Thursday, October 14, 2010

How Free-Market Capitalism Saved the Miners



There's a great article in today's Wall Street Journal by Daniel Henninger about how the frequently maligned principles of free-market capitalism, free trade, globalization, the miracle of the market, the profit motive, and the invisible hand saved the miners in Chile.  Some excerpts appear below, and you can watch Daniel's video above.
"It needs to be said. The rescue of the Chilean miners is a smashing victory for free-market capitalism.

If those miners had been trapped a half-mile down like this 25 years ago anywhere on earth, they would be dead. What happened over the past 25 years that meant the difference between life and death for those men? Short answer: the Center Rock drill bit, from a private company in Berlin, Pa. that has 74 employees."
But the longer answer is that it was really a coordinated global effort that supplied the materials "from the distant corners of capitalism" to help aid and rescue the miners in Chile's Atacama Desert, including:
The drill's rig came from Schramm Inc. in West Chester, Pa.

The high-strength cable winding around the big wheel atop that simple rig is from Germany.

Japan supplied the super-flexible, fiber-optic communications cable that linked the miners to the world above.

Samsung of South Korea supplied a cellphone that has its own projector.allowing the miners to see films or videos of loved ones

Cupron Inc. in Richmond, Va., supplied self-sterilizing socks made with copper fiber that consumed foot bacteria, and minimized odor and infection.

In an open economy, you will never know what is out there on the leading developmental edge of this or that industry. But the reality behind the miracles is the same: Someone innovates something useful, makes money from it, and re-innovates, or someone else trumps their innovation. Most of the time, no one notices. All it does is create jobs, wealth and well-being. But without this system running in the background, without the year-over-year progress embedded in these capitalist innovations, those trapped miners would be dead."


55 Comments:

At 10/14/2010 5:34 PM, Blogger Gregory (Greg) P Turco said...

Goofy.

If this were a free market, the workers would have needed to pay to get out.

This was a privately funded rescue enabled by government and charity resources. Free-will charity donations are not capitalist.

Greg

 
At 10/14/2010 6:24 PM, Blogger t11s said...

I think it is interesting about the copper fiber socks.

Some of that copper could have come from ore mined by those very miners who were trapped (the San José Mine is a copper-gold mine).

The ore they mined could have been shipped somewhere in the world to be produced into copper, possibly recycled several times, until finally drawn into copper wire, then to wherever they produce the socks (the company is in Virginia, but who knows where they actually produce them), and those get shipped to Chile.

 
At 10/14/2010 6:34 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

can we privatize the US military?

 
At 10/14/2010 7:14 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"If this were a free market, the workers would have needed to pay to get out"...

Wow! Someone else doesn't know about free markets and capitalism...

"This was a privately funded rescue enabled by government and charity resources"...

Do you have credible source for those costs?

 
At 10/14/2010 7:22 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

greg-

you have some very odd ideas about capitalism.

free market does not always mean "user pays".

if my company had an employee trapped in the basement, it would be worth it to me to to pay to get them out because A) it would be much cheaper than the lawsuit B) it would be good for the morale of other employees and C) i would feel it was the right thing to do.

all 3 of those are capitalist motivations.

donations to charity are also extremely capitalist. when people make their own decisions about where to spend (or donate) money, that is the essence of the free market.

i also found the copper socks interesting, but for a completely different reason. i have never heard of such a thing nor imagined that such a thing would be useful/needed. but the free market did. this is precisely why central planning can never keep up. no DC bureaucrat would ever have made sure such a thing existed.

 
At 10/14/2010 7:25 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

benji-

if you read the history of private armies, i think you'll rapidly see why they are a bad idea...

 
At 10/14/2010 10:32 PM, Blogger Bill said...

Greg: It is stunning to see that there are still people out there who hold such outdated views of capitalism.

Mr. Turco, there is a telegraph here for you from Karl Marx...

 
At 10/14/2010 10:42 PM, Blogger Bill said...

Benji: The British East India Company conquered and ruled most of India for over 200 years. They had the most successful private army of all time. They eventually got too big for their britches and were subsumed into the British Empire (i.e. the government's version of the same thing) in the 19th century.

 
At 10/14/2010 11:22 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

I know what is says in the US Constitution, but when it costs $300 million to kill a terrorist, I think we need to look at privatizing the military.

$3 trillion cost of Iraqistan, total costs.
10,000 terrorists killed

$300 million per terrorist.

That also $10,000 per man, woman and child in the USA.

Family of four kicks in $40,000.

Anyone in the upper-class will probably pump in a couple hundred grand.

Hope you feel you got your money's worth.

 
At 10/15/2010 6:56 AM, Blogger Don Culo said...

"How Free-Market Capitalism Saved the Miners "

*******************

Is Free-Markey Capitalism responsible for stupid articles like this?

Thank goodness Chile did not give a shit about capitalism, socialism or any other enconomic theories, they just wanted to rescue the miners.

 
At 10/15/2010 8:30 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"Is Free-Markey Capitalism responsible for stupid articles like this?"...

Who's Markey?

So do you think Center Rock's special drill bit was a wish that magically came true and found lying on the side of the road near the mines or was it the work of capitalists making a bet with their money and their time that this drill bit would find a market?

 
At 10/15/2010 8:42 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

if you read the history of private armies, i think you'll rapidly see why they are a bad idea...

By all means let us look at the history of armies and see if they really are a bad idea in comparison to national ones.

The 20th Century saw government armies cause the deaths of more than 170 million people. Private armies are incapable of such carnage because they need to be funded out of private funds which demand a positive return. Given that war does not offer a positive return the market does not support the use of private armies for offensive purposes.

