Sunday, September 30, 2001

Taliban now claims to be protecting Bin Laden. Why the change of story? It won't make any difference to Bin Ladens enemies, who never believed Taliban in the first place. Perhaps it is directed at their friends in other muslim countries, to show that Taliban and Al-Qaeda stand together, not divided. They are already in the line of fire, they might as well embrace openly whatever friends they have.

Robert Kaplan on the strange bedfellows of war.

Musharraf is a Turkophile. He spent part of his youth in Turkey. He idolizes the founder of secular modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk, and has a dream of turning Pakistan into a South Asian version of Ataturk's republic. But he is probably too late. Pakistan today is a poverty-wracked Yugoslavia-in-the making--with the added complication of nuclear capability.


While television may now show Pakistanis as a united group of Muslims demonstrating against Musharraf's willingness to help America in its struggle against Osama bin Laden, Pakistan is far from united. The current unrest will likely lead to a weakened state, in which Sind in the south, Baluchistan in the southwest, Punjab in the center and the Pashtoon-dominated Northwest Frontier could assert separate identities, with each of those areas weakened by its own clan rivalries and large ethnic minorities.


In the coming months, we will find ourselves relying increasingly on dictators such as Musharraf, King Abdullah II in Jordan and others. There simply is no one else with whom to work. We will not be betraying our democratic principles by doing so; quite the contrary. We are fighting not only for own security, but for more open societies in whatever form they may take.

Greg Beato questions the courage of the WTC terrorists. (Via Matt Welch.)

Of course, it's easy to see why Bill Maher and Susan Sontag have such a hard time reconciling cowardice with self-immolation: they have great lives.


The hijackers, however, weren't secularized Westerners. By all credible accounts, they were pan-Islamist fanatics operating under the notion that a Hefneresque Allah would reward their martyrdom with beautiful, attentive virgins in Paradise. In other words, they didn't really believe that they were giving anything up. Instead, they believed that they were getting something: Bill Maher's life on an even grander scale, for all eternity, without the hassle of having to produce a TV show five days a week! Under this premise, the terrorists' actions appear more greedy and aggrandizing than courageous.

The Telegraph: Interview with a Taliban torturist who, "sickened by the atrocities he was forced to commit", conveniently defected to Pakistan last week. (Is he also conveniently telling western journalists what they want to hear?)

Saturday, September 29, 2001

Cartoon: Jesse Jackson to the rescue! (Via Stuart Buck.) And that's all I'm going to say about that.

The text of G.W. Bush's speech today. (Via Fredrik Norman.)

InstaPundit: The September 11 attacks were a failure.

Unless this was just the biggest stock-manipulation scam in history, the goal, presumably, was to leave the United States either paralyzed, or blindly lashing out in ways that would isolate the West from the Islamic world and perhaps pave the way for fundamentalist extremists to take over one or more Arab governments. (Saudi Arabia and Egypt are the most likely candidates; Algeria is another possibility). Instead, the Taliban government, the most reliably extremist government in the Islamic world, is in serious trouble, and Western governments that have sheltered, or at least ignored, radical Islamists are rounding them up, Arab governments are using this as an excuse to crack down on fundamentalists they don't like a lot anyway, and -- this is a point made by Barney Frank -- the United States is now over this whole third-world guilt thing.


Worse still in many ways, from the attackers' standpoint, Americans are beginning to take a serious interest in Islam, and to realize the importance of waging cultural war against the extremists' views. Given the power of American culture, this should be a daunting prospect. All told, this scenario should surely count as the terrorists' worst nightmare.

Others have also been thinking along these lines, that Bin Laden counted on Americas decadence and stupidity to serve his own purposes in the moslem world, but what instead has emerged is its resilience and intelligence. Bush has not carpet-bombed Afghanistan, and is unlikely to do so. The Vast, Right-Wing Conspiracy has not begun executing bearded immigrants. The west has risen above the stereotypes held by marxist reactionaries and religious puritans, accurately identifying our enemy as a significant, but not dominant fascist subculture of Islam, not foreigners, not Islam itself, and not our own political principles.

