9/12 - The next day

Two years and one day after the tragedy, it is time to reevaluate our responses. If it was in fact an attack on our freedom then is our freedom any better served or has it been trampled? If it was instead a retribution for some slight, real or imagined, have we done anything to bridge our differences? Above all, no matter the motive of the attackers, have we found the attackers and sought restitution, sought justice? Have we learned anything?

Assuming for a moment that the attackers hate our freedom for some reason (which I do not believe), then loss of freedom, loss of liberty, is a win for the attacker. Our government has turned the screening of passengers into a federal bureaucracy, has given unchecked power to various law enforcement agencies, and created an extra-constitutional legal system.

A nun is no longer permitted to fly and the books one reads or checks out at a library can be monitored by the FBI without warrant. Products necessary to many hobbyists and amateur scientists are no longer for sale, because the buyer might be a terrorist. In everything, a citizen or guest of this country is assumed to be a terrorist. If the government should not like a citizen, he can be declared a non-citizen without trial and sent to Guantanamo to be tried by a kangaroo court. It is clear that our freedoms have been restricted. Have we gained any security? An ABCNews story casts a considerable amount of doubt on whether security is any better. Even a little thought towards how to get around airport security will yield innumerable ways to get a weapon onboard a commercial airliner. While I seriously doubt that anyone would be able to hijack an aircraft if they did get weapons on board, it is not because of any government action. No action on the part of government has made us any more secure, in fact, the lives of those who would speak loudly against the government are much less secure. Security can be provided in two ways: Lock everyone up such that noone can ever get to them, or trust and allow a free people to take care of themselves. Free people rushed the cabin on the hijacked flight that went down near Somerset,Pa.

If the attack was in retribution for against some perceived evil, what evil was perceived, and in whose eyes? Are we able to do anything about it, can we change the perception? Are we in fact guilty? I do not believe the U.S. has ever been saintly in our wars and foreign policy, but neither do I believe we have ever been malicious in intent. Apparently, someone believes we are sufficiently malicious to strike out at us. Is it for maintaining forces in Kuwait and Saudi, is it for support of Israel or is it something else altogether? Is there a way to better the perception? We know that all human action is intended to make things better for the actor, so how do the attackers think the attack would make things better for them? Know thine enemy. We do not know him. We think it is Al-Queda, but I do not recall any proof of this, or even sufficient evidence to meet the reasonable doubt requirement of our criminal justice system. We are not making any effort to understand his motives, we just assume we know them.

Regardless of the above, what have we done to find the remaining perpetrators? The US$25 million bounty is an insultingly low amount for someone who is thought to be the leader and brains behind the 9/11 attacks. The invasion of Afghanistan has not accomplished our objectives, even though the side effects may be desirable. We do not even know for sure that Bin Laden and company are at fault. We know that they enjoyed watching it, but that is not the same as guilt. Terrorist acts still occur for any reason, terrorist activity does not seem to be decreasing, in fact it seems to be increasing. We are not winning the War on Terror, we are at best at a standstill and at worst slowly losing. Why? What are we doing wrong? Why are we still doing the same thing? Why not offer real rewards for information and capture of the perpetrators: US$1 billion for evidence leading to conviction, and US$1 billion for bringing in the perps. If that doesn't bring them in by December 31, up the offers by a factor of two. Lather, Rinse, Repeat until they are all locked up.

Unfortunately I cannot present answers for most of these questions, I do not even know they are the right questions. What are the right questions? How should they be asked? How do we get the answers? I know things are not going right, but that does not require great visual acuity. It is time to honestly evaluate our policies. We may never forget, but have we actually learned anything?

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To be sure, U.S. foreign

To be sure, U.S. foreign policy has definitely had its flaws and enacted needless meddlesome activities in the past and now. But dotting the landscape of the Middle East are the radical Islamic 'schools' called madrasses, which are essentially vitriolic indoctrination centers light years removed from moderate Islam. The topics of discussion within these walls likely don?t focus on differences between the West and the Middle East, naming individuals who are responsible for their grievances, and discussing how said problems can be solved with some semblance of diplomacy and education.

