T Nation

Discuss Blowback Here

The #1 issue that divides conservatives on this forum and throughout the rest of the country.

The issue underlying every foreign policy dispute of this day.

And the biggest reason why conservatives like Ron Paul and Pat Buchanon are not at the forefront of the rightwing establishment.

Discuss the concept of blowback in the context of American foreign policy, non-interventionism, neoconservatism, the Iraq Wars, 9/11, and Ron Paul’s candidacy…

Let’s try to keep this somewhat academic, at least for the first few pages. Simply respond by stating your opinion of the “blowback” doctrine, and provide as much or as little clarification as you deem necessary.

For my part, I think it’s completely valid, but misunderstood and mischaracterized by many on the right.

For clarification, I present the following excerpts, taken from posts on Freerepublic:

[quote]I’m sure if you looked hard enough you could find some foreign policy expert somewhere that denies the existence of “blowback”. I’m sure if you looked hard enough you could still find an economist who is a communist, but the point remains. Like the superiority of free markets among economists, blowback is not a subject of controversy in foreign policy circles. Even the President has acknowledged it. Let me show you what I mean. Here are quotes from several sources:

Their presence there over the last 12 years has been a source of enormous difficulty for a friendly government. It’s been a huge recruiting device for al Qaeda. In fact if you look at bin Laden, one of his principle grievances was the presence of so-called crusader forces on the holy land, Mecca and Medina.

Paul Wolfowitz on the presence of American soldiers in Saudi Arabia

[b]First, for over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples.

If some people have in the past argued about the fact of the occupation, all the people of the Peninsula have now acknowledged it. The best proof of this is the Americans’ continuing aggression against the Iraqi people using the Peninsula as a staging post, even though all its rulers are against their territories being used to that end, but they are helpless.[/b]

Bin Laden’s 1998 fatwa

Right or wrong, it is simply a fact that American policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and American actions in Iraq are dominant staples of popular commentary across the Arab and Muslim world.

The 9/11 Commission Report

Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe – because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty. As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export."

President Bush

It’s hard for us in the west to comprehend the way these people think. The thought of foreign forces occupying our land is so alien to and the chances of it so remote that we don’t even have to consider it, but mulling it over in your mind for five minutes is all it takes to make it obvious. Of course there’s blowback. How could it be any other way?

Look, if you want to disagree with Congressman Paul on non-interventionism, fine. Maybe you think the benefits of certain interventions outweigh the costs. But when he talks about blowback, he’s not some crazy person looking for an excuse to blame America; he’s a serious man putting forth a serious argument about American policy. You owe it to yourself, to me and to every American that will be affected by the way you vote to consider that argument on its merits.[/quote]

===

He’s not another Neville Chamberlain if people would listen to him rather than falling for the shrill hacks bashing him in the media. Let me ask you something. When Reagan decided enough was enough with Qaddafi did he strut around the White House for months on end threatening and huffing and puffing? Or did he do this. Quietly have a squadron or three load up and send him a precise personal message with his name on it. Ron Paul isn’t not against dealing with threats against us. Listen to the plan rather than persons like Hannity’s rhetoric.

Ron Paul wants it done in a Constitutional manner. There is Letters or Marque and or Reprisal which allow for dealing with ones like Saddam and Bin Ladden. If used correctly they are quite effective and much, much, cheaper in cost of U.S. human life and tax dollars.

We started into this mess by helping to put the Shah of Iran in power. That was bad enough as it was none of our business to start with. He wasn’t a saint and generated a hatred toward him in Iran. In the mean time we made a major blunder thinking that Islamic Nations or Arabic states were stable when history says otherwise. We armed Iran to the teeth in the 1960’s up till the overthrow. These were not low tech guns etc. I’m talking about what was our state of the art Navy Fighters namely the F-14 Tomcat. Much of it’s systems are classified information. See a problem?

Well then came the increase in state sponsored terrorism. Many Republicans like to blame this solely on Carter and ignore the real issue created by Gerald Ford who made Letters of Marque and Reprisal and impossibility against the likes of Adi Amin, Qaddafi, Arafat, Saddam. etc and they knew it.

The Shah was overthrown and our military was not in condition to stop it. But that again was not just a Carter issue as the military was quite broken when Carter took over. There was major resentment by the Iranian Revolutionist against the United States. I’m not saying it was right what I am saying is our dealing with the Shah fueled their hatred of us. That is cause and effect. Not blaming but understanding.

Then came the Iran/Iraq war who’s side were we on? We quietly supported Saddam who was also a thug inside his own nation. We supported Bin Laden as well while Russia went broke chasing him through those mountains. Then there was our State Departments coddling of such trash as Arafat until the day he died. All tolled we added up quite a lot of resentment by both friends of one and enemies of another over there.

