Buffered From Afghanistan’s Stark Costs

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The clip above is one of several excellent news clips done by Al Jazeera English‘s Clayton Swisher. As i was watching this, I realized that Americans hardly see images form the field and front lines in Afghanistan.
Americans don’t feel directly the financial costs of the war. They don’t pay a direct tax to support the more than $100 billion a year effort (after the surge is in place), and the US still has a volunteer army — so the impact that might have been felt by society from a large scale draft is not there.
America is engaged in big time, significant, long wars with a light footprint on the American psyche.
I think that Swisher’s video clips are a small but important corrective. We need to see more of what is happening in Afghanistan.
We need to pay for wars we engage in — not just leave the debts of conflict to the next generation. We need to feel the real sacrifices involved with what has become for too many a casual game.
— Steve Clemons
Update: Here are video clips from Swisher’s series on Afghanistan following the one above.
Marines Hunt Elusive Foes in Helmand:

Afghan Training a Challenge for US Marines:

Transporting US Wounded in Helmand:

— Steve Clemons

Comments

20 comments on “Buffered From Afghanistan’s Stark Costs

  1. Carroll says:

    BTW….for those who don’t know or remember, Clayton Swisher is the guy that wrote “The Truth About Camp David”.
    If you want to know the true story about what happened at Camp David and why… read it.

    Reply

  2. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “which is what they, both parties, want us to think…that’s it’s just ‘differing sides” and not that they are in the service of the real Shadow Elites that control congress, the WH and everything else in this country”
    Bingo. Partisan division is a TOOL of the “ruling” elite. It is carefully nurtured, and used as a curtain behind which those such as Obama can hide their TRUE agendas, aspirations, loyalties, and masters.

    Reply

  3. questions says:

    http://www.drhern.com/abnumbers.htm
    A 1996 letter to the WaPo with some numbers. By a doctor who does/did abortions later in pregnancy.

    Reply

  4. questions says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Late-term_abortion
    Wiki (sorry, it’s what I found…) with a survey that probably isn’t really full or careful or well-designed, but does have some numbers.
    Lots of ways to get to a late term abortion. For many women, not knowing they were pregnant, or radically misjudging gestation seems to have been the issue.
    For a small number, fetal defects.
    But I don’t really think the results are the most accurate.
    Again, though, crisis is crisis.

    Reply

  5. questions says:

    What in heaven’s name is “personal responsibility”? What are the boundaries between people such that we can determine who is responsible for what? If you’re the 3rd or 4th or 5th generation for whom a practice, even early pregnancy, is standard, to what extent are YOU responsible and to what extent is the social circumstance more the cause? And to what extent is the truth somewhere in an indeterminate muddled middle between circumstance and personality and psychic makeup and role models and all the other stuff that goes into environment, including the health of your own mother when she is pregnant with you….
    I don’t have answers, but these questions are certainly the ones that both need to be answered and cannot be answered. So, indeed we need a whole lot more patience and tolerance for one another’s ways of being different.
    And OA, everyone has his or her own version of what a crisis is w/in the phrase “crisis pregnancy.” I don’t know what your level of crisis is, but I’m guessing there is one. Make one up. It probably has happened to someone. YOU might be able to cope with deeply, umm, “inconvenient” pregnancies. Fine. Then YOU are not in crisis and YOU won’t seek an abortion. That’s fine. It’s your life, your decision, your conscience, your ability to cope, your circumstances. Beautiful.
    But the fact is that people draw lines around “crisis” in very different ways. Anencephaly is a gift from the Maker of us all, or it’s an unfortunate quirk of nature. Getting pregnant while on birth control pills and antibiotics w/o realizing that antibiotics can negate the birth control pill’s effects can be a blessing or a curse, something to manage or a disaster. Having, I don’t know, umm, your father be the father of your baby? Umm, your husband dumps you and 4 kids for a 21-year-old and you can’t manage, and oops, you’re pregnant again? You didn’t have money for an early abortion so you saved and it got late? On and on the anecdotes go. They find cancer during a pregnancy. You get really really ill during a pregnancy. You need emergency surgery during a pregnancy. You’re 15 or 14 or 12 during a pregnancy. You’re pregnant by choice and then you lose your job, insurance, home, car…. Shit happens. To people. Even to pregnant people.
    Fact is, some people can cope with these situations and some people can’t cope. I’m not into making people cope when they can’t. It’s pretty simple.
    We all have our own levels of coping. And it’s nice that you are very able. But you are not everyone, and you’re not even necessarily able to read your own future and your own crisis. And honestly, I’m guessing there’s a crisis looming somewhere.

