Author Topic: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay  (Read 16489 times)

TheDrake

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Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« on: April 15, 2016, 05:09:07 PM »
There's a lot of discussion this election season about "how to solve the terror problem". Maybe the answer is that we don't, and it's not that bad. Some see San Bernardino as concrete proof that we're being invaded and no one is safe!

A good article puts it in the appropriate perspective.

They list ten things we're not worried about that kill more Americans.

Perhaps my favorite is the bovine threat:

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3. Cows: Yes, cows. According to the CDC, cattle slay an average of 20 Americans every year. While these deaths occur mostly among farm workers, dogs kill 28 Americans per year, spiders kill seven, and venomous lizards and snakes kill six. All of these animals are still more likely to kill an American than the caliphate and other Islamic boogeymen.

DJQuag

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2016, 01:53:32 PM »
I get that if we change our lives that we're letting the terrorists win, I really do.

It's not easy, sometimes, though. The UK is taking in it's share of ME refugees, but the thing is, the southeast and south of England is the wealthy part of the country, so they're taking in none of them, and we're taking in all of them.

The town I currently work and live in is either number one or number two in the country for the amount of refugees being moved here. And I don't think that anything is going to happen here, but Manchester, one of the biggest cities in the country that is just a fifteen minute train ride south of here? I have to admit, there have been times where I've thought about going to Manchester and gone someplace else instead.

Gaoics79

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2016, 02:12:13 PM »
The flaw in this logic is that humans aren't logical. There is no argument you can make that is going to cause people to put terrorist attacks on the same level as cattle accidents. Diabetes certainly causes more harm to children than, say, pedophiles. Yet good luck explaining to parents that a McDonalds next to their preschool is more dangerous than a halfway house for sex offenders.

You don't explain it because you can't. You cannot force people or convince them to stop being human.  You might as well argue for the wind to stop blowing.

cherrypoptart

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2016, 02:25:26 PM »
The same thing could have been said about the attack on Pearl Harbor. In fact, the Japanese counted on it which is in large part why they attacked in the first place.

One flaw in this logic is that bathtubs and cows and snakes aren't likely to escalate their murderous killing streak if we don't do something but terrorists are if we let them alone to continue to expand their power and influence.

We saw that with the '93 WTC bombing when we didn't take the threat seriously enough and so had our eyes opened when the WTC was attacked again, this time spectacularly successfully, on 9-11.

We can always come back and look at how much it cost us to tackle terrorism but of course we'll never know how much it saved us. Obama talked a good game about how we didn't need to change our way of living and give up all of our privacy to combat terrorism while he was running for office, for instance, but as soon as he got in there he changed his tune completely and in fact stopped singing at all as he ramped up the surveillance apparatus on Americans more than Bush ever dreamed was possible. He must have learned something that scared him speechless, for instance the attempted terror attacks that were stopped by Bush and are still kept secret from the American people. Either that or he was just lying through his teeth the whole time he promised transparency and privacy to all of us as well as safety to boot.

These types of things and people are best nipped in the bud instead of letting them get out of hand, at least in my opinion.

Greg Davidson

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2016, 08:12:16 PM »
I have some very strong beliefs on this topic.

We should take rational steps to addres the risks of terrorism. 

If you allow yourself to fall into irrational fear of terrorism, you are in fact collaborating with the terrorists to promote their goals. 

Don't.

TheDeamon

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2016, 12:41:55 PM »
Diabetes certainly causes more harm to children than, say, pedophiles. Yet good luck explaining to parents that a McDonalds next to their preschool is more dangerous than a halfway house for sex offenders.

Uh, apples and oranges for one thing. I'm not even a parent, but even I would shy away from saying that argument is valid. Entirely different forms of harm involved, at least under the best of the worst case scenarios. The pedophile could abduct, rape and kill the child outright. Now while it is possible that a child could choke to death on a french fry or Chicken McNugget, that can't be classed as a willful act on anyone or anythings part, apart from the child him/herself. Likewise, that risk factor is not unique to McDonalds.

Going short of outright killing the kid, there are risks for Hepatitis, and a number of other food borne illnesses, but again, not unique to McD's.  The pedophile can likewise gift your child with an incurable STD, as well as mental traumas and scars that will follow them for the rest of their lives.

As to diabetes and eating at McDonalds, that is also something of a eating habit/preferences issue more than it is an issue with the franchise itself. Both extremes have now been demonstrated at McDonald's not just the "Supersize Me" side of it. It is possible for someone to only eat at McDonalds and maintain a balanced and healthy diet over the course of weeks or months(and even lose weight/improve their blood cholesterol levels). It just requires you to make smart menu selections and exercising some self-control, something which is difficult for most people(myself included!) to achieve.

Gary238

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2016, 08:06:07 PM »
I agree that there's real danger in over-responding to the threat of terrorism. I think that danger is likely the biggest threat that terrorists pose.

We can't afford to sacrifice our freedoms and privacy in the name of securing us from terroristic violence. We especially can't afford to allow the actions of fringe elements to erode our goodwill toward our law abiding neighbors. The notion of extra protections/scrutiny of Muslims turns my stomach. The appeal to our base fears of the other, and the attempt to divide us and control our attention are truly frightening.

All of that said, there is a difference of kind between the danger of cows and the danger of terrorists. If I don't live or work around cows my risk of being randomly trampled is vanishingly low. Similarly, I can control what my kids eat regardless of the proximity of a McDonalds.

Greg, I'd love to hear more about what you think, as it sounds like you have a more nuanced position that you just alluded to below.

