Beating Terrorism: It’s the Grievances, Stupid

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gedmin.jpg
First of all, as Jeffrey Gedmin is frequently known to say, “I’m overstating for effect.” I am going to debate some points that Gedmin raises in an interesting op-ed in today’s Financial Times, and I — in no way — mean to assert that Gedmin is stupid. He is a well-informed and capable public intellectual serving as Director of the Aspen Institute Berlin after serving as the founding director of the New Atlantic Initiative housed at the American Enterprise Institute. Gedmin has been important for Germany and Europe as he, like Robert Kagan, is an authentic neoconservative voice that they needed to hear to really understand the genuine direction of U.S. national security policy.
Jeffrey Gedmin was also a person I wrote about some time ago, as he was John Bolton’s choice to serve as one of his deputies, an Ambassadorial position, at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Although there were other reasons that this appointment did not go through, this blog’s exposure of that appointment created some push-back inside the State Department that contributed to squelching Gedmin’s U.N. appointment. I want to make clear that I think Gedmin would make valuable national contributions as a public servant in any arena of government where he was not coupled with his former AEI colleague, John Bolton.
Bolton — as one of the leading forces of revived Jesse Helms-ian pugnacious, flip-off-the-world nationalism — and Gedmin as one of the most capable and intelligent, if not the best known, neoconservatives, was too toxic a combination to inflict on the collective pool of envoys from the world’s roster of nations.
I go into such length about Gedmin here because I do consider my relationship with Gedmin as one of mutual respect. We are friendly, at least at last meeting, and my differences with Gedmin are entirely about policy and national security strategy. This preamble is designed in part to ameliorate the tensions that my and Gedmin’s mutual friends feel when I mention him on this blog. Some were not pleased when his appointment to the United Nations did not go through, and some of them wrongly hold The Washington Note responsible — when there were other reasons that the Gedmin nomination failed to move forward.
In Jeffrey Gedmin’s “The Lessons from London’s Terror Plot and Lebanon,” he makes a fundamental mistake in prescriptions against terrorism and sets up a false argument. He starts by dispelling the notion that the Bush administration “is to blame for terrorism.” Of course, he is right. There have been terrorist incidents for decades back. In fact, terrorism has always been a device of war, a tactic that groups have used against established power centers.
The issue that Gedmin fails to wrestle with is one that Donald Rumsfeld tried to on one occasion. Why has the Bush administration’s policy failed on all levels to ameliorate al Qaeda style terrorism — and why in the military response the administration has pursued should it not be held to account for igniting wide-spread, sectarian civil war in Iraq — which threatens to expand through the region?
Gedmin writes:

These things [terrorist incidents in the 1990s] were happening back in the heady days of Oslo talks, when there seemed to be a real chance for peace in the Middle East, and a popular US president named Bill Clinton had sent American troops to stop the slaughter of Muslims in Bosnia. It is worth noting that Americans and Europeans fought twice in the 1990s against Serb Christians in the Balkans to save Muslim lives, in a region with no oil, far from the state of Israel.
Before Mr. Clinton, George H.W. Bush had sent Americans to freed starving Muslims in Somalia. Again, no oil, no Israel. But none of this seemed to diminish the bloodlust of Islamist extremists.

