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Why paleo-Libertarians turn everyone off
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Because they take positions like this:
But the Buffoon Of The Year award goes to Ron Paul. His contention that America deserved the 9/11 attack should end his political career. Hopefully it will convince the next forum to exclude him from the proceedings. Paul made everyone else look tolerable, and had most of us yearning for a vaudeville hook.
You know, as a libertarian, I'd love to support Ron Paul. But how in the world do you support someone as clueless as that?

Don Surber dubs Paul "the Republican Kucinich".

Bring back the blue guy ... please.

/sarcasm
 
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I didn’t see the exact comment (anyone have a youtube link?), but here’s a freeper making a post defending Paul and saying he was misinterpreted/wasn’t clear in his point.

Again, I didn’t see it so I’m withholding judgement, but just thought an alternate view would be good to have.
 
Written By: ChrisB
URL: http://
As I understood it Paul made a correct statement: our interventionist foreign policies in the Mideast was a causal factor in the 9-11 bombings. That is undeniable, no matter how much "appeal to emotion" one makes. (This is an example of political correctness from the right by the way — one can’t even suggest that our policies caused 9-11 without being attacked in an emotional manner, without regard to the argument. So those who condemn political correctness from the left, don’t tolerate it from the right!)

Our policies in the region have gotten us intimately connected to corrupt regimes like the one in Saudi Arabia, overthrew democratic governments like Mossedeq’s in Iran which threatened not to conform to our interests, and has led some radicals to view us as interfering in their culture and threatening their identity. If we weren’t involved like we are, there would have been no attack on 9-11. That does not mean the policies were wrong — that would be another debate. This is only about identifying causal factors.

But, of course, that is only part of the story. What’s happening is primarily a fight within the Mideast between the forces of modernism and the radicals who have taken Islam and used it (improperly) to rationalize a kind of neo-fascism. They fear that their own people will modernize and embrace western values which they consider "un-Islamic." Hence the need: 1) to try to kick the West out of the region; 2) inspire anti-American and anti-western sentiment to win the youth to their form of radicalism (which the Iraq war is helping them do, IMO); and 3) try to create a clash of civilization that will polarize extremists on each side in order to eliminate a middle path of slowly modernizing Islam.

 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
From Chalmers Johnson’s Blowback:
The term "blowback," which officials of the Central Intelligence Agency first invented for their own internal use, is starting to circulate among students of international relations. It refers to the unintended consequences of policies that were kept secret from the American people. What the daily press reports as the malign acts of "terrorists" or "drug lords" or "rogue states" or "illegal arms merchants" often turn out to be blowback from earlier American operations.

One man’s terrorist is, of course, another man’s freedom fighter, and what U.S. officials denounce as unprovoked terrorist attacks on its innocent citizens are often meant as retaliation for previous American imperial actions. Terrorists attack innocent and undefended American targets precisely because American soldiers and sailors firing cruise missiles from ships at sea or sitting in B-52 bombers at extremely high altitudes or supporting brutal and repressive regimes from Washington seem invulnerable.
You can choose to believe, as apparently Giuliani does, that Bin Laden attacked us for our freedoms. Or you can try to develop a richer understanding of BL’s motivations.

It may be the case that the benefit having US troops stationed in Saudi Arabia outweighed the harm that resulted. The House of Saud still stands and oil flows are uninterrupted. But ignoring the relationship between US foreign policy and the acts of foreigners in response to that conduct is foolish and short-sighted.
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
Yeah yeah, it’s always America’s fault. Never mind all that talk about "convert or die", "caliphate", etc. So Francis, how far back in history is one allowed to look to foster grievances? I mean, would we be justified in blowing up Muslim civilians in retaliation for the siege of Constantinople?
 
Written By: Jordan
URL: http://
My irony meter is off the scale reading Erb and Francis.

On the one hand, they want us to acknowledge that our foreign policies were contributing factors to the actions of various terrorist groups.

On the other hand, they don’t want to recognize that it was the appearance of weakness in the wake of Mogadishu that emboldened OBL, and that retreating from Iraq will give terrorists and even greater appearance of weakness.

 
Written By: steverino
URL: http://steverino.journalspace.com/
Here’s the video, Chris.
 
Written By: Linda Morgan
URL: http://
Both the 9/11 Commission Report and the CIA’s leading analyst on al-Qaeda and bin Laden echoed the same view that Paul said during the debate. OBL’s own "declaration of war" against the US specifically named both the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia (in fact, that made the title) and the sanctions against Iraq.

Again, as Francis said, you can make the case that having the troops over there is still in our best interest anyway. But it does no use to bury your head in the sand and say that al-Qaeda is sending people out to murder Americans because they hate our freedom and our culture. They do, but the way they bring others to their cause is by pointing to our military stationed in the Middle East, particularly in Saudi Arabia, and saying that we’re trying to wipe out the Muslim world.

You have to know your enemy in order to defeat him. Misrepresenting the motive of the terrorists who attacked on 9/11, as Rudy and many of the post-debate analysts did last night, is a huge disservice in trying to fight them.
 
Written By: Matt
URL: http://intermissionphoto.com
Sure, Matt, that’s why they go so easy on countries that don’t have troops stationed in the Middle East. Oh, wait...
 
Written By: Xrlq
URL: http://xrlq.com/
If any of this was true, they would have flown planes into Big Ben and not the WTC.

Historically the Brits have done far more to mess with the Middle East than the US ever has done. The US, though, is today’s obstacle to the radical factions rise to power. It is also the boogey man that can be rallied about since attacking them and failing brings almost as much glory as attacking them and winning. It isn’t about revenge. It’s about acquiring power.

As for one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, I’ve never heard something that is more hogwash. A terrorist uses terror as a tool to acquire power. Dictators use terror as a tool to maintain power. A terrorist is an unemployed dictator. Nothing more. Dictators are no one’s freedom fighter.

This blowback also doesn’t explain extremist activities in Africa or Asia either. And also the Balkans where the Muslims population actually owes us one. But let’s overlook that too.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
Yeah yeah, it’s always America’s fault. Never mind all that talk about "convert or die", "caliphate", etc. So Francis, how far back in history is one allowed to look to foster grievances? I mean, would we be justified in blowing up Muslim civilians in retaliation for the siege of Constantinople?
This response is emotion-driven and contains no argument. It falsely says that "it’s always America’s fault" — no one said that. The convert or die stuff is just emotional fluff, and nobody claimed 9-11 was justified. Again, this is how political correctness works. You attack someone for making an argument (Francis even had a cite) and you avoid dealing with the substance, you just go for emotion and irrelevant tangents. It’s anti-reason on parade.

Blowback certainly doesn’t explain all extremist activities, but clearly Osama was shapped by the Afghan war and was responding to US troops on Saudi soil in 1991. Once started, such an extremist movement expands.

Now, noting a causal connection is not the same thing as justifying an act. One can find causal factors which lead to people becoming child abuse — indeed, to prevent and work against child abuse, you have to know what caused it. But identifying those in no way justifies child abuse, or takes away blame from the perpetrators of violence.

Think of it this way: most terrorists would, in other conditions, probably be nice, honorable people. They were duped into a fascistic view of the world, and to believe their act would bring honor and serve God. They as individuals failed in making the proper moral judgements. Yet that does not mean we can’t find causal factors for why they chose evil over good. Indeed, we have to in order to have effective counter-terrorism.

And Steverino, of course Somalia in 1993 caused people like Bin Laden and more directly the Interhamwe in Rwanda to see the US as weak. That likely was a causal factor for some of Bin Laden’s choices as well (and that argument also is one that sees US policy as in part causing 9-11).

And jpm100: I agree about the Brits — indeed colonialism messed up the region (and much of the world) far more than anything the US has done since WWII. But perhaps a lesson there is that intervening in the affairs of others is very risky and even with good intent can do more harm than good.

Let’s deal with reality, and put political correctness aside.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
That does not mean the policies were wrong — that would be another debate. This is only about identifying causal factors.
There goes Erb...ignoring the actual argument again. Ron Paul explicitly stated afterward that "bad [American] policy over 50 years" was the cause for the hatred of our enemies.

Try sticking with the argument the person is making.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Think of it this way: most terrorists would, in other conditions, probably be nice, honorable people. They were duped into a fascistic view of the world, and to believe their act would bring honor and serve God. They as individuals failed in making the proper moral judgements. Yet that does not mean we can’t find causal factors for why they chose evil over good. Indeed, we have to in order to have effective counter-terrorism.
The key is that blaming US policy is part of the duping of the individuals that commit the terrorist acts. The cause is the true motivation of those that dupe terrorists into that "fantastic view of the world". A quick study of the founding of Islam and the methods used to spread it from it’s inception to the current day reveals consistent terrorism anywhere Islamists have the ability to strike. Mohammed lived slightly prior to the development of US foreign policy. Algeria, Bangladesh and Yemen are not "interventionist" and yet Islamic terrorists strike there. France has opposed US "interventionism" for more than twenty years, and terrorists stike there. US policy is just the excuse for some of the terrorists actions, but has nothing to do with the cause.
 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
An interesting point from Scott’s most recent comment:

"Osama was shapped by the Afghan war" and "was responding to US troops on Saudi soil in 1991"

Yes the Afghan war was a big part of Osama’s rise and it was the US that was helping him. Certainly Osama took rhetorical advantage of us being in Saudi Arabia after the first Gulf War, but unless you want to abandon Israel we would have been a target sooner or later.

Btw, here’s what Osama said about reasons to attack the US if you want his words rather than the summary above.

And to repeat comments I made elsewhere:

Congressman Paul has a valid position. We can just ignore the Middle East and let whatever happens there happen. Or we can continue to fight for a Middle East that isn’t dominated by shira law.

Yes, the terrorists fight us because we are in the Middle East. The same way the Communists fought us in dozens of countries during the Cold War. We stand in the way of their conquest.

I long for the luxury of the 90s when we felt we could ignore fanatical Muslims. I wish I could believe it doesn’t matter what happens in the Middle East. I’d love to take the easy way out and say to hell with it, let them kill each other.

But I know the price to pay will only be higher.

 
Written By: abwtf
URL: http://abw.mee.nu
There goes Erb...ignoring the actual argument again. Ron Paul explicitly stated afterward that "bad [American] policy over 50 years" was the cause for the hatred of our enemies.

Try sticking with the argument the person is making.
Exactly my point — he is making an argument about causal factors.

The key is that blaming US policy is part of the duping of the individuals that commit the terrorist acts. The cause is the true motivation of those that dupe terrorists into that "fantastic view of the world". A quick study of the founding of Islam and the methods used to spread it from it’s inception to the current day reveals consistent terrorism anywhere Islamists have the ability to strike. Mohammed lived slightly prior to the development of US foreign policy. Algeria, Bangladesh and Yemen are not "interventionist" and yet Islamic terrorists strike there. France has opposed US "interventionism" for more than twenty years, and terrorists stike there. US policy is just the excuse for some of the terrorists actions, but has nothing to do with the cause.
Blaming Islam is as wrong as blaming America. The point is that American policies are indeed a causal factor for the rise of Islamic extremism. Unless you want to start burdening Christianity with the crusades, inquisition, mass slaughters of non-believers in convert or die wars (when the Christians took Jerusalem it was convert or die, when the Muslims got it back they did not seek similar revenge), get over your attempt to demonize Islam.

The rise of Islamic radicalism is recent, and in conflict with most Muslim beliefs about how to live. Even after the al qaeda attack most Muslims couldn’t believe it was really fellow Muslims who did it since it was contrary to the teachings of Koran. If you want a war with Islam, I guarantee you’ll lose.

Now, being honest with ourselves about causal factors is necessary. It’s irrelevant if it’s also part of their propaganda. Unless we look at this clearly and without the emotion of anti-Islam paranoia or a mirror image anti-Americanism can be deal with the complexity of the issues in play. I’m not sure what the best policy is, but our current approach has been counter productive in many ways and we have to address that if we’re going to have a rational policy.

Bottom line: Don’t give in to emotionalism, don’t let your thinking be clouded by the idea of an us vs. them mentality.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
This is an interesting, related development. Ron Paul acquires a challenger for his congressional seat, with a very interesting resume.
 
Written By: ChrisB
URL: http://
As I understood it Paul made a correct statement: our interventionist foreign policies in the Mideast was a causal factor in the 9-11 bombings
So, you’ve just given my argument credence... that Paul was caught sounding not like a libertarian, but a Democrat.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
one can’t even suggest that our policies caused 9-11
Suggesting that US policies have a motivating effect is not the same as saying US policies "caused" something. For example, say in response to your post I became so pissed that I came to your classroom and punched you in the mouth, would you then say that you "caused" the attack?

When you frame a statement in a manner such as "US policies caused 9-11" that is implying a direct causal relationship (rather than your later clarifications: a "causal connection" or a "causal factor") and removes agency from the terrorists leaving agency only with the US . So yes, it is a perfectly reasonable reading to interpret this as saying "it’s always America’s fault".
 
Written By: Shasta
URL: http://
Yes, the terrorists fight us because we are in the Middle East. The same way the Communists fought us in dozens of countries during the Cold War. We stand in the way of their conquest.
Yes I agree with you here. In fact, I remember Jon writing some similar stuff about terrorist causes and justifications before too.

