The Boston Bombing and Self-Awareness


I was in and out of airports when the bombings at the Boston Marathon took place, so I only heard snippets of it. Now that I’m home and have time to watch the news, I find myself deliberately avoiding it, both because of the horror of it all and because I can’t stand the immediate media feeding frenzy as rumors and half-truths rain down on us like confetti, each scrap of paper furiously turned into the preferred narrative. But while you react in anger, consider for a moment that others react the same way to similar events.

We are infuriated by such acts of violence. They seem incomprehensible to us and we look for easy answers, for people to blame and people to punish. We think and act as though a single act of horrific terror aimed at Americans is the most consequential event in the history of the world because, after all, Americans simply matter more than anyone else. But stop and think for a moment that these incidents, so rare and so shocking to us, are a matter of daily routine in many places — and that the bombs are stamped “made in the USA” and paid for by our tax dollars.

The rage that we feel and the desire for vengeance on those who perpetrated such evil is nearly a daily occurrence in Pakistan, for example. The bombs aren’t left in garbage cans, they are shot from drones that can’t even be seen, but the result is exactly the same. Innocent people die and those who love those people experience all the same emotions we do. Just as we crave revenge, so do they. Is it any wonder, then, that they seek it?

Put yourselves for a moment in the shoes of an Iranian in the 60s or 70s, livind under a brutal dictator that was put in power by a CIA coup that overthrew the only democratically elected leader that nation had ever had, all in the name of keeping oil prices low. Far more Iranians suffered torture and death under the Shah and his barbaric secret police force, SAVAK, than were killed or injured in Monday’s bombings, and it was done with American money and weapons. Is it really so surprising that they overthrew him and took the embassy hostages? Would we have done any less in retaliation if the tables were turned?

Try to imagine what it must have been like to live under Somoza, Duarte, Montt, Pinochet, Noriega, Hussein, Batista, Sukarno or any of the other madmen we put and kept in office throughout the 20th century. Try to imagine how you would feel and react if someone imposed such a dictatorship on the United States. And then try to imagine what life must be like for someone living in Pakistan or Yemen today, living out the horror of Monday’s bombing on a nearly daily basis. Imagine what life would be if you were a refugee from Iraq, your home destroyed and your life turned upside down, living in squalor in a camp and wondering how you will survive.

I don’t propose any solutions. I only know that this cycle of violence needs to stop and that all the “USA, USA, USA” chants in the world do not cover up the fact that we have inflicted far worse violence on people around the world than we suffered on Monday. An eye for an eye eventually leaves the whole world blind.

Comments

  1. jayhawk says

    4/15/13 “A series of attacks across Iraq killed 27 people and wounded well over 100 on Monday morning, officials said.”

    Not uncommon news in Iraq since we “liberated” them.

    I am sure most people in Iraq are not too concerned about a race in Boston being interupted.

  2. says

    Maybe most, but not all Jayhawk:

    http://i.imgur.com/iy8YqFD.png

    The fact that terrible shit goes down in other parts of the world, far too often at the hands of the U.S. government, doesn’t make terrorism that claims the lives of U.S. citizens any less of a heinous tragedy. We need to endeavor as a people to care more about such tragedies in general, not to discount ones that happen in our backyard as “a race being interrupted”.

  3. David C Brayton says

    I remember watching video of the bombing of North Vietnam and Cambodia in my college class on the Vietnam War. The bombs that were used in Boston were mere toys compared to the destructive power of those bombs.

  4. JustaTech says

    This is why I sobbed uncontrollably at the opening of Argo.

    Stop. Just….just stop.

  5. says

    I guess it’s a matter of trying to raise our consideration for the lives of others, such that Americans (and other materially affluent, privileged peoples, myself included) value, say, Yemeni and Pakistani lives to the same extent that we value Bostonian lives.

  6. slc1 says

    Once again, I will repeat that the Shah’s replacement is much worse then he was. Don’t believe it, just ask the women in Iran who were alive during his reign and had much greater freedom then they do today under the mad mullahs who currently miss-run that country. Indeed, it appears that the replacement for Mubarak is worse then he was and, I suspect that the replacement of the rulers of Saudi Arabia, so sought after by the left in this country and elsewhere will be worse then the current authorities. In addition, there is no guarantee that Assad’s replacement in Syria, assuming that his regime is for the high jump, will be an improvement. I don’t think much of an argument can be made that Castro is much of an improvement over Batista. New boss, same or worse then the old boss. Jeffersonian democracy in the Muslim world is a chimera.

