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Leadership and Responsibility

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The first refuge of weak leaders is blaming mistakes on subordinates. It's unacceptable in the military, in corporate hierarchies, and in other settings where the responsibilities and authorities of leadership are understood and practiced. Harry Truman enshrined the concept with the famous maxim, "The buck stops here." The principle is that a leader is responsible for everything his or her organization does or fails to do. When a U.S. Navy ship runs aground, the captain of the ship isn't going to point to a junior officer who was serving as OOD (officer of the deck) and say, "It's not my fault; it's his fault!"

President Obama obviously doesn't understand this basic concept of leadership. When he finally got around to responding publicly to the incident of the Christmas underwear bomber, he tried to lay blame on the intelligence community. Not my fault, he was saying — they screwed up. What he doesn't understand is that they work for him, and he's responsible for what they do.

The President also doesn't understand another important principle of leadership. Good leaders give credit for success to their subordinates and take the blame for failures. Does anyone doubt that he would have made liberal use of the vertical pronoun in taking credit for a first year in office with no serious terrorism attempts?

It's also evident that Obama doesn't know much about intelligence. In that sense, he's no different from most politicians. They seem to think that providing enough dollars to the various intelligence agencies of the U.S. government will ensure that surprises never happen and threats never go undetected. The truth is that intelligence will always be imperfect because it deals with one huge uncertainty — what our enemies intend to do. In the wake of 9/11 the politicians decided to reorganize because they didn't understand why the attacks weren't anticipated and prevented. They added new layers of bureaucracy and management, but in the end, predictably, the system still misses small indicators out of the millions they have to deal with all the time.

If the President were a good leader, he would have taken responsibility for the failure of his government to identify and act on this threat. Then he would have worked internally to fix any weaknesses in the intelligence system and possibly fire anyone who was clearly responsible for failure at critical points. He may still do some of this, but we'll be able to judge how serious (and competent) he is by whether he forms a committee or commission to publicly find fault and recommend solutions. That's the politician's way, and it's intended primarily to deflect responsibility and present the image of action.

Meanwhile, the Christmas underwear bomber may have done us a favor. The Obama Administration, with strong support from the media, has attempted to de-emphasize the fact that we are at war. Whether it's called "the war on terror" or "the war against Islamist extremism" or something else, the key word is "war." If we understand the reality of what's happening to us and the nature of the unrelenting foe we face, then we will no longer be able to justify this as little more than a criminal justice problem. The underwear bomber is a foreign national who attempted to carry out a deadly attack on our homeland. But instead of treating him like the enemy combatant he is, he was arrested, given all the rights of a U.S. citizen, and promptly "lawyered-up." Instead of interrogating him like a prisoner of war, all we can hope to do is make a deal with him for a lighter sentence if he'll give us information that might help prevent a future attack. That's an absurd reaction to the threat we face, and this case may generate needed changes — if not from the government, then from an alarmed public.

President Obama needs to adjust his attitude and begin behaving like a wartime leader. He's responsible for the security of the United States, and everything else must come second.

For additional information:

Intelligence Is a Terrible Thing to Waste, Gordon Crovitz, The Wall Street Journal
U.S. Intensifies Screening for Travelers From 14 Nations, The New York Times
Obama aide defends trial for suspect in Christmas Day attempt to bomb plane, The Washington Post

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About Tom Carter

  • pablo


  • Glenn Contrarian

    Colonel – After hearing the chorus of right-wing pundits calling for President Obama’s head for not personally accepting responsibility for the crotch bomber, I’ve got a few questions for those right-wing pundits.

    WHERE was the chorus of the holier-than-thou Right Wing when Bush 43 NEVER accepted the blame for 9/11? Even after (unlike Obama) Bush was specifically forewarned of the immanent nature of the attack?

    WHERE was the righteous indignation of the more-patriotic-than-thou conservatives when Bush 43 didn’t even mention the shoe bomber until NINE days after that particular failed attack? Especially since the shoe bomber’s attempt came, what, four months after 9/11?

    Your article is a wonderful example of something I’ve pointed out several times – that I can think of very, very few examples of accusations against Democrats by the Right Wing where Republican politicians are not guilty of the very same thing to a significantly greater degree.

    This is known as hypocrisy…and every single rightie who makes such rabid accusations against someone on the Left for doing something wrong, but who does NOT make the same accusations with equally rabid language against those on the Right who committed worse is a hypocrite.

    Perhaps you used the same accusatory language against Bush. I certainly wouldn’t know, and for that reason I will not accuse you of anything.

    But I will tell you this: your opinion needs to be put in an historical context. There are very, very few presidents who ever accepted responsibility for anything that went wrong. Neither Reagan nor Bush 41 ever accepted responsibility for Iran-Contra. Nixon never accepted responsibility for Watergate. Neither LBJ nor Kennedy accepted responsibility for Vietnam. Hoover never owned up to the Depression. Wilson never owned up to his stubborn ineptitude in his total lack of response to the 1918 H1N1 outbreak that killed nearly a million Americans (he never, ever mentioned it in public).

    Sure, Truman said “The buck stops here!” But did he accept responsibility for Julius and Ethel Rosenberg?

    Frankly, I can’t think of a single American president who hasn’t dodged the blame for something bad…and that begs the question of why? Yes, the president is the military commander-in-chief who is supposed to set the example for the those of us who serve(d) with honor – but the president isn’t a purely military figure, is he?

    No, he isn’t. He is by definition not just a politician, but the most powerful politician in the country and possibly the planet. This means that the example he sets might be very necessary to the political realities of the day as they apply to the best interests of the nation…and in such cases his first priority may not be satisfying the senses of military decorum that are peculiar to retired military such as you and I.

    Taken in an historical context, and compared against not only the successes but also the failures of his predecessors, and considering the charlie-fox that he was handed a year ago this coming 1/20, President Obama is doing quite well indeed. I’d say cut him some slack and please, please hold the conservatives to the same standard that they demand of the Democrats.

  • Ruvy

    Glenn, the Obamaman. All you ever do is defend this overeducated, overpaid lying piece of trash from Chicago’s Shit Row – the same place that produced Blagojevich and Rahm. And the same city, I might add that made Al Capone, the mobster, killer and corrupter of the Middle West, famous.

    Bush was another overpaid not-so-educated failure from Texass – but at least he pretended to do something – and managed to get 8,000 Americans (5,000 casualties overseas and 3,000 dead from a terrorist attack) killed in the process. I won’t defend that stupid monkey. But you shouldn’t defend the lazy monkey in the White House today.

    Glenn Obamaman – yup, title fits you to a “t”.

  • Glenn, I don’t disagree with you that few politicians are good leaders, and I don’t defend Bush in this regard. But you need to get over it where Bush is concerned — he’s history, and his failures as a leader don’t excuse or mitigate Obama’s.

    It would seem that your ideology demands that you label as a right-winger anyone who criticizes President Obama. The fact is, I want him to succeed because that means success for the country. However, his lack of executive experience and leadership skills is becoming more and more evident. Standing before the country and trying to deflect blame for failure onto those who work for him is just the latest example.

  • zingzing

    ruvy: “this overeducated, overpaid”

    first, do you know how much presidents are paid? maybe you’re making a point… but maybe you aren’t.

    second, what’s wrong with education? unless one defers life and becomes a professional student, i’m not sure how it’s even possible to be “overeducated.”

    where did this anti-smart shit come from anyway?

  • Baronius

    Tom – Good article. I liked your last one too, even if I didn’t agree with all of it.

    I agree that the president cannot scapegoat. Still, leadership does require setting standards and holding people responsible, and Secretary Napolitano failed both in the day-to-day performance of her job and in her public declaration that the system worked. At what point does it become necessary to reprimand in public?

  • Actually, a fairly balanced article, Glenn – not much there to take objection to when it comes to the concept of leadership.

