Friday, February 17, 2006

The pragmatic NY Times

Right from the start--its very title--this NY Times article is a good example of what's wrong with the paper.

Are there any incorrect facts in the piece? I doubt it. My guess is that, strictly speaking, it contains not a single lie. But the wording, the shading, and the placement of information are all quite stunning in their subtle bias.

To start with the title, "Pragmatic Hamas figure is likely to be next premier"--that's a little bit like calling Goehring pragmatic as compared to Hitler. It's true, but somewhat irrelevant. In this case, the Times offers not single example of Ismail Haniya's "pragmatic" views. In fact, it doesn't even identify who finds him so very pragmatic:

Hamas plans to nominate Ismail Haniya, viewed as one of its less radical leaders, for prime minister.

Does the Times see fit to report anything about the policies he advocates, his past, or his attitude towards certain little details such as the right of the state of Israel to exist, of the suicide bombers, and of the Second Intifada? Just this, which occurs towards the end of the lengthy article rather than the beginning (is the Times counting on the fact that its readership might not get that far?):

Mr. Haniya, 42, has good relations with other Palestinian factions. He was at the top of the Hamas election list and has been viewed as the most important Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, the group's stronghold, since the parliamentary election. While considered to be part of the more pragmatic side of Hamas, he endorses its fundamental positions.

So, he endorses all the fundamental (is that a pun?) Hamas postions. Boy, I'd dearly love to know what "pragmatic" could mean in that context. More willing to pretend to be reasonable, in order to get concessions, like the very pragmatic Mr. Arafat? I really don't know what the Times means, and I read the article a few times in a vain effort to find out, since they saw fit to highlight the word in the headline.

There's food for thought in almost every paragraph of the article, I'm afraid. But I'll just highlight a few. The opening paragraph is a good example:

The militant group Hamas on Thursday appeared poised to name its candidate for Palestinian prime minister, while Israel's Defense Ministry drew up sanctions likely to be imposed after the new Palestinian parliament dominated by Hamas is sworn in on Saturday.

So (from the headline) we've got the "pragmatic" (read: "reasonable?") Prime Minister elect of the "militant" (surely if any group richly deserved the appellation "terrorist" instead, it would be Hamas) Hamas, and then the Israelis preparing those nasty sanctions, without even giving the pragmatic militant a chance! How vengeful of them!

The next few parapraphs focus on what form the sanctions will take, without giving further background about Hamas except that the Israelis consider it a terrorist group and say that they will not transfer money to terrorists. An example of what the Israelis are planning:

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz held talks about possible restrictions to be imposed to reduce Israel's already limited contact with the Palestinians. The measures would include preventing Palestinian workers from entering Israel and making it even more difficult for Palestinians and their goods to move between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Then there's a delicately nuanced paragraph about Europe:

The European Union, the largest single donor to the Palestinians, prefers a wait-and-see approach before any punitive measures are imposed. That position was reaffirmed Thursday by Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, who met with Ms. Livni. After the Palestinians began an uprising against Israel in late 2000 their economy crashed, and they depend heavily on roughly $1 billion in annual aid.

Aren't those Europeans kind and forgiving compared to the punitive Israelis? But it's the last sentence in the paragraph that is especially masterful in what it says--and what it doesn't say. Yes, after refusing the offers made at Camp David and launching the murderous and repellent Intifada (oh, I forgot, let's just use the Palestinians' own definition of the Intifada: "uprising"--they're just freedom fighters), the Palestinian economy fell on hard times. But let's not explicitly blame that on the Infitada and what it did to relations with Israel.

And then there's this (still with me?), the next to last paragraph of the piece. Note that the Times finally calls Hamas a terrorist organization, perhaps long after most people have stopped reading:

Israel, the United States and the European Union regard Hamas as a terrorist organization. Israel, which has been hit by dozens of Hamas suicide bombings, is seeking to isolate the group internationally.

Oops, my error. I guess the Times doesn't call Hamas a terrorist organization after all. It reports that Israel, the US, and the European Union regard Hamas as a terrorist organization. At least the Times does acknowledge that Hamas is responsible for suicide bombings--almost at the end of the lengthy article.

This may all seem needlessly picky, a fuss about semantics. But as a former believer in the NY Times as the paper of record, I can attest to the power of such subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) shadings to shape opinion. There is no doubt that, whatever faults they may have, the writers and editors of the Times know the meaning of words. I cannot believe that they are not purposeful in their choice of exactly which words to use, and how and when to use them--and which ones to leave out.

