lummox JR
In response to Lummox JR (#1)
Let's look at these two statements, shall we?

The incessant, stubborn misconception that our war on terrorism will mean bombing lots and lots of innocent people indiscriminately has got to stop. War has military objectives, and the main objective is to destroy your opponents' ability to make war upon you. War is not random violence.

Our military action since the Gulf War has been composed largely of precision missile strikes against fourth-rate targets--much the equivalent of stripping a gang member of his gun and then releasing him, thinking he can do no more harm.

So... precision military strikes: are they effective, or not? You quote the theory, and then point to the practice as an example of something that doesn't work. Also, I ask again... what precisely is our precise target in this precisely orchestrated precision strike?

For the record, the "misconception" is not that our war on terrorism "will mean" bombing lots and lots of innocent people indiscriminately. Rather, the justifiable concern is that our war on terrorism could mean bombing lots and lots of innocent people indiscriminately. It's a good thing that this concern is discussed, too. If this concern wasn't present, or wasn't discussed... then sooner or later, our war on our latest cause would involve bombing lots and lots of innocent people. Just because we've achieved a certain level of civilization historically doesn't mean we'll stay at that height indefinitely.

Also for the record, most of the people who believe that this military action will involve bombing Afghanistan back to the stone age are the people who support such a thing, who think it's justified... the sort of people who directly or indirectly contribute to the mentality that has Arabesque* people being beaten in the streets. When you see persons like myself arguing against such an extreme, it's not because we think it will happen... but because we think it shouldn't. We're explaining why it won't happen, and why it's a good thing that it won't. You might believe it's pointless to argue against something that's not likely to happen, but I ask you: is this a good mindset for the American people to have?


*Yes, I know this isn't what Arabesque means. I was looking for a compact way of saying Muslims, Americans of Arabic extractions, and people who even look like they might belong to either of those groups, and hit upon a fit of whimsy.
In response to Lummox JR (#3)

I think many people reading his message may not understand his full message.

I think you have a good point there. The tone of that statement was decidedly mixed.

Only if you go into it with a view already polarized into peaceniks vs. warmongers. This message is very clear: bombing indiscriminately might be satisfying to some degree if you think of the Afghanis as enemies, but would be both wrong and ineffectual, while sending ground forces in is unpalatable but necessary.
In response to LexyBitch (#6)
LexyBitch wrote:
Let's look at these two statements, shall we?

The incessant, stubborn misconception that our war on terrorism will mean bombing lots and lots of innocent people indiscriminately has got to stop. War has military objectives, and the main objective is to destroy your opponents' ability to make war upon you. War is not random violence.

Our military action since the Gulf War has been composed largely of precision missile strikes against fourth-rate targets--much the equivalent of stripping a gang member of his gun and then releasing him, thinking he can do no more harm.

So... precision military strikes: are they effective, or not? You quote the theory, and then point to the practice as an example of something that doesn't work. Also, I ask again... what precisely is our precise target in this precisely orchestrated precision strike?

The two statements aren't mutually exclusive, because they refer to two separate means of fighting as well as two separate campaign strategies. In the former case, an actual war requires the use of ground troops and conventional weaponry, with aerial support being secondary. The latter refers to our too-longstanding policy of simply meting out a simple missile strike against a single starget in retaliation for something, when eliminating that single target doesn't really make much of a difference.

The important thing is that there are many kinds of strikes, and many ways of waging a campaign and choosing targets. Restricting ourselves to a few aerial attacks and very few targets won't get the job done. It might well be added that ground troops are actually more "precise" than missiles because soldiers are able to apply their own judgment, but guidance chips cannot.

For the record, the "misconception" is not that our war on terrorism "will mean" bombing lots and lots of innocent people indiscriminately. Rather, the justifiable concern is that our war on terrorism could mean bombing lots and lots of innocent people indiscriminately. It's a good thing that this concern is discussed, too. If this concern wasn't present, or wasn't discussed... then sooner or later, our war on our latest cause would involve bombing lots and lots of innocent people. Just because we've achieved a certain level of civilization historically doesn't mean we'll stay at that height indefinitely.

