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September 11th, 2008
07:01 PM ET

al Qaeda, by any other name…

Editor's Note:
We are devoting many posts today to the anniversary of 9/11, with first-hand accounts, insight, and commentary dedicated to that day seven years ago that changed our world.
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Reza Aslan | BIO
Author, “No god but God”
Perhaps the most significant change to have occurred over the last seven years of fighting the War on Terror is that we are no longer battling a terrorist organization called al Qaeda. We are now fighting a global social movement called al Qaeda.

 

The truth is al Qaeda was never the coherent, global entity it is so often imagined to be – an organization with an easily identifiable leadership structure and a systematic ideology. That al Qaeda existed only in the imaginations of those of us desperate for the days when America’s enemies were nations that could be assuredly defined and armies that could be conventionally overcome. It is no wonder that word al Qaeda continues to be rendered into English as “the base.” A base implies something concrete and conquerable, something that can be defended or assailed.

But the word al Qaeda also means “the rules” or “the fundamentals,” and is used by Arabs most often to refer to the basic teachings or creed of Islam. In that light, it may be somewhat appropriate to consider al Qaeda an Islamic form of fundamentalism, in so far as that word implies puritanical adherence to the elemental doctrines of a religion. But it is imprecise, and even dangerous, to consider al Qaeda the operational seat of global Islamic extremism.

al Qaeda is more like an ideological nerve center – a kind of brain trust propagating a series of simple propositions whose purpose is to classify the world into Good and Evil. Friend and Foe. Us and Them. As al Qaeda’s chief ideologue Abu Musab al-Suri said, “al Qaeda is not an organization…It is a call, a reference, a methodology.”

al Qaeda as methodology may be hard to swallow. Methodologies do not kill people; people kill people.

But when bin Laden refers to al Qaeda's attacks on America as “messages” to America, he is conveying a fundamental truth about the tactic of terrorism. These are not necessarily actions in pursuit of specific political or social ends. They are symbolic statements of power directed at a carefully selected audience. Indeed, it is the audience that can be regarded the principal victims of terrorism. Perverse though it may seem, terrorism’s actual victims – the bloodied, maimed, and murdered – are merely tools through which the terrorist’s “message” is delivered. What is that message? It is simply this: We are powerful, we are aggrieved, and we will not be ignored.

That is a message that has resonated with a wide spectrum of people – particularly young people – across the world (and not just the Muslim world). It is a message that cuts across all boundaries of religion, culture, class, and ethnicity. It is a message that has fed off the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the larger War on Terror: the use of torture; extraordinary renditions; the flaunting of international laws. It is a message that has become far more important than the messenger.

Of course, you can’t shoot a message (especially when you can’t even shoot the messenger).

soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. Roberto

    What happen in 9/11 was sad, but it´s more sad to see your president telling to all of you lies about war. For example that this's a war between chistians and islams. Last week i saw mr. Guilianni saying that calling a isalm a terrosit was an insult to a terrorist. I think this entire problem will end up the day that all of you as an americans will elect a true person that will fight for right causes and not just for oil.

    September 11, 2008 at 8:34 pm |
  2. lampe

    Melissa: Sorry to disappoint you, but I never said GOD starts wars, ends wars, or anything else. All I said was I believe GOd has his hands on and in everything. What you read into that comment, with your hate-filled heart is on you.

    September 11, 2008 at 8:00 pm |
  3. Alexander in Cologne, Germany

    @ Reza Aslan: You write that the message of a terror act is simply this: We are powerful, we are aggrieved, and we will not be ignored.

    Where does this come from? Is this your own thinking, simply? Do you read minds or have you found this message under a stone? You write as if this is some sort of unquestioned emprirical truth. Is it? Some people are impressed with your use of words, as the comments show. But frankly, what do you do?

    1) You inject mystery into an ongoing search for the causes of violence in our world. Your words play right into the hands of real perpetrators. You make them appear elusive, and intangible. This is not appropriate, because there are real people with real intentions doing very specific things.

    2) Your last paragraph is simply confusing. How did the message feed off the wars? Isn't the message of the wars rather an obvious expression of America's plan to spread its military influence around the world?

    3) You write that terror acts are "symbolic statements of power directed at a carefully selected audience". Oh really – and do they just fall from the sky?There is mounting evidence that certain events, like 9/11, can be described in more precise terms, for example: false-flag operation.

    4) You assume that al Qaeda attacked America. How do you know? Do you really believe in the official story? If al Qaeda is so elusive, how can you be sure enough to believe in your own words?

