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Dick Cheney has nothing on these guys
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, September 20, 2006

After writing a book that was highly critical of religion, Sam Harris heard from countless people on both sides of the political spectrum and both religious and the non-religious.

It was that dialogue and the differences in responses from each side which caused him to conclude the "difference does not bode well for the future of liberalism."

Writing in the LA Times, and after establishing his "liberal" bona fides, Harris says:
But my correspondence with liberals has convinced me that liberalism has grown dangerously out of touch with the realities of our world — specifically with what devout Muslims actually believe about the West, about paradise and about the ultimate ascendance of their faith.

On questions of national security, I am now as wary of my fellow liberals as I am of the religious demagogues on the Christian right.

This may seem like frank acquiescence to the charge that "liberals are soft on terrorism." It is, and they are.
Even in the microcosm which is QandO we've seen his point made. In a recent post about Democrats and religion, self-described liberals seemed unable to grasp the pervasive influence religion plays in the lives of Christians here in the US. It is of no wonder whatsoever that if they can't figure that out, they haven't a clue about Islam.
A cult of death is forming in the Muslim world — for reasons that are perfectly explicable in terms of the Islamic doctrines of martyrdom and jihad. The truth is that we are not fighting a "war on terror." We are fighting a pestilential theology and a longing for paradise.

This is not to say that we are at war with all Muslims. But we are absolutely at war with those who believe that death in defense of the faith is the highest possible good, that cartoonists should be killed for caricaturing the prophet and that any Muslim who loses his faith should be butchered for apostasy.

Unfortunately, such religious extremism is not as fringe a phenomenon as we might hope. Numerous studies have found that the most radicalized Muslims tend to have better-than-average educations and economic opportunities.
We've pointed this out on many occasions. This isn't about the poor and illiterate. This isn't the poor masses blindly striking out. These are radicalized religious people. Zealots who do indeed believe that "death in the defense of faith is the highest possible good". And zealots of that particular type are not amenable to negotiations, entreaties, appeals to humanity or concerns about the future of humankind.

Money quote:
We are entering an age of unchecked nuclear proliferation and, it seems likely, nuclear terrorism. There is, therefore, no future in which aspiring martyrs will make good neighbors for us. Unless liberals realize that there are tens of millions of people in the Muslim world who are far scarier than Dick Cheney, they will be unable to protect civilization from its genuine enemies.
Couldn't have said it better. Read the whole thing, but that's the gist.
 
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It will be interesting to see the reaction on the Left wing sites to this. I am sure they will vilify Harris. No amount of years as a good, even extreme liberal will make up for even a slight straying from the plantation.
 
Written By: kyle N
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
I was just coming on-line to send you an E-mail with the link to this op-ed piece. I read it in Monday’s Los Angeles Times and have seen no discussion about it on the internet. I knew that you would find it interesting, and I was hoping that you would do a post on it. As soon as I pulled up QandO I saw it was the subject of your top post.

I highly recommend that everyone pull up the link and read this essay in its entirety. This guy really hits the nail on the head in my opinion.
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
I caught this commercial on TV a few nights ago.
I was busy at the time and just heard most of it, glancing up periodically.

It started with ..

They want to kill you

.. it then proceeded to show pictures of al Qaeda, cuts from beheading videos while the voice over continued. Then it ended with ..

They want to kill you


A few years from now, there will be breast beating about how the Bush administration didn’t take terrorism seriously, even after 9/11. That instead, it wanted to scare people to get votes. They will say that he never said "They want to kill you."

There was a sci-fi movie a couple of years ago about a future space war. In it there was a ship named the "USS Hillary Clinton." One of the characters commented that it was named after the "most unyielding President in US history."
On the one hand, I could almost believe that, but after the butchering of Joe Lieberman by the groups that believe that Dick Cheney is the center of all evil, I doubt that it could ever happen.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Scarier than Dick Cheney? No way!
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
It’s all a Rovian plot I tell you!
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Even in the microcosm which is QandO we’ve seen his point made. In a recent post about Democrats and religion, self-described liberals seemed unable to grasp the pervasive influence religion plays in the lives of Christians here in the US. It is of no wonder whatsoever that if they can’t figure that out, they haven’t a clue about Islam.
Trust me, most of us non-wingers are very concerned about the pervasive influence of religion in the United States. More than you will ever know. I am more scared of right wing religious nut jobs than you will ever be, whether they be Christian or Muslim. They are all cut from the same cloth. If they aren’t flying planes into buildings, they are shooting abortion doctors, or showing up at funerals of military personnel with their "God hates Fags" signs.

And if Muslim nut jobs aren’t killing each other, or Christians, Christian nut jobs are killing Muslims:
Poso (AsiaNews) – The lawyers of three Catholics on death row will take their case before the International Criminal Court in Geneva, as per a human rights convention ratified by Jakarta, to safeguard the three men’s right to life and to denounce irregularities of Indonesian trials. This was revealed yesterday in the capital by Peter Selestianus SH, chairman of PADMA (the lawyers’ organization defending the three men).

Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva and Marinus Riwa were condemned to death because they were found guilty of masterminding a massacre of 200 Muslims in Poso during inter-faith clashes in 2000. Their case has drawn international attention: they were convicted by a trial riddled with illegalities, like witnesses who were not listened to and evidence that was rejected by the court. Even the pope called on the Indonesian president Susilo to grant clemency to the three Catholics.
Or Hindu nut jobs are killing Muslims:
Mon Sep 18, 8:11 AM ET

The bodies of 11 Muslim men hacked to death were found in eastern Sri Lanka, police said as Tamil Tiger rebels and government forces blamed each other for the massacre.

The victims were labourers working on an irrigation project in the eastern Ampara district and had been killed by the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the defence ministry said in a statement on Monday.

"The Tiger terrorists have massacred 11 Muslim civilians who had gone to repair an anicut (minor irrigation dam)," the statement said.

The Tigers denied involvement and said it was the work of government forces.
I find this whole issue amusing; wingers can’t get their head straight on it.

On the one hand, according to wingers, liberals have an irrational fear of religion and those who are religious. They are deeply hostile toward religion. The hate people of faith. If the liberal/secular French aren’t making them take off their headscarves, the liberal/secular Danes are making fun of them in cartoons.

But on the other hand, as McQ asserts here, liberals are not fearful enough.

Trust me, McQ. We on the left fear all religious fundamentalists. Of all stripes. It’s not the Muslim worldview, or the Hindu worldview, or the Christian worldview that scares me. It is the religious fundamentalist worldview.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
It’s not the Muslim worldview, or the Hindu worldview, or the Christian worldview that scares me. It is the religious fundamentalist worldview.
As opposed to the rabid moral-equivilance worldview

Or the quasi-religious Global Warming Cult worldview

Or the politically correct worldview

just to name a few....
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
This is shabby thinking at its worst:
First, you set up a phony, malcious scenario: liberals hate religion.
Then you debunk their hatred of religion.

Okay, neo-libertarians hate gold fish.
But goldfish being such cute little pets, hatred of goldfish is reprehensible. Therefor, neo-libertarians are reprehensible. When you buy this argument, I’ll buy the premise of this post.

People who dislike mixing religion with power do not hate religion. They hate the fake authority that a religious mantle gives to religious spokesmen.
We could choose to learn something from the decades of Catholic-Protestant wars in Europe. We could learn something from the Church’s early history of conversion by armed knights, offering the choice of conversion or death by sword.
Or, we can set up false arguments to while away our time.
 
Written By: Laime
URL: http://
I’ll make my longer argument below, but here’s my main point.

Focus on these two paragraphs:

No one disagrees with killing the undetterable zealots, with or without due process, as neccesary. What we have a problem with are the maximalists who, to the deteriment of minimizing the scope of the neccesary war, screaming over and over again about undetterable zealotry and demanding that the label be applied to anyone hostile to the US, or any anti-American Islamic group, or anyone who they’ve decided is an undeterrable zealot.
Actually, I’d rather deal with specific claims that specific individuals are undetterable zealots. Those can be assessed. They might even be right. Constant Right-wing pressure to think about nothing but undetterable zealotry, while trying to make careful analysis about motives in the policy world, is like trying play chess in a mosh pit. And, like someone trying to play chess in a mosh pit, we get pretty irritated about it. The world is filled with other than undetterable zealotry along with undetterable zealotry, and this cr*p is not just getting in my way, but encouraging me to abandon analysis in favor of militarization of thought. Counterproductive militarization, at that!


If you must exhort, exhort about threats from specific people, organizations, and situations. Again, we can assess those. Don’t exhort about threats from ideologies and broad generalizations. It’s pointless. No specific actions derived from such exhortations are neccesarily right or neccesarily wrong.









 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Zealots who do indeed believe that "death in the defense of faith is the highest possible good". And zealots of that particular type are not amenable to negotiations, entreaties, appeals to humanity or concerns about the future of humankind.

Are we making an abstract case? Sure. I agree. No problem.

Let’s apply it to the real world, now.
So, if one billion Muslims were all zealots of this type, and zealots can never be negoitated with, we could kill/incarcerate them all right now. This is not at all a strawman. It’s an abstract logical argument. Anyone irrevocably committed to our nation’s destruction and willing to take violent action to achieve that goal can legitimately be killed/incarcerated. I’m with that, right here in the real world.

Since we don’t recommend this as a policy:
Perhaps not all Muslims are zealots.
Perhaps not all Muslims who have fought US troops or belong to militant organizations (specifically, what someone, somewhere, has labeled a militant organization) are zealots.
Perhaps not all zealots are committed to our destruction. Perhaps even all zealots working against us are not committed to our destruction.
Perhaps not everyone who expresses a commitment to - or a preference for - our destruction is willing to commit suicide (high threshold), willing to kill, or willing to break the law in order to see it accomplished.
Perhaps not everyone who meets all of the above criteria is impossible to dissaude, given the appropriate circumstances.

The top of the list is accepted by almost everyone, the bottom seems less and less likely, but all of them are possible, and from a sample of one billion muslims, they all probably occur. So how do we distinguish between them? That is the problem we’re facing. Sam Harris is irrelevant to that investigation.

