November 25th, 2008

Unforeseen consequences

I found the following tangential nugget about the long-term consequences of one of Bill Clinton’s Presidential moves buried in an article on the surprising amount of cooperation that seems to be developing between the outgoing Bush Administration and the incoming Obama one:

After 18 U.S. Army Rangers were killed and soldiers were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu , Clinton began a troop pullout; all U.S. forces were out by 1995. Osama bin Laden later said that the U.S. withdrawal encouraged his al Qaida forces to plan new attacks.

Premature withdrawals are seen by terrorists as acts of cowardice committed by weak horses. Obama, take note.

19 Responses to “Unforeseen consequences”

  1. Richard Aubrey Says:

    The terrorists are already terrorists. The ones we need to worry about getting the weak-horse message is everybody else. Politicians, military types, allies, local citizens….

  2. Paul Gordon Says:

    “The terrorists are already terrorists.”

    Even so, what you do (or fail to do) can still effect their decisions.
    -

  3. FredHjr Says:

    A lot of the market downticks in recent weeks reflects, according to my contacts (and I’m an analyst who knows people who are in the money management business), the desire of many investors to cut their losses or lock in their gains and pay today’s lower capital gains tax rates. Everyone is presuming that the Jackasses will, at some point, raise taxes. The Jackasses are talking about doubling the capital gains tax rate from 15% to 30%. Plus, investors are not confident that an Obama administration will maintain an investor friendly environment.

    People are also anticipating disappointing earnings.

    So, the above are my thoughts about the bulk of the article neo has posted. Now, my brief comments about the foreign policy and defense policy implications of an Obama presidency vis-a-vis Islamic terror states:

    I don’t think Obama’s picks for the cabinet so far reflect any conscious respect he may have for President Clinton’s cabinet. There is no love lost between Obama and the Clintons and Clinton’s people. Rather, I think something else is at work. All of them are connected with organizations that are networked with George Soros and his allies and friends. The International Crisis Group is one of these. It’s based in Brussels and the members are all people who object to unilateral actions by the United States of America. All of them believe that appeasing the Muslim world is the path to peace in our time. These transnational elites earnestly desire to put the U.S. Constitution in a museum and substitute international law for our laws and traditions.

    At least that is my understanding of these people. Only those who were lulled to sleep during the Nineties draw comfort from the Clintonistas.

  4. John G. Spragge Says:

    Terrorism, as a tactic, depends on misdirection, on provoking your enemies (or the third party you want to use against your enemies), getting them angry, and using their own strength against them. We know this. Why anyone would ever expect terrorists to give an accurate account of their motives or intentions to the world I have absolutely no idea.

    Twenty-three years ago, a clutch of terrorists murdered 280 Canadian citizens in the largest mass murder in our history, and very nearly equivalent, in terms of population, to 9/11 in the US. Canada didn’t invade any countries, deport any suspects to “black” prisons, or establish any new government departments. In fact, our police and intelligence services signally (and shamefully) botched the investigation, so we only jailed a single suspect. And what happened? Did a deluge of terrorists descend like locusts on an obviously slothful and poorly protected country? No. Nothing happened. We have never had another aviation terror incident in Canada.

    Terrorists do things for their own reasons. They do not risk their lives to punish “weakness”.

  5. Ymarsakar Says:

    They do not risk their lives to punish “weakness”.

    You have to stop the practice of misrepresenting arguments only to knock them down afterwards.

    Terrorists risk their lives to kill people and weak people are easier to kill and terrorize than stronger people. Thus weakness punishes the weak and rewards the terrorist, which is not the same thing as what you said: risking lives to punish weakness.

    We have never had another aviation terror incident in Canada.

    And where would this “clutch of terrorists” be right now?

    Maybe they took a page out of Ayers and realized it was time to adopt another strategy. Terrorists can do that, you know.

  6. Ymarsakar Says:

    John, I know that if the cost of ending war forever was the destruction of billions of innocent lives, you would be happy to pay the price. But that is not a price I am willing to pay for simply an assurance from people like you that this will defeat warfare and terrorism permanently via the use of NGO and UN institutions.