HOWEVER, from everything I know about Ron Paul and his foreign policies, he does not agree with you. He advocates isolationism, to stop standing in the way of their conquest, to borrow your phrase.
 
Written By: ChrisB
URL: http://
Wingnuts believe that Muslim radicals are so fanatical, and so filled with hate for the West,that they will attempt to kill us no matter what our policies are in the Middle East, and toward Islam more generally. In other words, no matter what we do, they want to kill us. It has nothing to do with our policies.

Ok - let’s assume that is true. Let’s assume they would want to kill us no matter what we do - or don’t do - in the Middle East.

And yet, at the same time, wingers say that we cannot make the policy choice of pulling out of Iraq because - wait for it - of how AQ and OBL would react. As Steverino says, pulling out of Iraq would embolden the terrorists. In other words, our policy choice would motivate them.

So the terrorists don’t care what we do in the Middle East - all they want to do is kill, kill, kill. And yet the terrorists do care about what we do in Iraq, because, if we pull out, it will only make them want to kill us more, which, they want to do anyway, regardless of what we do in the Middle East, which, last time I looked, is where Iraq is.

Got it? Good.

 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
And Steverino, of course Somalia in 1993 caused people like Bin Laden and more directly the Interhamwe in Rwanda to see the US as weak. That likely was a causal factor for some of Bin Laden’s choices as well (and that argument also is one that sees US policy as in part causing 9-11).
You missed my point. If you accept that the appearance of weakness in 1993 emboldened terrorist actions against the US, how can you possibly argue that leaving Iraq would not make us look weaker, and susceptible to more terrorist attacks?

 
Written By: steverino
URL: http://steverino.journalspace.com/
Exactly my point — he is making an argument about causal factors.
OK, Erb...this is EXACTLY the type of BS that makes you such a putz.

I show you how Paul’s own words say the opposite of your claim (i.e. He says he is arguing that bad American policies led to the violent hatred BUT you say it is NOT about whether the policies were bad or not)...

That is a perfect example of NOT being "exactly" your point.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
You missed my point. If you accept that the appearance of weakness in 1993 emboldened terrorist actions against the US, how can you possibly argue that leaving Iraq would not make us look weaker, and susceptible to more terrorist attacks?
This is a fundamental point: Iraq is already making us appear weak (countries really don’t fear or respect us as much), but more importantly it is really weakening us. In real, objective terms it is making us less secure and less able to defend our interests. Consider this article by a former Israeli foreign minister.

If it was only about appearance, then you’d have a point. But is far more dangerous to be weakened in real, material terms than just to appear weakened. So we need to: 1) end a policy that is overstretching the military, costing hundreds of billions, inspiring more anti-Americanism, and making us economically vulnerable; and 2) develop a new approach that addresses the threats. An appearance of weakness is far easier to turn around than being truly weakened.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I show you how Paul’s own words say the opposite of your claim (i.e. He says he is arguing that bad American policies led to the violent hatred BUT you say it is NOT about whether the policies were bad or not)...
Of course he thinks they have been bad. I think they’ve been bad too.

But the question of whether or not they’ve been bad is a different question than the causal issue raised, and that’s what all the hubub has been about!
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
So the terrorists don’t care what we do in the Middle East - all they want to do is kill, kill, kill. And yet the terrorists do care about what we do in Iraq...
Naturally, MK is confused because common sense is so difficult for him.

Let’s use an analogy about a schoolyard bully...

The bully doesn’t care what the other kids do in the playground - all he wants to do is bully, bully, bully. And yet the bully does care what we do in the playground because if I confront the bully and then back down the bully will focus even more attention my way and abuse me even more.

So to summarize, it makes perfect sense that a group may use violence against you no matter what you have or have not done, while your future actions may also entice further violence.

It’s not complicated. Even you should be able to understand, MK.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
This is a fundamental point: Iraq is already making us appear weak (countries really don’t fear or respect us as much), but more importantly it is really weakening us. In real, objective terms it is making us less secure and less able to defend our interests. Consider this article by a former Israeli foreign minister.
You really don’t want to understand this, do you? I’ll spell it out:

1. Backing down from a fight in Mogadishu made us look weak to terrorists.
1a. The reason we looked weak was not because we took a beating, but rather because we ran away at the first sign of adveristy.
2. Fighting in Iraq does NOT make us look weak to the terrorists.
3. Running from the fight in Iraq WILL make us look weak to the terrorists.
4. Looking weak to the terrorists is what spurred them to increase their attacks in the 1990s
5. It really doesn’t matter what other countries think about the situation right now, it’s what they think about us after we’re out: did we stay and finish the job, or did we turn tail and run?
6. Therefore, staying in Iraq now and fighting terrorist groups there will mean less terrorist attacks against the US in other areas. Face it, if we’re stretched out as badly as you claim, the terrorist groups have got to be even moreso.

Here’s a free clue: no matter what America does at any time, anti-Americanism will increase. Your use of that is a red herring.
 
Written By: steverino
URL: http://steverino.journalspace.com/
is a different question than the causal issue raised
You’re on crack, again.

Of course it’s a different question. YOU made it a different question. YOU raised the causal issue, which was NOT the issue Paul was arguing.

YOUR point was NOT Paul’s point. They are two DIFFERENT points.

So don’t act like your point is explaining Paul’s point.

Putz. Thanks for providing another example of why "Erb logic" is not worth the attention I’ve wasted on it.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
YOUR point was NOT Paul’s point.
I pointed out that he raised a valid issue about causality and explained why. So far you haven’t denied my claims or countered my argument. Moreover, I noted directly that issues of causality and whether or not a policy is good are two different issues, and I focused on the importance of causality. I put that sentence in there to disconnect the causality issue from Paul’s critique of policy, to note that both those for and against the war have to deal with the reality of causal factors. Get it?



 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
The bully doesn’t care what the other kids do in the playground - all he wants to do is bully, bully, bully. And yet the bully does care what we do in the playground because if I confront the bully and then back down the bully will focus even more attention my way and abuse me even more.
But that makes no sense at all.

Think of The Terminator. He wanted to kill Sarah Collins. It did not matter to The Terminator whether Sarah Collins fought back. It did not matter to The Terminator whether she ran. All he wanted to do was kill.

It’s the same in the Middle East. Middle East terrorists are, according to the wingnut critique, like The Terminator. In the words of Reese:
[The terrorists are] out there. [They] can’t be bargained with, [they] can’t be reasoned with. [They don’t] feel pity or remorse or fear and [they] absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.
They want to kill us if we stay in Iraq. They want to kill us if we leave Iraq. They don’t respond to reason. They don’t respond to fear.

Wingers cherry pick OBL quotes to frame their argument. When OBL says Mogadishu/93 showed American weakeness, wingers quote OBL as if he was delivering the gospel truth. When OBL says American policies are causing him to wage jihad, wingers decry OBL as a lunatic who is simply spewing propaganda.

You can’t have it both ways.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
steverino:

your argument has a long and distinguished tradition: the English in Northern Ireland, the Israelis in South Lebanon, etc.

There are two problems with it. One, you can’t ever leave. By allowing the enemy to define your foreign policy you have lost the initiative and committed to a neverending occupation. Two, by focusing so much on the perception of strength, you can lose track of the loss of actual strength.

 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
(when the Christians took Jerusalem it was convert or die, when the Muslims got it back they did not seek similar revenge
No, the ’convert or die’ policy started with the Muslims move into Jerusalem, that was a large part of the reasons for the Crusades in the first place.
The rise of Islamic radicalism is recent, and in conflict with most Muslim beliefs about how to live.
The rise of Wahabibism is recent, Islamic radicalism is not. It is in conflict with the beliefs the majority of Western Muslims, and maybe most Muslims overall. It is not in conflict with most Muslim beliefs (i.e. most of the teaching are the same.)
Even after the al qaeda attack most Muslims couldn’t believe it was really fellow Muslims who did it since it was contrary to the teachings of Koran.
Actually, violence to non-Muslims is in the Koran, and shown by the life of Mohammed. Yes, Christians used violence throughout history as much as Muslims. The difference is that in the Bible, the violence of the Old Testament is later contradicted by the message of peace in the New Testament and the example of Jesus’ life. (Of course, if the Old Testament actually taught violence that much, Muslim prayers in Jewish occupied Palestine would be as numerous and free as Catholic Mass in Saudi Arabia). In the Koran, the peace of early versus when they were militarily weak is abrogated by the violence in later suras.
Most Muslims didn’t believe 911 because truth is very low on the priority list in the Muslim world. See your own statement about their view of the world.
 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
Think of The Terminator. He wanted to kill Sarah Collins. It did not matter to The Terminator whether Sarah Collins fought back. It did not matter to The Terminator whether she ran. All he wanted to do was kill.

To phrase this in the original question of cause:
Did Sarah Connor cause the rise of violent robots? No
Did he want to kill Sarah Conner because of what she did to him? No, he did what his masters told him to because her son was a threat to their domination.
Did her actions affect the later actions of the Terminator? Yes
Did it matter what actions Sarah Connor took if she wanted to win? Yes

Not an exact analogy, but thanks for showing that just because the US didn’t cause the rise of the terrorists, it doesn’t mean future actions don’t have any effect.
 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
So the jiahdists are only attacking the West and the forces of democracy and progress because of things the US did in the past? Good to hear it. So then if we say, "Sorry," will they stop and give up the whole jihad-theocracy-fatwa shtik?
 
Written By: Bilwick
URL: http://
For the record here is the exchange...

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/15/us/politics/16repubs-text.html?_r=2&pagewanted=print
And my argument is that we shouldn’t go to war so carelessly. (Bell rings.) When we do, the wars don’t end.

MR. GOLER: Congressman, you don’t think that changed with the 9/11 attacks, sir?

REP. PAUL: What changed?

MR. GOLER: The non-interventionist policies.

REP. PAUL: No. Non-intervention was a major contributing factor. Have you ever read the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we’ve been over there; we’ve been bombing Iraq for 10 years. We’ve been in the Middle East — I think Reagan was right.

We don’t understand the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics. So right now we’re building an embassy in Iraq that’s bigger than the Vatican. We’re building 14 permanent bases. What would we say here if China was doing this in our country or in the Gulf of Mexico? We would be objecting. We need to look at what we do from the perspective of what would happen if somebody else did it to us. (Applause.)

MR. GOLER: Are you suggesting we invited the 9/11 attack, sir?

REP. PAUL: I’m suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it, and they are delighted that we’re over there because Osama bin Laden has said, "I am glad you’re over on our sand because we can target you so much easier." They have already now since that time — (bell rings) — have killed 3,400 of our men, and I don’t think it was necessary.

MR. GIULIANI: Wendell, may I comment on that? That’s really an extraordinary statement. That’s an extraordinary statement, as someone who lived through the attack of September 11, that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don’t think I’ve heard that before, and I’ve heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11th. (Applause, cheers.)

And I would ask the congressman to withdraw that comment and tell us that he didn’t really mean that. (Applause.)

MR. GOLER: Congressman?

REP. PAUL: I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they teach and talk about blowback. When we went into Iran in 1953 and installed the shah, yes, there was blowback. A reaction to that was the taking of our hostages and that persists. And if we ignore that, we ignore that at our own risk. If we think that we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem.

They don’t come here to attack us because we’re rich and we’re free. They come and they attack us because we’re over there. I mean, what would we think if we were — if other foreign countries were doing that to us?
I think the following is a strawman argument, in that it goes farther then what Ron Paul actually said.
His contention that America deserved the 9/11 attack should end his political career
If I get the gist of your argument Scott, it’s that there is a causal relation between US foreign policy and terrorist attacks against us, but that terrorist attacks still aren’t justified.

Ron Paul was saying that there is a causal relation. Now, you can argue that it is more then just our foreign policy which is inciting terrorism. For instance, look at the many countries were we have no or little presence and Islamic terrorism is still present.
You can’t have it both ways.
mk is correct, you shouldn’t cherry pick quotes. But then, bin Laden is attacking us for a variety of reasons, not just our foreign policy, and not just for our freedom/liberty/modernity.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com/
So the jiahdists are only attacking the West and the forces of democracy and progress because of things the US did in the past? Good to hear it. So then if we say, "Sorry," will they stop and give up the whole jihad-theocracy-fatwa shtik?


No, only that US policy is a causal factor but, as I pointed out, it’s far bigger than that it is a struggle in the Islamic world over the response to modernism. A group of radicals have a kind of neo-fascist view they rationalize by an appeal to Islam, but one which really preverts the religion. Their hope is to inspire a culture war that will push the youth (youth population is peaking in the Mideast) towards support for a jihad. Their fear is that modernism and secular ideas will alter traditional society so much that they can never have the kind of community they believe is required by God.

So even if we developed Ron Paul’s libertarian policy, the threat of westernization and modernism would remain, as would the jihadist mentality of some radicals. So there are no easy answers. The current approach isn’t working, though — instead we’re weakening ourselves and watching a terror threat grow. That’s obviously not the results that we want.