Of course, world war 3 may break out yet. And no matter the outcome, Al-Qaeda dead or alive, we will lose some of our freedom. More about that to follow, I'm sure.

Modern Humorist: New entertainment guidelines for a changed America. (Via Peptide.)

WARNING! Comedy = Tragedy + Time. If you tell jokes about the recent tragedies, you will be hurled into the distant future.

And -- everyone's linked to this already but while we're on the subject -- The Onions Holy Fucking Shit: Attack On America issue.

Debka: "Unofficial Reports of Major Clash Saturday SE of Kandahar Between US Special Forces and Taliban Troops".

According to the New York Observer, (via Alain Breillatt), Debka is written by two israeli journalists who claim to have friends in high places. I have no way to verify Debka's trustworthiness or good intentions. I have no way to verify the news I hear on CNN or BBC World either. The only thing we can know for sure is that journalists all over the world are just as dumb, biased and likely to run in flock today, as they were three weeks ago. This is war, and even those who do not lie intentionally may be stupid enough to repeat the lies they're told. That includes CNN, Debka - and us warbloggers.

One thing I have learned from Matt Drudge, (who used to publish mostly accurate scoops from american politics, but now is just a good weblogger), is that a well-connected loner with a website can outrace media dinosaurs to the truth. Debka may or may not be that story all over again. I link, you decide.

Janes: Inside Al-Qaeda, on how an international network of islam terrorists grew out of the Soviet-Afghan war.

While not all saw combat, some 5,000 Saudis, 3,000 Yemenis, 2,800 Algerians, 2,000 Egyptians, 400 Tunisians, 350 Iraqis, 200 Libyans and dozens of Jordanians served alongside the Afghani mujahideen in the war. Between 1,000 and 1,500 of them returned to Algeria and formed the backbone of the Islamic radicals who are continuing to fight against the government in what has been a nine-year civil war that has claimed more than 100,000 lives.


Other Afghani Arabs continued to fight the Russians in Tajikistan while still others continued to participate in other conflicts where Muslims were involved, mainly participating in the wars in Bosnia and Chechnya.


Western diplomats have said the failed Jordanian plot is a blueprint of how Bin Laden currently operates, using a loosely tied network of local militant groups that operate with his blessing and support, but which cannot be easily traced directly back to him. It is also this loose structure that makes it so difficult for intelligence and police agencies to disrupt the network.

Friday, September 28, 2001

From Strategic Forecasting, a detailed analysis of the options USA have in fighting a war against terrorism. Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5.

The United States has two goals: One, to topple the Taliban; the other, destroying al-Qa'ida and killing bin Laden. If these goals are treated sequentially rather than in parallel, interesting possibilities emerge. To be more precise, if the focus was on disrupting and defeating the Taliban, bin Laden's position in Afghanistan would become untenable. Apart from his personal fate, the ability to base training and other facilities in Afghanistan would decline or disappear. Therefore, the heart of the matter is to defeat the Taliban. The resources available are special forces and other light but effective units. There is a unique match between the means needed to defeat the Taliban and the forces that can be made available.


When we consider the geography of the Taliban and its control of major cities, it becomes possible to conceive of an operation that essentially does to the Taliban what Afghan resistance fighters did to the Russians: bottle them up in the cities and erode their will to resist. Add to the mix the use of air attacks on those cities, and it is conceivable that the Taliban can be broken in a nationwide campaign.

From Reuters, curiously still calling a spade a spade: British minister Peter Hain warns of more terror attacks. (Via MoonFarmer):

There is evidence he is planning high-impact attacks in the world and we have got to make sure he doesn't do it again.

