the Rational Radical  

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The Daily Diatribe
September 16-31, 2001

September 30, 2001     9:25 p.m. --  As soon as it became apparent that U.S. troops could be engaged in combat in Afghanistan, I thought about Stinger missiles.

In the 1980's, the Afghan mujahedeen were fighting to expel the Soviet Union from their country.  The mujahedeen were being decimated by Soviet helicopter gunships.  But the mujahedeen were able to turn the tide of battle against the Soviet forces occupying their nation after the U.S. supplied the mujahedeen with several hundred Stinger shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles.

The rebels used the Stingers effectively, bringing down scores of Soviet helicopter gunships.  The introduction of Stingers into the conflict is widely regarded as a turning point in the war.
[from the Associated Press, September 24, 2001]

The experts seem divided on whether Stinger missiles left over from that conflict will threaten U.S. troops who enter Afghanistan.

The Associated Press reports that the Stinger missiles will not prove dangerous to American forces:

  • any missiles still in Afghanistan are at least a decade old and have not been properly maintained
  • U.S. aircraft and helicopters have countermeasures and flares to fool the missiles
  • Stingers are more effective in daylight, when a gunner can see his target, and U.S. helicopters carrying special forces will probably operate only at night

All in all, Vincent Cannistraro, a former CIA counterterrorism chief, concludes in the Associated Press piece that "The Stinger weapons are kind of obsolete weapons at this point,'' even though "they have a mythological status.''

On the other hand, sources as ideologically diverse as the Washington Times ("a deadly foe"), The New York Times ("particularly worrisome") and the Center for Defense Information ("reason to worry") have concluded that the missiles could still pose a grave threat to U.S. aircraft and helicopters operating in Afghanistan.

Lightweight enough to be easily portable, Stingers can shoot down helicopters and low-flying planes, including air-fueling tankers. [Center for Defense Information]

According to The Guardian, a British newspaper, the U.S. military apparently still considers the Stinger missiles a threat:

The US is attempting to trace up to 80 lost Stinger missiles which are believed to be in the hands of Taliban forces and could pose a serious threat to any American operation inside Afghanistan.

American military officials have asked their Pakistani counterparts if they had any intelligence on where the Stinger missiles are being kept, reports suggested last night.

According to reports, the Americans believe the Taliban could own up to 80 of the US-made Stingers, which have the deadliest record against low-flying aircraft of any missile since the second world war.

The Washington Times article also indicates that current U.S. special forces reconnaissance missions inside Afghanistan are trying to ascertain whether the Taliban possesses any of the Stinger missiles.

The only thing we know for sure may be what the Boston Globe reports: that no one knows for sure.

Hopefully U.S. forces will not fall prey to the very weapons the U.S. provided to defeat the Soviet Union.

September 29, 2001
    10:25 p.m.
--  When I read the New York Times headline "Number of Uninsured Drops for 2nd Year" I was happy, since health care is a basic human right -- especially in a country as fabulously wealthy as ours.

Then as I read the article, which analyzed Census data for the year 2000, the following facts emerged:

  • the percentage decline was tiny: 1.4%
  • the decline was only one third as large as the year before, 1999
  • economists and experts predict that with the slowing economy, the number of uninsured will actually increase this year and next
  • the number of uninsured is still huge, 38.7 million Americans, almost 1 in 7

Many people skim through a newspaper, sometimes just glancing at the headlines.  Reading the headline of this article would give such a person a totally wrong impression.

Wouldn't a more accurate headline have been something like "Expansion of Health Care Coverage Slows, Increase in Uninsured Soon Expected"?

Lack of affordable health care for tens of millions of Americans is a continuing scandal, and the headline of this article implies the problem is being solved, rather than the truth: it will soon get worse.

My suggested headline would put the emphasis where it belongs.

The New York Times should be more careful.

September 28, 2001
    10:25 p.m.
--  Earlier this week there was major league irony on Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect. 

The show took place at the height of the controversy over Maher's comments that "we" were "cowards" for fighting terrorists in the past by "lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away."  While at first seemingly deliberately misinterpreted by some as an attack on the military by Maher, what Maher meant, and what was later generally accepted as his meaning, was that the politicians were cowards for not allowing the military to "do its job" for fear of causalities that could hurt the politicians' popularity.

On the show, and introduced with a great deal of respect and affection by Maher, was Tommy Smothers of The Smothers Brothers comedy act.  Smothers expressed empathy with what Maher was going through.

