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[ Another picture of Osama bin Laden ]
[ Osama bin Laden, wealthy Saudi scion, head of Al Qaeda ]
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How to fight the new global terrorism
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" Osama bin Laden... says he wants to destroy the American economy in order to make it impossible for the United States to influence the world. 'If their economy ends, they will busy themselves away from the enslavement of oppressed people.... It is important to concentrate on the destruction of the American economy.'" (NYT, 28Dec01)
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" I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The United States government will lead the American people and the West in general into an unbearable hell and a choking life." (Osama bin Laden, Al-Jazeera interview, 21Oct01; reported on CNN's Wolf Blitzer reports, 31Jan02)[fn.51[ Go to footnote! ]]
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" I'm inviting you to understand the message of my attack against New York and D.C., which came as an answer to your crimes," the speaker says in Arabic. "Evil brings evil." ("Voice on tape said to be bin Laden's", Al-Jazeera broadcast, reported by CNN, Sunday, 06Oct02, Posted: 7:41 PM EDT)
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[ ] [U.S. Secretary of Defense] Rumsfeld cautioned NATO defense ministers: "We need to face the reality that the attacks of Sept. 11 -- horrific as they were -- may in fact be a dim preview of what is to come if we do not prepare today to defend our people from adversaries with weapons of increasing power and range." (NYT, 18Dec01)
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" Bush and his top aides had higher priorities -- above all, ballistic missile defense." (Barton Gellman, The Washington Post, p.A01, 20Jan02)
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" Why were we utterly unaware of the planning and execution of the Sept. 11 attacks?" [Senator] Shelby asked. "In other words, what went wrong?" Whatever went wrong, [George] Tenet [the director of central intelligence] said, it was not because of laziness or lack of attention within the C.I.A. "Intelligence will never give you 100 percent predictive capability," Mr. Tenet said. The director objected to the very word "failure" in connection with the intelligence-gathering ahead of the devastating surprise attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. "Failure means no focus, no attention, no discipline," Mr. Tenet said, waving his finger for emphasis. (David Stout, "C.I.A. Director Defends Agency and Warns of Al Qaeda Threat", NYT on the Web, 06Feb02)
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" From the start, Al Qaeda was far more diffuse than any previous terrorist organization. But now it has mutated into an international jihad, and most experts say that means governments must transform themselves, too. The authorities, they say, must now focus more on the organization's links to local groups and the grievances that motivate them.... 'It is almost a never-ending process,' said... Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism expert at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.... 'It is not a winnable war in the traditional sense. Bin Laden opened Pandora's box.'" (Douglas Frantz, "'They're Coming After Us.' But Who Are They Now?", NYT Week in Review, p.WK12, 20Oct02)
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" Whatever may be said of the perpetrators of [the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001] slaughter, they were not cowards." (Susan Sontag)
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In 1983, I heard Colonel John Boyd (USAF, retired) explain why America lost the Vietnam War: We lost because did not follow the first principle of anti-guerilla warfare, which is to provide the people with a genuinely better form of life than the enemy offers. I do not believe this truth has changed; I do believe it is relevant to terrorist threats in 2001: The way to win the war against terrorism is to take away the terrorists' popular base of support by providing better solutions to the people's problems than the terrorists offer. Otherwise, these festering problems which enabled the terrorists to get started will continue provide the terrorists with a "renewable energy source" from which to recruit supporters -- not limited to, but certainly including suicide bombers --, for further attacks against us.

I offer the following "talking points" as contributing toward designing a strategy to confront the Islamic fundamentalist and/or whatever other terrorist threats we face. Could a strategy which seriously addresses these points fail? Of course it could (the problems may truly exceed the capacity of our coping resources). But "evolution" guarantees only the survival of the survivors, not the survival of the fittest, nor, a fortiori, the best. One virtue of these ideas, I propose, even if we should ultimately fail, is that they help give us the best possible life we can make for ourselves in the interim.

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[ Deregulate yourself! Go to Enron! ]
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Reconstruct our own society into a place that is genuinely good to live and really cares about each American. This may not require elimination of "capitalism", but it does at least mean that companies must commit themselves primarily to social-responsibility toward society as a whole, toward their customers and also toward their employees, and to take account of "profits" and "the bottom line" within that overarching context. "Lean and mean", downsizing, outsourcing, etc. have to be replaced by principles like: "Do right by the company and the company does right by you." "Deregulation" needs to be exposed for what it is: removal of intelligent social oversight over economic processes so that opportunists who call themselves "entrepreneurs" can pillage our national assets and resources. If we don't want to be "wiped out" [e.g., by terrorists], we have to stop "trying to make a killing" [e.g., in the stock market]. We have to disown our own internal reign of economic terror ["hostile takeovers", etc.]. Income differences between the top and the bottom need to be reduced, the bottom raised, and the middle strengthened, including especially skilled "manual" workers, social service workers, and also "information" workers. Assets need to be more widely distributed -- in the name of equity, to give a greater percentage of the people a real stake in "their" society, and also to make it impossible for terrorists to "take out" too much of our infrastructure by destroying one or a few targets: no more World Trade Centers!
