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Will terrorists get us? Of course not.

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“If we don’t fight them there, we’ll fight them here.” You’ve heard it.

But just how dangerous is terrorism? Consider comparisons from the San Franciso Chronicle:

… the historical odds that an American will die this way [from a terrorist act] are 1 in 9.3 million. You’re slightly more likely to die in an avalanche, more than twice as likely to perish in a bus accident, 40 times as likely to drown.

Put it another way: For every American killed by a terrorist, 2,427 die of skin cancer, 4,893 expire in car accidents, 9,735 are shot to death by nonterrorists and — you might want to stub out your cigarette before reading this — 30,666 are claimed by heart disease and another 18,074 by cancer.

That’s for one person killed by a terrorist. In “bang for the buck” terms, the war on terror is a bust. Millions more American lives could be saved by declaring “war” on murder. Or improving highway safety. Or dropping subsidies on tobacco. Or finding a cure for cancer.

So much for the “clash of civilizations.” War, friends, is dumb.


Related posts: Most-decorated US Marine on war
A brief history of Iran-US relations, part 1: Constitution to Khatami
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Written by Monte

August 6, 2007 at 1:00 pm

Creating more insurgents than we kill

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NORTH WAZIRISTAN, PAKISTAN - FEBRUARY 17:  A P...
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via Daylife

Quick: explain the US/NATO mission in Afghanistan.

“Well, um … to get Osama—9/11, you know.”

But Osama’s not there.

“Yes, well … there’s the Taliban—flogging women.”

But Taliban forces melt away into Pakistan during a US offensive, then return when our forces leave.

“But we send those missiles into Pakistan to get them.”

Exactly.

Those missiles do exactly what Al Qaeda needs done: they arouse anti-American hatred. They create a sense of helplessness. They make terrorism seem rational—even necessary—to a people whose families suffer sudden devastation from an untouchable, invisible foe.

Here’s how Chris Hedges writes it, in a post called War Without Purpose:

clipped from www.truthdig.com
Al-Qaida could not care less what we do in Afghanistan. We can bomb Afghan villages, hunt the Taliban in Helmand province, build a 100,000-strong client Afghan army, stand by passively as Afghan warlords execute hundreds, maybe thousands, of Taliban prisoners, build huge, elaborate military bases and send drones to drop bombs on Pakistan. It will make no difference
We are fighting with the wrong tools. We are fighting the wrong people. We are on the wrong side of history. And we will be defeated in Afghanistan
clipped from www.truthdig.com
The offensive by NATO forces in Helmand province will follow the usual scenario […]
The Taliban will withdraw … And [then] the Taliban will creep back […]
The only way to defeat terrorist groups is to isolate them within their own societies. This requires wooing the population away from radicals. It is a political, economic and cultural war. The terrible algebra of military occupation and violence is always counterproductive to this kind of battle
It always creates more insurgents than it kills
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None of us can identify a winning strategy currently at work in Afghanistan. Killing doesn’t win hearts. Once again, we trust force to accomplish something force has never done.  How long, this time?

Let’s stop it. And start over. With a strategy designed first to ruin Al Qaeda’s pitch, rather than provide its background music.

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Written by Monte

July 21, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Alfred Lilienthal, 1949: Israel’s Flag is Not Mine

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How very intriguing it is to read the early Jewish anti-Zionists! Lilienthal, an American, articulately decried the way his lifelong faith became a tool of Israeli nationalism, and used as a competitor intended to weaken his American identity.  [H/T Servant Savant!]

ISRAEL’S FLAG IS NOT MINE
By Alfred M. Lilienthal

Dear Mother:

I brought you my hurts and troubles when both they and I were little: in that same spirit I bring them to you today.

JO05   ISRAEL from JORDAN
Image by templar1307 via Flickr

Only last year, a new white flag with single blue six-pointed star was hoisted to a mast many thousands of miles away on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea. This flag of Israel is the symbol of a new nationalist state, with its own government, army, foreign policy, language, national anthem and oath of allegiance.

And this new flag has brought every one of us five million American citizens of the ancient faith of Judah to a parting in the road.

Judaism, I have felt, was a religious faith which knew no national boundaries, to which a loyal citizen of any country could adhere.

By contrast, Zionism was and is a nationalist movement organized to reconstitute Jews as a nation with a separate homeland. Now that such a state exists, what am I? Am I still only an American who believes in Judaism? Or am I-as extreme Zionists and anti-Semites alike argue-a backsliding member of an Oriental tribe whose loyalty belongs to that group? Read the rest of this entry »

William Ayers chats with reporters

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While waiting for the Grant Park rally to begin, reporters knock on William Ayers’ door. The truth?

When he said he wished he’d “done more,” he didn’t mean “bombed more.” He wishes he’d been more unifying, more principled in his opposition to the Vietnam war. He barely knows Barack Obama.

clipped from www.newyorker.com
He said that he laughed when he listened to Sarah Palin’s descriptions of Obama “palling around with terrorists.” In fact, Ayers said that he knew Obama only slightly: “I think my relationship with Obama was probably like that of thousands of others in Chicago and, like millions and millions of others, I wished I knew him better.” […]
Ayers said that he had never meant to imply, in an interview with the Times, published coincidentally on 9/11, that he somehow wished he and the Weathermen had committed further acts of violence […]
Instead, he said, “I wish I had done more, but it doesn’t mean I wish we’d bombed more[…]
“While we did claim several extreme acts, they were acts of extreme radicalism against property,” he said. “We killed no one and hurt no one. Three of our people killed themselves.” And yet he was not without regrets […]
“I wish I had been wiser,” Ayers said. “I wish I had been more effective, I wish I’d been more unifying, I wish I’d been more principled […]

IMG_0348_revise1.jpg
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In other words, the whole “palling around with terrorists” scare was Rove-style Politics 101.  Here’s hoping that those so ethically challenged awaken to the fact that most Americans declined to believe them.


