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Human Nature Trumps Homeland Security 304

Posted by Zonk
from the please-stop-with-the-ass-covering dept.
netbuzz writes "Security expert Bruce Schneier suggests this morning that 'there might not be a solution' to our post-9/11 penchant for making domestic anti-terrorism decisions based on the basic human desire to cover one's backside. He might be right. But shouldn't we at least try to figure out a better way? For example, wouldn't 'Commonsense Homeland Security' be a winning political banner, not a risky one? "
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Human Nature Trumps Homeland Security

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  • by Dirtside (91468) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:23PM (#18115016) Journal
    Like it or not, the only reason we have anything to fear from Islamic terrorists is because we've spent decades interfering with their politics. You can't fight an idea, but you can arrange things so that people don't have any motive to blow themselves up.
  • I gotta blame (Score:5, Insightful)

    by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:27PM (#18115074)
    the media for this CYA security. Every time A Bad Thing(tm) happens, the media (TV) is all about "How can we prevent this from ever ever ever happening again?". Nothing is ever a fluke, every time something goes titsup, we have to take action, dammit!
  • Homeland Security (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:27PM (#18115084)
    wouldn't 'Commonsense Homeland Security' be a winning political banner, not a risky one?


    Homeland Security is not about security. It is about using the public's tax money to enrich your friends and business partners. And politics are determined by the players not by the voters (as much as we'd all like to believe otherwise).

  • by El Cubano (631386) <roberto@conneYEATSxer.com minus poet> on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:28PM (#18115104) Homepage

    But shouldn't we at least try to figure out a better way? For example, wouldn't 'Commonsense Homeland Security' be a winning political banner, not a risky one?

    Scenario 1:

    1. $PRESIDENT and $EXECUTIVE_BRANCH_POLITICIANS say "this is overblown, go back about your normal business"
    2. Terrorist attack happens
    3. People howl that $PRESIDENT and $EXECUTIVE_BRANCH_POLITICIANS did nothing when they had the chance

    Scenario 2:

    1. $PRESIDENT and $EXECUTIVE_BRANCH_POLITICIANS do everything that they can to prevent anything even resembling a terrorist attack
    2. No terrorist attacks happen for a short time
    3. People howl that $PRESIDENT and $EXECUTIVE_BRANCH_POLITICIANS only want to take away people's rights and institute facism

    With options like that, it doesn't matter what they do, as they are always going to be wrong.

  • by eviloverlordx (99809) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:29PM (#18115108)
    Exactly. You don't see terrorist bombings in Norway, because Norway isn't sticking their collective noses in other peoples' business.
  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrHanky (141717) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:29PM (#18115112) Homepage Journal
    Being perceived as "tough on terrorism" is far more important than having a workable plan. Politics is mostly about posturing while having your way with an unrelated issue at the same time.
  • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:29PM (#18115116) Homepage
    Muslim armies were plenty keen on invading the Christian and pagan states around them from the 7th century on, slaughtering the pagans and placing high taxation on the rest. Hard to blame the United States when we're only seeing the latest evolution of a trend dating back over a thousand years before the U.S. existed.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:33PM (#18115176)
    Just as Christian armies have been plenty keen on invading Muslim and pagan states around them throughout history.

    The unifying notion is that many people fear and hate the unfamiliar, and will wage war against it no matter what it is.
  • by superpulpsicle (533373) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:35PM (#18115216)
    There should be a few new rules to be a president/VP of the U.S.

    #1. If you start a war, you send your kids to the frontlines of whatever country you are attacking.

    #2. Your kid stays there till your term is over.

    #3. You cannot own any companies or be a shareholder of any.
  • by MidVicious (1045984) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:36PM (#18115230)

    $PRESIDENT and $EXECUTIVE_BRANCH_POLITICIANS do everything that they can to prevent anything even resembling a terrorist attack

    Does that include duct tape on the windows and the banning of liquids on all non-private airlines? (God forbid if a terrorist has a enough money to charter private flights).

    When your 'do everything they can' scenario actually happens as a viable and logical solution, maybe then your 'do everything they can' scenario will make sense. Or possibly be proven invalid.

  • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:38PM (#18115244) Homepage

    As far as I know, most every state around that time was pretty keen on invading their neighbors. And I'm fairly certain that a long time has passed since then. Do you judge modern Christianity by the actions it took during that period?

