RE: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence

From: Lawrence DeBivort (
Date: Thu Feb 28 2002 - 01:02:13 GMT

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    From: "Lawrence DeBivort" <>
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    Subject: RE: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence
    Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2002 20:02:13 -0500
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    Hi Scott,
    Did you have a chance to look up my earlier emails?

    I'll just respond here to new points/questions you bring up.

    > >In brief summarization: the US should have treated Sept 11 as a criminal
    > >matter, not one of "war", taken the Afghan gov't up on its offer to
    > >extradite bin Laden, after providing an indictment (standard extradition
    > >procedure), tried him as we did the attackers of the WTC a few years ago
    > >and
    > >more recent US embassy bombings.
    > >
    > Care to predict how many decades that would have taken?

    Yes. It would have taken no more than six months to complete the
    extradition, and the US prepartions for the trial would have taken, I would
    guess, about two years (hard to predict exactly, as we have as examples the
    Lockerbie trial prep, the Embassy bombings and the attempt on the WTC and
    they are all over the place. The government is already saying that it will
    need many months to bring the "American Taliban" to trial. Then there would
    have been further legal moves against known accomplices to add into the mix
    if a combined trial was chosen. Note that the delays here result primarily
    from the US judicial process, and not extradition. Of course, one could
    argue that the Afghanis were not going to extradite bin Laden, but it seemd
    from the last exchanges that they were, when Bush abruptly announced that it
    was now 'too late' for talk. But my sense, derived in part from reading the
    arecord of prior US-Taliban contacts and comparing them to what during the
    last few days the Taliban was saying before contacts were broken, is that
    the odds are quite high that it would have happened. We now have a similar
    discussion going on with Pakistan over the extradition of the suspect in the
    Pearl killing, and Pakistan is asking for the same procedures that the
    Afghanis did, and that are the normal procedures for extradition -- some
    provision of proof and an indictment.

    > Maybe our
    > up front
    > "in your face" military approach (coupled with going after the
    > money trail
    > of the al-Qaeda networks) redeced the ability of the terrorists
    > to carry out
    > some other things they may have slated. OTOH trying to go through the
    > process of extradition would have left the training and planning apparati
    > intact within Afghanistan. They may have suffered enough of a
    > setback due to
    > our intense bombing campaign coupled with Afghan friendlies helping us on
    > the ground to have weakened them somewhat. Slaying the hydra will
    > not be an
    > easy objective, but the first step seems to have been in a positive
    > direction IMO. I could be wrong.

    Well, it is possible that our attack on Afghanistan reduced al-Qaida's
    ability to mount future attacks on us, but if the DoD is right and their
    organization is cellular, than it is quite possible that it has made no
    short or medium difference. What I do think is clear is that our actions
    have created a larger number of potential attackers than existed before.
    This is pretty much the history of anti-terrorist military campaigns: the
    sons and families of the victims of the campaigns become fervent opponents
    of their attackers, and some of them will look for opportunities to attack
    us whereas before they would not have done so. I felt quite safe travelling
    anywhere in the Middle East before the US response to Sept 11, and now I
    would feel in jeopardy, and for good reason. It has worsened our relations
    with the peoples of the area, at the very time when we can least afford it.
    We do have many other interests in the area, and it will be harder now to
    achieve them.

    Those who killed Daniel Pearl probably would not have done so had we not
    attacked Afghanistan, for example, and I think we will see more that as
    clearly would not have happened but for the nature and magnitude of our
    military action.
    > >
    > >The US should have carried a few
    > >target-hardening procedures, rather than embrace 'for-show-only' fake but
    > >highly visible security measures. The US should, and may still yet, turn
    > >the
    > >WTC site into a memorial that will stress our values of democracy, social
    > >responsibility, tolerance and optimism. And the US should have initiated
    > >well-crafted interactions and dialogue with cultures and countries whence
    > >the WTC attackers sprung.
    > >
    > The terrorists want us out of Saudi and dislike our stance
    > towards Israel.
    > They probably don't like our relationships, however strained, with the
    > leaders in Saudi, Jordan, Egypt, Pakistan, etc. It's hard to have
    > a dialogue
    > with extremists indoctrinated within the world-view that we are evil
    > incarnate and Zionist co-conspirators.

