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Krauthammer: The Enemy Is Not Islam. It Is Nihilism
The Weekly Standard ^ | 10/22/2001 | Charles Krauthammer

Posted on 10/14/2001 9:30:12 PM PDT by Pokey78

Why everything is at stake.

EUROPE'S GREAT RELIGIOUS WARS ended in 1648. Three and a half centuries is a long time, too long for us in the West to truly believe that people still slaughter others to vindicate the faith.

Thus in the face of radical Islamic terrorism that murders 6,000 innocents in a day, we find it almost impossible to accept at face value the reason offered by the murderers. Yet Osama bin Laden could not be clearer. Jihad has been declared against the infidel, whose power and influence thwart the triumph of Islam, and whose success and example--indeed, whose very existence--are an affront to the true faith. As a leader of Hamas declared at a rally three days after the World Trade Center attack, "the only solution is for Bush to convert to Islam."

To Americans, who are taught religious tolerance from the cradle, who visit each other's churches for interdenominational succor and solidarity, this seems simply bizarre. On September 25, bin Laden issues a warning to his people that Bush is coming "under the banner of the cross." Two weeks later, in his pre-taped post-attack video, he scorns Bush as "head of the infidels."

Can he be serious? This idea is so alien that our learned commentators, Western and secular, have gone rummaging through their ideological attics to find more familiar terms to explain why we were so savagely attacked: poverty and destitution in the Islamic world; grievances against the West, America, Israel; the "wretched of the earth"--Frantz Fanon's 1960s apotheosis of anti-colonialism--rising against their oppressors.

Reading conventional notions of class struggle and anti-colonialism into bin Laden, the Taliban, and radical Islam is not just solipsistic. It is nonsense. If poverty and destitution, colonialism and capitalism are animating radical Islam, explain this: In March, the Taliban went to the Afghan desert where stood great monuments of human culture, two massive Buddhas carved out of a cliff. At first, Taliban soldiers tried artillery. The 1,500-year-old masterpieces proved too hardy. The Taliban had to resort to dynamite. They blew the statues to bits, then slaughtered 100 cows in atonement--for having taken so long to finish the job.

Buddhism is hardly a representative of the West. It is hardly a cause of poverty and destitution. It is hardly a symbol of colonialism. No. The statues represented two things: an alternative faith and a great work of civilization. To the Taliban, the presence of both was intolerable.

The distinguished Indian writer and now Nobel Prize winner V.S. Naipaul, who has chronicled the Islamic world in two books ("Among the Believers" and "Beyond Belief"), recently warned (in a public talk in Melbourne before the World Trade Center attack), "We are within reach of great nihilistic forces that have undone civilization." In places like Afghanistan, "religion has been turned by some into a kind of nihilism, where people wish to destroy themselves and destroy their past and their culture . . . to be pure. They are enraged about the world and they wish to pull it down." This kind of fury and fanaticism is unappeasable. It knows no social, economic, or political solution. "You cannot converge with this [position] because it holds that your life is worthless and your beliefs are criminal and should be extirpated."

This insight offers a needed window on the new enemy. It turns out that the enemy does have recognizable analogues in the Western experience. He is, as President Bush averred in his address to the nation, heir to the malignant ideologies of the 20th century. In its nihilism, its will to power, its celebration of blood and death, its craving for the cleansing purity that comes only from eradicating life and culture, radical Islam is heir, above all, to Nazism. The destruction of the World Trade Center was meant not only to wreak terror. Like the smashing of the Bamiyan Buddhas, it was meant to obliterate greatness and beauty, elegance and grace. These artifacts represented civilization embodied in stone or steel. They had to be destroyed.

This worship of death and destruction is a nihilism of a ferocity unlike any since the Nazis burned books, then art, then whole peoples. Goebbels would have marvelled at the recruitment tape for al Qaeda, a two-hour orgy of blood and death: image after image of brutalized Muslims shown in various poses of victimization, followed by glorious images of desecration of the infidel--mutilated American soldiers in Somalia, the destruction of the USS Cole, mangled bodies at the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Throughout, the soundtrack endlessly repeats the refrain "with blood, with blood, with blood." Bin Laden appears on the tape to counsel that "the love of this world is wrong. You should love the other world...die in the right cause and go to the other world." In his October 9 taped message, al Qaeda spokesman Sulaiman abu Ghaith gloried in the "thousands of young people who look forward to death, like the Americans look forward to living."