    The latter part starting with page two is another story, but you, being an ex-Navy man, might well agree with with Tom’s characterization.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Tom –

    FYI, I do disagree with several things that Obama’s done – but the matters on which I disagree with him are not part of the right wing’s attacks on him. I tend to stand not so much with the Democrats, but with the progressives – we’re further left than most Democrats, and most of us are disappointed in how he’s (1) caved to the health care industry, (2) given too much attention to the Republicans on the health care debate when they demand that their ideas be included on bills that they refuse to support anyway, (3) refused to prosecute those who ordered torture, (4) has not reinstated the regulations that protected our economy from the end of the Depression to the beginning of the Bush 43 debacle…

    …no, I am NOT an Obamaphile. But the matters where I’ve defended him have been without exception right-wing attacks that are ignorant of history, American tradition, international law, and simple common sense. If you post an article attacking Obama on one of the above issues, I’ll agree with you. But if you post an article that I feel contains the errors that I’ve enumerated, then I must defend him.

    And it’s not just Obama I’ve defended. I’ve also defended Reagan on BC because I feel that he deserves the credit for winning the Cold War and thus deserves to be known as one of our greatest five presidents. If you or anyone else here posts inaccuracies against Bush 43, I’ll defend Bush 43. If inaccuracies are posted even against Rove, Sun Myung Moon, Alberto Gonzales, or Jeffrey Dahmer, I’ll defend them.

    Why? I strive for FACT. Give me the FACTS, for I decide what I believe according to fact, and I refuse to allow what I want to believe to determine those facts.

  • Glenn,

    It’s part of the progressive mindset to subscribe to certain beliefs/ideals/values. That’s what makes a progressive.

    You haven’t arrived at this position by facts alone. Your value/belief system was more instrumental.

    Facts don’t make the world turn, but beliefs do.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    And as with other things, you’re right. Beliefs (and money) do make the world go round. But I think you must agree that the facts largely support the progressive mindset.

  • Right, Glenn, and I don’t deny your point and your context. But even so, friend, can’t you see how facts can be twisted – interpreted and misinterpreted – to fit the person’s belief/value system?

    Just think. Even in science, facts in and of themselves are useless unless they’re stringed along to fit a theory.

    It’s a theory or a view of the world – be it in the realm of natural or social sciences – which give sense to “the facts.” In the absence of that, facts are meaningless.

  • ‘The Obama Administration, with strong support from the media, has attempted to de-emphasize the fact that we are at war.’

    It must be the numerous occasions on which President Obama has referred to it as a war which led you to that conclusion.

    ‘But instead of treating him like the enemy combatant he is, he was arrested, given all the rights of a U.S. citizen, and promptly “lawyered-up.”‘

    Terrorists are common criminals, not combatants. Calling and handling them as such gives them validation they do not deserve.

    ‘Instead of interrogating him like a prisoner of war, all we can hope to do is make a deal with him for a lighter sentence if he’ll give us information that might help prevent a future attack.’

    Sure, because one terrorist getting off with a light sentence is far more dangerous than twenty terrorists taken out of play thanks to his information.

  • If Obama’s the president and he cannot assign blame, then everything is his fault.

    So THAT’S why Bush ruined everything!

  • Oh, come on, Matt, that’s not fair. You know perfectly well that Bush was too dumb to ruin anything. It was Cheney.

  • Good logic, ElB.

    Dreadful – I like your link. But I’m still inclined to think that characterizing our engagement with terrorism as war – as we usually understand the notion – is a willful mischaracterization.

    The very fact that we have a difficulty properly classifying “the enemy” – are they POW or just “enemy combatants,” a rather new term – is one example I can think of.

  • That’s right. Let’s lay the blame where the blame properly belongs. Don’t forget Karl Rove, though, and Rumsfeld, the real brains behind the Bush administration.

    You’ve still got to give him credit for picking the right advisors. At least he knew he wasn’t smart enough to run the ship of state. And that’s a plus.

  • The very fact that we have a difficulty properly classifying “the enemy” – are they POW or just “enemy combatants,” a rather new term – is one example I can think of.

    You’ve put your finger on one of the most interesting facets of the ‘War on Terror’, Rog. The previous Administration didn’t want to try captured terrorists in civilian courts because they were afraid they’d hide behind their civil rights, so they declared them not to be civilians. The snag there was that if you’re not a civilian you’re military, and military prisoners also have rights under the Geneva Conventions.

    So this new term was invented. The inescapable conclusion is that Uncle George… er, I mean Sam… didn’t want these captives to have any rights.

  • Baronius

    Or, Dread, the terrorists didn’t fit any traditional categories.

  • Which is precisely the point, Baronius. Which, if you take it to its logical conclusion, “War on Terror” is not war in the usual sense.

    It’s a misnomer, just like “War on Drugs” is.

    I wonder why.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    You’re absolutely right, Doc. By the conservatives’ ‘logic’, we should have treated Timothy McVeigh as a stateless person.

    Problem is, when we go down the road of declaring that certain people are not due simple human rights such as fair trials and freedom from torture, then we open the door to much worse abuses down the road.

    That’s why I will always – always! – believe that we should have prosecuted everyone who approved the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques”, because in the 1930’s, the National Socialists of Germany also used a program (with the SAME name (in German), IIRC), and the program had more safeguards than the EIT program did under the Bush administration.

    In my opinion, failure to prosecute for torture lays a dangerous precedent and keeps the door open for it to happen in the future.

    And a quick line to those conservatives who believe that torture is effective, bear in mind that I can ‘PROVE’ that each and every one of you planned and assisted in the execution of the 9/11 attacks. How can I ‘prove’ it? Easy. Give me a day to torture each of you with the tools I have down in the garage, and I can promise that each and every one of you will eagerly sign full and detailed confessions.

    THAT, sirs, is why torture doesn’t give good intel.

  • “Good logic, ElB.”

    Thanks, but where did it go?

  • jamminsue

    Opinion without knowledge is ugly (Plato Republic VI 506c)

  • Baronius

    But Roger, just because this isn’t a traditional war doesn’t mean we get to stop fighting it.

  • But the point is, Paronius, it’s a misrepresentation. Or, shall I say, the use of familiar terms to mobilize human and material resource under, again, shall I say? false pretenses.

    So why not call a spade a spade, is my question. And if we can’t for some unfathomable reason, if only because we’re at a loss for words, then perhaps it should be cause enough to re-think the entire enterprise – what in fact are we doing?

    Simply stated, it’s a matter of (current) practice preceding the evolution of the concept. And, I submit, unless we come up with a clear concept to describe our present engagement, the situation will keep on being murky. As of now, we’re venturing into the unknown. And without clear conception of what we’re actually doing, there’s neither rhyme or reason.

  • #21,

    I can’t help the action of the BC respondents or the powers that be.

  • Baronius

    This may not be a conventional war, but there’s no better word for describing it than “war”. It doesn’t have the traditional limits of battlefield or even of nation. But it’s not our incorrect label that makes the situation murky, it’s the situation itself. And we can’t put the situation on hold as we try to define it, because the people on the other side are still attacking us. They’re deliberately using the margins between definitions in order to attack us. By so doing, they forfeit the protections of the rules.

  • That’s a separate point and speaking perhaps to the adroitness of “the enemy.” But the very fact that we can’t find the appropriate language/concept to describe the condition is the problem.

    And when I say that, I’m not concerned so much with what “the enemy” is doing. I’m more concerned with the fact that given the absence of adequate conceptualization, WE don’t know what we’re doing.

  • STM


    Intelligence failure.

    Lunatic already stripped of British student visa for giving false info to UK immigration boards jet in Kenya bound for US, doesn’t go through European passport controls as he’s in transit, is therefore not picked up on the British watch list, and one presumes the British watch list has been shared with the US, but neverthless, somehow he slips the net cruises into sky above Detroit and almost manages to blast 200 people out of the sky with an undies bomb (bet there were some skidmarks on that pair).

    And of course, somehow this is all Obama’s fault.

    Please. What an absolute load of f.cking bollocks (and as a non-American, I couldn’t give a shit one way or the other about American political partisanship).

