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Re: [ba-unrev-talk] Connecting the Dots...

Eric Armstrong <eric.armstrong@sun.com> writes:    (01)

 % Good, John. You've raised some good issues.
 % I need an IBIS system to keep track of them
 % all, and a few experts to weigh in on some
 % of them.
 % John Sechrest wrote:
 % > 
 % >         1a) The implication is that
 % >            regime change will alter the pattern of
 % >            terrorism.     (02)

 % You disagree here. But it's not clear why.    (03)

 I try to outline it below.
 a) the results are unpredictable
 b) The probability is that it will make things worse    (04)

 and what I did not say earlier: 
 C) The cause of terrorism has little to do with Iraq.
    So for me Iraq is just a symptom of a larger more 
    complex pattern. Pruning the branch of one tree
    does not alter a forest.    (05)

    The roots of this problem are far bigger than one
    despot in one country    (06)

 % >         1b)The missing piece is that the
 % >            result of regime change, especially forced
 % >            regime change, is unpredictable.    (07)

 % Any change is bad, if we can't predict the outcome with
 % certainty? I don't think logic supports that.    (08)

 There are many things that are worse than what we have now.
 Some times it is best to contain a toxin, rather than 
 to risk spreading it around.    (09)

 Because there are both possible up sides and possible
 down sides, it is not reasonable to approach the 
 problem simplistically and say that only the upsides
 are going to show up.    (010)

 The current path as outlined says:    (011)

 Change regime -> Good results;    (012)

 Good results are not the only possible outcome.
 There are many.    (013)

 Twenty six countries are islamic. They have a wide reaching effect
 around the world. They do not see the Iraq problem in the
 same light as the current administration.    (014)

 Instead of cleaning up Iraq, my bet is that the end result
 is to create a more sophisticated terrorist network which 
 goes underground for a long time, to re-emerge with worse
 results.    (015)

 % >            My belief is there is more opportunity of jumping
 % >            out of the pan and into the fire if the
 % >            change is made poorly.    (016)

 % Ok. That is an interesting scenario. I'd guess that an IBIS
 % discussion would now require supporting arguments. Possibly
 % example of how things might go awry, for instance, rather than
 % a general claim like "it's better not to get on a horse, because
 % you might fall off". Note that I'm not disagreeing necessarily,
 % I'm only stating that there is an insufficient basis for the
 % assertion.    (017)

 Yes, the IBIS would require supporting arguments.    (018)

 Given that in a recent international poll, the 
 most dangerous country in the world had the following 
 results:    (019)

	US - 84%
	korea - 7%
	Iraq - 8%    (020)

 I would say that there are millions of people who are not 
 really on the same page as the current administration.    (021)

 What happens when they decide not to participate in
 the US world view any more?    (022)

 I can see many negative scenarios.    (023)

 Dispite what the US administration seems to think, it is not
 the center of the universe.    (024)

 That arrogance that is being displayed by the current 
 administration is dismantling relationships around the world.
 Don't take my word for it, look at what John Bradley Kiesling
 says: http://www.snopes.com/politics/mideast/kiesling.asp    (025)

 In a global world, where resources are short, the 
 last thing you need is a bull running around the 
 china shop, messing up the scene.    (026)

 That is how the current administration is stomping around
 the world.    (027)

 % >         2) The US is not the policeman of the world:
 % >            The issue presented assumes that regime change
 % >            by the US is appropriate.    (028)

 % I don't believe it assumes that. I believe the analysis leads
 % to that conclusion, without first assuming it. I welcome a
 % challenge to the analysis.    (029)

 Your analysis ends with "regime change".    (030)

 The context of the day, implies that the regime change
 will be conducted by the current administration in thier
 current plans.    (031)

 Your short analysis leaves many things unsaid (since it is short).
 To nail down every piece of context would make it dramatically
 longer. And far too complex in some sense. Because it would
 make the understanding difficult.    (032)