36 Comments:

At 3:47 PM, February 17, 2006, Anonymous dicentra said...

I'm not sure they pick and choose their words with such care. Chances are, they say what they say because they believe it's the God's Honest Truth.

Like most Eastern Liberals, they're wholly blind to their own prejudices, having never questioned their basic assumptions about reality. They would be hard pressed to expunge the bias from their articles because they honestly can't see it.

On the other hand, maybe they really are cynical enough to deliberately manipulate their language to suit a particular agenda.

But I've met enough Eastern Liberals to know that they are, by and large, well-meaning while being blind as bats.

 
At 4:26 PM, February 17, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet but not make them die of hunger," (Israeli) prime ministerial adviser Dov Weisglass was quoted...

Pragmatists deserve each other.

 
At 4:38 PM, February 17, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was growing up, one thing you could take to the bank: All Jews supported Israel. This seemed perfectly natural; whoever heard of the Sons of Italy dissing Italy, or the Boston Irish sticking up for England against the IRA? Same way the Jews cheered for Israel.

So what are we to make of a Spielberg saying the Israeli intelligence agents are no better than their terrorist prey? Or the NYT, the pride and joy of liberal Jewish opinion, subtlely and not so subtley presenting Israel as Nazi Germany's prize pupil? This is one weirrrd paradigm shift.

I don't like it, and I'm not even a Jew.

 
At 5:15 PM, February 17, 2006, Blogger Tom Grey said...

Great job Neo! You read the NYT, and explain carefully why I don't have to -- but why they're wrong.

I think they've become "true believers" and, like dicentra says, "believe it's the God's Honest Truth" (while dissing Christianity whenever they can -- since the Pope is against abortion. On demand, for 6 month terms, for underage teens, w/o parental notification. Perhaps like you?)

The paradigm shift of anon is one towards dhimmitude/ appeasement, rather than continued fighting -- because winning might require so much killing as to also feel immoral. And not winning means more fighting. So surrender becomes the moral choice.


The EU should focus "aid" on loans to businesses -- only. And those which don't make paymets, have future loans blocked. Those that make payments, can get more loans. Supporting business success, rather than rewarding failure, is how to get more success.

 
At 7:11 PM, February 17, 2006, Blogger camojack said...

Pragmatic...or parasitic?

I'm thinking the latter...

 
At 7:15 PM, February 17, 2006, Blogger AmericanWoman said...

Only one word can describe the NYT, arrogant. Having dealt with them on the business side, I saw that was their culture. The 'Paper of Record' went right to their head.

Great job of exposing them.

 
At 7:30 PM, February 17, 2006, Blogger gcotharn said...

NYT writers and editors are professional wordsmiths. Of course they are deliberate in how they use words and shape stories. If they are not, they should be fired.

The late mention of "terrorist organization" is classic NYT methodology: make a balancing reference very deep in an article, giving justifiable claim to have "shown both sides" of an issue. I've seen this so many times from them. Grrrrr.

I'm reminded of the dozen+ times I've seen or read an MSM react to a question about media bias in this fashion:
Well, maybe most journalists are liberal, but we don't let that affect or reporting!

Perish the thought...

 
At 8:38 PM, February 17, 2006, Anonymous Bob said...

New York Times. Schwing. Here we go again.

 
At 8:55 PM, February 17, 2006, Anonymous notherbob2 said...

Speaking of media liberal bias: The FBI translator who supplied the 12 hours of Saddam Hussein audiotapes excerpted by ABC's "Nightline" Wednesday night now says the network discarded his translations and went with a less threatening version of the Iraqi dictator's comments...
In the "Nightline" version of the 1996 recording, Saddam predicts that Washington, D.C., would be hit by terrorists. But he adds that Iraq would have nothing to do with the attack.
...Tierney says, however, that what Saddam actually said was much more sinister. "He was discussing his intent to use chemical weapons against the United States and use proxies so it could not be traced back to Iraq...".

 
At 9:55 PM, February 17, 2006, Blogger Harry Mallory said...

dicentra is right. The language from the NYT is almost automatic. This is how they see things.

Has Michael Crichton's novel "State of Fear" been discussed here? Im almost done with it.