    But as an ex-military man, Tom knows perfectly well that this has nothing to do with Obama. The buck doesn’t stop with the person at the very top of the chain of command, and he knows it.

    (The Queen would now be in all kinds of strife if that were the case, and so would George W.Bush, who actually did make some ridiculous decisions)

    Intelligence failures happen 20 times a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Tom would know that very well.

    It’s not the first intelligence failure and it won’t be the last.

    Nice try, though, Tom. Disingenuous of you though, I think.

    What’s your agenda old boy??

  • STM, no agenda other than what you read in the article. And of course it’s Obama’s fault. He’s the chief executive and head of government, and he should be enough of a leader to stand up and take responsibility, then start cleaning house to fix any problems that contributed to this fiasco.

    I’d also respectfully suggest that you might want to think a bit more about the British government. The head of government is the prime minister, not the queen. When these kinds of things happen, the prime minister is held to account and takes responsibility, even if he might wish that he could avoid it.

    What I actually do know is that the person at the top of the chain of command is responsible for everything that happens below him. Basic principle, my friend.

  • This may not be a conventional war, but there’s no better word for describing it than “war”. It doesn’t have the traditional limits of battlefield or even of nation. But it’s not our incorrect label that makes the situation murky, it’s the situation itself.

    Until our government got all hysterical – a trademark of the Major and Blair administrations – and jumped on the 9/11 bandwagon with a series of more permanent and draconian laws, the UK had an emergency law, the Prevention of Terrorism Act, to deal with what was in effect a protracted low-level civil war, and it worked pretty well.

    It allowed for membership of certain organizations to be banned, for suspect people to be excluded from the country and for slightly extended detention periods – but not for throwing suspects into jail and forgetting about them or denying them proper legal representation, let alone depriving them of sleep or dangling them upside down, covering them with a blanket and pouring water over them.

    Furthermore, the law was temporary and had to be reviewed and voted on by Parliament every year.

    You touch on the point yourself, Baronius, that the ‘enemy’ is eventually going to find ways to circumvent and exploit whatever security measures we put in place. So I’m not convinced that ‘it’s a war’ is a good enough excuse for abrogating basic legal rights and procedures.

  • STM

    And while I support your absolute right to express any opinion you think is valid (or even any you don’t), I can’t help feeling that there’s a fair bit of pussyfooting around going on here.

    Like I say, whether anyone does or doesn’t like Obama or his policies isn’t that much of an issue for me, but I am a big fan of people being forthright – and there’s something niggling away at me here that says there’s a serious and hidden political undertone running through all this, despite your claim that you’d like Obama to succeed.

    For instance, I enjoyed your first article, and I agree with much of what you say, but I thought that while throwing in the odd crumb of support, you damned Obama with faint praise.

    I suppose what also niggles away at me here is that the only three articles you’ve punted up on the site are about Obama.

    I suppose I could be having an intelligence failure here, but I suspect not in this case.

    I suppose what I’m really getting at here is: Why not just come straight out with it, mate??

    Don’t piss about 🙂

  • Baronius

    Ah, the internet. Where if you don’t agree with someone, you question their agenda.

    I can’t be too hard on STM though. I know that I’ve accused people of being disingenuous before. But that’s an impossible accusation to counter, isn’t it?

    Roger, we know what we’re doing. Aside from the fact that we lack eloquent phrasing for it, anyone can see that we’ve instituted the exact procedures necessary to defend ourselves against a multinational ideological enemy. I mean, the Cold War wasn’t a conventional war either, but we conducted it successfully.

  • STM

    Actually, Tom, the Queen is the head of the armed forces. Therefore the buck, according to your argument, would stop with her in regard to things military.

    And yes, we know politically, the PM carries the can. And yes, I do understand that in the US, the head of government is also head of state (the great irony being that it’s a more monarchical system even than Britain’s).

    Anyway, that’s the parallel.

    If you’re going to tell me I’m wrong about things I know about, please try to get it right.

    And I don’t believe you about not having an agenda.

    On here, we all have agendas, one way or the other.

    If you were writing straight news pieces you could use that argument, but it falls down a bit when you’re writing opinion.

  • STM, actually, the Queen is the titular Commander in Chief of the armed forces. Constitutionally, the prime minister and the cabinet have executive authority over the armed forces. Governments can fall over military failures, but not monarchs, at least in the modern age. You really should know these things.

    You can drop all the innuendo and sly winks you want, as many times as you want, about some kind of mysterious agenda, and I still won’t know what you’re getting at. What I wrote is what I meant. If Obama and the people who work for him were doing a bang-up job on preventing terrorism, I’d be happy (more than happy) to say so. But as we learned over Christmas, that’s not the case.

  • STM

    Come on Baron, we’re all entitled to our opinion. That’s the beauty of it.

    I genuinely respect Tom’s right to any opinion he has. I love modern democracy and the right to disagree as well.

    I genuinely believe Tom appears to be farting about on the margins of what he really wants to say. Whether that’s wholly deliberate or not is another issue completely.

    That is only an opinion, however, and it could very well be wrong.

    But, having looked back over this stuff (the three Obama articles), I’ll choose to believe what I believe.

    One thing I do believe, however, is that George Bush’s War on Terror, even if stupidly named, is winnable.

    Even in Afghanistan … and even in the US, where the many successes in thwarting a whole range of organised terror attacks shouldn’t be forgotten because one idiot slips the net.

  • STM

    Tom, the Queen retains right of veto in any decision to use Britain’s armed forces unconstitutionally. Cabinet and the PM, by constitutional convention, only have de facto right of excutive authority.

    Even if the role is now nominal, the Queen still retains authority.

    Not quite as cut and dried as you think.

  • Perhaps you do have a point, Baronius. Still, it’s a murky situation. Is it a matter of ideology on their side? I’d say that’s debatable (see the link below). But it’s definitely ideology on our part, just as the Cold War was.

    The Violence of the Global.

  • “On here, we all have agendas, one way or the other.”

    Quoted for truth, STM. But it’s not only on BC but everywhere in fact. And it’s not a bad thing. We wouldn’t be human otherwise.

    Do me a favor, STM. Skim through the link above. It’s kind of dense but short and sweet. I’d like to know what you think, especially the passage dealing with the “gift /counter-gift” issue.

  • Now I made it accessible:

    The Violence of the Global.

  • STM

    I’m just going off to work Rog. I’ll read it when I get there, about an hour all up.

    Cheers mate.

  • “If Obama and the people who work for him were doing a bang-up job on preventing terrorism, I’d be happy (more than happy) to say so.”

    If you are looking for 100% success, which is a ridiculous standard, you are guaranteed to be disappointed.

  • STM

    EB: “If you are looking for 100% success, which is a ridiculous standard, you are guaranteed to be disappointed.”

    Yeah, there’s the rub. That’s why I’m a bit suss. Someone with a military background should understand that too.

    There’s more potential in that realm for f.ck-ups there than there is at the post office.

    That’s the reason I question Tom’s agenda on this.

    Not that there’s any problem having an agenda …

    But he says he doesn’t have one, so in the end, we can only take his word for it.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    STM –

    Good to see you…and I strongly agree with your statement in #42 about what a military man should understand. After all, the acronym ‘SNAFU’ came from the military, as did (I think) ‘FUBAR’ and a host of other descriptives that often illustrate daily military operations.

    And as to the agenda, it’s plain for all to see. Any well-wishing Tom makes towards Obama is every bit as sincere as Dave’s declarations of there being so many African Americans at the Tea Parties. The sad thing is, even though they’re being so obvious, they believe that since we can’t somehow telepathically discern their thoughts, that we can’t prove their failings.

    But I learned long ago that the more one tells the truth, the easier it is to hear the ring of truth (or lack thereof) in what others say; conversely, the less one tells the truth, the less one is able to hear that same ring of truth. I have my wife to thank for helping me learn the difference, and I will always be grateful to her for it.

