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Old 12-13-2007, 10:19 AM  
patteeu patteeu is offline
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Blowback: The Rest of the Story.

The Taco Rons and the BucEyedPauls of the forum like to tell us how all of our problems with radical islamists are really our own fault because attacks like those of 9/11 are blowback caused by our "interventionist" foreign policy. What they don't consider are the positive results that have come as a direct result of these interventions and which must be weighed against any blowback that may have occurred (e.g. our support of Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war may well have prevented a hostile Iran from taking control of the oil fields in Iraq and from becoming the dominant player in that region of the world.). They also don't consider any unintended consequences of the neo-isolationism that they wish to impose. Surely they aren't naive enough to think their preferred foreign policy would be free from unintended consequences. Here is a great article discussing both sides of the blowback coin:

Quote:
Reflections on Blowback

Some time back Republican candidate for President Ron Paul stirred up considerable debate by arguing that 9/11 was "blowback" for the United States' foreign policy toward the Muslim world over the past half century or so, going back to the CIA engineered coup in 1953 that ousted Iranian leader Mossadegh. The term blowback had earlier been used by Chalmers Johnson as the title of a book whose sub-title made Ron Paul's point even more aggressively: "The Costs and Consequences of American Empire." In both instances, blowback refers to the negative consequences of America's foreign policy that could presumably have been avoided if the United States had pursued a policy that avoided either imperialism (Johnson's term) or interventionism (Ron Paul's.)

The term "blowback" comes from the jargon of espionage: it originally meant the unintended negative consequences of a covert operation. By extension, blowback came to be used to apply to the unintended consequences of American foreign policy, including both covert operations, like the removal of Mossadegh, and quite open operations, such as stationing American troops in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War. But the concept of blowback remains morally ambiguous. For example, if a man robs a bank, and, as a result of his robbery, gets thrown in jail, we will say that the negative consequences, i.e., his time in jail, are the robber's just desserts, or, to use the vernacular, we might say that "he had it coming." Many critics of American foreign policy on the left, especially those who talk of American imperialism, belong to the "We had it coming" school in their analysis of 9/11. According to their perspective, imperialism is a self-evident evil, and those who engage in it must expect to suffer some kind of negative moral consequences. The underlying idea here goes back to the Greek historian Herodotus who sees history as a constant overtaking of hubris, or arrogance, by nemesis, or retribution. If Ron Paul meant that 9/11 was morally appropriate retribution for America's foreign policy, then it is little wonder that his statement has received so much verbal blowback.

But, as the Book of Job made clear once and for all, bad things also happen to good people. While Job's comforters kept insisting that Job must have committed some secret transgression in order to explain away his afflictions, the reader of the story has been clearly notified that this interpretation of events is false: Job, as we know, has done nothing wrong. But the same thing can be said of the professor at Virginia Tech who attempted to shield his students from being massacred by a madman with a gun. His heroic action got him shot to death. Was this, too, blowback?

Osama bin Laden claimed that 9/11 was revenge for our decision to station American troops in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War. But American troops were in Saudi Arabia not to steal their oil, but to keep Saddam Hussein from getting it. We were willing to risk the lives of American soldiers to protect the oil wealth of the Saudis, instead of risking their lives to seize this wealth for ourselves, as a genuine imperialist power would have done. So if Osama bin Laden can be believed, 9/11 was our reward for standing up to violent aggression. If this is blowback, then the death of the professor at Virginia Tech should also be judged as blowback, in which case the term blowback would refer to the unintended negative consequences of virtuous actions as well as those of vicious actions.

...

This brings us back to Ron Paul's remark. If the inherent complexity of the world exposes any foreign policy to the risk of blowback, then it would be absurd to criticize a nation's foreign policy simply because it led to unintended negative consequences. Furthermore, such criticism would be unwarranted in direct proportion to the degree that the behavior of other players on the world stage was unpredictable and inscrutable, since any factor that increases the complexity of a system makes it more difficult to manage intelligently. Given the fact that the behavior of radical Islam is on an order of unpredictability and inscrutability that eclipses all previous geopolitical challenges that our nation has faced, it is a utopian dream to imagine that the United States, as the world's dominant power, could possibly escape blowback by any course of action it tried to pursue. We are both damned if we do, and damned if we don't.