Peter Beinart, The New Republic, on the blowback theory:

American intervention in the Afghan war didn't create Osama bin Laden. In fact, if the United States bears any blame for bin Laden's terrorist network today, it's because in the 1980s and '90s, we didn't intervene in Afghanistan aggressively enough.

Reports of Afghan refugee crisis exaggerated. No english link yet. Translated excerpts:

The UN High Comissioner for Refugees and afghan sources confirm that reports of a mass escape from Afghanistan have been exaggerated. While world media has painted the picture of 1.5 million afghans leaving for neighbouring countries, only a few thousand have actually arrived at the borders in the last couple of weeks.
- The potential crisis is enormous, but if you ask how many have actually arrived at the borders, the answer is relatively few, says Peter Kessler, spokesman of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR. 1.5 million is a worst case scenario, and isn't based on actual knowledge of how many are trying to flee, admits Kessler.


Inhabitants of cities like Kabul and Kandahar have always fled to their home villages when they fear an attack, and are therefore not necessarily leaving for other countries, says Omar, a salesman of vegetables in an Islamabad market. He's lived in Pakistan for 15 years, and smiles at reports of closed borders. Those borders are open to anyone with legs to walk on, or money.

Pro-american demontrastration in Iran broken up by the police. (Via InstaPundit.)

Thursday, September 27, 2001

CNN: Taliban support may be eroding. Early signs of weakness, or wishful thinking?

Somebody opened the door, and let the fresh air of true scholarship into the room. Its name is Bernard Lewis. First, an article from 1990: The Roots of Muslim Rage.

In having practiced sexism, racism, and imperialism, the West was merely following the common practice of mankind through the millennia of recorded history. Where it is distinct from all other civilizations is in having recognized, named, and tried, not entirely without success, to remedy these historic diseases. And that is surely a matter for congratulation, not condemnation.


Soviet secularism, like Soviet consumerism, holds no temptation for the Muslim masses, and is losing what appeal it had for Muslim intellectuals. More than ever before it is Western capitalism and democracy that provide an authentic and attractive alternative to traditional ways of thought and life. Fundamentalist leaders are not mistaken in seeing in Western civilization the greatest challenge to the way of life that they wish to retain or restore for their people.


The movement nowadays called fundamentalism is not the only Islamic tradition. There are others, more tolerant, more open, that helped to inspire the great achievements of Islamic civilization in the past, and we may hope that these other traditions will in time prevail. But before this issue is decided there will be a hard struggle, in which we of the West can do little or nothing. Even the attempt might do harm, for these are issues that Muslims must decide among themselves. And in the meantime we must take great care on all sides to avoid the danger of a new era of religious wars, arising from the exacerbation of differences and the revival of ancient prejudices.

Second, a 1998 article in Foreign Affairs Magazine, where he translates and explains Bin Ladens Declaration of Jihad.

And from today, 27/09/01, in Wall Street Journal: The difference between Jihad and Crusade.

Faces of Evil.

Wednesday, September 26, 2001

Patriotism has, then, many faces. Those who would reject it entirely do not seem to have considered what will certainly step - has already begun to step - into its place. For a long time yet, or perhaps forever, nations will live in danger. Rulers must somehow nerve their subjects to defend them or at least to prepare for their defense. Where the sentiment of patriotism has been destroyed this can be done only by presenting every international conflict in a purely ethical light. If people will spend neither sweat nor blood for "their country" they must be made to feel that they are spending them for justice, or civilization, or humanity. This is a step down, not up. Patriotic sentiment did not of course need to disregard ethics. Good men needed to be convinced that their country's cause was just; but it was still their country's cause, not the cause of justice as such. The difference seems to me important. I may without self-righteousness or hypocrisy think it just to defend my house by force against a burglar; but if I start pretending that I blacked his eye purely on moral grounds - wholly indifferent to the fact that the house in question is mine - I become insufferable....If our country's cause is the cause of God, wars must be wars of annihilation.
- C.S. Lewis, (via Andrew Sullivan.)