    The difference here is that there is continuity between those actions and the present. Islamic extremists look back to the early waves of expansion and say, "That's just, we need to keep it up." Meanwhile, it's hard to find any Christians who are trying to bring back the Byzantine Empire.

    Are you denying that US actions have any impact on Muslim attitudes towards us?

    I don't deny that Muslims feel wronged by the U.S. However, it seems likely that there would be strong impulses towards violence from certain sectors in that society regardless of what the U.S. was doing. Thailand and the Philippines have problems with Muslim insurgencies even though they are not meddling superpowers.

  • by RichPowers (998637) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:38PM (#18115246)
    If the government was seriously interested in reducing the threat from terrorism, they would've come up with a comprehensive, and practical, plan for creating stability and peace in the Middle East. But that's simply not the case. For example, the only thing the extremists hate more than the US and the West is Israel. Unfortunately, the Israeli/Palestinian peace process has never been on the administration's frontburner when compared to Iraq and Saudi Arabia policies. And speaking of Iraq, what better way to galvanize potential terrorists than by fulfilling Osama's message that the Infidels want to invade the holy lands? Not having a competent reconstruction plan or means of dealing with sectarian conflict doesn't help either. Then there's the perception that the US is ignoring diplomacy with Iran because President Bush wants war. Even if this claim is meritless, that is still how many people see it. All of this, coupled with deep-rooted societal issues, creates the conditions that foster terrorism. New government agencies and stupid color-coded charts do jack shit to address the core issues. And by relying on bureaucrats, as the author says, we're setting ourselves up for disaster. The government needs to stop with the feel-good, expensive, worthless Homeland Security measures and really tackle the issue at its source...
  • As a slogan, yes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by digitig (1056110) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:39PM (#18115272)
    "Commonsense security" would make a grand slogan. But in practice that would be the same stuff we get now, because the spin merchants would insist that whatever they're promoting is commonsense. "It's common sense to imprison everybody and have robots look after their basic needs; after all, if it saves one child..."
  • Do not agree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scuba_steve_1 (849912) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:43PM (#18115332)
    I do not agree...at all.

    Certainly, we are not without sin, but the current rift is more complex than you portray. At the very least, it is due in part to a clash of cultures and religions that are almost diametrically opposed to one another. Freedom of speech, expression and, yes, religion are basic tenets of American society. We have grown so used to these basic freedoms that we assume that they are universally true...and they are not...regardless of how much we (or others) would like them to be.

    I am not attempting to flame, but I think that it is fair to say that some societies (especially some of those in the Mid-East) hold a specific religious dogma to be of principal importance to their society. All other laws and rules of behavior flow from that religious dogma...or, at the very least, cannot conflict with it. I think that it is also fair to say that the level of tolerance for conflicting beliefs is fairly low. Doubt it? Try carrying a stack of bibles into Saudi Arabia and see how far you get through customs. I'll tell you how far - to the line that leads to jail:

    http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/ENGMDE2300220 00 [amnesty.org]
    http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1 012.html [state.gov]

    In America, the squeaky wheel gets the oil. I worked in Japan for some time and realized that a somewhat similar Japanese phrase crystallizes the difference between our two cultures - the nail that sticks up gets hit. The clash of philosophies between Islam and the West make the differences between the US and Japan look trivial.
  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:43PM (#18115344) Homepage
    I prefer to be honest. We have not been 'interefering with their politics".

    Instead we let Republican Presidents (yes, it was ALWAYS Republicans that did this, Carter and Clinton did not make this mistake) search out and finding the most vicious, obnoxious, totalitarian, Facists we can find, giving them large amounts of aid, helping them to gain power. Then when we looked at who are friends were and what they were doing, we abandon them, often when they have grown dependent on our aid. This pissed them off, and either they declare us traitors, or they get thrown out of power and the revolutionaries hate us. We did it with Iran (Shah/Khomeni), Panama (Noreiga), Iraq (Hussein), and Afganistan (Bin Laden)

  • by rtb61 (674572) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:45PM (#18115366) Homepage
    It is far more than just 'coverings ones ass'. The is also the power trip of being able to control people and make them jump through hoops. Add to that there is job security, no inflated risk, no job to contain the risk, real or not. Then there is the opportunity for promotion, the greater the risk, the bigger the department, the higher the head of the departments salary as well as an inflated sence of self worth for that department head. Incumbent politics also loves a populace who feels under threat as they are less likely to vote the other party in, FUD always tends to win over the unknowing. Then there are the corporations that profit as a result of all those security threats, security systems, guards etc.