  • STM

    Rog, Mr Baudrillaud’s writing is interesting, but my view is a simple one: terrorism has always been the partner of globalisation and has been going on for centuries and globalism isn’t new. Only how we now think of the globe. It’s just easier, if you like, given that you can now fly from London to Sydney in 24 hours, literally from one end of the planet to the other, and be in touch with anyone anywhere (even with people wearing teatowels on their heads and living in cave) in an instant.

    For instance, I can call you in SF any time of the day or night and you know exactly what I’m doing in Oz because I can tell you first hand, and vice-versa. Or we can do it right here on BC.

    The known world – or at least the world that counts – is now the whole world.

    The barbarian tribes of Europe, the Jews, just about everyone conquered by them, fought the Romans.

    The English fought the Vikings, who had taken over their country.

    The Scots fought the English.

    The Indians fought the fledgling United States.

    The Canadians fought off the United States when they tried to march in to their country in the War of 1812.

    The Portuguese stood up to the tyranny of Spain’s absolute monarchy.

    In turn, Spain and the other oppressed people of Europe stood up to the tyranny of Napoleon in the Pensinsula War and after.

    I could give a thousand other examples.

    How is standing up to any hateful ideology today any different than, say, the British standing up to Prussian militarism and Naziism and the US standing up to barbaric Japanese imperialism and Stalinism in the 20th century? How were FDR and Churchill right, and Bush, Blair, Obama, et al, wrong? What George Bush did in Iraq, BTW, was stand up to a state that had subscribed to a perverted, stalinist version of socialist/pan-Arab nationalism (that no other Arab leaders wanted to indulge in with the same kind of barbaric fervour). I lived in Iraq as a boy and getting rid of Saddam Hussein and the Baath party wasn’t a bad thing by a long shot … it was what happened afterwards in Iraq that was the problem. Most Iraqis saw the coalition as liberators in the early days after the Iraq inavsion.

    To me, that was the real failure of American foreign policy, not the invasion itself (although no one in their right mind would say it was a desirable option in the first place).

    Don’t let anyone tell you it was about oil, either. If the US wanted Iraq’s oil, they’d have done a deal with the ba’athists and just bought the bloody stuff.

    In this case, “the war on terror” (and it really is, now, even if it’s not just a military operation and was given a silly name), the US is at the forefront of the violence, and has seen the effect on home soil (not for the first time, if you count Pearl Harbor, and I do).

    I don’t see globalism, especially in the form of the kind practised by the US, as any kind of malignant presence on this planet. Far from it. In fact, I would see China as a far more worrying presence.

    It’s more like a benign empire that has as its two main desires a neccessity to trade and a requirement to guarantee its own security (without those two, none of us would be living the kind of lives we lead). It doesn’t, unlike its anglo predecessor, go around planting the flag on every corner the globe, but in an attempt to have the big say in global trade, the effect is the same. American corporate headquarters, the global proliferation of corporate America in the form of fast-food outlets, automotive manufacturing, aircraft manufacturing, etc, are the new Union Jack.

    Yes, rampant free-market capitalism takes advantage of the vulnerable sometimes, but a lot of the time it will also bring benefits 10-fold if things like rule of law are in place underpinned by solid committment to government giving more than a nod to human rights and which allow it to function in concert with modern democracy and free of corruption.

    What we are seeing today is nothing new, IMO.

    It’s just that this now directly affects the US, a nation that until the latter half of the 20th century wanted to remain isolationist (which IMO is why Americans still grapple with this) but has stepped into the role of global policeman because it now has to and, simply, the US has to have the political will to see this through no matter who’s in charge in Washington.

    The Arabs say: “You’d better be nice to America, or they’ll bring you democracy”.

    Well, if I had to make the choice between imperfect American democracy (and everything it brings with it, both good and bad) and a hateful ideology that has as its stated aim taking the whole world back to the 8th century or thereabouts, I’d be choosing America every time.

    No question.

  • STM

    G’day Glenn.

    Nice to hear from you.

    When you moving down these parts??

  • Well, he didn’t make many friends for himself since 9/11. What I think, though, the “gift-anti-gift” idea does throw a somewhat different light and explains the hatred for America.

    In fact, Walter Russell Mead makes pretty much the same point in his last book, God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World, less drastically of course, when he explains the resentment against the West not just on political but cultural grounds. (BTW, you should try to get a copy: it’s your kind of read.)

    Your examples are of course on target, but perhaps the specter of globalization (especially as it is perceived by the cultures yet to be “absorbed”) is so much more real than it may have been in the past. But I’ll have to rethink your examples to see whether I have a point.

  • What is interesting here, STM, are the two styles of thinking. I have a tendency to proceed from the theoretical and the abstract to shed the light on reality, whereas you seem more inclined to argue from concrete examples on the basis of which to form your views. It’s a kind of oversimplification, but there’s some truth to this.

    Perhaps there is a middle of the road somewhere.

  • if he’ll give us information that might help prevent a future attack

    Any peace activist can give information that will help prevent future terrorist attacks. It’s simple. The US will have to stop engaging in terrorism. Doesn’t seem anyone’s listening. Right now the US govt is busy making future terrorists out of 10 year old Afghan boys.

  • betwixt and between the two shall meet.

  • They don’t want the singularity of culture, Cindy. But of course, what do they know?

  • That’s why imperialism is benevolent these days, Cindy. It has a friendly face.

    Except of course when we’re chasing the terrorists on their own ground. Then all hell breaks loose. If they had only acquiesced and adopted our ways, everything would be honky-dory.

  • That’s it for tonight, folks.
    Pleasant dreams.

  • STM

    Rog, I’m a firm believer in the KISS principle.

    “Keep It Simple, Stupid.”

    That’s worked particularly well on a whole range of stuff … from miltary tactics to politics to aircraft.

  • STM

    Cindy: “Right now the US govt is busy making future terrorists out of 10 year old Afghan boys.”

    Yeah, right, Cindy. Because all those 10-year-olds rote learning the Koran in the madrassas were all going to go on and study medicine, law, the arts, philosophy.

    You’ve seen the face of this violent extremisim in your own country not too many years back.

    How can you ignore the threat, and still pretend that it’s all down to evil America?

    It’s not and it’s a gorss over-simplification to believe it is.

    The KISS principle doesn’t apply to over-simplification.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    STM –

    Hopefully, sometimes between six and eighteen months from now. But the times I suggested to my wife that we should try Australia, she was very, very cool to the idea. I suspect that she thinks most Australian girls look like Nicole Kidman…but I won’t tell her that many of them really are that pretty. No, I can’t tell her that if I ever hope to see Oz and Tassie again….

  • STM

    Yeah, come on down. Just like America but a hair different. The more the merrier, too, I say.

    Lots of Americans here these days, possibly not so surprisingly as they can now legally have dual citizenship. It’s nothing at the shopping mall these days to hear a couple of kids walking behind you speaking with American accents … and saying “fair dinkum” because they’re trying to sound like the Aussie kids they’re with.

    Which is exactly what happened to me in K-Mart the other day 🙂

    When I turned round and smiled at the nature of their conversation (girls and skateboards – go figure), one of the American boys nodded and said: “G’day”.

    Still no Thanksgiving yet, though, which is the one thing that makes nearly every American I’ve met a bit homesick.

    We do traditionally eat turkey at Christmas here though (cold turkey usually), so they don’t have long to wait.

    In the past I have put up a nice version of an American flag at barbecues celebrating July 4 for my couple of American mates: it has a Union Jack in the corner instead of a whole bunch of stars.

    We had it specially done.

    At first they weren’t receptive to our offer of commiserations on the anniversary of their great mistake in breaking away from the British Empire, but now they’ve accepted it.

    Kind of …

    On Australia Day, they get us back by bringing the Stars and Stripes.

  • Glenn Contrarian


    The times I went to Perth and Hobart, I loved it there – especially Tasmania. I must admit that American ethnic food is more to my liking, but the better beer there more than made up for it.

    But for now the closest I’ll get to Oz will be seeing the Southern Cross from my rooftop in Quezon City, Philippines. Someday, though….