Crichton has a character that refers to this as the "politico-legal-media complex" or PLM, a replacement for the Military industrial complex prior to the end of the Cold War. His idea is that the PLM has arisen from the end of the Cold War to give society something else to fear, wether it be global warming or political conspiracy theories.

He doesnt say that PLM exists purposely to promote fear, its just that society tends to grasp on to fear and the PLM consciously, or unconsciously feeds itself upon this.

Of course, not everybody submits themselves to the fear collective. Neocons and Neo-neocons seem to have a better immune system, IMHO, but then again, I slither across a right-wing landscape, so what the hell do I know?

Has anybody else read this book and what do you think of it?

 
At 11:28 PM, February 17, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"When I was growing up, one thing you could take to the bank: All Jews supported Israel."

You could take it to the bank, I guess, but you'd need that and $1.50 to buy a cup of coffee.

Hell, I know maybe three Jews, and if any two of them ever supported the same thing, it would be a sign of the apocalypse.

I wouldn't have it any other way, myself. Only arguments can bring the truth to light, and the constant bickering is almost certainly the reason why Jews tend to be such amazing goddamn geniuses.

 
At 11:51 PM, February 17, 2006, Blogger Papa Ray said...

Looking at your excellent write up and also looking back over the last few years, its become clear to me that someone has been adding something to the water coolers at almost all of our Nation's newspapers (they can't have all had that liberal of educations, could they?)

Like Rummy said, the U.S. is lagging behind in the propaganda business, but I think he was talking about GOOD propaganda, not what most of our newspapers and our other media spout daily.

Also, any good stuff our Military passes on to our Media is promptly deemed not newsworthy or put so deep down in the middle of the news, it gets lost.

Papa Ray
West Texas
USA

 
At 12:10 AM, February 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The biggest problem conseratives have is that they cannot comprehend the actions and attitudes of people that are helpless. It's a blind spot in their world view, almost identical to the blind spot liberals have for people that are irrational. And, like liberals, they deal with situations where they are forced to confront the existance of such people with denial. Just as liberals believe terrorists are not evil, merely misunderstood, so too do conservatives believe the destitute are not truly helpless, just too stupid or stubborn to take control of their own lives.

And just as liberals are always completely shocked when the irrational people they believe they reached a peaceful agreement with suddenly renege on all the promises they made and kill any who try to re-open negotiations, so too are conservatives always caught flatfooted when the people they thought they were training to take care of themselves suddenly stop listening and start tearing down everything the conservatives were trying to help them build.

 
At 12:42 AM, February 18, 2006, Blogger antimedia said...

"Anonymous" writes, "And just as liberals are always completely shocked when the irrational people they believe they reached a peaceful agreement with suddenly renege on all the promises they made and kill any who try to re-open negotiations, so too are conservatives always caught flatfooted when the people they thought they were training to take care of themselves suddenly stop listening and start tearing down everything the conservatives were trying to help them build."

The former will kill you. The latter were merely make life less successful for those who refuse to help themselves.

I know which one I have chosen. What about you?

 
At 2:53 AM, February 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Me? I've chosen neither. Life's too awesome to go through it wearing blinders.

 
At 8:47 AM, February 18, 2006, Blogger Bezuhov said...

"(they can't have all had that liberal of educations, could they?)"

That's the label used by critics to describe it, and doing so just perpetuates the problem, as the education so labeled is anything but liberal. It does serve well to impede social mobility, so naturally appeals to those already at the top.

As to the Times: note the advertisements she runs, they tell all that needs known of the very old Grey Lady...

 
At 10:10 AM, February 18, 2006, Blogger Harry Mallory said...

Couldnt agree more guys.

And speaking of Michael Crichton's book, the plot is pretty contrived. He's got this battling Professor Kenner and convert disciples traveling the globe, ferreting out scientific heretics.
A modern day Van Helsing.

When you get past the silly plot, its fun to listen to Dr. Kenner dispense "truth to moonbat" backed with charts and references. Thats the best part of the whole book so far.

 
At 11:08 AM, February 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On June 18, 1947 the bodies of three British NCOs were found hanging from eucalyptus trees in Palestine. The work of the Irgun, which called the UK forces a "criminal Nazi British army of occupation."

Freedom fighters or terrorists?

 
At 11:29 AM, February 18, 2006, Blogger Harry Mallory said...