Many liberals - and not only liberals, but foreign policy specalists and scientists - hate sermons like Sam Harris’, not because we disagree about the genuine zealots, but because we agreed about 1000 sermons ago, or, actually, by 9/12. We get it, and we don’t feel we owe it to anyone to demonstrate that. And we resent the constant allegations of not getting it. We’re trying to go past the obvious, and we keep getting dragged back into the obvious, and it doesn’t help win the struggle.

Don’t waste your time attempting to demonstrate that me, liberals or anyone else, "doesn’t get it." We godd*mn think we get it, and we don’t like being questioned about it.

The message I get from Sam Harris, and other rants like this, (Thomas Sowell) comes to mind - is profoundly unhelpful. It’s like a religion of its own. "Think about undetterable zealotry. Think about undetterable zealotry. Fear undetterrable zealotry. Get serious about undetterrable zealotry."

To what end, specifically? Is the point to establish a set of conditions where anyone invoking the cause of fighting undetterable zealotry is given carte blanche to do anything they want, no matter how stupid or counterproductive?
That’s what some people feel is the point of all of these otherwise pointless exhortations.

If you must exhort, exhort about threats from specific people, organizations, and situations. Again, we can assess those. Don’t exhort about threats from ideologies and broad generalizations. It’s pointless. No specific actions derived from such exhortations are neccesarily right or neccesarily wrong.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
"Or, we can set up false arguments to while away our time" until the cute little Muslims show up "offering the choice of conversion or death by sword."
 
Written By: Metzger
URL: http://
I’d rather deal with specific claims that specific individuals are undetterable zealots. Those can be assessed
Go here.

The point is the radical islamist zealotry is in ascendancy right now, with tens-of-millions of adherents worldwide. They may not all be terrorists or combatants, but they share the same goal: a pan-islamic superstate under sharia law, and they give material support to terrorists when given the chance.
If they aren’t flying planes into buildings, they are shooting abortion doctors, or showing up at funerals of military personnel with their "God hates Fags" signs.
The Abortion-doctor killier was like one guy about 10 years ago! There are a total of 24 people in Fred Phelps’ "God-Hates-Fags" church. Did you see the millions of Muslim fanatics rioting in the streets over cartoons!! ...Simply Foolish.

American Evangelical-Protestantism, one could argue, is also in its ascendancy right now. Is it really that bad mkultra? Are you really that oppressed here? To quote the liberal homosexual activist writer Bruce Bower: "Pat Robertson wants the government to not recognize my marraige; the Imams want to drop a stone wall on me."
 
Written By: Jimmy the Dhimmi
URL: http://mooreisfatduhimstoopidilikeanncoulterandchickenfries.ytmnd.com/
MK -
Their case has drawn international attention: they were convicted by a trial riddled with illegalities, like witnesses who were not listened to and evidence that was rejected by the court.
Jimminy Christmas MK - do you read the stuff you post?
Doesn’t that sentence in your post strike you as possible evidence the people you’re citing as an example of fundamental madness may not actually be guilty?

Try to get a little US history into yourself would you?
This has been a religious country for centuries, despite any contention the liberals-come-lately would have us consider.

You handily cite morons like the cult that celebrates soldiers deaths here in the US, and liken that to mainstream Imams preaching jihad and fatwa.
In your world 1 killing by a ’nutjob’ is equal to hundreds killed by a group of ’nutjobs’ in repeated incidents.

You fail to recognize that the various religious factions in the US, and Europe tend to have a restraining effect on each other while there is no competing religion in Islamic countries to exert that restraint.
You worry about things here that are really no danger to you and 98% of your life style and try to claim that Pat Robertson’s philosophical words are as big a danger to you as the ideological words and actions peddled by Ayman al-Zawahiri and his ilk.

As to the repeated references to the crusades and religious wars in Europe
practiced by ’christians’. It’s not relevant for today! We’re OVER it kids, okay, find an example in current times. Unless you can cite current examples you’re playing "but they did it first" games.
History is rife with religious conflict, by and large dangerous, sometimes to their own practitioners, and the current one that is a danger, even to fellow Muslims in many cases, is the Islamic one.
Can dead nutjob Torquemada have any effect on you today, tomorrow, or next week? No.
Now, what kind of effect can an armed, present day, Islamic nutjob have on you?

 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
they are shooting abortion doctors, or showing up at funerals of military personnel with their "God hates Fags" signs.

Oh, yeah - we have had thousands upon thousands of abortionists killed in the past five years, and DEMOCRAT Fred Phelps is surely a Rovian plant. But acts of Islamic Terrorism - gee, we have to go to Asia to find the rare one of those which occurs.

Tell me - What brand of aluminum foil do you buy to line that colander you use for a hat?
 
Written By: Pete Jensen
URL: http://
Pretty d*mn defensive there Glasnost. I’d say if the shoe doesn’t fit, what the h*ll is your problem?
 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
"People who dislike mixing religion with power..."

Are you one of these people Laime? Just wondering how you feel about the religion of progressive socialism (or whatever it’s called these days) and mixing it with power, because I don’t care for it at all. It costs me significant money and freedom. Just wondering if your consistant in your application of this principle. I already know the progressive-socialist sychophant MKultra is not.
 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
Neo - About the USS Hilary Clinton, are you thinking about the Axis of Time Trillogy by John Birmingham? Which are books, not movies.
 
