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Member since: Tue Mar 17, 2015, 12:56 PM
Number of posts: 6,409

About Me

I am a disgruntled former DU member. Most people here are fine, but the site is ruined by zealous Hillary supporters. DU took my money and put my account on everlasting review. Cowards. Dishonest cowards.

Journal Archives

A contest

Most of us know the English came up with specific terms for flocks of various birds, where the word "flock" is replaced by a species-specific label for various kinds of birds. So we have an unkindness of ravens, a murder of crows, a deceit of lapwings, etc. They get even more specific than that. If geese are walking on the ground, they form a gaggle, but they comprise a skein if they're flying in the vee formation. I thought it would be fun if we could come up with a term for a group of Republicans, so we could describe them as a group when they assemble on a stage and try to outdo each other in describing the violent stuff they'll do to ISIS.

A bloviation of Republicans? (Thanks Molly Ivins) A frenzy of Republicans? A nightmare of Republicans? Then there are the obvious: a dungheap of Republicans, a shitpile of Republicans, a clowncar of Republicans, etc. What do you think? What term best captures the uneasy feeling that comes over you when you watch the GOP candidates all insist we need to destroy ISIS, and the candidate speaking at the moment is the person to do so? Chris Christie called the president a feckless coward, so maybe it should be a tollbridge of Republicans.

Of course, in the spirit of all things Republican, you should support your submission by explaining how it is more violent, xenophobic, etc. than other submissions, and you should criticize the other submissions and their authors with personal insults. In the spirit of good, clean, Republican fun, I propose the prohibition on name calling ad gratuitous insults be waived for this contest. An example: "HassleCat is a feckless (thanks Chris) fool if he thinks a group of Republicans should be called 'nightmare.' He must be a dweeb of the highest order. It's obvious my suggestion of 'fellation of Republicans' is far superior because it refers to sex, probably between two or more men."

Anyway, you get the idea.

Follow up on Jihad John drone strike

A couple weeks ago, I posted something that caused quite a reaction among DU members. I said we killed the man known as Jihad John because he taunted us. There was such a strong reaction, I bailed off the site, but the furor made me curious, so I did a little digging, and I’m back with some further information to consider.

Here are some of the most negative comments I received.

“I'm glad this piece of crap is dead. I hope he vaporized almost completely so that an animal won't accidentally eat his carcass.”

“Stop trying to defend this repulsive piece of crap. If you don't think he's committed his share of disgusting acts as part of that disgusting isis, you're delusional. You should be ashamed of this post. I'm sure ashamed to see it here.”

“Stupidest post in DU history. Congratulations.”

“And by that I mean Fuck Jihad John, I'm glad he's dead.”

“Fuck him, fuck those fighting with him, fuck his supporters, and fuck anyone who sheds a tear for this fucking piece of shit. He didn't just "mock" us, he's murdered at least one innocent American that we know of, and has terrorized innocent civilians in Syria. The mass migration of millions of people out of their homeland is a direct result of this savage and his cohorts.”

“I've seen my share of fucking stupid posts on DU, but wow.....just WOW.”

There were sixteen comments, all negative, but not all as negative as the six shown above. The interesting thing was that nobody bothered to explain why I was so terribly, horribly wrong to post such a thing. There seemed to be an assumption that Jihad John was so incredibly despicable that it was not even necessary to mention why his death was a very good thing, and why I was an idiot for suggesting otherwise. Sure, we all agree he was involved in making videos of hostages being killed, mostly by grisly beheadings, but plenty of others were in on that action. This caused me to wonder about some things. Who was Jihad John? Why was he universally despised? Was he really a significant figure in ISIS? What horrible crimes did he commit that warrant such an effort to kill him, not to mention such rejoicing at his death? What makes him so special we expended so much effort to kill him?

First of all, there may be some doubt as to his identity. US and British intelligence organizations spent much time and effort digging up his true identity. It’s fairly certain he is Mohammed Emwazi , born Muhammad Jassim Abdulkarim Olayan al-Dhafiri. His mother says she recognizes his voice from some of the videos, although his father says he is not the man n the videos. Several friends and family members believe Emwazi is the same person as Jihad John, and wished for his death to help restore family honor.

This raises an interesting question. How certain should we be about someone’s identity before we kill him? If you read through the inquiry into the identity of the man in the videos, you will find it was not at all clear cut. Media outlets reported others as prime suspects of being Jihad John, until consensus seemed to focus on Emwazi. Of course, we cannot know what caused intelligence analysts to conclude Emwazi was Jihad John, but it’s pretty clear they were not certain for quite a while, and were looking at other possibilities. And we will never know much about the information they used, the sources of that information, how it was evaluated, or anything else that would give us clues about the accuracy of their ultimate conclusion. We know they were certain enough to order a drone strike against Emwazi, but what degree of certainty did they demand of themselves? After the fact, they seem very sure, but we know there have been cases of mistaken identity associated with almost everything we have done from Afghanistan to Gitmo to Iraq to drone strikes.