Terrorists. What were you expecting anyone to tell you?

Eeewww! They just ate Ted Bradley!

 
At 11:45 AM, February 18, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

Anon at 11:08 AM:

I'd refer you to my post on the Irgun, except I suspect you are quite familiar with it, and in fact have chosen this thread to pick up the same old arguments once again.

If not, here it is. In it, I state my position on the topic at some length.

I'm not familiar with the act you're talking about, nor whether it was the work of the Irgun, and since you provide no links I can't check it easily. But I have no doubt (as I wrote in my earlier post) that the Irgun killed British soldiers under similar circumstances. So let's say you are absolutely correct about the killings you mention.

Surely you know that, whatever your attitude or mine about terrorism, there are certain differences between Hamas's brand and the brand you mention. The first involves the deliberate killing of civilians, as many women and children as possible. The second involves the killing of soldiers. The first is backed up by the society, the second is not. The first occurs in a context in which Jews have not been offered their own country (even a single tiny one), the second occurs in a context in which Arabs have many countries, and the Palesinians have been offered their own both in 1947 and most recently in 2000, which was refused by said Palestinians. And, most importantly of all, that refusal was accompanied by a stated overt desire on the part of Hamas to eliminate Israel.

I am unaware of any intent by Irgun to eliminate Britain. Nor, in fact, was there any.

But of course, you know all this.

 
At 12:15 PM, February 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, where is it written that Jews must/should be offered "their own country?" (Balfour made a lot of promises, not only to Jews.) That they wanted one I can understand. But who had the right to give them a piece of land inhabited, largely, by others? The UN decided it had that right, and it's been bloodshed ever since.
Why should a religious group, even one persecuted for so long and so horrenduously as the Jews, have the right to a country of its own?
Countries are established by might, by conquest. That's all that nmatters, in the end. Winner takes all, or at least most.
Terror helped the Jews to drive the British and Palestinians out of Palestine. Now, the Palestinians are using terror to drive out the Israelis.
Probably won't work, and that's good. But let's call a terrorist a terrorist.
The Jews in 1947 killed British soldiers (and not civilans) because that's who was there. And civilians were in that hotel in Jerusalem they blew up, no?

 
At 12:27 PM, February 18, 2006, Blogger Promethea said...

To Anonymous . . .

Give it up already. Israel has existed since 1948 and is not about to go away. Find some other cause.

This constant silly bickering re the "right" of Israel to exist is boring. If you're so concerned about "rights," please give your home back to the Pottowatomies or Comanches or Celts.

 
At 12:38 PM, February 18, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

Anon: Please read my previous post, the one I linked.

To educate you on the history of Israel would take far more time than I'm willing to give it at this moment. The history is out there--read it if you have not already done so.

If you do, and if you do so with an open mind, you will see that the entire area was in the Brits' possession post-WWI because the Ottomon empire lost it. The territory was carved up by the Western victors into a host of countries. The Arabs were given a vast amount of the territory, and the Jews (who had maintained a presence there for millenia) were given a tiny part.

It was a partition arrangement, like many others. The Arabs had many countries, and Palestine could have been among them.

My guess, however, is that you're familiar with all of this, including what really happened at the King David Hotel, and why some civilians died. Read the link, if not.

 
At 1:09 PM, February 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

neo

No quarrel on the history, Just trying to see how indidividual Paelestinians might feel: screwed when the Brits carved up lands, screwed when the Zionists were given land, screwed by their Arab "friends" who used and abused them as a weapon vs the Jews. And after so many years of rage and frustration, choking in their own murrderous hatreds they can't or won't do anything constructive.
Empire building will lead to that.

 
At 1:58 PM, February 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Just trying to see how indidividual Paelestinians might feel:"

No you're not. If you were, you'd factor in the fact that the Zionists also brought the Palestinians running water, modern hospitals, and gainful employment. Factors that the Palestinians cite in their opposition to the security fence that threatens to cut them off from not only the Zionists, but the benefits of civilization the Zionists gave them.

No, you don't give a rat's ass about understanding the Palestinians. You only want to obfuscate our discussions, for the sole purpose of preventing the understanding that we are dangerously close to, and threatens to forever shatter the iron grip the self-proclaimed "representatives of the Palestinian people" have over the entire Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

You have already lost. Better start on your contingency plan, if you have one.