    Reply

  6. Paul Norheim says:

    “There was another pregnant 14 year old whose sister was at most 20 and
    between them they had five kids. Why should I pay for that and why should I
    pay for war? I do believe in personal responsibility.”
    Me too.
    “I also believe in universal health care and a sterling education for all.”
    And some of the health care and education would be financed by your tax
    money, right? If so, you would pay for some of what you call “that” as
    well, wouldn`t you?
    The challenge for societies is to find a balance between individual and
    collective responsibilities, and every existing society is a specific
    answer to that challenge. Perhaps our disagreement isn`t as huge and
    fundamental as I thought, but more a question of degrees?

    Reply

  7. David says:

    Excellent post, questions. Thanks.

    Reply

  8. Outraged American says:

    How many late term abortions are anencephalic? Percentages
    please.
    I’ve thought I was pregnant when I sure didn’t want to be, really
    didn’t want to be, but I accepted the consequences. To me both
    abortion and war are murder and I don’t want to pay for either.
    And Paul, I am blaming Hollywood and the educational system in
    this country, but at this point we have generations of lost
    children. How to get them to wake up? Make them work.
    I was a long term substitute because I did not have a teaching
    degree. One whole semester I taught math to kids who for
    whatever reason could not attend high school. As such, I would
    often go into the child’s home. I saw generations of kids, and
    this was in the mid-80s, in hopeless situations, and these were
    the kids who actually wanted to graduate.
    There was one very young pregnant girl I taught, who was 14 or
    15, whose very young mother, very young grandmother, very
    young great-grandmother, would all be in the house watching
    soaps with a bunch of underfed children in filthy clothing.
    There was another pregnant 14 year old whose sister was at
    most 20 and between them they had five kids.
    Why should I pay for that and why should I pay for war? I do
    believe in personal responsibility. I also believe in universal
    health care and a sterling education for all. That way, if you fail,
    you did it yourself.
    A draft would wake this country up and then good kids wouldn’t
    be sent to Afghanistan/ Iraq / Pakistan/ Yemen to kill and maim
    themselves and others, and the “bad” kids might learn to think
    beyond themselves and the day and realize what life is all about.
    It is a very simplistic philosophy, but there is nothing like the
    school of hard knocks to knock some sense into most people.
    And Paul and Questions, about the Satanists next door. Just
    before Christmas one of their dogs tried to dig under our shared
    fence. They came out and fixed it and then fixed the whole
    fence. In return, we gave them a plant and a card. Not a
    Christmas card mind you, one never wants to offend Satanists if
    one can avoid it.
    The lady Satanist JUST knocked on my door. She is a
    professional rose gardener and is now going to prune our entire
    rose garden next weekend as a neighborly gesture (which would
    have cost $250 if we’d hired someone). She also gave me advice
    on my other plants.
    See FENCES CAN BE MENDED, both literally and figuratively.
    Maybe there is hope for this country and the world.

    Reply

  9. JohnH says:

    “We cannot single ourselves out as different, as
    special, as deserving of breaking the rules. So we
    should set up the rules to take care of all cases
    and not make exceptions for ourselves. Even if it’s
    a tad bit inconvenient at this moment, it’ll pay off
    later.” I like it!
    I predict that Nadine, kotz, and most of the foreign
    policy mob can’t even relate to it–after all,
    they’re exceptional.

    Reply

  10. questions says:

    Sorry to intervene here… BUT–
    When you talk, Paul, about the structure vs. the individual, you start to sound just a tad bit like, umm, I?????! Congress is more about the structures of Congress and all….
    Libertarianism is a failed confused wreck of an attempt to deal with the world. It is full of resentment and refusal to recognize structural barriers to the well-being of huge numbers of people. It assumes that individuals “know” how to manage their “own” resources better than anyone else and it resents deeply any interference. At the same time, it demands help in crisis just as anyone else would. I don’t go out for walks and see dead libertarians on the way, so I assume that they use the same services everyone else does. But they carry that resentment with them rather than the social gratitude that might be a better fit for the world.
    OA’s abortion position is part of the whole thing as well. She resents the use of her own money to help people who by now should never need help. She neglects to mention, say, trisomy 18 or anencephaly or teratogenic drug exposure or crisis of any sort. But you can best believe that were she or another close to her to have an actual crisis (in her very own definition of crisis that maybe not even she can imagine right now), she’d suddenly want the service. And if it was 9000 dollars (late term, anencephalic abortion can apparently cost this much) and she didn’t have it, she’d bemoan the fact.
    Libertarianism lacks imagination and empathy. It’s a selfish response to the pain and suffering of others. And it denies the possibility of itself needing help eventually. But of course, when that day comes, the libertarian, too, will call for help.
    Kant is the response. We cannot single ourselves out as different, as special, as deserving of breaking the rules. So we should set up the rules to take care of all cases and not make exceptions for ourselves. Even if it’s a tad bit inconvenient at this moment, it’ll pay off later.

