War Is The Health Of The State


December 29, 2009 by J. Madson

Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab front left, smiling, poses with anti-war campaigner Brian Haw in front of Britain's Parliament with a group of fellow pupils from Lome's International School, Togo, while on a school trip to London. Eight years later on Dec 24 2009 Abdulmutallab attempted to blow up an airliner over Detroit, an attack claimed to have been coordinated by Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula

With the latest failed attack occurring on a Northwest Airline Flight, the rhetoric is ramping up again. Most people probably missed the missile attacks on Yemen a couple of weeks past but we are now entering a new stage in the war on terror which will likely expand to Somalia and Yemen if our orwellian, war is peace, president has his way.

As Ron Paul noted, people do things with motives, for real tangible reasons. Why did this wealthy young man attempt to kill himself and fellow passengers? Maybe we should listen to him or we could take Ben Stein’s approach in labeling them as monsters without any motive and that anyone who doesnt parrot the tribalistic myth of good versus evil as anti semites.

Glen Greenwald’s insightful post, that should be read in full, illustrates this point:

In the wake of the latest failed terrorist attack on Northwest Airlines, one can smell the excitement in the air — that all-too-familiar, giddy, bipartisan climate that emerges in American media discourse whenever there’s a new country we get to learn about so that we can explain why we’re morally and strategically justified in bombing it some more.  “Yemen” is suddenly on every Serious Person’s lips.  We spent the last month centrally involved to some secret degree in waging air attacks on that country — including some that resulted in numerous civilian deaths — but everyone now knows that this isn’t enough and it’s time to Get Really Serious and Do More.

For all the endless, exciting talk about the latest Terrorist attack, one issue is, as usual, conspicuously absent:  motive.  Why would a young Nigerian from a wealthy, well-connected family want to blow himself up on one of our airplanes along with 300 innocent people, and why would Saudi and Yemeni extremists want to enable him to do so?  When it comes to Terrorism, discussions of motive have been declared more or less taboo from the start because of the dishonest equation of motive discussions with justification — as though understanding the reasons why X happens is to posit that X is legitimate and justifiable.  Causation simply is; it has nothing to do with issues of morality, blame, or justification.  Yet all that is generally permitted to be said in such situations is that Terrorists try to harm us because they’re Evil, and we (of course) are not, and that’s generally the end of the discussion….

As always, the most confounding aspect of the reaction to the latest attempted terrorist episode is the professed confusion and self-righteous innocence that is universally expressed.  Whether justified or not, we are constantly delivering death to the Muslim world.  We do not see it very much, but they certainly do.  Again, independent of justification, what do we think is going to happen if we continuously invade, occupy and bomb Muslim countries and arm and enable others to do so?  Isn’t it obvious that our five-front actions are going to cause at least some Muslims — subjected to constant images of American troops in their world and dead Muslim civilians at our hands, even if unintended — to want to return the violence?   Just look at the bloodthirsty sentiments unleashed among Americans even from a failed Terrorist attempt.  What sentiments do we think we’re unleashing from a decade-long (and continuing and increasing) multi-front “war” in the Muslim war?

11 thoughts on “War Is The Health Of The State

  1. The Mike says:

    I had similar feelings when I heard about the strikes going on in Yemen. Rachel Maddow also had pretty good coverage on Yemen. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvGHrzzSqxo

  2. Tod Joey says:

    interesting article,

  3. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    Yep we should definitely listen to what ever this piece of garbage says, because killing/attempted killing means your message is really serious. Brilliant logic dude…

  4. J. Madson says:

    Jaun Cole made this astute point which illustrates why it is important to understand why these things occur. No one is justifying or legitimizing abhorrent behavior. But to pretend that these things occur absent reason, absent rationale, is not only akin to living in a fantasy but very dangerous.

    Morally speaking, al-Qaeda is twisted and evil, and has committed mass murder. . . . But from a social science, explanatory point of view, what we have to remember is that there can be a handful of al-Balawis, or there can be thousands or hundreds of thousands. It depends on how many Abu Ghraibs, Fallujahs, Lebanons and Gazas the United States initiates or supports to the hilt. Unjust wars and occupations radicalize people. The American Right wing secretly knows this, but likes the vicious circle it produces. Wars make profits for the military-industrial complex, and the resulting terrorism terrifies the clueless US public and helps hawks win elections, allowing them to pursue further wars. And so it goes, until the Republic is bankrupted and in ruins and its unemployed have to live in tent cities.

  5. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    No one is saying that scumbags like this don’t have a reason, just that his reason is crap. His reason? Al-qaida told him to do it… Is al-Qaidas reason for not liking the U.S. reasonable? The reason given was that Bin Laden was pissed about U.S. troops being in Saudi Arabia (because the king of S.A. wanted us there) during desert storm. Does that really seem like a good reason to you? Nah, more like an excuse… So why did this particular piece of garbage want to do what Al-Qaida wanted him to do? You can’t just talk about Abu Ghraib and Fallujah and ignore the religion.

