Don't worry, be happy
To commemorate the second anniversary of September 11, 2001, Aftenposten brings in a renowned expert from Brussel to tell its readers not to worry: They're not after us.
The split between the US and Europe is not only over views of the Iraq conflict and means in the war on terror. The level of fear is also different on the two sides of the Atlantic. - This isn't very strange, because Europeans are not the targets of the terrorists, says Daniel Gros to Aftenposten. He's the director of the renowned research institute European Policy Studies in Brussel. [..] Americans see new terrorist attacks as a very real possibility. In European countries the level of fear is much lower, numerous polls have revealed. Americans don't understand the relaxed European attitude, and the other way around. - Europeans appear to play a less important role for terrorists. What has happened after September 11 shows that Americans want to affect the world to prevent repeated attacks. That makes them the target to an even stronger degree, says Gros.
Even the Americans don't have much to fear, according to Aftenposten's expert:
The terrorist attacks on American soil appear to be unique incidents which may not be repeated soon, perhaps not for 50 years. It appears to be difficult for terrorists to plan new attacks in the US, believes Gros.
Aftenposten follows with the obligatory warning from Amnesty International that the war on terrorism may undermine human rights. The message: All we have to fear is fear itself. This is very much the wrong message to send. Humans have irrational instincts about risks - we sometimes exaggerate them, and other times refuse to believe a danger exist until we stare it in the eye. This is clearly a factor in the transatlantic split - Americans feel that September 11 happened to them, and Europeans don't. This is not rational. Contrary to Gros' claims, everything that has happened after September 11 confirms that al-Qaeda do not separate between good Westerners and bad Westerners, or even between Westerners and Muslims - there's only the Cause and Enemies of the Cause. At best, we Europeans are considered to be useful idiots, providers of safe havens to stage attacks from, (thanks to a combination of low security and high proximity to the primary targets), but this will clearly not protect us from attacks, and if it does, the implications are so abhorable that we should take absolutely no comfort in it.
We need to be told that our instincts are wrong. We are targets. Not primary targets, but targets all the same. We need to worry more, not because we're as much at risk as the Americans, but because we face a larger risk than we think. This is not to give in to fear and panic, as our press believes, and this is a curious counterargument anyway when you can't open a newspaper without learning of new research on the dangers of food and other pleasures. Fr some reason, learning that tobacco smokers have an increased risk of stumbling down the stairs is news, but learning that we're at war with terrorists who hate everything we represent and want to kill us is fear-mongering. Massive government anti-smoking campaigns are a necessary way to deal with a major threat, but increased security and awareness is to "give the enemy what they want", or to "fight the enemy by becoming the enemy". Not rational at all. We should at least be consistent.
Part of the problem is the investment we've made in the idea that the Americans had it coming, or at least are only making the problem worse by fighting back. This makes it even more difficult to swallow that we too are targets. The implications are too shattering for our worldview, so we take the easy way out, and downplay the danger. The terrorists will be more than willing to allow us this illusion - up to the very moment they strike.
ct | 2003-09-12 01:35 | Link
Part of the irrationalism of the terrorists (and why Europe is very much a potential target) is the fact that these most radical true-believers art not necessarily looking at targets in a strategic (for their collective cause) way as much as they are looking for individual martyrdom by any means (with the mandatory requirement that it has to come in an act of suicidal violence against an 'infidel' - Euorpeans, like American Express credit cards, very much accepted)...
Debi C, Washington State | 2003-09-12 06:23 | Link
What I don't understand is this "fear" that is mentioned. We Americans are not afraid, fearful or terrorized. We are F@#$ING pissed and determined to get those who planned, supported and did this. If it happens again, it will only harden our resolve. Europe and the ME appear to be the ones who are fearful of what we "could" do in retribution, and so they should be.
Markku Nordstrom, New York/Helsinki | 2003-09-12 06:43 | Link
Debi: I agree wholeheartedly. It is the tendency of the media - worldwide - to talk about the _fear_ of the people.
In the minds of media people, they are elevated above the people when they speak of the "fear of the people".