A group of norwegian academics wants G.W. Bush to receive Nobels Peace Prize, if - (big if) - he can end the conflict with Afghanistan peacefully. The suggestion isn't important, politically, but it shows the depths to which some people are willing to drag the word "peace", blinded by a belief that peace is a process, not a condition. Notice the common stubborness in calling terrorist attacks in Israel "threats against the peace process", rather than "a continuation of the war process". Gandhi and Martin Luther King were men of peace. Bush, right now, like Winston Churchill, is a man of war, and giving the Peace Prize to a warrior just because he capitulates would be an insult to peace workers.

(But it would be in good spirit with what the Nobel Peace Prize has become.) Target. Besiege. Strike. (More.)

Michael Kelly: The Pacifist Claptrap. Quotes Orwell, always a good sign.

In fact, a lot of people quote Orwell these days. Want to know why?

Bin Laden followers tried to buy a Boeing 727 in March. Sale didn't work out. Very odd. They clearly didn't need it for the attacks, and buying a whole plane just for training would be wasteful, even for a multi-millionaire.

Tuesday, September 25, 2001

The first casualty of war is truth.
- Rudyard Kipling, 1865 - 1936
We won't lie - honest!
- Donald H. Rumsfeld, US Secretary of Defense, 25/9/01. (Via Drudge.)

White House confused: Will they, or will they not, help overthrow the Taliban dictatorship?

352 arrests made in the US so far. 400 more wanted for questioning.

Seems the russians aren't too enthusiastic about americans gaining new friends in Central Asia. (Via Bushwacker.) Three former Soviet states, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, border to Afghanistan, and the Northern Alliance has been friendly with Russia for a while.

Russia, in fact, would actually be apprehensive if the Americans established too strong a presence in the region. And maybe they would be telling the Northern Alliance to, of course, cooperate with the United States, but maybe not cooperate that much -- especially not helping the Americans establish a base there.

What I'd like to know is: Who are the Northern Alliance? The enemy of ones enemy isn't always a coke-drinking freedom fighter from MacGyver, as this whole mess is a big reminder of. What Afghanistan needs is a push towards democracy and prosperity, not another dictator who's too smart to kick superpowers in the balls, (or even worse, another civil war.)

I went to a peace rally here in Oslo today, sponsored by an impressive list of organizations. There was little America-bashing, but one nasty pot kept boiling over: All the speakers, and many of the banners, implicitly accused USA of racism for bringing the war back to Afghanistan. I find that incredible. American political and military leaders have used every opportunity to stress that this is not a war against moslems, it is a war against an extreme minority of mass-murderers who are to Islam what Hitler was to Protestantism.

Worries about the side-effects of war were also dominant, and this is a better argument than the race card. Nobody wants to send millions of poor civilians on the run, or raise a new generation of terrorists on the graveyard of afghan martyrs, if it can be helped. It can't. Enemies of civilization all over the world has seen what the al-Qaida could achieve with only will, plastic knives, and religious fervor - ingredients that many places are easier to find than food and freedom. Many will follow, unless they are convinced that the risks are too high. It is too late to wait for Afghanistan to solve their problems on their own.

One speaker was an afghan womens rights activist, who almost seemed apologetic towards Taliban when she pleaded on behalf of the many women who may become victims of a US attack. Aren't they already victims? Taliban is one of the strictest patriarchal countries in the world, where women have absolutely no rights at all. USA is one of the freest. Isn't any chance to overthrow the puritans better than status quo? The first obligation of a prisoner is to escape, and the first obligation of an oppressed people is to revolt.

All in all, Sheik Ilderim in Ben Hur says it best: Balthasar is a good man. But until all men are like him, we must keep our swords bright! Amnesty and Save the Children are fine organizations, doing important work for people I may not even have heard of. But until all people are like them, we must keep our swords bright, (and our intentions true, as Judah Ben Hur finishes it.)