Gaoics79

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2016, 08:55:31 AM »
Phil I agree with your logic and comment concerning the ability to control risk. Yet I feel that is a rationalization, not a reason. Humans everywhere treat violent attack on them differently than they do accidents, even if the resulting injuries and likelihood of injury are comparable. This is probably hard coded into our DNA and I don't foresee it changing, ever. So any policy or argument that fails to take this into account is pointless. 

scifibum

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2016, 11:57:04 AM »
It sounds like a self fulfilling prophecy, jasonr.  Since not everyone supports the same kinds of reprisals/protections/other reactions to violent attacks, it's at least possible that training and reasoning can influence enough people to make a difference at a policy level.

Gaoics79

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2016, 01:51:39 PM »
Scifi I agree to a point. But I am just saying that these attempts to downplay the significance of terrorism by glib comparisons to garden variety street crime or cattle accidents are tone deaf to certain innate psychological realities.

It would be like if I said that women shouldn't concern themselves about a serial rapist in their neighborhood because they would have a greater chance of being hit by a car than being a victim. Or take it a step further and imagine I told a rape victim that since her physical injuries are minimal she should just get over it and not be concerned.

In both cases, I am ignoring certain fundamental realities of human nature. No society, however rational or enlightened, is going to treat nail bombs blowing up in their public spaces as equivalent to, say, traffic accidents, however true it might be that the carnage caused is equal or even greater for the more mundane event. This is psychologically impossible.

TheDeamon

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2016, 02:34:11 PM »
It would be like if I said that women shouldn't concern themselves about a serial rapist in their neighborhood because they would have a greater chance of being hit by a car than being a victim.

Statistically speaking, she is FAR more likely to be raped by someone she already knows than she is to have an encounter with a serial rapist targeting victims unknown to the rapist beforehand. Of course, that's not likely to be very comforting for her either.

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In both cases, I am ignoring certain fundamental realities of human nature. No society, however rational or enlightened, is going to treat nail bombs blowing up in their public spaces as equivalent to, say, traffic accidents, however true it might be that the carnage caused is equal or even greater for the more mundane event. This is psychologically impossible.

And that isn't helped by the matter that most security is largely theater at its finest. It's an illusion, but more often than not, that illusion is more than enough to deter the more casual would-be criminal deviants, they'll either opt out entirely, or seek a target that appears to be less difficult. There is a reason most law enforcement and security actions are reactive in nature rather than proactive. The amount of resources needed for true proactive security is insane, and unsustainable for any significant duration in any environment.

However, many people don't like the feeling they get when their illusions and delusions of security and safety are threatened. Particularly in this day and age where many people are almost hardwired to want to believe that they no longer live in a dangerous world, that the powers that be are working tirelessly to make sure they're safe. (And actually there are studies that generally support this view, and is typically a very strong predictor on the person's political inclinations, (US) conservatives trend very strongly towards the dangerous world view. While Liberals strongly favor a pacified, nonthreatening, world view. Their responses to events that challenge or affirm their views tend to track accordingly)
« Last Edit: April 21, 2016, 02:36:27 PM by TheDeamon »

Fenring

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2016, 02:49:12 PM »
No society, however rational or enlightened, is going to treat nail bombs blowing up in their public spaces as equivalent to, say, traffic accidents, however true it might be that the carnage caused is equal or even greater for the more mundane event. This is psychologically impossible.

The highlighted part is the thing I'm not sure about. Right now I'd say you're right. But on a personal level I am far more concerned and outraged about nameless, faceless systemic abuses than about individual miscreants causing havoc. The latter I think of as irritants to be dealt with; the former I think of as endemic like a cancer and it riles me up way more. Officials being unable to track down a killer bothers me far less than officials in a bureaucracy declining, to a man, to take responsibility for something they all tacitly participated in. A non-localized menace is both rationally and emotionally more of a bogeyman to me than a localized evil with a face that can be pursued. The question, then, is whether "I'm correct" in some sense, and whether if society was more rational and enlightened, as you put it, less emphasis would be placed on being terrified about things like Muslims and even so-called sex offenders.

Stephen King's The Stand comes to mind, where the great evil of our times is basically shown to be indifference and incompetence and results in a world-destroying virus being released for little more reason than lack of concern. Although in the aftermath the evil Randall Flagg seems to present as a villain upon which to blame the ensuing crisis, he is sometimes described as The Man with No Face, which seems to me a clear allegory to the fact that the real evil isn't a man, or even an identifiable group, but rather that ever-present faceless threat of what happens when people allow systemic cracks to develop due to indifference and corruption. This same theme is present throughout King's books, especially in IT, and personally I find this type of subtle, unseen evil to be as terrifying as King seems to. In the film version of IT we may even notice that when IT finally manifests directly to the heroes as a giant spider the terror in the film more or less vanishes and it turns into a standard 'beat up the monster' scene. I think this plays nicely into what you're discussing, since if I'm right that the unseen horror is indeed the worst thing for people, then their instinct would inevitably be to rationalize that horror of some unseen threat as a real thing they can see. The fear of terrorists would be a manifestation of their fears in general, concretized so that it can be dealt with; a scapegoat of sorts. In a truly rational and enlightened society I suspect this fact would be known and understood, and the real issues giving people subconscious trepidations could be addressed rather than feeling the need to create fake overt problems to solve to try to feel better about the unspoken things that remain the same.

Greg Davidson

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2016, 04:44:34 PM »
My strong views are based on (1) my life experience, and (2) my understanding of history.

When I was 13, I developed Hodgkins Disease, right when the 80/20 mortality at 5 years was turning into 80/20 survival. My intellectual and moral development has been shaped by the principle that injecting irrationality into questions of probability will undermine your intellectual or moral conclusions (not everything is a quantitative question, but we should be diligent in considering those that do depend on a degree of quantitative accuracy).   