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Our first priority needs to be to make America be a place that's really good to live (not just, e.g.: "You don't know how good it is, till you eat some place else."). We need to clean up the parts of our society that we cannot take pride in -- all the things which make our own citizens "disaffected" (see item #8, below), and make others see us as: "The Evil Empire".
Wean ourselves off dependence on foreign oil ASAP ("OPEC", etc.), so that our ability to pursue our purposes does not depend directly or indirectly on the cooperation of people who increasingly have become such a big policy problem for us. Driving a gas-guzzler car on a long commute to work should be seen as unpatriotic, and our government should help persons no longer have to hurt their country this way.
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"The average fuel economy of the nation's cars and trucks fell to its lowest level in 22 years in the 2002 model year, the Environmental Protection Agency reported today."(Danny Hakim, "Fuel Economy Hit 22-Year Low in 2002", NYT, 03May03, p.C1)
 2. Use our communication media to broadcast and advertise our renewed form of life to the whole world, especially to the places where terrorism is enamating from. The purpose here should not primarily be to attempt to persuade people to fight against the terrorists or to join us, but simply to enrich the people's imagination: To let them know there is another form of life that is thriving here in "The West", with constructive values we feel are really appealing (not "The Sopranos" or "Survivor" or "The Donald" or "Madonna"... [See: Quote #202]). It is certainly legitimate to also broadcast unflattering true information about the enemy, but that should be secondary; as a rule, we should try to keep ourselves above the contamination-by-association which results from even flattering comparisons between "us" and "them".
 3. Offer asylum to anybody who chooses to leave there and join us. This will be very expensive, but if this really is a World War, fighting this war will be expensive. To spend billions of dollars handling immigration of vast numbers of refugees may well prove to be a more effective military expenditure than spending billions of dollars on anti-ICBM missile defense systems. Many of these people will become productive members of our society, and thus, ultimately, "assets" even in a crassly economic sense. (They could resettle the depopulated towns of Americas'a "heartland....) Many persons wish to leave the wretched places where the terrorists rule and recruit. Synergy with item #2 (above) should increase this number, since, as the lyrics of an old popular song go: "How are you going to keep them down on the farm, after they've seen [a place where there are more appealing opportunities in life]?"
 3a. Obviously, it is generally far better when we can provide aid to help the people build a genuinely better life for themselves where they are, or where they came from. [I know this sounds like just a platitude, but the problem of refugees, displaced persons, and others really is one of "the big problems" of the 20th century and the present.]
 4. Improve our "hum-int" -- our human intelligence. Value infiltrating the daily activities of the terrorist organizations, on all levels, above taking satellite pictures of their facilities. Develop agents who live as if they were ordinary citizens among the people on whose support the terrorists depend. Gain not just foreknowledge of their plans, but deep imaginative appreciation of how they think, to be able to act to preempt them, prevent them, and, ideally, wrest the initiative away from them. (John Boyd's OODA loop theory is the model here.)
 5. Sieze the rhetorical high ground. In a different direction, we need try in all ways possible to talk with the people, to try better to understand the people's real grievances and try to begin to form real alliances with them. We also need -- as visibly as possible -- to try to talk with the terrorists, to attempt to neutralize any impression the terrorists may try to give that we are the people who don't talk but just shoot. We need to endeavor to put the terrorists on the defensive in the theater of "war of words". (Insofar as the enemy really are motivated by Judeo-Christian-Islamic religion, then "The Word" is of supreme importantance!)
 6. Use conventionally defined military force to defend ourselves against military attack. When we are the victims of terrorist acts, however, such as the bombing of the navy destroyer Cole, our primary response should be to ferret out and fix the faults in our own systems which permitted the terrorists to successfully attack us. "Going after the perpetrators" should be secondary. If we can figure out who was responsible for the terrorist attack, nobody can reasonably find fault with trying to apprehend them. But the cliché about when you cut off one of the monster's heads, it grows ten new heads should inform our response. John Boyd's first principle of anti-guerilla war applies: To attack the terrorists without offering their people a better form of life will only increase the people's hatred against us, because the people will see us as depriving them not only of the hope of a more meaningful life the terrorists promised, but also of their very last hope, which remains when all other hope in life is gone: the hope of revenge.
