T Nation

Big Dave is a (Fill in the Blank)


I think elitist was the main sentiment in another thread. Anyway, I am truly sorry I am unable to look away when I see such ignorant rantings on this board, I get sucked down into it and it makes me feel dirty. But I digress, I don't feel I am elitist, I simply read a lot, from many different news sources. I don't watch tv, I don't listen to NPR, I read.

So as luck would have it, while I was reading today I came across an article that sums up so much that I feel. So read this, hopefully I will never lay eyes on this forum again, there is nothing good here, just blowhards and xenophobes, there isn't a single open mind as near as I can tell.

Copied with no permission whatsoever, my apologies to Fred Kaplan.


Three new studies, by very different authors taking very different tacks, reach much the same conclusion about modern terrorism: that its practitioners, especially its foot soldiers, are motivated not so much by Islamic fantasies of the caliphate's restoration and the snuffing of freedom, but rather by resistance to foreign occupation of Arab lands.

Nothing about this conclusion makes terrorist acts more justified, or less abhorrent, or a slighter assault on the bonds of civilization. Understanding is not the same as excusing. Still, understanding can be a useful tool for devising a cogent response and an effective policy.

The most provocative and widely read study is Robert Pape's book Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism. Pape, a military historian and professor at the University of Chicago, catalogued every terrorist suicide bombing from 1983 to 2003?in all, 315 attacks carried out by 462 bombers. He concludes that, except for a couple of dozen random incidents, these bombings were elements of various coordinated campaigns?involving 18 different organizations over a 20-year period?all of which had in common "a specific secular and strategic goal: to compel democracies to withdraw military forces from the terrorists' national homeland."

A narrower, but in some ways more revealing, study was published in March by the Israel-based Global Research in International Affairs Center. (As far as I know, it has received no U.S. press coverage besides Bryan Bender's story in the July 17 Boston Globe.) The study's author, Reuven Paz, researched the backgrounds of 154 foreign Arabs who had died in Iraq during the previous six months, including 33 who had died in suicide bombings. (Their names were listed on an Islamist Web site.)

Paz's key finding: "The vast majority of Arabs killed in Iraq have never taken part in any terrorist activities prior to their arrival in Iraq."

This is consistent with a study commissioned by the Saudi government and set to be published next month by the conservative Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. (This study is also described in Bender's Globe piece.) Its author, Nawaf Obaid, a consultant in London, researched the backgrounds of about 250 Saudis who went to fight in Iraq. They included 42 who died, 30 who were turned back at the border by Syrian authorities, about 150 who are still in Iraq (fighting, captured, or possibly dead), and another 70 or 80 who are on Pentagon lists of foreign combatants. Obaid had access to official Saudi interrogations; he and his assistant also interviewed many of the fighters' families.

Nearly all these Saudis, Obaid told me in a phone interview, were 16- to 25-year-olds, many from prominent families. They watched the destructive images of the war on Arabic satellite TV, and they read the jihadist Web sites' urgings to go repel the infidel's occupation. ("Abu Ghraib was just a disaster," Obaid said, "a resounding call to these kids.")

President George W. Bush frequently depicts the foreign Arabs in Iraq as comrades of the 9/11 hijackers, enemies of freedom who might be wreaking havoc here if they weren't fighting over there. Yet if the Arabs in Paz's and Obaid's studies are typical, Bush's portrait is off the mark. Their calls to arms may be drenched in Pan-Islamic rhetoric. Those doing the calling?Osama Bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi?may have more cataclysmic ambitions. But the young fanatics on the ground, those streaming across the Iraqi border, seem motivated more by the classic goals of national liberation movements.

It's worth noting, in this regard, that Bin Laden himself issued his jihad against all Americans and infidels?which led to the 9/11 attacks?as a response to the presence of U.S. troops on Saudi soil during and after the 1991 Gulf War. Paul Wolfowitz, the architect of the 2003 Iraq war, recognized this. One rationale he gave for invading Baghdad was that for its own security, the United States needed to withdraw from Saudi Arabia but that doing so would destabilize the region if Saddam Hussein were left in power. (He didn't stop to think that the invasion might sink us in a much deeper occupation, which would lure more terrorists still.)

Again, none of this is to condone al-Qaida's atrocities or to mitigate their monstrousness. But it does fit with the theory that the alarmingly widespread fury against the United States these days is directed?as Pape puts it in his book?not so much at who we are but at what we do.

