November 05, 2004
They Don't Get It Either (Part Deux)
Andrew Sullivan movingly sketches the events surrounding the odious murder of Dutch filmaker Theo van Gogh at the hands of fanatical Islamists. Yep, it's happening here and now and it's scary and real.
Cut to Brussels. Iyad Allawi, no great saint but, you know, Prime Minister of the Iraqi interim authority and someone up there in the global sweepstakes for recipient of the 'world's hardest job' award (not to mention, most dangerous; and throw in Arik, Vladimir, Bush, Abu Mazen, Musharraf and a few others into the sweepstakes too)--is coming to Brussels to try to get more support from the European Union. There is an important EU summit lunch for him scheduled today--and many EU grandees are in attendance. But, alas, not this one:
Jacques Chirac, the French president, has denied he snubbed the Iraqi interim prime minister by failing to attend a lunch hosted by Iyad Allawi in Brussels.
Jacques Chirac: 'I have no problem with meeting Iyad Allawi'
The French leader left early from a European Union meeting in Brussels, missing a scheduled lunch hosted by Mr Allawi.
M Chirac said he would be happy to meet the Iraqi leader at a more convenient time, before boarding his plane to the United Arab Emirates.
"I have absolutely no problem with meeting Mr Allawi if he wants to meet me," he said. "I am not snubbing him at all."
Uh huh. Sure Chirac is not snubbing him "at all". Surtout pas! Except, of course, that he very much is snubbing Allawi (or is Mr. Chirac flying commercial to the UAE--and so needs to rush to the airport two hours ahead for check-in?)
Look, Allawi has ruffled feathers calling France and Germany "spectator" states--but, hey, why not call a spade a spade? Some protest that, just because a country didn't assist the U.S. militarily in Iraq doesn't mean they are merely spectating--they're providing monetary aid, after all. Of course. A more than fair point. Until, that is, you ponder the minimal amount of aid that the EU has put on tap to date.I mean, what has the EU coughed up in terms of real support to Iraq (as it mounts its big bid for multipolarity and playerdom on the global stage!)?
The European Union pledged more than $21 million on Thursday to support the elections scheduled for January in Iraq.
The action, on the eve of a visit by Mr. Allawi, to seek help in rebuilding his country, provides 16.5 million euros, or more than $21 million, to help train up to 150 Iraqi election observers, pay for computer support and send European Union election experts to Baghdad.
The new cash brings to some 31.5 million euros, more than $40 million, the amount offered by the European Union to support election activities in Iraq, and to 320 million euros, or about $412 million, the total cash support it has provided to Iraq in 2003 and 2004.
Less than USD half a billion total support to Iraq by the EU to date for '03 and '04--a small to mid-size M&A deal on any given week in Manhattan. Speaks volumes, doesn't it? The word free-loading leaps to mind too. After all, whether you supported this war or not, the hard-core Fallujans are part and parcel of the crowd that bloodily pinned this message into the flesh of a hapless documentary film-maker in Holland:
I know for sure that you, Oh America will go under;
I know for sure that you, Oh Europe, will go under;
I know for sure that you, Oh Holland, will go under;
I know for sure that you, Oh Hirsi Ali, will go under;
I know for sure that you, Oh unbelieving fundamentalist, will go under.
Oh, you will say--Bush made it worse because he went in! All was swell before! Only now is Iraq a mess! The terrorists are now revitalized, have a base--we bluntly banged on the bee-hive of Islamic terror--a messianic Dubya is imperiling us all! I don't buy this hyperbole, but that is a debate for another day. Today, after all, we know this: 1) parts of Iraq are under threat by radical fundamentalists, jihadists, and terrorists; and 2) Iyad Allawi is trying to stare them down with U.S. and U.K. support (in the main). Meanwhile, cowardly murderers that share the same basic world-view of the people Allawi is trying to face down are murdering people in the streets of Amsterdam (perpaps the icon of urban libertinism)--because they detest the rich fabric of liberal democracy with all its tolerance, myriad opinions, racuous debates.
Put simply, this is a grand ideological struggle with much at stake. But Mr. Chirac has a flight to catch! Tant pis!
P.S. The last words of Theo van Gogh were reportedly: "don't do it, have mercy!" I have no words, really. Except, however, that I'd like to point you to this Eric Alterman piece over at Altercation:
We got well over a thousand e-mails in a matter of hours yesterday [re: Bush's win] and while I was moping around in my bathrobe looking at Left Bank real estate brochures, Paul peeked at every one of them.
Not everyone is poring over the Left Bank real estate offerings, Mr. Alterman (scroll up from the link).
Posted by Gregory at November 5, 2004 12:28 PM
You really need to keep your use of "de minimis" to a minimum. It's becoming a problem.
I too have heard the argument that the resumption of Gulf War hostilities in Iraq have led to increased terrorism around the world. However, there is a large body of evidence suggesting the US retreat from militant Islamic forces in Somalia provided a tremendous morale boost to Al-Qaida and other terrorist organization.
In a 1998 interview, Osama Bin Laden states that his victory in Somalia boosted his confidence and led him to label the US soldier a "paper tiger".
praktike--if u weren't a blogger yourself i would have told you to hush up and try writing day after day! instead, i have dutifully noted your criticism and have, as part of a general clean up, replaced the offending verbiage--i trust to your satisfaction!
p.s. and i thought, after the Kos post, that you and some other commenters were going to beat up on me for having, per chance, appeared overly emotive or polemical of late...but it's the repetitive legalese that gets you, i now helpfully discover!
Nah, I agreed with the Kos post--the far left needs to be reined in or purged--but I didn't like the way some of your commenters were applying it to the party as a whole. I'm just praying that the DLC wins the intraparty fight is all.
Another point is, Tony Blair is suggesting healing the rifts after President Bush's re-election, and Chirac is still saying "Non!"
I'm convinced that France will not move unless Germany does first. The key to French policy on Iraq has akways been in Berlin, not Baghdad (or Washington), IMHO.
That's where the UK and US need to focus, on persuading/pressuring Germany to edge away from France. If it can be done.