I would never claim we're immune from committing horrible acts. Yet, attacks like the one on Dresden are never the sort that come up early in the planning stages of a war; they happen in the thick of battle, when strategic needs seem to outweigh other concerns. Nobody starts out with objectives like: "Okay, we need to destroy these three bridges, five factories, and oh yeah, let's make sure we kill 50,000 people this month whether they're combatants or not." Nobody (reasonable) sets out to make such mistakes, and in fact military planners strenously avoid them. Attacks like those on Dresden are the rare exception, not the rule.

To my mind, this concern is the same sort as any that goes along with war: Our troops could die. Some of their civilians could die along with their combatants. Serious concerns, granted, but par for the course. If we keep to our objectives and rightly keep from bombing huge groups of people--and there's really no reason to think we won't--then there's not much point in trotting out this concern as a first priority. Our military has given us no reason to believe in the last 20 years or so that they'd end up performing a mass slaughter of noncombatants; I think we can pretty reasonably give them the benefit of the doubt.

In this situation, where terrorists are rooted in a civilian population, and where killing lots of innocents would cause a severe political backlash and undermine support for the campaign, it's far more likely that we'll take the time to identify the terrorists we know and go after them and their headquarters individually. In dealing with the states that sponsor terrorism, it's also overwhelmingly likely that our chosen targets will be the heart of their military infrastructure, not the general populations of those countries.

Also for the record, most of the people who believe that this military action will involve bombing Afghanistan back to the stone age are the people who support such a thing, who think it's justified... the sort of people who directly or indirectly contribute to the mentality that has Arabesque* people being beaten in the streets. When you see persons like myself arguing against such an extreme, it's not because we think it will happen... but because we think it shouldn't. We're explaining why it won't happen, and why it's a good thing that it won't. You might believe it's pointless to argue against something that's not likely to happen, but I ask you: is this a good mindset for the American people to have?

That I'll concede. It's good to say to people that mindless violence against Arabs--the vast majority of whom are innocent, especially in the US--is wrong. It's likewise beneficial to point out that the people of Afghanistan are by and large impoverished, and the despotic Taliban regime leads them against the will of many. But, I believe these comments should not be made in such a way as to discourage all violence, but merely to discourage it against the wrong people and instead focus it elsewhere, at the right people. We've been passive toward terrorism for far too long, and what's important now is not slamming on the brakes, but steering the bus.

This is without a doubt a time for violent action. It is not the time for vigilante justice, however, but for that violence instead to be strictly military. That violent action should not in any way be directed against the Arab restaurateur down the street or the Afghani couple next door. It should be directed outward, to the terrorist nations outside our borders. It should be aimed at the vast networks of terrorist recruitment, training, and organization that exist there. It should be pointed at the leaders of those terrorist organizations, offering them no quarter and no mercy. As for whatever terrorists may be within our borders, it's the job of law enforcement to deal with them, and our duty to help them as may be.

We should be telling those idiots who shoot out Arab-owned store windows that if they want to shoot something so badly, they should sign up with the military, who will give them targets that deserve to be shot at.

Lummox JR
In response to LexyBitch (#6)
LexyBitch wrote:
For the record, the "misconception" is not that our war on terrorism "will mean" bombing lots and lots of innocent people indiscriminately. Rather, the justifiable concern is that our war on terrorism could mean bombing lots and lots of innocent people indiscriminately. It's a good thing that this concern is discussed, too.

Personally I'm very happy this discussion is occurring in the country. It's an important discussion to have, and shows how much we've grown in 50 years.

When Pearl Harbor occurred, we were for the most part of bunch of primitive racists who instantly wanted to "go kill all the damn Japs", who had no idea of the rest of the world, and who had little ability to understand that the Japanese were humans.