  7. says

    slc1–

    I don’t see the point of your argument. And therefore what? And therefore it was okay for us to put a brutal dictator in power? The question is not whether Pahlevi was better than Khomeini, it’s whether Pahlevi was better than Mossadegh. And no sane person would have a problem answering that question. We must remember the first rule of human nature: When you oppress a people, you radicalize them. Bad things happen as a result.

  8. slc1 says

    Re Ed Brayton @ #11

    You’re making the assumption that, if Mossadegh had not been overthrown, everything would have been hunky dory. The fact is that the mullahs bitch with the Shah was not with his oppressive policies but with his commitment to secularism. It is my information that Mossadegh was also a secularist and the mullahs would have objected to his policies in this regard just as fervently as they objected to the Shah’s. If we are going to play counterfactual history here, then the mullahs might well have ousted Mossadegh or one of his successors from power and installed a regime just like the one that now exists.

    This is one of the reasons why Obama is reluctant to get involved in the situation in Syria. We don’t know who the good guys and the bad guys are in the opposition. The presence of Al Qaeda folks in the opposition forces does not bode well for an Assad replacement regime. Perhaps the best that can be hoped for is that the country splits up in to autonomous regions, with, for example, the Kurds controlling the area adjacent to the Turkish border and the Druze controlling the area adjacent to the Golan Highths and the Jordanian border. It appears that the Kurds and the Turkish Government have buried the hatchet and are now on the same page relative to the situation in Syria.

  9. Olav says

    Slc1 #12:

    then the mullahs might well have ousted Mossadegh

    They would not likely have been able to gain the popular support to do that.

  10. slc1 says

    Re Olav @ #13

    How much support did the mullahs actually have in 1979? I suspect that the Shah’s fatal illness played a role as was out of the country a lot during that period for medical treatment.

  11. slc1 says

    By the way, the fact that the Mullahs objected to the Shah’s secular policies is not unique to Iran. Currently in Israel, the Haredim and other ultra-orthodox factions are yelling bloody murder about Lapid and Bennett for pushing policies to subject them to the draft and encourage their entry into the work force. A consummation long overdue.

  12. AsqJames says

    scl1 @12

    You’re [meaning Ed is] making the assumption that, if Mossadegh had not been overthrown, everything would have been hunky dory.

    I didn’t read it like that at all. It seemed clear to me that Ed was assuming many Iranians would not have been so pissed at America had America not interfered in their country and helped to install a brutal dictator.

    The fact is that the mullahs bitch with the Shah was not with his oppressive policies but with his commitment to secularism. It is my information that Mossadegh was also a secularist and the mullahs would have objected to his policies in this regard just as fervently as they objected to the Shah’s.

    It is my information that many, perhaps even the majority, of those who protested against the Shah in their hundreds of thousands were liberal moderates who were themselves later turned on by the mullahs once they had used the consolidated their power. If we are going to play counterfactual history here, then the protests the islamists used to usurp power probably would never have happened had the US not installed the Shah.

  13. says

    slc1:

    Why the Iranian non sequitur? Does the oppressiveness of the current government legitimise the US-backed coup that installed the Shah? Unless it does your argument against Ed’s remarks on Iran seem to be largely unrelated to the topic of the OP.

    (I might add that for the millions of Iranians who took to the streets against the Shah, and whose efforts were crucial in toppling his régime, the Shah’s oppressive policies were rather key in explaining their motivation. If we are going to play counterfactual history here, it appears to me that “the mullahs” would have been much less likely to get a revolution going against a government that was of a piece with the system in place before the 1953 coup.)

  14. Olav says

    Slc1 #14, the tragedy of the Iranian revolution of ’79 was that it was actually a rather broadly supported democratic movement, but in the chaos power was ultimately grabbed by the theocratic forces who were better organized (and more ruthless) than their progressive allies. Who were consequently betrayed and also had no international support to speak of. Certainly not from America.

    The point is: it should never have come to the point where a revolution was needed to remove the US backed dictator. Because that does indeed lead to unfortunate outcomes. Leave other countries and peoples alone to determine their own destiny.

  15. caseloweraz says

    All of what Ed Brayton wrote above is apropos and well said.

    But it could well be that we here in the USA will come to know how the Iraqis feel.

    On NPR today, a guest made the statement that 1,169 IEDs had been found here in 2012. I caught that statement “on the fly” and haven’t been able to verify it online. But there’s plenty of notice that 172 domestic IEDs were found in the past six months.