 So.... the IBIS will have to have ways to establish context.
 and will have to have ways to abstract detailed arguments into
 smaller statments, but leaving the details available for deeper 
 understanding.    (033)

 % >            Just because you can do something does not
 % >            mean that you should do something.    (034)

 % I don't believe that statement was made, or implied.    (035)

 It is implied by the behavior of the current administration.	
 And that is the context of the words chosen.    (036)

 When you pick "regime change", you lingustically tie the
 conversation into the political retoric of the day.    (037)

 "regime change" is a sound bite being used to drive the 
 current polical discussion. When you use that term,
 you bring all the associated baggage of it into the 
 conversation.    (038)

 So, your argument by the choice of words, pulls a context with it,
 which does in fact imply that if you can do something
 you should do it. Given that the current administration
 is ignoring studiously many alternatives, just so they can 
 address things the way that they want to.    (039)

 % >            If California gets unhappy with Arizona for
 % >            abuse of the river that california wants.
 % >            And it becomes a life and death issue for the
 % >            people living in LA, is it going to be reasonable
 % >            for the state militia of california to arizona?    (040)

 % Hmmm. Apples and oranges. If Arizona threatens to dump stuff
 % into the water because they don't like LA, then maybe its an
 % apples and apples comparison. But analogy is *so* full of
 % pitfalls. We can tinker with the analogy all day and not get it
 % right, and spend a lot of time arguing over the analogy, which
 % really won't help in the end.    (041)

 In a world of laws, we don't let our states fight each other.
 the same should be true of the countries of the world. We
 can not afford as a planet to let countries fight.     (042)

 And as a philosophy, if we believe in laws, then we should
 follow them. What we would wish for our states, is the same
 thing we would wish for neighboring countries.     (043)

 % >            We believe in a world ruled by law, not by
 % >            power and not by personality.    (044)

 % Yes. And the law said, "Disarm". And 10 years later it has not
 % happened. And the law says, "give them more time", just as the
 % law said, "let them have Poland". If an army wasn't sitting on
 % the borders, not even token disarmament would be occurring. But
 % there is, and it is.    (045)

 But that law is in the jurisdiction of the United nations.
 If you took this action on a local level, you would be
 called a vigilante, and that is illegal.    (046)

 Why should it be illegal on the local level, but legal on the international
 level?    (047)

 It is the job of the United Nations to enforce the resolutions.
 And it is the job of the United Nations to enable this to take
 place. It is not the job of the US to take on this task.    (048)

 Especially when the cost of taking on this task is very expensive
 to the future relationships in the world.    (049)

 It is a very short sited approach.     (050)

  % Come to think of it, we *are* the world's policeman. No one else
 % has the power to do so.     (051)

 This is nonsense. While we do spend as much as the rest of the
 world combined on military activities, it does not make the 
 rest of the world powerless.    (052)

 There are plenty of ways that other countries could choose to do this.    (053)

 China certainly has the power. 
 India could do it if they set their mind to it.    (054)

 To say that no one else has the power is simply an extension of the
 arrogance displayed by the administration.     (055)

 We are not the center of the universe. We should not act like
 the whole world revolves around us.    (056)

 The consequence is that we risk having our relationship with the rest
 of the world altered in ways that we do not like.    (057)

 Name one empire which has survived this type of arrogance in the past?     (058)

 % That makes it incumbent on us to act
 % responsibly. Fortunately, we are the only country on the planet
 % that can claim to have won major conflicts (including WWII and
 % afterwards) and then giving the territories back to the original
 % occupants, rather than taking it over. If that doesn't give us 
 % some kind of moral authority, then nothing on earth ever will.    (059)

 It seems like a short view of history to me.     (060)

 It seems to imply to me:    (061)

    Because we did a good thing, we are the good guys.
    And because we are the good guys, we can do what we want.     (062)

 That moral authority that you cite, should also include things like,
 a list of the countries we have bombed since world war II:    (063)