This time around, every major politician is spending time talking about how we are going after a specific set of people, how this is not a reflection on all of Islam or all Muslims, and calling for understanding when it comes to Muslim-Americans. The President gave a speech to a set of Islamic businessmen within days of the bombing.

The argument that angers me are those (usually outside the US but here also) who say things like "You did this to yourselves" and, implicitly or explicitly, communicate that these are the actions of oppressed people justified in fighting back against their oppressor. They make this argument without the full perspective they claim to be providing -- that, whatever our involvement in helping create some of these people (usually in the name of making the world a better place, like by halting Soviet aggression in Afghanistan), these are evil people oppressing a people as few have done before them, and attacking us as part of an overall plan to be able to oppress more people in the same manner.

Hitler was made possible by how the world treated Germany after the first World War, and because his expansion wasn't promptly stopped. Yet the world's complicity in making Hitler possible did not change the world's responsibility to stop him from succeeding in his plans for world domination.

My sincere hope is that we've learned enough about the aftermath of WWI (where we further oppressed the defeated enemy) and WWII (where we spent lots of time and money rebuilding the defeated enemy) that once the shooting is over we take a much more active role in the Muslim world. Not only in terms of providing support, but in terms of educating Americans about this part of the world we know so little about. Ignorance is dangerous in this situation.


Also for the record, most of the people who believe that this military action will involve bombing Afghanistan back to the stone age are the people who support such a thing, who think it's justified...

Not that it matters, but in listening to lots and lots of talk radio and reading the web, the only people I've seen express this have been those against it. Except for a couple of "man on the street" wackos who said "we should nuke em all", every supporter of action I've heard was a supporter of intelligent action and not a blanket attack of any sort.

Nonetheless, it's perfectly legitimate for people to continue to express their concern over this issue.

Personally I think the greater concern is how we keep to a limited set of achievable objectives, how we continue to justify our actions to the Muslim world, and how we avoid multiple Vietnams or slipping into an "anti-terrorism" campaign that mirrors our previous "anti-communism" campaign.

In response to Deadron (#9)
Not that it matters, but in listening to lots and lots of talk radio and reading the web, the only people I've seen express this have been those against it. Except for a couple of "man on the street" wackos who said "we should nuke em all", every supporter of action I've heard was a supporter of intelligent action and not a blanket attack of any sort.

Newsflash: there's a HELL of a lot more people on the street than there are on the web and the radio.
In response to LexyBitch (#10)
LexyBitch wrote:
Not that it matters, but in listening to lots and lots of talk radio and reading the web, the only people I've seen express this have been those against it. Except for a couple of "man on the street" wackos who said "we should nuke em all", every supporter of action I've heard was a supporter of intelligent action and not a blanket attack of any sort.

Newsflash: there's a HELL of a lot more people on the street than there are on the web and the radio.

I'm trying to respond respectfully on this topic whether I agree or not, and I'm hoping we can have conversations that rise above responding only to the tiniest point we can find to disagree with, and then without perspective or adding information to the discussion. That's why I'm always at pains to try and present a complete perspective, where I agree and disagree with people, and why.

Anyway I stand by my statement: Except for a couple of wacko nobodies I saw on some TV "let's talk to people on the street thing" I have yet to see any supporter of action -- not anyone I've talked to, read, or seen -- take the "stone age" stance. Someone out there must be, I suppose, but it's a real small minority.

And everyone -- every single person I've communicated with in any depth -- has had deep concerns about how we go about this.

I only bring this up to show that, near as I can tell from my direct experience, no noticable number of people are approaching this in the haphazard manner that the country is being accused of.

As I mentioned, that doesn't mean that people shouldn't continue to express concern that we could head in that direction.
I never understand why US citizens never understand the world. It is a simple issue. Just take out whoever is responsible.
After WWII, did they kill all Germans or Japanese? No!
Although they are partly responsible for the war but to kill them would be reducing the US to the level of Nazis. Do the US want to be a Nazi state?
Do the US want to be a terrorist state?
Or a bully?