Stop telling ourselves that terrorist acts are evil -- as if that would deter the terrorists from committing more such acts in future. We need to face the fact that if we have B-52s and the enemy has only their people's bodies, then the enemy will not "stand up and fight like a man" in a battle where the outcome can easily be predicted: the enemy will all be mowed down with no casualties on our side. We need to take seriously the concept of "asymmetrical warfare": that our enemies will try to attack our weak spots even if to do so is not chivalrous. They will counter B-52s with suicide bombers, because that this may well be the most astute strategy available to them -- including incurring the fewest casualties on their side. So we had better start coming up with ways to defend against suicide bombers (see, e.g., item #7, below) -- instead of being ostriches and endlessly pontificating: "To do such a thing is unthinkable!" Such romantic platitudes not only in no measure render the unthinkable impossible; they also lull us into thinking we are safe because we are too good for such bad things to do themselves to us. (More: Quote #186)
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We know there are many persons in the world who hate America. We know that many persons are envious of what we have. Is it really so hard to appreciate that even if we deserve everything we have because we earned it righteously, we nonetheless need to be careful because the world is not always just? Item: Just as rich Americans should expect to be mugged when they go into certain areas in our own country, we should also expect to be kidnapped, shot at (etc.) when we go into certain areas outside our borders. Is part of our problem that we don't want to accept that the only way we can have our form of life may sometimes be by "keeping a low profile" and not expecting others to toast us or even just tolerate us if we come within their purview?
 7. [ Crowds are hazardous to our health! ]Phase out all activities in which persons gather in crowds. Crowds and mass events provide targets of opportunity to terrorists (in addition to creating epidemiological dangers even in the absence of human adversaries). The Internet gives persons even in remote locations access to the world's cultural resources, far beyond the convenience and resource savings long ago advocated by the telephone company: "Let your fingers fo the walking through the Yellow Pages." (Also: Geographically distribute Internet trunk cables, so that never again can a terrorist strike on a single location do serious damage to our information infrastructure like Lower Manhattan on "911".)
Accept that some political problems are chronic but manageable -- like there are chronic but manageable personal illnesses (asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure...). In August 2004, the devolution of George W Bush's attempt decisively to cure Iraq of Saddam Hussein is instead making Iraq into an ever exacerbating crisis and potential catastrophe. The former U.N. sanctions and the "no fly" zones had kept Iraq as a manageable problem -- indeed, perhaps far more manageable than anyone guessed at the time. America needs all the allies we can get in a real "anti-terrorism coalition", including France, Germany, Japan, Russia(?), China(?), like we had after "911", but which was lost with George W Bush's preemptive war against Saddam Hussein. Not only did that war lose us allied support, it also continues to abet the new global terrorism. (Paul Bremer, George W Bush's administrator in Iraq, earlier argued that the very idea of a "war against terrorism" is inappropriate, because: "there is no final victory in the war against terrorism any more than there is in the so-called war against crime.")
[ 'Are you now or have you ever been...?' ]As far as protecting our liberties at home is concerned, we need to improve on our track record (back to item #1, above!). Joseph McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover were "home grown", not agents of a foreign power. And now (June 2002), The Bush administration seems to be using AlQaeda [al-Qaida] as an excuse for suspending American citizens' civil liberties: Read!
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It is not reasonable to expect people in our society who have never shared in its "blessings", or who lose their jobs and their tenuous hold on a middle class life-style to "the new global economy", to be loyal to the system that has hurt them. As long as "we" do not take good care of our people, our enemies will be able to recruit native American citizens who harbor legitimate grievances against "the [not their...] government" and trans-national corporations. As America is today, new Timothy McVeighs should be expected to appear by "spontaneous generation" -- persons who angrily feel, as Mr. McVeigh said: "It's payback time."
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The only effective bulwark for civil liberties, not just in time of war but also in peacetime, is genuine liberal humanistic education. Such authentic cultural self-formation [German: "Bildung"...] -- which is to be distinguished from all technical training and credential chasing/certifying! --, inspires love for "the life of the mind" and aspiration to attain goods in life higher than "blood and soil".[fn.38[ Go to footnote! ]] One benefit of this should be to make the persons less quick to enter into conflicts about geography and "honor", which are the source and sustinance of so many conflicts. Genuine liberal education nurtures a proactive self-critical mindset, which questions authority, and takes individual responsibility for choices, for which it unstintingly strives to be able to give not just "good enough", but ever better reasons, in the endeavor to:

"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." (1 Thes. 5:21)

[ Email me! ]Your thoughts?