    Everything remains until such time as the electorate get sick of all of it and kick out the party that is profiting by it and replace them with the politic party that will shift the focus away from terrorizing the public with bogus threats and focus on all those mundane issues that will affect the lives of the majority like, universal health care, universal education, the environment and the falling average standard of living ie they toss out the party that focuses on the wealthy minority and making them richer, safer and protecting them from the poor that the rich create and instead focus upon the working poor and on preventing the now shrinking middle class from sliding down to join the working poor.

    You can always tell the most corrupt politicians because they will always pat themselves on the back for how much profit the corporations and the wealthy that control those corporations are making and completely ignore how many ex-middle class families have joined the ranks of the working poor.

  • by Dr Kool, PhD (173800) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:46PM (#18115386) Homepage Journal
    Interfering with their politics? More like daring to a non-Islamic free society. To quote the Aussie PM:

    Australia is a western nation. Nothing can, will or should alter that fact. As such, in this new world, we are a terrorist target. Those who assert that through some calibration of our foreign policy we can buy immunity from terrorist attacks advance a proposition which is both morally flawed and factually wrong.

    It is morally flawed because this nation should never fashion its foreign policy under threat. The foreign policy of Australia should always reflect the values of Australia. Bin Laden identified Australia as a terrorist target because of the intervention in East Timor. Let me pose the question, if that threat had been issued prior to the invention in 1999 should the Australian government have pulled back? I think not. Would the Australian public have wanted the government then in the face of that threat to have pulled back? I think not. The proposition about your foreign policy being adjusted is also factually flawed because the victims of terrorists over the past decade have come from many nations sharing a full variety of foreign policy and strategic views.
  • by silentounce (1004459) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:47PM (#18115402) Homepage
    There are some people that already do this. Like John McCain. Hey, wait a second, he supports the war. Actually, I believe that you'll find that the majority of politicians that have relatives in Iraq support the fight as well. McCain wants to be president and he'll feet these inane requirements, plus he was a POW for several years himself. I don't know why I'm even replying to this thread. It's simply ignorant.
  • by spun (1352) <(moc.oohay) (ta) (yranoituloverevol)> on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:53PM (#18115490) Journal
    I disagree that there aren't any Christians trying to bring back the Byzantine Empire. In fact, I think that fairly accurately describes what certain Christian groups in the US are trying to do. Our extremists are no better than theirs, so why you might choose to judge a whole religion based on their extremists escapes me.

    Thailand has been through so many governments since the overthrow of the monarchy in 1932, including several brutal military dictatorships, that it does not surprise me that Thai muslims might want in on all the action. As for the Philippines, they have been in a similar position. One does not have to be a super power to meddle, and it's not only meddlers that attract insurgencies. You might want to check how many non-muslim insurgencies a country has had before using them as an example of how Muslims are violent.
  • Security? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RyanFenton (230700) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:54PM (#18115496)

    When I think of the term security, my first thought is as the first word in the term "security blanket". It's an emotional state for a person, not a logical state to be achieved in a system.

    The same holds whenever I hear the term 'homeland security' and 'national security' - these systems are not designed, oriented, or run in any way to make an impervious wall to potential damage - they are, and have always been, publicity measures to evoke the emotional state of security.

    If we were to create a system of real 'functional' national security, it would be a nightmare all around. We would have to make it practically impossible for any damage to be done to the protected area - which isn't plausible unless you completely prevented living things from being in the protected area or anything in range. Even the middle of the Demilitarized Zone in Korea would not fit such a definition.

    Beyond this technicality though, people don't want even limited functional security. They want a shield from external consequences - they want a daddy to look over them, a very biased daddy who will listen to their complaints and hurt the bad guys. This, to a degree, is the goal behind the current illusion of security.

    At the same time though, I'm glad it is the merely political/emotional system it is. Because I'd rather have a bumbling mostly-absent daddy-figure in that space, than a system which actually had the power to implement a system of authoritarian measures beyond most people's 'convenience' threshold. I acknowledge that I'm in mild danger without some precautions (in any case, really) - but I find an entrenched abusable 'security' environment much more terrifying than all the horrible rebel terrorists in the world, in the same way that I'd find a poison labeled as candy more terrifying than all the poison in the world.

    Ryan Fenton
  • by rhombic (140326) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:55PM (#18115528)

    The difference here is that there is continuity between those actions and the present. Islamic extremists look back to the early waves of expansion and say, "That's just, we need to keep it up."
    You mean, except for the several hundred years during which the Islamic states (other than Turkey) were taken over and run as client states by the Europeans, right?