Just punish the people responsible. Send in the Special Ops, and take out Osama. Then whoever take his place. And the guy after that. And the one after that...

The better thing to do is never interfer in a country's civil war. Look at what happened when you do...
Taliban---> Supported by US arms and training.
Osama---> Supported by US training.
Saddam---> Supported by US arms and training.
Pakistan---> Supported by US training.
Colombia---> Supported by US arms and training.
Honduras---> Supported by US arms and training.
And many more...

US involvments only US problems later...
In response to sunzoner (#12)
I never understand why US citizens never understand the world.

I suppose you also never understand why blacks are never anything but street thugs, why Jews are never honest, or why Arabs are always murderous terrorists. Do you know what these three assertions all have in common? They're not true! They're very, very awful stereotypes, the like of which have caused unimaginably vast measures of human suffering. "U.S. citizens never understand the world" is no less an article of bigotry than any of the examples I gave above. You do raise some valid points about U.S. overseas involvement, and have always done so throughout your running series of arguments on the topic, but what always seriously undermines your point is the fact that your main point is always to make a sweeping condemnation of Americans for their apparent sweeping condemnations. You might be right in asserting that Americans are self-centered, morally bankrupt people, but guess what: immorality ain't an American invention.

Ask yourself this: What's the basis of morality? There's a lot of answers you can give, but what it boils down to is societal values. The U.S. places very strong values on individual peoples' freedom, and comparatively little on the sanctity of marriage. Hence it's not uncommon at all to get divorced, and there's no real stigma attached to severing a marriage. Other cultures, however, might view these divorces as being a horrible breach of morality--even those divorces that resulted from long-term physical spouse abuse! Who's right and who's wrong here? Depends on which side you happen to be on. Morality and ethics are subjective bodies--there are some general concepts which are close to but not quite universal, such as the idea that killing another human (or other animal, for that matter) is wrong if not properly justified. But even in these near-universal concepts, there's considerable difference between how individual societies interpret things: Some societies view murder as completely unjustifiable under any circumstances, some see it as very readily justifiable with even slight provocation. The best statement that can be made about universal morality standards is that different societies' codes of ethics deal with the same base of fundamental issues, and this isn't a statement particularly conducive to accurate, objective comparisons of the "quality" of belief systems (or individual beliefs). It's no more fair for you to condemn U.S. societal attitudes for being different than yours than it is for Americans to look down on other cultures for being different.

In other words, judge not lest ye be judged. Of course, people have been judging each other back and forth pretty much since the dawn of time, so a more accurate modern rendition would be judge not, then cross your fingers and hope people follow your example.
In response to Leftley (#13)
Leftley wrote:
I never understand why US citizens never understand the world.

I suppose you also never understand why blacks are never anything but street thugs, why Jews are never honest, or why Arabs are always murderous terrorists. Do you know what these three assertions all have in common? They're not true! They're very, very awful stereotypes, the like of which have caused unimaginably vast measures of human suffering. "U.S. citizens never understand the world" is no less an article of bigotry than any of the examples I gave above. You do raise some valid points about U.S. overseas involvement, and have always done so throughout your running series of arguments on the topic, but what always seriously undermines your point is the fact that your main point is always to make a sweeping condemnation of Americans for their apparent sweeping condemnations. You might be right in asserting that Americans are self-centered, morally bankrupt people, but guess what: immorality ain't an American invention.

I agree that I have made a sweeping statement that is not true. To all US citizen: I'm sorry.
But I have to say that I have never visited US. I have only seen it on TV. Guess I have seen a one-sided depiction of them. I will improve opn my attempt to under the people around the world and not base it on the TV.
BTW, it mostly Hollywood...
In response to sunzoner (#14)
sunzoner wrote:
But I have to say that I have never visited US. I have only seen it on TV. Guess I have seen a one-sided depiction of them. I will improve opn my attempt to under the people around the world and not base it on the TV.