Ted, your attempt to dismiss the violence of the Bible by saying it is contradicted by New Testament teachings is interesting. By that logic, then appeals to Old Testament conceptions of God and force should give way to the pacifism of the New Testament. But how can one then justify US military action on numerous fronts, and the huge military (the largest on the planet) held by the US? Clearly that’s anti-Christian (though potentially in line with the secular ideals of the country) by New Testament standards. And, of course, for Jews the Old Testament remains as valid as ever.

The Koran, like any book, can be interpreted in a variety of ways (in fact, translations of basic verses are often different — there is no one clear meaning). Most Muslims do not embrace a view of violence and follow Koranic verses that say not to be an aggressor, not to wage war if your opponent wants peace, and other verses which end up being similar in tone to Augustine’s just war theory. So don’t demonize a religion because that not only is factually wrong, but a disastrous approach. Islam is growing and is not going to go away. Better to work to develop ways of getting along peacefully in our globalizing world — something many Muslims in Europe and the US do, as do Muslims and westerners in many Muslim countries. The neo-fascists shouldn’t be allowed to hijack Islam, and we shouldn’t join them in their attempt to define what their religion is.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Keith, Applause for a concise, accurate clarification made without uneccesary rancor, long overdue in this thread.

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
"If we weren’t involved like we are, there would have been no attack on 9-11."
Scott Erb, there’s nothing but emotion and baseless, unprovable assertion in this statement. You should strive to clean up your own thoughts a bit more before getting out the emotional argument highlighter and smearing it all over the place.

 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
This is why I have not joined the Libertarian Party. They are a bunch of kooks and nuts.
Let’s deal with reality, and put political correctness aside.
"Political Correctness is a doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical liberal minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end."


This is the winner of this years contest for the best definition of a word.
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://faroutfishfiles.blogspot.com/
And speaking of using emotion for effect,

MR. GIULIANI: Wendell, may I comment on that? That’s really an extraordinary statement. That’s an extraordinary statement, as someone who lived through the attack of September 11, that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don’t think I’ve heard that before, and I’ve heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11th. (Applause, cheers.)
Giuliani gets a F for that.

 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
"If we weren’t involved like we are, there would have been no attack on 9-11."

Scott Erb, there’s nothing but emotion and baseless, unprovable assertion in this statement.
No, it’s a simple statement that was backed up by argumentation. If you read emotion into it, that’s your doing, not mine. I’m just trying to understand the reasons why a major terrorist attack took place. US policy in the Mideast was a necessary condition, it led radicals to see us as a major enemy. If you disagree, make a counter argument.

Most analyses say US policy towards Japan by FDR was a causal factor in the Japanese decision to invade Pearl Harbor. That doesn’t, however, mean that FDR’s policies were wrong — that would be another debate as well.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Not responding to any particular bit here...

Saying that they hate us for our freedom and our culture *is* exactly (or pretty darn near) the same as saying that our policies in the mid-east are to blame.

Because they are the same thing. Really.

We *live* in this world. Not behind these borders but in this world. We’re going to rub up against the other people living in this world. Our "culture" and our "freedom" don’t exist behind our borders, they exist in this world.

Saying, Oh look, this is why they hate us so much, is all fine and good but it’s beyond pointless unless it’s followed with, "Is it possible for us to not *do* that anymore?"

And it’s not.

So there you go.

Parts of this system do not exist in isolation and haven’t for a surprisingly long time. Simply in the matter of markets isolationism hasn’t existed for much greater than a century when cotton farmers in Texas watched the weather reports in Egypt. And at *this* point, for us to "stay home" and mind our own business would be impossible through anything other than inflicting on ourselves a worse destruction than if we were defeated by military force and taken over. Because even defeated *that* way our *culture* would push outward into the world. To actually isolate ourselves, our corporations, our *will* in this world would be a more thorough destruction.

To frame the answer as "they hate our freedom and culture" is accurate. To frame it that way also clearly illustrates what it would take to mollify the enemy. We would have to stop being ourselves.

I understand why isolationism is so appealing. The fact that it’s a nice thought is irrelevant.
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
Sorry Scott Erb but you need to take a short lesson in history. You stated: "Unless you want to start burdening Christianity with the crusades, inquisition, mass slaughters of non-believers in convert or die wars (when the Christians took Jerusalem it was convert or die, when the Muslims got it back they did not seek similar revenge), get over your attempt to demonize Islam."

Wrong. From Wikipedia "Over the course of that afternoon, evening and next morning, the crusaders murdered almost every inhabitant of Jerusalem. Muslims, Jews, and even eastern Christians were all massacred." The inhabitants of Jerusalem were slaughtered en masse. There was no "convert or die" alternative offered. And when Saladhin retook Jerusalem approximately 100 years later, his army did not slaughter the inhabitants because Saladhin negotiated a surrender - for a ransom, which was paid, for every single inhabitant.

But this kind of slaughter was just the order of the day. "Convert or die" was expressly an Islamic modus operendi for the first 500 years of its existence. They even had an elite military organization made up completely of the captured western children who were then brought up in the Islamic Faith and taught they had to excell in there duty to Allah to make up for their ancestors. They were known and feared the world over as the Janissaries.

You can talk all you want of "demonizing Islam" and "The rise of Islamic radicalism is recent" but you need to do a little research on the topic before you spout the politically correct narrative.

When you speak of the "Islamic radicalism is recent" how recent are you speaking about? 50 years? 75? How recent is recent?

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem travelled to Germany in 1940 and became a confidante of Hitler. He even raised Arab troops for the SS who served on the Eastern Front and in the Balkans until the end of the war. Recent enough for you?

The Muslim Brotherhood was established for the express purpose of re-establihing the World Caliphate. Their one goal - Islamic domination of the world. They were formerly established immediately after the end of World War One, almost 100 years ago. Recent enough for you?

Have our policies in the Middle East invited attack? Could be. Did our policies in the Pacific invite attack from Japan in 1941? Could be? So were we wrong to fight in 1941? And for this discussion all of that is immaterial.

Based upon your argument, we should leave Iraq and then we will be left alone. What happens next is casue for a lot of discussion. I say they will follow us home. You doubt it. You are wrong. I have proof. What proof? How about a real-time real-life example? Have the jihadists left Spain alone since they pulled out of the coalition? No! Now, what makes you think we will be treated any differently?

The jihadist wants servitude! The jihadist wants dominance! They want to tell us what we should be doing - good bad or indifferent - he doesn’t care. If we want to remain free then what the jihadist wants should matter for nothing to us - period!
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Wingnuts believe that Muslim radicals are so fanatical, and so filled with hate for the West,that they will attempt to kill us no matter what our policies are in the Middle East, and toward Islam more generally. In other words, no matter what we do, they want to kill us. It has nothing to do with our policies.
First off - I knew this was an MK post because he started it off with ’Wingnuts’. MK warning bells went off right away. Leaving that aside, MK, do you pay attention at all to what the radical Muslims spend their time doing? Hint - blowing things (themselves included) up, as well as planning and practicing peace loving things like attacking western malls and schools. Just a peaceful bunch that only wants us to leave the middle east. Right.
He wanted to kill Sarah Collins.
It was Sarah Conner... and he didn’t WANT to kill her. He was programmed to make sure she did not live. If she died crossing the street or an overdose, his mission was complete.
It’s the same in the Middle East. Middle East terrorists are, according to the wingnut critique, like The Terminator. In the words of Reese:

[The terrorists are] out there. [They] can’t be bargained with, [they] can’t be reasoned with. [They don’t] feel pity or remorse or fear and [they] absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.
Gotta agree with that analogy. Thanks. I’ll use it this weekend in discussions.
They want to kill us if we stay in Iraq. They want to kill us if we leave Iraq. They don’t respond to reason. They don’t respond to fear.
We have done irreparable damage to them in Iraq. Damage we would not have been able to inflict any other way. And you are glossing over the fact that staying the course is still a valid thing to do... not everyone wants us to leave. What about the people that want us to stay and finish the job?
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
Scott;
Ted, your attempt to dismiss the violence of the Bible by saying it is contradicted by New Testament teachings is interesting. By that logic, then appeals to Old Testament conceptions of God and force should give way to the pacifism of the New Testament. But how can one then justify US military action on numerous fronts, and the huge military (the largest on the planet) held by the US? Clearly that’s anti-Christian (though potentially in line with the secular ideals of the country) by New Testament standards. And, of course, for Jews the Old Testament remains as valid as ever.
I dont justify it with religion, and no one else here has either. Obviously, the US as a country (and in this case Republicans in specific)do not take political actions based on Christianity, but rather the secular view of what is good for the country. Actually, the idea of government acting independantly from religion is an idea backed by Christ himself. The Koran, on the other hand, teaches that all muslims should be ruled by Muslims.

You confuse what moderate Muslims believe with what the Koran teaches. Much like the vast majority of Christians do not make every decision the same as Jesus would, most Muslims do not act in lockstep with Mohammed. There are many Muslims who are trying to moderate their religion, but that does not change the beleifs that it started with.
Fictional Scenario: place several 5 people in a cul-de-sac, each with an identical house and possessions, all very comfortable materially. The average person (not fundamentalist in their religion), regardless of religion, would get along with their neighbors. Someone that had decided to make every decision based on the example of Jesus would get along with their neighbors. Someone making every decision based on Mohammed’s example would try to convert their neighbor under pain of death.
 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
Correction: The person acting as close as possible to the example of Mohammed in the above scenario would also allow the non-Muslims to be dhimmis.
 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
Keith, Applause for a concise, accurate clarification made without uneccesary rancor, long overdue in this thread.
Here here.

Ron Paul was grossly mischaracterized by Captain Blowhard.
Team Rudy should send a hundred roses to Ron Paul — yellow roses, of course — after the Congressman essentially tossed the debate to Giuliani. Rudy had a pretty good night going anyway, but when Paul as much as said that the terrorists had a point in killing 3,000 Americans,
Paul hinted at no such thing.

And this is just absurd,
But the Buffoon Of The Year award goes to Ron Paul. His contention that America deserved the 9/11 attack should end his political career. Hopefully it will convince the next forum to exclude him from the proceedings. Paul made everyone else look tolerable, and had most of us yearning for a vaudeville hook.
So let me get this straight.
Paul says something that Ed doesn’t agree with (especially Ed’s own imagination of what Paul said), so he should be excluded from future debates?
How open minded of you, Ed.

It’s a good thing to have Ron Paul there. What about all the other stuff he brings to the table? You know, all that stuff that makes libertarian types salivate.

On government spending,
REP. PAUL: I’d start with the departments — the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security. We’ve started with — we’ve just — the Republicans put in the Department of Homeland — it’s a monstrous type of bureaucracy. It was supposed to be streamlining our security and it’s unmanageable. I mean, just think of the efficiency of FEMA in its efforts to take care of the floods and the hurricanes.
So yes, there’s a lot of things that we can cut, but we can’t cut anything until we change our philosophy about what government should do. If you think that we can continue to police the world and spend hundreds of billions of dollars overseas, and spend hundreds of billions of dollars running a welfare state, an entitlement system that has accumulated $60 trillion worth of obligations, and think that we can run the economy this way; we spend so much money now that we have to borrow nearly $3 billion a day from foreigners to take care of our consumption, and we can’t afford that.
We can’t afford it in the government, we can’t afford it as a nation.
So tax reform should come, but spending cuts have to come by changing our attitude what government ought to be doing for us.
Hey McQ… What was all that stuff you said about litmus tests???

I guess it doesn’t apply to Ron Paul.

 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
You confuse what moderate Muslims believe with what the Koran teaches.
No I do not. I reject your interpretation of what the Koran teaches. The Koran demands freedom of religious choice, rejects "convert or die" (that was a Christian approach), and Mohammad reformed numerous Arab customs to treat women better, be more lenient with enemies after defeat, and improve treatment of the poor. Where, exactly, do you get your information? Anyone can cherry pick quotes out of context. You need to study the traditions and teachings, and find out how often words got abused by those focused only on power.
We have done irreparable damage to them in Iraq.
We have done irreparable damage to ourselves in Iraq. Islamic extremists have benefited from our intervention there. They’re laughing at us, we’re no longer feared or respected like we were before.

Of course SShiel is even worse, he cherry picks a few examples of one Grand Mufti and one group (and Islamic Brotherhood has a variety of factions). The convert or die is NOT in the Koran, but at times has been used by Christians. Muslims only demanded an extra tax, which in those days was quite tolerant.

Demonizing Islam is not only counter productive but its based on false understandings of the faith.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
A few random bits from among the comments:
The rise of Islamic radicalism is recent
Isn’t it more accurate to call it Islamic fundamentalism? They are attacking everyone who doesn’t follow the Koran to the letter.

And it isn’t recent, we’re just in a cycle of heightened activity. In the 19th century the US had little use for the Middle East. Now with WWI, WWII and the Cold War behind us and the China threat ahead of us, Islam is getting the majority of our foreign policy attention.
Let’s assume they would want to kill us no matter what we do - or don’t do - in the Middle East.