    You nurture the impression that the enemy is terrorism, and that we can't do anything about it. You're wrong.

    The only good thing about this article, which made me read it, is the quote by Abu Musab al-Suri, as this means that al Qaeda can be understood to be merely a phrase – an array of letters. Therefore, it can be used to disguise, to fake, and to deceive. This should encourage more people to call for more investigation, because "an idealogical nerve centre" is a bit too slippery to behold of.

    September 11, 2008 at 7:20 pm |
  4. jerome

    Waleed,

    Bin Laden didn't know who Bush was when bin laden declared a fatwa and holy war on America. Why don't you just admit that most muslims, even moderate muslims would like to see islam in every country . That's what this is all about. bin laden has called us all to convert to islam many times as well as zawahiri. This is not about the US foreign policy. This is about on religion wanting to force everyone throughout the world to become muslim. bin laden didn't even know who Bush was in 1993 when bin laden decided to attack the so-called infidels. We all know that most muslims agree with bin laden and want a caliphate established in America, so please stop trying to fool us. We know the truth now. Americans had to pay the price for ignorant racist people like bin laden. Stop balming Bush.

    September 11, 2008 at 7:01 pm |
  5. Sargon

    Osama bin Laden has never made a secret of his true objective: subjugate the Muslim world under his brutal, perverse interpretation of a great religion. He is a liar – he tells young men without hope that their suicide attacks are for the greater glory of God, but they are really carefully orchestrated political moves within the extremist movement. There used to be dozens of Muslim extremist groups, each with a zealot who wanted to be dictator (caliph) of the Muslim world. September 11 was not a message to America; it was a message to the other extremist groups. "Look what I can do. Fall in line behind me."

    The scariest thing about al Qaeda – they are succeeding in uniting these extremist groups. The Egyptian Islamic Jihad is now Al Qaeda in Egypt. The extremist groups in Iraq, the Philippines, and Indonesia have also lined up behind bin Laden.

    And the Bush administration thinks we are just fighting a rabble of uneducated fanatics. As Sun Tzu said 2500 years ago, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.”

    September 11, 2008 at 6:57 pm |
  6. Matt

    @Melissa: Forgive me. I did misread you there. As I read it now, I see you are saying the intolerance should be snuffed out. I agree. The examples of Jesus Christ and Ghandi are exemplary. They truly show that religion isn't the problem. The first and possibly second generations of Christianity were founded upon peaceful means. It was when Christianity was backed with the sword that things got ugly.

    September 11, 2008 at 6:43 pm |
  7. Melissa, Los Angeles

    @ John Kaleto and what makes you think Obama will surrender to Iraq and Afghanistan? The stereotype that it's assumed he's Muslim and even if he was, does that exclude him from being the President? Are you saying only Christian zealots like Sarah Palin can become President for VP and if you're not a Christian you can't?

    September 11, 2008 at 6:30 pm |
  8. Ratna, New York, NY

    Dear Reza Aslan,

    Do you remember the US Patriot Act? Those who are not Al Qeada type of killing people, but just messengers, how will their civil rights & liberties be judged? What is this all about? There is distinction between those who are Muslim Americans and Al Qaeda. How will you clear up this misunderstanding?

    September 11, 2008 at 6:18 pm |
  9. Waleed

    I'm an Arab American ' and A Muslim Am I also a Terrorist? it never cease to Amaze me that most of Americans seem to think that Bin-laden is acting According to Islam and the Holy Quran, would you Believe me if I told you " that there's no where in Islam or the Holy Quran anything to Suggest or Justify the killing of Innocent People' Allow me to Share this with you " when Moslem's fighters were about to go to war. here's the Commands of the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) if you see an Old man? " do not Hurt him, if you see a Woman? do not degrade or Violate her, if you see a Child? do not bring any Harm upon him, and if you see a man with no Sword do not Kill him, ' That's the Islam I know, that's the true Teaching of our Prophet (PBUH) whatever Bin-laden is doing does not have a thing to do with Islam, its hes personal hate for Bush And America, and unfortunately All True Moslem's are Paying for it now

    September 11, 2008 at 5:55 pm |
  10. John Kaleto

    All the more reason why we can't allow Obama in office so he can surrender Iraq & Afghanistan to our enemies.

    The democrats had better start to realize we're at war with Islamic zealots. They're in it to win; we'd better be, too.