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Written by Monte

November 7, 2008 at 9:34 pm

Posted in Politics

McCain/Palin campaign rebuked: “incendiary mendacity”

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Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin

Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin

Ninety-one college and university professors of communications—the people who write the textbooks that teach our kids how to tell truth from propaganda—have called out the McCain/Palin campaign for deceptive and inflammatory statements.

Yesterday, they wrote:

… the Republican ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin has engaged in such incendiary mendacity that we must speak out. The purposeful dissemination of messages that a communicator knows to be false and inflammatory is unethical. It is that simple.

Surely it is not wise to elect people who claim to be “country first” yet, for their own benefit, inflame the sad fears and racial divisions that still lie among us.  We need presidents who lead the way against those things.

Statement Concerning Recent Discourse of the McCain/Palin Campaign

October 23, 2008

This statement is signed by research faculty of communication programs from across the nation. We speak as concerned educators and scholars of communication but do not claim to speak for our home institutions.

We wish to express our great concern over unethical communication behavior that threatens to dominate the closing days of the 2008 Presidential campaign.

Both major campaigns have been criticized by fact-checking organizations for prevarications. We call on both campaigns to halt blatant misrepresentations of their opponent’s positions.  [Bravo! – Monte]

It would be misleading, however, to imply that since “both sides do it” there is no qualitative difference worth noting. In recent weeks, the Republican ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin has engaged in such incendiary mendacity that we must speak out. The purposeful dissemination of messages that a communicator knows to be false and inflammatory is unethical. It is that simple.

Making decisions in a democracy requires an informed electorate. The health of our democracy and our ability to make a good decision about who should lead our nation require the very best in communication practices, not the worst.

Media investigations have debunked the notion that Senator Obama “worked closely” or “palled around” with “terrorist” Bill Ayers. Governor Palin cited a New York Times article that actually contradicts her claim by noting “the two men do not appear to have been close.” Nonetheless, the McCain/Palin ticket continues to repeat the canard, most recently with so-called “robocalls” in battleground states.[i]

The McCain/Palin ticket now describes the Obama/Biden tax plan with such terms as “socialist” and “welfare.” Such descriptions are false. Even if they were not, they would apply equally to the McCain/Palin tax proposals.[ii]

The repeated use of “Joe the Plumber” as a symbol by the McCain/Palin ticket is more deceptive than truthful. Despite the fact that media reports have revealed that the person is not a licensed plumber, owes back taxes, and his current personal income tax would decrease under the Obama tax plan, the McCain/Palin ticket continues to take Obama’s words to Joe out of context to repeat the false claim that Obama would raise taxes on the middle class and thus hurt the American Dream.[iii]

Such discourse is inflammatory as well as deceptive. Behind in the polls, the McCain/Palin campaign and its surrogates now appear intent on marking Obama as “other” to elicit racist fears. Senator McCain’s odd question “Who is Barack Obama?” is answered by Governor Palin’s assertion that Obama “is not a man who sees America as you and I do,” along with her comment “We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic. . . pro-America areas of this great nation.”

We see an effort to color code the election as between an urban, African-American Obama falsely linked to terms like “terrorist,” “unpatriotic,” and “welfare” versus small town, white, “patriotic” Americans like the mythical Joe the Plumber. “Intended” or not, the message is getting through, as reports have emerged of ugly scenes at some Republican rallies and racists hanging Obama in effigy in Oregon and Ohio. In an echo of McCarthyism, Representative Michelle Bachmann has called for investigations into un-American members of Congress, pointing to Senator Obama as the prime suspect. Speaking to warm up the crowd before a McCain rally, Representative Robin Hayes continued the theme: “Folks, there’s a real America, and liberals hate real Americans that work, and accomplish, and achieve, and believe in God.” The official website of the Sacramento County Republican Party compared Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama to terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and urged people to “Waterboard Barack Obama.” The October newsletter of the Chaffey Community Republican Women in California depicts Obama on a food stamp surrounded by a watermelon, ribs, and a bucket of fried chicken. The McCain/Palin campaign has not repudiated such actions taken on its behalf, nor has it done enough to respond to reprehensible behavior at rallies.[iv]

The McCain/Palin campaign and its surrogates, of course, will deny explicit racism. But their purposeful repetition of inflammatory false statements is unethical and stokes the fires of racism.

The code of ethical conduct for the National Communication Association reads in part We advocate truthfulness, accuracy, honesty, and reason as essential to the integrity of communication.”[v] We believe the integrity of political communication in our nation is being seriously threatened and we call on the McCain/Palin campaign to put a stop to such efforts immediately.

To see the endnotes and a list of the signers, click here.


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Written by Monte

October 23, 2008 at 11:32 pm