    IEDs hit the U.S. more than you think

    Posted By Gordon Lubold — Foreign Policy, Wednesday, April 17, 2013

  16. abb3w says

    I do think that the US is marginally more competent at targeting the use of force; but it seems a quantitative difference, rather than qualitative. Trying for deep discussion doesn’t seem to have much point, when it’s so dominated by those who think “When is use of force justified” is answered “always” or “never”.

    As to Would we have done any less in retaliation if the tables were turned? — perhaps only marginally. The unapologetic violent breach of an embassy seems a non-negligible margin, however.

  17. slc1 says

    Re Olav @ #18

    Somewhat like the revolution in Egypt that overthrew Mubarak, who Obama somewhat belatedly threw under the bus despite pleas from Bibi. The Muslim Brotherhood was the best organized of the opposition forces and, so far, has prevailed.

    Re Asqjames @ #16

    The fact is that most of the folks in the streets wanting the Shah gone in 1979 were under 30 and had no knowledge of Mossadegh or the situation 25 years earlier. As happened in Egypt, the Mullahs and their followers were the best organized and hijacked the revolution, just as Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood have hijacked the Egyptian revolution.

    Re composer @ #17

    Excuse me, Brayton brought up the Shah and I responded. Not a non-sequitur in the slightest.

  18. Olav says

    Slc1 #21:

    Somewhat like the revolution in Egypt that overthrew Mubarak, who Obama somewhat belatedly threw under the bus despite pleas from Bibi. The Muslim Brotherhood was the best organized of the opposition forces and, so far, has prevailed.

    Comparable, yes, but not exactly the same.

    But the conclusion (that you continue to refuse to address) is that the US should not have backed Mubarak in the first place, let alone for so long. Because his government’s oppression has robbed Egypt of a chance to build a better functioning civil society and made it the perfect recruiting ground for the theocrats.

    Whom I don’t love either, but I am still willing to see if something moderately good may come out of Egypt in a few years. As a transitional president Mr. Morsi appears not the worst for the circumstances. As far as I know Egypt is still honouring international treaties and the constitutional reform is still not complete. That it would not be easy was only to be expected. And again, the US aren’t making it much easier either.

  19. AsqJames says

    slc1 @21:

    The fact is that most of the folks in the streets wanting the Shah gone in 1979 were under 30 and had no knowledge of Mossadegh or the situation 25 years earlier. As happened in Egypt, the Mullahs and their followers were the best organized and hijacked the revolution, just as Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood have hijacked the Egyptian revolution.

    Yes, from what I know of those events that seems to be (mostly) true. I’m not sure how it relates to the earlier points you made or my criticism of them though. Perhaps you could elucidate?

  20. slc1 says

    Re Olav @ #22

    But the conclusion (that you continue to refuse to address) is that the US should not have backed Mubarak in the first place, let alone for so long.

    Who were we supposed to support?

    Re AsqJames @ #23

    Let’s put it this way, to quote Roosevelt on Trujillo in the Dominican, the Shah was an SOB but he was our SOB.

  21. Olav says

    Slc1 #24:

    Who were we supposed to support?

    No one. Should have just stayed out and not meddle with the affairs of other countries. Let events take their course.

    Interventionism can only be justified in extremely exceptional cases, and then only on humanitarian grounds. Help stop a genocide, give necessary aid to the victims/refugees of natural disasters or war. Not prop up a dictator somewhere only to serve your own economic/geopolitical interests.

    How can this be so hard to understand?

  22. says

    But the conclusion (that you continue to refuse to address) is that the US should not have backed Mubarak in the first place, let alone for so long.

    Who were we supposed to support?

    It’s unthinkable to you that the US could not pick sides in Egyptian politics, eh?

  23. says

    Let’s put it this way, to quote Roosevelt on Trujillo in the Dominican, the Shah was an SOB but he was our SOB.

    The Shah was our SOB because he owed his taking power 100% to the CIA deciding to depose Mossadegh. Which was ethically wrong and also, as it turns out, a really stupid geopolitical decision as well.

    Yet you defend it.

    That makes you look like a jingoistic idiot.

  24. AsqJames says

    scl1 @24

    Let’s put it this way, to quote Roosevelt on Trujillo in the Dominican, the Shah was an SOB but he was our SOB.

    Yes, and the point is that hasn’t exactly worked out to America’s advantage in the long term (or Iran’s for that matter).

