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Nov. 4th blog post by Sandor at the Zoo

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Niall001
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www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/S...11,00.htmlAmerica's much-vaunted assault on Falluja began with the capture of the city's hospital, which was regarded as an important strategic target. But the operation, codename Phantom Fury, is likely to become much more complicated and much more dangerous. Although Falluja general hospital, a small, poorly-equipped facility on the western outskirts of the city, should have been protected under the Geneva conventions, it was deemed legitimate by US commanders because they said it had been taken over by insurgents. No shots were fired during the capture of the hospital, although one Iraqi soldier accidentally shot himself in the leg, and 38 people were arrested, four of them foreign Arabs. The Euphrates river runs through the western edge of Falluja, cutting off the hospital from the city. US marines also seized two bridges near the hospital, clearly an effort to establish the river as a natural barrier on the western flank. One unnamed senior American officer also admitted that the hospital had become a "centre of propaganda," reflecting the military's frustration at the high death tolls doctors frequently announce after American bombing raids. It was accounts of the hundreds killed during the first assault on Falluja in April that brought the operation to a rapid halt and produced a badly thought-out ceasefire which only strengthened the hands of the insurgents. Now the US marines, who will lead the full assault, encircle the city and face a much more difficult and dangerous fight. As in April, they plan to take the city one sector at a time. This time there have been ever more intense nightly bombing raids for weeks, what commanders call "softening up the battlespace". In military jargon, the city has been "depersonalised" and districts are given American names like "Queen's" to replace their Iraqi names. Troops have been told to think of the fight in historic terms, as another Inchon or Iwo Jima, even with occasional references to Vietnam and the 1968 Tet offensive. "You're all in the process of making history. This is another Hue city in the making," Sergeant Major Carlton Kent, the most senior enlisted marine in Iraq, told the forces. "I have no doubt if we do get the word that each and every one of you is going to do what you have always done - kick some butt." The groundwork has been prepared for an operation unrivalled in its ferocity. Although the US rarely talks about its military rules of engagement there are some hints of it in the state of emergency imposed by the Iraqi government on Sunday. Under these new laws an indefinite curfew was enforced from dusk in Falluja and all weapons have been banned. "All pedestrian movement will be strictly prohibited," according to the national safety defence order. The city's police force and the Falluja brigade, the insurgency-riddled defence force set up under the last ceasefire deal, have been disbanded. Yet while the overwhelming firepower of the 15,000 US troops waiting in the desert around the city will inevitably defeat the less well-armed insurgents, who number perhaps 3,000, the battle of Falluja is unlikely to end Iraq's insurgency. Just a month ago the US 1st Infantry Division was boasting of its success after the biggest joint US-Iraqi operation so far in an assault on Samarra, another Sunni town north of Baghdad that was dominated by insurgents. Reporters were flown into a US base to hear the division's commander, Major General John Batiste, speak of a new peace in the city. "The operation in Samarra has been very successful," he said. "Anti-Iraqi forces have been defeated and the city has been returned to the people." Yet, in the style of the guerrilla army they have become, the insurgents paused and then returned to fight. On Saturday 39 people died and 49 were injured in Samarra in a string of suicide bombings and attacks on police posts. In Falluja too, many of the insurgents are likely to have fled the city in recent weeks to regroup and return to their guerrilla operations once the assault is completed. Last year in the Pentagon, officials were turning for advice to Gillo Pontecorvo's 1966 film the Battle of Algiers, which showed how brutal French military tactics put down an Islamic insurgency in Algeria, only to be followed by a national uprising that defeated the French. The film holds ominous warnings about the need for a political settlement in Iraq. In the final scene a French policeman addresses a crowd of Algerian protesters through clouds of smoke. "Qu'est-ce que vous voulez?" he asks them. "Estiqlal," they reply in Arabic. "Independence." Let us agree, there is no one single reality. Not upon this stage, not in this world, all is in the mind... imagination is the only truth. Because it cannot be contradicted except by other imaginations - Richard MathesonThere are no conclusive indications by which waking life can be distinguished from sleep - Rene Descartes