I agree with Jeffrey Gedmin that the masterminds of terrorist groups — like Bin Laden and Zawahiri — are not driven by the failure of the U.S. to pressure Israel and its neighbors into a final, two-state deal between Israel and Palestine — even though that grievance is regularly waved in America’s face as the one that motivates these people.
I’m not sure what to think about bin Laden’s motivations. I think he may want to be a Muslim pope; that he may see himself as a modern-day version of the Mahdi who led Muslim resistance against British colonial control over Sudan; or that he wants to lay the groundwork for organizing the Middle East politically under his brand of extreme Islam.
What I do know about bin Laden is that he and other terror-masters exploit the perception of grievances among the citizens they are attempting to appeal to and eventually govern. Without grievances, terrorism is a pathetic act. With grievances, terrorism has fuel.
Gedmin asserts that there is ample evidence that American foreign policy efforts that had nothing to do with either oil or Israel nonetheless produced no diminishment in the determination of Islamic terrorists to cause harm. He is right to a point, but he is not being serious if he thinks that American efforts in Bosnia or Somalia were designed in any way to respond to broad Muslim grievances.
We have few tests of how significant resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian problem would be because we have never delivered, no matter how close resolution may have seemed in the past. We have not delivered — and we must. A majority of Israelis desire a negotiated, final status negotiation with the Palestinians, and Palestinians desire the same — according to numerous, credible polls.
In addition, the leadership of nearly all Arab Muslim “states” in the region have told America privately that peace with Israel is achievable if the land and border disputes are solved.
Israel’s, America’s, and the Arab Middle East’s problem is not so much with misbehaving states as it is with a growing population of fanatics that ebb and flow within and among Arab states and who are increasingly independent of state control. This is a true problem — and it needs to be contained — as this kind of power is one that is very hard to squelch.
Gedmin believes that the UN Resolution on Lebanon and the cease-fire are a bad turn. He writes:

. . .the emerging ceasefire in Lebanon may turn out to be a disaster, producing the worst of all possible policy outcomes. Hizbollah has not been disarmed. This will embolden the extremists. It will allow Iran, Hizbollah’s chief sponsor, to claim victory. Once again, America’s image has taken a blow.
There is good reason to believe the west has missed an opportunity to push through critical changes. Lebanese opinion, especially among non-Shia Muslims, was initially critical of Hizbollah. Other regional governments — Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan — openly criticized Iran’s proxy. How different this ceasefire would have looked had Israel been willing from the beginning to send in the ground troops necessary to crush Hizbollah’s forces.

Gedmin points out that Israel had the moral high ground after Hezbollah’s incursion into Israel and the kidnapping and killing of IDF soldiers and that the U.S. and Israel had a moment to tie mutually shared concerns about Hezbollah with the leading states of the Arab region.
But just as the United States somehow lost the world’s outpouring of support and empathy after 9/11, the U.S. and Israel lost connection as well with this powerful opportunity to ally with Arab support.
Gedmin is wrong that a powerful ground force would have been acceptable to other Arab states — not unless it got some tacit permission from them to do so. If consulted, I think that the Saudis, Egyptians and Jordanians would have played along — as long as on the side, Olmert promised to open negotiations on with Mahmoud Abbas on Israel/Palestine at some agreed date in the future — not too far off but not so soon as to look linked to the permission to crush Hezbollah.
There is no doubt that Hezbollah had acquired sophisticated weapons and command and control systems that needed to be confronted. If anything, our collective intelligence in the region — American, Israeli, Saudi, Jordanian, and Egyptian — missed this build-up of capacity.
But the manner in which Israel challenged Hezbollah, turning its assault against Southern Lebanese armed militants into a real war against Lebanon proper, lionized Hizbollah — rather than delegitimating it.
Gedmin is right that bad guys need to be dealt with, often militarily, but he just gets the broader legitimacy challenges wrong — and his impulse to advocate military action while giving no space in his argument whatsoever to America’s and Israel’s “audience disconnect” in the broader Middle East helps rationalize bad policy.
Gedmin — according to this piece — would have been at personal odds with the Resolution that the UN Security Council passed unanimously on Friday. I have my own concern about the fragility of the terms of the Resolution and the willingness of all parties to abide, but it’s clear that Jeffrey Gedmin is not a fan of John Bolton’s official position.
One might assume that John Bolton himself is not a fan of the official John Bolton position.
But to suggest that the way forward is an escalation in the military response — while not robbing the “grievance agenda” from the ruthless thugs that are driving terrorist organizations — helps empower terrorists.
That’s right — when Joe Lieberman, Vice President Cheney, and Sean Hannity are out there suggesting that a vote for Ned Lamont helps support terrorists — they have it backwards.
The way to confront terrorism is not an abandonment of national security capacity or all military responses — but without solving fundamental grievances — while at the same time checking and pushing back the militants — America accomplishes precious little in its so-called “global war on terror”.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