And yet, at the same time, wingers say that we cannot make the policy choice of pulling out of Iraq because - wait for it - of how AQ and OBL would react.
1. The terrorists will try to kill us if we are in the Middle East.
2. The terrorists will try to kill us if we leave the Middle East.

Solution: Kill the terrorists before they kill us.
Wingers cherry pick OBL quotes to frame their argument. When OBL says Mogadishu/93 showed American weakeness, wingers quote OBL as if he was delivering the gospel truth. When OBL says American policies are causing him to wage jihad, wingers decry OBL as a lunatic who is simply spewing propaganda.

You can’t have it both ways.
First logic problem, Osama can be correct about some things and incorrect about other things, so yes we can have it both ways.

As for your specific points, leaving Somalia certainly didn’t show strength and why should we validate OBL saying American polices cause him to wage jihad any more than we would validate, for example, someone who robs banks because he claims American economic policies have made him poor?



But yes, it’s perfectly acceptable to say the US should ignore the Middle East (and Asia and Europe and South America and Central America and Mexico and Canada). The consequences however would be more than the loss we’ve had in OIF of 3400 soldiers and $500 billion.


 
Written By: abwtf
URL: http://abw.mee.nu
Synova:
Saying that they hate us for our freedom and our culture *is* exactly (or pretty darn near) the same as saying that our policies in the mid-east are to blame.

Because they are the same thing. Really.
Our culture = overwhelming strategic dominance of a substantial chunk of the world, w/ no regard for sovereignty or human rights?

If so, you’ve just declared our culture worthless.
 
Written By: b-psycho
URL: http://www.psychopolitik.com
Ron Paul was grossly mischaracterized by Captain Blowhard.
Team Rudy should send a hundred roses to Ron Paul — yellow roses, of course — after the Congressman essentially tossed the debate to Giuliani. Rudy had a pretty good night going anyway, but when Paul as much as said that the terrorists had a point in killing 3,000 Americans,
Paul hinted at no such thing.

And this is just absurd,
But the Buffoon Of The Year award goes to Ron Paul. His contention that America deserved the 9/11 attack
I really hope we won’t devolve into a semantic discussion of "had a point" and "deserved" but Ron Paul is advocating a form of isolationism that absolutely translates to ’this wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t do what we did’.
Islamic extremists have benefited from our intervention there. They’re laughing at us, we’re no longer feared or respected like we were before.
I suppose that’s true. Just ask Saddam, Al-Zarqawi, Osama in his cave, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Mullah Dadullah...
 
Written By: abwtf
URL: http://abw.mee.nu
Which human rights are our policies in the US not regarding, b?

Especially compared to those regimes "they" are not attacking?

(Not taking a stand on whether or not "our culture" is really the same as "our policies", but you seem to be making a claim about the "regard" "our policies" have for those things, and that, I’m questioning.)

(For that matter, what’s sovereignty have to do with anything? Especially sovereignty of a non-democratic nation?

Respecting a human right to self-rule is not the same, after all, as respecting one to being ruled by a dictator, so long as he rules your ethnic or physically homogenous group - at least not in my book.

I think the one claim of Ayn Rand’s I agree with wholeheartedly and without reservation is that dictatorships have no moral right to exist. "Sovereign" or not; the term itself is just a leftover from the Treaty of Westphalia, and contains no inherent moral value.)
 
Written By: Sigivald
URL: http://
Keith, Applause for a concise, accurate clarification made without unnecessary rancor, long overdue in this thread.
I think Mr Paul would have been better to say, "while nothing justifies terrorism, intentionally targeting civilians with violence, our policies in the Middle East in the past 50 years, hasn’t helped lead to making a stable, freedom loving area. I feel our current policies are misguided as well, and detrimental to our national security."

I don’t agree with him 100% but I don’t think he’s being characterized fairly.

As far as history, you know, if they’d have let Patton sign up the German army and roll over the Soviets. Or had Truman not ceded Eastern Europe to the Soviets, we probably wouldn’t be in the mess we are in now.

Of course, go back a little further, if the Treaty of Versailles hadn’t gutted the Germans so badly and led to the rise of Hitler...

Or any number of coulda, woulda, shoulda’s...

Certainly we need to know our history to see where we’ve been, and to understand where we are now, but to try and guess how this or that adjustment would change the current situation is a fruitless endevour. People and societies aren’t that predictable.

Now, as far as going forward, well, clowns to the left, jokers to the right...

We need a way forward that makes the world a better place to live. I think most people want to be left alone, so the can live in peace and prosperity.
Ron Paul is advocating a form of isolationism that absolutely translates to ’this wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t do what we did’.
He isn’t the only one advocating it, and one should be able to easily debate the policy without resorting to personal attacks.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
And b demonstrates an inability to see the world.

Should we pretend to be weak? Should we cripple our economy so that we do not dominate?

We better respect sovereignty than most.

Our respect for human rights is unmatched.

Because, you see, b... when *we* ask gays not to serve in our military it is a horror.

When gays are hung to death in Iran, well, that’s not so bad.

When a racial minority faces a difficulty in the US it is a horror.

When a racial minority faces genocide in some backward little garden spot, well, that’s not so bad.

What do we do, b, that is shameful compared to elsewhere? This horrible oppressive culture of ours. What do we do?

You make up this stuff, or let others make it up for you, find a few faults and wail of how terrible we are. Yes, yes, the worst country and worst culture on Earth.

Except compared to all the others.
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
We have done irreparable damage to them in Iraq.

Yeah, I hear there are only a few dead-enders left at this point.

You don’t even have a working definition of "them", do you? If by "them" is "the global community of people homicidally pissed at America", you’re hilariously wrong. It’s like watching you claim you’re doing irreparable damage to your car’s engine by feeding it gasoline.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Our culture = overwhelming strategic dominance of a substantial chunk of the world, w/ no regard for sovereignty or human rights?

If so, you’ve just declared our culture worthless.
But with substantial regard for Microsoft, Hollywood, Exxon - capitalism and intellectual property = culture. If these are in fact worthless what the heck are you doing working and owning stuff? I mean you don’t want to be living a "worthless" life, best you go join a commune.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
"I think most people want to be left alone, so the can live in peace and prosperity."

Keith, I think you’re right.

It works near the level of individuals, though, and not nations so much. The "prosperity" part is a problem in a lot of places and it’s sort of separate from being "left alone." Certain systems promote prosperity. Leaving a system alone, if it saps prosperity, isn’t going to help.

 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
Synova: You equated non-intervention to giving up our culture, that’s an insult. Our freedom does not require us to police the world.

As for what we’ve done that you seem to think means I’m calling america evil somehow, trying to stuff me into your caricature: it’s the hypocrisy more than anything. Virtually every nation with some measure of power has done unjustifiable harm to their fellow man, we’re just the only ones claiming we’re better than that at the same time.

If we would just practice what we preached and stick to it, our moral upper hand would be denied by no one. We could go after legitimate threats w/ no problem, the world would be behind us the whole way. Instead, we’re calling the same boundaries we set up "quaint", joking about launching another war, and clapping when our representatives implicitly endorse torture. If we lose the war of ideas, then there’s no hope for the war on terror, as we’ll create 10 extremists for every one we eliminate.

Unaha: ...wtf are you talking about? Since when was occupying the middle east relevant to intellectual property?
 
Written By: b-psycho
URL: http://www.psychopolitik.com
Isn’t it more accurate to call it Islamic fundamentalism? They are attacking everyone who doesn’t follow the Koran to the letter.
No, they are being un-Islamic and the way they use the Koran twists it. They are the equivalent of the way the "God Hates Fags" group or "Christian Identity" perverts Christianity towards fascistic goals.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Sigivald: there’s a huge moral difference between not intervening to overthrow a reprehensible regime and actively supporting it. We have done plenty of the latter.

Of course all dictators should be overthrown — by their own people. Popular uprisings work out much better in the long run than 3rd party interventions, and they don’t have the appearance of outsiders thinking they know better than the people that live there every day.
 
Written By: b-psycho
URL: http://www.psychopolitik.com
To frame the answer as "they hate our freedom and culture" is accurate. To frame it that way also clearly illustrates what it would take to mollify the enemy. We would have to stop being ourselves.
I agree we can’t simply disengage. Globalization is here, modernism is spreading into the Mideast, and that inspires this current battle within the Islamic world between radical fascistic groups and those moderate and modern. But policies of supporting corrupt governments, using military force in a way that makes it easy to paint us the villain, and overstretching the military, spending probably ultimately over a trillion dollars, dividing our country, hurting our moral standing, and getting stuck in a quagmire that doesn’t really damage the extremists but instead gives them propaganda coups like Haditha and many smaller stories are counterproductive.

So at this point I think we have to recognized that many have overestimated American power and more fundamentally the ability of military power alone to shape the political world in the Mideast. This isn’t working.

A year ago I would have been far more isolationist in my response, closer to Paul. But I have been listening and reading the counter arguments in this group and in the media (and I hope those supporting the so-called war also take opinions of us war critics seriously), and so I grant that a simplistic "go and let them sort it out" isn’t enough either. We live in very important times, the decisions of the next decade could decide if war and economic collapse define how the system transforms, or if we can find a way to navigate the changing nature of world politics effectively and peacefully.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"You equated non-intervention to giving up our culture, that’s an insult. Our freedom does not require us to police the world."

I equated giving up our culture to non-intervention which is *not* limited to policing the world.

Poorly, perhaps, I was attempting to explain that we *live* in this world. We can’t be uninvolved in it. I said nothing about policing the world. You (and others) seem to want to assume that it’s the policing that offends but it’s more than that by far. We can’t *be* who we are without leaving footprints that show because we *live* here. We can’t take ourselves out of the world that we live in.

Being big and powerful (and I’m not at all pleased with the happenstance that has made us singularly powerful) is not a crime. To pull back enough that we don’t leave a mark, don’t influence, don’t determine what other people do, would mean giving up our culture, *yes*. It would mean giving up our *economy*. It would mean giving up our individual freedom to go about and *do* things.

Because we don’t live behind our borders.

Thinking that we *do* or *can* live behind our borders is... failing to see the world.

 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
Being big and powerful (and I’m not at all pleased with the happenstance that has made us singularly powerful) is not a crime. To pull back enough that we don’t leave a mark, don’t influence, don’t determine what other people do, would mean giving up our culture, *yes*. It would mean giving up our *economy*. It would mean giving up our individual freedom to go about and *do* things.


You act like a non-intervention foreign policy would mean wiping out all traces of american cultural influence around the world. Explain why...
 
Written By: b-psycho
URL: http://www.psychopolitik.com
Thank you, Scott.

The only thing I’d say is that we used to support dictators and corrupt governments on the theory that stability itself was a worthy goal. It’s sort of messy, this new thing that we’re trying to do, but if we can hold to this new approach, which is actually a very liberal approach, and favor stability based on liberty and freedom rather than which dictator is strong enough to enforce stability through fear... we might get somewhere better than where we were before.

I would have been far more isolationist in the past as well. And I still have no sympathy for anything that attempts to resemble a world government or claim authority over nations. (That freedom I demand for *my* country, I demand for *others* as well.) We can’t disengage but it should always be distasteful when we decide we have no choice but to force an issue.

In that, I just wish that people would stop pretending to themselves that non-military methods of international coercion are somehow moral by definition instead of an equal assault to sovereignty as any war.
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
Scott;
The Koran demands freedom of religious choice, rejects "convert or die" (that was a Christian approach),
I guess your copy of the Koran omits sura 9, at least verse 30, which has nothing to do with treaties.
www.submission.org

www.muslim.org
Yes, the Koran demands freedom in the sense that one can only be a true Muslim if you fully choose to accept its teachings. One who converts outwardly due to the threat of the sword is not really a beliver unless an inward conversion also takes place. It does not reject killing those that are open about beleiving something other than Islam.
The western idea of freedom of religion is for a person to be able to choose any religion, the ability to declare that religion, and for all religions to have equal protection under the law. Under Islamic tradition, only public worship of Islam is accepted, all other relions must be kept private. You are free to convert to Islam. Converting someone from Islam is a crime for both the missionary and the convert.

Of course, I mentioned trying to follow the example of Mohammed. So by religious choice you must be referring to the purge of the kabaa.
and Mohammad reformed numerous Arab customs to treat women better,

They weren’t allowed to marry at nine years old before that?
Of course he helped the poor, any party so far outside of power reaches out to the poor because they are dicontented. Not that there’s anything wrong with helping the poor, just that it’s not strong evidence of good intention.

This is not to say that most Mulsims take such a hardline view of the world, as I mentioned earlier, most Christians don’t come close to living like Jesus. It may be true that the moderate’s view of Islam may be dominant.

Moderating the foundation Islam is not only counter productive but its based on false understandings of the faith.
 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
If US foreign policy is the main driver terror attacks why was there was that big boom in Bali that killed hundreds of innocent civilians? How about the ongoing terror attacks in Thailand?

Last time I checked those two countries did not have an expansive, military backed foreign policy.

Why don’t we see large, ongoing terror attacks from South and Central America? That region has seen a world of intervention from the US and the Soviets. However, the region is still not a hotbed of international terror activity.

