August 28, 2003


Anti-war protesters receive the recognition they deserve:

The man who helped mix the deadly one-tonne Bali nightclub bomb Sawad, alias Sardjiyo, yesterday said he wanted to thank the Australian people who had supported his cause during recent Australian anti-Gulf War protests.

And fellow bomb-mixer Abdul Ghoni urged Australians against forming friendly alliances with America.

The pronouncements of the two Bali bombing suspects came as they and the evidence against them was handed from Bali police to prosecutors.

"I want to thank the Australian people who supported our cause when they demonstrated against the policies of George Bush. Say thank you to all of them," Sawad said.

Consider it done, Abdul, old pal.

Posted by Tim Blair at August 28, 2003 01:50 AM


Yes, Abdul thank you for the clear explanation. I'm sure you accidentally omitted a couple of definitions from your speech, as follows:


treason: 1. The offense of attempting to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance, or of betraying the state into the hands of a foreign power;
disloyalty; treachery.

traitor: 1. One who violates his allegiance and betrays his country; one who aids an enemy in conquering his country.

Sounds like the people Abdul was describing to me. Sounds like Ann Coulter was exactly right.

Posted by: SDN at August 28, 2003 at 02:55 AM

How dumb are you, SDN?

Does a person that is peacful anti-abortion protester a terrorist for agreeing with the views of anti-abortion groups that kill doctors and bomb their offices? Obviously not.

You rest your reasoning- as Ann Coulter does all the time- on logical fallacies.

Posted by: mrkmyr at August 28, 2003 at 03:19 AM

Oh,Mr Kmyr: Is a rectangle a square? "Obviously not". However...

"Oh, Harold, Do you see where I'm going with this, Harold..."

Posted by: Art Wellesly at August 28, 2003 at 04:04 AM

This should be broadcast for days,

Just to rub the anti-war peoples noses in for a while. These are the people they empower when they do such nonsense

Posted by: Hugh Wyatt at August 28, 2003 at 04:08 AM

Oh yes of course. The millions of people who protested weren't really just pacifist types, hippies or anti-Bush weirdos......They were traitors...collaborators and supporters of terrorism.

I mean if a deranged psychopath says it, it must be fact, right?

I wonder how many pyschos and murderers do things in the name of Christianity.

Posted by: Tom at August 28, 2003 at 04:26 AM

Who was it that called these people "useful idiots?"

Posted by: Stewie Griffin at August 28, 2003 at 04:40 AM

Cheer up antiwar lice. You may hate yourselves, but somebody loves you.

Al-Qaeda loves me, this I know
'Cause the bomber told me so

Posted by: iowahawk at August 28, 2003 at 04:49 AM

for Stevie Griffin--
It was Lenin

Posted by: Marty at August 28, 2003 at 04:50 AM


Well, the fact that in their sick and twisted minds they took encouragement from your words and behaviour should tell you something. The problem is that anti-war protestors never clearly demonstrated a simultaneously anti-war and anti-terrorism stance. Rather, it was anti-West, which is how the terrorists express themselves. You're beyond hope if you STILL don't get it.

Posted by: Laughing at August 28, 2003 at 05:14 AM

"It was Lenin"

Thos Beatles were great

Posted by: nyc at August 28, 2003 at 06:07 AM

Saddam: "First of all we admire the development of the peace movement around the world in the last few years"

Saddam: "No doubt, time is working for us. We have to buy some more time, and the American-British coalition will disintegrate because of internal reasons and because of the pressure of public opinion in the American and British street."

Posted by: Gary at August 28, 2003 at 09:46 AM

Pathetic. Now Blair is allying himself with the freaking terrorists in order to make his artificial points. Strange bedfellows? Not really.

Birds of a feather stick together. Only proves that we have ideological lunatics too.

Posted by: Nemesis at August 28, 2003 at 10:04 AM

Anti-war protestors aren't really responsible for what he says. However, they ought to denounce his statements and set the record straight, which I doubt will happen.

As I noted earlier, what scared me was the other guy, who gave us friendly advice not to ally with America because it wants to dominate the world. He's expecting some Aussies to be suffering from Stockholm syndrome, and I'm worried his prediction may be correct.

Posted by: Andjam at August 28, 2003 at 10:16 AM

Andjam, what do you want anti-war protestors to do? Arrange mass rallies in capital cities to denounce the ranting of one terrorist? Since when do we take notice of what they say?

Nemisis was on the mark - "Now Blair is allying himself with the freaking terrorists in order to make his artificial points."

Posted by: Trust at August 28, 2003 at 10:33 AM

iowahawk: please clear something up for me - since antiwar protesters are usually referred to as smug or self-satisfied or self-indulgent - why do you assume they hate themselves?

and everybody else gleefully jumping on this quote - READ IT AGAIN - "said he wanted to thank the Australian people who had supported his cause during recent Australian anti-Gulf War protests."

that's right - he wants to thank those WHO SUPPORTED HIS CAUSE, not everyone who protests. this ridiculous simplification of labelleling ALL anti-war protesters as pro-terrorists must stop now (actually, it should have stopped a long time ago, but...) - i'll say this in simple terms for you kiddies: MOST ANTIWAR PROTESTERS DISLIKE ALL WARS AND VIOLENCE, INCLUDING TERRORISM. sure, there are some crackpots, but then there were some who supported the war just because they love the idea of war, not because they believed the issues.

Posted by: john at August 28, 2003 at 10:39 AM


A couple of letters to the editor, plus some comments from some of the major anti-Iraq-war figures would suffice.

Posted by: Andjam at August 28, 2003 at 10:40 AM

And the members of Saddam Hussein's feared Secret Police (Mukhabarat) send thanks to the new unelected occupant of his Palaces (Paul Bremer) for giving them their old jobs back.

US recruit Saddams torturers

Posted by: Analogue Voter at August 28, 2003 at 11:23 AM

John: Most of the major anti-war rallies were organized by International A.N.S.W.E.R., who have aren't just "objectively" pro-totalitarian -- they LITERALLY support totalitarian regimes. It may very well be true that most of the protesters had nothing to do with A.N.S.W.E.R. other than show up at the rallies they organized, but if I went to a KKK rally to protest affirmative action, would YOU let it slide? Somehow I doubt it, even if I truthfully claimed I wasn't a member of the KKK and didn't attend the rally to endorse their views.

Posted by: sean at August 28, 2003 at 11:46 AM

AV: Read the Guardian Article (you DID link to it, after all). It says SPIES. Not torturers. SPIES. And their job -- according to the article YOU linked to -- is to help capture BAATHISTS. Would you condemn the police for "recruiting" accomplices to a crime to catch the other perpetrators?
-- That being said, any evidence by a Baath Party official should be taken with a grain of salt, and with knowledge that it may be bad information intended to silence ordinary citizens who may wish to seek revenge on the Baath Party. But catagorically condemning any use of informants is silly.

Posted by: Analogue Kvetcher at August 28, 2003 at 11:59 AM

terrorists are scum.

not difficult

why are their insane ramblings being quoted at all? christ knows i never ever thought i'd be quoting from thatcher, but (paraphrased) "the media are oxygen to terrorists. extinguish the supply of oxygen, they will be snuffed out"

is it in any way possible that we do not have to hear what these scum have to say about ANYTHING?

i don't necessarily agree that thatcher was wholly correct, but i call it a damn good start, and really do not need to see smiling murderers any longer, nor hear what they have to say.

oh whoops, their civil rights - dang it.

Posted by: chico o'farrill at August 28, 2003 at 01:06 PM


Mrs Thatcher is nearly always correct.

Posted by: Toryhere at August 28, 2003 at 01:48 PM

I denounce their statements. (Someone above seemed to think it important for anti-war people to do this).