>US retreat from Somalia provided a tremendous morale boost
Again I'd like to advance the "third way" hypothesis which I think is being ignored in the discourse to a large extent, which is that the issue isn't a debate between advance and retreat, but rather when you advance and when you retreat. Obviously the Somalia retreat was a big mistake --- we should have shown our resolve, beefed up our forces, etc.
Similarly I think we need to be sure we do not retreat from Iraq now, even though I thought it was a mistake to go in in the first place.
However, there is a question of when and where you do attack. I think the thing we need to calculate with each move we make is: how much will this cost us versus how much damage will it do? What are the long-term consequences? What are the long-term benefits?
I think we have to give up the tendency to want one "side" of the argument to "win". I.e., if you're pro-war, I think it's a mistake to try to interpret everything going on in Iraq as rosy, Allawi is a great guy, Bush didn't make any serious mistakes, etc. I don't see how this advances our cause. If you're against the war, similarly, to avoid seeing opportunities even after what you think was a terrible costly mistake --- that's similar blindness. This isn't a football game where we are rooting for teams. This is reality, and our security is at stake, so I think we need to be hard nosed at all times with respect to both "sides".
No-one mentions the huge amounts of money owed to France and Russia (and others) as a result of their trading activities with Saddam. Have the Iraqis officially defaulted? Are they threatening to? Does this explain Chirac's snub? I cannot think that they will ever be payed.
I rely on your international finance expertise!
I'm not disagreeing with you at all. I view this current conflict in Iraq from the cold perspective of legal obligations and foreign policy. The US was still officially in the legal state of war with Iraq. Remember, the Gulf War hostilities were in a state of cease-fire and it was Resolution 1441 that officially declared Iraq in "material breach" of the Gulf War cease-fire.
I don't think that alone was enough to immediately resume open hostilities, but the conflict with Iraq had to be resolved as soon as possible, allowing the US to complete it's mutual defense obligations with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. However, once UNMOVIC began reporting the lack of "substantive cooperation", to use the words of Hans Blix, followed by the undermining of the credible threat of force by France's promised veto; there seemed little realistic hope for diplomatic progress.
The United States is also officially "at War" with North Korea, but the need for resolution is not as pressing because we don't have South Koreans flying airplanes into our buildings. So, I'm not taking a pro-war or anti-war stance. I'm taking a pro-resolution stance.
"Don't get it" indeed. Using the actions of fanatical thugs on a street in Amsterdam to justify military action thousands of miles away because it's all part of a 'grand struggle' is why the right-wing is so wrong about the 'war on terror'. This sort of logic is very comforting on a rhetorical level but hopelessly unfocused and reckless in actual, real live reality. Trying to lump together and crush everyone that hates us and likes Islamic fundamentalism together with actual al-Qaeda members is not going to win the war on terror. It only destroys what moderate center is left in the Muslim world and makes us look desperate and dangerous.
I was a Marine in 1983 when the Marine Barracks was bombed in Beruit. I remember the Iran Hostage Crisis. I remember Col Higgins. I remember Somalia. I remember the USS Cole. I remember the Embassy bombings in Africa.
There was not one substantial, credible, response by the US to these actions. Or at least a substantial public one that anyone knew of. I am sure there were some covert action in addition to the occasional cruise missle strike. But none of the responses would have bolstered American beliefs that somehow there was a substantial response.
In 1983, after our Marines were killed, we cut and run. Same in Somalia. Non-responses in other attacks have hurt us more than a counter attack and staying the course ever has.
Bush responded, and did not run when things got tough. That will pay off in the end.
"Less than USD half a billion total support to Iraq by the EU to date for '03 and '04"
Hang on - does this include the amounts spent or pledged by individual EU countries? I would imagine that Britain alone has spent five or ten times that. What about Italy, Spain, Poland? And of course you don't expect France to send any money do you? I don't think it's wrong that the Brussels bureaucracy has spent such a small amount, in fact I think it's a disgrace that it has any money at all to meddle in foreign affairs, which should be down to the nation states. Look at EU contributions from individual countries AND the Union combined, otherwise it's a little like blaming Rhode Island and the City of Los Angeles for not sending any aid.
"Using the actions of fanatical thugs on a street in Amsterdam to justify military action thousands of miles away because it's all part of a 'grand struggle' is why the right-wing is so wrong about the 'war on terror'" - Alex
You make it sound as if the War on Terror is a sideshow, like the War on Drugs, rather than a generational struggle, like the Cold War.
Have you ever heard the name Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, also known as the blind cleric? Like Osama Bin Laden, he master-minded the bombing of the World Trade Center, only he did it eight years earlier killing six people and wounding more than a hundred. If you think the War on Terror should focus only on Osama Bin Laden/Al-Qaida and simply become a nuisance after his capture or death, let me remind you that Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman was in prison when the World Trade Center was destroyed in September 2001.
I certainly don't mean to say that reducing this threat won't take decades of effort and commitment. And I agree that the threat will hardly end at the capture of one mastermind or another.
At the same time, I do object to trying to fit this confrontation into the Cold War box. The Cold War was aptly termed a grand struggle because it pitted us against a rival global superpower with legions of troops, a nuclear arsenal, and the means to subvert governments around the globe. Just because this confrontation involves a similarly noxious ideology doesn't mean the threat is the same, however. Unlike the Cold War, there's no chance we'll ever end up in a direct confrontation with 'terrorism' where we can potentially crush it once and for all.
And yet, by addressing the conflict in just those terms, the U.S. is only playing into their rhetoric. It brings us down to their level and makes potential terrorists, in the thrall of a fanatic philosophy, believe that they can directly challenge our supremacy. Unlike the Soviet Union, these people have nothing to lose and don't make decisions like a state playing geopolitical chess and trying to balance its ambitions with its continued existence.
"And yet, by addressing the conflict in just those terms, the U.S. is only playing into their rhetoric." - Alex
That's the main misunderstanding of the War on Terror and certainly one of the Bush Administration's largest faults. The President should've explained this in more detail long ago.