Here's a list of the countries that the U.S. has bombed since the end of 
World War II, compiled by historian William Blum:     (064)

China 1945-46
China 1950-53
Guatemala 1954
Indonesia 1958
Cuba 1959-60
Guatemala 1960
Congo 1964
Peru 1965
Laos 1964-73
Vietnam 1961-73
Cambodia 1969-70
Guatemala 1967-69
Grenada 1983
Libya 1986
El Salvador 1980s
Nicaragua 1980s
Panama 1989
Iraq 1991-99
Sudan 1998
Afghanistan 1998    (065)

And then    (066)

Now for the question: In how many of these instances did a democratic 
government, respectful of human rights, occur as a direct result of the 
bombing?     (067)

None.    (068)

How many governments have been muddled with in the last 50 years
for the benefit of the few?     (069)

That seems to strike deeply at the moral authority that you are
claiming.     (070)

One of the biggest dangers in the world is people who believe
they have the capital "T" TRUTH.    (071)

When we start the argument with , I have moral authority to do X,
then I start to worry.     (072)

You can justify any evil, if you belive that you have the 
Capital 'T" TRUTH.    (073)

So, it seems to me that there needs to be some balance to the 
discussion. The current administrations approach allows for 
no opportunity for balanced discussion.    (074)

There are many alternatives to War available.
(Financial changes, food system changes, alliances with other countries, etc)
which could change the world without hundreds of thousands of people dieing.
And with the end result of improving the relationships around the world.    (075)

You don't start building relationships by saying, you are either 
with me or against me.    (076)

You also don't start building relationships by saying, I have the 
moral authority to do an evil.    (077)

 % >            Just as we would not want states using armed force,
 % >            we don't want a world run by arms instead of law.    (078)

 % We go in circles on that one. Because we don't want a world that
 % *isn't* run by law for lack of arms, either. Ever watch cops?
 % How much "law" would there be without some level of force directed
 % at the most virulently disrespectful of it? We all pay our parking
 % tickets. But if we don't, how long before someone shows up at your
 % door with a warrant, gun at their side, and you're headed for jail.
 % If you resist, how long before the swat team shows up.    (079)

 % Bottom line: "rule of law" means "stick to the terms of the 
 % social contract". But at some point, sanctioned forms of redress
 % become necessary.    (080)

 A) The current redress is not sactioned. - The UN has not supported
 it, and it looks like it will be veto'd by germany, france and russia    (081)

 B) The current UN structure blocks the formation of an effective
    method of force, mostly blocked by the behaviors of the US.    (082)

   (For the last 2 decades we have mostly be in arrears on our 
   UN payments)    (083)

 C) Because force is one possible approach, does not mean it is 
 the only approach. Nor that it is a prefered approach.    (084)

 % But the real question is, should it be sanctioned now. And that
 % was the point of the previous succinct analysis, rather than this
 % meandering pronouncement on a point of philosophical principle.    (085)

 No, it should not be sanctioned now:    (086)

 a) You do not have support of the rest of the UN
 b) You have alternatives that could get the same result
    if applied with persistance and patience
 c) with good diplomatic work, it would be possible to get
    better results than if you do things by force
 d) It would be cheaper to just pay the Iraqi people to do it
    (although that would be another philosophical debate about
    how appropriate that is)    (087)

 e) It is not just to inflict hundreds of thousands of casualties
    on a population because you don't like thier government.    (088)

 % > 
 % >         3) The law of unintended consequences.
 % > 
 % >            When you make changes in a complex system,
 % >            you get unpredictable side effects.
 % > 
 % >            There is no guarentee that the side effects are
 % >            better than the current situation    (089)

 % If the current situation is manifestly untenable, isn't change
 % mandatory?     (090)

 It is not untenable. There is no more risk this year, than 
 last year.     (091)

 We drive cars. Thousands of people die each year because we drive
 cars.     (092)