Well of course I bloody denounce them, you utter boofhead. They are a bunch of psychotic lunatics. It's idiot journalists like Tim Blair who seems to think these maniacs can be cited as some sort of authoritative reference source.

Sheesh. Whenever you think the depths of stupidity have been plumbed to their darkest depths, you just have to log on here - it's good for a few laughs, anyway.

Posted by: Nemesis at August 28, 2003 at 02:48 PM

sean - the problem with your KKK/affirmative action analogy is that nobody would accuse someone who attended such a protest of giving comfort to those who kill minority groups.

oh, and cheers nemesis, i forgot... i also reject and denounce their statements.

Posted by: john at August 28, 2003 at 03:13 PM


Have you allowed Nemesis back on this site?

Posted by: Fred at August 28, 2003 at 05:01 PM

To our loving brother in this stuggle, Nemesis.

Thank you very much for all you have done for our cause to crush the infidels. Your steadfastness and loyalty have not gone unnoticed. May you receive your reward in paradise. Peace.

Allah Akbar!!!!!!

Death to America!!!!

Posted by: A Bunch of Pyschotic Lunatics at August 28, 2003 at 05:08 PM

sean - the problem with your KKK/affirmative action analogy is that nobody would accuse someone who attended such a protest of giving comfort to those who kill minority groups.

I know the KKK thing was meant to be hypothetical, but many a right wing death beast has been critical of anti-war types who implicitly endorse Robert Byrd, an ex-member of the KKK (the only one in Congress) who has retained sympathies to the KKK and is one of the most anti-Israel members of congress. (I know criticism of Israel doesn't neccessarily equal antisemitism, but I regard it to be too much for mere coincidence)

Posted by: Andjam at August 28, 2003 at 07:03 PM

This is really pretty basic stuff: an accused terrorist expresses his thanks to people who supported his cause by protesting against the policies of George Bush.

Those people who can't understand this are even more fucked up than I imagined.

Posted by: ZsaZsa at August 28, 2003 at 11:00 PM

The problem with your KKK/affirmative action analogy is that nobody would accuse someone who attended such a protest of giving comfort to those who kill minority groups.

Umm. actually it doesn't even take a KKK connection to have that accusation thrown at you, just being a Republican is enough. Re: democratic "I felt like my father was lynched all over again" ad.

Posted by: Monkeyboy at August 28, 2003 at 11:21 PM

Tom, what do you mean Christians doing bad things in the name of Christ? It simply isn't possible. If your doing something wrong, it isn't in the Name of Christ.
Because it says so in the New Testament.

Thats the fundamentdal problem with Islam, rape murder, and all sorts of nasty things are santioned in the Koran, the book of peace.

Now, you might try come back and tell me that those protesters were Christians, trying to stop bloodshed.
If they were, then protests would be quiet, peacefull, and follow ALL the commandments of Christ.
They weren't, and they didn't, so they weren't Christians. This leaves us with only one conclusion. Those protesters guilty of treason, aiding and supporting terrorists everywhere.

What should we do with them? Well, can't send them to Australia, because it's become much more than a prison Island, so I suggest sending you to France, you might like it there. lots of terrorists lerking about, and they would welcome you continued support, as you, by protesting have supported thigs like:

Apr 18, 1983: U.S. Embassy bombing in Beirut. Killed 63.

Oct 23, 1983: Beirut Bombing of Marine barracks. Total Killed 299.

Dec 12, 1983: US Embassy in Kuwait bombing. Killed 6

Apr 12, 1984: Bomb attack on restaurant near USAF base in Torrejon, Spain. 18 US servicemen killed

Jun 24, 1985: TWA Flt 847 Muslim hijackers hold Americans hostage on murderous journey. Killing Navy Diver Robert Stethem and dumping his body onto the tarmac

Oct 7, 1985: Achille Lauro - Terrorists killed a disabled American tourist. BTW, Abul Abbas was captured in Baghdad.

Dec 21, 1988: Pan Am 103 Lockerbie Bombing. Killed 270.

Feb 26, 1993: World Trade Center bombing. Killed 6.

1993—Humanitarian effort to Somalia. Killed 18.

1996—Truck bombing at Khobar Towers barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Killed 19.

July 17, 1996 – TWA Flt 800? Terrorism expected. Killed 230.

Aug 7, 1998: US Embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya. 224 killed

Oct 12, 2000: USS Cole bombing. Killed 17.

Sep 11, 2001: 4 Hijacked planes hit Twin Towers, Pentagon, and field in Pennsylvania. Killed 3,021.

April 2002—Explosion at historic synagogue in Tunisia. Killed 21.

June 2002—Car explodes outside hotel in Karachi, Pakistan. Killed 14.

Oct. 2002—Nightclub bombings in Bali, Indonesia. Killed 180.

Nov. 2002—Suicide attack on a hotel in Mombasa, Kenya. Killed 16.

May 2003—Suicide bombers at housing compounds for Westerners in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Killed 35.

2003—Four bombs target Jewish, Spanish, and Belgian sites in Casablanca, Morocco. Kill 24.

August 09, 2003 - Jordan's Embassy Bombed In Baghdad. Killed 11.

August 19, 2003 UN Headquarters in Baghdad bombed. Killed 23.

So go, have fun, continue supporting your terrorist friends. The only worse thing you can do than supporting them through protest is to actualy be a terrorist yourself.

Posted by: Hugh Wyatt at August 29, 2003 at 12:22 AM

Hugh, you might want to add: March 17, 1987 USS Stark stuck by two Exocet (French-made) missles fired from an Iraqi Mirage F-1 (French-made) killing 35 US sailors, two missing and presumed dead.

Posted by: nobody important at August 29, 2003 at 01:44 AM

Good catch, "Emily", That 'accident' is what we in the industry call "good intelligence work".

Posted by: Art Wellesley at August 29, 2003 at 04:13 AM

When an organization or individual decides to kill, everyone -- whether they want to or not -- makes a choice as to who they want to see get killed. You can't avoid it. Being "neutral" or looking the other way is no escape, since at the end of the day, someone's going to get killed, and it's either being the one who first decided to kill or their victims.

With abortion, in many people's minds, the fetus/doctor choice is not symmetrical: as much as it may disgust pro-life people, most people do not consider a fetus (or any number of fetuses) equivalent to a law-abiding adult. Thus, doctor-killing, pro-life murderers are usually seen as a bit screwy, since they've made this equivalency in their minds between fetuses and adults. I would give "mrkmyr" credit that there is a pretty clear logical connection between participating in pro-life rallies and participating in anti-war rallies and both protester's connections to the most radical elements of those groups.

However, while "mrkmyr" uses the analogy to argue that anti-war protesters are *not* connected to terrorists, I argue that they are, just as pro-life protesters are part of the same intellectual vein that gives rise to doctor-killers. That is, they've both made some calculations about which lives are more important: pro-lifers and doctor-killers bother think that fetuses are full-blown people (or better), and anti-war demonstrators and terrorists think that Taliban or Baathist regimes and their operatives are the equivalent of the U.S. regime (or better). I just don't see any other way one can come to the conclusion that they need to protest and agitate against a U.S.-led war on terror while sitting idly by as the Taliban and Baathists rose to power and intensified their brutality.

There is one logical out for anti-war protesters, and that is if they think that Islamic terrorists are killing only in response to them being attacked by the U.S. or the West (in fact, I think this is a common assumption). I'm not sure where this comes from, probably a combination of "measuring someone by our own shoes" (you know, I wouldn't do a 9/11 unless I were attacked, etc.) and ignorance about the sequences of historical events. My feeling is that Islamic terrorists have an endogenous directive to kill, and I think a study of Isalmic fundamentalism and observation of their behavior bears me out.

You have to pick a side. Pick carefully.