 
At 2:50 PM, February 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon, 1:58

Oh yes, thank you, massa, for those "benefits of civilization."

Cheek in tongue could help you,white man, but probably too late. You already got all the answers.
Why do they hate us?
Look in the mirror.

 
At 3:00 PM, February 18, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

"Like Rummy said, the U.S. is lagging behind in the propaganda business, but I think he was talking about GOOD propaganda, not what most of our newspapers and our other media spout daily."

What Rumsfield doesn't say, and he should have, is that Good propaganda requires that Bad propaganda be destroyed. Since the battlespace is people's minds, one must control the terrain, the territory, the peace of real estate that so much had been sacrificed. Just as grunts are required to kil lthe enemy and take their stuff and deny them the use of key strategic positions, good propaganda must fight bad propaganda, to control the territory of men's minds.

No matter how many times Rumsfield talks about the Good Fight, there's no victory if he doesn't attack the enemy. Make parts of the enemy inviolable to your offense weapons, and it'd be another VIetnam. You can bomb the Ho Chi Men trail all you want, but it is never going to be as effective as controlling the land.

"Also, any good stuff our Military passes on to our Media is promptly deemed not newsworthy or put so deep down in the middle of the news, it gets lost."

Maybe the military should take a clue, and stop doing that then. Or maybe Bush needs to find people in the military and give them the Info war jobs that they can actually do, and aren't afraid to be called bad names for doing it.

"merely misunderstood, so too do conservatives believe the destitute are not truly helpless, "

When a person goes to boot camp, they aren't told that they are truly helpless. They are told that they are destitute, that they are shit, true, but that's not the same as being helpless.

The fake liberal's problem is that they create resentment by making people feel helpless, and therefore the aggressive men tend to go crazy and start killing people cause anything is better than that feeling of hopelessness and helplessness.

Conservatives believe that beneath the rust and the jewels and the decadence, there is an iron will and a solid spirit beneath all that crap. We therefore, are not afraid to pound the metal until the shine comes through. To weak minded folks, this looks like the belief that people aren't helpless, and presumably this is a bad thing.

Liberals are afraid to pound so hard, perhaps because they truly believe people are helpless in the end, and powerless. I really don't understand how a person living in a democracy believes in their heart, that men and women are helpless. The entire point of democracy is that power is with the people, and is only loaned to the government. A system built upon the philosophy that people are truly helpless and truly in need of help, is called tyranny.

"But who had the right to give them a piece of land inhabited, largely, by others?"

Whoever had nukes and had used them before, had the right. You want to take that right away? With what army?

"Now, the Palestinians are using terror to drive out the Israelis."

Like I said before, how is HAMAS keeping Israel from using her nukes on them?

Until you people answer that question, the fake liberal's "might makes right" position is pretty evil.

"Just trying to see how indidividual Paelestinians might feel"

Yes, how do individual Palestinians feel about how Israel is not using nukes on them.

The only people with blinders on are the people who think they have found the ultimate answer, and that their logic is inviolate.

 
At 3:22 PM, February 18, 2006, Blogger Harry Mallory said...

I appologise if I had seemed to have spoken for everybody on this board when I said:

"Terrorists. What were you expecting anyone to tell you?"

In response to Anon 11:08's question of whether the Irgun may be considered terrorists or not. It certainly doesnt seem to everyone that they are.

For myself, admittedly not knowing the full account of the history of the region, the Irgun seem no different than the same people planting IED'd in Iraq. And I certainly dont consider them "freedom fighters".

 
At 4:13 PM, February 18, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Irgun are guerrilas, in much the same way that the Viet Cong, the Victor Charlies, were guerrilas.

There is no moral attachment, like with "terroists" or "freedom fighters".

Guerrila warfare describes the tactics and the goals of an irregular force fighting a regular force.

What separates terroists from guerrilas, is their belief that they can kill your women and your children, but that you won't respond in kind. Or they just don't care, or believe they can defend their women and you can't, or they don't care about their civilians and want you to kill them for propaganda points. If a person has those motivations, then they are a terroist.

There seems to be little to no separation between freedom fighters and guerrilas, while there is a diff between ffs and terroists.

The IRA changes can be said to be freedom fighter and terroist on a daily basis, before they settled on a political solution.

 
At 4:25 PM, February 18, 2006, Blogger Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) said...