    Meanwhile, it's hard to find any Christians who are trying to bring back the Byzantine Empire.

    Not so hard to find, there's one living at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, DC. Check in with him & his boss, Dick.

    Thailand is an outlier, but in the Philippines you've got a non-Muslim government made up of the leftovers of a Spanish & US colonial system. The Muslims in the south were most certainly meddled with by westerners, it just happened long enough ago that most folks in the US have never heard of it. Ditto Indonesia. It amazes me that folks think France can take over Syria, England can take all of Mesopotamia, the US can grab the Philippines, and then set up arbitrary borders, paying no attention to traditional tribal and ethnic boundaries, walk away and be surprised when the people who were essentially enslaved start 1) Fighting with each other and 2) looking for a little payback.

  • Re:Not exactly. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jherek Carnelian (831679) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:56PM (#18115548)

    Most of the time the politicians WANT the people to be afraid because fear is an emotion and emotions are easier to use when re-election time comes.


    "I want this country to realize that we stand on the edge of oblivion.
      I want everyone to remember *why* they need us!"
  • by spun (1352) <(moc.oohay) (ta) (yranoituloverevol)> on Thursday February 22, 2007 @06:58PM (#18115578) Journal
    You, sir, are either an idiot or deliberatly trolling. The point is that we were NOT sitting at home leaving them alone on September 10th. We were fucking with them. Learn some history before you embarass yourself again. Who supported the Shah? Who supported Saddam? Who supported and supports the brutal Saudi monarchy? Who sends billions in "aid" to Isreal?

    Are you really that uninformed?
  • by spun (1352) <(moc.oohay) (ta) (yranoituloverevol)> on Thursday February 22, 2007 @07:02PM (#18115614) Journal
    War ain't about one man against the next,
    It's poor people dying so the rich cash checks.
  • by Kenrod (188428) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @07:07PM (#18115686)
    Like it or not, the only reason we have anything to fear from Islamic terrorists is because we've spent decades interfering with their politics. You can't fight an idea, but you can arrange things so that people don't have any motive to blow themselves up.



    History does not agree with you, for reasons others have pointed out. This has been going on for centuries. The only thing that has changed in the past few decades is that oil wealth and technology have finally made it possible for Islamic terrorists to effectively strike us at home in the US and Europe.

    The important factor is that Western cultural ideas are threatening conservative Islamic ideas - this is the real threat the jihadists perceive. They don't hate our interference in politics, it's our "interference" in their culture. Are you willing to compromise your liberal Western values to appease Islamic conservatives? Are you willing to ignore their hideous human rights abuses?

  • by ArcherB (796902) * on Thursday February 22, 2007 @07:15PM (#18115794) Journal
    #1. If you start a war, you send your kids to the frontlines of whatever country you are attacking.

    I served so the Bush twins wouldn't have to. I'll gladly donate my service to them. That's why it's called a Volunteer Force. No one is in Iraq that doesn't want to be. If they wanted out, all they have to do is make a pass at their commanding officer (provided their commanding officer is the same sex they are)

    #2. Your kid stays there till your term is over.

    Did that... served in the MidEast under two administrations.

    #3. You cannot own any companies or be a shareholder of any.

    Their money is in a blind trust. They don't know where their money is. Besides, if they had to put their money into common interest baring accounts, they would get blasted everytime the interest rates went up. Or would you prefer that they just keep all their money under the mattress in the Lincoln bedroom?
  • by UnknownSoldier (67820) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @07:15PM (#18115800)
    > The only way to be secure against terror is to destroy it at its roots -- and that means seriously debilitating the governments that are paying for it.

    Yeah, just like the war on drugs... oh wait.

    Some problems can't be solved just by throwing enough money at them.

    How do you teach an intolerant person tolerance?

    --
    How do you win a "war on terror" when you're the one creating it??
  • by krotkruton (967718) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @07:16PM (#18115808)
    There haven't seen terroist bombings yet in Norway, though they have been directly threatened.

    That sounds a lot like the US administration when they try to scare the public by saying that just because we haven't been attacked since 9/11, doesn't mean that the terrorists won't attack tomorrow...
  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@[ ]u.org ['bea' in gap]> on Thursday February 22, 2007 @07:25PM (#18115938)
    The problem is more complex than just blaming the media. It is a circular problem, modern Americans are amoral, lazy and uneducated so the media gives em what they want. Of course the media also had a large hand in creating that populace but gets to share the blame with the government schools, the entertainment industry (related to the media but somewhat seperate) and the socialists who pushed things down this road to hell we are now pretty much stuck on.