Fear is natural, human, and powerful, and so in history it has frequently been exploited to justify committing evil actions. Fear is one of the least pleasant human emotions to experience; those who are filled with fear can often be encouraged to substitute hatred for fear (because the adrenline rush makes hatred feel less bad). And fearful, angry people are much more willing to commit evil actions.

TheDrake

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2016, 06:18:26 PM »
A lot of thoughtful answers, and didn't even descend into a politicized argument - awesome! A lot of responses talked about fear, but I'd say there's more to it than that as some alluded to.

Revenge/Punishment - Like when someone talks about going after terrorists families. It is not really about reducing the amount of terrorism, its about inflicting harm on the people who wish you harm or who ally themselves with the same.

Victimization - Nobody wants to feel helpless, and terrorism is designed to provoke those emotions.

Publicity - maybe the number one reason. Nobody goes wall to wall when some faceless dude gets hit by a car, or rolled on by livestock. Sometimes, when its a celebrity, people will start to get motivated to fight a disease, get the word out on health dangers, or other risk.

Illusion of control - people come to believe that other risks can be mitigated. I'm a safe driver, I eat right, I exercise. It probably won't happen to me. When the proof of our own mortality is a shared cultural experience, like terrorism or natural disaster, this illusion gets shattered and we get extremely agitated. It is constantly reinforced in social media, traditional media, personal conversations. It persists and lingers more than if you find out your cousin was in a car accident.

I don't expect the average person to overcome these ingrained traits. But I do expect current and would-be policy makers to figure out how not to be driven by the mob. They should coldly calculate the best outcomes from a given course of action. It doesn't tend to work out well when our politicians try this, of course. People get upset that they are not doing enough to ward off whatever ill has captured their imagination. Politicians are also not generally held responsible when they do sate the will of the mob, like when FDR rounded up people who immigrated from enemy countries.

cherrypoptart

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2016, 06:39:35 PM »
How much nothing are we talking about here?

Pull out of Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan completely?


TheDeamon

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #15 on: April 21, 2016, 06:46:12 PM »
Revenge/Punishment - Like when someone talks about going after terrorists families. It is not really about reducing the amount of terrorism, its about inflicting harm on the people who wish you harm or who ally themselves with the same.

I think it's a little more basic than that, concerns about right and wrong briefly go out the window, and it becomes all about "doing something" about the new perceived problem or threat. So when things like 9/11 happen and people concluded it was likely the work of Islamic Terrorists, some people went out and found themselves "some Muslims"(some of whom were not), and proceeded to "do something" about "that Islamic Problem."

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Victimization - Nobody wants to feel helpless, and terrorism is designed to provoke those emotions.

And some of it goes back to "doing something" and "security theater" with its associated illusions and reactions when other people call attention to the curtain. Terrorism is all about making people feel powerless, and worried about being that lack of safety.

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Publicity - maybe the number one reason. Nobody goes wall to wall when some faceless dude gets hit by a car, or rolled on by livestock. Sometimes, when its a celebrity, people will start to get motivated to fight a disease, get the word out on health dangers, or other risk.

More an ancillary to "if it bleeds, it leads" for the news Media. "If it's always bleeding(or does so regularly), it is not news."  So faceless dude getting killed in a car accident isn't much of a news item, too common. They may mention it because fatality car accidents are still comparatively uncommon, but it's unlikely to get much more than a cursory mention unless the victim was noteworthy or something else about the accident makes it noteworthy(Tractor-Trailer involved(because they're "Scary big"), multiple vehicle (3+ vehicles) accident, many injured, busload of people, etc).

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Illusion of control - people come to believe that other risks can be mitigated. I'm a safe driver, I eat right, I exercise. It probably won't happen to me. When the proof of our own mortality is a shared cultural experience, like terrorism or natural disaster, this illusion gets shattered and we get extremely agitated. It is constantly reinforced in social media, traditional media, personal conversations. It persists and lingers more than if you find out your cousin was in a car accident.

Agree wholeheartedly, "security theater" falls into the above as well, IMO. "Those kinds of things just don't happen around HERE."

TheDrake

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #16 on: April 22, 2016, 02:48:51 PM »
How much nothing are we talking about here?

Pull out of Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan completely?

Personally, I think every engagement we've had in the middle east has bred terror and put us at risk, starting with Afghanistan (to oppose the Soviets), propping up the Shah in Iran, Selling weapons to Iraq (because they were fighting Iran). I'm in favor of taking all our marbles and going home, its hard to see how it would turn out worse than the last 35 years.



OpsanusTau

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #17 on: April 22, 2016, 09:26:20 PM »
I think "Illusion of Control" is the biggest one.

I mean, I have my own bias - I give people bad news frequently, and have to find something to say to the "How can we fix it?" and "What could I have done to prevent this?" questions.

My partner had a health thing recently and even for him, he asked the doctor why this happened to him so that he could keep it from happening again. She shrugged and said, "Karma?" He's fine, but the point is that people in general want a comprehensible story about why something bad happened so they can keep it from happening again.

But anyways people sometimes get upset with me when I tell them that we CAN do something about their animal's condition but it will cost X and they don't have X. I get that, I feel for them, but usually those people are able to move on.

But what people HATE to hear is that there's nothing to be done. "What could we do differently next time? How can we stop it from happening again?" Nope.

Like can we actually stop crazy people (of whatever description) from killing innocents? Probably not.

(I had a whole part that went next, but I deleted it because I think the point here is that we might just need to accept that it's a problem with no solution.)

TheDeamon

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #18 on: April 23, 2016, 12:11:43 PM »
But what people HATE to hear is that there's nothing to be done. "What could we do differently next time? How can we stop it from happening again?" Nope.

Like can we actually stop crazy people (of whatever description) from killing innocents? Probably not.

(I had a whole part that went next, but I deleted it because I think the point here is that we might just need to accept that it's a problem with no solution.)

