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I don't think that Professor Snyder needs apologize for the "cool tone" of his thread on terror and counter-terror. In the midst of horror, outrage, violence and grief, we need thoughtful and measured analysis of what prompts terrorism and the terrorists goals. Without that, counter-terrorism will often result in a bloody slog that neither puts an end to the cycle of violence nor leads to a durable to say nothing of a just peace.

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What Timothy Snyder wrote on Oct 10 was sufficient It is not sufficient by now and so far I've searchesd but haven't found a recognition of what is happening One does not have to be an expert if one can not side with Palestinians by now A well as Ukrainians its heart breaking ...

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A 'just peace' has been available for half a century. This war will bring no breakthroughs in that direction, just a further hardening of positions and countless civilian deaths--all to no avail.

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I have a long background in the Middle East. In 1953 I visited Gaza, where the Egyptians were temporarily housing Palestinian refugees in tents. In 1954 I lunched with David Ben-Gurion. In 1960 I published NASSER’S NEW EGYPT: A CRITICAL ANALYSIS, which was banned by Nasser.

In the Foreign Service I following the Arab-Israeli situation. In succeeding decades I have met with dozens of Arabs and Israelis.

I am appalled by the brutality of the Hamas attacks in southern Israel. I am astonished that Israeli intelligence seemed to be totally unaware that this would occur. I am tremendously concerned about the fate of Israeli hostages, as Netanyahu has declared war against Gaza. I fear that a large number of Gaza residents will be killed or wounded in retaliation for the Hamas military action.

It is too early to calmly reflect on who is response for the long-term tensions that preceded this outrage. The Oslo Accords and countless discussions about a possible ‘two state’ Israel/Palestine ‘solution have long since been a dead end.

The pressure among Palestinians toward Israel have been accelerating for a long time. Whatever one may think about the 1948 and 1967 wars, Arabs within Israel have been treated as second-class citizens and Palestinians have been treated worse.

When Hamas seized political control of Gaza decades ago, Israel cordoned off this area. There are 2,000,000 Palestinians living in a small area. Israel controls the gas, electricity, food, supplies, and ingress/egress in Gaza. Some have described life in Gaza as being in a prison or concentration camp.

Over the years., there have been violent outbreaks. My impression is that thousands of Palestinians have been killed, while Israeli losses were sharply lower. Meanwhile, within Israel Israeli settlers, especially with the approval of Netanyahu governments, have greatly expanded their settlements, often encroached on Arab lands.

At present Israel is engaged in a major air attack against Gaza, with ground troops likely to enter the area. The Hamas military—called ‘terrorists’—is likely to be decimated. But then what? There will still be about two million Gaza residents living in despicable conditions. Arabs in Israel will still be treated as second-class citizens.

I am reminded of the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, when the oppressed risked everything in rising up against their oppressors. I am reminded of the Arab Spring in 2011 when, for a moment, it seemed that Arab opposition to authoritarianism might prevail.

I wonder, as this Palestinian imbroglio continues, whether we can ever expect calm and tranquility between Israel and Palestinians.

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Actually it is quite easy to trace the current situation back to its roots; the two key documents are the Sykes-Picot Agreement and the Balfour Declaration. See: David Fromkin: A Peace to End All Peace.

For the impatient, the former was an agreement between Britain and France, with US acquiesce that divided up the former Ottoman Empire between them at the end of WW1, with no consideration given to natural or ethnic boundaries nor to the sentiments of the people. The latter set forth the basis of the state of Israel. It contained stipulations of secularity and of inclusiveness that the Zionists ignored from the very beginning.

Thanks to Andrew Bacevich for his excellent course "America's Wars in the Middle East" at Boston University.

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Stephen There were some backhanded references to the Sykes-Picot Agreement in the movie Lawrence of Arabia. Perfidious Albion?

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Sykes Pícot is dealt with extensively in Scott Anderson’s excellent Lawrence in Arabia.

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Brad I also recommend Jon Kimche’s SEVEN FALLEN PILLARS, which provides a rather slanted view of the Middle East 1945-1952.

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Thank you for the recommendation.

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I’d also recommend Faught’s Cairo 1921: Ten Days That Made the Middle East. It was that conference that settled some of how the Middle East looks today.

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I've been reading about WWI in anticipation of an upcoming tour. I developed a late in life history interest and this did seem like a reverberation from that era.