    Reply

  11. Paul Norheim says:

    “…moving back to the “backwards” state that I was raised in and seeing that
    the quality of education, and thus the level of awareness of the children
    being educated, has gotten even worse….My cynicism/ revelation is also a
    result of working in Hollywood. I believe that the “entertainment industry”
    has lowered American “culture” to its lowest and very common denominator.”
    What I fail to understand, Outraged, is why you focus your anger and contempt
    at the symptoms, not the structural causes that you addressed above. Perhaps
    this boils down to a difference between the American and the European way of
    thinking: Generally speaking, you tend to concentrate on individuals; we tend
    to concentrate on the structures and circumstances that those individuals or
    groups act within – for better or for worse.
    Given what you said at 12.24PM (quoted above), it sounds more reasonable to
    target those responsible for the decay in education and the bosses in the
    entertainment industry, than shooting the kids. If you ask me. It`s not as if
    the younger generation is somehow born with a lower moral than their parents
    or grandparents, or are morally inferior due to genetical circumstances.
    It reminds me of the common fallacy after the recent financial collapse,
    claiming that CEO`s in the last decade are more greedy than those operating
    in the 1980`s or 1950`s – as if human greed or compassion is mysteriously
    increasing and decreasing within a certain population from time to time for
    no apparent reason, and when we are unfortunate to get an extraordinary
    greedy generation at Wall Street, the capitalistic system collapses. To me,
    this is not a convincing explanation of anything.
    A decay in the whole educational infrastructure seems, on the other hand, to
    be a convincing explanation of one the factors resulting in the current
    misery that you`ve described above.
    And BTW: I can`t stand Jerry Springer. Norwegian TV is 75 % American in
    content, from soaps and docu-soups to sitcoms, talk shows, movies and high
    quality series. They are not dubbed; the translation is texted at the bottom
    of the screen. I`m sure I can choose between 15 different American programs
    on my TV right now, if I want to. Norway is an American state (much more than
    for example France), and I don`t need to go there to see it.
    I am in America.

    Reply

  12. Outraged American says:

    It’s not contempt for people who don’t succeed in life, it’s
    disgust at people who don’t try, even something as simple as
    learning how to be a mechanic (not that I could be one, I’m
    hopeless — I have tremendous respect for good mechanics).
    My respect is given to people who, no matter what they do,
    whether it be a janitor or a diplomat, do it to their utmost
    ability, and who live their lives morally, compassionately and
    courageously.
    You do have to come over here to understand the US. It’s a
    failing society enamored of drugs, sex and violence.
    But I think that you completely misunderstand my views. I
    respect people who try, whether they’re a street sweeper or a
    peace activist. I could care less how much money they make, I
    care about who they are as a person and what they do to make
    the world a better place.