Laudable, and also a proof that anyone -- not just stupid Americans -- might make assumptions about people and places they have only seen on TV.

Sadly you are not alone...most condemnations of the US I've seen in the last week are sweeping uneducated generalizations by would-be intellectuals decrying sweeping uneducated generalizations.
In response to Leftley (#13)
Leftley wrote:
In other words, judge not lest ye be judged.

Nothing wrong with judging. I judge states that "circumsize" women or kill people for walking on the street with the "wrong" dress code to be wrong, and often to be evil.

The subtelty is to judge that while not assuming that everyone in that state is a perpetrator, recognizing that as abhorrent as something is there may be some historical background to understand about it if you want to eradicate it, and realizing that taking action may have unforeseen circumstances.

To go further, the lack of judging advocated in the last 20-30 years by some schools of thought would seem to further evil in the world. I've read transcripts of American students actually saying things like "We can't judge an Indian culture for brutally killing the wife after the husband dies. It's how their culture works, after all, and morality is relative to culture."
In response to Deadron (#16)
"It's how their culture works, after all, and morality is relative to culture."

Ah, post-modernism, how I love thee so!

-AbyssDragon
In response to Deadron (#16)
Deadron wrote:
Leftley wrote:
In other words, judge not lest ye be judged.

Nothing wrong with judging. I judge states that "circumsize" women or kill people for walking on the street with the "wrong" dress code to be wrong, and often to be evil.

The subtelty is to judge that while not assuming that everyone in that state is a perpetrator, recognizing that as abhorrent as something is there may be some historical background to understand about it if you want to eradicate it, and realizing that taking action may have unforeseen circumstances.

To go further, the lack of judging advocated in the last 20-30 years by some schools of thought would seem to further evil in the world. I've read transcripts of American students actually saying things like "We can't judge an Indian culture for brutally killing the wife after the husband dies. It's how their culture works, after all, and morality is relative to culture."

Oops. I suppose I did put things in rather poor terms. As you said, the main thing to be wary of is judging everyone in a culture individually as being personally responsible for the flaws of the society. I was making rather far too sweeping a generalization myself when I said that the thin strands of universal tendencies linking societal value systems made for a poor measure for judging them as a whole; in fact, there are a number of good measures which can be drawn from them. But those measures are still far better at sizing up extreme differences (generally deficiencies) than they are for comparing gray areas. I'm not trying to say that cultures that seem "backwards" (particularly the ones with more cruel and grossly unequal treatment towards innocent segments of the society) should be preserved as they are without growing or changing or improving--just that it's generally not a good idea for a society to try and impose their values directly on another, which seemed to be more or less part of your message.
In response to Leftley (#18)
Leftley wrote:
just that it's generally not a good idea for a society to try and impose their values directly on another, which seemed to be more or less part of your message.

I dunno...I think there are certain universal values that in some cases should possibly be imposed, or at least vigorously campaigned for in certain parts of the world. I'm somewhat in line with Jimmy Carter in thinking that human rights should play some role in how we deal with a country.

For example...I'm not sure we should have helped Kuwait without also crowbarring them towards some human rights and democracy. They run a more oppressive regime than Iraq, and to my knowledge they didn't change a bit after the Gulf War.

I somehow find it immoral to protect such people, if not simultaneously extracting or demanding social change on their part.

We had reason to stop Hussein -- a person building up a huge arsenal, with a history of using biological warfare, who is suddenly deciding to expand his world power considerably through war can't be ignored, especially given the history of WWII.

But, dammit, we had an obligation to do something about Kuwait as long as we were putting lives on the line to protect them.

(Tangentially, we also should have taken out Hussein if we were going to go through all this. Because we didn't, we have been complicit in the deaths of thousands of innocent Iraqies through the sanctions, which might have been avoided if we'd finished the war.)
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