Or more likely, they're problems with solutions that are either highly complex(and more prone to failure due to complexity, not to mention expensive), or simple and straight forward, but of such a nature that most people would find the solution morally repugnant.

We know Islamic terrorists are a problem, that could be solved by blocking the entry of all Muslims who have not gone through a rigorous  and thorough background and psychological evaluation beforehand. Except that's expensive and unfair to Muslims. We know the mentally unstable in general are a problem, we could go back to the old Sanitarium practice of simply locking them away and destroying the key, but that comes with its own set of issues(and costs).

We could keep going down the list with other options that are either more extreme, more expensive, or of even more dubious moral options by current standards, or combinations of all 3.  But yeah, even those options aren't foolproof, people will slip through the cracks. The idyllic perfect world is a myth, it doesn't exist, and people have a very hard time realizing that they're not as safe and secure as they like to think they are.

NobleHunter

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #19 on: April 23, 2016, 02:05:31 PM »
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We know Islamic terrorists are a problem, that could be solved by blocking the entry of all Muslims who have not gone through a rigorous  and thorough background and psychological evaluation beforehand. Except that's expensive and unfair to Muslims. We know the mentally unstable in general are a problem, we could go back to the old Sanitarium practice of simply locking them away and destroying the key, but that comes with its own set of issues(and costs).
No. There are two million Muslims in the country already. Stopping immigration (and necessary associated rhetoric) is just going to help the rest feel marginalized and isolated. Likewise, the "mentally unstable" in general are a problem to no one but themselves. The vast majority of crazy is desparately and despairingly banal and boring.

While there are individuals in both populations that are at risk for violent behavior or terrorist actions, no attempted solution that impinges on the entire population will be successful.

cherrypoptart

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #20 on: April 23, 2016, 02:38:38 PM »
So should we have sat out WWII as well?

And the Korean War?

We lost fewer people in the attack on Pearl Harbor than we did on 9-11 and the communist Koreans never attacked us at all.

TheDrake

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #21 on: April 23, 2016, 05:41:10 PM »
So should we have sat out WWII as well?

And the Korean War?

We lost fewer people in the attack on Pearl Harbor than we did on 9-11 and the communist Koreans never attacked us at all.

There were a lot of people that said we should have sat out WWII and we were managing to do that somewhat until Pearl Harbor (of course, we were supporting the containment of the Japanese prior to that, which led to Pearl Harbor). The Korean war was all about trying to contain communist expansion, and so was Vietnam.

Should we come to the aid of allies who are invaded and share common interest? Yes, particularly if we've declared so in advance as a deterrent. Should we have invaded Afghanistan? Yes, I believe so. I believe that when a nation-state attacks, you have to show you will defend yourself.

Should we get embroiled in Somalia, Bosnia, Sudan? I would say no.

We probably should have stayed out of WWI, it might have prevented WWII.

You could look at non-interventions and ask if we should have been there, also. Franco was equally totalitarian as Hitler and Mussolini but we gave him a pass and supported him because he hated the Communists, who we hated more.

If we are going to be involved, we should be operating on principles and not convenience like some kind of reality show with shifting alliances. But generally, I think that's harder to accomplish than just not getting involved.

Greg Davidson

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #22 on: April 23, 2016, 07:27:57 PM »
This is about what is a valid assessment of risk.  Different people have different views about what constitutes a risk and what to do about it. And even if a particular viewpoint is generally more accurate, there are limits on how much information that we will have about any situation (what does the adversary leader really believe, what are the other forces acting on him, what are the real constraints on his power, etc.).

The Soviet archives were made available to scholars after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and it turns out that the viewpoint used in the US to advocate for intervention in Korea and Vietnam turned out to be wrong. We put a very strong emphasis on the need to show our toughness, based on an assumption that the Communists would base their actions based on our demonstrated resolve and commitment. It turns out that for both of those wars, the Communist leaders in both the Soviet Union and China (the Soviet dispatches also included minutes from meetings with the Chinese) were really pretty baffled why the US was committing so much in resources for two regions that should be of minor strategic significance to us.

This is among the reason that I am skeptical of those who focus our foreign policy based on making people think that we are tough. This disgnosis may be true in some instances (ie; Hitler and World War II). But there is also the case where tough talk and posturing leads unnecessarily to war (World War I)
« Last Edit: April 23, 2016, 07:32:19 PM by Greg Davidson »

TheDeamon

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #23 on: April 24, 2016, 09:14:22 PM »
There were a lot of people that said we should have sat out WWII and we were managing to do that somewhat until Pearl Harbor (of course, we were supporting the containment of the Japanese prior to that, which led to Pearl Harbor).

There actually was a predominant view that Britain would fall in short order, and irrespective of that, there also was a rather substantial movement in favor of our getting involved in WW2 on the side of the Axis powers(in fact, many Americans of German descent had done just that and joined the German military arms prior to December 7th, 1941). Of course, their entering into a Treaty with Japan backed things off a little. (Edit to add: Charles Lindbergh, the famous aviator, was one such very public Nazi supporter, prior to Pearl Harbor)

Japan attacking us in Pearl Harbor resulting in the rest of the Axis declaring war on us in response to our Declaration of War on Japan silenced that crowd in just under 3 days. If Nazi Germany hadn't declared war on the United States, WW2 would have progressed along a very politically complicated and convoluted path for at least awhile longer until some other incident occurred such as in WW1.

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We probably should have stayed out of WWI, it might have prevented WWII.

We also could have been more forceful in our objections to the Armistice treaty to end WW1. We knew it would cause problems, even went on record as such as I recall. But we ultimately did nothing to stop it.

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You could look at non-interventions and ask if we should have been there, also. Franco was equally totalitarian as Hitler and Mussolini but we gave him a pass and supported him because he hated the Communists, who we hated more.