Once again, the world is faced with a transcendent conflict between those who love life and those who love death both for themselves and their enemies. Which is why we tremble. Upon witnessing the first atomic bomb explode at the Trinity site at Alamogordo, J. Robert Oppenheimer recited a verse from the Hindu scripture "Bhagavad Gita": "Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds." We tremble because for the first time in history, nihilism will soon be armed with the ultimate weapons of annihilation. For the first time in history, the nihilist will have the means to match his ends. Which is why the war declared upon us on September 11 is the most urgent not only of our lives, but in the life of civilization itself.



Charles Krauthammer is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard.


TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs
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1 posted on 10/14/2001 9:30:12 PM PDT by Pokey78
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To: Pokey78
bttt
2 posted on 10/14/2001 9:36:02 PM PDT by 1rudeboy
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To: Pokey78
bump
3 posted on 10/14/2001 9:39:43 PM PDT by FReethesheeples
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To: Pokey78
He's wrong, of course. It might look like Nihilism, but it really is Islam. Sorry.
4 posted on 10/14/2001 9:40:43 PM PDT by jlogajan
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To: Pokey78
The Nihilists were also out to get the Big Lebowski's money.
5 posted on 10/14/2001 9:41:26 PM PDT by mcurb
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To: Pokey78
This blows the isolationist/pacificist/Buchananite argument out of the water. It does not matter to the enemy what US foreign policy has been or should be. They simply want to destroy us. Therefore we must destroy them first.
6 posted on 10/14/2001 9:45:01 PM PDT by StockAyatollah
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To: jlogajan
Yep. Islam is a cult of death and destruction with tens of millions of followers. We see them, we hear them, and the rest of the Muslims remain silent, thus giving their tacit approval.
7 posted on 10/14/2001 9:46:03 PM PDT by onyx
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To: Pokey78
Fairly definitive, but the only real nihilism in this article (as I have come to know the term) is in Charles' refusal to state the issues in terms of good vs. evil. That makes him nihilistic insofar as the term includes the abnegation of right and wrong values.

No, what we are seeing in Bin Laden and his ilk can all be justified within Islam itself when Islam really wants to show its upraised rear end to the world. The Islamic world is coalescing around this guy as though he were the Makhdi. More and more of them are voicing their allegiance to him and their belief in his ability to triumph. Islam, like Nazism and Communism before it, dooms adherents to some rather fatuous and fanatical flights of fancy.

8 posted on 10/14/2001 9:50:28 PM PDT by Migraine
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To: StockAyatollah
This blows the isolationist/pacificist/Buchananite argument out of the water.

Sure does. We haven't heard much from old Pat lately. Last time I looked up he was talking up that tired old "we need to understand what motivates these people" line. Maybe he figured out that at least 92% of the American public wasn't going to buy it. Good riddance as far as I'm concerned. But I'm sure he will be back.

9 posted on 10/14/2001 9:58:09 PM PDT by InterceptPoint
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To: jlogajan
Traditional Islam, through a long process of dialectics, csame to terms with the world. But these "reformers" turn their back on history and that tradition, and try to fit the incomprehendable word of God into their little minds. No wonder they are enraged.
10 posted on 10/14/2001 10:00:35 PM PDT by RobbyS
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To: Pokey78
Neocon Krauthammer is desperate for a new tack to inspire the masses to go to a war. His and his neocon buddies' agenda is transparent -- America must fight Israel's war.
11 posted on 10/14/2001 10:05:15 PM PDT by madrussian
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Kinda reminds me of Beneath the Planet of the Apes(the eggheads with the nuke).
12 posted on 10/14/2001 10:10:22 PM PDT by Diddle E. Squat
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Comment #13 Removed by Moderator

To: abwehr
Escalating the war to include all the favorite Israel's enemies is what Israel's war is. America is in the war of retaliation.
14 posted on 10/14/2001 10:26:16 PM PDT by madrussian
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To: mcurb
The Nihilists were also out to get the Big Lebowski's money.

"Nihilists? Say what you will about National Socialism - at least it's an ethos..."

;)
15 posted on 10/14/2001 10:31:37 PM PDT by general_re
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To: StockAyatollah
Total garbage on your part. Isolationism doesn't mean not punishing those that hit you first. It means you go around playing Globalist which is the policy you seem to favor which has been a miserable failure.

GO PAT GO! AMERICA FIRST!!!

16 posted on 10/14/2001 10:34:28 PM PDT by Greg Weston
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To: abwehr
Don't be a simpleton. The jihadists did not destroy the Bamiyan Buddhas because of a Jewish connection. There is no Jewish connection in the South Philippines, Indonesia, Kashmir, Chechnya, Sudan, Algeria, Nigeria, etc etc.