 We take that as a price of doing business.    (093)

 loosing 5000 people in NY is just as much a cost of the
 current policies of the US as driving cars ever was.    (094)

 If you want to change the pattern, you have to change the underlaying
 fundamentals. Changing the regimes in the middle east does not
 do this.     (095)

 % Even if you can't assess the consequences? When 
 % faced with a auto that is speeding out of control, isn't it
 % better to leap first, and look later? Certainly our species has
 % managed to survive precisely because of that very principle.    (096)

 Not when the possible consequence are dramatic.
 It is far better for you to take the auto that is out of control
 and to fight it into the best possible thing you can, than
 to let it go wildly out of control drestroying things.    (097)

 Far better to loose a US city, than it is for us to loose the 
 whole situation.     (098)

 % [Small story: I used to love running through the woods, 
 % exploring trails to see where they led. Once I got down
 % towards a stream, and suddenly starting feeling multiple 
 % bites on my leg. I looked down, and there were many small
 % black grasshopper things, each one taking a chunk out of 
 % my leg, and stinging me in the process. I was running back
 % up the hill *before* I had any conscious thought in the 
 % matter. When I stopped I hastily brushed the varmints off
 % my legs, and ran a bit further to be sure I was clear of 
 % them. But I will never forget how totally, completely
 % mindlessly ran in that "survival situation". We have very
 % powerful survival instincts built into us. (Not that its
 % really germane, but it came to mind.]    (099)

 It is very dangerous to let your instincts run away with you,
 when you have your fingers on the button of a machine that can 
 dismatle the whole world.    (0100)

 We can not afford to let our instincts be our guide for
 how we solve problems, when the use of the tools that we have
 can be fatal to everything on the planet.    (0101)

 % >         4) Haste makes waste
 % > 
 % >            Iraq has been doing silly things for decades.
 % >            While eric made a case for why there is a
 % >            relation between Iraq and al-queda,
 % >            he does not make a case for timing.    (0102)

 % Only that time works against us -- but that was in my last
 % post.    (0103)

 But I don't believe time works against us.    (0104)

 In the worst case, he dies of old age. How old is he now? 55?    (0105)

 What 20 more years of saddam and then it is done anyway?    (0106)

 I don't see him surviving in office for 20 more years
 even if the US does nothing.    (0107)

 % >            Why do we need to do something about now?
 % >            There is no compleling reason to invade Iraq now.
 % >            There are other tools in place that
 % >            can effect change without going to war.    (0108)

 % Now *there* is a proposition worth following up! What tools?
 % (I know they can't be the ones that haven't worked for the
 % last 10 years. But I'm open to fresh ideas.)    (0109)

 a) I believe that the current military presence has Iraq Contained.
 b) I believe that active altering of our relationsips with the islamic
    world can arrange for them to take more responsibility for the
    actions of Iraq.    (0110)

 c) I believe that constructive engagement, like we have done
 the last 20 years in China is far safer than 
 an isolationist, confrontational approach.    (0111)

 d) Let the inspections continue, they are making progress    (0112)

 e) Engage more, with more people in the process of building
    relationships with alternatives in Iraq.    (0113)

 % >         5) Our social system is based on trust.
 % >            ... 
 % >            So we have many opportunities for terrorism.
 % >            Any truck into a chlorine tank will take out a city.    (0114)

 % Ouch. That's one for the FBI hotline. (When I came up with one
 % of those (gas tanks), I avoided discussing it in a public forum
 % until I saw it mentioned by the powers-that-be. (They came up
 % with a thing that sits on the back of the truck and takes
 % out the tires if its bumped from behind at a mile an hour or so
 % by a state police vehicle.) Hopefully, you've seen similar 
 % remedies for this situation. If not, please do find that hotline
 % and post the possibility, on the off chance it hasn't been
 % discussed before.    (0115)

 I saw this on another list, so I am assuming that it is common 
 knowlege being discussed elsewhere.     (0116)

 % >            How many people died in Bpol because of a gas leak?    (0117)