  • STM

    The Philippines is great. You are making a good choice if you have a few bob saved up and it will last you.

    I was there last year. Paradise on a stick once you get outside the big cities.

    On Oz: Ethnic food here has come aways, although Perth and Hobart are still pretty anglo places.

    But one in four Aussies is now born somewhere else, so there’s plenty of culinary diversity, especially in Sydney and Melbourne.

    Let’s stay in touch on here and I might come knocking on your door next time I’m up there in the Philippines.

    Cheers, mate

  • STM, it seems I’ve made a grievous error! Here I was thinking you’re a Brit, and now it seems you’re an Aussie. If that’s true, please forgive the newbie insult.

    I’ve always regretted that in all my travels, I’ve never been to Australia. I live most of the time in Belgrade, Serbia, and a lot of Serbs have family and friends who’ve emigrated to Australia. I’ve known some who were born there, come back to Belgrade — seeking roots, I guess — and end up going back home.

  • Cannonshop

    It is not the President’s job to micromanage all aspects of National Security-we’ve seen what happens when the President micromanages a much more cut-and-dried situation (Vietnam).

    I find myself nauseously agreeing with Glenn in some aspects-namely, that it’s not, in final analysis, the President’s job to screen passengers, and it’s not his fault if the dirtbag hired to do so doesn’t do their job.

    It doesn’t make his “response” any more appropriate, however. The ONE thing a President should not be doing, is passing the buck on a subordinate who makes less than he does. Obama’s ONLY fuck-up in this whole thing, is trying to assign blame publicly. It is highly unrealistic to think that any presidential-level action is going to secure even ONE airliner in operation-but it’s idiotic to point fingers in public, no matter how the focus-group talks about talking points.

    Flay the intel guys and the TSA head behind closed doors in the Oval Office? sure. But not in public-first off, it weakens the resolve of members of said agency to know that their boss with toss them under the bus at the first chance of embarassment, and you really, really, don’t need agency personnel ‘Doing only what they’re told’ as a passive-aggressive response to being publicly betrayed by the boss. Second, it’s admitting weakness when weakness should not be admitted.

    President Obama should’ve deflected the question by praising the Passengers who restrained and disarmed the criminal. Why?

    Two things agian:

    1. It’s not an admission of weakness, nor a public shaming, and it doesn’t look like ass-covering.

    2. it encourages passengers and the public to resist these psychotics, it presents an image of strength, and it puts the focus on the heroes in the piece, which draws dividends in terms of public confidence…in themselves. Leaders who encourage self-confidence tend to have supporters who in turn are confident in THEM.

    Playing the blame game as he seems prone to do, Obama’s pushing his image away from Samuel L. Jackson to Steve Urkel. This is not a good direction to go, if you intend to hold the Presidency for more than a single term, and maintain control of congress on the strength of a President’s popularity.

  • Cannonshop, thanks. I think you’ve got it exactly right.

    Just one thing — while it’s not the job of the President to micromanage the bureaucracy or to screen passengers, the performance of his entire government is his responsibility. That comes along with the glamor and the perks of the job. When he publicly points his finger at others, without saying flat-out that he’s responsible, he’s not being a good leader.

    This leadership business can be very hard. It’s one thing to be in charge of a handful of people, where you can see what they’re all doing every day, and another thing entirely to be in charge of a huge number of people, many of whom you may never see during your tenure. Either way, the responsiblity is the same.

  • STM

    Tom: “STM, it seems I’ve made a grievous error! Here I was thinking you’re a Brit, and now it seems you’re an Aussie. If that’s true, please forgive the newbie insult.”

    All good Tom, I have dual citizenship and went to school there, though. I’m half Irish too. I do like the Poms, as long as they don’t keep moving here in droves 🙂

    Sorry boys! You know who you are …

    As for Serbs, yep, you’re right. One of the largest post-war migrant groups was from the former Yugoslavia (when it wasn’t former).

    They seem to have fitted in quite nicely, probably because they’re as mad as the rest of us.

  • Stan,

    10 year old Afghan boys are watching the US soldiers kill civilians. No madrass needed. They are shouting death to America because America is bringing death to them. American boys would feel no different.

    Fuck, I haven’t been to a Madrass and I’m pretty much holding up my own style of death to America sign. There goes your theory.

  • hmmm, I forgot, I hadn’t decided whether I wanted to put ‘a’ or drop the ‘s’ and put ‘ah’ on the end of ‘madrass’. I guess its equally okay either way.

    Anyway, it is a loaded word. It gives the false impression that Muslims are sending children to terrorist boot camps. That is dangerous and ignorant propaganda and serves as justification for continued western domination. Here are a couple of ideas to consider about Madrasahs, Stan. See: Madrasah

    The Madrassa Myth

    While madrassas may breed fundamentalists who have learned to recite the Koran in Arabic by rote, such schools do not teach the technical or linguistic skills necessary to be an effective terrorist.

    The 1993 World Trade Center attack involved 12 men, all of whom had a college education. The 9/11 pilots, as well as the secondary planners identified by the 9/11 commission, all attended Western universities, a prestigious and elite endeavor for anyone from the Middle East. Indeed, the lead 9/11 pilot, Mohamed Atta, had a degree from a German university in, of all things, urban preservation, while the operational planner of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, studied engineering in North Carolina. We also found that two-thirds of the 25 hijackers and planners involved in 9/11 had attended college.

    Of the 75 terrorists we investigated, only nine had attended madrassas, and all of those played a role in one attack – the Bali bombing. Even in this instance, however, five college-educated “masterminds” – including two university lecturers – helped to shape the Bali plot.

  • Also Stan, I’m not real keen on the myth that your brand of fundamentalism is any better than anyone else’s.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Tom –

    I think perhaps you’re using the wrong paradigm. Yes, when the ship runs aground, the captain will stand and say that he had the conn, that he was on watch…never mind that it was oh-dark-thirty and he was actually in his rack. You understand the need for this, and so do I.

    The captain’s responsibility is the ship as a whole unit…and if the ship runs aground, the whole ship runs aground.

    President Obama’s the captain of the ship of state. In this case, did the entire ship of state run aground? Did negligence on his part somehow hazard the entire ship of state? Was the entire crew of the ship of state endangered? Of course not.

    So what happens when a crewmember on the ship fails in his duties and places a few of his fellow crewmembers in danger? You know as well as I do that in any large command, somebody is always doing something that he shouldn’t be doing…that’s the nature of the human animal. When a crewmember is caught, then, that crewmember’s actions will be investigated, and if found guilty, he will face non-judicial or judicial punishment as appropriate. This is how discipline is maintained among the crew…and the captain is NOT held publicly responsible for every little case of operational negligence that does not endanger the ship as a whole. I know that you understand this.

    Now IF such lack of discipline continues and the captain fails to correct the situation through discipline, training, and example, then the captain is and should be held responsible. But just as a captain should not make a public apology for his failure to ensure that Ensign Schmuckatelli properly checked the service record of a new crewmember fresh from boot camp who turned out to be a troublemaker, President Obama should not be apologizing for the TSA’s failure to catch ONE guy on their list of 550,000 different people to watch.

    Now if that ensign is negligent in the same fashion a couple more times and firm corrective action is not taken, then the captain needs to be held responsible. Likewise, if nothing were done to improve the TSA’s operations and this continued to happen, then the blame would indeed lay with Obama. But he isn’t doing nothing, is he? No, he is taking action, and quickly, just as a good captain would be having a short yet memorable conversation with that ensign…and making a few written notes for the next time that ensign’s fitness reports are due.

    In my opinion, Tom, this is the paradigm that fits.

  • Cannonshop

    Obviously the difference between a Squid background and an Army background-yes, Obama took relatively quick action-but it was precisely the WRONG action for the situation.

    The right action is to shift the focus of hte discussion to the actions of the passengers-why?