The Smothers Brothers program on CBS was canceled at the height of the Vietnam War because of their outspoken opposition to the U.S. intervention in Indochina.

As noted elsewhere, Maher has stated over and over again on his program his support of the Vietnam War.

So here we had one comedian -- Tommy Smothers-- who was fired for opposing a U.S. war, speaking in solidarity with another comedian --Bill Maher -- who not only is a vehement supporter of the war Smothers opposed, but was facing the loss of his program for making comments that were meant to call for more, not less, U.S. military action.

I wonder if Tommy Smothers knows of Maher's enthusiastic support for the Vietnam War.  I thought we might see some fireworks over that, but when Smothers mentioned how he had felt it necessary to oppose the "sickness" back then, Maher said nothing. 

Maybe Maher remained silent out of respect for the legendary Smothers, or maybe they've agreed to disagree privately but not in public.  Maybe from Smothers' perspective, it's a case of regardless of the position being taken, defending the right to speak out.

In any event, it must be said that Maher does deserve credit for letting dissident voices be heard this week who oppose any massive U.S. military strike on Afghanistan, and advocate alternative means of protecting ourselves and bringing bin Laden et al to justice.

September 27, 2001
    8:35 p.m.
-- Here's an update on the upcoming Nicaraguan presidential elections:  in the latest polls, Sandinista candidate Daniel Ortega has pulled even with, or slightly ahead of, his main opponent, Liberal Constitutionalist party candidate Enrique Bolaņos. 

In a poll published in the newspaper La Prensa, Ortega is ahead by two percentage points.  Since the margin of error is 2.6%, that's technically a dead heat.

The newspaper El Nuevo Diario reports that in a poll commissioned by the U.S. Embassy in Managua, Nicaragua, Ortega is also ahead by two percentage points, and here the margin of error is only 1.5%. 

The U.S. Embassy poll gives Ortega a first round victory without requiring a runoff, 41% to 39%.

The La Prensa poll has Ortega ahead 37% to 35%, which would require a run-off.  However, if undecided voters are factored in, then Ortega would also avoid a runoff here, winning by 49% to 45%.

Other candidates garner the rest of the votes.

I earlier detailed the many ways the United States is interfering in the Nicaraguan election process in order to prevent an Ortega win.  It is this interference which has caused the race to be so close, El Nuevo Diario reports, since prior to the U.S. actions, Ortega was more comfortably ahead in the polls.

Indeed, the U.S. Embassy poll has been criticized as a form of interference, since it was apparently shared with the Liberal party, not the Sandinistas, and came to light only from a Liberal party leak. 

Let's hope there is no October Surprise being planned by the U.S. to derail Ortega's apparently good chances for victory in November.

[You can subscribe here to an email hotline which reports the latest news from Nicaragua]

September 26, 2001
    10:05 p.m.
-- At a time when many Americans are asking "Why do certain people in other countries hate us so much?" The New York Times in a recent article entitled "Sympathy From Relatives of the 'Disappeared' " seems determined to hide some of the answers.

The "disappeared" refers to 15,000-30,000 students, intellectuals and military activists in Argentina who were seized between 1976 and 1983 by the Argentine military government as alleged "leftists," and never heard from again.

The article notes that for both the relatives of the disappeared and the relatives of those killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks, the lack of remains is a "shared torment."

Incredibly, the article fails to mention that the Argentine military and intelligence agencies worked closely with, and were assisted by, the U.S. military and U.S. intelligence agencies during this time period.  As a supporter of the Argentine military regime and intelligence activities, the U.S. helped facilitate the murder of these thousands of "disappeared."  Many suspect even deeper U.S. involvement.

It is such support for torture and murder abroad that rightly earns the U.S. an international black eye.

It is just this type of immoral activity that the U.S. must completely cease in order to avoid creating additional multitudes of people who hate us.

Nothing can justify the World Trade Center terrorism of September 11.  Much can be done to help prevent further such occurrences by an honest examination and reappraisal of U.S. actions abroad, such as suggested in my "Proposal for a Non-Partisan Commission on U.S. Foreign Policy Since World War II."

September 25, 2001
    10:45 p.m.
-- This is how The Daily Diatribe began about seven weeks ago, describing police brutality at the protests against globalization during the G8 summit in Genoa:

[I]n the early hours of July 22, 92 young people were dragged from their beds by squads of Italian anti-riot police officers who beat and jailed them.