Posted by: Ron at August 29, 2003 at 10:49 AM

Oh-kay. If the terrorists *really* felt that the peace movement was advancing their aims, why didn't they realise that by publicly thanking it like this they would end up discrediting it? I mean, if I was a really devious Al-queda terrorist with a vested interest in not having one of my *enemies* attacked, I'd do everything I could to criticise the peace movement when captured. "Damn, you peaceniks! I would have gotten away with it if hadn't been for you pesky kids!"
Incidently, didn't osama bin laden want to unite the Islamic world against the west? Wouldn't seeing Iraq become an Iran-style fundamentalist regime (which is/was one possible consequence of the invasion) serve their interests? Don't Al-queda want muslims to see the west as greedy blood-thirsty invaders who don't care about their lives? Don't they quote Ann-fricking-Coulter to prove this very point? Wouldn't seeing *millions* of westerners take to the streets to denounce the impending mass-slaughter weaken their point a smidge?

Posted by: johnny Proctor at August 29, 2003 at 11:52 AM

"July 17, 1996 – TWA Flt 800? Terrorism expected. Killed 230."

That is bullshit.

Posted by: danh at August 29, 2003 at 12:52 PM


Several points. First, about your first point that thanking anti-war demonstrators was a stupid tactic ("...why didn't they realise that by publicly thanking it like this they would end up discrediting it?), no one is arguing that the terrorists are making smart choices. Indeed, terrorism (the targeting of civilians, hoping their fear will lead them to change their government) is a tried, tested, and true way to unite your enemy against you ultimately lose. Moke no mistake: Islamic fundamentalism is meeting a much quicker demise because of 9/11, not in spite of it.

Second point. The possibility of Afghanistan or Iraq becoming some new totalitarian regime is a real possibility. Any regime may become a totalitarian state, whether it be religious, racist, or communist; it's a complex process we don't understand. However, that does not argue against the destruction of such regimes and essentially "pressing the reset button" on them. If they revert to aggressive totalitarian regimes again, we may have to "press reset" again.

Third point. About the image of the West to Muslims, you are assuming that -- or believing the excuse that -- Islamic terrorism is a response in kind to actions against Islamic peoples. I have read a lot of Islamic tirades, and the behavior Westerners display the horrifies Islamicists the most is simply being Western: watching movies, sexual freedom, religious diversity, and, in whole, essentially not being a Muslim. There are some garbled "quotes" and revisionist recounts of history sometimes used as evidence of some great Western threat, but the essence of their arguments are that Christians, Americans, and *especially* Jews are inherently bad. Mix this with jihad directives, murderous personalities, a culture of victimhood, ignorance, control of information, and a mass murderer like OBL can build a whole killing apparatus for his pleasures.

Fourth point. About your phrase "... to denounce the impending mass-slaughter ...", you need to think very carefully about what you are equating and how fast and loose you're getting with your comparisons. I certainly hope Americans and Australians and all good people around the world would unite to protest mass-slaughter. 9/11 was a mass slaughter. Did you see it? Some people actually sat around and planned on flying four planes into buildings. They didn't give any warning, and they didn't care that their targets would kill people who were planning no attack on them. In fact, they planned it so that most of their victims would not have even heard of them. And those that had had no clue what they could have done to appease these people and avoid being killed. So anyway, these people planned on killing all these other people in such a way that a lot of them would experience extreme horror, pain, and dispair. They also did it in such a way that a lot of people could watch and experience the horror, too. Most of those people also didn't know who was attacking or why. 9/11 was a mass slaughter; the invasion of Iraq was not. Get this straight.

When I see the same anti-war protesters march against the people who plan such things on a regular basis (some Hamas guy planned such an act last week, but anti-war people are still not protesting Hamas), I'll believe the "protesters" are truly against mass-slaughters. To date, their behavior suggests that they are actually *for* such acts.

Posted by: Ron at August 29, 2003 at 01:11 PM

Double standards. It's that simple.

The hypocrisy of anti-war protestors sickens me.

Condemn all violence equally, then maybe these 'peaceniks' will gain legitimacy. As it is, they're just idiots hiding under the veneer of pacifism.

Posted by: The Wobbly Guy at August 29, 2003 at 02:40 PM

Regarding point four: I fail to see your basis for saying that the invasion of iraq doesn't qualify as mass slaughter: between 20 thousand and fifty five thousand people were killed during that invasion- equivalent to between 7 and 18 9-11s. And it's worth pointing out that this doesn't include the people who are still getting killed out there as a result of this invasion, or the people who may end up dying decades from now due to the use of depleted uranium. People were killed. In extremely large numbers. I fail to see how that can be interpreted as anything other than mass slaughter. Indeed, the best a pro-war person can say for it is: "yes, it was mass slaughter-but the good kind!"
As for point five (you didn't number it as such, and I hope you don't deem it presumptuous of me to refer to it in that manner): Why would people hold protest marches against Hamas? Even though I'm generally inclined towards optimism, i don't really see your average fundamentalist terrorist leader would turn around and say "Okay lads, cancel the bombing plans, people are taking to the streets in europe and america to protest against what we're doing." There are always going to be nutjobs with a raging hard-on for terrorism, the best you can do to stop them is to change the circumstances which breed such nutjobs, and ensure that there's an appropriate intelligence system (also:international co-operation would help- pissing off the entire international community, not so much) there to prevent them from achieving their aim. In contrast however, our democratically elected leaders (and George W. Bush) are obliged by the nature of our political systems to actually listen to the people, and maybe pay attention when they point out that invading people isn't really that good an idea. The anti-war movement regularly condemns terrorists and Baathists, it's just there's not really much point actually taking to the streets over it.
As for the third point: While I accept that Islamic terrorists are motivated by religious fundamentalism, as well as any legitimate reasons for hating the west, the circumstances which allow islamic fundamentalism to thrive are caused at least partly by western/american policies.So, okay, I'll rephrase what I said earlier: "Don't Al-queda want muslims to see the west as greedy blood-thirsty *infidel* invaders ( who spend their time watching movies,having sexual freedom and religious diversity, and, in whole, essentially not being Muslims) who don't care about their lives?" It's a little more cumbersome, but if it floats your accuracy-boat, who am I to argue? My basic point still stands, though.
As for point 2: Maybe. One has to wonder, however, how many times we'll have to press the reset button before we conclude that it doesn't really work and ask for our money back.
As for point one: I find it somewhat ironic that you're saying that attacking people (to ensure they change their government, no less) is guaranteed to unite a people against you. Isn't that what the anti-war people were saying as one of their arguments against the invasion? And that, essentially, encouraging America to attack Muslim countries was essentially what Bin Laden wanted? Indeed, it's also true that neoconservativism is meeting a much quicker demise because of the invasion of iraq, not in spite of it.
However, all that aside, you seem to be missing my basic point, that maybe, just maybe, when they said they supported the anti-war movement the terrorists were fibbing.

Oh, and wobbly guy- I think the Industrial Workers of the World were opposed to the war. Maybe you missed that meeting?

Posted by: johnny Proctologist at August 29, 2003 at 02:59 PM

Johnny? you're an idiot...

Posted by: dick trickle at August 29, 2003 at 04:36 PM

Mr Trickle, I must congratulate you on the case you put forward; the subtlety of the arguments you use to refute every single one of my points!- oh, would that it were that the House of Commons was filled with such masters of the art of rhetoric as you! Indeed it is testimony to your good self that you have managed to achieve such fine debating skills despite the handicap that life has thrown at you! It must have been hard growing up, with your parents so unsympathetic to the fact that their naming you in tribute to tricky dicky nixon would be the result of the cruel jibes of schoolchildren. How I wish my dear friends, Ignatius Colin Weiner, Richard Head, and Arnold Goatfelcher had managed to come through their ordeal with the same strength of character as you, instead of emerging from adolescence as the depraved emotional cripples they are today. Truly, good sir, you are a testament the the endurance of the human spirit, and I salute you.