No, I would imagine the language is more of the "drive the Jews into the sea" and "kill Americans wherever you find them" variety, all presented as if given the stamp of approval by a higher power. According to these speeches, the West is a free-wheeling ogre responsible for all that is wrong and unjust in the world, deflecting blame from their failed, and often corrupt, domestic autocracies and patriarchal tribal warlords. All this finds a receptive audience of impressionable youths looking for answers to life's questions. While these madrasses ? and its white-hot form of wahabbism ? continue to exist, there?s little hope of liberalization and modernization in the backroads of the Mideast. As to what one can do to help eradicate this level of thinking, I don?t have the answer either.

The world will never fully free itself terrorism, regardless of what anyone says or does. It may ebb and flow, back and forth; but blowing things up, creating mayhem, and watching it on the news later is too insatiable for radicals with a cause, be it in Columbia, Bali, or Oklahoma City.

Also, in my own opinion of course, I believe bin Laden and his Taleban clients did more than just "enjoy watching" the WTC fall, and are/were physical supporters, trainers, and financers of global cells. I?m still ambivalent and question many facets of the Iraq campaign, but I agreed with using force to remove the Taleban.

Dave, I fully agree that

Dave,

I fully agree that even if one disagrees that the terrorists 'won', it is becoming more evident that Americans 'lost' at least some portion of what America ought to represent - liberty. The Federal Government is growing larger at a faster pace than in recent history, and personal liberties are at high risk.

However, I must take issue with a couple of your statements:

We think it is Al-Queda, but I do not recall any proof of this, or even sufficient evidence to meet the reasonable doubt requirement of our criminal justice system.

The first Bin Laden videotape was pretty damning evidence that he and Al-Qaeda were behind the attacks. For example:

Bin Laden says they were surprised by the total collapse of the twin towers. He says al Qaeda calculations indicated the heat created by the burning planes full of fuel would melt the steel in the towers, but that only the floors above the point of impact would be destroyed.

Now, you might argue that this would not convict him in a court of law, and that perhaps they simply carried out the calculations but that someone else carried out the attacks, or that the US govt is simply making up the entire quote, but those theories are pretty far-fetched IMO.

Apparently, someone believes we are sufficiently malicious to strike out at us. Is it for maintaining forces in Kuwait and Saudi, is it for support of Israel or is it something else altogether? Is there a way to better the perception? We know that all human action is intended to make things better for the actor, so how do the attackers think the attack would make things better for them? Know thine enemy. We do not know him. [...] We are not making any effort to understand his motives, we just assume we know them.

He has made his motives pretty clear in the past. Some of his greivances do have to do with American forces in Saudi Arabia and support for Israel:

"We declared jihad against the US government, because the US government is unjust, criminal and tyrannical. It has committed acts that are extremely unjust, hideous and criminal whether directly or through its support of the Israeli occupation." - Osama bin Laden - to CNN in March 1997

However, most complaints are simply those of a collectivist and those of a religious lunatic:

"Every American man is an enemy to us." -- Independent.

"`I was never afraid of death ... As Muslims, we believe that when we die, we go to heaven. Before a battle, God sends us ... tranquility." -- Independent, 1993.

"We--with God's help--call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God's order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it. We also call on Muslim ulema, leaders, youths, and soldiers to launch the raid on Satan's U.S. troops and the devil's supporters allying with them, and to displace those who are behind them so that they may learn a lesson." Feb. 1998 - Bin Laden edict

This type of collectivism is no different than the envy that is at the root of Marxism. Instead of the the target class being the 'bourgeouis', it is 'Americans'. I have no wish to 'understand' the people who killed the innocent people in the Twin Towers, nor anyone who took pleasure in the bombings. I understand them well enough. They simply have no role in the civilized world.

Doug- But dotting the

Doug-
But dotting the landscape of the Middle East are the radical Islamic 'schools' called madrasses, which are essentially vitriolic indoctrination centers light years removed from moderate Islam. The topics of discussion within these walls likely don?t focus on differences between the West and the Middle East, naming individuals who are responsible for their grievances, and discussing how said problems can be solved with some semblance of diplomacy and education.
Nor are bridges only built by civilian contractors :-). The question then is what to do about theses madrasses? The long term plan would seem to be using Iraq as the counter-example to the indoctrination, but we seem to be feeding anti-U.S. sentiment rather than building pro-U.S. relations. But that is another issue.

Jonathon-
The first Bin Laden videotape was pretty damning evidence that he and Al-Qaeda were behind the attacks.
Or was Osama just talking to increase personal prestige? How much can we trust "evidence" brought forth by an organization that has been recently accused of chicanery to provide politically popular evidence? I believe Bin Laden is at the center of the attacks, but why is there so little evidence? Is a single videotape all that is necessary? Or is there lots of evidence that is being kept classified for "security" reasons?