Whether or not we killed the right person, the crimes of Jihad John are so despicable, and so irrefutably linked to him, there can be no question we were beyond reproach in killing him. But you see where I’m going with this, right?

In fact, there is considerable doubt about the role Jihad John played in the murders depicted in the videos. Many people who are supposed to know about these things have weighed in, and they can’t agree about what’s going on in the videos. Some claim they are exactly what they seem to be, the murders of captives and hostages. Others believe the videos are staged and scripted, heavily edited, with the actual killing done off camera. Either way, the man known as Jihad John seems very enthusiastic in his support of the murders. So he’s an accomplice, a participant, etc. That makes him just as guilty as any of the others, even though he might not have done the actual murders, as the videos suggest. But why was he singled out?

So why is this particular individual the “most wanted?” I think there are several factors at work here. First, Emwazi is probably the easiest to identify of all the terrorists in the videos, due to his good English and British residency. It’s far easier to track down an ISIS member who speaks good English and appears to be some kind of spokesman than it is to identify someone who speaks only Arabic or another mideastern language. I suppose voice print software works in Arabic, but there have to be known samples for comparison, which is far more likely when looking at someone who lived in the west. In fact, he may be the only one we could identify with any degree of certainty.

Of the four English speaking ISIS members involved in the murders, Jihad John appears to be the only one who has been positively identified, or at least identified with any degree of certainty. The terrorist known as “George” seems to be the ringleader of the group, and the identity of one member still seems a complete mystery. So it appears we may have killed Emwazi partly because he was the only one who could be identified with much certainty.

Second, I come back to my original contention that we droned this guy because he taunted us. After all, that was his job. You don’t have to be a devoted student of terrorism to know what ISIS is up to. They aim to draw the western nations into a holy war, an asymmetrical conflict that will cost so much in lives and money that the western powers will abandon the region entirely, leaving it in control of Islamic zealots, who will then establish religious governments. An important part of this scheme is to goad the west, to whip up racial and religious hatred toward Islam and largely Islamic states. This will cause the west to fall into a blind fury, so the thinking goes, and we will stumble into the trap, engage in a repeat of the Crusades, and cause all Islam to rise up against us. And don’t forget the destruction of Israel.

And this is where the ISIS plan seems to be successful. The war in Iraq was a huge success for Islamic extremists, destabilizing several countries, removing Saddam Hussein as a restraining force, radicalizing thousands of Muslims and fertilizing the soil for the growth of ISIS. In the case of Jihad John, we appear to have played the ISIS game by their rules. We spent years identifying, tracking and finally killing Emwazi, so the price we paid to get this one person was significant. And what did we accomplish? We made ourselves feel better, and… um… Not much else. His death is not much of a strategic or tactical accomplishment. If we were trying to break up an organized crime syndicate, and we killed some middle level hit man, would that be a cause for celebration? This guy was not a kingpin, not a strategist, not a leader, not much of anything other than someone given a prominent role because he could push our buttons.

And he certainly did that. Some of us, many of us, maybe the majority of us, are completely uncritical when it comes to killing people designated as terrorists. We not only accept drone strikes, but we accept that they are surgically precise, that the targets are carefully vetted, and other persons killed or injured deserve what they get because they are complicit somehow. Don’t forget, this is what "they" are seeking. They want us to conduct more drone strikes, not fewer, and they don’t want drone strikes limited to leaders and key figures in ISIS. And they want plenty of celebrating every time someone is killed. They want us to hate them. It’s important that we hate them, crucial to their success. They want us to be more like them, because it increases the chances we’ll make mistakes.

Yes, many people are concerned about the rules of engagement, worried that we might kill too many innocent bystanders, bothered by the idea that we are waging a war without observing the rules of war. I am one of those people, and an incident such as the killing of Jihad John raises important questions. I find it very, very interesting that many people don’t see any problem here, and accept what we did without any questions at all. This is pretty much the reaction you would get if you polled the citizens of any nation involved in any conflict in the history of the world. Very few people would respond, “I can see where we maybe should not have killed that guy.” But Americans are supposed to be different. We’re supposed to be more critical of our actions, actively look for mistakes and learn from them. I think we made a mistake going after Jihad John. I think we killed him because he taunted us. I think his death is largely a symbolic victory which will have no effect in the war on terror.

What do you think? And I mean “think.” When you suppress your emotional reactions and look at this guy rationally, what do you see? What is the message we sent? How does this fit into the larger strategy of our efforts against terror in general, and ISIS in particular?

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