Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: You know what ...

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  • glennd, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    I don't think 911 was much of a surprise inside the USA either. The WTC had already been attacked, with car-bombs. The USS Cole had already been attacked. The African embassies had already been attacked. All by al Qaeda. al Qaeda had declared war on the USA many years earlier in their fatwa following the presence of US troops in the Saudi Arabia (there by the sanction of the UN). Clinton had already tried to kill Osama. That the threat was not taken seriously enough is no secret either. 911 surprised on its *scale* and daring, but not in any sense of being unique. But the reasons are well known, even inside the USA.

    Since Mar 2011 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to glennd,

    But the reasons are well known, even inside the USA.

    The surprise when the images of the people dancing in the streets of the Middle East were shown on US TV in 2001 would tend to argue that there was less awareness of the anti-US rage in the Islamic world than you suggest.

    Such images didn't cause the same reaction beyond the US.

    I'd also point you in the direction of The Looming Tower and Ghost Wars, if you've not read them, both of which, in some detail, underline just how unprepared the US was for 9/11, both on a security and a more emotional level, and why.

    Middle America, too, has and had little idea how their government had acted in the years before 9/11, or, more, of the fury in the ME with the pro-Israel stance. The road to 9/11 began, if you need a date, in June 1967 when the US sided with Israel during the Six Day War.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3208 posts Report Reply

  • glennd, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    Well my impression of the reaction to the dancing in the streets is more along the lines of the non-plussed reaction of Danes to the wave of hysteria created by some cartoons in one of their dailies. I think far too much can be read into a concept of a national psyche and people end up painting on it more of what is in their own thoughts than the average American (or Dane, or ...)

    Still, Osama said himself that it was the presence of infidels in the land of Mecca and Medina that was the primary cause for al Qaeda's war against America. If you say it was a war in 1967 then I'll just have to take your word against his. But then the *road* to the six day war also started somewhere, which is the problem with roads, they go ever on. We might as well say the Soviets caused 911 by deliberately misinforming the Egyptians about Israeli activities in the runup to the war in which America sided with Israel. But that I fear is a long bow being drawn to breaking point.

    Since Mar 2011 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant, in reply to Russell Brown,

    They basically dared people to call Jerry Mataparae a liar instead.

    I'll do it.

    When given a choice between trusting a journalist with sources, and a government with every reason to lie, I will pick the journo every time.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1661 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to glennd,

    Still, Osama said himself that it was the presence of infidels in the land of Mecca and Medina that was the primary cause for al Qaeda's war against America.

    And yet he declared it before that - in Pakistan in the 1980s. Prescient I guess.

    He was quite clear before GW1 that the United States was the ultimate satan and, later, said of this:

    "The creation and continuation of Israel is one of the greatest crimes, and you are the leaders of its criminals. And of course there is no need to explain and prove the degree of American support for Israel."

    There is no doubt that the US infidels in Saudi Arabia hugely raised the stakes but Osama was fervently anti US long before that and the roots of Al Qaeda, and indeed the anti-American activism, goes back far earlier than 1990.

    But, please, don't take my word for it - buy both books I listed above as a start.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3208 posts Report Reply

  • glennd, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    Of course I agree he was fervently anti-Israel. He was a religious fanatic with delusions of restoring a romantic vision of the past, a character type that plagued the 20th century along with the mirror-image character of the utopian re-inventers of humanity.
    But I doubt that if the first gulf war had happened that he would have gone on quite the same trajectory to the WTC, six day war or no, more likely he'd have ended up in Chechnya fighting the old Russian foe (who curiously backed Egypt in the war). That's the thing with these guys, there is no end of real enemies. But that is only my speculation.

    Since Mar 2011 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to glennd,

    911 surprised on its *scale* and daring, but not in any sense of being unique.

    No, it was unique. The sense in the popular consciousness was that foreigners couldn't come to the US and kill people. Pearl Harbour was half the Pacific away; all the US's twentieth-century wars had been fought on foreign soil. The sense of isolation and safety might have been false, but it was certainly there. There may have been a lot of analysts and journalists to whom it didn't come as a surprise, but to the general public, it was entirely unexpected, and crippling.

    Personally, I find all the celebration saddening. Even students on our uni campus turned out late at night to wave flags and cheer (although that was probably as much about the end of the semester in two days as anything else, they were primed for that sort of thing already). It's just so pointless - it had to be done, but it won't really change anything. The world isn't safer. People are still dead. People are still dying. People are still going to die, on both sides. It might be symbolically huge, but at the end of the day it's just a few more bodies for the pile.

    But, please, don't take my word for it - buy both books I listed above as a start.

    Or get them out of your local library! I haven't read Ghost Wars but I can absolutely recommend The Looming Tower. If you want to know where Al Qaeda came from, that's the place to start.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Pete Sime,

    I flew into the US yesterday and got to my accommadation in Chicago 2 hours before the first reports of bin Laden's death. Most people at the hostel I'm staying welcome the news of bin Laden's death, but agree that it won't really change anything. It will be an interesting time to be here.

    Dunedin • Since Apr 2008 • 144 posts Report Reply

  • David Ivory,

    Hong Kong’s Apple Daily has already created a video of the attack on OBL http://bit.ly/jcEYkB

    Hong Kong • Since Nov 2006 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • richard, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Personally I’m feeling extremely uncomfortable about the fact that he was killed (together with a bunch of people with him) rather than being captured.

    Who bells the cat – are you volunteering?

    Not looking for New Engla… • Since Nov 2006 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to richard,

    Personally I’m feeling extremely uncomfortable about the fact that he was killed (together with a bunch of people with him) rather than being captured.