If that's the case, then what should we do to soften the fury and reduce the danger? One tempting option might be to end the occupation and pull out of Iraq as quickly as possible. But this would be unwise, even counterproductive, on two levels. First, the Iraqi government cannot yet defend itself from rebellion or invasion; chaotic as the place is now, it would likely explode and disintegrate without a military presence?and, for lack of an alternative, that means a U.S. military presence.

Second, though a swift exit might undermine one plank of al-Qaida's recruitment drive, it would only stiffen another. Bin Laden made clear, in several declarations and interviews in the '90s, that he was emboldened by how quickly American presidents withdrew troops from abroad once their blood began to flow?not just Bill Clinton from Somalia and Haiti (as many Republicans like to point out) but, more pivotally, Ronald Reagan from Lebanon.

Those withdrawals were not unreasonable. After a truck-bomber killed 241 Marines in Lebanon, Reagan decided that the U.S. mission simply wasn't worth further loss of life?and he was right. The problem was that some observers?including future foes?saw a different lesson in the move, a lesson that caused us much greater damage two decades later.

The most vital lesson Americans can draw from this sorry saga, in retrospect, is that we shouldn't initiate foreign adventures unless they involve interests worth considerable sacrifice. But a more immediate?and regrettable?lesson is that, having blundered our way into Iraq, we can't hand these bastards a victory (which is what it would be) by giving in to their demands. It would only embolden them further the next time our interests clash.

What we can do, though, is help create a situation that allows us to leave. A hint of what this might involve is suggested in Reuven Paz's study. Paz notes that the Arabs who died in Iraq were motivated to fight not just the Western occupiers but, perhaps more critically, their own sectarian rivals. Many of the fighters on Paz's list came from the Najd region of Saudi Arabia, the heart of Wahhabism. Wahhabite Muslims view Shiite Muslims as infidels. As the majority in Iraq, Shiites are primed to control the new Baghdad government. As a result, Paz writes, many Saudis have joined the insurgency to support Iraq's Sunni minority, whom they view "as a community under attack."

In recent months, it has become a common view?even within the Bush administration, which once waved off sectarian issues?that Iraq's Sunnis must be given a share of Iraq's resources and governance, must have a stake in the new system's future. These three new studies strengthen this view. They suggest that, until this is accomplished, the insurgency won't be quelled, political legitimacy won't be established, and Iraq won't be a sustainable state.

Fred Kaplan writes the "War Stories" column for Slate. He can be reached at war_stories@hotmail.com..


Interesting article. Thanks.

It makes sense. How hard would America fight back if some other nation came in and stationed troops on our soil?

I mean us Canadians would roll both our tanks up to them and say "Please leave, eh?" but I'm sure you Americans would fight tooth and nail using your bare hands if required.

All kidding aside, I don't think it's reasonable to expect any people on earth to stand idly by when an occupying nation is present, even if that nation's goal are said to be noble ones.


If we were being ruled under a murderous dictator I would thank the invading army!


Wouldn't that depend on how murderous the dictator was and on how the invading army handled itself?

And once the dictator was removed, how long would extend that welcome? What if some local rebels where fighting the army and everyday you'd have car bombs going off in random places? Wouldn't your patience eventually wear thin?

What if it eventually appeared like your liberating army had no plan to eventually leave? Would you continue thanking them and simply hand over the country?




I don't think most Americans would. They'd probably be embarassed. They would probably say-we are real men. Some of us may die in so doing, but we are quite capable of disposing of our corrupt dictator.

I think Germany and France are still embarassed about that time when we saved them from Hitler.



You didn't say it but is the implication that the purpose of the invading army was to remove a murderous dictator?

In any event, having done so continued occupation of a foreign country carries a heavy price that I am surprised is apparently acceptable to most in the US.


I didn't know you were so hated Big Dave; I must've missed all those posts.

I took the time to read this long article (thanks for posting it) and it reinforces what I've thought all along. It just seems to me to be common sense: If someone "liberates" your country, but doesn't leave immediately after that, you're going to get impatient. If some of your own people rebel against the "liberators" and you start to have bombings almost every day, you won't blame your countrymen, you'll blame the "liberating" army.