40 comments on “Beating Terrorism: It’s the Grievances, Stupid

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  4. MP says:

    To be sure, Carroll. Jews aren’t the only paranoids. No argument. But when you say, “I don’t know Gedmin’s family background but I wouldn’t be surprised to find it was similar to Wolfowitz and Feith…resulting in a Hitler phobia” you are suggesting pretty clearly that Gedmin is Jewish.
    And you go on in the same vein, “…how they must always be on guard, and how Wolfowitz buried himself in books about the holocuast and the victimization of the Jews during his teens. Same with Feith and his father who dressed up in his Betar uniform in Poland and pranced around Poland with an Israeli flag.”

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  5. Carroll says:

    On page two of the article quoted, Gedmin says that he’s Catholic.
    Posted by MP at August 15, 2006 06:33 PM
    MP..being catholic doesn’t mean he isn’t a paranoid…delusions aren’t limited to any particular ethnic or religious group…

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  6. MP says:

    “By Julia E. Sweig, JULIA E. SWEIG is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Her most recent book is “Friendly Fire: Losing Friends and Making Enemies in the Anti-American Century.”
    Thanks for posting this, POA. Very insightful.
    I also commend to everyone James Fallows’ recent article in The Atlantic Monthly on the end of the war on terror (sub req). This article bookends the one he wrote for the same magazine in the fall of 2002 in which he predicted virtually everything that has happened in Iraq.

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  7. Pissed Off American says:

    Why They Hate Us
    No, it’s not our freedoms. Anti-Americanism isn’t going away until the U.S. puts some fairness in its foreign policy.
    By Julia E. Sweig, JULIA E. SWEIG is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Her most recent book is “Friendly Fire: Losing Friends and Making Enemies in the Anti-American Century.”
    August 15, 2006
    AMERICA’S MORAL standing in the world has precipitously declined since 2001. For starters, blame the Bush administration’s go-it-alone tough talk after 9/11, contempt for the Kyoto accord, war and then chaos in Iraq, secret prisons in Europe and alleged use of torture at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Democrats would have you believe that a new team — theirs — in Washington would change all this. Not so fast.
    Around the world, anti-Americanism is not simply the result of anger about President Bush’s foreign policies. Rather, it is deeply entrenched antipathy accumulated over decades. It may take generations to undo.
    Consider the causes;
    Continues at…
    http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/opinion/la-oe-sweig15aug15,0,1082229.story?track=mostviewed-storylevel

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  8. MP says:

    Carroll writes: “I don’t know Gedmin’s family background but I wouldn’t be surprised to find it was similar to Wolfowitz and Feith…resulting in a Hitler phobia. In reading an interview with Wolfowitz’s sister, she related how their father talked constantly about the fear of more Hitlers arising in the world, how they must always be on guard, and how Wolfowitz buried himself in books about the holocuast and the victimization of the Jews during his teens. Same with Feith and his father who dressed up in his Betar uniform in Poland and pranced around Poland with an Israeli flag.”
    On page two of the article quoted, Gedmin says that he’s Catholic.

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  9. sandstone says:

    mlaw- really well said parts to your post.. thanks
    >>We will be at war in Syria and/or Iran within a year, not because it is a good idea, but because our reality is being managed by those who want to be at war, and no one else can marshall the necessary facts in a tme relevant to object. All those who object to the idea of war are marginalized as unmanly, and the electorate, to the extent it is relevant at all is motivated by fear.<<

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  10. mlaw230 says:

