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Old 04-01-2005, 07:16 PM   #1
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Not sure if it is allowed...

But for the sake of equity.. (Read: Excluding Equity in the GA Admission Policy)

George Bush may very well go down as one of the most effective leaders in world history.

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An End to War?
March 31 2005 23 59 GMT



By Kamran Bokhari

Although it is a very unconventional war, the U.S. war against al Qaeda -- like any other war -- eventually must come to an end. But because of its very nature, questions that have been posed since the Sept. 11 attacks have revolved around how to gauge the United States' military progress against a non-state actor, how we will know when the war actually has ended and what peace and security will mean in the post-9/11 age.

These are not easy questions to answer. The dynamics of this war are unlike any other, and Washington cannot gauge its progress (or lack thereof) by territories held or other conventional means. Nor can the means of ending the war shape future relations between the main actors.

However, there is now a real and growing sense that the Bush administration is working to bring closure to this war by targeting al Qaeda's core leadership directly, and Washington is beginning to turn its attention to other matters, while acknowledging that the battle against militant Islamism likely will continue at some level for a long time.

Unlike most other observers, we believe the war is going in the United States' favor. Other than the Madrid train bombings a year ago, al Qaeda has been able to stage no significant attacks in the West and none at all in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001. It has confined its actions largely to the Muslim world -- its home region, where operations are easiest to mount -- but even there we see a weakening of militancy. The frequency of attacks in Iraq and other areas should not be mistaken for a surge in militancy, particularly if the attacks do not cause much damage and do not manage to alter the flow of political events.

Al Qaeda leaders, seeking to lay low in southwest Asia, have seen their offensive capabilities reduced to issuing communiques via audio and videotapes and press releases. The counterterrorism offensives launched by Southeast Asian states have prevented any major strikes from taking place, and militant activity in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia is negligible, even though many members of jihadist groups remain in this area.

Even in the Arab Middle East, transnational Islamist militants do not seem to be operating very effectively. This trend is particularly noteworthy in Saudi Arabia, where -- despite al Qaeda's shift toward striking government targets late last year -- the group's ability to stage attacks has declined markedly. The Saudi intelligence and security apparatus not only appears to have contained the militant phenomenon, but recently has taken the offensive.

Moreover, the kingdom's religious establishment -- long viewed as having divided loyalties and some sympathies for al Qaeda -- recently has spoken out vocally against the "jihadist" movement. This has forced al Qaeda's Saudi branch to attempt strikes in Kuwait and Qatar instead. It is possible that the militants could pull off small- to medium-sized attacks in the United Arab Emirates or Oman, and a surge in activity could even take place in al Qaeda's former stomping ground, Yemen. All the same, widening the sphere of operations will not, by itself, compensate for a decline in the effectiveness of attacks.

The only place where al Qaeda has been able to act with relative success has been Iraq -- though even that has required co-opting an existing group, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's organization, which established itself in the mayhem following the ouster of the Hussein regime. Signaling a growing sense of the original al Qaeda's impotence, Osama bin Laden is believed to have recently called on al-Zarqawi to concentrate on expanding beyond Iraq -- and if possible, to attempt strikes in the continental United States. The message, intercepted by U.S. intelligence, indicates that al Qaeda prime considers Iraq to be a lost cause.

Even al-Zarqawi has acknowledged that he faces a crisis: In one of his initial communiques to bin Laden, early last year, he warned that his fighters were in a race against time. The Sunnis' nationalist insurgency may linger on for some time after the consolidation of the new Shiite-led government in Baghdad, but transnational militants -- who have contributed only a small fraction of the overall daily attacks -- will probably not last long once a new Iraqi Constitution is drafted and a democratically elected government is in power. Therefore, if the most robust of all its units now sees the clock ticking for its eventual annihilation, we feel it is safe to view al Qaeda as a largely spent force.

This view is strengthened by the fact that Muslim regimes -- in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and now Iraq -- are finding it necessary to combat suicide bombers and other jihadist operations, prompted not only by U.S. pressure but also the threat to the regimes' own survival. Ultimately, the physical space in which the jihadists can sustain their movement, plan operations and execute strikes is shrinking -- and the likelihood of their own deaths or captures is growing.