Eric Hagelin

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Need we continue? I think we understand each other.I have to go... will return on Monday to see what trouble I've got myself into here with all you FreeThinkers... I certainly hope there is toleration for someone who is free to think outside your atheistic box! I think Mr. P somewhere chastisingly told Chris that continuing with "the rhetoric" was unbecoming of a freethinker. Sort of a double-standard, I thought... can't a free thinker think as he chooses to [about politics and religion and so on], or does he have to conform to the freethinkers worldview? Hmmmm.....Kind regards, and have a good rest of the weekend...Eric "...I beg of You to take away my freedom to displease You..." ~ St. Therese of Lisieux ~Edited by: Eric Hagelin at: 11/20/04 5:55 pm
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Quote:I was actually referring to millions upon millions (billions?) enslaved under communist rule who were kept (and are currently kept) under thumb to produce for the State under communist rule. And lets not forget the millions slaughtered in Cambodia, Stalin's purges, etc. I suspect you think Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot and their ilk were just poor misunderstood two-bit dictators compared with the evil tyrant George W. Bush and his minions of death and destruction over in Iraq. Oh yeah. Throw Hussein and his gassing of the Kurds in there with the list of misunderstood leaders oppressed by the Imperialistic West.It's much easier to refer to the abuses of our enemies...it doesn't cost anything, nor does it solve much, and it can get you great applause among the abusers who wrap themselves in the flag. Dictators are wretched no matter their ideology or project or circumstances. I've said nothing that defends any dictator any where. If you want to take the time to compare death counts aross the 20th Cent., knock yourself out. I suppose it might lend itself to some gratification: "Well, our side can be damned demonic...but at least we're not as bad as they are".The issue is clear as I see it: if you are serious about stopping terror and domination, then don't commit it. All of your highlighting of the abusers wearing different flags is immoral and destructive if you are unwilling to start your critique in ways that you can make a difference- beginning with atrocities commited in your name, with your support.I mean, the Soviet Commissar writing of Jim Crow injustices in the USA- while saying nothing of the horrible atrocities taking place in Siberia did nothing to alleviate injustices in either location. On the contrary, he allowed Soviet consciences to avoid the dark truths regarding terror committed by their own Nation, in their name.Quote:Ever seen a satellite photo of North Korea at night?Yeah, its a desert. Devastated country. Try looking at it circa 1955...just after the USA obliterated it with billions of tons of firepower...including the bombing of water dams and the flooding of hundreds of thousands of miles of rice fields; dislocating millions of North Koreans from their farms, homes and into totally devastated urban areas left in ruins by American firepower. The desert of N. Korea has American fingerprints all over it.Quote:If you can't read the anti-American sentiment and propaganda in your own statements, any illustrations of mine, no matter how sarcastic, will help.That's your choice. I am an anti-totalitarian democrat...my critique of the world begins where I happen to be standing, and moves outwards from there into those areas where my action or inaction can make a difference- where I am responsible for the consequences of my behavior. I follow the moral imperative: don't bomb the gulag in my brother's eye without first removing the hiroshima/nagasaki in my own.How this gets translated into "Go burn Old Glory. You'll feel better. It's always America's fault, isn't it?" is a mystery.Actually, it's not really a mystery. It's quite human: the ability to deny complicity, rationalize abuses, and minimize real danger.