We went to war with Germany and Italy because they declared war on us, as they were treaty bound to do so with Japan. Franco never declared war on us, or any other foreign nation as far as I know. Hitler and Mussolini on the other hand...
« Last Edit: April 24, 2016, 09:19:11 PM by TheDeamon »

TheDrake

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #24 on: April 25, 2016, 12:34:44 PM »
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We went to war with Germany and Italy because they declared war on us, as they were treaty bound to do so with Japan. Franco never declared war on us, or any other foreign nation as far as I know. Hitler and Mussolini on the other hand...

True, and fair. It would be nice if we only went to war with people who attacked us or declared war on us. That would be a nice start to getting out of 90% of the crap we get involved in, except that it's usually the window dressing that we use to get involved (the Maine, the Lusitania, Gulf of Tonkin, etc). One of the reasons why people question these events and how real they were, but also because even when we're not committing armed forces, we're involved in supplying one or both sides of the conflict.


Gaoics79

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #25 on: April 26, 2016, 09:42:52 PM »
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The highlighted part is the thing I'm not sure about. Right now I'd say you're right. But on a personal level I am far more concerned and outraged about nameless, faceless systemic abuses than about individual miscreants causing havoc. The latter I think of as irritants to be dealt with; the former I think of as endemic like a cancer and it riles me up way more. Officials being unable to track down a killer bothers me far less than officials in a bureaucracy declining, to a man, to take responsibility for something they all tacitly participated in. A non-localized menace is both rationally and emotionally more of a bogeyman to me than a localized evil with a face that can be pursued. The question, then, is whether "I'm correct" in some sense, and whether if society was more rational and enlightened, as you put it, less emphasis would be placed on being terrified about things like Muslims and even so-called sex offenders.

The failure of the system to respond to overt threats is itself a systemic problem that corrodes society and brings justice into disrepute. It's not enough to guarantee reasonable safety; you need to be seen to be doing that by punishing wrongdoers, whether that punishment is effective or not.

I agree that a rational person is able to put certain things in perspective. There are no doubt women who could be raped and just move on without major trauma (assuming non permanent physical injuries). But this isn't a typical response on an individual level, and there isn't going to be a society where this becomes typical societywide. There is no society I am aware of that can sustain terrorist attacks of the kind we're seeing and respond in a strictly rational way as you seem to want. It's frankly utopian to think otherwise.

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This same theme is present throughout King's books, especially in IT, and personally I find this type of subtle, unseen evil to be as terrifying as King seems to.

I can't quite recall how this was portrayed in the book, but I do recall a specific scene in the movie where local townspeople turned aside as Henry Bowers openly molested Bev Marsh, just as they turned aside to the death of so many of their children. This supports my point, which is that part of the unseen malaise stems from a sense of helplessness and apathy to overt evil.

A healthy society should not overreact to terrorism or other overt threats, yet to simply shrug one's shoulders and "do nothing", even if logic suggests that to be the optimal course, creates its own kind of sickness.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2016, 09:45:00 PM by jasonr »

Fenring

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #26 on: April 26, 2016, 11:43:59 PM »
Quote
This same theme is present throughout King's books, especially in IT, and personally I find this type of subtle, unseen evil to be as terrifying as King seems to.

I can't quite recall how this was portrayed in the book, but I do recall a specific scene in the movie where local townspeople turned aside as Henry Bowers openly molested Bev Marsh, just as they turned aside to the death of so many of their children. This supports my point, which is that part of the unseen malaise stems from a sense of helplessness and apathy to overt evil.

A healthy society should not overreact to terrorism or other overt threats, yet to simply shrug one's shoulders and "do nothing", even if logic suggests that to be the optimal course, creates its own kind of sickness.

I think you're mixing up a bit what I'm saying. I'm discussing the view of the public towards systemic abuse (even passive), and how at present people tend to ignore it if it doesn't affect them whereas I believe a rational and enlightened society would put less weight on what feels emotionally immediate to them and would instead assess things a bit from afar. However what you're introducing here is a systemic abuse which is exactly the fact of people not putting much weight on things that don't happen to them. In other words, the very fact of being unenlightened is the abuse you're bringing up, which is fair, but which also seems to be begging the question about what enlightened people would do in their situation. Or to put it within the context of Henry Bowers in IT, the dichotomy I'm suggesting would be for an enlightened bystander in Derry to observe Henry Bowers molesting a girl in public and to observe the townsfolk standing by idly while it happens. What outrages the bystander more, the molestation (a singular event perpetrated by one hooligan) or the environment which allows him to flourish? Seen in this context it's easy to say that the town itself is the problem and Henry is just an untended weed, however when put in the real situation, as you say, people tend to care about the visceral bad guy rather than the abstract problem. But I don't think that's necessary; it's more symptomatic of a people brought up with constant distraction towards incident after incident with no mind towards pattern.

TheDeamon

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #27 on: April 27, 2016, 12:08:42 AM »
Which isn't to mention the human mind having an amazing ability to rationalize away "abnormal events" allowing us to convince ourselves that we didn't actually see what we just saw.

Fenring

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #28 on: April 27, 2016, 12:16:35 AM »
Which isn't to mention the human mind having an amazing ability to rationalize away "abnormal events" allowing us to convince ourselves that we didn't actually see what we just saw.

I don't know if you read IT, but this is indeed a key point in its theme.

Pete at Home

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #29 on: April 27, 2016, 12:57:35 AM »
Proposing. That we "do nothing " in response to terrorism is as like saying we can reduce 90% of bear on human fatalities by "just" ignoring the bear chewing on your arm.  Yes, it"s quite effective for thos capable of playing dead as the bear takes bites out of your flesh.  And if all 300 million americans had 15 years of intense yoga training and were capable of not being emotionally affected by terrorism, claiming that we have the option of just ignoring it would not be smug clueless bullcrap.