 
At 10/15/2010 8:46 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

you have some very odd ideas about capitalism.

Sadly, many very smart people have fallen for the rhetoric of the left and have abandoned logic. They have odd ideas about capitalism because they know so little about it. Of course, it does not help that their lefty teachers hid the fact that corporatism and capitalism are not the same thing or that you can have capitalism in a controlled market system. They do not consider that when some of us defend capitalism we mean free market capitalism and not the substitute that we see around us.

 
At 10/15/2010 8:53 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

If this were a free market, the workers would have needed to pay to get out.

No they wouldn't. First, the company and workers have a contract that compels the company to do what it can to save them. Second, even without that contract the company owners and management would want to do what they can to get the workers out safely. Third, by doing what it did, the company bought good will that is worth a great deal. The next time it wants a permit to explore or to develop a mine you can bet your ass that the bureaucrats will work just a little harder to approve the necessary paperwork or to identify any deficiencies that need to be corrected as quickly as possible.

I can tell you one thing. If this happened in North Korea or Cuba the state owned company, which would need no good will, may decide that the expenditure was not worth the lives saved. In fact, there wouldn't be safe rooms and safety systems in place to ensure that the miners would survive an extended period. And an accident happened, you certainly would not hear about it from the sate controlled media. The workers would just die and activities would continue as others were recruited to do the jobs assigned to them.

 
At 10/15/2010 8:55 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

benji-

you make it sound like your issue is that we ought to have killed them better (and i have no idea where that 10k number came from)

something between 600k and a million iraqis have been killed in that war. we've killed another 30k afghanis.

so which ones were terrorists?

wouldn't just having a less adventurous foreign policy be a better bet than a private army? are you excited about how the private contractors worked out this time? would you really like a private military loitering around the US looking for something to do?

not even the colonial brits, spanish and dutch would have allowed that.

 
At 10/15/2010 9:27 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

$3 trillion cost of Iraqistan, total costs.
10,000 terrorists killed


You are confused. Very few 'terrorists' were killed in Afghanistan. In Iraq most of the casualties, which run into the hundreds of thousands, were civilians that had nothing to do with al Qaeda and certainly nothing to do with 9/11. I think that you are playing verbal and mathematical games to hide just how useless your recent wars have been. If I brought in an army into Detroit and occupied it my calling the people who resisted the occupation 'terrorists' would not really make them real terrorists. The people who were responsible for 9/11 left Afghanistan a long time ago and were never really in Iraq. The US government has wasted resources and has helped the idiots in al Qaeda (and other terrorist groups) recruit more people and to attract more funding.

Keep in mind the Rumsfeld study in 2004. It found that the Arabs did not hate Americans for their lifestyle or their freedom but for their meddling foreign policies that supported dictators and oppression in the Middle East and for always siding with Israel against innocent Palestinians. The best strategy would have been to stop meddling and to let events run their course without American meddling. It would have been cheaper and the US would have been a lot richer.

 
At 10/15/2010 9:57 AM, Blogger juandos said...

vangeIV still peddaling the B.S.: "You are confused. Very few 'terrorists' were killed in Afghanistan. In Iraq most of the casualties, which run into the hundreds of thousands, were civilians that had nothing to do with al Qaeda and certainly nothing to do with 9/11"...

ROFLMAO!

Yeah another pseudo benny looking for attention...

Notes on Casualties in Iraq

 
At 10/15/2010 10:50 AM, Blogger James said...

This looks like a tie to me. Free market capitalism got them out but it was free market capitalism that put them there in the first place.

 
At 10/15/2010 11:47 AM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Morgan-

There were no terrorist in Iraq. We killed people who were fighting an invading military (ours).

Okay, we killed 30k Afghanis. I'll give it to you, every one was a terrorist.

That works out to $100 million per terrorist.

 
At 10/15/2010 1:03 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

benji-

that's still the wrong calculation.

first off, if we were not trying to kill iraqi terrorists, then you need to exclude those costs.

your calculation is like claiming that the police only caught 3 bank robbers so the whole police force is too expensive.

second, you are leaving out the more tangible benefits of deterring/preventing further attacks. a failure to respond to 9/11 would have invited more attacks. what is it worth to prevent another such attack?

third, none of your arguments support a private army. are you claiming that blackwater was a better and more cost effective force than the US military?

an augment for a less adventurous foreign policy may well be valid, but the jump you make to "we should have a private army" is the antithesis of that. read your history. private armies and commissioned privateers result in more adventurism, not less.

and having a private army at home is pure insanity. that's one of the most politically destabilizing concepts imaginable.

i'm a huge proponent of limited government, but national defense is one of the few areas where i do believe the government ought to have a monopoly. we can ague about how much to spend and what the role of the military ought to be, but to privatize it would be a dire danger.

 
At 10/15/2010 1:48 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"There were no terrorist in Iraq. We killed people who were fighting an invading military..."...

Being a pseudo benny means never apologizing for saying something indescribably inane...

The fact is that Saddam himself had an ongoing love affair with terrorists and terrorism...

Sadly pseudo benny could've done just a wee bit of homework so as to spare us this pathetic attempt at silly banter...

 
At 10/15/2010 2:06 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

This looks like a tie to me. Free market capitalism got them out but it was free market capitalism that put them there in the first place.

The last time I checked, mining was done under both free market capitalism and authoritarian socialist regimes. Under which system do you think that it is safer to be a miner?

 
At 10/15/2010 2:10 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

There were no terrorist in Iraq. We killed people who were fighting an invading military (ours).

Correct.