    Because there’s no way any agency, no matter how well funded, well trained, expansive or invasive, is 100% secure. Captain Underoos slipped through because coverage can never BE 100%. Particularly not with the bunker-mentality of American agencies who don’t communicate with one another, all of whom are working under vastly increased loads and shifting priorities.

    Again, “Swift Action” that is the RIGHT action would have had the agency chiefs on the carpet and a presidential press-conference praising the passengers with little to no mention of ‘who’s to blame’ from official sources in public.

    Let Congress play the bad guy on this, if they so choose, but the executive needs to show a united public face even if it’s divided internally over who’s responsible or what to do.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    C-shop –

    So why don’t they refer to America as the “Regiment of State” instead of the “Ship of State”?

    Because ships don’t turn on a dime. If you steer a ship too quickly, you’re going to run aground, or collide, or otherwise screw things up in a major way. So it is with nations – there is a time for quick and decisive action, but those are only in times of true emergencies, and a possible loss of ONE plane does not warrant a nationwide flail-ex.

    What it DOES demand is for those responsible to get together to fix the problem…and hasty action rarely results in good policy decisions.

  • jamminsue

    I seem to remember a long time ago, either Regan or Bush I, stating the obvious: A terrorist that is taken to criminal court looses all their power by not being treated as a combatant. The shame of it all could be a great way to get information from the would-be soldier. The taking the terrorist to “harsh custody” is giving them validation. As we cannot provide summary justice by cutting off their heads or shooting them, a bit of humility and loss of status goes a long way. Prosecuting the underpants bomber as a criminal is the ultimate nasty thing we could do to the spoiled kid.

  • Cannonshop

    #68 Ever try to get a battalion, much less a regiment, to shift direction on a dime? (Doesn’t happen). that’s beside the point. The point I was making, is a difference in leadership culture. Apparently, the Blame Game is popular with you squid-types, while preserving command integrity and addressing the problem is more of an Army thing.

    Flat out, you don’t toss your subordinates to the wolves unless they leave you no other choice-and this was a truly petty incident to start chanting “Intelligence Failure” rather than “Civilian Heroes”.

    The fact that it’s minor (and it was), and yet made front-page news means it’s a rare incident indeed-Obama should’ve stuck to his guns on the system working, because of all the bombings that did NOT get through.

    Beyond that, I suppose it’s rather to be expected that the White House flailed like it did-if he highlighted the actions of the passengers, it would break with his narrative of all good coming from the Washington D.C. teat courtesy of the Democrats. Kind of a “If the heroes can’t be government agents, we’ll make sure the Goats are, but the peasants get ignored in either case.”

    It must gall you terribly to know that Captain Jihadi-Underoos was taken down by a bunch of non-G-men, while the G-men stood around with their finger up their noses…

  • Baronius

    The administration is promising a shocking report on the incident to be released today.

  • It’s also evident that Obama doesn’t know much about intelligence. In that sense, he’s no different from most politicians.

    No truer words have been written this year.

    If the President were a good leader, he would have taken responsibility for the failure of his government to identify and act on this threat.

    Well, now. There’s plenty of blame to go around; however, we Americans need to accept some responsibility here. We’ve sent a gang of Teflon coated politicians to populate Washington. They’re a reflection of us, folks — self-centered, disengaged and unrealistic. We, the American people, need to step up to the voting booths this year and take our government back. We need to face our own demons and admit that the people we’ve sent to Washington are ineffective, corrupt and out of touch with Main Street. The days of Dodd, Dorgan and Kennedy are coming to an end. Shall we replace them with the same substandard merchandise that we’ve become used to purchasing at WalMart and Target? It’s time for truth in politics, my friends — we need to take a cold, objective look at what WE THE PEOPLE have done by our individual apathy and laziness. Washington may be in its own little world — we are the ones who created it.

  • The administration is promising a shocking report on the incident to be released today.


    (Sorry. Just getting my reaction in early.)


  • Glenn Contrarian

    C-shop –

    Apparently, the Blame Game is popular with you squid-types, while preserving command integrity and addressing the problem is more of an Army thing.

    And your military experience is, what? IIRC, you do have some military experience, but are you retired military? Because in my experience most retired military have a healthy respect for the other services. Tom Carter proved this by being a retired Colonel whose prime example of preserving command integrity and addressing the problem was the Navy tradition of the ship’s captain assuming all responsibility.

    I suppose it’s rather to be expected that the White House flailed like it did

    ‘Flailed’? That word is normally used to describe hasty action, and as I recall the Rabid Right is vilifying Obama for Not Doing Something Right Away.

    Back to the ‘retired military’ thing – if there’s anything we retired military personnel recognize, it’s flailing…and we in the Navy would refer to such a charlie-fox as a ‘flail-ex’, an exercise in flailing. AND seeing Obama delay several days so that he can hold discussions with those more closely involved before he comes out with any changes in policy, THIS, sir, is _prudence_, not ‘flailing’.

  • How about this for a thought.

    As Jordan Richardson aptly remarked on another thread, there is no way to insure against all risks. Shit will happen, even with perfectly instituted security measures. There will be casualties of terrorism on the American soil, and we had better accept it and live with it. Those are the parameters of living in the 21st century.

    The second point. Why should American lives be any more valuable than those of the Israelis? To think so is clearly to exhibit double standard. Because we think ourselves invincible, righteous, and all the things you can think of? But that’s surely a screwed up attitude, especially since – there is no denying – that our idea of superiority of culture, and everything we’ve got to offer and bring to the world, is the main cause of discontent. It’s not an easy feat for a “terrorist” to decide to blow themselves up to the smithereens. How many Americans would be willing to do such a thing for a cause? Not many, I can assure. So it’s way too easy and convenient to dismiss these people as simply fanatics. Much more is at stake. Perhaps some of them at least have a real point, a real grievance. And they’re ready and willing to give up their lives to make their point and strike at US – if only symbolically.

    Again, considering the kind of hysteria surrounding the acts of potential – and I stress the word potential – terrorism on American soil fades into insignificance when compared, say, to what the people of Israel have to put up with, day in and day out. Which ought to make, to say the least, appreciate Ruvy’s viewpoint, rather than attacking him for being paranoid. If anyone is being paranoid, it is us.

    And lastly. It is easy to try to explain away the situation by labeling the terrorists as fanatics and their cause as
    “evil.” And we can readily do so by subscribing to the good old dogma that America and the West are forces for the good – liberal democracy, free trade, eventual prosperity for every man, woman and child. Consequently, when holding on to some such view, there is no other recourse to the exponent to simply regard all the opponents as evil doers, forces against progress, any of the above. We are right, and they’re clearly wrong. And the bedrock of this position is an incontrovertible belief in the righteousness of America and the West.

    But what if, perchance, this assumption is even partly false? What if our opponents are even partly right.

    I should think that a more constructive kind of outlook would be to ask: why is the world such as it is today? where does all the discontentment come from? are we totally blameless? is everybody else but us wrong?

    Rather than persisting on justifying ourselves, we should be raising questions.

    But as I said, it’s just food for thought.

  • After watching the President this afternoon and observing the press conference under way with Secretary Napolitano, I have one question for Barack Obama — Mr. President, isn’t good intelligence based on common sense? It seems to me the major ingredient lacking in our Federal Government is just that — common sense.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Here’s what the GOP suggests Obama do to fight terrorism, according to GOP Rep. Peter King:

    “Name one other specific recommendation that the president could implement right now to fix this,” ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Rep. Peter King earlier this week.

    “I think one main thing would be to — just himself — to use the word terrorism more often,” GOP Rep. Peter King responded.

    YEAH! SAY ‘terrorism’! THAT’s how you fight terrorists!

  • Cannonshop

    Roger, Methods and Targets define the difference between an insurgent and a Terrorist.

    An Insurgent targets military targets, Terrorists focus on killing civilians deliberately as a means of “advertising” their cause. When a Taliban bombs a FOB, it’s insurgency-i.e. it’s more or less a military action. When an Al-Quaeda operative sets off a nailbomb in a grade-school, that’s Terrorism.