[ Email me your questions and/or thoughts! ]
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Read my constructive vision which underlies this proposal.
Note about alleged impossibility of American intelligence being able to prevent the specific terrorist attacks of "911": This argument is a "red herring". It would not have been necessary to anticipate the specific form the "911" acts would take (repurposing commercial jetliners as incendiary missiles) in order to prevent them. All that would have been required was intelligent vigilance to be alert to "persons acting suspiciously". The "911" terrorists did lots of suspicious things in the months or even years before 9/11. Had the persons they interacted disturbingly with aroused themselves to watch them more closely "on general grounds", these people would likely have been prevented from doing anything "surprising".
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The argument that such close monitoring of persons' activities would deprive law-abiding Americans of their freedom is also a "red herring", provided that such monitoring is used solely to watch for potential threats to public safety, as opposed to using it also to try to intimidate innocuous persons to be "normal". America has a long record harrassing persons to punish even if not to succeed in preventing them from committing victimless so-called crimes, so the danger here is real. One notorious recent example was the Inquisition of President Clinton, who should have been able to say: "Sure, I had sex with that woman, so what?", and that have been the end of it.
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Every citizen should be security minded "eyes and ears" on the lookout for suspicious activity. Read admonitory story of May 2000 interview between the chief "911" terrorist and a U.S. Dept of Agriculture official who was not! On the other hand: To indulge nosiness, which prosecutes crimes without victims, i.e.: persecutes persons who are not hurting either people or property, also imperils our national security.
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Learn about a system for ordinary citizens to look out for and report suspicious activities, which the U.S. Federal government is currently implementing (July 2002), at: http://citizencorps.gov/tips. (If I saw something suspicious, I would probably call the FBI.)

As of -- we still don't know where Osama bin Laden is, or whether he is alive or dead....
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Q: "Could you tell us anything about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden?..." PRESIDENT BUSH: "...There are terrorists who are -- still have designs are destabilizing the Pakistan government, and are destroying innocent life.... There are others around, too. And we're just on the hunt. And we'll find them. It's a matter of time." (White House Press Release, "President Bush Welcomes President Musharraf to Camp David". 24Jun03, 11:49 A.M. EDT)

On 13 December 2003, Saddam Hussein was captured alive by a force of approx. 600 American soldiers, near his home town of Tikrit (Iraq), ca. 20:30, hiding in a "spider hole" several feet underground. (Click here to see news story.) Paul Bremer said: "We got him." (BBC World Service, 14Dec03)
[ Learn how we got to here! ]Read  transcript of excellent BBC documentary how we got to here: The Power of Nightmares.
See  "911" terrorist bombing of NYC World Trade Center towers (11Sep01).
Where did Mohammad Atta "come from"?
"A foreseeable risk."
[ Read and learn to help protect America from terrorists! ]R ead admonitory interview between the chief "911" terrorist (Mohamed Atta), and U.S. Dept of Agriculture official Johnell Bryant, May 2000!
[ Read and learn to help protect America from terrorists! ]Contrast:  How one U.S. Immigration inspector helped prevent 911 terrorists from entering the U.S.
Go/Return to 2001.
Ask questions!
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[ Proposal: What to rebuild on the WTC site? ]
Learn  more about what people in the Mid-East think (MEMRI: The Middle East Media Research Institute).
Compare  "911" terrorist attack, to precision Israeli assassination rocket attack against Palestinian militant leader, Abu Ali Mustafa.
Do you agree  with how the Bush administration is fighting the new global terrorism?
Go  to U.S. government homeland security anti-terrorism preparedness website.
[ Watch out! ][ ]How  can we fight emergent diseases such as: SARS (Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome)? And now: "Bird flu" (H5N1)....
Leisure is the basis of culture.
Learn  Jan Szczepanski's ideas concerning Individuality and Society.
Revisit The Tower of Babel (a model of the good life).
Read my aphorisms for a human[e] world.
Read Louis Kahn, on why a city can deserve to exist.
See my page on Philosophy and daily life.
Read about ambivalence.
See page on Freud's Civilization and its Discontents.
Think about the role of myth in culture.
Read  about increasing role of socially engineered chance (lotteries, etc.) in American life.
Read about "our century": The century of barbed wire.
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