Monday, September 24, 2001

Tony Pierce - Images of Pre-War. (Via Matt Welch.) We cannot win a war on terrorism.

My life with the mujaheddin - A former SAS soldier talks about training afghan guerillas in the 80's. It's tragic irony: Afghanistan was torn apart by the Cold War. Now it has no friends left. Americans and russians are on the same side.

Usama Bin Laden's televised speech yesterday:

We incite our Muslim brothers in Pakistan to give everything they own and are capable of to push the American crusade forces from invading Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Prophet, Peace Be Upon Him, said: Whoever didn't fight, or prepare a fighter, or take good care of a fighter's family, Allah will strike him with a catastrophe before Judgment Day.

I announce to you the good news my loved brothers that we are steadfast on the path of Jihad for the sake of Allah, following the example of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him), with the heroic, faithful Afghan people, under the leadership of our fighter emir, who is proud of his religion, the prince of the faithful, Mullah Mohammed Omar.

G.W. Bush freezes assets of organizations tied to terrorism, including three apparently posing as humanitarian organizations. The al-Rashid Trust claimed to be distributing food to starving afghans:

The al-Rashid Trust and some Arab NGOs operating from Peshawar are already active in providing humanitarian assistance to the needy Afghans in Kandahar and Kabul. The trust, serving as an umbrella organisation for the Muslim charity groups from Pakistan and abroad, is busy in providing food free of charge to as many as 25,000 widows and orphans in Kandahar and Kabul.

Bush's speech.

Sunday, September 23, 2001

A lecture given in the US by a senior advisor of the Taliban. (Via Bushwacker.) This is the other side of the story. We should read it, ponder it, and then attack their country.

This paragraph surprised me, though, hinting at a scandinavian connection with the destruction of the Buddha statues:

I asked them, why are they going to blow the statues, and I talked to the head of the council of scholars of people, who had actually decided this, he told me that UNESCO and NGO from Sweden, or from one of these Scandinavian countries Norway, Sweden, one of these they had actually come, with a project of rebuilding the face of these statues, which have worn by rain. So the council of people had told them to spend that money in saving the lives of these children, instead of spending that money to [restore these] statues. And these guys said that, No, this money is only for the statues. And the people were really pissed off. They said that, If you don t care about our children, we are going to blow those statues.

More about living conditions under Taliban.

Want proof? You got it, says G.W. (Via Bushwacker.)

Also, more information is emerging about how this war may be fought:

Military sources say no final battle plan has been approved. But the ongoing deployments signal the Pentagon plans to infiltrate Afghanistan with special-operations soldiers. Working in small teams and armed with the latest intelligence, the commandos would try to take down the Taliban militia of about 30,000 � one fighter at a time. Backed by air strikes, the U.S. soldiers would also seek and destroy bin Laden encampments, with the hope of encountering the prime suspect in the Sept. 11 attacks that killed over 6,500 people, most of them civilians. �����

"We'll make it so he can't spend the night in the same place twice," said one official.

Unlike the Soviet Union, which spent the 1980s trying to occupy Afghanistan and then retreated in disgrace, the United States will strike, then move back to base, officials said. And, unlike the Russians, the American troops will be backed by advanced surveillance equipment that can find pockets of Taliban militia.

Bin Laden conspirators may have been planning - or may still be planning - to disperse biological or chemical agents from a cropdusting plane normally used for agricultural purposes.
- Time Magazine, 22/9/01

For someone who lives in a country without TV, the Al-Qaida certainly watch a lot of american movies.

One way or another, this is not over. There are two ways to watch the events of 11/9: As a temporary dent in the normal fabric of reality, or as a permanent change of direction. It is tempting to believe the first, necessary to accept the second.

The Taleban have not become thieves. Thieves have become Taleban.

So much for peace and order as an excuse for puritanism. The question is: How much can the US do for the Afghans after the Taleban has fallen?

Never start a war, but always finish it.

