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Eric - I agree that the crucial word when responding to your friend is "understanding". It clearly does not mean the same as "excuse", although it is often confused. I can only speak for myself, but I suspect most people on this list share the view that when we say we want to "understand" these events or place them in context this means we want to "work out why it happened" so that maybe we can prevent it happening again. The alternative to working out why it happened is to decide NOT to work out why it happened. I wonder if your friend really wants this. Does he really want us never to work out what caused the hatred that led to these deaths? It is not only the fate of those who died that we have to think about. It is also the fate of those who will die in future attacks. Such attacks will inevitably come should the US decide that it too wants to kill innocent people, firefighters and ambulance crews to even up the score. So there are at least 2 options: 1) US bombs Islamic countries causing inevitable civilian deaths, leading to increased hatred of the US and further attacks both ways. 2) The US comes to terms with the hatred that millions in the Middle East and elswhere have towards its policies, works out what is wrong, and starts to change those policies to reduce hatred and attacks. >"Understanding" the alleged provocation to attack thousands >and thousands of innocents can never be accepted. Why? >Because when these requests for understanding are taken in >context they are nothing more than an endorsement of the >attacks. I can understand why the US imposes sanctions on Iraq, but I don't endorse them. I can understand the hatred that led to the September 11th attacks, but I don't endorse that either. >Understanding gives weight and legitimacy to the >attack because to "understand" is to accept they might have >had what they considered a "reason" for the attack. Does your friend think that the perpetrators considered that they had no reason for the attack? I can only think they thought they did indeed have a reason. The only alternative is that they just did it out of boredom. I don't think that likely. >After all, according to >CASI posters, no amount of reasoning is sufficient to cause >the innocent to suffer. I don't know which posters he is talking about. Certainly not me. I'm sure we can imagine situations where there is no choice but for some people to suffer in order that others are saved. Just so happens that the case of Iraq sanctions is not one of them, in my opinion, and I suspect most people on the list. >But somehow we must understand the reason cowards murdered >of thousands in the United States? Given the alternative. And if you want to stop it happening again, yes. >In the case of the >terrorist attack on the 11th of September we are to >overlook the evil act and accept the provocation? No. That would be lunacy. >This is lunacy. No one has said the act should be overlooked. Quite the opposite -- we should learn valuable lessons from it. But the lesson should not be that the US must kill innocent people to try to teach others that killing innocent people is wrong. Glenn Bassett. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com CASI's website - www.casi.org.uk - includes an archive of all postings.