Written By: ChrisB
URL: http://
glasnost,

What if the problem isn’t mostly or only specific organizations, people and situations? What if it is about ideology (various strains of Baathism and Islamism)and that these ideologies are percolating and bursting forth into specific situations? What if even in those specific instances we are never offered any policy either? You have a habit of occasionally speaking of what liberals believe or wish, or most liberals, to define them as having beliefs similar to yours. What I see is a constant tendency of many to refuse to speak of the larger issue, that if they "get it" as you say they refuse to speak as if they do because the implications are not comfortable. Despite your protestations many have shown they explicitly don’t get it, in fact what they get is something quite sinister in my mind. They get that the problems in the Middle East are of our making, as if the actors themselves have no real ideological commitment, they are just striking back. Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore and many more whose thinking is not far removed from theirs have made that point over and over.

Hence the debate over the term fascism because it conjures up images of mass pathological movements, which might incite fear. The claims that in describing the real issues we or the administration or others are acting as if this is the same as dealing with Hitler. Hitler alone was a tin pot dictator. Hitler appeased and with allies was capable of throwing the entire world into darkness. By the way, he was never a real threat to America proper either.

The problem I have is we are facing several mass pathological movements and they should incite fear. If liberals believe in these mass pathological movements and the fear they rightly produce, might it be better to acknowledge them as what they are and the fear we should feel, as well as provide some kind of answer to how they are to be dealt with?

Tropes like better intelligence, diplomacy and other words without some kind of realistic policy to back them up are surely not going to slow these totalitarian movements. Intelligence to what end? Arresting a few terrorists? Certainly a good thing, but hardly a recipe for combating mass movements. Diplomacy to what end? Agreements and resolutions we have no intention of enforcing and in and of themselves doing little or nothing to combat mass movements. Even in the case of those that might at least box them in a bit or reducing the slaughter we see no intention of enforcing. We wouldn’t want to be labeled a warmonger for actually making someone abide by an agreement. Saddam, Hezbollah, Darfur, I could go on, but in no instance has anyone attempted to enforce these declarations seriously except the warmongering US.

If liberals get it, what is the program? Does it amount to anything other than attacking the administration? I would really like an answer. The clearest policy I have heard was from Kerry. Conferences and getting out of Iraq. Okay, maybe good things, but does it get us any closer to defeating these mass movements? No.

If the answer is we do not really need to fear these movements and conferences and UN based diplomacy is adequate to the task because all we will face is the occasional terrorist attack, then I say many liberals (and libertarians) don’t "get it." This is much bigger than that, not least to the millions in the Muslim world who will die even if that belief were true, on top of the millions who have died at these monsters hands already. True, they can’t launch an invasion of the US, but neither could Hitler, even had Britain surrendered and the USSR sued for peace. The Atlantic is an awfully big moat. They can however plunge much of the world into a cauldron of blood and fire with our civil liberties shredded to enable us to keep the terrorists out. This isn’t about the tactic of terrorism and never was. We underestimate the potential for popular mass movements of a pathological nature at great peril, and I see the very fact that we are facing such a phenomena on a daily basis denied or minimized.

I don’t know whether you get it or not glasnost and, as I have said before, you owe no apologies for Moore or Chomsky any more than I do for Lewellyn Rockwell and Gary North. That you might "get it" and have a program that faces those realities in no way means however that liberals at large do. The ones who do seem to have a program, are routinely slandered and attacked from the left. Norm Geras, Paul Berman and a large (if much smaller than it should be) group of leftist intellectuals are treated as lackeys and warmongers for putting forth that action of some type is justified.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
judging from some of the comments by our own left of center bloggers I guess my first post was correct, Harris will be raked over the coals.
 
Written By: kyle N
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
Glasnost,

In a previous thread you asked if we could see any of "these guys" defeating a western style army any time soon? If you mean the US, no. The question is, will it be our army they face in any such situation? If not, then yes I can. Western Europe’s for example are too small, under equipped and unlikely to be used without us anyway. The question should it come to that is not whether we win, but will we fight again (avoid that warmonger tag at all costs) and if so at what size of a threat?
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
To Lance and all the other defenders of your faith:

You just can’t help yourselves, can You? You keep on creating false scenarios and then have a great time attacking the phantoms of your imagination. If you disagree with an argument, then, address yourself to that argument. Don’t hide behind a smokescrren of accusing everyone that disagrees with you as being in line with every liberal position ever taken by anyone. Since you don’t know the other peple posting here, you have no idea what their beliefs are on anything outside of what they have said here. It’s not even true that only liberals disagree with you. Within the Republican party, even as we’re typin here, there is a debate going on in the Senate about the administration;s policies.
Would you claim that McCain"s favorite author is Chomsky?
Regarding religion’s role in civic government. there is also a wide gamut of opinion in each party and even within religious communities.
You believe what you believe, but it would advance the discussion if you concentrated on presenting your own views, instead of painting a false picture of those who disagree with you.
That tactic is a cheap ploy.