It is difficult to reconcile the idea that terrorism is driven mainly by US policy in the mideast with the above paragraphs
 
Written By: TJIT
URL: http://
Unaha: ...wtf are you talking about? Since when was occupying the middle east relevant to intellectual property?
Nothing much they are too poor to have a consumer market where intellectual property rights are valued, but the middle east being relatively stable is good for capitalism.

Oil comes from the middle east, it is an important commodity that is critical to have in abundance for the maintainance of our economy. American alliances reinforce the horrible regimes that control the middle east and confront Iran. This means that a balance of repression and terror is struck that convinces regimes that to upset the stability is to invite retaliation from America. This current Iraq conflict is nothing like what could happen if America withdrew, that would create a power vacuum that something else would fill in a probably violent manner. Violent disruption to the oil supply cannot be tolerated.

Human rights and soveriegnty are of no concern in comparison.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
b, you insist on seeing the crime as only a government one. Someone else to blame and not you. I’m suggesting that it’s the private sector as much as any foreign policy.
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
Only problem with that, unaha, is that we could have bought oil from Saddam. An overall improvement of the situation in the region will help long term, but if it’s just about oil flowing... bad guys like to sell it just as much as anyone else does. In more immediate terms the current conflict doesn’t help. War is disruptive.
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
You don’t even have a working definition of "them", do you?
The ’them’ I was referring to was AQ specifically, and the terrorist groups generally, in Iraq.
If by "them" is "the global community of people homicidally pissed at America", you’re hilariously wrong.
You need to help me understand your point here. Global community? Look, people will always be ’pissed’ at whatever country is dominant. Much the same as the poor ’hate’ the rich? If people are homicidally pissed at anyone, that is a personal problem. A global community? You give ’them’ credit they do not deserve.
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
The only thing I’d say is that we used to support dictators and corrupt governments on the theory that stability itself was a worthy goal.
America still does this in Egypt, Saudi & Pakistan.
It’s sort of messy, this new thing that we’re trying to do, but if we can hold to this new approach, which is actually a very liberal approach, and favor stability based on liberty and freedom rather than which dictator is strong enough to enforce stability through fear... we might get somewhere better than where we were before.
That new (neo-con) approach was to have jeopardised the dictators and appears to have been abandoned. It has been abandoned, because the risks to stability (of oil supply) are too high. Likewise a withdrawl of support to these dictators for any other reason (isolationism) will jeopardise them and their supply of our oil.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Synova,

My take is Saddam proved disruptive with the Kuwait invasion, so it was always a risk to have him operable and he was running down his oil production anyway. The neo-cons came along and promised that if this invasion was done it would allow the transformation of the middle east as you describe to peace and libery. The invasion started with these good intentions, but the risks of harming the stability of friendly regimes in Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt and Pakistan were too high to be justified and the neo-con pro-democracy approach has been shelved.

Only good news to come from the short lived neo-con approach is that the horrible Libyan regime is on side and the Iranians are more worried and that Iraq might become a functioning independent democracy some day.

It is back to the realpolitik again. And just for the same reasons that a change in policy to neo-conservatism was abandoned, I argue that a change to isolationism is not going to be worth the risk.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Violent disruption to the oil supply cannot be tolerated.

Human rights and soveriegnty are of no concern in comparison.
Gee, that really sums it up...
b, you insist on seeing the crime as only a government one. Someone else to blame and not you. I’m suggesting that it’s the private sector as much as any foreign policy.
If by this you mean that business interests support intervention because they believe it serves as insurance for them, I’d agree. I’d also ask how that nullifies my point.
 
Written By: b-psycho
URL: http://www.psychopolitik.com
Can’t take on everyone all at once.

And I think it’s been abandoned, to whatever extent that is has, because too many people are too busy tearing down our efforts in Iraq to bother to see the larger picture.

It frustrates me that those who claim to be all in tune to the sophisticated complexities of the world community insist on a deliberately myopic view of Iraq. If it’s seen in a larger context *at all* it’s that other people outside the issue look at it and dislike us for being rude.

We can’t jeopardize dictators by showing a meek face or (most especially) by demonstrating that we are not serious about anything long term. Any pressure on dictators or oppressive regimes in the region that might have been gained by a stable and functioning liberal (comparitively) government in Iraq, the pressure from their populations given some other option to consider, will be gone and I don’t think it’s the "neo-cons" fault.

It’s that sharp knife dividing "this" which has nothing to do with "this" and since "this" government hasn’t anything to do with "that" that we have to limit to "this" and won’t "that" be a shame but none of it really matters because it doesn’t actually relate to anything else and why have we given up on Osama since Osama is the only goal that actually matters.

*Very* frustrating.
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
I don’t know what your point was, b.

Mine wasn’t that private business supports intervention it is that private business IS intervention.

And you still insist, absolutely without the smallest waver, to assume that intervention is ONLY something that the government does.
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
A business opening over there isn’t intervention it’s...a business opening there. If they don’t like that, they can just not patronize it. They can’t do that when the newcomer is the US military.
 
Written By: b-psycho
URL: http://www.psychopolitik.com
I think Mr Paul would have been better to say, "while nothing justifies terrorism, intentionally targeting civilians with violence, our policies in the Middle East in the past 50 years, hasn’t helped lead to making a stable, freedom loving area. I feel our current policies are misguided as well, and detrimental to our national security."
The problem I have with even this construct, and as you allude to later, is that people like Rep. Paul tend to view our policies as if they were created in a vacuum. Most often our foreign policy is reactive, sometimes even reflexive, and consequently poorly thought through. Take Israel. Much ink has been used to rationalize jihadists’ ire at US because we support Israel while entirely ignoring why we support Israel. We heavily support Israel for two primary reasons. One, because they are under constant attack. Two, because everyone else who supported the creation, then aided the building of the state of Israel, has abandoned (some even selling out) Israel. Please note, my argument here is not about Israel. It is that the our foreign policy, in which so many find fault, myself included, doesn’t come about in a vacuum.

To take Rep. Paul’s comment then, it is clear to me that his intent was to blame primarily America for all the troubles in the Middle East. To do this, he has to ignore the reason why we have had such a large (and many times misplaced) footprint there. It is large because so many engage in both overt and covert hostilities against the US and US interests. In other words, if Paul et. al., were honest, they would recognize that a good part of our blunderous foreign policies are in fact, responses to prior belligerent acts against our interests.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
We heavily support Israel for two primary reasons. One, because they are under constant attack. Two, because everyone else who supported the creation, then aided the building of the state of Israel, has abandoned (some even selling out) Israel.
Why are these our concern?

*waits to be called anti-semetic...*


 
Written By: b-psycho
URL: http://www.psychopolitik.com
"how far back in history is one allowed to look to foster grievances?"

I am giving my support to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Canaan, and its military wing, the Canaan Liberation Front. Throw out the Jews AND the Arabs!

**************************88

" You really don’t want to understand this, do you?"

You are catching on. If he misinterprets your remarks to mean what he wants them to mean, he doesn’t need to "engage"(to use his favorite word) the particular points you make.
*****************************

Thank you, Linda, thank you Keith. It is always nice to actually see the subject under discussion.

************************
"But how can one then justify US military action on numerous fronts, and the huge military (the largest on the planet) held by the US?"

Your bias is showing again. Counting only active manpower, we are second to China(guess which one) and closely followed by India. If you include reserves, we are about sixth.

" Mohammad reformed numerous Arab customs to treat women better, be more lenient with enemies after defeat, and improve treatment of the poor."

Well he sure did a lousy job. Amazingly incompetent for someone with God on his side.


"Muslims only demanded an extra tax, which in those days was quite tolerant."

And how did the poor, which constituted the majority of the population , pay this tax?

*****************************

Christianity was founded by a carpenter who preached "turn the other cheek", etc, let himself be crucified and prayed for those who did it, and is held responsible for all sorts of slaughter and crime. Islam was founded by a guy who led an army to spread his religion, and it is the religion of peace, not responsible for any of the slaughter and crimes done in its name. Right. Got it. Love is hate, war is peace.



 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://

"*waits to be called anti-semetic...*"

I am going to assume that was a typo and you meant "anti-semitic". ’Anti-emetic’, while certainly an understandable and sympathetic position, seems to be out of context here.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I guess your copy of the Koran omits sura 9, at least verse 30, which has nothing to do with treaties.
I don’t see your point. Every religion will consider those with essentially different beliefs as blasphemy.
The western idea of freedom of religion is for a person to be able to choose any religion, the ability to declare that religion, and for all religions to have equal protection under the law.
That’s the new enlightenment modern West. Go back farther and you don’t find that at all! Before Christianity modernized the Church held power, controlled the universities, and when there was a split in the church there was a bloody series of wars. It took centuries for the West to shift from being defined by the Christian church to the secular tolerance you describe. Islam is just starting that kind of process. It’ll go differently, but it’s not easy to move from a traditional form of religious practice to a modern form. With Islam, a orthopraxic religion (focused on practices more than just beliefs), there are even more challenges.

The fact is, Islam as a religion is here to stay. Religions are what humans make them, and the Koran, like the Bible, can be interpreted in positive and negative ways. The point is to recognize that the Islamic world is going through a kind of reformation, and the violence is really more internal to the faith than focused on any kind of unified Islam vs. the West. Those who treat Islam as some kind of bad or enemy religion are playing into the hand of the extremists who use Islam as a cover for their kind of fascism.

A book you should read: No God But God, by Reza Aslan (who has appeared on CNN, the Daily Show, PBS and elsewhere as an analyst of Islam).
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
This is a fundamental point: Iraq is already making us appear weak (countries really don’t fear or respect us as much), but more importantly it is really weakening us. In real, objective terms it is making us less secure and less able to defend our interests. Consider this article by a former Israeli foreign minister.

You really don’t want to understand this, do you? I’ll spell it out:

1. Backing down from a fight in Mogadishu made us look weak to terrorists.
1a. The reason we looked weak was not because we took a beating, but rather because we ran away at the first sign of adveristy.
2. Fighting in Iraq does NOT make us look weak to the terrorists.
3. Running from the fight in Iraq WILL make us look weak to the terrorists.
4. Looking weak to the terrorists is what spurred them to increase their attacks in the 1990s
5. It really doesn’t matter what other countries think about the situation right now, it’s what they think about us after we’re out: did we stay and finish the job, or did we turn tail and run?
6. Therefore, staying in Iraq now and fighting terrorist groups there will mean less terrorist attacks against the US in other areas. Face it, if we’re stretched out as badly as you claim, the terrorist groups have got to be even moreso.
Sigh. You don’t even get close to answering my point. But first I utterly disagree with number 2. We look very weak in Iraq. We have shown ourselves vulnerable, our society is divided, and they want us to stay there because they can bleed us at little cost. I also totally disagree with number 4; they were motivated to attack us anyway, they would not have let us be if we had stayed longer in Somalia! Also, number 5 assumes its possible to "stay and finish the job." Trying to do what isn’t possible and what weakens us in real terms only increases the depth of the failure. Thus number six is totally off base. We are not at all stopping terrorism by fighting in Iraq. First, most combattants and insurgents in Iraq are not of the sort that would otherwise fight the US. The small numbers of foreign fighters in Iraq are not the ones that would be used to hit the US. They just need a small number to do damage here.

If the US left Iraq the first thing that would happen is that the Shi’ites and Sunnis in Iraq would turn on al qaeda and slaughter them. They are tolerated now because of the animosity towards the US.

And you did not address the fact that our staying there weakens us in real terms. Again, it is easy to fix an appearance of weakness; fixing REAL weakness is much more difficult!
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Ron Paul is advocating a form of isolationism that absolutely translates to ’this wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t do what we did’.
He isn’t the only one advocating it, and one should be able to easily debate the policy without resorting to personal attacks.
Yes being able to debate and knowing the reasons behind a position is necessary. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be derisive on occasion. A lecture is better than mockery but not every target on every occasion is worth the effort.

Of course I would love for the Ron Paul comment to turn into a real discussion where people can understand the choices between fighting the bad guys, making deals with the bad guys or ignoring the bad guys.
If we would just practice what we preached and stick to it, our moral upper hand would be denied by no one. We could go after legitimate threats w/ no problem, the world would be behind us the whole way.
Sorry to say, but if you believe that you could use one of those history lectures. How are you going to convince Russia that Iranian nukes are a legitimate threat when they are helping the Iranians make them? How are you going to convince China that Kim Jong Il is a legitimate threat when they help keep his regime propped up?

Russia, France, Germany and China opposed removing Saddam because they feared the loss of multi-billion dollar oil contracts. Where did this myth come from that other countries are interested in a level of morality that the US just can’t measure up to?
To take Rep. Paul’s comment then, it is clear to me that his intent was to blame primarily America for all the troubles in the Middle East.
I don’t think that is quite it. The troubles in the Middle East would still be there, the US simply wouldn’t be involved. America is not to blame for the mess, but we stepped into it when we didn’t have to.

And I would agree with that as far as that goes. The problem is he thinks the US would be better off not getting involved. I think like WWII, Communist China, Africa today, not getting involved only leads to worse trouble later.
 