    It appears that we are confronting the new reality of the modern information age and the result is a complete loss of moderation. In the past, there was some obligation to attempt to settle on a core of operable facts. Not anymore.
    One can choose whatever set of facts conform to one’s world view and the truth, if ever it is determined, will not be determined in a time relevant for politics and meaningful debate or decision making. There is frankly, so much information there is just no way to determine what is true, or mostly true, and what is false.
    I am unaware of this ever occuring in the past, except perhaps in the last 30 years or so of the Raj when distance i.e. the slowness of information, allowed the British Viceroy to act independantly, and to the ultimate detriment of the Empire.
    We blame the media, and rightly so, in part, but the truth is that we have been let down by those in government who do not have even the spine of the British Imperial service which could occassionaly be counted on to resign in protest of particularly stupid policies.
    In this environment those who seek moderation make themselves irrelevant and those who rely on actual facts become captive to ambiguity.
    We will be at war in Syria and/or Iran within a year, not because it is a good idea, but because our reality is being managed by those who want to be at war, and no one else can marshall the necessary facts in a tme relevant to object. All those who object to the idea of war are marginalized as unmanly, and the electorate, to the extent it is relevant at all is motivated by fear.
    Mr. Gedmin may be a wiz, but he will not confront the reality of the neocon agenda, and the arguments of intellectuals, even open minded intellectuals, no longer matter at all. The plain truth is that Sean Hannity influences more of the electorate than Steve Clemons does, and that is truly a sad thing to consider.

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  11. JB (definitely not John Bolton) says:

    I decided a long time ago that no-one in the neocon camp had ever been pushed around in the school yard by one of the local bullies.
    If he had been so pushed he might have got the idea that when a person is pushed he tends to push back. If the pushing continues he tends to build up a grievance. And if the grievance goes beyond a certain point he may take his revenge in ways that seem to be disproportionate to the initial provocation.
    On one level I can understand (but completely disassociate myself from) the neocon idea of spreading everything America by force.
    What I do not understand is the fantasy that no-one being so favored with the effects of their military might will object.
    Is is because they are so consumed with their fantasy? obsessed with the idea that everything America does is ‘good’? do they have no fundamental appreciation of human nature?
    Or is part of the definition of the fantasy the fact that true believers can see only one possible outcome, even when prior experience has shown conclusively, time after time, that the only result is disaster?

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  12. Pissed Off American says:

    I won’t be civil..
    it’s time to take the gloves off and pound the living holier than thou arrogant bullshit out of prevaricating right wing and Zionist wacko pondscum who have made the world today a very dangerous place.
    Posted by km4
    Gosh, does this mean I can drop my nice guy personna and say what I REALLY mean?
    “Civil”. That cracks me up. How the hell does one discuss slaughtering Muslims in a “civil” tone?? Anyone defending Israel’s actions has serious character flaws.

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  13. Marky says:

    Israel centric views are fine.
    The false conflation of the interests of Israel and the US, to the detriment of both countries, it not ok.
    There is also a need for some independent auditing of US aid to Israel.
    Want to bet that US foreign aid to Israel does not get funneled back into lobbying for more money, and into campaign donations against weak Israel supporters? I didn’t think so.
    The right wingers, who are the ones with the closest ties to the military industrial complexes in both countries, are the people who are empowered by this insidious co-dependence.
    I do believe that most Israelis dont’ favor the settlements, and don’t favor aggressive military policies, but I don’t believe the majority’s will is respect there, anymore than it is here.

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  14. km4 says:

    I won’t be civil..
    it’s time to take the gloves off and pound the living holier than thou arrogant bullshit out of prevaricating right wing and Zionist wacko pondscum who have made the world today a very dangerous place.