Furthermore, if this "liberating" army belongs to a country with a long history of meddling in foreign affairs, you are bound to be weary of their motives, especially when the dictator they "liberated" you from was put in his post by them. I don't see how the Iraq war could have turned out any other way than how it has.

It's too early in the day to start getting upset about the world, so I'll leave it at that.


So why didn't you get rid of Bush when he stole the presidency back in 2000?


Well, if the Democrats truly believed he stole it, and weren't willing to shed there blood for it then they don't deserve the presidency.


Kaplan and Slate have a hard left bent.

There are valid points raised in that article.

It is much easier to wage war then it is to make peace.

Iraqis are disgusted with their current state of power, clean water, etc.

It is easy to blame America and Americas troops. I disagree with Iraqis on this but I can see their point.

If we had actually improve their standard of living they would be cheering us. We have not and they will not be happy we are there until things improve for them.

The adventure into Iraq has not turned out the way we expected it. Wolfie figured out too late that the oil industry would not allow Iraq to dump its oil onto the world market to pay for their rebuilding.

My emerging markets analysts and my petroleum industry analysts had a good laugh over Wolfie's proclamation.

It is all water under the bridge at this point.

The biggest questions is 'will the grand jury be able to indict and convict any of the Bushies before Dubya and/or congress can save the GOP's hide?



"If someone "liberates" your country, but doesn't leave immediately after that, you're going to get impatient."

Explain the difference between 'becoming impatient' and 'indiscriminate mass murder to your fellow countrymen': how wide is that gap?

"If some of your own people rebel against the "liberators" and you start to have bombings almost every day, you won't blame your countrymen, you'll blame the "liberating" army."

The bombings are targeting civilians. They are also targeting American soldiers, but they are aimed at public, civilian-heavy places. How is this 'rebelling' against occupiers?

"...especially when the dictator they "liberated" you from was put in his post by them."

Saddam took power in an internal power-grab. His support against Khomeini's Iran was funded largely by the Soviet Union, and a slew of Western countries - including Germany - were supporters. Kuwait - yes, that Kuwait - contributed over $10 billion to Saddam. The US gave less than 2% of asset support over that period of time.

Put in his post by the US? Go read up.


No matter what america does, it's the most powerful nation in the world, and has been for some time. Human nature will cause people to hate us no matter what actions we take, until the world is unified under one flag, and people buy into it, there will always be people who feel oppressed somehow by the #1 no matter if it's the US or some other future country. Honestly the answer is quite simple, it's right in front of us some of you may realize it but many won't admit it.

The next step for the human race is inevitable if the human race wishes to continue to advance as a species. Orginazation, the world at this point is lacking severely in orginazation of any kind. Individualism is great, but it should be expressed outside of the basic human needs.

In other words, everyone gets equal shelter, everyone gets equal food, you can do any job you see fit and have a desire to do, there is enough people in the world to do a lot of good work. Organizers help make the decisions of who goes where and does what with regards to housing, food and infastructures, (roads, hospitals, airports) organizers are audited by a group of randomly selected individuals, much like a jury, all people learn how to audit during school, it becomes a required class. This keeps the organizers honest and fair, they do what is good for the people not for themselves.

Penalties for breaking rules or trying to hedge resources or luxuries to yourself is pretty sever, like possible confinement for a short period of time. Criminals are given the worst jobs, and then confined at night, they are tagged and trackable via gps locaters which will be removed when their time is up. it will be a deep implant into the back of the skull so it will be relatively impossible to remove.

People will still be free, outside of work, you can ride your motorcycle, go fishing, collect antique cars, go out to dinner, watch a movie, play golf, go bowling, go out to the pub, go lift weights, etc..... anything a free person would want to do.

The key is the audit by the people themselves. We elect people right now who answer to no one. They rob us each and every year and there is basically nothing we can do about it. They hide thier spending in miles of paperwork, the do it slowly but each year they get a little bit sloppier. people know about it, but in general the masses ignore it because they are too lazy to do anything about it. The people in power have made so many rules that they can enforce that make it very very very difficult for one person to do anything to change what they percieve as wrong.