Posted by: johnny protractor at August 29, 2003 at 05:16 PM


I'm afraid I'm going to have to agree with "dick trickle" on this one. I believe you are actually an idiot.

The main problem with all of your thinking is that you make absolutely no distinction between any of the people getting killed. In you mind, a Baathist party loyalist who's in the continuous process of helping fill those mass graves in Iraq is exactly the same as a middle-aged office worker in Manhattan. I'm more than willing to take responsibility for the targeting and destruction of lives dedicated to Saddam Hussein; my tax dollars paid for it, and I'm proud of that. But you are not willing to take responsibility for your complicity in the targeting and killing of men women and *children* who did nothing more than go to work one day. In addition, you have the added responsibility of being part of the murder of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis *civilians* -- they were getting killed every day, and you wanted it to continue.

At the end of the day, you and I promoted a side that was going to kill people. I chose a side I'm proud of; you did not. That's your problem, not mine.

Regardless of whether terrorists were fibbing or not when they thanked the anti-war protesters, my feeling it doesn't much matter. You *did* help them, and what's even more digusting, you won't admit it.

Posted by: Ron at August 29, 2003 at 10:07 PM

Johnny, I must agree with the majority.

Depleted Uranium is NOT radio-active. It has a radiation level the same as DIRT.

Studies have shown that if injested, it will NOT cause brain damage, nor liver damage like other heavy metals, such as murcury or lead.It is expelled from the body through your kidneys, causing NO damage. It's a safe heavy metal compared to others.

DU rounds burn up, leaving a powder-like substance.I seems it's just the name of it that bothers you, but read it carefully. DEPLEATED.

That DU agument represents the stupidity of Anti- everything people like you who don't bother to check FACTS, but follow the crowd like a lemming.

Posted by: Hugh Wyatt at August 30, 2003 at 12:05 AM

Well Hugh, you've managed to startle even me (and I pride myself on my practised gazed of jaded indifference) with your argument, being as it is "wholly without merit".
Behold! Some factoids for your delectation.
The 'depleted' refers to the removal of U234 and U235 isotopes, it still contains U238,U236, neptunium and plutonium, which are still radioactive.
Many experts consider the risk of DU to be due to it's chemical toxicity rather than it's radioactivity.
The usage of DU is widely considered to be a cause of Gulf War Syndrome and Balkan War Syndrome.
A government study has found that children of veterans of the first Gulf War (news - web sites) are more likely to have three specific birth defects than those of soldiers who never served in the gulf. a government study has found.
The french, Belgian and Italian governments are all pressing for investigation into health problems their soldiers experienced in the Balkans which they believe may be caused by DU.
Since the first gulf war, there's been a remarkable increase in birth defects which is attributed to depleted uranium usage. NOTE: Link is extremely disturbing, although possibly not if you're one of the conscience-less fucks who condone the use of such weapons.
Scientific studies indicate if as much as one small particle ( less than 5 microns in diameter) enters the lungs, the lungs and surrounding tissue will be exposed to 270 times the radiation permitted for workers in the radiation industry.
Since GW1 Iraqi leukemia rates have risen by 600%.
And some further reading.

I would seriously question the studies you've read which've shown that- they weren't sponsored by governments which use DU, by any chance?
And I'll try not to draw any wry smirkage from your seeming inability to spell it properly, even while urging others to 'read it carefully'. Or the fact that you urge me to check my facts (those facts being the basis of my opposition to DU) and then follow it up by making a factually inaccurate comparison to a lemming.

And on to Ron.
First up, even if you only count civillian deaths, there were still two or three times as many people killed in the invasion of Iraq as there were on september 11th. Second of all, many of those soldiers weren't necessarily Baath party loyalists, they were just ordinary guys who joined the army to support their families and so on. And I fail to see the basis for your argument that I'm somehow financially responsible for september 11th. I mean, okay, Al-Quaeda were very possibly funded by Saudi oil men, who were, in turn, funded by western petrol companies, but I don't see how anti-war people (who probably use less fuel than the pro-war people) are especially complicit in that.
As for your wheeling out the tired old argument that in some way I supported Saddam hussain's brutal regime: weak, dude. Surely you're aware of the fact that the anti-war left were campaigning against saddam hussain all through the 80s? Meanwhile the British and American goverments were all like "Saddam? Use chemical weapons against his own people? Never! Why he's a lovable rogue!".
Incidentally, I would actually have supported some form of military action against Iraq (on humanitarian grounds) if I had even the faintest smidgen of confidence that the people in charge of the operation were motivated by a desire to bring democracy and human rights to that region; unfortunately, they decided to make an laughably fraudulent case for war, and it became rapidly apparent that they didn't give a damn about the iraqi people, but instead only cared about making a killing for their friends at places like Haliburton and the carlyle group.
I'm sorry that you aren't proud of the side *I* chose in this, but quite frankly, I couldn't give a rat's ass about what you think. I fail to see how it's MY problem that you aren't proud of the fact that I made the correct decision regarding the invasion. I know I made the right choice; I wanted to focus on providing the necessary international infrastructure to prevent terrorism, to remove the root causes of terrorism, to stop our countries actively funding dictators, and to NOT play directly into Osama Bin Laden's plans. You, unfortunately, chose to support an expensive slaughterfest with no justification other than making a George Bush's chums exceedingly rich. I, along with damn near most of the rest of the planet, made the right decision in opposing this utterly senseless war. It's the pro-war people who helped the terrorists, and it's profoundly disgusting that you won't admit it.

Posted by: Johnny Pro-Tractor- Vs The Evil Anti-Tractor! at August 30, 2003 at 04:04 AM


This is fun -- sort of like arguing with a drunk friend over car keys. You know you're talking to brain stem, but it's important. :)

First, I'm no expert in radioactive isotopes, as I suspect you are not either, but let me submit that Baathist pose a far deadlier threat to Iraqis than Uranium, depleted or otherwise.

Second, let me propose that when you join an army to fight for a regime that seems to delight in the bullseye its put on its own forehead, all bets are off. Sorry if some average army shmucks got killed ... that's the way it goes. They have two arms they could have raised, there's a big desert they could have run to. This *especially* true of the first Gulf War ... that was not a case of pre-emption, and he (and his army) asked for it. You start a war, you get your ass kicked, and *then* you want to complain?

Third, even if the civilian death toll is higher than 9/11, here are some items to keep in mind:
1. They were not targeted, they were avoided (unlike terrorism)
2. They were often put in harms way by Saddam (thus they count as some of the last of *his* victims)
3. It is difficult to compare them to the millions of Iraqi and non-Iraqi civilians Saddam planned to kill and hoped to kill, but given his past behavior, and the past behavior of his new pals (Islamicists), and the past behavior of his old pals (Hamas, Syria, Lybia, etc.), I think you'll come up with an estimate far greater than 3,000. The whole point of pre-emption is that you don't wait until he's killed a million Londoners with an atomic bomb before you accidentally kill 3,000+ Iraqis to take him out.

Fourth, I did not say that you financially supported 9/11. My only points with 9/11 are to emphasize to you that to get fast and loose with comparing 9/11 to other situation in which people get killed leads to some rather odd conclusions that I doubt you really believe. Simply put, 9/11 is such a clear case of terrorism/mass murder/wanton slughter/barbarity (from its planning stages to execution), equating other actions to it is pretty difficult, unless you make some pretty disturbing moral equivalencies or ignore some pretty stark differences.