    September 11, 2008 at 5:08 pm |
  11. Melissa, Los Angeles

    @ Matt I mean snuff out as in history has shown different religions killing (snuffing out) each other all in the name of "God" to enforce their beliefs and practices on others whether it be Christians, Catholics, etc. I wasn't saying religious people should be snuffed out. I'm saying that they are the ones who want to snuff out people who aren't of their religious ideology.

    September 11, 2008 at 4:51 pm |
  12. Matt

    Melissa: We must be tolerant of the intolerant or we become intolerant. What do you mean by "snuff out"? The normal understanding of that phrase is rather disturbing and only shows you have as much malice toward "their kind" as they do for each other.

    September 11, 2008 at 3:12 pm |
  13. Melissa, Los Angeles

    @ Lampe people like you who bring up God as reasons for wars, existence etc. truly scare me. Let's replace what you wrote with Allah or any other deity. You will always claim your "God" is the righteous God just like other people will claim whoever their deity is to be the righteous God. As an Atheist – I have one thing to say to you – when you understand why you reject all other Gods, you will understand why I reject yours as well. "Gods" don't start wars – people like you, Palin, and bin Laden do with this nonsense quest to prove that your religion is the "right" and "only" religion and the intolerance for others not like you should be snuffed out.

    September 11, 2008 at 2:52 pm |
  14. Matt

    Gary: The fact you missed my point entirely is obviated by your response. By ignorant, I clearly indicated that it was in regards to a very specific aspect: knowledge of the world around us, not "reading, 'riting an' 'rithmatic."

    I'm well aware of the abundant opportunities here in the States, but who I am as a person doesn't stand or fall with those opportunities. If so, then the real lala land is investing yourself too much in your own country and culture.

    I stand by my statements.

    September 11, 2008 at 2:33 pm |
  15. Alex

    Brian wrote: There is no righteousness or justification to killing moms, dads, and children to send a message.

    So how do you condone what the US is doing? We are currently doing the same thing but in an effort to get "the bad guys". So does blindly killing Muslim innocents in our effort make us any better than them?

    September 11, 2008 at 1:45 pm |
  16. Gary

    Matt it is time to leave lala land and enter reality. "enlightend way of fighting terror" Because the U.S is so ignorant and the rest of the world has an education that surpasses the U.S. It is that very way of thinking that is poison to the U.S If the U.S is so ignorant why do millions flock here for freedom, educational institutions and opportunity. What other country has more religious opportunity then America? and any other opportunity for that matter?

    September 11, 2008 at 1:39 pm |
  17. Peartree from NC

    Our govt failed us. what do we pay them for. and some of our politicians are the wealthiest americans. we should have been pro active instead of reactive. our GOVT is full of BS!! and i dont believe our GOVT can work. GOD save us.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:37 pm |
  18. Daniel

    Grat analysis, but we as an educated society not acknowledge that US Foreign Policy is also to blame for 9-11. We supported Al Qaeda in their fight against the former Soviet Union and left them after the Soviets retreated. We had the same policies in Iran and Iraq. The US unconditional support for Israel, in which their Human Rights Records is almost as palpable as China has also caused major distractions – think of the disenfrachisement of the Palestineans – there was more outrage when Florida voters were probably not recorded accurately. History is doomed to repeat itself unless we treat others with civility.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:31 pm |
  19. lampe

    Bear: What you fail to realize, is GOD has his hand in everything. The GOOD, BAD, and the UGLY. So maybe you should think about what Gov. Palin has to say.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:22 pm |
  20. Alex

    People seem to believe the ideal that the stronger we are militarily, the more people will respect us. The more we push our world vision the better off everyone else will be. It's so sad that so many Americans think that because we have a bigger stick we get to tell the rest of the world how to play the game, and by our rules. Has nobody heard the story of David and Goliath?

    Look, the more innocents we kill while trying to wipe out terrorism, the larger the movement against our government becomes. You can't stop that type of movement. You can slow that movement down but in the process you just create more people who get behind the movement. Our country has truly worked us into a corner that will take a very long time to get out of. Respecting other cultures would be a big step in the right direction.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:17 pm |
  21. Daryl

    We will never be able to completey conquer the deepest roots of an ideology or movement. That exists in people's minds. We can only fight against the physical manifestation of that ideology. But to do so means to accurately identify the sponsor of that physical threat. The threat we face is Islamic Totalitarianism.