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Abraham accords in 2017 ....We, the undersigned, recognize the importance of maintaining and strengthening peace in the Middle East and around the world based on mutual understanding and coexistence, as well as respect for human dignity and freedom, including religious freedom.

We encourage efforts to promote interfaith and intercultural dialogue to advance a culture of peace among the three Abrahamic religions and all humanity.

We believe that the best way to address challenges is through cooperation and dialogue and that developing friendly relations among States advances the interests of lasting peace in the Middle East and around the world...............and more .

to me this was all just words when The Palestinians were not even invited to be a part of this

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Ann Spot on. The story of Israel and the Palestinians has and is being recounted in a manner that suits the storytellers. I supported the creation of the state of Israel and regret the fate of the Palestinians and the second-class Arabs now in Israel. I doubt that this will be sorted out to the satisfaction of those most directly involved.

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Part of the problem is that Israel has/had become immensely powerful, especially with US unconditional backing. Our politics is very much involved and somewhat to blame. Biden now has to walk a careful line because views are and have been changing here about Israel and the Palestinians. The old dogs (stories) don't hunt so well.

Hamas has proven it is to be reckoned with, that it will fight for Palestinians. This was quite a showing.

Palestinians have been visited by plenty of suffering, death, destruction, enough to feel that this massacre is vengeance deserved. It's hard to talk about this side of this now because all sympathy is with Israel as we learn of and see the savagery.

This is a time for peace- a grand bargain.

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So much of Israeli policy will be determined by the dynamic of the precarious governing coalition of right and far right forces and the personal interests of Netanyahu.

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Articles in NYT and WP today about prospects for the unity government, taking in Benny Gantz and his moderate right of center party. Gantz did not insist on removal of Netanyahu’s two most extreme right ministers, and Netanyahu has put a hold on his authoritarian ‘reforms’. This brings in a number of military officers and diplomats who were in opposition and dilutes N’s power, already diminished by the failures that saw Israel surprised and unprepared for the attack. So how will this impact the anticipated ground invasion of Gaza?

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Keith,

Your comments are very unfortunate. Warsaw Uprising? 1,000 young men from Hamas attacked peaceful civilians here, at a "Peace" musical festival and in their homes. They raped women, murdered children, executed civilians in their cars - as President Biden correctly said just minutes ago: This reminds us of the worst aspects of ISIS. The ghetto residents in Warsaw - overwhelmingly Jewish, btw- attacked the very people who systematically killed them. Any equivalence here is utterly false, and misleading, and dangerous.

As a German-American, I have been to Gaza, and the West Bank, and of course Israel. You are right: Arabs often are second class citizens, and conditions in the PA- and Hamas-controlled areas are poor. But your analysis forgets the most important historical fact which lies at the foundation of all these observations: Since the first day of its founding in 1948, way too many Palestinians -and Arabs in general- have refused to recognize Israel's right to exist. Way too many Arabs have quietly, and not so quietly, supported acts of terrorism. Naqba and all that.

What do you do if you are surrounded by neighbors who want to kill you?

That has been the core dilemma in the region. It took the PLO 40+years to recognize Israel's right to exist. it took most of the other regional countries even longer - IF they are even there yet. And then there are those, like Hamas, whose explicit aim is, as Prez Biden stated correctly, to kill Jews...

Think of Gaza: Israel withdrew in 2005. Within 2 years Hamas took control. They were elected! Just as my grandfathers' generation elected Hitler in 1933. The terror came soon after, also against their own population - the power grab was democratic. Israel cannot afford to see this happen again in the much larger West Bank. Israel cannot afford to have an open Gaza strip from which terror attacks such as the one we just witnessed can proceed freely.

When I was in Gaza, I spoke to many ordinary citizens. And what struck me was the widespread and deep-seated hatred against Israel. Not anger, not frustration - pure hatred. Time and again ordinary people, while smiling and offering me tea, congratulated me for being German and said: "If only your country had finished the job under Hitler!"

I saw arrogance and lack of concern, among a good number of Israelis, re: Palestinians. I also saw a good amount of empathy. But I never saw this deep hatred that I saw on the other side.

This is the fact that those who know better - UNRWA et cetera- never acknowledge. Those 2.5 million "innocent civilians" in Gaza are not all that innocent. Sure, only a minority might be willing to join a terrorist gang and commit atrocities across the border: but way too many others support those atrocities, and as Prez Biden said unambiguously just now, there is absolutely no excuse ever for such actions.