  6. J. Madson says:


    Bin Laden actually gave three grievances in his original fatwa: troops in Saudi Arabia, death to extremely high numbers of Iraqi children through sanctions (half million or so) and U.S. support for Israel. I think these are actually very good reasons to not like the US, not to kill others, but not like the US? absolutely. Indiscriminate killing of children and supporting Israeli oppression of palestinians is hardly something to be joyful about.

    To make Islam the focus as you seem to want to is to cover up our own national sins. It is a form of scapegoating an entire religion and people rather than engage in national repentance.

    Your logic is part of what Greenwald dismantles:

    — they do this because they’re Evil and murderous — is on the same condescending cartoon level as the “They-Hate-us-For-Our-Freedom” tripe we endured for the last eight years. Apparently… Islamic radicals, in their motive-free quest to slaughter, write down the names of all the countries in the world and put them in a hat and then stick their hand in and select the one they will attack, and the U.S. just keeps getting unlucky and having its name randomly chosen. Countries like China, Brazil, Japan, Chile, Greece, South Africa, France and a whole slew of others must have really good luck. That Al Qaeda is evil and murderous and perverts Islam is a judgment about what they do, not an answer as to what motivates them.

  7. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    indiscriminate killing of children is a stretch… (youre talking about pre 2003) and Bin Laden was just butt hurt that the King of Saudi wanted the U.S. there instead of him and his mujahadeen during the gulf war and him getting kicked out. And of course Israel… You think Bin Laden really gives a – about palestinians?

    “T]he ruling to kill the Americans and their allies—civilians and military—is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque [in Jerusalem] and the holy mosque [in Makka] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim. This is in accordance with the words of Almighty Allah, ‘and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together,’ and ‘fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah”

    That’s from the 1998 fatwa. Anything about palestinians? Just a mosque…

    Anyways I merely pointed out that the religion is the common factor between Bin Laden a Saudi and Abdulmutallub a Nigerian. Predictably, you freaked out about that.

  8. Joseph says:


    I’m not impressed with the fact that you refer to someone you don’t know as “a piece of garbage.” This blog is called the “Mormon Worker” so I don’t have any trouble bringing up the teaching’s of Christ and how such an approach doesn’t match up. Even Moroni, the great example of how to be a Christian and still go to war, never referred to any of his enemies in that way. He certainly never said that about the Lamanites,whom he loved and respected, but realized he had to defend his people from, but he didn’t even say that about the Kingmen, who he was really ticked off at. He did refer to Ammoron as a “Child of Hell”, but that was in direct correspondence, and it wasn’t meant to be dehumanizing, just a call to repentance. And Ammoron was a leader who knew what he was doing. It was not a reference to the Lamanites, who Moroni knew had been decieved. And Moroni always demonstrated a desire to understand the motivations of his enemies rather than just dehumanize them, and did all he could to stop the fighting.

    And noone “freaked out” about your reference to the Muslim reference and terrorism. J. just pointed out that your claim of the Muslim religion being a cause of their actions is unsubstantiated. How many practicing Muslims do you know? I am in serious doubt of your having a large enough sample to make the generalities you have made. Certainly the two individuals you mention aren’t even close to being a sufficient sample.

    Another point J. makes that I think a lot of us agree with is that many of us are tired of hearing how perfect the United States is, and how terrible and unhuman everyone else is. To understand someone’s motivations and recognize them as human is not to justify them. There are many people who have done horrible things to me, and it would certainly be understandable and human to go and punch them in the face, but that wouldn’t really be a very good response and would create more problems than it solved. I personally only believe violence is remotely justified when it is in direct self-defence, not avenging wrongs, getting back at someone, making a point, etc. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab clearly went beyond that, regardless of his motivations.

    Of course, ultimately you are dodging the main issue. This situation is simply being used by the media to justify wars that aren’t really justifiable.

  9. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    1. I’m not mormon.

    2. deliberately blowing up or attempting to blow up a plane full of civilians is enough to make me consider someone a piece of garbage.

    3. Unlike you i’m not afraid to criticize certain extremist aspects of Islam.

    So what WOULD motivate a young nigerian from a wealthy well-connecte family to blow himself and an airplane with 300 people on board?

    the greatest of all sorts of Jihad in the Cause of Allah. A martyr operation is carried out by a person who sacrifices himself, deeming his life less value than striving in the Cause of Allah, in the cause of restoring the land and preserving the dignity.

    Yusuf al-Qaradawi

    Maybe listening to guys like this would…

  10. J. Madson says:

    You ask

    “So what WOULD motivate a young nigerian from a wealthy well-connected family to blow himself and an airplane with 300 people on board?”

    why dont you listen to what he says? You ask what would motivate him, then say that we shouldn’t “listen to what ever this piece of garbage says.” It seems to me you are more concerned about framing into a predetermined narrative than actually discovering his motivations

  11. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    Yep we took out Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen, great reason dude… (civilians?) you think scum like that really care about civilians? Tell me, does the 98 Fatwa only target military personnel? It’s right up there, check it out. His motives are Al Qaedas motives… I mean if youre wondering what specific life experiences this well off scum bag had that caused him to want to do the bidding of these religious psychopaths I think that’s probably making a bit much of it. Stated reason from Al Qaeda is retaliation for airstrikes in Yemen, his personal reasons? I don’t give a – You act like this guy is just misunderstood.

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