    But I’m still waiting for you to either defend or retract what you said in reply to Ed at the start of #12:

    You’re making the assumption that, if Mossadegh had not been overthrown, everything would have been hunky dory.

    To me, nothing Ed wrote implied he had made that assumption.

  25. frankniddy says

    I’m sure the many tortured and murdered by Trujillo and the Shah were thankful that they were our SOBs, slc1.

  26. dogmeat says

    SLC,

    Your arguments regarding Iran (or Egypt for that matter) ring rather hollow given your argument that a few “well placed” 15 megaton warheads would solve the Iranian problem.

    It is generally a bad idea, and a short-sighted one at that, to attempt to prop up unpopular governments, especially those that are downright hostile to their own people. We saw this over and over again during the Cold War as both the US and USSR backed unpopular regimes and worked to overthrow the other side’s unpopular regimes. We now have to deal with the mess that we’ve created in these regions, and genocidal campaigns are not legitimate responses to the circumstances. The solutions will not be easy, easy solutions would likely be even less ethical than those we chose for so many years, as horrendous as anything the Nazis did, or some combination of the two.

    If we have to interact with the people in the region, then we should support legitimate governments chosen by their own people. Encourage leadership that reflects those legitimate activities, and provide support for those efforts whenever possible. If we cannot avoid interacting with hostile governments in a region, then multinational diplomacy, including economic sanctions and when necessary military force are less desirable options. Discouraging illegitimate and hostile activities. Other responses to these countries are only likely to make things worse, lead to even more hostile and extremist governments, and even more bloodshed.

  27. says

    slc1 wrote:

    You’re making the assumption that, if Mossadegh had not been overthrown, everything would have been hunky dory. The fact is that the mullahs bitch with the Shah was not with his oppressive policies but with his commitment to secularism. It is my information that Mossadegh was also a secularist and the mullahs would have objected to his policies in this regard just as fervently as they objected to the Shah’s. If we are going to play counterfactual history here, then the mullahs might well have ousted Mossadegh or one of his successors from power and installed a regime just like the one that now exists.

    I am baffled as to why you think this is in any way relevant to what I said. Whether the mullahs would have overthrown Mossadegh as well has no relevance to the undeniable fact that we put in power a brutal thug and propped him up on a mountain of US aid and weaponry. I didn’t claim that life in Iran would have been perfect forever if we’d let Mossadegh stay in power, I said that Mossadegh was not a brutal dictator and the man we replaced him with what. Period, end of story. What happened after that fact has no bearing on whether we should have done that.

    And while we’re playing alternative history, it might very well have been true that without 25 years of the Shah’s barbaric rule, the mullahs would not have found the support necessary to carry out the revolution. As I said, oppressing a people radicalizes them and they often look to religious fervor as the answer. Being ruled by a secularist who was democratically elected and who looked to build a free and democratic society is quite different than being ruled by a secularist whose secret police force kidnaps people randomly off the streets and uses electric drills on them, among other acts of astonishing brutality and repression. Secularism might well have taken root and flourished under Mossadegh; it sure as hell couldn’t do so under Pahlevi.

  28. mikeyb says

    Who are we kidding. As long as we don’t give a goddamn about putting meaningful resources into treating the mentally ill, and the precious right of selling any type of gun with any amount of ammo at all cost triumphs kids safety, we should expect violence to continue for the indefinite future.

  29. davefitz says

    “We think and act as though a single act of horrific terror aimed at Americans is the most consequential event in the history of the world because, after all, Americans simply matter more than anyone else”

    This really annoyed me because because it was rather presumptuous and I don’t think that’s the attitude most of us take. I certainly don’t and I doubt most of your readers do either. Perhaps I am being naive. I think the reason many of us responded to the marathon bombings with such shock is that it was close to home, some of us have walked those streets or knew someone in the race. After a couple hours of footage and updates I thought to myself, “this kind of thing happens daily in some parts of the world. I can’t imagine what they must feel everyday.”

  30. slc1 says

    Re Ed Brayton @ #31

    The unfortunate fact is that most of the rulers in the Arab and extended Islamic world, including Iran, are brutal dictators. The Assad regime in Syria, the late Saddam regime in Iraq, the Mullahs in Iran, and the Taliban in Afghanistan are/were much worse then the Shah and Mubarak. There are no good guys there, there are only our bad guys and the other fellow’s bad guys. I am afraid that Brayton and I are just going to have to disagree on this point, hopefully not disagreeably.