    Reply

  15. Carroll says:

    Well thanks reader…this tells me all I need to know about Gedmin…
    “Experiencing European Anti-Americanism and Anti-Israelism
    An Interview with Jeffrey Gedmin
    Four factors play a role in the increasingly anti-Israeli sentiment in Europe: the attempt to assuage guilt over Europe’s murderous past, rivalry with the United States, anti-Semitism, and the rejection of European concepts of society by the majority of Israelis.
    Israel has long been a bone of contention between America and Europe. Many Europeans perceive Israel as an ally, partner, outpost, client, or satellite of the United States. While it may not be the driving force, Israel’s connection to the United States is an important factor in the European- Israeli relationship.
    Denial and appeasement are major characteristics of European political discourse. Many Europeans are “tone-deaf” to their own general bias, if not hostility, to the democratic state of Israel.”
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Maybe by “nice” Steve means not chewing food with your mouth open or not spitting on your comb..but frankly I have had enough of these people who project their personal nightmares and bigotness into politics, particulary my country’s politics…let them be nice elsewhere…like some nice padded cell.
    No one with Gedmin’s Israeli centric views can be “smart”…sorry.. but you can’t be “smart” when all your opinions are born of your own “personal” feelings…
    I don’t know Gedmin’s family background but I wouldn’t be surprised to find it was similar to Wolfowitz and Feith…resulting in a Hitler phobia. In reading an interview with Wolfowitz’s sister, she related how their father talked constantly about the fear of more Hitlers arising in the world, how they must always be on guard, and how Wolfowitz buried himself in books about the holocuast and the victimization of the Jews during his teens. Same with Feith and his father who dressed up in his Betar uniform in Poland and pranced around Poland with an Israeli flag.
    All these Israeli centrics have the same blame game and phobia about Europe that Hitler had about the jews….once again reinforcing my belief that ALL fanatics are dangerous and destructive.
    These are exactly the kind of people I would never go to for foreign policy…everything they offer comes from their own damaged psyche…their policy stands are about “them” not about what is a sound foreign policy for a country…not for Israel or the US.

    Reply

  16. reader says:

    a perfunctory search of Mr. Gedmin’s opus turned up the following interview from December 2004. it struck me as being particularly tonedeaf. less courteous people would use the adjective “clueless”.
    http://www.jcpa.org/phas/phas-27.htm

    Reply

  17. Jerome Gaskins says:

    Finally, someone with clout (well, does he?) speaks to the core of all terrorism: It’s the Grievances, Stupid! Everyone who tries to addresses their grievances are labelled “terrorists”, as if the “proper label” will address anything.
    Is there any wonder why American film and media glorifies criminal? Are you more likely to see a show about the “criminal mind”, or the mind of a “minority” mind? In fact, “minorities” are only so in the media, because they are carefully measured out when they appear in any advertising, soap opera or “feature” series. Blacks thoght we had it bad, but in our place, now the rest of the world must also fit in the 1 or 2 “minority” slots set aside to show diversity works. How sad it is that the nuts were claiming a few years ago that they would not back “quotas”, when everywhere you look quotas shape our impressions of the world.
    “What the hell does this have to do with the article?”
    The people who claim to run our lives come from everywhere, and their experience is based on managing and executing the strategies I described above. If they do those things to their fellow citizens, how do you think they’ll deal with those outside of the US.
    Terrorist is the new name of Patriots, the new description of The Underground, and the worst thing you can call a Brother-in-Arms besides a nazi. It’s what the Novaks of the world wold call all of us if we dare to express thoughts that conflict with theirs.
    Whenever you hear someone called terrorist, feel free to substitute “nigger”. Or “low class prole” (tariat), slave, or whatever. At least, think about who’s doing the “calling”.

    Reply

  18. ahem says:

    On topic: it’s maddening that there has been no push-back against the Israeli and American redefinition of ‘root causes’ for what might be better described as ‘proximate causes’. The root causes of conflict in the Middle East didn’t begin a couple of months ago.

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  19. ahem says:

    What Phoenix Woman said. John Bolton spent an hour of his time talking to a crazy person. Could a Senator (Feingold?) be persuaded to place this in the record?