    A hundred years ago the average American was a hell of a lot more educated than his modern descendent, such that most people would have seen right through the idiocy and emotional based 'policies' that drive modern political discourse. Which is why a determined campaign was waged to dumb people down.

    Ideas that can't be expressed in a paragraph (or better a bumber sticker) have no chance of going anywhere in these days of two minute TV news stories that have to fit in the idea, the other party objecting to it and the network twit pontificating about it. And ideas that by all rights should be dead issues because they are so self evidently bogus are taken seriously because politicians can rely on 90% of the viewers being too ignorant to know better and that under no condition will the TV dude call them out on saying something retarded.

    So where does it end? Can it be reversed? Doubt it. It will end, as Amb. Kosh said, "In fire."
  • Re:I gotta blame (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AeroIllini (726211) <aeroillini.gmail@com> on Thursday February 22, 2007 @07:29PM (#18115992)
    The true test of a stable society is when a tragedy occurs and no laws are changed.
  • by sumdumass (711423) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @07:31PM (#18116016) Journal
    The train attacks in Spain came from local sources. It had nothing to do with any involvment in Iraq except it being brought up by the "Why did it happen croud". Spain was being held hostage by violent terrorist since way before Iraq was on the radar.

    And this makes me wonder if any "common sence" approach to national security could ever come about. It seems that everyone wanting something else doesn't understand the picture or the threat that is being presented to us. Bin Laden cowtails to some extream religios view for personal gain because just like any other religions because it helps get people on his side (it has recuiting benifits). And I think these others are somehow being sucked in.

    It isn't that there cannot be "common sence" security. The problem is that when people demonstrate that they do not know what the problems are or that they are incappable of interpreting it, the solutions would always seem lacking. National security is already a ballence between preserving freedoms and effective security measures. But to have someone suggest a change in lue of security for more freedom when they cannot even get the picture of what is going on correct means that it will fail or makes us less safe (the reasons it will fail).

    I'm not saying shut all the idiots up or anything. That would end up shutting me up too. The debate is a good thing but some home work needs to be done before making the claim about "laxing this aspect of security". I don't want to get attacked because some asshat who has little clue thinks this should work. The attitude now is that terrorism only exists because we are in Iraq and neglects many other aspects of it. You even made the claim that Spains problems were because of Iraq when they weren't. This shows they are winning the propaganda game.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 22, 2007 @07:36PM (#18116072)
    How about judging a whole religion based on how many of them are extremists?
  • by servognome (738846) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @07:37PM (#18116084)

    That sounds a lot like the US administration when they try to scare the public by saying that just because we haven't been attacked since 9/11, doesn't mean that the terrorists won't attack tomorrow...
    The US administration is right, some terrorist group will strike the US; the problem is that people don't put terrorism in perspective.
    20,000 people die each year from the flu, perhaps there should be some sort of war on virii declared - maybe we'll get universal health care funding :)
  • not a new problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by trb (8509) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @07:46PM (#18116184)
    This is, unfortunately, not a new problem. Israel addresses the problem in a more sensible way than the USA does. I see that other references to Israel in this thread are mostly anti-Israel jingoism (so far) but I won't address that.

    Israel's approach is borne of being surrounded by enemies and inundated by non-friends. They deal with it by having intelligent people working in their security forces, including at the airport. They frisk you (usually with a metal detector wand) when you enter any gathering place - restaurant, bus station, theater, museum, post office, etc. They use profiling, political correctness be damned. Their security practices seem intelligent - you don't have to take off your shoes when you run their usual airport security gauntlet, and a grandmother traveling with her family isn't going to get run through the same ringer as a suspicious young person.

    Israel deals with real terror threats every day. They defuse real attacks every day. Maybe they know what they're doing.

  • by krotkruton (967718) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @07:53PM (#18116266)
    You're preaching to the choir on that one, but that really isn't what you were talking about before. I read somewhere that you are more likely to be killed by a pig than a terrorist (of course, that statistic leaves out a lot of relevant information, but still).

    It seemed like you were trying to counter the idea that the US is drawing the attention of terrorists by sticking it's nose in others' business with the fact that even Norway, who has not been attacked, has been threatened. Being threatened is not the same as being attacked. I'd be surprised to find out if there was a single country who has never been threatened by terrorists, and am also fairly certain that the majority of countries who have been threatened by Muslim fundamentalists have not been attacked.
  • by Dunbal (464142) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @07:56PM (#18116292)
    9-11, the Cole, and various embassy bombings are acts of war.



          Against WHO, God damn it? You don't even know who your enemy is. Stop trying to pretend you're fighting a "war"!
  • by Dunbal (464142) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @08:03PM (#18116364)
    Only TWO ways to win the war on terror

          So when are you thinking of converting? Your first method is impossible unless you propose genocide - because the more "islamic terrorists" you kill the more "islamic terrorists" you create.
  • by Fatchap (752787) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @08:32PM (#18116618)

    The only way to be secure against terror is to destroy it at its roots -- and that means seriously debilitating the governments that are paying for it.
    Since the US government were the backers of the Taliban and their far right fundamentalist Muslim freedom fighters in their war of terror against the invading Soviet army in Afghanistan does that not mean that the Pope would have an excuse for declaring a crusade against the US?

  • by Initi (1031362) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @08:33PM (#18116638)
    There has arisen a contention between civil liberties and 'homeland security' (a term i loath) precisely because a people cannot remain free and 'protected'. Freedom requires that the coercive and intrusive capabilities of authority are limited and restrained; 'protection' requires that they are not. Can these two interests be balanced appropriately?

    I, for one, believe not. Perhaps for this reason that free people seem reflexively aggressive in foreign relation (US and GBR for example); the inability to sufficiently balance these two interests lends itself to the use of external direct force. As a free people desire that their authorities protect their interests and shield them from harm (via police, fire and rescue squads, ambulance services, and yes military) they will only allow so much intrusion upon their liberties (civil rights and liberties, privacy, dignity, &c). In order to achieve its mandate to 'protect' the citizenry the authority applies direct, sometimes extreme, force upon the external threat (be it a criminal, foreign power, bomb chucking anarchist, &c).

    Unfortunately, authorities in the US have evidently determined that we have enough of neither. Rights, liberties, and simple human dignity is being lost while simultaneously a rather large and significant amount of external force is being applied.

  • by benhocking (724439) <benjaminhockingNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Thursday February 22, 2007 @08:37PM (#18116678) Homepage Journal

    Ceasing interference with their politics in order to stop terrorism is a bad idea. It proves that terrorism is an effective tool against the US. (See also, Barbary Pirates [wikipedia.org].)

    Ceasing interference with their politics because its the right thing to do is a great idea.

    Convincing anyone that our reasons are the latter is an impossible idea. :)

    Granted, I've given no solution here. Perhaps the best solution is to cease interference with their politics (for the right reason of course), but if they take this as a sign that terrorism is a good idea in the future we thoroughly disabuse them of this idea at that time - while maintaining (due) vigilance against it in the present, of course. (Note: due vigilance does not include preventing fluids on flights!)

  • by bnenning (58349) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @09:12PM (#18117060)
    Many of the most vocal commentators against Islam in the so-called "neo-conservative" are atheist or agnostic.

    Yep. As an agnostic conservative/libertarian, I condemn all forms of religious extremism, and it's blatantly obvious that the Muslim world has a particular problem in that area. (And no, the rare abortion clinic bombing by a deranged lunatic doesn't remotely compare to government-sanctioned stoning of homosexuals). It's amazing how so many on the left will defend the most illiberal regimes on the planet, in order to avoid admitting that conservatives might have a point. If Bush being pro-life upsets you, you should be absolutely infuriated with the treatment of women under Muslim theocracies. The enemy of your enemy is not your friend.
  • by db32 (862117) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @09:33PM (#18117244) Journal
    And here is key point number one that I hate dealing with. Disagreeing with the US draconian system, the fast erosion of freedoms, the destruction of the constitution, the paranoia, the fear, the christian dogma plaguing our government and school systems(Note: I don't have a problem with christianity, I have a problem with christians as 90% of them just don't seem to get what Jesus spoke about), doesn't mean I am defending anyone elses insanity. My problem is that we need to clean up our own problems before we go off as Team America to save the world from those heathen religious extremists with our "crusade" (Excellent choice of words Mr. President, they certainly won't be bothered by a reference to the last time westerners slaughtered their friends and family in their homeland). We have mucked about and played stupid games with all the governments over there for ages. We have played them against each other and we have played them against the russians, and we have an excellent track record of not even giving a second look to a country with nukes that breaks the law, only countries trying to get nukes that we don't like. France and Russia were HUGE violators of selling Iraq arms...did we care...nope. N. Korea and Iran see this clearly and obviously want whatever it is that keeps the other violators from being invaded. We played Iraq vs Iran, and then attacked Iraq later when we changed our minds, is there any reason for Iran to trust ANYTHING we say since we told Saddam he was our great buddy for killing Iranians and then turned on him? In that famous little 7 day war everyone likes to talk about with God protecting Israel...noone mentions that with no intel of their own they were able to conduct precision strikes against Egyptian forces, nor does anyone talk about how the US negotiated with Egypt to not strike first when they closed their canal and Israel went berserk. We begged and pleaded with Egypt, don't strike, let us calm them down...and then Israel struck and we looked the other way and likely gave some form of support (questionable, but that part of the world believes without doubt that we assisted)