Hamas, for almost 2 decades now, has been hiding among their own civilian population, always counting on Western restraint. This strategy worked - until now. Israel's 9/11 changes the equation, exactly the way our 9/11 changed the way we treated Islamic terrorists. Remember the blind sheikh who tried to blow up the WTC in the 1990s? He was captured and got a trial. After 9/11/2001 our approach to masterminds changed, and today AlQaeda and ISIS are ghosts of their former selves.

Does this lead to a durable and stable peace? No. But the key insight is, as especially we Germans just learned with our "Wandel durch Handel" disaster with Putin's Russia: A durable and stable peace is only possible if the other side wants what you want. If instead they want to annihilate you your only option is to fight an existential fight...

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I believe Mr. Wheelock is referring to the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, not the 1943 Warsaw GHETTO Uprising.

Not sure that this makes a difference in your response, though.

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The meaning of Nakba translates as a catastrophe. In 1948 the local population Palestinians did not agree with UN decision which provoked jewish militants to attack them causing physical and social extermination of Palestinians.

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That is historically false, Oksana.

Yes - the local Palestinians did not agree with the 1948 decision. Fighting between the two groups had been going on for decades and intensified in the years after 1948, causing physical and social harm on both sides in endless cycles of violence. You better brush up on your history!

But there is a larger point here, as well: Local populations are against historic reallocations of land all the time. Poland just this year ratified the loss of land which is "historically Polish" yet Ukrainian since WW2 - apt for us as students of modern Ukrainian history. The history of Europe (and the world - but I understand European history far better) is the history of shifting borders all the time. Sometimes a more enlightened nation ensues, sometimes not. Always the local status-quo-ante population resists the change while an oppressed minority might rejoice.

In Israel, a stable and durable peace requires that the Palestinians accept what the Poles have accepted long ago, what the Germans accepted after WW2, what Mexico accepted more than 100 years ago, and what countless other nations have accepted after WW2 and agin after the fall of the Soviet empire in 1991: Borders change. And if international law sanctions those new borders - Budapest 1994, Israel 1948- then this is what ought to guide those who aren't happy with what the world community agreed on.

Brutality never is the appropriate answer. Not for Putin, and not for Hamas.

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You are right, territorial disputes taken place around the world however, it is totally defer from the Israeli /Palestinian one. The case is truly unique as Israel was created to accommodate foreign refugees from Europe having no connection to the land except the religious one.

If I understood you correctly you advocate the Palestinian state in the 1948 border?

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Oksana,

You may not be aware of this, but your characterization is historically false. No, Israel was not "created to accommodate foreign refugees from Europe" - that is propaganda which, sadly, way too many people appear to have fallen for, you among them.

The truth is that Jewish Palestinians (until the 1950s the term was used for people living in Palestine, and not as shorthand for Arab Palestinians) have lived in what is now Israel and the surrounding countries continuously for over 2,000 years. There were times when the population was quite low, and then, starting in the 1800s, Jews moved to Palestine from all over the world - not just Europe- fleeing persecution and pogroms. They bought land, mostly from disinterested wealthy landowners located far away in Constantinople and elsewhere (remember, Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire until WW1 - a neglected part at that). There were tensions, at times, for example the 1929 Hebron massacre. Violence begets violence - it is impossible, and therefore pointless, to try to adjudicate today "who started this". My view is that Arab Palestinians started this - but as I said many times before, there was violence on all sides, and it is therefore better to refer to this as a 'tragic struggle for land', rather than as the exclusive fault of one side or another.

Anyway - after WW2 the League of Nations/UN opted for a "two-state solution", to use our modern lingo. Israel was created as a Jewish state, both for the sizable INDIGENOUS JEWISH POPULATION and the Holocaust surviving new arrivals from Europe and elsewhere. Later on Jewish refugees expelled from Arab countries joined...about 900,000, and the reason today's Israeli Jews are majority Mizrahi, aka descendants of people who came from the Middle East.

Much more complicated than the false and simplistic "They were helicoptered in from Europe", isn't it?

If your care to learn more about the history of Palestine, including the demographics over the last 150 years, here is a great starting point:

https://colemanhughes.substack.com/p/the-history-and-ethics-of-the-israel

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Oct 10, 2023·edited Oct 10, 2023

I wonder how, with supposedly a tight cordon around Gaza, Hamas was able to get hold of over 2,500 missiles and tons of arms and ammunition. Perhaps the Rafah tunnels to Sinai, or boats bringing arms by sea through a possibly-indifferent Israeli naval 'blockade.' I suspect a new and smarter network of tunnels of which Israel was unaware.

