The More Things Change...

Roderick Long on "the pre-9/11 mindset":

Critics of the current régime's so-called "War on Terror" are often accused of having a "September 10th" or "pre-9/11" mindset. (Our ever-articulate Prince President garbled both descriptions into the phrase "pre-September 10th mentality" during the first debate.) The suggestion is that everyone's worldview should have been radically transformed by the events of September 11th; anyone whose worldview wasn't so altered, anyone who continues to favour diplomacy over a resort to military force, must simply be blind to reality.

But there's a problem with this argument: it assumes that everyone's worldview needed changing. After all, any worldview that was radically altered by the September 11th attacks must have been radically mistaken to begin with. But anyone whose understanding of the world was substantially correct would not have had his or her overall view of things shaken by those events.

Why didn't more of us ("us" being those of the anti-war/anti-state persuasion, whether "left" or "right") abandon our way of thinking in response to 9/11? Because 9/11 didn't teach us anything we didn't already know. We've been saying for decades that the U.S. government's arrogant interventions around the world have only been increasing the risk of blowback, and that the State, in the event of such blowback, would be as ineffective at protecting the civilian population as it is at everything else. The 9/11 attacks simply corroborated our "pre-9/11 mindset."

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I need a cigarette.

I need a cigarette.

...anyone who continues to

...anyone who continues to favour diplomacy over a resort to military force...

This is only tangentially related to his point, but Professor Long fails to realize that diplomacy and force are inseperable. You can't have succesful negotiations (indeed, what is there to negotiate about?) unless the possibility of some type of armed conflict hovers in the background.

Why has US involvement in the Isreali/Palestinian conflict not accomplished anything? Because there's no credible threat of an actual US deployment in that conflict. Why didn't UN resolutions against Iraq ever elicit cooperation? There was no credible threat of UN deployment (Saddam knew that Chirac had his back, but I digress). Why would it have been utterly ridiculous for Japan to try negotiating with Saddam instead of (or in addition to) the US? No credible threat of deployment.

I'm generally very sympathetic to Prof. Long's views on the state and war, but his distinction between diplomacy and force is fallacious and needs to be recognized as so.

Noah, diplomacy is not all

Noah, diplomacy is not all stick. Carrots are necessary as well, and generally achieve better results. The U.S. doesn't have the necessary credibility to mediate in Isreali-Palestinian conflict because of our support for Isreal (both perceived and actual), not because we won't send in troops.

I wrote very much the same

I wrote very much the same thing last month.

But Dave, neither is

But Dave, neither is diplomacy all carrot.

If the bad actor on the other side of the table knows that regardless of the outcome, nothing bad will happen to him, then there is no incentive to change his bad behavior. It's like a prisoner's dilemma with no bad consequences. Its really no dilemma, and depends solely on the good nature of the bad actor, which as you can readily see is kind of an oxymoron (a bad actor by definition has a bad nature, not a good one).

Europeans have been trying to claim that the Libya decision to forgo WMD (oddly coincident with the 3-week destruction of Saddam's regime) was really the result of years of patient-but-persistent harangues from Eurocrats, instead of the obvious explanation that Qaddafi was scared shitless from a credible threat to deploy troops against someone everyone believed had WMD. Hell, Qaddafi hasd practically admitted as much. That the Europeans continue to push their fantasyland spin on that one is surely an indication of "unseriousness".

What it boils down for me is a desire for anti-war folks to admit that we have to completely and ruthlessly kill anyone who launches terror attacks on the US. Period- no discussion of root causes, extenuating circumstances, nothing. The people who do it must be destroyed. Hoepfully it can be done in a way that lessens the future risk of terror, but I think it is ludicrous to suggest that there is *no* way to kill/destroy/maim the terrorists and their companions without increasing the risk of future terror.

Once we get past that hump, once there is agreement on that rather fundamental truth, then I think most of us on the liberal side will find that we're pretty much on the same page. I mean, I agree with the analyses of the antiwar side; we've stirred up more trouble by keeping deployments overseas and doing what I call chickenshit interventions (Kosovo, Somalia) and we've been worse in our diplomacy, cuddling up to scum & villainy even after we don't have to thwart a rival superpower anymore. Yes, yes, let's stop all that and start the disentangling process (at least limit our bases to countries that want us there and aren't bastards). But I don't want to hear even remote comparisons of policy proposals and the name "switzerland"; there is nothing comparable to the US and Switzerland. None. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Osama & CO would attack the US even if we were Alderaan. I know its hard for Balko & Long to accept this, but yes, they do hate the US for what we are, not what we do. Sitting back in teh US 'giving no offense' is impossible, since if anyone's read Qutb (the ideological godfather of Al Qaeda) knows that these folk hold our very existence in contempt. The difference, though, is that the policy decisions of past US governments have made Osama's evil intentions easier for him to realize. We ought not make his evil easier to realize, so I agree that ultimately we need to scale back.

But we must never, ever, EVER, forget to kill every single mother****ing last one of them who was even remotely connected to the 9-11 plot.

Where libertarians go wrong

Where libertarians go wrong is the failure to deal with the alpha male problem.

We keep it civilized in America by voting and accepting the results.

Some places still prefer the old fashioned way - force and threats of force.

If fighting to expand the

If fighting to expand the sphere of influence of a religion is a religious duty then it is quite possible that America did nothing to deserve 9/11 except exist.

Before 9/11 such a concept seemed unbelievable in the "modern" world.

Some people, still, can't seem to get their brains around the concept.