The War on Terror is exactly like the Cold War precisely because there's no chance we'll ever end up in a direct confrontation with 'terrorism' where we can potentially crush it once and for all. The same was true for the Soviet Union where a once and for all end game was not a viable option. Victory over the Soviet Union required public support, political will, and strong leadership. Now, the Soviet Union is defeated but Communism remains.
The Bush Administrations post 9-11 National Security Strategy (aka Bush Doctrine) introduced the most progressive shift in US foreign policy since the Marshal Plan. Basically, as Bush pointed out in his speech at Whitehall Palace in London, the US can no longer support belligerent regimes for the illusion of stability and security. The Millenium Challenge Account was formed to make sure the US had some minimum requirements before the US would provide aid to a foreign government.
Alex -- the "War on Terror" dates back to the Seventh Century. Jihad has been and remains today a central tenet of devout Muslims throughout the world. Al Queda, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamayah Jemiat, etc. don't see themselves as terrorists at all, and they are not seen this way either by the larger Muslim world. They are seen as true warriors for the Faith, following in the footsteps of the Prophet in the way that proper Muslims should (and have in the past).
"Moderate Muslims?" They simply don't exist in the Western/Christian sense of the word. Unlike Christianity, Islam never had a Renaissance, Reformation, counter-Reformation, or Enlightenment. There is no separation between religion or law or government ... in Islam they are all the same. [The Prophet led armies, executed prisoners or freed them, dispensed justice, married and fathered children, and ruled an Empire. Very different from Buddha or Jesus] Islam is VERY different from Judeo-Christian society, in that it is fundamentally anti-Modern. Islam has also not significantly changed since the eleventh century, and regards its vision of society as being perfect and unchanging (how do you say the God was wrong in His divine revealation?) This is why America as the very emblem of Modernity is so hated (Jews and Israel have very little to do with this). Modernism in it's societal and personal change, acceptance of women's equality, belief in material and spiritual improvement/progress is the exact opposite of the Prophet's Call to submit to God. For any devout Muslim the very idea of America is blasphemy and an affront to God. Even worse when the blasphemers are materially successful and Muslims have little relative military power to them.
Significantly, not ONE religious authority (ulema) has condemned in moral terms either the Beslan massacre of children or the taking of hostages in Iraq (and their beheading). Both the message left on Van Gogh's body and Al Queda talk about "retaking" Adulusia ... last held by the Moors in the fifteenth century. It is the duty of the faithful to do whatever they can to retake Muslim lands held by infidels, those who die in doing so are guaranteed heaven.
From the Western point of view, this "terror" dates back to maybe the PLO in the seventies or so; for Muslims it is the very essence of their Faith and dates back to the Prophet himself.
Ultimately Islam will have to accomodate itself to modernity and Bush at least seems to sidle up to this if he won't directly speak it when he talks about human rights and democracy. Gentle persuasion or even "soft power" confrontation seems completely unlikely to do this. Only complete and total defeat of those who choose jihad (and/or aid them) by military force seems likely to make devout Muslims think that Islam and modernity are not irreconciliable.
The alternative is too horrible to contemplate, endless jihad with ultimately a nuclear device obliterating an American city and the inevitable US strategic nuclear response killing tens of millions.
If "Jihad" was the essence of Islam for devout Muslims the world over, I think we'd have a much, much bigger problem on our hands. Rather, the rhetoric of jihad is only the farthest fringe of the widespread fundamentalist revival that has swept the Muslim world in the past 30+ years.
I think the jihad phenomenon is an insufficient explanation for the violence we see now in the Middle East. Many of those examples, for instance, (Chechen rebels, the PLO) have far more in common with standard nationalist guerilla movements than any religious crusade. Terrorism as conducted there isn't part of some larger struggle, its simply what weak people do when they want to confront states and organizations that they can never meet head on. This goes under the heading of "horrible things people do to each other that we should try to solve" rather than the "global terrorist threat to the U.S." heading.
Why should it follow that "complete and total defeat of those who choose jihad (and/or aid them) by military force" will make inclined Muslims turn away from radical Islam? I've never seen an ideology, much less one as virulent as this fringe strain of Islamic thought, that disappeared simply because someone tried to annihalate all of its adherents. The U.S. military can't hope to reach into every redoubt of U.S. hating fanatics in the Islamic world, and the more it pretends that it can, the more disposessed, angry young Muslims start to really believe their lives can gain meaning by engaging battle with us. Our only long term hope is to isolate this kind of thinking and provide incentives for societies that reject it. Besides not getting blown up, that is.
Should we use military power against the people that perpetrate these attacks when we find them? Of course. But taken alone that's only a temporary way to stall the threat.
"Our only long term hope is to isolate this kind of thinking and provide incentives for societies that reject it. "
But isn't this what we're doing? If we weren't interested in both excising the cancerous elements AND offering alternatives and aid, then we'd have simply carpeted Afghanistan and Iraq with munitions.
We haven't done that. In fact, especially in Iraq, we've often erred on the side of caution. I, for one, was initially peeved at our handling of the Sadr/Mehdi problem ... but in fact, our forces handled that situation deftly and with an unprecedented consideration of the local culture.
(Please don't read the above to be a hymn to the perfection of our warrior poets. I am perfectly aware that we're capable of behaving ham-fistedly, especially on a tactical level.)
Meanwhile, we're also doing the dull drudge work of rebuilding infrastructure and coaching a traumatized populace into taking steps towards civil society. We're helping train Iraqi police and military. We're doing the same in Afghanistan. You don't see many stories about it because they are dull, and inconclusive, and they certainly don't raise much conflict back home.
We haven't gone bat-shit in Pakistan or Syria or Saudi Arabia, even though they have given us multiple reasons to do so. We've allowed the EU to continue it's tawdry little dance with Iran over the nukes. We're gradually removing our troops from the tripwire of the Korean DMZ and letting them take responsibility. All of these situations could have been easily expedited if we were even half as bloodthirsty and ignorant as so many think us to be.
Again, I am not suggesting we've planned, executed, or behaved perfectly or anything close to it. I'm just expressing doubt that our actions in that portion of the world are having a singularly negative effect on our long-term goals,
Unfortunately, when you're dealing with a people - not just Iraqis or Afghanis - who have been systematically oppressed by their putative friends and leaders, and brainwashed as to the evils of the Jews and Americans, it's just not something we can do overnight.
