Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Bin Laden's victory

  1. Apr 10, 2003 #1


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    BIN LADEN'S VICTORY (Excerpts from article)

    - Richard Dawkins, Saturday March 22, 2003, The Guardian

    Osama bin Laden, in his wildest dreams, could hardly have hoped for this. A mere 18 months after he boosted the US to a peak of worldwide sympathy unprecedented since Pearl Harbor, that international goodwill has been squandered to near zero. Bin Laden must be beside himself with glee. And the infidels are now walking right into the Iraq trap.
    There was always a risk for Bin Laden that worldwide sympathy for the US might thwart his long-term aim of holy war against the Great Satan. He needn't have worried. With the Bush junta at the helm, a camel could have foreseen the outcome. And the beauty is that it doesn't matter what happens in the war.

    Imagine how it looks from Bin Laden's warped point of view...

    If the American victory is swift, Bush will have done our work for us, removing the hated Saddam and opening the way for a decent Islamist government. .... <snip> ....

    The claim that this war is about weapons of mass destruction is either dishonest or betrays a lack of foresight verging on negligence. If war is so vitally necessary now, was it not at least worth mentioning in the election campaigns of 2000 and 2001? Why didn't Bush and Blair mention the war to their respective electorates? The only major leader who has an electoral mandate for his war policy is Gerhard Schröder - and he is against it. Why did Bush, with Blair trotting faithfully to heel, suddenly start threatening to invade Iraq when he did, and not before? The answer is embarrassingly simple, and they don't even seem ashamed of it. Illogical, even childish, though it is, everything changed on September 11 2001.

    Whatever anyone may say about weapons of mass destruction, or about Saddam's savage brutality to his own people, the reason Bush can now get away with his war is that a sufficient number of Americans, including, apparently, Bush himself, see it as revenge for 9/11. This is worse than bizarre. It is pure racism and/or religious prejudice. Nobody has made even a faintly plausible case that Iraq had anything to do with the atrocity. It was Arabs that hit the World Trade Centre, right? So let's go and kick Arab ass. Those 9/11 terrorists were Muslims, right? And Eye-raqis are Muslims, right? That does it. We're gonna go in there and show them some hardware. Shock and awe? You bet. .... <snip> .....

    Like sin and like terror (Bush's favourite target before the Iraq distraction) Evil is not an entity, not a spirit, not a force to be opposed and subdued. Evil is a miscellaneous collection of nasty things that nasty people do. There are nasty people in every country, stupid people, insane people, people who should never be allowed to get anywhere near power. Just killing nasty people doesn't help: they will be replaced. We must try to tailor our institutions, our constitutions, our electoral systems, so as to minimise the chance that such people will rise to the top. In the case of Saddam Hussein, we in the west must bear some guilt. The US, Britain and France have all, from time to time, done our bit to shore up Saddam, and even arm him. ... <snip> ...

    The population of the US is nearly 300 million, including many of the best educated, most talented, most resourceful, humane people on earth. By almost any measure of civilised attainment, from Nobel prize-counts on down, the US leads the world by miles. You would think that a country with such resources, and such a field of talent, would be able to elect a leader of the highest quality. Yet, what has happened? At the end of all the primaries and party caucuses, the speeches and the televised debates, after a year or more of non-stop electioneering bustle, who, out of that entire population of 300 million, emerges at the top of the heap? George Bush.

    My American friends, you know I love your country, how have we come to this? Yes, yes, Bush isn't quite as stupid as he sounds, and heaven knows he can't be as stupid as he looks. I know most of you didn't vote for him anyway, but that is my point. Forgive my presumption, but could it just be that there is something a teeny bit wrong with that famous constitution of yours? Of course this particular election was unusual in being a dead heat. Elections don't usually need a tie-breaker, something equivalent to the toss of a coin. Al Gore's majority in the country, reinforcing his majority in the electoral college but for dead-heated Florida, would have led a just and unbiased supreme court to award him the tie-breaker. So yes, Bush came to power by a kind of coup d'état. But it was a constitutional coup d'état. The system has been asking for trouble for years.