    Who bells the cat – are you volunteering?

    I fear you have attributed someone else's quote to me, sir.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18991 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Echoing Danielle's earlier point about the composition of the crowd outside the White House: college kids, pumped up about nothing in particular, kind of being idiots.

    The New York manifestations, on the other hand, sound more sombre and interrogative. I'm trying to get my head around this enough to blog coherently about it.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1411 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Personally I’m feeling extremely uncomfortable about the fact that he was killed (together with a bunch of people with him) rather than being captured.

    I get the sentiment, but I'm not sure what that would achieve. There's no doubt about his crimes or culpability. And he was living in an armed, fortified compound a block away from the Pakistani military academy. It seems reasonable for the US to decide that capturing and holding him was simply too problematic.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 902 posts Report Reply

  • richard, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I fear you have attributed someone else's quote to me, sir

    Your website did it :-) I thought I was replying to webweaver. Sorry.

    R.

    Not looking for New Engla… • Since Nov 2006 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Danyl Mclauchlan,

    I get the sentiment, but I’m not sure what that would achieve. There’s no doubt about his crimes or culpability.

    So, Danyl, the post WW2 war crimes trials in Nuremberg and Tokyo (flawed and ambiguous as they were) didn’t achieve anything – as opposed to going past the judge and jury and straight to the executioners?

    With all due respect to President Obama, vengeance is not justice. It wasn’t in 1946, and it isn’t now. Justice is hard and elusive; perhaps we will never find it in this world, or any other. But I just thought we were supposed to be better.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12040 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    With all due respect to President Obama, vengeance is not justice. It wasn’t in 1946, and it isn’t now. Justice is hard and elusive; perhaps we will never find it in this world, or any other. But I just thought we were supposed to be better.

    We are supposed to be. But I find it quite likely that Obama's administration weighed up the problems with being seen to be executors of vengeance rather than justice against the problems of carrying out that justice, and decided that vengeance was the most pragmatic option. I'm not sure this is a situation where there were any "better" options, only options with different consequences.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Trained Navy SEALs don't do things by arfs...
    I see American 'Justice' is still dispensed from the barrel of a gun...
    interesting that they then had to transport his body almost the entire length of Pakistan to "bury him at sea" - gets rid of that pesky .1% doubt in the DNA I suppose...


    Crying Uncle...
    earlier Rex W made mention of:

    "radical Isamists"

    reliable 'Seusses" inform me that this is correct, and yes, a new movement is sweeping the scary ol' US of A... Bugger Spartacus
    - "I am Sam, I am!


    Obama Sin Laden...

    “African American Male in Washington
    Confesses to Murder of Elderly Man.”

    Elderly! Oh dear, Osama bin Laden was born the same year as me...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 5071 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    but to the general public, it was entirely unexpected, and crippling

    This. I think it can be pretty safely assumed that most people in the USA - with the exception of foreign policy experts and academics - had absolutely no clue.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3661 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    With all due respect to President Obama, vengeance is not justice. It wasn’t in 1946, and it isn’t now. Justice is hard and elusive; perhaps we will never find it in this world, or any other. But I just thought we were supposed to be better.

    I am not troubled by Bin Laden being killed in the raid, but I have been surprised and irked by how readily this has been depicted as justice having been done. I think the latter demands a rather higher standard.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18991 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    the disinformation continues...
    apparently the photo of dead bin Laden is a fake
    [Warning: still gruesome...]

    and for further proof that these are the final days
    Rush Limbaugh & Glenn Beck praise Obama!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 5071 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    I see American 'Justice' is still dispensed from the barrel of a gun...
    interesting that they then had to transport his body almost the entire length of Pakistan to "bury him at sea" - gets rid of that pesky .1% doubt in the DNA I suppose...

    I can assure you from personal checking that to a lab full of biologists, "the DNA results made them 99.5% certain it was bin Laden" is a hysterically funny joke.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    In relation to Osama’s death, I think good job and not before time. As if he was going to go and live in a cave, his hiding in a million-dollar three-story mansion is classic as is the Bush adminstration inability to find him.

    Osama over played his hand in grand fashion and it is likely even he didn't expect the twin towers to crumble as they did, his likely end game was to rule the gulf states and then the world as the realisation of some god complex.

    Simon mentioned Israel - my opinion is that the US stance on Israel is akin to keeping a fierce beast on a chain; the US is the chain and Israel the fierce beast. Without the US pulling Israel back as it does and also having a moderating influence on the Gulf States it would become a conflagration that would endure decades into the future – a war without end.

    A major foreign policy goal of the Obama adminstration is brokering a peace pact between Israel and Palestine and that peace will eventually involve recognising a Palestinian state.

    I would like to see Obama get a second term and maybe this helps.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1201 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I think it is quite brave of Phil Goff that he is asking for an inquiry, considering some of this happened under his watch. Key's attempts to dismiss this story are not going to work this time. Metro is proving it's worth, just as it did with the Unfortunate Experiment story in the 1980s.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 2099 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Danielle,

    but to the general public, it was entirely unexpected, and crippling

    This. I think it can be pretty safely assumed that most people in the USA - with the exception of foreign policy experts and academics - had absolutely no clue.

    Which was a little weird, given that al Qaeda-trained jhadis had already killed six and injured thousands when they tried to destroy the World Trade Center towers in 1993. You'd think that might have stuck in people's minds.

    The response in 2001, taking its cue from Bush, verged on the infantile: there was a determination to ascribe the attack to "evil" and a widespread resistance to any acknowledgement that however foul the politics might have been, there was a political motive to the attacks.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18991 posts Report Reply

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