    I don't buy this assertion that "they" are out to "get" us. Yes, you are
    right in listing their specific grievances, but if we just dealt with those
    two issues we could have relations with the Muslim and Arab world that did
    not make us targets. The predominant view of our relations with Israel is
    not that we are 'Zionist co-conspirators' but that we are ignorant about
    what happened to the Palestinians, and blindly supportive of Israel, for
    reasons that remain a mystery to them.

    I do believe that there is a lot of room for dialogus on these issues,
    dialogues that result in a modus vivendi that does not require the US to
    abandon its support for Israel or some of the Arab/Muslim governments that
    we support. But it would require us to listen, to display understanding of
    the Muslim and Arab worlds, to moderate the blindness and knee-jerk
    reactions we sometimes have to the Middle East, and to lower our level of
    linguistic and behavioral arrogance in those areas. These ideas are, by the
    way, not particularly radical: many US diplomats have urged this, as have
    journalists, scholars, etc. But it takes time and discipline to learn all
    these things about the area (as it would any culture), and our politicians
    rarely have the inclination or time to do so.

    > At least some of the gov't entities in these countries are trying
    > to get the
    > ball towards peace between Israel and the Palestinians rolling. I haven't
    > read up enough on the proposal Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah has
    > been touting
    > to know how much it entails beyond Israel returning to pre-1967
    > borders in
    > exchange for peace and Arab recognition. Abdullah appears as a
    > moderate in
    > this, which may not go over well with the Islamist extremists, those same
    > people whom we are supposed to be dialoguing with. I have my reservations
    > about the house of Saud, but if Abdullah can pull off a peace deal, more
    > power to him. I don't see entities like al-Qaeda attempting
    > something such
    > as this and I'm wondering how Hamas and the multitude of anti-Israel
    > Islamist groups will react to the possibility of a comprehensive
    > peace (even
    > if a Palestinian state might evolve from it eventually).

    Abdullah's plan is a pretty good start, but will require much more before it
    becomes attractive. The fact that he is taking any initiative at all is the
    hopeful thing, and he deserves recognition for having done so. Al-Qaida,
    Hamas, Hizb-Allah, etc. will go along with ANY peace settlement that the
    Palestinians accept. The only possible issue that pan-Arab or pan-Muslim
    parties might have an independent interest in would be Jerusalem. If Muslim
    free access to al-'Aqsa Mosque were not part of the deal, there would be
    opposition from outside Palestine. The Saudis do have to pay attention to
    this issue, and their position with Abduallah's initiative meets the need.
    But it is a very tricky one and could be a deal breaker.

    > Nonetheless, the hydra remains and there are other heads to lop off ASAP.
    > Your calls to more diplomatic methods are noble, but I prefer gunship
    > diplomacy when it gets down to a serious situation as we have now.

    I am a pragmatist. My goal is not nobility, but to get things resolved so
    that more Americans and innocent people don't die. Gunship diplomacy (what
    an oxymoron!) WILL create more deaths and pits us increasingly against the
    world. Dialogue is our best chance of creating the kind of world in which we
    can flourish, but it will have to be a skilled dialogue, and I don't think
    the administration is capable of carrying it out. Hence my frustration.

    > >In other words, we should be demonstrating the
    > >qualities that have made America admired around the world, and not those
    > >that, along with some other international policies, are earning us
    > >contempt,
    > >arousing fear, and confirming suspicions that the US is turning into a
    > >lone-dog and unaccountable country.
    > >
    > >
    > What happens *if* the U.S. and Russia start co-operating. Aren't
    > we possibly
    > entering into the Georgian conflict? As much as I might enjoy
    > ragging on the
    > Brits, they will (however begrudgingly, reluctantly and
    > critically) probably
    > stick by us.

    I've got to think about this Georgian situation and touch base with some
    friends to get a better sense of what is going on there. The area that we
    are moving into militarily is occupied by the Ossetians, IIRC, which is an
    ethnic group that has been opposed to the central Georgian government. I
    wonder to what extent we are not being asked to provide money and weapons
    nominally to fight the Chechens (or blockade the border, or whatever), when
    the real motivation might be to move against the Ossetians.

    I'm on the road for a few days, but will try and remember to post something
    on this if I have any worht sharing.


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