Witnesses described students crouching as they were kicked, pummeled with clubs and thrown down stairs, and emergency room doctors said a number of the injured would have died without treatment. Television crews arriving on the scene later filmed pools of blood and teeth knocked out during the raid.

At least two dozen [students] were hospitalized.
[from The New York Times, August 8, 2000]]

The right-wing Italian government just issued a report absolving the police of any wrongdoing:

ITALY: POLICE ABSOLVED FOR G-8 RIOTS Parliament approved a report on the Group of 8 summit meeting in Genoa, absolving security forces of blame in the rioting... Opposition center-left parties denounced the findings as a whitewash and said poor law enforcement had been largely to blame for the violence in which one protester died.
[The New York Times, September 21, 2001]

Discussing the Parliament report In a subsequent article about anti-globalization protests, a New York Times correspondent noted:

The legislators acted even though reports of brutality there have never been seriously

Despite a police raid in the middle of the night on protesters at the July meeting in Genoa, and the death of one protester, this week's government report defended the police, saying that in Genoa the officers "did their utmost, paying a high price in terms of risking injury."
[The New York Times, September 23, 2001]

This is an outrageous cover-up, and would almost certainly have garnered more prominent coverage absent the saturation reporting that is not unduly being accorded the World Trade Center attack and its aftermath.

The powers that be may well hope that other similarly objectionable actions will slip under the radar at the present time, so progressives must be especially on guard.

September 24, 2001
    10:15 p.m.
--  The United States is apparently going to support the efforts of the  Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, which is fighting to oust the Taliban government.

The media is giving very little attention to what type of groups and individuals comprise the Northern Alliance, and if it is an organization we should even be helping.

The unstated assumption, which seems to be accepted blindly, is that if the Northern Alliance is anti-Taliban, that's all we need to know.

The United States supported Osama bin Laden when he was fighting against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.  In order to avoid another similar mistake which can have exceedingly negative ramifications in the future, our nation needs to examine carefully the characteristics of this Northern Alliance before we support them.

Here are some critical questions which need to be answered:

The groups comprising the Northern Alliance once fought against each other for control of Kabul, so if the Northern Alliance takes power, what will prevent these groups from starting another war among themselves?

Does the Northern Alliance advocate a democratic Afghanistan, or an Afghanistan under some sort of Islamic theocracy?

If the Northern Alliance intends to establish some sort of Islamic theocracy in Afghanistan, to what extent, if any, will it be less severe than that of the Taliban?

Will the Northern Alliance, if it takes power, establish equal rights for women, oppress women like the Taliban, or something in between?

Does the Northern Alliance intend to establish a judicial system based on Islamic law, sharia?

If the Northern Alliance intends to establish a judicial system based on sharia, will the interpretation be a strict one, requiring, for example, the amputation of the limbs of thieves?

Is it true that members of the Northern Alliance routinely use torture in the areas they control to extract information from prisoners and to break political opponents?

Does the Northern Alliance receive assistance from Iran, a nation the United States has long accused of sponsoring terrorism?

Isn't the Northern Alliance composed largely of Afghanistan's ethnic minorities -- Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazari -- so that the majority Pashtun population would never accept the Northern Alliance as a governing force?

Before the United States provides the wherewithal for the Northern Alliance to defeat the Taliban and take over Afghanistan, we should extract a pledge from the Northern Alliance that they will establish a democratic system which respects women's rights and upholds all other generally accepted human rights standards.

If such a pledge is not forthcoming, it would be better to forego support of the Northern Alliance.  If we need to oust the Taliban, we should do it ourselves and then put Afghanistan under some sort of U.N. administration until democratic-oriented groups within that nation are ready to govern.

We understandably want a government in Afghanistan that does not harbor terrorists who attack our nation.  We must accomplish this goal, however, without creating yet another instance of the U.S. supporting one dictatorial regime because we prefer it to the previous dictatorial regime -- all without regard to the well-being of the people of that nation. 

September 23, 2001    9:35 p.m. --  "Pinkos" and "Commies."  These are some of the names that people without anything intelligent to say used to denigrate protesters against the Vietnam War in the 60's and 70's.

So it is with some degree of surprise that I find myself being called these very two names in the last few days.  Readers who have posted links to my site on various bulletin boards have been similarly attacked. 

What triggered the name-calling was my argument that we should eliminate the threat of Osama bin Laden without killing innocent civilians -- men, women, children and babies -- in other countries.  We can accomplish this with special ops forces, attacks on military assets, improved intelligence, and financial measures to cut off all of the terrorists' sources of funding.

Where in such a line of argument do these year-2001 name-callers find communist ideology?

