Thursday, May 05, 2011

Response to Elias on the bin Laden Killing post

Should a martial arts site comment on politics? Maybe not. Several commenters in the past have been upset by it. But this one does, and it’s no secret that it happens. I invite debate, as long as it’s not gratuitous insults and relevant to the topic at hand. I will respect the opinions of anyone whose opinions are shared with respect and respond in kind. Most of you also know that, I would probably be considered right of center, I respect and link to several excellent blogs that rant and opine from the left perspective, and I consider us friends – good friends in the martial arts, as a matter of fact. So bear in mind that I will, occasionally, go there, but also pledge to try not to. In this case, what I regularly post about (martial arts, self-defense, law enforcement, and military matters, making fun of my training partners hitting me, and the like) is intertwined with politics, as going over a border and taking out a terrorist leader is inherently political. So just grin and bear it, and feel free to unsubscribe or just yell at me here in the comments, or on our Facebook page.

Why respond with a whole dang post to this commenter?

Elias is probably my current #1 commenter, at least to recent posts. He thinks through his positions, provides reasons for them, and obviously reads the posts on which he comments. Therefore, I figured a fair treatment of his recent comments to my post on the killing of Osama bin Laden would be good. First, I suggest you read the post, then Elias comments will be excerpted and answered after the jump. Keep in mind that this is still a new story, and developments may change both of our opinions regarding this matter, but here goes.
It would have been justice if they had managed to capture him, before putting him on trial and then hanging him (probably).
As it stands, it doesn't surprise me that he resisted capture, and a so called legend of the Jihadis spent his last moments using his wife as a human shield, which means he will be remembered as a coward, as well as a mass murderer.
As in all cases, a discussion like this necessitates a definition of terms. What is “justice,” and what should justice be for this person? In my case, I’m using the definition, “the administering of deserved punishment or reward,” as defined by Webster’s. In bin Laden’s case, he may believe that justice is his reward of virgins, but I suspect it will not be what he expects.
Either way, his was a declared war on our country. A “trial” is unnecessary in the case of captured combatants, but when conducted, is given on the terms of the victor, as in Nuremburg. Was a military tribunal, which was good enough for the leaders of Nazi Germany, and are more than good enough for bin Laden and his henchmen. The President (Obama) has tried, then reversed his position on civilian trials of terrorist plotters like Khalid Sheik Mohammed. What makes that impossible is that he (Obama) has openly stated that they would be found guilty (can he do that in a civilian trial), that he would NOT release them even if they are found guilty (how is that legal in civilian trials), plus he’s mandated Miranda rights to our enemies that are captured on the battlefield. All of those are well-documented in the press over the past two years, but I would be glad to dig up stories if you really need me to.
I might be biased, but I don't think Bush deserves much, if any credit, for the death of bin Laden - He facilitated the departure of bin Laden's family, after 9/11 after all, and didn't take a credible threat seriously beforehand... Probably because he had his fingers in a lot of pies.
I appreciate you admitting your bias – it doesn’t invalidate what you’re saying, so let me say in turn, I also have a bias. I do think that 1st term Bush took national security VERY seriously, and changes quite a bit in response to 9/11. As I stated in the post, the reason I think he deserves some credit are:

