Anna Gregoline | September 7, 2004
Against my better judgment, I'm starting a discussion.

The other night, my boyfriend Jesse postulated - what do you think would have happened, if after 9/11, we had said, "We forgive you?" We will not take action against you for your actions. We would like you to stop killing our civilians, but we will not respond in kind.

Now, I think this is an impossible stance to take, but hypothetically, what do you think would have happened? Would it have been open season on the U.S.? Would other countries have stepped in and gone after them?

Melissa Erin | September 7, 2004
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Lori Lancaster | September 8, 2004
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Jackie Mason | September 8, 2004
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Scott Hardie | September 8, 2004
Interesting question, kudos to Jesse...

What do I think would have happened? Open season on Americans; kill 'em while the killing's good. We would have had several more nine-elevens by now, instead of zero. Still, an interesting proposition, an extreme example of principle over practicality.

And I'd like to think that other countries, Britain in particular and possibly also Russia and Australia, would have gone into Afghanistan. With the ironic nature of politics today, though, there probably would have been even greater support within each nation for the military action.

Added benefit: Kerry wins by a landslide in 2004. ;-)

Anna Gregoline | September 8, 2004
It would be nice, though, in theory, to have a totally pacifist nation, one that would just turn the other cheek. I think the entire world would rally to help that nation.

Scott Hardie | September 8, 2004
Maybe, but I kind of think our allies prefer mutual protection. The moment we announce we won't fight any enemies, we indicate that we won't help to defend allies when they're attacked, and that would quickly leave us without allies. Perhaps if we established that we had a military for defensive purposes only, like Japan's?

Anna Gregoline | September 8, 2004
True enough. We're a major ally, and if we became pacifists, a lot of the world would probably become angry we weren't going to lend a hand. And we'd certainly be bombed to smithereens. I just wish we could all live in peace sometimes. Human conflicts are so silly.

Scott Horowitz | September 8, 2004
I personally think attacks will continue no matter what we did. The country was attacked and we had to take action, no doubt. But, for every Al Qaeda (few words that don't have the letter "u" after "q"), there are 1000 more organizations planning something in the US. I personally think these organizations are just biding their time, waiting for the right moment to attack. When we put our guard back down. It's like you're in school, and someone punches you. Do you just sit there and fall down or do you defend yourself? IMHO, going into Afghanistan was retaliation of 9/11. It was justified. Personally, I think we should still be going after members of Al Qaeda until the organization is nothing, and Bin Laden is sitting in some prison somewhere. But, if we take down this terrorist group, another one will just do the same. These groups oppose the American lifestyle and culture at all costs.

Mike Eberhart | September 8, 2004
Even though they don't talk about it in the media anymore, we are still in Afghanistan hunting Al Qaeda and Bin Laden. That's what I hate. It's not reported anymore. Operations are ongoing.

As for Anna's question, There's no way I would have just sat there and did nothing, and hope they would accept a statement of forgiveness. I would have done exactly what we did, except I would have put more troops into Afghanistan than we intially did. I would have still gone after Iraq, probably not as soon as we did, but I would have still gone in. I would have just spaced it out a little more.

Anna Gregoline | September 8, 2004
I'm sure we knew what you would do, Mike, I was just postulating what if a country who had a 9/11 happen didn't do anything - just said, please stop and we forgive you. As I said above, and as everyone seems to concur, it's an impossible position to take, but it's interesting to think about.

John E Gunter | September 8, 2004
If we had just said we forgive you, it would have been open season on the US and her citizens. Unfortunately, most terrorists are like bullies. If you don't react to the bully, they'll just continue to stomp on you until they are stopped.

Would other countries come to our aid? I'd like to think so, but the US is the most powerful country in the world, politically, economically and physically, if we had backed down, no one would have been brave enough to step in. Plus the perceived lack of mutual protection would have turned off many of our allies.

It would be nice to think that we could just exist in a world of peace, but I don't think enough members of the human race are mature enough. If they were, you wouldn't have the problems that you do today.

I mean what mature people go after their brothers/sisters?

John

Jackie Mason | September 8, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | September 8, 2004
Bush hasn't mentioned Bin Laden in years now.

Jackie Mason | September 8, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | September 8, 2004
Indeed.

Anthony Lewis | September 9, 2004
Watch out for the October Surprise, which is Bin Laden's "capture"....guaranteeing another four MISERABLE years of Bush, Dick and Colon (yeah, I intended to spell it that way).

Kris Weberg | September 9, 2004
DISLAIMER: For most of this post I'm playing "logician," that is, deliberately stifling human feeling and morality, for the purpose of engaging a hypothetical question whose premise I don't really agree with.

I guess I'll say that I agree terrorists would have continued to plot attacks ont he US, but honestly, US policy about Israel, etc. wouldn't change if terrorists kept blowing us up. Nor would the country or government somehow magically collapse because every few years or months a number of civilians were killed. The forgiveness would not affect the actions of terrorists.

September 11 took Al Qaeda 3 years of planning and between $400,000 and $500,000 to carry off. A repeat would take as long or longer, assuming in Anna's scenario that relatively passive defensive measures -- airport security, border screening, and so on -- were instituted or tightened as they would be after a more "normal" hijacking incident.

September 11 was a terrifying moment, and arguably the largest-scale terrorist attack in modern times, but in a certain sense it was a terrorist bombing writ large. Its effects were and are those of terror, not particularly valuable in a tactical or military sense. and its economic effect largely the result of the fear the attack generated rather than any genuine effect on our economic or military capacity, or even, in hard percentages, our overall popualtion and capacity to work and produce economically and culturally.

It was also the murder of 3,000 innocent people, a massive instance of deep and abhorrent crime. In this sense, the notion of forgiveness for the attack is a bit difficult.