Well, to me there's 3 classifications of militaryish violence. Traditional military attacks are carried out by clearly identified combatants against enemy combatants. Traditional wars (such as the initial invasion of Iraq) fit this classification.

Guerilla attacks involve unmarked combatants (and often hiding in civilian populations) against enemy combatants. If memory serves, this kind of fighting is illegal, as it usually implicitly involves the use of human shields; not that anybody cares. Most of the attacks in Iraq now fit this classification.

Terrorist attacks are attacks against 'enemy' civilians, by combatants that are either marked or unmarked. Palestinian suicide bombers fit this classification. Some (namely pro-Palestinians) would argue that Israel's attacks also fit this classification.

Some dispute whether there is a sufficient difference to justify distinction between the last two groups, and that 'terrorism' should be used to classify any tactic used to incite fear and distrust (which would include guerilla tactics).

 
At 1:28 PM, February 19, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

It's not illegal, it just doesn't entitle you to the military legal protections that regular combatants are due.

Like all things in human nature, this is consistent.

If you reward chaotic behavior, then you will get chaotic behavior, casualties, and total annihilation style warfare.

But if both sides limit the war to specific weapons, targets, and methods then the casualties are limited and war is made less total.

If you reward a irregular force with regular force legal protections, like Bush is doing with AL-Qaeda, then what you do is actually encourage the irregular forces to stay irregular and keep on using their tactics.

Like any child that has been punished and rewarded, he will do what gets him rewards and not do what gets him punished. It is that simple.

A lot of the illegal portion in war was done during Nuremburg when American lawyers created many precedents that never really existed before. Suh things as the "illegal order" for example.

Or crimes against humanity.

There is a justification for terrorism.

It is part of psychological warfare, and it is pretty convoluted.

If for example you have the United States and the Arabs, but our positions are reversed. The Arabs outnumber us militarily, but they don't really follow the rules of war. The US has higher quality but lesser quantity, and we do follow the rules of war.

If the US is occupied, and attacks against the numerous Arab forces DO NOT dislodge them from our lands using regular guerrila warfare, then are we justified in attacking their civilian population, the leaders that actually ordered the occupation, and the ones that are benefiting?

It is in fact the same philosophical justification that HAMAS uses for Israel, but the difference is of course Israel follows the laws of war and therefore the costs of terrorism outweighs the benefits, since Israel isn't slaughtering children, gays, and women as the Arabs would do if they were occupying the US.

If we in fact had to attack the civilian city centers of the Arabs, because we had nothing left to defend ourselves with, that would also be targeting civilians.

This fades into the morality of targeting the military industrial structure during WWII, because if you only bomb the factories than the men working at it can easily repair it and get it producing war machines again.

If the goal is to end the war as fast as possible, and this is a good thing btw, then any tactic that ends the war sooner would be a good thing.

But to adapt this to reality, requires you to take into account the actual military and political situation.

If the only option left is to attack the civilian population centers in order to make the price of occupation so high, that the politicians are forced to end the occupation/war.

Morality, in this case, isn't dictated by terrorism, guerrila warfare, or irregular vs regular, but by the military necessities of the scenario.

If that is the only choice available, and it has to be the only one given the ethics of the matter, then I tend to think it would be a justified one.

Now I know some people who believe that morality and ethics are absolute and applies to every situation the same way, may disagree, but that's not really relevant.

It also doesn't justify the Arab's terrorism either, if you think really hard about it.

If a better plan would be to target the politicians instead of the civilians, because the Arab politicians don't care about the civilians, then not taking that option would be wrong.

But if you consider what happened on 9/11, I don't think if the Arabs had our power, that we could dislodge them with political assassinations. We would most definitely have to destroy their entire economic system and infrastructure, and to do what we would most definitely kill a lot of civilians.

Given a choice between that, and the choice of doing nothing as the Arabs slaughter and enslave everyone in our nation, it would indeed be a very difficult choice to make. But I don't think it would be a choice that some of us would debate much about in we lived in that scenario.

The firebombing of Japan is not any more terrible, and it didn't even succede.

Given the possible permutations, I can only see classifying "terrorism' as targeting civilians if we don't attach a moral definition of "evil" to terrorism. But we do. So we really can't define terrorism as targeting civilians, because it starts to erase the differences between us and the enemy.