We may agree with Ron Paul that our interventionist policy in the Middle East has led to unintended negative consequences, including even 9/11, but this admission offers us absolutely no insight into what unintended consequences his preferred policy of non-intervention would have exposed us to. It is simply a myth to believe that only interventionism yields unintended consequence, since doing nothing at all may produce the same unexpected results. If American foreign policy had followed a course of strict non-interventionism, the world would certainly be different from what it is today; but there is no obvious reason to think that it would have been better.

If the concept of blowback is to serve any constructive purpose in our current debate over our future foreign policy, it must not be used to beat up those whose decisions turned out in retrospect to be wrong, but to remind us of the common lot of those sad creatures, known as human beings, who are constantly forced to deal with the future without ever being able to see into it.
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Old 12-13-2007, 10:43 AM   #2
Jenson71 Jenson71 is offline
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Quote:
Osama bin Laden claimed that 9/11 was revenge for our decision to station American troops in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War. But American troops were in Saudi Arabia not to steal their oil, but to keep Saddam Hussein from getting it. We were willing to risk the lives of American soldiers to protect the oil wealth of the Saudis, instead of risking their lives to seize this wealth for ourselves, as a genuine imperialist power would have done. So if Osama bin Laden can be believed, 9/11 was our reward for standing up to violent aggression.
This article makes it sound like U.S. military presence left Saudi Arabia after the first Gulf War was over. But we know forces were stationed there much longer than 1991 (1). The article in my link says more than a decade. 12 years of presence.

And don't bin Laden's statements (1) (2) indicate this? The American military forces presence in the Holiest lands of Islam caused the anti-American sentiment?
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Old 12-13-2007, 10:50 AM   #3
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'Er, I never used the word "fault" that's your extrapolation. Blame, fault are low levels of responsibility...if they are responsibility at all. Paul refers to flawed policy that calls for adjustment just alike a CEO of a corporation would have to do.

The guy's article is not worth reading, once I saw the part where he claims that we were not on Saudi Soil to steal SA's oil. ! Whoever made such a ridiculous claim? No one.

The same article is full of other twists on Paul as well as former head of bin Laden CT Unit has said such as " we had it coming." Last, Paul has never claimed to be a "libertarian." He says he's a Republican, that he's a Constitutionalist which is a fairly libertarian document.

Govt tends to make things worse than make things better in general to even a true conservative. Just like the War on Poverty and the War on Drugs. The same fate will meet the War on Terror. Govt is the problem, not the solution. IIRC correctly RR said similarly.

So I can't take this guy's input seriously.
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Old 12-13-2007, 10:54 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenson71
This article makes it sound like U.S. military presence left Saudi Arabia after the first Gulf War was over. But we know forces were stationed there much longer than 1991 (1). The article in my link says more than a decade. 12 years of presence.

And don't bin Laden's statements (1) (2) indicate this? The American military forces presence in the Holiest lands of Islam caused the anti-American sentiment?
I don't know why you would interpret that passage in that way. I don't think it implies that we left after the first Gulf War was over at all.

The author is not denying that bin Laden's attacks may have been a reaction to our military presence in Saudi Arabia. He's pointing out that our presence in Saudi Arabia may have had positive as well as negative effects and that to the extent this is considered blowback, blowback can be a response to "virtuous actions as well as those of vicious actions".

BTW, it's very possible that bin Laden formulated his rationale for hating America after he determined that his movement needed a unifying demon to replace the vanquished Soviet Union rather than before.
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Old 12-13-2007, 10:56 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BucEyedPea
'Er, I never used the word "fault" that's your extrapolation. Blame, fault are low levels of responsibility...if they are responsibility at all. Paul refers to flawed policy that calls for adjustment just alike a CEO of a corporation would have to do.

The guy's article is not worth reading, once I saw the part where he claims that we were not on Saudi Soil to steal SA's oil. ! Whoever made such a ridiculous claim? No one.

The same article is full of other twists on Paul as well as former head of bin Laden CT Unit has said such as " we had it coming." Last, Paul has never claimed to be a "libertarian." He says he's a Republican, that he's a Constitutionalist which is a fairly libertarian document.