Okay, we killed 30k Afghanis. I'll give it to you, every one was a terrorist.

That works out to $100 million per terrorist.


But you forget the benefit that goes to the military-industrial complex and to those of us that sell products that the military-industrial complex purchases. Without the US taxpayer paying for foreign adventurism some of us would not have made as much money as we did. What about our children? Mine have some stupid idea about going to Princeton or Yale. Do you know how much tuition costs for an Ivy League school?

 
At 10/15/2010 3:10 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Correct"...

Per his usual style wrong again!

"But you forget the benefit that goes to the military-industrial complex and to those of us that sell products that the military-industrial complex purchases"...

Well now he's two for two at being wrong again...

 
At 10/16/2010 12:58 AM, OpenID brinker223 said...

@Morganovich
I agree with your points about a private army but "a failure to respond to 9/11 would have invited more attacks. what is it worth to prevent another such attack?"
I think we are more vigilant about terrorist attacks but they(terrorists) aren't going away because we responded to Iraq or Afganistan. Granted, if we would have taken out Bin Laden in the first year, things might have been a bit different. A case could be made that we created more enemies with all the deaths in Irag and Afganistan. I read an interview with a military officer at Abu Ghraib, that said, if they weren't terrorists when they got here, they certainly were when they left.

 
At 10/16/2010 4:40 AM, Blogger sethstorm said...

Given that Chile's government paid for it, I'm not sure it'd be any more different than a government contractor.

Not capitalism in the sense that Dr. Perry would like.

 
At 10/16/2010 6:39 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"Granted, if we would have taken out Bin Laden in the first year, things might have been a bit different. A case could be made that we created more enemies with all the deaths in Irag and Afganistan"...

One thing we in the US are famous for and that's historical amnesia...

Thankfully there are a few who keep their eye on the historical ball of jihad...

 
At 10/16/2010 10:22 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

brinker-

i think you would be hard pressed to argue that terrorist organizations in afghanistan and iraq have not lost most of their effectiveness.

if nothing else, we have certainly made it clear that, if attacked, we will hit back very, very hard. that deterrence is worth a great deal. you may be angry at a lion, but you quickly learn not to pull his tail. alternately, if you pull his tail and he doesn't respond, you are emboldened. that's a big risk to take.

i would argue that most of the iraq mess was caused by one incredibly stupid decision - the decision to disband the police and armed forces for ideological reasons.

at a stroke, rather than enlisting the aid of the only groups able to keep peace in iraq, we chose to push them outside the system and turn them into a trained, armed insurgency. this was just ideological zealotry. the price we paid for purging the baathists was massively greater than the benefits.

we could have been out of there is 18 months with a great deal less fighting and expense had we been a bit pragmatic. this would also have left a strong military force on the iran border, which would have helped keep them in check.

one can wind the tape way back and ask if we would be having any of these issues if we had not aided in the creation if israel and given it so much aid and protection, but, as in golf, you have to play the ball where it lies and it's a bit late for a mulligan there.

 
At 10/16/2010 11:53 AM, OpenID brinker223 said...

@morganovich
Your assesemnt of the Iraq situation I agree with. Yes, it is in hindsight but Americans must talk about this if are to learn. I also agree with your point of the US limiting the effectivness of terrorism is Iraq and Afganistan. My point about making a case for future terrorists still applies. Al Qaeda is not gone and not only limited to Afganistan and Iraq. Remember there are children in Iraq and Afganistan that will grow up with current memories, so who knows how it will go in the future. The whole situation (regardless of how we got there) is very complex now and there will be complications down the road.

 
At 10/16/2010 12:35 PM, Blogger Gregory (Greg) P Turco said...

The rescue of the miners was not a triumph of capitalism because the miners were rescued for humanitarian, religious, and (government-mandated) legal reasons. Without the government sanctions against killing workers, it would have been most economical, and therefore most truly capitalist, to leave the miners in the ground.

It would have been in the interest of the miner's families to pay for the company to have the miners removed from the mine, in the absence of an economic incentive for the mine owners.

It is interesting to speculate that capitalist media companies might have funded the rescue for the high ratings and future movie deals.

Secondly, in no way is it capitalist to donate money to charity except as advertising. The two concepts are independent. Individuals give money to charity, but when they do so, they are not economic actors. It is most economic for them to keep their money.

 
At 10/16/2010 5:22 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

gregory-

you have a disturbingly skewed view of capitalism.

as a said before:

"if my company had an employee trapped in the basement, it would be worth it to me to to pay to get them out because A) it would be much cheaper than the lawsuit B) it would be good for the morale of other employees and keep costs down (you'd need higher compensation if you have a no rescue policy. ask the oil cos about that) and C) i would feel it was the right thing to do."

and it is absolutely capitalist to donate money. how is it any different that going to the opera? you do it because you want to. it's your money, you can do with it as you wish. that is the very essence of free market capitalism. economic actors maximize utility, not bank balance. by your definition, going on vacation isn't capitalist either.

you seem to have this bizarre notion that all capitalism is about wringing every penny out of everyone you can on a short term basis, which is ludicrous.

you are mistaking profit and capitalism. lots of capitalist actions are not profitable. if i buy a TV, it doesn't profit me. are you arguing that that isn't an act consistent with capitalism?

 
At 10/16/2010 9:19 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Being a pseudo benny means never apologizing for saying something indescribably inane...

Even the military admitted that Benny is right.

 
At 10/16/2010 9:35 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

I agree with your points about a private army but "a failure to respond to 9/11 would have invited more attacks. what is it worth to prevent another such attack?"