The problem is the insane death cult called radical islam.

17 posted on 10/14/2001 10:36:03 PM PDT by Travis McGee
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To: InterceptPoint
"But I'm sure he will be back."

And you would be wise to heed Mr.Buchanan's words instead of twisting them. Your brand of foreign interventionism has been a terrible failure. Deal with it. GO PAT GO!!! AMERICA FIRST!!!

18 posted on 10/14/2001 10:38:47 PM PDT by Greg Weston
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To: Greg Weston
Correction... It means you DON'T go around playing Globalist which is the policy many neocons seem to favor which has been a miserable failure. When are the neo CON frauds going to learn?
19 posted on 10/14/2001 10:42:02 PM PDT by Greg Weston
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Comment #20 Removed by Moderator

To: StoneColdGOP; dubyaismypresident; rockchalkjayhawk; 2Jedismom; beowolf; TheOtherOne; dennisw...
BUMP!
21 posted on 10/14/2001 11:05:26 PM PDT by Cool Guy
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To: Lent
bump
22 posted on 10/14/2001 11:07:23 PM PDT by monkeyshine
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To: Travis McGee
The problem is the insane death cult called radical islam.

Krauthammer nails it here::

In its nihilism, its will to power, its celebration of blood and death, its craving for the cleansing purity that comes only from eradicating life and culture, radical Islam is heir, above all, to Nazism.

This article lays it all out.

23 posted on 10/14/2001 11:07:53 PM PDT by quimby
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To: abwehr
Here we have Bush, engaging in a rather meaningless fight over Afghanistan ( Norway) as he tries to avoid the all out conflict that looms on the horizon.

The longest journey begins with one step.

24 posted on 10/14/2001 11:10:58 PM PDT by quimby
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To: StockAyatollah
They simply want to destroy us. Therefore we must destroy them first.

I think you are exactly right. It really does boil down to this simple statement. My question is, does the rest of America see it that way? Joe six pack might, the media no, the intelligentia maybe. America as a whole? I wish I knew for sure.

If the Anthrax BS gets linked back to Irag, it will be fascinating to see the answer develop.

25 posted on 10/14/2001 11:16:58 PM PDT by vikzilla
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To: abwehr; FITZ; Manny Festo; Lent; patent; dennisw; Sabertooth; harpseal
Without a doubt, we are standing on the edge of an unimaginable few years.

There are so many variables, (China etc) that predictions aren't worth much, but I think that OBL will get his holy war between Islam and the West.

More terrorism in the USA will lead to US strikes beyond Afganistan. ("The Bush Doctrine.")

The brainwashed zombie moslems from the Philippines to Nigeria are going to go berzerk, killing every Westerner they can get their hands on, Algerian style.

Major Western rescue operations will be mounted to save besieged Western enclaves, this will be seen as "crusaders invading the Islamic world".

At some point the oil gets cut off, as regimes topple and new anti Western "Ayatollahs" come to power.

More terrorism in the West will belatedly lead to internment and deportation of Moslems, beginning with non-citizens, and working outward to recently naturalized citizens, as the terrorism continues.

In a few years we will arrive at a total defacto split between the West and Islam. No trade, no travel, no jets, no ships.

This will lead to an economic depression in the West as we absorb an oil shock worse than 73-74. But we will work out of it as we replace supplies: the market will work, oil is just another fungible commodity in the end.

In the Islamic nations the economic split will lead to starvation, civil war, disease, and anarchy, with many Islamic capitols resembling Mogadishu or Kabul as warlord chieftans battle for the rubble. Only this time, no Western food or medical aid will be forthcoming.

A few Islamic nations may come out of their civil wars with a local "Attaturk" in charge who will crush the Islamists and enforce strictly secular states. They will be able to rejoin the civilized world.

Of course, it could veer into unexpected directions, then all bets are off. (Chinese invasions of Taiwan, Malaysia, Philippines etc. in response to Chinese economic depression for one example.)

26 posted on 10/14/2001 11:19:44 PM PDT by Travis McGee
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To: madrussian
Escalating the war to include all the favorite Israel's enemies is what Israel's war is. America is in the war of retaliation.

A good point, and not to be ignored.

But keep in mind, most of these enemies of Isreal have no love for us, and will become our enemies if not dealt with. Whether or not this was just Isreal's war to begin with, it's ours now as well. Has been since 91101.