In the end, however, they seem more and more out of touch with the people.
suzanne | 2003-09-12 07:14 | Link
I second Debi's comment. I surely am not fearful. I can't say that I am angry. What I am is determined. Europeans want to see 9/11 as a collective change in Americans. While that is true to some extent, I believe it is more of a personal change. It is this that Europeans don't understand. 9/11 has become personal. It has made Americans evaluate (among other things) their beliefs, their goals and their values.
I can only illustrate this in one way. I have many european friends. In the past I would have tolerated their anti-American diatribes for the sake of friendship. I will no longer do this. To me, this is an issue where there is no equivocation. There are no half-way measures. Naivete is dangerous. We have found this out the hard way.
In an effort to understand, many Americans have become much more knowledgeable about political and cultural issues. (Myself included.) I have examined history and its relevance to today - as have many others. I look to the mistakes made in the past, how they happened and how they could have been avoided. I have seen a cylical repetition of dangerous behaviors.
My point in all of this is that circumstances have made many Americans look beyond the microcosm of today's world and look at the "big picture" if you will...and what we see is something far greater than just 9/11. We could have seen it sooner had we been willing to do so. But complacency is comfortable.
There are europeans (and americans) who are indeed rooting for the fall of the US. To the europeans I would ask, once we are gone, will they come for you?
Markku Nordstrom, New York/Helsinki | 2003-09-12 14:08 | Link
Suzanne: "To the europeans I would ask, once we are gone, will they come for you?"
They will indeed be coming for the Europeans, but the Europeans will turn to appeasement, cut a deal with them, open their borders, convert to Islam, and start wearing the chador and an assortment of other flowing robes.
Rune Kristian Viken, Oslo | 2003-09-12 14:36 | Link
Debi C: You mean that because you are PISSED you want the patriot act and all that silly stuff? You mean that those privacy-invading so called "anti terrorist" measures are there because you are pissed? And not afraid? .. Riiiight
And Beorn; I really do think that the only thing we need to fear, is fear itself - and I totally disagree with you that we need to worry more. Sorry. I don't agree.
Just to try to create a parallell.. speed limits are often discussed. There is claims that we could reduce the death toll on Norwegian roads quite a lot by reducing the speed limit. Do I want the speed limit reduced? No way.
And.. uhm .. a terrorist attack would probably kill a whole lot fewer than norwegian cars does every year.. so - that scares me even less than driving. ;)
See where I'm headed? The only thing we need to fear, is fear itself.
jas | 2003-09-12 15:01 | Link
Rune: Re: "You mean that because you are PISSED you want the patriot act and all that silly stuff? You mean that those privacy-invading so called "anti terrorist" measures are there because you are pissed? And not afraid? .. Riiiight"
What are these new privacy-invading measures? Or have the laws that have applied to criminal organizations (mafia) now have been extended to terrorists?
Rune Kristian Viken, Oslo | 2003-09-12 15:21 | Link
jas: I'll just refer you to the electronic frontier foundation (EFF):
Do also take a look at:
Eugene, Germany | 2003-09-12 15:51 | Link
The EFF stuff is really vague. They take two pages to get to specifics, and the first point is:
BEGIN QUOTE "Be careful what you put in that Google search. The government may now spy on web surfing of innocent Americans, including terms entered into search engines, by merely telling a judge anywhere in the U.S. that the spying could lead to information that is "relevant" to an ongoing criminal investigation. The person spied on does not have to be the target of the investigation. This application must be granted and the government is not obligated to report to the court or tell the person spied upon what it has done." END QUOTE
It sounds deliberately vague and ... SEXED UP.
From the way the EFF writes, it's impossible to determine either way, but easy to suspect the worst.
I stopped reading at that point.
Bjørn Stærk | 2003-09-12 16:25 | Link
Rune: "Just to try to create a parallell.. speed limits are often discussed. There is claims that we could reduce the death toll on Norwegian roads quite a lot by reducing the speed limit. Do I want the speed limit reduced? No way."