Fifth, I find this statement very difficult to believe: "...the anti-war left were campaigning against saddam hussain all through the 80s..." I was taking Middle Eastern studies and learning Arabic from 1986-1989, and I don't recall anyone on campus saying anything about Saddam. Moreover, so many of the anti-war crowd are completely ignorant of the sequence of events that got us to this point, I cannot believe they, their friends, or their leaders followed this story as it unfolded. I have met not one anti-war person who knows the disturbing history of inspections following the First Gulf War (specifically, that 60 times the number of inspectors failed to find anything until Saddam's defecting sons-in-law spilled the beans, years later and after they had given Saddam a virtually clean report). Moreover, I find your sympathy with those Iraqi army soldiers killed in the first war revealing -- your sympathies were abviously anti-war back then, and I imagine you were one of those folks harping about the "highway of death" at the end of that war. You and other Saddam tools (like CNN) refused to reven report -- let alone protest -- the horros of Saddams regime, his growing pretenses of Islamic devotion, and his continuous programs of WMDs. MOREOVER, the fact that I see not one -- not one -- protest by anti-war folks against the racist and totalitarian regime of Mugabe (to name one) is clear evidence to me that it's not racism or lack of freedom or women's rights in the minds of most of these protesters, but simple anti-establishment, anti-American, anti-economy, anarchist fantasies.

Sixth, yes, you did support Saddam. It is incumbent upon YOU to show the logical mechanism by which you can be both against Saddam and against any actions (from sanctions to war) aginst him. Until you show me how this works, I will stand by my statement that you supported him.

Seventh, you say that you would have supported going against Saddam on humanitarian grounds (which is quite odd, since you also equate any military operation to mass slaughter, but let's forget this for the moment), but you couldn't trust the reasons why Bush and Blair gave for war, so, unfortunately, you can't support going to war. This is very strange, since you seem quite willing to accept ANY excuse for NOT going to war -- from depleted uranium to unsupported arguments about the economics of oil.

Eighth, blood for oil. Ah yes ... please explain to me (1) how Iraqis selling their oil makes anyone rich other than Iraqis and the people they hire to help them (2) why I would care if a byproduct is that I am able to sleep at night not worrying about a smallpox outbreak in my city? I suspect -- given that Bush has children and saw 9/11 on his TV like everyone else -- that he and his staff made a risk calculation of further mass destruction like everyone else that day, and Iraq didn't fare too well in that calculation. If you check the papers, you will see that his musings over Iraq started at least by December 2001.

Eighth, the anti-war complaint that US administrations supported Saddam and other ne'er-do-wells in the past is not an argument for why they shouldn't be opposed today. Mugabe seemed like a great dude in 1980; today he's an asshole. Do you vow unending loyalty to people, even if they become murderers? It's simply not an argument; it's a rant.

Ninth, about your desire that we "...remove the root causes of terrorism..." I suggest that is what we are doing. The root cause is Islamic fundamentalism, as complicated by the Quraan's anti-Semetic passages, Saudi Wahabiism, violent fascism of Islamic clerics, Koranic schools that pass for education, and enablement by liberal notions of cultural relativism. Please suggest to me how we remove these root causes through talking, cajoling, and simply looking the other way?

And tenth, let me suggest that by being born a non-Muslim in a modern country, you have already started to " directly into Osama Bin Laden's plans..." He doesn't need anything else tolabel you an enemy, and while you're trying to appease and reason with him, I'll be busy paying taxes that I hope will be trying to kill him.

In spite of you efforts (and lack of effort), my side will prevail and make the world a safer place for all children, especially mine.

Posted by: Ron at August 30, 2003 at 07:24 AM

Wow, I had some many points, I have *two* Eighths! Let's call those 8a and 8b. :) You've provided too much material for me to criticize on this lovely pre-holiday Friday. Tra-la and skippy-doo, dude.

Posted by: Ron at August 30, 2003 at 07:35 AM

Ron- Great posting, though you may have been too hard on the wanker! 3000 dead was a good week's work for Saddam and his thugs. Chemical Ali killed at least 5,000 in just a couple of days in Halabja.

I'm afraid that Johnny suffers from WLPGS- white liberal perfectionist guilt syndrome, all to common both here in the US and elsewhere in the anglosphere. We cannot act because we were imperfect in the past, we cannot critisize because there is always another social construct to consider. Thus we should remain paralyzed, even when lack of action maintains and promotes an even worse alternative.

Posted by: Craig at August 30, 2003 at 11:43 AM

1. I accept, that yes, my expertise in the field of radioactivity and related physics is somewhat limited, but let me submit that the usage of depleted uranium weapons (which, as stated above, are very possibly illegal weapons of mass destruction) is a far deadlier threat than conventional weapons. Surely, that's a far more sane-person comparison.

Point number 2: So, by your logic, the British and American soldiers who've been killed in Iraq deserved it then? They didn't have to join up, their governments didn't have to start this war, I suppose you consider that 'just how it goes' as well?

Point three. Sorry, but they could have done a lot more to prevent civillian casualties in Iraq. Even ignoring the whole depleted uranium issue, and the cases of civillian deaths through incompetence on the part of the american troops (the phrase 'the chick was in the way' suddenly comes to mind here) there was one way to avoid those casualties: NOT INVADING THE FUCKING COUNTRY IN THE FIRST PLACE! And I really hope you're doing a good job of convincing yourself that those casualites were saddam's fault, because I doubt anyone else is convinced. As for your third point; is it really necessary to point out that Bush has killed up to a sixth as many Iraqis as Saddam hussein did? In something like half-a-percent of the time? Also, do you *really* think the chances of Saddam Hussein nuking London were anything other than ridiculous? Isn't that (in part) what the weapons inspectors were for? And I have to question why you refer to 'his new pals(islamicists)'. I do hope you're not referring to Al-Queda here, especially given that there's been no evidence of a link there, and indeed, that there are closer ties from George W. Bush to Osama Bin Laden than there are to Saddam Hussein.

4. I'm still far from convinced that there is a significant moral difference between deliberatly attacking thousands of civillians for ideological,politcal and "moral" reasons, and deliberately attacking a country and 'accidentally' killing nearly tens of thousands of civillians for ideological, political, economic and "moral" reasons.

Fifth; First of all, I was only born in 1980, so my involvement in the political scene during that decade was somewhat limited, but I have at least been reliably informed that they were condemning Hussein's atrocities while our governments acted as saddam husseins apologists. As for Mugabe- you want one anti-war person who tried to take on Mugabe? Try peter tatchell. He got arrested on october 30 1999 for trying to put mugabe under a citizen's arrest, and I'm pretty sure the left in general are against mugabe, and his actions are hardly being ignored by the lefty press. So maybe we should be doing more about it- but hey, maybe we would be if we weren't being distracted by Bush and his attempts to start an utterly pointless war! What do you suggest we do about Mugabe, and for that matter, why aren't you doing it yourself? (I hereby retract that comment if, in actual fact, you are doing something about it).

"Sixth, yes, you did support Saddam. It is incumbent upon YOU to show the logical mechanism by which you can be both against Saddam and against any actions (from sanctions to war) against him. Until you show me how this works, I will stand by my statement that you supported him."
First of all, a logical proof doesn't work like that; you have to provide a solid argument that I actually did support him, perhaps by providing secret tape recordings of me saying "y'know, that Saddam Hussein is actually a really good chap once you get to know him", or maybe photos from a "Totalitarian Dictator Fancy Dress Party- All Proceeds go to Saddam Hussein" I might have held. Until you provide such evidence, it's not logically valid to say I supported Saddam Hussein (and by the way, photoshopping my head on top of Donald Rumsfeld's in *that* photo Does Not Count). Secondly, I was all in favour of taking action against Saddam Hussein. But I don't believe that invasion, or for that matter the previous Sanctions system were in the best interests of the Iraqi people. There's a link to a guardian article on one possible way to oppose Saddam, sanctions and slaughterfest '03 in the paragraph below. The basic principle is to try to get rid of Saddam Hussein using other methods, surprisingly simple really, you really would have to be a Bush-Grade moron to miss it.