For instance, the new government in Iraq has accelerated its efforts to arrest al-Zarqawi, having already captured a number of his key aides, and Pakistani forces have released information that indicates they are making progress in attempts to locate bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri. These include a March 25 statement by Lt. Gen. Safdar Hussain, head of the XI Corps in Peshawar and commander of counterterrorism operations in the northwestern tribal regions, who said that bin Laden's security detail consists of nearly 50 men, arranged in concentric circles of security, for which Pakistani forces now are on the lookout.

There also are signs that the U.S. military is preparing to carry out a (possibly final) offensive against the al Qaeda leaders, who are believed to be hiding in northwestern Pakistan. Among these is Washington's long-awaited decision March 25 to sell F-16 fighter aircraft to Islamabad -- a move that will give President Gen. Pervez Musharraf the political capital he needs to launch a joint offensive with the United States on Pakistani soil. U.S. forces also have relocated from western Afghanistan to areas along its border with Pakistan.

The capture or death of any of the three militant leaders would pose a significant setback for lower echelons of the jihadist movement, which would lose direction and a source of morale. Jihadist operatives are fueled not only by constant doses of ideology, but also by tangible proof of their own progress or success. With tempos of operations at their lowest ebb since the Sept. 11 strikes, the elimination of all or even one of the top three leaders could erode al Qaeda's capabilities to the point that attacks are regarded as mere nuisances -- a level that, though undesirable, is manageable.

Another point to consider is that a certain combination of circumstances gave rise to al Qaeda and created an environment that allowed it to nourish and grow -- domestic conditions within Muslim nation-states; regional forces within the Middle East and South Asia; and the international situation within the context of the Cold War. Even within that environment, however, it took bin Laden and his followers some 15 to 20 years to establish al Qaeda as a significant geopolitical threat.

The conditions that fostered al Qaeda's growth no longer exist, and the current global fight against Islamist militant movements will make it nearly impossible for the next generation of jihadists -- which potentially could emerge, though it would likely take more than 15 to 20 years -- to replace al Qaeda on an equal scale, once the group has been squelched out. In short, we do not believe the world faces a long-term threat from current jihadist elements -- and we might in fact be entering another cycle of relative security, until another generation of Islamist extremists can revive transnational militancy.

Essentially, we are entering another age in which global relationships are defined by alliances and tensions between nation-states.

Now, some have suggested that the war in Iraq, like the Soviet conflict in Afghanistan, has become a breeding ground for the next generation of Islamist militants. Though there certainly are similarities -- both situations involve warfare, a convergence of Arab and Muslim mujahideen and the presence of Islamist extremists -- there are significant differences as well. Perhaps the most important is that in Afghanistan, the majority of the populace opposed Soviet efforts to prop up an Afghan Marxist regime, which came to be viewed as a godless oppressor and legitimate target of jihad. In Baghdad, the new, U.S.-backed government -- made up of Shia and Kurds -- actually has the support of most Iraqi voters. Furthermore, the political process in Iraq is undercutting the insurgency by co-opting many of its leaders -- and there is no rival foreign power with its own proxies, seeking to contain U.S. efforts.

Among the Sunni elements, there also are differences: The Iraq conflict has not attracted nearly as many foreign mujahideen as did the war in Afghanistan, nor do the majority of Iraqi Sunnis subscribe to al Qaeda's extremist Wahhabi ideology.

It could be further argued that the Bush administration's push for democratization -- especially in the Arab Middle East and wider Muslim world -- is another factor that will reduce the attractiveness of militantism in the long term. Because the people of the region have no love for the existing authoritarian political structures, external demands for democracy will mesh with internal desires for greater freedoms and self-determination.

However, fears linger in the West that a truly democratic protest could allow radical anti-U.S. groups to gain power in the Middle East.