    We are not at war with "Terror" as our leaders are so fond of saying. Terrorism is nothing more than a tactic used by one group or another for it's cause. Those that subscribe to the radical, narrow-minded interpretation of Islam that views the West as depraved for it's prosperity, individual freedoms, and pursuit of happiness in THIS world have been around longer than most would suspect. The only reason they exist as a PHYSICAL threat within the last 30 years is because of state sponsorship. That and the fact that we in the West refuse to completely destroy them or their support network. Angelo M. Codevilla, Professor of International Relations at Boston University, wrote:

    "Human causes are embodied by human institutions. With them they flourish, without them they die. Communists and Nazis everywhere ceased to be a problem when the regimes that inspired them died."

    We have a moral obligation to stand up once and for all identify these states for who they are and deal with them accordingly. Otherwise we are doomed to forever fight a series of sporadic, limited wars against foes that are vaguely identified as "terrorists" while we continue to embolden future generations of combatants with the confidence that the West has no backbone.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:06 pm |
  22. Teresa

    Thank you for a very good analysis. Articles like this need to reach the mainstream and discussion should be promoted to educate all of us, especially those who run our country.

    September 11, 2008 at 12:39 pm |
  23. Brian in Bethesda

    You seem to be sympathetic to an "idea" that chooses to use murder as a messenger. There is no righteousness or justification to killing moms, dads, and children to send a message. If they do not want to be ignored then try doing something productive rather than have a sense of entitlement that the US or any other country owes Muslim fanatics anything, because we don't. If faceless cowardice is perceived by you to be a message of power than you are just as bad as the cowards themselves since the mere words alone are encouragement.

    September 11, 2008 at 12:37 pm |
  24. Matt

    "Fundamental rule of fighting, have you enemy spend all his energy on defense so he has none left for offense.
    There have been no attacks on US soil since 911, success!"

    Another more subtle rule: Play dead.

    September 11, 2008 at 12:35 pm |
  25. Riaz

    To James Barnett:

    "Terror exists because Islam tells its followers to kill the infidels, and spread Islam until it has taken over the entire world."

    Please go back and read again, when it was told, under what circumstances it was told; Here, I am allowed to practice my religion as you are allowed to practice your religion, the question doesn't even arise here. In the words of the Holy Quran : “Lakum. Deenukum Walia Deen” – To you be your Way, to me mine [Sura. Kafirun, 109 : 6].

    We have enough clarity in this topic for the past 1000 years plus. Muslims ruled India for 800 years; please note RULED, India is still a secular country!!! Indonesia, Howmany infidels were killed to become a largest Islamic country ?!!! The issue is POLITICS and Foreign Policies!!!

    September 11, 2008 at 12:30 pm |
  26. USA

    Fundamental rule of fighting, have you enemy spend all his energy on defense so he has none left for offense.
    There have been no attacks on US soil since 911, success!

    September 11, 2008 at 12:18 pm |
  27. Riaz

    I blame it on Saudi Arabia and Egypt for the Al-Qaeda's growth; These countries instead of deporting Osama or Ayman al-Zawahiri from their own soil, they should have kept them under watch; they should have given a path for them to use their skills constructively. After soviet withdrawal from Afghan, these guys were treated with a USE and THROW approach when they returned back. That network was never dismantled in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Then prolonged US presence in Saudi Arabia after Gulf war also added to this. Then, Taliban emerged with the support of ISI from Pakistan from the old network. I don't think any one from US today condemns ISI for their terrorists activities in Kashmir(India provided lot of evidences). This problem will not be solved by military which is similar to Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka or Palestine; We, as a humanity should think outside the box and reform them by showing them a brighter side of LIFE, till then, we innocent people risk ourselves in their hands everyday and we helplessly continue to read it every day in the media, Sad situation !!! I was very lucky to survive 9/11 but took a long time to recover; I pray to God every day that GOD never ever put me in that situation again!!!

    September 11, 2008 at 12:15 pm |
  28. Matt

    I'd like to dovetail off of what Stewart said, namely–and in a nutshell–that ideas have to be combated with more enlightened ideas ("War on Terror" is utter nonsense).

    I agree. I'm just not so sure the American people are ready to do battle for the simple reason we are far too ethno-centric, far too greedy, and far too ignorant of the rest of the word around us. Those who have lived overseas for any significant period of time know this is true. Most Americans are hermetically sealed off from the rest of the world and journalism and the media simply can't deliver the goods the way living among other nations does.

    If the West (and the U.S. in particular) wants to save itself, then it needs to spend itself on its enemy. The West should rather fight their enemies by doing good to them. Like Stewart said, "Ideas have to be combated with more enlightened ideas." Doing good to ones enemy is nothing new, it is far more difficult, but also far more enlightened. It involves listening and discerning. It takes time and money with very little ROI in terms of the same.