But also of concern is what happens to Gaza after hostilities finally end.

Israel doesn't want Gaza. Egypt doesn't want Gaza. My feeling, after thinking about the existence of Gaza for too many decades, is that the population be moved to the West Bank or possibly Lebanon if the Party of God is receptive to that idea. I just don't see any other way out of this mess in the long term.

The trouble with this suggestion is that with the remnants of Hamas moving to West Bank, if they were to take over the Palestinian Authority, something they've failed to do in past elections, then they'd have a larger and stronger base to create, what they call, "a world without Jews and Christians."

What a total mess Gaza was, is and probably will continue to be.

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Porter I looked back and enjoyed your account of Christmas 1963 in London. I happened to be there also with my family, taking a few days away from my Foreign Service posting in Congo.

In 1960 I came through London after being in Egypt, Iraq, and Lebanon. I had a meeting with the deputy governor of the Bank of England. Initially he and his advisers said PSHAW, when I said that Nasser would seek to assassinate King Hussein of Jordan.

When I came for a second meeting, the deputy governor rushed out with a Reuters flash message. A bomb had exploded in a Jordanian cabinet meeting where King Hussein had been delayed and had not yet arrived.

Predicting anything in the Middle East is a fool’s errand. Still, I find your Gaza comments credible, except that moving 2,000,000 Palestinians from Gaza simply won’t happen. I wonder whether any Arab countries care about them.

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When I left Peace Corps in Malawi in 1970, I went back to DC but discovered that although I'd passed all the tests for the Foreign Service, Nixon had a hiring freeze on civil service jobs. The result was that I left my 'dream' of a job at State, moved out to LA and started a completely different life. Friends from PC extended in Congo; sorta wish I'd gone.

More to your point, Gaza and the West Bank is still a talking point for Iran and Hezbollah, but apparently no other Mid-East countries care a fig about that mess. How do you see the end game with the current war and Gaza's future, if any?

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Porter After an exhilarating Foreign Service 1960-1966 in/on Congo and 1966-1969 in Chile, I resigned, with Acting SecState Eliot Richardson conducting my exit interview.

I was fortunate being deeply involved with the rescue of over 3,000 foreigners under death threat from the Congolese rebels. I believe that I was the only FSO to capture rebels at gun point.

However, I was a rambunctious diplomat and had no desire to play the game to become an ambassador. I value my experience and have no regrets, as i was a pain in the ass in other endeavors, culminating with being a history/economics professor from age 58 to 80.

I kept abreast of foreign affairs through Eisenhower Fellowships, whose chairs including the older Bush, President Ford, Kissinger, Colin Powell, and now DefSec Robert Gates. I admired them all, except Kissinger.

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Most interesting professional bio! Now, was it you who were held at gunpoint and managed to capture the guys holding the guns, or did you hold them at gunpoint? I need to know this before the movie comes out. Agree with your view of Kissinger, but must admit that I didn't admire the others you've listed. Where did you teach econ?

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Oct 10, 2023·edited Oct 10, 2023

Porter I was a history/economics professor at Raritan Valley Community College where I taught a broad range of subjects associated to American/world history, including

1) Economics from Feudalism to the present

2) Societal Discrimination—the What vs. the Who from Patriarchy to the present

3) Similarities and Differences Between early Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Earlier I had created international bond ratings at Moody’s and personally did all of the sovereign ratings, where I became EVP responsible for all bond ratings worldwide. I also ran a national management consulting company for nearly a decade, which is another story.

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Porter Are you thinking of my M16 or .45? My 9 mm Beretta was earlier for personal protection in Leopoldville. I never had a tux in the Foreign Service. The gun bulge would have been unseemly.

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I have often thought that the UN should be moved to Gaza. In an area left as rubble. As a reminder of international failure. And a spur to do better.

A clean two state solution. A West Bank without any Israeli settlements. With full civil rights in Israel for Palestinians who wish to live on family property. And full civil rights in Palestine for Jews who want to live near holy sites. And Jerusalem an international city - with respectful access for all.

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If wishes were horses

all beggars would ride.

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One is instructed to pursue justice. It is not as simple as wishing. Although wishes for good can also spur dedicated action.