If nothing else, Bush has at least changed the unacceptable status quo. I don't think it's remotely possible to judge the entire effects of that just yet.
There is some chance that the present strategy will work. I don't believe it will, but I can't rule it out as a possibility. However, as I've argued before, the really rather sad track record of this Administration in predicting the course of events in Iraq so far to me bodes ill for their being able to successfully execute this strategy.
I personally believe that liberation movements work best when people think it was their idea. For example, in Iran: the majority of people there are tired of the reign of the mullahs, precisely because they've had to live under it for so long. Similarly, in many other countries in the region, there is or was a strong sentiment to overthrow and reform the powers that be there. Unfortunately, in countries other than Iran, this idea of reform which was once, a few decades ago, taken up by the left, was replaced by a religious fundamentalist movement on the right, and they have become a dominant populist force.
The invasion of Iraq I believe has simply made our job a hell of a lot harder. In most of the surrounding countries the invasion has not made people eager to jump on the Westernization bandwagon; to the contrary, they hate our guts. Even should Iraq somehow stabilize, the way in which it became democratic will always stain it as a possible beacon of democracy in the region.
We could have focused, instead, on encouraging democratic forces in Iran (which is popular there), and building up Afghanistan. Afghanistan was, for the most part, a justifiable war, something that I think even Muslims could see was a reasonable response to a terror attack on American soil. Further, there was, to some extent, dancing in the streets when the Taliban fell --- something that was, until our invasion of Iraq, working in our favor. A stable, successful Afghanistan would have been a pretty good argument in favor of Westernization.
The problem we face now is that we've invaded Iraq and there's really nothing we can do to completely undo the damage this has done to our reputation in the Middle East. We are in triage mode now. It is very unfortunate, in my view, that we have reelected the guy who started this policy, however --- that can only make things worse for us in our effort to convince the average Muslim that Americans are on their side. Ultmately, that's the contest here, when it comes to terrorism: it is a political war, and I believe we're losing it right now.
You can't defeat terror only via military means, because it is non-state actors who execute terror. Of course, states do support terror --- but ultimately what we have to do is marginalize the terrorists, make them unpopular, make us look like the better alternative. So far we're doing a pretty terrible job of that, to say the least.
Hey, Jim: do you read Arabic? Do you follow the Arab press (MEMRI doesn't count)? Have you ever actually been to the Middle East? Because plenty of people there were horrified by Beslan and said as much ...
You forget, Mitsu, that the decision makers firmly believed that there was a possibility that Saddam had or would soon have weapons, as did many other world leaders. Given that potentiality, Bush and Blair where compelled to go into Iraq. Had the reverse been true, that Iraq attacked us or diverted weapons to a third party because they did have certain technology and Bush and Blair had failed to act, they would have been neglegent in their duties to protect their respective countries. Had there not been the threat of WMD, perhaps the Iranian revolution scenario would have been a reasonable choice.
I would also argue that political reform toward modernization (albeit very slow) is indeed occuring in some of the surrounding cournties. I understand SA is in the process of initiating elections within municipalities. Egypt is considering term limited elections for president. I recall hearing similar encouraging news from Syria and Kuwait, although I don't recall the specifics at this moment.
You should recognize that it is their governments that most dread reform in the middle east. Their populaces are fed a steady diet of anti-Americanism which long precedes any actions Bush ever took. Reform will come to the connected portions of the middle east. It is inevitable. This world does not accomodate isolationists any longer. Even Iran and China cannot completely control the flow of goods and information to their people.
Mitsu, as usual, amuses himself by adopting an over-the-top contrarian stance and getting the suckers to bite. The last time I tuned in, he was exaulting the samurai ethic. This string will continue without benefit of your lame parody of the brainless left, Mitsu. There are a lot of football games on the tube. Get thee hence and leave this discussion to the grownups.
Have you ever lived in Germany? The Germans have no possible way forward except strident anti-Americanism; it is written in the culture that Germans are superior, and the aryan concept has been replaced with 'der deutsche Weg.' Comparisons to the US are common - it's how they define whether or not they're sucessful. Given the state of the German economy, and the declining population in an international economy built upon growth, it's difficult to foresee any improvement in Germany. The politicians will have to focus on Europe, and European issues - given that, it is safe to assume that US-bashing will become more, rather than less, prevalent.
And I have to go back there - oh joy!
From Alex -
Trying to lump together and crush everyone that hates us and likes Islamic fundamentalism together with actual al-Qaeda members is not going to win the war on terror. It only destroys what moderate center is left in the Muslim world and makes us look desperate and dangerous.
Alex, moderate muslims are threatened by terrorists whether they are here in the US, The Netherlands, or the countries of the ME. Sadly, we rarely hear their voices because as soon as they speak out, they are silenced (read murdered) by the muslims extremists.
I don't know if you followed any of the links in Greg's post. One of the links leads to a comment on a blog from an Iranian woman here in the west. She writes that over the last 20+ years there have been hundreds of Iranian moderates murdered in Europe who spoke out against the mullahs of Iran. In light of this, we may have little choice to go after them everywhere simply because they seem to be commiting atrocities everywhere.
Moderate Iraqis, Iranians and Palestinians have met the same fate over and over again in the ME and elsewhere over the last 60-70 years. Perhaps that is why the newly freed Iraqis did not celebrate our arrival in Bagdad. They knew that the extremists were among them and watching. Perhaps they didn't cheer because they were afraid we might pull out before they were capable of dealing with the threat these bastards represent.
My view is the exact oppisite of what you posted above. Muslim moderates will make themselves known when they believe their security and that of their families are reasonably assured. I sincerely doubt they are driven away from us when we are killing the very same people that would kill them too. Perhaps I'm wrong.
To quote Michael Ledeen for the umpteenth time:
At the same time, I do object to trying to fit this confrontation into the Cold War box. The Cold War was aptly termed a grand struggle because it pitted us against a rival global superpower with legions of troops, a nuclear arsenal, and the means to subvert governments around the globe. Just because this confrontation involves a similarly noxious ideology doesn't mean the threat is the same, however. Unlike the Cold War, there's no chance we'll ever end up in a direct confrontation with 'terrorism' where we can potentially crush it once and for all.