Seven: The fundamental reason for opposing the war was that there was simply no case for it. It was pretty obvious that there were no weapons of mass destructon or links to al-queda. I'd support military action if I believed that the people planning it had any idea what would follow, if they'd prepared for war by doing the necessary diplomatic work to get the support of the rest of the region and to convince the iraqi people that they were only trying to bring democracy there, and if I was convinced they'd exhausted all other possible methods to get rid of Saddam Hussein. like this one. They failed on all these grounds, so what we essentially have here is a whole bunch of people getting killed to fulfill a neocon fantasy, not a legitimate attempt to liberate an oppressed people.

Eight A-th
1. Privatisation. Globalisation. Two great tastes that go well together! Like cat-shit and rhino vomit.
2. The reason you should care is that, as I've said before, this invasion put the rest of the world at greater risk of terrorism. Second thing to point out would be that saddam didn't actually have any smallpox. Third thing to point out is that saddam didn't actually have any smallpox. I realise that, technically, that's the same point, but i thought it was such an important one it was worth mentioning twice. Fourth thing to point out would be that, even if he did, by invading him and then failling to find it, those WMDs could have fallen into the hands of any whackjob out there. The fifth thing to point out is, yes, you're certainly right that Bush was planning to invade iraq 'at least' by december 2001. Try September 2000, if not before then. You might want to look into a group called 'the Project for a new American Century' a right wing think-tank including such.... illustrious members as Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Jeb Bush. It was founded in 1997, and is now notorious for its claim that a "new Pearl Harbor" would be required in order to justify the Iraq attack plans. So basically, Spetember the 11th was not so much a cause for the invasion as an excuse.

Eight B-th: Agreed, it doesn't mean they shouldn't be opposed today; but it does mean that when the exact same people who supported him while he was doing it point thes action that they condoned as a moral justification for the invasion, they should not be trusted. I find it really rather difficult to believe that people who supported him while he gassed his own people are genuinely motivated by their love of humanity and there desire to see democracy thrive in Iraq. Or are you suggesting that they all had an "A Christmas-Carol"-esque vision and ended up going through a hearty reformation of character? I'm sorry, but there just aren't that many ghosts-of-christmas-past!

Ninth, about your desire that we "...remove the root causes of terrorism..." I suggest that is what we are doing. The root cause is Islamic fundamentalism, as complicated by the Quraan's anti-Semetic passages, Saudi Wahabiism, violent fascism of Islamic clerics, Koranic schools that pass for education, and enablement by liberal notions of cultural relativism. Please suggest to me how we remove these root causes through talking, cajoling, and simply looking the other way?""

Congratulations on a spectacular display of point-missing. As I stated earlier, although Islamic Fundamentalism is a large part of the problem, we should also address the socioeconomic cicumstances which cause Islamic Fundamentalism to occur. It's similar to the way that the treaty of Versailles and the Hyperinflation of the late 20s (if memory serves correctly) all contributed to the rise of the Nazis. Political Philosophies, however abhorrant, have their roots in sociopolitical realities, and any effort to prevent Islamic terrorism must be rooted in an attempt to deal with this simple fact.

"And tenth, let me suggest that by being born a non-Muslim in a modern country, you have already started to " directly into Osama Bin Laden's plans..." He doesn't need anything else tolabel you an enemy, and while you're trying to appease and reason with him, I'll be busy paying taxes that I hope will be trying to kill him."

It means I'm on his hit list, fer shure, that doesn't mean I'm going along with his plans. For example, I'm doing everything I can to prevent the kind of clash of civilizations that both he and Bush seem to want; furthermore when did I ever say I wanted to 'appease and reason with him??!!?! I'm all in favour of having him killed, or better, captured, put on trial, and then, (assuming he's found guilty) killed. But I don't see how invading A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT COUNTRY does anything to further that goal. In fact, it's been said by many people who are generally in the know about such things, (ie government people and intelligence people who opposed the war) that the invasion of iraq has taken resources away from pursuing Al Queda. Perhaps if the troops weren't busy in Iraq they could be helping prevent the Taliban taking back chunks of Afghanistan, the intelligence agencies could be actually pusing Al-Queda and other terrorists instead of doctoring intelligence to support this war, and all that money could be spent on, well, something actually *useful*.

In spite of my best efforts, your side will prevail and make the world a more dangerous place for all children. Then, in 2004, George W Bush will get kicked out of an office he never deserved in the first place, and a competent president can get on with the important business of actually making the world a safer place and repairing the damage Bush's done.

Posted by: Johnny Propane has a boiling point of negative 42 degrees celcius at August 30, 2003 at 12:50 PM


Heh heh ... :) Too funny. I will pluck only one quote from your muddle of assumptions, conspiracy theories, moral equivalencies, and bald-faced lies above:

"I was only born in 1980..."

Go live a little, read a little, and see a bit of the world, then get back to us. I remember being so arrogant in my youth, and then I grew up. I remember those days when I read the New York Times, when I believed AP, when I adored Clinton, and when I voted for Al Gore. I remember going to conferences on "Third World Development" and "Sustainable Agriculture." I actually signed up for, studied for, and did well in a course called "Women, War, and the West." Hee hee. What a hoot those days were. I actually thought that all civilization that had gone before me, all people who had lived prior to me, and everything that had been written before my term papers was junk; I had solved all the world's problems, if only someone would listen.

I'm serious. Print out what you just wrote above, read it over on the anniversary of this date every year for ten years, and get back to me in 2013.

In the meantime, I, like a lot of *former* Bush-haters, will be voting Republican to protect our lives from the muddle-headed kids who, for some reason, are allowed to vote ... like you! :)

Posted by: Ron at August 30, 2003 at 07:12 PM



At some point you realize that all life is a grand, huge fight. Even the vegetarians are killing living things to stuff their faces.

And sometimes the world presents you with situations in which you have to decide and act quickly or face some non-zero probability of being killed. How one calculates in these situations, how one decides to act, and whether one has luck on their side all determines whether they make it to tomorrow.

Look around you at all the living things on this planet. They did not get here by being nice! They got here by outcompeting, out surviving, and outreproducing their fellow conspecifics. Clams don't have thick shells for their amusement, turtles don'e have shells for their pleasure, and crocodiles don't have thick skin to make cowboy boots -- it's because millions of years of being chomped, bitten, and stabbed has made them evolve some protections.

For all the Johnny's out there, welcome to life. It's time to leave the womb! :)

Posted by: Ron at August 30, 2003 at 07:25 PM

Well, gee whiz! That's a purty damn patronising response! And where, pray the fuck tell, are there any conspiracy theories in my above reply? You surely can't be referring the the PNAC reference, given that they've been organized entirely in public, and that their documents are a matter of public record- they even have a website with all these documents on them. And as for lies? I've tried to check the accuracy of every statement I made in that post.
I wonder if there are any 40-year-olds who now believe that they weren't qualified to vote at 39?
Third of all, as far as your newfound republicanism is concerned, I'm slightly intrigued that you think a draft-dodger and an oil-company stooge are really better qualified to 'protect our lives' than, say, a man who is the former Supreme Commander of Nato and a 4 star general. (That's Wesley Clark, for those of you who didn't realise).
As for your reply to craig, I should also point that, although I'm not an evolutionary biologist, I suspect a lot of evolutionary biologists and animal-behaviorologists would be rolling their eyes in contempt at your little republican-social-philosophy-crudely-justified-by-poor-evolutionary-biology screed. I really don't want to get into a debate about different philosophies of evolution, but there are plenty of instances of compassion and self-sacrifice in the natural world, and they too have a significant role to play. You might want to read 'the selfish gene' by richard dawkins, which addresses this issue. So yes, although it is a dog-eat-dog world out there, it's a lot more besides, and basing your political philosophy on such an overly-reductionist view is asking for trouble.
Anyway, it was fun debating with you, and I'm going to have to take your rather ungentlemanly refusal to continue as an unsportsmanlike admission of defeat.
toodle pip!

