Joe Bauers - 4/14/2005 5:28 PM
Jim, you're correct: I have no more guarantee that the outcomes I have suggested will ever come to pass than do you about the outcomes you have suggested. That is to say: You are arguing that a nuclear strike on 9/12 would have solved the problem of terrorism. I have countered, repeatedly, that such a strike would NOT have killed all the terrorists who are allied against us; it would NOT have killed the idea that motivates them; it would NOT have improved our position among free countries in the world; it would NOT have been a moral thing to do. In short, you have proposed a radical solution to a problem, and you have not offered any evidence that the outcome you expect will, in fact, come to pass.
I think, Jim, that you are susceptible to the shoot-out theory of American cinema--that is to say, if the hero is Clint Eastwood or Arnold Schwartzenegger, the movie always ends with the one possessing the biggest gun winning. But we are not talking about the cinema--we are talking about real life, the real world, and I do not think you have given much thought to the world on 9/13/01, after your hypothetical nuclear strike would have happened on 9/12/01. You assume that the Big Gun would have done the job; but, as you correctly point out, this enemy is different. It does not fear the Big Gun; it does not even fear death. There goes your theory up shit's creek. At least that's my view. But hey, we're probably just two old farts clacking away at the computer--you, happy that a puss-gut like me is not at the controls of U.S. foreign policy; and me, very, very happy that you do not have your hand on the nuclear button.
I think you hit the nail on the head. We are likely just two old farts on opposite sides of this argument. One with no real answers that will become apparent in our lifetimes.
While the enemy is different, and we do not understand him, I think the gene pool he he was bred from does understand him. I also think that particular group of people has to be the police force you advocate. Right now they are not. I think that nuke might have convinced them we are not interested in participating in a thousand years war of genocide, especially one we may lose if we play "fairly" by rules they impose by using their influence (like the availability of oil and a say-so in who gets it), and that it is their problem to address one way or the other.
I am convinced the rational people of the Middle East would not elect to unify behind the terrorists. And I agree we would be explaining our decison for decades. We dropped two on Japan and have repaired our relations with the Japanese people since. That war started with a "sneak attack" that killed a like number of Americans. It took two nukes to convince the Japanese to stop the war. And it saved thousands of lives.
It might take two again, and even that would be better, in my opinion, than being slowly consumed by a war of attrition over the next hundred or thousand or two thousand years. I also think it is none of our business how the people of the Middle East govern themselves, and I am content to buy their oil on the open market, paying whatever the fair price is that the supply and demand establishes. We need to fix us a lot more than force feed democracy to people who may or may not want our brand of anything.
They (the people and governments of the Middle East) are also much better at using the media to make their basic rationale for being supportive of terrorists opposing the United States because we are the "haves" and they are the "have nots" seem logical. All this, while in reality, they have the greatest opportunity to do the most good for the greatest number of their own people, using their oil resources. But they don't and somehow make it seem like America is the problem.
If we have done any wrong to the people of the Middle East it is using our culture of the dollar deride and eliminate their culture of bartering and negotiating with goods. We should have learned to deal with them on their terms instead of corrupting a few power brokers and making them rich in Western terms while gutting their cultural self worth in their terms. Buying a consumable like oil, using another consumable, like food and medicine, would have made distributing food and medicine to those in the Saudi Kingdom a lot easier. Giving them American money, which was virtually useless within their culture, changed everyone who touched it.
There is also the presence of Israel that is blamed on the United States, which was not a decision made soley by the United States, but one we seem most willing to be held to supporting. That is a much more difficult problem to understand, as, in the words of the Saudi Royal Family, it would have been more logical to give the Jews a chunk of Bavaria, or Prussia after WWII. From our perspective it is untenable that Israel be overrun by its neighbors. From the Arab perspective, nothing else will do.
I feel no guilt for being an American and being classified as one of the "haves" in the argument. It is part of the way the world works - there are all kinds of definitions of success and failure, and for the moment the act of "having" more is viewed as being more successful than "having not." It is not clear that the historical cycles of the "haves" falling to the "have nots" supports this contemporary, on the spot perspective. But, considering how much we "have" we are also likely the most generous owners of whatever the "haves" have had in human history.
I am very dismayed that our vision and planning cycle, as a nation seems to be about as long as corporated financial planners' views. We elect people based on emotional manipulations first institutionalized by the Nazis. No one presents a national imperative that puts our long term goals and strategy up for debate and ratification. It is all short term manipulation for personal priorities that are rarely in alignment with our nations needs.
Finally, I grew up in Germany and while I did regularly watch Hoss Cartwright and Indians do their thing on the Ponderosa speaking German, I missed the bulk of American Western movies. I trace my outlook more to being direct about designing machines to do specific things and avoiding Rube Goldberg gadgets. It works very well in engineering of electrical and mechanical devices. I believe it would work equally well in social engineering endeavors. Another subject, but I think the present techniques applied in social engineering projects is so unscientific it virtually always comes down to bullshit. The guy with the good bullshit wins. The problem is, the decision is still based entirely on bullshit.
It has been interesting discussing this untestable point. Thanks, Jim