It is easy to prevent such an attack. Stop supporting tyrants. Stop meddling in the business of other nations and mind your own business as you pursue commercial relations.

The September 2004, Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force
on Strategic Communication made it clear why Muslims had trouble with the United States. The report pointed out that, "Muslims do not “hate our freedom,” but rather, they hate our policies. The
overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf states."


It also goes on to say, "Thus when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy. Moreover, saying that “freedom is the future of the Middle East” is seen as patronizing, suggesting that Arabs are like the enslaved peoples of the old Communist World — but Muslims do not feel this way: they feel oppressed, but not enslaved."

It seems simple to me. The US has attacked Muslims or supported tyrants who oppressed them. That does not make it very many friends no matter how your government tries to spin the motives for its actions. If you want to prevent future attacks stop killing and oppressing Muslims now.

 
At 10/16/2010 9:51 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Given that Chile's government paid for it, I'm not sure it'd be any more different than a government contractor.

Not capitalism in the sense that Dr. Perry would like.


You are partially right. The government pushed very hard for the rescue. Sebastián Piñera, Chile's President, is a businessman who understood the skills that are necessary to pull off something as complex as the rescue efforts. of a very large company used his skills to get the best outcome possible. His mining minister, Laurence Golborne, was also a former CEO who understood what was necessary to get the job done.

The two men ensured that the efforts were very flexible and that all of the necessary options were explored. It took a great deal of coordinating and attention to detail to get the job done and Mr. Golborne succeeded to bring in a diverse number of specialists and experts to ensure that the miners were not only brought to the surface alive, but that they stayed as healthy as possible during their ordeal.

The $20 million spent on the effort seems to have bought Chile a great deal of credibility with the mining community and may reverse much of the damage done by the collectivist government that caused Chile's ranking as a favoured destination to decline significantly over the past few years. Unfortunately, the new mining law will do damage and it is expected that around $8 billion of planned projects will be postponed. Hopefully, the government's resolve and performance during the rescue will do something to bring some of those projects back.

That said, I am certainly not planning to invest any more into the Chilean mining sector until the law is changed.

 
At 10/16/2010 10:17 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

i think you would be hard pressed to argue that terrorist organizations in afghanistan and iraq have not lost most of their effectiveness.

There were no terrorist organizations in Iraq and not much of an al Qaeda presence in Afghanistan. There were probably more al Qaeda members in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Germany, or the US than in the caves of Afghanistan. Your attacks have increased funding and improved recruiting efforts for terror groups and you are clearly less safe now than before.

if nothing else, we have certainly made it clear that, if attacked, we will hit back very, very hard. that deterrence is worth a great deal. you may be angry at a lion, but you quickly learn not to pull his tail. alternately, if you pull his tail and he doesn't respond, you are emboldened. that's a big risk to take.

Small decentralized terror groups don't care if you hit back a country. All that does is waste American resources and help with financing and recruitment. You did not just go after al Qaeda but you also made a serious error and hit the Taliban. The UN has already been negotiating with the Taliban with the full knowledge of the US government and it is now looking more likely that Obama will have to talk if he wants troops to leave Afghanistan. All that money and those lives lost will have accomplished is a few dead al Qaeda members that have already been replaced by many more eager recruits, some of them domestic and far more dangerous than the people that were killed. Expect to see some idiot blow up a truck at a tunnel exit or shoot up a Wal Mart or Target one of these days. You can tell us how safe you feel then.

i would argue that most of the iraq mess was caused by one incredibly stupid decision - the decision to disband the police and armed forces for ideological reasons.

A better argument would be the overthrow of the Iraqi government by the CIA and the installation of Saddam's Ba'ath Party. Aren't you forgetting that, like bin Laden, Saddam was your man.

 
At 10/16/2010 10:22 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

The rescue of the miners was not a triumph of capitalism because the miners were rescued for humanitarian, religious, and (government-mandated) legal reasons. Without the government sanctions against killing workers, it would have been most economical, and therefore most truly capitalist, to leave the miners in the ground.

The mine would have closed. The mine's owners would have lost their entire investment and would never get a chance to try mining again. So no, there would have been no incentive to abandon the miners. But that certainly would have happened in a totalitarian regime where life is cheap. If the mine were in Cuba or North Korea we would never have even heard about them because the state owned media would have no incentive to report it.

 
At 10/16/2010 10:24 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Yes, it is in hindsight but Americans must talk about this if are to learn. I also agree with your point of the US limiting the effectivness of terrorism is Iraq and Afganistan.

On what planet do you guys live? Terrorism does not need any particular country to thrive. All it needs is a sense of injustice and anger that drives its funding and recruitment efforts.

 
At 10/16/2010 10:26 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Secondly, in no way is it capitalist to donate money to charity except as advertising. The two concepts are independent. Individuals give money to charity, but when they do so, they are not economic actors. It is most economic for them to keep their money.

I think that you are confused. Capitalism is simply an economic system based on private ownership of capital. The owners of that capital can certainly give money to charity as they see fit. Please note that it is not 'charity' when a government taxes some people and uses the money for services that it provides for others. Charity is a virtue and there is no virtue when you spend other people's money to serve your own political goals.

 
At 10/17/2010 3:36 AM, Blogger Moataz said...

Gregory

Yes, private charity is capitalistic.

A common misunderstanding that capitalism is solely an economic system appears to be a premise of your writings -- the implication being that all decisions under capitalism are based on money and nothing else. Therefore, if saving the Chilean miners had no return in dollars and cents, then why do it? If donating money to charity doesn't net any dollars and cents in return, why do it?

