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Sept. 11: US Nice Guy says 'enough'
United Press International ^ | 9/7/2002 | Martin Walker

Posted on 09/09/2002 5:19:18 AM PDT by aculeus

MUNICH (UPI) -- There is a theory in the Arab world, frequently aired on the TV discussion shows of Qatar's Al-Jazeera news channel, that the real impact of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 was less the 3,000 dead than the devastation wreaked on the American and broader Western economy.

In this grisly arithmetic of terror, the $7 trillion knocked off the value of American stocks, the body blows to the airline industry, the rise in the oil price and the global slowdown, targeted with gruesome precision the true vulnerability of American power. Osama bin Laden was not just the mastermind of the most devastating single terrorist strike in history; he was also the ultimate financial criminal, the Wall Street ghoul of all time.

This theory has its flaws. It ignores the fact that the high-tech bubble in stocks had burst a year before the hijacked airliners flew into the twin towers. It skates over the reality that the airlines were heading into financial trouble and the oil price was already skittish and the European and Japanese economies slowing even as Mohammed Atta was taking his flying lessons.

Yet there is somber truth in this curious Arab hypothesis. The real target of the terrorist strikes was less American lives than American self-confidence; less the symbolic architecture of the Pentagon and World Trade Center than the sheer vigor of the liberal capitalist model that America had developed and exported to much of a world increasingly converted to the core American principles of free trade and free markets, of free speech and free ideas.

And Osama bin Laden's shock troops zeroed in on a haunting paradox of the modern world; that a strong and rich and self-confident America is good for a world that increasingly resents it. When America booms, Europe prospers and Japanese exporters start to lift their stagnant economy from its decade-long doldrums. When Americans splurge on imported goods, business flourishes in China and South Korea, in India and Latin America.

And with the growing trade, local entrepreneurs start to make money, and to save and invest it. In that very process, as they consider how best to ensure the education of their children and the security of their old age, they start demanding honest government, decent schools and sound currencies. They start acting, in short, just like the articulate and politically engaged middle class of the Western democracies. This phenomenon has already transformed the political life of Mexico and Taiwan, Chile and South Korea. It is America's greatest export and its most potent secret weapon, devastating in its impact on dictatorships and theocracies.

The paradox is that this sweeping effect of liberation and social transformation is not necessarily popular. Indeed, one of the first signs of a nascent public opinion in much of the world is a demonstration against some form or other of American policy, often discreetly encouraged by regimes hoping to deflect popular unrest against the familiar target of Uncle Sam. Turn the paradox upside down and it still holds true; a weakened, chastened America is bad for a world that nonetheless loves to see the American colossus restrained and cut down to size -- even if the price is a global recession.

This paradox may be seen in the jeering response to America's first black secretary of state at last week's global summit in Johannesburg. It was on display in last week's meeting at the Arab League of foreign ministers whose regimes often rely on American support, and can constantly be encountered in the opinion pages of liberal European newspapers that should know better. And all of them seem to assume that America will continue to sit back and take it, like the good global citizen that America has tried to be in the last 60 years of defeating Fascism, Nazism, Communism and helping spread more wealth and more freedom to more people in more places than ever in human history.

They are wrong. The real effect of Sept. 11 is that American patience and tolerance for its global critics, most of whom do rather well out of America's benign hegemony, seems just about exhausted. And however it was that Osama bin Laden expected what he has called "the American Empire" to react to his murderous assault, if indeed he thought that far ahead, he seems not to have calculated that America might react by tearing up the old rule book of international affairs.

Empire is a bizarre term for the United States, which is led by a temporary elected president who is subject to the rule of law and the budgetary authority of Congress. It is hard to equate this with the classic empires of the past. The United States, with the temporary exceptions of the occupation forces in Japan and Germany after World War II, has not ruled others and shows little intention of doing so. But equally, looking at the new organizing principle of American policy that the War on Terrorism appears to represent, and the new military bases mushrooming across Central Asia, it may be that Sept. 11 has triggered something dramatic, a serious determination to accept the new challenge and play the role and assume the burdens of empire.

So it seemed to some participants at a conference earlier this year at Ditchley, a stately country house in Britain's Oxfordshire countryside. Winston Churchill took refuge there on moonlit nights during World War II, lest German bombers target his official country residence at Chequers. It has since become celebrated to its initiates as the spiritual home of the Anglo-Saxon alliance that has endured since Churchill's day. It is a discreet and very up-market conference center, supported by Britain's Foreign Office, where powerful officials and politicians from London and Washington, plus a handful of selected academics and journalists, have for more than 60 years met to discuss the state of the world. They all don black ties for a splendid dinner in a stately hall on Saturday nights, before gathering around the piano in song. In such convivial ways is the British conception of the "Special Relationship" studiously tended, although in recent years the ranks have widened to include other NATO allies and even the occasional Russian.