    You don’t think weakness is a problem since terrorists have their own goals and what not and will not tell you what is going. The same was said of Mein Kampf.

    Just because you don’t think weakness gets people killed, I still don’t see how you can refuse to believe, in your own mind if nowhere else, the fact that weakness on the part of a nation does get its citizens killed.

    Is that the price you are willing to pay for your forever peace goal, John? Letting weakness gobble up however many victims, in the billions or millions, so long as it things go according to your plan and view?

  7. br549 Says:

    Oh, I don’t know. Perhaps Canada didn’t respond in the manner hoped for, creating martyrs for the cause. So, the terrorists turned their attention elsewhere. Gotta have those martyrs for their ideas to work.

  8. Adagny Says:

    Islamic terrorists are in it for the long run. They’re “down for the struggle” if you known what I mean. If that takes a year or a decade or a century they will perservere.

    GW to his credit seemed to get this concept. Defeat was not an option.

    Carter, Clinton, and most Dems want victory quick and neat.

    We are in a long term, protracted struggle against an enemy who loves death more than we love life.

    Obama, take note.

  9. FredHjr Says:

    John Spragge knows jack shit about the Qur’an, jihad, ahadith, the Dhimma, and the religious motivations of this enemy. If he really did have any deep knowledge about these things his interpretation of Islamic terrorism would not be so stunted. I don’t know why he bothers to bring his lame interpretations of Islamic terrorism to neo’s boards; he isn’t going to convert any of us to the views that seem to prevail in Canuckistan.

  10. Loyal Achates Says:

    So would you like to take this opportunity to condemn all the Republican leaders who called for an immediate withdrawal?

  11. neo-neocon Says:

    Loyal Achates: Absolutely. Why on earth would I care if it was a Republican or a Democrat espousing an opinion with which I disagree? What an odd point you think you are making.

    You mean, like this? Or perhaps this?

    The truth, however, is that the calls for withdrawal were nearly entirely from Democrats, and the votes that prevented it were almost entirely Republican. That’s just a fact (see this, for example).

  12. Tatterdemalian Says:

    Terrorism is a form of information war, intended not just to frighten their own populations into obedience, but also to frighten any foreign powers who could put an end to the terrorists’ reign by convincing them that fighting back against the terrorists only makes them more powerful. It relies upon creating communication barriers, not only between the people they rule to make any organized “grassroots” revolution impossible, but also between their subjects and the outside world, one that leftists, with their contemptuous treatment of victimized populations and sympathies for the terrorists themselves, are all too willing to participate in themselves.

  13. John G. Spragge Says:

    Just because you don’t think weakness gets people killed, I still don’t see how you can refuse to believe, in your own mind if nowhere else, the fact that weakness on the part of a nation does get its citizens killed.

    Logic, as well as overwhelming evidence, tells us that people do things for their own reasons. Terrorists have specific ends in view; they do not simply respond to perceived “weakness”. They attack those whom they perceive will react in ways that help their cause. Often, they hope to provoke a reaction their victims will see a “strong”, either repression or military confrontation. The least effective response to terrorism starts with the question: how do I/we look tough, rather than asking what aims the terrorists have that we can frustrate.

    Is that the price you are willing to pay for your forever peace goal, John? Letting weakness gobble up however many victims, in the billions or millions, so long as it things go according to your plan and view?

    Look, if you believe that you can define “weakness” in each instance, if you believe that this “weakness” you think you can define somehow offends the universe so as to cause retribution in the form of otherwise unprovoked attacks, then your world view diverges profoundly from both history and logic. Consider the Second World War: virtually all of combatants thought of themselves as strong, and the ones who thought of themselves as strongest, because they chose to begin the war, ended up suffering the most devastating defeats.

    The lesson of the last bloody hundred years teaches us goes like this: real weakness consists of disrespect of disregard for other people. That breeds dictatorship, war, and lawlessness.

  14. I R A Darth Aggie Says:

    They attack those whom they perceive will react in ways that help their cause.

    Correct. Osama bin Laden incorrectly perceived that the attack on 9/11 would cause the USofA to react by acceding to his demands that we withdraw from the “lands of Islam” and throw Israel under the bus. At worst, we’d throw a few missiles at some empty training camps in Afghanistan.