However, capitalism is a social system in addition to being an economic system. One implication of this is that decisions are not made simply based on money, but instead are freely made based on an exchange of values. I as an individual may value a $3000 mountain bike, but you may only spend $200 on one. Similarly, I as an individual may value a charity that works on finding a cure for cancer, while someone else may value a charity that helps victims of domestic abuse, while someone else may decide not to give to charity at all. Ironically, socialists are always hung up on dollars and cents, while true capitalists know that capitalism is about trading values -- not dollars and cents.

In the case of the Chilean miners, the amazing products created by capitalism, and simple good will among men -- which is far more prevalent in capitalist societies than non-free societies -- made their rescue both possible and desirable. Furthermore, without detracting from the previous point, and without knowing all the details of the situation, in any case there were likely other contractual obligations by the mining company to rescue their workers -- contracts with the workers themselves as well as the relevant insurance companies. It isn't conceivable that a government gun would ever be needed to force a private company to rescue trapped mining workers in any capitalist society.

 
At 10/17/2010 11:11 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

vangel-

"It is easy to prevent such an attack. Stop supporting tyrants. Stop meddling in the business of other nations and mind your own business as you pursue commercial relations. "

i agree with your fundamental premise that this should guide our foreign policy, but you are committing a significant logical fallacy in your assumption that such a course was available to us.

you have to play the ball where it lies. you can't go back and say "if history were different, we wouldn't be in this situation" once it has happened.

if, after 9/11 our response had been "gee, you're right, let's stop being involved in the middle east" what message would that have sent? do we really want to teach the world that if they attack us, we'll do what they want? how's that working out for spain?

so, while i agree with your principles and think we'd be better off pursuing a less interventionist foreign policy, the time for a radical shift in not right after you are attacked. that would just invite more terrorism.

there is a time when you have to make it clear that you will respond definitively.

your notion about terrorism not needing a state is largely flawed as well. to get a big terrorist organization with international reach together, you need failed or complicit states. it is no coincidence that so much terrorism has come from failed states like afghanistan, pakistan, lebanon, and palestine or from states like libya, iran and syria that actively support it.

sure, you can be a terrorist anywhere, but to run a big effective group like al queda or hezbullah, you need training camps etc.

are you seriously arguing that al queda is more capable now than in 2001? i'd love to see your evidence for that.

 
At 10/17/2010 1:23 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

i agree with your fundamental premise that this should guide our foreign policy, but you are committing a significant logical fallacy in your assumption that such a course was available to us.

Nobody forced the US to support the Ba'ath Party, the Saudi Royal Family, or to support Egypt's political regime. Nobody forced it to meddle in Israel/Palestinian issues, to fund bin Laden or the mujaheddin to fight Russians or to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan.

you have to play the ball where it lies. you can't go back and say "if history were different, we wouldn't be in this situation" once it has happened.

I do not make the argument in hindsight. Many people like me have been pushing the US to stop meddling for more than 100 years. Americans have ignored the advice and have paid in reputation, money and blood for doing so. Why aren't you out of Iraq and Afghanistan now? Why aren't you out of the Middle East, Germany, Japan, or South Korea? Why do you have troops in more than 100 countries when your country is broke and those troops create far more enemies than friends?

if, after 9/11 our response had been "gee, you're right, let's stop being involved in the middle east" what message would that have sent? do we really want to teach the world that if they attack us, we'll do what they want? how's that working out for spain?

That was not the only option. I would have struck at al Qaeda and made sure that as many of its leaders were dead as possible. The US did have the right back to strike at its attackers. But I would not have been able to justify bombing Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11 and bombing and killing Afghan civilians.

The hypocrisy is very clear and evident to the Arab world. How do you think that Arabs feel when they see that the Libyan government paid $8 million for each innocent victim on Pam Am 103 while the US government pays out $2,000 for each innocent Afghan that it kills? When you tell Arabs that each one of their lives is worth one four thousandth of an American life they are not exactly going to treat you as friends.

so, while i agree with your principles and think we'd be better off pursuing a less interventionist foreign policy, the time for a radical shift in not right after you are attacked. that would just invite more terrorism.

You could have struck at the people directly responsible and sent the right message. But that did not happen. Instead you occupied two countries and killed lots of innocent civilians. That helped the terrorists pitch their message, elevate their reputations, and improve their fundraising and recruiting activities.

 
At 10/17/2010 1:26 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

your notion about terrorism not needing a state is largely flawed as well. to get a big terrorist organization with international reach together, you need failed or complicit states. it is no coincidence that so much terrorism has come from failed states like afghanistan, pakistan, lebanon, and palestine or from states like libya, iran and syria that actively support it.

I disagree.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_McVeigh

sure, you can be a terrorist anywhere, but to run a big effective group like al queda or hezbullah, you need training camps etc.

I disagree. It is obvious that bin Laden does not have to run large training camps in Pakistan or anywhere else. Those camps can be for small cells and be run in places like Boise, Burlington, Twin Falls, or Springfield just as easily as they can in Lebanon or Yemen.

are you seriously arguing that al queda is more capable now than in 2001? i'd love to see your evidence for that.

Let me be clear. I do not claim that al Qaeda's senior leadership is any more capable because it is clear that the US has killed much of it off. What I am claiming is that al Qaeda and other groups are now stronger and are getting more funding and training thanks to the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is clear that both the Bush and Obama administrations agree because they spent hundreds of billions of money to protect Americans. That they failed is clear. After all, we saw the shoe and crotch bombers try to bring down airplanes and an attempt to bomb Times Square. All failures were ones of execution, not capture before attempts could be made. And it is also clear from the arrests that the government has been making that the number of terrorist suspects has been growing rapidly. Had the terrorist capability declined, the government would not take away so many of your liberties and spend so much money that it does not have.