I'm not entirely sure the parallel is inappropriate. In one case, direct armed confrontation is unlikely because of a MAD-level nuclear arsenal, in the other direct armed confrontation is unlikely for lack of a state sponsor to attack. In both cases, we face a noxious ideology, and it's proponents seek to advance it via geurilla warfare and insurgent tactics, and dealing with it is going to take decades.
There are very valid parallels between the WoT and the Cold War- they just aren't the ones you think they aren't.
And yet, by addressing the conflict in just those terms, the U.S. is only playing into their rhetoric. It brings us down to their level
Eh? How do you figure that? We're not using their tactics, and we don't share their objectives, so the only way we're on the same 'level' is because we're on one side of the conflict, and they're on the other, IMO.
and makes potential terrorists, in the thrall of a fanatic philosophy, believe that they can directly challenge our supremacy.
It would already be over if that were the case- the problem is the indirect threat, not a direct challenge that our military can annihilate on a battlefield.
Unlike the Soviet Union, these people have nothing to lose and don't make decisions like a state playing geopolitical chess and trying to balance its ambitions with its continued existence.
...and that's part of the reason they're going to lose. It's just going to take a while.
Regular Fallujans are begging the US to flatten their houses, because the foreign arab terrorists have confiscated their houses, and kill the real owners if they show up to claim their houses. The arab terrorists are killing ordinary Iraqis, for sport, for fun, just for practice.
To the contrary, duncehat, Memri very much counts as a useful window into the arabic press.
Alex -- Jihad has to be seen in context with how Muslims and particularly Arab Muslims see their societies and their goals.
Islamic states have failed to overtake the inferior, infidel states of the West, and have done even worse, losing pace with them on almost every level (industrial, economic, scientific, and military). The Ottoman Sultans, traditional tribal rulers, Arab Nationalists like Nasser, and modern strongmen like Mubarak and Saddam have all failed to achieve their societies broad political objectives ... a) rough parity with the West in military affairs, b) expulsion of the infidel's direct or indirect influence in Dar Al Islam, c)path to eventual world-wide triumphalism and establishment of the planetary Caliphate.
Given the marked lack of success by states in achieving the broader, consensual goals of Islam, non-state actors like Hezbollah and Hamas are seen as "victors" when they do things like force Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, US withdrawal from the same, Al Queda and Somali warlords forcing US withdrawal, etc. Jihad in the sense of non-state actors using shock-terror tactics is seen as the Islamic "nuclear weapon" that forces the infidel to submit through the moral and spiritual superiority of the Faithful given the failure of Islamic states to achieve that goal. It's why Shamil Basayev in Chechnya and Osama both style themselves the modern inheritors of the Caliphate ... both have specific interim regional goals, but the overarching goal is the establishment of the worldwide, universal, Islamic Caliphate through the unique weapon of jihad.
Modernity (which is ultimately Western) is seen as the problem, and Islam in the tradition of the Prophet is the solution.
This is completely different from limited, regional goals of separatist or nationalist groups such as the IRA, Viet Cong, etc.
This broad philosphical agreement in Muslim societies that success in replacing a corrupt Western world with a pure Islamic world by "enough" jihad is both needed and possible is why you have a refusal to condemn jihad in moral terms.
It is simply NOT possible to find any member of the Ulema, not one single Muslim scholar, Mullah, Sheik, etc who would say that Beslan was wrong in MORAL terms. It certainly has been condemned as being wrong politically, given Russian support for the Palestinians, or Russian counterbalance to US forces, etc. But the action in and of itself (killing of children by Muslim jihadis) hasn't been condemned any more than the killing of Israeli children is condemned in and of itself as being morally incompatible with Islam. No single Muslim religious scholar will condemn the stoning of women for "adultery" or child marriage, killing of gays, or any other Medieval aspect of the Sharia. The situation is similar to the attitude towards sawing the heads off of hostages in Iraq. There simply are no moderate Muslims. The Koran and Hadith are what they are, and Muslims as a result are what they are in attitudes that put them in direct conlfict with the principles of modernity.
Young Muslim men around the globe ... in the West as well as Islamic countries, have these horrible sawing the heads off hostage videos on the latest cellphones, and play them for their amusement. That they would do so speaks to the absolute hostility to Modernism by Islam worldwide. The most we can expect at current terms is condemnation of certain hostage taking such as the French hostages in Iraq as being counterproductive politically for Muslim goals.
Only by showing that jihad (either by state military actions, or non-state shock terror tactics) is a complete failure and remaking the Islamic world to accept basic modern values such as respect for Women, toleration of minorities, and acceptance of basic human rights, can the Modern world be safe in a planet with nuclear weapons.
This won't happen with unilateral action by the US alone, and Muslims themselves must take the lead for this to happen. Maylasia and Indonesia are making fitful attempts at reconciling Modernity with Islam, to their nations credit. However, military force to drive home the need for Islamic societies to change themselves is a vital component of this strategy.
You know of course that I believe that you cannot purge the socialist/communist wing of the party and still have one. It is too intertwined with the fabiric and philosophy of the party.
There will be a party when they can embrace Hayek and DeSoto. I think that is a ways off. Too much reflexive anti-capitalism. Too much reflexive anti-warism. No answer to the despots problem.
Either Islam is reformed, or it dies.
>lame parody of the brainless left
I come here because I see that Gregory writes a weblog that is encouraging a rational discussion of the issues, even if I disagree with his conclusions. But posts like the above are really quite ignorant --- the criticisms of this war range across the political spectrum, and include many on the right, from John Mearsheimer, a conservative realist, to Christopher Preble, Charles Pena, and Ted Galen Carpenter of the libertarian Cato Institute, to Scott McConnell of the American Conservative, to Brent Scowcroft of the firs Bush Administration, to Francis Fukuyama, the eminent neo-conservative.