But do you believe we should _raise_ speed limits, then? Should we have any at all? You're leaving out an important factor - speed limits is a good example, but not in the way you think. Say you believe that todays speed limits are exactly right - that you consider today's compromise between car deaths and convenience to be optimal. You can express this as an (imagined) factor of car deaths over car inconvenience, say 10 000 / 5 000 = 2. That ratio is our appraisal of the value of human life versus the value of convenient travel. Then someone points out that cars are actually twice as dangerous as we thought. Should we now keep speed limits as they are? Obviously not - that would change the ratio, and remember that our view of the value of life vs convenience _hasn't changed_, only our view of the danger of cars. This becomes even more obvious if you imagine that cars are ten or a houndred times as dangerous as we thought. So if car danger doubles, we should (rationally) reduce speed limits enough to double our inconvenience, 20 000 / 10 000 = 2.
It's an impossible theoretical example, I know, but it illustrates the issue: Terrorism is more dangerous than most of us think. To accept this and do nothing is the same as accepting that cars are more dangerous than we thought but still insist that speed limits cannot, must not change, because you can't compromise on convenience. Well, we already have, and we always must.
John Anderson, RI USA | 2003-09-12 16:59 | Link
For years we in the US dismissed the fanatics, exemplified now by al Quaeda, as a localzed aberration. Despite being targeted on a number of occasions, it was assumed we were merely "collateral damage" in a small war being fought by people who wanted to take local power. We were assured of this by our leaders, and by other governments fro, Kabul to London.
Rune Kristian Viken, Oslo | 2003-09-12 17:00 | Link
Eugene: The point is what the law allows for, not what it is actually used for YET.
Beorn: Raise the speed limits? Sure, it may be a tad more dangerous, but it's something I wouldn't mind much.
I do get your point howerver. You think that we should carefully ponder the question on whether it has become more dangerous, and whether we should change our worldview and so forth to get a reasonable 'safety ratio'.
Personally I don't agree with you on that. I tend to want to maximize freedom and privacy. If it's a tad more dangerous, then be it. You want a certain ratio - I think we're well within that ratio - and shouldn't change the way we currently have it. And no, I don't think I'll change that worldview even if Norway was the target of a major terrorist attack.
jack, US | 2003-09-12 17:05 | Link
What a lot of people don't seem to understand is that the lack of further terrorist attacks against the US proper does not mean that there have been no attempts. The 9/11 terrorists used a lax security to plan and execute their actions--these factors do not exist right now.
It's become a lot harder to hit the US. But not other targets. Bali, for example. As terrorists continue to fail to hit the US, other, more easily accessible targets will become more inviting. European nations harbor sizable populations of people within them who want to see the West fall--people who are coddled at the moment as everyone joins together in happy America-bashing. What will happen as they begin to realize that they can't hit the 'Great Satan'?
Europe already deals with greater levels of terrorism than the US does--and they've not risen up against them. How many attacks can terrorists get away with before Europeans even realize they're being targeted?
In England muslims met to 'commemorate' the day by praying for the 'Magnificent 19'. They met to celebrate terrorism.
And Europeans can smile and think America is the only target....
Rune Kristian Viken, Oslo | 2003-09-12 17:18 | Link
Jack: This may be news to you - but there is something called freedom of speech. I'm very sorry to break this to you - but the Muslims that met to commemorate the day by praying for the "Magnificent 19" were (hopefully..) in their full right to do so.
That someone actually want to celebrate 9/11 is of course discusting to me, but they should be allowed to do so.
Furthermore, that the US now is so 'secure' is quite ridiculous. There may be quite a lot of paperwork involved in getting there, quite a lot of background checks - and so forth - but it will still be quite easy to pull of horrible attacks.
It's not very difficult to build a bomb, nor to detonate it within a crowd. Hell, it's even happening in Israel all the time, and their security got to be one of the most strict in the world right now.
rkb, New York USA | 2003-09-12 17:54 | Link
Rune misses the point re: both the Patriot Act & US security.
For the last 30 years the world in general and the US in particular have tolerated increasing terror attacks. I was close by when the first Palestinian hijackings of commercial airlines occurred in the 1970s. I was flying to/from the Middle East when Islamicists killed airline passengers by shooting them in their seats and by bombing airport counters in 1987. I watched the ineffectual responses to Lockerbie and to attacks on US embassies. I grimaced when a [revopis Administration withdrew our Marines from Lebanon because they were attacked, giving the attackers precisely what they wanted.