It seems only valid to define terrormism of targeting civilians if you also add in the carrot, that the terroists don't really care what happens to their own civilians. That this isn't done to protect anyone, but is in fact pure vengeance.

Even if the terroists try to justify this with protection, it is not reasonable to believe that suicide bombing is any real deterent against nuclear weapons. So false justifications would not work. You are not protecting your family from being nuked by suicide bombing the enemy's civilians. In fact, it INCREASES the danger to your family if you do that.

 
At 2:04 PM, February 19, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

The reason why I don't think it is illegal is because to me, that means prosecution and execution. But I wouldn't think that prosecuting someone as a guerrila would be right.

That smacks too much of the British executions and donkey courts while they occupied us.

If a person is court martialed, that assumes he is protected by law. But the whole point of guerrila warfare is that it is outside the law, the jurisdiction of the law.

I would probably only say an act of war was illegal if you planned to prosecute the offenders under the system of law as you follow it.

 
At 4:31 PM, February 19, 2006, Blogger Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) said...

But if you consider what happened on 9/11, I don't think if the Arabs had our power, that we could dislodge them with political assassinations. We would most definitely have to destroy their entire economic system and infrastructure, and to do what we would most definitely kill a lot of civilians.

Given a choice between that, and the choice of doing nothing as the Arabs slaughter and enslave everyone in our nation, it would indeed be a very difficult choice to make. But I don't think it would be a choice that some of us would debate much about in we lived in that scenario.


Kind of oxymoronic, isn't it? Terrorism (or even guerilla warfare, to some extent) can only work against a fundamentally moral enemy. If your enemy has no qualms about mowing down civilians in the streets, then that makes it impossible for the terrorists/guerillas to hide, nullifying most of the advantages of such forms of combat (guerilla warfare can still be used in other ways, but its effectiveness is significantly reduced if they can't hide in a population of civilians).

Similarly, if your enemy sets up something like killing 10 of your civilians for every one soldier/civilian of theirs you kill (a fundamentally immoral proposition), terrorist/guerilla tactics will do more harm to you than to your enemy.

 
At 3:10 PM, February 20, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

As for your last point, I think fundamentally guerrila warfare is only a delaying action. If you cannot destroy the enemy's will to fight or his main field army, like we did in the Revolutionary War, then guerrila warfare may continue on for 50 years and nothing would change, except a lot of exterminated villages.

Thus guerrila warfare, with its goal being the mind of people, can win if it breaks the enemy's will to fight. As it did in Vietnam, allowing the NVC to take South Vietnam through regular warfare.

But, yes, I would agree that terrorism as we see it today, would not have its rewards if Israel or the United States did not truly care about our citizens.

Because a nation that does not care about their citizens, also wouldn't care about the enemy's.

Terroists would stop taking hostages, if we executed everyone that the terroists wanted freed in return for the hostage. It would stop them like a heart attack.

THe only question is are you willing to pay the price and are you powerful enough and strong enough in will to do so. Israel is not willing to pay that price, and neither is the US. Israel has the excuse that she is not powerful enough to flaunt the international community without reprecussions, but the United States is the international community.

The terroists rely upon the weakness of their prey, in order to survive. People are beginning to see that. Although people are not beginning to see how to counter-act this strategy on our enemy's part.

If your enemy has no qualms about mowing down civilians in the streets, then that makes it impossible for the terrorists/guerillas to hide,

Indeed, Syria leveled a city, Hama, without going inside it. The Nazis surrounded Warsaw, flooded the sewers with poison gas, and burned the Jews out.

No guerrila insurgency in the history of the world has succeded, without outside aid.

Because regardless of how many people you convince to support you, it doesn't matter if the enemy has 50 more divisions compared to your regiment, better weapons, and the willingness to use them.

Force of will and might, still trump the moral persuasion in matters of survival.

There are lots of things moral persuasion excels in, keeping you and your family alive isn't one of them.

There are many instances of guerrila insurgencies against Europe, where Europe did do the 10 for 1 ratio. This has the interesting consequence of creating backlash among your population. Which raises interesting questions. If you really cared about the people you are purpotedly protecting, why are you bringing more death upon them?

And that is the exact question Americans had to ask before people could be convinced to join the Revolution. Because the British certainly will hunt you and your family down for being rebels, and kill you.