Those of you who keep defending the wisdom of this war keep pointing to evidence that Iraq posed some sort of WMD threat. However, what about the very real threat of WMDs that could come from North Korea? Prior to the war, it is fairly unlikely North Korea had any nuclear weapons, or if they did have, it would have been only perhaps one device at the most. Now they probably have several --- enough that they might, in an extreme circumstance, consider selling such a weapon to some external party, perhaps terrorists. That, to me, while a remote possibility, is a far more grave threat than anything Saddam represented.
Further, we ignore the fact that Saddam either had nothing or some aging chemical and biological weapons --- weapons which are very difficult to deploy, and which degrade quickly over time. In addition, Saddam had no incentive to give these weapons to anyone outside of his inner circle. Finally --- even he had some of these weapons, they're simply not all that dangerous under real world conditions.
Let me simply repeat here the arguments made by the libertarian Cato Institute, which speak very eloquently to the main points. The Cato Institute can hardly be accused of coming from "the left":
Iraq has not attacked the United States.
• The administration has provided no evidence that Iraq supported the Sept. 11 attacks.
• Iraq does not have the capability for a direct attack on the United States — lacking long-range missiles, bombers, and naval forces.
• Iraq has an indirect capability to attack the United States only by supplying dangerous weapons to a terrorist group that might penetrate the United States. Three conditions, however, bear on the relevance of this indirect capability:
1) Iraq does not have a record of supporting terrorist groups "of a global reach."
2) Iraq is in no way distinctive in its potential for an indirect threat to the United States. A dozen or more national governments that are not friendly to the United States have nuclear, chemical, and/or biological weapons programs at some stage of development.
3) Any terrorist attack that could be clearly attributed to support by Iraq, as were the Sept. 11 attacks to the Taliban government in Afghanistan, would clearly provoke a U.S. military response and a regime change in Iraq.
Regarding Beslan, I can't believe what is being posted, above. "There are no moderate Muslims" --- have you ever met any Muslims? I mean, this has got to be one of the most misinformed posts I have ever read.
Included was Palestinian columnist Hasan Al-Batal who wrote in the daily Al-Ayyam under the headline, Arab Disgrace in Beslan: "There are no mitigating circumstances for the inhuman horror and the height of barbarism that occurred in the children's school."
In Egypt, a spokesman for the radical Muslim Brotherhood also condemned the Beslan massacre: "We must differentiate between the right of people to liberate their occupied land from any invasion, and the others who are bloody, blindly walking by violent activities against innocent victims."
There are so many more examples of that out there, I won't even bother to post them here.
M. Simon, your shtick is really tiresome. Please pester somebody else.
BTW, Blackwill is peace out, Greg.
Jim Rockford says it so well.
I would add, pace Cato (for which I have great appreciation, BTW), that, despite the good reasons not to have invaded Iraq, nevertheless, it happened; we can't undo that, so how best to procede from where we are now should be our main concern.
Re "moderate Muslims": some are truly shocked and just perhaps have been sheltered from the worst aspects of Islamic ideology; some probably see jihad as desirable, but certainly not just yet; and others simply dare not speak out. But this ideology aims for world domination "by any means necessary" and cannot be regarded on the same level as other world religions. I always considered communism to be a religion without God, so for me many of the Cold War parallels are quite apt. The best study of Islam I have yet to read is Trifkovic's *The Sword of the Prophet*: in it you will see clearly why Islam is the sworn enemy of Jews, Christians, secularists and all freedom-loving people.
The point here is that Islam, like most world religions, has a variety of interpretations. It's simply wrong to take the extremist fundamentalist interpretation and claim that it applies to all Muslims, or all varieties of Islam, any more than Christian fundamentalism can be said to apply to every Christian.
For example, consider the reign of Saladdin, who explicitly mandated religious tolerance under his rule, and who had Jews and Christians working for his government? Yes, it was an Islamic state and Islam was favored --- it wasn't a church-state separation such as we have here in America. But, nevertheless, during that era, Islam was far more tolerant than Christianity was at that same time --- for example, when the Crusaders reached Jerusalem they burned synagogues and mosques and killed thousands of Jews and Muslims specifically because they were Jews and Muslims. Thankfully, the West later went through the Reformation --- but the point is, the tables were reversed in terms of tolerance, at one time.
The problem is not Islam versus Christianity --- it is extremist fundamentalism versus tolerance and moderation. Every culture has seen tendencies of both at various times in their history. It is our job, as civilized peoples, to resist and marginalize and disempower violent, extremist fundamentalists, of whatever stripe they may be, and encourage moderation, tolerance, and rationality, in whatever ways we can. There are moderate forces within Islam, and we should be trying to promote them:
Islam forbids the attack on innocent civilians
do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors
if anyone slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people
Help ye one another in righteousness and piety, but help ye not one another in sin and rancour: fear Allah: for Allah is strict in punishment
...freedom of faith...
Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects Evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things
In the falwellian logic of Jim Rockford's misbegotten historiography of Islam (aimed at Alex), he finally manages to work his way thru his particular idiosyncratic selection of facts, half-facts, and half-aced mutterings to the situations of his Muslim neighbours thru-out the US and the world, about whom he has nothing much good to say or understanding of their plight. It's not althogether his fault, however. I tried so hard to get to post two items on several conservative sites regarding info I noted just before the election, as I recall, about Islamic initiatives apparently in response to the Osama bin Laden tape-threat. Unfortunately, my offerings were not taken up anywhere, tho I supplied URLs that were fresh at the time. One site gave me a notice that since I was linking to a Blogger URL (the famous Hammorbi site out of Iraq), I should post to a Blogger website! Crude, but rude! The links I supply here are, as a result, not fresh; and they are not enclosed in >s because that tactic may get my post past the censors at this site, if there are any.
1.) Ayatollah Sistani welcomed into his home at least three high dignitaries of the Christian churches in Iraq. Sistani said they were all brothers together, deserved to live in peace and democracy together in the new Iraq, and urged Christians to participate in the upcoming vote and to run for office. In this, Sistani demonstrated not only the ecumenicity of his vision, but also pulled the rug out from under his US-hating co-religionist Shi'ites, like Mucktada Sadr, who want to restrict or persecute Iraq's Christians.