27 posted on 10/14/2001 11:24:06 PM PDT by cold_vicious_logic
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To: Pokey78
It might not be nihilism in the strict sense. These people have a method to their religious madness, with definite goals and beliefs. This means it may be possible at least in principle to short circuit them. I fear, however, that America is too peecee to do things like killing terrorists with larded bullets and burying them in pigskins, which worked for the British decades ago. But again, maybe these new Muslims don't really care (they didn't seem to care about carousing in bars before they hijacked our planes).
28 posted on 10/14/2001 11:27:34 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck
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To: Travis McGee
If anything serious gets between the USA and its oil supply, it will be like a mother bear separated from her cubs. We would probably bomb Baghdad and its ilk out of existence rather than suffer that.
29 posted on 10/14/2001 11:32:00 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck
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To: Travis McGee
Of course, it could veer into unexpected directions, then all bets are off. (Chinese invasions of Taiwan, Malaysia, Philippines etc. in response to Chinese economic depression for one example.)

It would seem that china would prefer their confrontation with us would be somewhere in the future. But sooner or later.

30 posted on 10/14/2001 11:34:44 PM PDT by quimby
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To: Travis McGee
Gee whillikers. You are such a BUMMER. You need veykeyshun. 8^O
31 posted on 10/14/2001 11:37:30 PM PDT by mercy
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To: HiTech RedNeck
If anything serious gets between the USA and its oil supply, it will be like a mother bear separated from her cubs. We would probably bomb Baghdad and its ilk out of existence rather than suffer that.

And what if they (Al qaeda) blow up the oil fields? As Rumsfeld said, this is a war unlike previous wars.

32 posted on 10/14/2001 11:38:06 PM PDT by quimby
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To: Pokey78
Goebbels would have marvelled at the recruitment tape for al Qaeda, a two-hour orgy of blood and death: image after image of brutalized Muslims shown in various poses of victimization, followed by glorious images of desecration of the infidel--mutilated American soldiers in Somalia, the destruction of the USS Cole, mangled bodies at the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Throughout, the soundtrack endlessly repeats the refrain "with blood, with blood, with blood."

WHAT! No scenes from Chechnya where they slice the heads off captured Russian soldiers. This is favorite Jihadist video footage and can be purchased from the right people. Krauthammer is right about the blood blood blood part.

33 posted on 10/14/2001 11:38:47 PM PDT by dennisw
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To: mercy
Hey, that's my best case scenario! (Except the part about China.)
34 posted on 10/14/2001 11:52:10 PM PDT by Travis McGee
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To: quimby
And what if they (Al qaeda) blow up the oil fields?

There are others.

35 posted on 10/15/2001 12:06:49 AM PDT by cold_vicious_logic
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To: mercy; Travis McGee
Gee whillikers. You are such a BUMMER. You need veykeyshun. 8^O

He's being optimistic.  The middle east will come out
radioactive.

36 posted on 10/15/2001 12:09:47 AM PDT by gcruse
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To: quimby
They can't "blow up" the underground oil.
37 posted on 10/15/2001 12:13:57 AM PDT by HiTech RedNeck
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To: jlogajan
He's wrong, of course. It might look like Nihilism, but it really is Islam.

He is right. It is nihilism, with an Islamic Justification. They really do want to return to the "pure" life of the dark ages. The Arabic countries were ahead of the west in the sciences and Art, until the scourge of Islam laid waste to their civilizations. They have never recovered. Every country they take over slides into the pit of the dark ages with feudal warlords, slavery, polygamy and abject poverty. Any schooling beyond the third grade is squelched for the "higher learning" of the Koran. They fear any higher schooling because it causes the people to question the rule of the religious leaders. Europe came out of the dark ages with the separation of Church and State to remove the scepter of God from the hands of men. America improved on that by founding a Godly nation with the scepter of God in the hands of the people.

That by the way is no longer true for the State has adopted the religion of Atheism with the invention of humanism as God. That caused the people who held the scepter to believe They were god. Big mistake. In our pride we slept while the State stole the scepter back from our hands. The recent reinterpretation of the law that the State shall not infringe the rights of worship of the people to “Separation of Church and State” has allowed the scepter of “god” back into the hands of the State. Now the State makes laws on the rights of worship on a group by group basis. America is no longer free, and has fallen quite far into the pit of the dark ages in the last generation. We are dumbing down our schools for the very same reasons that the Islamic Clerics did. We just have Humanist Clerics like Hildabeast “it takes a village” instead of Islamic ones. We no longer have the moral vision to stand up to Islam, so Islam has risen again. It was the Christian’s who defeated Islam last time. Who has the vision to do it now? I am sure Hildabeast will hold hands with them and sing Kumbyia, Just like Bush is doing.