    To paraphrase the man who everyone claims is on their side when they justify this horrific foreign policy. How can you tell your brother he has a mote of dust in his eye when you have a log in yours? We got ourselves in this situation...and fighting through it won't make it any better. Cure the disease, not the symptoms. The current state of affairs are just symptoms of our unbelievably awful international policy. Fix our behavior and many of the problems will start to lessen if not disappear over the years. This isn't appeasement like the ultra conservatives like to claim, its called setting the example. We are supposed to be the beacon of light on the hill, lets act like it for a change.
  • by bnenning (58349) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @09:35PM (#18117258)
    You can't fight an idea, but you can arrange things so that people don't have any motive to blow themselves up.

    Certainly; we could adopt sharia and allow them to exterminate the Jews. Islamic extremists are not otherwise rational people who are only striking at us because of our injustices. In their own countries they're stoning homosexuals and adulterers/rape victims, forbidding women from learning to read, and violently suppressing other religions. We didn't make them do that. We could cease all military involvement in the Middle East (which I'm all for, step 1 is lots of nuke plants), but they'd still have plenty of problems with us.
  • by pete6677 (681676) on Friday February 23, 2007 @12:15AM (#18118472)
    Why is the Abu Sayaf (a Muslim terrorist group) terrorizing the Philippines? What did they do to deserve it? Could it be that maybe George Bush isn't really the cause of all the world's problems? Besides, are you saying the U.S. deserved 9/11 and that Spain and England deserved the train bombings?
  • by krotkruton (967718) on Friday February 23, 2007 @12:28AM (#18118576)
    Actually, you were just supporting the argument. You (or at least your post if you don't actually believe what you said), along with most people, don't put terrorism into perspective. You're saying that shutting down the NYSE and air travel along with 2,973 deaths in a single event is more important than 20,000 deaths each year along with lowered productivity and missed days at work which have a significant economic impact. I'm not saying that I think we need a war on the flu, but if you think that your statement is a good counter to the parent's, then you've missed the point and have become a perfect example of it.
  • by tom's a-cold (253195) on Friday February 23, 2007 @01:25AM (#18118946) Homepage

    Israel deals with real terror threats every day.
    Time for some definitions. Were the Fenians a "real terror threat?" And how about the French Resistance? Or the Algerians driving out the French? How about the ANC?

    I have met people who have been on the receiving end of the attentions of the "intelligent" Israeli security forces and those of the equally intelligent and famously well-run Israeli military. I never want to see the US go down that road. Me, I'm still hoping Abu Ghraib and uncounted civilian casualties are aberrations, not the new norm, for Americans.

    "Maybe they know what they're doing." Yeah, and that's why they're at peace with their neighbors. Or maybe there would be peace if only every single person in the Middle East except the Israelis weren't such evil, vengeful fanatics, right?

    A less contorted explanation is that the same propaganda and manipulation that keeps corrupt right-wing thugs in power in Israel is also being market-tested here by our own home-grown force-worshipping greedheads. Because fear is useful in forcing compliance, and fearful people are more likely to acquiesce in brutality.

    So I really don't care how the Israelis do airport security, anymore than I want pointers from them on bullozing houses or gunning down stone-throwing kids. It's justice that I want to see done. The Israelis who do that, I'm willing to learn from. But to see heavy-handed police-state tactics, there's no need to travel that far. More's the pity.

  • by The One and Only (691315) <[ten.hclewlihp] [ta] [lihp]> on Friday February 23, 2007 @02:58AM (#18119458) Homepage

    Besides, are you saying the U.S. deserved 9/11 and that Spain and England deserved the train bombings?