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Oct 11, 2023·edited Oct 11, 2023

Thank you for this comment. I guess I hold Israel to a higher standard so I feel they have failed miserably right from the beginning of this project of "return" and for security. After WW2 and the Holocaust Jews especially needed a place safe from European anti-Semitism. Arabs felt it was a colonialist project and they were not to blame, should not pay the price. They had their holy sites too. In the beginning some Zionists, Jews, the more secular mostly, wanted to live in peaceful coexistence with native Arabs. Over time viceral hatred and animosity took over, exacerbated and fomented by political expediency of one side of this split. Over his decades of leadership, Netanyahu, following Ariel Sharon, was and is very guilty of this. This animosity snowballed to the point now where ground level peaceful even brotherly coexistence is rare to impossible between Arabs and Jews. The story we hear of this history has been mostly one-sided as well even to this day about this horrible massacre., what caused it.

That's about as short as I can make it from my personal perspective. I have been trying to understand this tragedy for many years including from a personal (family) perspective. We have not evolved...all around, all sides. We are stuck in this groove. Thank you for your perpective; you've been around a long time!

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Potter Especially under Netanyahu, with his last election/cabinet being the worst, Israel has treated Arabs worse and worse. This is clear within Israel, where Israeli settlers are now unrestrained in taking Arab lands with virtually no police opposition. David Shulman’s HEADING TOWARDS A SECOND NAKBA in the current NY Review of Books spells this out in excruciating detail.

As for Palestinians, especially in Gaza, but also on the West Bank, they are being treated horribly by Israel. While the Palestinians aren’t ‘angels,’ and the recent Hamas brutality is horrendous, I think of Irgun and its terrorism against the British. Blowing up a major hotel in Jerusalem was not a nice thing.

I am appalled by several of the members in Netanyahu’s post-election cabinet. They made clear their support for Israeli settlers and adversarial position towards Arabs. When you oppress others, a strong counter reaction should be anticipated. After many years, this is not surprising. How to put the toothpaste back in the tube is difficult and, more likely, impossible.

This is not an easy historical story to present to American citizens and politicians. ‘Facts’ are a troublesome thing, and Arabs are not a media favorite.

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Oct 11, 2023·edited Oct 12, 2023

Right now it's impossible to talk to people cooly about this. I realize that this is terrorism, what it does. The reaction to the horror, magnified by the vivid photos and videos of the slaughter takes the breath away, talking heads repeating their own horror, the detail of what the terrorists did. MSNBC is heavily in this mode.I keep thinking of paintings in museums about slaughters of the past that made them live on and on. Blood flowing horrifies us and frightens and angers. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chios_massacre

I am not going to talk about the loss of Yitzhak Rabin, he who had this epiphany about living peacefully with the Palestinians, he who was "lost" in 1995 due an Israeli. There was an Israeli Palestinian peace process. It failed because of fault on both sides, but it was coming together with a lot of hope in 2008. Hamas was moderating, open to accepting what Abbas and Palestinians would accept. The Abbas Olmert talks got close, down to specific numbers of those being allowed to return for instance. Hamas had accepted that Israel was here to stay, though it's charter was and is still pointed to by those blaming or adamantly against such a compromise. There was a lot of opposition in Israel amongst certain sectors. Olmert was being pursued by the law for I forget what. The right side did not want compromise. I am sure the radical Palestinians did not either (Islamic Jihad). There was a split in Hamas. Ariel Sharon was elected and then offered ridiculously reduced "take it or leave it" to the Palestinians in the name of peace. It was an insult. Netanyahu came in after (was elected to lead in a coalition) and the peace table disappeared. He spoke in Hebrew to Israeli's about never giving up anything and spoke in English to us totally differently about 2 states.

With the loss of the peace process, continued occupation allowing no resistance, often brutal, loss of hope, came more violence, more hate. The death totals, never mind the human misery and dehumnization was overwhelmingly felt on the Palestinian side.

Public opinion here does not reflect the whole story, and certainly not now.

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Thank you so much for this context. International studies weren't on the books in 1970s US public education (weirdly, except for Brazil???) Have spent much of my adult life trying to catch up, and your experience is priceless.

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Oct 11, 2023·edited Oct 11, 2023

Keith—Ah, I see you belong to the quick and not the dead! Welcome back…

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Penelope I may not be quick, but next week I’ll be a lively 90.

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I know, I guessed your age from your various comments. It's not all that common any more to encounter people who remember things prior to Vietnam. So pleased you're commenting again. Perhaps yours is a case of flesh being a little weak but spirit very willing?