    After all, that had been our pattern. They’d strike, we’d retaliate. His boys would blow up a barracks, we’d send the FBI. His boys would try to sink a destroyer, we’d send the FBI. The Somalis would kill a few of ours, and we’d place our tails betwixt our legs and run home.

    I’m sure his military advisors had assured him that the USofA would never put ground forces in any number into Afghanistan, or if we did, it would result in a Soviet-style quagmire of misery and defeat. And provide new jihadi’s a training ground to gain ample experience under fire.

    What he didn’t expect was that Americans can be quite a bit tougher than he assumed:

    Score: USMC 50, Taliban 0.

    Object lesson: bullies won’t stop until you give them a reason to stop. In this case, that being a terrorist is a good way to get killed, and that maybe we should try a different tact to get our grievances heard.

  15. Nolanimrod Says:

    I read the linked article and was quite simply amazed. The piece was, after all, about the cooperation Bush was offering Obama to ensure a smooth transition. In it he mentioned the transition from Hoover to Roosevelt, from Carter to Reagan, from GHW Bush to Clinton.

    God bless the media; they never stop. He neglected to mention the transition from Clinton to GW Bush. Anybody with a brain who could read the constitution knew how that was going to come out, the Florida supreme court notwithstanding. Yet Clinton never started the transition process until it was almost time for Bush to take office, and as a result Bush started out in the hole. The transition was very jagged and disorganized and something really ferocious could have happened in what was in fact an interregnum.

    The looting of the furniture, the removal of the W’s from the White House typewriters, and the final insult of Clinton’s being late for the trip to the Capitol, I’m sure GW Bush remembers these things and decided that he would try to help America by doing everything he could to make things go smoothly.

    In an article about how invested Bush is in making things go as seamlessly as possibly I was actually astounded that not one thing about the 2000 transition was mentioned. Even, expecting as I do, almost nothing of merit from an appendage of what has come to be called the MSM, which, as this article demonstrates, should stand for Muck, Spleen, and Misdirection.

  16. neo-neocon Says:

    Nolanimrod: I noticed that omission too. But then I also noticed they were limiting it to transitions in times of economic turmoil, so that seemed to explain it.

  17. njcommuter Says:

    Terrorism is a form of information war, intended not just to frighten their own populations into obedience, but also to frighten any foreign powers who could put an end to the terrorists’ reign by convincing them that fighting back against the terrorists only makes them more powerful.

    For an excellent definition of terrorism, and the links between terrorism, government, and war I recommend (again) Philip Bobbitt’s Terror and Consent. I don’t agree with everything; he’s unreasonably hard on GWB and events with SCOTUS have overtaken his judgement on what ought to be done (probably just why GWB didn’t go down that road) but his framework of reasoning is sound, and needs to be applied and advanced.

  18. Tatterdemalian Says:

    Hopefully he’s at least a better writer than me. Themselves.

  19. John G. Spragge Says:

    Tatterdemalian:
    People in possession of power frequently rule by terror, but they tend to use secrecy. Regimes that rule by terror have as their signature secret prisons, arrests and disappearances in the middle of the night, and secret deportations to unknown locations. The kind of flashy, in the open outrages we call terrorism characterize the behaviour of groups who want to get into government, and count on misdirecting their opponents. Morally, these two forms of behaviour do not have much to distinguish them. Decent people condemn them both. But as tactics, they have completely different ways of working, and to defeat them, it helps to understand how the terrorists aim to reach their goals.

    neo:
    I don’t know exactly what kind of “premature withdrawal” you have in mind, but in the case of Iraq, the Iraqi people will clearly set the pace. A status of forces agreement setting a timetable for US forces to cease all urban combat operations in six months, and to leave in three years, has just passed Iraq’s parliament. However, Iraqi legislators have tacked on a provision for the people to vote on the agreement in a referendum that will probably take place next July. If the people of Iraq vote against the agreement, the US will have to withdraw by the middle of 2010, within President-elect Obama’s time frame of sixteen months.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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