These apprehensions bear examination. At least in Iraq and Afghanistan, where political liberalization already is under way, there is empirical evidence to the contrary: We see conservative and even Islamist forces, which wield much greater influence than the militants, moderating their stances as nation-building efforts take root. Similar phenomena have occurred in Turkey, Iran and Pakistan -- states where democratic politics exist, to varying degrees.

In other words, democratization in states where significant Islamist movements make respectable showings in elections has had a moderating effect on Islamist ideologues -- albeit most of these forces are relatively moderate to begin with, compared to those with extremist transnational agendas. It is important to note, as well, that radical and militant Islamists oppose democracy; therefore, notions that radicalism and militancy will only spread with the collapse of autocracies and the onset of democracy carry no water.

The wild card that could sustain jihadism lies in the Chechen situation, where the militants' ethnic makeup makes it hard to detect them. Moreover, they are not facing a dragnet of the same intensity as that directed against al Qaeda. A weakening Russia could provide the circumstances under which the Chechen militants go transnational. But for this to occur, one of two conditions must exist. Either remnants of al Qaeda will have to move to the Caucasus, or the Chechen militants will have to subscribe to an anti-American and pan-Islamist enterprise.

Since the chances of either are slim, the current jihadist movement seems to have passed its peak as a serious geopolitical force -- at least for the next generation.
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Old 04-01-2005, 08:46 PM   #2
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The will of free men and women will render political Islam impotent. A free world is a peacefull world.
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Old 04-01-2005, 08:54 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by A_Wanderer
The will of free men and women will render political Islam impotent. A free world is a peacefull world.
I may not agree with you all the time, and I may not agree with the means by which this MAY be accomplished, but I do agree with this statement.
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Old 04-02-2005, 04:25 PM   #4
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To play the Devil's Advocate, I don't know if Islam will be rendered "impotent." It's easy to say that when I think that probably 3/4+ of the people here either openly or secretly are disgusted with Islam (and this is both on the right and the left of the political spectrum). When it comes closer to home, though, the U.S. seems to be gravitating to a "political Christianity." How can the U.S. have the moral high-ground to "modernize" Islamic nations, when we have a leadership interested in regressing to a quasi-theocratic state in itself? After all, Iran is technically a democracy too, but with a heavily theocratic superstructure, such as a stacked and biased judiciary, it's really not a democracy at all. Seeing the current GOP leadership assault the judiciary on a regular basis, I'd like to hope we can avoid their fate.

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Old 04-04-2005, 11:44 AM   #5
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Re: Not sure if it is allowed...

Quote:
Originally posted by Nostradamus
George Bush may very well go down as one of the most effective leaders in world history.
as opposed to who, helen keller?

the great thing about bush is that he has a plan to get out of vietnam.

anyways, what a scumbag.
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Old 04-09-2005, 01:02 PM   #6
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http://bellaciao.org/en/article.php3?id_article=5723
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Old 04-09-2005, 10:31 PM   #7
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Deep I'm so shocked and offended!

Don't you know that Mr Bush and Mr Blair are God fearing Christians and MEN OF PEACE who would never ever temporarily pose as being in league with war mongerers for the sake of electoral interests. And in accordance with Cheney chapter 11, veruses 9-11 these men have quite correctly used our taxpayers money to spread our democracy and FREEDOM around the world.

Good thing too - it's about time decent people stood up against the menace.

This of course is why Mr Blair has brought the UK into more wars than the previous 2 prime ministers of the UK put together - because he knows that FREEDOM and DEMOCRACY do not come easy - no they must be spread at the point of a gun if necessary.

P.S. Did someone mention civilian casualties? Sorry I cant hear you.

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Old 04-09-2005, 10:50 PM   #8
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Right now may you clarify exactly financeguy. Are you saying that Muqtada al-Sadr and the Medhi Army are decent people and that the menace is the US.

A protest of thousands does not an overwhelming majority make ~ considering the polls from all over Iraq from various outlets (Arab Media, BBC, Coalition) have consistently shown that most Iraqi's do not want a theocracy and do not want the coalition out yet.
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Old 04-09-2005, 10:54 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by A_Wanderer
Right now may you clarify exactly financeguy. Are you saying that Muqtada al-Sadr and the Medhi Army are decent people and that the menace is the US.
what's the point? Obviously if i disagree with Bush/Blair/Cheney I'm a terrorist who hates freedom and democracy and supports Saddam Hussein, Islamic Terrorism and Muqtada al-Sadr (whoever he is), that's what you think, isn't it?