During the Vietnam War we were fighting against a communist nation, so at least back then there was a sort of simpleton's "logic" to labeling anyone who opposed the war as being a supporter of the other side, in other words, a "commie" or a "pinko."

But the present day terrorists are not communists.  And the Cold War ended many years ago with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

And above all, of course, I'm not opposing a war on the terrorists, just debating the means.

Those now calling me, and my link-posting readers, these names must be incredibly bereft of any reasoning faculties and factual knowledge.  They apparently have nothing substantive with which to counter my points.  So they reach back into the past and dredge up outdated and irrelevant name-calling tactics.

Pretty pathetic.

All of those doing so should realize that by their words, they risk irrevocably branding themselves morons.

September 22, 2001
   10:55 p.m.
--  The Taliban gave a dire warning to a CNN correspondent this week:

Nic Robertson has reported for CNN from Afghanistan throughout the coverage so far. But on Monday he was forced to move from Kabul to Kandahar after officials of the ruling Taliban told him they could not guarantee his safety.

"They told me, in no other terms, that should there be an attack, the mob will rule and nothing will be able to be done," Mr. Robertson said from a satellite phone in Kandahar. "One official told me: `The crowd will set upon you and pull you apart into so many pieces no one will be able to identify you from a piece of meat.' "
[The New York Times, September 19, 2001]

Remember the eight Christian foreign aid workers, included two Americans, who are imprisoned and being tried in Afghanistan for trying to convert people from Islam to Christianity?

Do they face a similar risk of mob violence should the U.S. attack Afghanistan militarily?

Two of President Bush's demands on the Taliban during his recent speech were:

  • Release all foreign nationals, including American citizens, you have unjustly imprisoned.
  • Protect foreign journalists, diplomats and aid workers in your country.

It certainly sounds like the U.S. government is concerned about their safety also.

The Taliban, who have been condemned by most of the world for virtually enslaving the women of their country, are to be condemned as well for imprisoning people for talking about religion.

I previously wrote about how even other Christian aid workers in Afghanistan felt that their imprisoned colleagues had acted recklessly in violating such a well-known law, and for thereby endangering not only themselves, but their Afghan staff, 16 of whom have also been arrested.

At that time, it seemed the Afghan staff faced the death penalty, while the foreign workers only faced expulsion from the country.

Now it appears the foreign workers may well be in quite a bit more danger.

The latest report is that the Taliban have just moved the aid workers' location for reasons of "security."  Or, perhaps, to make it harder for a U.S. commando rescue mission to find them.

We all hope and pray the aid workers get out of Afghanistan safely.

And I also hope and pray that all other innocent civilians  in Afghanistan -- men, women and children --also survive the current turmoil unharmed.

[more on the necessity of avoiding civilian causalities in any U.S. military action]

September 21, 2001   10:55 p.m. --  A previous column reported the opinion of legal experts that the Joint Resolution authorizing President Bush to respond to the World Trade Center terrorist attacks does not give him carte blanche to wage extended war with U.S. troops. 

This conclusion was based on the fact that the Joint Resolution

specifically states that it does not supersede the War Powers Resolution of 1973, which requires the president to seek Congressional approval for any extended use of American forces in combat.

Many of us thought this was good news, because while we want the threat posed by Osama bin Laden eliminated, we also want Congress to have oversight over the process.

Unfortunately, it turns out that this view is not shared by all legal experts:

The resolution passed by Congress authorizing President Bush to use force in response to last Tuesday's terror attacks is nearly as wide-ranging as a declaration of war, some legal analysts said...

Prof. Harold H. Koh of the Yale Law School said that he believed that the resolution did not limit Mr. Bush in any significant way.

"I think it is extremely broad because no nations are named, the nations are to be determined by the president and the president could theoretically name lots of nations," said Professor Koh, an authority on national security law and a former assistant secretary of state under President Bill Clinton. "There is also no time limit."
"[The New York Times, September 18, 2001]

This may seem like an irrelevant, even esoteric discussion at the current time, when the country is united in its desire to eliminate the bin Laden threat.

However, the issue of if, how and to what extent Bush is limited in his power to conduct an extended war campaign without Congressional approval may well become quite relevant should the initial military efforts bog down, or not be as immediately successful as we would hope.

September 20, 2001
   10:55 p.m.
--  Bush's speechwriters gave him a forceful, well-crafted speech to read.  Bush read the speech much more effectively than anyone has ever seen him read a speech before.