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Penelope I did have a student, when I said that I was born when Roosevelt entered the White House ask “Teddy or Franklin.” He was a A student.

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Penelope Yea verily and forsooth!

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Happy Birthday!

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Oct 10, 2023Liked by Timothy Snyder

Tim, it may be cold in its presentation, but your general discussion mirrors the absolute need to step back and not become over-emotional in the wave of a terrorist action and to be rational and calculated in response so as not to play into what the terrorist wants.

But I fear Israel will play right into the hands of Hamas and their Iranian backers. As you noted the string can terrorize the weak...Israel has been doing this to the Palestinians for decades. And it will only further help Hamas retain the support of those who will suffer most in this retaliation. It is not lost on me that many of those Israelis killed in cold blood were at a festival that was celebrating life and peace...something Netanyahu’s government detests and the same groups Netanyahu’s coalition seeks to marginalize.

It is a tragedy on multiple dimensions. Israel must respond, but needs to do so in a measured way if a possible to prevent what Hamas really wants.

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As a newbie, may I chime in and cite Netanyahu as a vector. Hoping President Biden (and other leaders) don't cave to his playbook.

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the talj of taking revenge is unsettling not because it is undeserving but because precisely as you wrote the reaction is rooted in emotion not reason. it is not cold hearted to be cool headed. i was speaking with friends last night that the worst idea was to bomb Gaza, cause immense suffering with energy blackouts. Netanyahu seems clinically incapable of anything but bluster and machismo. Get Hamas off Israeli proper, keep blocking rockets, negotiate hostage exchange, end this and not do as BN promised, get ready for "long war". Unlike Ukraine that is in its very fight for survival, this attack was a shocking affront but did not fundamentally threaten Israel's existence, unless BN escalates, then it might. Figure out immediately with allies why the profound intelligence breakdown occurred and stop listening to idiot experts that say that Russia was probably not involved because Russians live in Israel which would give Putin pause.(yes! last night, on MSNBC some expert actually said that with a straight face). Putin has been coaxing/cultivating the Iran/Syria/Russia nexus for years. And choosing the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur war. Signature Putin. He probably suggested the date. Anyway. Calm is good. Agree that 9/11 reaction and Bush and Cheney acting cowboy macho did much more harm than good.

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The attack was taken place on putin birthday

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October 7, October 7 - absolutely right. With that sociopath's obsession with "kruhli daty" - all the more reason to suspect moscow's involvement/"dobro"

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Oct 10, 2023Liked by Timothy Snyder

Thank you for showing the danger to all sides and for cautioning "not to follow the script" expected by terrorists to induce much longer term damage than the initial attack, however harmful it may be in itself.

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An essay that encourages us to think: thank you.

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Thank you, Professor for this enlightening piece this morning. It is very helpful to understand in general terms and reflecting on 09/11 is priceless.

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Indeed. In the US (and not just here) we have a long tradition of myopia when it comes to understanding our own role in the disasters visited upon us, as well as a political willingness to exploit said disasters for unrelated purposes. As alluded to by Professor Snyder, the US war of aggression against Iraq (and Afghanistan) is an example of this. Hundreds of thousands of deaths, continued destabilization of the region, not to mention encouraging Putin to start such a war of his own, are the short term results; it is not possible to accurately predict the long-term consequences.

And yet, in the immediate aftermath of 9-11, there were rational voices to be heard, people like Chuck Spinney, who proposed that the attack be treated as a criminal act, to be responded to accordingly. But instead the word "terrorist" was weaponized and generalized to the ludicrous degree that it is now used to describe the non-violent acts of climate protesters and even to justify our murder by the police.

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Its becoming more rare that we take time to stand back and analyze seemingly emotionally drive atrocities to gain insight into possible motivations and the actual results desired by the perpetrators

The warning, “its a trap, don’t do that”, is oft times too late in coming to stop the train of events. Killing Ferdinand was not the goal, right?

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Oct 10, 2023·edited Oct 10, 2023

Also, these warnings dovetail with Zelensky’s yesterday that … Russia seeks to use this conflict to divide and distract from the Ukraine war

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The statement that in "classical" terrorism the terrorist provokes a state IN ORDER to cause suffering amongst HIS OWN PEOPLE so that they will be loyal to the terrorist "forever" is, sadly, directly applicable to the case at hand. Hamas cares not a fig for the suffering of the people of Gaza, so long as they remain chained to the cause of Hamas. My only hope is that the word "forever" turns out to be incorrect.