Written By: abwtf
URL: http://abw.mee.nu
The only thing I’d say is that we used to support dictators and corrupt governments on the theory that stability itself was a worthy goal. It’s sort of messy, this new thing that we’re trying to do, but if we can hold to this new approach, which is actually a very liberal approach, and favor stability based on liberty and freedom rather than which dictator is strong enough to enforce stability through fear... we might get somewhere better than where we were before.

I would have been far more isolationist in the past as well. And I still have no sympathy for anything that attempts to resemble a world government or claim authority over nations. (That freedom I demand for *my* country, I demand for *others* as well.) We can’t disengage but it should always be distasteful when we decide we have no choice but to force an issue.

In that, I just wish that people would stop pretending to themselves that non-military methods of international coercion are somehow moral by definition instead of an equal assault to sovereignty as any war.
Good points. The problem, of course, is how do you justify interventions in any country’s soveriegnty. Sovereignty was one reason the Rwandan genocide was allowed. Sovereignty argued against intervention in Iraq. We need some way for the world to choose, voluntarily, to get together and intervene when necessary — and with Rwanda proactive policies could have prevented the genocide, the way we approach things now puts off dealing with issues until they become crises.

I agree that world government would be not only bad, but extremely dangerous. I’d oppose anything like that (in fact, if I had my druthers I’d rather have a confederation instead of a very centralized federation in the US). The more you centralize power, the greater the chance for abuse. A world government would create the possibility of massive centralization. All politics is, at base pretentious. It’s one group wanting its way chosen to limit the freedoms of other groups. History is replete with this leading to repression and conflict.

Politics in the era of globalization is dangerous — threats to our freedom can’t be simply held off by having a strong military, and the expansion of freedom is threatened by how dictators and corrupt leaders abuse sovereignty. It should belong to the people, but they assign it to themselves personally. Yet their corrupt practices fuel terrorism and radical ideologies.

I haven’t figured out how to deal with this all.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

Russia, France, Germany and China opposed removing Saddam because they feared the loss of multi-billion dollar oil contracts.
I disagree. As long as Saddam was in power, France and Russia had no chance to get their contracts recognized, and they knew it. The US essentially promised them they could benefit if they supported the war; these countries could have benefited greatly if they supported the war (and if the war had gone as the US thought it would). If they had gone on economic self-interest alone, and if they believed that the mission in Iraq would work, they’d have supported rather than opposed the war.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Oh, b, not so! "A business opening over there isn’t intervention it’s...a business opening there. If they don’t like that, they can just not patronize it."

It’s not so! The whole concept of "just don’t patronize it" is a WESTERN one. It’s an element of *our* culture. If "just don’t patronize it" was so simple then so would democracy be simple. Each person choosing: How hard is that? "just don’t patronize it" assumes individual freedom and the availability of alternate choices.

That is how fundamental is the clash of cultures going on.
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
How are you going to convince Russia that Iranian nukes are a legitimate threat when they are helping the Iranians make them?
Where’d you hear that Russia was helping them w/ nuclear weapons? That’d be a surprise to me.
How are you going to convince China that Kim Jong Il is a legitimate threat when they help keep his regime propped up?
They’re propping him up because they don’t want a bunch of refugees when his regime collapses. He’s proved he doesn’t have anything capable of reaching the US already (which is good, cuz otherwise we’d have no other realistic option but to wait for his regime to collapse).
Russia, France, Germany and China opposed removing Saddam because they feared the loss of multi-billion dollar oil contracts. Where did this myth come from that other countries are interested in a level of morality that the US just can’t measure up to?
That’s not what I said. The point is we attach to ourselves a moral superiority that does not exist. We can’t have it both ways, either we’re better than that and should act like it, or we’re not and don’t have the standing to call out others for it. If we’d invaded Iraq & openly said "this is about two things: oil & Iran", I could at least respect the honesty of that, even if I still disagreed with it.


 
Written By: b-psycho
URL: http://www.psychopolitik.com
If the US left Iraq the first thing that would happen is that the Shi’ites and Sunnis in Iraq would turn on al qaeda and slaughter them. They are tolerated now because of the animosity towards the US.
This is so incomplete it borders on being simply wrong. There are Sunnis and Shi’ites who have already turned against Al Qaeda. There are Sunnis and Shi’ites who aren’t fighting each other because the US is there. There are Sunnis and Shi’ites who want the US to stay. There are Sunnis that support Al Qaeda whether we are in Iraq or not.

There are also Iraqis that hate the US because Bush Sr urged them to overthrow Saddam and then did nothing when they got slaughtered trying to do just that, so what are they going to think if the US leaves now allowing terrorists and murderers to retake the country?
And you did not address the fact that our staying there weakens us in real terms.
A democratic Iraq strengths the US.

And staying in Iraq doesn’t weaken us, it annoys us. Half a trillion dollars is a lot of money, but that’s out of a US economy that adds up to around 60 trillion over the last 5 years. And not to diminish the value of the 3400 US soldiers who have died so far but in the context of the history of warfare, there are battles where more people died in a week or in a day.
 
Written By: abwtf
URL: http://abw.mee.nu
*waits to be called anti-semetic...*
No... just missing the point.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
"The small numbers of foreign fighters in Iraq are not the ones that would be used to hit the US. They just need a small number to do damage here."

I have only one question for you Scotty - What if you are wrong.

From someone who "cherry picks a few examples of one Grand Mufti and one group (and Islamic Brotherhood has a variety of factions). The convert or die is NOT in the Koran, but at times has been used by Christians. Muslims only demanded an extra tax, which in those days was quite tolerant."

To be honest, you are right, "Convert or Die" is not in the Koran. But that was the MO of the conquering Muslim armies for the first 500 years of their history. And by the way, "convert or die" was not the Christian thing to do in those times - wholesale slaughter was the "Christian" rule of the day. Once the territory was conquered, taxation became the rule of the day - blood cost money even in those days.

And for someone who "cherry picks" a few examples, the Muslim Brotherhood was the basis of what is now referred to Ba’ath Party. I do not think that is a minor example. Do You?

Keep that Liberal Narrative going there, Scott.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
The whole concept of "just don’t patronize it" is a WESTERN one. It’s an element of *our* culture. If "just don’t patronize it" was so simple then so would democracy be simple. Each person choosing: How hard is that? "just don’t patronize it" assumes individual freedom and the availability of alternate choices.

That is how fundamental is the clash of cultures going on.
Well if your reasoning was based on "clash of civilizations" you could’ve just said so...

Eh, if I ran a business with global reach, and people in the middle east were so irrational that they didn’t differentiate between one of my stores & a US military base, then I’d say the risk wouldn’t be worth taking up. If they insist on isolating themselves to echo nonsense off each other then so be it, we should happily oblige and let them dwindle to nothing. I’ve always felt that if not for oil they’d be poorer than sub-Saharan Africa anyway.
 
Written By: b-psycho
URL: http://www.psychopolitik.com
Scott, I know it’s going to sound bad but I think that getting hung up on justification of actions between nations is an error. Someone or other explained that between nations is a state of nature or anarchy. I think they were probably right. I don’t think that legality or justification necessarily apply. (Which is one reason I find charges that this war is "illegal" to be nonsensical.)

On the one hand I find the idea that we *must* intervene to end foreign atrocities alarming and wrong. On the other hand I find the idea that we must *not* intervene but stand by and watch, pretending it makes us innocent, alarming and wrong.

To use the doctrinal concepts of "sin" as a template to stand in for the moral goings on between nations - my own opinions are informed by the concepts of original sin, sins of commission, and sins of omission. Three. The first is "the way things are." We don’t have anything like innocence because the "thing" of it contains inherent conflict and strife. This space between nations where laws do not exist applies to that. The second, sins of commission, are the things that we, as a nation, *do*. If we steal other kid’s lunch money or push people around just because we can, that’s wrong. This one is usually pretty easy because people usually agree about it. Wars of conquest or aggression, we agree are wrong. The third is more difficult because so many people seem not to agree at all about it. Sins of omission are the things we are guilty of because we tolerate them. They are the things we fail to do or chose not to do.

Of course, in a theological sense the point of all that is that it really is not possible to live up to the standard. The whole point of it is that it’s an impossible task. The alternative to the lawless space between nations is a world government, which would be bad. So we’re sort of stuck with it. And the other two... the only way to be sure not to offend against another is to do nothing, yet doing nothing will mean accepting the guilt of inaction. Taking action will mean making mistakes, inaction will mean the same.

People react differently to that, of course. I find it comforting. My failures no longer seem so dire. I’m allowed to watch out for myself. I’m not not allowed to take what belongs to others. I am required to look out for them... as I can. I’ll fail a million times.

The bigger problem is if someone decides that they can reasonably get it *right*.

Then we worry... where is the line? Are we justified to action? Are we justified to inaction? How can we avoid guilt? Is the risk to ourselves great enough to justify action? Or do we just think so? How bad is bad enough? How imminent is imminent enough? And then, what if we were wrong?

When we probably should be asking, are we willing to accept the cost of our actions? Are we willing to accept the cost to others of our inaction? Are we willing to defend ourselves and what does that *mean*?

 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
b, "Well if your reasoning was based on "clash of civilizations" you could’ve just said so..."

Argh! What part of "they hate our culture and our freedom" doesn’t... oh, nevermind.



 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
Can’t take on everyone all at once.
That is a big problem, because for the Iraq democracy project to work it kind of needs to happen.
And I think it’s been abandoned, to whatever extent that is has, because too many people are too busy tearing down our efforts in Iraq to bother to see the larger picture.
Whereas I believe it has been torn down by those who do see the big democratising program picture and tear at it because of their disliking the vision. Those dictatorships that a liberal democracy in Iraq is meant to pressure see this and do not wish to be pressured. Each bomb, deathsquad or RPG that occurs in Iraq delays and damages the chance of success - so benefits the dictatorships. It would be utterly amazing if there were not operatives from each of the surrounding regimes trying to forment violence in Iraq. It is publicised that Iran and Syria are involved, it is likely there are more.

This opposition needs to be defeated to allow Iraq to stabilise. But this cannot be done because - "can’t take on everyone all at once".
When we probably should be asking, are we willing to accept the cost of our actions? Are we willing to accept the cost to others of our inaction? Are we willing to defend ourselves and what does that *mean*?
The cost of winning in Iraq is to take on everyone or agree to terms acceptable to those opposing. Either of these choices is difficult to make, therefore we can expect politicians to avoid them -instead staying to fight forever or leaving completely & washing hands of it.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Bains: your point sounds circular to me — "We support Israel now because we supported Israel then".

Before anyone barks: no, I don’t oppose the existence of Israel. I would be just fine with them completing the dividing barrier, telling the Palestinians "that side is Palestine, now f*ck off", and washing their hands of the whole mess. What I oppose is the idea that the safety of other countries is our job, period.

Synova: You might as well just say they’re all automatons who will stop at nothing until our women are all wearing burkas. There’s a range of opinion among muslims, denying that is only going to make the situation worse.
 
Written By: b-psycho
URL: http://www.psychopolitik.com
The range of opinion is one reason why they can’t just reject your business if they don’t like it, b. *Someone* is going to like it.
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
I’d say the risk wouldn’t be worth taking up. If they insist on isolating themselves to echo nonsense off each other then so be it, we should happily oblige and let them dwindle to nothing. I’ve always felt that if not for oil they’d be poorer than sub-Saharan Africa anyway.
They are not isolating themselves as they are exporting oil, as you state yourself. This means they have billions of dollars and the rewards of doing business begin to outweigh the risks.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
I think this has to be my last reply, at least for a while.
As long as Saddam was in power, France and Russia had no chance to get their contracts recognized, and they knew it.
Nope. Saddam only had to get the sanctions ended.
The US essentially promised them they could benefit if they supported the war; these countries could have benefited greatly if they supported the war (and if the war had gone as the US thought it would). If they had gone on economic self-interest alone, and if they believed that the mission in Iraq would work, they’d have supported rather than opposed the war.
Yeah, it’s time for me to quit. On the one hand there was "Let’s remove Saddam, get a new government in place, forgive all the old debt, renegotiate all the oil contracts" and on the other there was "Let’s end the sanctions on Saddam and do business with him." You want to believe they made a great sacrifice to their economic self-interest because of some higher principle of... justice? Unwillingness to get involved in the Middle East? Far-sightedness? Whatever.
Where did this myth come from that other countries are interested in a level of morality that the US just can’t measure up to?
That’s not what I said
Did you write the following statement: "If we would just practice what we preached and stick to it, our moral upper hand would be denied by no one. We could go after legitimate threats w/ no problem, the world would be behind us the whole way."

Is it fair to restructure that as "The world would be behind us the whole way [when we] go after legitimate threats [i]f we would just practice what we preached and stick to it[. O]ur moral upper hand would be denied by no one."

Can you tell me how that is different from "other countries are interested in a level of morality that the US just can’t measure up to"?


Anyway I was quit when I started this comment and I’m twice as quit now.
 
Written By: abwtf
URL: http://abw.mee.nu
"We support Israel now because we supported Israel then".
Nah, America supports Israel because of realpolitik. By making Israel appear way too strong to be attacked (by promising to defend Israel) and threatening to suspend aid should Israel attack anyone the USA keeps a lid on Arab/Israelli conflict.

