Quote of the Day: On September 10, 2001

 

And I’m just saying, you know, if I were Osama bin Laden–he’s a very smart guy, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about him–and I nearly got him once.  I nearly got him.  And I could have killed him, but I would have to destroy a little town called Kandahar in Afghanistan and kill 300 innocent women and children, and then I would have been no better than him.  And so I didn’t do it.–Bill Clinton, September 10, 2001

Twenty years ago today, Bill Clinton spoke before an audience of businessmen in Melbourne, Australia.  The recorded audio was not released until many years later, and then, one day, suddenly it was.  Here it is.  And while I note that the conclusion of the sycophantic flaks’ reportage was that Clinton’s “judgment was vindicated” because (it was later suggested) bin Laden might have left the building a few minutes before the proposed strike,  I don’t see that consideration playing into Clinton’s decision, based on his own accounting of it.

From the article with the details (emphasis my own):

According to the 9/11 Commission Report [which details several other credible opportunities for the West to “get” bin Laden], national security officials decided to forgo a missile strike on the region in December of 1998 out of concerns about collateral damage, including 200 to 300 civilian casualties. Some lower-level officials in the government thought that number was exaggerated and were angry when the Joint Chiefs of Staff advised the president against a strike.

This tension between “lower-level officials” and those “in charge” is highlighted several times throughout the 9/11 Commission Report, quite starkly here (page 121):

*Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Walter Slocombe; Richard Clarke, Special Assistant to the President; Allen Holmes, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict; and Jan Lodal, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.  The note attached to this passage indicates that the “forgotten” DOD memo, “Towards a More Aggressive Counterterrorism Posture,” was authored by Thomas Kuster, a civil servant and former special forces officer.

Plus ça change plus c’est la meme chose.  (“For those of you in Rio Linda,” as Rush might have said, that means “stupid is as stupid does.” Or, more literally, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”)

Joint Chiefs of Staff and Career Diplomats:  Giving US Presidents dubious advice, year in and year out, for at least the past two decades.

Moral of the story:  With military strategy, as with nutrition, sometimes better results are achieved by paying attention to what’s at the lower end of the food chain, rather than to the effete, elite, expensive, and highly-processed product near the top.

Had things been different, had U.S. strategy towards the rising terrorist threat evolved, had Clinton acted successfully on any of his opportunities to take out the Al Qaeda leader, would the events of September 11 have unfolded as they did?  Perhaps.  Perhaps not.  All we’ll ever really know is that, just hours after Clinton’s remarks on September 10, 2001, the “very smart guy” he didn’t kill in 1998, or at any other time, changed–and not in a good way–world history forever.

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  1. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    Politicians, General officers and high level bureaucrats are typically risk averse. 

    • #1
  2. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    The only strategy that seems to work is to kill the enemy until the enemy stops or there are none left. 

    Republics don’t tend to like to do that. 

    I have always wanted an Imperial Foreign Policy and a Republican Domestic Policy. 

    What we have is a Republican Foreign Policy, and an Imperial Domestic Policy. 

     

    • #2
  3. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    The only strategy that seems to work is to kill the enemy until the enemy stops or there are none left.

    Republics don’t tend to like to do that.

    I have always wanted an Imperial Foreign Policy and a Republican Domestic Policy.

    What we have is a Republican Foreign Policy, and an Imperial Domestic Policy.

    Yes, but…

    Such a policy requires a good deal of discretion. I’m not sure we have the institutional organization required. Our decision making tends to unfocused, glacial, and dominated by domestic considerations of political viability.

    Our opponents should fear us. We’ve amply demonstrated why they don’t.

    • #3
  4. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    Politicians, General officers and high level bureaucrats are typically risk averse.

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    The only strategy that seems to work is to kill the enemy until the enemy stops or there are none left.

    Republics don’t tend to like to do that.

    I have always wanted an Imperial Foreign Policy and a Republican Domestic Policy.

    What we have is a Republican Foreign Policy, and an Imperial Domestic Policy.

    Yes, but…

    Such a policy requires a good deal of discretion.

    I have a sense that politicians, military officers who’ve reached a high-enough rank that they’re essentially politicians, and bureaucrats who’ve reached a high-enough level that they’re essentially politicians, tend to conflate the concept of “risk-averse” with that of “discretion.”  I’m not sure they’re always the same thing.

    • #4
  5. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    The only strategy that seems to work is to kill the enemy until the enemy stops or there are none left.

    Republics don’t tend to like to do that.