But the Ditchley conference in question was less amicable than most. From reports that have leaked from the usually confidential sessions, senior Bush administration officials had a blunt message to deliver. The European allies (the British excepted) were not pulling their weight in the alliance. Their defense budgets were far too low and they deployed too little fighting power from what they did spend. (This is true; Germany, for example, currently spends 1.5 percent of GDP on defense, less than half of America's 3.4 percent. Britain scrapes a passing grade with a whisker under 3 percent).

Moreover, those European allies that were members of the European Union were playing a dangerous game by courting a new European Union Rapid Reaction Force, designed to be separate from NATO, although typically still relying on NATO (by which they meant American) assets to be at all effective.

The Americans suspected that the Europeans were downgrading NATO, and if so, they could hardly expect the Americans to award the alliance its traditional weight. The Americans made no final judgments. The Europeans, whose waspish comments about Texan cowboys and unilateralism and Israel had not passed unnoticed in Washington, had to show that these suspicions were misplaced. Conveniently, a litmus test was at hand: the determination of the Bush administration to take its War on Terrorism to Iraq. If the Europeans played the supportive role expected of allies, fine. If not, Washington would draw the proper conclusions about NATO's future.

This was a disagreeable way to speak to allies, even at a closed and informal gathering. And in Paris, it seemed to pile yet another layer of authoritarian intransigence upon the wall that was growing between the United States and its European allies. From a French, and often from a wider European viewpoint, the Americans seemed to be steadily abandoning their traditional loyalty to the Atlantic Alliance and to the West as a whole. From the Kyoto Protocol on global warming to the International Criminal Court, from the Biowarfare protocol to tariffs on steel, from the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty to the international agreement against land mines, the Bush administration seemed careless of any idea of the common good, when this might appear distinct from American interests.

But then the Europeans seem deaf to American arguments, whether over Iraq, or the reliability of Yasser Arafat as a peace partner or anything else. They brush aside Washington's cogent criticisms of the Kyoto Protocol as a cosmetic exercise that does not include the real pollution threats of the 21st century, the fast-growing and energy-hungry demographic giants of China and India. The Europeans were deaf to American appeals that an exception be made in the land mine treaty for the South Korean border, where fewer mines would require more troops to protect it. Only grudgingly did the Europeans accept that America as the only credible global policeman might have a unique difficulty with an International Criminal Court, after the Europeans had rejected a reasonable American compromise to submit cases to the UN Security Council.

"When the Europeans demand some sort of veto over American actions, or want us to subordinate our national interest to a UN mandate, they forget that we do not think their track record is too good," a senior U.S. diplomat said recently in private. "The Europeans told us they could win the Balkans wars all on their own. Wrong. They told us that the Russians would never accept National Missile Defense. Wrong. They said the Russians would never swallow NATO enlargement. Wrong. They told us 20 years ago that détente was the way to deal with what we foolishly called the Evil Empire. Wrong again. They complain about our Farm Bill when they are the world's biggest subsidizers of their agriculture. The Europeans are not just wrong; they are also hypocrites. They are wrong on Kyoto, wrong on Arafat, wrong on Iraq -- so why should we take seriously a single word they say?"

If the Europeans are in for a rude awakening as America takes its own decisions over the War on Terrorism and dealing with President Bush's "axis of evil," then the Arab world is in for an even deeper shock. The United States has spent 30 years trying to play by what we might call European rules, seeking to play the role of honest broker between Arabs and Israelis, while paying them both handsomely for the privilege. (Israel and Egypt are the first and second recipients of U.S. aid). America has watched while the Saudi "allies" use their petro-dollars to buy off internal dissent against their indefensibly sexist and undemocratic feudal regime by exporting their intolerant and puritan Wahabist creed throughout the Islamic world.

Whether Europeans and Arabs like it nor not, Iraq will be getting not just a change of regime, but a change of system. There is a post 9-11 mood in Washington to ask why, with the kind of American resolve and wisdom that turned the World War II enemies of Japan and West Germany into peaceful and prosperous democracies, an Iraq liberated from Saddam Hussein, or a Palestinian state liberated from the corrupt incompetence of the Arafat gang, or an Afghanistan liberated from the Taliban, might not enjoy a similar transformation. The Saudi monarchy might hate such an emergence of democratic and representative government in its wretchedly ill-ruled region, but Washington understandably cares less and less for the concerns of a dubious ally whose nationals formed the bulk of the Sept. 11 terrorists.