My dad is a quality manager for a large hospital, he learned the ISO international standards systems and carried it over to the healthcare field. His hospital is making such improvements that the auditors from ISO said, "we have certified 5 hospitals in the country as ISO certified, if we came here first and saw what you have put in place here, we would not have certified those 5 hospitals, we would have reccomended they call you first"

The hospital is making far far less medical mistakes, patients are getting far far better service, the hospital is spending far far less money and less material is being wasted. Everyone has to answer to someone, and everyone is checked, or audited, regularly. If something is broke or inneficient, it gets fixed or changed. There is no saying... oh but this is how we always do it bla bla bla... if there is a better way, it is changed.

This could be applied to government so easily via the system I briefly described above and we could vote these systems into place. Eventually we need this for the entire world but we could start here and make amazing things happen.



I made a mistake:

"...including Germany..."

should have read "including France"

And here is a handy chart, compiled by SIPRI:



Listen up Rainjack,

When we invade Canada under the Halliburton flag, I have first dibs on JPBear.

You got that, mister?!?

Oh, davey, ease down man. You're grinding metal.

I'm sorry you lost so much money on kerry in 2004. Don't worry, he's spending your money on windsurfing and botox.

Does that help?




[i]Iraqis have always suspected that the 1963 military coup that set Saddam Husain on the road to absolute power had been masterminded by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). New evidence just published reveals that the agency not only engineered the putsch but also supplied the list of people to be eliminated once power was secured--a monstrous stratagem that led to the decimation of Iraq's professional class.

The overthrow of president Abdul Karim Kassim on February 8, 1963 was not, of course, the first intervention in the region by the agency, but it was the bloodiest--far bloodier than the coup it orchestrated in 1953 to restore the shah of Iran to power. Just how gory, and how deep the CIA's involvement in it, is demonstrated in a new book by Said Aburish, a writer on Arab political affairs.

The book, A Brutal Friendship: The West and the Arab Elite (1997), sets out the details not only of how the CIA closely controlled the planning stages but also how it played a central role in the subsequent purge of suspected leftists after the coup.[/i]

Excerpt from:


[i]The relationship between the CIA and Saddam Hussein is a long one. In 1963, the Americans plotted with the Ba'ath against Abdel Karim Kassem, a man who, in the words of the writer Said Aburish, retains more of the affection of the Iraqi people than any leader this century. The CIA supplied lists for the Ba'ath to kill leftists and communists, and Washington flew arms to Kirkuk to use against the Kurds.

In Aburish's biography of the Iraqi leader, the author quotes many anti-Saddam Iraqis including Ahmad Chalabi, leader of the INC on CIA cooperation with the second Ba'ath coup in 1968. Later, in the 1980s, the United States and Britain helped arm Saddam in his confrontation with Iran only to turn against him over the 1990 Kuwait crisis. When in 1991 the Iraqi people rose against Saddam, the United States was fearful that change would put its majority Shi'ites and thus Iran in power, and US forces stood by as the Republican Guard crushed the rebellion. The CIA then worked on sponsoring a coup in Baghdad, a strategy that crumbled in 1996 when Iraqi intelligence infiltrated a conspiracy led by the ex-Ba'athist Iyad Alawi. Having rounded up hundreds of officers, the mukhabarat sent a message to the CIA team in Amman: We have arrested all your people. You might as well pack up and go home.

The CIA's half-hearted support for the INC also ended in 1996, when Saddam exploited Kurdish in-fighting to crush an INC presence in the Kurdish-controlled zone in the north. As Iraqi tanks moved in, the CIA fled and left the INC people to their fate. Washington washed its hands of the affair, and Chalabi noted that CIA officials "are not known for their veracity."[/i]

Excerpt from:


In 1963, Saddam Hussein worked with the CIA to carry out the coup by the Baath party, which eventually brought him to power in Iraq. The book, A Brutal Friendship: The West and the Arab Elite by Said K. Aburish, which was reviewed recently in Counterpunch (The CIA: Lest We Forget, CounterPunch. Sept.16-30 1997, p.2), describes how the CIA, Saddam and other members of the Baath party collaborated to bring about the coup, murdering perhaps 5,000 people in the process. The United States went on to help Saddam win the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. According to Noam Chomsky, There were no passionate calls for a military strike after Saddam's gassing of Kurds at Halabja in March, 1988; on the contrary, the US and U.K. extended their strong support for the mass murderer, then, also 'our kind of guy' (Iraq and the UN Sanctions, The Economist, Nov.19 1994, p.47)

Excerpt from:


[i]Another very good example of a CIA-organized regime change was a coup in 1963 that employed political assassination, mass imprisonment, torture and murder. This was the military coup that first brought Saddam Hussein's beloved Ba'ath Party to power in Iraq. At the time, Richard Helms was Director for Plans at the CIA. That is the top CIA position responsible for covert actions, like organizing coups. Helms served in that capacity until 1966, when he was made Director.

