25 January 2010

Ideas result from deeds, not the latter from the former

As time permits, in this blog I will be highlighting fun readings from international relations, comparative politics, terrorism, and various news sources you probably don't normally pay attention to.

My main sources of news are al Jazeera and the Christian Science Monitor with a little bit of BBC and Politico thrown in when I have lots of time.

Please, feel free to comment, criticize, corroborate, contradict, contravene, counteract, challenge, check, correct, or countervail anything you see here. But do realize that nothing posted on here reflects my personal, institutional, or organizational beliefs; I am merely attempting to stir the pot of provocation.

First, the fun quotes (my emphases):
The Good:
Ideas result from deeds, not the latter from the former, and the people will not be free when they are educated, but educated when they are free.
-Carlo Pisacane

In our country, we desire morality instead of selfishness, honesty and not mere 'honor,' principle and not mere custom, duty and not mere propriety, the sway of reason rather than the tyranny of fashion, a scorn for vice and not a contempt for the unfortunate.
-Maximilien Robespierre, 1794

The difference between the revolutionary and the terrorist lies in the reason for which each fights. For whoever stands by a just cause and fights for the freedom and liberation of his land from the invaders, the settlers and the colonialists, cannot possibly be called terrorist.
-Yasir Arafat, Palestine Liberation Organization chairman, 1974

To know well the nature of peoples one needs to be prince, and to know well the nature of princes one needs to be of the people.
-Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

For the average US citizen, the likelihood of being a victim of a terrorist attack is about the same as that of being struck by lightning.
-John Mueller, Terrorism and Political Violence

The Bad:
In attempting to correct the abuse of language for political purposes, our journalists may succeed in making language altogether worthless.
-David Rapoport, 1970’s

The words ‘aggressor’ and ‘terrorist’ no longer mean what they did. Instead of arousing fear or censure, they are a call to action. To be called an aggressor or a terrorist in Brazil is now an honour to any citizen, for it means that he is fighting, with a gun in his hand, against the monstrosity of the present dictatorship and the suffering it causes.
-Carlos Marighela, Handbook of Urban Guerilla War

'Democratic regimes, if the government is overresponsive to all demands, may become victims of their responsiveness in a number of ways. By trying to satisfy all demands, they may satisfy none.

The Ugly:
We don’t see ourselves as terrorists because we don’t believe in terrorism. We don’t see resisting the occupier as a terrorist action. We see ourselves as holy warriors who fight a Holy War for the people.
-Sheikh Muhammad Hussein Fadlallalh, spiritual leader of Lebanese terrorist group

My measures will not be crippled by any judicial thinking. My measures will not be crippled by any bureaucracy. Here I don't have to worry about Justice; my mission is only to destroy and exterminate, nothing more. This struggle will be a struggle against chaos, and such a struggle I shall not conduct with power of... the police. A bourgeois State might have done that. Certainly, I shall use the power of the State and the police to the utmost, my dear Communists, so don't draw any false conclusions; but the struggle to the death, in which my fist will grasp your necks, I shall lead with those there - the Brown Shirts.
-Hermann Goring, Prussian Minister of the Interior, 1933

Tracking down Americans and the Jews is not impossible. Killing them with a single bullet, a stab, or a device made up of a popular mix of explosives or hitting them with an iron rod is not impossible. Burning down their property with Molotov cocktails is not difficult. With the available means, small groups could prove to be a frightening horror for the Americans and the Jews.
-Ayman al-Zawahiri, Knights Under the Prophet’s Banner: Meditations on the Jihadist Movement

The more committed terrorists and revolutionaries devoted to anti-dictatorship terrorism and sabotage there are, the more military power will be worn down, the more time it will lose following false trails, and the more fear and tension it will suffer through not knowing where the next attack will be launched and what the next target will be.
-Carlos Marighela

We are continuing to make America bleed to the point of bankruptcy.”
-Osama bin Laden, Nov 2004 broadcast

The more costs the United States inflicts on itself in the name of counterterrorism policies of dubious utility, the more likely a war of attrition strategy is to succeed.
John Mueller, Terrorism and Political Violence

The News:
Is al-Qaeda winning?
What does it say about Washington's ''war on terror'' that dozen and a half people with paper cutters forced hundreds of thousands of Western troops into the battlefields of the "greater Middle East" region;

That 100,000 foreign soldiers are bogged down in occupied Afghanistan wondering how many dozens of al-Qaeda operatives have remained, if any;

That the most liberal democracy enacted new controversial illiberal laws and unpatriotic practices under its "Patriot Act";

That one shoe-bomber has forced millions of people to take off their shoes every time they take a flight;

That one underpants-bomber will expose every other traveler in most humiliating of ways;

That after US loss of deterrence and prestige as well as trillions of dollars of military and other expenditures, al-Qaeda's top leadership remains at large; its bases/cells proliferate globally; that volunteers continue to flock into its ranks and young supporters to its websites… !!! And above all that it continues to terrorize America and Americans.
Its strategy was simple: Draw the US into direct confrontation against and within the Muslim world. Like sheep to the slaughter house, America walked right into its trap.
It all went as smooth as a scripted movie. After the 9/11 attacks at the pillars of its world status, the Pentagon and Wall Street, the wounded superpower went on a rampage. Like a bull in a china shop, it responded with little or no thinking of the consequences of its military actions.
America's unfortunate and disproportionate use of military force to defeat a segmented, mobile and polycentric movement of several hundred core groups of fighters didn't make it any more secure or dissuasive.
The more Washington used its military force, the less it won the minds of those it needs most to defeat al-Qaeda: Americans, Arabs and Muslims.

Likewise, US military actions are harming its intelligence and law enforcement work that over the last decade have dealt the greatest blow to al-Qaeda's leadership and organisation.
Which brings us back to our initial question: al- Qaeda is winning only as far as Washington is running a self-defeating war.
Between a rock and a hard place: US combat medics face tough choices in Afghanistan

A fun video: Obama calls Kanye a jackass

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