    Reply

  13. Carroll says:

    I am going to keep mentioning this book..
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    “Arianna Huffington announced her first pick of the year for the HuffPost Book Club: “Shadow Elite” by Janine Wadel. It has taken too many years for rational people to be able to mention in polite society that our democracy has been dismantled by an elite cadre of wealthy insiders.
    ::::::::
    PETER’S NEW YORK, Thursday, January 7, 2010–Internationally syndicated columnist Arianna Huffington has given her imprimatur to a new book, “Shadow Elite,” by Janine Wadel, honoring the work as the first HuffPost Book Club pick for 2010. “Shadow Elite” details the manner in which our supposedly democratic society has been undermined by elites who craft public policy at the behest of powerful interests, to the exclusion of the needs of the average citizen. While many commentators have long ago insisted that this is so, the so-called “mainstream” has always relegated such thoughts to the realm of what it likes to call “conspiracy theory.” And no wonder, since the media plays such an important role in the control exercised by these elites. The possibility that the super-wealthy have virtual control over our society, insulated to a high degree from democratic processes such as elections, is not a new one. The absence of meaningful media coverage of the very elitist annual Bilderberg Group meetings underscores the degree to which the press, television and radio have been compromised by subversive influence regarding what they are, and what they are not, to cover, regardless of its importance to the public at large. Now we have a mainstream commentator, albeit one from the left side of the spectrum, who is finally recognizing what the maligned “far right” and perhaps even the “far left” have known for decades.
    Interestingly, Huffington cites, among others, the infamous former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin as one of the controllers mentioned in “Shadow Elite.” What she fails to bring to the attention of her readers among other highlights in Rubin’s career, however, are the steps that Rubin took to make bailouts a standard fixture in public policy. Not only did he engineer the famous Mexican Bailout of 1995, but he continued to lobby for the formation of an international bailout fund which he claimed could play an important role in stemming crises such as the Asian economic downturn of 1999. Rubin, of course, always portrayed the existence of such funds as benefiting the public, disingenuously arguing that an unavoidable consequence, rather than the primary purpose, of their use was the rescue of well-heeled investors.
    For Huffington to have come out in support of Wadel’s theory of elite control (and to call it a theory is like calling what you had for breakfast a theory) is revolutionary indeed. Unless Huffington is marginalized by the mainstream media–as has happened to such media icons as Rosie O’Donnell for espousing a number of non-mainstream causes such as research into alternative explanations for the events of 9-11–this could be the beginning of a deeper consensus regarding such matters as how our elections are controlled; the manner in which our judiciary is influenced in its decisions, and how so-called representative government has been transformed into little more than a rubber stamp for wealthy interests. Undoubtedly, the role of the nonprofit sector, which includes a phalanx of organizations such as the Council on Foreign Relations (Rubin is a top honcho there) and other so-called “think tanks,” will come under increased scrutiny, as well they should, by at least some members of the media. Why should we as taxpayers continue to host those who flagrantly undermine our democratic foundations?”
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    …because although most of us, or at least some of us on here, know that our shadow elite is destroying the country…the “little people”, no disrespect intended to the underinformed or incurious masses, think it is just “partisan” fighting or the dirty rethugs or the dirty dems that are the source of our problems….which is what they, both parties, want us to think…that’s it’s just ‘differing sides” and not that they are in the service of the real Shadow Elites that control congress, the WH and everything else in this country.
    We only discuss the results caused by the Shadow Elite…the wars, the economy, the banks, the health care and drug rip offs, the unethical privileged system created by congress..we never talk about how “to get rid of” the “Shadow Elites”. Or if someone does it is…”the next election”, the next messiah, switching parties, ad nauseum….as if any of that has ever worked. LOL
    So I want to hear some suggestions for getting rid of these power vultures…if you aren’t up for burning congress to the ground destroying their self serving system and “processes” and pay to play elective system…what do you suggest…asking them nicely to go away or selective assassinations?
    Come on..what do you think it will actually take to stop them, get them out of our government?

    Reply

  14. Paul Norheim says:

    In my view, your contempt for people who don`t succeed in life is astonishing.
    “I do get full of rage at all these losers wasting air and welfare dollars.”
    A digression – and perhaps I`m wrong here, but I have a suspicion: The main reason why
    there is no affordable universal healthcare system in America, is NOT greedy insurance
    and pharmacy companies; the main reason is that a majority of Americans think that the
    majority of Americans are thrash and losers and don`t deserve health care.
    (And BTW, I`ve been in New York/Boston – which is not representative for the country
    as a whole.)

    Reply

  15. Outraged American says:

    My very recent conversion to pro-draft-ism is not some kind of
    Saul on the road to Damascus moment, it’s a result of talking to
    kids just like the kid on R&R from Afghanistan — kids who
    joined the military because they wanted to better themselves or
    thought that it was their patriotic duty.
    This, in combination with moving back to the “backwards” state
    that I was raised in and seeing that the quality of education, and
    thus the level of awareness of the children being educated, has
    gotten even worse. And trust me on this one, it wasn’t good to
    begin with.
    My brother’s friends are much younger than I am and are losers,
    and have no aspirations beyond to be losers. Since he lives next
    door, and for whatever reason (mostly because they smoke)
    they’re always hanging out in his front yard, I get to talk to
    losers all the time.
    They’re sometimes homeless, often jobless, sometimes
    pregnant, most of the girls have kids whose fathers have
    disappeared. They are mostly nice, but again, have been raised
    by people who had no discipline themselves. It’s a lost
    generation(s).
    So when I see a good kid, like the one who will be shipped back
    to Afghanistan next week, or the anti-war veterans I work with,
    I do get full of rage at all these losers wasting air and welfare
    dollars. At least let them work for their handout and get some
    discipline into their lives.
    My cynicism/ revelation is also a result of working in Hollywood.
    I believe that the “entertainment industry” has lowered American
    “culture” to its lowest and very common denominator. And
    perhaps you should watch an episode of Jerry Springer, if you
    can get it online, because that is all that a huge portion of
    American youth aspire to — NOTHING beyond sex, drugs and
    rap.
    I believe Paul that you said that you’d never been to the US. I
    would suggest you come and see for yourself what I’m talking
    about. This country needs a deep cleaning, starting with “our
    government, and perhaps ending with some kind of mandatory
    service to teach these kids what life is all about. And I say that
    as a borderline libertarian.