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  20. selise says:

    John at August 14, 2006 11:42 AM – thank you so much for bringing up the topic of Pape’s book, “Dying to Win”. i can’t believe how little attention his important research has gotten. if we really cared about terrorism – his data and analysis would be included in every discussion of the causes of terrorism and what to do about it.
    maybe it just takes time and this has yet to happen – in the mean time for every not willing to read his book… could you at least take a look at his op-ed?
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/03/opinion/03pape.html?ex=1312257600&en=622d42186901404b&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

    Reply

  21. Phoenix Woman says:

    Steve, you need to pass around to your Senatorial friends the links to the horrifying Bolton word-salad “interview” done by Pam of the right-wing blog “Atlas Shrugs”. (And it’s not the first time she’s “interviewed” him, either.)
    And remember to note that Bolton did this interview with Pam on the same day that the Israel-Hezbollah ceasefire negotiations were at a crucial stage.
    That’s right, folks: On a day above all days when his presence was needed, he was playing hooky with a Z-list con-blogger who makes Bill O’Reilly look good and honest.

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  22. David says:

    In the debate over the extent of the influence held by the Israel lobby, surely the complete silencing of all public discussion of “why do they hate us” must be considered rather telling.

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  23. ron says:

    Two quick things.
    Sy Hersh’s new article in the New Yorker claims that the US helped shape/push for Israel’s action in Lebanon, as a test case for Iran.
    http://www.newyorker.com/printables/fact/060821fa_fact
    I am not wholly convinced about all of it, but lots of interesting bits in there. One interesting point was that Israel had been monitoring Hamas and Hezbollah communications closely, and had a bit of a heads up on coming activity, if not specifics. Further, they had been watching the build up of equipment, training, closely. They had the attack planned well before it took place. This disagrees with your claim that the American and Israeli intelligence dropped the ball on the build up and capabilities. Looks more like they overestimated the effectiveness of a bombing campaign. Typical airforce planning. 😉 Cheap easy and effective war it was not. Shot themselves in the foot, I think. I agree with everything else you said.
    Also I wonder what you think about this article
    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2006/0609.dreyfuss.html
    James Baker working, perhaps on behalf of Bush Sr, to put together something, anything, to save his son’s butt in Iraq. Grown-ups coming in to save the US, or at least the Republican party, in time for the 2008 election.

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  24. btree says:

    The other shoe that must drop is to realize the fallacy of relying on the military to confront asymmetrical threats and non-state actors. Aerial bombing campaigns a la Curtis LeMay? And what Starbucks/Walmart populace stands for extensive ground invasions with massive combat casualties? Terrorist challenges have been successfully dealt with through police action combined with a political process – and never, ever, with daisycutters, cluster bombs, and torture.

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  25. tucker's bow tie says:

    To my mind, the biggest damage to the prestige of the Israeli/American war machine is the absolutely stunning intelligence failure that totally, and I mean TOTALLY, underestimated the opponent – which is of course a collective intelligence failure among America’s ME client states as well, as Steve correctly points out.
    They had no idea about the extent – or even the type! – of fortifications. And I mean fortifications a few hundred FEET from the border. They didn’t know what weapons their opponents had. They didn’t even know how MANY opponents they were fighting against.
    Amazing.
    Is THIS what an $800 billion budget buys you? Is THIS what the fabled military-industrial complex – so capably invoked by Eugene Jarecki – is capable of delivering these days – after six years of unconstrained Republican earmarks and amazing corruption I might add?
    America has shown the world how badly wrong their intel was on Iraq. Now, the world has seen the same, profound and fundamental intel (and even tactical) failures occur to Israel, America’s premier forward military beachhead in the ME.

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  26. Pissed Off American says:

    In reading the comments, it is obvious that no commenters thus far agree with the statement that this treasonous monkey in the White House keeps feeding us, that “they hate us because of our freedoms”.I find it appalling that NOT ONLY is the Bush Administration content to feed us lie after lie after lie, but that they are so out of touch with reality that they feed us lies that have long ago ceased to be believed by the majority of the American citizenry. We could talk about obvious grieviences the Muslim community has against the United States for an entire week, and still not touch upon all of the legitimate reasons they have to hate us. And “our freedoms” are not one of those reasons.