    I have always wanted an Imperial Foreign Policy and a Republican Domestic Policy.

    What we have is a Republican Foreign Policy, and an Imperial Domestic Policy.

    Yes, but…

    Such a policy requires a good deal of discretion. I’m not sure we have the institutional organization required. Our decision making tends to unfocused, glacial, and dominated by domestic considerations of political viability.

    Our opponents should fear us. We’ve amply demonstrated why they don’t.

    yeah. 

    Empire needs a emperor. 

    • #5
  6. Addiction Is A Choice Member
    Addiction Is A Choice
    @AddictionIsAChoice

    Remember “Sandy” Berger?  Bill Clinton’s National Security Advisor?  Remember when he was caught removing Top Secret documents from the National Archives?  Documents relating to the 9/11 commission?  Berger blamed the brouhaha on “sloppiness;” “mistakes were made,” etc. …. HORSE-PUCKEY!

    I’ll bet that in addition to removing items that made Clinton Inc. look bad, Berger was putting documents in!  Documents that made it look like Clinton wasn’t asleep-at-the-wheel regarding Al-Qaeda;  that the Clinton administration took terrorism super-cereal;  that 9/11 was totally not their fault.

    • #6
  7. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    The only strategy that seems to work is to kill the enemy until the enemy stops or there are none left.

    Republics don’t tend to like to do that.

    I have always wanted an Imperial Foreign Policy and a Republican Domestic Policy.

    What we have is a Republican Foreign Policy, and an Imperial Domestic Policy.

     

    I would assert we have an imperial domestic and foreign policy. One leads to the other and is in a feedback loop. 

    • #7
  8. Bishop Wash Member
    Bishop Wash
    @BishopWash

    Was it the 10th or 11th when the interview with Bill Ayers, accompanied by a photo of him standing on the American flag, was published? As Rush would later joke, what do Osama and Obama have in common? They both have friends who bombed the Pentagon.

    • #8
  9. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    Politicians, General officers and high level bureaucrats are typically risk averse.

    Unless, they’re doing nasty things with their interns…

    • #9
  10. Bishop Wash Member
    Bishop Wash
    @BishopWash

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    Politicians, General officers and high level bureaucrats are typically risk averse.

    Unless, they’re doing nasty things with their interns…

    Remember how the summer of 2001 was filled with stories about Chandra Levy? That was all forgotten.

    • #10
  11. Addiction Is A Choice Member
    Addiction Is A Choice
    @AddictionIsAChoice

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):
    Remember how the summer of 2001 was filled with stories about Chandra Levy?

    At the time, I posited a “Criss-Cross:”  Robert Blake killed Chandra Levy:  Rep. Gary Condit killed Bonnie Lee Bakely.

    • #11
  12. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    Remember how the summer of 2001 was filled with stories about Chandra Levy? That was all forgotten.

    I remember how, at one time, the news–whatever the specific subject matter–was consequential.  When the fallout from a story could take down a government, or change the course of history.

    Now, we spend our time watching people demonstrating outrage because some poor schlub tied a knot in an overhead rope–in order to help him grab hold of it to close a warehouse door–and because that’s  offended a person who thinks  it resembles a “noose.”  Or because a book written hundreds of years ago, when life and standards were completely different, demonstrates “insensitivity” (according to our current norms) to a particular class or race.  Or, because a crucifix hanging in a classroom frightens an atheist.  Or because–God forbid–someone refers to a another person with a non-preferred pronoun.

    When any of those things happen–it’s as if the world stops turning!

    And so, we’ve reached a point where a perfectly healthy 27-year old woman with a glorious voice who (for once) appears to sing the national anthem from a place of heartfelt sincerity, rather than from a position of “LOOK AT ME!” narcissism is cancelled from her engagement at the opening game of the 2021-2022 NFL season because she hasn’t been (and doesn’t want to be) vaccinated for COVID.

    Apparently, we’re more afraid of Victory Boyd than we are of the Taliban (who are, in Afghanistan, celebrating a national holiday tomorrow, September 11, 2021).

    Here she is:

    PS: Victory Boyd’s place last night was taken–apparently–by Michelle Williams (no, not that Michelle Williams), who ground out a screechy, shrieky and off-key rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner.  Much more attention is being paid, however, to the performance of the “Black National Anthem” because, apparently, that’s the song the NFL considers more important.

    I’ve never been more proud of the fact that I loathe Tom Brady than I am today.