 
Written By: Laime
URL: http://
What if even in those specific instances we are never offered any policy either? You have a habit of occasionally speaking of what liberals believe or wish, or most liberals, to define them as having beliefs similar to yours

Because I’m constantly confronted with people - usually not liberals - telling me what liberals - do or do not, or should or should not believe.

They get that the problems in the Middle East are of our making, as if the actors themselves have no real ideological commitment, they are just striking back

It’s neccesary to point out the existance of those aspects to the situation, because the situation encompasses those aspects. It is not fully limited to those aspects, but it encompasses them. Whether or not you believe it was wrong to support dictators in the middle east for five decades is debatable, but most people agree that our support of those dictators helped create our current situation. If you think that terrorism is genuinely random, then we really should just cover our heads and wait for the end. Mass pathological movements are not unleashed on this earth by the devil to punish us for our sins. They correlate to specific condition sets. If you think that Islamist Muslims are the first set of human beings on earth not to react to external stimuli and influences, make your case: I’d disagree.

Hence the debate over the term fascism because it conjures up images of mass pathological movements, which might incite fear.The problem I have is we are facing several mass pathological movements and they should incite fear. If liberals believe in these mass pathological movements and the fear they rightly produce, might it be better to acknowledge them as what they are and the fear we should feel, as well as provide some kind of answer to how they are to be dealt with?

I disagree. Fear is counterproductive to figuring out what’s going on and what to do about it. Fear is the enemy of coherent observation and deduction and correct action.

Are we facing "mass pathological movements?" Wrong kind of question. Abstract, not specific. And now we’re back down to the core of my original statement - if you want to call a specific organization a mass pathological movement, or make a list of them, let’s all sit down and look into it. Everyone will have their own threshold and their own criteria, and no one’s list will look exactly the same, kind of like how each two nation’s lists of terrorist organizations are exactly alike.

But - to be more specific - let’s say we agree that some particular movement is a mass pathological movement. Therefore, we’re morally obligated to go in there to eliminate it right? You’re asking me what my plan is. What’s your plan? Frankly, the government of Uzbekistan in my mind qualifies as a mass pathological movement. Are we off, then? Of course not. We also have to deal with consequences and resources, just like we always have. Do you disagree? I’m sure you don’t.

You’re complaining about UN resolutions, diplomacy, withdrawal from gridlocked counterinsurgencies. Do you want to permanently abolish these tools in the arsenal, then? Fine. Make your case. I don’t think you do. So what do you want? Do you want us to invade every country, and kill/detain every population set in which someone (Donald Rumsfeld? You?) decides is host to a mass pathological movement? Fine. Make your case. But you don’t, do you? What’s your solution

Frankly, I understand Norm and Paul being attacked from the left. I’d attack them from the left as well. It’s great that they hate jihadists and all. Wonderful. Does hating jihadists win the struggle? No. Does getting up every morning and jumping up and down with how important the struggle is *win* the struggle? No. I see Norm and Paul as unhelpfully zealous. The same way that a lot of religious, anti-American muslims came to see Al-Zarqawi as unhelpfully zealous. Now, Norm and Paul are, of course, moral, decent, respectable people, and Zarqawi was a murdering thug. But the quality of zealotry is the same - whether it’s religious zealotry, anti-religious zealotry, or whatever. Zealotry is unhelpful. And reminding yourself every day in the newspaper that "The mass pathological movements want to kill us" is unhelpful. It induces zealotry. And zealotry is destructive both to others and the self.

Reasonable people can disagree that Norm and Paul are unhelpfully zealous, of course. But the concept is certainly valid that zealotry is unhelpful. (Isn’t that the point of this post?)

I don’t have any simple answers on how to miraculously and rapidly end Islamic fundamentalism, Lance. If you do, I’m all ears. If I thought it would work and could be done, I’d fall in line. If I’m Norm or Paul’s enemy, or the enemy of Sam whatshisname, because I disagree with some assessment of the utility of some larger plan that doesn’t even exist, that’s their decision, not mine. Nor will my judgement be coerced by their opinions, or their slurs.


 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Pretty d*mn defensive there Glasnost. I’d say if the shoe doesn’t fit, what the h*ll is your problem?

I’m just an unpleasant sonofa*itch by nature.

So, now, onto your substantive argument with what I’ve said... right?

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Laime, thanks for the irony lession. I’m fairly certain that you won’t get it.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
Lance, this guy ran the political Islam department at the CIA for fifteen years. Some of his answers to questions here are unrelated, but if you want a plan and a problem set I respect more than "mass pathological movements", here it is:

Political Islam is not a threat—the threat is if people become disenchanted with the political process and democracy, and opt for violence. There is a real danger from a few terrorists and we should go after them, but the longer-term threat is that people opt out of the system.

The system is peaceful change, and it’s not in fashion. We need to get it back in fashion. Sticks and carrots will be needed, and everyone is invited. Ignore beliefs and words, focus on behavior. Can the self-righteous speeches and use sticks and carrots to stop active violent conflict, first, and demand democracy, second.