Govt tends to make things worse than make things better in general to even a true conservative. Just like the War on Poverty and the War on Drugs. The same fate will meet the War on Terror. Govt is the problem, not the solution. IIRC correctly RR said similarly.

So I can't take this guy's input seriously.
The article *is* a little too serious to be worth your time. I don't blame you for refusing to read it and give it thoughtful consideration.

BTW, I think it's safe to assume that Ron Paul *has* claimed to be a libertarian at one time or another given that he was their candidate for president in 1988.
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Old 12-13-2007, 11:00 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patteeu
I don't know why you would interpret that passage in that way. I don't think it implies that we left after the first Gulf War was over at all.
I disagree, patteeu.

Quote:
Osama bin Laden claimed that 9/11 was revenge for our decision to station American troops in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War.
A more correct statement would read "Osama bin Laden claimed that 9/11 was revenge for our decision to station American troops in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War and maintaining a presence there twelve years after the conflict ended."

Leaving the "maintaining" part out of it is an essential part of the problem.
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Old 12-13-2007, 11:12 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenson71
I disagree, patteeu.



A more correct statement would read "Osama bin Laden claimed that 9/11 was revenge for our decision to station American troops in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War and maintaining a presence there twelve years after the conflict ended."

Leaving the "maintaining" part out of it is an essential part of the problem.
I agree that it would have been more clear with your amended sentence. I guess that since I'm fully aware of how long our troops were in Saudi Arabia I assumed that that's what the author meant. I can see how someone who isn't familiar with the situation might misread it, but he didn't say anything that implied that the troops were removed. Technically, he was accurate that the "decision" was made during the first Gulf War. Besides, it's not clear that removing the troops from Saudi Arabia after the end of the first Gulf War would have made any difference at all. They've been removed now but the threat persists.

In any event, we can agree to disagree about the most reasonable meaning of this passage, IMO, without invalidating the actual point of the article which is that blowback is a more complicated concept than Ron Paul supporters would lead us to believe. It has to be balanced against the good achieved by the actions that cause it and the net result has to be weighed against the entire impact of the alternative approach embraced by Paul (e.g. neo-isolationism) which would include different kinds of "blowback".
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Old 12-13-2007, 11:18 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patteeu
The article *is* a little too serious to be worth your time. I don't blame you for refusing to read it and give it thoughtful consideration.
I did read it...a quick read to see if it would be worthwhile to pull me off of my Christmas cookie-baking.

Quote:
BTW, I think it's safe to assume that Ron Paul *has* claimed to be a libertarian at one time or another given that he was their candidate for president in 1988.
No it's not. He was asked this exactly by, iirc Lou Dobbs and someone else on national tv. He denied it. So they brought up the fact that he ran as a libertarian. He admitted it. He did the opposite. He said exactly as i posted earlier. He implied being "fairly" libertarian by saying the Constitution was a "fairly libertarian" document. He also admitted, that his roots were in the Old Right.

Go eat some chocolate and smell some roses.
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Old 12-13-2007, 11:19 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patteeu
The Taco Rons and the BucEyedPauls of the forum like to tell us how all of our problems with radical islamists are really our own fault because attacks like those of 9/11 are blowback caused by our "interventionist" foreign policy. What they don't consider are the positive results that have come as a direct result of these interventions and which must be weighed against any blowback that may have occurred (e.g. our support of Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war may well have prevented a hostile Iran from taking control of the oil fields in Iraq and from becoming the dominant player in that region of the world.). They also don't consider any unintended consequences of the neo-isolationism that they wish to impose. Surely they aren't naive enough to think their preferred foreign policy would be free from unintended consequences. Here is a great article discussing both sides of the blowback coin:
That's really an extraordinary statement. That's really an extraordinary statement, as someone who watched the attack of Sept. 11, that you invite 9/11 type events so long as there is enough positive gained otherwise from our unconstitutional and interventionist foriegn policy. I don't think I have ever heard that before and I have heard some pretty absurd stuff from neo-cons. I would ask the poster withdraw that comment and tell us that he didn't really mean that.
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Old 12-13-2007, 11:21 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenson71
This article makes it sound like U.S. military presence left Saudi Arabia after the first Gulf War was over. But we know forces were stationed there much longer than 1991 (1). The article in my link says more than a decade. 12 years of presence.

