Originally Posted by PhantomWolf
So you would have conducted a military operation except it would be a covert one. For some reason I was perceiving your tone as indicating you thought America deserved 9/11 and were pushing for OBL being to be rewarded not punished. I don't know how I got that idea (maybe I've been reading too many of Olivers posts) and I will apologize for having thought that.
However I will point out something. Simply taking down OBL doesn't take out the threat that Al Qaeda posed. I know it's tempting to think that, and certainly a lot of Americans were infatuated with that notion, but it isn't realistic. Al Qaeda is vast, amorphous, fanatical, hate filled and well funded. Taking OBL, while it might feel good, would not remove the threat. We need to keep in mind that this is an organization who's animus is not borne out of tangible historic acts but instead a nebulous religious born furor that pits those who want and strive for religious secularism from its governments and religious freedom for themselves against those who would rather kill themselves than tolerate such freedoms.
A sober look at the manifestations of this hate, whether in Afghanistan, or post invasion Iraq is in order.
In terms of hate the contemporary version of radical Islam has few peers. What was the specific reason cited by Osama bin Laden for wanting to attack the United States? His reason was the presence of American troops in his homeland of Saudi Arabia. Why did he hate this? Because he considered this an invasion and occupation by a non-Islamic heathen nation. Why are there US troops in Saudi Arabia? They were invited in by that nations leaders to protect it from invasion from Iraq. So, in other words, Osama was mad that troops were protecting his homeland from invasion. Which does not make a darn bit of sense until you realize that it is not what these troops are doing that makes them hated, but who the troops are, and in Osama‘s mind these troops are not protectors of Muslims, despite the fact that they protect Muslim people and Muslim land, to him they are nothing more than heathens.
In radical Islam no distinction is made between non-Muslims who help and non-Muslims who hurt the various people of the world who worship as Muslims. As Osama demonstrates by hating the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia even people who are explicitly protecting
Muslim peoples, and their holy sites, are not given any leniency should they happen to not be a practitioner of Islam themselves. They are heathens, infidels and that is all. This fact has begun to be demonstrated as radical Islamic groups target people and nations who were explicitly against the US invasion of Iraq.
Margaret Hassan is one such example of this. Not American but Irish by birth, she was a vocal opponent to both the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, she worked in Iraq to assist the poorest and most needy in a nation of near perpetual war, yet she became a victim of radical Islam on October 16, 2004 when she was kidnapped in Baghdad then promptly executed in front of a video camera. Why was she killed? She was working to restore order to a place of near anarchy, and anarchy is exactly what the Insurgency wants because it is a hell of a lot easier to conquer a place of chaos and the resultant little resistance than a place of organized stability that can defend itself. She was also of Western European ethnicity and worse yet she was an independent outspoken woman which violates a great tenant of radical Islam, that women are supposed to be subservient and docile baby factories. As such Margaret was seen as being very much against the kind of culture of violence and oppression that radical Islam craves.
Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni also fell victim to Islamic Radicals in late August 2004 when she too was abducted in Iraq. Enzo was a staunch anti-war activist who fervently believed America was wrong in waging its wars against both Afghanistan and Iraq. However, partly because of a media blitz appealing for her release and partly because she was not held by the worst of radicals, she survived and was released. A communication error at a checkpoint led to her entourage coming under fire from US troops leading to several deaths. She claimed it was an assassination attempt despite the fact that coordinating such an event given the situation would have been next to impossible and that that there is no historical precedent of US troops doing such a thing to a bothersome journalist. After all a great many journalists have stood next to American soldiers and called them murderers, rapists or baby killers. But none of those journalists were ever gunned down by the GI’s they had just vilified. That Baldoni thinks she is so important as to be marked for assassination is more indicative of a rampant ego than anything else.
Baldoni’s abduction does, however, also exemplify the fallacy first revealed by what had happened to Hassan. The fallacy is that she, like the anti-war movement in general, felt America had brought the wrath of Islamic Radicalism on itself by mistreating Muslims in general. They thus appealed to the Islamic Radicals to confide in them what it is they were angry about, what it was that they would want changed so that they could be peaceful again. The problem, as was demonstrated by these two women being targets, is that what the Islamic Radicals wanted was the forced conversion of all the worlds people to their brand of Islam, and that those who would not convert would die.
A great many fell into the trap of thinking that the terrorist violence was merely a retaliation against poor treatment at the hands of the United States. What this pre 9/11 poor treatment actually was has yet to be articulated or demonstrated in any means beyond ambiguous rhetoric of an American-Zionist conspiracy. Nonetheless, and despite the omission of such evidence, the world, Europe especially, queued up to get in on the anti-American bandwagon and have only recently stepped off their soapbox a bit. Whilst Americans tried to wake these detractors up to reality they continued on in their ignorance and false hope only to be burned when they became targets themselves. They thus learned, the hard way, that America was right and was probably not targeted because of some supposed ill-treatment of Muslims but purely because of what America was: a nation that was not an Islamic theocracy; a nation that had laws insuring the equal rights of women and people of all religions; and a nation full of people who were powerful, rich and free---traits abhorred by those who populate the world of radical Islam.
The fallacy is thus revealed. America did nothing wrong to Islam or Muslim people in general. America is hated then, not for doing something wrong, but for being an example of what Radical Islam is not; a successful and powerful institution. For that reason and, before the War on Terror, that reason alone Islamic Radicals felt Americans must die.
Stomping out such ideals is not easy, it is not antiseptic and it simply can't be done quickly. I like to think long term, and it is thinking long term that shaped my beliefs in how the War on Terror should be fought. Invading Islamic countries and toppling their governments will produce more terrorists in the short term. It is, however, my belief that by turning such countries into modern secular democratic states that they will in the long run become peaceful and in the long run produce fewer terrorists. I will not defend every action taken in the course of this cause. I will not defend Abu-Ghraib, I will not defend the labeling of POW's as "illegal combatants" and keeping them in Guantanamo, I will not defend the slaughter of civilians or surrendered enemy soldiers. All those things are as abhorrent to me as to any other civilized person. But I believe in the idea of combating radical Islam for the sake of the future. Maybe the way there isn't clear, and it hasn't taken the turns that I would like, but I feel that the present course, properly amended, is on the generally right path to a solution.
I suspect, however, that we may just have to agree to disagree on this.