    Reply

  16. JohnH says:

    Steve said, “Americans hardly see images form the
    field and front lines in Afghanistan.” Or from Iraq
    or or Gaza or from anywhere USrael is at war.
    Americans only see images from the front lines in
    Tehran…

    Reply

  17. Paul Norheim says:

    Outraged American said:
    “our country is full of drug addicts and dead-end losers his age, who spend their time
    smoking, shooting-up and getting pregnant — We’re raising generations of cannon fodder,
    so let’s get on with it. If we’re going to be an empire, let’s get the draft back in. Let’s
    get these Jerry Springer types into uniform and teach them some discipline — Forget high
    schools, let’s have military schools so that the discipline starts young — I’m serious.
    To use a word from India, too many of these kids are “junglees.” They have no capacity to
    imagine the future and live for the pleasures of the now— it will keep the good kids
    alive, and we can throw out the trash — right now our cannon fodder are good kids like my
    neighbor’s cousin, not the trash that pollutes our streets — that junk coming out of the
    high school, I say send the crap to battle —at least clean out this country while we’re
    at it.”
    You insist several times that you`re serious, but I just have to ask: Is this supposed to
    be some kind of Swiftian satire – or did that single encounter with a decent kid make such
    a huge impression that it transformed you into a pre-fascist type, similar to the German
    and British generals who sent millions of “worthless” young kids to get slaughtered in WWI?