Note that this is not the case of an enraged and vengeful America telling the world "no more Mr. Nice Guy." It is America saying "Enough" to the European "internationalism" of compromise and appeasement, and holding true to its core principles -- that democracy is in itself a good thing for all states and all peoples. The most valuable export America can send out to the world is its values and its freedoms and its readiness to devote blood and treasure to the mission. That would be the real memorial to the victims of 9-11.


(This analysis is part of UPI's Special Package on the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks).

Copyright © 2002 United Press International

TOPICS: Editorial

1 posted on 09/09/2002 5:19:18 AM PDT by aculeus
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To: aculeus; JohnHuang2
This is the best summary of America's position in the world that I have read. It deserves major pings, so John, please do your thing.
2 posted on 09/09/2002 5:34:54 AM PDT by maica
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To: aculeus
In this grisly arithmetic of terror, the $7 trillion knocked off the value of American stocks, the body blows to the airline industry, the rise in the oil price and the global slowdown, targeted with gruesome precision the true vulnerability of American power. Osama bin Laden was not just the mastermind of the most devastating single terrorist strike in history; he was also the ultimate financial criminal, the Wall Street ghoul of all time.

rotflmao. If they think that this willl stop us.
all I can say is to paraphrase that great XX century thinker B. Bunny, "They don't know us very well, do they."

Glad We Are Not Fighting Us
What were they thinking?

By Victor Davis Hanson, author most recently of Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power.
December 21, 2001 10:30 a.m.

America now enjoys a level of global military and political influence not seen since the Roman Empire in the age of Trajan. Besides the obvious preponderance of carrier battle groups, strategic bomber wings, and tactical fighters unrivaled by any other military, much of the current power of our armed forces is attributable to the Western military tradition itself. The Western way of war is a natural expression of the core values of our European heritage that derive from the Greeks, and have evolved through the Roman imperium, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the European Enlightenment. Consensual government, individual freedom, secular rationalism, free markets, egalitarianism, and self-criticism and self-audit, when applied to the battlefield, result in better-disciplined, better-equipped, better-supplied, and better-spirited armies — whether now or at Salamis, Lepanto, or Midway.

But in the last two decades America, for better or worse, has evolved beyond the traditional Western paradigm, in reaching the theoretical limits of freedom and unbridled capitalism to create a technologically sophisticated, restlessly energetic, and ever-changing society — whose like has never been seen in the history of civilization. Unlike the more staid consensual nations — such as Japan, or those of Europe — America has no real class system. It has transmogrified from a nation of European immigrants into a truly multiracial society. Despite the energy of the contemporary race industry and the efforts at disunity by multiculturalists and separatists, America is emerging more united than ever — if not by a vision of shared values, at least more pragmatically through intermarriage; the vibrant popular culture of music, television, fashion, and sports; and the shared, breakneck quest for material security and affluence.

The result of such an open, pulsating society is a sometimes weirdly insidious civilization that drives our enemies crazy. Write polemical diatribes about the West from your unfree university on the West Bank? As a reward for your anti-Americanism, Harvard or Stanford is likely to offer you a cushy year producing subsidized invective firsthand — making the freedom and affluence of the modern American university campus hard to give up when your annual tenure expires. Do Middle Easterners allege that we are European crusaders? It won't fly when the troops who are blasting apart the al Qaeda terrorists are Americans who look like Asians, Mexicans, Africans, Europeans, and about every combination in between. Need analysis about Iraqi bombs, Russian germs, or Afghani politics? Most likely just those native experts who were knee-deep in such deadly businesses are living right now in northern Virginia or New York, well paid in government, universities, and foundations, and eager to share the insights of their checkered pasts for the benefit of their newly adopted leaders.

Having problems locating an Afghani cave in one of bin Laden's videos? Somewhere there is an American geologist who wrote his thesis on — what else? Afghani caves. And his knowledge will be corroborated, supplemented, challenged, refuted, or modified by an array of botanists, engineers, and anthropologists who will add that the background flora, the type of the terrorists' clothes, and the nature of his video transmission suggest he is not in Place A, but rather at B or even C.