Posted by: Johnny Protector at August 31, 2003 at 03:25 AM

I assume you would have protested WWII also? After all, we did target the general population.

March 9-10, 1945 -
* LeMay launches an all-out low altitude fire bomb raid on Tokyo with 334 B-29s, stripped of guns for greater bomb load, carrying 2000 tons of incendiaries. 15.8 square miles of Tokyo burn, killing at least 100,000 people, injuring 1,000,000 (41,000 seriously).

Posted by: Sam Hall at August 31, 2003 at 07:32 AM

Why would you assume that? Hitler posed a threat to the rest of Europe, indeed, the rest of the world. Saddam Hussein didn't. Some of the actions the allies took during the war i have grave concerns about the necessity of; not least the use of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but that's a whole different debate....

Posted by: johnny pocket-protector at August 31, 2003 at 08:15 AM


I can't help but point out that you've completely missed the point of Dawkins' book, and indeed the basic mechanism of organic evolution.

This is only relevant here because the tone you've taken with your comments on evolution are rather high-and-mighty even though you have no understanding of the process. Thus, it is fair for us to assume that the degree to which you take a high-and-mighty tone (with, for example, depleted uranium and the history of the Iraqi conflict) is not positively correlated to the degree to which you know what you're talking about.

Go reread Dawkins, paying special attention to apparent cases of altruism. Organisms will forego reproduction to help *relatives*, but as Hamilton explained 40 years ago (references below), they enjoy "inclusive fitness." Worker ants are all sisters, and more interesting, as long as their mother mated only once, they are more related to the sisters they help their queen mother produce than their own offspring (due to their haplodiploidy method of sex determination).

Of course their are complications to this model, and over the past 40 years, sociobiological literature has exploded in volume. One complication is when we see apparent cases of altruism between unrelated individuals or completely different species; these are basically different manifestations of reciprocal altruism (you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours). Human society is unique in that we show altruism toward people who are unrelated and who do not have long-term relationships with us, but we are able to record and remember people's history of interactions (like at your local Business Bureau or in police records) and thus avoid cheaters.

If you want to read about some good fights between wasps, please feel free to read my paper also referenced below. On one hand, they seem to show altruism, since groups of sisters join together to make new nests, and only one sister will lay most of the eggs. On the other hand, they raid nests of their neighbors, stealing young to feed to their own larvae.

Hamilton, W. D. (1964). The genetical evolution of social behavior: I. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 7, 1-16.

Hamilton, W. D. (1964). The genetical evolution of social behavior: II. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 7, 17-52.

Clouse, R. M. 1995. Nest usurpation and intercolonial cannibalism in the paper wasp, Mischocyttarus mexicanus (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). J. Kansas Entomol. Soc. 68: 67-73.

Posted by: Ron at August 31, 2003 at 11:05 AM

Well, I don't have a copy of The Selfish Gene (I got it out of a library) so I won't be able to check it in the immediate future, but I was under the impression that the point of the book was to argue that evolutionary selection occurs on the basis of the gene, rather than the species or the individual. Also, if I remember correctly, and as your post seems to imply, that seeming-altruism is actually the product of genetic selfishness. My point was that you were seeming to use evolutionary biology to draw sociopolitical conclusions, and veering heavily towards an almost paranoic perspective, where everybody's out to get each other, and altruism (even if on an individual/group level rather than a genetic one) and cooperation are myths. Maybe you were meaning something else altogether, but that's sure what it sounded like to me. But we seem to be agreed, at least, that *apparrent* altruism exists in the natural world, and that's essentially what I was getting at. From the sounds of things, you know far more about this than I do, and I'm happy to admit that, but my point was that it's overly simplistic to point at the natural world and say "look, we must be cruel, vicious and paranoid- it's the only natural way"- which is what you seemed to be saying.

Posted by: Johnny Processor at August 31, 2003 at 01:36 PM

Well, that IS what he says, and that IS what I'm saying. :)

Dawkins does argue that selection happens at the level of the gene, and those genes that have been able to make the best vehicles by which to make the most copies of themselves are the genes we have on this planet today. The "vehicles" genes make are cells, colonies of cells (organisms), and the societies those organisms might build. In Dawkins' view, a chicken is just a good way for chicken genes to make more chicken genes. As organisms, Dawkins' models necessarily apply to us as well -- there is no evidence that we are here through any process different than organic evolution.

Now your reaction to any lessons from nature seems to be fear. You simply say that studying nature leads us to simplistic ways of thinking and that it necessarily forces us to exhibit cruel behavior. However, I think you'll see in Hamilton's mathematically complex papers there's nothing simple about watching nature, and as anyone who studies social behavior can tell you, there's a lot of loving care happening even in ant nests.

You may have some grudge against scientists, but you we ignore their advice at our peril. In fact, no matter how much anyone might fear the possible boredom of a mechanistic world of knowable elements, people suddenly get interested in science when they're in the hospital or flying in an airplane ... if you don't think nature has anything to tell us about how the world works, take up faith healing and clean out your medicine chest.

Now then, about this line so many people draw between "nature" and people ... You may think that looking at ants or talking about genes has no bearing on us, but there is a great deal of high-level interdisciplinary work that goes on. When Hamilton was workiing on inclusive fitness in insects, he was also working at the London School of Economics. Game theory, war strategy, animal behavior, and organic evolution are all fields where people study what happens as conflict situations play themselves out over time. You may think you live in a conflict-free world, but every time you buy something, you engage in a conflict situation -- you want to pay as little as possible for what you get, and the seller wants to give you as little as possible for what you pay. We are awash in conflict, although most of it never reaches deadly escalations.

*However*, we are also awash in cooperation, and the best book I can suggest for anyone to read is The Evolution of Cooperation by Axelrod. Is is simply a wonderful, transforming book. There is a long section on the cooperation that developed between soldiers (of opposing sides) during WWI. And then there is a long experiment in which different strategies are pitted against each other in a simple game, and the winner is a strategy called "tit-for-tat." Then they analyze why this super-simple strategy is so powerful. The bottom line is that cooperation happens, just like conflict. But you have to understand both to understand either.

What does all this have to do with Iraq? Simply this: if you don't understand conflict, and you feel that the default setting for the universe is conflict-free, then you are *extremely* vulnerable to people who DO understand conflict, who DO have a gripe with you, and who ARE watching you to close your eyes so they can throw a sucker punch right across your jawbone. Make no doubt about it, Saddam was an adept game-player, and he longed to throw sucker punches on a lot of other nations. He played the UN, the Arab League, the Islamic clerics, the Europeans, and the US for decades; as a single person, he was able to deal with things so powerful they are often only in the hands of whole countries.

Worse, by not understanding conflict and cooperation, you don't put your weight behind solutions that are devised by people *with your shared interests* who ALSO understand these games. When Clinton got a treaty with North Korea and Carter applauded it, little did they know that their pollyanna view of what NK was realy up to would leave them free to make weapons and open us all up to new threats. Indeed, if Clinton were still in power now, Iraq would be dipping and dodging on 1441 and we would sit here with no idea of what Saddam was up to (since we already know that the inspections are unable to discover anything -- we learned that in 1998). When 9/11 happened, THANK GOODNESS Bush just picked up the phone to the Pentagon and called on the country's best strategists and game theory analysts and said "You guys take it from here." As someone who's been analyzing conflict and cooperation for many years, I find his handling of the UN, Iraq, and NK brilliant.

Now, if all this leaves you in dispair that life is just a bloody battle (in spite of Axelrod's work on cooperation), none of this says anything on the subject of the compassion between sentient beings who find themselves rather stuck in this situation. On those subjects, I refer anyone to the worksof Joseph Campbell, which I find quite dead-on when it comes to describing the human experience.