Plus there is a whole load of technology transfer between Israel and USA.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Synova: Ugh...that’s not what I meant.

Look, there are the diehard nutjobs blowing themselves up, extremists who don’t actively do attacks but support those who do, muslims who’re staunchly critical of US influence but opposed to violence for it, muslims who just oppose our foreign policy & frankly don’t care about our culture, muslims who oppose our policy but actually LIKE our culture, etcetera, etcetera. We should try our best to kill the first group, deter the second, and (here’s the kicker) change the minds of the rest. Our current policy is to act like they’re all the mad bombers, by doing so we’re going to reach a point where that becomes true.

Unaha:
They are not isolating themselves as they are exporting oil, as you state yourself. This means they have billions of dollars and the rewards of doing business begin to outweigh the risks.
That would be why we need to get off of oil. It isn’t worth dealing with them.

 
Written By: b-psycho
URL: http://www.psychopolitik.com
"Ugh...that’s not what I meant."

Oh, you changed the subject and I missed it, sorry.

Personally I think this "they are all diehard nutjobs" supposed opinion ranks up there with "we can win with military power alone" supposed opinion.

Obviously some of them are diehard nutjobs but even those are going to be along side those who are personal ambition nutjobs. Obviously it’s not *just* about us... what hubris!... since they (the diehard nutjobs) blow stuff up in Bali and other places as well. (I believe it was a night-club in Bali, no?, so the "decadent culture" charge may hold in any case.) And then there’s the confusion of political motivation to go with the cultural. The fact that one side of a conflict is of one religion and the other a different religion doesn’t prove that the conflict is religious even when the rhetoric is religious.

But not everyone "over there" is a diehard nutjob. Who thinks so? Consider that Bin Laden’s motivation for 9-11 was at least partially to provoke retaliation against all Muslims (which, despite passionate calls to reduce the whole region to a glass bowl post haste, didn’t happen) because, despite the dancing in the streets thing we see on TV, there were too many who refused to *rile*. Dang apathy!

If they were all diehard nutjobs they’d rise up for that Caliphate thing. So pretty obviously they aren’t.

(I believe political apathy to be a precious gift from God.)
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
One more so I can be comment #100:
Nah, America supports Israel because of realpolitik.
There’s also the fact they aren’t being ruled by an evil dictator.
 
Written By: abwtf
URL: http://abw.mee.nu
Neither is India, but America prefers to ally with Pakistan.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://
India is not a threat, Pakistan is and needs to be kept on a shorter leash.
 
Written By: Blewyn
URL: http://blewog.blogspot.com
"You, who want freedom, freedom for everything, the freedom of parties, you who want all the freedoms, you intellectuals: freedom that will corrupt our youth, freedom that will pave the way for the oppressor, freedom that will drag our nation to the bottom."

Guess who said that? Ayatollah Khomeini

Now tell me they don’t hate our freedoms...
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Nothing much they are too poor to have a consumer market where intellectual property rights are valued, but the middle east being relatively stable is good for capitalism.
UC man don’t advertise your ignorance and prejeudice any further - remember some of the people who post here (myself included) actually live in the middle east. I can assure you there is a thriving consumer market, and property rights are taken very seriously.

I would also like to point out to those attempting to justify severe and drastic courses of action by arguing that muslims are incurable fanatics that people like OBL form a tiny tiny minority. I work with muslims every single day and can assure you that 99.999% of them simply want peace and prosperity like the rest of us.
 
Written By: Blewyn
URL: http://blewog.blogspot.com
abtwf:
And staying in Iraq doesn’t weaken us, it annoys us. Half a trillion dollars is a lot of money, but that’s out of a US economy that adds up to around 60 trillion over the last 5 years. And not to diminish the value of the 3400 US soldiers who have died so far but in the context of the history of warfare, there are battles where more people died in a week or in a day.
I disagree. Our military is overstretched, we are no longer as feared and respected by others, Russia, China and Iran are ascendant, and democracy is retreating in all parts of the world. The US is in decline in large part because of the Iraq fiasco. The US is also divided, and politically it’s clear that the US will leave Iraq soon — to really get a stable, democratic Iraq there would need to be a massive commitment over time (and that might not even work). I think Americans are still not realizing our lack of power; the dollar is just over half of what it was in value in 2000, alliances are shifting towards partnerships and cooperation with countries the Administration considers hostile, and even the Saudis are covering their bets with their harshest criticisms of American policy. One reason to demand change in the policy in Iraq is to stop this steep decline of American influence.

We need to change policy in Iraq because this policy can’t work and is counter-productive. We’ve let down pressure on Egypt and other countries in the region to democratize — we need them more than they need us. The most vibrant democracy in the region, other than Israel, is Iran. That is less to show how democratic Iran is than how authoritarian the rest of the region is.

So this policy hasn’t increased pressure to democratize the region, has hurt the US on numerous fronts, and has left Iraq with violence that kills often over a hundred a day — with no let up despite the surge — and a situation that can lead to regional war.

Given the political realities at home, I can’t imagine a force being committed to Iraq that could fundamentally alter the situation or stay long enough to really defeat entrenched insurgents. All I ask of the those supporting the current policy is to reflect on these realities and ask yourselves if this policy really is worth continuing or even has a chance to work. The issue is not the goals — we all want security for America, a better life for the Iraqis and stability for the region. But the current policy seems need to yield that result and in many counts has made matters worse. Perhaps there is a better way to achieve these goals.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Synova: I think your reflections on action/inaction in world affairs captures well the dilemmas. Have you read the book Shake Hands with the Devil by Gen. Romeo Dallaire? If not, it’s really a compelling and powerful book about a Canadian General sent to command UNAMIR, the UN peace keeping mission in Rwanda. When he saw what was going to happen, he asked for approval to stop it before it started by raiding places where machetes and other weapons were being stored. He was denied permission. When the killing began, he believed that a few thousand troops could stop it — the killers were armed with machetes and he had witnessed large crowds being stopped by one UN soldier. He was denied. Instead, his force was cut from about 4000 to 400. When European troops came they only removed other Europeans and evacuated no Rwandans. He struggled to do what he could, but of course his force was too small. Later he suffered post traumatic stress disorder and was found passed out on a park bench in Montreal due to alcohol and anti-depressants. He felt the guilt of a failed mission, when that guilt really lay on the great powers who rationalized inaction in the face of atrocities. Unlike other examples in history we couldn’t claim ignorance — he was there, documenting what was happening and pleading for assistance.

He recognized the humanity of the Rwandan people, for the bureaucrats in the UN and in the foreign ministries of the great powers (including the US) it was all abstract, no national interest was involved. No one can read this story, I believe, without concluding that inaction in the face of such horror is not moral. Another book is Eyewitness to Genocide by Michael Barnett, who worked at the UN during this time dealing with Rwanda. He explains how the UN works and why it seemed the right thing at the time to deny Dallaire’s requests. It is a very telling expose on the nature of and weaknesses of bureaucracy. Dallaire’s book shows how his faith and sense of humanity caused him not to flee from a moral obligation.

None of this answers or even directly addresses the issues you raise, but I think that it learning about such incidents and reflecting on the moral dilemmas helps us contemplate current issues — such as the cost in human terms of either staying or leaving Iraq.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Scott;
I don’t see your point. Every religion will consider those with essentially different beliefs as blasphemy.
Other religions do not go on to say "make war with the blasphemers" as this chapter does.
The western idea of freedom of religion is for a person to be able to choose any religion, the ability to declare that religion, and for all religions to have equal protection under the law.
That’s the new enlightenment modern West.
You claimed Mohammed introduced freedom of religion to the area. Jews, Christians and pagans all co-existed in Mecca before Mohammed. Pilgrims could choose from literally hundreds of idols. That changed with Mohammed.
Islam is just starting that kind of process.
Exactly the point I was making. They are just starting the process, it has not been in place from the beginning.
The fact is, Islam as a religion is here to stay. Religions are what humans make them, and the Koran, like the Bible, can be interpreted in positive and negative ways.
I never denied that. Nor do I claim that Muslims are all evil or violent. I was stating that Islam as practiced by Mohammed was violent.
(who has appeared on CNN, the Daily Show, PBS and elsewhere as an analyst of Islam).

A ringing condemnation, but that’s not the main problem with recommending that book in this context. The problem is that I was talking about Mohammmed’s version of Islam. For this part of the book, the author tells a story with few hard facts, and condradicts himself about the life of Mohammed on numerous occasions. He provides a very accurate assessmnet about the current factions within Islam, but that’s not germane to the point.
A book you should read to explore the beginnings of Islam (feel free to ignore its speculations about Islam since Mohammed, since Christians behaved juast as badly): The Sword of the Prophet, Serge Trifkovic. There is much dispute over his motivations and and views on the current situation, but even his critics do not challenge the specific facts he presents on the life of Mohammed.
Those who treat Islam as some kind of bad or enemy religion are playing into the hand of the extremists who use Islam as a cover for their kind of fascism.
I never said Islam was an enemy religion, just pointing out that it’s completely false to portray the extremists as something new or unrelated to Islam, or to equate the origins of Islam and Christianity because they have both seen the similar wrongdoings during their periods expansion and modernizing. Jesus and his followers both preached and lived without violence to their persecuters. Mohammed and his followers killed for his beliefs, the extremists are following his example.
 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
Perhaps there is a better way to achieve these goals.
You know I’m all ears for a better way. But a better way doesn’t start with our withdrawal, without anything to ensure security.

Unless you think tribal militias and no central government can ensure security and build towards prosperity. Personally, I think once the Shiites and Sunnis were done with AQI, they would turn on each other and make what happened in Rwanda look relatively mild.

Convert or die, is a real problem for some people in the world.

http://au.news.yahoo.com/070517/19/13hox.html
ISLAMABAD (AFP) - A group of Christians in northwest Pakistan have been ordered to convert to Islam or face "serious consequences," a minority community leader said.

A Christian in the area received a letter setting a 10-day deadline for his small community to convert, the head of a minority communities group said.

Shahbaz Bhatti said the letter had triggered fears among some 50 families living in Charsada, 35 kilometers (21 miles) from Peshawar, the capital of North West Frontier Province bordering Afghanistan.

Bhatti said he feared attacks by "religious extremists" as the deadline ends on Thursday.

"We do not really know who dispatched this letter to a local Christian Micheal Masih on May 7," he added.

The alliance has written to President Pervez Musharraf and the interior ministry about security concerns in the community, he said.

"The growing Talibanisation and extremism is against the spirit of Islam and hampers efforts to promote inter-faith harmony," he added.

Suspected Islamic militants attacked music shops in Charsada early this month.

Earlier 24 people were killed and Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao was wounded in a powerful suicide blast in Charsada on April 28.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com/
Other religions do not go on to say "make war with the blasphemers" as this chapter does.
Note this was about a specific group, not a general call to war against all blasphemers. There are numerous times when the Koran talks about a conflict between the Ummah and other tribes (particularly the Meccans) and people quote those as if these are general calls. Be careful not to do that.

When did Mohammad order anyone killed for their beliefs? Again, the passages you cite are about particular tribes that had been attacking the Ummah. In fact, in most cases he shocked his supporters by allowing defeated tribes to go free rather than following Arab custom at the time by massacring them. The exception to this was a tribe that had betrayed the Ummah at Yathrib to the Meccans (the Banu Quaryza), so Mohammad was not completely above Arab customs and pressure from his followers to deal with treachery.

Mohammad lived in a rough neighborhood in a rough time, and apparently wanted to civilize the Arab world around him, improve treatment of the poor, improve treatment of women (he was married to a business woman fifteen years older than he, and remained faithful to her until her death; after that his marriages were based on political alliances). In his context he was a reformer and the Koran makes very explicit admonitions against unjust war, including not to be the aggressor and not to make war when the other side wants peace.

My point is that there is no reason not to honor Mohammad and his work, even if much of what he did goes against our customs and values today — you have to see him in context, and recognize that the Koran at base does not demand Islam be violent. Quotes out of context can be and have been used by politicians in the Islamic world to justify expansion and use of power, just as quotes from the Bible have been used to justify war for Christianity. Religions are what people make them. Better to focus on the positives of each and work for reconciliation and understanding than see it in a negative light. Islam is best seen as part of a family of religions including Judaism (whose holy book of course has God essentially ordering war crimes), Christianity, and Islam. In many ways Islam is closer to Christianity than is Judaism (though like Judaism, Islam focuses on practice and community more than belief).