 
At 10/17/2010 4:54 PM, Blogger Moataz said...

I have to say, I find it bizarre how folks gravitate to the idea that individuals operating in Capitalistic ways would be unusually likely to treat people as expendable commodities: from every third-world shithole dictatorship, to the totalitarian dictatorships of the 20th Century, to the rationing in "civilized" nations' socialized health care systems and results we project like Obiecare here in the US -- we see the exact opposite.

Those who don't give a whit about the Rights of Man are the ones who treat men as expendable commodities.

 
At 10/17/2010 6:47 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

vangel-

you are confusing two kinds of terrorism.

it is very, very difficult to stop one person acting in a determined fashion.

mcveigh was not an international terrorist, not are the basques, nor predominantly was the IRA.

but to have a serious organization and use ti to project power consistently overseas requires a substantial base.

al queda has had it's fangs pulled. they are a tiny shadow of what they were. you are just flat out wrong that they are better organized and funded. they are now living in caves with no phones to avoid instant predator death. their funding has been strangled.

if we had responded to the 9/11 attacks by capitulating, it would have encouraged aggression and we would be paying an awful price for it.

it was vital that we had a strong response. you can argue that it wasn't done optimally (and i would agree) but not to respond massively would have been an irreparable mistake.

you are still making the "we should not have been there" argument, which i also agree with, but the fact is that we were. i completely agree that we would have been better served using $3tn to buy up useful assets (like china) than going to war IF we had not been attacked, but once that happens, the game changes.

going forward, i'm all for a more isolationist policy (owl vs dove or hawk) but even then, you need the credible threat of force.

i also thing you are being very naive about our interventionist tendencies being the only source of the problem. even the arch owl, the late professor nordlinger who was my thesis advisory, admits that we would always, to some extent, be a target. nothing unifies fractious factions like a common enemy (like the great satan). we're going to be in the gun-sights no matter what we do. they need us to be the enemy, and our culture is antithetical to what many islamic regimes are trying to achieve at home. they simply cannot afford to have their daughters grow up in the presence of western ideals.

i've spent a fair bit of time in the middle east, and they are less upset about palistaine than they are about miniskirts and "jersey shore" and "baywatch".

you are using one of these "the world is flat" arguments which assumes that of we didn't attack them militarily they would have no issue, which is simply untrue.

we are in a clash of cultures. in such a case, the more restrictive is always threatened by the less restrictive. it was manageable before world media, but those days are gone.

i'm not arguing that we have not antagonized such problems with our foreign policy, but you seem to feel the issue would go away if we stopped projecting military power and that's just not true. our culture will drive conflict with theirs anyway, and in the age of satellite TV, controlling al jezera is not enough when al arabia is sending out a western message.

i think you are vastly underestimating how much inherent conflict exists here.

 
At 10/17/2010 6:55 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

and iraq was a separate issue. regardless of what was found (as opposed to moved to syria) there is little question that iraq was making every effort to convince us that they has WMD's and were interested in sharing them. whether or not that was ultimately true (and that's a more open issue that's is generally admitted to protect the french and Russians), saddam badly miscalculated that he could bait us when we were angry.

we won the war beautifully, then squandered the peace through the ideological stupidity of brennan (and bush). turning all the baathists into an insurgency was the difference between 12 months and 5 years.

 
At 10/17/2010 9:38 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

mcveigh was not an international terrorist, not are the basques, nor predominantly was the IRA.

He was a terrorist and he did kill innocent Americans. He did not need a massive organization because he was not going to wage a war against anyone as groups like Hezbollah do.

but to have a serious organization and use ti to project power consistently overseas requires a substantial base.

The al Qaeda leadership was a few guys in Afghanistan dreaming of a big hit. They were not projecting any power or directing anything. You are confusing past organizations with the way things work today. A decentralized network needs no major organization to direct its activity. It does not need a great deal of financing or massive training because its targets will be relatively soft and easily accessible without significant amount of specialized weaponry. A domestic terrorist can get information easily and can purchase guns and any materials that would be required to make explosive devices. He can use a motor vehicle and some gasoline cans as a powerful weapon and can get training by joining a gun range, taking part in paint ball tournaments, or simply joining the US military, where he would be paid to learn what he needs to make him more effective.

al queda has had it's fangs pulled. they are a tiny shadow of what they were. you are just flat out wrong that they are better organized and funded. they are now living in caves with no phones to avoid instant predator death. their funding has been strangled.

The guys who were hiding in caves in Afghanistan were killed. But they were not the ones who pulled off 9/11. Those people died on those airplanes. And there are many more people like them today than ever before. The value of bin Laden to the terrorists does not come from some strategic genius. His value is strictly as a symbol and he would be just as effective if he were dead.

The US occupation has created more terrorists and that will not change if every single al Qadea operative decided to end it all tomorrow. Not only have different branches of al Qadea grown to be more important you have entirely different groups that had nothing to do with al Qadea being formed by people pissed off at the occupations and at US strategy. As long as you are in Iraq and Afghanistan the US will remain the focus of anger and a target.

if we had responded to the 9/11 attacks by capitulating, it would have encouraged aggression and we would be paying an awful price for it.

it was vital that we had a strong response. you can argue that it wasn't done optimally (and i would agree) but not to respond massively would have been an irreparable mistake.


Who said anything about capitulating? You attacked Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11. How did that help the United States or prevent further attacks?

you are still making the "we should not have been there" argument, which i also agree with, but the fact is that we were. i completely agree that we would have been better served using $3tn to buy up useful assets (like china) than going to war IF we had not been attacked, but once that happens, the game changes.