  • Thanks for the enlightening definition, which is totally beside the point raised.

    In case you haven’t noticed, the post wasn’t about definitions but mindsets such as yours. And you’ve only confirmed my point that I have pegged most of you correctly.

  • By way of clarification, Cannon, you’re not the lonely ranger. Yours is a point of view that is shared by liberals and conservatives alike, no matter how good their intentions.

    You’re all so keen on defending the integrity of United States. It doesn’t occur to any of you that perhaps there isn’t much left to defend, that the first step just might be to reconstitute our integrity in order for us to be able to respond in a logical and responsible manner.

    But no! You’re not prepared to ask what’s wrong with the world because you’ve already got your ready-made answer: it’s never America, and so it must be “them.” Your mind is closed to entertaining other possibilities. Talking about open minds.

  • Roger, the U.S., like Israel, is at war against an enemy that has sworn to destroy us, and they’re trying hard to do it. Under those circumstances, the time for navel-gazing and philosophizing is over. While the threat Israel faces is far more deadly, neither of our countries has a rational choice other than to fight back.

  • The author wrote- President Obama needs to adjust his attitude and begin behaving like a wartime leader. He’s responsible for the security of the United States, and everything else must come second.

    The war mongers are running amok and have to keep us afraid.

    You know, I could believe that all our military force around the world was for the greater good of humanity if we looked at our own nation with such a dire need to show compassion for the citizens right to live in a democracy…The truth unfortunately is evident in the last sentence of this article…everything else comes second.
    Things like National health Care, clean energy, a much needed and long deserved raising of the minimum wage to a living wage, and a funded school system with an eye on future skills in a green environment

    Are we the police of the world?

    No, we are the war profiteers of the world!

    President Obama was handed this rats nest and you all know it…

  • To President Obama! Not one of you could do better…except of course for Roger..:)

  • Jeannie, your military forces around the world are not there “for the greater good of humanity.” They’re there to defend you and your country. Your fellow citizens (I assume you’re an American) who died on 9/11 and in other terrorist attacks no longer need health care, clean energy, a living wage, and an education. To the extent they need a green environment, it only serves to make their graves more attractive.

    Yes, Jeannie, everything else must come second.

  • Mr. Carter,

    i am veteran of the USAF, i served in California and Germany in the early eighties and although it was considered peace time i was witness to the bombing of USAFE Headquarters at Ramstein….please don’t try to educate me as to what terrorism is….

    The glaring bald faced lie here is that Cheney and Bush did more to fuel the fires against us than any sitting administration and you know it..why don’t they stand up and take full responsibility?

  • If you have another response I’ll answer you when i return..gotta get up and move..:)

  • #81,

    I wouldn’t expect any other response from a true believer in the integrity and righteousness of USA. You’re throwing the words like “enemy” with such abandon, don’t even bother to consider that we are the ones who have got a lot of self-searching to do, that any further discussion with the likes of you is futile.

    And thanks, by the way, for a lesson in civics.

    Carry on!

  • #83,

    Thanks for the vote of confidence, Jeannie, but let me assure you: I would go further than Mr. Obama, much further to bring us to the brink of the new world and break away from the business as usual in both Washington and on Wall Street. And no, I wouldn’t be shooting for another term because “the damage” I would do my best to bring about would speak for itself. America would no longer be the same.

    If you think tea-parties and townhall meetings over healthcare were events to reckon with, think twice. They would be more on the order of polite social gatherings compared to the storming of the Bastille.

  • Roger I wrote a response but it disappeared..

    This was one of my concerns last winter. Is my right to free speech being censored?

    I haven’t attacked anyone here.

    The other day you were all discussing identity politics and i was reminded of the fact that the GOP thought they could just PLUG A WOMAN in there and we would blindly vote her in..It didn’t even matter who apparently! 🙂

    What an insult to all of us, men and women alike!

    I saw a video once on MSNBC …It showed MS.P on stage with an exorcist driving away any witches that might spoil and foil the campaign..I swear I saw it,but when I looked through all the archives it was gone..wonder

    Is that the person we want as President? Really?

  • I would have loved to see that video.

  • Help me find it

  • Yes Roger, that’s it!!

    The whole country should see that.

  • That’s the great white hope – for the teabaggers to reclaim their country.

  • Jeannie, thanks for your service. And I’m sure you know that nothing I say is intended to reflect badly on you personally. I simply disagree with some of your views.

    Your assertion (#85) that “Cheney and Bush did more to fuel the fires against us” than any other administration doesn’t make sense. I don’t defend the Bush Administration on many issues, but consider that he (and Cheney) had been in office about eight months when the worst attack in our history happened. At that point they’d done nothing that could be said to have precipitated that attack or any other. In fact, the bulk of the planning and preparation for that attack was done during the Clinton Administration, and attacks by these kinds of terrorists have been going on for many years over several presidential administrations.

    We all need to get over Bush and get on with life.

  • What difference does it make, for Christ’s sake, during which administration the planning and preparation took place? It’s all the same as far as America’s foreign policy is concerned. The latter may have been more subtle, the former less so. But it’s only a matter of style, not of substance.

    The more you open your mouth, Mr. Carter, the more evident it becomes that STM was right: you do have an agenda, although you’re quite clever in disguising it by speaking with a silver tongue.

  • Deano


    I doubt you are being censored, given the fairly wide variety of comments on the site. Generally if you transgress the boundaries of acceptable behaviour, you will be warned/and or edited by the Comment Editors.

    The best guess is that either something in your comments triggered the automated anti-spam or it just glitched.

    Be advised however that you do not have any “right to free speech” in BC beyond what the owners permit. It is a private site so they can intervene, censor or eject as they see fit.

  • Truer words were never spoken, Deano.

    It is a “private site,” as you have so aptly put it. But then again, it’s no different, I suppose, with other media.

    There isn’t such a thing as unconditional free speech unless you’re Rupert Murdoch.

  • Tom,

    Thank you for responding again…let me quote that famous line- can’t we all just get along? 🙂

    Probably not, but we’ll try!

    I wrote an article in culture about post traumatic stress, it received maybe all of five comments. My point here is, that little piece was almost as hard as writing about my Mom’s medical nightmare.

    I have no hidden agenda folks..i just want my mothers life and suffering to mean something…i will continue to point out the need for national health care and i will continue to be called a ranting lunatic…

  • Deano,

    Thanks for the advice.

  • #96 — Roger, it doesn’t matter at all to me which president was in office when attacks were planned and executed. As you know, I was simply responding to an earlier remark Jeannie made.

    I still don’t know what you and STM mean with vague statements about some kind of agenda. The only political agenda I have is truth and common sense, or at least that’s what I try to bring to discussions of issues. If a label is necessary, then I’ll tell you that I’m a moderate democrat, which is supported by my voting record over my entire life and my positions on most issues that supposedly define people in terms of liberal/conservative and Democrat/Republican.

    I’m not going to put a bunch of links in a comment, but if you feel you need to know more, send me an e-mail. I’ll respond with links to articles I’ve written elsewhere. But rather than accusing me of having some kind of hidden agenda, why not just respond to substance on the merits?

  • Cannonshop

    Roger, what kind of people do you think you’re dealing with? I’m spectacularly curious. I’m also curious about how you assume it doesn’t matter in their strategic thinking which president is in office when they’re planning their attacks.

    Jimmeh Carter tried the Appeasment route (combined with the incompetent military operation route) in the seventies with the net result of…well, you lived through that era, I assume.

    Let’s frame this into a level you’ve got more of a chance of experiencing/understanding.

    Do you negotiate with a mugger? Do you negotiate with the guy who’s going to rape your wife, or your daughter?

    Do you try to negotiate with Bullies, Roger? Find out how to stroke their insecurities, how to improve their self-esteem? Understand WHY they want to knock your teeth in even though you just met them?

    Did Negotiation help with the Nazis? or Pol Pot?