Saturday, September 22, 2001

Notice those flags up there? They're there for a reason, and it's not just to provoke bigoted socialists.

We're all americans now. At least I am, if not by citizenship, then by culture and spirit.

I'm also norwegian. And a netizen. Some times I even feel slightly european, (just keep the EU technocrats on the continent where they belong.)

I am an american just as much as anyone who lives up north in Kirkenes is a norwegian. There are certain geographical differences, but modern technology makes them irrelevant. There are certain cultural differences as well, but I have just as much and little in common with an average american as I have with my nearest neighbour.

In times of crisis, we humans ignore our minor differences and stand together. New York and the Manhattan skyline, (which now decorates the wall next to me), was a symbol for me too. The heroic firemen at the WTC, and the passengers of flight 93, destination White House, inspire me as it inspires americans. Their anger is my anger.

The only things I don't share with the american people right now is pain and fear. Except for a confused attempt at Middle East peace named after the city I live in, and despite the chilling claim of a 1996 hijacker that he was supposed to crash the plane in central Oslo, Norway is propably not a target for Al-Qaida right now. This may change. If it does, I'll reevaluate my formal status as a conscientious objector, (thanks to a brief flirting with pacifism a few years ago.)

What matters now is to pick a side. I'm sorry if that seems harsh, but it is true. We all see plenty of things that are wrong with USA, just as things are wrong with Norway, or whatever country you're living in. The point is, when american soldiers start dying to protect your freedom in a couple of days or weeks, will you primarily mourn with their families, or their targets? My choice isn't easy, but it has been made, and I will stand by it until proven wrong.

The Smoking Gun assembles a page on Osama Bin Laden, as always based on scanned documents.

Al-Qa'ida's goal, in Bin Ladin's words, is to "unite all Muslims and establish a government which follows the rule of the Caliphs." Bin Ladin has stated that the only way to establish the Caliphat is by force. Al-Qa'ida's goal, therefore, is to overthrow nearly all Muslim governments, which Bin Ladin views as "corrupt", to drive Western influence from those countries, and eventually to abolish state boundaries.

Just so we know what we're dealing with here, a wannabe-despot and ethnic cleanser. True evil survives even post-modernism.

All of life can be divided into moments of transition, or moments of revelation. This had the feeling of both.
- J. Michael Straczynski, Babylon 5

For some reason, ever since Tuesday 11th, I've heard and seen echoes of Babylon 5 all around me in the world events that has followed. There's nothing specific, no "that's just like that episode where ...", only a phrase, a feeling, an echo. Deja vu. A true work of art is not just a quick thrill or laugh, but a companion through all the unexpected turns of life, a mirror that returns more than you put in it, and Babylon 5 is proving to be the only such companion I need from the 1990's, (which ended this month).

I wasn't online when it happened, having just moved. I didn't even have TV, and had to watch CNN in a cafe in central Oslo. The first thing I noticed when I got both net and TV early this week, was how much more comprehensive than TV and newspapers the web coverage was. All my favourite opinion and personal websites have added aspects to the coverage barely or not at all mentioned in mainstream media. Want images and videos? All this was posted within hours of the attack, (Ultradio recommended in particular.) Want personal stories? Search Blogger.

This is simply too big for TV. There's too many people with a story to tell, too many amateur photographers gathering evidence, too many political implications for everyone of them to be covered adequately even on 24h news channels. Only the web can scale to cover the death of 6000 americans in gruesome detail, and only the web feels the pulse of an entire culture changing.

And now I'm adding my own voice to the choir. A bit late - but I doubt anything I could have written on the 11th had been even remotely coherent. Hell, I spent 48 hours just digesting the CNN footage, and I'm not american. (Well, actually I am, we all are now, except Jan Guillou. But more about that later, (and earlier).)

We hereby formally declare the local scandinavian chapter of the Blame The Victim Association (BVA) open for business.