After 30 years of this came the attacks on 9/11/2001 and in response most Americans said, "Enough. We will no longer tolerate this. We will find and destroy those who are determined to destroy us and our way of life."
Count me among the *determined*. Many Europeans and some Americans would prefer not to have to recognize the fact that radical Islamicists have declared total war on Western civilization and openly state and restate their intent to destroy it, no matter what the cost to their own people. By "own people" I mean the average person from their own countries, cultures and religion as well as those who actually commit terror acts.
War has been declared on me -- on my family, my daughter (who was near the World Trade Towers on 9/11/2001), on my way of life, on what I hold dearer than my own life itself. I did not start this war but I'll be damned if as a 52 year old woman I'll roll over and let my country, my culture, all that I hold dear be destroyed by mufderous bigots. Even my husband of 30 years is a bit startled to see how *determined* I am in this.
I am not alone among Americans. Yesterday, on 9/11, I did not cry or feel afraid. I spent a moment in silent remembrance of those who died that day, including some of my neighbors, and then I reaffirmed my *determination* to do whatever it takes, for however long it takes, to put an end to the attacks on me and my way of life.
As a side effect of this, I too am no longer willing to ignore the ill-informed, supercilious (or worse) anti-American attitudes of many colleagues, public intellectuals and others in Europe and elsewhere. Nor will I any longer allow the equivalent rot to go unchallenged when it comes from the mouths of those in academia and elsewhere here in the US. That is not to say that I cannot criticize aspects of American life or policies. I am glad to discuss past or present US actions and policies I think were wrong or ineffectual, but only with those who come from an equal commitment to objectively examining FACTS and not just to wallowing in their comfortable biases.
RE: the Patriot Act. I am quite familiar with EFT and often support its concerns. On this issue I disagree. This is not due to naivete -- I have 30 years experience in computers and information networks, have several books on technical topics that are translated in many languages & sold around the world. I know what can be done with the state of the art in software and hardware today.
I do not give up privacy willingly. However, neither am I willing to completely tie the hands of officials who are charged with uncovering terror networks and combating potential terror attacks. The Patriot Act primarily modifies US laws that govern wiretapping etc. to take into account the nature of the Internet, cellular telephones and other communications mechanisms that were not in existence or widespread use when the laws were written. There are provisions I'd like to see refined, but overall it is a measured and justifiable attempt to give our public agencies the tools needed to identify and prevent potential attacks while respecting the privacy and rights of the general citizenry.
US citizens will hold our government accountable for walking the fine line between effectiveness in destroying terror networks, on the one hand, and preserving our core liberties on the other hand. In the meanwhile, what multiple terror attacks HAVE been attempted against the US since 9/11/2001. They have failed precisely because of ongoing efforts by intelligence and law enforcement agencies here, aided in some cases by information and actions from similar agencies in other countries.
Sandy P. | 2003-09-12 18:09 | Link
--It's not very difficult to build a bomb, nor to detonate it within a crowd. Hell, it's even happening in Israel all the time, and their security got to be one of the most strict in the world right now.--
And now you know why they need a wall.
And so do we.
Bjørn Stærk | 2003-09-12 18:21 | Link
Rune: No, you're still missing my point. What I'm saying is that the ratio of acceptable danger to accceptable inconvenience is or should be constant for each person, grounded as it is in that person's basic moral preferences. Say that I believe that a ratio of 2 should guide speed limits - ie. that an acceptable policy of speed limits is to keep the inconvenience level at half the danger level. Say that you believe in a ratio of 3, ie. that the inconvenience level can only be a third of the danger level. This means that you will always want higher speed limits than I will. But it also means that, if the danger level rises, both of us must, to remain consistent, raise our estimate of the acceptable inconvenience level, ie. that we will both have to lower our preferred speed limit.