Why are you still in Korea? Or Japan? Or Europe? Why aren't you pushing to have the troops called back home? Do you think that if they come home you will be more vulnerable to attack?

 
At 10/17/2010 9:51 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

going forward, i'm all for a more isolationist policy (owl vs dove or hawk) but even then, you need the credible threat of force.

For defensive purposes you have nukes and more weapons than any country. No country has ever been a viable threat since the fall of the USSR. And even there the threat was much smaller than you imagined.

i also thing you are being very naive about our interventionist tendencies being the only source of the problem. even the arch owl, the late professor nordlinger who was my thesis advisory, admits that we would always, to some extent, be a target.

As the man said, everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not to his own facts. No nation was capable of attacking the US without facing its own destruction so an attack from a national source was never an issue.

nothing unifies fractious factions like a common enemy (like the great satan).

Unification acts that you act like the Great Satan. If you mind your own business there is no there, there.

we're going to be in the gun-sights no matter what we do. they need us to be the enemy, and our culture is antithetical to what many islamic regimes are trying to achieve at home. they simply cannot afford to have their daughters grow up in the presence of western ideals.

Read the September 2004, Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force
on Strategic Communication. The US military makes it clear that you are not hated because of your culture but because of your policies of intervention in support of tyrants.

i've spent a fair bit of time in the middle east, and they are less upset about palistaine than they are about miniskirts and "jersey shore" and "baywatch".

Not in the places that I used to frequent. The Gulfies would come off the airplanes, take off their burkas and hunt for gigolos in the local hotels.

you are using one of these "the world is flat" arguments which assumes that of we didn't attack them militarily they would have no issue, which is simply untrue.

No. I am using the US military assessments and common sense. I don't see Japan being attacked by the Arabs for its porn industry, miniskirt wearing women, or its obsession and attitudes about sex. Are the Dutch attacked for their sexual attitudes or are they having trouble for other reasons?

I suggest that you are not as informed or as objective as you believe yourself to be.

 
At 10/17/2010 10:11 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

we are in a clash of cultures. in such a case, the more restrictive is always threatened by the less restrictive. it was manageable before world media, but those days are gone.

As I wrote above, there is no evidence that you are attacked because of your porn industry. There is lots of evidence that you are being attacked because you stationed troops in the Middle East and because you support Middle Eastern tyrants.

i'm not arguing that we have not antagonized such problems with our foreign policy, but you seem to feel the issue would go away if we stopped projecting military power and that's just not true.

Like I said, the evidence is on my side. I have yet to see a terrorist leave a message that claims that he killed himself because he opposes American porn exports. There is a good reason for that; it is hard to get yourself in the state of rage that is necessary to be a terrorist by reacting to culture. But it is easy to do so when you see injustice that comes from occupation and meddling in the affairs of others.

our culture will drive conflict with theirs anyway, and in the age of satellite TV, controlling al jezera is not enough when al arabia is sending out a western message.

Cultural conflict does not lead to terrorism. If it did the French would have bombed Hollywood a long time ago.

i think you are vastly underestimating how much inherent conflict exists here.

And I think that you do not understand much about human nature or have done any real research into the topic. Let me help you out by providing you with references that you may find useful.

Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism should give you some of the background, which you seem to be unfamiliar with.

Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and How to Stop It, makes it clear that al Qaeda did not attack you because of your culture but because of your meddling policies.

The Republic, was my first exposure to the issue of suicide terrorism. It came up in a discussion with Allan Bloom, who was explaining the importance of the word thymos to understanding the character necessary for the city's guardian class and brought up the suicide bombing campaign of the secular-Marxist Tamil Tigers. In my opinion, Bloom did a better job explaining the motivation than Pape, but the subject is too complex to deal with here.

 
At 10/17/2010 10:18 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

and iraq was a separate issue.

It wasn't when the invasion was being sold to voters or the UN.

regardless of what was found (as opposed to moved to syria) there is little question that iraq was making every effort to convince us that they has WMD's and were interested in sharing them.

Even the military and Bush admitted that there were no WMDs, which is what we knew before the war. Why you keep repeating the same lie over and over again is a mystery.

whether or not that was ultimately true (and that's a more open issue that's is generally admitted to protect the french and Russians), saddam badly miscalculated that he could bait us when we were angry.

Yes, he did not think that you would risk destroying your own economy or your global reputation to give Iran control over Iraq. He was wrong.

we won the war beautifully, then squandered the peace through the ideological stupidity of brennan (and bush). turning all the baathists into an insurgency was the difference between 12 months and 5 years.

How exactly is giving Iran control of the country winning the war? Why should so many of your military personnel as well as so many Iraqi civilians die just so that Tehran can do what it could not do by using its own military?