In the quotations collected below, the name of the leader who was assassinated is spelled variously as Qasim, Qassim and Kassem. But, however you spell his name, when he took power in a popularly-backed coup in 1958, he certainly got recognized in Washington. He carried out such anti-American and anti-corporatist policies as starting the process of nationalizing foreign oil companies in Iraq, withdrawing Iraq from the US-initiated right-wing Baghdad Pact (which included another military-run, US-puppet state, i.e., Pakistan) and decriminalizing the Iraqi Communist Party. Despite these actions, and more likely because of them, he was Iraq's most popular leader. He had to go!

In 1959, there was a failed assassination attempt on Qasim. The failed assassin was none other than a young Saddam Hussein. In 1963, a CIA-organized coup did successfully assassinate Qasim and Saddam's Ba'ath Party came to power for the first time. Saddam returned from exile in Egypt and took up the key post as head of Iraq's secret service. The CIA then provided the new pliant, Iraqi regime with the names of thousands of communists, and other leftist activists and organizers. Thousands of these supporters of Qasim and his policies were soon dead in a rampage of mass murder carried out by the CIA's close friends in Iraq.

Iraq is once again a target of US regime change. Despite that, precious little is being said by the corporate media about how the CIA aided and abetted political assassination, regime change and mass murder, all in the name of putting Saddam's Ba'ath power into power for the first time in Iraq.

One thing is for sure, the US will find it much harder to remove the Ba'ath Party from power in Iraq than they did putting them in power back in 1963. If more people knew about this diabolical history, they just might not be so inclined to trust the US in its current efforts to execute regime change in Iraq.[/i]

Excerpt from:

Andrew and Patrick Cockburn, Out of the Ashes, The Resurrection of Saddam Hussein, 2000

Need I continue, thunderbolt?


What Middle Eastern country did we "occupy" prior to 9/11?

Don't pretend we occupied Saudi Arabia. Our women had to wear veils when they went off base.

Our troops were in not in charge in Saudi Arabia. It was not an occupation.

We occupied Iraq and Afghanistan for a while after we liberated them.

They now have elected governments. Our troops are supporting their elected governments.

This is not a traditional occupation.

The reason for the war is because the Islamic extremists want to take over. They will claim any action we take against them as the reason for the war.

You must study the enemy. You must not buy into his propaganda.

The terrorists also claim they are blowing us because our support for Israel. What would they do if we stopped supporting Israel? Why do they want that little sliver of land when they have so much?

Look at the extremists ultimate goal. That is the reason for the war. Everything else is just excuses.


I love how the CIA is blamed for every ill in the world.

The CIA has proved stunningly incompetent. Part of that is the cuts forced on it by the Democrats, part of it is because it is typical government bureaucracy.

If the CIA is half as powerful as some feel it is why has it been so unsuccessful?


It looks to me like misperceptions that lead to faulty conclusions on a grand scale. Thats hard enough to rectify with people of your own culture, let alone people of a different one.
It's all screwed up.

Instead of seeing liberators a lot of Arabs see occupational forces.

Instead of seeing a rebuilding of infrastructure they see oil thirsty robbers making themselves comfy.

At least thats how I seee them seeing it. Thats how it gets screwed up.



"Need I continue, thunderbolt?"

Well, let's review. Your first three 'sources' are nothing more than fringe opinion pieces that all rely, as their base of information, the same book by the same guy. These 'sources' are doing nothing more than regurgitating points made in a book that is of questionable credibility.

You didn't provide any evidence - only repeated statements made by some outlying writers in their own vacuum.

Second, your last 'source' - the excerpt from the book - merely assumes the premise we are talking about here. It doesn't verify that the CIA helped Saddam in 1963 - it just says that it did. I'd be curious if the author(s) got their info from the first book. But, it is no source merely to say "it happened".

The information is tenuous - and not given any weight outside of fringe counter-media like Counterpunch and Information Clearing House.

Probably a very good reason for that.