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I was one of the very few Americans who were strongly opposed to the war in Iraq. Every prediction I made at the time has proven true. I remember not being able to convince my fellow Americans that it was a terrible idea--that there will be consequences. I watched as Americans were entertained by the spectacle of Shock and Awe, and then became bored with it and lost interest. In 2007 (?) when President Bush told us in a speech from the Oval Office that there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11, I predicted that one of these days the US will need to be involved in a war that is not based on lies (I mean, of course, from the perspective of Ukraine), and the world will say, "We remember when you lied to us." And since the beginning of the full scale invasion of Ukraine, I've been seeing posts on X, every single day: "But what about Iraq?" Most Americans are probably unaware that the world in general and the US specifically are still living with the consequences of that war.

I learned a few years ago that you, too, were opposed to it, and have been waiting ever since for an essay on it. Thank you for this, Prof. Snyder.

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author

Thank you

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Oct 10, 2023·edited Oct 10, 2023

Rose, it wasn't a great number of Americans who opposed going to war against Iraq but 16% did, and that isn't a tiny fraction. I think that all of my friends opposed it. 'The months leading up to the war saw protests across the United States, the largest of which, held on February 15, 2003 involved about 300,000 to 400,000 protesters in New York City, with smaller numbers protesting in Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, and other cities.' (Wikipedia)

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I felt deeply in my body that going to war in Iraq was a very serious and consequential mistake.

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Hi Fern. By the time the Bush administration linked 9-11 to Saddam Hussein, I hadn't had a television for about 10 years. So I relied mostly on newspaper and radio, but I also sat in front of one of those old clunky pc's and watched video highlights from Fox News because I knew that Fox would probably be the most important shaper of opinion. Also, I've been interested in the far right in the US for about 40 years, so I'm always thinking about them and how they think. For that reason MY memory of those years is stubbornly linked to what I saw and was thinking about.

Yes, there were protests, but my recollection is one of suffocating jingoism and stupidity. 16% disapproval would not have been enough to stop it. Many, many more supported it. The overwhelming majority of the American people chose to be lied to. To return to Prof. Snyder's theme, they chose not to distance themselves from it. I still ask myself, how could they have allowed themselves to be manipulated like that? After all, it was no less painful for me.

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Oct 12, 2023·edited Oct 12, 2023

Good morning, Rose. I feel by your side.

I know of being in the dark corners spatially, in my mind and with others, often opposed to the domestic and foreign affairs decisions made by the US.

Today, between Putin, Trump and Netanyahu; the US, Ukraine, Russia and Israel... Turkey, Greece, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Yemen...Gaza...the wars, the military, the weaponry; guns, guns, guns, and money, money, money; the food crisis; fossil fuels and CLIMATE CHANGE; the power-brokers and the regular folks; the lies, social media, propaganda, and those of us trapped by other HUMAN BEINGS.

We are riding a macabre carousel, going round and round.

Timothy Snyder provides one of the voices we seek for a quiet and deeply thought out sense of what is going on. We hear his rubble, and sometimes a tremble or a roar.

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The march here in Lincoln, NE was HUGE, the biggest I's seen since Vietnam.

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Excellent post. Also, Colin Powell lied about "yellowcake," did he not? Coming from a military background, I still have no context to process that.

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He suffered his reputaton for that, and disappeared from public life. Notice too that GW Bush, considered our worst president before Trump, has kept himself from public life, maintains silence. We are terrible at accountability. We don't admit we were wrong.

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Absolutely true, Potter. My Pop was Agent Oranged in Viet Nam, and we never got any sort of restitution from the US Gov. This nation would be a better one for acknowledging its errors

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Probably a million of us marched.

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As I remember there were lots of people who were opposed to the invasion of Iraq. My memory, as flawed as it might be, is that it was about half and half of the population. Unfortunately senators and congress all caved to the political pressure of giving Bush unlimited war Powers. The dissenters like Lincoln chaffee, I forgot who else were completely marginalized. It's always the same people causing the problems and it's always the same people cleaning up the messes. 50% of Americans will never learn!