2.) 2.500 Islamic intellectuals just around the day of the election sent a petition to the UN, calling on that body to prevent Muslim clerics who use religion as a cover to preach hate and terrorism, viewing such as guilty of a crime against humanity and Allah on each occasion.
So much for Rockford's unteachable ideological approach to historiography and, thus, to what God is doing in human history. Christianity, Islam, and Atheism are all subject to historical change, and the idea of some eternal propositional absolute that preconditions all of a given religion's responses over time, is simply nonsense. I'm afraid that Rockford is not watching the news, and may well be screening out info that doesn't fit his absolutizing negative paradigm toward all Muslim people. We can't be helped in winning the global war against terror by such willful bigotry that is counter-factual by its own process of selectivity.
Politicarp in seeking to illuminate what are only the most exceptional of rare examples of Islamic condemnations of terror or tolerance of the "other," leaves wholly untouched the more relevant subject of Arabic Islam's near complete inability for self-audit and criticism. Their 'plight', far beyond a result of episodic colonialism, is exactly that -- their very own plight, almost entirely of their own making. They are weak precisely because of their cultural and idealogical inferiority. The only thing they really produce of note -- petroleum -- occurs naturally. Their next leading export is Jihad. As if anger and rage at their self-induced misery is somehow the West's fault. It is the victim mentality elevated to the highest form of art. Those on the left who would in their guilt-ridden, prosperous anxiety look inward only at the Western world's flaws, fail to see that you are only propogating the Arab victim ideology by becoming apologists for their converse lack of self-criticism, when they need no additional nourishment of such delusions. It is a culture of ignorance, superstition and stasis. That its collision with modernity results in irrational hatred from their quarter should surprise no one. You simply aren't accounting for human nature if you believe their own self-created dysfunction is to be blamed on others. But, alas, that is the one part of the human calculus utopians never account for, isn't it?
The extremists hate us regardless, and would certainly have attacked the U.S. mainland again if they could or are capabale. Thank god we took the fight to them, and not allowed this to stay a "law enfrocement" problem. The Muslims terrorists brought their killing here, and were succesful to the tune of 3000 dead.
We can wait until suicide bombers start explodiong themselves in our malls and train stations, or we can go after them over there. I say over there. This not a law enforcement problem, it is a military one, and should be fought as such. I am law enforcement (local), and I know we are not equiped (manpower or equipment) to handle this. Nor would there be a rational expectation that a local law enforcement agency could. 90% of U.S. police departments have less than 20 officers. Which trabslates into 3 or 4 on duty at a time.
God bless Theo Van Gogh, but the U.S. did not kill him, Muslim terrorists did.
The cancer must be attacked at it's root. Pre-emption has saved lives in the United States. Lives of innocent civilians who are doing nothing more than getting up and going to work, or school, or whereever.
"But, nevertheless, during that era, Islam was far more tolerant than Christianity was at that same time"
That's a false parallelism, you cant compare a religion with almost a millenium with an young religion. Compare instead the first 2-3 centuries of Cristianity and the same period of Islam and you'll reach the conclusion that later only advanced by armed struggle.
That didnt happened with Christianity for a long period.
Paraphrasing "To God is what is to God to Cesar what is to Cesar"
Let me make a question why Sharia law isnt considered an Human Rights violation?
>The extremists hate us regardless
Indeed, the extremists do hate us, regardless, but the general Islamic world now hates us more than they did before. This would be an acceptable cost if we had actually attacked a nation that was a clear and present danger to us --- as Afghanistan was. But Iraq? While Saddam himself was a brutal and murderous dictator, he was not particularly cozy with the Islamists and had no more than regional ambitions (which were themselves held entirely in check by us). Iraq was one of the least Islamist nations in the region --- women didn't have to wear the veil, were allowed to go to school, become professionals, etc., for example. It was no paradise but it is the height of ignorance to conflate Iraq with, say, the Taliban and Al Qaeda, which really did attack us directly.
>you cant compare a religion with almost a millenium with an young religion
I don't know what this is supposed to mean. The fact that Islam was more tolerant at that time, but it was a younger religion, means what? Why is that significant?
The point I am making is that every culture has exhibited tolerance and intolerance at different times. Further, the broad, stereotypical strokes that people here have painted Islam with --- doesn't it sound familiar? It's intolerance, again, but this time on "our" side.
Mitsu, I can't agree with your assertion that the US attacked Afghanistan because that country was a direct threat. It was attacked because it harbored and protected OBL and his cronies. Iraq similarly had extensive, well-documented ties to terrorist organizations, and was widely believed to have an active WMD program. (Please remember that no government opposed the Iraq invasion on the grounds that there were no WMD programs there.) If so-called "moderate Muslims" hate us now more than they did before, that suggests they hated us before anyway, and there is plenty of evidence to support that conclusion.
I have no problem being intolerant of people who want to kill me. If the moderate Muslims (if there are any) want to be more accepted, let them speak out against the radicals and work with those who are trying to remove the evil from the world. Of course, they might get killed for doing so. Which really brings us full circle, doesn't it?
Having worked and lived in the middle east for several years, I can attest that the reason so many are Muslim is because not being one will get you executed.
We have been bugging out of hotspots since the 50s.
If true democracy takes root in Iraq it may be these folks who live in neighboring countries will be inspired to seek the same for themselves
Freedom will not come to the middle east until the people are willing to risk their own lives for it.
In Iraq that seems to be happening.
Much of the agitation comes from clerics trained and supported by the middle eastern governments, Saudi Arabia in particular.
With oil money all Sunni's were promised an education. however it is considered demeaning to work at anything resembling labor.
Most of the real work is performed by foreigners. Realizing that everyone can't be an Engineer or Administrator most people were trained as clerics and then paid to be clerics whether they were needed or not. Imagine if in this country 60 percent of the young men had a college degree but no job. These are the people with so much time on their hands that they preach hatred, each one trying to stand out in crowd by being more devout than the one next to them. Imagine a culture where it is a badge of honor to have a callous on your forehead from rubbing it on the floor during prayer.