    Is it really a good idea that a single person's vote, buried deep within the margin of error for a whole state, can by itself swing a full 25 votes in the electoral college, one way or the other? And is it really sensible that money should translate itself so directly and proportionately into electoral success, so that a winning candidate must either be very rich or prepared to sell favours to those who are? .... <snip>

    Saddam Hussein has been a catastrophe for Iraq, but he never posed a threat outside his immediate neighbourhood. George Bush is a catastrophe for the world. And a dream for Bin Laden.

    · Richard Dawkins FRS is the Charles Simonyi Professor at Oxford University. His latest book is A Devil's Chaplain (Weidenfeld & Nicholson).

    For complete article, go to
    < http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,919538,00.html [Broken] >
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 10, 2003 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    You'd think that an Oxford professor, given that much space, might actually have been able to say something interesting. He made no points of significance that haven't been amply made and refuted by many people. Most of what he stated was well countered by various people on this forum. Is this article several months old?

  4. Apr 10, 2003 #3
    just a little more than two weeks; and i think the man did a fine job and i doubt any of the augments you accepted as refutation have any real value at all.
  5. Apr 10, 2003 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Worldwide sympathy is overrated. As far as Bin Laden is concerned, the victory in Iraq is a demonstration that he can not possibly be safe anywhere, ever. No nation will allow him to operate freely with in their borders. Terrorism, without state sponsorship, is an order of magnitude weaker.
    So Bin Laden hates Saddam. Anyone can have one redeeming feature.
    9/11 showed us how exposed we were to the possibilities of state-sponsored terrorism. The fact that Iraq was not involved did not change the truth of our vulnerability. There was ample evidence showing Iraq had the means and willingness to engage in terrorism against the US. Combining this with WMD's presented an unacceptable risk to the US. Also, while it is true that WMD's are the most talked of reason for the war, and are the technical justification for the war, they are not the only reason for the war.
    The author engages in base hypocrisy. He condemns the majority of Americans as racists and religious bigots. By doing so, he condemns himself as an anti-American bigot. Even if many Americans believe in bad reasons for supporting the war that does not negate the adequate justifications for war. If someone believes the sky is blue because it was colored with blue paint, that does not mean that the sky is not blue.
    We in the west have more than guilt. We have responsibility. The people of Iraq can never hope "to tailor our institutions, our constitutions, our electoral systems" without the aid of the people who assisted in putting in place such a brutal, efficient tyranny. We OWE it to them to eliminate Hussein's regime.
    Perhaps we should disenfranchise the stupid? Or euthanise them? Or perhaps we should allow Richard Dawkins to assign the leader of each nation.
    The author is uninformed. As much as it pains me to say so, George Bush's election was completely legitimate. There was no "tie-breaker". When all was said and done, the Florida vote count was in his favor. Had people been able to read, and follow instructions, Al Gore would have won FLorida by 30,000 votes. But they couldn't.
    It was not a single vote.
    We are constantly wrestling with the propriety of spending in elections. Free speech is the bastion of any free society. Restricting the spending of funds on speech is a treacherous step for any free society to take. While I don't agree with our supreme court that money=speech, I think any steps to limit political spending must be very circumspect. Besides, Gore also had much money. I think the author has descended from a discussion of Iraq, Bin Laden and terrorism into pure America bashing. Why I'm beginning to think he was insincere when he called said, "My American friends, you know I love your country".
    Saddam Hussein has always been a significant threat to everyone he could reach. Modern methods of terrorism would expand his reach to the entire globe. The terrorism that might be inspired by Bush's activities is less than what would be inspired by Saddam's example of defiance with impunity.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  6. Apr 10, 2003 #5


    User Avatar

    Except that his organisation has been in opposition to the largely secular Iraqi state for ages. And now the proposed replacement is likely to be islamicist... He was never safe within the borders of Iraq. But now is his significantly safer.