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  27. btree says:

    the way terrorism is conveyed presently is that they are all a bunch of fanatics – end of conversation… surely their must be some attempt at understanding what drives them and an attempt at reconciliation.. i believe that is why it is important to discuss what these ‘grievances’ are about..
    Two things.
    Why do they hate us?
    This was – by far – the most auspicious beginning of the national debate right after 9/11. It’s a good question, and the right one to ask.
    It lasted for about two weeks, tops.
    America lost the support of the rest of the world right about the same time.
    The other elephant is the continued suppression of any debate about the US relationship to Israel – in all its staleness and doctrinaire rigidity.
    There’s no chance whatsoever America will move half an inch in the right direction with this bunch in power.

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  28. sandstone says:

    i too would like to see a conversation about the ‘grievances’ highlighted in some future commentary… the way terrorism is conveyed presently is that they are all a bunch of fanatics – end of conversation… surely their must be some attempt at understanding what drives them and an attempt at reconciliation.. i believe that is why it is important to discuss what these ‘grievances’ are about..

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  29. Easy E says:

    Cancer is contained by stopping the use of carcinogens. If you smoke, there’s a good chance you will get cancer. If you continue smoking, the cancer will get worse.
    U.S. Foreign Policy is a like a carcinogen. Until major changes are made in our policies of aggression, this cancerous Islamic terrorism will spread and intensify globally. The core of this carcinogen originates right here inside the Beltway. Major institutional changes will have to occur to rid ourselves of this malignancy. Taking back the constitution from those who hijacked it might be a logical first step.

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  30. crumbles says:

    test

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  31. no hope says:

    Maybe in 30 or 40 years historians will be able to write, without malice or agenda, about what appears in the here and now to be a tragic codependency between Bush and bin Laden, between “Neocons” and “Islamofascists.” With that in mind, I don’t see how we, the United States, can hope to have an adult national conversation about grievances until our leadership changes. With the current leadership (on both sides) there are no grievances with any meaning beyond talking points for an idologically-driven agenda.

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  32. RichF says:

    Thanks for this, Steve.
    You post’s title:
    Beating Terrorism: It’s the Grievances, Stupid —
    is something I’ve been trying to get at — perhaps in articulately — in my comments here.
    Would it be possible, Steve, to delve into this at some length, and how the U.S. can address those grievances?
    It seems to me closer adherence to American Constitutional principles and political values — at home and abroad — would go along way towards alleviating the problems & conflicts in the first place.
    What say you?
    (I can’t give the full text of the post the attention it’s due until this evening.)

    Reply

  33. Wolfie says:

    steve: But just as the United States somehow lost the world’s outpouring of support and empathy after 9/11,
    Somehow?
    So that you no longer have to grope about in the dark:
    The United States lost the world’s outpouring of support and empathy after 9/11 due to Cheney and Rumsfield’s actualizing of their decades old plan to depose Saddam Hussein and to overstuff the coffers of the defense and oil industries.
    Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.
    Nevertheless, the US attacked it.
    Consequently, tens of thousands of people have been in total have been beheaded, shot, burned, maimed, malnutritioned, drowned, raped, tortured, killed, etc.
    That is why the US lost the world’s outpouring of support and empathy after 9/11.
    That is also why Americans and the US will be hated for generations.
    Prior to 2003, Iraqis use to sit and cafes and vehemently bash Ghengis Khan for defiling Babylon.
    That was over SEVEN HUNDRED years ago.
    People in the ME have long memories.
    With the tens of thousands that have been beheaded, shot, burned, maimed, malnutritioned, drowned, raped, tortured, killed, etc. in mind, how many >>>centuries>>deserve<<< to be stripped, bound at the feet and hands, gagged, blindfolded, and paraded throught Bagdhad.

