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How Bush may have saved the free world

I'm still trying to reason this all out. I'm not a passionate debator, yet the implications are staggering and either heartwarming or heart chilling depending which side of the political fence you sit on. The 9/11 attacks were ultimately unsuccessful. That is, they were designed to draw focus to the objectives of al Qaeda, yet the sheer horror of those attacks instead blinded us to any objective discussion about what those objectives were.

And Bin Laden has some pretty clear policy objectives, which can all be bolied down to this, end U.S. influence in the Middle East;

  1. End U.S. support of Israel
  2. Force American troops out of the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia
  3. End the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan and (subsequently) Iraq
  4. End U.S. support of other countries' anti-Muslim policies
  5. End U.S. pressure on Arab oil companies to keep prices low
  6. End U.S. support for "illegitimate" (i.e. moderate) Arab governments, like Pakistan

But the rhetoric coming from the Bush whitehouse was that al Qaeda wanted to end the U.S. way of life. That Bin Laden was a monster and not a man trying to acheive a set of objectives (even with objectionable means.) That our swift vengance and actions in Afghanistan and (subsequently) Iraq, that our loss of civil liberties, that our loss of freedom are necessary to combat the evil-doers.

If instead Bush had tried to lessen our position in the Middle east, that would have met al Qaeda's objectives, and indeed the terrorists would've won.

from the Wired article that got my blood pressure up this morning; "Perversely, Bush’s misinterpretation of terrorists' motives actually helps prevent them from achieving their goals.

None of this is meant to either excuse or justify terrorism. In fact, it does the exact opposite, by demonstrating why terrorism doesn't work as a tool of persuasion and policy change. But we’re more effective at fighting terrorism if we understand that it is a means to an end and not an end in itself; it requires us to understand the true motivations of the terrorists and not just their particular tactics. And the more our own cognitive biases cloud that understanding, the more we mischaracterize the threat and make bad security trade-offs."