Osama Bin Laden Dead.

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Warcry
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Post by Warcry » Sat May 07, 2011 10:16 pm

Big Daddy wrote:I don't know. While the Pentagon and White House would qualify as military targets, with the WTC it seemed to be as much about symbolic value as anything else - they can't really have been stupid enough to expect America's economy to fall apart completely as a result of hitting the towers. From a tactical point of view, they'd have got further doubling those planes on the other two targets, surely?
Maybe, maybe not. It does bear mentioning that the US economy isn't exactly in the best of shape right now, though, and even though the loss of the World Trade Centre wasn't directly responsible for that it probably helped.
Big Daddy wrote:EDIT: "Indiscriminate" is probably the wrong word for the WTC killings, as Al-Qaeda would have known the place would have been surrounded by people. But massive casualties were quite likely something they banked on, and that to me is what makes it terrorism - a lot of the plan seemed to be aiming for killing a lot of civilians and trying to scare the USA into submission by creating a feeling of nowhere being safe.
That was definitely a big part of the plan, but it was also a big part of the reasoning behind the Blitz, the Allied firebombing of Dresden and the nukes used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The history books are filled with hundreds of examples of civilians being killed en masse to further military objectives, but few of them are ranked among the ultimate evils of the modern age like 9/11 is.

I think a big part of that is because the world was a different place then. The only people who saw Dresden burning or Hiroshima disappearing in a mushroom cloud were the people who were there, but millions of people watched 9/11 unfolding on TV as it was happening and billions have seen the footage of the towers coming down. Watching something happen is a lot more visceral than hearing about it on the radio or reading about it in the newspaper and I think that contributes to the perception of it being even more horrible than it actually was (and don't get me wrong, it was horrible).

Also, the fact that most of the people in the West had completely ignored the Middle East for their entire lives -- and thus had no idea that there were groups like al-Queda running around capable of pulling off attacks like this -- probably contributed too. I don't want to seem glib, but if the IRA blew up a building in the UK in their heyday or when Hamas fires rockets into Israeli border towns, no one is really surprised. It's horrible, certainly, but anyone living there would have known that it was a possibility. But who in their right mind would have expected such a huge attack on American soil?
Notabot wrote:I think the notion of target defining war or terrorism has some merit. Many cite the US Revolution as a form of terrorism as the colonials broke from the traditional rules of warfare and used guerrilla tactics instead of defined and declared lines. However, for the most part, they were attacking military troops and targets, people and places that knew of an inherent risk.
I'd imagine the history of the war gets taught a bit differently on this side of the border, then, because from what I was taught the Revolutionaries committed more than their share of atrocities against Loyalist civilians.

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Post by angloconvoy » Sun May 08, 2011 3:49 am

Anyone remember the daisy cutters America dropped on Afghanistan? By any definition citing civilian attacks as terrorism they were clearly terrorist attacks.
I think it's true about the legal definition, but when you're up against the considerable might of the U.S. there's no hope of winning by fighting according to rules that were laid down by much bigger armies a long way back.

I don't think you can claim the world trade centre wasn't a legitimate economic target, sure, the symobolism was huge, but th international economies did feel it. And that's the point, you don't need to destroy the world economy in one blow, just shake confidence and let the rest take care of itself.

I'm in total agreement with Warcry in that the distinction between terrorism and war isn't particularly, if at all useful, especially these days. "Terror" is just jingoistic nonsense to get the people onside. What's really depressing is that this particular bout of propaganda actually worked, embroiling whole nations in what are essentially petty power squabbles between a relatively small number of people. As it's always been, I guess.

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Big Daddy
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Post by Big Daddy » Sun May 08, 2011 5:14 am

Warcry wrote:That was definitely a big part of the plan, but it was also a big part of the reasoning behind the Blitz, the Allied firebombing of Dresden and the nukes used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The history books are filled with hundreds of examples of civilians being killed en masse to further military objectives, but few of them are ranked among the ultimate evils of the modern age like 9/11 is.
While I agree with what you're saying, I would say you could make a better case for most of those - the Blitz was Hitler's attempt to batter Britain into submission rather than mount a conventional invasion which would have cost both sides enormous casualties (and, from Hitler's point of view, would likely have failed given the resources the Royal Navy could have called upon given the need and the unique geography of the English channel); the A-bombs were again a pragmatic step to avoid the same thing on the part of the Allies.