    There's a difference between facts and moral judgments. US, Spanish, and English involvement in the Middle East is a motivation behind those acts of terrorism. That's a fact. Whether or not they deserved to be bombed is a moral judgment that is partially informed by that fact. If these governments were in fact doing absolutely nothing and were bombed without any provocation, that would lead us to one moral judgment. On the other hand, if these governments were systematically destroying their civilization and they had no other way to respond, that would lead us to a very different moral judgment. The facts are as follows: the US, England, Spain, etc. made, were making, have made, and continue to make certain interventions in the Middle East. Al-Qaeda considered those interventions aggressive and decided to strike back. We can sit around all day analyzing what these interventions are and whether they justify the response, but that would make us historians. If we're worried about serving the interests of Americans, Britons, and Spaniards, we have to analyze which is greatest--the cost of continuing to intervene or the cost of not intervening. This is a cost-benefit analysis, and only works with facts, not moral judgments.

    As an analogy: if I'm pointing a gun at your face and telling you to give me your wallet, you don't really worry about whether or not the fact you killed my father justifies this. You just weigh the options available to you and do whatever satisfies the end you're trying to achieve (be it justice, your own self-preservation, etc.)

  • by The One and Only (691315) <[ten.hclewlihp] [ta] [lihp]> on Friday February 23, 2007 @03:07AM (#18119506) Homepage
    You don't have to MELT steel to cause a building collapse. Just soften it enough so it won't support anything above it. The WTC was designed to take hits from smaller aircraft with smaller fuel loads, and was originally designed with asbestos to resist fires. Considering the mass of the WTC, it would take a lot more momentum to literally knock them over sideways. Falling more-or-less straight down is pretty much what the physics would predict--the Boeing 767 wasn't flown until 1981, years after the WTC was completed to say nothing of when it was designed.
  • by Yvanhoe (564877) on Friday February 23, 2007 @04:28AM (#18119890) Journal
    Uh ? What about France ? The only thing I can think of are the small riots at the end of last year (yeah I know that from US it was reported as a civil war, mind you, there were 2 persons killed in two weeks) that had no connections with terrorism or islamism. In fact, a lot of Muslim leaders made public declarations that a true Muslim shouldn't participate in those events.

    France has a pretty good image in the middle east nowadays, despite the fact that it also considers terrorism as one of its first security problem. But it tries to deal with it with respect to human rights.
  • by Sique (173459) on Friday February 23, 2007 @04:30AM (#18119900) Homepage
    First of all: Terrorists are a quite minor thread to your life. Don't feed the trolls, and don't cry about possible terrorist threads. Terrorism is effective because of the terror it causes, not because of the number of deads or the cost of repairing the damage. Every terrorist who causes a new security measure put in place or an old being reinforced knows he was effective beyond all dreams.

    Second of all: If we would wage war on every potential killer of yours, we would have to concentrate the forces first on you, then on your mother, then on your stepfather (if you have one), then your biological father. Those four persons are the most probable to take your life. They are responsible for about 50% of all homicides. (I am not sure, but I think either your husband/wife or your own children come next.)

    Third: There is no direct relation between cause and effect in terrorist attacks. The most recent attempt to a terrorist attack in Germany I know of was a man who planned to carbomb a bank. Not for political reasons, but because of bad service. What's next? Battle against the Customer?

    That's why I think the idea of an 100 percent protection against terrorist attacks is just silly. You never know what or who causes the urge to attack someone, and you can't foresee the method they will be trying. That's why there is the call for Common Sense. Eliminate the foreseeable threads by protecting infrastructure that causes much havoc if attacked and is a quite easy target.
    Don't try to thwart every single plot that has been discovered or can be thought of individually. We are back to the old problem: "Enumerating badness" is never complete and seldom a sensible way to deal with threads. Try to be secure by design, not by eliminating threads.
  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday February 23, 2007 @07:15AM (#18120586) Journal
    GP is right though, there are no other ways to completely solve the problem. Even if the Western world goes all isolationist and stops interfering into the business of other countries, radical Islam will still see the mere existence of non-Islamic countries as reason enough to wage war against such a perversion of nature.
  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday February 23, 2007 @07:22AM (#18120624) Journal
    Racial profiling works when used properly, and does not work when misused. In the end, it's nothing more than applied statistics. Whether it is ethically wrong or not is another issue.

"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices." -- William James

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