Dealing With Terrorism

OK, so we're under active terrorist attack: World Trade Center, anthrax, etc.

What are our goals?

  • avoid additional loss of US lives, in short and long term

  • keep fundamental nature of US culture: open, free

What are the causes of terrorism?

  • Juan Cole argues (Mar'2005) that it's foreign occupation, not local tyranny.

What if we did nothing? That is, what if we maintained the policies and actions that were our norm before Sept11? Some bad-but-reasonable scenarios:

  • more terrorism: bombings, viruses (flu ), EMP bombs taking out communications, water supply tampering. Nuke suitcase bomb?

    • economic depression? mass psychological disorders (depression, anxiety)?
  • Israel-Palestine outcome?

  • Saudi Arabia outcome (corrupt dictatorship maintained?)? Oil supply implications?

What could we do right now to satisfy the attackers so that they cease? In my opinion, nothing. Once someone starts a war, they've built up such a fever that even if they initially had "rational" demands, and you now satisfied them, that would no longer be enough. On the other hand, it's possible that certain actions would take enough energy out of their process that it would dissipate more quickly: there might be a few more attacks, but they would stop sooner.

Okay, so what do they want?

What can/should a private citizen do?

  • breathe. There's a much higher chance that you'll be killed in a car accident than a terrorist attack. At least so far.

  • be a little paranoid. Stock up on some water, batteries, canned goods, etc.

What should the government/military do?


Gary Hart and Warren Rudman warned about this stuff. We formed (the Hart-Rudman Commission) and then on Sept. 15, 1999, we began making our report known. That was when we wrote that "Americans will likely die on American soil, possibly in large numbers." But it wasn't that I couldn't get Bill Clinton's ear. He read my letter - he told me he did. It's just that nothing happened for three years... Hart met with various members of the administration, including National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, on the Thursday before Sept. 11, to try to convince them that the report should be acted upon and not just serve as a coaster for Vice President Dick Cheney.

Washington Post link mostly from 2000. (Uss Cole)

SnopesCom page defending against accusations that Bill Clinton did nothing.


Some have said that it's not possible to tightly defend (Patriot Act) against terrorism without destroying your Freedom, so Offense is necessary - eliminate the potential terrorists. (Or at least reduce the odds of recurrence...)

Related, David Brin says that involving the citizenry could be very effective, esp if they are armed with info-tech (cell-phones with cameras that send frames to emergency operators, etc.). And this could relate to Reputation Management for sorting through ideas, conspiracies, etc. (He points out the value that the UrbanLegends site had after Sept11 in identifying bogus reports...)


see Terrorism As War Or Crime


A posting by "an european student"

You americans are getting increasingly hated around the world because of your immense selfishness. The world is not yours, and what you're feeding at Palestine will cost you, and the israelis, your peace of mind, forever.

But you can just continue to develop weapons, pollute the global environment, sustain criminal dictatorships (only country condemned by U.N. for terrorism: guess which? yours, of course!), still not pay your debt with the U.N., manufacture your pretty trainers with child labor, spread your marvelous Micro$$oft world, your superb home-made shit food, etc. And of course, torturing some poor souls from afganisthan without the least concern for human rights, a trial, guarantees. But you will always have your retarded presidents paying the favors back to the companies, your ultra-capitalism vanquishing the poor (7 million in prison: that's why you don't have any unemployment, that and Enron-like practices, you get fucked and you say: I love uncle SAM)...

I don't know if it's just me, but believe us europeans are starting to get ashamed of you; for one, I will try to avoid your products, sorry but I don't like to support 40% of global pollution with my money. And please, tell Bush to learn to watch TV while doing something, or else the world's laugh at your people will never stop (who has heard of a more corrupt judiciary, electoral, political system? oh, yes and education is great there, how many among you knew where afganisthan was?, what was happening there? the spelling? asia? not even your president).

You execute every year lots of people only because of their race, but for simple minded people it's so easy to believe the brutal dead-penalty garbage... how can you demand china to respect human rights? oh yes, perhaps it's because half your stars love the tibetan people, but they can't see the only nation which intervened 73 times around the world during the X Xth century was... surprise surprise, the mighty US.

I'm sick of what you're evolving to be. I like the americans who invent, who love freedom, who respect, but this seems to be minoritary among you. And next time, don't give such an spectacle as you have given with the florida voting... shame on you!.

Oh, please, and remember there's people in Cuba, and that you can carry the pre-condemned prisoners (well, not prisoners, human shit, according to what you do to them without knowing what did they do, but of course, I forgot you always believe your CIA, pentagon, etc, the same who paid those Al-Qaeda members and helped them become what they are) please, carry them to your cozy homes, what did the cubans do in this? oh, yes they merit destruction just because they still do with your 60's cars, they don't spend like you in cosmetics the same amount it would cost the world to feed all the world population for one year.

Please, think a bit about this when realizing that there's terrorism in the world. The world you're making is a sad one, and 11-S has shown not even you can destroy everything without getting something back.

An european student.

PS. oh, please Bill, this doesn't go with you. Censor it, kill it, but at least read it once. And if only as a sociological portrait of an increasingly spread attitude in the rest of the world towards the U.S. you could leave it.


Bill Seitz reply

I agree with some of your criticisms of the US, particularly political items vs business/culture issues.

But "europeans starting to get ashamed" of us? Comparing us to China on human-rights issues? Guffaw. Your sense of proportion is as skewed as that of a fundamentalist Christian considering the attack to be God's retribution for homosexuality.


Dealing With Terrorism --2004/02/01 10:33 GMT
To deal with terrorism you have to be consistant. Our governments (US and European) are not and this sends out the message that it is worthwhile. An example - the IRA
British Gov is inconsistant / they contnue to kill/ they get money and tactic US support/ they win political gain/ "it is not us killing its a splinter group " / more support even movie roles / political gains

Another example ANC Repressive government /many opposition groups / ANC turn to violence / keep and win supporters / turn on other opposition groups / continue to gain support / take power . I could go on there are thousands of examples and If I was opposed to my rulers the lessons from history and today are that terrosism works.


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