38 posted on 10/15/2001 12:15:08 AM PDT by American in Israel
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To: gcruse
For true. So might bits of the USA.

(Do you think they will still go on pigrimages to a big radioactive crater?)

39 posted on 10/15/2001 12:15:20 AM PDT by Travis McGee
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To: American in Israel
WOW. That was good. Mind if I rummage around in your bookmarks? {%*>
40 posted on 10/15/2001 12:20:51 AM PDT by mercy
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To: quimby
"In its nihilism, its will to power, its celebration of blood and death, its craving for the cleansing purity that comes only from eradicating life and culture, radical Islam is heir, above all, to Nazism. "

Bush talked about the "will to power" in his speech to Congress. Bush KNOWS what we are up against.

41 posted on 10/15/2001 12:21:38 AM PDT by Theresa
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To: Pokey78
"We are within reach of great nihilistic forces that have undone civilization." In places like Afghanistan, "religion has been turned by some into a kind of nihilism, where people wish to destroy themselves and destroy their past and their culture . . . to be pure. They are enraged about the world and they wish to pull it down." This kind of fury and fanaticism is unappeasable. It knows no social, economic, or political solution. "You cannot converge with this [position] because it holds that your life is worthless and your beliefs are criminal and should be extirpated."

This sums up perfectly why they must be destroyed. It will not end, otherwise.

Concerning the Nazi analogy -- Nazis themselves wanted to live; these radical muslims want to die killing infidels.

42 posted on 10/15/2001 12:23:59 AM PDT by Lizzy W
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To: abwehr
Have you gotten the feeling that the current situation is a lot like the 'Sitzkreig' in Europe following the German conquest of Poland.

And maybe some "appeasement?" Can you say "Palestinian State?"

43 posted on 10/15/2001 12:27:47 AM PDT by truth_seeker
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To: Travis McGee
(Do you think they will still go on pigrimages to a big radioactive crater?)

We can only hope :)

44 posted on 10/15/2001 12:28:39 AM PDT by Lizzy W
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To: HiTech RedNeck
They can't "blow up" the underground oil.

Thats ok, I really didn't expect you to understand, but I tried.

45 posted on 10/15/2001 12:29:14 AM PDT by quimby
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To: Pokey78
"the only solution is for Bush to convert to Islam."

Oh, there's one other solution: We kill you.

46 posted on 10/15/2001 12:32:49 AM PDT by Timesink
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To: American in Israel
We no longer have the moral vision to stand up to Islam, so Islam has risen again.

I guess we will have to rely on our instinct, for simple survival. Recall WWII, and 'awaking the sleeping giant.'

We had better be reminding our fellow Americans that 11 Sep. 2001 was DIRECT ATTACK ON OUR LANDS AND CITIZENS, and MURDERED MORE AMERICANS THAN PEARL HARBOR.

Pray we respond with the same single-mindedness. Pray and do our parts.

47 posted on 10/15/2001 12:38:05 AM PDT by truth_seeker
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To: Pokey78
Thank you for this definitive post. To CORRECTLY identify what we are up against, it is required that one drop the comfort of the more common, human contexts, (i.e. politics, economics, religion) that often lend a framework for understanding.

What is seems to me Krauthammer is saying is that the Bin Ladens and the Hitlers of the world are "outside of the square" of humanity. They have crossed over a line that says that death takes precedence over any discussion or argument regarding politics, economics, or religion, which are areas that ASSUME that what is at stake, for either side in the debate, is the most optimal condition for life, NOT LIFE ITSELF.

48 posted on 10/15/2001 12:54:19 AM PDT by StealthChild
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To: quimby
Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids.
49 posted on 10/15/2001 1:05:41 AM PDT by HiTech RedNeck
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To: quimby
And what if they (Al qaeda) blow up the oil fields? As Rumsfeld said, this is a war unlike previous wars.

They wouldn't want to permanently cut off their supply of cash they need to become a unified empire. Besides, oil can be had from other places such as Venezuela, Mexico, North Sea, Texas, etc., at a price, but if the economy goes into recession, the lack of demand will bring the price down anyway. If the economy grows along with high oil prices, alternative energy sources and conservation will mitigate demand and again keep a lid on prices. Either way.

50 posted on 10/15/2001 1:18:57 AM PDT by Concentrate
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