    Reply

  18. Outraged American says:

    Another thing the kid on R&R from Afghanistan said was he
    knew the exact time he would get out out of the military down to
    the minute. He’s obviously enjoying his service. NOT.
    While I was talking to him I kept thinking, “You only have two
    weeks here and you’re spending your time repairing your
    cousin’s car, which is your job in Afghanistan?”
    I was so impressed at this kid’s chivalry as well as his horse
    sense, by which I mean he asked the basic questions that all
    those twats in Congress should be asking:
    * “Why are we in Afghanistan?”
    * “The Afghans are fighting for their homes and families,
    wouldn’t we do the same in their place?”
    Seriously, this kid was not bright, although he seemed like quite
    a good mechanic, but obviously his heart, his work ethic, his
    morals are all in the right place.
    And we’re going to sacrifice him, a good kid, while our country
    is full of drug addicts and dead-end losers his age, who spend
    their time smoking, shooting-up and getting pregnant.
    My husband and I like to frequent some of the thrift stores in
    search of antiques. An old friend of mine who was an antique
    dealer told me that the Phoenix area has some of the best
    antiquing in the country.
    Anyway, we were at one near a high school that I taught at
    decades ago, which used to be relatively good, and you should
    have seen the kids coming out of it. I used to worry back then,
    when I was teaching, about what this country was coming to,
    now, I think as a nation we’re completely over.
    We’re sending our good kids off to the slaughter while raising
    generation after generation of worthless “human beings” who
    can’t read, write and as for critical thinking. Fuggedaboutit.
    We’re raising generations of cannon fodder, so let’s get on with
    it. If we’re going to be an empire, let’s get the draft back in.
    Let’s get these Jerry Springer types into uniform and teach them
    some discipline.
    Forget high schools, let’s have military schools so that the
    discipline starts young.
    I’m serious. To use a word from India, too many of these kids
    are “junglees.” They have no capacity to imagine the future and
    live for the pleasures of the now. We cannot have a society
    based on that.
    I think, and again I was a teacher, that there has been a
    deliberate dumbing down of our educational system to produce
    just that: cannon fodder. Empires don’t like having a stable
    middle class. Except that right now our cannon fodder are good
    kids like my neighbor’s cousin, not the trash that pollutes our
    streets.
    Get the draft back in and give exemptions to students who keep
    their grade point average above a certain level or who are doing
    well in an occupational course, or just at least striving to do well
    in general. I honestly think now that it’s the only way we’re
    going to save the country, because at least it will keep the good
    kids alive, and we can throw out the trash.
    And I never thought that I would endorse a draft, but seeing this
    nice young man yesterday (he said he tried not to think about
    IEDs and snipers, but he would be very vulnerable to both) and
    then seeing in comparison that junk coming out of the high
    school, I say send the crap to battle. If we’re going for endless
    war, at least clean out this country while we’re at it. The ones
    who survive would at least have learned how to make a bed.
    I’m reposting this from below to explain to people who didn’t
    read my first post what I’m on about:
    I just walked outside to find a young man on R&R from
    Afghanistan fixing my neighbor’s car. He is her cousin. This
    (my neighbor) is the former meth head who my brother is letting
    live with him as a roommate while she gets back on her feet, and
    whose five-year-old I help take care of.
    The cousin, a native Arizonan (read hick) is back from
    Afghanistan for the next two weeks. He was baby faced. Turns
    out he was 20, but seriously looked 15. He’s been in
    Afghanistan for the last four months and is a mechanic who
    drives behind convoys in case they break down.
    Needless to say, I was intrigued. I asked him what he thought of
    the war in Afghanistan and he said, “I just can’t figure out why
    we’re there.” I asked him about what his comrades felt and he
    said that it was the same, that no one in his unit really knew why
    we were in Afghanistan.
    When I asked him about the Afghans he said that they were nice
    and he got along well with the Afghan drivers.
    He said that if he were an Afghan he would fight us, and
    understood why they were fighting back, but then added if it
    comes down to him or them he would fight for himself.
    He did seem genuinely sympathetic to the Afghans.
    I asked him why he joined the military and he said, and I’m
    quoting, “To better myself.”
    I asked him where he’d been. He said he didn’t know. That he
    was stationed out of Bagram but then just drove. He said that
    they never knew where they were going or where they were.
    Not the brightest bulb, but I did admire that he, rather than
    become a drug addict, like so many of the kids I taught here in
    Phoenix 25 years ago, had actually done something.
    Anyway, these are the kids I feel sorriest for, and I’ve seen it
    over and over in working with anti-war veterans. Good kids
    from the sticks trying to better themselves who get swept up in
    the machinations of the Cheneys of the world.
    Disgusting. Beyond disgusting.
    After I got back from walking the dogs I took him some Kahlua
    brownies that I made last night and wished him luck. He’s
    going to need it. Nice kid. I hope he comes back sane and
    intact.
    And I hope that the people who put him there go to hell.

    Reply

  19. samuelburke says:

    the inimitable glenn greenwald speaks…israel is the problem for
    america.
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/greenwald/greenwald54.html
    “If it is taboo to discuss how America’s actions in the Middle East
    cause Terrorism – and it generally is – that taboo is far stronger
    still when it comes to specifically discussing how our blind,
    endless enabling of Israeli actions fuels Terrorism directed at the
    U.S. An article in yesterday’s New York Times examined the life
    of Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi, the Jordanian who blew
    himself up, along with 7 CIA agents, in Afghanistan this week.
    Why would Balawi – a highly educated doctor, who was
    specifically recruited by Jordanian intelligence officials to
    infiltrate Al Qaeda on behalf of Western governments – want to
    blow himself up and murder as many American intelligence
    agents as possible? The article provides this possible answer:
    He described Mr. Balawi as a “very good brother” and a “brilliant
    doctor,” saying that the family knew nothing of Mr. Balawi’s
    writings under a pseudonym on jihadi Web sites. He said,
    however, that his brother had been “changed” by last year’s
    three-week-long Israeli offensive in Gaza, which killed about
    1,300 Palestinians.
    An Associated Press discussion of the possible motives of
    accused Christmas Day airline attacker Umar Faruk
    Abdulmutallab contained this quite similar passage (h/t Casual
    Observer):
    Students and administrators at the institute said Abdulmutallab
    was gregarious, had many Yemeni friends and was not overtly
    extremist. They noted, however, he was open about his
    sympathies toward the Palestinians and his anger over Israel’s
    actions in Gaza.
    When the Saudi and Yemeni branches of Al Qaeda announced
    earlier this year that they were unifying into “Al Qaeda of the
    Arabian Peninsula,” they prominently featured rhetoric railing
    against the Israeli attack on Gaza, and “presented their campaign
    as part of the struggle to liberate Palestine, since Israel and the
    Crusaders are one.”

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