  • His (Bush’s) administration built international cooperation among nations on disabling terror financing networks and reducing their ability to operate openly. The persistent pressure of US and allied actions forced bin Laden to operate, as we now know, without Internet or any other modern communications, which eventually led to his demise.
  • Bush, additionally, set up the interrogation regime that made the operation possible, exposing the courier that eventually led our intelligence to identify his location, and our forces to be able to identify his remains.
  • It’s become known publicly that enhanced interrogation of KSM, “the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, provided the nom de guerre of one of bin Laden’s most trusted aides. The CIA got similar information from Mohammed’s successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi. Both were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics inside CIA prisons in Poland and Romania.” That was the Bush Administration’s doing. My understanding of this whole matter is that they had nothing on bin Laden’s exact location until they determine who his courier was, and tracked him and his brother to their home locations, and then were able to tail or link them to the location where bin Laden was eventually killed. It’s hard for me to give any credit to Obama for an intelligence file that was obtained by a technique that Obama has removed from our repertoire (but which was only used on two detainees, to my knowledge, including KSM).
    As to your charge that Bush “facilitated the departure of bin Laden's family, after 9/11 after all, and didn't take a credible threat seriously beforehand... Probably because he had his fingers in a lot of pies.”
    • Letting bin Laden’s family go - I remember hearing that within a few months of 9/11 by conspiracy theorists, and didn’t really pay attention to it. This story quotes Richard Clarke, who made a lot of hay (and money) after his career as head of counter-terrorism was over (and he was a holdover from Clinton), who says it happened. “"Somebody brought to us for approval the decision to let an airplane filled with Saudis, including members of the bin Laden family, leave the country," he told Vanity Fair magazine. Mr Clarke said he checked with FBI officials, who gave the go ahead. "So I said, 'Fine, let it happen'." So this is somewhat contradictory. He says that it was the Bush administration, but that HE approved it. This article was written after he was already making money on his book attacking Bush’s response, and he never states in this article, at least, that the decision was made by Bush. I’m guessing that things like that are probably not taken directly to the President on a regular basis, but delegated. And, at that time, did we know for sure (this was 9/13) that it was bin Laden? I think all of us were still trying to make sense of it, but we knew it was a team of young, Arabs, probably Saudis. The story also states something that is common knowledge, “The wealthy bin Laden family broke ties with bin Laden years before the September 11 strikes.” Did you know that? In fact, bin Laden had broken long ago with the Saudis and was actually trying to overthrow the regime as part of his plan to re-establish the global Islamic caliphate. They were not allies at that time, nor years before. Can’t fault Clarke, the FBI, or CIA for giving the green light.
    • There has been a ton of data, most credible by the 9-11 Commission that throws a lot of blame all over the place. Bush was inaugurated about 8 months before the attacks, and saying that he didn’t take the threat seriously is arguable. I won’t.
    • If by “fingers in a lot of pies” you mean that Bush was somehow responsible for the attacks, we part ways. A long way, too. If you mean something else, let us know, ‘cuz I have no idea what you mean.
    As for 'parading his body' and all that - Marines captured in Iraq had their corpses burned and hung from scaffolding, early in the second Gulf War; the US have shown that they are better than that, by NOT parading the body around. They should, however, release the 'takedown' video, and photos. Also, I don't know if it would be offensive or insensitive, but they should have considered burying the body at the site of the twin towers, with a memorial saying something along the lines of "Here lies a mass murderer. Justice was done."
    That, or dropping him into the Marianus trench.
    Agree. 100%. The Fallujah bridge incident involved former US Military veterans who were providing security, and they were lynched mutilated, desecrated, and despoiled. They city of Fallujah and the scum who did it paid the price in Iraq, thanks to the surge and the US Marine Corps (thank God for them). But we should show all of the video and photos that don’t give away identities or tactics of our warriors, and I have no problem with dumping bin Laden’s body to the fish. Right on!
    As for Pakistan - This pisses me right off... I'm what you'd consider of 'the Left' and I think that if the due process of law didn't allow for a covert strike in 'allied' territory, against an enemy, then clearly, the law should be changed, or the 'ally' should not be considered one (because they clearly have other purposes).
    What is the due process of the law in international terrorism? I think pre-election Barack Obama would have condemned this type of attack, but would have kept his mouth shut about Bush taking out bin Laden due to the effect on his election chances. An indication of his opinion was his seemingly off-the-cuff remark about us, “air raiding villages, and killing civilians,” in 2007 as he was campaigning, but his use of drone attacks (probably what he was referring to) increased exponentially since his election, and he went with the original Bush plan to increase forces and actually escalated the war in Afghanistan. His legal views seem to have also changed (or evolved, if you prefer) as he’s learned about the realities of prosecuting a war. I think, that he’s doing the right thing with regard to this, and to using drones, and using “International law” when it suits us, and doing what’s in our sovereign best-interests when it doesn’t. I will use a dissimilar situation to explain my point of view: if you are a police officer, charged with protecting the public, and see a robbery take place, and are in hot pursuit, you don’t stop when you cross jurisdictional boundaries. Most state and US federal law allow for that. This situation is similar in that Obama has learned exactly what you said, Pakistan is NOT an ally in the former War on Terror, or the Afghanistan-Pakistan front in that war. He did what he should do – act in our nation’s best interest in a manner which suits that interest, and take the political consequences of it after the fact. It was widely suspected, and now known that Pakistan was harboring those that we were hunting, in contradiction of their agreements with us. Why should we obey the letter of the agreements which they (Pakistan) are breaking while taking billions of dollars in aid every year? It had become known that the President had let Pakistan know about the planned raid (it’s now reported that the SEALs were training for this mission for several months, so obviously the Obama Administration know, and that as a result, bin Laden got away, what good is a farce treaty anyway? I am 100% on Obama’s side on this. Again, my opinion, and how I see the world. Some want nations like Libya, Pakistan, China, and Venezuela determining our (the United States’) policies via “international law” through the UN, but why? And is it Constitutional? Clearly not. Obama is right. You won’t find me saying that often, and please don’t ever quote me, but he is.
    As for the Al Qaeda network being 'neutralized', I read a book by a journalist who spent 6 months in Afghanistan, living with the Taliban. He described their operations before 9/11 as similar to a franchise, or a University, except instead of providing education for medicine, or whatnot, their lectures were on bomb making, intelligence gathering, etc. And instead of research grants for academic endeavors, the funding provided was for terrorist activities. Al Qaeda itself provided minimal organisation.
    Apparently, now, it's more like a group of people blowing something up in the name of Al Qaeda, because they hate the US so much.
    There IS a distinction between the Taliban, which is a native Afghani Islamic fundamentalist movement in Afghanistan that took power from a weak, Soviet-backed puppet government in Kabul, and went about making Afghanistan an even tougher place to live, if that were possible. Al Qaeda was foreign, mostly Saudi, but also Jordanian, Egyptian, and so on. The Taliban was ignored, for the most part, until they started blowing up huge, historic, and irreplacable religious and cultural artifacts like a big Buddha statue., which I remember was a big story because the statue was a UN cultural heritage site, or something like that. No one cared, until after 9/11, when the Bush Administration connected the dots and clues left behind, and decided that allowing anyone to have training camps where they prepared to kill Americans was a bad idea, and gave them a short deadline to kick them out.
    But, you’re right, al Qaeda is doing those things, but they did before 9/11, too, and have for centuries to non-Muslims. AQ is only the latest incarnation of Islamic fundamentalism, which is why they are everywhere – with them, there is no distinction if you are American, Indian, British, Filipino, etc. They also have no problem killing lots and lots of Muslims, and have arguable killed more than we have.
    The first is more dangerous, the second, much harder to trace (a different sort of dangerous). It's been said before (possibly here), that this is a war on insurgency, not terrorism. Kill all the insurgents and more rise up; stop being politically heavy handed, with priorities on the US economy over the wellbeing of the citizens of other countries, and potential insurgents won't have a reason (and thus motivation) to attack the US.
    I’m not going to disagree or argue any of that, since it’s not relevant to the post, but would only ask, why have there been over 17000 attacks by Islamic fundamentalists (or Jihadis), and only a small handful against the US? And now that Obama, who has made nice with the Islamic world and Islam in particular, is in charge, why do they still hate us? Maybe it’s them, and not us? Just my opinion, again.
    At the end of the day, the insurgents themselves are worse off living under the taliban than they are living in a run of the mill third world country; the problem is that they don't have the education to be aware of this, and the disparity between the two isn't very big anyway.
    Agree 100% as stated above.