    Re dogmeat @ #30

    There ain’t any legitimate governments in the Arab world. In the Arab world, when the army tells you to go, you go. The army told Mubarak to go and guess what, he did.

    As for my suggestions as to how to handle the regime of the mad mullahs in Iran, my position is that it’s high time to show those bozos whose boss. A half dozen well targeted 15 megaton bombs should do the trick.

  31. slc1 says

    Re SallyStrange @ #26

    In fact, we didn’t pick sides in Egypt and Obama threw Mubarak under the buss, just as peanut brain James Earl Carter threw the Shah under the bus in 1979.

  32. bmiller says

    Thank God we have the shining example of ISRAEL to make up for all those beastly SUBHUMAN Arab dictators. Bulldozers ahoy!

  33. slc1 says

    Re bmiller @ #37

    Ah gee, bmiller compares the hapless bulldozer driver who inadvertently ran over Rachael Corrie with Bashar Assad who so far has killed some 100,000 people in Syria and driven another million into refugee camps in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. This after his father killed some 20000+ people in Hama in 1982. What a pair of sweethearts.

  34. says

    In fact, we didn’t pick sides in Egypt and Obama threw Mubarak under the buss, just as peanut brain James Earl Carter threw the Shah under the bus in 1979.

    Fascinating. What do you propose as an alternate course of action in response to the 1979 Islamic Revolution?

  35. lancifer says

    Ed,

    You are a gentle and compassionate soul and I understand your overall intent is to show that Americans should not view the killing and maiming of Americans in a bombing as any more or less meaningful or tragic than the killing and maiming of people in other nations.

    I agree with that sentiment, but I’m sorry drawing a parallel between the random and senseless act perpetrated yesterday in Boston or on 9/11 with a targeted drone strike in Pakistan is ludicrously inappropriate. (With the possible exception of the Pentagon which could be seen as a legitimate military target. But of course the people on the hijacked plane that hit it certainly were not.)

    At least the US can say that they had an identified military enemy that was the intended target of the drone strike and that any innocents that were killed or injured were killed or injured accidentally.

    What was the military target of the yesterday’s bombings? Were all of the “other” victims killed and maimed “accidentally”. Can we expect an apology for those “other” causalities and that restitution will be made to them or their next of kin?

    I’m not saying that I agree with the US policy of drone strikes in Pakistan but they are not comparable to the actions of the perpetrators of yesterday’s bombings.

    slc1,

    …my position is that it’s high time to show those bozos whose boss. A half dozen well targeted 15 megaton bombs should do the trick.

    Are you insane or just trying to get a rise out of people? Would you really advocate killing millions of innocent Iranians (not to mention the ecological damage that would result from a massive thermonuclear strike) to get to the Mullahs?

  36. JasonTD says

    The rage that we feel and the desire for vengeance on those who perpetrated such evil is nearly a daily occurrence in Pakistan, for example. The bombs aren’t left in garbage cans, they are shot from drones that can’t even be seen, but the result is exactly the same. Innocent people die and those who love those people experience all the same emotions we do. Just as we crave revenge, so do they. Is it any wonder, then, that they seek it?

    I’m with lancifer. If a specific tactic in war is unacceptable because of the cost in innocent life, then argue against that tactic and for others that can achieve the same strategic ends. If the war itself if the problem, then argue against that. But the inadvertent killing of innocents in a theater of war is in no way morally equivalent to the deliberate targeting of innocents in the middle of a city celebration. I recognize that the victims and victims’ families in Pakistan or Afghanistan won’t care to make the distinction, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t either.

  37. naturalcynic says

    Both the Shah and Mubarak were in untenable positions. There was little that Carter or Obama could do to prop them up. They were both old and sick and their regimes were corrupt. Maybe we could use a few nukes as aslackbrain1 wanna-be genocidist would have.

  38. frankniddy says

    slc1,

    Explain how “a half dozen well targeted 15 megaton bombs” that would undoubtedly kill millions of innocent civilians is morally superior to the horrific crimes on the part of Assad and other dictators. Also, if Assad suddenly started saying great things about the West and started selling us order, would you start blindly supporting this monster?

  39. psweet says

    slc1 — seems to me that if anyone in authority in this country made that statement, it would justify any terrorist attack that the Mullahs in Iran cared to launch against us! After all, they would be preemptively defending themselves, since they had been threatened with millions of civilian deaths!