Fenring

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #30 on: April 27, 2016, 01:10:19 AM »
Proposing. That we "do nothing " in response to terrorism is as like saying we can reduce 90% of bear on human fatalities by "just" ignoring the bear chewing on your arm.  Yes, it"s quite effective for thos capable of playing dead as the bear takes bites out of your flesh.  And if all 300 million americans had 15 years of intense yoga training and were capable of not being emotionally affected by terrorism, claiming that we have the option of just ignoring it would not be smug clueless bullcrap.

A better analogy would be to propose to "do something" about bears sometimes wandering into your camp in the woods. Unless you want to exterminate bears it would seem to be a better strategy to not worry that much about it and to take a few non-extreme precautions. Unless bear attacks become an epidemic I would say there are higher priorities as a nation. In the other thread we're discussing how people nevertheless want to treat certain threats out of proportion to their actual threat value.

Pete at Home

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #31 on: April 29, 2016, 07:43:34 AM »
If bears started putting their attacks on facebook, that would create a greater problem even if the number of immediate fatalities did,not rise.

When dealing with terrorism, let's not be obtuse and ignore,the terror and publicity part of the problem.

9-11 had only 3000 immediate fatalities, but over a hundred million victims, personz who became depressed, lost productivity or even jobs, because of the emotional impact.

Greg Davidson

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #32 on: April 29, 2016, 10:15:32 AM »
I still hold accountable those who were complicit in encouraging fear for their own gain. Like creating a national 5-level terrorism danger scale, and showing we were always in danger. Or promoting images of terrorism in their political advertising, artificially inflating the threat so that politicians could make the case that they were uniquely qualified to protect us from danger.

One of the oldest tricks in politics, but it is still wrong.

Pete at Home

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #33 on: April 29, 2016, 12:12:34 PM »
Terrorism has been used for thousands of years before 9/11 because it's known to divide and panic ppeople.  The fact that other individuals may be accountable does not, to reawonable people, mean that the original terror act is "ok" or even mitigable.

If you independently argue that domestic panic mongerers must be held accountable, that's fine, but if you argue that such predictable and derivative acts somehow mean that we should take the original terrorist act less seriously, then the argument is obfuscation.

Pete at Home

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #34 on: April 30, 2016, 09:20:38 AM »
https://www.google.com/amp/www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/36177810?client=ms-android-verizon#

atheist and gay rights bloggers are systematically getting hacked to death in Bengladesh.  DAesh claims credit.  Bengladesh insistes Daesh is "not in the country".  is this do nothing approach "ok?"

Pete at Home

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #35 on: April 30, 2016, 09:46:34 AM »
Look how well doing nothing worked to contain KKK terrorism in the USA.

cherrypoptart

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #36 on: April 30, 2016, 02:53:00 PM »
Europe is another good example of the do nothing approach to terrorism.

Mathematically I can see how the approach has merit.

If European countries combined their armies and sent them into ISIS territory to wipe ISIS out more Europeans (the soldiers primarily but also possibly more civilians in future successful ISIS attacks) would be killed than may be killed by the do nothing approach which I'll restate as letting law enforcement and intelligence agencies handle it instead of letting the military handle it with invasion and war.

Of course that depends on how many more successful attacks ISIS, al-Qaeda, and others are able to pull off if they are left relatively undisturbed in their home countries. When the casualties in Europe start to number in the thousands then will the effectiveness of the do nothing approach be reconsidered? Or will it take casualties in the tens to hundreds of thousands such as with a dirty bomb or a compromised nuclear reactor releasing a Chernobyl's worth of radiation across Europe to make the case? Or maybe not even then?

Greg Davidson

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #37 on: May 01, 2016, 02:02:44 AM »
cherry,

An alternative possibility is that a panicked invasion of territory where ISIS resides only serves to promote more terrorism, because you accidentally kill a bunch of people are not responsible for ISIS atrocities as well as those who are.

cherrypoptart

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #38 on: May 01, 2016, 07:57:05 AM »
Why don't the terrorists ever seem to worry about that, about causing the people they terrorize to turn around and resort to terrorism against groups like ISIS, the Taliban, Boko Haram, and the rest of them?

If terrorism inspired so much terrorism against the the terrorists then wouldn't the terrorists have already been wiped out by the other terrorists they inspired against them?

Or is it just when the U.S. does it then it becomes counterproductive but when ISIS does it, and in fact Muslims throughout history, they manage to take and hold vast swaths of territory? Perhaps (but not likely I suppose) that's the origin of the "terr" in territory.

For some reason when ISIS and other Muslim groups engage in successful acts of terrorism it actually inspires more Muslims to join them, Muslims who otherwise might have remained peaceful. So sitting back and not doing enough to stop terrorism may be what's really the more dangerous inspiration to encourage more of it.

AI Wessex

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #39 on: May 01, 2016, 09:09:21 AM »
There's a difference between fighting a skirmish, a battle or a war. The first is always tactical, the second either or both of tactical or strategic, and the latter is always strategic or in the worst case, existential.  We're not fighting a war against ISIS for the simple reason that they don't represent an existential threat to us.  They represent an existential threat to the countries they operate in, and a longer term strategic threat to our interests in the region, but also are not a strategic threat to our security.  That ignores the very occasional act of terrorism that takes place on US soil, but as others have pointed out, we have grown more of our own terrorists than we have imported. 

You asked how many American lives would it be worth to lose to protect the threat we feel from them?  I think now it's precious few because the countries under attack have every ability to marshal the resources to protect themselves and attack ISIS that ISIS does to attack them.  For a long list of reasons they seem almost paralyzed to do that on their own, so we're giving them assistance.  But the same forces that render them incompetent also mean they can't sustain the effort on their own after some initial successes. 