Until Saudis and their neighbors start sweeping their own streets and painting their own houses these people with time on their hands are going to stir up mischief
This is not the case with the Shi'ites as they get none of these benefits and are treated as second class citizens. However they have of necessity aquired the skills needed to administer the country if given a chance.
That is why in Saudi Arabia the army's artillery pieces are trained not on the borders but on the Shi'ite Villages. These people have risen up in the past. If someone had helped them to prevail, young Saudis might today be going to work at the refinery or garage instead of going to Jihad
I think one problem in this debate is an overstatement of the salience and uniformity of Islam in the Muslim world. In discussing a centuries old religion that at least nominally applies to over a billion people in dozens of countries, the actual tenets and specifics of that religion become almost meaningless as any sort of real motivating factor. Focusing on religion as our primary concern masks far more precise and important factors such as political systems, economic trends, and cultural dislocation.
The fringe Jihadists would like to think there is one true Islam that everyone does, or at least should, adhere to, but we have to be smarter than this, and understand how Islam is merely a cultural tool that all sorts of different competing parties adopt to advance their interests. When I say 'moderate Muslims', then, I'm not referring to communities of true believers that espouse a more measured interpretation of Islam. Rather these are the 'silent majority' in predominatly Muslim countries who understand the benefits of democratic government, economic and cultural progress, and shun the fundamentalist fringe that has grown in strength over the past several decades. They shun the fringe for the same reason that people in America shun the fundamentalist fringe: because they're nuts. But when the U.S. appears to be playing its part in this clash of civilizations scenario, turning cities into war zones, racking up civilian casualties, cynically backing strongmen, protecting its oil interests, and blindly supporting the hypocrisies of Israel's actions, the edges of that silent majority get chipped away. While only a few become actual terrorists, many decide those nutso fundamentalists kind of have a point.
Finally, it doesn't matter if people in the Middle East are wrong for thinking this way. The fact is that they are, and that is very much our problem. The Middle East hates us more today than it has in a long, long time, and justified or not, it means we are failing and that we have to swallow our righteousness and fix it.
One more thing: let's get over the idea that every Muslim cleric should feel responsibility and speak out against every horrible thing a Muslim anywhere in the world does. This confuses the issue by making Islam into a monolithic religion that it simply is not. It's akin to people who talk about how "Africa" needs to take responsibility for itself. It's means nothing.
>every Muslim cleric
And, the fact is, many Muslim clerics have spoken out against Beslan, terrorism, etc... they're like any group of people, including us. There's a range of opinion from the sane to the insane.
Van Gogh is not the first, and will not be the last. Once again the "Religion of Peace" shows its true colors. Europe needs to open its eyes and speak out against the cancer growing in its mist. All that is needed is people who are honest and are willing to speak out. Of course you could get killed. The fact is that Islam is not, and never was tolerant. Not in the sense the West uses. What Muslims mean when they say their faith is "tolerant" is that they will not kill you if you submit and be quiet and accept to be a third class citizen. If you criticize their culture, their religion or the murderer/slaver/pedophile they follow you could get killed. How sad! How pathetic.
I want to make it very clear that violence is NOT acceptable. Muslims should have the same rights as all people, no more and no less. They should also be made to respect our laws. All you have to do when talking to Muslims or when in a public meeting about Islam is to make it clear that as long as Muslims discriminate and oppress people in countries where they dominate, they are a bunch of dishonest hypocrites and they deserve absolutely no respect. Period. If the people do that, and demand that their leaders speak up about this, then things will improve for all - even for Muslims. Just because Muslims live a lie doesn't mean we have to accept it. We must demand that Muslims -- particularly those in the West -- be responsible for all actions everywhere done in the name of Islam.
Thank you all for your kind attention.
Vote that Mitsu go someplace else and start his own R E A L L Y long, verbose and redundant blog. And that if he chooses to stay here and post his lefty arguments, he memorize the meaning of the word "terse", and then be that way.
Thing about asking Muslims to "speak up" is that they don't even have to actually poke their periscopes up where the Bad Guys can see them. If they'd just start turning in their husbands and fathers and brothers and uncles when they know in advance that something bad is being planned, or after something bad has happened, I'd be a happy camper in the War on Terror. And inclined to give so-called "moderate Muslims" more of a break when that day of reckoning comes.
As long as they neither denounce NOR actively participate in any way in derailing the terrorists, they are part of the problem.
Ah, Greg, your pre-election prognostications are looking better every day ... instead of Powell, Blackwill, and sanity, you get more Rumsfeld, a looming currency collapse, and Clarence Thomas as Chief Justice. Nice work.
My arguments are much more similar to those coming from the right than those on the left. The left was opposed to the Afghan war, the first Gulf War, the Kosovo war, etc. I supported all of those wars.
>"moderate Muslims" more of a break
You're completely missing the point. The issue here is not whether or not we need to give them "a break" or not. The issue is what policy will be the most effective in winning the war on terror. Increasing the terrorists' base of support in exchange for toppling a marginal threat is a bad tradeoff.
When we do things that make them hate our guts, invade countries for no good reason, etc.; we make them much less likely to cooperate with us, to turn in terrorists, to avoid giving them aid and comfort and support. Whether you approve of that or not matters very little.
We don't have unlimited military resources or intelligence capacity. We have to use it carefully, get the most bang for the buck. I don't see that happening so far.
Your side lost. Why don't you get over the election rhetoric see what actually happens. I don't know about you, but every time the dollar goes down, more work outsourcing IT from Europe comes my way, and the more expensive it gets for US firms to outsource work overseas.
I don't have time to read all the comments now, so this might have been mentioned already, but...
A comparison with how much money they have given to the PA in the same amount of time would be enlightning, I think.
"We don't have unlimited military resources or intelligence capacity. We have to use it carefully, get the most bang for the buck. I don't see that happening so far."????
As others here have already said, less bluntly, you're nonsensical at best.
Before you put digit to keyboard on this thread again, consider the time and costs involved in the carefully nutured raising of an Islamic 14 year-old "warrior" measured against the production cost of a single carboard case of 2, ten string rows of 5.56mm cartridges...
I think you're going to have a diffuicult time making the math work on your "not enough resources" theory - Plebe.