It is possible to be devout Muslim, believe in the Koran, and believe that it’s admonition against wars of aggression and against violence to innocents means it is necessary to live in peace. You can believe the Koran’s claim that religion can not be forced. It’s difficult to take a religion focused on community and bring it into a globalized world. The rituals of Islam, especially Ramadan and prayer, are meant to be practiced in a community setting to reinforce ones’ faith and sense of belonging. They are meant to help one fight the "greater jihad," which is the fight to remain pure and honest in a world full of temptations (the rituals are to keep a connection to the faith). During the Ottoman Empire there was a heated debate about whether or not a Muslim could live in a non-Muslim land and still be able to follow the faith — many thought it impossible due to the communal nature of the faith. Ultimately as Europe surpassed the Islamic world in the 17th century they decided they needed to learn from the West. Today that’s still an issue that divides Muslims, and creates difficulties in integrating in the individualistic West. It seems to me that the best thing to do is understand this and work with them with respect for their faith, thereby doing far more to undercut the extremists than anything one can do with police and military.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Note this was about a specific group, not a general call to war against all blasphemers
That group includes "Christians [that] said, "Jesus is the son of GOD!" " , a very small group indeed, maybe only 95% of all christians.
Mohammad lived in a rough neighborhood in a rough time ... you have to see him in context
So did Jesus. By all accounts, Mohammed took up arms against his enemies; Jesus did not. This is not proof that Christianity is ’superior’ to Islam. It just shows that:
A)Mohammed did not need to fight battles just because of the time he lived in (especially seeing that he claimed to be a successor to Jesus).
B)Those that are violent in the name of Islam can be seen as following the exmple of the prophet.
so Mohammad was not completely above Arab customs and pressure from his followers
and apparently wanted to civilize the Arab world around him
Mohammed succumbed to temptations that Jesus rejected? Muhammed’s actions were based on his wants? No, according to Mohammed he took no significant action based on what he wanted. He was completely a servant of Allah. He did what his religion demanded. A devout Muslim can be pacifist, but a devout Muslim cannot accept those two statements. Any action taken by Mohammed are a part of Islam, thus the importance of the hadiths.
just as quotes from the Bible have been used to justify war for Christianity.
War for Christianity did not start until 400 years after it was founded; when political leaders already in power converted and saw that it could be used for political gain. Wars for Islam and the politicizing of the religion started with Mohammed.



 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
Ted, the Hadiths are suspect — they were written by others afterwards, often giving biases of those companions who have been less reformist and radical in critiquing social customs than Mohammad. Also, I disagree that the passage you cite is a command to kill all Christians, that would be utterly inconsistent with the basic message of the Koran, which repeated stresses toleration of people of the book and allowed Islam to be more tolerant than the Christianity of the time. You cite one chapter which is about a particular war the Ummah was engaged in against the Quraysh — they are the idolators talked about in the verse. Here’s a quote from Reza Aslan, No God But God, page 84:
"It is true that some verses in the Quran instruct Muhammad and his followers to "slay the polytheists wherever you confront them" (9:5); to "carry the struggle to the hypocrites who deny the faith" (9:73), and, especially to "fight those who do not believe in God and the Last Day" (9:29). However, it must be understood that these verses were directed specifically at the Quraysh and their clandestine partisans in Yathrib — specifically named in the Quran as ’the polytheists’ and ’the hypocrites’ respectively, with whom the Ummah was locked in a terrible war. Nonetheless the verse has long been used by Muslims and non-Muslims alike to suggest that Islam advocates fighting unbelievers until they convert. This is not a view that either Muhammod or the Quran endorsed. This was a view put forth during the height of the crusades, and partly in response to them, by later generations of Islamic legal scholars..."
Muhammad actions were not as pacifistic as those of Jesus on other spiritual philosophers — he was clearly no Buddha. But he was not in what Augustine would call the "city of God" but rather the "city of Man." What we know of Jesus is mostly myth and reconstruction by later generations of someone who probably did live, but of whom little is really known. The key now is to recognize that Islam and Christianity are great world religions which have within their teachings the basis of peaceful co-existence.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
The key now is to recognize that Islam and Christianity are great world religions which have within their teachings the basis of peaceful co-existence.
And which both have their extremists who are willing to use coercion and violence to get others into living life as they see fit.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com/
The ’them’ I was referring to was AQ specifically, and the terrorist groups generally, in Iraq.

We are not doing irreparable damage to either Al-Quieda, or terrorist groups in Iraq.
In order to do irreparable damage to a ’terrorist’ group in a Third World country, one has to reduce popular support for that group to such an extent that killed or imprisoned members will not be replaced.
One also has to create an environment where general sectarian, criminal, or political violence is not considered normal, so that the ’terrorist’ violence can be isolated as an aberration, thus helping reduce the popular support in goal one.
Finally, one has to at all costs avoid and prevent a scenario of back-and-forth guerilla warfare between said ’terrorists’ and uniformed foreign troops, which makes both the first and the second prior goals impossible.

Only then will the final step, killing/imprisoning the terrorists, succeed.

There is no imaginable metric by which we are doing irreparable damage to either Al-Quieda - either in Iraq specifically, or as a global organization via Iraq - or to "terrorist" groups in Iraq, whoever you might decide falls under that rubric.

The best we’re getting with Al-Quieda is a draw of increasing magnitude. Against the "terrorists" in general, we’re not even holding even.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
UC man don’t advertise your ignorance and prejeudice any further - remember some of the people who post here (myself included) actually live in the middle east. I can assure you there is a thriving consumer market, and property rights are taken very seriously.
Alright then, I stand corrected. There is sufficient wealth in the Middle East to support a consumer market worthwhile to be part of our globalised market and protected in line with American self interest. As intellectual property forms a great deal of American export revenue it is important that America supports regimes that enforce strict property rules.



(Was trying to take concillatory approach with b-psy, too lazy to look - plead ignorance over prejudice)
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Scott,
Muhammad actions were not as pacifistic as those of Jesus on other spiritual philosophers — he was clearly no Buddha
The key point of this post from the beginning is that our policies did not cause terrorism. Violence has been a part of Islam from the very beginning.
What to do about it now is a completely seperate issue.
 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
The key point of this post from the beginning is that our policies did not cause terrorism. Violence has been a part of Islam from the very beginning.
What to do about it now is a completely seperate issue.
Ted, violence has been a part of the West from the beginning. Colonialism was a violent form of conquest that destroyed indigenous cultures throughout Africa and Asia, and created the vast disparity of wealth we see now between first and third world. Violence has been a mainstay of US foreign policy, we’ve launched wars and attacks and have killed far more innocents than Islamic terrorists. So spare me some kind of pretense of superiority in terms of the use of violence. If anything ours is more institutionalized and rationalized while theirs is the in purview of extremist groups. Who has done the most killing, engaged in the most violent wars, developed the most deadly weapons, and has accounted for the most destruction in the last 200 years — western states and ideologies or Islam?

Moreover, it is undeniable that policies of the West, including ours since WWII, have helped give rise to Islamic extremism — we especially supported it during the Afghan war with Russia by allowing Pakistan to funnel massive amounts of aid to the most extreme groups, helping create the Taliban and give rise to people like Bin Laden.

But you are right on one thing: looking at the past does not answer the question of what to do now. But violence has been a part of political life for all religions and all cultures, and the West has an especially violent past. We also have a culture that embraces values of human rights, democracy, and reason. Islam has violent aspects in the past, but beautiful humane teachings in the Koran as well. Let’s look to the best of both traditions and build on them, rather than trying to tear down one to avoid looking at the problems in the other.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

" created the vast disparity of wealth we see now between first and third world."

Horse hockey. There was a vast disparity in wealth when these places were colonized. Perhaps you can explain why Thailand, which was never colonized, is not a wealthy first world country. Your assumption that all these third world counties would have been wealthy but for the evil depredations of capitalist colonizers is ridiculous. Predictable, though.

" and the West has an especially violent past."

Oh, puhleeze. We are not any more violent than the East, North, or South. It’s just better documented. The West may be better at it, but it is not for the lack of trying by everyone else. If the East, etc. had had better military technology and social organization, they would be writing the histories. The West didn’t do anything to the East that they weren’t already doing to themselves and each other, the West just did it better.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Scott;
violence has been a part of the West from the beginning
Yes, part of the West. Not part of the religion. There is nowhere in the Bible where you can say "Well, Jesus said killing your enemies was the correct thing to do under such and such circumstances". Mohammed led his followers into battle when faced with persecution. Violence is intertwined with the history of the West, it is part of the religion of Islam.
So spare me some kind of pretense of superiority in terms of the use of violence.
It has nothing to do with cultural superiority in terms of violence. It has everything to do with the cause of the violence. That was the original point. Mohammed did not use Islam as a false front to justify violence, the actions of Mohammed are Islam. Those actions showed that under certain circumstances that killing of non-believers is demanded by Allah. The circumstances are given in the Koran, and you have already argued that the Koran is open to interpretation.
 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
Good comment on the pickle Mr Paul got himself into...

http://time-blog.com/real_clear_politics/2007/05/remove_ron_paul_from_the_debat.html

[Quick digression about his comments on 9/11: Paul was correct insofar as our nation’s foreign policy was a causal factor in the attack. But, so also was the Wright brothers’ invention of flying a causal factor in the attack. Without airplanes, there would have been no attack! What was objectionable was Paul’s implication that our foreign policy made us morally liable as well. There is a subtle difference between moral blame and empirical cause — the former always implies the latter, but the latter does not always imply the former. In the debate, Paul essentially says "cause" (his phrase is "contributing factor"), but it is pretty clear that he means "blame." Rudy picked up on this subtext, and I think he was right to rebuke him as strongly as he did.]
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com/
An argument could be made that Christianity holds the unique concept of self-determination. Salvation is internal and personal. It also holds equality, no Jew or Greek, slave or free... no base person is less important in Christian doctrine, no lofty person more important. It also holds a different concept of honor and worth as an invisible thing between you and God rather than a public thing between you and other people.

Consider the belief that God lowered himself to die, horribly, the way that the worst criminal was killed. I’m told that a Muslim might say that they respect Christ more than a Christian because they believe that God would not allow the things that a Christian holds as centrally *necessary*.

It will be nice, really, if Islam has a future reformed of the worst abuses, but for now, when we hear about honor killings that is where it comes from... public reputation is more important than what God (or Allah) knows about the secrets in our hearts. Allowing public humiliation is a virtue in Christianity.

The fact that we fail is less important than the fact that the concept is there. We admire a humble man. We admire someone who faces public scorn in the service of the people he loves. We hold labor as a virtue, a man who is "not afraid to get his hands dirty" as someone with his priorities in proper order. We fail, of course, but the concept is there while Jesus washes the feet of his disciples.

(The argument that we shouldn’t care that those in the middle east think we are weak is an argument made from our base cultural assumptions. Christianity is where it comes from. The only problem is that it is *not* the base cultural assumption of the people we are dealing with and they will act on *their* assumptions and not on ours.)
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
Nice post, Synova. I was going to say exactly the same thing(yeah, that’s the ticket).
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Yes, part of the West. Not part of the religion.
Christianity emerged as a sect of Judaism and violence certainly had been part of that religion. Christianity was influenced by Zoroastrianism and especially neo-Platonism — Augustine borrowed heavily from Plotinus and created the basic Christian theology. But while early Christians were small in number and non-violent, Christianity became very violent at times and that’s my point: religions are what people make them. Saying early Christianity was non-violent and early Islam was not is irrelevant to thinking about how the West and Islam interact today. Islam does not cause violence any more than any western ideal causes violence. Islam can be a cause for peace or violence, just as Christianity can. Not every Christian is ready to chuck the Old Testament, after all!
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
There was a vast disparity in wealth when these places were colonized. Perhaps you can explain why Thailand, which was never colonized, is not a wealthy first world country.
The pre-colonial world did not have such disparities, and Europoean influence and economic dominance hit even those places not officially colonized.

Europeans destroyed existing political cultures and social orders, leaving nothing solid in their wake. The result is that in places where they drew false borders and mixed ethnic groups, corruption and violence has been the norms. In North America the European colonizers committed genocides against various indigenous nations. Europeans infested other parts of the world with dangerous ideologies like communism and nationalism. Europe’s conquest of the planet was brutal and intensely damaging.

And while of course there has been violence all over, that’s my point: there is nothing inherently more violent about the Islamic world than the West. Both are capable of peace and commerce, both can give in to violence against others. So the wrong place to start is to consider one ’world’ somehow inherently worse than the other. Both sides give the other side reasons to make such an argument, but only by ignoring the blemishes of their past.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

The fact that we fail is less important than the fact that the concept is there. We admire a humble man. We admire someone who faces public scorn in the service of the people he loves. We hold labor as a virtue, a man who is "not afraid to get his hands dirty" as someone with his priorities in proper order. We fail, of course, but the concept is there while Jesus washes the feet of his disciples.
Christianity is a major influence on the West, but most in the West aren’t really religious, and those that are have it usually as a spiritual niche, and do not take it all that seriously. And, of course, Buddhists and Hindus have traditions that honor peace and humility as well. And Islam does too: the essential teachings are of humility and human equality. I respect Jesus, Mohammad, the Buddha, Gandhi and spiritual philosophers who act to try to better human kind. None of them are perfect (though believers in various faiths may think their guy to be), and we don’t know how much of the stories of each are true. But each has core teachings that are similar in values, and we can build on those — otherwise the violent ones will control the agenda on all sides.

Muhammad’s teachings don’t cause violence any more than Old Testament teachings of violence cause violence (and most Christians still cite the Old Testament and don’t think it is totally invalid). So trying to assign causes to religions like Ted seemed to do really is, I believe, misguided. (My blog for today was "The Violent West" inspired by this thread...)
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

 
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