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  34. Zathras says:

    I agree in general with Steve’s analysis, and note that Gedmin’s like that of many neoconservatives seems informed by a particular Israeli perspective rather than an American one.
    In this specific case, the argument that more force applied against Hezbollah was the appropriate step is likely to be used by Israelis — not all of them supporters of the Ohlmert government — seeking to excuse the many mistakes made by IDF leadership in this war. In the abstract, it is probably true that a massive ground assault that crushed Hezbollah quickly would have been accepted, with however much display, in the Arab countries. But in reality Israel did not choose to fight that kind of war, and might not have succeeded even if it had. The kind of war Israel did choose was not fought well either strategically or tactically; I expect some of the Israelis responsible to try to divert the subsequent discussion into philosophical channels — about the best way to address the causes of terrorism and so forth — but the reasons they have for doing this are not our reasons.
    The fact is that Nasrallah’s decision to break the peace along the Israeli-Lebanese border put Hezbollah clearly in the wrong in the view of most Arab governments, many people within Lebanon and nearly all governments in Europe. Blessed with an exceedingly rare opportunity to exploit divisions among Israel’s enemies, IDF and the Ohlmert government threw it away within days. That some in Israel might seek to evade responsibility for this I can at least understand; the Bush administration’s willingness to so completely subordinate American interests to Israeli policy, though, is just about breathtaking.

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  35. John says:

    Robert Pape’s book, “Dying to Win” explains this very well: the crux of the problem is occupation not fundamentalism. Pape created a database of terrorist attacks and analyzed them. The conclusion: when an occupation ends, aggrieved people no longer volunteer to be suicide bombers. Much of his data comes from Southern Lebanon. It explains a lot but probably not all terrorism. Yet policymakders and the mainstream media refuse to pick up on this line of thinking and promote hard-line screeds, backed by no research whatsoever. Rather than deal with the problem, policymakers find terrorism to be a convenient rationale for justifying their own power games. Nowhere is this more evident than this mindless venture in Iraq.

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  36. susan says:

    OT: Bolton gave an interview, and Glen Greenwald posted this about it.
    “U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, on Saturday, in the middle of the most pressing crisis the U.N. has faced since he was appointed to that position, decided to sit for an hour-long, one-on-one “interview” and chose as his journalistic interrogator . . . LGF commenter Pamela “Atlas” Oshry of the blog AtlasShrugs, whose views are so far outside of what is mainstream, in equal parts inane and despicable, that it would be impossible to describe fully. I could never do the interview justice — you really must listen to it to believe it — but these were some of the “questions” that the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. answered on Saturday…”
    http://tinyurl.com/om34e

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  37. beth says:

    Great analysis. What I also appreciate is how Steve demonstrates how to disagree and be civil at the same time. If only more of us would follow his example.

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  38. Pissed Off American says:

    Listen, Monkey Boy says they hate us for our freedoms. Now, by God, get in line and chant the mantra, what the hellsa matter with you folks? Doncha know hes the CIC?

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  39. Mike says:

    Terrorism will never be stopped with force. Its a fundamental error in judgement to approach it that way. Its just falling back on a primitive instinct to act with aggression. Terrorism is not a battle for land or facility, but a battle for ideology and for the mind of your followers. Terrorism, literaly exists in the mind.
    Over agressive reaction only breeds the strength of the terroristic ideology.
    Terrorism is defeated by isolating them from their ideology, painting them as the over agressive. When the predictable reaction with force occurs, then the ball switches hands painting the original victim know as the aggressor, and legitimizing the ideology of the initial agressor, A fatal flaw in the long term
    Until we rise above our instincts, ideological fanaticism will alaways find predicatble and easy success by explotiting our reacations.
    You dont stop a terrorist by blowing them up, you stop them by giving them a better option

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  40. Matthew says:

    Not once do you mention what the Arabs want. Our policies are always about “managing” them. Until we fundamentally rethink this attitude, the situation in the Middle East will just get worse and worse.

    Reply

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