    Which, of course, is the downside to the entire preemptive doctrine. Once you start making plans to attack someone “preemptively” you are providing them a causus belli, by your own reasoning.

  40. Robert B. says

    lancifer @ 40:

    We’re bombing funerals. Sometimes when we hit a target, we hit the same spot again a little while later to get the rescue workers. How does that count as “inadvertent” or “accidental”?

    Also, not for nothing, we aren’t actually at war with Pakistan. And the people doing the bombing are not in uniform. The US government is sending civilian agents to bomb the (admittedly poorly controlled) territory of a friendly (allied?) sovereign state. Stop talking about this as though the ordinary rules and ethics of war apply.

  41. dingojack says

    SLC is conveniently forgetting the larger effects of his (hypothetical) nuclear strike. What of those outside the strike area? How many would die in the following 2-5 year period of darkened skies, abnormally cold and dry weather? ‘Surgical nuclear strike’ is oxymoron*.
    Dingo
    —-
    * Luckily the USA (land of the free and home of the brave) has given us concepts to describe such scenarios: ‘collateral damage’, ‘megadeath’ and ‘overkill’.

  42. lancifer says

    Robert B,

    Let’s take each of your claims in order.

    We’re bombing funerals. Sometimes when we hit a target, we hit the same spot again a little while later to get the rescue workers. How does that count as “inadvertent” or “accidental”?

    The first part, bombing funerals, may be true for all I know (although you have provided no evidence that it is true). If you attend the funeral of a fellow Al Qaeda member you should expect a visit from above. If intelligence reports indicate a gathering of Al Qaeda members I suspect that the CIA isn’t too worried about why they are meeting. If you knowingly take your family to a meeting of Al Qeada members you have placed them in danger not the CIA. Or perhaps you think the Navy Seals should not have paid a visit to a certain compound in Abbotabad because Osama had some women and children around him?

    As to the part about rescue workers I’ll need some proof before I believe that. These strikes aren’t indiscriminate and they are never designed to hit civilians, especially rescue personnel, unless you are counting known Al Qaeda members that may respond to help other injured Al Qeada members as “rescue personnel”.

    Also, not for nothing, we aren’t actually at war with Pakistan. And the people doing the bombing are not in uniform.

    That is not correct. Some (probably most) of them are Air Force personnel in uniform. The CIA is probably controlling others but whether they are in uniform is hardly important since they are sitting in front of computer controls in other countries.

    The US government is sending civilian agents to bomb the (admittedly poorly controlled) territory of a friendly (allied?) sovereign state.

    Again, not correct. The Air Force personnel are not civilians and the CIA is an instrument of the executive branch that works with the military. While it is a civilian organization it answers to the executive branch and is effectively a branch of the military. And calling Pakistan either friendly or an ally is bending the definitions of those words severely, and as you acknowledge, they have little control over the areas where these strikes are conducted at any rate.

    Stop talking about this as though the ordinary rules and ethics of war apply.

    First you have no business telling me “how to talk” and secondly I never said the “ordinary rules of war apply”.

    What I said was that placing bombs in a public place that has no military value for the express purpose of killing and wounding civilians is not equivalent to targeting known enemy combatants with a missile strike.

    If you cannot see the difference you certainly have no right to the moral outrage you are attempting to project.

  43. dingojack says

    Lancey – ” If you attend the funeral of a fellow Al Qaeda member you should expect a visit from above“.
    You, of course, have evidence that the funerals were definitely of AQ members, right? (Not just the US military say so, so that’s good enough. I mean independent confirmation).
    Even if it were an AQ funeral, bombing the crap of people who are at a funeral is still a great way the further radicalise those who survive (and the general population, don’t you think this Kind of thing gets a lot of traction in Pakistan and beyond?). How is this improving the situation exactly?
    Put you self in their shoes. If you heard about a freedom fighter whose funeral was bombed by an enemy twiddling a joystick from 10000 miles away (like some video game with them all nice and safe and your citizens being the ones being turned into ‘pink mist’), would you just shrug and mutter ‘so it goes?’

    If intelligence reports indicate a gathering of Al Qaeda members I suspect that the CIA isn’t too worried about why they are meeting. If you knowingly take your family to a meeting of Al Qeada members you have placed them in danger not the CIA.
    I’d suspect who ever placed the bombs at the Boston Marathon weren’t too concerned about why people were meeting either, nor whether just their ‘enemies were around those who weren’t just as long as it takes out the ‘bad guys'(however they define those terms, of course). So I guess that makes the bombing all OK then.