Our best policy would have been to stay out of their internal affairs long long ago as they were not a threat until we allowed them to become such by removing fear of death of heads of state.

Reagan in his first term realized there was no dealing with them. He learned by watching for example Israel as they in a matter of minutes destroyed Saddams nuclear program. Again had we simply stayed out of Israels way how many problems do you think we would have in the M.E. today? I say very few. Our own State Department is a curse to us in it’s appeasement policies. Our real Neville Chamberlain’s are the ones working there who have been following the exact same policy since 1989 and before 1981 as well. There is no real policy difference between the Johnson State Department, Nixon State Department, Ford State Department, Carter State Department, Bush Sr State Department, Clinton State Department, or W’s for that matter. Same mistakes, same results, repeated year after year.

Only one person right now is saying hey wait a minute I see a pattern in all this. His name is Ron Paul. We can not end Islam. The tribes are as old as Ishmael and Esau and so is the jealousy toward Israel {Isaac and Jacob}.

Now we can either continue on the course or quietly pull back and fortify our own national security which means truly securing our borders etc, or we can fight Islam for generations. They M.E. will always be in turmoil. The sooner we realize it and stop trying to resolve THEIR fights for them the sooner we stop becoming a target. When threats to our security pop up like the one building up to our south quietly take them out. No posturing, suttle warnings, and stealth action via Letters of Marque.

BTW we make no friends pandering to the Sauds either. And some friends they are huh? Most of the 9/11 attackers were from Saudi Arabia. None were from Iraq. Who was and actually is our biggest threat then? The sooner we become energy dependent the sooner no more Saudi deals. But Bush isn’t even pushing that hard now is he? Why not? He should have the GOP making drilling ANWR a number one priority as well as off the coast of Florida. We need refineries ASAP as well. What is the focus instead? Iraq. It just makes no sense.

No Ron Paul is no Chamberlain but his ideas are a threat to those who have less than honorable intentions for our nations future in both parties. I would feel secure with Paul as CIC of the armed forces because he would have them watching over the United States of America with a domestic force unseen since Reagan. He would secure our borders. That right there is how we will be attacked again and Bush is the one practicing appeasement at the expense of our national security in our very own back yard. That concerns me a lot more than any M.E. issues. We can stop them before they get here. We can kick out threats already here. But none of even that will get done because NOBODY is trying. That too is appeasement. None dare call it that unless a DEM is in charge. Islam has never been a religion of peace. NEVER!

I’m pretty skeptical, from what I’ve read thus far on this site, about this thread remaining academic, but…

In my opinion, the idea of blowback – which is nothing more than the law of unintended consequences – is undisputeable. Of course, one could argue that had we not involved ourselves in certain situations, inaction may have lead to more severe consequences than we are now experiencing because of blowback, but a healthy dose of caution and admitting that we – gasp! – carry some blame for the difficulties we are now facing, wouldn’t hurt. I think it’s pretty clear that our foreign policy vis-a-vis the Middle East has, at least, partially lead to some pretty nasty consequences; the difficulty is that the issue is so vastly complicated that I don’t think there is any way of proving conclusively that ‘x’ led to ‘y’ which caused ‘z’. But it would certainly be smart of us to exercise a little more caution, and keep the notion of hubris in mind moving forward.

Blowback: Actions have consequences. It is the result of man acting with imperfect knowledge of all possible circumstances that any action may cause. Many consequences of past actions are unintended and unforeseen hence the term blowback.

There is a line in On The Road, which was written in 1951 by Jack Kerouac in which Sal makes a comment that he feels like an Arab bomber on his way to blow up New York City.

It seems to me the roots of Arab/Muslim terrorism go back much further than you portray. What you call blow back are merely excuses/justifications used by those that have declared a war on western civilization.

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:
What you call blow back are merely excuses/justifications used by those that have declared a war on western civilization.[/quote]

You’re right! Actions don’t have consequences. We can do whatever we want around the world and not ever have to pay the piper.

The West was meddling in the ME before oil was discovered there. Have you forgotten that Britain and France invented the country of Iraq and others in ME by drawing arbitrary lines in the sand? These countries did not know borders before our intervention there. Yes Zap, its all blowback.

[quote]LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:
Zap Branigan wrote:
What you call blow back are merely excuses/justifications used by those that have declared a war on western civilization.

You’re right! Actions don’t have consequences. We can do whatever we want around the world and not ever have to pay the piper.

The West was meddling in the ME before oil was discovered there. Have you forgotten that Britain and France invented the country of Iraq and others in ME by drawing arbitrary lines in the sand? These countries did not know borders before our intervention there. Yes Zap, its all blowback.[/quote]

And Islam occupied parts of Europe before America was discovered. Everything is blowback. Everything is a reaction.

We should continue to do what is right and oppose radical Islam. It will always find an excuse for its evil actions. It doesn’t take much for the people that whip and hang rape victims to generate anger and violence against others.