 % Not sure what you're alluding to here.    (0118)

 The Union Carbide chemical plant in Bpol India had something like 7000
 people die because of a chemical leak from a tank.     (0119)

 % >            So, there is no reason to expect that if Iraq is changed
 % >            completly that they have in any way reduced the risk
 % >            of terrorism.    (0120)

 % I would say no way to expect that we have completely eliminated,
 % but every reason to expect that we have substantially reduced.    (0121)

 Why?     (0122)

 Iraq is a symptom. There is plenty of money and resources outside
 of Iraq to continue the process.     (0123)

 Iraq is identifyable, so it makes a nice target, but it does
 not address anything about the hundreds of thousands of others
 who would do something about US Hegemony if they could.    (0124)

 % >            If fact, by forcing the issue in this way,
 % >            they force more people into polarizing on the issue,
 % >            and it in fact breeds more terror later.    (0125)

 % That is a definite possibility that must be taken seriously. I 
 % believe we are, by trying to make the case to our international
 % neighbors. But unless the *real* case is made (as I suggest the
 % analysis presents, although with less evidence) then there is
 % less reason to buy it.    (0126)

 Ask the question .... Why are people willing to die for 
this terrorist idea in the first place?     (0127)

 At the basis of this answer is the basis of the root cause of 
 the problem.    (0128)

 Address that root cause and terrorism goes away.     (0129)

 If you don't address the root cause, then you only ampilfy the problem
 in the well known game of escalation . (See Hercules and the Hydra)         (0130)

 % >            So, I believe that eric has left out many of the issues
 % >            related to the case.    (0131)

 % Hmmm. After reviewing your post in detail, I see a couple of issues
 % that need to be considered, but most of those are still general
 % thoughts. Others may or may not agree with me on that, however.    (0132)

 % >            We lose more people to stupidity every year than we lost in
 % >            9/11.    (0133)

 % Some would say that we might well lose 100 times as many, by being
 % equally stupid going forward. Neither statement is a real argument
 % one or the other, however.    (0134)

 It was a plea for perspective. Terrorism as expressed so far is far
 less dangerous than many of the things we do everyday.    (0135)

 There is no reason to believe that we can not afford to follow
 a path aimed at the long term view. And to work to solve the 
 basis of the problem, instead of enflaming an already hot
 symptom.    (0136)

 Sometimes, when you get hurt, the best thing to do is to leave
 the wound alone and not to play with it. If you play with it,
 you make it worse.     (0137)

 % >            It would be far more effective to engage the world
 % >            on a different level than the current administration is
 % >            operating on.    (0138)

 % Again, I hunger for specifics. What kind of level might that be.
 % What would be effective?    (0139)

 Some Effective alternatives would be:    (0140)

 a) Convince the Egyptians, Syrians, Turks and Afgahni that 
 this is thier problem.    (0141)

 b) Work to change the distribution of resources, so that
    people do not feel a need to fight against the US.    (0142)

 c) Change US foriegn policy to be focused on long term stability
    for the planet.    (0143)

 d) Engage in an energy policy that removes the middle east
    from being part of our resource stream. (Hydrogen is viable)    (0144)

 e) Engage in a world population plan that reduces demand on resouces
    so that less of the world is impoverished.    (0145)

 These things attack the problem, not the symptom.     (0146)

 Now that we have the disease, we just have to live with
 the symptoms until we can get rid of the root cause of the
 disease.     (0147)

 If you apply random solutions, or if you follow your instincts
 and scratch an inch, you may find you leave scars you did not
 intend to leave.     (0148)

John Sechrest          .         Helping people use
CTO PEAK -              .           computers and the Internet
Public Electronic         .            more effectively
Access to Knowledge,Inc       .                      
1600 SW Western, Suite 180       .            Internet: sechrest@peak.org
Corvallis Oregon 97333               .                  (541) 754-7325
                                            . http://www.peak.org/~sechrest    (0149)