He verbally made certain distinctions he needed to make, such as between the terrorists who call themselves Muslims, and the other one billion Muslims in the world.

Bush didn't smirk, and seemed appropriately serious.

Frankly, I was impressed with Bush's speech.

There were, however, at least two major substantive shortcomings that leapt out at me immediately:

First, Bush made no pledge to avoid any military actions which would kill innocent civilians.  Such a limitation is a prerequisite before I and many millions of other Americans could support any military strikes.

Those of us who hold this view have a duty to make our "No Killing of Civilians" a national cry.

Second, Bush repeated the simpleton-level explanation of why bin Laden and his group hate us: our freedom and our prosperity.  As noted yesterday, there are legitimate political grievances that many peoples around the world have with the way U.S. foreign policy has hurt and killed their countrymen and ruined their countries. 

Bin Laden and his group, who would, if they could, impose a Taliban-like theocratic dictatorship on humanity, with the attendant placing into slavery of all women, might very well hate us even if our government had not committed atrocities all over the world.

Still, U.S. foreign policy needs to be seriously examined and changed.  (Of course, whether that's possible or not given the present power structure of our country is a whole separate debate.)

Be that as it may, a necessary first step is what I suggested yesterday: setting up a non-partisan National Commission on U.S. Foreign Policy Since World War II.  Broad domestic and international input would be critical to its relevance and success.

So what Bush's speech omitted can guide our political activism in future days:

No killing of civilians, and set up the Commission -- two positions that progressives can espouse with vigor, and without fear of being criticized for wanting to let the terrorists get away with their evil deed.

September 19, 2001   10:15 p.m. --  The lock-step mantra thundering from the Bush administration and most politicians and commentators is that the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon targeted the United States because they hate our freedom and are jealous of our prosperity. 

A few public figures -- not many, but perhaps a slowly growing number -- have dared to delve deeper into the issue. 

All of these public figures rightly condemn without equivocation the terrorist attacks, and lay 100% of the moral responsibility for these outrageous acts on the perpetrators.

That being understood, an acknowledgement is made that there are concrete, specific issues involved, not just irrational hatred and jealousy:

[I]n the Arab and wider Muslim worlds... bitter political grievances abound, among them: the United States' support of Israel; its troop presence in the "holy land" of the Arabian peninsula; its military encirclement and economic strangulation of Iraq; and its alliances with governments across the Middle East and Asia that are widely perceived as corrupt.
[John Burns, The New York Times, September 16, 2001]

Similarly, James Robison, a well-known evangelist and host of "Life Today," a Christian television program, speaks of our "sins" of

arrogance in relationships with Third World and foreign countries, plundering other countries for resources while supporting their despots, and indifference to others' poverty and pain.
[The New York Times, September 15. 2001]

Even arch-conservative Patrick J. Buchanan asks:

What motivates that kind of hatred?  Why did they do it?  Why do they hate us so much?

How can all our meddling not fail to spark some horrible retribution?
[on Hannity & Colmes, September 19, 2001]

Where should our asking these questions lead us?  Senator Bob Kerrey (D-NE) provides a clue:

Mr. Kerrey, a combat veteran of Vietnam, also pointed out the psychological challenge for leaders and a public that have been quick to denounce the attacks as the work of cowards or madmen.

"I condemn it morally, and I do think it was cowardly," Mr. Kerrey said. "But physically, it was the opposite of cowardly, and if you don't understand that, then you don't understand the intensity of the cause and then you're papering over one of the most important things. There is hatred out there against the United States, and yes, we have to deal with terrorism in a zero-tolerance fashion. But there is anger, too, and they ought to have a place for a hearing on that anger, in the International Court or wherever we give them a hearing."
[The New York Times, September 15, 2001]

Following those last words of Sen. Kerrey, I propose that at an appropriate time -- not immediately, but soon after the immediate threat of bin Laden and associates has been taken care of -- a non-partisan "Commission on United States Foreign Policy After World War II"  be established.

I say non-partisan as opposed to bi-partisan, because a far greater spectrum of input would be appropriate than just from the Democratic and Republican parties.

All elements of the U.S. political spectrum should be invited to present their facts and analysis on a country-by-country basis.  And it shouldn't end there.

In a manner similar to that of certain commissions which have been set up in Third World countries after internal strife has ended, citizens of other countries who feel they have been victims of U.S. foreign policy should be invited to present their testimony and data.

The mandate of the commission I am advocating would be not only to try to come to a consensus on where U.S. foreign policy in the last 56 years had gone right and where it has gone wrong, but also, to make recommendations for the future.