I don’t like Norm’s declaration, because I’m not sure he shares those priorities. I think he’s more interested in expressing rhetorical hatred for hateful rhetoric.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
It’s neccesary to point out the existance of those aspects to the situation, because the situation encompasses those aspects. It is not fully limited to those aspects, but it encompasses them. Whether or not you believe it was wrong to support dictators in the middle east for five decades is debatable, but most people agree that our support of those dictators helped create our current situation.


Who ever denied that these things are encompassed? Certainly not George Bush and this administration which have specifically cited these issues as a source. If most people believe this it doesn’t seem to be making much of a difference. I am bombarded with "realists" who argue that we should go back to that, now from the left. That is one mindset which Berman and others are fighting against.
If you think that terrorism is genuinely random, then we really should just cover our heads and wait for the end. Mass pathological movements are not unleashed on this earth by the devil to punish us for our sins. They correlate to specific condition sets. If you think that Islamist Muslims are the first set of human beings on earth not to react to external stimuli and influences, make your case: I’d disagree.
Of course circumstances are an issue. The question is how to change them. They are not however the only or main problem. Ideology of a pathological sort may arise in places struggling in many ways, but the ideologies are also attractive, powerful and in power in much of the Muslim world. Our support in that case is very much beside the point. They exist with or without our support. It is a grave mistake to claim that external issues have driven people to their views.

You can decry the comparison if you want, but that is exactly the reasoning the anti-war socialists of France used in trying to understand Hitler and Nazism. If we understand them we can mollify them, change the things which animate their hatred and the hatred will go away. The problem is the Nazi’s believed in what they were doing, no changing of the social environment was going to change that. Qutb’s philosophy is not based on us not being liberal (in the big sense) but with our liberalism. What we believe will mollify them cannot work because the gestures and aid themselves are part of their issue with us.
I disagree. Fear is counterproductive to figuring out what’s going on and what to do about it. Fear is the enemy of coherent observation and deduction and correct action.
I reject that wholeheartedly. Being terrified does that. Fear is a normal and healthy trait. Those who know no fear are irresponsible.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
Are we facing "mass pathological movements?" Wrong kind of question. Abstract, not specific. And now we’re back down to the core of my original statement - if you want to call a specific organization a mass pathological movement, or make a list of them, let’s all sit down and look into it. Everyone will have their own threshold and their own criteria, and no one’s list will look exactly the same, kind of like how each two nation’s lists of terrorist organizations are exactly alike.
Yes we are. The Baathist’s for one. The various Islamist groups (Iran, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, etc.) are another. They have millions of adherents, hundreds of millions of fellow travelers.
But - to be more specific - let’s say we agree that some particular movement is a mass pathological movement. Therefore, we’re morally obligated to go in there to eliminate it right? You’re asking me what my plan is. What’s your plan? Frankly, the government of Uzbekistan in my mind qualifies as a mass pathological movement. Are we off, then? Of course not. We also have to deal with consequences and resources, just like we always have. Do you disagree? I’m sure you don’t.
So the liberals have no plan except to attack Bush’s and others long war view. I agree they don’t, but it seems if liberals want to attack Bush they ought to spend at least as much time articulating a different vision (that gets it.)
You’re complaining about UN resolutions, diplomacy, withdrawal from gridlocked counterinsurgencies. Do you want to permanently abolish these tools in the arsenal, then? Fine. Make your case. I don’t think you do. So what do you want? Do you want us to invade every country, and kill/detain every population set in which someone (Donald Rumsfeld? You?) decides is host to a mass pathological movement? Fine. Make your case. But you don’t, do you? What’s your solution
Who said you wouldn’t use those tools? Not me. I am just saying they are not sufficient, especially with no enforcement mechanism. They are not an approach that is even wrong, such as one might argue in Bush’s case. It is no approach at all. It is as if a building were on fire and you were complaining about the risks of the fire chief’s plan of going into the burning building. When asked what is the better option the reply is what stupid idiot he is and to get the men out of the building and we’ll call a meeting to discuss in the morning, but in no circumstances would we spray water or send men into the building. By the way, no attacking the example, it isn’t an analogy except as to the usefulness of diplomacy with no intention of actually enforcing any decision. In fact it is no plan at all.