    That is not correct. Some (probably most) of them are Air Force personnel in uniform. The CIA is probably controlling others but whether they are in uniform is hardly important since they are sitting in front of computer controls in other countries“.
    Firstly, have you evidence of your opening assertion? And if the second sentence is true then why include the first? Secondly, Pakistan is an ally of the US and there is no declaration of war between the two countries, so attacking their citizens (no matter who they are) while in uniform is a war crime.

    There is just too much wrong to catch it all but that’ll do for a starter.

    Dingo
    ——–
    Don’t worry SLC is a fellow war-crime enthusiast, I’m sure the two of you will get on famously!

  44. laurentweppe says

    The Shah was our SOB because he owed his taking power 100% to the CIA deciding to depose Mossadegh. Which was ethically wrong and also, as it turns out, a really stupid geopolitical decision as well.
    Yet you defend it.
    That makes you look like a jingoistic idiot.

    More like a dishonest jingoistic douche who just can’t hide his love for authoritarian regimes so long as they pretend to be secularists.

  45. slc1 says

    Re Dingo the bingo @ #49

    Don’t worry SLC is a fellow war-crime enthusiast, I’m sure the two of you will get on famously!

    Not hardly, considering our vituperous disagreements on global climate change.

    Re laurentweppe

    Whatever his deficiencies, the Shah was quite serious about secularism. I don’t love authoritarian regimes, all regimes in the Arab world and adjacent Muslim countries are authoritarian. What left wingers like weppe fail to understand, there are degrees of authoritarianism and Mubarak and the Shah don’t even come close to the Assads, pere and fils, and Saddam.

    Re frankniddy @ #43

    Moral, shmoral. Who gives a fuck. There’s only winners and losers. As for supporting Assad, the US and Israel are guilty of tacitly supporting the Assads for years under the theory that the devil you know is better then the devil you know not. Neither the US or Israel said boo when Assad pere ordered the city of Hama to be bombarded, killing 20,000+ people. As we sit here today, the situation in Syria is out of control and it is doubtful that the country can be held together, no matter who wins. Obama is under pressure from the Rethuglican neocons to support the opposition; the only problem with that is that we don’t know the good guys from the bad guys in the opposition.

    Re naturalcynic @ #42

    That’s a good point. What we should have realized is that Khomeini and Morsi were not our friends and at least made an attempt to orchestrate a turnover of power in Iran in 1979 and Egypt in 2011 to moderate forces in the opposition. Carter was naive about Khomeini and Obama was naive about Morsi; either that or they failed to realize that the Islamic forces were the best organized and were likely to take power, unless the moderate forces were given support. By the way, I would point out to weppe that the French government has some responsibility here as it harbored Khomeini for years, giving him sanctuary in France.

  46. says

    “Again, not correct. The Air Force personnel are not civilians and the CIA is an instrument of the executive branch that works with the military. While it is a civilian organization it answers to the executive branch and is effectively a branch of the military.”

    Wanna buy a bridge to nowhere?

    The CIA is NOT a branch of the military, “effectively” or otherwise. The CIA exists becasue there are oh, so many things that the military is prohibited from doing that theCIA will be more than happy to do. The U.S. military has exactly as much authority over me as it does over the CIA. Regardless the party in power the CIA has demonstrated, repeatedly, since its inception that it exists to do the bidding of the chickenhawks and corporatists–the jobs that the military can’t or won’t do.

    Your view of what is correct and proper for the U.S. to do re: The War on Global Terror (btw, that term was dropped from the AP stylebook recently) is as correct and proper as your views on other subjects. You’re full of shit.

  47. dingojack says

    250,000+ dead in the American invasion of Iraq*, as opposed to Assad’s claimed 20,000+ (claimed by whom?)
    “Moral, shmoral. Who gives a fuck. There’s only winners and losers.” so saith the 15 Mt man.
    Like I said, a match made in hell.
    Dingo
    ——–
    * a conservative estimate based on observed numbers in mortuaries and hospitals.

  48. DaveL says

    the Shah was an SOB but he was our SOB.

    Shouldn’t that be a source of shame rather than of consolation?

  49. slc1 says

    Re dingo the bingo @ #54

    The number of inhabitants of Hama believed killed by Assad pere’s artillery bombardment has been conservatively estimated at 20,000. Less conservative figures place the number at 30,000 or more. As I recall, the 20,000 figure was cited in Tom Friedman’s book, From Beirut to Jerusalem.