Would Congress ever set up such a commission? 

If not, who could?

By what process would commission members be chosen?

How could the number of individuals and groups desiring to present evidence be kept to a manageable number?

All of these questions and a myriad of other concerns must be addressed.

I make this proposal here in only the most rudimentary form, in an attempt to start making something positive come out of an event last week so tragic.

In that spirit, all suggestions for how such a commission could be set up and operate would be most welcome.  They will be incorporated into future writings on this proposal.

September 18, 2001
   10:55 p.m.
--  Those of us strongly opposing the bombing of the civilian infrastructure of Afghanistan or any other country are often met by the argument that "we did it in World War II against the Germans."

The situations are not analogous.

In World War II the United States was fighting the standing multi-million man German army.  The civilian population of Germany provided the men for that army, grew the food to feed that army, make the guns, planes and other weapons that army used to fight with, and through taxes provided the funds that army used to purchase anything else it needed.

So destroying the civilian infrastructure of German could at least be said to have been directly related to cutting off the German army's supply of men, food, weapons and everything else it needed to survive.

In the case of Afghanistan, the opposite is true.  Bin Laden's "troops" don't by and large come from the Afghan population, but from other Arab countries.  Bin Laden's money doesn't come from taxes paid to the Afghan government; rather, bin Laden is himself wealthy, and his group also receives funds from individual contributors from countries outside of Afghanistan.  Afghan factories certainly don't manufacture the weapons that bin Laden purchases.

So destroying the civilian infrastructure of Afghanistan would not have anything to do with cutting off bin Laden's source of personnel,  weapons or money.

Assuming bin Laden purchases his food locally, destroying the civilian infrastructure could, if it produced widespread starvation in Afghanistan, reduce bin Laden's food supply.

But as discussed yesterday in evaluating Bill O'Reilly's call to starve the Afghan population to force them to overthrow their government, such a course of action would constitute terrorism by our country: targeting civilians for injury or death in order to further our political goals.

That would bring us down to bin Laden's level, and forfeit our claim to moral superiority in our campaign against him.

There are legitimate diplomatic and military ways to bring down bin Laden, and those are the ones that we should employ, not killing innocent Afghan civilians.

September 17, 2001   10:45 p.m. --  Bill O'Reilly, Fox News talk show star, called tonight for mass terrorism against the civilian populations of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

O'Reilly advocated completely destroying the civilian infrastructure of those countries, as well as mining the harbors of Tripoli, Libya.

Then, O'Reilly said, those populations will have two choices: starve, or overthrow their governments. 

"Knock their food supply out and their water supply out and those people will have to overthrow the Taliban.  It's either that or they die."

"The population must be made to endure another round of intense pain" O'Reilly said of Iraqi civilians.

Regarding Libya, O'Reilly says, "Let them eat sand."

Even a military counter-terrorism expert on the show, retired Major General Paul Vallely, when asked his opinion of O'Reilly's plan, balked.  Vallely warned O'Reilly that such a course of action would hurt "all the other people that are not part of that regime."

O'Reilly said he didn't care: if people were going to go down, better the civilians than U.S. troops.

Note to Bill: targeting and harming civilians for political purposes is the very definition of terrorism.  Mass terrorism is what you're advocating.

Why does O'Reilly have a talk show?  He should have a padded cell.

[O'Reilly's horrible idea also violates the Geneva Convention]

September 16, 2001
   10:55 p.m.
--  We can't claim it was wrong for others to kill our innocent civilians, and then go ahead and kill another country's innocent civilians. 

Some pundits would have you believe that as long as we don't "intend to" or "deliberately" target civilians, we're okay.  In other words, if we attack military targets and civilians get killed in the process, that's okay.

That's not so.  If you have a military target in your gun sights, and also in the field of fire are civilians, if you fire your weapon, then you have "intended to" and "deliberately" killed civilians. 

Killing civilians may not have been your desire nor your main intent, but if you can reasonably assume that your actions will kill civilians, then you have deliberately, with intent, killed them.

In other words, you will have killed innocent civilians in pursuit of your larger goal -- exactly what the World Trade Center terrorists did.

And of course, the innocent civilians are equally dead in both instances.

We should, therefore, attack targets only when we can reasonably assume there are no innocent civilians in the way.

That's the only way to avoid a hypocrisy so severe as to literally undermine the very justification for our military actions.

[more on not killing innocent Afghan children, women and men]


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