    No. these are not people who are ‘misunderstood’-they want to kill you, Roger. That is what they want to do. They want you dead, and your ideas dead, Roger, THAT is what groups like Al Quaeda and the Taliban want-they aren’t interested in coexistence, or tolerance, they are interested in turning you, and everyone like you, into fertilizer.

    “Why” at this point is immaterial, a pointless, empty question. If you’re really fascinated by said empty, pointless question, you’d better get into the History books and go back a couple hundered years-that’s about how long the U.S. alone has been pissing off the Islamic world, when it gets up to the West itself, you go back to the First Crusade.

    You don’t negotiate or try to reason with that, because there’s no negotiation possible with it, no reasoning that will work.

    How do we know this?

    It’s been TRIED. over and over and over again. If you want to know how to deal with someone, you watch how they deal with each other. If you’re curious about someone’s priorities, you listen to what they’re saying.

    If a man says he wants to kill you, it’s a good idea to believe him absent evidence to the contrary.

  • Cannon,

    You greatly exaggerate the alleged difference between the two parties. And as long as you continue to do so, it only proves you’re a dupe.

    Secondly, if I’m laboring under some gross misconception about the state of the world, you’re under even greater misconception about the state of America.

    And lastly, I have never indicated anything to the effect that the threat against us aren’t real. It’s typical to divert attention from the real subject. Of course they’re real and yes, they are our enemies. But the point I’m arguing, the point you’re so conveniently trying to evade rather than deal with – perhaps WE have got something to do with it.

    But as long as you keep on insisting that our hands are clean, you’re bound to focus only on the faults of the enemy rather than your own.

    How much plainer can I be?

    Do I need to say it in Russian?

  • doug m

    Cannon should study some history because deals have been reached with terrorists all the time. And you don’t even have to go too far back as payoffs were made to people trying to kill US soldiers in the last decade alone.

    This notion to not even care to understand why people are trying to kill is part of the reason it will never end.

  • Cannon’s deeply cynical view ignores history, although he claims it doesn’t.

    The violence in Ireland was ended, after hundreds of years of oppression, repression and bitterness, by peaceful means. After the dust had settled it turned out that negotiations between the various parties had been going on for longer than any of them cared to admit.

    While negotiations certainly played a part, a bigger factor in getting the IRA and other Irish terror groups to lay down their arms was public opinion, driven by economics. Both loyalist and republican terrorists had been enjoying steadily less and less popular support, because people realised that fewer bombs and ambushes meant more companies were willing to invest in Northern Ireland, which in turn meant more jobs and greater prosperity. Being in the IRA ceased to be glamorous or respectable.

    I don’t necessarily suggest that this is the way to go when dealing with al-Qaeda and affiliated idiots. Just that there are ways to tackle terrorism besides meeting fire with fire.

  • FitzBoodle

    It’s pretty clear that 9/11 was the fault of C. Rice, who ignored warnings (and spent her time in office appointing her cronies to admin positions), and she should have been fired forthwith. But she was a crony of GWB so he spared her (although I think she lost a lot of credibility in the Inner Circle). So GWB gets some blame for putting personal loyalty ahead of loyalty to country.

    By contrast, it seems evident that Obama has almost NO personal loyalties. I suppose that’s a Good Thing.

  • Ask the little children being killed as we type safely away at our keyboards if the American soldiers are terrorists!

    i know the answer

  • #106 FitzBoodle makes a good point..almost every position was either a college roommate or a friend owed. The cronies admin.

  • I think the IRA, Dreadful, is a good example. It’s much clearer cut, of course, than the present situation because of ethnic and territorial unity, but we should study it nonetheless.

  • Cannonshop

    #105 Doc, can you name the major difference between, say, the IRA and our current opponents?

    Our current opponents aren’t centralized in any meaningful way-there’s no “Sinn Fein” for the Jihadis, and unlike the Irish problem (or the Communist bloc in the Cold War) you’re not looking at fundamentally materialist/nationalist feelings here- the perversion of Islam that drives this embraces both suffering, and murder as things that are not only not sins, but are virtuous in and of themselves under the doctrine of Conversion by the Sword.

    What this means, is that to an Al-Quaeda operative, the victims of the bombing get to go…

    to heaven, their souls are saved by the act of being killed as part of the Jihad.

    By contrast, the IRA ran a spectrum from bald dialectical materialism (the PIRA and Maoist OIRA) to Christianity (lots of different factions), none of which offered the carrot of both Heaven for killing, and Heaven for the killed.

    Further, there WERE people in the IRA who could control the fanatics and enforce a deal on their own side. There aren’t any of those in the Middle East-as the failure of the brokered accords with PLO demonstrates daily. Further to that, the IRA was highly dependent on funding sources that dried up as popular opinion in the irish diaspora (particularly U.S., Canada, and other western nations with strong irish background ties) shifted. The end of the Soviet Union (and their sponsorship) put a severe dent in the marxist-inspired late-stage activists since the Irish are not a ‘tribal’ people in the sense that, say, Pakistan or other southwest asian nations are.

    The situation is thus:

    You make a deal with local leader X, but that deal doesn’t apply to local leaders A-W or Y and Z. the terms likely offend at least ten of those remaining twenty-five local leaders, and at least twelve of those local leaders will act as they would in the absence of said deal.

    Furthermore, all twenty-six local leaders will shelter operatives from one another thanks to family ties, tribal agreements, or spiritual obligations, since you’re an Infidel, and they don’t have any obligation to honour their word to you beyond the range of your direct vision.

    This is a very, very different situation from the IRA and Protestant Paras-both of whom, in final analysis, were and are driven by Nationalist sentiments foremost, with other issues being secondary. Materialist nationalists will try to avoid dying, non-Materialist nationalists tend to view murder and suicide as sinful necessities rather than honourable acts of virtue and spiritual generosity.

    Populist Nationalists, further, require public support for their actions-this limits what they will do, and provides a means to make them stop doing it.

    With the Jihadi situation, there’s not ONE check on their behaviour beyond “Fear of getting caught without succeeding in the attack”.

    The differences are cultural, structural, and fundamental-it’s a whole different kind of conflict than, say, the Vietnamese vs. France, or Irish vs. British.

  • Cannon, I’m perfectly well aware of the many differences between Irish terrorist idiots and Muslim terrorist idiots.

    With that in mind, kindly re-read the last two sentences of my comment.

  • Cannonshop

    #17 Doc, correction: it’s not a new term. One of the major drivers behind the Soviet attempt to change the Geneva Convention in the 1970s to include non-uniformed combatants was that their “Progressive Elements” in various hot-spots were being treated as “Unlawful Combatants” and often summarily shot when captured, or shot after being interrogated. Notably, the United States Senate refused to ratify the change, which in turn means the edition of Geneva our troops are held to by Law does not include protections for non-uniformed combatants, aka unlawful combatants or ‘irregular forces’.

    (this is also why the ‘gentlemen’ involved in the Phoenix Program under Johnson weren’t eligible to be tried as war-criminals. Not even under Carter…)

    Now, summarily doing-in captured jihadis would look worse than running GitMo does, but it’s legal under the edition of Geneva that applies to the United States Military. (whether it’s legal under UCMJ or not is a separate question!) Since the bulk of our opponents are non-uniformed or ‘illegal’ combatants, we’re stuck with a problem derived from the dilemna-do we shoot them, or do we imprison them, or do we let them go and have to deal with them again?

    Bush tried to walk the razor-blades on that one, and the result of trying to satisfy everyone was that a significant number of enemy captures who were released, showed up again, but this time with new techniques, and no fear of being caught. Simultaneously, it generated bad press and political pressure at home-something that the enemy can, and does, employ leverage on with glee, and the eager assistance of the American Left, who have no idea what surrender will cost them.

  • Cannonshop, I know a bit about the Phoenix Program, which existed during both the Johnson and Nixon presidencies. I’ve also known quite a few people who were directly or indirectly involved in it.

    If you’re saying, in general, that Americans involved in the Phoenix Program were war criminals, I’d be interested to know why you think that.