Blair's evidence against Bin Laden

brettk at brettk at
Fri Oct 5 13:17:26 PDT 2001

Hi Luke,

>Hard to say whether killing those who organize terrorism is itself
>terrorism. I find it more morally straightforward to criticize only the
>killing of Palestinian civilians at a clip 10 times greater than that
>the suicide bombers are able to muster (not to mention the razing of
>Palestinian homes and orchards).

It's not a tough question at all. When Israel carries out these assassinations, as often as not they get a few civilians in addition to the primary target. So it is very difficult to argue that you can kill the terrorists without killing civilians in the process.

Furthermore, how do we know that the Israeli targets are really terrorists? These are extrajudicial killings, which means that no evidence has to be presented of their guilt. This is a recipe for abuse - why can't the Israeli government order the death of someone they consider a nuisance under the guise that they are a terrorist? Sounds like that is exactly what happened in the case Seth brought up earlier on this thread.

And this does not even mention the bulldozing and shelling of Palestinian houses, or the fact that the occupation itself has been condenmed by virtually the entire world.

You also wrote:
>The fact that their are still homicides in the US does not mean that
>imprisonment of murderers isn't an effective tool of prevention. Gauging
>just how effective it is or isn't is an extremely difficult exercise.

Retaliation might be effective in limiting terrorist activity - but how would that work? It might work by providing a deterrent - terrorists think twice about committing an atrocity since they know there will be reprisals. But that is not what the terrorist organizations say - they usually state quite clearly that they are retaliating against Israeli operations.

It might also work by eliminating would be terrorists, and so preventing the attacks that would have taken place had those folks still been alive to carry them out. I'm very skeptical of this argument as well. There always seems to be another Palestinian suicide bomber at the ready. And of course you need to take into account the fact that targeted assassinations generate new recruits for the terrorist organizations, so the net effect might the opposite of what was intended.

>As Wojtek stated before, the analogy between 9-11 and past terrorism in
>Israel is not particularly strong. It may indeed be true that killing
>Palestinian terrorist merely encourages more low-tech bombers. In this
>case, the issue is motivation as opposed to means. On the other hand,
>it comes to bin Laden and co, there simply aren't any other terrorists
>networks that appear to be capable of inflicting the sort of damage that
>shook New York. Destroy the network and it is far from certain that
>will be able to take its place.

The example you used was in the context of the Israel/Palestinian conflict, and I merely followed suit. As far as the US/Al-Quaeda situation is concerned, I don't see any reason why Osama bin-Laden's group is the only one which can carry out attacks on the US. You don't need a lot of money. Just some fertilizer and the will to carry it out, as Timothy McVeigh could have told you. It is even easier for a suicide bomber to succeed. I do agree that seriously weakening a sophisticated organizaiton like Al-Quaeda would reduce the odds of an attack on the scale of the WTC bombing, but I don't believe it would make us safe form terror.


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