Niall001
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Eric, I'd refer you to these articles for a brief introduction to the position I'm coming from in regard to Abu Gharib.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experimenten.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asc...xperimentsen.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sta...experimentIn general, situation is often more important than the individual. I can't imagine any situation where I'd tolerate what was happening in that prison, but studies indicate that if I were in that situation, there is at least a fair chance that I might just conform.Here is a nice counter-pieceslate.msn.com/id/2100419/ Let us agree, there is no one single reality. Not upon this stage, not in this world, all is in the mind... imagination is the only truth. Because it cannot be contradicted except by other imaginations - Richard MathesonThere are no conclusive indications by which waking life can be distinguished from sleep - Rene Descartes
Niall001
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November 20 / 21, 2004The Horror of FallujahThe War is Over; But There is No PeaceBy ABBAS AHMED IBRAHIMFallujah, Iraq.This is a strange time in Fallujah. They say the war is over, but there is no peace. Every day there is shooting, and there are still killings going on. There is very little left of the town now, everywhere there are buildings which have been destroyed.There is also a terrible smell. We know what it is - it is the smell of dead bodies. Many have now been cleared away, but the smell does not go away, it will stay with us for a long time. The Americans say they are just finishing off the insurgents, but then they have been saying that for a few days now, so people here ask "who have they got left to finish off?" We hear of things like American soldiers killing wounded prisoners in a mosque, but that news is recycled to us from people outside. It is not possible to go out and find out what is going on.I am not staying in Fallujah out of choice. But I am afraid to try to leave. I am 36 years old, The American troops have been arresting any males between the ages of 15 and 45 who have attempted to leave. They say civilians were told to get out of Fall- ujah, so any man who stayed behind must be in the mujahedin.There are Iraqi men, with their faces hidden by scarves, with the American troops. These are the informers. If they point you out as an insurgent then there is no chance of proving that you are innocent. There are people who are settling personal or tribal grudges like this. You do not know who will denounce you.The reason I stayed behind is the same as many of the other remaining men here, to protect my house. My wife and parents begged me to go with them when I sent them away to Amiriyah, but I would not listen. I now realise what a mistake that was. I am staying with relations, and my house has probably been destroyed. The Americans were shooting everywhere, from the air and the ground, when they came into the town. The house I am staying in was hit by machine-gun fire. Those days and nights were very frightening. Their shells and bombs would make everything shake, and it seemed to go on day and night. That has stopped now. But there is also a lot of damage being caused when they carry out searches of houses. There are very few of us - civilians - left inside Fallujah now, I do not know how many because people do not go out. We are staying in little groups, not really going out much beyond our streets, because it is still very dangerous. I do not know if my cousin's family are all right, although, in a normal time, their home would only be 10 minutes' drive away. Most of the families here have someone who has been injured, arrested, and, sometimes, killed.Things are very bad here, but then they have been bad for such a long time now that one forgets what normal life was like. There is no power or water, and very little food left, and there is simply no medicine left. People I know are very ill, mainly from bad water, but they are not getting treatment.We were told that the Red Crescent and other aid organisations wanted to send food and medicine into the town, but it was stopped on the orders of Allawi (Iyad Allawi, Iraq's interim Prime Minister). This has made people even more angry. It makes them think he is taking the side of the Americans against his own people.The Americans say that they have set up centres for distributing food and medicine. They also say that Fallujah hospital has now been open again for more than a week.This is true in both cases. But the problem is that getting to them is very risky. You can get arrested by the Americans or you might get killed. Two women were shot trying to get food for their families. The Americans say the mujahedin shot them. Most people think it was the Americans themselves who did this. But I do not think that is the case. It probably was the mujahedin. But why is this happening if the Americans are in control of Fallujah?I do not know what is going to happen to us over the next few days. I have news that my family is all right, so a big worry has been lifted. Maybe things will be safer when other civilians start coming back into Fallujah. Abbas Ahmed Ibrahim is an Iraqi journalist Let us agree, there is no one single reality. Not upon this stage, not in this world, all is in the mind... imagination is the only truth. Because it cannot be contradicted except by other imaginations - Richard MathesonThere are no conclusive indications by which waking life can be distinguished from sleep - Rene Descartes
Eric Hagelin

