Re: Knowing the people, and clearing one's mind

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Thu Oct 04 2001 - 13:13:12 MDT

Jacques Du Pasquier wrote:
> Samantha Atkins a écrit (3.10.2001/10:26) :
> > > Well, here is a first point : how can you predict them without
> > > understanding them ?
> >
> > I can predict that many hate the US for some of its past and
> > future actions (not especially for our goodness as some would
> > like to believe). I can predict more of them will take
> > increasingly desperate and horrific action as we press this
> > "war" more deeply on their homelands.
> But can you predict how they will react if US leave Saoudi Arabia, for
> example ? Think of the talk here about not depending on oil anymore.
> How much of a solution will that be ? What about Israel ? Will US have
> to abandon Israel, too, to satisfy their sense of justice ? And if US
> leave Saoudi, and Israel becomes New Israel somewhere in Utah (as
> someone suggested ),
> will they be happy, then ? Or will they go on to a further
> establishment of justice, by attacking us ?

So, even if we have done horrendous things ourselves in the Mid
and elsewhere in the world we should still act as if those who
strike against us are simply subhuman "cowards" and have no
qualms about
ripping the hell out of any country we think is supportive of
them? Or should our own complicity give us a moment or two of

Should we ok all matter of covert actions to assasinate, wage
psywar, topple governments, kick in doors in foreign lands in
the middle of the night and execute all within, bomb hell out of
strongholds even with heavy "collateral damage" in pursuing this
policy against the all black-hearted "enemy"? If we practice
all of these techniques as our administration and the Pentagon
have called for with little limits then exactly how are we
better than those who use some of the same techniques to strike
us for what they believe are our wrongs?

After reading some of the Israeli rhetoric and looking into its
actions I am increasingly of the mind that Israel does not
deserve our protection. At the very least it does not deserve
to be treated with kid gloves by us for its many abuses.

> I don't see how you can predict these things without understanding
> what their claims are, what they feel deep inside, and what they want.

I am attempting to understand their claims.

> There are 2 things to consider for the prediction : what they want,
> and what they can actually achieve. Now, and in the future. And
> obviously, how many of them, how well organized, how well supported,
> they will be, and this amounts to understanding the links between them
> and between more general cultural-social-religious perceptions in
> these countries.

Well. I can predict that if we take some of the actions
proposed against Mid East targets you will have a lot more of
the area much more strongly polarized against us. Their
powerlessness is a fertile ground for terrorist strikes as those
take a lot less resources and are by their nature launched in a
clandestine manner. It would take a full police state to
control against all manner of terrorism. Do we want to go there
at home or abroad? I don't think so.

> > That misses my points. But I do not believe Islam is itself as
> > central as oppression, injustice and victims lashing out against
> > who they see as the oppressor any way that they can. Islam, or
> > rather the more militant edge of it, is relevant but I don't
> > believe it is the most central for understanding the story. It
> > is easier for many to do amateur "analysis" of Islam and blame
> > Islam than come to grips
> > with guilt and culpability on our as well as "their" side.
> Samantha, I see the following problem : you are so willing to be fair
> and moral, and to face your own (collective) responsability, that you
> think that everything depends on it.

I certainly did not say any such thing. But I think it quite
important to speak up when I see our own collective
responsibility being ignored or not considered in the equation.
I think it important especially when we are proposing actions
and policies that will increase the danger and volatility hugely
with imo insufficient consideration of how we may be ordering
much more of the same that inflamed and fueled terrorist actions
from the region in the first place.
> It's like tomorrow is Judgement Day, and nothing else matters.

In the possible consequences of our actions we could be headed
straight into a huge war that could inflame much of our planet
for at least a generation. That is as close to "Jugement Day"
as I want to get. I hope we consider fully where we are, how we
got here and the possible consequences at such a time.
> But if you see what's in their head, then you will probably see that
> not everything they require match what you are willing to give. That
> things that you are ashamed that the US did, they mock as tame and
> coward. That things that you would like to see establish for justice,
> they reject totally.

It is not necessary to see fully in our heads to realize that if
I myself with my own philosophical settings was a native of that
region I would not have a very good attitude to many of the
actions of the US and of our allies (especially Israel).
Putting oneself in their shoes does not mean you have to take on
all of their beliefs. Even without that I cannot say they did
not have cause to be militant toward us in whatever way they

That some reject what I might consider more just does not mean
that all do or that implementing a bit more just behavior in the
region would not take some of the energy out of their terrorist

> But talking about "justice"... what is it ?