    But if the West continues on this current path–making war against whomever, wherever–if we succumb to a mentality that says, "It's the job of every American to go to fight against anyone who does anything to a fellow American (or our economic allies)," then we will have echoed the same mentality that drives the current stripe of terrorists. And we will be just like them–only with bigger guns.

    September 11, 2008 at 12:14 pm |
  29. Caroline

    This commentary should be published in every newspaper in America. It shows why this "War on Terror" is so impotent.

    September 11, 2008 at 12:13 pm |
  30. Heather

    There is no negotiating with terrorists. They do not want to negotiate. They want things on their terms and thats it.They don't want to live in a civilized world.

    September 11, 2008 at 12:04 pm |
  31. Gary

    When you have Americans agreeing with terrorist countrys because their not happy with the Republican party only bad things will happen.
    The U.S media is so powerful and the constant bashing of our own government will only increase youth around the world to ban together to kill Americans. The Dems don't realize the damage they are causing when they use such a powerful tool as the media to bash the Repulican party. The repercussions are so dangerous.
    They have made it acceptable through the media to hate the Greatest country in the worl America.

    September 11, 2008 at 11:52 am |
  32. Byron

    As usual, the least informed shouting the loudest. One or two good comments, the rest are crap. No movement justifies the bloodletting now under way and, let's call a spade a spade, the al Queda guys are ISLAMIST TERRORISTS, not terrorists. Radical fundamilism in any religion is an evil thing; Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddist, Islam; you name it. Perverted fundamilist in any religion are dangerous animals incapable of living at peace with others. If anyone out there wants to really learn a bit about what's going on, read a little book "A Brief History Of Islam". Don't ever believe that these guys don't firmly believe that Islam must be spread by the use of the sword!

    September 11, 2008 at 11:47 am |
  33. Kurt in Michigan

    This is a great artcile from a very unique perspective, and I totally respect what Mr. Aslan is saying, but I still have one question. Now that Islamic fundamentalist terrorist sent their message and "have our attention", what do they want? Is it to be able to preach, teach, and operate in an isolated vacuum where their ideals will not be contested by western influence and involvement?
    Sounds like a breeding ground for close-mindedness and hate to me. And if they won't let us in nicely after we knock politely, (like a neighbor who is concerned for their own safety) then I guess we'll just have to give them something to hate us for BESIDES our free-thinking way of living!

    September 11, 2008 at 11:47 am |
  34. Bear

    Very good post. What we are fighting here, who attacked us, is not a government, country, state or religion, but extremists. In creating this "us v. them" mindset, we have created a fear of an entire religion and group of people. Not all Islamics are terrorists – far from it. The same as all Evangelicals aren't hate filled, all whites aren't part of the KKK, all Hispanics aren't illegal, all teenagers aren't immature, etc. But when you create "us v. them", people need someone to fight and creating stereotypes is an easy way to do so.

    Unfortunately, Ms. Sarah Palin seems to think we are on a "mission from God" in Iraq and Afganistan and that is a very dangerous mindset to have and not much different from Al Queda. When did we forget these were a groups of extremists and not a religion?....and since when did we adopt a national religion on which to send ourselves on a mission from God?

    War is a horrible, devastating thing and should not be entered into lightly. We need to refocus ourselves on Afganistan and the real enemy that attacked us.

    September 11, 2008 at 11:45 am |
  35. Gomsu

    Reza,
    I think it is important to acknowledge that suicide bombers are not inspired by the teachings in Islam to kill to intentionally hurt people, although they know this is what will happen Suicide afterall is more of a means to an end. Many of the actions taken by these bombers is always connected to a personal/inner movement, whether it be they have no family left to live for or simply because they somehow think that peace can only be achieved by death. It is a bit eerie to think that in Christianity the death of Christ was symbolic of peace.

    September 11, 2008 at 11:44 am |
  36. Mark B

    Whatever, be it the message or the messenger -the killing of innocents
    for the extremeley weak reason of we won't be ignored is ludicrous.
    If it is held as a sacred tenent, it's blasphemy and resonates with absolutely no one but recognized as the atrocity it is. You don't really say what ends al Queda persues at all. Death, only death. Where is the love in Islam?