 
At 10/18/2010 9:08 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

vangel-

what's with all this "you"? what, am i occupying korea? you are now attributing to me lots of positions i have never espoused because you don't want to admit that you are trying to espouse a position based on the world that isn't.

if you think that fundamentalist arabs are not threatened by our culture, then you have never spent any time in the middle east. i'm really not sure what to say to you. you are just making stuff up based on how you'd like the world to be as opposed to how it is.

imagine you are a fundamentalist imam and your flock are seeing images of free western women getting educations and jobs and freedom. how are you going to sell sharia to the daughters when they see the alternative? this conflict is not just about foreign policy, it's about a repressive society trying to shelter itself from "liberal" influence. satellite TV and the internet are attacks as far as they are concerned.

i've spent a fair bit of time in lebanon, egypt, syria, and turkey with side trips all over. dubai aside, this is a VERY clear issue. the men have always run amok, but they are very defensive about the women.

you are imagining that if we don;t bother them they won't bother us, but that's just not true. this is about more than our foreign policy.

you are also underestimating the organization required to pull off major attacks overseas. the money is gone, the groups are in hiding and can;t even use phones.

i make the claim that the lack of WMD's was questionable because of the huge convoys of trucks the french and russians drove into syria. who knows what was on them? perhaps nothing of import, but it was certainly suspicious. i know the guys who watched the convoys go. the problem was calling them out and alienating allies. you are believing too much of what you read in the paper. talk to some folks who were actually in iraq. this is not some big secret.

even assuming it was just spare parts etc, saddam was sure trying to convince us they were there.

we won the war quite easily, we just lost the peace by being stupid.

consider the consequences of letting him rally the angry arabs against the US if his threats were real.

 
At 10/18/2010 9:23 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

you notions of nuclear deterrent are just cold war relics.

you can't respond to 9/11 with nukes.

such a deterrent is only valuable in an invasion scenario where the whole country is threatened.

that's not the threat we face despite the posture reports you are trotting out.

you can't get rid of fleas using a sledgehammer.

 
At 10/18/2010 9:52 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

what's with all this "you"? what, am i occupying korea? you are now attributing to me lots of positions i have never espoused because you don't want to admit that you are trying to espouse a position based on the world that isn't.

Sorry. It is an ethnic thing that spills over when I write in English. By you I mean something bigger; I mean your society, voters, and government.

if you think that fundamentalist arabs are not threatened by our culture, then you have never spent any time in the middle east. i'm really not sure what to say to you. you are just making stuff up based on how you'd like the world to be as opposed to how it is.

I have spent a bit of time in the Middle East but did not live there or work there extensively. My observations, which were shared by many of my Canadian friends who either lived or worked there, was that the biggest source of anger was your government's policies. Suicide bombers do not attack you because Julia Roberts shows some skin in a movie. They attack you because your government was directly involved in killing a relative, or was supporting a local tyrant who was oppressing the majority.

imagine you are a fundamentalist imam and your flock are seeing images of free western women getting educations and jobs and freedom. how are you going to sell sharia to the daughters when they see the alternative? this conflict is not just about foreign policy, it's about a repressive society trying to shelter itself from "liberal" influence. satellite TV and the internet are attacks as far as they are concerned.

It would be hard to convince anyone to attack the World Trade center because of images of women getting an education. In the real world that kinds of action takes something serious. If you read the report put out by your military you will find that they agree with me and are against your side of the argument. The attacks came because bin Laden did not like American troops stationed in Saudi Arabia and because of perceived American support for Arab tyrants. Are you saying that Rumsfeld's analysts were wrong because they do not know the Middle East as you do?

 
At 10/18/2010 10:12 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"you can't get rid of fleas using a sledgehammer"...

But thermobaric weapons really do help mitigate the problem...:-)

morganovich you should know by now that much of vangeIV's grip on reality is questionable...

 
At 10/18/2010 11:45 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

you can't respond to 9/11 with nukes.

such a deterrent is only valuable in an invasion scenario where the whole country is threatened.


I was talking about defense from national attacks. It is not appropriate to bomb and occupy nations when terrorist groups attack because they usually have nothing to do with those nations.

that's not the threat we face despite the posture reports you are trotting out.

I know that there is no national threat. That is why I am suggesting that those troops that are stationed in Europe, Japan, and Korea need to come back home. You are not waging the wars of the past any longer and as the Afghan and Iraqi fiascoes showed invasion and occupation is not a good idea.

you can't get rid of fleas using a sledgehammer.

That is my point. You are spending trillions and meddling in national affairs when your enemy are small cells of people who are resisting your foreign adventurism.

 
At 10/18/2010 11:49 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

i've spent a fair bit of time in lebanon, egypt, syria, and turkey with side trips all over. dubai aside, this is a VERY clear issue. the men have always run amok, but they are very defensive about the women.

Yet, I have seen their women strip down to their transparent undies in the airport in Singapore so that they can put on their burkas or take them off in Egypt and put on miniskirts that would make most women blush.

you are imagining that if we don;t bother them they won't bother us, but that's just not true. this is about more than our foreign policy.

It is 99.9% about your policy. Without your creation of a Great Satan by your idiotic foreign policies most of the crazy imams would have little support.

you are also underestimating the organization required to pull off major attacks overseas. the money is gone, the groups are in hiding and can;t even use phones.

I am not. The organizations you speak of are easy to infiltrate and neuter. We live in a more dangerous world where small cells can do far more damage.

i make the claim that the lack of WMD's was questionable because of the huge convoys of trucks the french and russians drove into syria. who knows what was on them? perhaps nothing of import, but it was certainly suspicious. i know the guys who watched the convoys go. the problem was calling them out and alienating allies. you are believing too much of what you read in the paper. talk to some folks who were actually in iraq. this is not some big secret.

Even Bush admitted there were not WMDs. Everyone in the intel community knew that Powell was lying about Niger uranium and secret labs.

even assuming it was just spare parts etc, saddam was sure trying to convince us they were there.

It does not matter. There were no WMDs and Bush knew it.

we won the war quite easily, we just lost the peace by being stupid.

All you did was replace your former pals the Ba'athists with people more sympathetic to Iran. How is that a victory?

consider the consequences of letting him rally the angry arabs against the US if his threats were real.

There were no consequences. Saddam could not rally anyone because he was disliked by most of his neighbours, who considered him an enemy. You live in a make believe world that is far more different than the real one.

 

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