Your belief in maximizing freedom and privacy makes no sense - not because I don't believe in freedom and privacy, but because the statement itself makes no sense. Maximize against _what criteria_? Even wahhabis want to maximize freedom and privacy, but within very strict criteria. What's interesting is how you prioritize freedom and privacy over security - for instance, whether you believe that freedom and privacy is as important as, more important than, or a lot more important than security. This is the real life equivalent of the ratio I discuss above. Which means that, even if you believe that freedom and privacy is a million times more important than security, an increased threat to security must logically load to a reduction, even though a miniscule one, of freedom and privacy. There's really no escaping this, without being inconsistent and irrational.
Sandy P. | 2003-09-12 18:34 | Link
I also agree w/Debi and Suzanne's comments.
I am so sick of typing that Europe has been studying US for 200 years and they still don't get US.
They project/hope that we will respond like they would. We don't. And it gets them frothing-at-the-mouth crazy we don't. We are not them. The change that happened in this country is not the one they expected.
We "argue like an American." We cut thru the bull. We, also as pointed out, have learned from (your recent) history.
Also as Suzanne noted, we are looking at the world. For years, decades, Europe has been nattering on about us paying attention! Now we are and they don't like it. You got your wish, we're paying attention. And we don't like what we see.
Damned if we do, damned if we don't. If you haven't learned by now that it is best to leave us to ourselves...We are still an isolationist people at the core, but you keep dragging us in because you refuse to learn.
If you don't like the term isolationist, then how about a live-and-let-live policy until we get attacked.
We let you be and you, thru your schoolbooks, UN and tranzi-pomo NGOs, spread anti-Americanism (you want fries w/that?). You can't handle Bosnia, Rwanda, NorKs, and still have an issue w/the JOOOOSSSSS so who do you call?? Only America can solve these problems. And you want us to by ourselves, spilling blood and draining our treasury dry.
Maybe if Europe started acting like leaders of the future with a fresh way of thinking instead of the past, frankenreich would get what it wants, counterweight. We are not the America of the 60s and 70s, we've advanced. Europe IMHO, is still stuck in the far distant past. Your solutions didn't work then and they won't work now.
Why do you think we believe in millions for defense, not one penny for tribute? Look up our different responses to the problem of pirates.
Thank your for letting me rant.
Lynne USA | 2003-09-12 19:08 | Link
I think that a lot of Anti-Americanism is due to the fact that Europe doesn't want to get involved in this war and (at some level) feels guilty about it. Therefore, they say that America had it coming. If 911 if American's fault, then they don't need to act because we can't possibly be the victim here. The problem is the USA tried the neutral approach twice in the 20th century and was dragged into wars both times. I don't think it will work for Europe in the long run.
CRL New York, NY | 2003-09-12 20:55 | Link
I agree totally with Suzanne, and even more totally (if such a thing were possible) with RKB. War has been declared on me and mine, and no amount of "Well you guys did such and such" thirty years before I was born is going to make me sit back suicidally and guiltily contemplate the flaming concrete falling on my head. It goes against every sensible evolutionary standard to hope for and facilitate your own destruction. I will not stand by and let myself be killed. I will not stand by and let the principles I believe in be destroyed. I can't say that any more clearly. I will not give up my way of life for someone else's unprovable religious dogma, and if they come after me foaming at the mouth about how I'm an infidel, I'm NOT going to absolve them of the responsibility of their actions by saying "it's not their fault, they were humiliated." Frankly, that's rude to THEM, equating them with children who lack all self-control.
That said, I can't blithely disregard the implications of the Patriot Act either -- the ability to summarily revoke the citizenship of an individual without even producing the minimum proof that would be necessary to obtain a warrant -- this is not something I'm comfortable with. Pardon the graphic nature of this: My best friend just went to the gynecologist, and was made to sign a document -- ostensibly one that authorized the release of her personal health information to the people (next of kin, etc) of her choosing -- on this document was, among about six other, similar statements, a clause that indicated that her personal gynecological information could be released without her knowledge if it could be found to be damaging to the personal safety of the President.
Excuse me, WHAT?