We have seen just such flexibility in the deadly evolution of our military response — a strike force unlike even what we saw in the Gulf or Kosovo. Quite literally the entire nature of our present war-making has been reinvented through a novel four-step formula. In its first stage, indigenous resistance is encouraged by gifts of arms and supplies; these are immediately followed by precision bombing, leading to a third phase of special forces using new laser and GPS technology to "shoot" bombs even more accurately right into the laps of their enemies a few thousand yards away — followed by a fourth step in which larger groups of highly trained Marines and Mountaineers set up base camps to facilitate hunter-killer patrols, launch helicopter attacks, and interrogate and process prisoners.

But — unlike the Soviet infantry and armor doctrine of the 1960s and 1970s, which had changed little from World War II — our new tactics are not static. We are just as likely to see armored divisions on the ground in Iraq, storms of cruise missiles in Lebanon, or covert assassination teams in Somalia — or the return once again of the Afghani mode — depending on the changing nature of our adversaries.

Why are we so deadly? Like European armies, American weaponry and special forces reflect the fruits of secular research, the bounty of capitalism, the discipline of civic militarism, and the spirit of egalitarianism sanctified by America's real concern, both spiritual and legal, for its soldiers in the field. But there is also something rather new in our military that makes it even more lethal than the forces of our European cousins, and it is a dividend of America's much more radical efforts to destroy the barriers of class, race, pedigree, accent, and any other obstacle to the completely free interplay of economic, political, cultural, and military forces.

Our secretary of state and national-security adviser are African Americans; our president is a proud Texan, but also the son of an Ivy-League blue blood. Geraldo, the ultra-liberal defender of Bill Clinton in the dark days of impeachment, is now reinvented as Fox News's new, patriotic Ernie Pyle come alive — to supplement the stories of the once-indicted Ollie North, himself hardly a pariah, but now a national hero beloved by Marines in the field. One's past in America fades before the present, as ideology, degrees, parentage, and breeding mean little in the here and now — the present pulse of the market of ideas and consumption being the sole arbiter of success. No wonder most of the world fears, envies — and is dumbfounded by — us.

I was recently reminded of the unique nature of this topsy-turvy country in a brief car trip to Los Angeles, witnessing first-hand the terrifying energy, resilience, and power of the United States. Driving south down Freeway 99, I passed myriads of self-employed truckers, linoleum installers, plumbers, salesmen, and electricians, their various vans and trucks weaving in and out at high speeds — fleeting reflections of thousands of private agendas scurrying for the next dollar, flags waving — and their drivers of nearly every race on the globe. Arriving at 5 PM in downtown Los Angeles, which purportedly has neither an efficient transportation system nor an impressive skyline, I was instead struck by the beauty of its massive skyscrapers and the ingenuity of the freeways: At rush hour, I drove into concrete canyons, from the orchards of the Central Valley to a dinner at the Jonathan Club, in less than three hours.

There I was asked to speak to a group of Navy and Army alumni. Few countries in the world could collect more educated, disciplined, diverse, and spirited men and women in a single room. Their questions were far more astute than those asked by university professors, their ideas about the present war far from one-dimensionally bellicose, but instead deeply embedded in culture, history, and philosophy. The next morning, on the way home, we stopped at UCLA — and were once again reminded that Los Angeles's premier university is, in fact, a stunningly beautiful place, to the unaccustomed eye more a horticultural park than the nexus of 30,000 students. Across the freeway, we visited the Getty Museum, a strange mix between Hearst Castle, the Gardens of Babylon, and a receptacle of civilization's great work — spotlessly clean, meticulously manicured, staffed by hundreds of professionals from every class, and all privately subsidized for the public good. As we left, a Mexican-American docent was lecturing on the Old Masters in Spanish to a small group of immigrants, while two staffers not over 20 were politely escorting aged German tourists through the museum bookstore, everybody speaking heavily accented English.

Twenty-five hours later we drove into our farm-which, like every one in this area, produces so much fruit that it sells below the cost of production — amazed at the military, cultural, educational, economic, and aesthetic restlessness of this civilization in a period so often pronounced to be in decline. I have seen such unchecked energy eat up open spaces, devour family farms and traditional rural communities alike, and change overnight the way Americans eat, shop, and think; critics of the new economy and culture may lament that at times, such change is godless — but no once can deny its power.

I came away with the impression that September 11 has supercharged rather than short-circuited this multifaceted engine of America. What were bin Laden, the mobs in Pakistan and the West Bank, the nuts in al Qaeda, and their opportunistic supporters in the Middle East drinking? We shall never know, but their attack on a country such as this was pure lunacy. Thank God we do not have to fight anyone like ourselves.