An important question is to what extent is that also our problem.  If they can't defend themselves, then maybe their ways of governing themselves are so thoroughly rotten to the core that there's not really anything there to save.  That was our supposed mistake in helping to overthrow Qaddafi.  After he was gone there was nothing and is still nothing.  Our blind spot has always been to believe that with just enough help every country will want to be like us and will rise to the challenge that we did 240 years ago.

I don't think that's going to happen for many generations to come in Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Syria or Afghanistan, among others. Other countries, like Turkey, are beginning to lose their grip on the reality and dream of the secular state and may join them in chaotic and despotic rule sooner than we would have thought only a few years ago.

We have fought wars in the Mideast for almost 100 years for what amounts to a single reason, to protect the supply of oil that fuels industry and commerce in Europe and the US.  We don't need that nearly as much as we did a decade or two ago, so if you were a 20 year old military recruit today sent overseas to fight in that part of the world, what would you be fighting for and would you be willing to die for it?

TheDeamon

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #40 on: May 01, 2016, 10:49:28 AM »
Or is it just when the U.S. does it then it becomes counterproductive but when ISIS does it, and in fact Muslims throughout history, they manage to take and hold vast swaths of territory? Perhaps (but not likely I suppose) that's the origin of the "terr" in territory.

I would be more likely to first opt for a terra + tory word mashup myself. Loyal Earth?

Although Webster says it's from middle English for territorium which literally translates as "land around a town." First used in the 14th century.

The Tory theory dies with its initial usage being in 17th century Irish(toraidhe) to reference outlaws and bandits(now obsolete usage, obviously)

TheDeamon

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #41 on: May 01, 2016, 11:18:00 AM »
You asked how many American lives would it be worth to lose to protect the threat we feel from them?  I think now it's precious few because the countries under attack have every ability to marshal the resources to protect themselves and attack ISIS that ISIS does to attack them.  For a long list of reasons they seem almost paralyzed to do that on their own, so we're giving them assistance.  But the same forces that render them incompetent also mean they can't sustain the effort on their own after some initial successes. 

An important question is to what extent is that also our problem.  If they can't defend themselves, then maybe their ways of governing themselves are so thoroughly rotten to the core that there's not really anything there to save.  That was our supposed mistake in helping to overthrow Qaddafi.  After he was gone there was nothing and is still nothing.  Our blind spot has always been to believe that with just enough help every country will want to be like us and will rise to the challenge that we did 240 years ago.

In Iraq and Libya, even Syria, that has a backstop in their having been ruled by dictatorships for decades that were very systematic in rooting out anyone or anything that was a threat to their continued rule. (Which means good leadership will be coming from the youth of those nations, the adults were already culled. So you're talking about a decades-long(generational) recovery) Syria got bit by the people they were helping to destabilize a U.S. influenced Iraq (as that threatened them), but they had a poor endgame plan for when the U.S. left. (Much like what happened to the U.S. with regards to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan)

Libya fell due an empowered Muslim Brotherhood that only happened due to pressure from President Obama on the Egyptian Government(also a dictatorship, just a softer one) to release many of the restrictions on said group. Without that, the "Arab Spring" would have likely been much less spectacular than it was. The legacy from all the fighting in Iraq involving the(then almost fully disengaged) U.S. was a factor but only as an "also" contribution.

Obama Admin involvement and support of the Muslim Brotherhood did the rest for ensuring Libya's fall, and the worsening conditions in Syria. Without NATO intervention, it is unlikely that revolt in Libya would have succeeded(a large part of justification for getting involved, IIRC), and would either still be ongoing(and likely taking pressure off Syria and Iraq) or restored to the previous status quo by now(also likely to have taken some pressure off Syria and Iraq).

As to the Iraq situation, while it could be safely assumed that Saddam would likely still be there if it wasn't for Bush, and the rest may not have followed. It can also be safely assumed that if we had followed the advice of the troops on the ground in Iraq. We wouldn't have pulled out, as the Iraqi's were not ready. They were barely competent, and lacked the "institutional structure"(which takes decades to build) to assume the role that Obama declared "good enough" and punted on(the only condition in which it was "good enough" was if they remained in a peacetime operational mode until things solidified, which was an opportunity they never had).

Bush may have created the mess, but there are plenty of things to be pointed at where Obama made it considerably worse.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2016, 11:25:02 AM by TheDeamon »

Fenring

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #42 on: May 01, 2016, 12:33:09 PM »
I think now it's precious few because the countries under attack have every ability to marshal the resources to protect themselves and attack ISIS that ISIS does to attack them.

Do they?

Quote
For a long list of reasons they seem almost paralyzed to do that on their own, so we're giving them assistance.  But the same forces that render them incompetent also mean they can't sustain the effort on their own after some initial successes.

But I thought you just said they had "every ability" to defend themselves, so how could they be paralyzed to do so? What does "every ability" mean, then?

Since there is no answer to that, answer this, instead. What forces, as you put it, might have prevented Assad in Syria from defeating ISIS earlier and protecting his borders? Why don't you name these forces? And before you say the answer in internal dissent undermining his rule, don't forget about your champion Hillary who was calling for a no-fly zone in Syria. You know, the place where the terrorists were the only ones that didn't have aircraft.

AI Wessex

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #43 on: May 01, 2016, 01:02:45 PM »
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But I thought you just said they had "every ability" to defend themselves, so how could they be paralyzed to do so? What does "every ability" mean, then?
Inability to act doesn't necessarily mean they lack the facilities.  They've got weapons and far more soldiers than ISIS, but not the will or organizational structures.  Iraq is widely noted as one of the most, if not the most, corrupt and feckless governments in the world.