I never said invade every country, by the way. There is a plan on the table. It may be inartfully exectuted (which ones are not?) and really as much of a muddle through plan as anything, but it is an attempt at one.
Frankly, I understand Norm and Paul being attacked from the left. I’d attack them from the left as well. It’s great that they hate jihadists and all. Wonderful. Does hating jihadists win the struggle? No. Does getting up every morning and jumping up and down with how important the struggle is *win* the struggle? No. I see Norm and Paul as unhelpfully zealous. The same way that a lot of religious, anti-American muslims came to see Al-Zarqawi as unhelpfully zealous. Now, Norm and Paul are, of course, moral, decent, respectable people, and Zarqawi was a murdering thug. But the quality of zealotry is the same - whether it’s religious zealotry, anti-religious zealotry, or whatever. Zealotry is unhelpful. And reminding yourself every day in the newspaper that "The mass pathological movements want to kill us" is unhelpful. It induces zealotry. And zealotry is destructive both to others and the self.
Zealots? Have you read Terror and Liberalism? Do you read Norm? I can’t believe you do. Was being opposed to Nazism or Stalinism zealotry by definition? Was supporting the democratic forces in Eastern Europe zealotry? Was a willingness to actually go to war against fascists in the 1940’s zealotry? You can claim it was oh so different, and of course it was. All situations are. However, the evil was not so different, and we should be as willing to combat it as then. Willing to go to war is not the same as going to war. Willingness however is a very important weapon, because that is what gives teeth to agreements, especially with totalitarians.
I don’t have any simple answers on how to miraculously and rapidly end Islamic fundamentalism, Lance. If you do, I’m all ears. If I thought it would work and could be done, I’d fall in line. If I’m Norm or Paul’s enemy, or the enemy of Sam whatshisname, because I disagree with some assessment of the utility of some larger plan that doesn’t even exist, that’s their decision, not mine. Nor will my judgement be coerced by their opinions, or their slurs.
Who asked you to have a simple plan, or since I am not really talking about you, who asked anybody to. Sometimes there are no good options. We muddle through. I suggest that is where we are. I don’t want a simple plan, because that would most likely mean something rather horrible, such as WWII. Once we entered the execution was difficult, but the approach was simple. We fight until they were crushed. I would prefer avoiding that. So would Bush, Paul, Norman, David Aronovitch and countless others. Muddle through means failures, successes, ebbs and flows. I am for the left which joins Bush and says you need to do more of some things and less of others. A left that needs to mobilize the ideological war, trade unions, writers guilds all the forces of the democratic left that were so important in the cold war to give stregth and guidance to the foirces of reform in the Muslim world. That means far more criticism of Moore and Chomsky and Galloway than George Bush.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
The system is peaceful change, and it’s not in fashion. We need to get it back in fashion. Sticks and carrots will be needed, and everyone is invited. Ignore beliefs and words, focus on behavior. Can the self-righteous speeches and use sticks and carrots to stop active violent conflict, first, and demand democracy, second.

I don’t like Norm’s declaration, because I’m not sure he shares those priorities. I think he’s more interested in expressing rhetorical hatred for hateful rhetoric.
That is Norm and Paul’s priority. They just don’t see any real effort on that from much of the left. Carrots and sticks imply a stick. In Iran’s case I want to know what the carrot is as well. The most valuable carrots to them they already have, Oil market access, the ability with near impunity to fund their terrorist groups and develop nuclear weapons. What exactly are we going to offer them worth giving those existing carrots up? My assumption is either sticks have to be put into play or internal pressure or both. That is the message i would send, unfortunately in too many quarters stick waving means you are a warmonger. As for your source, well, I am glad you have faith in the CIA. I don’t, and some of what he says is ridiculous, but predictable.

On Iran, creativity is nice, but did he give any example’s? No. He just wants it. I think you know my prescription as to the only real option with Iran now, and I am skeptical it will work. Unfortunately, that is the muddle through real world, so I’ll take it. So far the majority of self identified liberals are just trying to shoot the messenger. Bad options all around, but we just have to put our shoulders to the grindstone and work away.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
Can the self-righteous speeches and use sticks and carrots to stop active violent conflict, first, and demand democracy, second.
"Demand democracy"!!!
Demand, that’s a nice word, demand. Sounds almost like the sort of thing you back up with troops if someone fails to comply.
Will that be us, or the UN, if they fail to deliver the democracy we demand?
Will there be months of talking about what to do, many UN votes? Many
resolutions that won’t actually be enforced?

Demand democracy...
I mean, we can see how effective democracy has been in Gaza, right?
You specifically have been afraid of the ’democracy’ that might result when we pull out of Iraq.
How about the democratic country of Iran?
Should we politely ask the House of Saud to give up it’s job to promote this democracy thing?
Syria?

Which sticks and carrots would you like us to use on Iran and Syria?
Is that sticks, or carrots?
I get the carrots thing, but define your set of sticks here, as I’m assuming it doesn’t include cruise missiles, F16’s, M1A1 tanks and US Army boots on Syrian or Iranian soil.
What is it that’s a ’stick’ to a group of guys willing to die to go to paradise?
What kinds of sticks are they afraid of?

 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Can the self-righteous speeches and use sticks and carrots to stop active violent conflict, first, and demand democracy, second.
I like the way Lance described it. Sticks and carrots implies you’ll use the sticks if the carrots don’t work.

Are you prepared to do that?

And "demand democracy?"

You mean like Iraq?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
If you think that Islamist Muslims are the first set of human beings on earth not to react to external stimuli and influences, make your case: I’d disagree.
You’re complaining about UN resolutions, diplomacy, withdrawal from gridlocked counterinsurgencies. Do you want to permanently abolish these tools in the arsenal, then? Fine. Make your case. I don’t think you do. So what do you want? Do you want us to invade every country, and kill/detain every population set in which someone (Donald Rumsfeld? You?) decides is host to a mass pathological movement? Fine. Make your case.
I tell ya, glasnost, for somebody who complains so much about how other people presume too much of what you and your ideological allies think, you sure do put a lot of words in people’s mouths.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
I mean, we can see how effective democracy has been in Gaza, right?
A successful democracy expresses the will of the people in it. Those particular people clearly want their asses kicked, and their voice has been heard. It’s ugly, but it did what it’s supposed to do. The people have chosen the government they deserve, which is actively trying to get them killed.
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
The people have chosen the government they deserve, which is actively trying to get them killed.
Harsh, harsh words Pablo... sure they are true and all... but geez man... those words are harsh ;-)
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
All this talk of democracy and reforming countries.
Reminds me of the President we had back in 2003.