PS Incidentally, just so you know I've changed my mind as regards Israel. But I still don't see the PLO as terrorists.
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Old 04-09-2005, 11:11 PM   #10
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Good thing too - it's about time decent people stood up against the menace.
You are talking about decent people standing up too this menace, the decent people in question are Sadr and his thugs, the Shiite cleric who took over the Shiite slums and raised a militia which was used to try and take over several cities in the south of the country before being roundly beaten by the coalition, not controlling those population centres and then not dominating the political landscape following the elections.

I did not once call you a terrorist or an individual who hates liberty, I asked a question in regards to what you stated about the protest against the US in Baghdad.
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Old 04-09-2005, 11:20 PM   #11
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Originally posted by A_Wanderer


I did not once call you a terrorist or an individual who hates liberty, I asked a question in regards to what you stated about the protest against the US in Baghdad.
If someone invades my country, I'll fight to drive them out, even if my leader was a despot. There is no moral equivalence between invader and defender of land.

Chirac was right. He was right then, and he's right now.
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Old 04-10-2005, 01:06 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by financeguy


If someone invades my country, I'll fight to drive them out, even if my leader was a despot. There is no moral equivalence between invader and defender of land.

Chirac was right. He was right then, and he's right now.
Really, you would have fought for Hitler in 1945 or Saddam in 2003 if you had been living there?

Chirac's an idiot who now faces the prospect of going down in history as the leader who tried to prevent the removal of SADDAM and then did everything he could to avoid helping the Iraqi people in a substantial or meaningful way.
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Old 04-10-2005, 07:06 PM   #13
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It always amazes me how so many liberals talk about freedom of speech but wouldn't be willing to do Damn thing to see that democracy spreads throughout the world. Well, except bitch about Bush being a terrorist and despot himself. I guess we should have just stayed out of world war II also after all, who were we to say Hitler didn't have the right to invade all of Europe. Chirac makes me ill. He's an impotent leader in an impotent country who has no power except in The UN. What a god damn Joke!!
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Old 04-11-2005, 12:10 AM   #14
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Well he is supposedly the leader of Europe
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Old 04-12-2005, 06:48 PM   #15
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Rushdie Says Bush Policies Help Islamic Terrorism
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Apr 12, 4:53 PM (ET)


By Mark Egan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Bush administration helps the cause of Islamic terrorism by failing to engage in serious dialogue with the international community, author Salman Rushdie said on Tuesday.

Rushdie -- infamous for living for years under threat of death after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's 1989 pronouncement that his novel "The Satanic Verses" was blasphemous -- said he believes U.S. isolationism has turned not just its enemies against America, but its allies too.

"What I think plays into Islamic terrorism is ... the curious ability of the current administration to unite people against it," Rushdie told Reuters in an interview.

Rushdie said he found it striking how the "colossal sympathy" the world felt for the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has been squandered so quickly.

"It seems really remarkable that the moment you leave America ... you find not just America's natural enemies, but America's natural allies talking in language more critical than I, in my life, have ever heard about the United States," he said.

The novelist, born in India and raised in Britain, attributed the shift in sentiment toward the United States to the Bush administration's "unilateralist policies" and its "unwillingness to engage with the rest of the world in a serious way."

"This go-it-alone attitude gets people's backs up," he said of President Bush's foreign policy.

LACK OF LISTENING

As president of the PEN American Center, a writers group, Rushdie helped organize an international literary festival this week in New York -- an event he hopes will help restore global dialogue.

"There seems to have been a breach in our ability to listen to each other," he said.

"It's really important at this particular moment in the history of the world that ordinary American people should get as broad a sense of how the world is thinking."

Such dialogue, he said, is "crucial, especially if at the political level there is a relative uninterest in maintaining that global dialogue."
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