This produces problems for the occupation forces, which might help a regular army defeat that occupation. Or convince the rulers back home that this land isn't worth it.

Because that tactic still works even if the rulers don't care for their people. Cause rulers still care about themselves and their money, and stuff like that. Guerrilas, their goal being people's minds, will always have a plentitude of targets to choose from. If their power is adequate for the task, that is.

The dangerous thing about propaganda is that it can convince people that reality functions the way the propagandists describe it. This can bend the rules of war, it can bend historical precedence, morality, and righteousness. Propaganda can make the just side lose and the unjust side win.

That is the danger, because if you take reality as it is and military prowess as it exists in the 21st century, the Good Guys are in Power. For the most part.

Therefore all things being equal, the good side should win. But all things are not equal.

The reason why, if all things being equal, the Good Side wins is because of how the military fights wars in the 21st century.

The side that focuses on character virtues, discipline, education, courage, and protection of their civilians will win. Just based upon 21st century technology and infantry training.

This is why Israel won against the Arabs, because israel focused on individual worth while the Arabs were still acting like the banzai Japanese, without the virtue and the will.

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, so to speak.

The Ashes of Victory by David Weber.

The Good Side always deserves to win, and the thing about terrorism is that it makes victory something you don't deserve. Yet you can still get it, if you have a strong enough will, and you can frighten enough people so you can conquer them without a real military.

It is happening now in Europe. I always thought the Arabs would have full control of Europe and their nuclear stocks, but that we had to clean out the Middle East in 2004 before focusing in on Europe. It looks like the terroists saw what I saw, and jump started the Grand Exodus.

Now it is a race. Time is once again, not on the United State's side.

The way I see it, the key to the Good Guys, that would be us, winning is in somehow borrowing the reputation of the Bad Guys without becoming the Bad Guys. The Marine Corps needs killers in its ranks or it won't accomplish its mission, and America needs the Marine Corps or else we can't protect our people in this world.

So it is indeed possible to train a killer, yet keep him from becoming a murderer.

Yet what works on an individual scale, seems to have trouble graduating to a national scale and a national reputation.

The United States of America relies too much on the reputation of our warriors and soldiers in this world, to cow the enemy. It no longer works, if it ever did pre 9/11.

This is a world war, and like any world war, it requires support and people doing their duty, not just in the military but in the civilian world as well.

The funny thing is, I once predicted that we were going to have to go to war with Europe to clean out the Arabs there, after we finished WWIV, the War on Terror. But it may be, that WWV is not going to be a separate one at all. Not separated like WWII and WWIII the Cold War was.

It seems like America is forever chained to the fate of cleaning up other people's messes.

We're like the one competent guy in the military. After we finish one tough job, we get handed another one as a reward. WWII, then Nuclear Annihilation III to clean up the European marxists and socialists, then terroists in IV. Not including Vietnam, Kosovo, and all the other places and hotspots in the world.

It's like martial arts and popular anime in Japan. The characters always are facing a tough opponent that keeps beating the main character up. But then out of nowhere, or from love of family and duty, the main character goes "Super Saiyyan" and starts kicking the villain around.

America is sooo like that.

And every season, a new better and more powerful villain shows up. And we have to surpass our limits again. This is exactly like the history of the 20th century.

Heck, it is exactly like the history of the entire US timeline.

There's always some "higher level" of expertise you can achieve in this world, as both an individual and a nation.

 
At 4:32 PM, February 20, 2006, Blogger still realizing said...

The biggest problem with the Times article is that it's a pastiche. It was more edited than written. It isn't a story it's a combination of about 8 mini-stories wrapped into one newspaper article. The article jumps all over the place, doing justice to none of the topics it addresses. The objectionable characterizations are really just "glue" sentences added in to help any truly unaware readers and make the story flow. As such, the writer picked up sentences from his unconscious memory of other stories on the same topic.

The flaws and biases that Neo outlines are all there, mostly by omission and editing rather than by explicit propagandizing.

Although not a short post by Neo, her primary technique of exposition is "Quote without comment". This method fails to enlighten the victims, "blind as a bat". To illuminate so that all can see, a more thorough fisking would be required. Neo's post got a lot of laudatory comments from people who already agree with her, but roofed the important left-wing target audience.

Also, Myre's omitting the phrase "Evil destructive terrorists" doesn't mean he doesn't know it. He might.

 
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