    September 11, 2008 at 11:37 am |
  37. Phil

    A poignant and insightful article. The "War on Terror" is a nebulous term with a nebulous goal pursued by nebulous means. If we want to fight against an idea like al-Qaeda, the real battlefield is in the minds. We must promote ideological alternatives to al-Qaeda and address the grievances of its present adherents. When people have a reliable and legitimate channel by which to resolve their differences, they will use that rather than resort to force.

    September 11, 2008 at 11:34 am |
  38. James

    This is the type of critical thinking so often neglected in day to day discourse of American dialog. I only wish (Mr. Mrs. or Miss – sorry) Aslan could continue this analysis for I personaly crave this level of intellectual diagnosis.
    Sincerely, James from Ohio

    September 11, 2008 at 11:34 am |
  39. Aaron

    You cannot fight social movements. Like a chimera, chopping off a head will lead to more growth! Hence, America seriously needs to rethink its foreign and military policy. Meaning, getting out of Iraq, absolutely! Out of Afghanistan, most likely! Etc., etc., etc.

    We can fight fight fight to the ends of the earth for years on end. But like Reza stated, al Qaeda is no quantifiable concrete enemy.

    September 11, 2008 at 11:33 am |
  40. James Barnett

    The problem is the government is not recognizing that terror is a tactic, not an ideology. Terror exists because Islam tells its followers to kill the infidels, and spread Islam until it has taken over the entire world. That is Islam's goal, and the fundamentalists, including al Qaeda, will never stop until this occurs or they are destroyed.

    September 11, 2008 at 11:31 am |
  41. Dave

    The CIA and the Pakistani equivalant (ISI) created al Qaeda and funded them And that is the sad truth.

    September 11, 2008 at 11:31 am |
  42. eric

    Great post. I wish more Americans were able to grasp this idea that has been obivous to many here for a long time. Unfortunately, as you said above, most Americans don't want to think of al Qaeda as only an idea. The effects of this on our policies the last 7 years have been disasterous. Given the poll numbers, it doesn't seem like we as a country have recognized our mistakes and are ready to learn from them.

    September 11, 2008 at 11:30 am |
  43. Stewart

    Reza, I am always interested, and appreciate the depth of your analysis. Too often, people try to break the wars (unfortunately that word is plural) we are in engaged in down to their simplest possible terms. The reality is that these problems are not simple by any means, and require complex solutions and problem-solving. My fear is that we don't have the people in power capable of handling these complex issues. Bush tries to boil everything down to "us vs. them" and incredibly, Mccain has managed to be even more simplistic in his thinking. I have been saying all along that you can't kill ideas with bullets and bombs. You can kill, men, you can kill leaders, you can even kill heroes. Ideas have to be combated with more enlightened ideas. Even an ideology like Nazism had to be stomped out with newsreels as well as tanks and planes. We had to educate the world about how horrible and disgusting of an idea it was. Its awful, but we've managed to make the terrorists we're fighting sympathetic figures in certain sectors. If this fact is not remedied, we can kiss any potential resolution long goodbye.
    Sorry for the long-windedness, I just get riled up by some so-called analysis of these issues. Keep up the nuanced and reasoned work!

    September 11, 2008 at 11:12 am |
  44. James

    Democrats think that the Cave that has Bin Laden in it also has Bear Rug in front of it.

    September 11, 2008 at 11:01 am |
  45. Gary Chandler in Canada

    6000 dead in 911, very sad
    4000 dead American soldiers in Iraq, very sad
    600,000 dead Iraqis since Invasion, very sad
    1500 dead in Georgian surprise attack on Ossetia, very sad
    800 Coalition deaths in Afghanistan, very sad
    3,700 and probably closer to 5,000 Afghan civilians killed by the end of 2002 as a result of U.S. bombing, very sad
    """"
    very sad
    --

    September 11, 2008 at 10:56 am |
  46. Annie Kate

    In your post you say that "We are now fighting a global social movement called al Qaeda" – how do you fight or even negotiate with a social movement especially one that is global in nature? What is it about this social movement that inspires young people to become suicide bombers and the killers of innocents?

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    September 11, 2008 at 10:55 am |
  47. Sniffit

    Let's call a spade a spade. History and experience have taught us that there is nothing more dangerous in this world than a person who is 100% convinced that they are right...and that God told them so. And yet, on a day we should be remembering the lessons we've learned, the reality that came crashing down around our ears, half of America apparently thinks the answer is to elect people who are equally "convinced."

    A mistake by any other name...

    September 11, 2008 at 10:55 am |
  48. paul jacobsen

    There is another message too....."we are Americans, we are more powerful, and we promise, you won't be ignored"

    September 11, 2008 at 10:53 am |