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DH types: "It's much easier to refer to the abuses of our enemies...it doesn't cost anything, nor does it solve much, and it can get you great applause among the abusers who wrap themselves in the flag."Sometimes it costs a great deal to "refer" to the abuses of our enemies. Sometimes dealing with the abuses of our enemies solves a great deal, as well; sometimes those abuses have a direct impact on us and our loved ones. And not "referring" to them can also garner applause from pacifists and isolationists. I think one thing we have in common, DH, is that you and I both don't give a crap about applause, regardless of who it is that's applauding. But we see the issue very differently.DH types: "Dictators are wretched no matter their ideology or project or circumstances. I've said nothing that defends any dictator any where. If you want to take the time to compare death counts aross the 20th Cent., knock yourself out. I suppose it might lend itself to some gratification: "Well, our side can be damned demonic...but at least we're not as bad as they are"."You're oversimplifying it. One can make a judgment call. One can differentiate between systems of governance and come to common-sense determinations about which ones are better than others. One can make judgment calls between whether or not one system's "atrocities" are more heinous than another's and follow that through to its logical conclusion.In chair A, sits a man who murdered another man. He shot him because he felt that the man would have hurt him and his family, and he felt threatened. He regrets having to do what he did, and is sorry it ever had to happen, but would do the same thing again in the future, because it was done (he felt) out of necessity and wisdom.In chair B, sits a man who murdered three men, three women, and six children. Before he murdered them, he beat all of them, and sexually assaulted all of them. He did it for the sheer pleasure of it, because such things bring him pleasure. He doesn't regret doing what he did. The only thing he's sorry for is the fact that he got caught and is now being held accountable. He would do it again if given the opportunity.Dissident Heart, are you able to make a judgment call between these two? Is one "better" than the other?My answer is a big fat obvious "yes". I realize the analogy is a simple one, but the same type of call can be made on systems of governance, ideologies, dictators, world leaders, and what-not.Just because (for example) George W. Bush has sent the US military into Iraq and has given the ultimate go-ahead for [a limited] destruction of the enemy, does not mean he can realistically be equated with the likes of Saddam Hussein, or Usama Bin Laden. DH types: "The issue is clear as I see it: if you are serious about stopping terror and domination, then don't commit it."Sure, but the issue really isn't so simple. What constitutes "terror and domination"? We don't live in a passive world. We never have, and we never will. The idea that we could is just utopian chimera. Please spare me the trite "War is Terrorism" bumper-sticker argument. There are things that demand action, even war, in this life. If you are unwilling to face that harsh reality, then quite frankly, I'd prefer to have someone else around besides you when the going gets tough. I'm willing to protect you, even if it means killing someone else to do so. But I'm not willing to respect you, or your cowardly pacifist philosophy.DH types: "All of your highlighting of the abusers wearing different flags is immoral and destructive if you are unwilling to start your critique in ways that you can make a difference- beginning with atrocities commited in your name, with your support."This is pure, unadulterated, leftist drivel.DH types: "Yeah, its a desert. Devastated country. Try looking at it circa 1955...just after the USA obliterated it with billions of tons of firepower...including the bombing of water dams and the flooding of hundreds of thousands of miles of rice fields; dislocating millions of North Koreans from their farms, homes and into totally devastated urban areas left in ruins by American firepower. The desert of N. Korea has American fingerprints all over it."And you wonder how I can make a statement about your anti-American stance? Good grief.DH types: "I am an anti-totalitarian democrat...my critique of the world begins where I happen to be standing, and moves outwards from there into those areas where my action or inaction can make a difference- where I am responsible for the consequences of my behavior. I follow the moral imperative: don't bomb the gulag in my brother's eye without first removing the hiroshima/nagasaki in my own."And I am a conservative, nationalistic, patriotic American. I happen to see no problem with the USA making foreign policy decisions based on the betterment of the USA and the betterment and reinforcement of its position as global superpower... and my critique of the world begins where I happen to be standing, and moves outwards from there into those areas where my action or inaction can make a difference- where I am responsible for the consequences of my behavior. I follow the moral imperative: Don't threaten me or mine, because that will make me angry; and there are two correct and healthy responses to anger - to fight or flee. Sometimes there is wisdom in taking flight. Sometimes the wise action is to fight. And I am ready and able to do either, as the situation determines. "...I beg of You to take away my freedom to displease You..." ~ St. Therese of Lisieux ~
Eric Hagelin

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Thanks, Niall - I'll read through your links as time permits.DH, please reply. I want you to have the last word on this thread. "...I beg of You to take away my freedom to displease You..." ~ St. Therese of Lisieux ~
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Hagelin,I'm not interested in feeding this thread, since you've labelled what I have to offer as cowardly leftist drivel....I see no point in encouraging you.Thanks for sharing.