Jan Guillou, a swedish thriller writer and columnist, in Vi blev tv�ngs- kommenderade att bli amerikaner. ('We were forced to become americans', referring to the european minute of silence last friday.)

The norwegian academic Birgit Brock-Utne and ex-politician of the far left Gunnar Garbo, in Gjengjeldelse selvforsvar? ('Is revenge self-defense?')

Some translated excerpts:

Our mourning, commandeered to manifest itself collectively, was ordered to be greater than for any other incidence since World War 2.
- Jan Guillou

USA is the greatest mass murderer of our time. The war against Vietnam and its south-Asian neighbours cost 4 million lives. Without a single minute of silence in Sweden.
- Jan Guillou

The flag wavers want us to join the war along the americans. It's the white rich world against the moslems.
-Jan Guillou

We are not americans, we're europeans. It's obvious why terrorists of the tortured and mass-murdered moslem world attacked USA and not Europe. It's not, as a columnist suggested yesterday, because they envy american standards of living. It's revenge, for millions of deads.
- Jan Guillou

Luckily, most of us didn't need orders to mourn. Like most american embassies in Europe, the one in Oslo spontaneously received countless flowers, candles and poems, decorating the far side of Drammensveien for more than 50 meters, within two days of the attack. I was there. Another scene I shall never forget.

And, for a "war against moslems", it's pretty curious of G.W. Bush to spend so much time pointing out that it is not.

George W. Bush often takes the word God in his mouth in his political speeches. But Jesus never advised anyone to repay evil with evil.
- Birgit Brock-Utne and Gunnar Garbo

I don't know which major branch of christianity Brock-Utne and Garbo belongs to, that would actually turn the other cheek to mass-murder. They propably don't, which makes it all the more inappropriate for them to drag religion into their far-left pacifist argument.

With all due respect for the values USA represents, vi mustn't forget that we're dealing with the super power which more often than any other country in the world neglects human rights, and use military power to force their way.
- Birgit Brock-Utne and Gunnar Garbo

Unlike the nazis and communists, who were defeated / held back by american military power? Unlike those friendly dictators in the middle-east? There is a time for criticizing the minor shortcomings of ones friends. It is not right after they've been brutally raped.

Convicting and punishing the men behind this won't stop terrorism. New terrorists will just follow in their tracks. We won't get any further unless we try to solve the conditions that produce these violent revolts in the first place. One major step on the way would be for USA and us other rich people - we who take 80% of what the earth produces, and who dominate the world with our military power - to actually promote international conditions that poor people also perceive as just.
- Birgit Brock-Utne and Gunnar Garbo

Bin Ladens newly acquired humanitarianism is news to me, and poverty and oppression alone does not great philosopher make.

I quit writing on the web when I realized I am irrelevant. Not in the sense that I am worthless, (or wrong), but that whatever merit I have beyond that of any other human being I have because of what I do, socially and professionally, and not because of what I say in bold letters on a website. One friendly word or a job well done is much more important than a houndred accurate political observations.

I still believe that.

I was just about to sign a treaty of non-agression with reality, ("you stay out of my business, and i'll stay out of yours"), when the rules changed, and being irrelevant was no longer a morally acceptable option. If I stay silent now, at the dawn of a strange, unpredictable future, then my beliefs are hollow, and all those years I spent figuring it all out were wasted.

Something changed on September 11th, 2001. At first I thought it was the world. Now I realize that the world is what it has always been, with a few brief exceptions, chaotic and bloody. Neither has my political philosophy seen any reason to update its principles. A few more buckets in an ocean of blood won't sink the product of 10 000 years of human history.

It is, mostly, I who have changed, and the way I apply my beliefs to the world. How much, I don't know, but I am curious to find out.

This new blog is dedicated to the new world. At a time of war, even one my country is not directly involved in, voices of intellectual honesty and clarity are needed more than ever, and it is my goal to find those voices on the web, and perhaps be one of them.

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