Posted by: Ron at August 31, 2003 at 04:59 PM

Well, I'm slightly surprised by the suggestion that I have a grudge against scientists,or that I fear learning from nature; I pretty much agree with the entire scientific part of what you're saying. I generally consider myself to be in favour of evolutionary explanations of human and animal behaviour, and one of the things which I disagree with the pomo-left is their (in my mind, at least) over-emphasis on social constructions and so-on and denial of biological factors. Hey, I guess that means that I must only have a mild case of WLPGS- unless craig isn't REALLY A doctor! In fact, when I responded to your first post on the subject I felt I was defending Evolution against those who understand it even less than I do and try to (mis)use it to justify whatever anti-social antics that strike their fancy. Clearly, I was mistaken in this instance. However, as I've said before, I still see no reason to believe that there was any connection between Iraq and September 11th, as I've indicated above, they had their eyes on Iraq long before 2001. I mean, Robin Cook, a guy who you would assume knows his international relations better than most politicians (what with being the former foreign secretary and all) said in his resignation speech that he didn't think that the invasion of Iraq would have happened under Gore- because there were no convincing reasons to believe the Iraqis posed a threat or had any ties to Al-Queda. Also, wouldn't the 'country's best strategists and game theory analysts' be the same ones that President Gore would have used? I don't really think the Chimp really deserves much credit for delegating to experts.
I've been meaning to read some Joseph Campbell for ages, I'm really gonna pull my finger out and get round to reading some of his stuff.
Also, totally off-topic, but are you acquainted Howard Bloom's "The Lucifer Principle"? Do you think it's as brilliant and revolutionary as it's cover-blurb makes out, pseudoscientific nonsense, both, neither, or something else entirely?

Posted by: Johnny Protagonist at August 31, 2003 at 06:27 PM

Oh, I don't think Saddam had anything to do with 9/11, but that's not the point. The connection between Saddam and 9/11 is that given what we learned on 9/11 about the motivation, skill, and savagry of anti-modernity forces in the Arab/Islamic world, regimes like Saddam's could not continue. Period.

I stood at my office window and watched the second plane enter the South tower. I knew immediately that this was Islamic terrorism, I knew this meant war, and the only thing that has surprised me so far is that the certifiably genocidal regime in Khartoum, the certifiably crazy regime in Tripoli, and the downright sneaky regime in Riyadh are still operating. Afghanistan and Iraq were no-brainers.

Why Iraq, especially if Saddam didn't know about it beforehand? Well, just as I stood there with my jaw dropped open watching people rain out of these buildings, wondering if people I knew were alive, I'm sure Saddam had much the same reaction, but with a difference. Anyone who knew his brutal history and recent overtures to Islamic radicals (he suddenly became devout in the 1990s) could imagine him picking up the phone and saying, "What the hell was that? Is this Osama's work? Fucking awesome! Where is he now? Afghanistan? Do we communication with him? Can we set that up? OK, great ... find out what he needs. Yes, we can get that ... no problem. The UN? Oh, we kicked them out years ago, they're no problem. That? Oh, they never found that. Yeah, it's probably rusted, but we can get it up and running soon. OK, increase oil production and let's set up a new account. Awesome. Thanks."

Simply put, there is no way the US government is going to let a genocidal murderer who commands billions and has a chem-bio-nuclear fetish sit in power in a post-9/11 world if they can help it.

Would Gore have done the same thing? Again, it may surprise you to know that I actually think he would have gone into Afghanistan and Iraq as well. A cousin of mine who survived the Pentagon attack with melted shoes and a slightly burnt uniform tells me that if that plane had hit the Pentagon employee nursury, killing the children inside, the Generals would have gotten in their planes themselves and taken out the Taliban themselves, the President be damned. A president who does not take the advice of the military unpon an attack on his nation not only will never be reelected, but will suffer enormous problems with the military. Hopefully no one would disobey him, but with something as large as 9/11, massive conflict at high level of government could get ugly.

In the end, though, Gore would try to preserve fantastical utopian-dreams-inspired hatefests like the UN, and he would have given in to the diplomatic pressures of governments that actually want to see the US fail and care nothing for our citizens (i.e., Saudi Arabia). In the end, Gore, like Clinton, would have gone quickly back to ignoring Pentagon analysts as soon as he thought the public would let him.

The fact that Bush simply says "Fuck you" to sneaky fake friends and calls bullshit on the whole charade that is the UN is wonderful to me, because I love to see a man call a spade a spade.

You may be surprised to learn that there is a very strong connection between Joseph Campbell and 9/11. If you start with him, it's probably best to start with The Power of Myth, but at some point you have to read Myths to Live By, which is a collection of talks he gave throughout his career at the Cooper Union in New York. In one of his talks -- one about the conflict between Eastern and Western cultures -- he says that it worries him that the modern world will suffer threats from unmodern people who have learned enough about modern technology in order to attack it, essentially killing the goose that's laying the golden eggs. It's a longer passage, of course, and when you read it, you realize he's talking about a 9/11 attack, where these deeply superstitious Isalmic radicals who have no understanding of how modern society works, learned enough about planes to kill thousands of people. Campbell says those words in 1971, I believe.

As for calling W a "Chimp," you have every right. In fact, you can go to his house with a poster that says he's a chimp, and the police will protect you. Hey, I was mad when Gore lost, too. But when you stop to think about it, if Bush is so dumb, why is he getting what he wants? He outsmarted Gore -- who even after *8* years as Vice President of the US of A could not win his home state of Tennessee -- and he's managed to get France, Germany, and the Saudis to paint themselves into corners and make fools out of themselves. I go to Germany quite regularly, and it amazes me that a people who have such a weak understanding of market economies (and thus are on the verge of a deflationary spiral) and who are so prone to conspiracy theories and superstition are completely united in their opinion that Bush is stupid. In fact, my friends there are so distraught over the idea of him serving another 4 years, I actually feel sorry for them. They are in such knots over him, they elected the worst leadership they've had since WWII for no reason other than Scroeder's anti-Bush position. It's really amazing -- they have such a mental image of what a "smart" person is, and they have such a strong desire for their leaders to ooze love and entertainment, they've completely forgotten to look at the results! As a general rule, intelligence is difficult to measure, especially when all your data are coming through people who are themselves of rather dubious smartness (journalists).

As for Howard Bloom's "The Lucifer Principle", I have not read it. I've seen some excerps, and it looks like a well-intentioned, legitimate publication. It's worth opening up such engaging readings from time to time to tickle your brain cells, but it's very difficult to evaluate their arguments without a vast memory of counterexamples and clear understanding of several processes. I'd read The Evolution of Cooperation first, or swtch between. I guess I think it's extremely easy to be misled by books that don't actually present a lot of raw data or clearly describe specific mechanisms that we can test.

Posted by: Ron at September 1, 2003 at 01:47 AM

Saddam had MUCH to do with 9/11, in the sense that he provided a breeding ground for and moral support for and financial support for those who finally, directly carried out 9/11's attacks.

But it comes clear in reading the preceding entries, that some people enter into these postings to learn (to study and modify their thinking in accord with what they've read here) while others come to dump: "You're a stupid sack of dung!"

I prefer the learner's role...

Posted by: Sharpshooter at September 2, 2003 at 09:58 PM

I would like to add a few comments to the postings. I have been in the U.S. Military since 1984 and will admit that all of us know that we can get sent to another place to die. We don't die for the cause at hand (Some may believe in it, some may not) we are in it for the freedoms that are enjoyed by many. We would also love to have those same freedoms enjoyed by all, That isn't happening in our world though, that's why I have a job.

A lot of the general population over in Iraq are on OUR side (more than not) and want us over there. They are terrified that we are going to pull out and let the "fundamentelists" take over again.

I would love a world that is all peace and harmony, I have been around this world more than once and the biggest saying that always comes to mind is "Speak softly and carry a big stick".

Posted by: Tim at September 4, 2003 at 02:40 AM