    My Final Word on the Matter – ok, words

    To me, this is how it’s done, folks. Elias disagreed with some of my opinions, and shared why in his comments, which, as said, were good. I defended my opinions where I thought that they were incomplete or misunderstood, and did so by giving evidence or reasons. We didn’t insult each other, we didn’t picket each other’s homes, I didn’t ban my greatest commenter (I may be dumb, but not that dumb), and I hope we both learned something. The other thing is I shared my definition of the terms used in the discussion, to reduce the possible misunderstandings. And he did, too, and we explained our bias. Does it get any better? Will I take Elias out for a brew, latte, or iced tea? I hope so, and bet he would go. It would be fun, and I hope you’d join us.
    *Sigh* All is right with the world. Winking smile
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    Elias said...

    Ok just to clarify one thing - When I say that Bush had his fingers in a lot of pies, I mean that, for ideological, or other reasons, he has, or had, interests that conflicted with what is best for the American people, in many areas. I primarily think of Health, Education and the Environment when I say this, but see no reason to limit this to National Security.

    What you say about people on 'the left' being against a so called breach of international law is more or less true, I've found, but I think I'm in the majority (in Australia) when I say 'the left is cool with this', just as I'd say the Westboro Baptist Church is in the minority when I say 'The right is not cool with this.'

    As for the distinction between the Taliban and Al Qaeda, this is true, I probably should have mentioned that he spent some time in Al Qaeda run training camps, in Taliban territory.
    I pretty much only have that book, and other books on Islam to work with, but what the author said was essentially that Radical sects of Islam, in particular some of those with Wahhabi influences, are batshit insane. I would say that, the way he wrote about it, it actually scared me quite a bit. In other words, some people will always hate that which is different, but if everyone plays nice, their reach will be limited.

    Ummm... I think that about covers it!

    A couple of closing statements...

    Even if it's irrelevant, if it's interesting, you have no reason not to write about it here, whatever it is.

    Also, it saddens me that Politics in the US are such that if someone is a Democrat, they are immediately perceived as being against the Military.
    A few months ago you posted something about someone putting graffiti all over a memorial to American Servicemen. I can think of Labor voters (Our equivalent of the Democrats) who would have personally punched that guy in the mouth, had that been here.

    A great post, thanks for clarifying this in a well articulated manner. I'd love a beer, but I am on the other side of the world, after all :)

    phrakture said...

    Bleh... unsubscribed.

    Elias said...

    3 unbelievably good reasons to not unsubscribe.

    Nathan at TDA Training said...

    I spent about 2o minutes, composed a good response, and then lost it in a browser glitch! Oh well.

    I appreciate the words, and clarification.

    I won't comment further about Bush or any of that, 'cause I don't like much of his domestic policy and won't defend it. And it's getting more and more irrelevant.

    Thanks for the encouragement on the subject matter. It will get a little more diverse, but will probably not delve too much into non-defense related politics. Not that I'll avoid it, but I tweet about it to get it out of my system. LOL.

    And none of us can please everyone. I don't want to offend, but know I will. My readership is actually expanding, but I vowed, when I decided to recommit to writing this blog, to post without apology, and I'm doing my best to stick to that. So you will get a TKD sucks post, and a boxing is for losers post, but rest assured, I'll tell you why.

    As to the posts that keep readers reading, well, they will decide and I may change if no one reads, but for now, it's going up fast. Not too worried about it. Let's just all duke it out, then hug it out!

    And that beer offer is serious. And who knows when I may show up down under. I love your country!