Zap,

I’m curious about the reference to an arab bomber in “On The Road”. Can you remember what part of the story it is in?

I don’t recall such a reference, and I couldn’t find it in this searchable version on google books:

http://preview.tinyurl.com/3d34kq

Cheers,

Soup

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:
LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:
Zap Branigan wrote:
What you call blow back are merely excuses/justifications used by those that have declared a war on western civilization.

You’re right! Actions don’t have consequences. We can do whatever we want around the world and not ever have to pay the piper.

The West was meddling in the ME before oil was discovered there. Have you forgotten that Britain and France invented the country of Iraq and others in ME by drawing arbitrary lines in the sand? These countries did not know borders before our intervention there. Yes Zap, its all blowback.

And Islam occupied parts of Europe before America was discovered. Everything is blowback. Everything is a reaction.[/quote]

A reaction to the crusades? We should make a time line and see who really started this thousands year war! Then we can finally point a finger at that naughty dead guy.

Does this necessarily have to be done militarily? It seems to me the most effective way to oppose the radical fringe groups is through police-type work, embargoes on countries that harbor them, actions like that - not by moving our army into their countries.

[quote] It will always find an excuse for its evil actions. It doesn’t take much for the people that whip and hang rape victims to generate anger and violence against others.
[/quote]

So then can people stop saying “they hate us for our freedom”?

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:

And Islam occupied parts of Europe before America was discovered. Everything is blowback. Everything is a reaction.

We should continue to do what is right and oppose radical Islam. It will always find an excuse for its evil actions. It doesn’t take much for the people that whip and hang rape victims to generate anger and violence against others.
[/quote]

And Europeans occupied large portions of the Middle East before Islam was born. That seems to be the nature of mankind…

This is why I used qualifiers in my post. I don’t think we are entirely to blame for the rise of Islamic extremism, but I do think we bear some responsibility for its exponential growth and we’ve certainly made ourselves a huge target. All I’m saying is that we’ve been pretty bad about guessing the consequences of our actions. Supporting certain factions (arming, funding, etc) against others, propping up certain regimes, forcing democracy on a country whose culture hasn’t reached the requisite point (I’m probably going to catch a bunch of shit for that), etc. probably aren’t good ideas. Defending ourselves is one thing, sticking our collective nose where it doesn’t belong is another.

[quote]soupandspoons wrote:
Zap,

I’m curious about the reference to an arab bomber in “On The Road”. Can you remember what part of the story it is in?

I don’t recall such a reference, and I couldn’t find it in this searchable version on google books:

http://preview.tinyurl.com/3d34kq

Cheers,

Soup[/quote]

That searchable version is incomplete.

It is closer to the end of the book, it might be when he returns to NYC but before he goes to Mexico.

He says it when he has been driving all night on his way to NYC. I forget the exact wording but he says he feels like an arab bomber on his way to blow up New York City.

It really stuck with me that he would write such a thing in 1951.

[quote]soupandspoons wrote:
Zap,

I’m curious about the reference to an arab bomber in “On The Road”. Can you remember what part of the story it is in?

I don’t recall such a reference, and I couldn’t find it in this searchable version on google books:

http://preview.tinyurl.com/3d34kq

Cheers,

Soup[/quote]

Hmmm, Souuup… drools a la Homer

Out of page 73 of the electronic version:

Dean had a sweater wrapped around his ears to keep warm. He said we were a band of Arabs coming in to blow up New York.

It’s a reference to Saharan attire. Nothing to do with the way Zap tried to portray it.

Most people are Socialists at heart. They want a guaranteed job, health care, schools for their kids, and so on. Capitalism is anathema to most, as it involves change. Humans instinctively shun change.

They therefore WANT a big powerful government that will deliver a happy life to them. They WANT cradle to grave security.

The caveat is that they want to control that powerful government by voting, yet such a government attracts the lowest form of humanity to it, people who enjoy exerting control over others. The officials seek way to subvert the votes.

So, we get the modern form of serfdom we have today.

[quote]Headhunter wrote:
Most people are Socialists at heart. They want a guaranteed job, health care, schools for their kids, and so on. Capitalism is anathema to most, as it involves change. Humans instinctively shun change.

They therefore WANT a big powerful government that will deliver a happy life to them. They WANT cradle to grave security.

The caveat is that they want to control that powerful government by voting, yet such a government attracts the lowest form of humanity to it, people who enjoy exerting control over others. The officials seek way to subvert the votes.

So, we get the modern form of serfdom we have today.[/quote]

While I think I agree with the jist of your post, would you mind explaining its correlation to “blowback?”

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:
There is a line in On The Road, which was written in 1951 by Jack Kerouac in which Sal makes a comment that he feels like an Arab bomber on his way to blow up New York City.