So yes, I have concerns, even though I do believe that in wartime one must make sacrifices. I hope very much that RKB's statement is true and will stand:
"US citizens will hold our government accountable for walking the fine line between effectiveness in destroying terror networks, on the one hand, and preserving our core liberties on the other hand. "
Not every US citizen is as thoughtful and informed as the people who post on this blog, but we all have a vote.
ct | 2003-09-12 22:41 | Link
Rune, I wonder if you're at all aware that your attitude and bravado is American to the core. You quote Franklin Roosevelt ("We have nothing to fear but fear itself"); you talk of rigorous free speech (look to Germany and France and even England and see if you can find the level of free speech that one finds in the U.S.); and your general swagger regarding these terrorists one can assume is maybe just 'a little' influenced by America's (and her few allies) kick-ass response in Afghanastan and Iraq (and dozens of other less publicized areas of the world).
suzanne | 2003-09-13 03:57 | Link
I am somewhat amazed at Rune's comments about the "Magnificent" 19...I notice how quickly he has jumped to defense of the "organization" promoting this "celebration". Perhaps he would be interested in the observations of a muslim friend of mine who lives near Finsbury Park mosque (where this event was organized).
The "organization" promoting this celebration is indeed celebrating the destruction. They are not praying for the dead - at least not the 3000 dead. My friend is outraged at the actions of this group for many reasons and is conducting a letter writing campaign to get the UK government to deal with these people. These people are soliciting the young people near the mosques and preaching jihad and killing.
Jennifer | 2003-09-13 05:21 | Link
Rune, get a REAL copy of the Patriot Act and educate yourself. I've read the entire thing...it's not 1/1000 as bad as lefty Europeans like you are forced to believe. As my fellow citizens above have stated...we in the United States are not afraid...WE ARE HURT AND ANGRY! What is it that you think we as a country should do in response to these terrorist attacks over the years? Make a list, check it twice, and get back to us.
wayne | 2003-09-13 07:02 | Link
Reading these comments in a lot of ways makes me proud to be an american. For the last two weeks I have been struggling with this anniversary, and I think a couple of people have hit the subject square on. I believe, that most americans consider 9/11 to be personal, because the terrorists made sure that it was personal.
Before, when it was mainly marines in beriut, or sailors on ships, or servicemen in germany we could isolate those attacks. As an ex sailor that was considered part of the job, to be in harms way. Morally, this may be a fine point, but I believe it is a valid one. If you attack my military, you are attacking my country, but we can compartmentalize that.
9/11 though was not our military, and it was not our country, it was our people. These were people who were living, loving, and making their small contributions to our society. These were my neighbors, my brothers, my sisters, sons, daughters and fathers and mothers. They were killed for one reason only, to make the us afraid and doubt our way of life. Sometimes, you have to take people at their word.
The people who did 9/11 and those who support them believe that their brand of islam is the only one allowed and that we are immoral, decadent and depraved. They did not understand americans, and unfortunately it looks like a majority of europeans do not still understand americans. These b******* want our daughters in burka's and barefoot and pregnant.
Well, I have a 12 year old daughter who is bright, funny, and full (as most 12 year olds are) of life. If she was to choose that option for her life freely and with out coercion, I would complain and gripe but I would support her decision. These people though, do not want to give her that choice, they have decided that they will choose for her. This attitude makes them personal to me. They will achieve this goal only one way "over my dead body".
9/11 was the fire, and like all metals that survive the fire we as americans are harder and stronger than before. We will perserve, we will continue this fight, because there is no other choice. The fire has also opened up some eyes. Those eyes are now watching our friends and allies and to be honest, a majority of us are finding these people wanting. Take heed, because the american people will not forget.
take care Bjørn, and thanks for the opportunity to read and participate.
Sandy P. | 2003-09-13 08:58 | Link
I would also like to direct you, if you don't mind, Bjorn, to Europundits.com, especially the exchange under We're All Americans Now.
Straw nailed it on Dom today, it is a neurosis. While Nelson is a Brazilian, he is now living in Paris.
...And there was (there is) a peculiar way of criticizing the US as uniquely evil, an evil entity in its own category. That's an unhealthy obsession and a neurothic one. The way the French press and intellectuals talk about the US (and Israel) is hostile and I've not seen such hostility systematically applied to any other nation on earth by the French. It's hard to avoid the impression that for them the US and Israel are the only enemies.I find it hard to understand. Actually, it is easier for me to get inside the head of a Muslim fanatic, to understand his hatred tnat that of the French. I hope things are not that bad in Germany. In the UK (BBC, Guardian etc) it isn't better, anyway.