Dresden IMHO was over the line and indefensible, but it would be a tangent to go into that.

9/11 was never going to acheive the same thing - if nothing else, there was no-one for America to surrender to. To my mind, it's a big thing that there was no state of war declared (at least, not in any way the targets were aware of) - the British, Germans and Japanese populations in the WW2 examples were all in a state of awareness and had what precautions were avaliable at the time.
I think a big part of that is because the world was a different place then. The only people who saw Dresden burning or Hiroshima disappearing in a mushroom cloud were the people who were there, but millions of people watched 9/11 unfolding on TV as it was happening and billions have seen the footage of the towers coming down. Watching something happen is a lot more visceral than hearing about it on the radio or reading about it in the newspaper and I think that contributes to the perception of it being even more horrible than it actually was (and don't get me wrong, it was horrible).
Perspective plays a part as well. Looking at teh "birthday" bar on the main page since I've been here, alot of people here are 25-30 and I would say at least spent most of 9/11 glued to TV screens in horror. I still very strongly remember comforting a friend who's relatives were on holiday in NY - it turned out they were nowhere near the buildings and completely unharmed, but the five hours it took to get hold of them were long ones. It's something iin a way that everyone went through, which adds to teh emotion.

But something that I do find interesting is that we wouldn't have been able to have this sort of rational conservation about it a few years ago , and if bin Laden had been found and killed within a year or two of the attacks I think people would be less likely to voice concerns about the operation and his treatment.
But who in their right mind would have expected such a huge attack on American soil?
This to me is why it was terrorism, though. Civilian populations in WW2 would have been aware, especially in the latter half of the war when it became clear how much technology was advancing (even conventional ones - bomber aircraft payloads, numbers and tactics greatly increased as the war went on) that there was a high chance of them being bombed, and took precuations accordingly (especially built air raid shelters, sirens, searchlights, fighters, anti-aircraft, gas masks, evacuation to the country of children, drills - all on high alert). There was no such realistic protection avaliable for the victims of 9/11.

Another important defintion to me is that te hijackers used captured American civil airliners - all the World War 2 bombings used clearly marked military planes

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Warcry
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Post by Warcry » Sun May 08, 2011 5:42 am

Big Daddy wrote:9/11 was never going to acheive the same thing - if nothing else, there was no-one for America to surrender to. To my mind, it's a big thing that there was no state of war declared (at least, not in any way the targets were aware of) - the British, Germans and Japanese populations in the WW2 examples were all in a state of awareness and had what precautions were avaliable at the time.
To be fair, al-Qaeda had been announcing to anyone who'd listen for years that they would kill Westerners (and Americans in particular) if the West didn't stop involving itself in the Middle East. That's as good as a declaration of war in my books. The US government didn't take them seriously, but that's not al-Qaeda's fault. The US should have been ready and should have been taking steps to deal with the problem five years or more before 9/11 happened.

I mean, it's not like we're talking about kids making prank bomb threats here. These guys were trying to blow up Americans as early as 1992. They'd already tried to blow up the WTC once before, successfully blew up two embassies, tried to sink a US Navy destroyer and apparently came within ten minutes of assassinating Bill Clinton. These guys obviously weren't screwing around and the fact that it took 3,000+ civilian casualties to get anyone to take them seriously is a ****ing disgrace. Osama and his top henchmen could and should have been put in the ground in the 1990s.

[EDIT] As far as there being no one for the US to surrender to, I'm not sure that's entirely right. Surrendering to al-Qaeda doesn't necessarily mean bowing before bin Laden as our lord, master and Caliph as his minions patrol the streets of our cities. An al-Qaeda win would have been the US, British and other NATO countries pulling their troops out of the Middle East and cutting off the flow of cash into the pockets of people like the House of Saud and Mubarak.

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