Quote
Since there is no answer to that...
Except that I just did answer it.
Quote
...answer this, instead. What forces, as you put it, might have prevented Assad in Syria from defeating ISIS earlier and protecting his borders? Why don't you name these forces? And before you say the answer in internal dissent undermining his rule, don't forget about your champion Hillary who was calling for a no-fly zone in Syria. You know, the place where the terrorists were the only ones that didn't have aircraft.
I suppose you mean that if Hillary had her way the US would have invaded and mopped up over there.  Except that rhetoric isn't policy and she didn't define the policy.  What forces could have stopped ISIS in Syria?  Not US forces.  I was and remain strongly opposed to sending US ground troops into any country over there that isn't being overwhelmed by superior military power.  Even then I would look for other alternatives and use military intervention only as a last resort.  As for Assad, I don't think he has been too concerned about ISIS.  He has directed his efforts at the legitimate insurgencies rising out of his own population.  I don't think much of his military acumen, either.

Fenring, basically I don't think there really are "solutions" that we should impose on the region.  Why is that our responsibility, anyway?  That part of the world is undergoing cataclysmic cultural and economic upheaval.  We have to defend our own borders first, and our international interests second, and the people of the region against themselves only after that.  Our allies in Europe should be our top concern, for political and economic reasons.  They seem to be handling themselves well without initiating invasions, even though they are far closer to the front lines than we are.

Fenring

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #44 on: May 01, 2016, 04:29:16 PM »
I suppose you mean that if Hillary had her way the US would have invaded and mopped up over there.

Is that really what you think I said? What I actually meant is that if Hillary had her way ISIS would have won in Syria and defeated Assad, taking over the entire region. The no-fly zone concept was designed to paralyze Assad and Putin in their attempts to defend Syria from terrorists.

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What forces could have stopped ISIS in Syria?

Assad's forces, if they had received any kind of  support or even were just left alone to do their thing. But the dual foreign policy objective of taking down Assad as well as ISIS, in that order, meant that Assad's ability to do anything about ISIS was cut out from under him.

AI Wessex

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #45 on: May 01, 2016, 06:23:43 PM »
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Is that really what you think I said? What I actually meant is that if Hillary had her way ISIS would have won in Syria and defeated Assad, taking over the entire region. The no-fly zone concept was designed to paralyze Assad and Putin in their attempts to defend Syria from terrorists.
This is tricky.  The no-fly requests began before ISIS was seen as an attacking presence in Syria.  Assad was the adversary, and rather than arm rebel forces among whom we didn't understand their loyalties or their objectives, the no-fly proposal was seen as a way to hamstring Assad while rebels organized and became more recognizable.  I'll venture that nothing short of an invasion would have had a chance of stopping both Assad and later ISIS.  I don't think Assad was hamstrung as much as you do.  He was fighting everybody who was fighting him, but later for some reason decided to focus on the indigenous opposition, at his peril.

Fenring

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #46 on: May 01, 2016, 07:18:54 PM »
I don't think Assad was hamstrung as much as you do.  He was fighting everybody who was fighting him, but later for some reason decided to focus on the indigenous opposition, at his peril.

You don't think it made his job a wee bit harder having his opposition armed and funded by foreign governments?

AI Wessex

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #47 on: May 01, 2016, 07:42:34 PM »
You don't think the Russians could have attacked ISIS, too?

Fenring

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #48 on: May 01, 2016, 08:00:56 PM »
You don't think the Russians could have attacked ISIS, too?

You mean early on, or just recently? Recently they've been doing just that, and have helped Assad push ISIS back. Early on Russia's strategy appears to have been to try to remotely fortify the nations surrounding them rather than get involved directly like they had in Afghanistan in the 80's. They learned the hard way that spending Russian resources directly on intransigent terrorists was a waste of time. Better to create buffer zones around them to avoid the spread of terrorist regimes approaching near to them. I suppose they changed their minds due to how badly things were going for Assad, since they need to protect their naval interests in Syria. The general approach was the same one America was employing in the 70's, which was to prop up governments strong enough to police their own borders. Iraq 2.0 laid waste to the area and turned the place upside down, making that strategy far harder to maintain. This was especially so following the Arab spring and the Libya fiasco. Eventually the slow control tactic became untenable and I guess Russia decided to get its hands a little dirty again.

But none of that really pertains to my question to you. You said that various forces somehow prevented the mid-East nations being able to police their own borders; that some unseen force causes alleged paralysis among nations like Syria and Iraq. In the case of Iraq I think we know the cause. Other than those two what other nations are we discussing that could have done something about ISIS? Saudi Arabia? Israel? They would never do anything while ISIS was attacking their enemies. Iran? On that score I must admit I'm not as up to date as I should be, and I'd be curious to learn what you think prevented them taking up arms against ISIS. Maybe the accord with the U.S. made them think they should play is safe for a while? Maybe they were doing something but it wasn't that effective?

Pete at Home

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Re: Terror - maybe we do nothing, and that's okay
« Reply #49 on: May 02, 2016, 12:51:26 AM »
That's quite the ugly american question, Al.

President Vladimir Putin awards Russian 'Rambo' who died fighting ISIS top military honour

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The Russian president has ordered brave Aleksandr Prokhorenko be posthumously awarded the title of Hero of the Russian Federation, according to Russian state news agency Sputnik.

The 25-year-old was part of a team of fighters battling to liberate the city of Palmyra from ISIS.

Russian officials say the father bravely ordered an airstrike on himself after he was surrounded by Islamic State militants.

His body was flown into Moscow this week and welcomed by the brave soldier's heartbroken wife Ekaterina who is pregnant with their first child.

[follows a most un-rambo like picture of the young man which makes me think the story's for real]