It seems to me the roots of Arab/Muslim terrorism go back much further than you portray. What you call blow back are merely excuses/justifications used by those that have declared a war on western civilization.[/quote]

The roots of Islamic extremism are deep AMONG THE EXTREMISTS.

The blow back is in the form of more, normally moderate, Muslims starting to follow the extremists. Extremism wasn’t and isn’t caused by colonization or imperialism. But those things have not only prolonged it, but helped to expand it. Western aggressive interventionism has allowed the extremists to gain many more followers than they normally would have been able to garner.

[quote]lixy wrote:
soupandspoons wrote:
Zap,

I’m curious about the reference to an arab bomber in “On The Road”. Can you remember what part of the story it is in?

I don’t recall such a reference, and I couldn’t find it in this searchable version on google books:

http://preview.tinyurl.com/3d34kq

Cheers,

Soup

Hmmm, Souuup… drools a la Homer

Out of page 73 of the electronic version:

Dean had a sweater wrapped around his ears to keep warm. He said we were a band of Arabs coming in to blow up New York.

It’s a reference to Saharan attire. Nothing to do with the way Zap tried to portray it.[/quote]

Why would they be blowing up New York?

Is that normal behavior for people wearing Saharan attire?

[quote]Beowolf wrote:
Zap Branigan wrote:
There is a line in On The Road, which was written in 1951 by Jack Kerouac in which Sal makes a comment that he feels like an Arab bomber on his way to blow up New York City.

It seems to me the roots of Arab/Muslim terrorism go back much further than you portray. What you call blow back are merely excuses/justifications used by those that have declared a war on western civilization.

The roots of Islamic extremism are deep AMONG THE EXTREMISTS.

The blow back is in the form of more, normally moderate, Muslims starting to follow the extremists. Extremism wasn’t and isn’t caused by colonization or imperialism. But those things have not only prolonged it, but helped to expand it. Western aggressive interventionism has allowed the extremists to gain many more followers than they normally would have been able to garner.[/quote]

Normal moderate Muslims don’t fly planes into buildings.

[quote]IvanDmitritch wrote:
Headhunter wrote:
Most people are Socialists at heart. They want a guaranteed job, health care, schools for their kids, and so on. Capitalism is anathema to most, as it involves change. Humans instinctively shun change.

They therefore WANT a big powerful government that will deliver a happy life to them. They WANT cradle to grave security.

The caveat is that they want to control that powerful government by voting, yet such a government attracts the lowest form of humanity to it, people who enjoy exerting control over others. The officials seek way to subvert the votes.

So, we get the modern form of serfdom we have today.

While I think I agree with the jist of your post, would you mind explaining its correlation to “blowback?”

[/quote]

Sure. Creating a mixed economy, a moxture of good (capitalism) and evil (socialism), creates a government that seeks to insert itself where it doesn’t belong. A mixed economy attracts scum into government. The scum seek to expand their power. Does this involve overseas adventures? Sure. Exerting American influence in foreign lands is BOUND to create enemies, blowback.

Of course, that’s simply the price to be paid for having any sort of international business dealings. Would you invest YOUR money overseas if the money was at serious risk? No. That’s why a large military is necessary, to ensure and secure investments.

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:
Why would they be blowing up New York? [/quote]

Because they’re jealous of your freedoms, of course.

[quote]Headhunter wrote:
Would you invest YOUR money overseas if the money was at serious risk?
[/quote]

Do you HAVE to invest your money overseas?

On a side note, my mum likes investing in sub-Saharan Africa. You know, the kind of places where you get a coup every month. It’s extremely risky but the pay-offs are immense.

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:
Beowolf wrote:
Zap Branigan wrote:
There is a line in On The Road, which was written in 1951 by Jack Kerouac in which Sal makes a comment that he feels like an Arab bomber on his way to blow up New York City.

It seems to me the roots of Arab/Muslim terrorism go back much further than you portray. What you call blow back are merely excuses/justifications used by those that have declared a war on western civilization.

The roots of Islamic extremism are deep AMONG THE EXTREMISTS.

The blow back is in the form of more, normally moderate, Muslims starting to follow the extremists. Extremism wasn’t and isn’t caused by colonization or imperialism. But those things have not only prolonged it, but helped to expand it. Western aggressive interventionism has allowed the extremists to gain many more followers than they normally would have been able to garner.

Normal moderate Muslims don’t fly planes into buildings.
[/quote]

Normal moderate Muslims would be much less likely to become extremists if we stopped pissing them off.

And if you honestly think we can put a complete end to terrorism, you are a fool. Terrorism has and will always exist. We can only control how we react to it. By getting flustered and allowing ourselves to be drawn into many wars we are playing into the terrorists hands. Does anyone know if Foreign Affairs has an online version so I can go look up a really good article on this subject?