    Re DaveL @ #55

    Often the other guy’s SOBs are even worse. Let’s recall that the US and Great Britain supported Stalin during the 2nd World War on the premise that Frankenberger was worse.

  50. says

    “Let’s recall that the US and Great Britain supported Stalin during the 2nd World War on the premise that Frankenberger was worse.”

    I wouldn’t be willing to bet that they were convinced that Uncle Joe could defeat Hitler, but by aiding the soviets they ensured that the nazis would use a fair amount of the Kreigsmarine’s resources to go after the ships on the Murmansk run. If nothing else they gave the soviets a number of tanks and aircraft that they could use to fight the germans until their own tanks and planes were coming off the assembly lines that had been relocated to the other side of the Urals.

    I can’t quibble with this:

    “Carter was naive about Khomeini and Obama was naive about Morsi; either that or they failed to realize that the Islamic forces were the best organized and were likely to take power, unless the moderate forces were given support.”

    Except to say that Carter and Obama were both acting on advice and intelligence gathered, vetted and furnished by their various intelligence and analysis operatives. In both cases, the mullahs forces were not just better organized, armed and funded–they were largely unopposed, particularly in the area of having people who WANTED to kill and die for their “values”. Also, in bothcases, the strongmen who were deposed were, rightly or not, seen as puppets or clients (at the least) of the U.S.

  51. says

    Moral, shmoral. Who gives a fuck. There’s only winners and losers.

    “Atheists have no morals.”

    “You are correct!”

    Slc, you need to be excluded from any community and/or movement that is going to be successful. You’re both blindingly wrong and completely immoral, by your own admission. You’re the type of person who causes pain and suffering in the world. You’re no better than the religious fundamentalist Mullahs you claim to oppose. I don’t understand why you don’t just join forces with them–your “moral, schmoral, who cares as long as I win!” ethos is pretty much identical to theirs in its essence.

  52. slc1 says

    Re democommie @ #57

    As it was, the Wehrmacht came perilously close to defeating the Soviet forces in 1941 and taking St. Petersburg (nee Leningrad) and Moscow. Had Frankenberger, who was enthralled with battleships, used the resources that went into the construction of the Bismarck and the Tirpitz instead on constructing ocean going Uboats, the German navy could have starved Great Britain out of the war in 1940. Britain out of the war in 1940 = no side shows in Greece, and Yugoslavia, and no British force in North Africa. With the entire un-degraded (by losses in the Battle of Britain, Greece, Crete, Yugoslavia, and North Africa) Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe arrayed against the former Soviet Union in 1941, little doubt IMHO that Germany would have prevailed.

  53. baal says

    wow, I was planning to make a mildly inflammatory comment about imagining how I’d behave were I an Israeli or Palestinian. This comment thread doesn’t need it.

    Thanks for the post Ed.

  54. slc1 says

    Re SallyStrange @ #58

    Wrong, I’m a realist. As Voltaire opined, “Le Dieu se marche avec les gros battalions”.

  55. velociraptor says

    SLC1, your Israel Űber Alles schtick is tiresome. I find it acutely offensive that you demand that American blood and treasure be sacrificed for its interests, especially since you are not willing to put your own ass on the line for something you clearly believe in. As to your comment in #36, were YOU willing to bleed in Iran, or like war-pimping cowards everywhere, did you prefer to see others do the bleeding (and dying)?

    You final comment regarding the Battle of the Atlantic also reveals you to be grotesquely ignorant of the economic prowess the Allied powers brought to bear against the Axis. Long story short, Germany’s fate was sealed on December 11, 1941, U-Boats or Battleships.

  56. slc1 says

    Re velociraptor @ #62

    Au contraire, if Germany had starved Britain out of the war in 1940 and eliminated the former Soviet Union in 1941, the US would have faced a triumphant Germany and Japan alone after Pearl Harbor. That would have been a tall order, at least until the development of the nuclear bomb in 1945. Presumably, attacks with nuclear weapons in 1945 and 1946 would have lead to Axis defeat by 1947.

  57. says

    Seriously, though, SLC, if you are truly a realist, why not just ally yourself with the religious fundamentalists of the world? They are perfectly realistic in recognizing that religion is an efficient way to manipulate people into doing what you want. That will help you “win” whatever battle it is you imagine you’re fighting. Why not use all the tools at your disposal? Since winning is all that matters…

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