Operation Enduring Protest

Max Sawicky sawicky at bellatlantic.net
Fri Oct 19 08:06:09 PDT 2001

There seems to be an endemic clash of simple binaries here.

Methinks the reflexive anti-imperialists (RAIs) are correct that NOTHING the U.S. gov does with force will stop terrorism, and probably not even the al-qaida network, in the short term.

Whereas the essential self-defense (ESD) faction, among which I include myself, is right that it is a responsibility of any political person to propose some use of force to meet what was an attack on the population -- not merely on ruling elites.

The purpose of the ESD position is not to curry favor with the public in order to foist other ideas upon it. It is to acknowledge what the RAI's don't want to talk about -- that some resort to self-defense is what I would call an absolute right. The only mechanism for exercising that right is the State in all its odious glory. Once you're in that bag, you can argue about what tactics are better or worse, effective or ineffective, well-intentioned or otherwise, but you must accept that there is no illegitimacy in the use of force per se.

Even if one denies any positive motives to the State, there is an obvious incentive for it to do something that blocks attacks. Politicians suffer enough when wars go badly thousands of miles away. One can imagine the public retaliation under the perception that not enough is being done, or done right, to repel attacks on the 'homeland.' Some people in the Gov want to go and blow up Baghdad, but they would look pretty stupid if, having done this, the source of terrorism was not deterred from launching further acts. It would be like the police triumphantly announcing that they had caught the Boston Strangler, and then finding another victim the next morning.

While I've said I thought that no such force can be absoutely effective, there should also be little doubt that it will blunt the extent of terrorist attacks. Also without doubt, absent any resolution of the underlying political-economic problems in the ME, terrorism will be a never-ending phenomenon, as it has become for Israel. The U.S. is not Israel and I expect it would be more difficult for terrorists to scale the heightened military and security obstacles that are being placed in their way as we speak. Whether I'm wrong, we'll know sooner or later.

The RAI's posture excludes them from any real political debate about longer-term remedies. In fact, they even tend to discredit such debates because it is plain that they are laboring to change the subject -- away from the basic right of SELF-DEFENSE against imminent, violent attacks on civilian, everyday life. This does not build credibility.

There are lots of opportunities here for the left, but the take-up rate is still pretty meagre. The RAIs are not even in the game.

Finally, nobody deserves the personal abuse that has been dished back and forth. Nor does anyone deserve the aura of self-righteousness with which they have attempted to surround themselves. Nobody here is that great, or that bad.


>And Featherstone avoids the thorny question of _Is it possible to fight
>The question is wrong and an evasion of reality.

And which reality is that? Since about 95% of the U.S. public would ask the same question (how to fight terrorism?), aren't you the one who's evading reality? Or would you, in your face-to-face recruiting strategy, just tell people they were "wrong" and sign them up for your movement? Doug

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