    The major logistical base of operations has been traced not to Iraq, but to the UK. Even with official opposition, the distributed network of terrorism is immune. Indeed, with the current chaotic state of affairs in Iraq, it is very easy to smuggle terrorist materials in or out. And a power vacuum helps.

    But the real threat from terrorism is not state sponsored. Bin Laden needed only cardboard cutters and airline tickets for 9/11. The reality of the infrastructure of terrorism is not governments, but populations of people with the hatred needed to take that step. Palestine shows it quite well.
    9/11 did not show state sponsored terrorism, but the vulnerability to the actions of small groups and terrorist cells, using unconventional methods of combat outside of the much touted WMDs. It showed how complacent military thinking did not have much effect against such techniques. It showed how easy it was for this to invoke an almost permanent sense of terror. If the terrorists decided to repeat 9/11, little has changed to stop them.

    And BTW, still no WMDs. Analysts before the war had predicted that a war would create the atmosphere required for any such weapons to vanish into terrorist hands. Let's hope they are wrong.

    Hmm... maybe. But then how do you say that 9/11 meant we should attack Iraq? He is saying that there is no case linking Iraq to 9/11, and so any direct justification of Iraq as a specific target by revenge for 9/11 can only be based on simple stereotypes of religion, or race, or geographic region. Understand? He is criticising the use of 9/11 to justify Iraq, hence "apparently".

    The full paragraph:
    He is expanding the argument here. He didn't say that the guilt was an excuse. Rather, his point is that the ultimate solution to such problems is not to tackle the specific targets, but rather to tackle the background that allows "evil" to come about. ie. we should be looking at the long term solution, not the quick ones.

    He argues that we should change the system to be more fair. That the election is legal currently, but shouldn't. Ie. he is arguing in favor of proportional representation. He isn't bashing america, but bashing the current electoral system.

    It is a comment BTW. It isn't just specific to one thing.

    And he could reach 90 miles with the limits of UN sanctions on his missiles. As to what terrorism is inspired by Bush, we shall see.
  7. Apr 10, 2003 #6

    Please clarify this oxymoron.
  8. Apr 10, 2003 #7


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    It is meant in a sarcastic vein. Saddam Hussein is not a religious leader, he is a secular one. And therefore no friend of Al Q. Saddam has never helped nor plans to help Islamic fundamentalists.
    So using false rationalisations of links with Al Q to justify America's current terrorism against Iraq are just weak and pathetic.

    FZ, good post.

    - S.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2003
  9. Apr 10, 2003 #8

    Is there an existing government you consider to be superior to that of the USA? If so, how is that superiority measured?

  10. Apr 10, 2003 #9


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Logical fallacies galore there.

    Ok ... define superior.

    I assume you do know that as far as social indicators are concerned, the USA is nowhere near No. 1 ? If dont, read up recent UN statistics.

    Implicit in your question is the assertion that the USA govt. is the most superior one. Justify that claim of yours with logic and evidence please. Thank you.

    - S.
  11. Apr 11, 2003 #10

    My definition of superior may differ from yours. Perhaps you could indicate a superior nation per your definition.

    Yes, it is difficult for me to avoid the presumption that the USA is best.

  12. Apr 11, 2003 #11


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    As usual, Njorl, quite right. This article was another sleeper. Pointless. You really didn't need to debunk it. It was self-debunking.

    In fact, this entire thread is pointless.... But then again, maybe I'm drunk. :wink:
  13. Apr 14, 2003 #12
    Osama Bin Laden is a maniac, and so is Saddam Hussein (So-damn Insane).

    Osama killed my cousin on September 11, 2001 when she was innocently sitting at work at the World Trade Center.

    That is a loser, that is human scum, that is something so indescribable to the human race that I couldn't even begin to come up with a name suitable for scum like that.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook