Skip to comments.RETALIATION, YES – OCCUPATION, NO!: The case for limited war aims (Special Edition)
Posted on 10/07/2001 3:57:41 PM PDT by ouroboros
October 7, 2001
As US missiles rained down on Afghanistan, the chilling voice of Osama bin Laden, carried by Aljazeera television in Qatar, rang out over Western airwaves, directly addressing Americans as well as his fellow Muslims: "America," he said, "is full of fear from its north to its south," and Americans "will never feel safe until we and the Palestinians feel safe." "Its greatest buildings are destroyed," he hissed, agreeing with Jerry Falwell that "here is America struck by God Almighty," and adding that "America is tasting now only a copy of what we have tasted."
In what amounts to an open admission of responsibility for the 9/11 attacks, bin Laden wrapped his monstrous confession in the rhetoric of vengeance, in effect saying: feel our pain. He is claiming the right of retaliation when he says "Our Islamic nation has been tasting the same for more 80 years, of humiliation and disgrace, its sons killed and their blood spilled, its sanctities desecrated." In this first fusillade in the propaganda war, bin Laden used all the weapons at his disposal. "A million innocent children are dying at this time as we speak," he said, "killed in Iraq without any guilt." An American reporter, Leslie Stahl, brought this issue up to then US secretary of state Madeleine Albright in an infamous 1996 interview:
Leslie Stahl: "We have heard that a half million children have died (as a result of sanctions against Iraq). I mean, that is more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?"
Madeleine Albright: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price, we think the price is worth it."
~ Sixty Minutes, May 12, 1996
To win the war on terrorism, the US is going to have to come up with a different answer than the one offered by Mad Madeleine.
"Israeli tanks rampage across Palestine," continued bin Laden, his soft voice and gentle eyes a bizarre counterpoint to the unrelenting harshness of his message. The voice of pure evil, and a very effective evil one that contains within it a grain of truth: Israeli tanks barrel into "Ramallah, Rafah and Beit Jala and many other parts of the land of Islam, and we do not hear anyone raising his voice or reacting. But when the sword fell upon America after 80 years, hypocrisy raised its head up high bemoaning those killers who toyed with the blood, honor and sanctities of Muslims." Here he is speaking directly to the Arab "street," while also taunting his Western enemies: he scores points with the former by not only pointing out the hypocrisy of the West, but also in holding it accountable.
The Bush administration knows how very effective this line of argument is in the Middle East: the appeal of bin Ladens message goes way beyond the ultra-fundamentalist faction of Islam represented by the Taliban. No wonder Colin Powell is putting pressure on the Qatari authorities to close down Aljazeera TV, ironically one of the few freewheeling and uncensored media outlets in the region.
This unusual broadcast by bin Laden clarifies two issues beyond any possibility of doubt:
1) The Al Qaeda terror network and Osama bin Laden personally are responsible for the 9/11 atrocity, and the US is fully justified in going after them and ripping up this order of assassins root and branch.
2) In order to win the war against terrorism, America will have to change its foreign policy. If the Bush administration is now engaged in an effort to win over Muslim hearts and minds, then a wide-ranging review of US policy perspectives in the Middle East is in order. Unconditional support not only for Israel but for the decadent and tottering Saudi regime everything must be put on the table.
The Ladenite declaration of war clearly made before the US military assault also clarifies the role and program of the peace party: to limit this war as much as possible. Excluding pure pacifists, non-interventionists can make only one argument against this war: that it will have the exact opposite of its intended consequences, and that therefore American war aims must be narrowly focused on the elimination of the terrorist threat. A just war against bin Laden and Al Qaeda could easily escalate into a broader, regional war and then the world war metaphor so beloved by our pro-war intellectuals and pundits in the cheering section would become a grisly, bloody, futile reality.
Our argument against that kind of war is simple: it is not in Americas interest to take on the entire Muslim world. That the Bush administration agrees with this perspective is underscored by the Powellian strategy of building a broad coalition including Arab countries an effort which so enraged Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that he grotesquely likened it to Munich! Naturally, the Israelis are pursuing their own national interest, and one reason many Americans admire Sharon is that he does this so doggedly and unrelentingly. On the other hand, it is neither surprising nor any less admirable when an American President and his secretary of state pursue the same policy on behalf of our own nation.
The worst case scenario is a war, a world war, pitting the US and Israel against the worlds Muslims, and a good deal of the rest. Yet that is the war that is coming, unless principled non-interventionists unite around a program of limited war aims. "Peace now" is no longer a viable option, but, then again, neither is perpetual war.
Retaliation, yes occupation, no! That must be the battle-cry of the noninterventionist movement as we face a new challenge to our analysis. For once, America is fighting a defensive war, a just war at least, so far. But it is an almost effortless transition from a just war to a war of conquest, so that most never notice when that point has been passed and theres no turning back. Already the President has alluded to the postwar reconstruction of Afghanistan as comparable to the rebuilding and occupation of Japan and Germany. Of course, US soldiers are still occupying Germany and Japan, and the question is: will they be occupying Afghanistan 60 years after an American "victory." That would be a Pyhrric victory indeed, one that recalls the statement of old King Pyhrrus: "One more victory such as this and we are finished."
Promote? Sure, but at the point of a gun? Is that really promotion or is it enforcement? What founding document makes this REPUBLIC the world's policeman, anyway.
Democracy is not necessarily the best government for every people on the planet at every moment in time. We have no mandate or interest in shaping the world in our image. We should set an example, not policy, for other countries to follow.
One could also describe Israel as a "nationalist socialist" state. Of course, I would never do that ;)
Actually most Israelis are from Jews who fled Arab lands.
Yes, it would be a mistake to link arms with Israel and go into Afghanistan. But Bush isn't doing that.
It would be an even worse mistake to repudiate Israel and kowtow to Palestinian terrorists. It would be read as a sign of cowardice and lack of will all over the Arab world, just as Israel's ignominious retreat from Southern Lebanon under its previous government placated no one, but only encouraged the Palestinians to strike harder.
Bush should keep on message. Israel has very little to do with this attack, despite the talking heads. America was the object of Bin Laden's attack. Our response has nothing to do with Israel one way or the other. Rather, as Bush has said, we will pursue our enemies until we have defeated them, by simple right of self-defense.
Well, I don't think he is saying that is what we are doing. He is merely warning against it.
Raimondo: "Our argument against that kind of war is simple: it is not in Americas interest to take on the entire Muslim world. That the Bush administration agrees with this perspective is underscored by the Powellian strategy of building a broad coalition including Arab countries....For once, America is fighting a defensive war, a just war at least, so far. But it is an almost effortless transition from a just war to a war of conquest, so that most never notice when that point has been passed and theres no turning back."
Raimondo is stating his preference that, as the war progresses, we continue to follow the lead of Gen. Powell and the President rather than Wolfowitz, Perle, etc. who are clamoring for a much wider conflict that could ignite WWIII.
Maybe you would like the USA government to give parts of our nation to Mexico, and the rest to various Indian tribes, where they can proove that they really ARE Indians. Then , let's make England give their land back to ... ? Hmmmmmmmm ... the Normans ? No, the were French and invaded. Oopps ... but the Normans were really Germans. Oh, and before that ? Well okay, wha about the Angles ? Oh dear, another invader and Germanic. The Saxons ? See the Normans and the Angles. Oh dear, oh dear. Your proposition is even more ridiculous, than mine.
How about we fid the Cannanites, and give them back ALL the territory covered by Israel. Oh gee........the Hebrews killed and / or intermarried with them. Sooooo, I guess that Israel REALLY does belong to those modern day Israelis. So there !
Can you provide a map of Palestine?
Question: Name the four least credible sources of how to deal with anti-American attackers and their sympathizers.
By the way, I don't appreciate being called an anti-semite simply because I refuse to wolf down pro-Israeli propaganda lock stock in barrel. You're not going to get a true picture of events unfolding in Palestine from the mainstream media.
Incidentally, you've violated the rules regarding "no personal attacks" by trotting out your virulent anti-semitic charge. It's a cheap shot that is a favorite tactic of leftwing extremists and, apparently, some Freepers.