 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
MK ULtra used the term "right wing religious nut jobs" and uses it to describe Rev. Phelps people. You know, the Rev. Phelps who is a registered democrat and even worked for Al Gore’s campaign once.

He also applies it to Islamic fundamentalists - personally, I’m not sure they are "right-wing" in a US domestic sense since they have strange economics beliefs and manage to attract a left-wing crowd of sympathizers in the West. This point is debatable though.

My question for MK: there are left-wing theocrats who use religion to justify liberation theology or vastly increased spending on social programs. Do these guys scare you at all?

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Lance, this has been an interesting discussion, but this is it for me.
There is a plan on the table.
We don’t agree. I don’t see a plan at all. There is neither a plan for military elimination these alledged mass pathological movements, nor a plan for any other form of confrontation, nor a plan for co-optation or the establishment of coexistence. Unless staying the course in Iraq is somehow the plan for eliminating what you have described as mass pathological movements. I don’t even think our Iraq plan is a plan for Iraq, to call the action in Iraq in and of itself a plan for the larger region seems to stretch credibility.
I am bombarded with "realists" who argue that we should go back to that, now from the left.
Quote me one leftist who thinks that our goal should be to establish dictatorships in the Middle East. I dare you. Make sure you find explicit support, don’t equate other goals with that goal because they seem similar to you.

So the liberals have no plan except to attack Bush’s and others long war view.

Compared to your, Norm’s, and the right’s plan of attacking liberals for attacking liberals for lack of sufficient anti-terrorist zeal or for disagreeing with... some solution that someone might at some point pose? There aren’t even any solutions being posed, so what was it we’re attacking, exactly? Is George Bush’s "view" a plan all by itself? In any event, let’s pretend for the sake of argument, all the "liberals" shut up and President Bush’s approval rating went back to 80%. What would you then **do** to win the struggle? Do you know? Or would you just feel better? Is that relevant to the struggle?
Willing to go to war is not the same as going to war. Willingness however is a very important weapon, because that is what gives teeth to agreements, especially with totalitarians.
So where should we go to war? You tell me, and I’ll tell you whether or not I’m willing. Hopefully, I’ll ask some other questions first, too. It’s unlikely, because as I’ve stated, my percieved first step to winning the war - the best I’ve got for that "plan" you’re looking for - is **not exacerbating violent conflicts in the middle east**, the likes of which most modern terrorist groups have been created amidst. But it’s not out of the question. There are certainly conditions in which I’d support it. But you’re not asking whether I support any particular war. You’re asking if I support war in the abstract!

Sure, whatever. War’s great.In the abstract. I personally enjoy it just fine. Now that I’ve passed my loyalty test, can I ask you:
What is the purpose of this line of questioning?
I just said, sure, fine go ahead and bomb whatever you like - did you now just solve the struggle, lacking only my permission?
Was being opposed to Nazism or Stalinism zealotry by definition?
No. Zealotry is demanding ideological conformity and approval from fellow political travelers, not for any particular plan or action against **the enemy**, but for some ideological declaration of priorities and hollow repetition of slogans that makes the zealots personally comfortable with what their fellow travelers are thinking and saying.

Look, I’m being harsh on Norm. If the petition had read as follows:
"I oppose religious coercion, terrorist activities, and human-rights violations being currently committed by Islamic militants across the world",
.
I would have signed it. But whether I sign it or not contributes nil to the struggle. And the petition didn’t stop at that. It also tried to tell fellow liberals who they should criticize and tried to rally them to criticize whoever the petition’s creators deem inappropriate. F*ck that. I’ll make my own decisions.
I am for the left which joins Bush and says you need to do more of some things and less of others.
And how will that eliminate the "mass pathological movements" you’ve alledged? The "plan" you propose isn’t a plan for winning the war. It’s a plan for having lots of liberals get really hot under the collar about terror. I don’t see that as being relevant. I think the direction of concern is misguided. And I think it actively degrades our individual and collective ability to think clearly.




McQ:
Are you prepared to do that?
Depends. What stick, where, on whom? Will it work?

(Isn’t the stick buried in Iraq?)
You mean like Iraq?
No, because I judge Iraq as a net loss in the short-to-medium term, whatever beneficial regional effects it might have in thirty years, and I don’t believe the costs justify it, nor can we replicate it right now even if we wanted to, which is the root of why Norm and the right-wing are blaming liberals, instead of proposing we invade Iran.

And the reason it’s a loss is that we didn’t demand reform, but instead imposed revolution from the top down. From what I can see, this poses unsustainable costs, and more than eliminates the gains from democracy that we would otherwise be gaining, and aren’t.






 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://

 
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