And don't bin Laden's statements (1) (2) indicate this? The American military forces presence in the Holiest lands of Islam caused the anti-American sentiment?


you might find this link interesting, from the Saudi Prince...

http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/10/1...nce/index.html
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Old 12-13-2007, 11:29 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patteeu

In any event, we can agree to disagree about the most reasonable meaning of this passage, IMO, without invalidating the actual point of the article which is that blowback is a more complicated concept than Ron Paul supporters would lead us to believe. It has to be balanced against the good achieved by the actions that cause it and the net result has to be weighed against the entire impact of the alternative approach embraced by Paul (e.g. neo-isolationism) which would include different kinds of "blowback".
Right. But when we agree that it wasn't just "presence in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War (period) and its good" and instead, "presence in Saudi Arabia for over 12 years and its good" I think the good becomes less than "we protected them from Iraqi aggression in the Gulf War."

It seems like we could stay in any country for twelve years and cause at least a little "good" - soldiers bringing economic development, a sense of security, etc.

How good was it that American military presence was stationd in the holiest lands of Islam?
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Old 12-13-2007, 11:31 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taco John
That's really an extraordinary statement. That's really an extraordinary statement, as someone who lived through the attack of Sept. 11, that you invite 9/11 type events so long as there is enough positive gained otherwise from our unconstitutional and interventionist foriegn policy. I don't think I have ever heard that before and I have heard some pretty absurd from neo-cons. I would ask the poster withdraw that comment and tell us that he didn't really mean that.


You continue to make the same mistake this article illustrates. You're exclusively focused on one aspect of a multi-aspect story. It's like cost-benefit analysis without factoring in the benefit and without comparing the results to a realistic cost-benefit analysis of the alternative. It's a pretty shoddy form of analysis.
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Old 12-13-2007, 11:32 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Jenson71
Right. But when we agree that it wasn't just "presence in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War (period) and its good" and instead, "presence in Saudi Arabia for over 12 years and its good" I think the good becomes less than "we protected them from Iraqi aggression in the Gulf War."

It seems like we could stay in any country for twelve years and cause at least a little "good" - soldiers bringing economic development, a sense of security, etc.

How good was it that American military presence was stationd in the holiest lands of Islam?
We didn't force ourselves on them. The Saudi government believed they were better off with us there until the very end of that 12 years.

But again, you're focusing on a minor side point and missing the actual point of the article. This was intended to be an example to illustrate a concept not evidence of the wrongness of Ron Paul's analysis. The article works equally well with your amended sentence. Even though I don't agree that it's necessary, I encourage you to read the article as if that sentence were amended in the way you suggest.
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Old 12-13-2007, 11:49 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patteeu
We didn't force ourselves on them. The Saudi government believed they were better off with us there until the very end of that 12 years.

But again, you're focusing on a minor side point and missing the actual point of the article. This was intended to be an example to illustrate a concept not evidence of the wrongness of Ron Paul's analysis. The article works equally well with your amended sentence. Even though I don't agree that it's necessary, I encourage you to read the article as if that sentence were amended in the way you suggest.
don't confuse them. they wanna believe it's all foreign policy blowback.

so how do you explain the Spain/London,France,Germany problems since 9/11....

it's all western countries that aren't islam so get the infidels.
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Old 12-13-2007, 11:51 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patteeu


You continue to make the same mistake this article illustrates. You're exclusively focused on one aspect of a multi-aspect story. It's like cost-benefit analysis without factoring in the benefit and without comparing the results to a realistic cost-benefit analysis of the alternative. It's a pretty shoddy form of analysis.


I thought the article was pretty ****ing stupid. Basically, "you can't say interventionism is bad bacause we don't know if non-interventionism would produce the same results."

If I pay someone to shit on your doorstep, you're going to be pissed at me. If I pay someone to shit on your doorstep, and then take over your property in order to protect your doorstep from being shit on, what are you going to think about that? You might think, "how about you don't pay someone to shit on my doorstep in the first place and leave me the hell alone." Or perhaps you'll be happy that I'm there to protect your doorstep. Who knows.

The point is, Saddam became a problem in the ME because the US made him a problem. We're doing the same thing in Pakistan. We prop up dictators, then invade other countries under the guise of "protecting" them from the dictators that we've propped up. It's moronic.
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