Tim Nonzero

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Eric, you put this to me... "Try explaining your rant about naivete, indoctrination, and "bait" to the children of the parents who died in the WTC..." Well I can easily respond to this by asking you to explain why the many more thousands of Afghani and Iraqi civilians who have lost loved ones as a consequence of 9/11, had to die. And to make my point even stronger: Iraq wasn't connected whatsoever to 9/11. Do these people matter less because they aren't American? Where on earth do your morals lie? The reason I quoted Goering was to starkly allude the way leaders pursue morally objectionable policies while by-passing the public's conscience. Is it really so far fetched? Its a fear sweeping thru the world as we speak. 9/11 was a (somewhat predictable) disaster... obviously disastrous for the poor souls who lost their lives on that day. I try to understand why those people died on that day and to understand how we arrived at those circumstances. Its certainly not an issue of good and evil as our leaders would have us believe. Terrorists are not freedom fighters, and I would never condone the murder of innocents in order to push any agenda... this is exactly the same ethic which forms the requisite for my critique of western policy. That is why I refuse to neglect the disasters for the souls who lost their lives in the world events that precede 9/11... and I certainly refuse to neglect the lives lost in the events ensuing 9/11. Of course 9/11 was atrocious, and like many in the west I ground my teeth and bayed for blood as I watched the live coverage that day. I was even inspired by Tony Blair's radical speech and pledge of allegiance with the US in the following weeks. I was gratified as the might of the US war machine began to mobilize toward the 'terrorist state' of Afghanistan; (shamefully) pleased that some form of retribution would take place. ...I - like Sandor - naively swallowed their rhetorical bait hook line and sinker. At just around that time a new guy landed a job on my team at work. Immediately he met my praise of the Prime Minister with great cynicism and on further discussion I realized he had a whole catalogue of well thought out reasons why I should not blindly trust our leaders. I'd always considered myself a free-thinker but soon I felt my foundation of moral faith in the western nations disintegrate beneath me; I'd been thinking in a box up until that point. I'd never even thought to question the actions of our great western democracies; took it all for granted bar the odd case of political sleaze perpetrated by corrupt individuals or a shady syndicate. I was completely in the dark as to the vile, inhumane strategies perpetrated by our leading factions in order to sustain the wealth/power disparity between us and the undeveloped world. Moreover I didn't realize America's undying pursuit of maintaining its complete omnipotence regardless. You accuse us skeptics of neglecting cause and effect, but contrary to that we are embracing it. We are looking into the bigger picture that reaches much further back through a multitude of covert atrocity and global engineering committed by our countries. Sorry but labeling entire states or people as 'evil', is certainly not causal... perhaps irresponsible is a more fitting word. Nothing is simply evil any more than my coat is simply red. In ignorance of cause; following your logic we'd be beheading the hydra for eternity. For Christ's sake tackle the terrorists but more importantly tackle the reasons why we have terrorism (if you wish terrorism not to be done). The Israel/Palestine conflict should be a burning example to the world of how not to tackle terrorism. Unless you want to go the whole hog and ethnically cleanse a nation, the iron fist only creates new terrorists seeking to avenge the deaths of relatives, homes, cultures. You simply can't hammer people into shape. Every thinking person in the world understands that peace begins in the heart and mind... that is why if the real motive of the American admin was world peace and democracy they would adopt a much more pragmatic approach. Instead I see US foreign policy promoting terror and consolidating it. This brings me back to Goering's quote; leaving me to cynically postulate that the US admin is using terror as a social pretext for unimpeded military campaigns of their choosing. In the mean time the simple people who just want to live a peaceful life bear the brunt while two reciprocal doctrines; the extremes of Neoconservatism/American imperialism and Islamo-facism slug it out with no real end in sight.And for the record I personally would support the use of military action in certain circumstances... an intelligent removal of Saddam would be one of those circumstances. But until America acts with moral equivalence and a true moral - and unanimously backed
Eric Hagelin