Still in the spirit of hypotheticals, I'd argue that the kind of attacks terrorists are capable of simply have no capacity, beyond the cultural or emotional, to actually "bring down" a large and powerful country.

Anna Gregoline | September 9, 2004
I'm not trying to be mean with this question, but how can you agree or disagree with a premise?

Kris Weberg | September 9, 2004
In effect, I can't seriously entertain the notion of the forgiveness the question is premised on as even an imaginative possibility -- hence I disagree with it as a premise of any kind, even a hypothetical one.

Anna Gregoline | September 9, 2004
But isn't that part of something being hypothetical? The premise doesn't have to be feasible - if it is supposed to be, where's the fun in imagining the possibilities? (An imaginative possibility doesn't have to have any basis in fact, in my opinion).

I'm sure you're going to come back at me with a whole bunch of definitions or something.

Kris Weberg | September 9, 2004
No definitions, just a reiteration of my initial point -- I can't suspend disbelief sufficiently to imagine a statement of forgiveness from the United States after 9/11. It's not just infeasible, it's sort of morally unthinkable.

Of course, that unthinkability may be valuable in allowing someone to reflect on their morality. It's a bit like asking a Christian if they could forgive Osama bin Laden, were he to repent his crimes.

Anna Gregoline | September 9, 2004
Ok, I understand where you're coming from. But that's why it's called imagination! Unhinge those boundaries...

John E Gunter | September 9, 2004
Kris, not wanting to start some kind of heated flame war, but if you couldn't suspend your disbelief, why did you feel the need to post comments in this thread?

Kris Weberg | September 9, 2004
Because of the value of the exercise I mentioned just above -- the chance to try to suspend it, an effort in which even failure can be illuminating.

Anna Gregoline | September 9, 2004
I think you take these things way too seriously, Kris.

John E Gunter | September 9, 2004
But since you are not suspending your disbelief, I can't see where you are taking part in Anna's exercise.

John

Kris Weberg | September 9, 2004
I'm not taking part in Anna's exercise, by definition, but I feel that my reasons for being unable to are still germaine to a discussion of the exercise itself, much as Mike did earlier in the thread.

And yeah, I do take these things way too seriously.

Anna Gregoline | September 9, 2004
Grad student alert! Grad student alert! Grad student alert!

=)

Kris Weberg | September 9, 2004
You'll all be sorry when I have my PhD, and make nearly 1/3 your salary!

Wait a minute....

Anna Gregoline | September 9, 2004
I know you are very analytical by nature, Kris, but these questions I pose are really just a fun speculative exercise - I don't mean them to be a battle of mental reasoning.

Scott Hardie | September 10, 2004
It's all good. I liked Kris's comment; it gave me the most to think about of any comment so far. Anyway, I thought Kris's comment did go along with the hypothetical, to a certain extent; he was just voicing in a humble way his difficulty with the question.

Just a thought based on Mike's comment: How feasible would it have been to get soldiers into Afghanistan sooner? I remember thinking at the time that it was taking forever for us to get into those mountains, that the murderers who didn't plan for nearly that many casualities had plenty of time to evacuate, that this was no way to respond to such a deadly attack against the United States lest we invite more. Obviously a large military action takes time to deploy, but it took so many weeks to get our troops into place and it just struck me at the time as taking too long. I'm probably wrong and we attacked as quickly as we possibly could; that's the most likely scenario. So which is it?

Mike Eberhart | September 10, 2004
Scott,
We did attack Afghanistan as quickly as we could, it took time to get the country clearances for our planes to fly over, all the equipment shipped over there, and the troops in place to wage a successful campaign. Once they started, it was great. I just wish we put more troops over there at the time and continued searching the entire country. Those operations are still going on, they just aren't covered anymore. I still see the reports, but you all never will. The media doesn't care about it.

Anna Gregoline | September 10, 2004
I think the media doesn't care because they're told not to - not to mention it's a non-story. Bush doesn't want to talk about it because compared to Iraq, it's a failed mission. No Bin Laden, unless he magically appears in October. I'm glad that Afghanistan has some things going for it better than before, but I wish we seemed to be working a little harder there as well as Iraq.

Mike Eberhart | September 10, 2004
Afghanistan was not a failed mission. Not finding Bin Laden was just one part of that mission. The total mission was to go into Afghanistan and destroy the terrorist network. We did that. We got rid of the Taliban that was Al Qaeda's major supporter. Also, we are working hard in Afghanistan, if you think we aren't, then your mistaken.

Also, who's telling the media not to cover it. Let me guess, it's some government conspiracy. As for it being a non-story, that's just disrepecting the troops that's there now. It's not a non-story to them. I hope Bin Laden does get caught in October, I don't really think it will make any difference. I'll just be happy that we have him. It won't change my vote one bit. Catching Bin Laden is not going to mean the end of the war on terrorism. Someone else will just step up and take his place and then we have to go after them. It will just continue and continue. All we can do is keep the pressure on.

Anna Gregoline | September 10, 2004
It's a not a non-story to me, Mike. I'd like to hear about it too. But it's a non-story to the media.

Of course catching Bin Laden wouldn't change your vote - you're already voting for Bush.

"Afghanistan was not a failed mission. Not finding Bin Laden was just one part of that mission."

Yes, but it's an important part, and a part that mattered most to most people. It's a failure on the part of the Bush Administration that we didn't catch the man ultimately responsible for 9/11 (which is why they don't mention it), although I've heard some speculation that he's dead already as he was in poor health.

Scott Horowitz | September 10, 2004
Afghanistan was a necessary attack. We needed to strike back at those supporting attacks against our country. Still waiting to see the proof that Iraq attacked this country.

Anna Gregoline | September 10, 2004
Me too! Or that they were even planning to, or had the capabilities.


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