    Sorry, NFL.  Much as I love the ‘Stillers,’ and while I’ll give them a break in their “away” opener, they’ll have about ten minutes in their first home game to demonstrate their chops.  Otherwise, I’m done.

    • #12
  13. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    She (View Comment):

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    Remember how the summer of 2001 was filled with stories about Chandra Levy? That was all forgotten.

    I remember how, at one time, the news–whatever the specific subject matter–was consequential. When the fallout from a story could take down a government, or change the course of history.

    Now, we spend our time watching people demonstrating outrage because some poor schlub tied a knot in an overhead rope–in order to help him grab hold of it to close a warehouse door–and because that’s offended a person who thinks it resembles a “noose.” Or because a book written hundreds of years ago, when life and standards were completely different, demonstrates “insensitivity” (according to our current norms) to a particular class or race. Or, because a crucifix hanging in a classroom frightens an atheist. Or because–God forbid–someone refers to a another person with a non-preferred pronoun.

    When any of those things happen–it’s as if the world stops turning!

    And so, we’ve reached a point where a perfectly healthy 27-year old woman with a glorious voice who (for once) appears to sing the national anthem from a place of heartfelt sincerity, rather than from a position of “LOOK AT ME!” narcissism is cancelled from her engagement at the opening game of the 2021-2022 NFL season because she hasn’t been (and doesn’t want to be) vaccinated for COVID.

    Apparently, we’re more afraid of Victory Boyd than we are of the Taliban (who are, in Afghanistan, celebrating a national holiday tomorrow, September 11, 2021).

    Here she is:

    PS: Victory Boyd’s place last night was taken–apparently–by Michelle Williams (no, not that Michelle Williams), who ground out a screechy, shrieky and off-key rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. Much more attention is being paid, however, to the performance of the “Black National Anthem” because, apparently, that’s the song the NFL considers more important.

    I’ve never been more proud of the fact that I loathe Tom Brady than I am today.

    Sorry, NFL. Much as I love the ‘Stillers,’ and while I’ll give them a break in their “away” opener, they’ll have about ten minutes in their first home game to demonstrate their chops. Otherwise, I’m done.

    There is a real politics of hair. The former girl group member has shown and does show an acceptable image, the right kind of hair versus Victory Boyd, whose more natural hair, not chemically treated to conform, rebels against the entertainment elite culture.

    • #13
  14. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    She (View Comment):
    PS: Victory Boyd’s place last night was taken–apparently–by Michelle Williams (no, not that Michelle Williams), who ground out a screechy, shrieky and off-key rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner.  Much more attention is being paid, however, to the performance of the “Black National Anthem” because, apparently, that’s the song the NFL considers more important.

    What happens when someone takes a knee during the “Black National Anthem?”

    • #14
  15. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    She (View Comment):

    Now, we spend our time watching people demonstrating outrage because some poor schlub tied a knot in an overhead rope–in order to help him grab hold of it to close a warehouse door–and because that’s  offended a person who thinks  it resembles a “noose.”

    They didn’t publish any pictures of the “noose” for the longest time because anyone who has ever been in a garage which doesn’t have an electric opener would have known what it was there for at a glance. They sent a team of powerful minds from the FBI to investigate for days.

    PS: Victory Boyd’s place last night was taken–apparently–by Michelle Williams (no, not that Michelle Williams), who ground out a screechy, shrieky and off-key rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner.  Much more attention is being paid, however, to the performance of the “Black National Anthem” because, apparently, that’s the song the NFL considers more important.

    I’ve never been more proud of the fact that I loathe Tom Brady than I am today.

    Sorry, NFL.  Much as I love the ‘Stillers,’ and while I’ll give them a break in their “away” opener, they’ll have about ten minutes in their first home game to demonstrate their chops.  Otherwise, I’m done

    NFL stands for “no fans left.” I have better things to do with my time.

    • #15
  16. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    There is a real politics of hair. The former girl group member has shown and does show an acceptable image, the right kind of hair versus Victory Boyd, whose more natural hair, not chemically treated to conform, rebels against the entertainment elite culture.

    Yeah.  There’s the whole “name” thing, too.  Were she named “Diversity Boyd,” or even better, “Black Lives Matter Boyd,” she’d probably have been escorted onto the field with a parade of rainbow flags.  

    But “Victory?”  Just, no.  Victory is for losers.  We’re better than that.

     

    • #16
  17. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    Bill Clinton can burn in hell, too.

    He’s also a chicom sellout.

    • #17