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Oct 11, 2023·edited Oct 11, 2023

Hi, Michael. Barbara Lee was another. No, the opposition was much smaller than that. I'm speaking in relative terms, of course. There may have been many Americans who protested, but it was a small number relative to the total population. Fern McBride's number (16%) is correct (see her response to me). According to a March 2003 Gallup Poll, "Seventy-Two Percent of Americans Support War Against Iraq." In the "oppose, strongly" category, you'll see that it's 17%. I don't count the two middle bars ("favor, not strongly" and "oppose, not strongly"), because anyone who wasn't strongly opposed to that war, who couldn't foresee the consequences, who, in short, waffled, may as well have been in the "favor, strongly" category. (https://news.gallup.com/poll/8038/seventytwo-percent-americans-support-war-against-iraq.aspx)

The reason members of Congress caved is precisely because their constituents also caved.

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Wow! Thanks so much for the information. Now I am in the 17% that can say I told you so! Boy did the media pull a number on the public as well. You'll probably check me but I understood that something like 65% of fox viewers thought Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11!

That's what I love about substack intelligent conversation. Thanks for the info :-) I'll be super curious to know your thoughts on what's going on in Israel! What a shit show

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Michael, I can't say anything about Israel because I don't know much about it. I'm more of a central, southeastern, and eastern Europe kind of person. So I'll be looking mainly at Russia's involvement in relation to its war of aggression against Ukraine. Whenever something like this happens, I tend to wait until the initial shock wears off, then look for people who've spent decades studying the subject, and read their articles. I'm pretty good at evaluating sources but because I don't know much about the Middle East, it will take awhile for me to figure out the best sources.

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I'm with you on waiting to see what shakes out. There's so much propaganda involved and to say the least I'm not a fan of netanyahu. I think he's capable of a lot of dis- information and shares a pant load of responsibility for what's happening. The buck stops here!

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Unfortunately Israel fell right into this trap. And the US, for domestic politics I fear or an inflated notion of our power/ influence, has fallen as well. Both Israel and the US are showing ridiculous force in response US at the ready. As well we are sending Israel weapons to commit war crimes.

This is stupidly adding fuel to a possible wider war about power and disregarding life.

When you speak of the use terror disregarding harm to one’s own people, please think as well of the now years of Israel’s devastating terror upon Palestinians as well, while Israelis lived rather normally using disproportionate force often with impunity. No peace process; no peace was wanted or necessary. That brought us to this point of getting everyone’s attention ... taking away from Ukraine I fear.

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Thank you for making the point that terrorism isn’t just about the act itself. It’s also about the reaction it provokes, with the point being that the reaction does more harm to the victim than the terrorist act itself.

I remember what happened to America - by the choice of the Bush administration - after 9/11. The creation of a “live in fear” reality (with DHS’s color coded threat warnings) was in my opinion designed to control us... what authoritarians work to achieve so we will not question their actions.

And so, mainstream news organizations did not question the claim a war with Iraq was necessary.

What will Israel now do that will hurt itself? I cannot say, other than the obvious: if Israel chooses to expand the war beyond Hamas as the target then I fear we are all in for very dark times.

Lastly, the principle of the victim being provoked to harm itself was covered last night by an expert in military strategy named Beau of the Fifth Column. His daily insights into national as well as global power politics has made me much smarter about the larger world. I invite you to watch the video he made on this subject...

https://youtu.be/UKvzOF-toIA

Thank you for all you do!

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Thanks for suggesting Beau of the Fifth Column.

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Thank you for this valuable and wise insight. The invasion of Iraq was indeed a major mistake. Israel, on the other hand, has only one choice – to get rid of Hamas. It’s straight-forward, obvious, and yet the world with the help of mass media (mostly liberal) will perceive this as yet another aggression of Israel. Yet Israel is the main protection of the so-called ‘free’ world, of the frail Western civilization from the Islamism, much like the heroic Ukraine today is saving us all from Putin’s Russia.

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I think these observations are also true when it comes to interpersonal terror on a small scale, as when an abuser terrorizes his victim: he wants you to overreact and do something terrible to discredit yourself and make everybody else think you are "crazy." Sometimes this even makes the victim think she is crazy. With interpersonal terror, though, it is easier just to run away and avoid the perp entirely. Unfortunately Israel can't just run away. Also, I can't really run away from the gun violence in my neighborhood, because there are fewer and fewer places that don't have it in the US. The logic of terror works the same from the micro to the macro scale.

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Netanyahu cannot hear you Timothy Snyder; he doesn't want to, and the terrorized can rarely think straight.

This is more than a difficult time on the most important fronts. You have always communicated with my brain and soul as well.

Thank you for reaching out to us.

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