I have no wish to 'understand' the people who killed the innocent people in the Twin Towers, nor anyone who took pleasure in the bombings. I understand them well enough. They simply have no role in the civilized world.

This is exactly why we will ultimately lose.

How do you counter the enemy's propoganda if you do not know the subtleties of his propoganda? How do you keep others from joining him? There is more to al-Qaeda than just blowing things up, to defeat them will require more than capturing or killing those involved in the 9/11 attacks. KNOW THE ENEMY! Understand him as you understand yourself, then you will have defeated him.

David, I enjoy your blog. I

David,

I enjoy your blog. I either agree with you or learn something from you - with the tragic exception of absolute failure to understand that 'Once More with Feeling' is clearly the best Buffy episode.

I was upset to find nothing agreeable and nothing to learn in this post. It would be helpful if sometime you could post your postive assessment of the world situation and the strategy you would follow. I can infer a little from your post but I would find it helpful to understand your complete analysis.

Paul

I enjoy your blog. I either

I enjoy your blog. I either agree with you or learn something from you

Thank you.

I was upset to find nothing agreeable and nothing to learn in this post

My humble apologies.

It would be helpful if sometime you could post your postive assessment of the world situation and the strategy you would follow.

Well I suppose that is the real problem here. As I said, it does not take a lot of effort to see that things are not as well as could be, but I do not know how to frame the set of issues, nor how to ask the questions such that the answers might lead to a better grasp of the situation and how to improve it. This is the only purpose of this particular entry - I'm asking for some help with this.

David, Thanks for the

David,

Thanks for the response. I was distinctly heartened to read that you are uncertain. I think the situation calls for massive amounts of doubt and uncertainty. I now am suspicious of any analysis which asserts or implies certain knowledge over a broad range of issues in the orbit of 9-11 influences and outcomes. I have given some thought to writing a 'how the world looks to me after 9-11' essay. If I find the time I will send you a link.

I found a analogy in world history in a suprising place. I recently read 'How the Scots Invented the Modern World'. I enjoy history and I was interested in the intellectual background of Adam Smith and David Hume. However, it was the chapter on the 1745 uprising and Bonnie Prince Charles that was most rewarding. Scotland integrated into England 50 years before the uprising. After an initial downturn, the economic and cultural life of lowland Scotland was booming. However, the highland Scots were left behind by the change. The resentment and humiliation of the highlanders acted as fuel for the political agendas of the Stuarts and the French. Bonnie Prince Charles used that fuel to get an army to within 120 miles of London.

The English response was to destroy the political and military will of the organizers and then integrate the highlanders into the British world through the completion of roads and the introducion of new technology (wooly sheep). I know from other sources that this transformation was brutal for the highlanders. It destroyed their culture and nearly 1,000,000 died in the economic shift to farm sheep from grazing herds.

I find the comparrison of the highlanders and the Islamic world interesting. The Islamist and pan-Arabic movements are rough equivalents to the Catholic Stuarts and Scottish nationalism. I think that the strategy of destroying the will of the Islamist and pan-Arabic movements is sound military strategy. I also think that the forceful integration of the Islamic culture into the modern world is the best, albeit risky, strategy.

The resentment and humiliation of the Islamic people is about the failure of their culture just a the highland Scot's culture failure led to resentment and humiliation. Ultimately, it is this we need to address. Hope is the remedy of resentment. When Islamic parents have hope that their children won't suffer their humiliation, they will less willing to sacrifice their children in war. I see no path to that future that doesn't involve war against the political entities (Al Quaida, Ba'athism, Wahabism and Sunni fundamentalism) that want to maintain the resentment because it serves their political purposes. I think any strategy that doesn't defeat the political will of those entities will result in delaying the war to the next generation and perhaps allowing the enemy to strengthen.

I get to my libretarian views through a fundemental pragmatism. Libretarian priciples work. Libretarian ideology is as totaliarian as every ideology. I support the overall war strategy of the Bush administration because I think it will work and most other strategies will fail. I am not naive. I know the price will be an increase in government corruption, coersion and incompetence. I am willing to pay the price and fix the mess later. Others weigh the balance the other way. I think they are mistaken.

Paul

what is the correct spelling

what is the correct spelling 'libretarian' or 'libertarian" and is there any difference in the definition?