Start reading Merdeinfrance, dissidentfrogman and pavefrance.
Sandy P. | 2003-09-13 08:59 | Link
Well, CRL, my late father-in-law had a saying, KYP, IYP, UYP. And he told his sons and daughters' dates this.
Keep your pecker in your pants unless you're pissin'.
Too bad mama Clinton didn't tell little willy.
Bjørn Stærk | 2003-09-13 12:07 | Link
Jennifer: "Rune, get a REAL copy of the Patriot Act and educate yourself. I've read the entire thing...it's not 1/1000 as bad as lefty Europeans like you are forced to believe."
Lol - I know Rune very well, and whatever he is he isn't a leftist, and he's not an obedient consumer of mainstream views, far from it. Europeans and Americans often make these mistakes about each other - your assumption that an European who don't like the Patriot Act must be unthinking and indoctrinated by European neopacifists mirrors the European belief that Americans who supports Bush must be unthinking and indoctrinated by Conservative warmongers. Sometimes they are, other times they're not, and part of the great transatlantic conversation the web makes so easy is the opportunity to realize that our opponents don't always fit our stereotypes of them.
Gill Doyle, Northern California | 2003-09-13 21:43 | Link
Speaking of stereotypes. Folks familiar with European stereotypes of America will have noticed that the epithet "paranoid" has been added recently to a vocabulary of loathing that that starts with "arrogant" and ends with "zionist". More and more frequently now, European critics of America's "war on terror" (quotation marks mandatory for those who both question the war's motives and sympathize with the terrorists), are calling us paranoid. For critics of the war, this is an extremely useful term. It allows the critic to both dismiss the threat as illusory and, at the same time, condemn most measures taken to deal with the threat. I can't see why so many Europeans should care about the Patriot Act -- particularly when most Americans (with some trepidation and a few reservations) nonetheless seem willing to countenance the Act. I can only guess that our critics see in this Act signs of some incipient American fascism. Europeans, in general, seem to believe that the roots of islamist terror lie in grievances that can somehow be laid at America's door. America's war in Iraq convinced any Europeans who might still have doubted that America truly deserved 911 and will continue to be a deserving target of islamist wrath. Anti-Americanism that predates 911, sympathy for the Palestinian cause, and a cultivated indifference to Muslim terror (as the result of an effort to understand and justify Palestinian methods) all militate against European engagement in America's war on terror.
A concise statement of some of the views that separate America and Europe:
jk, Chicago, USA | 2003-09-13 23:58 | Link
I want to add my voice to those of the other "warlike women" posting above. I'm 62, formerly peaceful, and since Sept. 11, 2001, have been reading about Islamofascism and relevant foreign affairs. Right now I'm reading Walter Russell Mead's Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World (2001). Check it out, especially Europeans, who don't understand the U.S. Despite superficial similarities, we're not like you. We're not afraid--we're angry and we're motivated. Bad Islamofascist guys--be very afraid.
Sandy P. | 2003-09-14 04:32 | Link
jk, I'm in Darien! Worked in the Loop for many years. Now SAHM.
Sandy P. | 2003-09-14 04:35 | Link
If any of you would like to read some interesting "conspiracy theories" from some "paranoid" Americans, google Laurie Mylroie and Jayna Davis.
If they are right....*the world* can go to hell because once again, the US is right.
Harry | 2003-09-14 09:26 | Link
The Patriot Act doesn't grant any more powers to the government than it already had. All it did was move certain types of behavior by individuals into the area of law enforcement concern and attention. Such as, before 9-11 law enforcement could not investigate and/or was not all that interested in foreigners in the states on student visas at flight schools or what websites they were visiting or books they were reading, now they are, and with good reason. Besides law enforcement must still go to a judge and get permission, and for most judges the cops had not better be on a fishing expedition they had better have a fairly compelling reason for the surveillance or detainment of an individual.