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I wasn't going to post any further here, but what the heck.Tim types: "I was completely in the dark as to the vile, inhumane strategies perpetrated by our leading factions in order to sustain the wealth/power disparity between us and the undeveloped world."and,"We are looking into the bigger picture that reaches much further back through a multitude of covert atrocity and global engineering committed by our countries."My response to this is simply that this is alarmist conspiracy theory. I just can't accept the idea that there is some long-standing "global engineering" plot (By whom? The Illuminati? International Bankers? The Jesuits? The Jews? Rockefeller?) to shape the planet into a sustained weath/power disparity. If were going to talk about conspiracy, I have a much easier time believing that this conspiratorial idea of "global engineering" by the rich (i.e. the "West") is itself the brainchild of a communist Sino-Soviet conspiracy to undermine the West from within, on a divisive psychological level; teaching the West to believe its accomplishments and successes are really failures; teaching the West to believe its power and influence on a global scale should be minimized, etc.Tim types: "Well I can easily respond to this by asking you to explain why the many more thousands of Afghani and Iraqi civilians who have lost loved ones as a consequence of 9/11, had to die."Easy answer: Because the USA needs to maintain its preeminent position as global superpower and maintain a strategic advantage over its clearly-defined enemies and superpower rivals, China and Russia. Doing so means controlling the Middle-East - which is not necessarily a clearly-defined enemy, but certainly there is plenty of hatred for the USA there, and we see it rear its head as Islamo-fascist terrorism. So first we target the Middle-Eastern enemies who could pose a threat (and who themselves are supported by larger hostile coalition forces)... Iraq and Iran. So first, in honest retribution for 9/11, we kick the Taliban's ass in Afghanistan and place a whole bunch of US troops there. But in strategy, the Eastern border of Iran is now covered. Then, we demolish Iraq (and Hussein's oil deals to the EU, to China, and to the Russians) and rebuild it in such a way that the power and economic structure there will be more controllable by us. Not to mention (strategically) that now Iran's Western border is now covered with US troops. And their Southern border is covered too, in terms of heavy firepower floating right now in the Persian Gulf. To the North of them is Turkey, the only really democratic Islamist nation over there, and who is our ally. (And don't forget our nuclear ally Israel.)Iran is toast, and they know it - and you'll notice that they are beginning to comply and back down on the pursuit of nuclear weapons. Tim types: "Its certainly not an issue of good and evil as our leaders would have us believe."Yes it is. Our enemies would have us believe it isn't.Ever read "Witness" by Whittaker Chambers? It documents the Hiss-Chambers spy case. A fantastic book, but the foreward is phenomenal, and explains the matter far better than I could. Here it is:www.columbia.edu/cu/augus...mbers.html Tim types: "I - like Sandor - naively swallowed their rhetorical bait hook line and sinker."How have you determined that the position you've taken, which you accurately and admittedly qualify as the "liberal left-wing side of politics" is an accurate, realistic view of the political world, and that the opposing view, the "rhetorical bait", as you put it, isn't?You want to talk conspiracy theory? I'll take the position that you have indeed swallowed the bait, from decades of deliberate and subversive leftist influence in public schools, in academia, in the media and entertainment industries - in virtually all areas of our cultural existence. And this subversion is taking its toll on our society, dividing us from within. Look at the polarized state of our nation!!Tim types: "Nothing is simply evil any more than my coat is simply red."What is that supposed to mean? That your coat is so red it's dripping dye onto the floor? Nothing is simply evil? Just a couple of sentences before, you were trying to tell me about how vile and inhumane our leading faction's strategies were! Wait a minute... I thought nothing was evil!You're surrounded by evil, Tim. So'm I. And it's our responsibility to combat it, not be eased into some hyper-subjective, soft state of mind where we cower from it or deny its existence or allow ourselves to be manipulated into calling freedom "slavery" and war "peace". If you know what I mean.Tim types: "Unless you want to go the whole hog and ethnically cleanse a nation, the iron fist only creates new terrorists seeking to avenge the deaths of relatives, homes, cultures. You simply can't hammer people into shape."When one is faced with an enemy who wants to kill you, you have three choices: allow yourself to be killed, or run away, or kill him first. Attempting to teach your enemy that he doesn't really want to kill you is insane, suicidal nonsense. Would you advise the battered wife to sit down and have a rational discussion with her drunk and belligerent husband? Try to talk him out of beating her up again? No, the correct solution is to either get away, far away, and stay away... or to simply shoot the bastard and be done with it.Tim types: "In the mean time the simple people who just want to live a peaceful life bear the brunt while two reciprocal doctrines; the extremes of Neoconservatism/American imperialism and Islamo-facism slug it out with no real end in sight."The end is in sight: the annihilation of Islamo-fascism. Because if we don't wipe them out, they will wipe us out. So maybe the "simple people" better get on board with the program and take the matter more seriously.Tim types: "But until America acts with moral equivalence and a true moral - and unanimously backed
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