3 posted on 09/09/2002 5:44:40 AM PDT by Valin
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To: aculeus
Good article! Why, indeed, should we consult with people who have been consistently wrong in all their predictions and pronouncements?
4 posted on 09/09/2002 5:48:22 AM PDT by wimpycat
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To: aculeus
An excellent analysis, thanks for posting it.
5 posted on 09/09/2002 5:49:13 AM PDT by Pietro
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To: Valin; Freee-dame; Travis McGee
I came away with the impression that September 11 has supercharged rather than short-circuited this multifaceted engine of America. What were bin Laden, the mobs in Pakistan and the West Bank, the nuts in al Qaeda, and their opportunistic supporters in the Middle East drinking? We shall never know, but their attack on a country such as this was pure lunacy. Thank God we do not have to fight anyone like ourselves.

Great lines.
6 posted on 09/09/2002 6:09:11 AM PDT by maica
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Comment #7 Removed by Moderator

To: aculeus
Great piece. It should be on the editorial page of every American newspaper.
8 posted on 09/09/2002 6:47:18 AM PDT by MNnice
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To: blowback91
Nuke em. And their little euroweenie lapdogs too.

9 posted on 09/09/2002 6:48:05 AM PDT by MNnice
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To: maica
As I recall, the three major intentions of
the events of 9/11 were:

1) force the US out of the Persian Gulf area

2) fragment the nation leading to internal strife

3) damage the US economy et al

As far as I can tell, Osama yomoma invited the US
to stay in the Persian Gulf in a BIG way. To expand the
empire. It would be rude not to accept this invitation.

Doesn't look like the fragmentation idea worked either.
Looks like it did just the opposite.

The economy was already in the dumper and headed lower.

Three strikes and you are out.

Mad Vlad

10 posted on 09/09/2002 7:11:01 AM PDT by madvlad
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To: maica; knighthawk; dennisw; piasa; Sabertooth
11 posted on 09/09/2002 7:25:09 AM PDT by Travis McGee
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To: maica
I say we should bomb them back to the 4th Century...Hell, that's where their minds are already!
12 posted on 09/09/2002 8:19:42 AM PDT by Redleg Duke
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To: blowback91
Let's go make some MORE enemies

That's just silly BB91. Who's going to hate us that doesn't hate us already? Europe? They already despise us as being 'cowboys' etc. The islamic world? We are the great satan to them. Africa and the third world? Haven't you been paying attention to the last 'lets all get together and bash America and maybe guilt them into more foreign aid' conference? What about Asia? Most of asia either fears and hates us or just hates us (but that doesn't stop them from taking our dollars when we offer). South America doesn't really despise us (in some cases) but they do respect us and know that we won't take any lip from them. that's why you never hear anything from them. And if they should decide to turn on us, so what? They have never been able to compete with us on any field. They can't compete now.

Learn this and remember it. The USA is all but alone, beyond Israel, Britain, Canada and Australia (and I'm not sure of any of those last three) We have no allies. This is the best mindset to take. As a nation we can trust no one and can rely on no one.

What we do have is overwhelming cultural, economic and military force to be applied where it does the USA the most good. Right now the most good is crushing islam, one corrupt terrorist supporting country at a time. It's Iraq's turn. They've been screaming about fighting Americans for years, we'd be wrong to deny them their opportunity.

Since we are the world's only hyperpower, why shouldn't we act like it where our interests are concerned?

God Save America (Please)

13 posted on 09/09/2002 9:38:46 AM PDT by John O
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To: John O

blowback91 signed up 2002-08-06. This account has been banned

14 posted on 09/09/2002 11:02:16 AM PDT by America's Resolve
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To: America's Resolve
Well I tried to educate him in good faith. I didn't check to see if he ceased to exist first.

In any event my rant will be good info for any lurkers who read the thread.

Thanks for the info


15 posted on 09/09/2002 11:38:41 AM PDT by John O
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To: John O
There are, of course, classic ways in which an empire makes itself hated. Taxation, brutality, forced religious conversions, pillage, etc.

The only semi-legitimate complaint I've heard made against the U.S. is that we have supported dictatorships when it was in our economic interest.

If that complain has merit, you'd expect to find dozens or hundreds of democratic governments in exile -- if not on U.S. soil, then in Sweden or Canada. You'd expect to find large and vocal groups of immigrants criticising the policies of their homeland. But all I see, except for the Cubans, is bunches of whiny groups taking the side of the dictatorships, against the U.S. and its policies.

16 posted on 09/09/2002 12:10:28 PM PDT by js1138
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