I won't even go there. We are claiming "justice" on our side to
do whatever we wish in the region.

> Isn't justice the respect of the rights of an individual belonging to
> a community, the rights being given by the rule of the community ?

I don't think rights are given by communities. But that is a
different conversation.
> So what's the community we are part of with bin Laden ? Did we agree
> on anything together ?
> We can talk about justice when we agree on something. Trying to agree
> will bring out what both parties want, and we will see if it's
> compatible. If so, we will commit to something, and respect it with
> justice.

This is another way of making other human beings not humans
because they are not us and we don't have formal agreements.
Actually there are agreements that are supposed to be for all
peoples in the world although we as well as they often ignore
them. I think we do owe a certain level of reasonable behavior
to all people whenever possible. I do not agree that that 911
means that we can/should act utterly without any consideration
of what is reasonable behavior or sub-humanize all who might
employ terror tactics against us.

> In the mean time, focusing on the fact that "we must respect justice"
> in order to solve the problem doesn't strike me as a terrifically
> sound approach.

It is precisely what we are claiming to act from. It is a
hypocritical claim if it is not what we act from.

Are you saying that it does not matter at all whether we caused
a large part of the problem with our actions and policies? Do
you sweep any truth to such responsibility under the rug by
saying it is a justice claim and that "justice" is not
applicable? This seems to me a very questionable stance. It is
a claim about reality. A claim of cause and effect and a
recognition that one cannot expect to elimiate much of the
unwanted effects without recognizing and modifying what causes
that one can.

> > > Ben Laden is not mad, not evil, not coward (I don't know him
> > > personnally, but at least it doesn't appear to be). But he is an
> > > ENNEMY (read his "Declaration of war against the Americans" in case
> > > you have any doubt). Do you need to morally diminish your ennemy to
> > > acknowledge him as such ? Of course not !
> > >
> >
> > Will we make him and others like him less an enemy by bombing
> > the hell out of large sections of the Mid East that we have
> > already been screwing with in often horrendous ways for
> > decades? Very doubtful.
> Well, if you kill your ennemy, he does stop to be your ennemy in some
> important sense.

And a dozen rise up in his place.
> > Will it help our reaching Singularity
> > to engage in such hypocritical posturings as "Infinite
> > Justice". Hell no.
> I agree on this.
> It seems that the names have a "tactic" meaning, and are not directed
> to the public but to the ennemy himself. But as it is publicized, it
> leaves much to be desired.

OK. It sure does leave a lot to be desired. It is a sickening

> > > You may object that this way of thinking tends to polarize the
> > > situation, by accepting that "good" guys can be our ennemies, and be a
> > > fullfilling prophecy avoiding that we build a harmonious world
> > > together, with all the good guys, by explaining them that they are
> > > wrong to act as they do, and that by just adapting a little their
> > > behaviour, we can consider them as really good guy and not "very
> > > evil-mad" good guy. But that which you may overlook, is that they
> > > don't give a damn of your "harmony" and your "sense of justice", which
> > > is just degenerated christian-atheist nonsense. For them, justice is
> > > otherwise.
> >
> > I don't disagree at all and see some point in being clear
> > certainly. But I still think whether we judge the terrorist as
> > cowards or courageous is a side-show to the main questions and
> > issues. We are hypocrites to hate these terrorist when our CIA
> > has done much worse in many countries, toppled and created
> > entire regimes, engaged in torture, terrorizing civilian
> > populations and so on. Any "solution" that does not admit our
> > own dirty deeds and work toward stopping our own real terrorism
> > is a very dangerous cover-up and scapegoating. Was what was
> > done to the WTC and Pentagon wrong? Of course. But was it also
> > a seriously aggreivated wrong from our own past actions? I
> > think the answer again has to be affirmative.
> I think this way of thinking shows you want to be fair, and to have a
> morally good conduct. This is of course something good. However, as I
> said above, there is a danger in thinking that everything depends on
> what you do, and on its position on your moral scale. There happen to
> be other people, with specific world views and agenda, very remote
> from yours.

Everything does depend on what we do and how we do it as far as
the degree of relative safety and room for our dreams to become
real. Or at the least, that is the only handle for influencing
things that we have. It is not whether I or we look moral or
not per se. It is about something that much more root level
than that. It is about whether we are acting in congruence with
reality and with fundamental principles based in reality or
not. If we are not then we can expect that our actions are not
likely to do other than making things much worse. Let other
people take care of their own worldview and acting with
integrity. We are responsible for our own.

- samantha

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