Jan, Bergen | 2003-09-15 07:51 | Link
I think it's a good thing that some people are expressing concern over the Patriot Act, since such laws should not be passed without serious scrutiny and debate. From what I have read, some of the rants seem rather paranoid, though.
I just have to laugh at Europeans who argue the Patriot Act is so draconian, and try to use it to beat up Bush. In most western-European countries, the government has far wider powers. Look into how the British dealt with the IRA for starters, how the Germans dealt with the Baader-Meinhof gang, or how the French dealt with various Algerian terrorist groups.
I know one story from the British army's conflict in Northern Ireland, second-hand from a former serviceman who was on the spot. At one point, a former US Marine Irish-American IRA merc terrorised the police and army by sniping, killing around six people I think. Eventually the British army got him trapped in a cemetary. Very fitting, because on orders from above they executed him on the spot and buried him there. He was considered a mercenary, and the British army has a policy of executing mercenaries.
Kinda puts Guantanamo Bay and Patriot Act into perspective.
CRL, NYC | 2003-09-15 16:49 | Link
>>>Well, CRL, my late father-in-law had a saying, KYP, IYP, UYP. And he told his sons and daughters' dates this.
Keep your pecker in your pants unless you're pissin'.
Too bad mama Clinton didn't tell little willy.>>>
I have no idea what this means, but it was funny. :-)
Seriously though -- you have to go to the gynecologist regardless what what you do or don't do. You can be the biggest holiest virgin on the planet and still need to see a doctor periodically. What are you suggesting about my friend, here? *insert kidding tone of voice*
No longer kidding -- And how would this personal heath information affect the president of the United States or National Security? (This is a form that's been introduced in all doctors offices, at least in New York State.)s If someone could explain this to me, sincerely, I might let it go, but this seems to me to be carrying things just a little bloody bit too far.
Sandy P. | 2003-09-16 00:50 | Link
CRL, mine's coming up soon. If it's on there, I'm crossing it out.
I don't intend for my ____ to be a danger to the president, ergo KYP, IYP, UYP.
She should have heaped scorn on it, better yet, sign it Monica Lewinsky.
Markku Nordstrom, New York/Helsinki | 2003-09-18 18:28 | Link
CRL: The clause is there so that doctors won't get sued for violating doctor-patient confidentiality if they happen to treat any patient who makes threatening comments about the president, and the doctors report that to the authorities.
Doctors can also be charged if they don't make notifications of such threats. I believe the precedent for this predates the Patriot Act: just look how the doctor who treated Lincoln's assassin was treated.
BarCodeKing, Florida, USA | 2003-09-18 21:10 | Link
"It appears to be difficult for terrorists to plan new attacks in the US, believes Gros."
Gee, I wonder why? Could it be because so many of them have either been arrested or blown back to Allah? Seriously, the reason that terrorist attacks have been taking place in places like Bali and Riyadh is because those were the only places where the security was weak enough for the terrorists to make successful attacks. Oh, and the U.N. compound in Baghdad, of course.
Those who don't think they need increased security (Europe?) should remember that what you don't know CAN hurt you...
Terry, Atlanta | 2005-06-03 14:56 | Link
So much psycho-babble...so little objectivity. What unimaginable horror must occur before the West wakes up and realizes that dialogue and "sesitivity" are wasted upon the cowardly neanderthals who espouse islam as justification for mass murder? The ONLY thing these monsters respect is force and until we learn to respond to their attacks with 100,000:1 losses, this idiocy will continue and escalate. If we destroy 1 million of them now, we may well save 10 million innocent lives in the future.
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Sgt. Stryker's Daily Briefing: Tour of the Blogs, September 12, 2003 03:00 AM
This is what some were saying in their Sept. 11th posting: Babalu: An opening, a poem and a . Cut on the Bias: We Remember. Dave Trowbridge: But Bush et al are doing their best to turn the events of two years ago into an...
Too Much To Dream: European bliners, September 12, 2003 12:05 PM
Bjørn Stærk on the tendency by many Europeans to ignore or downplay the terrorist threat in their own countries in favor of trendy anti-Americanism: Part of the problem is the investment we've made in the idea that the Americans had...
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